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What Effect Will Trump Trials Have? Biden Says He'll Shut Down Border If Authorized By New Deal; Biden-Backed Border Agreement Faces GOP Resistance. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired January 27, 2024 - 09:00   ET



VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: That show runs from the 29th through March 3.

And if there's an artist you think I should know or some art that I should see, I'm always looking for that intersection of art and news and life. Hit me up on the socials. I'm at Victor Blackwell.

And thank you for joining me today. I'll see you back here next Saturday at 08:00 Eastern. Smerconish is up next.

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to the Republican Rorschach primary. I'm Michael Smerconish in Philadelphia.

People are reading into the results so far, whatever they're wishing for. First there are the never Trumpers, the never Trumpers. They say he's essentially running as an incumbent, and still, 49 percent of the voters in Iowa, they didn't want him. And speaking of Iowa, the turnout was abysmal. A little over 110,000 participated, accounting for just under 15 percent of the state's 752,000 registered Republicans.

Do you know that Trump only received a little over 56,000 votes? And Iowa, Iowa is lily white. It's unrepresentative of the country at large. We're a diverse nation of over 335 million. A small number of Iowa voters should not determine our destiny.

And besides the Iowa field, it was still too crowded. When Nikki Haley finally got him one on one in New Hampshire, she was able to keep it close and received about 43 percent of the vote. And worse for Trump, the Independents in New Hampshire supported Haley in huge numbers, showing that Trump could never win a general election. So why should Haley drop out?

Candidates only drop out when they run out of money. And Nikki has the money. She's raised 2.6 million since the New Hampshire primary. And the Super PAC backing Haley, it raised 50.1 million in the last six months. That's about 5 million more than the PAC backing Trump.

And don't forget, he's four times indicted. Anything can happen. After all, just yesterday, a federal jury in New York awarded E. Jean Carroll $83 million as a result of Trump defaming her. And that was after a different jury in a related case found that he sexually assaulted her.

Do you really think suburban moms are ever going to vote for Donald Trump? It'll never happen.

And then there's the MAGA perspective. And they say, it's amazing how many did vote in Iowa. Have you forgotten, it was record cold on January 15, minus 10 on Election Day. Wind chills as low as minus 40. They walked through snow to vote for Donald Trump, and they'd willingly walk through fire to elect him against Joe Biden. And don't forget, he had several opponents in Iowa, and he still received 51 percent of the vote.

Nikki Haley, she was in third with just 19. And then he beat her by 11 in New Hampshire, even though she had the support of the governor. And despite New Hampshire allowing Independents to vote, Nikki Haley is never going to find a friendlier electorate. And still, she lost by double digits.

According to a CNN exit poll, 70 percent of Haley voters in New Hampshire, they were not even registered Republicans. No wonder she raced out to give her speech when only the areas most favorable to her had been counted, creating the illusion of her performing better than was actually the case. And by the way, did you see those exit surveys? Do you know what issue mattered most to Iowa and New Hampshire, Republican voters? Immigration.

And you don't get more Trumpy than that. Step back and remember this, no one who has won Iowa and New Hampshire has lost a GOP nomination. And Trump's allies, including House Speaker Mike Johnson and the chair of the RNC, Ronna McDaniel, they continue to call for the GOP to unite around him.

Nevada is next, but only Trump can win delegates based on the system about to unfold. So, he wins Nevada. And then February 24, South Carolina, where he's hammering Haley in her own state. He's got the support of every elected official who matters in the Palmetto state. The latest 538 Polling Average has Trump at 63 percent, Haley at only 29.

And that verdict yesterday in Manhattan, just another example of the deep state doing everything it can do to deny MAGA the chance to reelect their man. One candidate has already won the nomination. Anybody who doesn't see that has a view distorted by the fact that his name happens to be Trump. There it is. Those are the conflicting perspectives about the state of the GOP nomination.

Haley's hopes seem pinned on the belief that Trump will continue to face legal peril in the criminal courts, akin to yesterday's civil defeat of Trump, and that she will be the last Trump opponent standing. How likely is her rope a dope strategy to succeed?


I want to know what you think. Go to my website at, answer today's poll question, will E. Jean Carroll's defamation verdict against Donald Trump significantly improve Nikki Haley's nomination chances?

Joining me now to discuss is CNN Senior Legal Analyst and former federal prosecutor Elie Honig.

Elie, after yesterday's civil verdict, does Donald Trump have a jury problem?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, you bet he does, Michael, if he behaves like that. I want people to understand, what Donald Trump did in that courtroom throughout this trial is not just unusual, it is absolutely bizarre and self-destructive. When you're a trial lawyer, you understand the jury is sitting their feet away. They are watching and evaluating everything you do. You are trained that you have to have a poker face.

Even if your most important witness goes south, even if the judge makes a terrible ruling for you, you have to act like you're doing just fine because the jury's watching you. And for Donald Trump to sit there muttering out loud in ways the jury can hear, the judge admonishing him for Trump to get up and stand up and walk out during a jury address by the other side is outrageous. And I assure you the jury held that against him.

And if I'm his criminal lawyer, I would tell him, look, that's a civil case. Your penalty for acting out there is going to be financial. But when we get into criminal court, the penalty if you do that is going to be much more severe.

SMERCONISH: OK. So now the question becomes, does he get into criminal court before the election? Let's remind everybody, the Court of Appeals in D.C. any minute is going to come back on that immunity question relative to January 6. Then what?

HONIG: So, the key thing to look for, I'm going to save everyone some time when that immunity decision comes down, Donald Trump is going to lose this argument in the court of appeals. They're going to reject his immunity claim but pull up the document and hit control F and do the find function on the phrase issue the mandate. What that means is, will they send the case back down to the trial court and essentially unfreeze the trial court? Now, the trial court has been what we call stayed, meaning on pause for about seven weeks now.

If the mandate issues, it goes back to the trial court, they can try to reestablish a trial date, maybe in April or May. But if the Court of Appeals does not issue that mandate, the trial court remains frozen and Donald Trump will easily be able to run out the clock by asking for rehearing in the court of appeals, then asking the U.S. Supreme Court to take the case. So that's going to be the make or break.

SMERCONISH: Speaking of the Supreme Court, let's remind everybody that February 8 comes the argument on Colorado, and by extension Maine and other states as to whether he gets bounced from the ballot pursuant to section three of the 14th Amendment. How quickly will the Supreme Court rule in that case?

HONIG: I assure you they will rule by March 5, before March 5. And the reason is March 5 is Super Tuesday. And among the states voting on Super Tuesday are Colorado and Maine and about 14 others. I think the Supreme Court is going to rule by late February. So people know, people have to know if they're going into Colorado, are we voting for a guy who's disqualified.

And I think what the Supreme Court is going to do is rule in a way that not only rejects the disqualification in Colorado but is broad enough that it ends all of these challenges under the 14th Amendment across the whole country.

SMERCONISH: OK. Elie, so there's question about whether the January 6 case gets to trial before the election. There's question as to what happens relative to the 14th Amendment. The Mar-a-Lago document judge doesn't seem to me to be moving expeditiously in that case. And Fani Willis now has problems in Georgia. Here's the question, is it possible that the only case that gets to trial before the election is the Alvin Bragg payoff to a porn star case?

And if so, does that necessarily hurt Trump?

HONIG: So it's possible, and it's becoming even more likely every day that passes, Michael. As it stands right now, there are two cases on the calendar for March. Jack Smith, the one were just talking about was scheduled for March 4, that's not going to hold. That's going to get pushed back. The question is, does it get pushed back far enough that leaves Alvin Bragg's case, the hush money case, which is scheduled for the end of March?

That may be the only case standing as we head into this spring. And I think the question going back to your opening monologue --


HONIG: -- if Nikki Haley or anyone else is holding out hope that, well, maybe he'll get convicted, the earliest that can possibly happen realistically is going to be May. And that could be on the hush money case, which I think whatever one may think of it is certainly the least serious of the four cases. So, whether Nikki Haley or anyone else can hold out until May, I'll leave till the political experts, but that's the legal reality right now.

SMERCONISH: We are trying to look around corners. Elie, that was excellent. Thank you. I appreciate it.

HONIG: Thanks, Michael. Talk to you soon.

SMERCONISH: What are your thoughts? Hit me up on social media. I'll read some responses throughout the course of the program.


From the world of X, I believe. I'm supporting Trump because he is being persecuted by the establishment. It's a matter of principle. More important than any policy issue.

Well, RI, thank you for your candor. I mean, we know that that mindset exists. And that's why, you know, to some, as I say, it's a Rorschach primary. They say, my God, he just got stung with $83.3 million on top of $5 million because a jury believed that he sexually assaulted this woman. How in the world could he ever survive and succeed?

And then there's a sentiment like that where somebody says, yes, the fix is in against him, all these different prosecutions, let me have my vote. I want to know what you think. Go to my website at Please answer today's poll question. Will E. Jean Carroll's defamation verdict against Donald Trump significantly improve Nikki Haley's nomination chances?

Still to come, a bipartisan border package seemed almost about to be hammered out in the Senate until Donald Trump decided to weigh in. Is he working toward a better deal or just trying to throw a monkey wrench like Nixon and Reagan did in past elections? I'll explain.

Plus, if Biden and Trump indeed are the nominees, 37 percent of Americans say they'd be likely to seriously consider a third party candidate. One such candidate is here to discuss. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is next.



SMERCONISH: Is the 2024 presidential race shaping up into a three-way contest? A new ABC News Ipsos poll found that if it's between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump, 37 percent of voters say they would seriously consider a third party candidate. That number peaks to 51 percent among independent women and moderate women alike. In a three way matchup, the latest Reuters poll shows Trump leading with 36 percent, followed by Biden at 30 and Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. at 8 percent. Other polls have shown Kennedy higher.

Last fall, in key battleground states, he was getting about a quarter of the vote in each of them. Political pollster Mark Penn says that one of the biggest threats to Joe Biden's re-election is a viable third party candidate. Politico quoted democratic strategist Doug Sosnik's memo from last June saying "Trump can't win without a third party candidate dividing the anti-Trump vote. With the exception of winning Georgia in 2016 with 50.77 percent of the vote, Trump never reached 50 percent in any of the competitive states that determined the outcome of the last two presidential elections."

So far, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. will officially appear on Utah's presidential ballot. On Tuesday, his campaign announced they received enough signatures to also appear on New Hampshire's ballot. If his campaign manages to get on all 50 states, where is he likely to pick up some votes?

Joining me now is independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Robert, let's talk policy, then we'll talk politics. I want to start with the border, because December, we've just learned, set a record for border crossings. What will you do about that?

ROBERT F. KENNEDY JR., (I) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'll do -- you know, there's a bunch of things that need to be done to stop the flow at the border, which we need to do. A nation can't have 7 million immigrants coming in undocumented in a three-year period for long. Number one, we need to restore, we need to complete the infrastructure. We need physical barriers, particularly in the urban areas. And you don't need a wall all the way from Brownsville, Texas, to San Diego.

But you do need physical barriers in the urban areas where migrants can disappear, illegal migrants can disappear very -- in seconds, literally. In the countryside, in the rural areas, in places like Big Bend National Park, you need to have surveillance, you need to have long range cameras, which we had, but the Biden administration took them down. You need sensors, you need lighting systems, and we need good access road. And then we need personnel who are empowered to actually stop the migration at the border on a regulatory. And then we need other -- we need to put asylum judges on the border to adjudicate the cases immediately.

In addition to that, we need to revive the Migrant Protection Act, which the Biden administration disavowed, which allows border agent -- empowers border agents to keep asylum seekers in Mexico while they await their asylum determination. We need --



SMERCONISH: My colleague Manu Raju, covering Capitol Hill like no one else, last night filed a report. I'm going to read something to you. We'll put it up on the screen. Here's the latest bipartisan proposal. They say that, "If migrant crossings increase above 5,000 on average per day on any given week, DHS would be required to close the border to migrants illegally crossing."

It occurs to me that 5,000, that's 150,000 per month times 12, that's still 1.8 million per year. That's too high. Do you agree with me?

KENNEDY: Yes. It's insane. And we need, in addition to shutting down the border, which I will do as president, we need wide gates. We need to -- you know, the border -- the legal immigration policy was created in the 1960s and people have to wait years to get into this country legally. We need a quicker path to citizenship.

We need to let seasonal migrants into work. We need -- there are small business owners all over the country that are hungry for workers, that are waiting for workers and can't get them. And we need to -- you know, we need to -- we need the people who wait in line, we need to actually make it humane and quick for them. And we need to seal the border altogether.


It is absurd to say that 5,000 people a week is acceptable. And there's ways to stop --

SMERCONISH: Let me ask you this question.

KENNEDY: -- we've stopped it in the past.

SMERCONISH: Let me talk about your campaign, the poll numbers, some of them more impressive than others. Those competitive states where "The Times" and Siena has you in the mid-20s from last fall impressive. There it is. We're showing it on the screen, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Nevada, Arizona and Georgia.

But it only comes to fruition if you can get on those state ballots. Are you going to get on those state ballots?

KENNEDY: Yes, we'll be on the ballot in every state. I mean, as you pointed out at the beginning of the show, we got into New Hampshire. People said it would take us weeks to get the signature. We needed 3,000 signatures in New Hampshire. We got 5,000 in a single day.

So, we have a ground team that in all of the states where we can collect signatures, we're doing that now. There's about 27 states, Michael, where you need a vice presidential candidate to start collecting signatures, and -- but we have until August. So we're not going to have a problem getting on the ballot. We will be on the ballot in all 50 states --

SMERCONISH: OK. Let me ask you this.

KENNEDY: -- and the District of Columbia.

SMERCONISH: Is it possible that you will seek, as you are running as an Independent, you will seek still to be the libertarian candidate, which would assure you getting on all 50 state ballots?

KENNEDY: That's something that we're looking at. We have a really good relationship with Libertarian Party. I'm going to be speaking at the California Libertarian Party convention. I think it's next week or maybe a couple of weeks. And then we're talking about me talking -- speaking in New York.

You know, so that is -- and then we have our own political party now in six states which have rules that make that -- give us an advantage to have our own political party. We're not going to have a problem getting on the ballot --

SMERCONISH: I ask you -- I as you the question, I ask you the question -- I ask you the question because Angela McArdle, the head of the Libertarian Party -- Catherine (ph), do we have the sound of this, by the way? Tell me quickly.

OK. I want to play something for the audience. This is the head of the Libertarian Party on my radio show in the fall. Roll it.


ANGELA MCARDLE, CHAIR OF THE LIBERTARIAN NATIONAL PARTY: We've had a lot of good conversations and we're on good terms. And I respect his decision to want to go independent. Though libertarians really admire the strong position he took against mandates and lockdowns, and so we're going to stay on friendly terms and see what happens.


SMERCONISH: Bobby, make some news. I mean, it sounded to me like she's welcoming you to come in and ask for their ballot position.

KENNEDY: Yes. Well, we are talking to the Libertarian Party and I feel very comfortable with most of the values of Libertarian Party. And you know, we -- like I said, we have good relationships. I'm talking regularly to Libertarian groups. So, we'll continue to do those talks.

I can't give you a headline news story today, Michael. I'm sorry. Ask about something different.

SMERCONISH: OK. Well, I'm out of time, but you'll come back and I'll ask again. Robert F. Kennedy Jr., thank you.

KENNEDY: Thanks for having me, Michael.

SMERCONISH: Let's see what you're saying on social media. Catherine, what do we have?

From the world of X, A third party is kind of like an opening, opening band before the headliner. They're nice and all, but nobody really watches.

I don't know, Jimmy P. Maybe the moon and the stars have lined up this year. Everybody seems to say when a pollster asks that they want more choice and they're not satisfied at the top of the ticket, perhaps this is the year. And of course, we all have our eye on no labels to see what they're going to do. Joe Lieberman told me that it'll be honor about Super Tuesday that make -- they make a decision.

I want to remind you, go to my website at, answer today's poll question, Will E. Jean Carroll's defamation verdict against Donald Trump significantly improve Nikki Haley's nomination chances?

Up ahead, a bipartisan package in the Senate on border security is now falling apart because of Donald Trump's influence. Will this help or hurt Trump's campaign?

Plus, I've discussed here how artificial intelligence can now generate freakishly realistic custom girlfriends. But what happens when the same technology is used to blur the truth in elections? Before this week's New Hampshire primary, thousands of residents received a robocall claiming to be President Biden telling them not to vote. It was bogus. What does this portend for the 2024 contest?

Make sure you're going to Sign up for my free daily newsletter for which Jack Ohman, the Pulitzer Prize winner, sketched this cartoon.


SMERCONISH: Friday, Customs and Border Protection confirmed that there were a record number of migrant encounters at the border. More than 302,000, the first time that number has ever been above 300,000, that brings last year's total to more than 2.4 million migrant encounters. That doesn't include the so called gotaways. But is Donald Trump monkey wrenching any chance for a deal on the border?

This week, hopes for a long negotiated bipartisan border security package in the Senate seemed in peril after Trump came out against it, even while its exact details were still under wraps. In a closed door meeting, Mitch McConnell told colleagues that they were in a quandary about whether negotiated aid to Ukraine and Israel will proceed because Trump's push to kill a proposed bipartisan immigration deal had created intra party feuding. Immigration has been one of Trump's most potent campaign themes.


Friday, Senate negotiators agreed to a new proposal that would empower the U.S. to significantly restrict illegal migrant crossings. The Senate deal is expected to be unveiled as soon as next week. It would speed up the asylum process to six months and require DHS to close the border if migrant crossings increase above 5,000 on average per day on a given week. And any migrant attempting to cross the closed border twice would be banned from entering the U.S. for one year.

Trump doesn't want Biden to have anything that looks like a win, especially not on this of all issues before the general election. But recall that the Democratic-led Senate refused to pass the GOP House border bill, that's H.R.2, and according to House leader Mike Johnson the new border deal is similarly lacking.

In a letter on Friday Johnson writes, "Nine months have now passed since we sent our Secure the Border Act, H.R.2, to the Senate because we have explained repeatedly, that bill contains the core legislative reforms that are necessary to actually compel the Biden administration to resolve the border catastrophe. The bill's provisions include transformative corrections, such as the Remain in Mexico policy, the end of Catch and Release, meaningful reforms to the existing broken asylum and parole systems, and continued construction of a wall at our southern border."

The reason I use the term monkeywrenching is that there were reportedly efforts made by previous presidents to affect the outcome of elections. You might remember Nixon in '68 used the term when he reportedly told aides to thwart LBJ's peace talks to hurt his opponent, Hubert Humphrey.

And in 1980, John Connolly reportedly visited Middle East states on behalf of challenger Ronald Reagan in an effort to get the word to Iran not to release the 52 American hostages. Is Trump selfishly doing likewise or is he trying to get a better border deal?

Joining me now to discuss is Kari Lake, Republican candidate for Senate in Arizona. She was also the GOP nominee in the state's 2022 gubernatorial election. She is a surrogate for the Trump campaign. Kari, thank you for being here.

So, it's true. We asked the Trump campaign to please tell us on what basis does he, Trump, oppose the border bill that's being negotiated in the Senate? Instead of answering the question they said, well, you should talk to Kari Lake. So, here you are.

What's the answer? Why does Trump oppose this bipartisan bill?

KARI LAKE (R), U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE FOR ARIZONA/TRUMP CAMPAIGN SURROGATE: Because it is terrible for the American people and President Trump stands for the American people. He is all about making a deal, but not a garbage deal. And you're cherry picking whatever you just showed there, and you are forgetting the part that this bill does nothing to further build the wall.

By the way, the wall does work, otherwise Joe Biden wouldn't have had it welded in the open position to allow this invasion. It doesn't do anything to stop the fentanyl pouring across. This bill would actually legalize nearly 2 million of these illegal immigrants every single year.

This bill does nothing to help the American people, and also, by the way, sends money to Ukraine and the American people are sick and tired of it. They're absolutely sick and tired. This bill has two things in it --

SMERCONISH: If you were listening -- if you were listening to my earlier --

LAKE: -- to have a wall and --


SMERCONISH: Kari, if you were listening -- if you were listening to my earlier conversation with Robert F. Kennedy Jr. you heard me say, do the simple math, 1.8 million still seems, annually, like too many. But I was raised to believe --

LAKE: Yes, it is.

SMERCONISH: -- that half a loaf is better -- is better than none at all. So, if it would enable to shut down if overwhelmed, speed up the asylum process and raise the standard for asylum claims, why not take the win? Because if you don't, it looks like Trump is now acting like Nixon or John Connolly on Reagan's behalf to just try and save the win for himself.

LAKE: I assure you, if a deal came out of Washington, D.C. that secured that border, stopped the Biden invasion, stopped the fentanyl from pouring across then President Trump would get behind that. This is not about politics. He cares about the American people, which is why he single handedly secured that border when he was president, and he had all kinds of political daggers coming at him.

I live in Arizona. You are sitting in Manhattan. I'm here in Arizona where we have it the worst right now. We have tens of thousands of people crossing a day. We have Narcan in elementary schools because there's so much fentanyl pouring across our border that it is getting into the hands of our children. And President Trump cares about securing America, making our streets safe. He would support a deal that did that.

SMERCONISH: I wonder --

LAKE: But this deal is absolute garbage.

SMERCONISH: I wonder if he's --

LAKE: It is pure garbage.

SMERCONISH: I wonder if -- I wonder if he's -- I wonder if he's jeopardizing the strongest political hand that he has. Here is what Senator Mitt Romney had to say. Listen to this.


SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): We have a crisis at the border. The American people are suffering as a result of what's happening at the border, and someone running for president ought to try and get, you know, the problem solved as opposed to saying, "Hey, save that problem.


Don't solve it. Let me take credit for solving it later."


SMERCONISH: Isn't that --

LAKE: Oh, man. You're going to take --

SMERCONISH: -- the perception that will take hold?

LAKE: Thank you for giving me a good laugh. I needed one to start the day. You are going to take Mitt Romney --

SMERCONISH: Well, go ahead and respond, respond substantively.

LAKE: I'll -- I'll respond to that. Mitt Romney is not a good deal maker. President Trump knows a bad deal when he sees it and this is a bad deal for the American people. This does nothing to shore up our national security.

We have millions of people, more than 12 million here illegally, countless that are here with nefarious reasons to hurt America. And this does nothing to root out those terrorists and stop them from coming in.

A hundred and sixty-eight countries, that's how many people are coming in, from 168 countries around the globe and we're not vetting them. They're coming from countries with known ties to terrorism, and it is a matter of time before the American people are hurt. I'm a mother. I'm tired --


LAKE: -- of watching what is happening on the border. And other Americans feel the same way, Michael.

We can't continue along like this. And President Trump wants to see real security, not some horrible deal that ties us down to accepting millions of people who are here illegally to stay here. These people have come illegally.

SMERCONISH: So, let me say this.

LAKE: And they shouldn't be allowed to stay.

SMERCONISH: Mitt -- Mitt -- Mitt -- Mitt is not alone on the politics of this. The "Wall Street Journal" editorial page, not exactly a progressive or liberal bastion. I'll read it to you as I put it on the screen.

Giving up on border security bill would be a -- quote -- listen to this now -- "self-inflicted GOP wound. President Biden would claim, with cause, that Republicans want border chaos as an election issue rather than solving the problem."

There's more to it, but you would say what to the "Wall Street Journal," Kari Lake?

LAKE: I would say they're absolutely wrong. I mean we've watched this border -- I call it the Biden invasion -- carry on for years now under Joe Biden. He came in on day one and peeled back an effective plan that President Trump had in place.

He and his corrupt government, administration is aiding and abetting this invasion at our border. And we need to go down there, finish the wall, get National Guard troops on the border and stop these people from pouring across.

And then we need to sort out the 12 million people who are here. And in order to save our homeland we need to send them back to their homeland and start repatriating this people back to their homeland.

We can't afford to take on all of the world's problems. We have so many problems of our own here and we are forgetting about the American people.

SMERCONISH: Kari Lake, thank you for being here. Appreciate your time.

LAKE: Thank you, Michael. I appreciate you having me on.

SMERCONISH: Checking in on social media reaction. Catherine, what do we have? From the world of YouTube.

Abbott complains about border but Trump wants to prevent Biden doing something. I started the program today with a commentary about the Rorschach nature of how the Republican nomination is being perceived. And this is similar insofar as on one hand you say, as I said to Kari Lake, well, OK, maybe it is not perfect but you are getting more than you have ever had before so it looks like Trump is selfishly holding out to have a win on his terms. On the other hand, you could say, as she just did and I would rather hear from her than not hear from her, it is a weak bill and we can do a hell of a lot better.

How about this? Can we all agree we have a real problem on our southern border? We just set a record in December, and not the kind of record that you want the nation to be setting.

Still to come, this week dozens of deep fake images circulated on social media showing Taylor Swift in sexually provocative positions at a Kansas City Chiefs game. Swift is said to be considering legal action. But what happens when this kind of cutting-edge A.I. technology is implemented in political contests? Was this week's fake robocall from President Biden to New Hampshire voters just the tip of the iceberg for disinformation?

Please don't forget, make sure you are voting on today's poll question at Will E. Jean Carroll's defamation verdict against Donald Trump significantly improve Nikki Haley's nomination chances?

When you go vote, sign up for my free and daily newsletter. You will get my look at the news every day and, look at that, come on, does it not sum up the week? That's two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Steve Breen writing for



SMERCONISH: What do Taylor Swift and the 2024 election have in common? Both are under attack thanks to how realistic artificial intelligence and deep fakes have become.

This week fake sexually provocative poses of Swift, likely generated by A.I., went viral on social media. One image was on X and viewed 47 million times before the account was suspended. In Swift's case, the backlash has resulted in a movement called Protect Taylor Swift. But how will we protect the electoral process?

This week a fraudulent robocall purporting to be President Joe Biden went out to between 5,000 and 25,000 New Hampshire voters, urging them not to vote in Tuesday's primary and to -- quote -- "save" their vote for the election.


FAKE JOE BIDEN ROBOCALL OBTAINED BY CNN: Republicans have been trying to push nonpartisan and Democratic voters to participate in their primary. What a bunch of malarkey.

(END AUDIO CLIP) SMERCONISH: Pretty convincing, right? The source of the robocall campaign is unknown. It is under investigation.

It is just the tip of the iceberg of how A.I. disinformation campaigns can disrupt elections. A chilling example of this happened last fall in Slovakia just days before their election, deep fake audio recordings circulated seeming to be the progressive candidate plotting with a journalist. The progressive party was defeated by the pro- Russian populist party.


Plus, there's a flip side of this danger, as fakes proliferate it becomes easier for those who are actually caught on audio or video to brush it off as manufactured. In fact, Donald Trump has done just that. He attacked this ad, the Lincoln Project ran on Fox News called "Feeble" that was made from authentic footage saying that it was -- quote -- "using A.I.", artificial intelligence, "in their fake television commercials."

And with massive lay-offs at national and local media outlets across the country -- think of "The L.A. Times" this week -- it's going to be harder to combat misinformation. Joining me now to discuss is Vivian Schiller, vice president and executive director of the Aspen Digital. Her previous jobs include president and CEO of NPR, global chair of news at Twitter, and general manager of New York Times .com.

Vivian, thank you for being here. These seem like more serious concerns than even what the Russians carried out in 2016.

VIVIAN SCHILLER, DIRECTOR, ASPEN DIGITAL: Well, that's exactly right. First of all, thank you for having me.

It is exactly right. There was back in 2016 when the Internet Research Institute, as it is so-called, the IRS in Russia, was known to be carrying on a disinformation campaign to try to sow chaos and, you know, get people up in arms and persuade them on one issue or another. That was a big deal.

All of those -- all of those capabilities are still there, but now with A.I. you don't have to be a deep-pocketed organization like this state actor in Russia. The tools that generative A.I. have now enabled put these capabilities in the hands of just about anyone to be able to put out misleading information that is targeted, personalized, and to do it at scale.

SMERCONISH: How do we best combat it, especially -- I made passing reference to cut backs at "The L.A. Times" this week just as one example. But with fewer and fewer journalists, full-time journalists, investigative journalists, who or how or where do we police it?

SCHILLER: Yes, well, yes, there's a -- there's a perfect storm of unfortunate events happening at the same time, which is news organizations are cutting back. Second, news organizations are less trusted than at any time since polling on such things has begun. As you mentioned in your open, the social media platforms have cut back on their trust and safety and content moderation teams. And so, it is open season for this kind of -- and the ability for all these, you know, whether it is somebody that's just a mischief maker or a Super PAC or a foreign power to put this information out.

So, the critical thing that we need to do and come together on as a country, whether it is through media like we are doing right now or through official election offices around the country, is to make sure that the public understands where -- that these things are possible but also where to turn to fact check information.

This has to be sort of a whole-of-nation response, not in favor of one candidate or another, in favor of one issue or another, but just where to make sure the information that is coming at you is in fact accurate. So, you know where to vote, how to vote and democracy can carry on.

SMERCONISH: A quick reaction from you. Yes, we educate to let the public know that this is a possibility, but you are also giving cover then for someone who is subjected to very real coverage to say, oh, that was fake.

SCHILLER: Yes, well, this is -- this is a challenge and it is a needle that has to be threaded. The phenomenon that you are talking about actually has name. It is called the liar's dividend. And the notion is when we, in the media, put -- you know, say, look out, there's going to be all of these deep fakes, that gives license to some who would like to mislead, you know, the liar, in the case of the liar's dividend, to say, don't believe anything you see, don't believe anything you hear, just listen to me.

And when, in fact, they get caught doing something that in fact they did, it is easy for them to dismiss it. Just look back at 2016. One of the number of October surprises in the 2016 elections was the grab them by -- I'm not going to finish the sentence tape --


SCHILLER: -- that came out about Donald Trump.


SCHILLER: Imagine that today, how easy would it be for him to say, this is completely fabricated.

SMERCONISH: I never said that. I never said it, it is fake.

Vivian, thank so much for being here. I appreciate your time.

SCHILLER: Sure. Yes. Happy to be here. Thank you.

SMERCONISH: Still to come, more of your best and worst social media comments and the final result, thus far, of today's poll question. Go to Will E. Jean Carroll's defamation verdict against Donald Trump significantly improve Nikki Haley's nomination chances? If you subscribe to the free daily newsletter when you're there you will get exclusive editorial cartoons from the legends like this from Rob Rogers.



SMERCONISH: Hey, there's the result of the poll question so far, pretty decisive. Wow, 30,000 and change, 76 percent say, nah, it's really not going to help Nikki Haley despite the size of that civil verdict in New York City yesterday against Donald Trump.

Social media reaction, what do we have, Catherine, during the course of the program? A ton, I am told.

What the actual F? Why don't you just have Putin on and complete your lineup of evil, lying criminals?


OK, J, I'll do it your way and gauge in censorship. J, why don't you thank me and say, there's a third-party candidate out there right now who's getting more of the vote than we've seen since Ross Perot in '92? Thank you, Michael, for putting him on.

Oh, Michael, thank you putting on the perspective even though I don't agree with it of the Trump campaign relative to the Biden bill because buck for you, Michael, we wouldn't hear that perspective, at least not here.

You're welcome. Another one, please. What else do we have?

Please bring up the fact that Biden let the border problem go all the way up until the election, and now wants to claim fixing it.

Well, I think you just did a better job than I of saying that, Proud Papa. Give me another social media reaction. What do we have? Can we do the full hour one week on this?

You are scraping the bottom of the barrel with your guests. Are Kennedy and Lake the best you can do? The middle? Please. Your show today is a train wreck.

Gerald, I've already responded to that mindset. I think that to bring on diverse voices of newsmakers is what a program like this is all about. One more, real quick. I'll get it in, squeeze it, go. What do you have?

Not a peep on Fox News about the 83.3 million Carroll judgment. I know. I clicked through the dial and I could not believe the five. Last night, huge verdict comes in, they didn't even touch it. Crazy. I'm going to bring you everything. Even if you don't want to hear it. See you.