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Senate & House Republicans Slam Trump's Town Hall Comments; U.S. Braces For Border Chaos With Hours Until Title 42 Expires; GOP's Tuberville Appears To Defend White Nationalists In Military. Aired 9- 10p ET

Aired May 11, 2023 - 21:00   ET




ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: The news continues. CNN PRIMETIME with Kaitlan Collins starts now.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST: Anderson, thanks so much.

Good evening, and thanks for joining me.

About last night, the 70 minutes that I spent, on stage, in New Hampshire, with former President Donald Trump was a major inflection point, in the Republican Party's search, for its nominee, and potentially the starting line, for America's next presidential race.

It's important to remember that he is, right now, the GOP front- runner, a race that he is running, as noted, while being criminally indicted, found civilly liable, and under investigation, for everything, from his handling, of classified documents, to his business empire.

Also notable is the Republican reaction, on Capitol Hill, today, to someone, who could easily once again become their party's nominee.


MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There's a worry that your party's leading presidential candidate is advancing--

SEN. TODD YOUNG (R-IN): Of course, it does. That's why I don't intend to support him, for the Republican nomination.


COLLINS: Last night provided a clear view, of where Trump stands, on the key issues that America is grappling with, right now.

On the economy, Trump casually suggested the nation default, if President Biden doesn't commit to spending cuts that Republicans are demanding to, raise the debt ceiling.

That's extraordinary, not only because what Trump said about the debt ceiling, when he was in office, but also because the Treasury Department, and economists, alike, say that defaulting would cause an economic catastrophe, and put the U.S., into a recession.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I disagree. And obviously, he didn't do it either when he was president.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I don't agree. I mean, it's not going to be good for the American people to default.


COLLINS: On democracy, Trump refused to accept the results, of the last election, which, of course, is notable, given he is under active investigation, still, for trying to overturn those results. And he refused to accept the result of the election that he's running for right now.


SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): I think people saw, last night, what they would get with another term of Donald Trump, as President, which is completely untethered to the truth.


COLLINS: Speaking of active investigations, Trump also admitted he did ask officials, in Georgia, to find over 11,000 votes, after initially denying that he had asked for them.

On his handling of classified documents, he suggested that he knowingly took those documents, from the White House, when he left Washington, and suggested it could be possible he showed them to others.

When it comes to January 6, he suggested that he would pardon rioters, who attacked the Capitol, and didn't rule out pardons, for those convicted, of seditious conspiracy, or assaulting cops.


SEN. JOSH HAWLEY (R-MO): If you're asking me, do I think he should pardon people, who engaged in like rioting behavior? No, I don't.

SEN. THOM TILLIS (R-NC): Anybody who crossed in to the end of the Capitol, under the circumstances that I witnessed firsthand, it's hard for me to have a positive predisposition, towards them.


COLLINS: On the jury decision, found by nine people that he is liable for sexual abuse, and defamation, Trump once again attacked the Writer, E. Jean Carroll. Tonight, her attorneys say they may sue him, again, for defamation, because of those comments. When it comes to the war in Ukraine, Trump refused to say who he wants

to win that war, and also refused to say that Putin is a war criminal. Two vital positions, considering the fate of democracy there, and how much U.S. aid, funding and weapons, is going into that war zone.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): Where I differ with President Trump is if we end this war, and Putin's still standing, he's unaccountable, for the war crimes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And Putin is a war criminal.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): I think we have been very clear about the atrocities that Russia and Putin have presented to this world.

REP. DAN CRENSHAW (R-TX): Of course, he's a war criminal. Yes.

RAJU: Does he? So, why--

CRENSHAW: Of course, Ukraine should win.


COLLINS: On abortion, I asked the former President, five times, if he would sign a national abortion ban, if he's put back into office. He refused to answer.

When it comes to the border, he also suggested that his harsh policy of separating families might return, if he returns to the Oval Office.

And, of course, if they weren't praising or criticizing the President, we heard Republicans, who preferred silence, today.


RAJU: Do you agree?

SEN. MIKE BRAUN (R-IN): Whatever he says or doesn't say, really, I'm not going to weigh in on it.

SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC): I still don't do walk-and-talks.

SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI (R-AK): I don't want to talk about your Town Hall meeting. That's all anybody wants to talk about.


COLLINS: Maybe most telling, though, was how Trump spent most of those 70 minutes, defending himself that he was hardly focused on the current occupant, of the Oval Office, President Joe Biden, even as Trump's advisers have privately urged him to look ahead, instead of backward.


COLLINS: Why should Americans put you back in the White House?


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Because we did fantastically. We got 12 million more votes than we had in, as you know, in 2016.


COLLINS: Joining the table, with me, tonight, David Axelrod, veteran political consultant, and former Chief Adviser, to President Obama; also Maggie Haberman, Senior Political Correspondent, for The New York Times; Jason Osborne, Republican strategist, and former Trump campaign adviser; and Van Jones, CNN Political Commentator, and former Obama administration official, as well.

Thank you all for being here.

Jason, let's start with you, and what you make of how Republicans, on Capitol Hill, today, were responding to that 70 minutes, last night.

JASON OSBORNE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST & FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISER: I'm actually impressed that they -- that a number of them responded the way they did.

I mean, first off, I thought you did a great job.


OSBORNE: I mean, I think you did the best job anybody could expect, out of anybody, going up against Donald Trump. I mean, it was, to your point, last night--

JONES: Yes, like matador against a bull.

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER OBAMA SENIOR ADVISER: And he said it, by the way, he said that behind your back.

COLLINS: While I was over there.


OSBORNE: But, to your point, last night that you made, it was a rerun. I mean, this was Trump being Trump, as he's always been. And I'm disappointed that we didn't see something new, like just put everything that happened, on 2020, the trial, there's ways to deflect that and put it in the rearview mirror, but tell us what we're going to do next.

So, I'm actually very impressed that we had Republicans, on the Hill, that were willing to at least address the issue. Now, there were some that just don't want to even get involved in the noise, like Lisa Murkowski, who's from my home state. I commend her for that. I mean, at least let the noise die down, and then come out, and make a statement, later, when she has to. COLLINS: Van, what did you think?

JONES: Well, first of all, I just appreciated you being the matador against the bull. It's -- anybody's that had a conversation, with Donald Trump, knows it is a very hard thing to do, just even, in normal life, let alone in front of millions of people.

And I also thought it was a rerun, it was a repeat. But I think you also put him, in a position, where he revealed some things that people, who don't watch him, all the time, were not aware of.

For instance, he's updated his sort of weaponizing of nostalgia. Before it was "Make America great again from the 50s." And that's very appealing to people, who feel that today is a rough period.

He's now moved it up. "No, make America great again, from just two years ago. Just two years ago, it was great. It was perfect. Everything was wonderful." And if he stays there, where he's praising his own past, and point to the future, and sticks Biden with the President? That's dangerous.

And so, I think, now, Democrats, now we have a chance to look at it, we can start getting ready. We can see a little bit of how he's going to move. And I think a lot of Democrats had not watched him, for three years, shocking how terrible that he still is, but also you see, the virus is mutating. And we've got to be ready for him.

COLLINS: Maggie, what did you think, especially given, obviously, one of his arguments, he's been making lately is that maybe he won't participate, in the Republican primary debates, because he is so far ahead, currently, in the polls. But he didn't spend a lot of time, last night, talking about Biden, or his record.

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: No, I was very struck by that. And I just want to echo everyone else. He tried repeatedly to get under your skin. You never let him. And it was a real reminder of the Briefing Room version of you that we saw, over many years.

I think that he was -- look, he went in there, and I had been hearing, and my colleagues have been hearing, there's going to start being a sort of a pivot more toward Biden, that that's where the energy is going to be.

He's essentially running as an incumbent, Donald Trump. And so, he -- there isn't really a Republican field. He doesn't want to give oxygen to his challengers.

He can't stop defending himself or talking about himself. And so, consequently, he spent almost no time, talking about Biden. It was very little. That will be a problem for him. And that is his problem, for years, is that he wants to talk about himself, and the past, to Van's point.

I think that his folks still feel good, about the contrast that he can show, or they think he can show, with Biden, in terms of doing a format, like that. I think they still think that he is going to be able to try to appear dominant or strong, and he's going to try to draw a weakness contrast, with Biden.

Again, this primary is not over. We should not suggest that he's the nominee.

COLLINS: Yes. Not even close.

HABERMAN: But I think that's where they're going to be looking.

What I also was struck by, he cannot help himself, on wanting to mix it up, and wanting to be on stage. And so, yes, I understand that he's been doing a lot of "I'm not going to debate."

I do think there's a real chance, he skips at least one and maybe two. It's very hard for me to imagine him seeing a bunch of Republicans, on stage, talking about him, and him, saying "Yes, you know what? I'm going to sit this one out."


David, what's your sense of how Republicans are responding to what you saw, today?

And also, the fact that the White House, immediately was like, "You want four more years of this?"


COLLINS: They were fundraising off of it.

AXELROD: Well, look, to Van's point, on your last point, a lot of Americans don't share this Halcyon view of what those years were like. Those years were chaotic. They were exhausting. And, the more you see of Trump, as we saw him, last night, the more it brings that back. So, I think that strategically was smart, of them, to do it.


In terms of how the Republicans reacted, I do think, just as a reality check, they reacted the way they did, because, as they have been, for years, they're fearful of Trump's base, which is the dominant force, in Republican politics, today. And he is in fact a, I think, a fairly substantial front-runner, in this race, or a lot of Republicans, who share other views, who wish that weren't so.

But you heard it in that room, people say, "Well, it sounded like a Trump rally." It sounded like a Trump rally, because you -- CNN assembled a representative group of Republicans, in New Hampshire. He's at 50 percent, in the polls, in New Hampshire. The Governor of the State is at 11 percent, in those same polls. He is in a dominant position.


AXELROD: So, what you saw were a lot of politicians, who just didn't want to deal with it, and didn't want to comment on it. Some of them, who ducked into hallways? And I'd hate to be Manu Raju, who must feel like he's carrying the plague, or something, because every time he--

COLLINS: They're hiding.

AXELROD: --people see him with a microphone, they duck into a door--


AXELROD: --and slam the door shut.

But they don't want to talk about it, because they don't want to offend his base. And one of the things his opponents are going to have to decide is, I mean, are they going to continue to play that game? I saw Tim Scott running into one of those doors. Are you going to continue to let him behave outrageously, and have nothing to say about it? And is that really a winning formula, if you're running for President?

OSBORNE: Yes. But I would actually just -- I don't -- I think there is some element in what you're saying there.

But I recall, back in 2015, the same thing was going on. He said like -- when I was with Dr. Carson's campaign?

COLLINS: What do you mean?

OSBORNE: And everybody wanted to talk about what Trump was doing? And they would ask every single one of the 18 of us that were on the ballot, at the time, and they would ask people on the Hill, "What do you think about Trump?"

And now, at the time, our -- the stock answer was, "There is no way this guy's going to win the primary," right, that "We cannot put up with this. Let's talk about serious issues."

So, I think, to some extent, some of these members? Now, you showed a sample clipping of some of the members they talked to. I don't know how many overall, he talked to overall. But I think there is some element of "Look, we've got serious business that we have to deal with, right now. That's the last thing that I want to be talking about."

HABERMAN: Yes. But that--


HABERMAN: The problem is, is it's the last thing that they want to be talking about, I think, in large measure, because there's nothing great to say.

And what I was very struck by today, two things.

The volume of headlines that you just showed just speaks to how much news came out of this Town Hall. And I think it was important for people to hear where he is, on positions, as opposed to just the small groups of reporters, who are on the plane with him, or the occasional Newsmax interview that he does, or what have you. So number one, that was important.

Number two, I was really struck by the number of people, who didn't want to say anything--


HABERMAN: --who have been more vocal, in recent months, who had been speaking out, about Trump, but didn't today, and didn't last night. Because, I do think that's a mark of his strength, in this primary.



HABERMAN: They see him as heading in a certain direction.

JONES: Look, I think it's a wake-up call. People been very critical of CNN, "How can you platform this? How can you do this?"

This thing is happening. Donald Trump is back, and he is real. Now, the fact that the mainstream media has not paid attention, or has been trying to ignore it, doesn't mean it's not true. I think now people are aware that this is -- this thing is back. It's real. And people got to be very smart, about how we're going to deal with it.

COLLINS: Well this--

AXELROD: Yes. Well, I mean, to this point, that in 2015, 2016, people didn't respond, they didn't think it was serious, and so on? The guy became President of the United States.


AXELROD: So, I think what we saw, last night, was some of the -- look, I'm not endorsing his behavior, and certainly, I'm not endorsing his, the lying, and all of that stuff.

But just clinically speaking, his performance skills are pretty substantial. And he knows his base. And he knows how to tickle the funny bone of his base.

And he's made himself a martyr, incredibly, through the -- now, I'm beginning to think that, rather than bricks on a load that will slow his wagon down, these indictments are going to serve as kind of proof that he is somehow being victimized, by the Deep State, who are trying to stop him from winning.

COLLINS: And, on that front, one thing to note is we had seen some of these audience members, crowd members, these are either people, who are Republicans, or they're Independents, who are voting in the New Hampshire Republican primary. That's what they're called undeclared voters, there.

These people weren't walking in a MAGA hats or T-shirts. I've been to a million Trump rallies, covering them. It wasn't that kind of crowd, when you speak to which are those Republicans, who were laughing, when he was making fun of E. Jean Carroll. It certainly wasn't the whole room. There were certainly some people, who felt uncomfortable with that.

But Maggie, on the front of what he said about E. Jean Carroll, and her attorneys now saying "Maybe we'll sue him again for defamation," after he was just ordered to pay $5 million?


COLLINS: Also, what he said about the documents seeming knowingly, do you think he opened himself up to more legal exposure?

HABERMAN: So, I mean, I will tell you that I did a sort of double- take, in the newsroom, when you asked him that question, and he answered the way he did.


And that was a very specific moment, of the Town Hall. The second half, you were both standing, his entire body language changed. It's not a topic he likes talking about, as you know. It is a topic he is very worried about, as you know.

And he walked himself into trouble. He said, "I took them. I'm allowed to." He's done slight variations, of that before, but not like that. And most noticeably, he would not rule out definitively that he did not show people, classified material, in his possession.

COLLINS: He said, "Not really."

HABERMAN: "Not really." And then -- and then--


COLLINS: Which is not "No."

HABERMAN: --and then "Not that I can recall." I mean, it was a very legal answer. And, as we know, and as we've all reported, investigators have been asking multiple witnesses, questions, about whether--


HABERMAN: --he showed them things.

AXELROD: Actually, "Not really," is not exactly what -- he may have been told to say, "I don't recall." But "Not really" is not like "I don't recall." I would think that his political adviser--

HABERMAN: And the guy that answer was--


AXELROD: --I would think his political advisers, who were-- HABERMAN: Yes.

AXELROD: --focused on--


AXELROD: --nailing this nomination down, were very happy with what happened last night. And his lawyers were appalled.

HABERMAN: Well, his lawyers, many of them, in the documents case, had become witnesses themselves. So, I'm not even sure how much briefing went on, in terms of that. I agree with you that--


HABERMAN: --his political advisers felt pretty good about that. But no, I thought that was a real area of trouble.

I also think that he walked himself into problematic comments, and he was clearly enjoying it. Mocking E. Jean Carroll, we'll see what happens with that.

But I did think, again, going back to why it is important, for people, to hear where voters are? That evoked laughter. That evoked -- now, everyone was surprised that the Access Hollywood tape, which is, related to this tape -- this case--

COLLINS: Which he defended.

HABERMAN: Which he defended, because he defended it in the deposition, in this case. People were surprised, at the time, that I remember Republicans, Paul Ryan, I think, Kelly Ayotte, standing up at rallies, or events, and getting booed, by Republican voters, because they were critical of him.

This is still there. It is a growing strain. And it's important for people to understand it.

COLLINS: Yes. And one of his attorneys was there, on the plane, with him. We saw her getting off.

Standby everyone. Thank you so much for that.

We're going to also turn to the border now, because, right now, agents are working, to maintain order, on the night that a major policy, allowing them, to quickly expel migrants, is set to expire. The looming question is how bad the border-crossing chaos could get in the days and weeks to come.

We are live on both sides, of the U.S. southern border, with less than three hours to go, until Title 42 expires, after being in place for three years, next.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COLLINS: "We have done all we can, to prepare for this moment," the White House says, as officials are bracing for what is going to happen, when Title 42 expires, less than three hours, from right now.

You can see the long lines, snaking along the U.S.-Mexico border, tonight, where droves and droves of desperate asylum seekers are waiting to cross, when the pandemic-era immigration policy ends, at 11:59 Eastern. Thousands have already made it over by the day, in record numbers, as U.S. border authorities are now taking in more than 10,000 migrants, into custody.

Title 42 was that Trump-era policy that allowed Border Patrol agents, to quickly expel migrants, from the U.S., on public health grounds.

But, after tonight, Homeland Security Secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas, is saying that the consequences for crossing are going to be even greater.


ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: If anyone arrives at our southern border after midnight, tonight, they will be presumed ineligible for asylum, and subject to steeper consequences, for unlawful entry.

I want to be very clear. Our borders are not open.


COLLINS: That warning coming, today, as we have live coverage for you, on both sides, of the U.S. southern border, tonight.

David Culver is in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

But we're going to start with Ed Lavandera, who's live, in El Paso, Texas.

Ed, what are you seeing, tonight, as officials are bracing for this, not just on the Mexico side of the border, but also on the U.S. side?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, as you alluded to there, Kaitlan, there has been a steady stream of migrants, coming across the U.S. southern border, in the hours, ahead of the end of Title 42.

Here, in El Paso, these are people, who have been processed by Border Patrol agents, and they have permits, to stay here, to enter into the United States. The question is how long will they be able to go, to be here, in the United States. They will be going through the asylum process. Not everyone is granted that.

But this is a very dramatically different scene, we're seeing, here, outside one of these shelters. Just a few days ago, this area was packed, with hundreds and hundreds of people. DHS officers came through, here, warning them that if they did not have the proper paperwork that they would be expelled, and rounded up, from here. And that has really reduced the numbers, you're seeing, on the street.

But up and down the U.S. southern border, you're seeing cities, bracing for what is coming here.

But the head of the Border Patrol, the Border Patrol Chief, today, is saying that he doesn't think that we're going to see these vast numbers of 15,000 to 18,000 people being apprehended per day that was anticipated.

Right now, that number is at about 10,000, which is still extraordinarily high. But the Border Patrol Chief is saying that perhaps we're not going to get to those peak numbers that they had been anticipating.


COLLINS: Yes, notable to hear from him that those expectations have changed. We'll see how they monitor.

Ed, keep us updated on that.

And David, you're live, on the other side of the border, in Ciudad Juarez. What are you sitting there, on the ground?

DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And to Ed's point, Kaitlan, we're starting to see the numbers actually go down behind me.

It's probably best to see it from above. So, let me show you from our drone, and we can take you over, across the Rio Grande. That's the de- marker (ph) between the U.S. and Mexico. And as we then take you, to look into Mexico, from, into the U.S. rather, you're looking from Mexico, and you're looking at a group of families, mostly.

These are families, who have been divided by Texas National Guard and CBP. And they've been put into this grouping. And they've been processing rather quickly, over the past few hours. And then, you can look a little bit farther, down the border wall, and you'll notice another group, and that's mostly single men. And they have been kept there, as the families have been processed.

What's not clear yet, Kaitlan is if they would then, after they process, all the families, start processing the single men, or if they'll have to put them back on buses, and bring them back over, to the Mexico side, which we've seen in recent months. They've done that, where they've simply drove them, across the border, and released them here. And Mexico is, of course, in an agreement, to accommodate those expulsions.

But once, in about three hours from now, Title 42 is totally lifted, of course Title 8 kicks in, and that means those, who are not qualifying for asylum, well, they face pretty serious repercussions, Kaitlan. They could be barred from the U.S., for five years.

COLLINS: Yes, five years, before they can reapply.

David Culver, keep us updated, on what you're saying. We'll continue to check back in with you.


The reality, for many of these people, despite what they have been told, is their getting into the U.S., is likely to be tougher, as David was noting, with the expiration of Title 42.

The Biden administration has already increased the use of so-called expedited removal, which essentially means that people are deported, before they get to see an immigration judge. Overall, deportation numbers have been climbing. They still lag behind the pace that was set by both Presidents Obama and Trump.

Biden's so-called transit ban makes it harder to be granted asylum, in the United States. For example, anyone who doesn't make an appointment, at a port of entry, first, will be presumed ineligible. And migrants will have to prove that they were denied asylum, in countries they passed through, before they got to the U.S. southern border.

Unlike the Trump-era policy, which carried no additional consequences, for repeated crossing attempts, Biden's rules include a five-year ban, on reentry, for anyone, who was caught, crossing the border, sneaking across the border, before they've done so.

We're joined now by the former acting Secretary of Homeland Security, under former President Trump, Chad Wolf.

Chad, thanks so much, for joining us, tonight.

I know you disagree with how the Biden administration is handling this. But I think it raises the question of if you were still running DHS, how you would specifically have been preparing for this?

CHAD WOLF, FORMER ACTING HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Well, I've been preparing for over two years now. And so, when I hear phrases like "It's going to be a chaotic scene," it doesn't need to be that way.

I think there's a number of things that you can do, from a policy standpoint, to drive some deterrence, and some consequence, into this system, so that you don't have 200,000 folks, trying to cross the border, illegally.

You got to shift them to ports of entry, into legal pathways. And so, over the course of two years, that just hasn't been occurring. We haven't imposed those consequences, on individuals. And we really haven't put the policies in place, to help drive those individuals, into those legal pathways.

And so, we know that the asylum system is being abused. DHS says this. We see other folks say this. But we actually haven't done anything about it. And so, there's a number of things that could be occurring, today, to drive this crisis, and to really reduce it to something that's more orderly, at the border. It's just not happening, unfortunately. COLLINS: We've seen this new asylum rules, coming, from the Biden administration that what we were talking about, there, essentially they severely limit those, who can claim asylum, if they don't first seek protection, by a country, they pass through, or by applying online. But we've heard from some legal experts, they believe it could face challenges.

Do you think it will face challenges?

WOLF: Well, it certainly could. Again, the Trump administration, we had a very similar rule, but not the same rule, a similar rule that was challenged in court. The Biden administration, at the beginning, of their term, decided not to defend that in court. Had they, we would have had two years of a rule, like this, in effect that, again, would have helped lessen this crisis.

I think the difference with the Biden administration's rules, the number of exceptions and loopholes, it doesn't apply to children. It doesn't apply to families. If you can't access the CBP One app, it doesn't exempt you from the rule.

So, there's so many loopholes that I've seen, during my time, as Acting Secretary. The more loopholes, the more exceptions, that you do to these types of rules, the more people take advantage of those rules. The cartels will start to understand this. And they'll start to coach people, to take advantage of those.

So, we'll see if the rule is actually successful. Only time will tell. But I certainly have doubts about it, given what I've read about it, in my experience.

COLLINS: Yes. And there have been some issues with the app. Migrants have limited access to internet and whatnot.

Chad, I want to ask you about something that your former boss, former President Trump said to me, last night, when I was interviewing him. And we were talking about what his immigration policy would look like, if he is put back in office, in 2024, as he's running for it.

He didn't rule out the idea of reinstating that zero-tolerance immigration policy that separated families, who crossed the border. Do you believe that he should have ruled something like that out?

WOLF: Well, I'm going to let President Trump speak for himself, of course.

But the idea, again, was zero-tolerance was actually holding people accountable, for breaking the law. And we actually hear the Biden administration, talking, in those terms, today, is what are -- what is that deterrence, and what is that consequence, for individuals, breaking the law?

And that's what's not occurring, unfortunately, on the border today. That's why you continue to see so many repeat offenders. You see individuals that have been returned, under Title 42, only to come back, two or three days later, because there's no consequence. And so, I think that's what we've got to get back into the system. Once individuals start to understand, if you crossed the border, illegally, you're going to be detained, and then you're going to be moved back, to your home country, if you don't qualify for asylum? And as soon as folks understand that, I think that's when you continue to see the numbers drop, and you see a lot more order, come out of this chaos.

COLLINS: But chad, it was an incredibly inhumane policy. It separated children, from their parents. Isn't there a way to enforce the laws without separating kids from their parents?


WOLF: Look, I think there's a number of ways, to enforce the law.

You got to remember, over the last two years, under this administration, over 365,000 children have come across that border, without parents, without supervision, without any guardians. These families have decided to separate themselves, before they even crossed this border, because of the policies of this administration. So, we can talk about that.

But I'm ready to focus on how do we secure the border? How do we hold people accountable, while still giving those protections, to those that truly need it, and actually qualify, which is a very small percentage?

I think that's the system we need to get to. We're not there yet. And I don't see us getting there, under this administration, with these policies, over the last two years.

COLLINS: Well, I'll note, some of those children are still separated, from their parents, today, was unable to find them.

Chad Wolf, thank you for joining us, tonight. As Title 42 is set to expire, we will be watching to see how it's handled at the border.

WOLF: Thank you.

COLLINS: Also tonight, he could potentially face charges, in Georgia. So, last night, I pressed for President Trump about that phone call that is at the heart of the election interference probe.


TRUMP: If this call was bad -- I questioned the election.

COLLINS: You asked him to find you votes.

TRUMP: If this call was bad -- I didn't ask him to find anything.

Let me just tell you, if this call was bad.

COLLINS: We have heard the audiotape, Mr. President.


COLLINS: When we come back, the man, on the other end of that infamous call, is here, Georgia's Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger, next.




TRUMP: We're having a call. We're having a normal call. Nobody said, "Oh, gee, he shouldn't have said that."

Why -- if this call was bad -- I questioned the election.

COLLINS: You asked him to find you votes.

TRUMP: If this call was bad -- I didn't ask him to find anything.

Let me just tell you, if this call was bad.

COLLINS: We have heard the audiotape, Mr. President.

TRUMP: So, look, all I want to do is this: I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have, because we won the State.


COLLINS: The video you just saw was former President Trump, last night, denying, asking Georgia's Republican Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger, to find him votes, before conceding that he did ask him to find him votes.

And then, the audio you just heard was then-President Trump, in January of 2021, directly asking Raffensperger, to find him those votes.

Joining us now, Georgia's Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger.

Thank you so much, Mr. Secretary, for joining us, tonight.

What was your reaction, when you heard those comments, last night?

BRAD RAFFENSPERGER, (R) GEORGIA SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, President Trump said, we didn't hang up on the phone call.

You have to understand. I've been taught, and I believe in respecting people's positional authority, no matter what that level and what office they hold. But he held the Office of President of the United States of America. And that office deserves respect, whenever you have a conversation, with the President of the United States of America.

COLLINS: So, that's why you didn't hang up? Not because you -- what was it? He was essentially suggesting was that if you, and your attorneys, who were on the call, I should note, which was also recorded, actually thought something was wrong, that you would have hung up in the moment. But you're saying you didn't because it was the President of the United States, on the other line?

RAFFENSPERGER: Yes. I wouldn't hang up on a governor, senator, congressperson. I just respect people's positional authority. And I think that's one of the things that we have going on, in America, right now. We have lost respect in the offices that people hold. And I think that we should have respectful conversations at all times.

COLLINS: And when he says that he was just calling to question the results of the election, initially claiming he wasn't asking you to find him anything, that's obviously not true? We've all heard the call.

RAFFENSPERGER: Well, I gave him all the facts. He said in the call that there's 5,000 dead people that were alleged to have voted. They sued us on 10,315. And I told him that there was two. We found two more. They said that there was underage voters, 66,000; there were zero; that there's thousands of felons; it was less than 74; 2,400 non-registered voters; there's actually zero.

But Kaitlan, what's really interesting is I didn't realize until just recently, but it was reported in the newspaper that he actually had paid Berkeley Research Group, he spent over $600,000, for them to look into this. And he had that report, the day before he called.

And then, just a few weeks ago, we heard about, he paid Simpatico, about $750,000. And they also came back, and said there was not sufficient enough fraud, to overturn this race.

So, he had the facts. And then, he called.

COLLINS: That was a report from "The Washington Post."

And so, he had those facts. He called you. You explained again, to him, the numbers. But do you believe he was strong-arming you, into using your office to get him votes that he did not earn from voters?

RAFFENSPERGER: Well, I knew that we didn't have the votes. We knew that we had checked out everything, every single allegation.

In fact, he hand-picked Bobby Christine, his U.S. Attorney, from the Southern District, to come up to Atlanta, and specifically look at the Fulton County, counting of the absentee ballots that went on, on election night. And Bobby Christine is a U.S. Attorney, acting U.S. Attorney of the Northern District, did not find fraud there, and then reported that back to the President.

And so, every time that there was an allegation, we did our checking, so we could report back to the voters. We report, I report back to the voters. I wanted all the voters to understand that we're going to have a fair and honest election. And that's my job to make sure that they have confidence in the results.

COLLINS: What do you make of him? Same call (ph), again to you today, despite the fact that the D.A. there has said charges could come this summer? RAFFENSPERGER: Well, if he did, he'd get the same answer. In fact, now we have even more data points that just show that President Trump did come up short.

See, what happened in Georgia, and I think it may have happened, in other states, but in Georgia, we know 24,000 voters, skipped the presidential race. They didn't vote for any of the three candidates, for president. And yet they voted down ballot, in other races. And that's why President Trump came up short. In fact, what you saw is actually our Republican congressmen, got 33,000 more votes collectively, 33,000 more votes than President Trump.

COLLINS: You've been clear that you obviously follow the numbers there. But you say, "I am a Republican." You've noted before that you would have wanted a Republican, to win that election.

Does it hurt Republicans, to have someone, who is right now the GOP front-runner that is still denying the results of the election, including in your state?


RAFFENSPERGER: I think that when people run for office, they should be looking forward, because that's where we're going to spend our future time, and that's really where, what people are looking at. What's going to happen next week? What's going to happen next year? What are your plans for the future?

And so, I think that when people run campaigns, it should be really looking towards the future, and not just looking back, and talking about stolen election claims, which had been disproven.

COLLINS: Brad Raffensperger, Georgia's Republican Secretary of State, your name was invoked, many times, last night. So, thank you for joining us, and your time, tonight.

RAFFENSPERGER: Thank you, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: Alabama's Republican senator, Tommy Tuberville, is under fire, tonight, for his remarks that his office is now trying to walk back. Did he advocate for white nationalists, in the Military? We'll talk about those remarks, next.


COLLINS: A sitting U.S. senator, and his office, are trying to do some cleanup, tonight, after he seemed to take up the case of the cause of white nationalists, I should note, being able to serve in the Military.

This was Alabama Republican senator, Tommy Tuberville, in a radio interview, he did, last week.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. TOMMY TUBERVILLE (R-AL): Democrats are attacking our Military, saying we need to get out the White extremists, the White nationalists, people that don't believe in our agenda, as Joe Biden's agenda.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You mentioned the Biden administration trying to prevent White nationalists from being in the Military. Do you believe they should allow White nationalists in the Military?

TUBERVILLE: Well, they call them that. I call them Americans.


COLLINS: His office, then tried to explain that comment, and released a statement, to, saying, quote, "Senator Tuberville's quote that is cited shows he was being skeptical of the notion that there are White nationalists in the Military, not that he believes they should be in the Military."

Senator Tuberville also spoke off-camera, to CNN, earlier today, saying, quote, "Here's the problem, Democrats portray all MAGA Republicans as White nationalists, that's not truth, we got a lot of great people in the Military that are MAGAs, that's what I was talking about."

David, Jason, and Van are back with me tonight.

JONES: Look, it was clear what he was saying. And it's hard to walk that back. I mean, Michael Jackson couldn't moonwalk that one back.

I mean, it's, there is a terrorist threat, in our country. It is violent. It is killing people. It is corrupting the minds of young people. It is massive. The FBI is terrified. And he's downplaying it. And it should not be in our Military. And he knows that.

Now, for him, to ignore, a terrorist threat, in our country that is participating, in our Military, to try to score some kind of anti-woke points, if that's what he was doing? It's wrong to do that. But I'm not sure that's what he's doing.

And so, I think that we got to have a much more serious and sober conversation, about this threat that's in the country. This is not about woke-ism. You can feel whatever you want to, about that. This is a terrorist movement, growing in our country that is shooting people down, in malls, in synagogues, in churches. And it should be talked about in those terms, always.

COLLINS: And there are a lot of conservative servicemembers. That's a separate thing here. What he was trying to say there is like Democrats painting them all as White nationalists.

But there is a White nationalist problem, in the Military. And it's the Military that says that--


COLLINS: --and talks about those issues that they're having.

OSBORNE: Yes, look, I mean, as a BamaGrad, I don't pretend to know, Auburn-speak. But I am going to give Coach Tuberville, a pass, on this one, and say that I don't think he was -- I truly don't believe that he was referring to, White nationalists are Americans.

I think he would freely admit that White nationalism is a problem, and it's despicable, just like many of us, do. I question why we have to use the term MAGA Republicans. I mean, can't we just be Republicans or conservatives?

But I do think that there is -- there is data out there that even the Department of Defense has investigated this issue, and said that there is a small, very small problem, I think, it's like 0.05 percent, according to the DoD's own data on this. Regardless, it's a problem. It's a problem that there is any White nationalism out there, just as there is--

COLLINS: Correct.

OSBORNE: --anti-American behavior, just as there is, in many other areas, right? But I don't think Tuberville should bear the brunt of the criticism, in saying that what he was referring to, in this case, is that White nationalists are Americans?


OSBORNE: Because I think if you read the first part of it is, "That's what they call them." And I think he could have used his words a lot better. And maybe--

JONES: That's a kind word (ph).

COLLINS: You're laughing.


COLLINS: I mean what do--

AXELROD: Look, this would be more compelling, if this wasn't -- if this was the first time that the coach had fumbled the ball. But he has a history of doing this, around race.

COLLINS: His comment about reparations.



AXELROD: Around race.

So, I just want to echo what's been said around this table. We have a problem with White extremism, violent extremism, in this country. Some of it was reflected, on January 6, and some of the participants in that, you talk to people in the Military, you talk to people in -- who work, in the veterans community, and there is a problem with radicalization, among those groups.

No, it hasn't -- it's not about conservatism.

JONES: At all.

AXELROD: People can have the views they have. And that's right. And it's proper, and we should defend that. But there is a problem, and it's dangerous. And the FBI Director has spoken about this.


AXELROD: The Department of Homeland Security has spoken about this. This is a problem. And if you're a serious person, in a high position, in the United States government, you have a responsibility to be serious about this.

COLLINS: Yes. He's first-term U.S. senator, he is in that serious position.

It also comes as he is holding up Military nominations. It's 196, I believe, something that even the Republican leader, in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, has criticized.


He's holding them up because he doesn't like a Pentagon policy, where they would pay for -- or they would have servicemembers be on leave, or have travel, if they are in a state, where they can't get an abortion. He's holding it up, because of that.


COLLINS: And while making these comments, concerned about Military recruitment.

JONES: Well.

OSBORNE: Yes. I mean I think that -- but I saw Schumer's statement on, today, saying, "Disavow the statement that you made, yesterday, and release the nominations." They're two completely different things, right?

JONES: Well the--

OSBORNE: And Tuberville, whether I agree with him or not, he is saying that the U.S. government should not be paying paid leave and travel expenses, for somebody, to get a procedure that, quite frankly, I thought the Hyde Amendment had taken care of that it's not allowed.

JONES: But what I would say is that to jeopardize the security of the entire country, there are other ways, to exercise your views, on those issues. He's holding hostage, the ability of the President of the United States, to be the Commander-in-Chief, over this issue. And it goes to his judgment, which I think was found lacking, again yesterday.

OSBORNE: But I do think that's a little -- I mean, look, I get it. We have to say those kind of things.

COLLINS: But these positions are important. It's the Chief of Staff, of the Army, the NSA Director, the Commander of U.S. Cyber Command.

JONES: It's serious stuff, man.

COLLINS: Those are very important positions.

OSBORNE: Yes. It's -- and I know we have to say that yes, he's holding up nominations. But all these people have "Acting" in front of their name.

JONES: Well--

OSBORNE: They're all sitting there in that position. It's not as dire as people are saying it is. And that's probably why Tuberville is actually saying, "You know, what? You're going to have to play ball with me a little bit on this."


AXELROD: You know who disagrees with you, though. The leaders of the Military, who think this is a hindrance to them.


AXELROD: So, I take their word for it.

And what's pretty clear to me is that he's trying to put -- Alabama has a very strict law, relative to abortion. He is signifying, for his base.

COLLINS: Really (ph).

AXELROD: But he's doing it at the expense of national security. And that's wrong.

COLLINS: David Axelrod, Van Jones, Jason, thank you all, for being here, tonight, for exciting conversation.

Up next, the one takeaway, from last night's Town Hall that would impact every single American, every single American, back in a moment.



COLLINS: We're now learning there are no talks, tomorrow, between President Biden, and congressional leaders, to avert the nation's first ever potential default. The White House says that all the principals agreed to meet early next week, instead. They basically argued there wasn't enough progress made, at this point, for them, to meet again.

What a default would mean though, would be dire consequences, for millions of Americans, with ripple effects, not just here in the United States, but across the globe.

The government would no longer be able to pay everyone, from Social Security recipients, to federal employees, to veterans. Your 401(k) would take a direct hit. The U.S. credit rating would most likely be downgraded, which would send interest rates higher.

But perhaps one of the biggest takeaways from last night's Town Hall was former President Trump's advice, to his own party.

Before I play that I want you to listen to how President Trump, when he was still, in the Oval Office, felt about lawmakers, using the debt ceiling, as a negotiating tactic.


TRUMP: I said, I remember, to Senator Schumer and to Nancy Pelosi, "Would anybody ever use that to negotiate with?" They said, "Absolutely not."

That's a sacred element of our country. They can't use the debt ceiling to negotiate.


COLLINS: "That's a sacred element of our country."

Fast-forward to now.


TRUMP: I say to the Republicans out there, congressmen, senators, if they don't give you massive cuts, you're going to have to do a default.

COLLINS: Mr. President, you think the U.S. should default, if the White House does not agree to the spending cuts, Republicans are demanding?

TRUMP: Well you might as well do it now, because you'll do it later.

COLLINS: You once said that using the -- that using the debt ceiling, as a negotiating wedge, just could not happen. You've said that when you were in the Oval Office.

TRUMP: Sure. That's when I was President.

COLLINS: So, why is it different now that you're out of office?

TRUMP: Because now I'm not President.



COLLINS: A lot easier to say when you aren't president, and when if a default did happen, President Biden would be in office. I should note, Republicans have voted to raise the debt ceiling, three

times, when Trump was in office, with no such preconditions. Of course, what that would mean, for regular voters, is significant.

We'll be back in a moment.



COLLINS: Thanks so much for watching, tonight.

"CNN TONIGHT" with Alisyn Camerota starts now.

Hi, Alisyn.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST, CNN TONIGHT: Hi, Kaitlan. How are you recovering?

COLLINS: It's been quite the 24 hours, I should say!

CAMEROTA: I bet it has.