Return to Transcripts main page

The Source with Kaitlan Collins

GOP Gov. Glenn Youngkin On Abortion Rights; Rep. George Santos Compares Himself To Civil Rights Icon Rosa Parks While Responding To Republican Criticism; Rudy Giuliani Negotiating Possible Settlement In Lawsuit Brought By Two Georgia Election Workers. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired July 10, 2023 - 21:00   ET





TAPPER: Appreciate it.

COOPER: Again, the name of the book is "All the Demons Are Here." It's out, tomorrow. And it is a really great read.

Well, it is a big night here, not just because of Jake's book. But tonight's the premiere of "THE SOURCE" with Kaitlan Collins. I'll certainly be watching.

And so, with the very best wishes, from every one, at 360, here is "THE SOURCE" with Kaitlan Collins.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST, THE SOURCE: Tonight, straight from THE SOURCE, who Ron DeSantis is blaming, for his sagging poll numbers?

Can anyone take on Donald Trump? A potential rival will join me.

Plus, playing politics with the military, one single senator is so determined to make a point about abortion he's blocking the Pentagon's most senior promotions. And that Republican is here with me, in just moments.

Also tonight, I have some new reporting, inside, on Donald Trump's thinking, regarding the Special Counsel's January 6th probe.

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

Tonight, with the window, until the first votes are cast, in 2024, narrowing, and Trump headed to trial, is there still time, for a viable alternative, to emerge?

Ron DeSantis is still number two, in the GOP race. But he's trailing Trump, by more than 30 points, in most polls. So, what is the Florida governor's strategy? What is he doing, to turn things around? Blaming the media.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL), (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The media does not want me to be the nominee. I think that's very, very clear.

If you look at the people, like the Corporate Media, who are they going after?

Pretty clear that the media does not want me to be the candidate. I think that they've tried to create a narrative that somehow the race is over.


COLLINS: Obviously, Iowa will be critical, for any candidate, who is hoping to knock Trump out of the number one spot. And Republicans have just moved the caucuses, there, up to January 15th, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, weeks earlier than it has been, in recent elections.

But the question is could a late entrant shake things up? Perhaps my first guest, tonight, Republican governor, Glenn Youngkin, of Virginia, who joins me now.

Governor, thank you, for being here, for the premiere of the first show.

GOV. GLENN YOUNGKIN (R-VA): Kaitlan, congratulations, on this great show. It's great to be with you, and have a chance to talk about Virginia. We have a lot of great things going on there.

COLLINS: You do have a lot going on, in Virginia. And you recently went 10 for 10, in the contested primaries, in your home state. The candidates that you endorsed all won. Your own election, in Virginia, was also seen as a playbook, for Republicans, across the country.

When you look at Virginia, and you look at 2024, what do you think Republicans need to do, nationally, to win in 2024? What can they learn from you?

YOUNGKIN: Well, I have to look back, at what we learned, in 2021.

First and foremost is we've got to listen to the voters. And I listened to a lot of Virginians, about what issues were most important to them. And I think the same issue set will be presented this year, in our 2023 elections, which we have, in Virginia. Our whole House, our whole Senate is up. That's what I'm really focused on.

And that issue sets really clear. Cost of living has run away from folks. And they're worried about the economy. They're worried about public safety. They're really worried about education. They're worried about behavioral health. I hear it over and over again.

And so, we focused on that in 2021. And we put together a really commonsense platform, in order to address these issues. And when I was hired, we went to work. And we got a lot done, even with a split Legislature. With a House controlled by Republicans, and a Senate controlled by Democrats, commonsense prevailed. We cut taxes. We invested a record amount, in education, a record amount in law enforcement. We went to work on behavioral health. We've made tremendous strides. And that's why I'm confident this year that the voters will be very pleased with the work that we've done, in Virginia.

COLLINS: One other thing voters have been concerned about is abortion, though. It is still top of the mind, for a lot of voters, including in Virginia, and in those elections.

You have said that you've pushed for a 15-week ban, and that it belongs, that it's up to the states. It's a state's issue after, Roe versus Wade was overturned.

But are federal candidates, or candidates running for the 2024 nomination, pushing for a federal ban, are they wrong?

YOUNGKIN: Well, let me just begin with where things stand in Virginia. So, I'm a pro-life governor. That's what Virginians elected. I believe in exceptions in the case of rape and incest, and when the mother's life is at risk.

And just three years ago, in Virginia, the Democrat-controlled Legislature and Governor were pushing for abortion to be legal all the way up through, and including birth. And Virginians viewed that as way too extreme.

And so, when the Roe v. Wade decision came down, I viewed it as a chance, to bring people together, a chance to bring people together, around a bill that would protect life, at 15 weeks, 15 weeks, when a baby can feel pain. And I believe this is the place that we can come together.

What I hear from Virginians over and over again is that abortion all the way up through and including birth is far too extreme, and that they want fewer abortions, not more. And I think we can come together, on this topic. And I think it will be something that is discussed extensively, during this election, in 2023.

COLLINS: It will be. But what about a federal ban?

YOUNGKIN: Well, I don't think --

COLLINS: Are you for that?


YOUNGKIN: Yes, I don't think that I -- again, I think that where commonsense brings us together, is around a 15-week bill that protects life, when a child can feel pain.

And this is a really important moment. There's a chance, for us, in Virginia, to really demonstrate leadership, to bring people together, on a topic that has really been a divisive one. And this is why I am focused, on coming together, on a topic that has historically been one that's divided people. Let's unite each other. COLLINS: You talk about coalescing around 15 weeks.

Governor DeSantis is someone, a fellow governor of yours, a Republican, who signed a six-week ban, in Florida. He is obviously running against Donald Trump, for the nomination. He hasn't done, as people had predicted he would. He hasn't been as big of a challenge to Trump, as people thought he would.

Do you think you would be able to be a challenge to Trump?

YOUNGKIN: Well, as I've said to folks, because I've been asked this question, frequently, one, I'm humbled by it. I've been at this for 18 months. And, gosh, 40 years ago, I was washing dishes, and taking out trash, in Virginia Beach, because I needed a job.

But I think what has been demonstrated is that when someone brings commonsense, to an office, like a Governor in Virginia, and you get a lot done, and we deliver on promises made? People pay attention. And I'm encouraged by that.

Because I think what folks are seeing in Virginia is that commonsense prevails. And when we lower taxes, and streamline regulations, and invest a record amount in education, and stand up for law enforcement, and prioritize behavioral health? Change can happen, and good things come of it. And that's what's encouraging to me.

But as I've said to folks, I am focused on 2023. The entire Legislature is up this year, our House and our Senate. I want to hold our House.

COLLINS: Yes. You got every election (ph).

YOUNGKIN: And I want to turn our Senate.

COLLINS: And I've heard you say that you're humbled by this, when people ask you about this. But you also, you've never ruled it out?

YOUNGKIN: Well, I think what is most encouraging is the frequency that people are asking, because of what's going on in Virginia. And what I've constantly said is, and you just said that the Iowa -- the Iowa caucus has been pulled forward, into January. I'm not in Iowa. I'm not at this, actually (ph) --

COLLINS: Will you be in January?

YOUNGKIN: I am going to be in Virginia.

COLLINS: In January, you will not be an Iowa?

YOUNGKIN: Well, this is where you have to be. And I don't think I'll be in Iowa. I think I'm going to be in Virginia. We're going to do everything we can, to hold our House, flip our Senate, and lead. And this is what I was hired to do. And that's what's exciting to me.

COLLINS: So, are you going to rule it out? YOUNGKIN: Well, again, I'm going to repeat to you one more time. And you've asked this, in very creative ways. And I've had it, from many folks, and I've said many, many times that I'm focused on Virginia. And this is one of these moments, where we, in Virginia, can demonstrate that with commonsense, with collaboration, with strong principles.

Listen, I believe what I believe, and I think I've been very clear that we're going to lower taxes, and we are going to streamline regulations. We're going to back parents. We're going to reestablish excellence in education. We're going to fund law enforcement. We're going to fix behavioral health.

These are the issues that Virginians have been focused on. And what we've been able to do, Kaitlan, is I think, deliver. And I'm incredibly humbled by the fact that there's been some focus on what we're doing. And that has translated into some national interest.

COLLINS: Well, in Virginia --

YOUNGKIN: But I've said over and over again, I'm focused on the Commonwealth.

COLLINS: Virginia is often also a bellwether for national politics. People have looked at your run. You also did put out a campaign a video not that long ago that a lot of people thought looked like a presidential campaign video.

But, when you talk about what Republicans need to do to win back the White House? You're talking about mirroring what you're doing. Do you think Donald Trump is the best option, for Republicans, right now? Is he the best your party has to offer?

YOUNGKIN: Well, here's what I believe that we will nominate a candidate, who will win. I believe that it's time for --

COLLINS: You think whoever the Republican candidate is will defeat Biden?

YOUNGKIN: I think we -- I think it's time, for a Republican leader. I think what's been demonstrated, from the Biden White House is that foreign policy weakness, and a disarray in the economy, and a lack -- full lack of understanding, about how all the pieces fit together, has resulted in America struggling.

Inflation is the biggest issue, on voters' minds. Crime is the second biggest issue, on voters' minds. And third is education. And I see it and hear it every day, from Virginians. And there's nothing that's come out of the Biden White House, to address these issues, these most important kitchen-table issues.

And so, I think, this is a great opportunity, for commonsense, conservative values, to be reflected, in a candidate. I'm going to back whoever the candidate is. And I think it's a great chance, for Republicans, to lead again. COLLINS: OK. So, even if that candidate is Donald Trump. When he was indicted recently, in the documents investigation, you posted a tweet, saying that the charges were unprecedented. You called it a sad day, for the country. And you referred to a two-tiered justice system.

But now that you've seen the indictment, we've heard Trump in his own words, in that audio tape, do you still not think that he should be held accountable, for what is being alleged in that indictment?

YOUNGKIN: Well, let me back up, and just be clear that what we've seen happen, to the former President, is inconsistent with what we've seen happen, in other circumstances, with elected officials.

COLLINS: Like which one?

YOUNGKIN: And I think this is what folks are concerned about. There's plenty of allegations against the current Biden White House, and things that have gone on there.


And, in Virginia, one of the things that we saw was that, parents, standing up, at school board meetings, and demanding transparency, and accountability, in their children's education, was met by the Justice Department, of the United States, with accusations, of being terrorists. That was alleged by one of the teachers' unions.

I mean, this is the inconsistency that Virginians and, I believe, Americans see, and it's something that undermines people's trust in the system.

COLLINS: But you can have concerns about that. But the allegations, against Trump, are completely different than that. He was the Commander-in-Chief. They say that he took documents related to national security, our allies' weaknesses, U.S. weaknesses. I mean, he's on this audiotape, talking about the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Do you have any issue, after you've seen that indictment and heard that audio?

YOUNGKIN: Kaitlan, I think the big concern, from people, is the fact that this seems to be a differential treatment, than what other elected officials are receiving.

And, I'll repeat it again. One thing about justice is that it should be applied equally. And again, with the home Virginia view, I was stunned that parents were being pursued, by the Justice Department, for showing up, at school board meetings. This doesn't comport. And therefore, I do think that this is what causes people, to lose trust, in our justice system.

COLLINS: One more question on this, because you talk about regular people, and how they would be treated. If a regular person took home classified documents, as we've seen, just happened to a Kansas City woman, they're sentenced to prison. YOUNGKIN: Yes. And again --

COLLINS: They're being treated differently.

YOUNGKIN: And again --

COLLINS: Trump was given a lot of leeway, by the Justice Department, here, to return these documents.

YOUNGKIN: As you continue to press on this topic, let me just be clear. It is the difference in approach that happens to different people that causes concern, and a lack of faith, in the system.

As long as people are treated consistently, one elected official, and another elected official, then I think that trust is actually furthered. And when they're treated differently, it's undermined.

COLLINS: Yes, I just think the Pence situation, the Biden situation, and the Trump situation, they're all different, in the sense of how they pushed the documents, or returned the documents, and how they participated.

YOUNGKIN: But I don't think that the American people will see it that way, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: But is that because they're not given the accurate information? I mean, Trump fought, a year and a half subpoena from the Justice Department, on this. He misled his own attorneys, according to this indictment, and had an aide moving boxes, to essentially evade them.

YOUNGKIN: Again, what we're learning as the curtain is pulled back, on a variety of topics, is that not all elected officials have been treated the same. And I think this is where people are scratching their heads. Why aren't all elected officials treated the same here? And, in the case, again, of Virginia parents, or the Biden administration, people are asking, that's the basic question.

COLLINS: Let me ask you another question, about Virginia, because I know mental health, in your state, and how that's dealt with. It's really important to you.

And we were looking at the numbers on this. Mental Health America ranked your state, 48th, in the nation, this year --


COLLINS: -- when it came to what kids are dealing with, and how they are treated, with their issues. Why is your State ranked so low? And what are you doing to change that?

YOUNGKIN: Yes, it's such a great question. And it is such a huge problem.

First of all, that data is based on 2019 and 2020, comparative data. And so, the first thing is that Virginia was ranked near the bottom, before the pandemic. And then, as you come through the pandemic, it only got worse. And our behavioral health system is being overwhelmed. And that's why I made it a top priority, to transform it.

And we launched, this past December, a complete transformation, of our behavioral health system. It's called Right Help Right Now, so that we can fundamentally build a system that can meet people, where they are. It has to extend to children, particularly because we have a big gap to close.

This is a top priority. You can't have the best State to live, work and raise a family, if you don't have a healthy state. And we have to treat mental health, and health-health with equal attention.

COLLINS: Yes, it's a really important issue. I know it's important to your administration.

Governor Youngkin, thank you for joining us, here tonight.

YOUNGKIN: Great. Thank you so much. Congratulations, again, on your show.

COLLINS: Thank you.

One senator has been holding up military nominees, for months. And today, the U.S. Marine Corps, right now, is without a permanent leader. Senator Tommy Tuberville is here, next, on THE SOURCE.



COLLINS: For the first time, in 164 years, the U.S. Marine Corps, tonight, is without a confirmed leader.

Senator Tommy Tuberville is blocking all military promotions, and has been, for four months. He is doing this, to protest a Pentagon policy that offers paid time-off, and reimburses travel, to service members, who can't get abortions, where they are stationed.

Earlier today, Defense Secretary, Lloyd Austin, said he believes Senator Tuberville's blockade, quote, "Harms America's national security."


LLOYD AUSTIN, DEFENSE SECRETARY: We have a sacred duty to do right by those who volunteer to wear the cloth of our nation.

Smooth and timely transitions of confirmed leadership are central to the defense of the United States.


COLLINS: Tuberville's hardline position has left about 265 high- ranking officers, and their families, in limbo. By the end of the year, if this is not resolved, the Pentagon says that number could rise, to more than 600, and it could include the leaders of the Army, the Navy, and even the Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman.

The person, who is nominated for that position, General Charles Brown, CQ Brown, met with Senator Tuberville, today, in his office.

We are joined, tonight, by Senator Tuberville himself.

Thank you, Senator, for being here.

As we were talking about the historic nature of this, the last time the Marine Corps was left, without a permanent leader, was back in 1859, when Archibald Henderson died, at 76, with no successor in place.

Do you not think it's important to have a permanent leader, in charge of the Marine Corps?

SEN. TOMMY TUBERVILLE (R-AL): Well, first of all, congratulations on your new show. I know Alabama people are proud of you. And War Eagle, by the way.

COLLINS: Thank you.

TUBERVILLE: But this is a -- this is an interesting situation. You can't work out a problem, unless you have a conversation. I've had a 10-minute conversation, five months ago, with anybody, from the White House, with the Pentagon. I'm doing it, for several reasons.

But number one, I'm not stopping anybody from being confirmed. I'm just stopping them from confirming hundreds at a time. They can confirm as many as they want, during the day. We're just sitting around, twiddling our thumbs, most of the time, during the week, and should be confirming people.


But that being said, they're delegating, and legislating, from the White House. That's another reason I'm doing this.

People, in this country, voted for Congress. They want representation. And they changed the law, Section 1093 of the Code. The law says, again, a vote -- voted on by President Biden, says that there will be only abortion, during the three exceptions. Now, President Biden has changed this, he and the Secretary of Defense.

Now, we ran hard for these positions, to represent the people of our different states, and our districts. We are supposed to be making the law, not the Pentagon, and not the White House. So, that's one of the reasons, one of the bigger reasons, I've got to hold on these, because they need to do it the right way. It might get passed. Write the law up, send it over to Congress, and let's pass this.

COLLINS: But you say that they're violating the law. But the Pentagon policy, there's an opinion, from the Justice Department, that says it doesn't violate the law, because they're not actually paying for abortions. They're paying for the travel, to get there. This is, I'm quoting, from the policy, now. It says that non-covered reproductive health care is at the service member's expense. So, that would seem to say that they're not violating the law, which is your whole premise, for blocking all the nominations.

TUBERVILLE: Well, first of all, I wouldn't trust this Department of Justice, as far as I can throw them. But they look at it different. I look at it, as a law.

A law is legislated through Congress. Now, this was a law. It was voted on, by Joe Biden, in 1985. And it passed. And so, it's got to be a law. So, to change that law, it's got to go back through Congress.

COLLINS: But what you're --


COLLINS: You're referencing the Hyde Amendment. But this is not explicitly paying for abortions. It's paying for the time-off and for their services.

But regardless, even if you disagree, with their position on this, their policy, a Colonel, who is waiting to be promoted, to a one-star general, has no say, over what the Pentagon's policy is. So, why are you holding these officers, responsible, for the actions of political and civilian appointees?

TUBERVILLE: When you're in the majority -- a minority, in the Senate, it's the only power that you have, to get people's attention, to get them to do it the right way, to go by the Constitution. The only power we have is to put a hold on something.

And so, we thought that this would get the attention of the Secretary of Defense. I told him, back in December, "Now, if you do this, I'm going to put a hold on all your admirals and generals." I didn't hear from him, for two months.

He put the order through, just through a memo, and sort of a law. He changed it. That's unlawful. To make it law, you've got to go through Congress. And we're trying to teach him that you cannot legislate from the Pentagon.


TUBERVILLE: And so, it's a tough situation. And there's nobody more military than me, Kaitlan. My dad was military, career military. I'm all for the military. We need a strong military.

But we also need to go by the rules in the Constitution, and represent the people and taxpayers. Taxpayers are not supposed to pay for anything that has to do with abortion.

COLLINS: Your father, yes, your father was in the military.

But when you talk about who's hurting here, and that you said you were going to do this, you're not directly hurting Secretary Austin, or President Biden, here.

This has a real impact, on the families of these officers. They can't move or resettle their families. They can't enroll their kids, in schools. Their spouses can't take new jobs, wherever they're going to be stationed next.

This keeps members of the military, who are getting promoted, from getting that pay raise. You realize that, right?

TUBERVILLE: Well, first of all, if I thought it had -- was hurting readiness, or recruiting, I wouldn't be doing this. But it's not doing it.

I've talked to generals and admirals. They said, "Coach, we're going to be able to get this done. We'll work through this." And I'd appreciate their comments.

I talked to General Brown, today.

I talked to General Smith, last week, who's now the Deputy -- was the Deputy of the Marines. Now he's the Commandant until confirmed. But he was sworn in today.

But you got to think about this. We say, we're hurting the families. But I want you to think about this. We've done a couple of dozen abortions, in the military, for the last 40 years, a couple of dozen a year. Now, we're going to have 4,000 to 5,000 a year, because this new rule, this new supposedly law, that this administration is pushing through.

So, let's think about the unborn. Let's think about the young people that are not going to be able to get in the military, and be part of this country. Let's think about them.

COLLINS: But where are you getting those numbers from?

TUBERVILLE: I mean, we had an outside service, look into it, calculate it, go through it with a fine-tooth comb. And we sent that to the SecDef. We sent it to all the people, in the White House. They knew this was going to happen. They knew how many more there were going to be. So, you got to look at the facts here. Facts first. I mean, that's your motto.

COLLINS: But abortion is not illegal, on a national basis. I mean, it's up to the States, right now. They get to decide.


COLLINS: Alabama, our home state, basically doesn't allow most abortions. But I don't understand the numbers that you're citing there, or where those are coming from, saying that that's a jump, and that's why you're changing this policy.


You said you were changing the policy, and that you're holding this block, because you don't want the Pentagon paying for travel, related to people, who have to travel, out of state, to go get an abortion.

TUBERVILLE: Exactly. Taxpayers, 60 percent of the people, in this country, Democrats, and Republicans, and Independents, say they do not want taxpayer money, to go towards anything, to do with an abortion. And so, that's all I'm trying to do.

I'm trying to get the attention of this Department of Defense, and the White House.

COLLINS: But you're saying there --

TUBERVILLE: Saying, "Listen to the people." Listen to the people. I'm not trying to hurt anybody.

COLLINS: Senator, just real quickly?

TUBERVILLE: Listen to the people, and let's get this thing done. But there has to be conversation, to get anything done, by the way.

COLLINS: But some clarification, because you are blocking this, because the reason it's in place is that people, who are stationed, in certain places, if they want to get an abortion, and they happen to be in a state, that doesn't offer it, because of the new laws that have gone in place, since Roe versus Wade, were overturned, would have to travel, to another state.

You're claiming that abortions are going to skyrocket, because the Pentagon is paying for people, to take off work, and have to go out of state to get them?

TUBERVILLE: Kaitlan, abortion, for three exceptions, is going to abortion, at any time, also their dependents? I mean, you're adding a lot of people into this, you're adding a lot of a timeframe into that during the pregnancy. That's what I'm talking about.

There is no set rules on this. It's just, "Hey, if you want to have one, have it. We'll pay for your flight, anywhere, to a state that can do it. We're going to give you three weeks off, paid. That doesn't come out of your time-off as a service member." There's a lot added to this, and it's going to be charged to the taxpayer.

COLLINS: OK. But they're not paying for the abortion itself, the procedure itself.


COLLINS: But you did mention military readiness, there. And I'm glad you did.

Because seven former U.S. Defense Secretaries, including two, who served, under former President Trump, James Mattis and Mark Esper, disagree with you.

And they signed a letter, to Senate leaders, saying that your actions are harming military readiness, that this risks damaging U.S. national security and it risks turning military officers, into political pawns. And they specifically say that there are some pretty important positions that you were holding up, including the Fifth Fleet in Bahrain, and the Seventh Fleet in the Pacific, which are critical to checking Iranian and Chinese aggression.

Are you saying that, you know better than those seven former Defense Secretaries?

TUBERVILLE: Well, first of all, those Secretary of Defenses were nominees. They weren't elected. I was elected, to represent the people of Alabama, in this country.

Number two, if they want to confirm a general or admiral, we can do it, tomorrow, OK? I'm not stopping all of them.

I mean, if there's some that they want out there, General Brown, who's going to be the new Head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he'll go through by itself. He's going to go through confirmation, tomorrow. And we will vote on him by itself. He will not be held up.

And so, this is just throwing 100 or 200 in there, and doing it at one time, when I'm just saying, "Hey, this gives me the right, because I'm a Senator, I can hold any confirmation, I want, until we get some kind of confirmation, of why you're doing this."

Get conversation. Let's talk. I've heard zero, from the White House, and zero, the last five months, other than 10 minutes, from Secretary Austin, in February.

COLLINS: But you've said you're not going to drop your objection here. I mean, if President Biden called you? That wouldn't change your policy? Is that -- are you saying it would?

TUBERVILLE: Well, that's another thing. We need leadership, in the White House. If I'd been the President, I'd already called me, to the White House, and said, "Coach, what are you doing? This is why we need to get this done. How do we work it out? We got to come to some compromise."

But Kaitlan, there's got to be conversation. Nobody has even talked to me, in five months. I hear that the press secretary, over there, saying there's been conversation -- there's been nothing. There's the biggest lie I've ever heard.

If they're really worried about readiness, if they're worried about recruiting, how about we get this done? How about they come talk to me? And let's talk this out, and work it out, and come to a good conclusion, for the American people, the taxpayers, and the citizens of the United States of America.

COLLINS: But your own fellow Republicans disagree with you here. Even Mitch McConnell says he does not agree with this tactic.

So, I guess, I'm just confused, if there is that conversation with the White House, what do you hope it -- what would you achieve, by talking to them? If they stand by this policy, which they put in place, after Roe versus Wade was overturned? And you say you don't like this policy? Where's the middle ground there?

TUBERVILLE: Well, first of all, I don't work for any other senator. I work for the people of Alabama. And they got their own opinion, whether it's Democrat or Republican or Independent. This, my prerogative, put a hold on them.

But the one thing that I want to do is make sure that the American taxpayer has a say-so, in whether we pay for anything to do with abortion. That is what I'm trying to do.


I'm not trying to stop any confirmations. I'm not trying to be hard- headed, about this. I just want some conversation, and get a reasonable explanation, of why we're doing this. And there's been zero.

COLLINS: Well, I just want to repeat. It's members of the military, who are paying the price for this policy that you've chosen to take up.

But speaking of the military, I do want to give you a chance to clarify some comments, you made, recently, on White nationalists, serving in the military.

For those, who are watching, if they haven't heard your remarks, this is what you said.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you believe they should allow White nationalists in the military?

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


COLLINS: Do you want to explain those comments, Senator?

TUBERVILLE: Yes, first of all, I'm totally against any type of racism, OK? I was a football coach for 40 years. And I've dealt, and had opportunity, to be around more minorities than anybody up here on this Hill.

But when our military has been attacked, was being attacked, after 9/11 -- after January the 6th? And that was my first day, on the Senate floor. I thought it was -- I thought it was outrageous, of what senators, from the Democratic side, Chuck Schumer, said, on the floor, that night, calling out people, calling people, racist, calling people, nationalists, White nationalists. White nationalists, is just another word that they want to use, other than racism.

I'm totally against anything to do with racism. But the thing about being a White nationalist is just a cover word, for the Democrats, now, where they can use it, to try to make people mad, across the country, identity politics. I'm totally against that. But I'm for the American people. I'm for military. I'm for Christian, conservatives, Democrats, whoever wants to be in the military, to fight for this country, to protect this country. That's what it's all about.

COLLINS: But just to be clear, you agree that White nationalists should not be serving in the U.S. military? Is that what you're saying?

TUBERVILLE: If people think that a White nationalist is racist? I agree with that. I would agree they shouldn't.

COLLINS: But White nationalist is someone, who believes that the White race is superior to other races?

TUBERVILLE: Well, that's some people's opinion. And I don't think. I mean a lot --

COLLINS: It's not opinion.


COLLINS: What's your opinion?

TUBERVILLE: My opinion, of a White nationalist, if somebody wants to call them a White nationalist? To me, is an American. It's an American. Now, if that White nationalist is a racist? I'm totally against anything that they want to do, because I am 110 percent against racism.

But I want somebody that's in our military, that's strong, that believes in this country, that's an American that will fight along anybody, whether it's a man, or woman, Black or White, red. It doesn't make any difference.

And so, I'm totally against identity politics. I think it's ruining this country. And I think that Democrats ought to be ashamed, for how they're doing this, because it's dividing this country, and it's making this country weaker, every day.

COLLINS: But that's not identity politics. You said a White nationalist is an American.

TUBERVILLE: It is identity politics.

COLLINS: You said a White nationalist is an American. But a White nationalist is someone, who believes horrific things. You don't -- do you really think that's someone who should be serving in the military?

TUBERVILLE: Well, that's just a name that has been given.

COLLINS: It's not. It's a real --

TUBERVILLE: I mean, listen?

COLLINS: It's a real definition. There's real concerns about extremism.

TUBERVILLE: So, if you're going to do away with most White people, in this country, out of the military, we got huge problems.

COLLINS: It's not --

TUBERVILLE: We got huge problems, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: It's not people, who are White. It's White nationalists.

TUBERVILLE: That have a few probably different beliefs.

COLLINS: You see the distinction, right?

TUBERVILLE: That have different beliefs. Now, if racism is one of those beliefs? I'm totally against it. I am totally against racism.

COLLINS: But that is a White --

TUBERVILLE: But there's a lot of people that believe in different things.

COLLINS: A White nationalist is racist, Senator.

TUBERVILLE: Well, that's your opinion. That's your opinion. But if it's racism?

COLLINS: It's not an opinion.

TUBERVILLE: If it's racism? I'm totally against it. I am totally against any type of race -- any type of racism. I don't care what it's in.

COLLINS: OK. Senator Tommy Tuberville, thank you, for your time, tonight.

TUBERVILLE: Thank you.

COLLINS: Coming up, did Congressman George Santos really compare himself, to the civil rights icon, Rosa Parks? You'll have to hear that one to believe it. That's next.



COLLINS: More now, on our interview, with Alabama senator, Tommy Tuberville.

We planned to talk about something else, initially, just to be upfront, in this segment. But we'll get to that in a moment, because, given the comments that Senator Tuberville, just made, about White nationalism, in the military, some background there.

These are comments that he had made, recently, in an interview, where he talked about White nationalists being in the military. And when he was asked about that, he essentially doubled down, on those comments. And we just sought clarity from him. He talked about White nationalists being Americans, and whether or not they belonged in the military.

Reaction now, tonight, with my guests, who are here. Joining me, Scott Jennings, who is the former -- well, Ashley Allison, first, the former National Coalitions Director for the Biden 2020 campaign; and the former Senior Adviser to Senator Mitch McConnell, Scott Jennings; both here with me.

We'll get to everything else we were going to talk about, in a moment. But what did you make of Senator Tuberville's comments?

ASHLEY ALLISON, FORMER NATIONAL COALITIONS DIRECTOR FOR BIDEN-HARRIS 2020 CAMPAIGN: Well, he is right that there are White nationalists that live in America. But it doesn't mean that the term and definition of White nationalists is not a racist.

This is why it is so important that we teach an accurate history, in our country, that we explain to children that are coming up, the history of our country. There are -- we have a torn and tattered and sad history in our country. It doesn't mean though, that I'm not a proud American. But we must be honest about the truth.

And what Senator Tuberville is doing is trying to conflate two things to say, "But if you're an American," well, what does it mean to be American?

America needs to live up to its greatest ideals. And we need to acknowledge that we have a racist past, towards Black people, and Native American, and Asian American, and Latinos. And yet, we can still become the greatest country, and become -- and sustained being the greatest country.

But we have to be honest about where we come from. And we can't do it, when we have people, like Senator Tuberville, who won't acknowledge the truth, about even the definition of what a White nationalist is.

COLLINS: Scott, what do you make of those comments?

SCOTT JENNINGS, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL: Well, look, it's possible to -- multiple things can be true. You can be an American. You could be in the military. You could also have abhorrent views.

And just because you're an American, or serving in the military, doesn't make you worthy of praise, if you have, I think, some of the views that maybe he's trying to defend? It's a strange hill to die on.


JENNINGS: And it's the one thing about politics that I sometimes marvel at is the hills that people are willing to die on. And this whole idea of defending the term, White nationalist, he did it back in May, I think, before. And so, to hear him still on that? I don't quite know what he gains out of it, truthfully.


COLLINS: Right. And it was essentially offering him a chance, to clarify those remarks.


COLLINS: Because, I think, when he was first making them, he was saying, "Well it's a term Democrats are using, to describe all MAGA Republicans," as members of Trump's base are referred to.

But obviously, all of MAGA Republicans are not White nationalists. White nationalists are a separate entity, in and of their self. And I think the question was, like, whether or not they belong in the U.S. military?


JENNINGS: Well, he has -- he's not wrong about that. I mean, there have been people, I mean, back in the 2016 and 2020 elections, I mean, there were people, who were arguing that "If you vote Republican, or you vote for Donald Trump, you therefore are racist." That's absolutely false. And he's right about that.

But the defense of that term and the defense of what that stands for, in our current -- culture, not great.

COLLINS: But that wasn't really the point he seemed to be making. We have -- let's listen to Tuberville, in his own words.


COLLINS: It's not --

TUBERVILLE: We got huge problems, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: It's not people, who are White. It's White nationalists.

TUBERVILLE: That have a few probably different beliefs.

COLLINS: You see the distinction, right?

TUBERVILLE: That have different beliefs. Now, if racism is one of those beliefs? I'm totally against it. I am totally against racism.

COLLINS: But that is a White --

TUBERVILLE: But there's a lot of people that believe in different things.

COLLINS: A White nationalist is racist, Senator.


ALLISON: I mean, you have to believe in truth, and lies, at some point.

And what he didn't want to do is acknowledge what the definition of a White nationalist is. And a White nationalist is someone, who thinks that they are better than other races, including Black people, Brown people, Asian Americans. And so, he just doesn't want to live in this honesty era that our country needs to return to.

And I mean, I hear you, Scott. There are -- there was a lot of name- calling, on both sides, in the last eight years or so, of politics. But a lot of the name-calling was based in truth, and some of the name-calling was based on lies.

And when people call someone a White nationalist, because they believe in racist policies, many of which Donald Trump, and some which of Tommy -- Senator Tuberville believes in? We have to be able to call it out, you know?

When you think that a race is inferior to another one, which a White nationalist says, if you can't acknowledge that one thing? Then I think we have a problem, in our politics, and in the debate, in general.

JENNINGS: Well, I agree with you. But I would challenge you to tell me what Republican policies are racist, or based on racist ideologies.

Because, I do think this conflation happens, on the left, all the time. "If a Republican believes X? They therefore are racist." Or "If you vote for a politician that I think is racist, you then become racist." Republicans hate this. They hate this.

COLLINS: But that wasn't the distinction that he was making.


COLLINS: I think that was -- I think that's -- you can debate that. But that wasn't the distinction he seemed to be making there, on saying, "If they're racist, I disagree with them," but not saying, it's saying, "If a White nationalist is an American," and talking about people who serve in the military.

Separately, let's talk about George Santos. This is what we were initially going to talk about. He is obviously the embattled Republican congressman. He has pleaded not guilty to 13 counts of fraud, money laundering and theft of public funds.

Tonight, he is facing criticism, for a different reason, altogether, comparing himself to the civil rights icon, Rosa Parks. He was on a podcast, earlier, responding to criticism that he got from a fellow Republican, specifically Senator Mitt Romney, when he said this.


REP. GEORGE SANTOS (R-NY): Mitt Romney, the man goes to the State of the Union of the United States, wearing a Ukraine lapel pin, tells me, a Latino gay man, that I shouldn't sit in the front that I should be in the back. Well, guess what? Rosa Parks wouldn't sit in the back and neither am I going to sit in the back. That's just the reality of how it works.


ALLISON: I'll start -- I'll pick up where I started, is that this is why teaching our history, in completion, and in comprehending -- and fairness and accuracy is so important.

George Santos and Rosa Parks are not the same thing.

George Santos doesn't even deserve to be sitting, in the chamber, right now, because he is a liar. And he fabricated his whole identity, to his constituency.

Rosa Parks was an icon, who stood up against racism, who said we are all created equal, against White nationalists.

And they are not the same. And it's disgusting. And I just hope he goes away. His constituents deserve better.

COLLINS: In his criticism, what -- he was trying to criticize Mitt Romney, because Senator Romney came up to him, once, in the chamber. We saw them speaking to each other. And essentially, said something along the lines of "You don't belong here," I think in much colorful -- more colorful language.


COLLINS: But the fact that that was his response, to criticisms that he's getting from members, of his own party?

JENNINGS: Yes. Well, he doesn't belong there. And Mitt Romney was right. And he lied about who he was, to get there.


JENNINGS: And he's now got massive criminal problems, in his own life.

My advice, George, resign. Deal with your own problems, and straighten your life out. You're not doing yourself any favors, certainly not doing Republican Party any favors.

COLLINS: Ashley Allison, Scott Jennings, thank you for being here, on our first night, for an interesting segment, to respond to that.


COLLINS: Ahead, we just got word that Rudy Giuliani is trying to cut a deal. With whom? The latest, next.

Plus, I have new reporting, on Trump's mindset, regarding the Special Counsel's investigation, on January 6.



COLLINS: New, tonight. We have just learned that Rudy Giuliani is trying to cut a deal, in a lawsuit that was brought by two Georgia election workers.

This is significant because of the mountain of other issues that Trump's former attorney is dealing with, right now, fending off two disbarment proceedings, and also sources telling me, tonight, that the legal costs of everything Giuliani is facing is adding up.

Joining me now is Karen Friedman Agnifilo. She's a former Chief Assistant District Attorney, at Manhattan District Attorney's office.

So, thank you for being here.

So, Rudy Giuliani is essentially trying to cut a deal, or cut an agreement, with the attorneys, of these two Georgia election workers. I think everyone would remember them, from their January 6 testimony. It was so compelling.

I mean, what do you make of just not the fact that he's only -- he's trying to cut a deal there. He's also facing these potential what looks like it's going to be a disbarment of his law license. And also, he's sitting down, with Jack Smith's team, and that investigation. I mean, there's a lot going on with Rudy Giuliani.


He's got so many legal problems, including criminal -- potential criminal charges, with Jack Smith, looks like he's absolutely in the crosshairs, there. And he's got the civil issue, with Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss. And he's losing his law license. I mean, literally, all the walls, the walls are closing in on him.


So, I think it makes sense that he's trying to settle this, because this was a defamation claim, against him. If you remember, he was one of the ringleaders, who, was saying that they were taking the suitcases, and the votes, and all of that and said some pretty negative things about them. And they testified, as you said, very powerfully, about the impact that had on their life.

COLLINS: Yes. And he was ordered to pay, I believe, it's about $90,000, and their attorneys' fees.

Separately, with Jack Smith, I've heard from people that Trump has kind of been talking non-stop, about the January 6 investigation. Obviously, we're waiting to see when the trial is going to be in the documents investigation. But he's been talking about the January 6 investigation a lot. He's talking about Jack Smith, a lot.

I think, sometimes, Trump says so many things that people ignore some of the more outrageous ones. But, on Jack Smith, specifically, if you look at his social media, he's been calling him "Deranged," likening him to a crackhead, saying he's a sleazebag. I mean, this is just a sampling of the post. How does that factor into the fact that he is awaiting a trial that is being prosecuted by Jack Smith?

FRIEDMAN AGNIFILO: Well, that's Donald Trump's playbook, right? He goes after either the judges, or the prosecutors, or anyone, who he feels is going after him.

But Jack Smith in particular, he's beyond reproach. I've worked with him. Many lawyers have worked with him. He's really a down-the-middle above-board public servant.

And for him to say things that like he's a crackhead, is really not only offensive, it's outrageous, and it's just absolutely not true. He's really a very well-respected person.

But it's like anyone, who's trapped in a corner, right? What else can you do other than try to bully, intimidate, or name-call?

COLLINS: But does he face any consequences from that potentially, from the judge?

FRIEDMAN AGNIFILO: Potentially, yes, absolutely. I mean, right now, it's complicated because really, nobody's -- Jack Smith isn't asking for anything, from a judge. And prosecutors are used to kind of, put your head down, you do your job, and you sort of don't pay attention to that sort of thing.

But Donald Trump's words have had actions before, right? We saw what happened on January 6, with the insurrection, and et cetera. So, he kind of walks up to a line. If he crosses over a line, absolutely, he will be admonished by a judge, at a minimum.

COLLINS: Yes. We'll see what they say.

Karen Agnifilo, thank you, for joining us, on this, with your legal expertise.

FRIEDMAN AGNIFILO: Thanks for having me.

COLLINS: Much more on the Trump investigations is coming up, tonight, on "CNN PRIMETIME," at 10 o'clock. Laura Coates is going to speak, to a key witness, in the January 6 investigation. So, make sure you stay tuned for that.

Also, the years-long feud, between Mark Zuckerberg, and Elon Musk, is getting public, and personal. They are running rival social networks now, claiming they both want a cage-match. And now, Musk is taking aim Zuckerberg's manhood. Yes, you heard that right.

We'll talk about the Battle of the Billionaires, next.



COLLINS: The ongoing battle, between two tech billionaires, hit a new low, today. Elon Musk is now calling, for a literal measuring contest, after Mark Zuckerberg announced that his rival app, to Twitter, Threads, already has 100 million users. That is just five days after it launched.

My colleagues, Donie O'Sullivan, and Audie Cornish, are here, tonight.

Obviously, things have escalated in this situation. I saw this tweet, from Elon Musk, last night. And I kind of did double-check to make sure it was real.

I mean, Audie, these are two of -- two incredibly smart people. Two incredibly --


COLLINS: Well, they're believed to be smart people, rich people. I mean, what do you make of the fact that this has gotten to this low?

CORNISH: We're not all the way there yet, to be clear.

COLLINS: It's going to get worse?

CORNISH: Yes, I'm hoping they'll take it to space.

Do you have actual reporting on this that you can share, right now?

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, you know, that's for later.

CORNISH: I mean, look, I think that they're like -- they're fighting for some kind of supremacy, basically. Wrong night for that. But I think they are trying basically to be the fronts of these companies, right?

And we're in this moment where, due to the manosphere, et cetera, it's kind of a thing to show how what a tough guy you are. And I think Elon Musk has always been on the front of this. But at the end of the day, the business is suffering, and the business is what matters.

COLLINS: Yes, his visit -- well, and that's where this has all come out because like Zuckerberg wasn't tweeting before Threads that he hadn't tweeted in what a decade? And then, he posted this Spiderman meme.

You have new reporting now. Because I think this has kind of put Mark Zuckerberg in this glossy haze of a light.

O'SULLIVAN: Yes, for a change. Yes.


O'SULLIVAN: So, Threads, I think we're all on it. We, you know, we -- I speak for myself. I love it. I think it's great. I mean, I think it says a lot of just how bad a job Elon Musk has done, with Twitter, that people are embracing a Meta-Facebook-Zuckerberg product.

And look, as you mentioned, 100 million users, on the platform, just in five days.

COLLINS: And it's not even in the E.U.

O'SULLIVAN: Exactly. It's not even officially launched, in the European Union.

But that did raise some questions, which we asked, to Meta, over the past few days, which is, they have launched essentially this brand-new global platform. What resources are they putting into it, particularly, as we have not only elections here, in the U.S., next year, but many elections around the world?

And they essentially, were not able to answer our questions, in terms of what additional resources, what are its moderators, are people monitoring the platform for foreign interference, for election disinformation?

And in fact, what we've learned from people, inside the company, is that the company has been making cuts, to their teams that are fighting election disinformation. So, you have not only cuts happening, across Meta, which wasn't always in the best -- wasn't always great, at this, in the first place, to now launching this new platform, really just kind of paints a not great picture for 2024.

COLLINS: Yes. And, I mean, that's -- it goes back to the 2016 campaign. I mean, Audie, what does it say, if they can't answer questions about that, which is obviously important, and Twitter is where Twitter is today? I mean, what does that say? Because, this does matter, when it comes to elections, and information, and what people believe.


CORNISH: One thing that's clear. Both of these companies have had plenty of time, and plenty of experience, dealing with the problems that have come, with disinformation, that have come with having poor guardrails, for young people. And the fact that they don't really have a plan, that it is as messy as it is, right now, is pretty surprising.

COLLINS: Audie Cornish, Donie O'Sullivan, thank you both.

O'SULLIVAN: Congrats on your new show.

COLLINS: Thank you. And thanks for being here, for the first episode.

Also, thank you, for joining us.

"CNN PRIMETIME" with Laura Coates, starts, right now.

LAURA COATES, CNN HOST, CNN PRIMETIME: Hey, Kaitlan. Great show. Congratulations.

COLLINS: Thanks you, Laura. COATES: Good to see you there, everyone, and good evening to all --