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The Source with Kaitlan Collins

Just In: Judge To Schedule Hearing This Week; Ukraine Says It Foiled Plot To Assassinate President Zelenskyy; Katie Ledecky On Breaking Michael Phelps' Record. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired August 07, 2023 - 21:00   ET



HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: They say it is OK, for women, to wear shorts.


ENTEN: But it is not OK, for men, to wear shorts. That feels a little sexist, to me.


ENTEN: But I don't know what's going on.

COOPER: I don't think such a rule would be allowed to, if it wasn't, across the board, right?

ENTEN: I believe in equality, for the genders.

COOPER: Sure. Harry, thanks very much.

ENTEN: Thank you.

COOPER: I don't know what that was about.

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

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST: Straight from THE SOURCE, tonight, we could potentially hear, any moment, from the judge, overseeing the 2020 election interference case.

As we wait, the Special Counsel's team just swung back at Trump, and his lawyers, after they complained that his free speech rights could be limited if there's a non-disclosure order, over evidence, in the case.

Of course, this is also coming, as we are learning more, about a foiled plot, in Ukraine, when it comes to Ukrainian president Zelenskyy. What we are hearing about this informant, who was apparently passing along key Intelligence, about the Ukrainian leader.

Also tonight, we have one of the greatest athletes of all time, here to join us. Katie Ledecky has just swum her way, into the World Record books, once again, defeating Michael Phelps, taking out one of his titles that he once previously held. We'll talk to her live, in just a moment.

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

As we noted, tonight, we are waiting to potentially hear, any moment, from the judge, overseeing the 2020 election interference case.

As we wait, the Special Counsel's team has just responded, to Trump, and his attorneys, from a filing that they sent in, just about three hours ago, where they complained that his free speech rights could be limited, if there's a non-disclosure order, over evidence, in the case. They want the judge, to put measures, in place, so Trump can't publicly share some of that evidence.

Jack Smith is now arguing that the former President's team is basically trying to try the case, in the press, saying, quote, "The defendant seeks to use the discovery material to litigate this case in the media." Smith shared complaints, about the case that Trump's newest defense attorney, John Lauro, made in five different television interviews, yesterday.

This all came right after Trump's post, on Friday night, where he wrote in all capital letters, "IF YOU GO AFTER ME, I'M COMING AFTER YOU." Trump's attorneys are now arguing that was a reference to political adversaries, not legal ones.

All of this is coming as CNN is also learning, tonight, that security, for Judge Chutkan, has increased, at the Federal Courthouse, in Washington, as Trump is stepping up his attacks on her, publicly insisting that she recuse herself, from his case.

We've also learned exclusively that Trump's ally, Bernie Kerik, met with Special Counsel, and their investigators, today. He, of course, is the disgraced New York -- former New York City Police Commissioner. And his attorney says that they mainly focused on what Rudy Giuliani was doing, after the 2020 election.

Of course, all of that means this investigation goes on. So, what does this mean for Trump's legal case, and how the judge here is planning to handle it, could say a lot, on how she rules.

Perspective now, from retired California Superior Court Judge, LaDoris Hazzard Cordell.

Judge, thank you so much, for joining me, tonight.


COLLINS: As I was noting, just a few moments ago, we heard, from the Special Counsel. They're responding to the Trump team, over this protective order.

And part of what they said, and I'm quoting the Special Counsel's team now is "The defendant has proposed an unreasonable order to facilitate his plan to litigate this case in the media, to the detriment of litigating this case in the courtroom." They say, "Normal order should prevail." And, of course, this is a point they made repeatedly, throughout the filing.

What do you make of that response?

HAZZARD CORDELL: Well, it's important to know that a protective order is asked for evidence that's being handed over, in discovery. Discovery happens, in a criminal case. Prosecutors turn over information to the defense. Not all information in discovery is admissible in court. It might be deemed to be irrelevant or too prejudicial.

So, what Trump's people want is to take all of this information, no matter what it is, whether or not it is admissible, and put it all out there, for the world, to see. And the problem with that, of course, is that what that does is inflame the jury, it gets potential jurors, and it gets them to see information that perhaps they would not ever see, if they were selected of jurors to be in a trial.

I presided over nearly 20 years, I was on the bench, over lots of criminal cases. Some of them got media attention. And never once did I ever have a defendant ever take discovery, and then go put it all out, for everyone to see. It just doesn't happen.


HAZZARD CORDELL: So, I think it's absolutely appropriate, to issue a protective order, in this case.

COLLINS: Yes, it sounds like you think that that's a genuine concern that Jack Smith's team has here?

HAZZARD CORDELL: Absolutely. All of this information just should not be put out. It's up to the judge, to decide what information will come into the trial.

So, to put it all out there, there's only one purpose, and that is to just inflame people, and to influence people, who might be jurors, in the case, which is all inappropriate. The case should be tried, in the courtroom, with decisions made about what evidence is admissible, and what is not.


COLLINS: And I think you just made a really important point.

And I want to get to what Trump's team is saying about this.

But what you just made is a really important point that this is a protective order. This is not asking for a gag order, which would mean that he can't basically speak at all, publicly, about this case.

And my understanding is that a protective order is a pretty standard move, this early on, in a criminal prosecution, like this.

HAZZARD CORDELL: Absolutely. This is standard procedure. And so, what people are seeing is a playbook for how to delay a criminal case. Just delay, delay, delay, so pick at everything. So, this is standard information.

And again, the key is we want to have a fair trial for both sides. And the only way to do that is for a judge to determine what is admissible evidence and what is not. And it cannot happen, if all of the discovery is then just thrown out, by Trump's side, and just everyone, in the public, and the media, gets to see it, when it may not even be relevant, or appropriate, in the case.

COLLINS: And here's how Trump's team is arguing. So, their deadline was 5 o'clock today. Then, we just saw Jack Smith's team respond, to what they said.

But Trump's team was basically arguing, and I'm quoting from their filing, now. They say, "In a trial about First Amendment rights, the government seeks to restrict First Amendment rights. Worse, it does so against its administration's primary political opponent, during an election season in which the administration, prominent party members, and media allies have campaigned on the indictment and proliferated its false allegations."

I mean, how do you think Judge Chutkan will read that argument, from the Trump team?

HAZZARD CORDELL: Well, I don't think she's going to give it much merit at all. And I hope she doesn't spend much time on it. An election is not a trial. They're two distinct things.

And what they're basically saying is, First Amendment, they clearly, his lawyers, and Trump, do not understand the meaning of the First Amendment. This has nothing to do with First Amendment.

This has everything to do with making sure there is a fair trial. And the only person in charge of doing that? It's not Trump. It is the judge, in this case. Her rulings will determine how the trial will proceed. And she will follow all of the rules, and therefore ensure that there's going to be a fair trial, for both sides.

COLLINS: Depending on how quickly she issues a response, I mean, what will you read into that? Because it's not just what she decides here? It's also the scope of it, but also how quickly she responds. Do you think that will signify, I mean, how quickly she plans to move this case along?

HAZZARD CORDELL: Absolutely. And it's a very good point. Just as she responded very quickly, when they wanted a continuance that she shut that down, I think, her response is not going to be "Come back to me in 90 days. And I'll give you a written decision."

I think this judge understands that time is important. And she also knows what kinds of issues are important. This is not a big deal. What the Trump side has said, "Well, we want kind of a compromise." No.

Either, in my view, either, the protective order gets granted, or it does not, my view is she will grant it, because it's not an infringement, on anyone's First Amendment rights. COLLINS: When prosecutors were arguing, for this first, on Friday night, as we were talking about, on this show, then, they cited a post that Trump had, from Friday night, the one that we just read that was in all caps, pretty vague, but threatening, saying, mildly threatening, saying, "IF YOU GO AFTER ME, I'M COMING AFTER YOU."

I mean, how much does something like that, if you're a judge, making this decision, how much does that factor into her call here?

HAZZARD CORDELL: Right. So, I don't know necessarily that that quote impacts the protective order. But that certainly get me thinking, if I were the trial judge, about a gag order, in this case. It's clearly a threat.

And a good trial judge doesn't just look at the law. You use commonsense. And anyone looking at commonsense, looking at what he has posted, and the timing of when he posted it, raises another issue. Whether or not this person and the team should be told, and this is true on both sides, just to say we're going to have a mutual gag order. And I would expect that may come next.

And I'm afraid that what after that if indeed, the gag order is issued, which is not a First Amendment issue at all. It's basically saying, "Don't talk about this outside of the courtroom." My guess is Trump would violate it in a heartbeat. And then, we'll see what the judge does, in terms of consequences, for violating yet another court order.

COLLINS: So, you think there will be a gag order here, at least you think that there should be?

HAZZARD CORDELL: Oh, I absolutely can see it coming, because this man cannot shut up. He's a Chatty Charlie. And he's going to just talk and talk. And he really doesn't care about rules, and about saying -- the rules that say you can speak or cannot speak.

So, this is where the test of a good trial judge comes about. If you're going to have a fair trial, it's going to be by the rules, set by that person, in a black robe. And if the rules are, you do not talk about this, other than in the court, because it's not punishment, is to ensure a fair trial? If that doesn't happen, there have to be -- there has to be immediate consequence, to violating a court order. Only in that way, can everyone have respect for the system.


COLLINS: Yes, and we know what the Trump team response would be is that he's a candidate for president, and he's running. He has his free speech rights.

We'll see what the judge does decide, here, on the protective order, first.

Judge, thank you, so much, for joining us, tonight, Judge Cordell.

HAZZARD CORDELL: Sure. My pleasure. COLLINS: I'm joined now by our panel of legal experts.

Karen Friedman Agnifilo, who is the Chief Assistant District Attorney, under former Manhattan District Attorney, Cy Vance.

And also, with us, Nick Akerman, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

Thank you both for being here. Obviously, a key question, of what the judge is going to decide, which could be any moment, Nick is, is how broad the scope of this protective order is. Do you agree with the judge there that the points of it, the real concern, about Trump, potentially sharing some of this evidence that Jack Smith's team has?


And what's most amazing here, Kaitlan, what's most amazing is they agreed to the precise same order, protective order, in the Miami case. And it's the same protective order, in essence that went into effect in the New York prosecution.

So, this is just, as the judge said, nothing but a technique, to try and delay this, try and drag it out, try and have hearings, try and have more motions. I don't think the judge is going to put up with this.

COLLINS: Well, and let me ask you, Karen, because we did just hear from the judge. She has signaled that she is going to hold a hearing, this week, on this dispute, on what restrictions should be imposed, on what evidence is going to be shared. She's told the parties to come with by 3 PM, tomorrow, two options, for when that hearing could be held.

I mean, are you surprised by any of this? Or is this what you expected to happen?

KAREN FRIEDMAN AGNIFILO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, so if you just back up a little bit, Trump was just arraigned, last week, on this case, right? He was just released, from custody.

Because, when he was arrested, he was in custody. And when he was released, the judge imposed certain conditions, right? And one of them was, don't commit any new crimes, don't threaten, just standard --

COLLINS: What he says (ph).

FRIEDMAN AGNIFILO: Exactly. Exactly. And that night, he tweets this, "If you're coming after me, I'm coming after you."

And, I think, it really flies in the face of just commonsense that it was -- he wasn't referring to them. I mean, just like when he had the baseball bat, pictured next to Alvin Bragg's head, and then he says, "No, I was just, you know, American-made baseball bats." I mean, he says things that are just -- don't make any sense. And I think this is like that as well. And the judge, in another case, OK, if it was not Donald Trump? If you had somebody, who tried to steal an election, take over the Capitol, has three open indictments, 78 charges, was released, and then threatened the prosecutors and the judge? Any other defendant would be put in, he would be incarcerated. So, this defendant is already being treated leniently and differently than everybody else.

And this -- Jack Smith, going and saying, "We just want a protective order," is a very mild step, to try and protect his First Amendment rights, while he's running for office, but also protect the integrity of the case.

COLLINS: Yes. And so, we see what Trump himself is arguing. We also see what his attorneys are arguing.

And John Lauro is one of them, who was on several networks, yesterday, making this argument, and specifically this was about Pence, and the role he plays in this.


COLLINS: And what Trump was pressuring Pence to do, and asking him to do.

This was John Lauro's defense of that.


JOHN LAURO, TRUMP ATTORNEY: You're saying that asking is action. No, asking is aspirational. Asking is not action. It's core free speech.

What President Trump did not do is direct Vice President Pence to do anything.


COLLINS: That contradicts a key point, in the indictment. They say he did pressure him to do it.

AKERMAN: Of course, he did.

And if he was aspirational? Sure, he was aspiring to be a major crook. He was bypassing Richard Nixon in the crookbook. I mean, he was essentially putting together, a major scheme, to steal the election, from Joe Biden.

He did that by, first of all, setting up this elaborate scheme, in all of the battleground States, with fake electors that claimed to be the legitimate electors, for those States, for Trump, so that Mike Pence could then go into the Senate, and count the vote, and basically count the fake electors, and declare the election, for Donald Trump.

And then, they changed the scheme, after Mike Pence refused to do that. Then they tried to get him to send it back to the States, so the state legislatures would vote in the fake electors. And all of this is in the context of all of the pressure that was put on, by Donald Trump, on the various state officials, who he was trying to get to change the vote.

COLLINS: Well, and he's still going after Pence, also, on social media. I mean, he posted yesterday, talking about how he's gone to the dark side, criticizing him. It's coming, as John Lauro's arguing Mike Pence could be their best witness, was his argument.


But Karen, can we go back to just the breaking news that we're getting, about the judge, scheduling the hearing, this week? Basically giving them until 3 PM tomorrow, to come up with two options of when that hearing could happen.

Is that a hearing where Trump's team would go into it, Jack Smith's team would go into it, and we would get a decision by the end of it, over what this could look like on this?

FRIEDMAN AGNIFILO: Potentially, she could rule from the bench, or she could rule afterward. We see she's been so swiftly ruling, and making decisions that I don't anticipate her allowing this to drag on.

I mean, all judges now know that Trump's number one tactic, is to delay cases, right? He has filed countless numbers of both civil cases, all across the country. And in his criminal cases, he just wants to delay. He doesn't want a trial in court. He wants his trial in the court of public opinion.

COLLINS: And that's why they don't want this protective order. Is that what you think it is?

FRIEDMAN AGNIFILO: Exactly. Exactly.


FRIEDMAN AGNIFILO: He wants to try this case in the court of public opinion.

COLLINS: We will see what the judge decides. We could -- we'll see when this hearing happens potentially as well.

Karen and Nick, thank you both, for being here.

Another week, another Trump indictment watch, a Georgia grand jury could be very close to a vote. We have someone, who just was subpoenaed, to testify, before them. The State's former Republican Lieutenant Governor, Geoff Duncan, is here.

Plus, a close call, after Ukraine foiled an alleged plot, to assassinate President Zelenskyy, arresting a female Russian informant. What she was said to be doing, when they found her.



COLLINS: Another potential legal headache, for the former President, this time, out of Fulton County, Georgia, where the District Attorney, Fani Willis, is wrapping up her own criminal probe, into efforts, to overturn the 2020 election results, in her State.

CNN has now learned that Georgia's former Republican Lieutenant Governor, Geoff Duncan, got a subpoena, to testify, before the grand jury, this month. He is the third witness -- the fourth witness that we know of, now, to have been subpoenaed, in what is the clearest sign that indictments are potentially coming, in this long-running investigation.

And Geoff Duncan joins me now.

Thank you, so much, for being here, tonight.

When did you get the subpoena? And when is it asking for you to appear?

GEOFF DUNCAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I'm going to certainly keep the details to myself, just to protect the integrity of the investigation.

But they're a very clear subpoena that was delivered to us, late last week. And we will certainly answer the questions that they've got before us, and answer their call, to show up for this -- for the grand jury.

COLLINS: OK. So, you got it late last week.

What do you expect that they're going to ask? I mean what areas? You know this. You witnessed it. What do you think that they're going to focus on with you?

DUNCAN: Well, I certainly have no idea what their exact questions are. And I've been an open book. I've literally written a book about this, and tried to change the direction, of the Republican Party. I saw this coming, just hours after the 2020 election, and saw the misinformation, the deluge, of false information, starting to flow out.

And it's just part of the game, right? It was this angry, visceral, loud, mistaken, conservatism, right? And that's really what Donald Trump has done, is confused Republicans, around the country that the louder you are, the angrier you are, the more conservative you are. And that couldn't be any more correct.

There's so many other things that played out, right? For me, one of the pinnacle, kind of broken moments, in this whole process, was the State Farm arena, right?

Here we have this kind of cooked-up, fake Senate hearing, that shows up, at the Georgia Capitol, that Rudy Giuliani put on, for the sole purpose, in my opinion, of releasing a spliced-up video, that he sold as pretty much a steady stream of video, and confused and created all kinds of rumors and conspiracy theories that ended up being 20, 30, 40, 50 cuts of reality, and delivered that.

And that really was a catalyst moment, for this whole process, right? It started to take those folks that were on the fence. Good, hardworking Republicans that were on the fence.

And all of a sudden, the President of the United States is telling that this is a real video. Rudy Giuliani and the entire apparatus are telling them it's real. And sure enough, it's not. It's just bits and pieces of misinformation.

COLLINS: Yes. Is it even clear who is behind that video, at this point?

DUNCAN: I certainly have no idea. But somebody certainly ordered a spliced-up video, for a particular purpose, I'm assuming. And somebody paid for it, right? So, I think that's the kind of information that's going to go.

And Kaitlan, for me, in the moment, right? So, there was very few of us. I felt like I was, you know, had a Dixie cup, bailing water, out of a boat, during this period of time, trying to save the Republican Party.

But, for me, the two things that just continued to catch me off guard, every minute of every day, was how coordinated so many of these things felt, but also how sloppy they were.

And that to me is really what's going to unpack, in all of these state and federal indictments, around theirs. They're going to have to answer for these fly by the seat of their pants, off the hip moments, where they were trying to basically subvert democracy.

COLLINS: A Dixie cup bailing water out of the boat. I'm going to have to use that word again, going forward.

I mean, but when you look at this, and you think that that's going to be a big part of this, given that you're getting a letter that three other people have also now gotten a subpoena here, how close, do you suspect, we are, potentially, to charges, in this investigation? I mean, do you know of anyone else, who's gotten a subpoena?

DUNCAN: I'm not aware of anybody else, at this moment. And I certainly have no expectations, as to timeline. I'll make myself available to answer the questions.

But, as a Republican, I sit here just really, really worried, right? I sense this anxiety of time is running out, for us, to do the right thing.

And, at some point, we're all going to have to show up, right? Candidates running for President, sitting members of the Congress, Republican governors around the country, are going to have to band together, and call for Donald Trump, to step aside, right?

These are really serious charges that we can act like they're not. We can listen to misinformation, the 10-second sound bites. But, at the end of the day, we're talking about trying to hire the next President of the United States. And, as a Republican, I do not want that to be Joe Biden. And if Donald Trump is our nominee, it will continue to be Joe Biden, for four more years.

COLLINS: Well, I want to ask you one more question, about the 2024 party.

But previously on, that call that Trump made to Georgia's Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger, is a key part of this investigation. I want to remind everyone of what happened, on that call, and how Trump's new defense attorney is describing it now.


DONALD TRUMP, 45TH U.S. PRESIDENT: But the ballots are corrupt. And you're going to find that they are -- which is totally illegal, it is more illegal for you than it is for them, because you know what they did, and you're not reporting it. That's a, you know, that's a criminal, that's a criminal offense.


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

LAURO: And what he was asking for, is the Secretary of State, to act appropriately, and find these votes that were counted illegally.


LAURO: That was an aspiring -- hold on one second. That was an aspirational ask.


COLLINS: Does that sound aspirational to you?

DUNCAN: It sounds dangerous and pathetic, in my opinion.

And, in that moment, when I heard that audiotape, for the first time, I had a sea of emotions, but probably led by embarrassment, right? Here, I was, at the time, take you back in time, we had a run-off, for two U.S. Senate seats that Donald Trump eventually lost for us, because of this pathetic attempt.

Look, like I said, we've got a lot of work to do. We've got a lot of medicine to take. I think Republicans, like many other people, in Donald Trump's past, are going to regret, ever being associated with him.

COLLINS: Do you think they will, though?

I mean, you're talking about governors standing up. Governor DeSantis is challenging Trump. He, you know, you talk about Republicans who don't speak out about Trump. He's just now acknowledging that Trump did lose the election. I mean, that comes as CNN's poll, 69 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning voters don't believe that Biden's win was legitimate.

Is it too late?

DUNCAN: I hope not, right? I'm one of those optimistic folks that think we can get our act together. I wish we would have gotten out of the gate stronger, as Republican candidates. I mean, it's not like, I haven't been out there, on the front lines, and others talking about a GOP 2.0, a better way forward.

Because, like I said, at the beginning of this, Kaitlan, Donald Trump has confused Republicans, from coast to coast, right, the angry and louder you are, meant the more conservative you are.

And the reality is we talk about "Build the wall." The wall was not built. We talked about draining the swamp. Swamp wasn't drained. We have a bigger mess today than when Donald Trump started.

And, as a Republican, who wants to win the White House, we've got to do better. And we've got to reach into this. And I just think it's going to take a Herculean effort.

But I'm up for the task. I'm up to be on the team, to try to help figure out, a way, to get as many people, on the same side of this, to call for Donald Trump, to step down and get out of this race, not just for the good of the Republican Party, but for the good of the country.

COLLINS: Geoff Duncan, just got a subpoena. Thank you so much, for joining us, to talk about what you could talk about with it.

DUNCAN: Thanks, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: Meanwhile, overseas, there is new information that we are getting, tonight, about a plot, to kill President Zelenskyy, and the female suspect, who is now in custody.



COLLINS: Some pretty stunning new details, tonight, about this alleged plot, to assassinate President Zelenskyy.

What we're hearing, from Ukrainian officials, is they say that they've detained an alleged Russian informant that had been gathering Intelligence, they say, on his planned visit to the region of Mykolaiv, last month.

But the Ukrainian Security Service is saying tonight is that that informant was working to help plan, a Russian airstrike that would kill the Ukrainian leader, and identify the location of Ukrainian ammunition stores. Obviously, that's been a key part of this entire counteroffensive, and war overall. Investigators identified the informant as a former saleswoman, from the region. They say they caught her quote, "Red-handed," attempting to pass Intelligence, on to the invaders. That is a quote, from the Ukrainian Security Service.

This is the backdrop of course, as Ukraine's continuing counteroffensive, targeting Russian infrastructure. Authorities in Russia say that two bridges, linking Crimea to the Russian-occupied territory, in Ukraine's Kherson region were hit with explosions, on Sunday.

Joining me now, for all of this, is retired U.S. Army Major Mike Lyons.

I'm so glad to have you here. You're so good with the big picture of all this. But on this assassination plot itself, A, I don't think it'd surprise anyone that they're trying to kill Zelenskyy. But B, it's that they're making this public, the Ukrainians are. What do you read into that?

MAJOR MIKE LYONS, U.S. ARMY (RET.): Well Kaitlan, I think this is a message that they're sending, to this network that likely exists, inside of Ukraine, of Russian spies, and telling them they're going to try to take this network down.

This wasn't a plot. She didn't have the weapon in her hand or anything like that. She was gathering that information that you said, very important ammunition stores, as well, where he travels.

But he's a target, no question about it. The Russians are pretty good at assassinations. And so, I think this is a signal that the SBU was sending, to the Russian spies, are saying, "We're on top of this, and we're going to continue to work it."

COLLINS: Yes. But we've seen the intense measures that they go to, to protect him. I mean, he never appears live, on camera.

LYONS: Right.

COLLINS: Anything he does is recorded.

Chris Christie was just talking about what the presidential palace looks like, I mean, the intense security there.

LYONS: Yes. And there's a new threat in here. And that's these loitering drones that if he knows --

COLLINS: Is this a drone war? Yes, you said --

LYONS: Oh, absolutely. Talking to actually somebody, over the weekend, about that about the number one thing from a -- from a non-lethal perspective, right now, is getting drones. Groups, like Spirit of America, they're an NGO that are trying to get enough information, from -- for drones that are collecting information, on Russia.

This has become a drone war. That's going to be the name of the game, right now, here. Not only the drones, but then thermal imaging type blankets that are protecting Ukrainian soldiers that are forward, so the Russians can't detect them. So, they want to have so much -- there's so many data points being established. This has become a drone war.

COLLINS: That's really fascinating, about the blankets. Obviously, they're trying to spot them on the frontlines.

LYONS: Right.

COLLINS: We're also learning about these explosions that hit these key bridges that essentially tie Crimea, which Russia illegally annexed, for those who don't know, in 2014 --


COLLINS: -- with other parts of Ukraine that are under Russian control.

I mean, how much of an impact does that have? And what does it say to you about where we are, as we're approaching two months, in this counteroffensive?

LYONS: We saw the pictures. There's a hole in one of the bridges there. They are designed to knock out that Eastern artery of --


LYONS: -- of the logistics and the ground lines of communication.

I'm not sure why they haven't done it sooner. They likely didn't have the capacity to do it. They came from the Storm Shadow missiles, probably from the U.K. that had that kind of range, in order to do that.

But this is how Ukraine can win. If they could cut off Crimea, threaten Crimea, keep it from being reinforced, then Russia is again, forced, to the negotiation table.

COLLINS: Yes. The other part of this are the Abrams tanks.


COLLINS: I mean we've been talking about these tanks so much. And we've now learned that the first shipment of them has been approved. They're expected to reach Ukraine, finally, by September. We'll see if they get there sooner. I mean, how critical will those be into shaping what this counteroffensive looks like?


LYONS: I think they have to hide where they're going to go. Because that's going to be where they're going to focus their offensive, when they get there.

But they're running out of time. The Ukrainian Army is running out of time. If they don't get there, and try to penetrate something, within, let's say, September, October timeframe? Now, we get into the rainy season. We get into the wintertime within Ukraine. Those roads are not going to be as passable as they were in the past.

All Vladimir Putin is trying to do is just hang on, until the spring, when we're now in the midst of our presidential election. And we have politicians, arguing over whether or not we should support this.

The only way Ukraine is going to continue to even compete is getting U.S. support, for two and three years, down the road, right now. That all could get cut off next spring. And that's where they're in trouble.

COLLINS: Yes, and we know that U.S. and European officials are worried that --


COLLINS: -- Putin is planning that very fact into his war-planning.


COLLINS: Major Mike Lyons, thanks for breaking it all down, for us, tonight.

My next guest was already the most decorated female swimmer, in history, before she broke Michael Phelps' world record. Now, Katie Ledecky is the greatest. But she has more greatness to achieve. And she is here to tell us about it, next.



COLLINS: This is the moment that Katie Ledecky smashed another record, and etched her name, in the history books, as the most decorated swimmer of all time.

The 26-year-old Americans surpassed Michael Phelps, for the most career individual world titles, with 16. And she did it with a runaway victory, in the 800-meter freestyle, at the World Championships, in Japan.

And Katie Ledecky joins me now.

And Katie, I have to tell you, you are probably everyone's guess that they are the most excited about, to have on this show, tonight. So, we're really glad that you're here.

You are a 10-time Olympic medalist, a 21-time world champion, and you broke Michael Phelps' record, winning your 16th individual gold. I mean, how did it feel to break that record?

KATIE LEDECKY, 3X OLYMPIAN: Well, thanks for having me tonight. It's a lot of fun to talk to you tonight.

And it felt great.

It was so much fun, to represent Team USA, at the international level, again. I've been doing it for a while now. And it just doesn't get old. It doesn't get old, winning a gold medal for Team USA.

And Michael is someone that I've known for a long time now. And to break that record was cool. I didn't really know that I was going to achieve it, until a lot of people started telling me that I was -- that that was a possibility. So, it was great to be able to do it, and achieve some of the goals that I had set for myself, this summer.

COLLINS: Yes. I mean, and you and Michael Phelps are both from Maryland. Have you spoken to him, since you broke his record? I want to -- do you have anything to say?

LEDECKY: Yes, he reached out and congratulated me. And he was actually in Fukuoka, at the World Championships, for a few days. So, I got to see him. And that was great.

And yes, just to have his support means a lot. I know he's continued to support Team USA, even though he's retired now. And, as you said, we're both from Maryland. So, there's something in the water, in Maryland. That's for sure.

COLLINS: Yes, clearly. I lived in D.C., for a long time. I never caught that bug.

But our friend, Christine Brennan, noted this crazy statistic that you were actually swimming faster now, than you were two years ago, in Tokyo, more than four seconds faster. I think everyone wants to know, how. How does that happen?

LEDECKY: Well, I'm continuing to train really hard. I'm training with a really great training group, down at the University of Florida. I have a great coach, Coach Nesty. And it's just a really great place to be. It's where I'm thriving.

And I'm loving every day. I have a smile on my face every day, when I go to practice. And I'm around people that have similar goals, a lot of world champions, and Olympic medalists, in the pool, with me, every day. And we have a lot of fun. We keep it light. But we also are pushing toward Paris, and we have some really big goals, over the next year.

So, World Championships was a great stepping stone. But I don't -- I hope I'm not done yet. I hope there's a lot more in the future. And this year should be a really great one, coming up.

COLLINS: Yes, of course. Sure, you're not.

I mean, you mentioned your training in Florida. This is also another fascinating thing. Essentially, what you're doing is you're training with some of the top male distance swimmers, in the world.

What is that like? And how is it different than how you were training before? Like, how does it make you better, do you think? LEDECKY: Yes, I know that I want to have people to chase every day in practice. And I'm swimming with some of the best sprinters and distance swimmers, in the world, every day. And I know that they'll bring the best out of me. And I try to give them a run, in practice, every day. I don't usually get them. But I try to chase them. And I know that it makes me better.

COLLINS: Yes, I mean, at the rate you're going, I've no doubt that you will.

But we were thinking about this -- the big picture of this. I mean, Simone Biles is another highly-decorated female Olympian. She just had this amazing comeback, at the U.S. Classic. And she's someone, who's spoken very openly, about mental health, and the toll that being the kind of athletes that the two of you are, on the world stage, takes on you.

I wonder how you balance that kind of pressure with also taking care of yourself?

LEDECKY: Yes, I've been competing on the stage, since I was 15-years- old. I'm 26 now. And each year, I think I've always strived, to find my balance, find balance between school and swimming. I've completed my degree a couple years ago at Stanford. And through that all, I think I really learned a lot.

I learned a lot about time management. I learned a lot about doing things outside of the pool. And I have really great family and friends, teammates, coaches, around me. I've had that my whole career. And I feel very lucky, to have that, and to continue to be motivated, every day, to continue to have fun, as I said, at practice every day.

I started swimming just for the fun of it. And that's something that I never lose sight of, even at the international stage.

COLLINS: And you said you hope that you're not done yet. We're less than a year away from the Paris Olympics. That could be your fourth Olympics. Do you still get nervous, this kind of stuff? I mean, how do you feel when you're approaching something like that?


LEDECKY: I still get nervous. I'm not nervous, right now, because I just came off with a big meet. But I know that I have a big year ahead of me, a lot of hard work that I need to put in, if I want to achieve the goals that I have for myself.

So, I know that I want to be nervous, when I get behind the blocks in Paris, because that means that I care about what I'm doing. But I know that, at the end of the day, I'm just going to smile, and have a lot of fun, while I'm doing it. And that'll take care of the nerves. And I'll give my best effort. That's for sure.

COLLINS: I love that you said that. Because when Tony Bennett passed away, we had one of his pianists, who worked with him, here on set. And he actually said that Tony Bennett had this advice, about getting nervous being a good thing, because it means that you care, basically.

LEDECKY: Exactly, yes. I think I would be concerned if I wasn't nervous. I really do care about what I do. I love what I do. I love the training. And I know that it's not just me. It's the hard work, of my coaches, and my teammates, and my family's support, all these years.

And I don't want to let them down. I want to do it for them. And it's not just -- not just me, when I dive in the pool. It's a whole lot of people that support me. And that's probably why I get nervous, because I want to make them proud, and just be able to look back, and think of all those people, when I touch the wall.

COLLINS: Katie Ledecky, I'm sure they are very proud of you.

And thank you, for joining us, tonight, to talk about this. I mean, we're so proud of you, and all of your success. So, thank you for joining us.

LEDECKY: Thank you.

COLLINS: Meanwhile, a riverfront brawl in Alabama. This was caught on tape. There is a news conference that was just scheduled, for tomorrow, where hopefully, more answers will come, about how things turned so violent, over a boat, parked in the wrong place, and a simple request to move it.



COLLINS: A news conference has been scheduled, for tomorrow afternoon, on what led to that wild weekend brawl, at the Riverfront Park, in downtown Montgomery, Alabama.

This happened, Saturday evening, when a Black dock worker, was trying to get a pontoon boat moved, so the city's riverboat could have room, to dock. But an all-out fight broke out, when one of the White boaters assaulted the employee.

CNN's Ryan Young has more, on that chaotic scene, all caught on video.


RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An altercation, on a Montgomery, Alabama boat dock, over the weekend, between a group of White boaters, and a Black employee, escalated into a massive brawl that resulted in multiple arrests.

Montgomery Mayor, Steven Reed, is calling for justice to be served, for attacking a man, who was doing his job.

MAYOR STEVEN REED, (D) MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA: It's an unfortunate incident. And it's something that we're investigating, right now. We'll continue to go through that process, before we take any additional steps. YOUNG (voice-over): It all began when the Black employee was trying to clear the dock space, where the Riverside cruise, the Harriott II, normally docks. The cruiser was about to return to shore, and needed its space to dock.

LAUREN SPIVEY, WITNESS FROM THE BOAT: You know, just doing his job. And for some reason, they didn't like it. They didn't want to move the boat, and decided to get physical with him.

YOUNG (voice-over): You can see in the video, the Black employee, on the dock, arguing with one of the men, from the pontoon boat. And then, another shirtless White man, charging at the employee, and hitting him in the face. Soon after that, you can see several others join in, on the attack, of the dock employee.

In some of the video which has gone viral, with millions of views, people, on the boat, can be heard yelling, for someone, to go help the employee.

Then, at one point, you can see a young man, who has jumped off the boat, swimming ashore, to help the man, who was being attacked.

SPIVEY: The boat got closer. The guys, and the crew members, and everybody caught off. And that's when it happened. That's the reason why when they got off the boat, they came right to that smaller boat.

YOUNG (voice-over): And that's when more fighting ensues, turning into an all-out brawl that included several people, getting hit over the head, with a folding chair. Soon after, officers started trying to take control, handcuffing people, in the fight.

SPIVEY: You know, they were the (ph) antagonists at a whole situation. Arrest them. Because unfortunately, when things happen, people of color are the first to put -- be put in handcuffs.

YOUNG (voice-over): Many questions remain about the melee that appear to be very much split, across racial lines.

REED: We are fully engaged. And we are doing all of our due diligence to find out exactly what took place.


YOUNG: Yes, they're talking about that investigation.

Right now, what we've been told, from police is, four warrants have been issued. Of course, we did see some people being detained, yesterday, in that video. But now, we're told, four warrants have been taken out, for arrest. We're not sure who they're looking for. But, at some point, you're probably going to put handcuffs, on somebody, again, in this case, that's really spread and taken over the internet, at this point.


COLLINS: Yes, I mean, and we'll see what we learn, tomorrow, about those potential arrests, in this press conference.

But what's amazing also here is what you said there, about how many views this has. I mean, these videos have just gone viral, of people watching, what was documented, from several different angles here.

YOUNG: Well, when you think about it, the racial implications behind this, people really saw a man, who was trying to do his job, and all those folks, on the boat, tried to come to his aid.

The young man, who jumped in the water, at this point, has so many nicknames, on the internet, it's not even funny. And we've learned that he's on the age of 18. He swam all the way across, to help that worker.

So many people trying to figure out exactly what happened, and why this escalated.

COLLINS: Yes, we'll see if we get answers, tomorrow.

YOUNG: Of course.

COLLINS: Ryan Young, thank you.

YOUNG: Thank you.

COLLINS: This just in, another Republican, in the 2020 race, has qualified, for the debate stage, the first Republican debate, later this month, in Milwaukee. They were cutting it close. We'll tell you who it is, next.



COLLINS: Just in, we have now learned that the former Vice President, Mike Pence, has qualified, for the first Republican presidential debate, later this month, in Milwaukee. That's according to his campaign.

There was a question of whether or not he would meet the threshold, for donors, and for polling that all candidates must meet, to get on that stage. Obviously, of course, they also have to sign that loyalty pledge.

And this could set up a potential face-off, with his former boss, and running mate, Donald Trump. But we should note, Trump, so far, has not agreed to the debate yet. And right now, his team says it looks like he will not be there. But we shall see.

On another note, before we go, tonight. The former Minneapolis Police officer, Tou Thao, has now been sentenced to nearly five years in prison, for aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter, in the 2020 murder of George Floyd.

While the former officer Derek Chauvin, knelt on George Floyd's neck, Thao, who was a senior officer, and with the Minneapolis Police Department, for 11 years, was seen holding back bystanders that were visibly upset, over his arrest, and his well-being.

Thao had already been serving a three-and-a-half year sentence, on federal charges, from a conviction, for violating Floyd's civil rights.

During his sentencing, Thao quoted Bible scriptures. He said his conscience is clear, to which the Judge, in Hennepin County responded with this.



JUDGE PETER CAHILL, HENNEPIN COUNTY: After three years of reflection, I was hoping for a little more remorse, regret, acknowledgment of some responsibility, and less preaching.


COLLINS: He is now, and added nearly five years. Of course, as the Judge nodded to there, it's been more than three years, since Floyd's murder that sparked worldwide protests, over police brutality.

That's it for us, tonight. Thank you, so much, for joining me.

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

Hi, Laura. Happy Monday.

LAURA COATES, CNN HOST, CNN PRIMETIME: Hey, happy Monday to you.

I'm actually as perhaps as stunned as the judge that there was not more even advisement, by counsel, at the very least, for that sentencing. If you're calling me a cynic, then it might be true, this evening, on that point.

Nice to see you, Kaitlan.

And I'm also jealous that Katie Ledecky and you are now best friends. But thanks for --

COLLINS: How great is that?

COATES: Oh, it's -- no, I'm so happy for you. It's wonderful. Thank you so much.

COLLINS: Don't worry. When I hang out with Katie Ledecky, we will obviously invite you, to come with us.

COATES: Thank you. Could you invite Simone Biles?