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State of the Union

Interview With Republican National Committee Co-Chair Lara Trump; Interview With Rep. Jake Auchincloss (D-MA); Interview With Gov. Chris Sununu (R-NH); Interview With Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA). Aired 9-10a ET

Aired June 02, 2024 - 09:00   ET




KASIE HUNT, CNN HOST (voice-over): Convicted. Donald Trump found guilty and could face prison time, a stunning precedent for a man on the ballot again. DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES (R) AND CURRENT

U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is bigger than me. This is bigger than my presidency.

HUNT: He's taking an aggressive stance. But how is the verdict affecting his campaign and his future?

Republican National Committee Co-Chair Lara Trump joins me exclusively next.

And turning point? President Biden responds to the Trump verdict with caution...

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That's how the American system of justice works.

HUNT: ... and pivots back to policy. Do fellow Democrats think he's missing an opportunity? Senate candidate Congressman Adam Schiff joins me exclusively.

Plus: all in. Top Republicans rush to Trump's defense.

SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC): I can't believe the hoax, the sham.

HUNT: But with polls showing a tight race, what will independent voters think? He backed Nikki Haley for president.

New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu is ahead.


HUNT: Hello. I'm Kasie Hunt in Washington, where the state of our union is in uncharted territory.

For the first time ever, a former U.S. president, Donald Trump, is a felon, convicted on 34 counts. He will be sentenced by a judge just months before he stands in the presidential election.

Last night, Trump leaned into his stance as a self-proclaimed -- quote -- "warrior" with a visit to the Ultimate Fighting Championship in New Jersey. And the Republican Party seems to be buying his message. Trump has raised tens of millions in donations since the verdict Thursday in New York, as Republican officials of all stripes are backing him and attacking the U.S. judicial system.

But the effect on his bid to unseat President Joe Biden, particularly among independent voters, is far from clear, not to mention the legal consequences of his conviction, which he will appeal. His attorney Todd Blanche told the AP he plans to argue strenuously against potential prison time.

And Trump was asked about the possibility he will face house arrest or prison on FOX.


TRUMP: It could. It could.

QUESTION: How do you face what that could look like?

TRUMP: I'm OK with it. I don't know that the public would stand it, you know? I don't -- I'm not sure the public would stand for it with a...


QUESTION: ... house arrest or...


TRUMP: I think it would be tough for the public to take. At a certain point, there's a breaking point.


HUNT: And joining me this morning is Republican National Committee Co-Chair and the president's daughter-in-law Lara Trump.

Good morning. Thank you very much for being here.


HUNT: So you heard Donald Trump just there respond to the possibility of getting sentenced to jail or house arrest. He says he's OK with it, but he's not sure if the public will stand for it and that -- quote -- "At a certain point, there's a breaking point."

What does that look like? What is he saying will happen?

L. TRUMP: I think you have seen already what's happened. It's that the American people have really spoken up. And, Kasie, they have spoken with their wallets and their pocketbooks.

Even in a time where our economy is in such bad shape, thanks to horrific policies by Joe Biden, the American people came out and in 48 hours after Donald Trump's verdict was read our campaign and the RNC raised $70 million in digital fund-raising.

This is small-dollar donations. And I think the amazing statistic to take out of that is that 30 percent of that money came in from people who had never once donated to Donald Trump. People are very upset about what they saw happen this week to someone they -- that should never have had a case brought against him.

We all know that, if his name had been anything other than Donald Trump, this case would have never seen the light of day. And what people are seeing now is that they can't trust our judicial system. They are very worried about the America that we are facing if this is the precedent we are setting in the United States.

And so I think that that was a very quick, very rapid and a very strong response from the American people. It has gone way too far, the judicial system being weaponized against a political opponent. The American people are upset, and they spoke out about it.

HUNT: Laura, this was a jury of regular Americans. Do you not trust them?

L. TRUMP: Well, let's be honest.

This case from the very beginning was weighed against Donald Trump. Let's look at the fact that this case was not brought by the FEC. They looked at this years ago. They said there's no case here. It wasn't brought by Cy Vance, the former district attorney of Manhattan. It wasn't even brought by Alvin Bragg himself until when?


Until Donald Trump decided to run for president and he started gaining momentum. Then they decided to bring it forward. Then they had to rush it into court where, in downtown Manhattan, where we know the majority of people in that city did not vote for Donald Trump, they are not fans of his, miraculously, and defying all possible statistics as well, this judge managed to get three anti-Trump cases, Steve Bannon, Allen Weisselberg, the former CFO of the Trump Organization, and Donald Trump.

He donated, this judge, to the Biden campaign. His daughter raises money for the opposition for Democrats. His wife works for Letitia James.

HUNT: But I asked you about the jury specifically.

L. TRUMP: I'm not done. You had a judge who told the jury that they did not have to be unanimous in their decision. They could come up with a whole host of different ideas, and then they could come in and present it to him, and they would work it out together. This case from the beginning has been slanted. The venue should never

have been in New York City, because even your CNN poll, 13 percent of people believe...

HUNT: They did, though, have to be unanimous on the documents charges.

L. TRUMP: ... that Donald Trump was -- 13 percent of people in a CNN poll...

HUNT: And, again, I asked you about the jury, the normal Americans that are part of this.

L. TRUMP: Correct.

HUNT: Do you think it's not possible for anyone to get a fair trial by a jury?

L. TRUMP: I think that this judge should have never been presiding over this case. He weighed the entire case in the eyes of the jury, and then he gave the jury instructions that were incredibly leading.

And you can't blame the jury. They were doing what he told them to do. So, from the beginning, this case, whether you're talking about the judge, the venue, the instructions given, or the fact that a key witness that would have exonerated Donald Trump and shown what a waste of time this entire case ultimately was, the judge wouldn't allow in.


L. TRUMP: So you can't blame the jury for their decision, but the entire case has been slanted and weighed from the very beginning.

HUNT: I do want to note, the former president had an opportunity to testify. He could have. And I also want to note, of course, he does plan to appeal this.

Just to circle back to what we did hear from the former president this morning, this judge, who you just criticized extensively, is the person that is going to decide whether or not the former president will go to jail. What should Donald Trump supporters do if that happens?

L. TRUMP: Well, they're going to do what they have done from the beginning, which is remain calm and protest at the ballot box on November 5.

There's nothing to do, other than make your voices heard loud and clear and speak out against this, because this is not the United States of America, Kasie. This is the kind of thing you would expect to see in the communist USSR. So they shouldn't do anything until voting starts, and then they're going to come out in droves.

And I believe Donald Trump will be reelected as the 47th president.

HUNT: So, you, of course, are the co-chair of the Republican National Committee, and your party is set to nominate the former president for president again. And that's set to happen right now just four days after he is set to be sentenced on July 11.

Are you planning or discussing any changes to the convention in programming or scheduling?

L. TRUMP: Well, I think we have to be ready for anything. As we have seen, all bets are off when it comes to Donald Trump. So, yes, we have to wait and see.

It's ironic to me you had to rush this case through, and now we have to wait over a month, of course, for sentencing. Everyone can read into the irony of that, of course.

But, yes, we have to make plans as they happen, and we're going to have several contingency plans. The truth is, it really doesn't matter whether it's from Trump Tower in Manhattan, whether it's from Mar-a- Lago, whether it's from our convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. We will nominate Donald Trump as our Republican nominee, and that's what ultimately matters.

HUNT: All right.

So, at this point, you also have to consider how independent voters may actually take this in. This is going to be an incredibly close election. It could come down to a handful of these independents in critical swing states.

Are you going to lose votes because of this conviction?

L. TRUMP: Well, I think the polls right after the verdict show that, actually, the opposite has happened. You had a 6 percent jump, or six- point jump, rather, for Donald Trump right after this conviction was read.

And, as I noted, 30 percent of the donations in small dollars that have come in since the verdict have been new donors. That translates into votes. What we understand is that, when somebody donates even a dollar, Kasie, to a campaign, they are going to ultimately turn out and vote for that person. They are bought in.

And so I think what matters to people right now isn't Donald Trump in downtown Manhattan in a case that everybody can see was weighed against him, that never should have seen the light of day. They care about their lives.

They care about the fact that they can't make ends meet right now, that it's harder to put food on the table for their families, that they can't fill their gas tank up in the same way that they're worried about the future of the world because we have a war in Europe, we have a war in the Middle East.


They want to get back to the days when they felt safe and secure as Americans with their economy and with the rest of the world. HUNT: OK.

L. TRUMP: And we know who brought that to them. It was Donald J. Trump. And I believe they're going to come out and vote for him solely because of that.

HUNT: How much of the money that is being raised, that has been raised is going to be used to pay for the former president's legal fees?

L. TRUMP: Well, everybody has an option whenever they donate to our joint fund-raising agreement to opt out of. It is a very small percentage of the money that we take in.

And so I would have to say, we will wait and see what is necessary in the future. Obviously, this has been a very costly thing, not just for Donald Trump and his campaign, but for America. The stain that this has put on our country, I think is abominable. And we will do whatever we need to do to ensure that the right thing happens on November 5, because that's when the ultimate verdict will be rendered.

HUNT: Republican Senate candidate Larry Hogan in Maryland -- and, again, I'm asking this in your capacity as one of the co-chairs of the entire Republican Party. And he's a popular former governor in Maryland.

He wrote this ahead -- right ahead of the verdict. He said -- quote -- "Regardless of the result, I urge all Americans to respect the verdict and the legal process."

That is not the Republican Party line at the moment. And, in fact, he was attacked by the top Trump adviser, Chris LaCivita, who wrote that he -- quote -- "just ended your campaign" -- end quote.

Does the Republican National Committee support Larry Hogan for Senate?

L. TRUMP: Well, I will tell you one thing. I don't support what he just said there. I think it's ridiculous.

And I think anybody who's not speaking up in the face of really something that should never, again, have seen the light of day at trial, that would never have been brought against any other person aside from Donald Trump doesn't deserve...

HUNT: But does the RNC support his bid?

L. TRUMP: ... the -- the respect of anyone.

HUNT: He doesn't deserve the respect of anyone?

L. TRUMP: Well, I have to get back to you.

He doesn't deserve the respect of anyone in the Republican Party at this point and, quite frankly, anybody in America, if that's the way you feel. That's very upsetting to hear that.

HUNT: So are you willing to cede the Senate seat in Maryland to the Democratic Party and not support Larry Hogan?

L. TRUMP: What I will tell you is that we, of course, want to win as a party, but that is a shame. And I think he should have thought long and hard before he said that publicly.

HUNT: Do you -- are you willing to use Republican Party resources to support his bid or not? It sounds like you're saying you're not.

L. TRUMP: Well, I will get back to you on all the specifics monetarily, but what I can tell you is that, as the Republican Party co-chair, I think he should never have said something like that. I think that's ridiculous.


And, finally, we are, of course, five months out from the election, and we haven't heard a lot of Republicans give straight answers to what is a pretty simple question about the election. So I just want to ask you directly, will you commit to accepting the election results in 2024?

L. TRUMP: Of course. If this is a free, fair and transparent election, absolutely.

And, actually, we're doing everything we can from the RNC to ensure that indeed that happens. We are working overtime to make sure that every American, Republican, Democrat and independent, feels good about our electoral process, because, Kasie, we can't repeat an election like we had in 2020, where you had half the country with huge, sweeping questions about what happened that never got answered.

That's not who we are as a country. We need transparency.

HUNT: If Joe Biden wins, will you...

L. TRUMP: If it is a free and fair election, absolutely.


L. TRUMP: But will you guys? If Donald Trump wins, will you accept those results?

Because that's the real question. Everybody has said, will we accept them? Of course we will. But we want a free election.


HUNT: Well, there was zero evidence of widespread fraud that could have changed the ultimate outcome in 2020.

L. TRUMP: Absolutely not.

Most of those lawsuits were swept away on clerical errors. And, actually, if you look at people who were told that the Hunter Biden laptop story was a fake story, enough of them would have voted against Joe Biden and for Donald Trump that it solely would have swung the election, in and of itself.

So that alone is enough.

HUNT: All right.

L. TRUMP: But then people really wanted to know, well, what happened across the country? We never got those answers.

I can tell you, yes, we will accept the results of this election if we feel that it is free, fair and transparent. And we are working overtime to ensure that indeed that happens.

HUNT: All right, the co-chair of the Republican National Committee, Lara Trump, thank you very much for being with us this morning. I appreciate your time.

L. TRUMP: Thank you.

HUNT: All right.

He was one of Donald Trump's biggest antagonists in Congress. The Senate candidate and Congressman Adam Schiff is here next.

And a Republican governor who opposed Trump in the primaries, what does he think of the verdict?

Stay with us.



HUNT: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Kasie Hunt.

President Biden has been fairly restrained in response to Trump's felony conviction. He criticized Trump's rhetoric as reckless on Friday, and then turned his focus back to a Middle East policy speech.

This week, he is expected to take executive action to dramatically reduce asylum claims on the southern border. But not all Democrats are on board with that political strategy.

My guest spent years investigating Trump during his presidency. And joining me now is California Democratic Senate candidate Congressman Adam Schiff.

Congressman, thanks so much for being here.


HUNT: So, you heard what President Trump said this morning, and you just heard our interview there with Lara Trump. What's your response?

SCHIFF: Well, first, in terms of Lara Trump's interview and her complaining about the case being tried in New York before New York jury, if you don't want to be tried in front of a New York jury, then maybe don't commit so many crimes in New York City. It's pretty simple.

And that jury was selected in part by Donald Trump and his attorneys. They vetted each of the jurors. He had every right that every other criminal defendant has in that courtroom.


And they found -- this ordinary jury of peers found him guilty on every single count. So, if you don't want to be tried in New York, don't commit crimes in New York. But he got the same due process as any other person. And that's exactly the way it should be.

In terms of Donald Trump's comments about whether the public reaches a breaking point if he is sentenced to jail time, this is clearly Donald Trump once again inciting violence, potential violence, when he is sentenced.

And Lara Trump may try to explain it away. We see this pattern over and over again, where Donald Trump communicates with his base supporters, making it pretty clear what he wants to see, and then his enablers try to explain it away.

But, look, his base listens to him. They don't listen to Lara Trump. And this is another dangerous appeal to violence. And it is yet another reason why Americans are going to decide they don't want a convicted felon in the Oval Office. They don't want someone that has so little respect for the system of justice or our criminal laws that they're a convicted felon and then attack the system as a result.

HUNT: Sir, you are a former prosecutor, experienced prosecutor. Now it's the judge that's going to have to decide the sentence for the former president.

But the prosecutors in the case do have to ask for what they want. Do you think those prosecutors should be asking the judge to put Donald Trump in jail?

SCHIFF: I think what the prosecutors should do, and, for that matter, what the judge should do is look at, what are the sentences given out in New York for like felons, people that have committed felonies of that nature that Donald Trump committed?

They should recommend a sentence no greater or no less than any other citizen would get for committing those kinds of crimes. Now, I do think the judge should consider, as any judge would against any defendant, has the defendant accepted responsibility? Have they shown remorse? Are they willing to make restitution?

In this case, as you can see from the moment he stepped out of that courthouse, Donald Trump shows no acceptance of responsibility, and that ought to be weighed against him, as the judge would against any American who's convicted on a multiple counts and takes no responsibility.

HUNT: But, sir, considering that this sentencing is likely to occur just days before the start of the convention and months before he's to be the Republican nominee in November, do you think it would be dangerous for the country if Donald Trump were sentenced to jail?

SCHIFF: No, I don't think it would be dangerous for the country.

And we have seen Trump urge mass protests outside the courthouse that never materialized. But, nevertheless, this is, I think, what Donald Trump is aiming for. This is essentially his threat that, if he gets jail time, that he's going to encourage his supporters to rise up.

And we saw the very deadly results of that on January 6. So I don't think the public is going to respond to that call. I hope we learned something from the awful experience of January 6.

But it's very clear what Donald Trump is suggesting here. And this is something, I think, that the judge needs to take into consideration also, not to be intimidated by that threat, but as of further evidence this defendant not only doesn't accept responsibility, but is willing to endanger people, just as Trump is willing to violate the gag order and potentially endanger witnesses or jurors or the judge himself or family members.

That's something the judge ought to be considering.

HUNT: Sir, you are the Democratic candidate for Senate in California.

And President Biden's campaign has clearly tried to strike a balance between attacking President Trump over what's happened as a convicted felon, while at the same time not going as aggressively as some on the left clearly would like him to be.

I'm curious what you think. Should President Biden be leaning more into this message of Donald Trump being a convicted felon?

SCHIFF: You know, I think, for the president, there's a time and a place for each argument.

I think, on the day of the conviction, the day thereafter, I can understand the president staying above the fray and demonstrating his respect and expressing his respect for the jury system.

But I think the president should be leaning into this going forward. The -- his competitor is a convicted felon. And you can only imagine, if the situation was reversed, they would be going after Joe Biden with a vengeance.

They're making those false claims about Joe Biden regardless. So I think not only the president, but Democrats need to be making the case forcefully to the American people, if you want something done about housing and how unaffordable it can be, you don't want a convicted felon in the Oval Office just looking out for themselves.


You want something done about childcare, you don't want a convicted felon in the Oval Office. You want the country run properly. You don't want a convicted felon to turn the Oval Office and the federal government in some kind of a racketeering operation.

I think that's a powerful case to make and certainly one supported by the verdict here.

HUNT: Sure.

Do you think there's a world where this helps Donald Trump politically, this verdict, by increasing his supporters' fervor and interest in going to the polls?

SCHIFF: I don't.

It was amusing to watch Lara Trump make this so much about fund- raising. She's very clearly with the fund-raising, pleased with the fund-raising, but that doesn't translate into votes. These are folks that were already for him, who may be more for him, but, fine, they were voting for him anyway.

But for American -- average Americans, the idea of not just having someone they can't respect, not somebody -- having someone that they don't feel is a decent, good human being in the Oval Office, someone that they would be ashamed of as president, but someone who's a convicted felon, to have them as the representative of America?


SCHIFF: No, American people are not going to want that. And I don't think the fact you get more money out of your base, as Donald Trump is, is any reflection to the contrary.

HUNT: Yes, sir, before I let you go, the trial of Hunter Biden begins tomorrow on gun-related charges.

You, of course, have said the public should respect this verdict against Donald Trump. Should the public also respect the verdict against Hunter Biden, regardless of what it is?

SCHIFF: Absolutely. Absolutely.

And I think the president himself will respect the verdict, much as it is painful, I'm sure, to see one of your children on trial. But, yes, Americans should accept -- when a jury reaches a verdict, they should accept the result. That is part of our democracy.

And, really, the anchor of our Constitution is the fact that ordinary citizens get to decide how the rule of law is applied to even the most powerful in our country. That's something we should be proud of.

HUNT: All right, Congressman Adam Schiff, thank you very much for your time this morning, sir. I appreciate it.

SCHIFF: Thank you.

HUNT: All right, up next: Is there room for dissent in Donald Trump's Republican Party?

My next guest has had tough words for Trump. Governor Chris Sununu joins us next.



HUNT: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Kasie Hunt.

A new dynamic in the presidential race with Donald Trump's felony conviction. What will independent voters think, the kind of voters that Nikki Haley is still earning in Republican primaries?

My next guest backed her over Trump in those primaries.

Joining me now is New Hampshire Republican Governor Chris Sununu.

Governor, thank you so much for being here.


HUNT: So Donald Trump is now a convicted felon. Are you comfortable voting for him in November?

SUNUNU: Oh, sure, as, apparently, according to the polls, most of America is.

I mean, the polls of this morning still have him up two points. So the reality is that this isn't really moving people's decision. A majority of people say it doesn't really matter. I think there's a small percentage that say it'll make them more likely and a small percentage said it'll make them less likely to vote for him.

But, in the end, it's kind of a wash. And it's June. It's early June, right? So this is just the first step of this process with his legal troubles. But it's also we have two more debates. We have the conventions. We got a long way to go to November. And this is going to be well into the rearview mirror in terms of the voters, those independent voters and where they go.

HUNT: But do you find it troubling at all?

SUNUNU: Well, look, I don't want my nominee to be convicted of anything, of course. And I worked as hard as anybody, other than maybe Nikki Haley, of course, to make sure he wasn't the nominee, because I think we had a lot better choices.

But he is going to be the Republican nominee of the party. People in America want change. They do. This is how bad Joe Biden is, the fact that, regardless of what happens in the courthouse, it looks like Joe Biden's going to lose. He doesn't deliver results. Inflation is real. The border is real. You know, public safety and the lack thereof, and especially in a lot of these major cities, is real.

I mean, Donald Trump is within single digits in New York at this point, right, never mind the swing states. Even in New York, they're making a run at winning New York. So this is just -- it's up to the voters. And that's democracy. And the voters are saying, we want a change.

HUNT: So, speaking of the voters, Nikki Haley, who you, of course, endorsed, worked very, very hard for, during the time when she was still in, you guys were still a team, she said this about what Americans would do following a conviction. Watch.


FMR. GOV. NIKKI HALEY (R-SC): There is no way that the American people are going to vote for a convicted criminal. They're not.


HUNT: Do you think she's wrong?

SUNUNU: Yes, apparently. Apparently, we were both wrong on that one.

And I think the issue there isn't -- it's not just that he's convicted. Everyone wants the label, which exists today. But when you look at what happened, what -- the extent the prosecution had to go to line up these dominoes, to bring a conviction on charges that had never been brought against anybody in the state of New York ever.

I mean, Representative Schiff said the judge should impose the penalty as any other case like this would be imposed. It's never happened before. It's never even happened. And America sees that.

HUNT: So do you not accept the jury's verdict?

SUNUNU: And you see the bias in the judge.

Oh, no, the jury -- look, the jury did their job. I don't think many people should be complaining about the jury. They did their job. But the fact that they had to go to such extents to push a case that was clearly politically driven with a judge that had previously shown political bias and changing the rules at the last minute -- I mean, even on this very network, your own legal analysts have said there's so many ways that this thing is going to be appealed.

This is not over by any stretch. And I think it's a real problem, the fact that they're going to have a -- they're going to commit sentencing right before the convention? That's a terrible idea. I mean, that is a terrible idea. That's going to do nothing but rile everybody up. It's going to look even more political than it is now, and just cast a shadow of a doubt on this entire case.


HUNT: You say rile everybody up.

You heard what the former president said. The -- Congressman Schiff seemed to say he thought the president was suggesting there would be violence. How did you read it? When you say rile up, does that mean violence?

SUNUNU: Well, no, look, I -- nobody wants violence, of course. But I...


HUNT: I'm not saying you wanted violence, but I was asking, what are you saying that's going to happen?


SUNUNU: No, no.

HUNT: Yes.

SUNUNU: Oh, I think there will be lots of protest. You will see folks coming out in droves trying to show their support for the former president.

No, I think you're just going to see -- it's a heated election year. You're going to see a lot of folks come out on both sides, of course. But at the end of the day, those independent voters that decide where this goes, that are going to come out, they're not going to be looking at this in terms of who the next president is.

They want change. And from my point of view, all I'm trying to bring folks nationally is an understanding of what's happening on the ground and why. Inflation is real. Public security is real. Border crisis is real, all of these things. There's chaos internationally.

HUNT: All right.

SUNUNU: These things line up, and those are the priorities of a lot of folks right now.

HUNT: So let me ask you about what the co-chair of the RNC just said about Larry Hogan, the Republican nominee for Senate in Maryland.

She said he -- quote -- "doesn't deserve the respect of anyone in the Republican Party."

Do you respect Larry Hogan?

SUNUNU: Of course. Of course. That was completely -- that was a bad statement by Lara, without a doubt. We want him to win the Senate race. He was a great governor of Maryland. He's talking to his constituents in his base site.

And I hope everyone in Maryland goes out and votes from him because he's just a great guy. He really is. We might not agree on everything politically, right? Sometimes, I don't agree with his statements. I'm sure he doesn't always agree with mine, but he was a great governor of Maryland, and I have no doubt he's going to be a great senator of Maryland.

HUNT: All right.

And, finally, sir, will you accept the results of the president of the 2024 presidential election regardless of who wins?

SUNUNU: Of course, yes. You know why?

Because, even when we have recounts, even when there's questions on individual states, we get the right result, right? 2020, Biden won. We got the right result. There was a peaceful transfer of power. As bad as January 6 was, come January 20, Joe Biden was sleeping in the White House. And he had earned it. He had earned those votes.

But come 2024, again, you will have -- my guess is, either side, you will have recounts and questions in here and there. We just know that's probably going to happen. But we will work through it in those two months. And I have no doubt that the winner will be in the White House on January 20.

HUNT: Some of these vice presidential prospects have not been willing to be as straightforward as you just -- were just there about accepting the results.

Do you think they should be more straightforward?

SUNUNU: On something like election integrity, I think you got to be very straightforward. I do.

You know, and I don't know who's saying what and who was vying to be vice president and all that kind of -- that's a bunch of nonsense to me. I'm looking at what's happening on the ground. I want America to be in a better place. And you got to make sure that the election is held true.

Each state manages their own process in terms of recounts and all of that. Each state got through a tough time in 2020, but got it right, at the end of the day. Republicans and Democrats figured it out and made sure that the results were verified. And I have no doubt that's going to happen again in 24.

HUNT: All right, Chris Sununu, Governor, very grateful for your time today. Thanks very much for being with us.

SUNUNU: You bet. Thanks.

HUNT: All right.

All right Donald Trump is catching up with Joe Biden in a very important metric. We will talk about it when my panel joins us next.




TRUMP: People get it. It's a scam. And the Republican Party has really -- they have stuck. They stick together in this.

They see what's -- it's weaponization of the Justice Department. BIDEN: It's reckless, it's dangerous, it's irresponsible for anyone

to say this was rigged just because they don't like the verdict.


KASIE HUNT, CNN HOST: All right, our panel is with us now, Bakari Sellers, Scott Jennings, Kristen Soltis Anderson, and Congressman Jake Auchincloss of Massachusetts.

Thank you all for being here today. We have had some spirited discussions already.

And I do want to start with what we heard from the president this morning, Scott, where he suggested that there would be a breaking point were he to be sentenced to jail time. What did you read into the president's statement there and what do you think we would see in the -- in the event he is sent to prison?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, first of all, I think he's right. I think people would be -- I mean, Republicans would go crazy. They're already going crazy, but this would be a level of intensity that I'm not sure we can exactly describe today.

But, honestly, I think they ought to do it. I mean, look, the core of this case was that it was a campaign finance violation so egregious that it might have changed the outcome of a presidential election. So, if you actually believe that, then why don't they just lock him up? Why don't you just -- why don't we just play it out and take it to its logical conclusion?


BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't know why Scott's looking at me this morning.



JENNINGS: I think -- because I think Democrats are tiptoeing around the tulips here. Just lock him up.

SELLERS: No, we -- I don't think we're tiptoeing around the tulips, which is a new one for me.

But the fact is that your candidate for president of the United States decided to cheat on his wife by sleeping with -- while she was...


JENNINGS: Is that illegal?

SELLERS: No, definitely not -- while she was pregnant, by sleeping with a porn star, violated campaign finance laws, and then -- then committed fraud in bookkeeping. That's a fact.

Now -- and he's a felon now. And so what...

JENNINGS: Should we lock him up?

SELLERS: I actually don't think so. It's a Class E misdemeanor in...


HUNT: So, I'm sorry.

The Republican is saying, lock him up, and Bakari is saying, don't lock him up.


JENNINGS: So, here's my point. Here's my point. Democrats...


SELLERS: First of all, my only point is that not a -- it's a Class E misdemeanor. And so he's going to get a fine and get probation. All the histrionics, they are what they are.

But for Republicans to be tied in this knot about the fact that somehow the criminal justice system is unfair is rich. I have said this before, but when Kyle Rittenhouse was found not guilty, everybody said, just trust the jury system. When George Zimmerman was found not guilty, we had to trust the justice system.

And now, all of a sudden, because you don't like the outcome, we don't trust the justice system anymore? I just find it to be rich irony.

HUNT: Congressman, let me get you in here, because I do think there also is this bigger question of the impact of this on what is a very, very close election.

There is new CBS polling out this morning that shows -- and they were testing this in the immediate wake of this verdict coming out. And they found that 51 percent of Americans say, no, Trump is not fit to be president now that he's convicted. Just 40 percent say, yes, he is; 8 percent are not sure in this poll.

And yet the numbers -- the top-line numbers for support in this race are incredibly, incredibly close. Do you think this is going to make the difference?

REP. JAKE AUCHINCLOSS (D-MA): If Democrats effectively campaign on it, as we should.

This comes down to the resonance of law and order with Haley voters in the heartland. Donald Trump this weekend has -- has threatened another January 6, when he aided and abetted cop killers. And that's another data point and a fact pattern now of the Republican Party jettisoning law and order.

They are voting against border security legislation that was endorsed by the Border Patrol agents. They are trying to defund the FBI. They're trying to surge guns into our classrooms and on our streets.

And Democrats have an opportunity here to reclaim the initiative on law and order and earn voters' trust on this issue and win the election on this issue.

HUNT: Kristen Soltis Anderson, you talk to voters all the time. Is he right about that message resonating?

KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I know voters do want law and order. They do want things like a secure border. They do not trust Joe Biden right now to provide them.

And so I think the big question for me coming out of this verdict and how everybody responds to it is, I think it is very possible for Democrats to overplay their hand on this. Donald Trump has said this is a Democratic attack on me to try to influence the election.

The more Joe Biden comes out and talks about this, the more that feeds into Donald Trump's exact argument that this is all political.

AUCHINCLOSS: Well, what Joe Biden said was we have to respect the integrity of the judicial system.

When you contrast that with what Speaker Mike Johnson said, which was I'm basically going to lean on my Supreme Court friends to overturn this, a gross abuse of the separation of powers, I think that law and order contrast is actually quite sharp for the American public.

And, again, it doesn't have to be 40 percent.



AUCHINCLOSS: It's 5 percent have to see this wedge now of one party upholds law and order, and one party is out there voting against border security legislation and trying to defund the FBI.

JENNINGS: I'm a little surprised to hear you invoke the respect for the justice system, because, within a 24-hour period, Joe Biden says we have to respect the judicial system, absolute respect.

And yet he tweets in the centerpiece of all of his speeches right now is, the Supreme Court tried to stop me, but I did it anyway on student loans.

So I'm just wondering which part of the judicial system do we have to respect? Which ones are good and which ones are bad?

AUCHINCLOSS: So, just as a point of law here, the Supreme Court ruled that his use of the HEROES Act in 2003 was illegal. He did not use the HEROES Act of 2003.

SELLERS: Correct.

AUCHINCLOSS: He used a different legal mechanism... JENNINGS: He just kept going.

AUCHINCLOSS: ... because he upheld the Supreme Court's ruling and found another legal manner.

JENNINGS: You're a member of Congress. Does it not offend you that the president of the United States is usurping your authority?

SELLERS: I would argue that the offense here probably is Donald Trump.

And the fact that it's a party running on law and order, to your point, I'm not so certain we should run on this particular issue. I'm not so certain we should go out here and be touting the conviction of Donald Trump, per se. But you're right. We have to reclaim issues such as law and order, because that is a pervasive issue that voters actually care about.

HUNT: Is the president being aggressive enough?

AUCHINCLOSS: The president is going to draw sharp contrast as a stable hand on foreign policy, as a capable steward of an economy that has seen 15 million jobs and 18 million new businesses open and inflation fall by 60 percent since the pandemic.

He's going to take the top-line issues...

HUNT: But on this -- on this thing, on this convicted felon thing, there are -- there are progressives in your party saying he's not going far enough, he's not hitting it hard enough. What do you think?

AUCHINCLOSS: Because the president has a sense of responsibility to the integrity of the judicial system to say, first and foremost, right out of the gate, we must uphold the rule of law.

And that contrast, the actions are going to resonate louder than the words.

HUNT: Let's watch what -- or listen, I should say, to what Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey, who has been a sharp Trump critic, although he also was at one point in his career a friend, about the impact this verdict could have. Watch.


FMR. GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ): It's not just what impact it'll have on voters. That's important.


But it's what impact it will have on him, because he will get angrier and angrier and more paranoid. And I don't think that makes him an attractive candidate to the very narrow swathe of voters that he has to try to win in order to get the presidency back.

(END AUDIO CLIP) HUNT: It seems to me, Scott, that it seems to me that honest Republicans will acknowledge when I speak to them privately that keeping the president on a message that the campaign wants him to be on, that his advisers want him to be on is the key to him winning.

It's not what we saw from him when he went to Trump Tower, threw out his teleprompters and spent half-an-hour kind of airing his grievances. Is Christie right about this?

JENNINGS: I mean, he -- look, I'd be mad too if some alleged sex I had in 2006 had me on the brink -- had me on the brink of Rikers.

SELLERS: "Alleged -- alleged sex you had" is the quote of the morning.

JENNINGS: I mean, can you imagine? Eighteen years ago, and this guy's looking at possible prison next month at the hands of these Democrats in New York. I mean, I'd be mad too.

Now, as a campaign matter, he still has a strong hand to play if he will play it. The economy, people hate it. The border, people hate it. Joe Biden, they think he's too old. There's a strong hand to play if he will play it.

SOLTIS ANDERSON: Yes, and I agree that, if he stays on those messages, things will be good for him, because the reality is there are some very early polls coming out. I would encourage people not to read too much into them for a couple of weeks.


SOLTIS ANDERSON: And I say this as a pollster. But this race is very, very, very static. It is going to take something monumental to move it, because so many people believe that both of these men are unfit to be president. They believe that the economy is not doing well, and that's why they don't trust Joe Biden.

And they don't like Donald Trump because they think he's strange and chaotic. And I think this is what's leading America to say, I don't like either of these men, and that's why any polls in the short term trying to assess, well, does this verdict matter, et cetera, I'm pretty skeptical of.

HUNT: Last word, sir.

AUCHINCLOSS: Trump cannot credibly campaign on the border when he led the charge to torpedo the toughest border security legislation in a generation endorsed by the Border Patrol agents that was negotiated by a conservative senator from Oklahoma.

He killed the best chance we had to secure the border.

HUNT: All right, we could keep going for much, much, much more time. Unfortunately, we have to leave it there.

We will be right back.



HUNT: This week marks the 80th anniversary of D-Day. But is what motivated America to fight then still relevant today?


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: What were we fighting for?

JAMES MATTIS, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: We were locked in a battle with fascism. We were fighting for our freedom, for the freedom to think as we wish, talk as we wish.

GEN. MARK MILLEY, CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: They gave their life to preserve and protect that Constitution.

GEN. JOHN KELLY (RET.), FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: They died for our democracy. That wasn't the thing they were thinking about when they ran out of the landing craft, whatever. But, at the end of the day, that's what they were protecting.


HUNT: Jake Tapper looks at "D-Day: Why We Still Fight For Democracy" on "THE WHOLE STORY" tonight at 8:00 p.m.

Thank you so much for spending your Sunday morning with us. You can always join me weekday mornings from 5:00 to 7:00 a.m. right here on CNN.

"FAREED ZAKARIA GPS" starts next.