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The Source with Kaitlan Collins

Jury Now Deciding Trump's Fate In Hush Money Trial; Blumenthal Calls Out Alito's "Flimsy Excuses" For Flags; Biden To Black Voters: Trump "Wanted To Tear Gas You" During George Floyd Protests. Aired 9- 10p ET

Aired May 29, 2024 - 21:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Looking at live pictures there, of a new massive volcanic eruption, underway, in Iceland, the fifth one since December.

Earlier today, before the lava started flowing, officials evacuated the famous Blue Lagoon, a geothermal spa. Also, any residents still in a nearby fishing village were asked to leave, though many fled months ago, when the eruptions began.

Tonight, Iceland's national broadcaster says electricity has been cut to the village, due to lava flowing over roads, leading to the area. And it's unclear when power will be restored.

That's it for us. The news continues. See you, tomorrow.



Notes on a scandal. The four questions coming from the jury room, where 12 New Yorkers are deliberating the fate of the former President. Our sharpest legal minds will help us dig into our first clues, about what the jury may be thinking.

And after weeks of testimony about sex, lies and an audio tape, what happens next is out of Donald Trump's control, for the first time in his life, and the strain is showing. We'll tell you how.

Also, justice denied? Samuel Alito is slamming the door on those calls for his recusal from the January 6-related cases, before the High Court, his extraordinary letter to Congress.

I'm Kaitlan Collins. And this is THE SOURCE.

As we are now 45 days into the trial of the 45th president, Donald Trump waits. He is going to now wait, as a jury of seven men and five women deliberate, over whether he is guilty or not. To be a fly on a wall in that jury room as those 12 jurors are in there, making that crucial decision, one that has never been made in our country before.

The first day of deliberations lasted for more than four-and-a-half hours, today. And we got our first hint, about where their heads may be. I say may, because of course we are not in that room. We don't know.

But what we do know is that a buzzer, inside the courtroom, alerted everyone that the jury was sending not one but two notes to the judge.

The first asking to be able to reread testimony from two key witnesses, David Pecker, the tabloid king, and Michael Cohen, some of it involving a critical meeting at the heart of this hush money case.

The other question was to rehear the judge's instructions to the jury. And that too, could be quite critical to the outcome of this, what those 12 jurors ultimately decide here.

More on all of that in a moment. But before we get into that, you kind of just have to take a step back for a moment, and think about what this day was like, the once and potentially future most powerful world leader on the planet was forced to sit and wait in a dingy Manhattan courtroom, for eight hours today, as 12 of his peers started those deliberations.

Donald Trump is required to be at the courthouse, as long as they are doing so. He's not allowed to leave, and in case a note, as we noted earlier, or even a potential verdict comes down.

All of this, as we could hear from Trump as he left the courthouse today, clearly has him agitated.


DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT AND 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It seems that there are a lot of witnesses, lot of people that they could have called that they didn't call. Now, they didn't call them, obviously, because they would have been very bad witnesses for them.

Very big players that would have solved their problem or actually would have given us the win.

Nobody knows what the crime is because there's no crime.


COLLINS: A reminder that Trump himself, of course, could have testified, in his own defense, in this case, which he chose not to. Of course, that is certainly his right. His attorneys, though also had the right to call whatever witness they wanted, if they wanted to.

Trump appears to be bracing though, for his supporters, and bracing them for a worst-case scenario, when the jury is done deliberating. Perhaps his most memorable line of the day was when he declared that even Mother Teresa herself could not beat the charges he is facing.

My legal sources tonight are criminal defense attorney, and former Manhattan Assistant District Attorney, Jeremy Saland; CNN Legal Analyst and criminal defense attorney, Joey Jackson; and the retired federal judge, Shira Scheindlin.

And judge, it's great to have you. And I want to start with you, because we obviously don't know. We're not actually in that jury room, unfortunately, as much as I would like to be able to listen to what they're deliberating.

But the sense that we got from these notes today. I heard some legal experts saying that it was a bad note for the defense, because what they were asking for was to be reread the testimony of David Pecker, the first witness, this tabloid king. And he was the first witness.

But in those closing arguments, last night, Joshua Steinglass, the prosecutor, told the jury, you've got to use your commonsense here. Consider the utterly damning testimony of David Pecker. And now, they seem to want to consider that a little bit more.

SHIRA SCHEINDLIN, RETIRED FEDERAL JUDGE: Well, Pecker was the first witness. That was weeks ago. And they may want their recollection refreshed.

My guess is that some people in that jury were already convinced, and others said convince me. And they said, we'll convince you, let's hear what Pecker said, because he said something quite damning for Trump.


So, I think in the dynamics of their conversations with each other, one group challenged the other, and said let's do it, let's hear Pecker.

COLLINS: Yes. Well, and just a reminder, everyone, because the testimony was so long ago. David Pecker is friends with Donald Trump for decades, Joey.

And in one of his testimonies that we know is going to be reread to the court, tomorrow, because we got to hear, as they were deliberating what it was the jury was asking about.

One of those quotes is where David Pecker said, there was a discussion about that how I was going to be the eyes and ears of the campaign. There was a discussion that I would be notifying Michael Cohen of any women that were in the process of or going to be selling their stories. And I would notify Cohen that they would be available, and that they would either have to buy them or take them off the market and kill them in some manner.

I mean, what do you make of the fact that the jury wants to hear that again?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I make quite a bit of it. I really do. Why? Because remember the theme and the theory of prosecutors, this is about a conspiracy and a cover-up.

Now, conspiracy is not charged. But it would imply two or more people are engaged in illegality. What is the illegality here? The falsification of the business records, for a specific intent, right, to violate some other law.

So, if you're going to conspire, you go to the beginning. What did that look like? Who was in the room at the time? What were you talking about? What were the relevant things you were attempting to do? What was the end game? What were the participants like? What were you planning on?

And so, to me, that really brings them back there as it relates to Pecker. And it also means to me, Kaitlan that they're crediting or at least one or more are crediting what Pecker had to say. If you want to hear from someone again, it means that you were impressed enough to want to know what they had to say.

Additionally, I would say, one of the instructions, as we know, is that you can disregard in totality a person's testimony, or take such portion that you believe to be believable, and disregard the rest. Who else did they look to hear from? Cohen. And so, that means to me that they're not ready to disregard him at all, but ready to hear what he has to say relative to a critical issue.

JEREMY SALAND, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I'll, first off, by saying I agree with the judge. And you should always agree with the judge. So, I'm in absolute agreement. And there are maybe -- there may -- very well may be a few people who are on that fence or disagree.

And once you have, where the conspiracy was born from, and where it was birthed, which is in that first meeting, in August of 2015, with Pecker, with Trump, and Cohen. And then, you take that next step, because of that phone call with -- involving McDougal, I don't buy stories, but talk to my guy, Michael Cohen. It really corroborates everything.

And part of the argument from the prosecution is you don't have to like or trust or really care much about Michael Cohen as a whole. But in this moment in time, he was honest. He may be a discredited, not a very credible person, and someone you may not even like. But in this moment, we know he was truthful. Why? Because of Pecker. And--

SCHEINDLIN: Well, the other reason that Pecker is so important is he says the intent of all this was about the election. And that's critical, because it's an election fraud crime, right, underlying. So, it's important that the reason they want to suppress those stories, is to affect the election, not to protect the family.

SALAND: Well, yes.

COLLINS: That's a great point, Judge, because no one -- and we don't know yet. This is the first time they've sent a note back.


COLLINS: We don't know if they'll send more notes back, or just these two. And we'll get to what the second one was in a moment.

But this note was not about falsifying business records, or asking a question about the instructions, necessarily, on the checks or the invoices. It was about the conspiracy to influence the 2016 election.

SCHEINDLIN: The election.

COLLINS: And that's why people think it's bad for the defense.

SCHEINDLIN: That we'll see.

SALAND: Yes, I think it's absolutely bad for the defense. I don't know how you read it to the contrary.

Now, if you read it to the contrary, that maybe there's a juror, who just can't be convinced? You're way too early for that. You're really in the birthing of this -- of this case. They're bringing that out for the same reason, we just all said, this is what happened, this corroborates the theory of the prosecution.

SCHEINDLIN: No, I'm willing to be a little more skeptical than you. And maybe more than one juror, who can't be convinced, that may be that--

SALAND: Could be more than one (ph).

SCHEINDLIN: --in my experience, jurors often took a straw poll, as soon as they got in the jury room. And that gave them the early reading. And if it's a split, like seven-five or whatever, they know they have work to do.

And so, they figure out how does the majority convince the minority, and they think that through. And here's the way. You got to hear what Pecker said. You got to compare it to what Cohen said. If they agree he's corroborated. After all, he's only an accomplice. He needs corroboration. The documents do the trick. But the witnesses do too.

JACKSON: Without question--

COLLINS: So, you see it as a sign of disagreement among the jurors?

SCHEINDLIN: Potentially. I -- look--

COLLINS: Really?

SCHEINDLIN: --we are all reading tea leaves. And I don't take it as a major disagreement. It's just the beginning. Maybe some people said, you know it's got to be beyond a reasonable doubt, and I'm not there yet. That's what I might say if--


SCHEINDLIN: --I was a juror.

JACKSON: Without question, Judge. But I think it goes back to what initially was the plan.

And remember what the other theory of the prosecution was. Stormy Daniels is the motivation. Why? Because on the heels of Access Hollywood-- SCHEINDLIN: Yes, right.

JACKSON: --and the rocking of the campaign, we don't need another story like this. And it gets us back to what the initial agreement is, how are we going to catch it, kill it, and what are we going to do about it, who's going to be responsible?


SCHEINDLIN: We used to call them bimbo eruption. We don't need another bimbo eruption, right now.

SALAND: Well--

SCHEINDLIN: Remember that?

COLLINS: Yes, that language has clearly changed as we have shifted on.

Go ahead, Jeremy.

SALAND: Well Hope Hicks did a good job of establishing that. She made it clear that when that Access Hollywood tape hit, the kid fare -- the fear and concern for female voters, how that would impact the election. So, all this collectively, and it starts, I think, with David Pecker.

COLLINS: And importantly, they're also asking for the instructions to be reread. It's not clear, if it's the full instructions. But the jury made clear, which I know you have strong feelings--

SCHEINDLIN: I want to--

COLLINS: --that they don't get a copy--

SCHEINDLIN: Yes, I want to talk about that.

COLLINS: --of these jury instructions.

SCHEINDLIN: In federal court, where I sat for so many years, we always sent the written charge into the jury room, not one copy, but 12. Every single juror had it. It was their roadmap to how to deliberate. They went through it. And it was the only way to go. And I'm just so surprised that New York State doesn't allow that.

COLLINS: Judge, before we go, I do have to ask you about this other claim--


COLLINS: --that Trump is making, because it's picking up steam. You can always tell when something's about to kind of just bust out there. And it's, he's saying falsely, that the judge is not requiring there to be a unanimous decision on each of the counts. He posted this earlier.

SCHEINDLIN: Well, no, no, no. That -- I'm sorry to correct you. There has to be unanimous decision, on every count. What doesn't have to be unanimous--

COLLINS: Right. Trump is--

JACKSON: Trump's saying--

SCHEINDLIN: Oh, Trump is saying? I'm sorry.


JACKSON: Yes, right.

SCHEINDLIN: I'm sorry. Trump is saying that.


COLLINS: No. But I -- this is why --this is why I wanted to ask you about this.

SCHEINDLIN: Oh, I'm sorry, yes.

COLLINS: Because Trump is claiming that there doesn't have to be a unanimous decision--


COLLINS: --on each of the charge.

SCHEINDLIN: It's in the charge. It's in the charge. I read the entire charge. It has--



JACKSON: There's a wrinkle to it.

SCHEINDLIN: No, of course, I know that.


SCHEINDLIN: The underlying, the one that you had the--


SCHEINDLIN: --the other crime that you intend to commit or conceal. That, according to the judge doesn't have to be unanimous. But I'll say that there may be an appellate issue there.

COLLINS: Yes. Well, I mean, Trump has made clear that would be their alternative, if he is convicted here.

Judge Scheindlin, Joey Jackson, Jeremy Saland, great to have you all here.

And of course, this is the one question that everyone, certainly me, was asking. What on earth is it like inside that jury room? My next source was a juror in another high-profile trial, involving a politician. We'll ask them.

Plus, Trump's former National Security Adviser, on his predictions, as Trump is bracing for a verdict.



COLLINS: There's one thing that prosecutors, Trump's defense team, Trump himself, and probably you at home, want to know, after seeing what happened inside of court today. What is actually happening inside that jury deliberation room?

We did get a few clues, when we -- those 12 jurors sent back notes, this afternoon. We don't actually know if they were from all of the jurors. It could have even just been from one. And they are still sent to the judge.

But my inside source, tonight, does know what it's like to deliberate, on a high-profile case. Jessica Hubinek served on the jury, in the second corruption trial, of the former Illinois governor, Rod Blagojevich. That jury ultimately convicted him. And she joins me now.

And it's great to have you, Jessica. Because I just think people, you know, not everyone has experience, either being on a high-profile jury of this case, going into that room. You sat through weeks of testimony, and kind of similar to what this jury has done.

What's it like once you actually got into the room with your fellow jurors?


So, the trial, the Blagojevich trial was about two months long. So, it was a rather lengthy trial. And by the time we got to the deliberations, that took about 10 days of combing back through all of the evidence, all the paperwork, re-listening to about eight hours of audio recordings. And it was very -- it was pretty intense.

But we had a really great group that ran really smoothly. We came to a consensus on most of the accounts, pretty quickly. There was a few that we were a little hung on. But we took votes, we collaborated, we worked together really well. I think everything went really well within the jury box.

COLLINS: And you just heard Judge Scheindlin. Maybe you haven't heard. She was here in the in the first group. And she said that often groups would take straw polls, when they got in the room. Was that something that you all did?

HUBINEK: Yes, we would do actual votes that were anonymous, and just deciding on some of the few counts that we were unsure of. I think there was one hung count, I believe, and there was a couple of not- guilty ones. And those were some of the ones that took us a little longer. But we did try to come to consensus, as fairly as possible, as quickly

as possible. And I think it just all worked out really well. And hopefully, the jury on the Trump trial is working just as well as the one on Blagojevich trial did.

COLLINS: Yes, he was ultimately found guilty, on 17 of those 20 charges. I mean, what was it like--


COLLINS: --getting everyone, to the same page, on those 17 counts?

HUBINEK: Well, I think for us, especially me, I went in there, very unbiased. I really wanted to hear all the evidence laid out, and evaluated as much as we could.

I took copious amount of notes. I had two notebooks full of notes. And many of the other jurors did the same kind of thing. So, when we went into deliberations, I do really believe that we were very organized. We were ready to look over the information.

And to be quite honest, for the Blagojevich trial, there was such an overwhelming amount of evidence, for a guilty verdict, for many of these counts, that it really was just a matter of combing back through the information, and confirming what we heard during the trial.

COLLINS: Did you have an idea, going into that jury room, after listening to those two months of testimony, and seeing the evidence, of which way you would ultimately vote?

HUBINEK: Yes. I do believe, as far as I'm concerned, and I believe a lot of the other jurors did really feel like a lot of the counts, were going to be guilty verdicts. We did need to clarify some of the information behind the counts.


We didn't fully understand some of the things that were being charged. We need to get good explanations of that, and found the evidence supporting our decisions for each of those counts. And we went through them one by one. We were very meticulous in how we approached it. And by the time we were done, we felt very confident in our votes.

COLLINS: Jessica Hubinek, I mean it's fascinating to hear what it's like, inside that room, for these jurors who today was day one. We'll see what -- how day two goes. Thank you for joining, tonight.

HUBINEK: Thank you.

COLLINS: Up next, we're going to hear from Donald Trump's former National Security Adviser, who has a prediction on how he will react to the verdict, regardless of what the verdict is.

John Bolton is here, after a quick break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COLLINS: With eight or so hours to kill, inside that Manhattan courthouse today, Donald Trump occupied himself, in one of his favorite ways. As the jury was deliberating, he seemed to be testing just about how many posts per minute he could fire off, on Truth Social.

By our count, Donald Trump or maybe his aides posted more than 40 times, including everything from clips of Fox News, to quotes from people defending them, some of them misquotes, I should note, as well as repeating claims that he has made for weeks now, about this case, this judge, and this court.

My next guest has been in the room with the former President during some of the most tense moments imaginable. Trump's former National Security Adviser, John Bolton is here.

And Ambassador Bolton, it's great to have you.

I mean, this is one of the most fascinating parts to me, is that Trump can't leave the courthouse, while the jury is there deliberating. He has to be in -- he doesn't have be in the actual courtroom. But he has to be in the courthouse.

I just wonder what you think that means to him.



I mean, I've, back in the day, sweated out a few jurors. And it's nerve-racking for everybody.

But because the defendant has to be available, if the jury comes in with a verdict, you can't have him wandering away. So, he's kind of stuck there. And 40 tweets, or whatever we call, Truth Socials, these days? That's probably a low number. Let's see what it is, tomorrow.

COLLINS: Yes, it was remarkable to kind of scroll through, when he'd only been there for 12 or so minutes.

But -- and the reason he's there, when they get a note, he and his legal team also go in the room, to hear what the note is. It could obviously be quite important.

And I know you and I've talked about this case before. You don't agree with the underlying premise of it. But this verdict is going to come from a jury of 12 of his peers. They'll make the decision on the evidence that they have seen that none of us have quite seen it in the way that they have.

And I just wonder, well how you think Trump will react to the verdict, regardless of what it is?

BOLTON: Well, I think he's obviously preparing himself. And I think the odds favor, in my view, a hung jury. But I do think conviction is possible. I think acquittal is almost -- almost impossible. So between the two possibilities, he'll certainly declare victory, if it's a hung jury. And he'll blame the conviction, if that's what it is, on the Deep State.

The difference between this and other prior crises for Trump that threatened him, and his future is, this time he's in the middle of an election campaign. So, he's got a particular target. And that's Joe Biden.

And amidst the general outrage, we will hear expressed, I think the campaign is certainly trying to channel him, toward keeping his eyes on the prize, which is defeating Biden. Now, whether he sticks with that plan is a different question.

But I think that that's one major difference. Before, it was just his general Trumpian war of all against all. But now, he's got an opponent, he has to beat in six months. And that's where I think the focus will be.

COLLINS: What do you make of what I've heard from some Trump folks that a conviction will help him?

BOLTON: I don't -- I don't think a conviction, even in a Manhattan courtroom, helps anybody. He will still be potentially a convicted felon, at that point. I think a lot of independent voters, they may say, that's the end of it for us. It may -- it may fire Trump's base up. And he may be able to say well, I'll win on appeal, and explain it that way.

It's not a good look to be convicted under any circumstances. Not everybody believes that this is an unfair prosecution. Not everybody believes Joe Biden and the Democratic Party are driving it.

There'll be issues on appeal. He might get it overturned on appeal. But I don't think he cares about that. He's worried about the conviction before the election.

COLLINS: You're a lifelong Republican. And you've often touted the merits of the U.S. justice system, when you're on the world stage, and how our courts work, and that any American can be held accountable, no matter your status, or your rank, or your office that you've previously held.

Do you think Republicans, and Republican voters, and everyone, should be able to have faith in what this verdict is, from this jury?

BOLTON: Well, I think the jury is going to do its job. I really do.

And if you don't like the jury, because it's in Manhattan, and it has a certain demographic, ask Donald Trump why he did his entire business career in Manhattan. You get to pick where you -- where you live. He picked it. Now, he's going to bear the consequences of it.

There's merit to the claim that this case has political bias behind it. The District Attorney campaigned specifically, saying he was going to get Donald Trump. And now, he's got him in court.

But it's also possible somebody, a prosecutor is motivated by politics, but has an actual breaking-of-the-law situation that he's brought against the defendant. We'll see what the jury says on it.

But the fact is that Trump still has the full potential to appeal. It's not over for him, just because of the jury verdict.

And if you don't, if you say that you oppose the entire judicial system, because you think one person is being treated unfairly, it's a very destructive course to go down, especially for conservatives.

COLLINS: Well, that's -- I'm so glad you brought that up. Because Marco Rubio wants to be vice president. It's quite clear. He's an esteemed senator. He clearly is hoping for this job. I mean, he's comparing this to what the Soviet Union does to political opponents there. And I mean, that's a comparison that some Republicans may see, and say, well, he has a point, you know?

But it's not just Alvin Bragg who is doing this. There's a jury in that room. There is a case that has to be made. They're not just making up evidence. And the jury is listening to that.


COLLINS: So, what do you make of people like Senator Rubio's claims?

BOLTON: Well, I think there's a danger of questioning the integrity of all of our legal institutions, this way. And Trump only cares about Trump. He doesn't care if the institutions rise or fall. He just wants to know what Donald Trump's fate is going to be. And I think for Republicans to play into his hands is a huge mistake. You've already got other people, who are out there, questioning the system from the other side.


And if I were in Moscow or Beijing, I would say anything that undercuts Americans' general faith in their Constitution, or institutions, weakens America. It doesn't matter whether it's from the left or right. It's an attack on the integrity of the system itself that in the case of Donald Trump and this prosecution is just not evident.

COLLINS: Ambassador John Bolton, great to have you here, on set.

BOLTON: Thanks.

COLLINS: Thank you.

This trial, of course, centers around a hush money payment that was made to Stormy Daniels. My next source, on set, is her attorney.


COLLINS: The first thing, tomorrow morning, in Downtown, New York here, the jury, in Donald Trump's hush money trial will be back, in the courthouse, to hear key testimony from David Pecker and Michael Cohen reread to them, from a court officer -- a court reporter, I should note.

There's another captivating witness, whose testimony though will also likely be seared into the jurors' minds, and will also likely be brought up in that deliberation room. That is of course, Stormy Daniels.

Her attorney, Clark Brewster, joins me now.

And it's great to have you back.

Because I just wonder, first off, you're an attorney, what do you make of the jury asking to re-hear testimony, from David Pecker, Michael Cohen, and also to have the jury instructions read to them again?


CLARK BREWSTER, ATTORNEY FOR STORMY DANIELS: I think that that's a very good sign. Usually, it means that there's some debate, over somebody's notes, or remembrance of what happened. And they want to be sure. And they want to make sure as they go through that they're precise in their deliberations. I think it's a very good sign of a conscientious jury.

COLLINS: What does it mean for -- you know, when that first buzzer rang in the courtroom, and everyone kind of was like, what does this mean? Is it a verdict? I don't think anyone expected it to be that soon.

What does it say to you that they're going to have probably an hour, or 30 minutes, tomorrow, getting this read back to them, in terms of when a verdict could be reached?

BREWSTER: Well, it's hard to say. I mean, really, the question is, how many are raising an issue. They usually do a quick poll or a vote. And it'd be interesting to know where they are on that. And what has prompted that request and discussion. But it's hard to really predict.

But it's pretty typical to get a note from the jury. And it really gives you some insight into what they're focused upon. And actually no surprise, it's the two witnesses, that really have been very important, with regard to Trump's intent, and his -- the issues associated with the criminal mens rea or mental intent.

COLLINS: You said something really interesting yesterday that you actually think Stormy Daniels could have been a better or more effective witness for the defense here. And how? How so?

BREWSTER: Well, not necessarily. That wasn't a conclusion I was trying to lead you to.

What I was saying is I think she could have been very effectively cross-examined, by reaching the common-ground questions with her. And she would have readily acceded a lot of common-ground questions. And I think an effective examination would have been a lawyer that got

up there, and reached all those common-ground areas, and had her concede them, and then go for the critical issue, or the debate between the facts, the defense and the prosecution.

That was never done. They just jumped right into controversy, and acrimony, and the cross-examination. Not effective at all.

COLLINS: And one thing that's -- it's also important for everyone to remember is, the defense had access to her as a witness as well. They could have reached out to her, and talked to her about what she was going to testify, to know what she was going to say, and what those areas of common interest, as you say, could have been.

But they didn't do so. Did they?

BREWSTER: No, they didn't. Actually, the lead lawyer sent an emailed subpoena to me, requesting documents that had no legal effect. It was just emailed to me. But he never reached out or followed up at all.

That was litigated. Ultimately, a subpoena was litigated with her. And the judge sustained or -- sustained an objection to quash the subpoena.

COLLINS: Oh, so a Trump attorney emailed you a subpoena, for documents and that it was--


COLLINS: --meritless, basically?

BREWSTER: Yes, pretty much, right. There was a -- it was a futile failed effort that kind of surprised me if that caliber of counsel would do that.

COLLINS: That's interesting. I mean, what did you read into that?


COLLINS: What kind of documents did they want?

BREWSTER: Either they didn't--

COLLINS: Can you share that with me?

BREWSTER: --they didn't think through what it takes to serve a subpoena, in another state, and get documents under the Reciprocal Act, or they just assumed her lawyer didn't know that. But either way, it wasn't an act of what I considered to be good counsel.

COLLINS: How's she doing? How is she processing all of this as we are -- I mean, this must be a tense time for everyone, but especially for her, as she's waiting to see what this verdict is.

BREWSTER: Well, we talked a couple of times, today. She is greatly relieved that this is behind her, from the standpoint of showing up in court and testifying. And I think she would be pleased, either way. I mean, she just wants to know that what she said was truthful and transparent. And it's out of her hands now. So, it's in the hands of the jury.

COLLINS: It is indeed in the hands of the jury. We'll see what they decide.

Clark Brewster, great to have you on.

BREWSTER: Thank you.

COLLINS: Ahead, there are more excuses, same of the old excuses, from the Supreme Court Justice Alito, on why those flags were flying at his homes. Also, a refusal to recuse himself from two major January 6 cases before the court, despite calls to do so, including from top Democratic senators, like my next guest.



COLLINS: Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito says he won't recuse himself, from two key decisions, facing the Supreme Court, involving the January 6 attack on the Capitol.

Alito revealed this decision in a letter, to Senate Democrats, today, blaming his wife not once or even twice, but nearly a dozen times actually, in this letter, as you can see here, for those controversial flags that were flown on properties that the two of them own.

One, of course, was that upside-down American flag that The New York Times first reported on. It was known as a distress symbol, but also more recently has become a symbol of those who deny what happened in the 2020 election.

Alito didn't address that flag in his letter, but he did write, and he said, quote, "I had nothing whatsoever to do with the flying of that flag... as soon as I saw it, I asked my wife to take it down, but for several days, she refused."

The Justice went on to explain by saying, "My wife is fond of flying flags. I am not... the events recounted above do not meet the applicable standard for recusal. I am therefore required to reject your request."

Joining me, tonight, a Democratic member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Richard Blumenthal.

And Senator, it's great to have you.

And before we get to your response to this decision, I just wonder if you believe it's legitimate that that just -- and believable that Justice Alito wasn't aware about an upside-down American flag, flying outside of his home.

[21:45:00] SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): Kaitlan, it absolutely defies commonsense and credibility. What Justice Alito is doing in fact is dragging down the credibility of the court, destroying American people's trust in the court, by these kinds of flimsy excuses that fail to pass the red face test.

And in fact, what these flag-flying incidents show are political statements. And they're part of a pattern, by Justice Alito, and the reason that he should disqualify himself, recuse, and take himself, out of decisions involving Donald Trump.

COLLINS: When he says he's required to refuse your -- the request to recuse himself, what do you make of that?

BLUMENTHAL: He says that he's not required. And there isn't a law that requires it because the Supreme Court has no code of ethics alone, among all the branches of government, and all the judges, except for the United States Supreme Court. He, and the highest court in the land, really are required to obey, only the lowest standards that they apply to themselves. So, there is no enforceable code of conduct.

I've urged that there be an Inspector General for the Judicial Conference. I've urged that there be an enforceable code of conduct. Obviously, Republicans would have to cooperate in these kinds of efforts.

But I think the time has come for the Chief Justice of the court. Roberts has a responsibility here, to show some spine and step into the breach.

COLLINS: What do you think he should do?

BLUMENTHAL: I think he ought to use his moral and political force on the court, and take actions that may seem symbolic, like refusing to assign opinions to Justice Alito, and Justice Thomas.

He has the power, when he's in the majority, which happened 86 percent of the time during the last session, to deny them the opportunity, to do the majority opinion, even if they're in the majority.

He should also take away from them, their power over specific circuits of the court, geographic areas that all the justices divide among themselves.

Those kinds of steps may seem small, but they would send a very powerful message, about his disapproval, and his showing some leadership here.

And I think the United States Congress ought to call the Chief Justice, before this Judiciary Committee. I think that we, in the Senate, ought to hear an explanation from him. I think he owes it to Congress and to the American people.

COLLINS: Well, will you urge your colleagues, on the Senate Judiciary Committee, to do so?

BLUMENTHAL: I've urged them.

And I think we need to put the blame, where it lies, where it properly should be, for the failure of Congress to do more here. It really belongs to the Republicans. Because we know that there isn't a single Republican, on the Judiciary Committee, who would take any action effectively.

But I'm going to urge my colleagues that we should hear from Chief Justice Roberts, and that we ought to summon him, to appear before us. I have no hope that Justice Alito would even obey a subpoena.

COLLINS: Well, yes, well, I mean, we even heard from people, like Senator Lindsey Graham, who said they thought this was bad judgment, by Alito, at least for the upside-down American flag.

Your colleague, though, in the House, Jamie Raskin seemed to say -- he's on House Judiciary, obviously different than the Senate Judiciary. But he said that he believes the Justice Department could actually force Justices Alito and Thomas to recuse themselves, saying that they could petition the other seven justices to require them to do so, not as a matter of grace, but as a matter of law.

Do you see that as it -- is that possible? Or, I mean, besides even likely, is that possible?

BLUMENTHAL: Certainly possible. Any litigant, and the Department of Justice is a litigant before the court, is reluctant to take kind of -- that kind of overt action.

But we have now entered territory that is so unique and unprecedented. Justice Alito, and Justice Thomas, are continuing to defile, and defile those basic standards, and norms of decency, and ethics. And I think the time has come for some pretty drastic action, because the American people are losing trust in the Supreme Court.

The court has no armies. It has no police force. It depends for the enforceability of its orders, on its credibility. And it is rapidly squandering it by failing to act here. The Chief Justice has an obligation, but the Department of Justice may as well.

COLLINS: We'll see what they do, if anything.

Senator Richard Blumenthal, thank you for your time tonight.


BLUMENTHAL: Thank you.

COLLINS: Up next. There were searing words from President Biden today that you've got to hear, on Trump's record on race, as he is trying to win back Black voters, and make sure they're there for him in 2024.


COLLINS: President Biden was in Philadelphia, on a mission, today, to shore up his support among Black voters, a key part of his 2020 coalition, and one that I should note Donald Trump has made some modest gains with in the last few months.

And with only few months to go, before the Election Night, President Biden argued why he believes voters should choose him over Trump.



JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: If Black Americans had stormed it -- think about this: What do you think would have happened if Black Americans had stormed the Capitol? I don't think he'd be talking about pardons.


COLLINS: My political sources join me, here tonight, at the table.

Former Clinton White House press secretary, Joe Lockhart.

And former Trump White House communications director, Alyssa Farah Griffin.

I mean, Joe, wow. We haven't -- we've heard a lot of January 6 talk, from President Biden. I don't think I've ever heard him say something like that.

JOE LOCKHART, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Yes. But it's necessary, at this point. I think there were -- there were -- there's a lot of things going on, I think, in today's schedule for Biden.

There are traditional parts of the Democratic coalition that are just not there yet. So going into a -- speak to a Black community, to try to shore that up is important. But I think it goes to more than that.

There's an enthusiasm gap with young people, with suburban women. These issues are what energize them, because it's a reminder of what Trump has done and said. And you can -- you can call him any name you want.

But, you know, and earlier today, I Googled Trump racial comments, and I could still be reading, now, there's so much of it, and what he's done. He was prosecuted for discrimination in housing. The Central Park Five, where before any trial, he called for their death penalty. And I had experience, when he took it on the whole, every Black player in the NFL, for kneeling.

So, I think it serves a purpose, in the one community. But I think if they do it right, and they keep concentrating on what he did, not what he's going to do, it does energize main, very important parts of the Democratic coalition.

COLLINS: Yes. I mean, I just want to play the whole sound bite, from that, Alyssa, because it wasn't just January 6, and Trump's record that he wanted to talk about. He wanted to talk about other aspects of Trump's record as well.


BIDEN: This is the same guy who wanted to tear gas you as you peacefully protested George Floyd's murder. The same guy who still calls the Central Park Five "Guilty," even though they were exonerated.

He's that landlord who denies housing applications because of the color of your skin.

He says he's the greatest president for Bl- -- Black people in the history of America, including more than Abraham Lincoln.



BIDEN: I mean, can you fathom that?


ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Listen, I think President Biden got up, he ate his Wheaties, and I think he's waking up to the reality of the polls.

Here's the thing. I think this year, there has been this sense, among the Biden campaign of, it's Trump. There are 88 indictment counts. He's on trial. There are all these vulnerabilities with him. They can't -- it can't possibly be as close as it looks. And I think he's realizing they need to throw everything against the wall.

What we saw today was incredibly effective, I would say juxtaposed to -- I was critical of the Robert De Niro courtroom show, which I don't think that moves movable voters. That is shoring up a key constituency, with messaging that works.

But they -- he's got this very uphill battle, where he's got to keep the Democratic coalitions together, Black voters, young voters, the far-left, but also try to get the swing middle-of-the-road voters. It's a tough dance. He's capable of doing it.

But this has really been the first time that I felt like, wow, he realizes we are five months out from Donald Trump potentially being elected president.

COLLINS: But what about the economic argument that you hear from the Trump team, as they're watching this and saying, well, we are making inroads with Black voters more than, you know, if he stays on track with this, that Trump will get more of that vote than any Republican candidate, presidential candidate in modern history.

I mean, if you look at the numbers, he has nearly a quarter of support from Black voters, right now.

And Biden's margin of support has shrunk from since 2020. And obviously, that's a key part of his coalition, and a group that I mean, it propelled him. No one can forget that South Carolina primary, and what it did for President Biden's campaign.

LOCKHART: Well, sure if the numbers stay as they are, he will not win reelection. The numbers, there have been several times, in our history, where Republicans had made inroads. But by Election Day, it didn't play out.

And I think one of the things that Biden has to do, you saw it today, is we're in this situation, right now, where in 2016, a lot of people said, it won't be as bad as you think. In 2024, people are saying it wasn't so bad. Well, they need to remind people every single day just how bad it was. And I think with key constituencies, you saw it today.

COLLINS: You think if the numbers stay where they are right now, that President Biden loses, in November?

LOCKHART: Oh, I think if 25 percent of African Americans vote for Donald Trump, he will win. 25 percent of African Americans are not going to vote for Donald Trump. This is the -- you know, the shot across the bow started today. You're going to hear a lot more of it.

COLLINS: Well, and he's also using the Supreme Court, which obviously has been a big impact here, saying, well, the Supreme Court could make a big difference here. There could be justices retiring in the next four years.

FARAH GRIFFIN: And I think that's motivating, and it ties into the reproductive rights discussion. But listen, that can't be all of it.


Joe Biden has to be able to do a little bit of everything, and I would say, and you could speak to this better than me, sticking to the table-top issues. The economy always lists as number one. If he can go back to that, will speak into these other concerns? That's how he gets ahead in the polls.

COLLINS: Yes. We'll see how the voters take it.


COLLINS: We've got a few months left, obviously.

Joe Lockhart, great to have you back on set.

Alyssa Farah Griffin, as well.

Thank you all so much, for joining us.

We'll be back, tomorrow, 9:30 AM, for special coverage of Trump's trial, as the jury will be back in the room.