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Justices Appear To Side With Trump In Colorado Ballot Dispute; Special Counsel Says, Biden Willfully Retained Classified Info; Far- Right Media Personality Tucker Carlson Publishes Interview With Vladimir Putin. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired February 08, 2024 - 18:00   ET



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WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news. Donald Trump appears to be on the verge of a major victory at the U.S. Supreme Court, as the justices voice deep skepticism with efforts to remove him from the ballot. We're going to bring you the latest details on the arguments and analysis from inside the courtroom.

Also tonight, a damning special counsel report finds President Biden willfully retained classified information after leaving the vice presidency, but will not face charges. The report laying out key differences between Biden's cooperation with the investigation and Trump's alleged obstruction of his own classified documents case.

Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We're following major legal development affecting the two men likely heading toward a presidential rematch. CNN's Paula Reid has more on Donald Trump appearing to win over the nation's highest court as he vies to remain on the ballot. And our own M.J. Lee has details on the special counsel report clearing President Biden of charges while sharply rebuking his handling of classified information.

First, let's go to Paula Reid. She's outside the U.S. Supreme Court. Paula, it looks like this was a pretty good day for Trump's efforts to stay on the ballot, not just in Colorado, but across the country.

PAULA REID, CNN CHIEF LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Wolf. This is the first time in recent memory that a court hearing went really well for Donald Trump. There was no drama. There were no outbursts. Instead, it was Trump's lawyer making nuanced legal arguments before justices who appeared to be agreeing with his case.


REID (voice over): In one of the most anticipated Supreme Court cases of the year, the justices signaling they will side with Donald Trump on the question of whether he's eligible for the 2024 ballot.

The former president did not attend Thursday's arguments. Most justices didn't address his role in the January 6th insurrection, instead focusing on legal arguments around the 14th Amendment.

Trump's lawyer, Jonathan Mitchell, an experienced Supreme Court advocate, argued Trump isn't covered by the so-called insurrectionist ban --

JONATHAN MITCHELL, ATTORNEY REPRESENTING DONALD TRUMP: A ruling from this court that affirms the decision below would not only violate term limits but take away the votes of potentially tens of millions of Americans.

REID: -- and argued January 6th was not even an insurrection. Only one justice asked about whether it was.

JUSTICE KETANJI BROWN JACKSON, U.S. SUPREME: So, the point is that a chaotic effort to overthrow the government is not an insurrection?

MITCHELL: This was a riot. It was not an insurrection.

REID: Jason Murray argued for Colorado voters who won their case at the lower court.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By engaging in insurrection against the Constitution, President Trump disqualified himself from public office. States have the power to ensure that their citizens' electoral votes are not wasted on a candidate who is constitutionally barred from holding office.

REID: But the justices appeared much more skeptical. In an ominous sign, the chief justice said Murray's arguments were at war with history --

CHIEF JUSTICE JOHN ROBERTS, U.S. SUPREME COURT: That seems to be a position that is at war with the whole thrust of the 14th Amendment and very ahistorical. The whole point of the 14th Amendment was to restrict state power.

REID: -- and question the consequences of a ruling in favor of Colorado and other states then following suit.

ROBERTS: It will come down to just a handful of states that are going to decide the presidential election. That's a pretty daunting consequence.

REID: Even liberal Justice Elena Kagan asked this.

JUSTICE ELENA KAGAN, U.S. SUPREME COURT: 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.

REID: It was Murray's first time arguing before the high court. He engaged in several contentious exchanges with the justices. And even as a former clerk, it didn't stop Justice Gorsuch from scolding Murray.

JUSTICE NEIL GORSUCH, U.S. SUPREME COURT: No, no, we're talking about Section 3. Please don't change the hypothetical.

REID: And even though the arguments seem to go well for Trump, he still wanted the last word, addressing reporters outside Mar-a-Lago.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Can you take the person that's leading everywhere and say, hey, we're not going to let you run? You know, I think that's pretty tough to do, but I'm leaving it up to the Supreme Court.


REID: Well, even as Trump tries to paint himself as the victim of an unfair legal system, today, he appears poised to win at the Supreme Court on this question of ballot eligibility and he was just handed a damning report about his primary political opponent, President Biden.

So, when it comes to the U.S. justice system, today was a great day for candidate Trump. Wolf?

BLITZER: Paul Reid over at the Supreme Court for us, thank you very much.

I want to bring in our legal and Supreme Court experts for more analysis right now. And, Joan Biskupic, you were inside the Supreme Court during the three hours of oral arguments and all of that. What stood out to you?

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SENIOR SUPREME COURT ANALYST: how smoothly it went not for the Colorado voters lawyer but for the justices themselves. You know, I am so accustomed to a lot of ideological tensions along the bench, you know, irrespective of what lawyers are arguing at the lectern and the well of the court. And I didn't feel that.

In fact, you could sense really early on by the rhythm of that argument that the chief was going to have a majority, if not a unanimous court to rule that Colorado Supreme Court was wrong to try to keep Trump off the ballot.

Now, that's not the end of the story though, of course, because they're going to have to come up with grounds that they all agree on. Well, if I have to tell you that often the Supreme Court ruling will have splintered reasoning, but I think there's going to be incentive in this case to try to come up with grounds that at least a majority will buy, if not, seven justices, eight justices, but none of the 6-3 rivalry that we often would see between the six conservative justices and the three liberals.

And, you know, as Paula said in her report, you know, justices from the left really were in early with their skepticism of the --

BLITZER: It was really fascinating to listen to those three hours.

Steve Vladeck, you're an expert on the Supreme Court as well. What was your bottom line? Will Trump's name be on the ballot in Colorado?

STEVE VLADECK, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Oh, I think it's pretty clear, Wolf. And I think Joan is right, eight, nine votes perhaps. I mean, Wolf, it was the very last question of the 53-minute argument by Trump's lawyer that was directed to the actual underlying merits. Did President Trump engage in insurrection in his conduct before and on January 6th, that it took that long to get to that question, tells you where the court is going.

Wolf, I think the real issue now is not just what does the court do in this case. But as early as next week, they're going to have this other case about whether the prosecution of President Trump here in D.C., arising out of January 6th, can go forward, whether he has immunity, is the court going to see these cases as a chance to actually split the difference and actually keep them on the ballot in Colorado, but also let the prosecution go forth in D.C. and just let the voters sort it out?

BLITZER: We will find out fairly soon. Carrie Cordero, were you surprised that even the court's so-called liberal justices seemed supportive of this notion of keeping Trump on the ballot?

CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think we have to keep in mind that the Colorado Supreme Court was really the outlier here and there were a number of findings that the Supreme Court would need to make to be able to get to a place to uphold the Colorado Supreme Court. And so there's a number of barriers they would have had to accept, so many different arguments.

And I think what was revealed through some of their questioning today was that they really did not -- they were not able to identify the specific thing that they could turn to that would uphold the Colorado decision. They really were identifying those specific things that raised more questions than answers.

BLITZER: Interesting. Karl Racine, the former D.C. attorney general, is with us as well. Karl, you were listening to all of this going on today. I want you to listen to something that Justice Alito said. Listen to this.


JUSTICE SAMUEL ALITO, U.S. SUPREME COURT: The consequences of what the Colorado Supreme Court did, some people claim, would be quite severe. Would it not lead to the possibility that other states would say, using their choice of law rules and their rules 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?


BLITZER: Karl, what did you make of that argument?

KARL RACINE, FORMER D.C. ATTORNEY GENERAL: You know, I rarely agree with Justice Alito, but I'd find myself in complete agreement with him tonight. The Pandora's Box that would have been opened up would have been devastating, I think, for the country.

I, too, am not a constitutional expert. I'm more of a practical lawyer who helps vulnerable people. But let me tell you, this was a practically strong up decision coming, and I agree with Steve, ot's going to be 8-1 or 9-0 or 7-2.


I also --

BLITZER: In favor of Trump?

RACINE: In favor of Trump.

I also agree that all eyes right now should not be on a claim that this is President Trump's day. Wait for the D.C. immunity decision that the Supreme Court is going to have to make in a few days. The question is whether the United States Supreme Court will issue a stay and essentially prevent that district court matter before Judge Chutkan from going forward or whether they will allow that matter to go forward. I'm betting on the latter.

BLITZER: We'll have plenty on that coming up in the next few days as well.

Steve, it was clearly -- well, let me go before I go to Steve. Joan, you know the Supreme Court, you know the justices. Do you have a timeline when we'll get a decision?

BISKUPIC: Well, their next scheduled private meeting is a week from this Friday. But they can do anything by phone. They can do anything. They can schedule an early session. I would think the chief -- frankly, I think the chief and several of his colleagues have already started trying to write this just because I know these justices and how much they try to get out ahead of things, and especially since we're in the middle of a pretty big term having nothing to do with the Trump litigation, but add the Trump litigation to it. So, my bet would be that, really, in the next three, four weeks, we might actually see something.

Now, they obviously put it on an expedited schedule. So, that's already a signal. Maybe they're going to try to get something by Super Tuesday, which is a month from now. But even if they don't, the handwriting is on the wall that states should not start removing Donald Trump from the ballot. And I think they will conclusively let people know that within two months easily.

BLITZER: Yes. Steve, it seemed to me that the court basically steered clear of any discussion of insurrection, not concluding necessarily that Trump was engaged in an insurrection. What did you make of that?

VLADECK: Yes, I mean, I think that's right, Wolf. And I think that really was perhaps the most telling sign that this is a court that's not going to get past these procedural issues.

But what's really surprising to me about that, Wolf, if we take a step back, one of the things that has really characterized the Supreme Court in recent years has been this turn toward fidelity to law, the idea that there is just pure legal answers and that the court is not a political institution.

And yet, we heard today over and over, in that clip you played from Justice Alito, worries about the consequences of the Colorado Supreme Court's decision, worries about what would it mean if individual states could keep presidential candidates off the ballot.

Those worries may well be legitimate. I mean, I think Karl is right. But the notion that now the court is once again realizing that it's a political institution, part of a separation of powers in which it has to be thinking about the other roles of other institutions, I think it's actually a pretty interesting lesson for a court that has really run away from that understanding.

BLITZER: Yes, an important and very historic day here in Washington. Guys, thank you very, very much.

Just ahead, there's more breaking news we're following. President Biden dodges charges for his handling of classified information but draws a stinging rebut from the special counsel.

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.



BLITZER: All right. Let's get to the breaking news in the special counsel's investigation of President Biden. The probe concluded without charges tonight but finding Biden willfully retained classified information after he left the vice presidency.

CNN's M.J. Lee is over at the White House. She's got details for us. M.J., what does this report conclude?

M.J. LEE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, almost 400 pages of this report from Special Counsel Robert Hur concluded this, President Biden willfully retained and disclosed classified materials after his vice presidency, but it also says that no criminal charges are warranted in this matter, Robert Hur saying that they didn't have evidence to fully establish the president's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

This report, Wolf, lays out in painstaking details notes and reports that were found in the president's Wilmington home, in the garage, in the den, in the offices that contained classified materials in some decrepit boxes, as you can see in these photos that were included in this report. And they included sensitive materials, including about foreign policy.

One example that has come to light is a handwritten memo that was classified that the former vice president wrote at the time to the former president, Barack Obama, encouraging him to not send in more troops to Afghanistan. But what is more problematic, according to this report, is that some of these materials were shared at the time with the president's ghost writer who was working on his memoir.

Now, what is striking about this report as well are the many, many and harsh details about these alleged memory problems that the president had, including when he was being interviewed by the special counsel. A couple of examples, it says that the president didn't remember what years he served as vice president. Another example is that it says in a trial, Biden would likely present himself to a jury as a sympathetic, well-meaning elderly man with a poor memory.

Now, the report, we should note, also lays out the full scope of the president's cooperation in this matter, including sitting down for an hour's long interview, consenting to multiple searches, turning over those documents immediately. All of that, of course, is in direct contrast from everything that we have seen from former President Donald Trump.

BLITZER: Interesting. M.J., how is the White House responding to this report?

LEE: Well, first and foremost, they are trying to highlight the only headline that they believe matters from this report, the fact that there were no criminal charges brought against President Biden. And we just actually heard the president speaking about this and reacting to this report's release. Take a listen.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: First interview over the two days of October the 9th, 8th and 9th last year even though Israel has just been attacked.

But I was especially pleased to see the special counsel make clear the stark differences between this case and Donald Trump.

The special counsel in my case decided against moving forward any charges.


This matter is now closed. (END VIDEO CLIP)

LEE: The White House has been pushing back forcefully to these references to these alleged memory issues. One White House official I talked to us, saying they are way out of line, they are just wrong. One example in the report that is particularly offensive to this White House is this reference where Biden apparently did not remember, even within several years, of when his son, Beau, died. This White House official saying he remembers the day that Beau died every day of his life and to suggest otherwise is just insulting. Wolf?

BLITZER: M.J. Lee over at the White House, thank you very much. It's a major report, if you haven't seen the whole thing, it's almost 400 pages, the special counsel report, summaries about three or four pages. But the actual report, nearly 400 pages.

Joining us now for some analysis, our political and law enforcement experts, and, Andrew McCabe, former deputy director of the FBI, the special counsel, Hur, says Biden willfully retained the documents, but unlike Trump, he won't face criminal charges. You've gone through it. What's the difference?

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, there's a huge differences here, Wolf. And I should say I oversaw many, many investigations during my time in the FBI of individuals who've had classified or national defense information in their residences, and most of them end up this way.

And the reason is you have to have explicit evidence of the willful retention of those documents. And that is just, according to Special Counsel Hur, not present in this case. To compare that with Donald Trump's case, which stands out far beyond anything most national security experts have seen before, you have a series of events in which, for months, refused to give back documents. Then he sat and personally went through documents, decided which ones to give back and which ones to retain, then was served with a subpoena and actually encouraged others to obstruct the enforcement of that subpoena. So, it is, by leagues, far worse, and there is much more evidence of willful retention in the Trump case.

BLITZER: Ashley Etienne is with us as well, former senior adviser to President Biden. Ashley, the president apparently couldn't remember, according to the report, couldn't remember when his son died or when he was even vice president of the United States. How is this anything other than a devastating rebuke, criticism of the current president?

ASHLEY ETIENNE, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: Well, I mean, there are some that will say Hur, who was a Trump appointee, did Trump a favor by adding sort of editorializing about the president's age, but it has no sort of consequence to the actual question at hand here.

But here's the thing. I mean, the Biden campaign and the Biden White House have to be breathing a sigh relief right now. If the worst that came out of this -- there were no charges. If the worst that came out of this was memory lapses, both Trump and Joe Biden have issues with their memories and flubs, et cetera, et cetera. This is not new for the American people. And I don't believe it will move the needle here.

But here's the thing that I think really matters is that this is a one-day, maybe two-day story for Joe Biden. We'll move on from this. But the point is that Donald Trump's legal problems are mounting. He's in court, 91 charges, four cases. He's obstructing these investigations. He's in court from day in and day out. And that's what's actually going to have an impact on him and his perceptions among the American people and the voters.

BLITZER: You know, it's interesting, David Chalian, we know from our recent CNN poll that Democratic voters' biggest concern about President Biden is his age, 46 percent citing that, everything else is down in single digits.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: I want to be specific about something about that poll finding, Wolf. That is an open-ended question. We don't offer age as an option. That is an open-ended question. What concerns you the most about the president and Democrats, roughly half of them, cite his age?

So, I don't think it's a one-day story or a two-day story about Joe Biden's age or his mental acuity. I think it is the story.

ETIENNE: Trump has the same problem, though. Trump has the same problem.

BLITZER: That may be. But I think it is not a one- or two-day story. I think this is the story that Joe Biden is going to have to deal with and his campaign all the way through the election. And he doesn't get younger any day. They understand this is a major vulnerability with voters and they are going to have to deal to neutralize that vulnerability every single day from here on out in the campaign.

And Hur, in this report, I grant you, editorializing, we don't know exactly what was said to justify these editorial narratives that Hur said in the transcript of the interview, but this is now adding to what we already know. The polling evidence you cite, just today, the White House had to deal with questions about his mixing up names of dead foreign leaders versus the ones he actually dealt with, this doesn't go away as an issue.

And unlike a policy issue, voting for president is an emotional thing. And Americans are going to want to know whether or not Joe Biden is up to the task.

BLITZER: Yes. Alyssa Farrah Griffin is with us as well. How much of a gift, Alyssa, is this report for Trump?

ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Unfortunately, I think it's a tremendous gift for Donald Trump. Listen, I agree with my friend, Ashley, that both Donald Trump and Joe Biden have an age issue.


They've both had gaffes and questions about their mental acuity. But the perception of the two is the real issue here.

CNN had a remarkable poll a couple months back that said 25 percent of voters believe Biden had the stamina for a second term whereas 53 percent thought that Donald Trump did.

Now, take out the indictments and the unfitness aside. There's a different perception when you look at age when it comes to Joe Biden. And this just writes the Trump ads for himself.

Now, the challenge the White House faces is this. The best way to combat this is to put Joe Biden out looking strong, looking sharp. But we've known Joe Biden for many years. 20 years ago, Joe Biden often had gaffes and fell over his own words. So, they need to come up with real strategic positioning to push back on this narrative because it's the single greatest vulnerability to Joe Biden's re-election.

BLITZER: Is there a recognition inside the White House, Ashley, about these concerns that a lot of folks have about Biden's age and his mental acuity?

ETIENNE: Yes, absolutely. I mean, they tried to deal with this issue a lot of different ways. One, was he applied humor at one point. He was making fun of himself, making light of it. You know, they've now, to Alyssa's point, have been trying to get him out in front of voters more frequently, more aggressively. I mean, I think the fact that he addressed this issue head on I think was really smart.

But here's the issue. This is a very manageable problem for Joe Biden, wherein Donald Trump has mounting problems that are not manageable. We're not sure where they're going to end. But if they strategically put Joe Biden in forums and formats that work for him in front of voters, you can address this issue head on.

BLITZER: Let me ask Alyssa to weigh in. Do you see these age concerns, Alyssa, as being more fruitful for Republicans politically than the claims about a two-tiered justice system?

GRIFFIN: Absolutely. And also, when you get a decision like this that comes out, and it frankly shows that our justice system is fairly blind, because this was very damning for the current president. But I think that if I'm writing the ads for the Trump team, they're going to say, we're more or less told that Joe Biden would not be mentally competent to sit trial in the case that this had gone to trial.

Now, it wasn't. He was exonerated. But we're not living in an era of goodwill in politics or where we could expect the Republican side to take the high ground. They're going to play dirty here, and they are going to weaponize what we saw in this report about his age. And I'm not sure Biden is prepared to counter it as heavily as he needs to.

BLITZER: Let me ask David Chalian. Does Biden need to do more to confront and to address these age concern issue?

CHALIAN: This should be far bigger for me to offer advice to Joe Biden about what he does or doesn't need to do, Wolf. But it seems to me this is an issue that is set in the minds of American voters. And so it would probably be wise to not try and run away from it in any way, but to deal with it head on, and it's not one and done. This is something that -- it exists as a concern. And so any candidate, President Biden included, would want to work day in and day out to assuage that concern with voters.

BLITZER: I was surprised he turned down an invitation to do an interview during the Super Bowl, where maybe a hundred million people would be watching decline that invitation, which would have been an opportunity for him to address these issues.

CHALIAN: Perhaps the White House doesn't think that's the right kind of venue for him to be able to excel in that form.

BLITZER: That's a good point too. All right, guys, thank you very, very much, I appreciate it.

Coming up, lawmakers reacting to both our breaking stories, the special counsel's and those critical arguments today at the U.S. Supreme Court. Stand by for a live report from Capitol Hill.



BLITZER: There's a lot of breaking news we're following right now. Donald Trump's promising day over at the U.S. Supreme Court as he fights to remain on the ballot, plus the special counsel declining to prosecute President Biden for his handling of classified documents, even as he finds Biden willfully retained that information.

CNN's Manu Raju is up on Capitol Hill for us. Manu, I know you're getting a lot of reaction from both Republicans and Democrats.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And Republicans in particular have been the most vocal in the aftermath of this. The Republicans jumping all over the findings in this report, questioning Joe Biden's mental acuity and his memory and saying that that raises questions about his fitness for office.

You've seen Republican after Republican tweet about this, put out statements about this, saying people from everyone, from Marco Rubio, saying that he was exonerated, the former -- the current president was, because they believe he has age related dementia. That was the words of Marco Rubio, others as well, echoing that down the line, in the House GOP leadership to also raising questions, contending that there was a double standard of sorts, comparing it to what happened with Donald Trump and his mishandling of classified information, the criminal charges that Donald Trump faces and Joe Biden not facing any criminal charges here.

What the GOP leadership in the House says among the most disturbing parts of this report is the special counsel's justification for not recommending charges. Namely, the president's memory had such significant limitations that he could not convince a jury that the president held a mental state of willfulness that a serious felony requires. A man too incapable of being held accountable for mishandling classified information is certainly unfit for the Oval Office.

Now, Wolf, there is a much different set of circumstances with Donald Trump versus Joe Biden, Donald Trump did not cooperate with the prosecutors. Joe Biden did. And that was one big reason why Donald Trump is facing criminal charges.

And when Democrats are defending Joe Biden and defending his mental sharpness, including one senator, Mark Kelly, who made that clear just earlier this afternoon.


SEN. MARK KELLY (D-AZ): in my experience with the president, which is, you know, over the last three years in this job, and even before that, but especially in the last year, I've had regular interactions with him.


And I've always found that he's very sharp.


RAJU: Others have been echoing that down the line.

We have not yet heard from the top Democratic leaders in Congress in the aftermath of this report, Wolf, but expect this discussion to continue to dominate things on Capitol Hill, particularly among Republicans who wield subpoena power and are already launching an impeachment inquiry into Joe Biden. And the question is, how will this affect their probe in the days and weeks ahead, Wolf.

BLITZER: We shall see. Manu Raju up on Capitol Hill, thank you very much.

I want to get some more right now from Democratic Congressman Jamie Raskin of Maryland. He served as a Trump impeachment manager, also served on the January 6th select committee. Congressman, thanks for joining us.

As you know, President Biden willfully held on to classified materials and even shared some of that information with his ghost writer who didn't have the necessary security clearances. Even if he won't be criminally charged, are you concerned by the president's conduct here?

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): Well, sure. You know, as the lead Democrat on the Oversight Committee, we would like to do some legislation to get our best archivists and librarians together to figure out a way that we can tag material more quickly and prevent it from kind of negligent mishandling, the kind we had from Mike Pence and Joe Biden.

But that is an ocean away from Donald Trump, who deliberately pilfered hundreds of top secret classified government documents and then refused to return them and hid them all over his house, whereas this Republican special counsel said that Joe Biden had been completely forthcoming and cooperative and they're not bringing any criminal charges against him.

He did take some gratuitous slaps at Joe Biden because of his age and a lot of these kind of age discriminatory and age insulting remarks are getting rather tiresome. All we really need from a special prosecutor like Hur is a decision whether there's any legal grounds to move forward. He said there's not.

And he didn't need to take all those cheap shots. And, obviously, you could take the same kinds of cheap shots at Donald Trump, who recently confused a woman that he sexually attacked and then lied about with one of his wives and also mixed up Nancy Pelosi and Nikki Haley.

BLITZER: In the special counsel's report, it says that President Biden couldn't remember when he was vice president or even when his son, Beau, died. It is important to note that many Americans are seriously concerned about his age. Does this raise alarms about whether President Biden is fit to serve another term in office?

RASKIN: Well, undoubtedly, that's what Robert Hur, who comes from my state, he's a Maryland Republican. Undoubtedly, that's what he intended to do with those ridiculous cheap shots. I just spent an hour with President Biden in the entire Democratic caucus where he regaled and entertained everyone for an hour and went through all of the extraordinary accomplishments of his administration, including the Inflation Reduction Act. We've got the best economy in the world right now, the creation of millions and millions of jobs, just an extraordinary record to run on. So, they're going to come up with some cheap shots like that.

I mean, to me, Wolf, it reminds me of the kind of gender-based cheap shots they took at Hillary Clinton when she ran for president, and now there are all these age-based cheap shots that they're taking on Donald Trump.

And it does show you how desperate they are, because you could turn them around and use all the same ones against Donald Trump, who is fumbling his way through every day trying to figure out who he's attacking this day or that, in which case, based on his criminal conduct he's attending.

BLITZER: Let's turn, Congressman, to today's historic Supreme Court arguments. You support disqualifying Trump from the ballot. But from what you heard today, doesn't it look like the justices are going to rule in Trump's favor instead?

RASKIN: Yes, it does look like a majority of the justices, the conservative justices arrived at the oral arguments today, with their minds completely made up. Of course, they're using different hooks to hang their hats on. Some of them seemed to think that the president is not covered by Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which the rest of them, I think, agree is ridiculous.

The others seemed to be congregating around the argument that was offered by Trump's able lawyer, basically making the point that, well, Trump might be disqualified from holding office, but he's not disqualified from running for office. And if he were removed from the ballot in Colorado, as the Colorado Supreme Court found he should be, Congress might act in the meantime to exercise our two-thirds authority to remove the disability from Donald Trump.

Now, that's obviously an extravagant hypothetical, because we know there's not a two-thirds majority in Congress to remove his insurrectionist disability. But nonetheless, it's a fair legal point. And I do think the conservatives are congregating around it.


If you do want to base this decision on hypotheticals, however, hypothetically, the state legislature could still --



REID: I'm Paula Reid in Washington. Wolf had to step away. He'll be back.

But there's other news we're following here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Far right media personality Tucker Carlson has just published an interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Our chief international correspondent, Clarissa Ward, has more.

Clarissa, thanks for joining us.

Tell us about the circumstances of this interview and what Putin has said so far.

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's a two-hour interview, Paula, and it just came out at 6:00 p.m. Eastern. So we are still sifting through all of it. But its pretty extraordinary and that it begins with essentially a half-hour lecture from President Putin on the history of Russia and Ukraine, trying again to make his point as he did before, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, that Ukraine is basically part of Russia.

And you can actually see Tucker Carlson's face grimace at points because he knows that he had committed to air this interview in its entirety, not to edit it, and its clear from the very beginning that he is essentially losing control of the interview.

Now this is the first interview that President Vladimir Putin has done since the invasion of Ukraine. You heard Tucker Carlson, just the other day on X talking about why he did the interview and saying essentially that he was the only journalist who was brave enough from Western media and who would be willing to give a platform to President Putin basically accusing Western journalists of trying to censor Putin.

This is, of course, patently false. Myself, many of my colleagues, not just in CNN but across the industry have been trying for years to get an interview with President Vladimir Putin, it's just that he has not done any since the invasion of Ukraine.


Now, what was interesting as well, and again, I have to emphasize that we haven't been able to go through the entire interview yet because it is very, very long, but the issue, speaking of Western journalists who continue to cover Russia even after the invasion of Ukraine, of the imprisonment of Evan Gershkovich. This is an issue that Tucker Carlson does not bring up, Paula, until the very end of the interview. It's his last question. And tellingly, President Putin doesn't really answer the question. He says that Russia has repeatedly tried to make gestures of goodwill, but that these gestures of goodwill have not been reciprocated by the U.S., but he does leave a kind of glimmer of hope at the end of it saying that he is optimistic, that some kind of a deal or some kind of a resolution to this issue could potentially be resolved.

Many other issues, obviously, discussed during the interview, but I think coming back to the sort of essential point here, what you see just from watching the first 45 minutes of it is that this is President Putin's platform. He is talking at length. Tucker Carlson does not have control at the interview and it appears honestly that President Putin is really treating this almost more as an opportunity for his domestic audience.

There is a Russian election next month. Obviously, there's no question as to who is going to win that election. But still, this is way for him of really creating his bona fides. They have been treating Tucker Carlson as a celebrity during his stay in Moscow, in the Russian press. And to see President Putin then dominate this interview in the way that he appears to have been doing is clearly something designed for a domestic audience, Paula.

REID: Clarissa Ward, thank you.


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, two major developing stories tonight.

First, the Supreme Court weighing in. The justices sending strong signals about how they'll rule in that Colorado ballot case. The attorney who argued before the highest court to kick Trump off the ballot is OUTFRONT tonight.

Plus, no charges. The special counsel in the Biden classified documents case says the president didn't break the law. But his report now raising questions about Biden's memory.

And if its election night, it's John King night. It's going to be at the magic wall. The winner of Nevada, maybe already baked in. But there are important things to know.

Let's go OUTFRONT. And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

And OUTFRONT tonight: we begin with the skeptical Supreme Court. A historic hearing in Washington and an ideologically divided Supreme Court, seemingly unified in questioning whether Colorado can kick Trump off the 2024 ballot. The reason, of course, Colorado is trying to do that is because of the insurrection clause in the 14th Amendment.

The nine justices, the Supreme Court had tough questions about the wisdom and effect of disqualifying the Republican front runner.


JUSTICE SAMUEL ALITO, SUPREME COURT: We've been told that if what Colorado did here is sustained, other states are going to retaliate, and they're going to potentially exclude another candidate from the ballot. What about that situation?

JUSTICE ELENA KAGAN, SUPREME COURT: Why should a single state have the ability to make this determination not only for their own citizens, but for the rest of the nation?

JUSTICE BRETT KAVANAUGH, SUPREME COURT: Your position has the effect of disenfranchising voters to a significant degree.

JUSTICE KETANJI BROWN JACKSON, SUPREME COURT: But then why didn't they put the word president in the very enumerated list in Section Three? They were listing people that were barred, and president is not there.


BURNETT: And president is not there.

I want to point out again, of course, that was Ketanji Brown Jackson nominated by President Biden. That was Brett Kavanaugh, nominated by Trump. Elena Kagan nominated by Obama, and Samuel Alito nominated by George W. Bush, right?

For different presence nominated those four different justices, all of them conservative and liberal, expressing skepticism as to whether Trump should be removed from the ballot in Colorado. But the lawyer arguing to keep Trump off the ballot, which was a decision, of course, made by the Supreme Court in Colorado, the highest court in that state answered each of those questions, trying to make his case.


JASON MURRAY, ATTORNEY REPRESENTING COLORADO VOTERS: The framers were concerned about charismatic rebels who might rise through the ranks up to and including the presidency of the United States.


BURNETT: Now, in a moment, I'm going to speak to the attorney that you just heard there, Jason Murray, who liked the rest of the country is now waiting for the Supreme Court to likely fast track a decision, a decision that could affect this entire country. And it is a decision that the former president also believes will go his way.



DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT & 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In watching the Supreme Court today, I thought it was very -- it was very beautiful process.


BURNETT: A beautiful process when it goes his way, appears to.

Trump didn't stop there, though. He then went on to repeat a litany of lies.


TRUMP: I think it was an insurrection caused by Nancy Pelosi.


BURNETT: Of course, that's false.


TRUMP: If it was an insurrection, which there were no guns.


BURNETT: That's false as well. It has been proven in court that some of the people who illegally entered the Capitol grounds on January 6 were armed with guns.

Well, Jessica Schneider begins our coverage OUTRONT live outside the Supreme Court on this historic day.

So, Jessica, you know, we heard the audio there. We heard what happened today. What happens now?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Erin, the justices really could move quickly here. Consider this, back in the year 2000 when they heard Bush v. Gore, they decided that case one day after the oral arguments. Now granted, that was a completely different scenario and the inauguration was just weeks away, but time is still of the essence here. We were in primary season, the general election isn't that far away.

And really, the thing is if -- whether it's weeks or days, it really does seem like these justices will be coming down on Trumps side, Erin.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Stiff resistance from conservative and liberal justices on the Supreme Court, pushing back against arguments for taking Donald Trump off the 2024 ballot.

CHIEF JUSTICE JOHN ROBERTS, SUPREME COURT: It will come down to just a handful of states that are going to decide the presidential election. That's a pretty daunting consequence.

SCHNEIDER: Chief Justice John Roberts led the sharp questioning, asking whether individual states should be able to decide for themselves which candidates are ineligible for office based on the constitution's insurrection clause. The 14th Amendment says certain elected officials, including an officer of the United States, are prohibited from holding office if they have engaged in insurrection against the United States.

Several of the conservative justices warned that allowing states to decide could create chaos.

ALITO: There will be conflicts in decisions among the states that different states will disqualify different candidates. But I'm not getting a whole lot of help from you about how this would not be an unmanageable situation.

SCHNEIDER: Even liberal Justice Elena Kagan expressed concern.

KAGAN: Why should a single state have the ability to make this determination, not only for their own citizens, but for the rest of the nation?

SCHNEIDER: The Colorado Supreme Court has ruled Trump engaged in insurrection on January 6, and that he should be removed from the state's ballot. But there was little discussion during arguments before the high court about Trump's role on January 6 and his ultimate responsibility. His lawyer only arguing that it wasn't even insurrection.

JACKSON: You say it did not involve an organized attempt to overthrow the government.

JONATHAN MITCHELL, TRUMP ATTORNEY: For an insurrection, there needs to be an organized, concerted effort --

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

MITCHELL: No, we didn't concede that it's an effort to overthrow the government either.

SCHNEIDER: Justices also debated whether courts even have a role to play in this decision. Justice Brett Kavanaugh asked whether Congress should be enforcing the insurrectionist ban instead of courts. It's one of the off-ramps. The Supreme Court could choose to take with a narrow ruling that avoids confronting weightier issues.

KAVANAUGH: These are difficult questions and you look right at Section Five of the 14th Amendment as the chief justice said, and that tells you Congress has the primary role here.


SCHNEIDER (on camera): So really the Supreme Court doesn't need to get to those core issues or those core decisions in this case, those being, you know, whether there was an insurrection, Erin, or whether Donald Trump may have committed an insurrection.

Instead, there are several so questions that do provide that off-ramp. You know, does the court even have the jurisdiction or is this really Congress's role? Does the 14th Amendment Section Three even apply to the presidency?

So, there are a lot of choices that the Supreme Court can make to not decide the big issue here. But really, all signs do point to the majority of the justices giving Trump a win here -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Jessica, thank you very much. Outside the Supreme Court.

And I want to go now to Jason Murray, the attorney who argued today inside that building before the Supreme Court to bar Trump from the ballot. And I'm glad to speak with you again, Jason.

I know this was a momentous day for the country and certainly for you. I know your first-time arguing before the Supreme Court. One can only imagine what that is like. You were in front of two justices you had clerked for, Justices Kagan and Gorsuch.

What was the whole experience liked?

MURRAY: Well, it's always an amazing experience to be up before court and especially the U.S. Supreme Court. And there's a certain sense of pride and being able to argue in front of my former bosses.

It was certainly intense. I didn't expect them to pull any punches on a case of this magnitude, and certainly they didn't.


But we never expected that the court would be willing to do a hard thing like this without asking really hard questions.

BURNETT: And they did ask hard questions. I don't know how much you heard there because I know you've had a day, but we were playing some of the questions and skepticism that was expressed from the conservative judges, but also from two of the court's liberal judges who expressed skepticism at the arguments that you were making to uphold the Colorado Supreme Court ruling.

Here's some of what they said.