Return to Transcripts main page
The Source with Kaitlan Collins
NYC Mayor Asks Federal Government To Declare State Of Emergency Due To Asylum Seeker Crisis; Man Accused Of Threatening President Biden Killed In FBI Arrest Attempt; Maui Resident Describes Wildfires. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired August 09, 2023 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN KING, CNN HOST: A heart of gratitude and immense joy," in Haiti, tonight. That's what a ministry there is saying, about the release, of an American nurse, and her young daughter, who were kidnapped, and held hostage, for nearly two weeks, in Port-au-Prince. Unclear who was responsible. And no comment from the authorities.
The organization the woman and her husband worked with says there's still much to process, and to heal, from the situation.
According to the U.N., there were more than 1,000 kidnappings, in Haiti, in the first half of the year.
The news continues. "THE SOURCE WITH KAITLAN COLLINS" starts now.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST: Tonight, straight from THE SOURCE, the FBI shoots and kills a man, in an early morning raid, after he allegedly made, online threats, to kill President Biden. His disturbing social media posts, on more on why and how this happened.
Plus, New York City Mayor, Eric Adams, pleading for help, from President Biden, as the migrant crisis, in the New York City, gets worse. Federal officials are in the city, tonight. And Mayor Adams is here live.
And paradise is burning. Hawaii is in flames, as deadly wildfires are creating apocalyptic scenes, in one of the biggest tourist destinations, in the world.
I'm Kaitlan Collins. And this is THE SOURCE.
A presidential scare, tonight, as President Biden is spending the night, in Salt Lake City, during his first trip, to Utah, since taking office.
But just hours, before he arrived, the FBI shot and killed a suspect, while they were carrying out a search warrant, against a man, allegedly making death threats, against the President and other high- profile Democrats. It happened, while they were trying to arrest him, this morning. A source tells CNN that SWAT agents were giving commands, to the suspect, Craig Robertson, when he pointed a gun, at them.
President Biden was briefed by his senior staff, on the incident, before he touched down, in Utah.
And we should note that some of these threats, from the suspect, here, were posted only days ago, including this one that was shown, in the criminal complaint. He said, quote, "I hear Biden is coming to Utah. Digging out my old ghillie suit and cleaning the dust" from my M24 rifle.
An agent, on the case, said in the complaint that the suspect did actually own that sniper rifle, and the camouflaged suit. And these pictures were posted along with it.
A witness to the raid described what she heard, early this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NYLA ROLLINS, LIVES IN NEIGHBORHOOD OF RAID: Little before 6, there was a big boom. And then, there was another one, and another one, and another one.
But they called for my neighbor to come out. And he's like, "I'm not coming out mothereffer." And then, I didn't hear anything after that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: Robertson posted pictures of numerous weapons, online, and also issued threats, to Trump prosecutors, people who are prosecuting the former President, I should say, including New York District Attorney, Alvin Bragg.
I'm joined now, tonight, by the Mayor of New York City, Mayor Eric Adams.
Mayor Adams, thank you for being here.
MAYOR ERIC ADAMS, (D) NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK: Thank you.
COLLINS: Obviously, we wanted you to come on, to talk about immigration, and what's happening in the city. We will get to that in just a moment.
But, I mean, on this disturbing story, about what we learned today, this raid that was being carried out. This man not only threatened President Biden, allegedly, but also Vice President Harris, the Attorney General, the District Attorney, here in Manhattan, Alvin Bragg.
I mean, do you feel like threats to public officials have gotten worse? And what do you think is driving that?
ADAMS: I think it's a combination of over-proliferation of guns, in our country, the real mental health illnesses that we are seeing, and it's just social media. I've been stating this over and over again. We had a summit here in New York, to see the impact of social media, on our young people, but even adults.
And those threats, the FBI, you have to really commend them, for taking those threats seriously, and carrying out a proper investigation.
COLLINS: Yes. Are you more nervous, I mean, to be a publicly-elected official, today?
ADAMS: Well, you're always concerned. I have a great detail. NYPD, they know their job very well. We allow them to handle it, and listen to what they say to do, and what not to do. And we'll continue to look at the instructions that are coming from our Intel division, when we get those threats, and they assess them well, and make sure that things are done properly.
COLLINS: Yes. New York City is dealing with an unprecedented influx of tens of thousands of people, who are seeking asylum. You say -- and you said, today, you believe it's going to cost about $12 billion, and to care for them, over the next three years. And you said you need federal help.
Do you think that you're going to get it?
ADAMS: Yes, I do. I believe that we have a DHS team that's on the ground here, now. And there's something that our team, my deputy mayors, and deputy mayor that's in charge of this initiative. We have been walking through business leaders, walking through congressional delegation, to see exactly what's taking place.
We were successful to keep this from spilling over, onto our streets, for over a year. And what you saw, in front of the Roosevelt Hotel, was really, that it was just overwhelmed, and the dam finally burst.
COLLINS: Well, and what you're referencing, for people, who don't know, is just recently, I mean, the system clearly broke down, 200 migrants were sleeping outside, on the sidewalk of the Roosevelt Hotel, just around the corner, from Grand Central Station.
I mean, who was responsible, for that image, for seeing those pictures of people, sleeping out, on the sidewalks?
ADAMS: Well, I'm the Mayor of the City of New York. I take responsibilities for anything that happens in this city. It is my obligation to make sure that New York is safe.
We received an overwhelming number of individuals. We already reached the maximum of how many people we could house. And for that period of time, we could not place people, in the Roosevelt Hotel. We still have to abide by the restrictions, for occupancy, for safety, and we were able to find them temporary shelter, in another location.
But we cannot state that this can't happen -- won't happen again. We received over --
COLLINS: You can't say that it won't happen again?
ADAMS: No, we cannot. We received over 90,000 people in our city. And I've been stating for some time that we need relief, we needed help. This is a national crisis. And it should be handled by national resources and national policies.
COLLINS: So, what do you say to White House officials, who they see your calls, for federal help? Yes, there's a DHS team here. They're going to report back to Secretary Mayorkas.
But the White House says, New York has already gotten $140 million, from the federal government. That's more than any other city that's not a border city. What do you say to them, when they say, you're getting more help than other places are?
ADAMS: Well, I think you started off the broadcast the numbers, $12 billion, over three years, $12 billion, over three years. We already spent over $1 billion already. And to state that a $100 million could address a national $12 billion problem? We're saying we need more.
And then, we need others. We need a real decompression strategy, at the border. We need to allow these migrants, asylum seekers to do that, I believe is the most American thing to do. And that is to work. What is more anti-American than not being able to work?
COLLINS: And has the White House responded to you, when you say, what you want is essentially them to be able to speed up the work requirements, the work permits, for them to be able to begin working, which are already shorter than they are in other periods. Has the White House said anything to you on any of that?
ADAMS: Well, when you say shorter, in other periods, there's such a backlog of cases that the spirit and energy that within six months, people will be able to get a job, that's not a reality. Some of the migrant asylum seekers will probably have to wait anywhere from a year to a year and a half. That's a long time, for New Yorkers, to have to carry this burden.
And that is part of the ongoing conversation we're having, with the White House, right now. That's the hope that we're having with DHS team here, and my congressional delegation, and other elected officials, across the country.
I take my hat off to the Governor of Massachusetts, who's also stating the same thing. There must be a real strategy --
COLLINS: Yes, Maura Healey.
ADAMS: -- to deal with this crisis.
COLLINS: You're asking the federal government to declare a state of emergency. So far, they have not done so.
What is your relationship with President Biden at this moment? ADAMS: Well I think that I have a great relationship with the President. I have a great relationship with my colleagues, across the entire country.
And we have to separate a disagreement, on a topic with, "Do we have a relationship?" There is many issues that we're facing, not only in this city, but in this country. And if there's a place that I disagree, I'm going to be honest about it.
COLLINS: Yes, we've certainly seen that. But I mean, have you spoken to him about these specific asks that you have?
ADAMS: Yes, we have. We have asked --
COLLINS: When was the last time you guys talked?
ADAMS: Last year, when he was here. I spoke with White House staffs and White House teams on this. And we sent the letters for the three of the majors -- mayors from the largest city, Houston, and Los Angeles. We sent a letter to sit down and want to speak with the President on this. But we need assistance.
COLLINS: You haven't spoken to him, in 2023?
ADAMS: No, I have not. I spoke with authorities. And our team has been communicating with the White House as well.
COLLINS: Do you support his reelection bid?
ADAMS: Yes, I did. I made that clear before. I believe he's moving the country in the right direction. And we need to continue to move in the right direction.
And I can separate what I believe an issue that we disagree, on how we are addressing it, with what I believe, overall, is needed for this country.
ADAMS: My number one obligation is to the people of the City of New York.
COLLINS: Speaking of campaigns, in early July, the Manhattan District Attorney indicted six people, including a former New York Police Department officer, in this straw donor scheme that sent donations to your campaign for mayor, in 2021. Neither you nor anyone your campaign has been accused of any wrongdoing, I should note.
But were you aware of any of that? Or what's your response to those charges?
ADAMS: No, not aware at all. And I follow one rule. Follow the rules.
And the District Attorney is conducting his investigation. He did so. And it was clear that our campaign had no participation in that. And it's just an unfortunate situation. But I have a lot of faith in the D.A.'s office, D.A. Bragg's. He's going to follow this to conclusion.
COLLINS: So, you're not worried that anyone from your team would ever be ensnared in that, or have legal exposure on that?
ADAMS: Well, I think they did a thorough investigation, and they laid out in the indictment, and everything that was connected to it, exactly what happened. And that thorough investigation made a determination that our team had nothing to do with it.
COLLINS: OK. It's been a really challenging summer, here in New York.
I mean, not only what's happening with migrants, of course. The situation at Rikers jail has gotten so bad that the federal authorities are considering taking over it. I know you disagree with that, and don't believe that that's necessary.
There's also a law enforcement investigation into a former member of your administration.
When you look at the big picture, of all of the problems, that New York City is facing, do you feel that you and your administration can adequately handle those issues?
ADAMS: You tell me when was the time you didn't have a lot going on, in New York?
COLLINS: That's true. And in New York, your --
ADAMS: This is New York City.
COLLINS: -- all of your predecessors will say "Yes, we had a lot on our plate as well."
ADAMS: Well but --
COLLINS: But you are dealing with a lot from this summer.
ADAMS: And I wanted. I wanted.
COLLINS: Just the last few months.
ADAMS: When is, want the ball, when the game is on the line? They don't pass the ball. They want the last shot. The last at bat, they want to kick the field goal.
Let's look at the reality. 99 percent of the jobs we lost back pre- pandemic, decrease in crime, decrease in shootings, decrease in homicides. We're seeing our tourism is up. We have a AA bond rating in this City of New York. This is the place to be right now.
I didn't run for mayor, to worry about "What was me?" I said, "I wanted to be Mayor. Why not me?"
COLLINS: Is it more challenging than you thought it would be? ADAMS: Not at all.
ADAMS: You get up every day. You do the best you can. You give it your all. New Yorkers know one thing about me. I'm up before everyone else, and I'm going to go to bed after everyone else, to make sure the city is operating right.
This is the right time for me to be the Mayor. With my experience in law enforcement, State Senator, Borough President. And not only that, I'm a Mayor that has gone through a lot, and now can help people, who are going through their lot.
ADAMS: I want to be the Mayor of the City of New York.
COLLINS: Well, you certainly have a lot on your plate.
I do have to ask you about this bizarre report that was in the New York Times, recently, about a photo that you carry, in your wallet, and that you have spoken very publicly about it is of Officer Robert Venable --
COLLINS: -- who was killed, in the line of duty, in 1987. And you pulled it out, after two other officers had been killed, talking about how meaningful it was.
But the New York Times did a report, essentially saying that that photo had been recreated that it had not actually been carried in your wallet, for decades that it was created by staff in your office.
Your office, I should note, denied the story, and said it had been, in your wallet, for decades.
Can you just clear that up?
ADAMS: I have the --
COLLINS: What happened with that?
ADAMS: I have the original newsletter that was produced by the Department of -- the original, the original. So why would I have to reproduce something that I had the original for?
The family knew me. Robert was a dear friend. There was a lot of anger attached to that story that I allowed a lot of discipline, not to get emotionally tied. It was wrong to do that. But there's not much I can do about that. I can't control what people want to write.
No one was instructed by me to do anything with an original photo that I had that I carried of my friend. This was a dear friend of mine. And that was a very painful moment, to have it not only recreated, but to state I would do something like that to someone that I was that close to.
COLLINS: So, you're saying just, you know, they said that the picture was found on Google, that it was printed in black and white, and made to look worn that someone splashed coffee on it.
You're saying none of that's true?
ADAMS: I stated I had the original. The one that's on Google that they're talking about? I have the original. I don't know how clearer I can be.
And the family was also saying, "We know Eric Adams. Eric has been with our family. And it was wrong to do."
COLLINS: Yes, his daughter, Januari, came out and spoke about that after.
ADAMS: And his other relatives as well.
Eric Adams, thank you, for being here, tonight. Thank you, for answering our questions.
ADAMS: Thank you.
COLLINS: And, of course, if you do hear from President Biden, on what is the biggest issue that you're facing, right now, please let us know.
ADAMS: Will do.
COLLINS: Thank you, so much, for joining us, in studio, tonight.
ADAMS: Thank you.
COLLINS: Ahead, much more, on what we were just talking about there, at the beginning, the FBI raid, where a man allegedly threatening the President, shot and killed, in the early hours, in Utah, this morning.
And wildfires are burning out of control in Hawaii. At least six people have been killed. The National Guard has been deployed. Thousands of people are evacuating. We'll speak to someone, still on the ground, tonight.
COLLINS: Tonight, we're learning chilling new details, about a deadly confrontation, between a man accused of threatening to assassinate President Biden, and FBI agents, who showed up at his Utah home, before dawn.
Law enforcement officials say that Craig Robertson was armed to the teeth, and facing federal charges, for threats, not only against the President, but also several other prominent Democrats, the FBI prosecutors, who have brought cases, against former President Trump.
All of this happened, this morning. And the big questions now, what happened, when agents moved in, to arrest the suspect? And how do the Feds tell the difference between bluster, and what is a deadly serious terror threat?
Let's get some answers, from CNN's Senior Crime and Justice Correspondent, Shimon Prokupecz; and CNN National Security Analyst, Juliette Kayyem.
Thank you both for being here.
Shimon, I mean, these kinds, the FBI killing someone is incredibly rare. Walk us through what happened this morning.
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: It's incredibly rare. They prepare for this. And it's very clear, they did prepare for this, really heavily, because they were expecting perhaps to meet some kind of resistance.
So, this really all begins several months ago. But it heats up on Monday, when this individual, Craig Robertson, tweets -- or not tweets, I should say, he posts on Facebook, that the President is coming to Utah, and that it's time for him to take action, and talks about his weapon, and talks about what he's going to wear.
And so, what happens is the FBI says "OK. We need to go in. We need to take him down. This is a threat. The President is coming here. He's talking about killing the President." So, they go into really full action. They devise a plan. They go in. They put this plan together.
And then, early this morning, while they're suiting up, putting on all of their gear, getting ready to go after him? The President is planning his trip to Utah. They go in. It's dark out, early in the morning, 6 AM, essentially, to take him off the street.
And then, there's a confrontation with the FBI. They come to the house. They have a conversation with him. Something happens. I'm told he pulled out a handgun. And that's when the FBI shot and killed him.
COLLINS: And this all happened, you know, he had been making threats, not just against President Biden, but several other officials, here as well.
He referred to one of his guns. I read this in the complaint, as a "Democrat Eradicator."
COLLINS: I mean, it wasn't even just this post, recent days. He's been making these for months.
PROKUPECZ: For months. And so, the FBI gets alerted, to him, back in March, because he's posting messages, about killing Alvin Bragg, the Manhattan D.A., who's prosecuting Donald Trump.
And clearly, he is a Trump supporter. The FBI knows this. They go to his house. They talk to him, basically saying, "We're on to you. What are you doing? What's going on?" And they want to make sure he's not coming to New York to take action. He doesn't come here. There's no evidence that he ever comes here. But they were so worried. They went there.
And then, what he does is he continues to post Facebook messages, threatening the FBI agents, who came to him, threatening others, continuing to threaten the President. He also made threats towards the Vice President, the Governor of California, Gavin Newsom, the Attorney General.
So, this has been going on for months and months and months. But what changes everything is that he makes this post, about killing the President, while he's in Utah.
PROKUPECZ: So, that changed everything.
COLLINS: Just hours, before Biden was going to be briefed there -- to arrive there.
And Juliette, as we're talking about how this is happening, that President Biden is set to arrive there.
This is -- the post that Shimon was referencing, I just want to show it, because he said, "I hear Biden is coming to Utah."
JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes.
COLLINS: Digging "my old ghillie suit and cleaning the dust" off my "M24 sniper rifle."
I guess, my question is people say crazy things online all the time. What is the threshold --
COLLINS: -- for when the FBI does go, and conduct raid, as they were planning to, to do this morning?
KAYYEM: Well, first, they will probably learn more of some of this investigation, and may not -- it may -- some stuff that's in the affidavit may not actually be everything that they know.
What we know, at this stage, is that what he was saying was scary enough for a social media platform. We don't know if it was Facebook, but Facebook's mentioned a lot. He also used Truth Social a lot. Notifies the National Terrorism Operations Center, the NTOC. This is an FBI entity that is being fed a lot of this stuff that's getting online, and trying to make a determination between what's just hate, what's just people, blowing off steam, and what is real. And basically, they're going to focus on methods, means and motive. And, in this case, he had all three. He was bluster -- I mean, he was sort of being performative, online. He's directing statements to the FBI. "I know you're watching. I know Biden's here."
He has the motives. He has the means. And they also know he is highly- armed. And those three things would then trigger something much more than someone just posting online that they don't like Biden, or they don't like the Vice President.
COLLINS: Yes, I mean, they had been there in March. He saw them. He told them don't come back without a warrant.
COLLINS: But I think what's hard to ignore here is the backdrop of the climate that we're living in, which is this heightened political polarization.
COLLINS: I mean, Trump obviously has been indicted three times. He rails against the people, who are handling those indictments, every single day, almost. I mean, what's the correlation in what this looks like now, and if there's an uptick, in violence?
COLLINS: And violent threats, like this?
KAYYEM: Well, absolutely. Chris Wray, the FBI Director, has said so, has said that he's never seen the threat environment, like this, heading into the election, especially targeted against people running, and targeted against Democrats, in particular, when we see the online chatter, even though there are attacks against Republicans, and there's just -- we're looking at quantity, at this stage.
And so, people think about incitement like, the former President Trump might say something, and people go off, and do something. It's a little bit more complicated than that.
How I describe what Trump is doing, and some of his language, and some of the language we're hearing from other candidates now, is that they're creating a permissive structure. They're creating permission, to utilize violence, as an extension, of just our political debates. They're normalizing it. They're winking at it. They're nodding at it. They're essentially serving as a magnet for it.
And that's why it has to be condemned from the top, from the leadership, within the GOP, as well, and essentially make the price of this conduct sufficiently high that people will not do it.
So, it's arrest, the arrest that we're seeing. It's the investigations. And it's the de-platforming of particular individuals. All those things make the price high for people, who are going to legitimize violence, not thoughts, not words, violence, as a means to as -- as part of our democratic process.
So, we have to get rid of that permissive structure. And that comes -- and that's coming from someone, who is likely to be the candidate -- the nominee, in the -- for the GOP.
COLLINS: Juliette Kayyem, Shimon Prokupecz, thank you both.
KAYYEM: Thank you.
COLLINS: Horrific apocalyptic scenes, and it's one of those beautiful places of the world. But rescue teams are now racing to save lives, there, from raging wildfires, in Maui. Several people have been confirmed dead.
We are live, on the ground, with the very latest, next.
COLLINS: Wildfires are still ravaging Hawaii, tonight, and at least six people are dead. Thousands have been evacuated. And many more homes had been destroyed. One pilot, who flew over the island of Maui said it looked like an area that had been bombed in a war.
These are strong winds that are connected to Hurricane Dora that helped fuel those flames. And you can see here. I mean, drivers were stranded on highways, as these large dark clouds of smoke covered their path to safety.
This is a place that is supposed to look like paradise. It typically does. But instead, we have now learned that the Coast Guard had to rescue people, who jumped into the ocean, to escape the flames.
CNN's Correspondent, Veronica Miracle, is on the ground.
Veronica, just tell us what you're seeing, on the ground, since you arrived there, just a few hours ago.
VERONICA MIRACLE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kaitlan, of course, the situation is incredibly dire. Even as we were flying in, we could see some of the smoke, from one of the three wildfires, burning on the island of Maui.
And you could see it actually, one of those three fires right behind me. We've seen it evolve, over the last couple of hours. Usually, this is a beautiful mountain scape that you can see. And it's all covered by smoke.
But the real destruction and damage is about 30 minutes from here, over in Lahaina. That's where the Front Street has been damaged and destroyed. Thousands of people are stranded without power, without water, without resources. There was one road in and one road out. And that road, right now, is blocked. But only emergency vehicles, which, we have heard sirens, throughout the afternoon, and only people, who are bringing in supplies.
I'm standing at a marina, because, of course the other way that you can get there, is by sea, which the sea, as you can see, is incredibly choppy. It is very windy, right now.
But there have been many expedition boats that normally take people to go out whale-watching, they have been loading their boats up with supplies, from volunteers, who had just showed up, at this marina, as well as distributors, local businesses, who're bringing pallets of water, dog food, mattresses, anything that people over on the other side of the island might need.
They've been loading up the boats. And those boats have been going all the way around. Now, they can't land and dock (inaudible) they can't dock, at the area that is directly impacted, for a number of reasons, including all of the damage and destruction.
But I am told that they're going all the way around, to other docks, where they're meeting up with sailboats, smaller boats, collecting all those supplies, and also trying to pick people up, and deliver them out to sea (ph).
COLLINS: All right, Veronica Miracle, in Maui. Stay safe. We will check back in with you. Thank you for being there.
Joining me now is Daniel Sullivan, who lives on Maui, and has been experiencing essentially hell, over the last 24 hours.
Daniel, I can't even imagine what the past day has been like. Can you just -- I know you've got your kids there. Your family's there. Your pets are there.
DANIEL SULLIVAN, MAUI RESIDENT: Right.
COLLINS: Can you just kind of walk me through, what the last 24 hours have been like, for you and for your family?
SULLIVAN: Yes, it's been a sleepless 24 hours. I mean, we started with the winds from Dora, and all the trees were knocked down, around our neighborhood.
So, the first thing we dealt with were the roads being blocked, and the winds were crazy. I mean, just a lot stronger than we thought. And then, the fire started about midday, and started spreading really fast.
We started with a fire kind of from our east of our house. And then, we had one coming in from behind the house, and then there was one underneath the house. So, by nightfall, the electricity had gone out. We had no idea what was going on. We just knew that the entire island was engulfed in flames. We just saw fire as far as you could see.
And I just went up on my roof. And I watched, as the flames got closer and closer. And we had no way to get out, because the roads were blocked. The fire was blocking anything that didn't have a tree falling on it. And the shelters that people had gone to were having to be evacuated, because the fires were taking over the shelters. It was apocalyptic. We've never seen anything like it.
COLLINS: And so you didn't sleep at all last night?
SULLIVAN: I haven't slept. No, no. I was on my roof all night just waiting for the go. My kids were downstairs sleeping. And I was just ready to go at any moment, if the flames got too close.
COLLINS: Well, and what's your concern about -- I mean, what's your backup plan? I mean, there's major transportation issues. The Lieutenant Governor has even said that. You just talked about all the roads being blocked.
I mean, what does a family, like yours, supposed to do in a situation like that, when it's difficult to call 911? It's difficult to leave your home? You're obviously staying up all night to see if you can see a fire. I mean, what are you supposed to do in that situation?
SULLIVAN: Yes, there's nothing you can do. The water was off. We were in a -- yes, I did not -- the wind started, we didn't see this happening. It was kind of a perfect storm, because it was the drought that we've been having, for days. It was this hurricane winds.
And then, I think the downed electrical lines really are what started it here. And it just ignited the entire island. And, I mean, as you've seen in footage, Front Street burned completely. Those were 200-year old buildings, all made out of wood, blocks and blocks of restaurants, and stores, all gone. I have many friends, who have lost their homes. The island has been decimated. We've never seen anything like this.
COLLINS: I mean, I know. And you said you've lived there 20 years.
Daniel Sullivan, we are thinking of you, and your friends, of course, who have also lost their homes. Please stay safe. Thank you, for joining us, though, tonight, to talk to us, about what this has been like.
SULLIVAN: Thank you. I appreciate it.
COLLINS: Also, here, the Special Counsel has now gotten access to one of Donald Trump's really most prized possessions, his Twitter account. Did Jack Smith find evidence of a crime? Why did he want access to Trump's Twitter? We'll talk about it next.
COLLINS: Tonight, a newly unsealed court filing reveals that the Special Counsel, Jack Smith, got a search warrant, to access former President Trump's Twitter account, this past January.
Prosecutors sought to keep that warrant secret, from Trump. And a D.C. Court ruled in their favor, saying quote, "There were 'reasonable grounds to believe' that disclosing the warrant to former President Trump 'would seriously jeopardize the ongoing investigation' by giving him an opportunity to destroy evidence."
Twitter, which I should note is now known as X, had initially resisted that warrant. The company was actually fined $350,000, for the delay. And they were forced to turn over records, which they eventually did, in February.
Let's talk about all this with cybersecurity expert, Alex Stamos, who was also Facebook's Chief Security Officer.
Alex, thank you for being here.
I mean, obviously, Trump's tweets are publicly available information. You can go and look at them. But what would a search warrant get the Special Counsel that the public does not have access to?
ALEX STAMOS, FORMER CHIEF SECURITY OFFICER, FACEBOOK: So, there's a boring explanation. And then there's a couple more exciting possible ones.
COLLINS: What about the exciting ones?
STAMOS: So, the boring -- OK. So, well the boring explanation is, it is not uncommon, for prosecutors, around the country, to send search warrants, to social media companies, for public content, just so they could have a good strong chain of custody that they can prove in court, this was something that was said.
As you've pointed out, the things President Trump tweeted, on January 6, have been widely reported on, in the media, have been screenshotted and such. But what the prosecutor is going to want is the ability to pull up a witness, from Twitter, who could say definitively, "These tweets came from this device, at this exact time." And that includes the three that were deleted.
So, one of the key things that have happened here is that when President Trump's account was reinstated, by Mr. Musk, after his takeover of Twitter, the tweets that were most inflammatory, on January 6, did not exist.
And so, I think part of it might be also going into Twitter's database, to get evidence of those tweets, and to prove that was President Trump himself that sent it.
I think it's another complication about this account, is it's pretty widely believed that over time, many different people have had access, to the realDonaldTrump account, because you'll see the things that are obviously written, by President Trump, and the things that seemed to be written by aides or campaign workers. And so, what they'll want is the data that only Twitter has that proves this tweet was written, on this phone, at this time, at this location, which should be strong evidence that it was President Trump himself that typed it out.
COLLINS: Yes. And of course, those tweets that immediately come to mind are, "Will be wild" on January 6, when he was tweeting that Pence didn't have the courage.
But could this data also shed light on tweets that maybe weren't sent, ones that were drafted, and not actually sent? Or I don't know if he ever Direct Messaged people on Twitter, but that's an option as well.
STAMOS: Right. And those are things that the prosecutors' warrant could get under the Stored Communications Act. There could be drafts of tweets that he wrote, and did not send, things that he wrote and deleted, right before, or that are still kind of in his drafts folder.
There's also the possibility of those Direct Messages. Although it's pretty widely reported that President Trump didn't use DMs, too often. So, I don't see that as extremely likely.
I expect this is mostly about being able to prove it was President Trump himself, and not one of the many people, who at some point, had access, to his account that sent those tweets that are of interest to the Special Counsel.
COLLINS: Yes, until today, I mean, this was secret. Trump, I believe found out about it, or his legal team, at least found out about it, over the summer.
I mean, Twitter was fined $350,000, because they didn't comply with this immediately, they didn't meet the deadline, because they were arguing basically, that they should be able to inform Trump, and his legal team, about it, because they believed not doing so violated the First Amendment.
I mean, is that pretty standard for a company, like Twitter, to take that route?
STAMOS: Yes. So, there's a couple of things going on here.
First, there was the gag order that was attached to the warrant, which turns out to be a pretty common practice, by prosecutors that they do not want the subjects of investigation, to know they're under investigation.
It has been a very controversial practice. Because what's happened over the years is the case law has developed that the only person, who can really challenge a search warrant, is the person, who's targeted themselves, not the companies. But if the person, who's the target doesn't know? Then they can't go fight it.
And so, there is a long history here, of tech companies, fighting in court, to say, "We want to drop this gag order, so that we can give this person a fair chance of fighting the search warrant." In fact, when I was at Facebook? That happened multiple times. I got involved in multiple cases, where we made that argument, in cases, where we thought the gag order was not necessary.
The second thing that that's going on, is kind of the overall idea here is that the Special Counsel wants to be able to maintain the integrity of this data, possibly also including the integrity of data, on President Trump's phone.
And I think that's one of the interesting questions that hasn't been asked is, does this indicate a broader search of devices? Are there other search warrants that we don't know about yet that would go with it?
So, that would be a normal part of a prosecution, for this kind of electronic evidence, is you would not just be looking, in the cloud, but you'd be looking at the devices, because they will have other pieces of data that aren't available to Twitter.
As for the fine, Twitter did fight this. But they also just had mess- ups. If you look at the appellate record --
STAMOS: -- for which this search warrant came out? It's the first time that they tried to upload the warrant, to ask Twitter. Twitter's law enforcement portal just broke.
And so, there's -- partially, the story here is just that through all of these layoffs, and these firings, and the getting rid of skilled talented people, at Twitter, Mr. Musk has broken basic functionality, such as having the ability, to handle search warrants.
COLLINS: There's like so many different threads in this entire thing that it's kind of amazing.
Alex Stamos, though, thank you, for joining, to break it all down.
STAMOS: Thanks, Kaitlan.
COLLINS: Meanwhile, voters dropping the hammer, on the GOP, saying "Don't mess with abortion rights or their political power." That was a message we talked about last night. It was sent loud and clear, in Ohio.
But next, we'll turn to the Governor of the next state that could be at the front of this fight, America's newest battleground state, Arizona. Katie Hobbs will join us.
COLLINS: Abortion rights groups are setting their sights, on a new battleground state, after a big victory, last night, in Ohio.
By a 14-point margin, voters there rejected a change, to the state's constitution that was part of an effort, to stop an abortion rights amendment, that is going to be on the ballot, come November. They essentially wanted to raise the threshold. And they voted against that last night.
Arizona is now among nine States, where groups are also looking to expand abortion access, through ballot initiatives, next year. A coalition of abortion rights groups, in Arizona, just released a proposal that would enshrine protections, in their state's constitution. The first step is making sure they get enough signatures, to be on the ballot, actually, in 2024.
Arizona's Democratic governor, Katie Hobbs, joins me now.
And Governor, thank you so much for being here.
I mean, last night, we were watching. We called that as we were coming on the air, in this show. Ohio is now the fourth red state, along with Kansas, Kentucky and Montana, to have essentially voted, on the abortion rights side, of a measure, all of this, of course, since the Supreme Court overturned Roe versus Wade.
Do you think your State will be next?
GOV. KATIE HOBBS (D-AZ): Absolutely. Arizonans are energized, over this issue, just as we've seen across the country. And they're energized to get this measure, to the ballot, and then have a chance, to have their say on it, in November. And I'm confident that they will vote for the constitutional right to an abortion.
COLLINS: Of course, we've seen that happen in several States. It's mobilizing voters, in a way that certainly Republicans were not expecting.
But I think the question is, if this does get on the ballot, in Arizona, do you think it could mobilize Democrats, in your State, who maybe aren't as enthusiastic, about voting, for President Biden, but would go to, to the polls, to vote for this measure?
HOBBS: Well, we certainly saw it play out that way, in the last election, in 2022. And that energy and momentum is continuing for sure.
We are under uncertain legal status, when it comes to abortion, or just one bad court decision away, from a total ban that carries prison time for doctors. And the majority, the vast majority of Arizonans, supports the ability, to make personal health care decisions, free from the interference of government.
COLLINS: Yes. Right now, Arizona bans most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The proposed language in this measure would guarantee the right, to an abortion, up until fetal viability, which is essentially 22 to 24 weeks of pregnancy. Do you personally back that timeline?
HOBBS: Well, again, I think, these are decisions, best left to health care professionals, and their patients. And I support people's ability, to make their own personal health care decisions, without the interference of politicians.
COLLINS: But I think the question, on the other side of this, would be is there any point in a pregnancy, where you do believe that abortion should be restricted?
HOBBS: Well, the language, in this ballot measure, protects that right, up to viability, determined by health care professionals. And there is an exception, further down the line, when the life of the woman is at risk. And I certainly support that exception.
COLLINS: But if you were -- if a bill was brought to your desk, now that you are our governor, and there were restrictions? And, I mean, what is the number of weeks that you would personally support that you would personally back?
HOBBS: Well, I have, again, continued to say that I support the language, in this measure, that leaves that viability determination, to health care professionals.
COLLINS: OK. But you do support that? OK, so you do support the language, in the measure, which is fetal viability, 22 to 24 weeks?
One other thing, the last time that you and I spoke, was when you were running, for governor. Of course, you were running against Kari Lake.
COLLINS: There's reporting that she is preparing to launch another run, to represent Arizona, this would be, for the Senate. She still has not conceded to you, of course, in the other election that you won. What do you make of her trying to represent your State again?
HOBBS: Well, I mean, I think it would mean that she would have to admit that she's not actually the governor, if she were -- if she chose to launch a Senate bid.
I think Arizonans are tired of her continued election denialism, and conspiracy theories. And that's something that they'll get their chance, to have their say on, next November.
COLLINS: And what did you make of the role that your State played, in the broader scheme, that we're seeing, the fake electors scheme, when it comes to former President Trump and his indictment that came last week?
HOBBS: Well, I was in the middle of a lot of that, as the Secretary of State. And I certainly, you know, Arizona played a central role. And I was focused, on my role, in defending the will of the voters, against these attacks. And I'm certainly glad that we're starting to see some accountability, for these bad actors, who tried to overturn the will of the voters.
COLLINS: Jack Smith reached out to the then-Governor, of your State, to speak to him. Did he ever reach out to you on anything? HOBBS: He has not, no.
Arizona governor, Katie Hobbs, thank you, so much, for your time, tonight.
HOBBS: Thank you.
COLLINS: And just in, tonight, an opposition candidate, in Ecuador's upcoming presidential race, has been assassinated. We'll tell you what we do know, next.
COLLINS: Developing, tonight, an opposition candidate, in Ecuador's upcoming presidential election, has been assassinated.
Fernando Villavicencio was shot and killed, at a political rally, north of the capital. He had been under police protection, we are now learning. And this comes just 10 days before the first round of voting there.
The President of Ecuador has confirmed the murder, on social media, says the crime won't go unpunished.
And we'll bring you updates as we get them.
Also tonight, another update, on a story that we brought you, last week. An American nurse, Alix Dorsainvil, and her daughter, who were kidnapped, in Haiti, have now been released.
The community organization that Alix works for, celebrated their return, in a statement, Monday, saying, quote, "It is with a heart of gratitude and immense joy that we at El Roi Haiti confirm the safe release of our staff member and friend, Alix Dorsainvil and her child who were held hostage in Port au Prince, Haiti."
Alix, and her daughter, were taken, from the campus, 13 days ago. And obviously, everyone is thrilled that they are OK, and safe, tonight.
Thank you so much, for joining us.
"CNN PRIMETIME" with Laura Coates, starts, right now.