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The Source with Kaitlan Collins
Trump Launches New Attacks On Special Counsel; Russian Court Sentences Navalny To 19 Years For "Extremism" In Latest Crackdown On Dissent; DeSantis Says Trump's 2020 Election Fraud Claims "Proved To Be Unsubstantiated." Aired 9-10p ET
Aired August 04, 2023 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: A truly touching moment, in a Taylor Swift concert, in Los Angeles.
She has been giving her hat out, at every stop, on the Eras Tour, to someone, in the crowd, while she sings her hit song, "22." Well last night's lucky fan, the late Kobe Bryant's daughter, Bianka.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(VIDEO - KOBE BRYANT'S DAUGHTER BIANKA RECEIVES HAT AS A GIFT FROM TAYLOR SWIFT DURING LIVE CONCERT)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: Not only a hat, but also a big hug. Look at that. She wore it, along with a biggest smile, in videos, taken by her mom, Vanessa. The 6-year-old, along with her sisters and mom, even got to meet Swift, after the show.
It was a bit of a full-circle moment, for all of them. Eight years ago, Kobe surprised the singer, while she was on her 1989 tour, with a championship banner, for the most sold-out performances, at L.A.'s Staples Center. Very heartwarming.
The news continues. "THE SOURCE WITH KAITLAN COLLINS" starts now.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST, THE SOURCE WITH KAITLAN COLLINS: Tonight, straight from THE SOURCE, from court to courting support, Donald Trump, back on the campaign trail, tonight, after pleading not guilty, for the second time, within 24 hours, also now pleading to the Supreme Court, for help.
Plus, a new sentence, for Navalny, Putin's nemesis. He says he was handed a life sentence, behind bars, by a Russian leader bent on silencing his critics.
And a freebie free-for-all, a social media star's giveaway stunt caused complete chaos, in New York City, sparking massive mayhem, and his arrest.
I'm Kaitlan Collins. And this is THE SOURCE. Tonight, the thrice-indicted former President is in Alabama, at a Republican state dinner, seeking to shore up support, amid his mounting legal problems, once again, attacking the special prosecutor, overseeing his latest two federal charges, and making more wild claims.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, 45TH U.S. PRESIDENT: They waited right to the middle of an election. And they waited until I became the dominant force in the polls.
They filed them all, every one of them, all at essentially one time, including local D.A.s, and A.G.s, and even other cases, right in the middle of the campaign.
Every time they file an indictment, we go way up in the polls. We need one more indictment, to close out this election.
(AUDIENCE CHEERS & APPLAUSE)
TRUMP: One more indictment, and this election is closed out. Nobody has even a chance.
Referring to the deranged Jack Smith. He's not only going to have to just bulldoze, through the First Amendment, he's going to have to bulldoze through a line of cases, by the Supreme Court of the United States. In other words, this is an absolute case of prosecutorial misconduct.
The only civil rights that have been violated, in this matter, are my civil rights.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: I should note, he is once again attacking Jack Smith here, after we even heard from his own Attorney General, this week, defending the Special Counsel.
Those comments come, after Trump entered yet another not-guilty plea today. That was in response to those three new charges that were brought against him, in that superseding indictment, in the classified documents case, last week. That is two not-guilty pleas in the span of less than 24 hours.
The former President clearly feeling the legal pressure, he is now asking the Supreme Court, to intervene, via social media, lamenting the time and money that his legal troubles are costing him. Actually, he's not really asking. He says the court, in his view, quote, "Must intercede."
He also put out this cryptic post earlier, all caps. "IF YOU GO AFTER ME, I'M COMING AFTER YOU."
I'm joined now, tonight, by a pair of former federal prosecutors, Jennifer Rodgers, and Shan Wu. Thank you both, for being here.
Jennifer, let me start with you, on just the comment that Trump made, there, not -- calling Jack Smith, "Deranged," which he has been doing, essentially non-stop. But saying, the only "Civil rights that are being violated here are mine," clearly, a reference to one of the charges, in this January 6th case.
JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Yes. I mean, listen, he's obviously attacking with everything he's got, here, to try to distract, from what we all saw, in the 45-page indictment, that was issued recently.
So, this is his play, right, civil rights. He's talking about, "We're in the middle of an election. So it's election interference. It's prosecutorial misconduct." I mean, he references Supreme Court precedent. I'd love to hear him talk about what Supreme Court cases he thinks these are.
I mean, this is just his playbook. We can expect a lot more of it, as the case moves along.
COLLINS: Shan, I think when people hear him just constantly attacking Jack Smith, something that we've made a point of pointing out, simply because sometimes it gets glossed over.
SHAN WU, DEFENSE ATTORNEY, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Yes.
COLLINS: And it's still just so remarkable, in and of itself that he's constantly attacking the prosecutor. But I think some people would look at that and say, does this warrant a gag order, but? I mean, how does that work given--
COLLINS: --he's on the campaign trail, when he was making these comments. He's running.
WU: Yes. It'd be difficult, in this instance, an actual gag order. Although it was a little bit unusual, when he was arraigned that the magistrate gave that particular warning, about not doing anything, which might interfere with jurors, in particular.
And so, you could make the argument that comments like this could influence the jury, that way, and that could be a problem, for him, down the road. That would set up a bit of a First Amendment clash, right, even before they get to trial.
COLLINS: Yes. And Jennifer, he's also, tonight, saying making clear what he would do if he does get that second term, in office, and not just talking about his priorities. We're talking about appointing a Special Counsel, to investigate the Biden family.
I talked to his Attorney General, Bill Barr, who certainly was loyal to him, when he was in the administration, and asked him if he was worried that Trump would try to weaponize the Justice Department. This is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: Do you worry that he would weaponize it, if he was back in office?
BILL BARR, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL UNDER PRESIDENT TRUMP: Absolutely.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: I mean he's making clear there that that he would.
RODGERS: He is. I mean, it's a little bit rich, coming from Bill Barr, who, frankly, was one of the instruments of the weaponization, the first time around, in a Trump administration.
But I think we all can see that a second Trump administration would be even worse, in this regard, because he's just openly saying it. His goal would be to put in people, who are loyal to him, above all else, and to use the office, and the powers of the Justice Department, to go after his political opponents. I mean, there's no mystery now, as to what he would do.
It's not a legal question, in the sense that there's nothing really legally that can be done about that. But it's a real problem. Certainly, voters should be paying attention to that.
COLLINS: Yes, I mean, he even tried to do it when he was at the end of his term, when he tried to put Jeffrey Clark in.
COLLINS: Someone, who was trying to help draft letters, to Brian Kemp of Georgia, about fraud that didn't exist.
The other thing that Trump is saying today is about the Supreme Court, asking them to get involved here.
COLLINS: Talking about the time, that it's going to take, for these trials, to potentially play out, but also the cost of these. I mean, the idea that the Supreme Court is going to get involved in these 78 criminal charges, does it all seem likely to you?
WU: No, they're not just going to suddenly reach out and do something about it. He'd have to find some vehicle to get there.
And in criminal trials, it's pretty hard to do that. Once it gets going, it's not easy to find an issue, to sort of stop the case and move on. If there is like a motion to suppress, which might be dispositive, something like that can move up. That's not happening here. So, I think, again, that's mostly his public relations bluster.
COLLINS: Yes. But it is, when it comes to how much time this is going to take up, Jennifer, there is a point, about if he is facing trial, I mean, even in just one of these cases alone, it's a significant amount of time, and amount of effort, and resources, to fight something like this.
When you look at the calendar, of what this is going to be, the Republican debate, the first one, is coming up very soon. He's got his hearing, on the January 6 case, right after that. In January, the E. Jean Carroll defamation case. Then, his New York case, just a few weeks after Super Tuesday. And then, of course, the documents and what this case is going to look like. Those big questions.
I mean, is there any -- does his legal team, will they be able to, in any way, effectively argue that the timing affects his campaigning?
RODGERS: Well, it's not so much about the campaign. I mean, I know, for him, as a practical matter, it is.
But as far as the judges are concerned, even if you just take out everything, other than the three criminal cases, maybe soon to be four, it's really hard to see how there's room, in the calendar, for all of them. I mean, you need at least probably six months, to prepare, for any of these criminal trials.
And yet, we have, six months takes us beyond the end of the year. We have a March trial. We have a May trial. Then, you hit that 60- to 90- day period, before an election, where DOJ won't do anything over it that might impact the election.
So, I don't know what Judge Chutkan is going to do. But it's really hard to see how they fit all of this in, without even really thinking too much, frankly, about the campaign.
COLLINS: And they may be setting a trial date, by the end of this month, at least an initial one.
But the other thing that has been a subject of discussion, Trump's attorneys are in favor of this. And so are House Democrats. I think the circles where their interests overlap, is probably pretty small.
But cameras in the courtroom?
WU: Oh, yes.
COLLINS: They both are advocating for this.
I mean, it's going to be one of the biggest, if not the biggest trials, in this nation's history. But it seems like there's no chance that that would happen?
WU: Yes, no chance. I mean, in fact--
COLLINS: Even if they both advocate for it? WU: Right, because this is really going to be up to the judges. I mean, the federal judiciary is living like in the 19th Century, some members of the Supreme Court, maybe in the 17th or 18th Century.
They are not going to put cameras in, particularly, I think, this seems reverse in psychology, but particularly because it's a case of such notoriety, and there's so much public interest. That's exactly when they don't want cameras in the courtroom.
COLLINS: How does that -- I mean, that seems -- non-lawyer here.
COLLINS: But how does that? I mean, that seems like when it's the most interest, that's when people want to be able to watch it, want to be able to see, and judge for themselves on this. I mean, we saw the January 6 congressional hearings, didn't we?
RODGERS: Yes, I wouldn't say there's zero chance, but it's pretty slim. I mean, Justice Roberts could do it, tomorrow. It's just a policy. It's not a law.
RODGERS: And, over COVID, they did start putting out audio streams, of the arguments.
RODGERS: And so, I don't know, they've taken tiny baby steps. I'd be surprised if it happened. I wouldn't say it's impossible. I hope it happens.
COLLINS: So, essentially, it would have to be up to Chief Justice John Roberts, or Congress passing a law.
RODGERS: I don't know what would happen if Congress passed a law.
WU: Yes. Yes.
RODGERS: I mean, it's a policy. It's not.
WU: Right, right.
RODGERS: So, if Congress passed a law, that's actually an interesting legal question.
RODGERS: Shan and I will discuss, at the break.
WU: Yes. Well Roberts is head of like the administration, for the judiciary.
WU: So, it'd be up to him, yes, yes.
COLLINS: So, for now, we're relying on Bill Hennessy's court sketches.
WU: Right, exactly.
COLLINS: Thank you both, for joining, on a Friday night, Jennifer Rodgers, Shan Wu.
COLLINS: Meanwhile, Secret Service agents, of course, follow former Presidents wherever they go. But there has never been a former President, facing a potentially real threat, of prison time, before. So, there is a looming question. What would happen, to Trump's security detail, if he does ever end locked up?
Plus, the jailed Putin foe, Alexey Navalny, 19 more years have been added, to his sentence. It has prompted harsh condemnation, from everyone, including the U.S. government. Will Navalny ever see freedom again?
We're going to speak to someone, who knows him very well, next.
COLLINS: Tonight, after trying to poison him to death didn't work, Vladimir Putin's arch nemesis has been sentenced, to an additional 19 years, in one of Russia's most brutal penal colonies.
Alexey Navalny was convicted on charges of quote so-called "Extremism," which relate to his years-long effort, to root out corruption, in Russia, and expose Putin's grift and his lies. He appeared gaunt, in court, but he did flash a defiant smile, as he learned his fate, today.
All of this is an effort that his supporters say is meant to silence the fiercest political opponent that the Russian leader has ever faced.
After the hearing, Navalny released a statement, to those supporters that read in part, "19 years in a special regime colony, the number doesn't matter. And the verdict is not for me. It is for you. They want to frighten you."
You may recall, Russian agents attempted to kill Alexey Navalny, by poisoning his underwear, with a lethal nerve agent. He survived, just barely. And despite that attack on his life, he returned to Moscow. But before he left, he issued a plea to the Russian people, should he be silenced, perhaps forever.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEXEY NAVALNY, RUSSIAN OPPOSITION LEADER, LAWYER, AND ANTI-CORRUPTION ACTIVIST: We don't realize how strong we actually are. The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil, is for good people to do nothing. So don't be inactive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: That clip is from the Oscar-winning film, CNN Films documentary, "Navalny." And the Director, of that documentary, one of the people, who knows Navalny, very well, Daniel Roher joins me now.
Daniel, last time we talked was after you got that Oscar. And it was this jubilant time, bringing attention to the world, about what Navalny has been through. I mean, I wonder what went through your mind, when you saw him, in his court, today -- in court, today, and how he looked.
DANIEL ROHER, OSCAR-WINNING DIRECTOR, "NAVALNY": Well, Kaitlan, thank you for having me on the program. I'm always happy to be here, to talk about Alexey, as sad as the situation may be.
Today, we saw Navalny in court. He looked gaunt. But it's clear that his spirit is intact. He's a remarkably resilient man. And in spite of this new sentence that he's facing, it is clear that this regime has not broken his spirit, his humor, his optimism, and his perseverance. And that's something that really matters to me.
COLLINS: Yes. And that's always something that comes through, when he speaks on social media. I mean, a concern is that that presence may be limited or eliminated, because of this.
And just for people at home, I mean, these special regime prison colonies are usually reserved, for Russia's worst criminals. This is clearly a scare tactic, from Putin. I mean, the question is, will it work?
ROHER: Well, it's a very complex question, because the contemporary landscape, of Russian politics, is very complex. Will it work? Will it silence Navalny? Never. He will never be silenced. He's proven as much.
He decided to go back. He could have been in exile. He could have stayed outside of the country. He chose to go back. He wanted to be the moral leader of the nation. Some people call it a savior complex. Some people think it was foolish to go back. But whether you criticize the decision or not, you can't help, but admire his courage, and the courage of his convictions.
They are trying to silence all opposition, not just Navalny, but everyone, who follows him, everyone, who believes in a free, democratic Russia. The beautiful Russia of tomorrow, as Navalny calls it. But so often that I'm reminded of that old adage "The night is darkest, just before the dawn." And we can only hope that a new day lingers around the corner that Navalny's courage will inspire others. COLLINS: I can't even imagine the impact, this is having, on his family. I mean, his parents were barred, from attending the hearing, forced to watch it, on a video that they could barely hear. And obviously Russian officials are trying to make this as difficult and as painful as possible.
I know you've been in touch with his family. What have they told you?
ROHER: It's incredibly difficult. What is there to say? Their husband, their father, is behind bars, for nothing. Imagine how painful that must be, for Dasha, his daughter, Zahar, his son, Yulia, his wife.
Russia is a country, where I think it was just last month that Yevgeny Prigozhin marched his mercenary army, within 150 miles of Moscow, and killed 11 Russian servicemembers, wreaked havoc. It was a Military coup, or so we thought.
And meanwhile, Navalny is the one, who is convicted of extremism, and on trial for terrorism, and things like this. It's absurd. It's Kafkaesque. If it wasn't so sad, we'd laugh about it. It seems like some weird, bizarre satire. But it's all very real. And at the center of it is this man, who is sacrificing so much, for his country, and for what he believes in.
I think that his family is in lockstep with him. They have remarkable courage as well. And I think so much of his courage, is foddered by his family, and their support of him.
COLLINS: Yes. I mean, I was just thinking today, with all the talk, of political prosecution here that's been happening, in the last 48 hours, I mean, this is what this actually looks like. I mean, the conditions that he's in.
Russian guards have purposely made him sick. The lights are constantly on, even at night. They tease him by showing him food that his daughter has sent him and then take it away.
This is just -- you mentioned his daughter, there, and I'm glad you brought her up. This is something that she said recently, to CNN.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DARIA NAVALNAYA, ALEXEY NAVALNY'S DAUGHTER: There are no calls, no visits, no human conditions. He's allowed to write 35 (ph) minutes per day with a pen and paper. And he's allowed to have two books. These actions are clearly an open strategy, to destroy my father's physical health, and maybe mental too.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: How worried are you about him?
ROHER: Extremely worried. There's no doubt about it this regime has entered a new phase of
cruelty, of inhumanity, they are doing whatever they can, to destroy this man's spirit. And we have to call it what it is. He is being held in torturous conditions. All of the laundry list of techniques that they have to break his spirit are brutal and cruel and sadistic.
But the man is strong. His spirit remains unbroken. And that's something that everyone has to pay attention to. And I think my responsibility, and the responsibility, of everyone, around the world, who cares, about the future of Russia, and the future of Ukraine, needs to make sure that Navalny remains in the global consciousness.
Our film is available on Max, which used to be called HBO Max. People can watch it there. And they can learn about his story, and they can learn about Navalny. I think people have to know his name.
But what he's looking at is a very, very challenging ordeal. He's been through so much, and it seems like it's just getting started for him. And so, of course, that leaves the people care about him, terrified.
COLLINS: Yes, it's an incredible film. Everyone should watch it.
Daniel Roher, thank you, for joining us, tonight.
ROHER: Thank you for having me.
COLLINS: An important conversation.
Meanwhile, back here, a turn to the presidential politics that we are seeing play out, in the United States. GOP-hopeful Ron DeSantis, facing heat, for saying on day one that he would quote, "Start slitting throats," in federal government. He's walking it back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL), (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You guys, know. It's I mean, come on, it's a figure -- figure a speech.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: Florida governor, Ron DeSantis, taking a baby step away, from Donald Trump, today, after he was asked about the former President's repeated lies that the 2020 election was stolen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DESANTIS: Was not an election that was conducted the way I think we want to. But that's different than saying like Maduro stole votes, or something like that. And I think those theories, you know, proved to be unsubstantiated.
(END VIDEO CLIP) COLLINS: It may not seem like much. But those comments, from DeSantis, are actually some of the most direct that he has made, about the former President's defeat, in 2020. I mean, previously, when he was asked about those claims, the claims that are not true, about fraud, he dodged the question, usually would pivot to other topics.
These comments, from DeSantis, come, just one day, after Trump pleaded not guilty, to those charges, related to his alleged plot, to overturn the 2020 election.
With me, to discuss this, tonight, Democratic strategist, Karen Finney; and former Republican Congressman of Pennsylvania, Charlie Dent.
CHARLIE DENT, (R) FORMER PENNSYLVANIA CONGRESSMAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF ASPEN INSTITUTE CONGRESSIONAL PROGRAM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. Yes, why now? Hey, that was a start.
I suspect maybe Trump has gotten under his skin. I think he's called Ron DeSantis, just about every name in the book, from "Meatball," to "DeSanctis," to "DeSanctimonious." Trump is just wailing on him all the time.
And so, he took a little step here. But he's going to have to be much more aggressive than he has been, if he wants to defeat Trump, in a primary. But so, I guess, better late than never. And this is a small step.
COLLINS: But is it a sign that his comments, maybe that Trump's legal exposure, Republicans are trying to take advantage of it?
KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: You know?
COLLINS: Or does it not go far enough for you?
FINNEY: It seemed like he was trying to split the difference, between those, that third of the party, that is with Donald Trump, and believes -- still believes 2020 wasn't legit, and those who don't.
Because, as we saw, earlier this week, in that New York Times/Siena poll, the national version of that poll, the path is so slim, he's got to pick off just a little bit of those folks, who think 2020 was not legit, and win over a portion, of the Republican primary electorate that really is over it.
FINNEY: So, it seemed like he was trying to have it both ways, actually.
COLLINS: Well I'm glad you brought that poll up, because that was a national poll. The New York Times released and -- Siena released their version of the Iowa poll. Trump is still ahead of DeSantis. It's not as dominant, as the national poll. But Trump, 44 percent with Republicans in Iowa, to 20 percent.
I mean, do you see any kind of acknowledgement, from DeSantis that he needs to do something different here, with his campaign?
DENT: Well, I don't know if he sees it or not. But if he or any of these other candidates want to break through, they are going to have to tear the bark off of Donald Trump. They can't wait for Jack Smith to do it. They're hoping that the legal system will take him down.
But other than Chris Christie, Will Hurd, and Asa Hutchinson, all the rest of them are either basically reinforcing Trump's message, that he is a victim of a witch-hunt of a Deep State, of a corrupt justice system. They're reinforcing Trump by doing that. Even those, who are straddling, are also reinforcing Trump. And that's part of the reason why Trump, I believe, is still so strong.
If you had 10 or 11 candidates, out there, just savaging Trump, every day, over these indictments, explaining why he is such a great risk to the country, and to the party--
COLLINS: You don't think that would just boost Trump?
DENT: No, I think if enough people are yelling and screaming? It takes leadership. Republicans have to understand, to take down Donald Trump, it will have to be done, politically. They're hoping the legal system has it but -- does it. But if he gets convicted, he'll still be running.
FINNEY: But, well, Charlie, they're not going to do it.
DENT: They have to.
FINNEY: I mean, again, as the poll showed us, 37 percent of the Republican primary electorate, they are with him. So, that says to me--
FINNEY: --that Kevin McCarthy is not going to change his rhetoric, anytime soon. And then it's going to continue to put that pressure on the fractured Republican Party, where there's some, who are ready to move on, and some, who don't.
And the Iowa version of the poll was interesting, because for Iowans? And again, it was a small sample size. I think we should be careful. It said, I think, it was almost 50 percent said they are open to voting for someone else. So, I think the question in Iowa is can someone, like Tim Scott, who actually got a little bump, and got a little bump, in New Hampshire?
COLLINS: He's three times in Iowa, what he is nationally.
FINNEY: Yes, exactly. And people seem to like him, right? So, if he can kind of creep up, and let Trump and DeSantis duke it out, maybe that's another pathway. COLLINS: How much do donors have a say in this? I mean, Robert Bigelow, who is the biggest -- he's the hotel entrepreneur. He is the biggest individual donor, to DeSantis, so far.
And he's telling Reuters, tonight, that he's not going to donate more money, until he sees him shift to moderates. He says he's going to lose if he stays with the extremists. And he essentially was saying that he needs to see him also generating more interest, from other donors.
He's clearly -- I mean, that's the perception.
COLLINS: And that's the concern, we've heard from other candidates.
DENT: Well that donor just identified the problem that Ron DeSantis has. Ron DeSantis is trying to be Trump-lite. I'm going to be -- he'll be Trump without all the drama.
But he's also finding out that by taking that campaign, to the extent of grievance politics, Disney, the transgender, and abortion, he's finding out that a lot of the non-Trump voters don't want that. They don't want that.
So, he's -- so basically, DeSantis is trying to figure out a way, to unite the non-Trump voters. He's not very good at it, because he's really playing hard to the Trumpian wing of the party. Well, as this donor acknowledges, it's not really playing to a significant number of Republicans, who are really being turned off, by the DeSantis message.
So, I hope more donors speak up like that, because this is a problem, for the whole Republican Party. You look at the state committees, all over the country, in Pennsylvania, Michigan, these parties are struggling, because the wacko fringe has taken over the party, and people -- serious people won't send money.
COLLINS: Karen, I have your take on this, because--
COLLINS: --yes, I wrote this (ph), ending on that note.
But DeSantis has made this promise of downsizing federal agencies, a staple on the campaign trail.
COLLINS: I mean he essentially talks about it everywhere. A lot of the Republicans do. But it's really been his thing.
But he is now clarifying comments he made about what he would do, on day one, when it came to the federal government in office.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DESANTIS: And then, on bureaucracy, you know, we're going to have all these Deep State people, you know, we're going to start slitting throats, on day one.
Well, you guys, know. It's I mean, come on, it's a figure -- figure a speech, with that. But it should be taken to mean we want accountability.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FINNEY: He's such a jerk. He's such a bully and a jerk. And he has such a lack of awareness that particularly coming from him, because he does a lot of this macho tough-guy speak that when you talk about "I'm going to go in there and slit throats," people think that's what him -- not that they literally think he's going to slit throats, but they take it as more than just a figure of speech.
The other thing about this that I always hate is, it's so duplicitous, because anybody, who has ever been in Washington, knows what it would take, to actually get rid of the federal workforce. It's just not going to happen. So, it's like a great thing to beat up on. But it would practically is ridiculous.
COLLINS: The idea that I think some people would be open to the idea of, minimizing some of the agencies, making their presence--
COLLINS: --not as bloated, as it is. But it's the way he said.
COLLINS: I mean we also have some Republicans saying they'll get rid of the FBI, and, you know?
DENT: Well it's, again, it was a figure of speech. But it was a dumb thing for him to do.
And in fact, he's had other bad moments. He, just last week, I think, he said that he would consider appointing Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., to lead the Centers for Disease Control, or the FDA, Food Drug Administration. But--
COLLINS: Which he also walked back.
DENT: I mean, but in what world? I mean, those organizations are led by distinguished doctors in life sciences, people with PhDs. That's what it's about. I mean, this is -- to put a quack in there? I mean, just, this is crazy. So, I mean, so he's had that, plus the slavery issue.
FINNEY: Your words, not mine, so, hey.
DENT: I mean, it's just a crazy thing to do.
DENT: And slitting throats? I mean, not helpful.
FINNEY: It's just the more mistakes you make, the more people--
FINNEY: --think you're not ready.
COLLINS: Not a great visual.
FINNEY: Not simply.
COLLINS: Karen Finney, Charlie Dent, great convo, on a Friday night. Thank you, both.
All right, an unannounced trip, to Ukraine, by DeSantis' other 2024 rival, Chris Christie. He is now the second Republican-hopeful, to visit the nation at war. A big divide, in their party, over U.S. aid to Ukraine, but also, our results of a new CNN poll that may surprise you about American sentiment overall.
COLLINS: Chris Christie trading the campaign trail, for a warzone. The Republican presidential candidate met with Ukrainian president, Zelenskyy, during an unannounced trip, to the war-torn country, today.
The former New Jersey governor also visited battle-scarred areas. He is now the second GOP candidate, to visit Ukraine, and meet with Zelenskyy. Mike Pence obviously was in there -- was there in June.
Their support, though, stands in contrast, to several of their rivals, including Donald Trump, the front-runner, who refused to say, who he wanted to win the war, Russia or Ukraine. And Governor Ron DeSantis, who decided to walk back his prior claim that it was just a territorial dispute.
I'm joined now by CNN's Senior Political Commentator, Adam Kinzinger, obviously former Republican congressman, from Illinois.
Congressman, thanks for joining me, tonight.
71 percent of your party, Republicans, say that Congress shouldn't authorize new funding. 59 percent, based on the CNN poll, say that the U.S. has already done enough, to assist Ukraine.
I mean, what is the impact, of someone, who was running, for the Republican nomination, given those numbers, going to Ukraine?
ADAM KINZINGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, (R) FORMER ILLINOIS CONGRESSMAN, HONORARY CHAIRMAN, COUNTRY FIRST PAC: Well, first off, it's good leadership. This is the thing, when it comes to foreign policy, you can't -- leaders have to lead on that. They have to explain what America's interest is. They have to explain
the fact, for instance, in this case that Ukraine is doing the fighting that otherwise we would have to do. It's the most, the best way to keep American boots off of the ground.
On the broader scale, so for like the whole country, I do blame the Administration, for not better-explaining both how we're tracking the money, what this actually is, et cetera.
On the Republican side, they're just going to do the opposite, basically, of what Joe Biden wants. I'd blame nobody, except the leaders of the Republican Party, who have gone along, with the Twitter trolls, out there, and the Tucker Carlsons, simply because it seems easier, at the moment.
So, Chris Christie going and doing this, and Mike Pence, earlier, it's good to see. And I would love to see other candidates, frankly, go do that.
COLLINS: Yes. CNN has also learned that top U.S. and European officials are worried that Putin is kind of factoring in the election, to his war-planning. Basically, they believe that he believes and is hoping a Biden loss will lead to the U.S. curtailing its support, for Ukraine, and would help his negotiating position. I mean, what do you make of that?
KINZINGER: Well, it's true. I mean, and it's a sad thing that a former President, who I really feel like is losing his mind, is going insane, but he can say things like this. People don't take what he says seriously, but it has a real impact on people's lives.
I think if Vladimir Putin knew that Joe Biden was going to stay, in supporting Ukraine, and that Donald Trump would come in and support Ukraine, as well, it would be a huge motivation, for him, to end the war, even not on his terms.
So instead, what he's hoping to do, Kaitlan, is to spend human lives, to buy time. He can throw meat into the meat grinder to buy days, in the off chance that Donald Trump can win.
So, this is why it's important, for the Biden administration, not just to do the bare minimum, not just to wait till the pressure gets strong enough, to send like ATACMS and F-16s. They need to send everything Ukraine needs, now. By the way, we have great -- we have a great ability, to track that they're using it correctly. He needs to do that now, to end the war, as soon as we can.
COLLINS: Something else that's happening, tonight. Senator Tuberville is, in my home state, introducing Donald Trump, at a Republican dinner, in Montgomery.
This comes -- today, we saw Secretary Austin, at the Pentagon, issue new guidance, about basically how leadership roles there will be reshuffled, he believes, because of the hold that Tuberville has, on these Military nominations and confirmations.
I mean, look at the wall. This is the Joint Chiefs of Staff. There is now another empty spot, after the Chief of the Staff of the Army retired, and his replacement has not been confirmed.
I mean, did you ever think that the Defense Secretary would have to issue new guidance, on how Pentagon leadership, is going to work, because of a member of your party?
KINZINGER: No. And I'll tell you what I never expected is that basically the Democrats would be the pro-Military party, and that they would almost be the more hawkish party than Republicans are. And that's what's happened. It's been this weird switch.
And for Tommy to do -- the Senator, I'll call him, I guess, respectively, to do this, is really damaging the Military, not just, in terms of the promotions. But it's politicizing the last bastion of government that shouldn't be politicized.
We've already politicized the Supreme Court. We politicized, obviously, Congress, the presidency, the FBI now, everything is politicized, except the Military. And he's doing his best to do it. People, like him, people, like Josh Hawley that go out, and they tweet these ads, about how great the Russian army is, because they have like these manly ads? The Russian army is getting crushed on the battlefield.
I have disagreements with some of the things that Pentagon does. I spend a lot of my time, in the Military, doing computer-based training that I don't need to. But that doesn't mean we're not the most lethal force. And that doesn't mean you play politics, with a political issue, simply because it's going to get you attention.
COLLINS: Former congressman, Adam Kinzinger, thank you for your time.
KINZINGER: You bet.
COLLINS: It's their job, to protect the former President. We saw the Secret Service go to court, with Trump, as a criminal defendant, yesterday. But what would his security detail do, if he actually had to go to prison?
A former agent is with me, next.
COLLINS: We are now at three indictments, for Donald Trump. That means three bookings, for a not-so-average defendant.
Of course, Trump, yesterday, following most of the standard protocols, fingerprinted, answered a series of questions, about his age, his date of birth, his middle name, escorted into the courtroom, where he entered that not-guilty plea, before the magistrate judge. But the big difference here, of course, is wherever the former President goes, the Secret Service goes with him, raising the question of if Trump got convicted, and sentenced to prison, what would incarceration look like, for a former U.S. President? Something we've never seen too before.
Here to break it all down for us is a former Secret Service agent, Evy Poumpouras.
So, glad to have you back.
I mean, this needs a million caveats, because obviously, he hasn't been convicted of anything. There could be appeals. There could be pleas. I mean, there could be so many, we don't know what the punishment would look like, either.
But the idea that this is even something, people are talking about, the idea of what this would look like, and given they have Secret Service protection, for life, how would that work?
EVY POUMPOURAS, FORMER SECRET SERVICE AGENT, AUTHOR, "BECOMING BULLETPROOF": I actually don't think it's going to be very difficult. He is going to a very secure location.
So, depending on what prison he goes, federal or state, because he's also being charged, in New York, through the state, Miami, D.C., they're charging him federally. So, there's also a difference between the prisons. If you want to go to prison, you want to go to a federal prison. They're typically safer. State prisons tend to have more violent offenders there. So, that's one thing.
The other thing is they already have their own security set up. So Bureau of Prisons, let's say, he goes federal, they've got their own system set up. It's already safe. You're actually looking at less manpower, less resources, less money, definitely less money, for taxpayers. So, when I see that I see him going to an already-secure facility.
The kicker comes in, and well, who's he going to be with, right?
POUMPOURAS: Where are they actually going to put him? And so, I could see them, actually moving people around, or inmates around, to try to figure out, who to put him near. Which is interesting, because usually, we would always name-check people to see if they would have a criminal record, whenever anybody goes near their President.
COLLINS: But all those people have a criminal record.
POUMPOURAS: They're all going to have criminal records.
So having said that, I would look for offenders, who have non-violent crime. That's the number one thing we want. Then, we also want to look at re-offenders. If you have somebody, who's reoffending over and over and over again, that tends to be somebody a bit more hardened. So, I would want first-time offenders. So, the idea would be you can probably maybe pick, shuffle people around, and put those people there.
But at the end of the day, it's a secure environment. Secret Service will probably give him what's called shift agents. Shift is when you see agents, who accompany the Presidents, when you see him coming out of Air Force One, Marine One. It's the group, the contingency that walks around him. That's what you might see, and detail leaders, so somebody kind of to shadow him around.
What I was fascinated by is the Washington Post wrote a story, on this today. They actually reached out, to the Secret Service, where obviously, you used to work, and they asked them, just to comment.
But they said, we don't have a comment, because this is unprecedented. There is no policy for this. This is not something we've ever had to deal with before.
I mean how do you even go about creating a structure and a policy for that?
POUMPOURAS: I don't think that you need a policy for it.
Because when you do protection? So the President goes somewhere? Let's say the President comes here. I'm going to do in advance of this location. I'm going to check out the structure, the ways in, the ways out, the security plan. I'm going to look at all of it.
So, at the end of the day, it doesn't matter, where he goes. The advanced does its thing. They do a thorough assessment.
COLLINS: Even if it's prison?
POUMPOURAS: Even if it's prison. I'm telling you, prison is just, it's secure. It's already got the manpower there. They already got it locked down. They're already magneto -- they've got their magnetometers. They're securing everybody. So, to me, I see that as a safe place.
Now, is it a strange thing to go to work, and to say, "I'm going to work to secure the president in prison?" Yes, I think, from the psychological factor, that does play a, you know, is relevant.
But I also look at it, if we look at it from an international level, there have been so many heads of state, all over the world, who have gone from Prime Minister and President, to going to prison.
COLLINS: Evy Poumpouras, we will see what happens, of course. Thank you so much, for your expertise, tonight.
POUMPOURAS: Thank you. COLLINS: Up next, a social media influencer, who has 10 million followers, promoted a giveaway stunt, and key word there is, "Stunt." Thousands showed up in New York City, it caused absolute chaos. Dozens were arrested, including the Twitch streamer himself.
And also, it is happening, Simone Biles is back, the most decorated gymnast of all time, ready to wow the world again.
COLLINS: Thousands of people, as you can see here, swarming New York City's Union Square, this afternoon, prompting Police, to mobilize what is known as a Level 4 response, to the commotion that you see here. That is the city's highest level disaster response.
It all started, because a social media star's promise, of free Play Stations, computers, and other items, drew people to the area.
Joining me now, CNN Correspondent, and a social media star himself, Donie O'Sullivan.
No, I just wanted to laugh, backstage.
DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm not on Twitch though.
COLLINS: OK. Donie, but honestly, this was a crazy scene. Everyone in New York was talking about this. What happened?
O'SULLIVAN: Yes, I mean, this was, you can see the pictures here. They're quite scary. And a lot of people were hurt. Nobody, thankfully, seriously. And 65 people were arrested there today, 30 of whom are individuals.
As you mentioned, a social media influencer, social media star, promised Play Stations, other free consoles, items, to give away, in Union Square, right here, in the middle of Manhattan. None of that materialized. But what did materialize was essentially a mob.
COLLINS: But he himself was arrested?
O'SULLIVAN: He was arrested. And he is now being charged, we've just learned, in the last hour, with two counts of inciting a riot, and unlawful assembly.
And look, I think, every now and then we get reminded of how things are happening, online and on the internet that, we might not necessarily think about every day. You might remember, a few years ago, there was the GameStop--
O'SULLIVAN: --stock play, which happened on Reddit.
And now, you see this, where somebody, with a follower, a person, an influencer, this guy, Kai Cenat, who a lot of -- most people probably have never heard of, has this huge following, on social media, and can mobilize people, in the space of a few hours, to have a kind of dangerous situation, play out like this.
And that NYPD Police Chief spoke a little bit about that, and just the dangers of this, on social media. Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFFREY MADDREY, CHIEF OF THE NEW YORK POLICE DEPARTMENT: Well this speaks to the power of social media, and the dangers of social media. We do monitor social media. When I go back later on, this evening, I will have an after-action, to determine exactly what our steps were. We can't allow this to happen again in the future.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'SULLIVAN: So, this influencer promised -- he's on Twitch, which is a streaming platform. It's kind of most associated with gamers. A lot of people will not have heard of it. But if you have a teenager, in your house, you probably have heard of it. But it's not just gamers that are using these platforms. We know AOC, other members of Congress, are on these platforms.
And this guy was also streaming, on YouTube, where I think he has something more than like 3 million followers. And look, that is really where young people, teenagers, are going, not just every day, but multiple times a day.
The Pew, last year, Research Center, came out with data showing that 60 percent, 6-0-percent of teenagers, of all teenagers, in the U.S., watch YouTube, go to YouTube, multiple times a day. So, this is all kind of playing out in a universe. We often talk about the political influence, of Facebook and everything like that. But there's this kind of whole other universe, of really essentially superstars, on these platforms.
COLLINS: And the pull of it is so clear. I mean, he posts this, and then he -- go this -- I think that's such an important part that it never actually materialized.
O'SULLIVAN: It didn't materialize. And also, it's kind of like, I think a lot of people, who were there today, they are super-fans of, you know, this guy is one of their heroes. Kind of all he does, online, is kind of do pranks, and streams, for many hours a day.
So, I think, a lot of people also showed up, not so much just for the Play Stations, but to see this guy. It'd be like if the Alabama--
COLLINS: They probably thought you were going to be there.
O'SULLIVAN: --it'd be like if Alabama football team were showing up, you'd be down there. You'd be jumping on cars, but.
COLLINS: Politely, though.
Donie O'Sullivan, thank you very much.
COLLINS: And we have some good news, to end the night here, tonight. The most decorated gymnast, of all time, is back.
Simone Biles is set to compete, at the U.S. Classic, in Illinois, tomorrow. This is her first competition, in two years, after she withdrew, from the Tokyo Olympics, citing the immense pressure, and her own concerns, about her mental health. At the time, Biles said that she suffered from what she called the "Twisties," a mental block, essentially, that causes gymnasts, to lose track of their position, mid-air.
With this event, tomorrow though, she is hoping to qualify, for the National Championships, and take her first step, toward the Olympics, in 2024. And, of course, we are all wishing her the best of luck.
Thank you so much, for joining us, on what was an incredibly busy newsweek.
"CNN PRIMETIME" with Laura Coates starts, right now.
LAURA COATES, CNN HOST, CNN PRIMETIME: Hey, what was so busy about it? Was there like big news, this week, Kaitlan? I can't quite tell.
COLLINS: I took a few trains, this week. I'll just say that. Back and forth, from New York to D.C.
COATES: You know what?