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The Source with Kaitlan Collins

Pennsylvania And New Mexico Secretaries Of State Interviewed In 2020 Election Interference Probe; GOP Rep. Crane Refers To "Colored People" On House Floor; Suspect Charged In Gilgo Beach Serial Killings. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired July 14, 2023 - 21:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: More than a 100 Colombian Special Forces troops, and 70 indigenous scouts participated in the search, to find them, after the crash, back on May 1st.

The survivors, between the ages of one and 13, they were eventually discovered, last month, after rescuers heard an infant, crying, in the jungle. Authorities were motivated to keep looking, for weeks, after footprints a dirty diaper, and a bottle, were found in the Amazon.

Colombia's president said the kids survived like, quote, "Children of the jungle."

They're currently in a shelter home, run by a welfare agency. We certainly wish them all, a speedy recovery, after their incredible ordeal.

That's it for us. Have a great weekend.

The news continues. THE SOURCE WITH KAITLAN COLLINS starts now.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST: Tonight, straight from THE SOURCE, we have more exclusive reporting, on the January 6th investigation, the Special Counsel, casting a wider net, for witnesses, in even more states.

Plus, a new battle, and the partisan war that is engulfing the Pentagon. Lawmakers are putting the U.S. Military at the center of a political fight. Abortion, transgender health care, and diversity, are all now part of a major defense bill.

The former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen is here to respond.

And, for 13 years, a string of murders went unsolved, until now. The burner phones and the pizza crust that helped police catch the suspect, in the Long Island serial killings.

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

Tonight, the Special Counsel is expanding the January 6th investigation. Jack Smith, going into all seven battleground states that Trump lost, and where he fought the results, to gather more evidence. We have learned exclusively, tonight, that two more top election officials have met, with the Special Counsel's team.

Pennsylvania Secretary of State, Al Schmidt, a Republican, was interviewed, back in March, a source tells CNN. He was asked about the impact of voter fraud misinformation, as he was serving, as Philadelphia's City Commissioner, at the time.

And according to a second source, New Mexico's top election official, Democrat, Maggie Toulouse Oliver, was also questioned, in recent months.

That's on top of the other officials that we already know about. Arizona's former Republican House Speaker, Rusty Bowers, broke the news, right here, that he had been subpoenaed, by Jack Smith.

We were also the first to hear from Michigan's Secretary of State, Jocelyn Benson, after learning that she too had been subpoenaed.


COLLINS: Was there a certain area that they seemed the most focused on?

JOCELYN BENSON, (D) MICHIGAN SECRETARY OF STATE: I think, again, you can look back to the content of a lot of what the congressional January 6 committee discussed, particularly when it comes to election workers, the impact of the misinformation, on our lives, and the threats that emerged from that from various sources.


COLLINS: And then, there was also Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and his former close aide, Hope Hicks, also adding to the head- spinning week of news, in the January 6 investigation alone, now among dozens who have testified before the January 6 grand jury or been interviewed by federal prosecutors.

These are just the ones our sources have told us about. There could of course, be many more.

We do know, among them, is the former Vice President, Mike Pence, who said this, about his former boss, today.


MIKE PENCE, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I believe whatever his intentions in that moment, it endangered me and my family and everyone that was at the Capitol that day. I believe history will hold him accountable for that.


COLLINS: CNN Senior Legal Analyst, Elie Honig, is here; along with former Republican congressman, and a member of the January 6 congressional committee, Adam Kinzinger. Thank you both.

Elie, as we just have learned so much, in recent weeks, about truly how broad, the January 6 investigation is, we now know it's gone into all seven of these battleground states. I mean, what does it signify, to you, as we learn more about this investigation, where it could be going, as it comes to an end?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NY: So, it's so interesting, because if you do think back, two weeks ago, there were questions, about just how broadly is Jack Smith looking here. Is he looking only narrowly, at the sort of submission of fake electors?

And we now know the answer. He's looking at everything. He's looking at all seven states. He's focusing on all the different aspects of the pressure campaign, the pressure campaign, on state and local officials, pressure campaign, on Mike Pence, the submission of those fake electors certificates.

He's doing what prosecutors have to do. He's getting all the information. Then, he's got to sit down, to winnow it down and, figure out is any of this criminal

COLLINS: So, one thing that's interesting, about our reporting, from Zach Cohen, about Al Schmidt, the Republican, in Pennsylvania, is that he said he was asked about how misinformation, on widespread voter fraud, impacted election officials.

That stuck out to me, because Jocelyn Benson, from Michigan, said the same thing, the other day that she was asked about, essentially the impact that these lies had, on election officials.

What would Jack Smith's team be trying to do with that information?


HONIG: We used to sometimes say that building a case is like building a house. And if you think of it that way, the misinformation is the foundation. Everything that followed, all these pressure campaigns, all these schemes, were all based on a lot, disinformation, the false claim that Donald Trump had won this election and that there was massive fraud.

And it's not surprising that we're hearing similar things, from different state officials, in different states, because you would want, as a prosecutor, to ask basically the same slate of questions. And if you find yourself getting the same type of answer, over and over, then that contributes to an argument that this is coordinated. This was intentional. This was a conspiracy.

COLLINS: And Congressman, learning that Hope Hicks and Jared Kushner got interviewed, last month, by Jack Smith's team, and looking back at what they said, to your committee? It's kind of amazing to see how closely of a roadmap of what the January 6 committee did --


COLLINS: -- that the Justice Department is clearly following?

KINZINGER: Yes, look, I think this was kind of my sense, after our first big hearing, in the summer, where it was like, "Oh, wow, they have some stuff. They know some things."

It seems like then, the Department of Justice actually started their investigation. That's when you started to hear that they were subpoenaing people that there was an investigation into this. I think, my feeling is, that they actually kind of were trying to maybe start with some of the low-hanging fruit, see what they could build up, maybe avoid prosecuting that.

And -- but yes, it appears who they're talking to, is everybody we talked to, except let me add one thing to their advantage. We can subpoena somebody. If they don't come, we can try to have DOJ hit them with a criminal complaint for that. DOJ actually has a lot more power to do that than we do. And so, these people aren't going to be able to resist. And they can also use immunity, which we chose not to use.

COLLINS: Do you think that they waited too long to start with their investigation?

KINZINGER: Yes, I mean, look, obviously, not being in the halls of DOJ, I don't know, for sure. But we're two years after this, now, two and a half years. I think this should have started day one. This was a threat against the U.S. government, against democracy.

And now -- I don't think it's Jack Smith's fault. But now we're at a point, where we're actually into election season. And you know, Donald, he's already saying it, is going to say, "Well, they're just coming after me because of my politics."

COLLINS: But can I counter that? Because what a Justice Department official would likely say, if they were sitting here, is that your committee took too long, to hand over transcripts and interviews. Should the committee have handed over everything sooner?

KINZINGER: There was -- there's a lot of details on that in terms of -- because if we hand it over, then defense has discovery, and it had to do with it -- they could have pursued their own legal track, at the exact same time.


KINZINGER: So, it's not like they needed our question.

HONIG: If I can second that, I've heard that excuse made by DOJ and DOJ apologists, saying, "Oh, why didn't Adam and his committee hand over the notes?"

It is an embarrassment to DOJ that Congress got there, first. DOJ, as Adam was saying, has so many better tools, so many stronger tools. You guys beat them to the punch on Cassidy Hutchinson, on Pat Cipollone. And DOJ, that is a poor excuse, to say, "Well, we needed their notes." DOJ should have been there themselves, before you guys. But you got there.

COLLINS: You talked about how the Justice Department is more effective, with a subpoena. If you get a subpoena, from the Justice Department, it's a bit scarier --

KINZINGER: Yes, exactly.

COLLINS: -- than it is, coming from the committee, and Liz Cheney, and everyone, with all due respect, obviously, to the committee.

But if you had that subpoena power that they have, who would you want to be talking to, right now?

KINZINGER: Well, look, I wanted to actually hear from people, like Steve Bannon, right? He obviously didn't respond to that. Dan Scavino is somebody that I think was really of interest to me, because he ran Donald Trump's social media networks, the direct messaging, that coordination.


KINZINGER: He never came in and talked to us.

Stuff like that, though, the people that were -- actually a lot more of Mark Meadows. He was still the all-star, on the investigation, because his initial tranche of texts --

COLLINS: Meadows --

KINZINGER: -- were like goldmine, for us, in terms of expanding that. But there's a lot more he knows.

So, as Jack Smith develops this investigation, it'll be just kind of personally interesting, for me, to see, what these folks that we tried to get to speak to us actually end up saying.

COLLINS: Yes. The other investigation that Jack Smith is doing, just to be clear, is the documents investigation, Elie. And today, "The New York Times" reported that a low-level Trump Organization employee, who wasn't identified, has gotten a target letter, from the Special Counsel's investigation, in recent weeks. A, that means they're still investigating, which we knew was the case --

HONIG: Right.

COLLINS: -- because the grand jury is still going in, in Florida. But what do you think that could potentially be over? I mean, that signals that person might be charged.

HONIG: Yes, this is a really big development, because the way we initially got the case was there were two charged defendants, Donald Trump and Walt Nauta. That means that Walt Nauta had knowledge, of what he was doing. He wasn't just sort of mindlessly moving boxes. He knew why.

But there are, I think, five other people referenced, in the indictment, as other Trump workers, or Trump's staffers. The presumption, at that point, was DOJ could not prove that they had criminal knowledge.

But now that this person has got a target letter? Target means you are a likely defendant, in the eyes of prosecutors. The vast majority of times, not always, vast majority of times, that results in an indictment. And so, it is possible and, I think, more possible, now that we see a third defendant added.

COLLINS: OK. And at the risk of needing to pull out a whiteboard, to keep up with all the investigations?

HONIG: Right.

COLLINS: The Georgia investigation?

HONIG: Right.


COLLINS: Trump's legal team is asking them, basically, the Supreme Court there, to essentially throw out that investigation. What's the likelihood of that happening?

HONIG: Zero percent that he succeeds on this, because that's not something that can happen, in our system. A judge cannot stop a grand jury, from doing its work, and from indicting.

But I do have to say, Trump's motion raises some important points, I think, valid criticisms, of the D.A., Fani Willis, who has injected politics, into this case.

KINZINGER: Yes, right.

HONIG: It's not even an opinion issue. She has already been thrown off part of the case, by a judge, who has been very sympathetic to her. But he chastised her, on the record. She has used her subpoenas, in this case, to fundraise --


HONIG: -- for her political campaign. I mean, this is major problematic stuff, for any prosecutor. That's going to come to roost later.

But Trump's not going to win on this motion, here.

KINZINGER: And I think the concern with that, too, is? So, the Georgia case, the New York case are different cases than what the DOJ is doing. You can have questions, about the New York case, and, as you mentioned, some of the questions, about the motive, in Georgia.

But the DOJ, I think, their motive is completely untainted. It's literally, "We have to defend democracy. We have to defend the law." The problem is these kinds of cases, and those kinds of biases get mixed up, into this big pot of soup that people are out there saying, "Look, they're just going after Donald Trump," because of Donald Trump.

COLLINS: By, people, do you mean, Trump?

KINZINGER: Yes, I mean Trump and the base that just looks at this, and goes, "See, they're just going after him. That's all they're doing."

COLLINS: But it's working for him.

KINZINGER: It does work.

COLLINS: I mean, what does that say about what Republican voters are looking for, in 2024? I mean, Trump, what Trump said the other day was verifiably true, which is that his poll numbers are going up, despite the numerous indictments.

KINZINGER: Look, here is -- I have two criticisms. Number one is everybody has to be responsible for your vote. That means quit playing emotional, with the vote. Find out who's really going to be better for the country.

But the other thing is leaders in the GOP. If Liz Cheney and I are the only two speaking out, about a legitimate attack on democracy, in this country? If you'd have asked me three years ago or if you'd have told me that, scenario, three or four years ago? I would not have believed you. I would have said "There's no way."

Leaders are scared to lose their job. But they have to stand up, and tell the 700,000 people, in the House that they each represent, the truth. Because, when they don't tell them the truth, those people can look at it, "Well, my congressman said that this was -- January 6 wasn't legitimate." If you're going to lead, you have a responsibility and an oath. And that's serious.

COLLINS: And Pence, today, noticeably, we're going to show his comments later, wouldn't call it an insurrection, what happened on January 6. He only called it a riot. What do you make of that?

KINZINGER: So, he keeps playing this game of -- look, Mike Pence could have been, I think, the front-runner, of the not-Trump side, if he'd have, after January 6, said, "I was all with Donald Trump on everything. But this was the end. I couldn't do this," you could win over some Trumpers that are like, "Yes, I like his policies."

But Mike Pence is trying to walk a line, trying to please, trying to -- you can't walk a line with Donald Trump. You're in or you're out. There's no 50 percent.

COLLINS: Congressman, Elie, thank you both, for joining me, tonight.


COLLINS: Coming up, a deeply partisan defense bill has passed, in the House, with divisive social issues, like abortion attached. It is setting up a showdown, in the Senate and, once again, putting the U.S. Military, smack dab, in the middle of a political war.

Plus, police say they have caught a serial killer, here in New York, wanted for more than a decade. The multiple clues that helped lead them, to the architect, now under arrest.



COLLINS: Tonight, a political showdown is on the horizon, over politics, abortion and the military, the House barely approving a defense policy bill, known as the National Defense Authorization Act, today.

In a normal world, this passes with widespread bipartisan support. But today, it barely squeaked by, and did so, mostly along party lines, after Republicans loaded it with divisive amendments, on restricting abortion access, eliminating Diversity, Equity and Inclusion programs, and staff from the Pentagon, and banning some health care programs, for transgender people.

The bill, as it stands, is going to die, in the Democratic-controlled Senate. It's almost certain. But it does raise major questions, tonight, of what Congress is actually going to be able to pass, in the end.

Joining me now, for perspective on this, is Congresswoman Nancy Mace, of South Carolina, a Republican, who voted for the bill, despite blasting her colleagues, for some of those amendments that were added.

Congresswoman, thank you for joining us.

Today, House Speaker, Kevin McCarthy, claimed he is not being driven to the right, by his members. But he says he's simply allowing the House, to work its will. Do you agree with that?

REP. NANCY MACE (R-SC): Well, from my perspective, representing a very middle-ground kind of district, I would believe otherwise, with this bill. And it was one of the more partisan NDAAs that we've had.

But when the bill goes to the Senate, we all know that a lot of those amendments will get thrown out, by the Senate, because the majority is a different makeup, than it is in the House.

COLLINS: Yes. But speaking of the amendments, yes, what passed today is not what it's going to look like, in the end.

MACE: Right.

COLLINS: And people did still have to vote for it, which was of concern, I know, for people, who are in districts, like yours.

You have repeatedly spoken out, on your party stance, on abortion. And you said, yesterday, and I'm quoting you now that your party needs to "Stop being assholes to women."

So, why did you vote for this today?

MACE: Well, I was looking at the policy that consistent -- I wanted to be consistent on military policy, and whether travel, because this is very specific to travel. The military does not pay for abortion services at all. But this was strictly related to travel. And the military does not, in any other case, reimburse, for travel expenses, for elective procedures.

Now, I didn't like -- I did not like the idea of this amendment. These are not issues that I believe we should be voting on, right now, without some consideration, of what we can do, to protect women, and show that we're pro-women, which has been my frustration for the better part of the last seven months.

And Kaitlan, in fact, I filed an amendment, this week, for the bill that said for the same amount of funding that we would -- the military would spend, on travel reimbursement, for women, traveling out of the state that the same amount would be spent, for women, who chose to have their baby, or giving them prenatal care, maternal care, doula care, et cetera, just trying to show that there's a balancing act here, and we can be pro-woman, and pro-life.

And the amendment was ruled out of order. And I have deep frustrations about the way things went down, this week.

COLLINS: But to the Pentagon policy, you're right that it is not paying for the procedure.

MACE: Right.


COLLINS: Something that we talked about with Senator Tuberville, earlier this week.

But also, when you look at this, a woman service member, who's stationed, at Fort Drum, in Upstate New York, for example, has more access to abortion services, and reproductive health options. A woman, who's stationed at Fort Hood, in Texas, has to travel to get those same services.

Do you think that's fair?

MACE: Well, it doesn't -- nothing in here would prohibit a woman, from traveling, out of state, to follow state law. And so, I think that's a really important message. Nothing would prohibit her from being able to do that. There are no limits on her travel.

One of the other concerns, the rumor was, this week that they were going to limit medical, be able to -- the recovery time, after having this kind of service. And that was really, that was something I was very concerned about. And I was grateful to see that that was not in there. And that there were exceptions for rape, incest, life of the mother, and also no reporting requirements. And so, that's something else that I have been screaming from the rooftops that we cannot do to women, in these situations.

COLLINS: Right. It doesn't prevent them, of course.

MACE: Right.

COLLINS: From going and getting the procedure.

But if you're in the middle of Texas, and you've got to get a flight to a state, where you can get an abortion, it's different than if you're someone, who is in New York, or somewhere where you can get one.

And, of course, as you know, the service members don't decide where they're stationed. If they're in my home state of Alabama, it's virtually inaccessible.

MACE: Right. But unfortunately, the military, just that's not the standard protocol for reimbursements for travel.

These votes aren't easy. Not everyone's going to agree with all of us on all of our votes. But I take every one of these seriously. And I'm trying to be very thoughtful and purposeful. And I also want to be consistent about military policy. And that's very important to me.

But also, at the same time, showing that "Hey, I have this other amendment that shows we can be pro-women and pro-life," at the same time, and then to see it just thrown out, at the last minute. For me, as a female lawmaker, as a mom, as a woman, it's very frustrating, to see that it's just a different standard.

COLLINS: There was another moment, last night, as all these amendments were being debated, where your Republican colleague, Eli Crane, was arguing, for the passage, of his amendment, to prohibit the Pentagon, from requiring diversity training, when he made this comment.


REP. ELI CRANE (R-AZ): My amendment has nothing to do with whether or not colored people or Black people or anybody can serve, OK?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Colored people?

CRANE: It has nothing to do with color of your skin.

REP. JOYCE BEATTY (D-OH): Mr. Speaker. I'd like to be recognized, to have the words, "Colored people," stricken, from the record. I find it offensive and very inappropriate.


COLLINS: I should note that he later apologized.

But is that acceptable language, from one of your colleagues?

MACE: Well, I'm glad to see that he apologized, because racism of any kind should never be tolerated. And it's something that I have condemned, for a lifetime. I come from South Carolina, where we had a white supremacist kill, shoot and kill nine Black church members, at Mother Emanuel.

And so, I want to be very clear that racism of any kind, by any party, by anybody, of any color, should always be condemned, in any way, shape, or form. And I'm glad that he apologized, and took responsibility, for those comments, and we can all move forward from here.

COLLINS: Congresswoman Nancy Mace, thank you, for joining us, tonight.

MACE: Thank you.

COLLINS: For more perspective, on what's happening, in Washington, I want to bring in Admiral Mike Mullen, the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Admiral Mullen, thank you, for being here, tonight.

I don't have to tell you. You know, the NDAA sets Pentagon policy, and spending limits, for the year ahead. And normally, it passes, with widespread bipartisan support.

So, I wonder what goes through your mind, and maybe the mind of others, who are at the Pentagon, now, when you see this bill being loaded with all of these social policy provisions, from Republicans?

ADM. MIKE MULLEN, FORMER JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: Well, I think it really hurts the military, from a reputation standpoint. It hurts it from a readiness standpoint. It hurts it from a recruiting standpoint. And it hurts it from a retention standpoint.

This bill, as you've said, Kaitlan, normally passes with significant bipartisan support. I think it is reflective of the political environment, and actually, to continue to politicize the military, and put it right into the middle of all the politics, actually is something that we -- those of us, who served, and those who are leading now, want to stay as far away from as possible.

So, it's a very, very difficult and, quite frankly, challenging time, for our military and our military leadership.

COLLINS: Well, and speaking of that, Senator Tommy Tuberville was on the show, earlier this week. He has continued his hold, on hundreds of military nominations, in protest of that policy that I was just talking about there, with Congresswoman Mace.

He has a new Op-Ed out today. And this is quoting from it. He says, "Politicizing the military would be a tragedy in any country. But it is especially tragic because the American military is the last nonpolitical institution in our public life."

Given those words, from the Senator, do you believe he's the one politicizing the military?


MULLEN: I believe very strongly, he's doing exactly that, Kaitlan. He's putting the military right in the middle of the abortion debate.

And if his principle is certainly, to support the abortion issue, from his perspective? That's fine. And he can represent his constituents, in that regard.

But what he's doing is he's putting the military, right in the middle of politics, which is historically something, we've worked hard to stay out of, as well as many, on the Hill, have kept us out of that as well. So, he's actually doing the exact opposite, of what he says he's doing.

He's, as you know, he's holding up many, many appointments. That's going to have a compounding effect, on leadership. It's going to have a huge effect on families, families that are trying to move kids, into school, family -- spouses, who are looking for employment, because they're due, to move to another place. And these are families that support us, in everything that we do, in what is a very, very difficult, challenging, and also patriotic service to our country.

COLLINS: My colleague, Haley Britzky, who's at the -- she's a Pentagon Producer, for CNN. She took this picture of the Joint Chiefs headshots, at the Pentagon. Of course, you're the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Your photo used to be right up there, at the top.

What is it like for you, to look at that, and to see that empty space, where the Marine Commandant should be, but is not because he can't get confirmed because of this hold?

MULLEN: Well, he's the first of many, quite frankly, because if the hold continues, each Service Chief, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, those positions will not be filled, or they will be filled, by temporary or acting individuals.

And "Acting" is one of the least popular descriptions, of any office, in Washington, because you know that that individual is not going to be there, for very long. So, it just has this compounding effect.

And I think, the number, by the end of the year, if he keeps it up, is his holds, which are now affecting, I think, 250 or so officers, will be upwards of, 650, which is 89 percent, or close to 90 percent of our flags, who lead the greatest military in the world, at a really critical time, when we're facing increasing challenges, from China, and a significant challenge, from Russia. It's as challenging a time from that perspective, as I've seen, in many decades.

COLLINS: What goes through your mind, when he makes comments, like there's too many admirals, and too many generals, anyway, at the top?

MULLEN: I mean, I think the number that we have is 850. We need that leadership. That's not a new criticism, quite frankly. I don't think his stated goal is to get rid of admirals and generals.

I think it really is to try to win on the political side here, at a time when that kind of initiative -- this kind of initiative, from his perspective, impacts the trust level, in the United States military, where we still are very high, as a trusted institution.

But we are falling, and have fallen, in the last several years. And this is just another example of politics, impacting, on that fall. And that trust is absolutely vital, between our military and the American people.


There was another moment today where Vice President Mike, Pence -- former Vice President, Mike Pence, who obviously as you know is running for president, was in Iowa, at a forum, where many of the candidates were interviewed, by Tucker Carlson.

He was asked about his support for Ukraine. This is what he said.


TUCKER CARLSON, FORMER FOX NEWS HOST: Your concern is that the Ukrainians, a country, most people can't find on a map, who've received tens of billions of U.S. tax dollars, don't have enough tanks.


CARLSON: I think it's a fair question to ask, like, where's the concern for the United States in that?


PENCE: Well, it's not my concern. Tucker, I've heard that routine from you before. But that's not my concern.

Anybody that says that we can't be the leader of the Free World, and solve our problems at home, has a pretty small view, of the greatest nation on Earth. We can do both.


COLLINS: What do you make of that?

MULLEN: I agree completely with what Vice President Pence said. I think we can do both.

And actually, I think, if we don't do both, if we recede from overseas, if we isolate ourselves? We actually become weaker, over time, as a nation. And you can see what the leadership that we've shown, in Ukraine, and in Europe, and the solidarity there, has been extraordinary.

And it's a strong message to China as well, who has called us, a nation in decline, and yet is now sort of giving pause, to that thought, because of how strong, we've been, in Europe. And we'll be that strong, with respect to China as well. So, I couldn't agree more with what Vice President Pence said.


COLLINS: Admiral Mike Mullen, thank you, for joining us, tonight. Thank you for your time.

MULLEN: Thanks, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: Coming up, a string of murders, on Long Island, have baffled investigators, for more than a decade. But today, police say they have a suspect. Tracking him down with burner phones, pizza crust, and other clues, we'll tell you about next.


COLLINS: A fake email account, a burner phone, and leftover pizza crust. Those were the crucial pieces of evidence, prosecutors say, led to the arrest, of a New York serial killer, in a decade's long cold case.

Today, Rex Heuermann pleaded not guilty, to six counts of murder, in connection with the deaths, of three of the four women, who are now known as "The Gilgo Four." He remains a prime suspect, in the death of the fourth victim.

All of the women were found, bound in camouflage burlap, in the same area, just within days of one another, in 2010. Police would later find at least six more sets of human remains, spread across the shore of Long Island. But there were no major leads, until recently.

Prosecutors zeroed in, on a suspect, a New York architect, a married father of two, by tracking a fake email address, and burner phones that included the selfie that you're looking at, right now.


Perhaps the most damning evidence though, came from a pizza box, which investigators got, after digging through the suspect's trash. DNA evidence, from a swabbed pizza crust, matched the DNA of a hair that was found on one of the victims.

Police -- prosecutors say that they acted quickly, because they feared that other victims, could also be in danger.


RAYMOND A. TIERNEY, SUFFOLK COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: One of the reasons why we had to take this case down was we learned that the defendant was using these alternate identities, and these alternate instruments, to continue to patronize sex workers, which of course made us very nervous.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COLLINS: For more, on this stunning case, investigative journalist, Robert Kolker, joins me now. He is the Author of "Lost Girls," a book exploring these Gilgo Beach murders, that I should note was published a decade ago.

Bob, I mean, you've covered this more closely than almost anyone else. You know the victims' families. You know their stories. What went through your mind, today, when you heard that a suspect had been arrested?

ROBERT KOLKER, AUTHOR, "LOST GIRLS": It's an incredible day, a really moving day.

The book about this case that I wrote was published 10 years ago. The case broke 12 years ago. And these families have been waiting even longer. Some of these women were missing, for years, before they were part of a serial killer case. And so, to have public attention, on it now, is amazing, and to have a break in the case, even more amazing.

Kaitlan, this is a case, where there have been no suspects, no declared persons of interest, practically silence, from the police, except for an occasional press release. The victims' families have been in the dark, for years. Kids have grown up, not knowing what happened to their mothers.

And so, it's a stunning day.

COLLINS: And to hear what prosecutors alleged today, that Heuermann used the cell phone, of at least one of the victims, to call her family members, and talk them, saying that he sexually assaulted her, and killed her?

I mean, just the idea that he was kind of just living among everyone, for the last 13 years, had a job? There's this YouTube video, where he's being interviewed, by someone, about architectural design? I mean, it's just stunning.

KOLKER: The cell phone calls to Melissa Barthelemy's family, to her little sister, were horrifying. We've known about those, for some time. And we've known that they seem to have been made, from Midtown. But we haven't known anything more than that.

What we've learned today, is that this is a guy, who's been hiding, in plain sight. He's been in a densely populated area, a big town, in Long Island, Massapequa Park. He's been commuting to Manhattan. And he's had a public-facing job, a job with a lot of high-profile clients. And so, you don't really expect that in a serial killer case.

This is a case filled with surprises. And this is just one more huge surprise.

COLLINS: And he was arrested, I mean, not far from where we are sitting, right now.

KOLKER: That's right. And more to the point, a really short drive, from where those four sets of human remains were first found, back in 2010. He commuted into Manhattan, where a lot of other evidence, and other things, part of the case took place, right next to his office.

They seemed to understand that the killer used burner phones. And then, they found out that he used burner phones. And then, they traced his movements all over the place. And then, they traced the movements of phones that had called these women. And they saw that wherever he went, these burner phones went. That led them next to the pizza crust, to the DNA. And they seemed to seal the deal with that.

COLLINS: And, I mean, I think, one of the most notable and frankly disgusting parts of this case is how uninterested, initially, the police seemed to be in it, because of who the victims were, and what they did.

I mean, you reported on how Shannan Gilbert's family struggled to even get her listed, as a Missing Person. You said that, quote, "Even after it came out that Ms. Gilbert had made a 911 call that night, during which she insisted someone was trying to kill her."

KOLKER: It's astonishing. And she's not the only one. Maureen Brainard-Barnes disappeared in 2007, and, for years, never made it onto the Missing Persons list. But then, once the serial killer case broke, and they found her remains, suddenly everyone is interested.

These family members have been in the most peculiar position, Kaitlan. I've been getting into this, in "Lost Girls," and I've written about it ever since. Everybody wants to know about them, and their sisters. But no one wants to treat their sisters, like human beings, and to see that they had lives, beyond the money they made, from escort work, for this period of their lives.

And I hope "Lost Girls" did something, to help that, but also more to the point that's in heartening to see law enforcement, today, sort of turning around, and actually visibly hugging -- the Police Commissioner gave hugs, to the family members, at the press conference, today. So, that was pretty heartening.

COLLINS: Yes, they brought them with them.

Where do you think it goes from here? I mean, we know that he's been charged with this. He's pleaded not guilty, of course, we have to note, and said he didn't do it. But they say he's the prime suspect, in a fourth murder as well. Obviously, there are other -- six other sets of remains, in addition to that.

KOLKER: That fourth suspected murder is Maureen Brainard-Barnes. And it does seem like it's the same M.O. But there are many other victims. There are four or five other women, and a man and a toddler.

Human remains seem to be dumped up and down Ocean Parkway, and out in the Pine Barrens in Long Island, a lot of unsolved mysteries out there. Hopefully, this really gives rocket fuel, to the police, and gets them going on other cases too.


COLLINS: Well, Robert Kolker, thank you for your expertise, and your reporting, on this, and for staying on top of the story.

KOLKER: Thanks, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: Thank you for joining us.

Ahead, the fired Fox News host, Tucker Carlson, moderated a presidential forum, in Iowa, today, grilling six of the Republican candidates for President, even tangling with former Vice President, Mike Pence, at one point. Subject? Not January 6. We'll tell you what it was.


COLLINS: Six Republican presidential candidates attended the Family Leadership Summit, in Iowa, today, to court evangelical voters. All were interviewed by the former Fox News host, Tucker Carlson, who pressed them, on Russia's invasion of Ukraine.


CARLSON: OK. Where are you on the matter of sending cluster bombs, to the Ukrainian military?

SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC), (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I was President of the United States, we wouldn't have to. Here's what you saw --

CARLSON: But now that we have, what do you think of it?

SCOTT: Well, I mean, I think it's they're there.

CARLSON: The Ukrainian Orthodox Church within Ukraine has persecuted Christians. And I wonder if you had raised that with him.

PENCE: I asked the Christian leader, in Kyiv, if that was in fact happening. And he assured me that it was not.


CARLSON: I can't let you glide over the question of the treatment of Christians and the clergy.

PENCE: No, I heard that again. Tucker?

CARLSON: And would you be -- well no. But hold on. Would you be -- would you be willing --

PENCE: I'm telling you the problem is that you won't accept my answer. I just told you that I asked the religious leader, in Kyiv, if it was happening. You asked me, if I raised the issue. And I did.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL), (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You can't subcontract out our interest to a foreign leader. You can't want it to go on, because it'll be good, for defense contractors or, you know, globalist investors. It's all about what's in our interests. And I think we're basically in a situation, with our foreign policy. We're providing a blanket security to Europe.


COLLINS: Joining me now, CNN Political Analyst, and former Democratic South Carolina State Representative, Bakari Sellers; and former Republican congressman, from Pennsylvania, and the Executive Director of the Aspen Institute Congressional Program, Charlie Dent.

Lot of titles there. I mean, Charlie, this is an evangelical event. It's supposed to be in front of all the evangelical voters. It's run by Vander Plaats, of course, a prominent evangelical figure. I mean, most of it was about foreign policy, though, and Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

CHARLIE DENT, (R) FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ASPEN INSTITUTE CONGRESSIONAL PROGRAM: Well, Tucker Carlson, a toady for Vladimir Putin, is upset with these candidates, for not supporting Vladimir Putin.

It's almost embarrassing that a mouthpiece, for Russia, today, is interviewing Republican candidates, who are seeking the presidency of the United States. This is where we are. It's tragic.

I mean, Ukraine is standing up, for democracy. They're standing up for all of Western, all of Europe. And for Tucker Carlson to go out there, and grill these guys, and for not carrying Putin's water, is just simply outrageous.

COLLINS: But he -- if you watch it? I watched several hours of it, today.

DENT: Yes.

COLLINS: When he was making points, to Pence, saying, "You're more worried about when tanks are arriving in Ukraine than American cities?" It got a lot of applause, from the audience. What does it say, about the Republican voters, and where they are, in all these?

DENT: Well, sadly, the party, much of the party base has become much more isolationist, protectionist, and at times nativist. And this is not a healthy place for the party to be.

We've seen this, in the 1930s. Our two oceans didn't protect us, from being attacked, at Pearl Harbor. Our oceans didn't protect us on 9/11, when we were attacked, by al Qaeda. When will we learn? When will we ever learn the lesson?

This is a good investment for us, investing in Ukraine. Ukrainians are dying, to stop what the Russians are doing. Not one American has died. But they're protecting the interests of a lot of people, who are just trying to maintain their freedom, in Lithuania, and Poland, and Estonia, Latvia and elsewhere. That's what this is about.

COLLINS: And Bakari, Governor DeSantis did get asked about abortion. Obviously, we've seen what's happened, in your home state, with the abortion bill that was signed there. He was asked if he would sign a six-week federal abortion ban. This is how he answered.


DESANTIS: Well, I'm very proud to say Kim Reynolds is here, and she signed a great heartbeat bill, today.

We were able to do that in Florida. We had a lot of opposition to that. I'm proud to have been a pro-life governor. And I will be a pro- life president. So, I mean, of course, I want to sign pro-life legislation.


COLLINS: But that wasn't an "Of course, I want to sign a six-week federal ban." I mean, he signed a six-week ban, in his state, but he wouldn't say if he's willing to do it, nationally.

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, (D) FORMER SOUTH CAROLINA STATE REPRESENTATIVE, ATTORNEY: First of all, if Charlie Dent was running for President of the United States, and had that level of clarity, that some other people would -- should have? Then, the Republican field would be in a different space. And so, kudos to my colleague, Charlie, for being here.

DENT: Yes.

SELLERS: He's also retired. And that means that he probably couldn't run --

COLLINS: That's why he's joining us.

SELLERS: Yes. I know. He --

DENT: I'm still working.

SELLERS: He couldn't win a Republican primary. But yet, he is clear -- he is very extremely -- he's extremely clear, and he's actually hitting the points necessary, on Ukraine and Russia.

I think what people have to understand, is that Ron DeSantis is fading. He's fading quickly. And when you have an opportunity, in front of somebody, like Tucker Carlson, who is the heartbeat, respectfully, of the Republican Party, you have to do everything you can.

And what we saw today, I mean, from all the candidates, from Tim Scott, Ron DeSantis? You saw Mike Pence. You saw them have to humble themselves, in front of Tucker Carlson. Just imagine that. You had to -- they had to humble themselves, and come down on bended knee, on issues.

And when you talk about what abortion and Ron DeSantis? What you realize is that he really stands for absolutely nothing. He fluctuates and goes from one side to another. And what we saw, today, was just emblematic, of what the new Republican Party is.

COLLINS: Pence probably tangled with Tucker Carlson the most. But we got his fundraising numbers, today. He brought in $1.2 million.

SELLERS: You're just -- you're making my point.


SELLERS: Like if you --

COLLINS: But, I mean, that's the second quarter of fundraising. The point, for those watching at home who don't know the numbers? That's not good. And he hasn't qualified for the debate stage yet, in August.

DENT: Well, that's a great quarter for a U.S. House member. But it's a terrible quarter, for a candidate, running for presidency.

Well, he's kind of in a no man's land. He was with Trump, right up until the end. And then January 6 happened.

And you have to be 100 percent with Donald Trump.

SELLERS: Adam Schiff --

DENT: And he's not 100 percent with Trump.

SELLERS: -- Adam Schiff outraised him, six to one --

DENT: Yes, I mean --

SELLERS: -- for a United States Senate seat, in California. I mean, this is the problem.

DENT: It's a paltry number.


SELLERS: This is the problem that you have, when you have any morals or ethics and when you -- either you're here with me and, respectfully, Charlie Dent. Or you can only raise $1.2 million, when you're running for President of the United States.

I think that Donald Trump has this race. This is his race to lose. I think the only person, who can compete with Donald Trump is Tim Scott. And we'll see what happens with that.

COLLINS: Well, and DeSantis' team is now putting out memos, saying that they believe that Tim Scott is going to get a lot more scrutiny.

I do want to note, before we go, Biden's campaign announced today that he and the DNC, the Democratic National Committee, raised $72 million, since he announced he was running. That seems pretty strong.

But when you look at it, compared to Donald Trump, and the RNC, when he was in office? $105 million. Barack Obama and the DNC? $86 million. Biden's numbers aren't very high. SELLERS: Trust me. You have to do Biden's numbers relative to the people he's running against. His numbers are far superior to the former President of the United States, Donald Trump. Joe Biden is in the catbird seat, running for President of the United States. Robert F. Kennedy --

COLLINS: So, it doesn't give you any concern?

SELLERS: No. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has raised more money, than the people, who are the forerunners, running against Donald Trump, right now.

DENT: It's respectable, but not great.

COLLINS: Bakari, Charlie Dent, thank you both.

DENT: Thank you.

COLLINS: Ahead, Hollywood is on strike, as actors are joining writers, on the picket lines today, even the "Barbie" movie, now speaking out.









COLLINS: The resounding chant, of a union, bringing Hollywood to a standstill, tonight.

SAG-AFTRA, which represents about 160,000 actors, officially hit the picket lines, today, joining writers, in their strike, against major studios, and streaming services, the biggest walkout that we have seen in four decades.


MARGOT ROBBIE, ACTRESS: I'm very much in support of all the unions.

MATT DAMON, ACTOR: There's money being made, and it needs to be allocated in a way that takes care of people, who are on the margins.


COLLINS: You hear from big stars, like that and their support. But we should note tonight, the majority of actors, in Hollywood, only make about $65,000 a year.

Both actors and writers want better pay, and new protections, in a world of rapidly-changing technology. That means guardrails, around the use of artificial intelligence, and offering increased royalties, from streaming services.

Remember, when shows like "Seinfeld" are syndicated on cable, writers and actors are paid royalties, with every rerun. But now, with global streaming services that we all watch, that means they only get a fixed royalty, no matter how many times a show is viewed. That's what's at stake here.

Thank you so much, for joining us, tonight, and every night, this week.