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The Source with Kaitlan Collins

Special Prosecutor Will Investigate The Role Of GA Lt. Gov. Burt Jones In Election Interference Case; As WH Pushes "Bidenomics," Poll Shows 36 Percent Approve Of Biden's Handling Of Economy; Memo Suggests DeSantis "Hammer" Ramaswamy, Defend Trump. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired August 17, 2023 - 21:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Residents, fleeing the flames, are having a hard time.

One woman leaving Yellowknife, with four friends, and their dogs, took this video, showing the fixed smoke, she said, they could not see the lines in the road, for 45 minutes, while they were driving. They could hardly breathe. But they finally did make it to their destination.

That's it for us. The news continues. THE SOURCE WITH KAITLAN COLLINS starts now.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST: Tonight, straight from THE SOURCE, Donald Trump, firing back, at the Special Counsel's request, for a trial date, in January. He's now proposing his own date that just happens to be three years away.

Plus, the FBI, involved in a new investigation. The grand jurors, who indicted the former President, in Georgia, are now being threatened, and also having their personal information exposed.

And new warnings, tonight, in Hawaii, for victims of the wildfires. Beware of scams? As if they, weren't already dealing with enough, this new warning, after so many have lost everything already.

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

Tonight, Donald Trump's delay tactics seem to have gone into overdrive. His new ask, for an extraordinary delay. They now want the judge, to set a trial date, for the Special Counsel's election interference case, nearly three years, from when he was indicted, just a few weeks ago.

They are looking for April 2026. That is nearly a year and a half, after the 2024 election. It is obviously long past January 2024, which is when Jack Smith's team wants that trial to start.

In papers, that were filed just a few moments ago, Trump's legal team is arguing that the government wants to, in their view, deny, the former President, and his counsel, a fair ability, to prepare for that trial. Trump's team is saying that Smith's proposed timeline would conflict with the other civil and criminal cases that he is also fighting.

And while they do know that his obligation, to prepare for this case, is not nullified, because of the other legal issues that he is facing, they say that the court, they believe, should consider the effects that those other prosecutions is inevitably going to have, on this one.

They're also noting that there is a mountain of evidence, for them to sort through, totaling 11.5 million pages. Trump, of course, does have a mountain of indictments, piling up. That is something that is apparently bewildering, even to him.


DONALD TRUMP, 45TH U.S. PRESIDENT: Look, I think this is not even possible. Four, over the next, last couple of months.

If you talk about an election, they want to put you in jail.


COLLINS: Also tonight, Donald Trump has just officially called off that news conference, where he was going to really, finally provide the proof, he says, that the 2020 election was stolen.

I've been hearing from sources all day that that news conference he had announced, after he was indicted, in Georgia, earlier this week, was really in serious doubt. Because Trump's attorneys had warned him that talking about baseless claims of election fraud, could hurt his case, in upcoming trials, where he's being accused of trying to overturn the election.

Trump just confirmed, in a post, on his social media site. But he is saying that his attorneys would prefer to put it in formal legal filings, to fight that latest indictment, in Georgia. So therefore, that news conference won't be necessary.

I'm joined, tonight, by former federal prosecutor, Elie Honig.

Elie, obviously, April 2026 is a date that kind of surprised everyone, I think. They knew that they were going to push for a delay. How do you think the judge is going to respond to that?

ELIE HONIG, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Kaitlan, when I first saw this date, 2026, honestly, I thought it was a typo. I said, they can't really mean 2026. I don't think the judge is going to take this seriously at all. I think the judge is going to see it as a wild overreach.

That said Donald Trump does in his brief make a compelling argument that DOJ's request that we start four months from now, in January, is also wildly unrealistic. As you said, Trump points out there's 11 million documents here. He almost physically can't go through that in enough time.

He also makes an interesting point that the average federal conspiracy case, run-of-the-mill, takes about two years to get to trial. And in fact, some of the people, who stormed the Capitol, fairly straightforward cases, were given two or so years, up until trial.

So, he argues that "I'm being rushed." And I think the judge is going to have to find some workable middle ground here.

COLLINS: Yes. Jack Smith has pushed for a very ambitious date of January 2024. And Trump is asking for one, April 2026.

I mean, but do they have a point when they're talking about the evidence here, because they're saying that that date is too soon. And one of the arguments is about all of the discovery evidence.

And that they say, as they break it down, they would need to read, I believe, it's 99,762 pages of documents, a day, in order to finish with the prosecution's proposed date, for jury selection, which is in mid-December, and basically that say it's like reading War and Peace 78 times per day until then.

HONIG: Yes, it was a good colorful example. But look, this is a fair point.

On the one hand, there's a tension here. On the one hand, there's a need to try Donald Trump quickly. I think there's a public interest.


And on the other hand, we can't forget he does have a Sixth Amendment right, to fully prepare his defense. And he doesn't have to just read those nearly 100,000 documents per day. He has to analyze them. He has the right to investigate and mount his own defense. He has the right to bring motions.

I don't see any earthly way he can get that done by Jack Smith's proposed date of January 2024. I also don't see why we need to push this out until three years from now.

COLLINS: Elie Honig, we'll see what the judge decides, of course. Maybe somewhere in the middle. Thank you.

HONIG: Thanks, Kaitlan, all right.

COLLINS: All right. Also tonight, one of the biggest mysteries that was embedded in that Georgia indictment, we saw, earlier this week, against not just Donald Trump, but also 18 others, was who were the other unnamed members of what prosecutors are calling, quote, the "Enterprise."

In the words of the indictment, we are talking about unindicted co- conspirators one through individual 30. We can now say, for sure, who many of those people are, and how they connect to the former President.

This comes as the time though -- at the same time that we are learning a special prosecutor, is going to be named, to investigate one of those unindicted co-conspirators, because a judge initially said they were off-limits, to the District Attorney.

The list of co-conspirators reaches to the inner depths of Donald Trump's team.

Boris Epshteyn is a key Trump adviser to this day. He is also, based on our reporting, co-conspirator number two. He was so close to Trump that you'll recall he was sitting just a few seats away, from the former President, when he was arraigned, here in Manhattan.

If you dig through this list, it really runs the gamut, from Bernie Kerik, who was the former New York Police Department Commissioner, Rudy Giuliani's lead investigator; a former surfer from Hawaii; even to the CEO of Cyber Ninjas, that group behind a sham audit of ballots, in the State of Arizona.

There are a number of Republican officials on this list as well. The highest ranking one that you can see here is current Lieutenant Governor of Georgia, Burt Jones. That is who a judge ruled that Fani Willis couldn't indict, because she had held a fundraiser for his political opponent.

I'm joined now by two people, who know the situation, in Georgia well.

U.S. Attorney, Michael Moore.

And Geoff Duncan, the former Lieutenant Governor before Burt Jones. And also, we should note, a key witness, in this case.

I mean, what do you make when you look at that board? I mean, this is your home state. You know a lot of those faces.

MICHAEL MOORE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY, MIDDLE DISTRICT OF GEORGIA, PARTNER, MOORE HALL IN ATLANTA: It's not surprising, really at all. And I think they're using this idea of unindicted co-conspirators, to tell a story, and put some context on it.

But it also lets a prosecutor reach a little deeper, into the whole of the enterprise, and pull the noose, a little bit tighter, around the group. And it's a valuable tool.

It also helps keep cooperators and witnesses in line, because they can recognize that if they do try to do something, against the story, against what they've told might be under oath, at some point, that they could end up on the opposite side of the words more (ph) with Trump. So that's -- it's a good tool. But I'm not surprised to see these folks in it.

COLLINS: Yes. I mean, so you think it could be potentially used to help flip other people? I mean, we'll see --

MOORE: Sure.

COLLINS: -- we'll see what that looks like for these 30 people.

Burt Jones, I mean, he's the current Lieutenant Governor, of the State of Georgia. The only reason he couldn't be indicted here? I mean, we don't know for sure that he would have. But the only reason he couldn't be is because Fani Willis held a fundraiser, for his opponent.

I mean, what do you make of the fact that he is unindicted co- conspirator number eight?

GEOFF DUNCAN, (R) FORMER LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR OF GEORGIA, TESTIFIED BEFORE FULTON COUNTY GRAND JURY: So, not really shocking, you know? It was a kind of a technicality. And his team filed the grievance, to get him off the initial list.

But he had a front-row seat for this, right? He was a State Senator, at the time, and I was the Lieutenant Governor. And it really was kind of an odd motion for him.

He kind of built this little coalition, of a handful of senators. And sure enough, they were the mouthpiece for Donald Trump, inside the Senate, and they were really the ringleaders, of trying to set up the meetings, at the Capitol and whatnot. And it certainly ended up being a fake elector.

It was just interesting. I mean, these guys just got infatuated, in my opinion, to be in the cool kids club, right? It just was this draw of attention. They had President Trump's eye, and that was enough for them, to just listen to whatever they said and did.

COLLINS: And he was one of those, who wanted you, to call a Special Session, of the Legislature?

DUNCAN: Yes, no, there was a big effort, for a Special Session. There was a big effort, for meetings and official capacities. It was easy to spot, but painful to watch them have to go through this process. I'm sure it's going to be an expensive one.

COLLINS: Yes, it's not just Burt Jones, though. I mean, there are other top Republicans, from Georgia, ensnared in this. I mean, Shawn Still is a sitting State Senator.

DUNCAN: He's my senator that represents our House.

MOORE: Right.

COLLINS: How do you feel about that? I mean, it was, well look, just to -- he's one of the people charged here. And now Brian Kemp's office, the Governor, has confirmed that they did get that. And the question is whether or not he is going to be suspended, because of this.

DUNCAN: Yes. I mean, it draws into question. I mean, look, there's -- and I think he's got a whole stack of charges against him. And I believe he was associated with the state party.

Few years ago, this list of folks that were co-conspirators and indicted would have been a who's who of Republicans in Georgia.

[21:10:00] And now, to think about there's 19 individuals, and there's 30 co- conspirators, 48 people, other than Donald Trump, are all going to be infighting, and trying to fight for their own freedom? I can't imagine they're going to have any sort of respect, for Donald Trump, or are worried about his future.

COLLINS: I mean, what are Republicans in Georgia saying about that?

MOORE: I think there are some that are trying to distance themselves. And you've got some that are circling the wagons, at the same time.

And Geoff, you may feel different about that. But it strikes me that you have people, who are remaining close, to the Trump team, and to the campaign. And then, you've got others, who might be running for a little bit of cover.

COLLINS: What do you make of the fact that -- I mean, we're just talking about how Trump is saying he's canceling this major news conference that for those of us, who have covered Trump for a long time, we never really had any faith that this was going to be real news coverage. I mean, it shocked half the people, who worked for him, basically.

But it has caused, him saying that it was going to be this irrefutable proof of election fraud in Georgia? Brian Kemp came out and said that that's not the case. Brad Raffensperger, Mike Pence is coming out and saying it. I mean, we're almost three years past the 2020 election.

DUNCAN: There's probably a more technical term for this, but the dumpster fire has started again, right, to watch all this gyration going on, all this nonsense?

And I do think, back to your point, I think Georgians are -- Georgia Republicans are ahead of the game. We've seen this play out in 3D. We watched Brian Kemp go through it. And of course, he beat the brakes off David Perdue by 52 points, came back and beat Stacey Abrams. But certainly not everybody's healed from the Trump virus.

But I think nationally speaking, there's something happening this week that just feels different than the other cases. There's some sort of motion that really, the seriousness of this, the weight of this, I mean, every day that ends in Y, for the next two years, Donald Trump's going to have something to do in a courtroom.

And whether or not he's going to be flying around, whether or not he's going to be campaigning, whether or not he's going to be using all kinds of misinformation, who knows? But he's not going to win this election, campaigning from a courthouse. And it just feels like Republicans are starting to wake up to that.

MOORE: I do think that this idea of re-litigating is going to be a problem, for the lawyers.

But at the same time, there's some merit to the thought that you do raise doubts, during your case, if you're defending Trump, about the election. And that's because this entire indictment is about somebody trying to basically commit election fraud, or get somebody else, to commit election fraud, if they knew that they had in fact, lost.

And so, he just needs to get one juror, to bite off that maybe there was something real here, maybe there was something he should look at. Doesn't mean that they've got to buy into the whole thing.

So, I think you're going to hear him out. There's this part of a natural defense. I mean, otherwise, what's his defense going to be? I mean, he can argue that he was the president, he can argue presidential immunity. He can argue all these things.

But at some point, they're going to have to come in, and put this kind of argument out there, to say, I wasn't totally off base. They may have been something else.

COLLINS: But what are they going to point to?

MOORE: Well, I mean, they'll just point to something that somebody said. Remember, it's not illegal for him to listen to his lawyers. It's not illegal for him to have a strategy session, with Rudy Giuliani, saying, or Sidney Powell. We go down the list of people. That being creative and sort of talking about things is not illegal.

Now, this may have gone far to the field, right? And I mean?

COLLINS: I mean?

MOORE: Yes, to the crazy side.

But he's got to be able to come in and say, "I was listening to people, who had information. I was listening to people, who had talked about the voting machines. I was listening to people, who told me what was happening in some of the rural counties in Georgia with the votes."

And so, you're going to hear this re-litigation is part of his defense. And, I mean, that's just the reality of it.

DUNCAN: I think it's interesting to watch this divide. Some of these indicted are talking about that they believe it was still rigged. And some are saying, "Well, I just I was listening to advice."

And the other part is that, no -- all -- everyone doesn't disagree that they did this stuff. It's on Twitter. It's on the news. It's on video.


DUNCAN: They're just saying it wasn't illegal.

MOORE: That's right. Because they thought they were moving forward with something.

DUNCAN: That's right.

MOORE: That's right (ph).

COLLINS: We'll see what the jury decides.


COLLINS: And if and when that happens, it could be a long time from now.

Thank you both for being here.

MOORE: Thank you.

COLLINS: Our two resident Georgians, Michael Moore, Geoff Duncan.

Up next, the FBI has now gotten involved, in the State of Georgia after the grand jurors, who voted to indict Donald Trump there, earlier this week, are now facing threats of violence. The people threatening them know their names, and where to find them.

Plus, the private debate strategy, for Ron DeSantis, from some of his top supporters, has gone public. And we've got the fallout and quotes from it.



COLLINS: Tonight, the Fulton County Sheriff's Office, in Georgia, says that federal investigators, are now helping, track down the origin of threats that have been made, to the grand jury that voted to indict former President Donald Trump, and 18 others, this week.

Personal information, of those members, of that jury, has been posted online. It has sparked serious safety concerns, for these everyday Americans, who were just simply doing their civic duty.

Officials are now also tracking threats, against officials, in Fulton County. They are also increasing security, for the District Attorney, there, Fani Willis.

Joining me now, tonight, is Robert Pape. He is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago. He studies and tracks these threats to democracy.

And that is why Robert, you are the perfect person to have on this.

I mean, as we noted, these jurors were just simply doing their civic duty. Anyone could have been called to be on this jury. And now, you're seeing anonymous people, on these mainly far-right websites, calling for violence, against them. I mean, in 2023, is this just the price you pay, for playing your part, in democracy?

ROBERT PAPE, PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL SCIENCE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO: Well, I'm afraid it's the price we're going to have to get used to.

This is something we must take extremely seriously, Kaitlan, for two reasons. First, our surveys, at the University of Chicago, for two years, have been tracking support for political violence, in the American public. And what we're seeing is with the indictments, what we're seeing is a surge of violent support for Donald Trump, up 50 percent. Today, there are 18 million people, who agree that the use of force is justified to restore Donald Trump to the presidency.

There is a second reason though to be concerned. There have been multiple attacks, and multiple armed threats, against the, call them, enemies of Trump, just over the last year.


Literally, a year ago, this month, there was an assailant, who attacked the FBI office, in Cincinnati, out of retaliation, for the FBI raid, at Mar-a-Lago. And just before he died, in the shootout, he posted on Truth Social, that he wanted everybody to know that he's doing this for Trump.

The Pelosi attacker, last October, your audience knows about that.

Just six weeks ago, though, there was an assailant, who came to Obama's house, in Washington, D.C., armed. And fortunately, that threat was diffused.

And of course, last week, there was another assailant, who was making violent threats, to President Biden. Threats he had been making, in March. The Police came. They talked to him. Told him to stop it. He started again, the day Biden was coming to Utah, and he brandished a gun. And rather than stop making those threats.

We need to see that the combination of the rising sentiments, violent sentiments, for Trump, that these indictments are triggering, and the existing pattern, we already have, of lethal violence, against the enemies of Trump? This really means we must take the threats to the jurors very seriously, in Georgia, and be prepared that this won't be over, for the jurors.

COLLINS: Yes, I mean --

PAPE: Certainly, not even when the trials are over.

COLLINS: And clearly, in Georgia, I mean, the FBI has been brought in. You referenced that.

There was also the woman, in Texas, who was arrested and charged, yesterday, because she had threatened to kill a judge, overseeing one of Trump's cases. Some people will listen to this and say, "Well, what about the man, who showed up at Justice Brett Kavanaugh's home?"

But I do also, you know, you referenced Trump supporters, and those who are driven, and say that, the violence justifies the mean.

This is something Trump said today, about the charges, against him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: They want to silencing you -- they want to silence you. And they mean silence. They are, I think, they're sick people. I think they are people that have no idea how the world works. And they have no idea the anger they cause.


COLLINS: What impact do comments like that have on his supporters?

PAPE: This is inflammatory rhetoric. And this is exactly the kind of rhetoric that those attackers, the four, I just mentioned, were steeped in, before their attacks.

But just important to note, Kaitlan, that if violent rhetoric can encourage political violence, it can -- a calming rhetoric can also discourage it. And we have an important opportunity, next week, for political leaders, to set an example.

On August 23rd, next Wednesday, the Republican primary debate is going to be covered nationally. Every person on that stage should be asked to stand up, and stand together, against violent threats, whether they come from the right or the left, and specifically the threats, we're now seeing, surging, against the jurors, in Georgia.

And if they won't make that pledge, to stand up to political violence, if it really is OK, for Trump supporters, to essentially threaten, to assassinate those jurors? They should be called into account. Why is that OK?

COLLINS: We'll see if they are indeed asked that, and what they have to say about it. Obviously, it's not an issue that's going away,

Robert Pape, thank you, for joining us, with your expertise, tonight.

PAPE: Thank you.

COLLINS: And with that, let's focus on the law enforcement aspect of this. These are threats that we have seen.

Donell Harvin is here, luckily. He is the former Washington, D.C. Chief of Homeland Security and Intelligence.

I mean, when you look at this, the fact that what we've learned, tonight, Donell, the Fulton County Sheriff, investigating these threats, against the grand jurors? I mean, how does law enforcement determine how serious those threats are, when, what Robert was talking about there, they go from just being statements to something that people may actually take action on?

DONELL HARVIN, FORMER D.C. CHIEF OF HOMELAND SECURITY AND INTELLIGENCE: Well, Professor Pape was spot on. And what we're seeing, right now, is a normalization of violence, in the political space.

I'll tell you that the use of violence, in furtherance of a political goal or ideology, is at the heart of the definition of domestic terrorism. And when you have nobody, be it Trump, or be it any elected officials, pulling these individuals back, from the brink of extremism and violence, that's when you're going to have, I think, the long-term effects of what the radicalization and the inflammatory language.

There's no one out there condemning this. There is no one out there, on the Republican side, or any political officials, on the right, saying that that individual, who drove up from North Carolina, looking for Obama, after President Trump put out former President Obama's address, was wrong.


And so, law enforcement have to weigh all these threats. And they have to do so very carefully, because there's a First Amendment. The First Amendment allows people to be radicalized. I hate to say this. Radicalization is not illegal, in our country. But making threats of violence is.

And so, there are limits to the First Amendment. There's going to be a lot of things, you'll see, on these websites, some of these things are a lot difficult -- more difficult than others for law enforcement and intelligence operatives to look on, some of these encrypted chat rooms and web stuff.


HARVIN: So, they have to really triage all these threats, and hope they find the real true bad actors.

COLLINS: Well, they're triaging them.

I mean, I think one question that people have had, today, is how these names even ended up online. And what's not well-known is that Georgia is unusual in that they, in the name of transparency, is the goal of this, they require these names to be made public.

I mean, what concerns, do you have, about the safety of those grand jurors, tonight?

HARVIN: Well, I was actually surprised to learn that. I think that officials should have had some forethought about that. Those jurors' names were in the beginning of the indictment.

And so, it really has a chilling effect, on others, who may be looking to serve, or asked to serve on the actual jury, or subsequent grand juries.

Serving on a jury or a grand jury is really at the heart, at the core, of our democratic and of our civil process. And so, if individuals are scared to do that, I think, once again, because of the threats of violence, they may be less inclined to do so. And that really puts a kink, in the wheels of justice. Just to be able to serve on a grand jury, and not have threats against you, I think, people expect that.


HARVIN: Once again, we have to look at all of these threats and triage them. That's going to take a lot of resources, and a lot of time, for law enforcement. And they have to call in the federal authorities, because they have some of the analytical heft to do that.

COLLINS: Yes. We'll see what they look like, as the FBI is now investigating this.

Donell Harvin, thank you.

HARVIN: Thank you.

COLLINS: And coming up, the Biden campaign is planning to counter- program the Republican debate, next week that Robert mentioned there. But Democrats have their own issues that they are focused on

We'll talk about the strategy of that, with one of the President's 2024 Campaign Co-Chairs. That's next.



COLLINS: 2024 candidates, in the Republican Party, aren't the only ones preparing, for next Wednesday's debate.

We are told that President Biden's campaign is also planning an aggressive media blitz, to counter whatever happens, on the stage, that night.

They do have their work cut out for them, though. The President's average approval rating, right now, is hovering somewhere around 40 percent. He has been struggling to sell his Bidenomics message to voters, who say that they are still dissatisfied, with the current state of the economy.

So, joining me now, on this, is Biden's 2024 Campaign Co-Chair, former White House Senior Adviser, Cedric Richmond.

Cedric, thank you for being here.

I mean, the President has been out, on the road, trying to sell what the White House is calling Bidenomics, and this idea of a strong economy. But why do you think that that hasn't impressed voters yet?


If you look at the latest Pew Research, you see that 79 percent of the people in this country are either satisfied, or very satisfied, with the job that they have. And then, you put that on top of the fact that the President's created 13 million jobs, since coming in to office, and you look at GDP, and all of those things? It's a very good positive. So, to me, it's how you ask the question.

The other thing that I would point you to is the fact that Bidenomics is really a value proposition, is the fact that this President believes that we're going to make this country, and continue to grow this country, by building from the bottom-up and the middle-out.

COLLINS: Yes. And there are job numbers that are good. But, I mean, mortgage rates are not great. Gas prices are going back up today.

I mean, right now, it's 36 percent of Americans believe that they liked the way that he's handled the economy. Do you think that's something he can change, in the next year? I mean, that's going to be a big part of his campaign push.

RICHMOND: I do. And part of it is by going out and talking about the accomplishments we've had, the challenges that the President has been able to face.

And remember, the President united, the entire West, against Russian aggression. That came with a cost. That came with inflation impact.

And so, we're going to -- he's going to continue to do the job, of working, on behalf of the American people. And I think he has to continue to go out and talk about the investments, and infrastructure, which no other president was able to do, the fact that he was able to cap insulin, for our seniors, at $35.

So, I think he's doing the absolute right thing. And that is to go to the American people, and talk about the accomplishments, and talk about the things that we still have to do.

COLLINS: You know the former President, well. I mean, obviously, you're working on his campaign, now. You were at the White House, when I was there, covering the White House.

When you look at these polls that show, what looks like we're headed for, which is potentially a 2020 rematch? We don't know for sure yet. But that's what it looks like, right now. And it says in that hypothetical rematch, I mean, Biden is virtually tied with Trump, who, as we were just talking about with our previous guests, has now been indicted four times.

I mean, how do you explain why they are virtually tied?

RICHMOND: I don't explain it. All I will say is that people continue to count President Biden and Vice President Harris out. And over and over again, President Biden shows that he has the stamina, he has the wherewithal, he has the courage, to fight through.

And so, we look forward to a Biden-Harris-Trump rematch. And I think that the American people are going to choose Biden's record, of delivering, over the chaos, the bullying, and all of the things, during the Trump years.

COLLINS: One thing that we know is inevitably going to be brought up? It's brought up, pretty regularly, by 2024 Republicans --


COLLINS: -- is his son, is Hunter Biden. His legal troubles are far from over. We talked about those, in detail, with Hunter Biden's attorney, here on the show, last week.

But when you look at it, from a campaign perspective, and a political perspective? And you work for the campaign. Have you all discussed how to handle that on the campaign trail, how to rebut those attacks, or what you're going to say, when they inevitably are brought up?


RICHMOND: We stand by the President and the first lady. They love their son, Hunter, dearly. They support him. And his challenges that he's faced, he's manned up to. And we won't comment on ongoing investigations.

But this campaign is not about President Biden's family. This campaign is about the families that are watching us, on TV, right now, trying to keep a roof over their head, food on the table, clothes on their back. And that's why Bidenomics and rebuilding the middle-class is so important.

And we're never going to make this campaign, and the President has never made the campaign about him. He's always made it about the people. And I think that that's what separates him, from President Trump.

President Trump is all about himself.

President Biden is about delivering for people, and trying to improve their lives, which is why you don't see him, focusing on taking away freedoms, like Republicans, and what you're going to hear in Milwaukee. He's about building up Americans. And I think that that is the biggest contrast.

COLLINS: I understand that that's what he wants to focus on. That is obviously a top issue for a lot of Americans.

But this is something Republicans are inevitably going to bring up. I mean, so what do -- what's the White House's plan? What's the Campaign's plan, to respond to those attacks?

When some voters say, "Well, Hunter Biden is being treated this way by the justice system, President Trump is being treated this way by the justice system," I mean, do you have a plan to rebut that? Or do you think the plan is to kind of ignore those attacks?

RICHMOND: Well, we won't ignore anything.

I think what we will point out, though, is that President Biden, on the campaign trail, said that he wanted to restore the independence, of the Justice Department. And since he's been President, he's done just that.

And in fact, he left a prosecutor there that was investigating Hunter Biden, because that was, in his mind, the right thing to do, to restore the independence of the Justice Department. So that's all we'll say there. And then, we'll remind people that while Republicans are talking about Hunter Biden, we're talking about the fact that your grandmother and mother will not have to pay more than $35 every month for insulin. You won't choose between medicine and rent. You won't choose between your house note and medicine.

So, they can focus wherever they want. But we're going to focus on the American people.

COLLINS: Cedric Richmond, thank you, for your time, tonight. We'll see what happens, in Milwaukee, next week. And we'll see what your response is.

RICHMOND: Thank you, for having me.

COLLINS: Speaking of that debate, there is a memo, from a DeSantis Super PAC that may reveal his debate strategy, which is to defend Donald Trump, and attack other candidates, like Vivek Ramaswamy, and Chris Christie.

Was the leak part of a grand plan? What does it mean? And will we see it, on the debate stage, next week?



COLLINS: Tonight, there is confusion, and some anger, we are hearing, among Florida governor, Ron DeSantis' campaign team, after an embarrassing memo, was posted online, with tips, for the Florida governor, ahead of next week's first Republican debate.

On one of the memos, which we should note, were first reported, by the New York Times, it suggest four basic must-dos, for him, next Wednesday.

One, attack Joe Biden and the media three to five times.

Two, state positive vision two to three times.

Three, hammer Vivek Ramaswamy in a response.

Four, defend Donald Trump in absentia in response to a Chris Christie attack.

Joining me now, to discuss, is Paul Begala, and Jason Osborne.

Jason, I mean, you're familiar with debate prep. Is he going to be able to still use these very specific attacks?

And you're including, the one on Chris Christie saying, "Trump isn't here, just leave him alone. He's too weak to defend himself." But "I don't think we want to join forces with someone on this stage who's auditioning for a show on MSNBC." That's what they are telling him to say to Chris Christie.

I mean, can he still use that next week?


But I mean, the sad thing is, at least from what I've read is, virtually everything in the memo is stuff that everybody in the country that's a political person would suggest DeSantis do, right? I mean, highlighting your policies, two to three policies. That's basic debate prep, 101.

I think DeSantis now is, having to configure the fact that his Super PAC is amateurish, and they're making rookie mistakes, in a time, where you can't make these kind of mistakes. I mean hide this stuff on someplace that nobody else can find.

But certainly don't put together 700 pages of a memo, and expect five days before a debate that the candidate is going to have a chance to digest it. It's amateurish, and it's unfortunate, quite frankly.

COLLINS: And Paul, I mean, when you looked at the documents, there was not one focused, on attacking Donald Trump. Instead, it had what he should do, when Chris Christie attacks Donald Trump.

I mean, Trump is basically making clear, online, tonight that he is not going to show up to that debate. He's posting on Truth Social about it.

But what do you make of the tactic that he -- DeSantis is being encouraged, to take, when it comes to Trump?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR & DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST, HELPED PREP BILL CLINTON AND AL GORE FOR DEBATES: Yes, if you're going to -- first off, Jason is right. Leaking this is it's like the dumbest thing I've seen, in a long time. I see a lot of dumb things.

If Mr. Governor DeSantis wants to defend Donald Trump? Well, that is Donald Trump's job. And he has plenty of defenders. I think he's put himself, his people have put him, in a terrible, terrible box. Because now, everything he says, in the debate, we're all going to say, "Oh. That was scripted. That was false."

Governor Christie and Vivek Ramaswamy, who were mentioned in that memo, they need to send the DeSantis Super PAC a fruit basket or something, and thank them, because anything now DeSantis says, they'll say that was scam, that was fake.

There's this great line Groucho Marx used to say that, the secret of life is authenticity. And once you can fake that everything else is easy.

Well, that's what they're telling him. They're just like fake like you're a normal person. He's a Ron bot 2.023. Artificial intelligence has made great progress. But he's just artificial, and not very intelligent.


COLLINS: Yes, and I should note, Jason, the DeSantis campaign has put out a statement, from his spokesperson, Andrew Romeo, tonight, saying, this is not from them. This wasn't sanctioned by them. It's his outside political group.

But I mean part of the memo refers to, what's known as, what Roger Ailes deemed this "Orchestra Pit" moment, saying basically someone, who falls or does something, kind of embarrassing, or show-stopping, is something that is going to be more remembered than someone, who articulates this comprehensive foreign policy vision.

I mean, is that what they're worried about happening --


COLLINS: -- on Wednesday night?

OSBORNE: Well, I think as Paul can remember, the Orson Swindle, "Who am I and what am I doing here" moment. But I don't think we're going to see something like that.

BEGALA: Right.

OSBORNE: I mean, and the reality is, is that DeSantis is the only one that has high expectations. Everybody else, there's no expectations that any of them are going to have to meet. And unfortunately, DeSantis is going to have to meet those expectations, and probably exceed them.

And I know, to your point that you just mentioned about what Andrew had said? Yes, the campaign is upset. This is a distraction that they did not need.

And, at some point, the other six candidates that are up, on that stage, or the six candidates, that are going to be up on that stage, need to say why they're running for president, instead of sitting there, and defending Trump, or not attacking Trump. Because otherwise, then it's just six people up there talking about Trump.


OSBORNE: And how much Trump did, and how great he was.

COLLINS: Well, and now he's got to come up with a new nickname, for Vivek Ramaswamy. You can't say "Vivek the Fake," where everyone will know it's from this.


COLLINS: Paul Begala, Jason Osborne, we got to leave it there. Thank you both.

BEGALA: Thanks, Kaitlan.

OSBORNE: Thank you. COLLINS: We also have major news, tonight, coming here, in this hour. A major resignation has just happened, in Maui. It is the official, who decided not to sound the sirens, as those flames were taking over Lahaina. They are now stepping down. They say it is for health reasons.

We have more details, right after this.



COLLINS: There's breaking news, tonight, out of Hawaii, where a Maui's Emergency Management Agency Administrator has just submitted his resignation, effective immediately, we are told.

Herman Andaya is citing health reasons. But you may recognize him. 24 hours ago, it was Andaya, who was defending his decision, not to sound those warning sirens, as the wildfire was sweeping, the town of Lahaina. It killed at least 111 people so far, with more than 1,000 still missing, tonight.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you regret not sounding the sirens?


The sirens, as I had mentioned earlier, is used primarily for tsunamis.

Had we sounded the siren that night, we were afraid that people would have gone mauka. And if that was the case, then they would have gone into the fire.


COLLINS: The Mayor of Maui says that he is going to be appointing someone else, in that role, as quickly as possible, given how crucial it is, at this time.

Meanwhile, as Hawaiians are dealing with the unimaginable loss, of what they are dealing with, on the ground, tonight, the FBI is now warning, to be on high alert, against criminals, who are exploiting these disaster victims, with scams.

Joining me, tonight, is Maui resident, Ella Sable Tacderan.

Ella, thank you for being here.

I wonder just first off, I know that what you have been through, the last few days, it's just been hell. But now hearing that the Maui Emergency Administrator is stepping down, his defense of not sounding those sirens, what do you make of that? ELLA SABLE TACDERAN, MAUI RESIDENT: I don't have words. But I know that it should have been sounded because it could have saved lives, when everyone's aware that there was fire going on at that time.

However, I do feel like it -- I do feel like the Mayor should have a big decision to make, in regards to sounding the alarms, as well -- the sirens as well. And it feels like a lot of people's hands were tied. They didn't know what to do at this situation.

And I'm not -- I don't know what to say. I just feel like that siren should have been sounded. Because according to, part of that is wildfires. And, of course, everyone's going to know that there's an emergency happening, if that siren was sounded.

COLLINS: And Ella, I know, I mean, you've been affected --


COLLINS: -- by this firsthand. I mean, right now, it looks quiet, in your house. But you have 23 family members staying with you. That means there's 32 total people, in your house, right now.

Can you just, I mean, what is your day-to-day even like, at the moment?

SABLE TACDERAN: Right now, it still feels like -- it still feels surreal that I can't imagine that this has happened.

My house is full. And my heart is full, all the communities coming together helping each other out. And I'm just happy that we have each other. We're safe, unharmed and reunited. One of my cousins, after a whole week, finally see her, in-person. And she was looking kind of fuzzy (ph). And today, she -- we finally reunited with her.

We've been getting a lot of help, from the community. And the community has been a big part of my family's survival. Without them, we wouldn't be where we are, right now, in regards to sanity, as well as our survival mode.

COLLINS: You mentioned the community. But are you getting enough help from the government, tonight?

SABLE TACDERAN: My parents received a check for $700, which was a slap in the face. This $700 was given by the government. And I feel like it's not enough.

Living in Hawaii, you spend groceries, you -- everything is so expensive, groceries can be as much as $700, just for one grocery run. And it's not enough. And, right now, the Maui community is helping the Maui community.


And I'm really -- and it's really affected me. Because where's the President? He decides to come here, this week, to come here, next week. I mean like where -- aren't we Americans too? Like, we're part of the United States. But why are we not -- why are we getting put, in the back pocket? Why are we being ignored?

And I feel like these families need aid, right away. And they're being turned away, because their applications hasn't been approved, or pending. And like, and the only way they'll be able to get aid, or help, is if they sign up through FEMA, where a lot of these, a lot of these families, have elderly, who are computer-illiterate, or they don't know how to do it, or they don't know what to do.

COLLINS: What do you think it's important for the President --

SABLE TACDERAN: Right now, the only help we're getting is --

COLLINS: Ella, what do you think it's important for the President --

SABLE TACDERAN: The only help we're getting --

COLLINS: -- to see, when he comes next week, on Monday?

SABLE TACDERAN: Tell him to come to the War Memorial, and see the people there, laying out in cots, and see how he feels, especially injured people that's laying out in cots, right at War Memorial Stadium.


SABLE TACDERAN: I'm so sorry. I didn't know that it was going to go this way. I was happy to talk about my family.

But everything that has been, in my heart, I needed to say out aloud, because I've been struggling mentally, when it comes to providing help. And I want to be able to be there, for every single person that I meet. I want to be there for every single person that I see.

COLLINS: Ella, I mean, no one can even fathom what you and your family have been through. So, you don't have to apologize.

And thank you, for coming on, tonight. I know you have a lot of people, in your household.

And we know the President will be there, next week.

So, thank you very much.


COLLINS: And Abby Phillip picks up our coverage, right after this break.