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State of the Union

Interview With Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY); Interview With Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX); Philadelphia Man Exonerated; ISIS-K Claims Responsibility For Moscow Attack; Interview With Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragan (D-CA). Aired 9-10a ET

Aired March 24, 2024 - 09:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is paying the piper.

Donald Trump is staring down another ignominious, albeit historic, first. In the next 24 hours, Mr. Trump will either need to secure a $464 million bond, or the New York attorney general can move to seize his assets to pay the civil fraud penalty that he faces.

Late last week, Trump pushed back on what has long been a sore spot for him, the actual numerical size of his bank account. Mr. Trump declared he had more than enough money, which undercuts his lawyer's argument that securing a bond that large was a practical impossibility. I guess we will see tomorrow.

Tomorrow is also when a different New York judge in a second case decides if Mr. Trump will soon stand trial on criminal charges against him in the Stormy Daniels hush money case leading up to the 2016 election.

This has long been considered the most likely case to actually go to trial before this year's election, although, on Saturday, in a third case, the Fulton County, Georgia, district attorney Fani Willis told CNN that, despite a recent rebuke from a judge over her romantic relationship with her lead prosecutor, Fani Willis' team had continued to work on the election interference case against Trump and others.

And she told CNN yesterday that -- quote -- "I do think there are efforts to slow down the train, but the train is coming."

Joining us now to talk about Trump's deadline in New York tomorrow and much more, New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat.

Congresswoman, thanks for joining us.

So, five years ago, as a brand-new member of the House of Representatives, you grilled Trump's former fixer Michael Cohen about whether Mr. Trump had lied about his finances for tax purposes. Attorney General of New York Letitia James says that testimony directly led to her office's fraud investigation and this $464 million penalty, this bond Trump has until tomorrow to post. If he does not post that bond, do you think the state of New York and

Attorney General James should begin seizing his assets? And are you at all concerned that doing so could actually lend him political support, feeding into his narrative that the deep state and Democrats are out to get him unfairly?

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): Well, I think Attorney General James has been handling this case with tremendous skill.

It's ultimately up to her determination, but it is my belief that all people should be treated equally under the law. And if that seizure of assets would be pursued to any other American, then Donald Trump should be treated the same.

As far as the political implications go, I think that what we are dealing with politically is the much larger and much more grave and serious pressure of having this judgment against Donald Trump and him being in this degree of debt and the financial pressures that he is under and what he is subject to do in order to obtain those assets, I actually think that whether -- I actually think that there is risk in not seizing these assets and the open window that exists in him trying to secure these funds through other means.

We have seen a lot of interesting transactions happening with TRUTH Social and other means, and there's a very real risk of political corruption. So,again, I respect the attorney general's discretion here, but I do think that he should be treated equally under the law.

J. TAPPER: Do you think -- well, let me put it this way.

What do you say to an independent voter, an average voter who looks at what's going on with Donald Trump? You have his assets might be seized tomorrow. You also have the hush money case from the attorney general -- I'm sorry -- the district attorney Alvin Bragg of New York. You also have the Georgia case about election interference.


You also have the special counsel investigation on election interference. You also have the classified documents case down in Florida. That's five cases. And to a voter -- what do you say to a voter who says, well, that doesn't look like he's being treated equally before the law? That looks like somebody that the government is going after.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Has there ever been a president, Republican or Democrat, that has been subject to this level of criminal charges, indictments and investigations?

This is not about party. This is not about politics. This is about corruption and criminality. We're talking about an individual who ordered essentially a terrorist attack on the Capitol of the United States in order to retain power. That is not about being a Republican. It is not about being a Democrat.

It's about being an unethical and -- individual who is subject and prone to criminality. And, unfortunately, this is the state that we're in. And I actually think that the fact that it's happening in so many places and so many jurisdictions cuts in the face of that. This is not just New York. This is Georgia. This is federal courts as well.

J. TAPPER: So, in the House of Representatives, House Speaker Mike Johnson is facing a real revolt within the Republican Conference.

After passing the government funding bill this week on Friday, Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene announced a call to vote to remove him as speaker, a motion to vacate, at some point, she says. Republicans are about to be down to a single-seat majority.

Some Democrats are saying they're going to vote -- if the motion to vacate comes up, they will vote to keep Speaker Johnson as speaker to avoid additional chaos. How would you vote?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: You know, I think that Democrats, we work as a team. I am not inclined to vote for a Speaker Johnson. I'm not inclined to vote for an individual who -- for speaker who doesn't believe in women's rights, doesn't believe in rights to bodily autonomy, who has supported overturning a presidential election.

I -- my vote would most likely be for a Speaker Jeffries, which becomes an increasingly likely reality day after day, as Republicans pursue further midterm resignations. But I think, for those of us and for any Democrat inclined, I don't think we do that for free.

And I don't think that we do that out of sympathy for Republicans. And I think that the realities of governance are there. We want to make sure that that governance continues and that responsible governance continues, and that generally tends to happen under a Democratic majority.

J. TAPPER: You gave a very forceful speech on the House floor Friday about the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. You called on President Biden to cut off U.S. military aid to Israel.

I think we have a clip of part of what you said. Let's roll that.


OCASIO-CORTEZ: If you want to know what an unfolding genocide looks like, open your eyes. It looks like the forced famine of 1.1 million innocents.

We must write our story in this moment of what it means and who we are as Americans. And our story must be not that we were good men who did nothing.


J. TAPPER: Now, clearly, not enough aid is getting in. Clearly, the conditions for the Palestinian people are horrific and much more needs to be done.

Genocide is a word that has serious and specific connotations and allegations. It's defined by the intent to destroy in whole or in part a national ethnic, racial or religious group.

So you -- just to clarify here, you believe the Israeli military, the Israeli government are actively trying, they intend to destroy the Palestinian people and not that what's happening is horrible, but it's happening because Israel is going after the terrorists of Hamas who attacked them on October 7 and Hamas embeds within the civilian population?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Well, Jake, you're absolutely right. This word is extremely serious. It's one that's taken with extraordinary gravity. And, to me, the threshold of intent is a high one, it is a serious one and is not one that is made lightly.

However, when we look at the precipice of what is happening, with a forced famine of 1.1 million Gazans, where multiple governments, NGOs, and even officials within the United States State Department have stated themselves plainly that the Israeli government and leaders in the Israeli government are intentionally denying, blocking and slow- walking this aid and are precipitating a mass famine, I believe we have crossed the threshold of intent.


It is horrific. I think it is extremely clear and it is extremely important that all people understand the difference between people and their governments, Israelis and the Israeli government, Palestinians from Hamas.

But what we are seeing here, I think, with a forced famine, is beyond our ability to deny or explain away. There is no targeting of Hamas in precipitating a mass famine of a million people, half of whom are children.

J. TAPPER: So I asked Israeli officials about your speech.

And they say, we are allowing hundreds of aid trucks into Gaza every single day. They're trying to increase those numbers. They have to inspect the cargo to make sure no weapons are getting in, weapons that would be used by Hamas against the people of Israel.

They also -- Israeli officials also argue this war could end tomorrow if Hamas freed the hostages and laid down the arms. Do you disagree?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: I do disagree, because, when we are talking about famine, the actions of Hamas should not be tied to whether a 3-year- old can eat.

The actions of Hamas do not justify forcing thousands, hundreds of thousands of people to eat grass as their bodies consume themselves. We and the Israeli government has a right to go after Hamas, but we are talking about a population of millions of innocent Palestinians. We are talking about collective punishment, which is injustifiable.

And the excuses that the Israeli government is giving about what they are and are not allowing simply do not square with what the U.K. government is stating, with what international aid organizations are stating, and even what our own State Department officials are stating, which is that they are not allowing aid to go through.

When they're talking about inspections, we're talking about U.S. aid, the United States aid. And so I think that if we are to operate as allies, then we must operate in good faith to uphold the principles of democracy, which includes respect for human rights and also proving the value of our democracy, which is that we are different than authoritarians and we are different from other types of regimes with no regard for innocent people.

J. TAPPER: Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, thank you for joining us this morning. We appreciate it.


J. TAPPER: Coming up next: Congress narrowly avoids a shutdown and funds the government. Could Speaker Johnson lose his job over this?

A key member of the House Freedom Caucus, Republican Congressman Chip Roy of Texas, joins me live next.

Plus: Donald Trump's $464 million bill comes due. What happens if he cannot pay up? We will talk to my panel.

Stay with us.



J. TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.

"Total failure," that's how my next guest described the last-ditch $1.2 trillion bill to avert a government shutdown this weekend. But the real challenges for House Republicans might only now be getting started, with Speaker Mike Johnson's job potentially in jeopardy and the slim Republican majority now getting even slimmer.

Joining us now to discuss, Texas Congressman Chip Roy.

Congressman, thanks for joining us.

So, you voted against the government funding bill. Former Trump campaign official Marc Lotter told me Friday -- quote -- "I get why conservatives are upset about it, but there are three bodies that it takes to pass a law, and Republicans control only one of them, so you're going to have to negotiate" -- unquote.

Now, I know that you wanted more. What better do you think Speaker Johnson and Republican leadership, what better could they have negotiated?

REP. CHIP ROY (R-TX): Yes, well, good morning, Jake.

And, well, with all due respect, that's just the kind of language that you come to expect out of a uniparty in Washington who continues to just do what they have always done while the American people are left holding the bag. That's the truth.

Now, you ask, well, what could we have done? I don't want to get into too much of the second-guessing and looking backwards, right? I mean, it is what it is. It's a very difficult job for the speaker. I get that we're in divided government. I didn't want to get everything. Well, I mean, I wanted to, but I knew I wouldn't get everything I wanted.

But you know what I wanted? I wanted some sense of sanity on spending, some sense of sanity on the border, some sense of sanity on any of the issues the American people actually care about. And we got none of that. We got a doubling down on the very thing that the people who send me to Washington, and I believe the vast majority of Texans and Americans, are frustrated with.

When I went to Washington as a staffer 20 years ago, the national debt was $6 trillion. I left town, went back to Texas, did a bunch of stuff. I come back in Congress, we're $34.5 trillion. Both parties are equally to blame over that time, both parties.

The uniparty, the entire establishment in Washington, keeps spending money we don't have, racking up debt to advance policies that are undermining their safety and well-being, wide-open borders. We have got Laken Riley, who dies because of mass parole policies, releasing people into the United States.

That man was released under those policies against law. She dies. We have got hundreds of examples of like that, Texans, people all across the country. We do nothing to secure the border, zero.


ROY: That's the problem that the American people are looking at, and they're frustrated about it.

So, yes, I would oppose the bill. And you asked what I would have done? I would have stuck with the bipartisan caps that were passed on a majority basis out of the House and the Senate. I would have passed a C.R. that would have triggered the caps. We could have constrained spending. We would have kept defense flat. We would have cut the bureaucracy, and then we could have got busy trying to negotiate on border security.


J. TAPPER: So you said that Speaker Mike Johnson blew it. Your fellow Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene is making a motion to vacate the speakership to remove him. Will you support that?

ROY: Look, that's the kind of inside-the-Beltway palace drama that you guys love to report on.

At the end of the day right now, what I want to do is try to make sure the American people can win at the end of this rainbow. This bill has now been passed. We're spending money that we don't have. We're going to rack up more debt. J. TAPPER: Yes.

ROY: I disagree with that.

I want to focus now on securing the border of the United States. I want Israel funding. My radical progressive Democratic colleagues, like my friend Alexandria, who was just on right now, they don't want to support Israel. You heard it directly from her. I think we should. They don't want to secure the border of the United States. I think we should. They don't want to constrain spending.

They don't want to hold the FBI accountable. They don't want to do the things the American people want us to do. I think we should. And I think Republicans should stand up on that platform and advance it. And we should not use as an excuse -- and this is going to be the big -- to answer your question, the big decision point for the speaker.

We should not put Ukraine funding on the floor of the House unless we have come to an agreement that we're going to make sure that Israel is taken care of properly, that we pay for this stuff, and that we do what we're supposed to do to secure the border of the United States. Not $1 should go to the Ukraine funding, not $1, if the border of the United States is wide open to allow Chinese foreign nationals, people from all over the world, dangerous individuals...

J. TAPPER: Right.

ROY: ... Venezuelan criminal gang members to come in and endanger the American people.

J. TAPPER: So, with all due respect, sir, whether or not you're going to vote for a motion to vacate is not palace drama. I mean, there was a motion to vacate, and the country went through three weeks without a speaker of the House. It's a very real thing.

I didn't agree to these rules. I mean, one person being able to offer a motion to vacate, that's -- that was something negotiated when Kevin McCarthy became speaker.

ROY: Well...

J. TAPPER: The question is, do you think Speaker Johnson...

ROY: Jake, but that one-person motion to vacate -- that...

J. TAPPER: Yes, but do you Speaker Johnson is fit to be speaker, is the question, I guess.

ROY: The one-person motion to vacate has been the rule of the House dating back to the early 1800s. There's nothing new and novel about that.

I opposed the use of the motion to vacate against Kevin McCarthy very openly and very loudly against my right-flank colleagues and everybody across the entire body. I disagreed with it. It was a mistake. Kevin was actually honoring most of the agreement that we came up with. We were actually having bills that we had 72 hours to read.

You know what? That got violated this last week. Mike was wrong. We were actually putting bills on the floor with amendments. We had 1,100 amendments processed. You and I visited after the speaker's debate about 14 months ago.


ROY: And we talked about what we were trying to change. We were actually carrying those things out.

Amendments were being processed. Appropriations bills were being passed, yes, not in full agreement with my Democratic colleagues, but then you should have gone to the Senate, we should -- they should have passed bills and we should have conferenced them.

That's what's broken in this godforsaken town, while the American people wonder why their businesses can function and their nonprofits and their homes, they can manage budgets. But, in Washington, we just print money and we retreat to our corners and shoot at each other.

Look, I think Speaker Johnson -- I have been public about this -- made a mistake when he walked away from the bipartisan caps and a C.R. that could have put pressure on my Democratic colleagues to come to the table. That was a mistake.

I don't think this bill was reflective of what the American people want. It expands government, increases spending, increases debt, doesn't secure the border, doesn't do what we need to do, advances a radical agenda, doesn't make our defense focused on mission, instead of social engineering.

I think we should have changed those things. Now let's get busy. But I can promise you, if you put a Ukraine bill on the floor and you haven't secured the border, there's going to be a problem within the -- within the ranks on Capitol Hill.

So let's focus on doing our job. There are people across the spectrum. And here's another thing. All last year, we had great conversation, Brian Fitzpatrick, some of the New York delegation, myself, Mike Garcia in California, moderates, conservatives, figuring out how to advance the ball.

And we passed the Limit, Save, Grow. Conservatives voted to increase the debt ceiling. We have never done that before. We passed the strongest border security bill we have ever passed.


ROY: We hadn't done that in years. We passed appropriations bills. These are all things we can do if we will just come together and work on it, but we better get our act together over Easter, so we can deliver for the American people.

J. TAPPER: So, just one last question before you go, sir.

ROY: Yes.

J. TAPPER: The attorney general of New York, Letitia James, is set to begin to seize Trump's properties, including a golf course and private estate, if he does not pay this nearly half-a-billion dollar bond tomorrow that's a fine.

This comes after the New York judge found that Donald Trump committed fraud by exaggerating the value of his golf clubs and buildings to get better loans and lower taxes. Do you think that he should be punished for what the judge found him guilty of? And what do you think happens if Letitia James starts seizing properties?


ROY: Obviously, I believe in the rule of law. And, obviously, I believe that you have got to follow that where it leads.

However, here's the problem. This lawfare, if you want to use that framing and phraseology, this targeting of the former president, whether you're talking about impeachment, which was done, whether you're talking about all of these cases, there's multiple cases, all of that is having an inverse effect, right?

The average hardworking American is out there are saying, what are you doing? All of this politics is going on. And then they complain about whether Jeff Yass is going to buy up the TRUTH Social and whether that's going to happen.

Look, when you play these lawfare games, then you're going to win stupid prizes. And the fact is, right now, the president, the former president, is gaining in popularity against a feeble current president destroying our country, attacking Israel, undermining our country with open borders.

And President Trump is actually gaining popularity because they're just focusing on trying to go after him. I think that's -- we're -- you're seeing the product of that in real time. And what we need to right now is to focus on the issues the American people care about, secure the border, stop spending money we don't have.

Look, if you're going to stand up, stand up with Israel. Do not fund Israel until you have dealt with your own border, and stop destroying the American dream and making it impossible to afford health care. I saw Barack Obama out championing Obamacare.

We have had a quadrupling of the price of health insurance since Obamacare was passed. Nobody can afford it. And nobody can get coverage. A woman in my district who can't even go to M.D. Anderson when she's got stage four cancer under coverage because they have forced it through this crappy health care coverage.

I'm a cancer survivor. I couldn't go back to M.D. Anderson on the Obamacare I have currently as a member of Congress, or that I would have under the policies. So, look, the American people want us to fight for them. That's what we need to do for the next six months. And if we do that, if the president who showed up to drain the swamp and build the wall is the guy running, he will do fine.

J. TAPPER: All right, Congressman Chip Roy, good to see you, sir. Thanks for joining us today.

ROY: Thanks, Jake.

J. TAPPER: We will talk about why so many House members are eying the exits and a historic week for former President Trump when the panel joins us.

That's next.




REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): I do not wish to inflict pain on our conference and to throw the House in chaos.

REP. MIKE LAWLER (R-NY): It's not only idiotic, but it actually does not do anything to advance the conservative movement.

REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): If we vacated this speaker, we'd end up with a Democrat.

REP. GREG PENCE (R-IN): These games, not working together is -- it's turning people off.


J. TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION.

House Republicans just cannot get on the same page.

My panel joins me now.

And let me start with the one member of Congress at the table, although you're a Democrat. But what's going on with the Republicans, as far as you can see? Because we were just talking before we came back from break. A lot of reasonable Republicans, very conservative, but there to govern, Gallagher, Granger, and on and on and on, are heading for the exits.

REP. NANETTE DIAZ BARRAGAN (D-CA): There's a lot of discontent happening.

And when I saw and heard there was going to be possibly another motion to vacate, I said, here we go again. The dysfunctional Republican do- nothing Congress continues. This would further paralyze the Congress.

But you definitely hear it amongst Republicans, the discontent, the feeling that there's nothing getting done. You could just look and see how many bills have been passed and how dysfunctional it is. Even the fact that the Congress is having to take votes on suspension, which is really not something that's common...

J. TAPPER: You have to translate that, what you mean.

DIAZ BARRAGAN: Well, what happens generally when the party in power, majority party...


DIAZ BARRAGAN: ... they're able to have rules passed so that they only need a majority vote in the Congress.

But because Republicans cannot even agree on rules, they're having to go to a vote which requires two-thirds of the Congress to all agree on something. That's how we have been passing and funding government. And if you take a look too, as a member of Congress, it's shocking to me that Democrats, the party in the minority, have put up more votes than you have in the party that's trying to govern to fund the government, to raise the debt ceiling, and getting things done.

And this is where we have got to continue to tell the American people. Put us back in power, because we can govern. We have been actually doing that.

J. TAPPER: Brad, I doubt you agree with that. What's your take on it all?

BRAD TODD, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, to say Republicans are herded like cats as an insult to cats.


TODD: We have always had five, six, seven, eight members of the Republican Conference who just weren't going to do whatever the speaker wanted to do. Well, now that's enough to logjam the whole thing.

And so we always talk about, in the Senate, we have a crisis of leadership. In the House, we have a crisis of followership. And I think that's what you see now. But I think Mike Johnson is doing a good job. I think he has the confidence of almost everybody in the Republican Conference.

But the problem is, almost is not quite 218.

J. TAPPER: What do you think?

JONAH GOLDBERG, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I think Speaker Johnson could be Daniel Webster, right? He could be the greatest legislative mind of our generation.

A one-seat majority is going to make it just impossible, because the margin of error, as Brad was saying, is, you're always going to have people who are incent -- you're always have some Matt Gaetzes and Marjorie Taylor Greenes, people who are incentivized to cause trouble.

And when you have a margin of error of one seat, you just don't have any ability to actually govern your own caucus, never mind work with Democrats, who have their own political incentive structure. And so the real issue here, as you sort of brought up before, it's sort of the political equivalent of Gresham's law, where the quality legislators are just leaving because they just don't want to have anything to do with this crazy town stuff.

And they're going to be replaced with more people who are the performative people. It's good is being chased out by bad.

J. TAPPER: So, and Congressman Gallagher is, I think, one of the people Jonah is talking about here, which is chairman of the China Committee, former Marine, good-looking guy from Wisconsin, respected, nice person, very conservative, not crazy, on his way out the door, leaving early and actually leaving in a time to leave that seat open.


Why do you think people like Gallagher -- I mean, other than their own personal reasons, why are so many legislators leaving?


And I think some people -- whether I agree with their politics or not, I think some people, most people run for Congress because they want to actually work for the American people. A lot of folks, though, that are getting in front of the camera and have the leverage in the Republican Party are just there for performance.

It seems like they want to grow their X or Instagram followers more than pass bills. And I think that, when you get to a point and you see, man, we even have the majority as Republicans and we can't even work together, it's frustrating. I would be frustrated too. And so maybe these folks are leaving, saying, there's another path for me to help the American public.

I also think, though, you -- they have a one-person majority because people are resigning, but the Republican majority was not that large to begin with at the beginning of this conference. And when you're an adult and you realize that the numbers don't always work in your favor, you have to work with other adults that are congresspeople.

And that's not what the Republicans want to do. And so, at this point, I think some folks are just saying -- I will note, though, Democrats aren't really resigning, because they also are saying, if we get the majority back in the fall, we can get some things done.

J. TAPPER: So, big story tomorrow is going to be Donald Trump and whether or not he's able to pony up for this almost $500 million bond.

And, if not, the attorney general of New York, Letitia James, could start seizing his assets. Trump did say on TRUTH Social, his social media app, that he does have the money.

He wrote -- quote -- "Through hard work, talent and luck, I currently have almost $500 million in cash, a substantial amount of which I intended to use in my campaign for president," though his lawyers told the judge earlier this week that he does not have the money and that posting the full bond of the size was a practical impossibility.

What are we going to see tomorrow, do you think?

TODD: Great question.


TODD: But I do think that all this type of what will be seen as overly punitive machinations in the courts probably strengthens Donald Trump in the election.

And I think the Democrats -- if I were on the Democrats' side, I would say this is an unhelpful distraction. Like, this is going to be an election that is going to be one on two different visions of where the country goes. And the more we focus on things that are happening in the courts, I think, is going to backfire on Democrats.

J. TAPPER: What do you think? Are you worried at all about that?


I mean, I think that this is just showing who Donald Trump is. Here he is lying to the court or in papers, one of the two. And it just goes to show you what we're dealing with.

There can be some people that will be activated by what's going on, but I think you're hearing more and more of voters and people we talk to saying, do they want a president that's been convicted? Do they want a president who's a cheat?

And, hopefully, they see what it was like under his presidency, what it's like under the Biden presidency, and we will give President Biden four more years to finish the job, and just even looking at what's been accomplished in his short time, whether it was the CHIPS Act, whether it's the IRA, which is creating jobs, the economy is doing well, even if people don't feel it.

We have got to go and remind people that we need time to implement all those laws, so they are going to feel it, because prescription drug prices haven't even started being negotiated yet. So that is part of what needs to be done. And, hopefully, they will see that difference in making sure that we get voters to give Biden four more years.


J. TAPPER: I mean, the point -- one second.

The point she's making, though, this prescription drug benefit that hasn't even begun being negotiated, that's something that's not going to get covered tomorrow...


J. TAPPER: ... because of Donald Trump's bond issue. And I wonder if you think ultimately this does help Trump in some way,

because that's something that actually voters would want to hear about, right?

GOLDBERG: Yes, look, I think it is another way for Donald Trump to dominate the new cycle. It sucks up a lot of oxygen. It makes it more difficult for Democrats to make their case for themselves.

It's also -- look, I have 0.0 sympathy for Trump the man. He invites all the trouble that he gets. But this case is really kind of gross. This is a prosecutor who runs on prosecuting, promising to go after one guy.

J. TAPPER: Letitia James, yes.

GOLDBERG: Yes, Letitia James. The case itself is unprecedented in scope. There are no victims who came forward. It looks extremely political, and I get that it's fan service for the anti-Trump left.

I don't know that it actually helps Democrats very much.

ALLISON: I think this election, you want to rally both of your bases. And I do think that this case can help rally Trump's base.

But if I was Democrat, I would be spinning this argument in a different way. The criminal justice system, if you break the law, you have to pay the price. And Donald Trump breaks the law over and over. And he does it for himself, not for you. And I don't think that Dems have hit him as hard.

They have done it on January 6. But this case, I actually think could resonate for a certain category of people, particularly maybe independents who are just sick of Donald Trump.

J. TAPPER: All right, thanks one and all.

When we come back: justice long overdue. That story is next.



J. TAPPER: For years, my dad, who's a pediatrician in Philadelphia, has been telling me about his former patient C.J. Rice sent to prison for 30 to 60 years for a crime my dad says C.J. physically could not have committed.

In September 2011, at the age of 17, C.J. was recovering from being shot in South Philly in what he says must have been a case of mistaken identity. His pelvis had been shattered, his torso opened and then stapled together. Hospitalized, he could barely walk. And that's when another shooting happened in the same city, a shooter or shooters wounding four people, then sprinting away.


And C.J. was charged with that crime.


DR. THEODORE S. TAPPER, PEDIATRICIAN: He wouldn't have run into the scene. He wouldn't have run away. When I saw him in the office, and I'm sure days later, he was walking with difficulty. He wasn't running anywhere.

And my testimony, had she asked me the correct questions, would have been significantly different than the perfunctory questions she did ask me.


J. TAPPER: My dad referring there to C.J.'s trial attorney, Sandjai Weaver, who's since passed away.

When I looked into C.J. Rice's case for a 2022 "Atlantic" magazine cover story, "This Is Not Justice: A Philadelphia Teenager and the Empty Promise of the Sixth Amendment," I ultimately concluded that Sandjai Weaver was such a bad attorney, C.J. was ultimately denied his Sixth Amendment right to counsel.

After that story was published, lawyers working to help C.J. Rice get out of prison filed a habeas petition, making that argument. Thankfully, the current Philadelphia district attorney and three judges agreed.

Last Monday, C.J. Rice was officially exonerated and declared legally innocent. C.J. Rice is a free man.


C.J. RICE, EXONERATED: Air tastes weird. The sun shine different. It's a different warmth. The simple things, right, simple things. Can't put it into words. Can't put it into words.


J. TAPPER: After reuniting with family and friends and my dad, C.J. is now trying to rebuild his life. Behind bars since he was 17, C.J. is now 30.

And while he is positive and optimistic, he also knows how bad the system is that screwed him, and he wants his -- he wants to devote his life to fixing this broken system that allowed the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to essentially steal 12 years of his life.

After all, the district attorney's office acknowledges that the case against C.J. was weak from the beginning. One DA office source told me -- quote -- "The thing that likely resulted in C.J.'s conviction was that his defense counsel was so ineffective. She allowed things to come into evidence before the jury that shouldn't have."


J. TAPPER: Can you believe how easy it was for the government to lock you away for 30 to 60 years?

RICE: Can I believe it? It happened. So, yes, I'm a believer. I seen it. I went through it. I felt it. So, yes, I can believe that it happened. But should it have happened? Could they have conducted theyself a little bit more in the interest of justice?


J. TAPPER: Philadelphia district attorney Larry Krasner agrees.


LARRY KRASNER, PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA, DISTRICT ATTORNEY: I think this case was all about winning. I don't think it was about justice at all.

J. TAPPER: The incentive structure seems to be, get the arrest, get the conviction, not find out what really happened and see if you can bring justice to the situation.

KRASNER: True. Sad, but true. The incentive system has been, let's clear the case, usually meaning, let's arrest one person, even if it's a crime that has been committed by four people, and then let's prosecute it to a maximal sentence.

J. TAPPER: So, Rice was not provided the rights afforded under the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution, a guarantee to legal counsel, effective counsel.

How many people do you believe are in jail who have been denied that?

KRASNER: Massive numbers. I was...

J. TAPPER: Hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands?

KRASNER: Tens of thousands.

What I saw for the first 30 years of my career, when I was a defense attorney, over and over and over. What I saw is, it was about winning, it was about assuming and presuming that whatever the detectives believed was true. It was about, frankly, not caring too much whether the defendant was actually guilty, because, as I heard many prosecutors say, well, if he didn't do this, he did something else.


J. TAPPER: Now, beyond changing the culture of policing and prosecution into one focused on justice, not just getting an arrest, getting a conviction, what else can be done?

Actual serious funding for defense attorneys, especially for court- appointed attorneys, who are often paid peanuts per case, regardless of the complication or length of the trial.

Other steps include improved forensics and what's called open file discovery, where prosecutors and police, who presumably have nothing to hide, allow disclosure of all the evidence, which is so important in making sure that the actual guilty people are caught, because, for every innocent person behind bars, for every C.J. Rice, there's a guilty person who got away with it.


One thing that is clear to C.J. Rice, the system is broken, because the system itself had opportunities to fix his unconstitutional, evidence-free conviction. And until last year, the system rejected every appeal he made.


RICE: A mistake is a mistake. And I don't think they'd be making mistakes, because they have every opportunity to correct it, and they don't. They don't correct it. It's not a mistake.

J. TAPPER: Do you want to be a lawyer?

RICE: I was thinking about it. I was considering it.


J. TAPPER: You can learn much more about C.J. Rice and how he was finally freed tonight at 8:00 p.m. on "THE WHOLE STORY."

And you can help C.J. rebuild his life by visiting his official GoFundMe page organized by Just Google "C.J. Rice GoFundMe."

CNN is live at the site of the terror attack in Moscow, the latest claim from ISIS -- next.



J. TAPPER: Welcome back.

The terrorist group ISIS-K has claimed responsibility for the horrific shooting Friday at a Moscow concert venue that has left at least 130 people dead.

CNN chief global affairs correspondent Matthew Chance is live outside the Crocus City Hall near Moscow.

Matthew, tell us -- tell us more.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CHIEF GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, as you can see, a big memorial has sprung up outside the Crocus City Hall just near Moscow, where at least four gunmen, again, claimed by ISIS, as you just mentioned, went on a killing rampage, killing more than 130 people.

More than 140 are injured, some of them hospitalized. And you can see there are thousands of people that have turned out to this location just outside Moscow to pay their respects, to lay flowers, to put down cuddly toys and things like that in -- out of respect for the children that were caught up in that attack as well.

Investigators and emergency workers are still inside the burned-out shell of one of Russia's most prominent concert halls going through the debris. And they say they're still finding bodies. And so the death toll is likely to climb.

We also know from investigators that 11 suspects at least have been detained, including the four individuals believed to be the gunmen. Russian state television has shown pretty grisly images of the men being interrogated and taken away.

And so that that's the situation right now. The blame, of course, ISIS have said they're responsible, but the Kremlin is trying to indicate that Ukraine may have been involved. That's something Ukrainian officials have categorically denied, Jake.

J. TAPPER: All right, Matthew Chance, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Tonight, join me. The outing of undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame is the subject of our next episode of "UNITED STATES OF SCANDAL." The story might not be quite how you remember it. Tune in tonight. The finale of "UNITED STATES OF SCANDAL" airs at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.

Thanks for spending your Sunday morning with us.

Fareed Zakaria is next.