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The Source with Kaitlan Collins

Trump Now Using Immunity Ruling In Effort To Overturn NY Hush Money Conviction; Biden: Supreme Court Set "Dangerous Precedent" On Immunity; Steve Bannon Now In Federal Prison Serving Four-Month Sentence. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired July 01, 2024 - 21:00   ET




KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Bannon was subpoenaed for documents and testimony. He refused to comply, and was indicted on contempt of congress charges. After a trial, Bannon was convicted, and sentenced to four months in prison.

STEVE BANNON, TRUMP ALLY, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: I'm a political prisoner. I feel great about it. It won't change me. It will not suppress my voice.

SCANNELL (voice-over): Bannon's multiple attempts, to stay out of prison, ended, last week, when the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear his case.

And as Bannon entered prison, where he'll be known as inmate 05635- 509, he said he had no regrets.

BANNON: I'm actually proud of what I did. And I would have felt terrible if I didn't do it.


BANNON: I don't mind going to prison today.


SCANNELL (voice-over): Kara Scannell, CNN, Danbury, Connecticut.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: And that's it for us. The news continues. "THE SOURCE WITH KAITLAN COLLINS" starts now. I'll see you, tomorrow.


The Supreme Court giving Donald Trump a bigger win than even he expected, transforming the 2024 race in the country forever, with one liberal Justice warning that this new ruling makes every president, quote, "A king above the law." What today's historic decision means for Donald Trump's criminal cases? I have new reporting. And Trump's attorney is also here to join me live.

Also, President Biden, weighing in, just a few moments ago, in a speech that was watched just for much as how it was delivered, as for what was actually said, coming after that disastrous debate performance that has left Democrats panicked, and his campaign in crisis.

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

We start with breaking news, tonight, as the impact of today's Supreme Court ruling is already being felt.

I've just confirmed that the Donald Trump legal team is now moving to overturn his hush money conviction, in New York, citing today's ruling, from the High Court, finding that presidents have sweeping immunity from prosecution, for their acts while they are in office.

We have learned from sources that Trump's legal team has now fired off a letter, to Justice Juan Merchan, that's the judge in New York who oversaw his case there, asking him to set Trump's guilty verdict aside, essentially to overturn it.

They claim that evidence that was used during that hush money trial included official acts that Trump took, while he was in office. And they suggest postponing his sentencing that is supposed to happen, in just 10 days from now, for those 34 felony convictions.

This news is breaking, tonight, as President Biden has offered this blistering take, just a few moments ago, from the White House, on the Supreme Court's ruling.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: No one, no one is above the law, not even the President of the United States. With today's Supreme Court decision, on presidential immunity, that fundamentally changed.

For all, for all practical purposes, today's decision almost certainly means that there are virtually no limits, on what a president can do. This is a fundamentally new principle. And it's a dangerous precedent. Because the power of the office will no longer be constrained by the law, even including the Supreme Court in the United States.


COLLINS: Now, that address from President Biden was watched just as closely for his reaction to the ruling, as it was for President Biden himself.

These were his first public remarks, since Saturday, when he was in North Carolina. They come amid calls from some in his own party to drop out of the race. The finger-pointing has continued, tonight, over who's to blame, for the 90-minute debacle that was last week's debate, here on CNN.

But the President using a teleprompter there, and also declining to take questions at the end, focused on the ruling, and said that he agreed with Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who accused her conservative colleagues on the court, of ignoring, quote, settled understanding of the Constitution, of inventing immunity through brute force, and looking to history, and I'm quoting her now, "Only when it is convenient."

Days before the July 4th holiday, both the Justice and the President, tonight, hearkened back to the founding of this nation.


BIDEN: She said, "In every use of official power, the president is now a king above the law. With fear for our democracy, I dissent," end of quote. So should the American people dissent. I dissent.


COLLINS: Biden is imploring voters to take action in November.

But I should note my new reporting tonight shows that Trump and his legal team are acting now, to take advantage of today's landmark ruling, from the Supreme Court.

I want to get straight to THE SOURCE, tonight, with one of the attorneys representing Donald Trump, in the immunity case, Will Scharf. I should note he is also running in the Republican primary to be Missouri's Attorney General.

And Will, it's great to have you back here tonight.

For what's happening tonight with this news, and Trump's legal team trying to overturn that conviction. You're not representing him, in that case. But you were there in the courtroom, for parts of that trial, as it was going on.

Does anything, in the New York case, pass the test, in your view that the Supreme Court established today, in this ruling?


WILL SCHARF, ATTORNEY FOR DONALD TRUMP: Yes, absolutely, Kaitlan. The Supreme Court was very clear that for acts with -- that fall within the outer perimeter of the President's official responsibilities, acts that are presumptively immune from prosecution, that evidence of those acts cannot be used in -- to try essentially private acts.

So, what we have in New York is a situation, where a substantial number of official acts of the presidency, things that we believe are official acts, were used as evidence, to support the charges in that New York trial. We believe that that corrupts that trial, that that indicates that that jury verdict needs to be overturned, and at the very least--


SCHARF: --we deserve a new trial, where those immune acts will not come into evidence, as the Supreme Court dictated today.

COLLINS: Which acts, are you arguing that were presented in the trial are official acts?

SCHARF: So, one example would be communications made through official White House communications channels. Those would be things that we believe, based on the Supreme Court's opinion today, fall neatly within the outer perimeter of a president's official responsibilities and duties.

So, certainly, with respect to those sorts of official communications, from the White House that were entered into evidence in that New York trial, that would be the sort of thing that would run afoul of the Supreme Court's opinion today.

COLLINS: So, like testimony from Hope Hicks, or what exactly do you mean?

SCHARF: No, I mean, there were, for example, tweets from President Trump's official Twitter account that were entered into evidence at trial. President Trump's Twitter account has been held by numerous courts to be an -- during his time as President, to be an official communications instrumentality of the White House.

So, those sorts of things would be official acts, under the Supreme Court's ruling today. And therefore, they were not admissible as evidence in that New York trial.

COLLINS: Do you think it will actually warrant a new trial, though, in New York?

SCHARF: I think it certainly should. I think it just adds to the vast number of irregularities, and unconstitutional aspects of that trial, that took place in New York. We're obviously looking forward to vigorously challenging that trial verdict, on numerous grounds. This is just another ground that I think adds to the clamor--


SCHARF: --in terms of overturning that verdict.

COLLINS: I'm a little skeptical. But we'll see what the judge decides here. We haven't seen any response from him, or from the D.A.'s office.

But on this case itself, and on the January 6th case, here in Washington, which is what this immunity ruling came from, Justice Amy Coney Barrett wrote that if the lower judge rules against you on this question of what's official and what's not official, that Trump must stand trial.

I mean, do you acknowledge that there is still a chance he does have a trial here, for the January 6th election interference case? SCHARF: Well, first of all, I would note that Justice Barrett's opinion is a concurrence, and it's not controlling.

I think the majority opinion, authored by Chief Justice Roberts, very clearly sets out the path ahead. This case is going to be remanded back to the District Court. The District Court is going to have to determine which of the acts underlying the indictment are immune, and which are not immune. And then, we'll proceed from there.

Obviously, any immunity decision made by the District Court, we would have the ability to appeal on an interlocutory basis, again, up to the D.C. Circuit, and potentially to the Supreme Court as well.

In terms of your core question about the trial timeline.


SCHARF: I think at the very least, we're looking at a long road ahead before this case could go to trial, which I think is appropriate, given the very serious constitutional issues that this first ever prosecution of a former President presents here.

COLLINS: Yes, but you have conceded here, the last time that we had -- that you and I spoke in April, and John Sauer, who was arguing this before the Supreme Court, that some of what's alleged would be considered a private act.

So, that would mean that at least part of this case, from Jack Smith, would go to court, based on what you have said before, right?

SCHARF: We've admitted consistently that there are acts alleged in the indictment that would constitute private conduct. But we believe that if the official conduct, the immune acts in the indictment are stripped away, that Jack Smith doesn't have a case that this case should be dismissed, on that basis.

I don't think there's sufficient private -- private conduct here, to support the indictment, to support the ongoing prosecution.

COLLINS: Even just the false slates of electors?

SCHARF: And that's what we're going to be litigating, in front of the District Court now.

COLLINS: Even just the false slates of electors?


COLLINS: You don't think that would constitute enough for a trial?

SCHARF: Well, we would say alternate slates of electors. And as we argued before the Supreme Court, alternate slates of electors have been a method used by previous presidents, most notably Ulysses S. Grant, to ensure the integrity of prior elections. So, we believe the assembly of those alternate slates of electors was an official act of the presidency. That's what we argued before the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has reserved that issue for determination, by the District Court. And we'll see how arguments fall in front of the District Court.

COLLINS: Yes, we've walked through those historical references here before. None of them compare to what we saw in 2020, with the fake slates of electors.

But Will Scharf, great to have your reaction to this. Thank you for joining us tonight.

SCHARF: I would disagree with that, Kaitlan. But great to be with you. Thank you.

COLLINS: That does not surprise me at all. Thank you very much, Will.


And here with me now, a former federal prosecutor, who was inside the Supreme Court today, Shan Wu.

Also, CNN's Senior Legal Analyst, and former Assistant U.S. attorney, Elie Honig.

As well as CNN's Senior Law Enforcement Analyst, and the former FBI Deputy Director, Andrew McCabe.

Great to have you all here.

Elie, let me just start with you. Because on this new reporting, tonight, of how this decision, here in Washington, is already extending and having its impact felt in New York, you predicted this earlier, when you were hearing that this was going to happen, within like an hour of the Supreme Court decision coming down.

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: You could see the dominoes that were going to fall.

I think this gives Donald Trump's team a shot, a long shot, but a shot, to try to overturn the hush money case. And I think you just got some interesting details, out of Will Scharf, there, as to how they're going to argue it.

The Supreme Court, today, defined official acts very broadly, broader than I even expected them to. And so, Donald Trump's team is going to say, some of the communications, not many, but a bit of the evidence, used against Donald Trump, in the hush money trial happened in early 2017, when he was president, communications with White House officials.

I'm not sure that just using the official Twitter account is enough, to get something over the line. But they're going to have an argument.

I think Judge Merchan, given his overall orientation in this case, is going to be skeptical of that argument. I would -- I had to guess, I would guess he denies it. However, this gives Donald Trump another arrow in the quiver, for when he goes up onto appeal, and could end up right back in the same place, we got our ruling from today.

COLLINS: Yes. Well, I mean, Shan, you were inside the courtroom -- inside the Supreme Court, as this was coming down. And obviously, we don't get to actually hear the opinions, the rulings being read.

What was it like to hear one, Chief Justice John Roberts with his ruling, as he read the majority opinion, but also the dissent from Sonia Sotomayor, which is worth reading also, as you look at all of this?

SHAN WU, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, I've never actually been to one of the announcements before. And it was quite a--

COLLINS: You picked quite a good (ph) one.

WU: Yes. It was very different than being there for arguments. I was really struck. Roberts was very matter of fact, as he read, and the other conservative justices actually seemed a little bit checked out. I mean, Justice Thomas was like, leaning back in his chairs, eyes closed, sometimes. Kavanaugh seemed to be looking at him.

But what has really changed the atmosphere, in the courtroom, was when she began to read that dissent. And there was much more tension in the courtroom. And she really ratcheted up the drama, by actually turning towards the conservative side, looking right at Roberts, at certain moments. And the fascinating thing to me, he never looked back at her, never looked up at all.

COLLINS: Wow. I mean, because if you read, what I was just saying there, she was saying that they were inventing immunity through brute force.

WU: Right.

COLLINS: She was saying that they were only relying on history, when it was convenient to them. I mean, it was pretty scathing of a dissent.

WU: Oh, absolutely. And you see, I mean, in the majority writing, I mean, he tries to address some of that.

And I must say, looking at the body language, Amy Coney Barrett, who started off the proceeding, talking about the case, she did with a little bit of humor. She was quite personable. Looked pretty uptight, sitting next to her, looking straight at the back--


WU: --during that very--


HONIG: No respectfully either, right?

WU: Right. Absolutely, right.

HONIG: There's right--

WU: No respectfully either.

HONIG: --they usually say, I respectfully dissent. But Justice Sotomayor said--

COLLINS: He said--

HONIG: --I dissent.


WU: Yes.

COLLINS: Out of fear for democracy, I dissent.

WU: Right. Yes.

COLLINS: I mean, this was a ruling. And I think it's important to note. Trump himself was claiming he had full immunity. They didn't actually argue that in court.

MCCABE: Of course not.

COLLINS: But they did get a lot more than even what the legal team thought they were going to get in this ruling.

MCCABE: This was not the grand slam that Trump was looking for. But it was very close.

WU: Yes.

MCCABE: Very, very close.

And as Elie has mentioned, the definition of immunity is so broad, I think it's far beyond what most legal analysts thought, where we would end up, that with the addition of the elimination, of using any official conduct as evidence, in a prosecution that targets unofficial conduct really carves out a miniscule area of potential prosecution for any president or former President.

It's almost impossible to imagine when you cobble together, hypotheticals around -- built around with different federal criminal law, it's almost impossible to imagine how you build a case, to prove those prosecutions, to a jury of 12.

COLLINS: Well, that's what Biden was saying today. There is no restraints, as he was saying, on the office that he enjoys currently right now.

And what this means practically, though, is Judge Chutkan has a lot of big decisions to make, which is when it comes to Trump's influence campaign, on Mike Pence, his outreach and influence on state officials, people like the Governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp, and also his speech on The Ellipse, that day.


WU: Right.

HONIG: The Supreme Court gave some guidance, some loose guidance to Judge Chutkan. But you can see where they expect her to go.

They basically said, the Court today said, Trump's communications with DOJ, those are going to be covered. He's immune. His conversations with the VP, probably are going to be covered. Even his speech on The Ellipse, they say is probably going to be covered too. So, they're signaling to Judge Chutkan, I'm not going to -- we're not going to leave you with a lot.

And you had a really interesting exchange just now, with Will Scharf, Kaitlan, where he seemed to suggest that there's going to be so little left in this case that it's not even going to be enough, to support criminal charges.


I'm not quite sure it's going to be that extensive. But whatever's left of this indictment, it's going to look like Swiss cheese. It's going to have holes all over.

And as Andy said, the Supreme Court said you can't even use, prosecutors can't even use evidence of an official act, even to just explain this, to a jury, even to just fill out the narrative. So, if this case survives, it's going to be just barely.

COLLINS: I mean, and Justice Amy Coney Barrett, though was skeptical of that.


COLLINS: She disagreed with that, which was notable.

WU: She did, yes.

MCCABE: And that's the -- that's the best example. It's the bribery example. So, if you accuse a president of bribery? That's, of course, taking a bribe in return for performing an official act. You could essentially enter evidence of the acceptance of the bribe, because that's not official. But you can't even refer to the official act.

So, imagine putting that case on, in front of a jury, and not being able to explain to them what the official act was that the President allegedly took. It's--

HONIG: This is giving me anxiety and a headache, as a prosecutor, just, I mean--

WU: Right, yes.

HONIG: --having that kind of stuff stripped out of your case, it's killer.

WU: I mean, even beyond the substance aspect, the way they set this process up, makes it just a torturous experience--


WU: --for trying to bring cases. I mean, there's got to be so much extra fact-finding. They didn't give very clear guidance as to how Chutkan's supposed to do this. It really just makes it sort of the death by a 1,000 cuts.

COLLINS: Yes, it'll be remarkable to see how she handles it, and if we--

WU: Sure.

COLLINS: --we have a hearing in front of her, over these arguments, of these actual issues.

Great to have you all there.

Shan, I mean, what a banner day for you. I hope you write about this in your diary, tonight.

Coming up here, though, on CNN, President Biden arguing it is time for voters to decide whether Donald Trump is fit for office. Clearly, the court's not going to be involved really very much in that.

The question is whether or not President Biden is doing enough, to quash concerns, about his own fitness. The latest on what's behind- the-scenes in his party inside that White House tonight.

Also tonight, Steve Bannon spending his first night in federal prison. We're going to speak to the person who dropped him off, at prison, in Connecticut, today.



COLLINS: Tonight, President Biden setting the stakes, after the Supreme Court's historic ruling on presidential immunity.


BIDEN: Now the American people have to do what the court should have been willing to do, but will not. The American people have to render a judgment about Donald Trump's behavior.

The American people must decide whether Donald Trump's assault on our democracy, on January 6th, makes him unfit for public office in the highest office in the land. The American people must decide if Trump's embrace of violence to preserve his power is acceptable. Perhaps most importantly, the American people must decide.


COLLINS: Saying he must decide -- that the American people must decide, come November, about Donald Trump's political fate, since it is clearly not going to be left up to the courts.

But that statement, from the President, tonight, which was not initially on his schedule, after the Supreme Court ruling, this morning, was also closely watched, because of the fallout from his performance, at CNN's Presidential Debate, last week that led to calls from some Democrats in his party, to tell him to drop out of the 2024 race, which he has so far resisted doing.

My team of top political sources joins me at the table now.

And Paul Begala, when you look at President Biden coming out tonight, clearly he wants the headline coming out of this, to be Biden's response to the Supreme Court ruling.

But it's also people were looking at him, how he came out. Was he going to take questions, which I should note, he did not. He did read on the teleprompter, during those remarks.

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I thought he did fine. He showed strength. He clearly knows about this.

Really quite radical for Joe Biden, who's an institutionalist, really took on the court, which is very fertile territory. Americans hate the Supreme Court. They think it's biased and corrupt. Why? Because it's biased and corrupt.

Two-thirds of Americans, 67 percent support term limits, 75 percent support binding ethics codes. Sheldon Whitehouse, the Senator from Rhode Island, has bills that would do both of those things. If I was Biden, I would ride that horse.

People hate the Supreme Court. They're in the tank for Mr. Trump, they believe. I do too. So, I think it's a great issue for him.

COLLINS: But do people's disdain, for the Supreme Court, outrank his concern -- the concern that voters potentially may have? We'll wait to see what the polling shows, from last Thursday's debate.


Joe Biden, after cannon balling into an empty swimming pool, on Thursday night, came out tonight, and spoke for four minutes off of a teleprompter. He's good for four minutes, today, as long as somebody else wrote it.

After having this completely tone-deaf sort of announcement, coming out of this meeting, that you wrote about, with his family this weekend, where his son, the notorious influence peddler, and crack addict, Hunter Biden, says you got to keep going.

Also, they were hanging out with Annie Leibovitz, the photographer which I wasn't even aware, she was taking mugshots now.

This entire thing, since Thursday, has been one tone-deaf political disaster after another. Tonight, he comes out and attacks the Supreme Court and says, oh, the president cannot do whatever he wants. The same guy, by the way, whose centerpiece of his speeches is the Supreme Court tried to stop me. They blocked me. But they'll never stop me on student loans.

I don't know what they are doing, because they don't know what they are doing, and no one in America knows what they're doing. And that's why Donald Trump's beating his brains in, right now.

COLLINS: I'm going to let you take that one, Karen.


Annie Leibovitz doing pictures? I don't even know, Scott, where it's shot--

JENNINGS: Yes, she was there.

FINNEY: I know. No. Mugshots. That was the line. Sorry. It was such a, you know? Anyway.


Yes. OK. He was fine tonight. He did fine tonight. He did fine with--

COLLINS: Do you think he should have taken questions?

FINNEY: Absolutely.

COLLINS: He didn't take questions, and address his debate performance--

FINNEY: Scott--

COLLINS: --on camera.

FINNEY: So, Paul's going to say no. Here would be I -- I wish he would have been able to take questions. I'll be honest. Because I think if he would have been able to come out, and give those remarks, take questions for a period of time, I think that would have potentially started to shift--


FINNEY: --what people are feeling about what they saw, last week, but I -- but--

ROGERS: What is so interesting is that the tenor of the conversations, at Camp David, and with his family and advisers, has been about keep staying in the fight and continuing to fight.

And so, seeing him deliver a very short statement, and not state the obvious question that was shouted, that everyone heard was are you going to drop out, and he didn't take it.

You would think, for somebody who is, as I'm told, so focused on fighting, shows -- show some of that.


ROGERS: I talked to White House officials, this morning, who were shaken and worried, on Thursday evening. They came into work on Friday, and saw his performance in North Carolina. They told me they needed to see more of that.


ROGERS: And that is not who showed up today.

JENNINGS: Who are they fighting? So far, I've heard them fighting the media. They're fighting against CNN. I saw that they were slandering some podcasters. Now, they're fighting their own staff, it's their fault.

Is there one ounce of introspection, in these people, about what the President himself did, on Thursday night, not to shake confidence in his candidacy, but to shake confidence that he can do the job today?

COLLINS: Well, and it's not about what the media thinks, or what critics think. It's about what voters think, and voters who watch that, Paul.

BEGALA: Right. Right.

COLLINS: And so, when you look at the CBS poll that was conducted, after the debate, it found that almost three-fourths of registered -- three-fourths of registered voters don't think he has the cognitive health to serve as president.

That's what they have to address. How do you address that? I mean, one remark -- one set of remarks tonight, it's not going to do that.

BEGALA: Right. One good statement is not going to do.

COLLINS: What does that look like?

BEGALA: One good rally. He's had both since the debate.


BEGALA: But having -- 50 million, 75 million people watched the debate? And probably, a 100 more million and the memes and posts. So, it's a hell of a hill to climb.

Well, I think -- I don't think his peril is over at all, in terms of debate fallout.

Members of Congress, who are going home now, for the Fourth of July recess, they're going to go to those wonderful neighborhood community parades, and they're going to hear an earful, from their constituents.

Maybe they will hear what the Biden people are saying, which is, we love Joe, don't stab him in the back, hang in there, he delivered us from the evil Trump. Back Joe.

But maybe they won't. Maybe they're going to hear, he's too old, he can't do the job.

FINNEY: But this is -- this is--

BEGALA: But we're going to know, when these members come back.

FINNEY: But this is a really important point that Paul is making, right? Because I think Joe Biden has earned the right, to take a beat, take a step back, gets -- hear that information, here from donors. I mean, they've been doing that, right? They've been making calls, hearing the rounds.

I think he's earned the right to get all that together, and then make a decision, about what is the next step, particularly when you're up against, a convicted felon, who spent 90 minutes, and I don't say this to divert from -- I mean, I stipulate to the facts that Joe Biden was not good at the debate.

At the same time, when you were looking at Donald Trump, who spent 90 minutes lying and gaslighting this country, and wouldn't even know, I mean--


FINNEY: --when it came to January 6th, I mean, it was some very frightening answers, actually.

COLLINS: And that's the argument that Jill Biden has been making.

And Katie, I mean, you were one of the best-sourced first lady reporters. And she is the biggest influence on President Biden, and what he does here. She was saying today, telling Vogue, we're not going to let those 90 minutes define the four years that he was President. We will continue to fight.

I mean, tell us more about what you have heard, in your reporting, of what she's doing behind-the-scenes, what she's saying behind-the- scenes, because she matters most of all.

ROGERS: I also -- I just think it's important to understand how this family works in a way, and her place in it, but also, the children, the grandchildren.

They view obstacles as part of his story, as part of his tapestry, as long life in politics. And the way they're talking about this is, we have seen -- we've been here before. We can keep going. And she is a voice that reflects that view. But they all are.

And what I haven't really picked up? While the family and the inner circle acknowledge how bad it was, they haven't acknowledged that age is a different thing. It's not an obstacle. It's -- it tells you what to do, not the other way around.

COLLINS: Yes. Katie Rogers, I mean, your reporting has been fascinating during this. Thank you.

Thanks to the political panel.

Up next, he has said that Donald Trump is unfit to be president. What does the former National Security Adviser, John Bolton, have to say about the expanded powers that the presidency just got, and also that Donald Trump will have, should he retake office again.

John Bolton is here.



COLLINS: Former President Donald Trump has openly vowed to seek revenge, against his political enemies, if he does return to the White House. And today's Supreme Court ruling could give him enormous leeway, to do just that.

As Democrats are sounding the alarm, Trump's former Attorney General, Bill Barr, though, is arguing that that concern is exaggerated.


BILL BARR, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL: I think those concerns are overblown, about him seeking personal revenge against people. And second, I think that there are sufficient institutional checks and balances that that's very difficult to do, and certainly difficult to do without it being detected.


So, the idea that he's going to be able to go -- to go out and weaponize, as they say, the Department of Justice against his adversaries, you know, I don't think there's a particularly acute risk of that.


COLLINS: Joining me now, another former top Trump official, Ambassador John Bolton, who served as Donald Trump's National Security Adviser, and also as an Assistant Attorney General under President Reagan.

So, it's great to have you here, Ambassador.

As you first read this indictment of Trump, in the January 6th case that this whole decision stemmed from, you said you didn't think any of the acts were official acts. So, I wonder what you made of this ruling today.

JOHN BOLTON, FORMER TRUMP NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Well, I wouldn't have written the opinion this way at all.

I do think that they overstated what the extent of immunity was, although they provided a lot of opportunity that to question aspects of it, saying it was only presumptive immunity. I think the key thing that they did, they could have done more of, was to distinguish between official acts and non-official acts, which the D.C. Circuit and the District Court did not do an adequate job of.

And, by the way, when people complain about the Supreme Court taking too long to decide this case? If Jack Smith hadn't overstated his claims, like Trump overstated his claims, maybe there would have been more examination in the courts below, of what's official, what's not official.

In terms of the Jack Smith indictment, the vast bulk of it deals with the efforts, on the fake elector scheme, out in the states, much less of it deals with the Justice Department. So, I think the indictment survives.

And I think that there's a lot more to come. I think there's going to be another Supreme Court decision before this case goes to trial.

I do think that there was not enough consideration, by the majority to what the circumstances are, where you can look at the President's motives. And that's where I think Bill Barr is wrong on what Trump is going to do. He is going to try to use the Justice Department, to seek retribution against his enemies.

COLLINS: Well this was the fascinating part of this, where they were saying that any communications he had, with the Justice Department were official acts. And therefore, that's -- they didn't even get into that. They were like, that's off limits.

And I was just thinking, when then-acting Attorney General, Jeff Rosen, was testifying about part of this, he talked about the pressure campaign that he faced from Donald Trump, after Bill Barr left.

This is part of what he said that would not be able to be used in court, based on what the Supreme Court found today.


JEFFREY ROSEN, FORMER ACTING ATTORNEY GENERAL: So, between December 23rd, and January 3rd, the President either called me or met with me, virtually every day.

At one point, he had raised the question of having a special counsel for election fraud. At a number of points, he raised requests that I meet with his campaign counsel, Mr. Giuliani.

One of the later junctures was this issue of sending a letter to state legislatures in Georgia or other states.


COLLINS: That part's interesting because Trump wanted to get rid of him, and put another loyalist in charge of the DOJ, to actually -- who was willing to send that letter.

BOLTON: Yes. In Jeff Rosen's case, that's after Trump had lost the election. That's when he suddenly stood up to him.

When Trump was still contesting the election, both he and Bill Barr tried to stop publication of my book, knowing that it has been cleared in the -- in the pre-publication review process, and I think deceived the court. So, Rosen's testimony is a little bit suspect, I can tell you, from my own personal point of view.

I think that the court missed the opportunity, to say that the President not only has constitutional protection. He has constitutional responsibilities, primarily to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.

And if there was ever a case, where I think you can say that the President's got to be scrutinized, it's when his own reelection is at stake, or when he's seeking to use the Justice Department, or other elements of the federal government, to seek reprisals against his personal enemies. And I think the court missed that.

But I think when you look at what the District Court can do, now, to sort this out, I think there's still some possibilities there. And I think when it comes back up, you're going to find more than five justices, who are very dubious about some of these Trump actions.

COLLINS: OK. But say that this doesn't go to court, before the election? Doesn't seem likely. Trump wins reelection? With this power that he was given today, when it came to the Justice Department? Let's just focus on that part. I mean, what does that mean for how Trump could use the Justice Department, and face no chance of prosecution if he's reelected?

BOLTON: Well, I think it gives him a lot of leeway. And I think there you're going to wait -- you're going to have to see whether his own political appointees, or career officials at the Department, begin resigning, when they're not going to carry through with acts, like, for example, charge Mark Milley with treason for his conversation with his Chinese counterpart.


Trump just said recently, Liz Cheney should be tried by a Military tribunal for treason.

Mike Pompeo accused me of treason.

So, there's a long line of treason prosecutions ahead here that I think are potentially very dangerous, not just to those in line, but for -- but for others, who could be intimidated by this.

And I think it's anomalous, as the Court said that they can wall off communications, with the Justice Department. But the Vice President could be in a different situation.

I think -- I think there's a lot of room there, for the District Court, to say there may be presumptive immunity, for what Trump tried to get Mike Pence to do. But we see the circumstances, in what they said the content and context of the communications were, to break through the presumption.

COLLINS: Yes, presumptive immunity is kind of this new now-found language that they're using to consider this.

BOLTON: Well it's a rebuttable presumption, as we say.

COLLINS: Right. You could argue it.

BOLTON: In other words, you start with that. But you can show, and the court made this clear, in--


BOLTON: --conversations about what Trump said on The Ellipse, that day too, that they could break through that presumption. So, I think the District Court has a lot of room to run.

COLLINS: Ambassador John Bolton, thank you for joining tonight.

BOLTON: Glad to be here.

COLLINS: Great to have you.

Coming up, quote, remember this quote, "When the President does it," that means it's not illegal. It's former President Nixon, 47 years ago. But today, conservatives on the Supreme Court, seemed to say he's onto something.

Nixon's former White House Counsel, John Dean, is going to weigh in next.




RICHARD NIXON, 37TH U.S. PRESIDENT: Well, when the president does it, that means that it is not illegal.


COLLINS: That quote from former President Richard Nixon, nearly three years after he was forced to resign, following the Watergate scandal.

But 47 years later, it's resonating, because the conservatives on the Supreme Court seem to believe he was onto something. They issued that six-three decision today that could alter the power of the American presidency, from here on out.

In that scathing dissent that was signed on to, by two other liberal justices, Justice Sonia Sotomayor put it this way. She said, quote, "The relationship between the President and the people he serves has" now "shifted... In every use of official power, the President is now a king above the law."

My source, tonight, is President Nixon's former White House Counsel, John Dean.

And it's great to have you here, John.

Because I just wonder when you -- when you look at this ruling today, from the Supreme Court, do you think then-President Nixon would have -- would have resigned from office had this immunity decision been in place, when Watergate happened?


I think it's clear from reading the decision with the very broad definitions of official conduct and -- versus unofficial conduct, or outer perimeter conduct, he would have survived. He would have not been -- he would have been immunized.

I'm not going to get into the weeds of Watergate. But broadly speaking, when the court outlines what it means by those terms, and its effort to just outline for Trump and the lower court what to do, I just couldn't escape thinking about that, quote. That's why I tweeted it earlier this morning. And how it would have survived -- Nixon would have survived it.

COLLINS: I mean, it is remarkable to also just think how that would have altered history to think if Nixon had not resigned.

But on what Sotomayor said today, I mean, it was very scathing dissent. Some people believe it was over-torqued--

DEAN: Yes.

COLLINS: --that it was exaggerated, when she says that this effectively means a president is now a king above law.

I wonder if you agree with that sentiment.

DEAN: It's a radical decision to me. I am not surprised, we have a radical court. They are blowing through precedents of 50 years with Roe, 40 years with Chevron. Stare decisis has no meaning to them. So, they just carve new ground.

And that's -- I really anticipated the worst today. And while it wasn't total immunity, unless it's official conduct, it was very broad immunity that Trump was granted.

COLLINS: Well, and the other part of it that I was thinking as to -- I mean, if Donald Trump is reelected, which he very well could be, the impacts of what this means.

Nixon was obviously ultimately pardoned. But his Attorney General, John Mitchell, served 19 months; G. Gordon Liddy, four-and-a-half years; his Chief of Staff, H.R. Haldeman, spent 18 months in prison. I mean, it goes on and on those around him.

And I wonder what today's ruling means, for people, who carry out the President's orders. Because as Donald Trump, as much testimony and many interviews with former officials have said, he doesn't always explicitly say something. But if he has someone carry out something that he tells them to do, what is -- they're not immune, obviously, based on today's decision. It only applies to the President.

DEAN: That's a great point, Kaitlan. No question. It was also in my mind.

When Nixon made that statement, when the President does it, that means it's not illegal, he later in the same interview, said but what is the staff going to do, if they're not taken care of? Because presidents don't handle all these things. They give orders and others carry them out. This opinion doesn't address that question.

He's got to have willing conspirators, if you will, who are ready to go to jail, because they're not immune unless the court comes back and starts even saying well, White House staff or anybody in the agencies, and follows an illegal order is somehow immunized.

That really will change the nature of government, because a lot of people will still feel the restraint of the criminal law. And if they're freed up, it's Katie, Bar the Door.

COLLINS: We heard from lawmakers today about this.


Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat, of course, said she is going to be filing articles of impeachment against the Supreme Court justices. She said, quote, that she believed that this precedent that was established here that they've made the Supreme Court "Consumed by a corruption crisis beyond its control" that it's "Up to Congress to defend our nation from this authoritarian capture."

She didn't say which justices she's going after. But I mean, you could make obvious inferences there from, you know, Justice Thomas, Justice Samuel Alito. They stayed on this case, despite being called by some to recuse themselves.

Do you think that goes anywhere? Do you think Congress does anything with this?

DEAN: I don't think it goes anywhere. It's a political statement. I am not even sure the House Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction, would ever take it up under the current circumstances, with Jim Jordan, controlling the committee. It's just not going to happen.

But a bill of impeachment is also a privileged document that goes and command attention by the very filing of it. So, we'll see.

COLLINS: Yes. We will see indeed.

John Dean, I mean, no one better to hear from on this. Thank you for joining, tonight.

DEAN: Thanks, Kaitlan. COLLINS: And still ahead here, another -- it's amazing that this is not the lead story tonight, but that's how much news is happening. Longtime Trump ally, Steve Bannon, is now behind bars, in federal prison, for the first night tonight.

But we have new details about the last minutes of freedom, the moment it sunk in for him. The prison consultant who was with Steve Bannon joins me, next.



COLLINS: Right now, as we speak, Donald Trump's former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, is spending his first night in federal prison. The far-right firebrand reported to a low-security facility, in Danbury, Connecticut, today, to begin that four-month sentence, for defying a subpoena from the January 6th congressional committee.

Supreme Court rejected his effort to delay what you're watching right here. That is moments before he went into court today. And this was one of his final messages.


BANNON: I'm a political prisoner of Joe Biden, the corrupt Biden establishment.

I'm proud of going to prison.

I have a First Amendment right to have my voice heard.


BANNON: And my voice is going to be heard every day. And more importantly, their voices are going to be heard.



COLLINS: Tonight's inside source is Sam Mangel, who is Steve Bannon's prison consultant, who dropped him off today.

And Sam, I should just note just for our viewers, Donald Trump did an interview, just a few moments ago, claiming that Biden is going to pay a big price for Steve Bannon going to prison.

I should note there, Biden had nothing to do with what happened. It was because Steve Bannon defied that subpoena.

But on what we saw today, Steve Bannon reporting to this facility that you arranged for him, to actually go to, in Danbury, Connecticut.

SAM MANGEL, STEVE BANNON'S PRISON CONSULTANT: Yes. COLLINS: I mean, tell us what was he like in the final moments? Had it sunk in that he was actually about to be spending the next four months behind bars?

MANGEL: Well, Kaitlan, thanks for having me back.

I think anyone going into prison is going to be scared, is going to be nervous. Naturally, when you have somebody that's used to a lot of press, has a

firebrand rhetoric, and wants to have the appearance of a sense of bravado and being bold, I get it. But as soon as somebody walks through those gates, and the sally port door closes, reality sinks in.

When we got there, Steve and I, and Bernie Kerik, and somebody else drove up the road. We were met by the Captain. We walked inside, met with Lieutenant. And it was a very civil handoff.

Steve and I went back into the back room. We talked. I reminded him of all the things that he needs to remember, and really focus on while he's there, because this is a chance to remove himself from everything that's going on outside. He's not going to have internet. He's not going to have limited -- very limited phone time. His emails will be monitored heavily. His phone time will be monitored heavily.

I don't think it really sunk in until he and I were getting ready to say goodbye. And R&D (ph) reception came out. Very nicely, they welcomed him. There was no handcuffs or anything like that, and brought him back to be processed through.

COLLINS: Yes. I mean, he was quite defiant outside of the actual jail today. He was speaking with Marjorie Taylor Greene and others. I mean, that's obviously his persona that he projects.

But are you saying it was different, when he was actually getting ready to go in, to have the strip search, to have those moments, that is it's typical for every prisoner. But interesting to see it happened to someone who was in the West Wing, not too long ago.

MANGEL: He was ready. He was prepared. He went in there. He held his head up high.

I think the biggest part of anyone going through that situation is understanding the environment you're going into. When you realize it's not your playground, it's somebody else's, and they call the shots.

And the BOP can be very punitive. If someone upsets them or says the wrong thing, they could be subjected to some form of punishment.


MANGEL: And while his punishment won't get him extra time, it could land him in the shoe for the length of his stay.

COLLINS: Well, you also though, helped him get into a certain part that's designated for veterans. I mean, what's that going to look like? Does he have a -- does he have a prison job? What does that look like?

MANGEL: So, we got him into the vet unit. It's one of the dorms, they have there, similar to how we helped Peter Navarro get into the elderly unit.

He's going to probably have a job in the library, as a library orderly, something that really suits his age, and what he wants to do. But he's going to be a number. He's going to, you know, twice a day, three times on weekends, he had to stand by his bed and be counted. It's going to be, in many ways, culture shock. And it's a very humbling experience, for anyone--

COLLINS: And no--

MANGEL: --when they go into that.

COLLINS: No podcasting, right? I mean, that was something his allies wanted him to be able to podcast from--


COLLINS: --from jail.

MANGEL: No internet access. Can he call into his show? Yes. But he cannot conduct business, while he's in prison. If he gets caught conducting business, he could wind up losing all privileges.


COLLINS: Oh, that's -- it's fascinating.

Sam Mangel, I mean, you obviously were the prison consultant for Peter Navarro. That's who you were referencing there. Fascinating to have you back for this. Thank you for joining, tonight.

MANGEL: Thank you, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: And thank you all so much, for joining us, for this very busy night.