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The Source with Kaitlan Collins
Pence On Trump's Indictment Over Classified Docs; Sen. Tuberville Admits White Nationalists Are Racists After Earlier Denials; Sen. Johnson Says Congress Should Drop PGA Tour-LIV Golf Probe & Let Merger Happen. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired July 11, 2023 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, ANDERSON COOPER 360: Aretha Franklin died from a rare form of cancer, in 2018. She was of course the "Queen of Soul."
Shortly after her passing, her niece found multiple handwritten wills, in her home, including one, found under a couch cushion, and dated 2014. Three of her sons were in a legal dispute, over two separate wills. Two of her sons argued the 2014 document should count as her legal will. The other son said a document from 2010 should stand.
According to an attorney, who represented Franklin, for almost three decades, she was a very private person, who didn't do formal will planning, and, quote, "Wrote them up herself."
After deliberating, for almost an hour, the jury concluded the 2014 will, was signed by Franklin, and shows her intent.
That's it for us. The news continues. "THE SOURCE" with Kaitlan Collins, starts now.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST, THE SOURCE WITH KAITLAN COLLINS: Tonight, straight from THE SOURCE, a 2024 Republican candidate for president, who also happens to be a key witness, in Jack Smith's January 6th investigation. Former Vice President, Mike Pence, is here live.
And few Republicans are now defending Senator Tommy Tuberville, after our explosive interview, last night. What Alabama's senior senator is now saying, tonight, about White nationalists.
Plus, she was originally sentenced to death, then supposed to spend life behind bars. Now, a follower, of Charles Manson, has just been freed, more than a half a century, after two gruesome murders.
I'm Kaitlan Collins. And this is THE SOURCE.
Tonight, we have news, on three separate investigations, with Donald Trump, at the center of them all.
In Georgia, a grand jury has now been formally sworn, in Fulton County. That is the grand jury that could decide to bring more criminal charges, against the former President, this time, for trying to overturn the 2020 election, in Georgia. District Attorney, Fani Willis, has indicated that potential indictments could come as soon as next month.
In neighboring Florida, delay tactics appear to be afoot. Trump and his attorneys are asking for the entire classified documents trial, to be pushed back, indefinitely.
Meanwhile, in Washington, today, the Special Counsel's top prosecutors were seen, for the first time, in weeks, at a federal courthouse, in the same area, where the grand jury, in the January 6th investigation, typically meets.
Someone, who has testified before the grand jury before, is here, tonight, with us, former Vice President, Mike Pence.
Mr. Vice President, thank you so much for joining us, tonight.
You obviously have been testifying in that investigation.
MIKE PENCE, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you, Kaitlan.
COLLINS: We'll get to those developments, in a moment.
But I also want to talk about a recent trip you made, to Ukraine, where you went, and you met with President Zelenskyy.
COLLINS: You're the first person, in the 2024 Republican field, to do so.
Do you believe that Ukraine is ready to enter NATO, right now?
PENCE: Well, not during the war.
I honestly believe that it's important, as the leader of the Free World, and the arsenal of democracy that America continue to provide, the Ukrainian military, what they need, to fight and win and repel that unprovoked Russian invasion.
But the question of NATO membership, and I spoke about this with President Zelenskyy, I think, should all wait on after the war is won.
And I must tell you, as I heard again, from President Zelenskyy, that I honestly think President Biden has done a very poor job, explaining our national interests, there. But also, I heard President Zelenskyy's frustration, with how slow the United States has been, in fulfilling our commitments, for military support.
Kaitlan, we promised 33 Abrams tanks, back in January. They're now being told, I heard on that trip, that they might get them in September. They're still waiting, on the approval, from the United States, for F-16s. And now, I hear there's a deal for F-16s, with Turkey.
Look, President Biden said, in his State of the Union address that "We're there as long as it takes."
Well, Kaitlan, I believe it shouldn't take that long. We ought to get on with it. We ought to give the Ukrainian military what they need. They've demonstrated their toughness. Let them fight and win, repel the Russian invasion. And then, and only then can we move forward, with welcoming them, with open arms, into NATO.
COLLINS: Well, notable your comments, there, because especially when it comes to the timing, with NATO, that's also something President Biden has said, something that has angered President Zelenskyy, while they're all at this NATO Summit.
But when it comes to this, your former boss, Donald Trump has said multiple times that he believes he could end the war, in Ukraine, in just 24 hours. I mean, you were just there on the ground. How unrealistic is that comment?
PENCE: Well, the only way you could end the war, in Ukraine, in 24 hours, would be by giving Vladimir Putin what he wants. And that's the last thing the United States should ever call upon Ukraine to do.
Look, I think this war, in Ukraine, matters, to the national interests of the United States, for a couple reasons. Chief among them is that by giving Ukraine, what they need to fight, and repel the Russian invasion, we're going to prevent that Russian military, if they overran Ukraine, from crossing a border, where under our NATO agreement, we would have to send our Armed Forces, into harm's way.
I think it's important. Just like Ronald Reagan said back in 1985. He said, "If you're willing to fight our enemies, on your soil, we'll give you the means to fight them there, so our men and women don't have to fight them."
But this is also about China, Kaitlan. And we don't talk about that enough. Look, I've met Vladimir Putin. I've met President Xi. I promise you that China is watching very closely, to how the United States and our Western allies respond in Ukraine.
And with their military provocations, continuing in the Asia-Pacific, I think there's no more effective message, to restrain China's military ambitions, in the Asia-Pacific, specifically toward Taiwan, than giving Ukraine, what they need, to repel that act, of unprovoked Russian aggression, in Ukraine.
COLLINS: You mentioned meeting President Putin. Trump had personally a very friendly relationship with him. Did it ever make you uncomfortable, when you were Vice President?
PENCE: In that vice presidential debate, in 2016, Kaitlan, I called Vladimir Putin, the quote, "Small and bullying leader of Russia." My opinion of him never changed. And in my interactions with him, I conveyed that, that firmness.
But I will say I'm proud of the fact that however, President Trump spoke about, or continues to speak about Vladimir Putin, our Administration, as a whole, stood firm. We rebuild our military. Our Armed Forces, and ISIS (ph), actually took down 100 of those Wagner Russian mercenaries, in Syria, when they moved on our troops. We used cruise missiles, against Syria, when they used chemical weapons, on their own people.
I think there's no coincidence that Vladimir Putin did not even try to redraw international lines, by force, during the Trump-Pence administration, because we were strong. We were committed to American strength. We showed a willingness, to use American military power, to defend our interests, and our allies.
And frankly, in the aftermath of that disastrous withdrawal, from Afghanistan, I think this administration, in that respect, in trying to beg around, to get back in the Iran nuclear deal, has been, frankly, projecting weakness, on the world stage. And it's emboldened the enemies of freedom.
But -- so the rhetoric was different, the way I spoke about Putin, in our day, the way President Trump spoke about him. But our Administration projected strength, on the world stage, and it made a difference.
COLLINS: Well, it's not just the way you spoke about it. It's also the way the communication happened at all. I mean, Trump met with Putin, one-on-one, and asked the person, who is the interpreter, the note- taker, to hand over the notes.
I mean, did that make you uncomfortable? Were there moments, where you were uncomfortable, with how that relationship was?
PENCE: Well, look, I always understood, when I was, at the White House that I was Vice President of the United States.
The President and I spoke about his meeting, with Vladimir Putin. He conveyed to me what he told the American people. He said he had been very clear, about a range of issues and concerns.
But I got to tell you, the thing that I learned, in all of my years, not as Vice President only, but also 10 years, on the House International Relations Committee, is that the leaders around the world respect actions, more than words.
And under our Administration, we took action, to prosecute America's interests, on the world stage. And the world was much more peaceful, undeniably, during our time than it has been under the failed policies of the Biden administration.
COLLINS: Yes. Well Trump also said he sided with Putin, of course, as you know, over the U.S. Intelligence agencies.
It was something you had said recently -- you said recently, when you were asked about the possibility of debating your former boss. You said, "I've debated Donald Trump, many times, just not with the cameras on." What were your biggest points, of disagreement, with your now, challenger? PENCE: I wrote a book about those years. And I wrote a lot about those differences that we have. But, as Vice President, I thought it was always important, to share my opinion, with the President, in private.
But, look, I feel like I know Donald Trump well. I would frankly relish the opportunity, to be on stage.
Because, I honestly think that the path that we struck, during the Trump-Pence administration, a path of a strong national defense, American leadership, in the world, a path of pro-growth policies, and at least a commitment, to fiscal responsibility, and a commitment, to the right to life, is different than the path that the former President is on, right now.
I would relish the opportunity, to debate, not just the future of the Republican Party, but the future of the country.
I'm somebody that as the former President and, frankly, others, in this race are, minimizing the importance of American leadership, in the world? I think, as I said before, we've got to be the leader of the Free World. We've got to stand strong, with those, who are just standing up, against tyranny, and push back, on authoritarian regimes --
PENCE: -- and their use of aggression --
COLLINS: You say you --
PENCE: -- to redraw international lines.
Fiscal responsibility, the same, the right to life, the same.
I see the President, in one case after another, kind of shying away, from the agenda that carried us, to the White House, in 2016, got 10 million more votes in 2020. And frankly, it's still the platform that I'm going to campaign on, in 2024.
COLLINS: Well, it sounds like you're saying you would call him out on that on the debate stage.
I mean, Chris Christie says that Trump's ego won't allow him --
PENCE: You bet.
COLLINS: -- to miss the debate. Obviously, he has threatened to skip it. Do you agree with Chris Christie on that, that his ego won't allow him to miss the debate?
PENCE: Well, I hope he's there. I mean, I intend to be on that debate stage, in late August. And I look forward to squaring off, and talking about the issue. Look, the American people are hurting, right now. I mean, this economy is struggling. The world seems to be more dangerous, by the day. We've got the worst crisis, on our southern border, in American history. Many Americans feel that their liberties and values are under constant assault.
And I think carrying forward an unapologetic mainstream conservative agenda, and juxtaposing that with some, who would -- who want to follow the siren song of populism, for the Republican Party, is going to be a worthy debate. And I'm looking forward to it. And I hope he's going to be there.
COLLINS: Are you going to qualify for the debate stage?
PENCE: You bet. We'll be on that debate stage.
PENCE: We're working, every day, to get to that threshold, 40,000. But I have to tell you, it's humbling to me, ever since we announced how many people have been going to mikepence2024.com, since that day, back in June, had been even making $1 contribution, to get us on the stage. And I'm sure we're going to be there.
COLLINS: OK. Speaking of the investigations that are happening here, obviously, those would likely come up on the debate stage as well. You testified in the January 6 investigation, for more than five hours, after a court fight. Do you think that your testimony could lead to an indictment?
PENCE: Well, look, I can tell you that I had concerns about the unprecedented subpoena of a former Vice President, to testify, about my duties, under my role, as President of the Senate.
COLLINS: Yes, you fought that.
PENCE: We went to court on that. We actually, we won that round. Actually, for the first time, in history, a federal judge recognized that some of the protections, members of Congress have, do extend to the Vice President. And I was grateful for that.
But look, there's no mystery about what I talked about. And people can draw their own conclusions. I've told the story many times, on your airwaves, and others, and, of course, on the printed page, of my autobiography.
And my hope is that ultimately, all these questions are resolved by the American people that I think most Americans remember that day well. It's a day, I'll never forget. Most Americans saw what happened in real-time.
And I have to tell you, as I traveled around Iowa, all last week? We were there, for five days, on the ground. Karen and I were traveling all across Western Iowa, in and around Independence Day.
And Kaitlan, I can honestly tell you. I know it's of great interest, to many of you, in the media. But it's just not what people were talking to me about, on the ground, in Iowa, or when I've been in New Hampshire, and other states, around the country.
COLLINS: Well, Mr. Vice President?
PENCE: Or even here, in Indiana.
COLLINS: One voter actually did bring it up to you. She was of the belief that you were essentially the reason, President Biden is in office. You corrected her, and said, you did not have the authority to overturn the election, that day. You didn't have the ability not to certify Biden's win.
You just said that you believe the American people will hold Trump accountable. You have said that you do ultimately believe he'll be held accountable, for that day. Does that mean you say that he'll be held accountable, by the voters, not by the criminal justice system here?
PENCE: Well, I'm just saying that's what I would prefer, in this case. But look, I respect the rule of law, Kaitlan. I mean, you know where I stand on the Constitution. You know where I stand on the rule of law. And I want to let our judicial process work. And I want to be respectful of that.
But at the end of the day, I trust the American people, in this matter. And it would just be my hope that ultimately questions, around that fateful day, would go to the American people.
And I got to tell you, you're right. There was one person that brought up the events of January 6, and my actions that day. But just one. We did 12 Town Halls, in 10 counties.
And I have to just tell you, it's, I was frankly grateful that she brought it up. I think there's been some misunderstanding that persists to this day. And President Trump has continued to maintain that I had the authority to overturn the election. But I had no right to overturn the election. And I know that by God's grace, we did our duty, under the Constitution, on January 6.
And -- but I really -- honestly, Kaitlan, it just didn't come up, as we traveled around, because, frankly, the failed policies, of the Biden administration, have weakened this country, at home and abroad.
COLLINS: But --
PENCE: The American people are desperately concerned, about those issues, affecting their lives.
COLLINS: I understand that you're saying voters didn't bring it up.
PENCE: They're not really looking in the rearview mirror.
COLLINS: Mr. Vice President? PENCE: And that's where I'm staying focused too.
COLLINS: I understand that you're saying it's not something that gets brought up a lot by Republican primary voters.
But when you talk about your actions, on that day, you're often praised, for the actions you took, that day, standing up to the pressure, you were facing, to take actions that you say you could not take, that everyone says you wouldn't, didn't have the ability to do.
But do you ever wish that you had spoken up sooner that you would come out and publicly conceded the election, in the weeks before it got to the point that it got to, that you had said something before then?
PENCE: Well, honestly, Kaitlan, I had frankly hoped all the way up to the waning days, before January 6, that President Trump would come around, on this issue. I'd seen it many times.
You talk about times that we disagreed, when I was Vice President. I'd seen the President take a hard position on an issue, and then take the opposite position, and then engage, in a debate, back-and-forth.
And I'll never forget that Monday night, right before January 6, when he stood before a crowd, in Georgia, at a rally. And I had been in George, earlier in the day, rallying folks, for that special Senate election.
And I remember, he said, "Mike Pence has got to come through for us. And if he doesn't, I won't like him so much." And then he paused and said, "No, no, one thing you know about Mike is he's always going to do the right thing."
And I remember, in that moment, Kaitlan, thinking, maybe he's coming around, and starting to see that the people that had told him that I had some authority that the Constitution simply did not give me, nor should ever give to any one individual. The presidency belongs to the American people and the American people alone. But it was not to be and, sadly, things went downhill from there.
But I had hoped all along the way to persuade him, of the rightness, of our cause and our position. Let the process work in the Congress. Let the objections be heard.
You remember Democrats brought objections, to Electoral College votes, in three of the last four elections that Republicans had prevailed. There was nothing wrong with that process happening. But I had always hoped --
COLLINS: But obviously, that day --
PENCE: -- that the President would come around, and recognize that we did our duty that day.
COLLINS: That day was much different.
But don't you think it would have had an effect, if you had come out, in mid-December, when it was very clear, the Electoral College had certified Biden's win, if you had come out and publicly conceded the election? Why didn't you do that?
PENCE: Well, I wanted to be respectful. Remember, we had about 60 lawsuits that were working, some of which were still in the courts.
COLLINS: A lot of them were thrown out, by then.
PENCE: In the immediate days before January 6.
Well, yes, a lot of them were not too. That said, the reality is I wanted to respect the process. I wanted to make it clear that I was going to do my job, as the presiding officer, over the Congress, as my 47 predecessors had done, and as Vice President, serving as President of the Senate. I think we did our duty, by God's grace, we did our duty that day.
And I must tell you, I was very moved by that woman who asked me, at the Town Hall meeting about it that she later told someone, on your network that she appreciated that I was a man of faith, and said she'd consider voting for me, nonetheless.
So, I welcome the opportunity, to talk about the record that we build, under the Trump-Pence years. But also welcome the opportunity to talk to people, about what I understood to be my duty, and that if I have the great privilege, of being President of the United States, I'll always keep my oath to the Constitution.
COLLINS: Yes, that was to my colleague, Kyung Lah.
One last question, on the classified documents case. You have often said, when asked about the indictment that you find it troubling, but wait and let Trump go to trial, and present his case.
He is now asking to postpone that indefinitely, until after the 2024 election.
Do you think it's fair, for voters, to go to the ballot box, and cast their votes, without that case, having gone to trial, as far away as that is?
PENCE: Well, I was his Vice President for four years. And I'm not anymore, Kaitlan. And I'm also not his lawyer. So, really, I can't really comment, on the merits, of the motion that they filed that's being discussed today. I have said --
COLLINS: But you can comment on whether or not it's fair for voters --
PENCE: Look, I looked over the indictment.
COLLINS: -- to have to make a judgment, before they --
COLLINS: -- if they have to wait, and they purposefully try to delay it, until after the 2024 election. [21:20:00]
PENCE: Well, look, everyone's innocent until proven guilty. And the President is entitled to his day in court. He's entitled to a full representation, and to offer the motions, by his counsel that he would offer.
I wanted that -- as I've said before, the allegations in that indictment are serious. I don't ever want to diminish the seriousness of handling the classified materials of this country.
But at the end of the day, I want to let that process work. Let the President have his day in court, make his defense. And I'll trust the court, and the judges, to make the right call, on when and where that happens.
COLLINS: All right, former Vice President, Mike Pence, thank you so much, for your time, tonight.
PENCE: Thank you, Kaitlan.
COLLINS: Senator Tommy Tuberville was here, last night. He was the subject of criticism, on Capitol Hill, today, because of what he said, or really what he wouldn't say, on the show, last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TOMMY TUBERVILLE (R-AL): 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: He is now trying to reverse course. We'll have fresh reaction to that, next.
COLLINS: Alabama senator, Tommy Tuberville, spent his day, on Capitol Hill, attempting to explain comments that he made, right here, on THE SOURCE, last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: This morning, when he was on Capitol Hill, he was pressed, and he tried to clarify, by saying this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TUBERVILLE: I'm totally against racism. And if the Democrats want to say that White nationalists are racists, I'm totally against that, too.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But that's not a Democratic definition. The definition of a White nationalist is someone --
TUBERVILLE: Well that's your definition.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is the definition.
TUBERVILLE: My definition is racism, bad.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: Of course, there aren't Republican and Democratic definitions.
Those comments did not end the questions, though. And they only put his fellow Republicans, in an awkward spot, with eventually Senator Mitch McConnell, coming out and saying this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): White supremacy is simply unacceptable, in the military, and in our whole country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: About half an hour after that, not in front of the cameras, I should note, Senator Tuberville was asked again, and he told reporters, and I'm quoting him now, "White nationalists are racists."
As to whether Republican leaders had pressured him to say that and to reverse the comments that he made here, last night, Senator Tuberville told my colleague, Manu Raju, I'm quoting, "I don't listen to them anyway."
And joining me now is a member of the House Armed Services Committee, Representative Elissa Slotkin, a Democrat, from Michigan, who is also running, for a Senate seat, there.
Congresswoman, thanks so much, for joining us, tonight.
When you hear Senator Tuberville's latest answer, today, finally acknowledging that White nationalists are indeed racist, was that sufficient for you?
REP. ELISSA SLOTKIN (D-MI): I mean, look, it was pretty stunning, when we first heard it. I saw it on Twitter, for the first time. And that was the sort of shocking that he didn't -- it shouldn't be hard to condemn White nationalism. That shouldn't be a difficult thing. I mean, I'm glad, I guess, under pressure, that he has reversed his position. His fellow senator from Alabama didn't have a problem, condemning White nationalism. So, I'm glad that under pressure he does seem to move. I wish he would do the same thing, with some of his holds, on all of our Department of Defense officials. But under pressure, he moved. And I guess it's better than nothing.
COLLINS: Yes. You're referencing comments, from Senator Katie Britt.
One thing Senator Tuberville said, last night, was, "If we are going to do," I'm quoting him now, "If we are going to do away with most White people, in this country, out of the military, we've got huge problems."
Does it trouble you that a sitting U.S. Senator could not distinguish between people, who are White, and White nationalists?
SLOTKIN: Yes, I just, again, I just don't pretend to understand the circles that he's traveling in that it's not -- you know, it's on the front pages of our newspaper, all the time. It's something that our country has been grappling with. It's something that has become violent in years. I mean, in this building, where I'm standing, right now. So, I can't pretend to understand it.
What I think is important is that he was pressured. And under pressure, he changed. So, I would hope that my Republican colleagues, in the Senate, would do the same thing, on all the holds, he has, right now, on over 250 senior officers, in the military. And he claims to be someone, who cares about defense, national security. So then, prove it, and actually allow the senior-most officers, in the United States, to be confirmed.
COLLINS: And the reason he is having these holds, on hundreds of these military nominations, something that we typically don't see, you see it with civil appointees, political appointees, not military officers, who are trying to be promoted, is in protest of the Pentagon's abortion policy.
He says he doesn't believe that this hold hurts U.S. military readiness. Do you?
SLOTKIN: Absolutely. I mean, this is the first time since 1859, that we haven't had a Senate-confirmed Commandant of the Marine Corps. This is the head of the Navy, the head of the Army, the head of the Marine Corps, and then all the three and four stars that make up the leadership, of our military.
We have troops, deployed abroad. We're in the middle of supporting the Ukrainians. I mean, to say that it doesn't matter, as someone, who was a coach, right, as someone who knows what leadership is, presumably? He understands that if the coach isn't there, it is real hard, to lead an organized offense. So, what exactly does he think is happening with the U.S. military? It's the same thing, but on a much more important and serious scale.
COLLINS: His complaint is that the Pentagon policy violates the Hyde Amendment, which prevents the federal government, from using taxpayer dollars, to pay for abortions. He says, because it's paying for travel, and for time-off, for those who need to leave the state, to get an abortion. It doesn't actually pay for the procedure itself.
The Justice Department has issued an opinion saying that this does not violate the law. He doesn't agree with that.
What do you think?
SLOTKIN: Well, I think we're a nation of rules and laws. And he doesn't get to decide, what is the law.
He's made his complaint. He's made his protest. At this point, I'm not sure he's willing to change, right? I think he's gaining a lot of press, and a lot of interest, from his own constituents, on this issue.
So, I really call on Republican leadership, people I know, who care about national defense, people, who are senior members, of the Armed Services Committee, Foreign Relations Committee, Homeland Security Committee, pressure him. Do exactly, what you did, today, on his White nationalist comments, and pressure him to get rid of these holds, and call it a day, so we can have the head of the Marine Corps, the head of the Army, in where they belong.
COLLINS: What do you make of that you haven't seen more pressure on him?
I mean, he says that he's not getting a lot of pressure, from Republicans. We've certainly seen some, like Mitch McConnell, say that they disagree with the tactic he's using. But he's not necessarily getting pressure from leaders, in his party, to stand down on this.
SLOTKIN: Well, I think it just reflects the fact that for anyone, who says that they care about national defense, if you don't care about the senior-most members, in our military? Please don't claim that you care about national security, as a top priority.
What could be more important than setting the climate, and setting the leadership culture, of our services? So, I just think it punches a hole in this claim that people are deeply concerned about national defense, and it's their top priority, if they don't care who leads the military. It's just it doesn't hold water.
And I just I call upon my Republican colleagues, who I know care about defense, to do something, pressure him, behind closed doors, just like you did, today, on his comments, on nationalism.
COLLINS: Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin, thank you, for your time, tonight.
SLOTKIN: Thank you.
COLLINS: Now, another grand jury that could decide Trump's fate has just been sworn in, in Georgia. Will there be a third indictment, of the former President soon? We'll talk about that, next.
COLLINS: The grand jury that could decide whether former President Donald Trump, or his allies, face charges, in Georgia, has now been sworn in, today.
Fulton County District Attorney, Fani Willis, has been investigating that, since not long after Trump called Georgia's Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger, back in early 2021, and urged him, as we all heard, to find 11,780 votes, just enough to beat Joe Biden.
I'm joined now by former federal prosecutor, Elie Honig; as well as the New York Times' Maggie Haberman; and Trump's former White House Communications Director, Alyssa Farah Griffin.
Thank you all, for being here.
Elie, now that they have been formally sworn in, where do we go from here? How often are they meeting, as everyone's kind of waiting to see when these charges could happen?
ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NY: Yes, so, it's really all up to the prosecutor. It's all up to Fani Willis. She has this grand jury, sitting now, for two months. They will meet as often as she needs. And the process from here can really be very streamlined.
Because remember, they put all the primary evidence, the actual live testimony, from Mark Meadows, from Brad Raffensperger. That went in front of the special grand jury.
And what you can do now, as a prosecutor is, you don't have to recall all those people, and have them take the oath, and testify again. You can just present that testimony, to this grand jury, which unlike the prior grand jury, has the power to indict. So, it really could be any moment.
And I don't think there's much secret about what Fani Willis' intentions are here that she's going to indict, or ask the grand jury, to indict Donald Trump.
COLLINS: Yes. And signs are pointing to August, for when that indictment could happen.
Obviously, this is coming, Maggie, as Trump is on the campaign trail. We have the first debate, in late August. Today, his attorneys are also asking, in the other investigation, the documents case, to delay it indefinitely. Is it clear to you how he's basically using a political strategy, and a legal strategy, all tied in one?
MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, NY TIMES: As everything is a great flattening effect with Donald Trump, you're seeing that here, too. There is no question that defending himself, in these cases, has become incorporated, into his campaign messaging, into his fundraising messaging, and into basically everything he says, publicly.
What he's doing legally, in terms of the filing, you just mentioned, is saying it would be unfair, basically, to have this trial, before an election that it would essentially complicate, you know, it would be complicated by politics. "Could he get a fair jury? There is no need for a rush."
And that one's important, because Jack Smith said, when he declared -- or when he announced his indictment, and talked about it, "We want a speedy trial." Well, it's the accused, who has the right, to a speedy trial. And Trump clearly does not want that.
And so, some of Trump's advisers have been blunt, in private conversations that he needs to win this election, because then the case can go away. Now, that's a bit of a Hail Mary, if you're betting, on winning an election, as a way of dealing with an indictment. But we are in an unprecedented situation.
COLLINS: We, I mean, the --
HABERMAN: And we could say that and set that statement to repeat for the last --
COLLINS: Just put it on your voicemail.
HABERMAN: Right, correct.
COLLINS: I mean --
HABERMAN: And you'll hear me say it again, in a few days.
COLLINS: Alyssa, I mean, you worked for Trump. You worked in the Trump White House? Is it any surprise to you that he is trying to delay this, in hopes of using an election, to maybe do away, with his legal troubles?
ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER WH COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Absolutely not. And I think that is big of a motivation, in running again, is avoiding this legal scrutiny as it is wanting to be president, again.
I'm not even convinced that he wants to do the job of President again, but he sees it as a way to avoid these many mounting legal pressures, he's under.
What's interesting, when I talk to people, who were -- that I still talk to, in Trump world, they see each of the cases, kind of differently.
The one that they're most legally afraid of seems to be the documents case. That feels very cut and dry to them. And they're genuinely afraid of him doing jail time for it.
January 6, they're worried about it just re-litigating the worst day of the President's former presidency, and kind of getting the footage of the Capitol being stormed up again.
And then Fulton County feels like a wild card. I think they think they're not really sure how much it will be directly linked, to the President, rather than aides around him.
But the unknowns are crippling to him. And Maggie knows this well. These things do weigh on him --
FARAH GRIFFIN: -- when he tries to project that they don't. They do. You can see it in his Truth Social posts, and the speeches he gives. There's a lot up in the air for him.
COLLINS: Yes, I mean, he's attacking Jack Smith, every single day, essentially, and tying him to the cocaine that was found, at the White House, all kinds of wild things that people kind of just gloss over, it feels like.
Maggie, speaking of the fact that he's doing politics, though, and conducting a campaign, in the middle of all of this? You're the co- byline, on a story, today, about how he is picking fights in Iowa, no matter the 2024 consequences. I mean, as we just said the word, "Unprecedented," with Trump?
But the fact that he is lashing out at a very popular Republican governor there? He is snubbing a popular evangelical figure, in an event that Mike Pence is going to, in Iowa, on Friday night? I mean, he didn't run a conventional campaign, ever before. But it's really notable how he's handling Iowa, this time around.
HABERMAN: It is. And it's notable, because if you talk to a bunch of folks, in Iowa, they will all say there is an opening, for a non- Donald Trump.
Now, that doesn't mean someone's going to be able to capitalize on it. We have yet to see that somebody is going to. And DeSantis, who had been, the person, people were -- had their hopes pinned on, has struggled. And we'll see if he can turn it around.
But picking a fight like this, there's just no purpose. And so, a person close to Trump acknowledged to us that this was not scripted. This was not part of a plan. They're also not sure it's going to hurt him.
But he seems determined to test, over and over again, the statement that he made, in the 2016 campaign that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue, and wouldn't lose any of his supporters. We'll see.
COLLINS: Yes. The question is does it work?
Elie Honig, Maggie Haberman, Alyssa Farah Griffin, thank you all, for joining us. A contentious hearing, on Capitol Hill, today. PGA Tour executives were grilled, by Democratic lawmakers, as they defended their golf deal, with the Saudis, despite staunch opposition that we are seeing, from some players, and the families, of 9/11 victims. Why they claimed they had no choice, next.
COLLINS: PGA Tour executives faced some pretty blunt criticism, on Capitol Hill, today, from Senate Democrats. This was during a hearing. This is over a merger with the Saudi-owned LIV Golf, a deal that some golf officials say they had to make, as the Saudis posed what they said was an existential threat to their tour.
This merger announcement, of course, has drawn backlash, from some players, who were encouraged not to join, appalled by the idea also, of a U.S. sporting league, forging a close partnership, with Saudi Arabia, who has a terrible record on human rights.
But the top Republican, on the panel, Senator Ron Johnson, defended the merger, today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): Listen, I have the deepest sympathy for the 9/11 families. I understand the issue of sportswashing. I don't think there's any bill -- there's not enough billions of dollars for the Saudis to wash away the stain of the brutal Khashoggi murder.
But the reality is we all buy oil. We use -- we drive cars. We are the ones that are filling up the coffers of the Public Investment Fund. I would rather have the Saudis invest their oil wealth in the U.S. as opposed to China or Russia. That's just the reality of the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: My colleague, Jake Tapper, Anchor of "THE LEAD," and "STATE OF THE UNION," joins me now. Also the author of a new book.
Jake, we will get to your new book, in a moment.
But on this hearing that happened, on Capitol Hill, today, you hear from Ron Johnson, there.
I know you also talked to the National Chair of the 9/11 Families United, earlier today, about their view of all of this. This is what they told you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TERRY STRADA, NATIONAL CHAIR, 9/11 FAMILIES UNITED: What we are trying to do is hold the Kingdom, the Saudi government, the same House of Saud that was in power in 2001 is still in power, today, and we need to hold them accountable for September 11th. And this deal that they made, in the darkness of the night? They gave us no details, today. They couldn't tell us anything about what's coming next. It was just very bizarre.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: I mean, I think, given Saudi Arabia's abysmal, to say the least, human rights record, where does this leave the families, who are just in the wake of this entire merger, and hearing comments, like that, from people, like Senator Ron Johnson?
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST, "THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER," CNN ANCHOR, "STATE OF THE UNION," AUTHOR, "ALL THE DEMONS ARE HERE": Well, they feel betrayed, by PGA, the PGA Tour, which spent a year, lobbying, telling the American people, just how horrible, the Saudi-backed LIV Golf organization was, because of Saudi complicity, in 9/11. Not to mention human rights abuses, not to mention the murder of Jamal Khashoggi which, according to U.S. Intelligence, was at the order of MBS, the Crown Prince. They feel betrayed.
And they also feel anger that people, like Senator Johnson, in their view, are not trying to find out more, about why the Saudis are having such an easy time, what they call, sportswashing, their reputation, by getting a toehold, into, or taking over American golf.
I mean, it is kind of an odd thing to claim that if you fill up the tank of your Toyota, you are as complicit, in what the Saudis did, on 9/11, or the other items on the list that just made, as those, who are taking a billion dollars, from the Saudis, so as to get into bed with them, to do a golf tournament.
By the way, it is interesting that PGA is a non-profit. It's kind of a curious thing.
COLLINS: Yes. And, Jake, I mean, just the idea of that? That was something that was flagged today, about the fact that they are a non- profit. We'll see what other questions lawmakers --
TAPPER: Yes, that they have a tax-exempt status, yes.
COLLINS: Exactly. We'll see what other questions lawmakers have about this. Obviously, we have a lot more.
You do have a new book that is out today. It is fantastic. It is called "All The Demons Are Here." Of course, in between anchoring two shows, this is your third installment, in this series, and your sixth book overall.
It takes place in the 1970s. And one of your characters is a journalist. I know you've said that this character is kind of the one that you identify the most with. I mean, how do you, when you're writing these books, and you're doing it through the mindset of that reporter, how do you approach it?
TAPPER: Well, one of the things I do, when I write these books, is that they are about the eras. I did a book about the 50s, a book about the 60s.
This one takes place in 1977. And it is such a weird and wild time. I was only eight. So, I don't really remember most of the things I write about. But between the rise of disco, the rise of tabloids, Studio 54, the aliens, the death of Elvis, the Evel Knievel, the prominence of the stuntman, Evel Knievel? It was a really bizarre time, in the United States.
And it was fun to dive into it, and almost make the era, its own character, for people, to enjoy, and really take a look at how strange things were. It's really an underratedly bizarre period, in this country's history.
COLLINS: Yes. It's a fantastic book. I mean, there's a lot to it, more to the note we have time to discuss, tonight. Everyone should read it. I am, of course. "All The Demons Are Here," by the one and only Jake Tapper.
Jake, thanks for joining us, tonight.
TAPPER: Thank you.
COLLINS: Up ahead, President Biden, and Ukrainian president, Zelenskyy, are about to meet, in just a matter of hours, after a very public disagreement, over when and how Ukraine can enter the military alliance, known as NATO.
Zelenskyy is now saying his country deserves respect. How will President Biden smooth things over? We'll talk about that, next.
COLLINS: In just a few hours, President Biden is going to be meeting, with Ukrainian president, Zelenskyy, in Lithuania, after the Ukrainian president slammed the lack, of a concrete timeline, for his country's membership, into the NATO military alliance.
Zelenskyy released a statement, earlier today, saying in part, the lack of a definitive timeline is, quote, "Unprecedented and absurd," and said, quote, "There seems to be no readiness to invite Ukraine to NATO or make it a member."
Following it all, from Lithuania, is CNN's White House Correspondent, Arlette Saenz.
Arlette, obviously, this is a pretty tense backdrop, going into this meeting.
President Biden, told Fareed Zakaria, last week, that he believes Ukraine is not ready, to join NATO.
What is the White House saying about what tomorrow's meeting is going to look like? If any efforts President Biden is going to make to smooth this over? ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Kaitlan. Well Ukrainian president Zelenskyy really turned up the heat, on NATO Allies, exposing one of the differences that exist within the alliance.
But heading into that meeting, tomorrow, President Biden is hoping to put some of that tension behind that, and focus on what the U.S. can offer Ukraine, in the here and now, and also down the road.
Officials, here in Lithuania, have been talking about the fact that President Biden will talk, and present some ideas, for how the U.S. can offer long-term commitments, including on security assistance, to Ukraine, to not just help them, fight this war, against Russia, but also to deter further aggression, from Russia, in the future.
And really, so much of this summit has been about trying to send a direct message, to Vladimir Putin.
The President came into the Summit, celebrating that win, after Sweden final -- or after Turkey finally relented, and said that they would allow Sweden, into the NATO alliance, expanding the group. Officials here have argued that what this has shown is that Putin's war has backfired, upon him, and only made the NATO alliance stronger.
So tomorrow, the President is hoping to, once again, demonstrate that unity, with Ukraine, trying to put some of this tension that has bubbled up, around the summit, behind them.
COLLINS: Yes. It's a complicated discussion, obviously, with serious implications. We'll see what they say, at least when they're in front of the cameras.
Arlette Saenz, in Lithuania, thank you.
A Manson family member is now free, tonight, after more than half a century behind bars, for the gruesome double murder. We have details, and an interview, with the victim's family member, ahead.
COLLINS: All right, thank you so much, for joining us, tonight.
"CNN PRIMETIME" with Laura Coates, starts, right now.