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The Source with Kaitlan Collins

Meadows Under Oath: I Helped With Fake Electors Because I Didn't Want To "Get Yelled At" By Trump; DeSantis Contradicts Biden, Says He Has "No Plans" To Meet With The President When He Tours Storm Damage In Florida; Spanish Prosecutors Open Investigation Into Soccer Official Accused Of Unwanted Kiss. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired September 01, 2023 - 21:00   ET






New not guilty pleas, in Georgia, including from Rudy Giuliani, who just waived his right, to an arraignment, as tonight, Mark Meadows awaits a crucial ruling that could potentially impact the entire criminal case.

Plus, they met in Florida, after Hurricane Ian, and the Surfside condo collapse. President Biden said he would be with Governor Ron DeSantis, again, tomorrow, when he's in Florida. But now, the Republican governor and 2024 candidate is saying otherwise.

And efforts to knock Trump off the ballot are gaining steam. It's a longshot legal theory, but it is now at the heart of a battle, between Republicans. One of them, who is leading the charge, will join me, in moments.

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

Rudy Giuliani has now joined 11 other co-defendants, in pleading not guilty, as we head into this holiday weekend, all waving their arraignments, in Georgia, next week. That leaves seven left to enter their own please.

And we are still waiting, tonight, to learn about Mark Meadows' fate, a decision that could come at any time, on his attempt, to move his case, to federal court. But that would just be the first step in what he is ultimately trying to do here, which is get his charges dismissed, entirely. If this doesn't come by Wednesday, Trump's former Chief of Staff will still have to enter a plea, just like Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani and 10 others have done so far.

Meanwhile, the first defendant, with a scheduled trial date, in Georgia, Kenneth Chesebro, had made crystal clear, in a motion today, that he really, really wants nothing to do, with his fellow co- defendant, Sidney Powell, who followed in his footsteps, and also asked for a speedy trial. Chesebro arguing, they are like "Oil and water; wholly separate and impossible to mix (into one conspiracy)."

Just to reinforce the idea, here, he said, in his court filing, he has never physically met Powell, never sent an email to her, never received an email from her, never called her, never received a phone call from her, never texted her, never received a text message from her, and never communicated with Powell, through any social media or telecommunication app. Got it?

Meanwhile, Trump has filed a motion, to separate his case, from both Kenneth Chesebro, and Sidney Powell.

Let's break all of this down, tonight, with two top Georgia prosecutors. J. Tom Morgan, the former DeKalb County District Attorney; and Melissa Redmon, a former Fulton County prosecutor.

J. Tom, I will start with you. I mean, obviously you were part of that brief, I should note, against Meadows, trying to move that to court. We're still waiting to hear what happens there.

But with Rudy Giuliani, pleading not guilty, making it a total of 12, who've done so already, that means they don't actually have to show up, in court, next week. What is the strategy in that? Is there a strategy, do you believe?

J. TOM MORGAN, FORMER DEKALB COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Kaitlan, what they're trying to do is divide and conquer, by having separate trials, in different courts, and that way of pushing the prosecutor, in many different directions.

The underlying, with Mr. Meadows, and everybody else, Kaitlan, trying to get into federal court, is they do not want this case broadcasts to the American people. And no offense to your profession, journalism, but I don't want a reporter, to tell me what was said in court. I want to see it for myself.

And that's what these defendants are trying to do. They do not want this case, in federal court, where the secrecy and cameras and recorders are not allowed.

COLLINS: Melissa, what do you think is ultimately going to happen here? Because with Meadows here, really, this is a two-step. It's moving into federal court, for the sake of not being in state court. But also, he wants to dismiss it outright, entirely. And we haven't heard from the judge yet. But he's gotten those arguments.

Do you think the fact that we haven't heard from the judge here is a sign that this is a tough call?


MELISSA REDMON, FORMER FULTON COUNTY, GA PROSECUTOR: Absolutely. I think it's an issue of first impression. I think whatever the judge decides there will be an appeal, or an attempt to appeal.

Of course, if he decides to remand the case, back to state court, Mark Meadows will have a right to appeal that decision.

And if he does not remand it, the State will try to appeal because it's still an unanswered question of whether the State would have a right, to appeal, a judge's refusal to remand the case, back to state court.

And so, I think it'd still be some time, before we have a final answer, on where exactly Mr. Meadows' case will be heard.

COLLINS: Oh, that's a good point. I mean, just because we get the ruling may not actually be the final decision, here.

J. Tom, we have now two Trump co-defendants, Sidney Powell, Kenneth Chesebro, not only seeking both speedy trials, but very clearly, Kenneth Chesebro, making clear today that he wants to separate his from hers. I mean, what's the -- what's your sense of the likelihood, of him being able to successfully make that argument?

MORGAN: Kaitlan, those were spacious argument. And the reason is RICO is a powerful tool. And the one side doesn't need to know what the other side is doing, to put them all in a RICO case. This is a conspiracy case.

And, as you know, going back to the mob bosses, who were prosecuted, you could have gambling, you could have prostitution, you could have auto theft. And all of it is under the umbrella of RICO.

So, the fact that Mr. Chesebro does not know Miss Powell, never met her, never emailed her, as long as they're part of the same conspiracy, they can and will be tried together.

COLLINS: Melissa, is that your sense of, do you agree that it's not a basis for severing this?

REDMON: Absolutely. What they would have to show is that there was --

MORGAN: No, that is not the basis for severing.


COLLINS: Go ahead, Melissa.

REDMON: Exactly. So, what they would have to show is several things.


REDMON: One that a trial together would be abolishing of their due process. And that's an uphill climb, that too many defendants will confuse the issues.

And here, we're only talking about a few, so far, that are subject to that October trial date, just two so far, that are subject to that trial date, that evidence against one will kind of spill over into the other.

They're both accused of this overall conspiracy, of interfering with the election, but in different ways. So, I don't think that's a danger there. So in that they have antagonistic defenses, and they're both saying they did nothing wrong, and they're not pointing the finger at each other. So, I think, it would be difficult, for them, to win a motion to sever, under these circumstances.

COLLINS: Yes. And we've seen how clearly that Kenneth Chesebro is trying to say, he had nothing to do with Sidney Powell.

But J. Tom, Powell's attorneys are also trying to argue that she didn't technically represent President Trump, or the Trump campaign, related to the 2020 election, because she said she never had an engagement agreement.

And this stood out in her filing. She said "She appeared in no courtrooms or hearings for Trump or the Campaign. She had no contact with most of her purported conspirators and rarely agreed with those she knew or spoke with."

But on that part there, I mean, isn't that maybe just because she was pushing far-right conspiracy theories that were even too much for her co-defendants here?

MORGAN: Kaitlan, you make a good point. But she is all part of this conspiracy, at least by the allegations. The fact that she doesn't have an engagement letter, a lot of attorneys represent clients, without engagement letters.

What she was doing was furthering the effort to overturn the election. Whether she did it in her role as an attorney, for a particular entity, or individual, or just on herself, she's still part of the effort, to overturn this election, in Georgia.

COLLINS: Melissa, I mean, can you successfully argue to a judge that you weren't part of a conspiracy, because your alleged co-conspirators didn't agree with you?

REDMON: Well now that you and your conspirators agreed with the overall purpose of the enterprise, and that would be, to have Donald Trump, declared the winner, of the 2020 election, when he was not? The way you go about that you don't necessarily have to agree to those particular actions.

So, Chesebro didn't have to agree, with Sidney Powell, to interfere, or to try to collect the data, from Coffee County. So, and Sidney Powell didn't have to agree with Chesebro, as far as whatever actions he took.

But as long as they agreed that "We want to try, to have Donald Trump declared, the winner of the 2020 election," when all the evidence shows he was not, that is all that the State's required to prove.

COLLINS: J. Tom Morgan, Melissa Redmon, thank you both, for your time, on this Friday night.

MORGAN: Thank you, Kaitlan. COLLINS: I want to dig further into this, with Temidayo Aganga- Williams, the former Senior Investigative Counsel, for the January 6 committee, someone who is very familiar, with Mark Meadows.

And we're waiting to hear what this decision is from the judge.


But there was this part, in his testimony, on Monday, when he was arguing, for why it should be moved to federal court.

And he had been asked about an email that he had sent, where he had said, "We just need to have someone coordinating the electors for the states."

His attorney's cross-examining him and says, and is asking him, essentially, "Why did you want to make sure that someone was coordinating with the electors? Why did you care about that?"

And he said, "I didn't want to happen... for the campaign to prevail in certain areas and then not have," them essentially ready.

His attorney said, "Why did you not want that to happen?"

Mark Meadows answered, "Well, because I know I would get yelled at if we had not..."

His attorney says, "By whom?"

And he goes, "By the President of the United States."

I mean, is he saying that he did play a role in this, and his concern was Trump yelling at him?


First, is where you started off, is who is the, "We?" Because in that answer, it sounds like he's talking about "We" from a campaign perspective, which is the crux a lot of these issues. Was he acting as a Chief of Staff? Was he acting as an agent of the campaign? There, it sounds like he's implicating himself as a campaign actor that "We" is not "We, the White House," or, "We, the U.S. government." It's "We, the campaign."

Secondly, he's pointing at President Trump. And I think that's going to be an issue that for former President Trump, in all of these proceedings. Everyone loves to point up, in these conspiracies. They want to say, "It wasn't me. I was following directions." And I think you're going to see that replicated again and again, throughout these defendants.

And I think the third point there is whether it highlights the danger, for someone, like Meadows, getting on the stand, because those prosecutors are looking at every single word he said, and how it can be used against him, in a subsequent trial.

They're looking at those words, to see whether additional charges, like perjury, could be used against him. They're going to use that to the full capacity. And there's a reason why you have the right to remain silent. Because when people speak out loud, you can make the matters worse for yourself.

COLLINS: Yes. And when his attorney was asked, at another point -- he had been asked by the prosecutors, about the word, and he had used the word "We."

When his attorney asked him about using that in the email, he said, "Oh, well, I think that's just a habit leftover from my days in Congress. As a lawmaker, I just would always use the word, "We," to talk about teamwork, and getting legislation accomplished."

I mean, is that something? How do you think the judge is reflecting on that answer?

AGANGA-WILLIAMS: I think the judge is not going to find that credible. I mean, the judge is going to be looking at the totality of circumstances. But one thing judges are constantly teetered (ph) on is that people will admit what they can't deny, right? That's the old saying, right?

And I think, here, when you give these kind of things that are not quite credible, a judge is going to look at that in one instance, and apply to the rest of your testimony. Because if you're lying about one thing, even if small, the judge is going to stop presuming, you're lying about something perhaps big.

COLLINS: In the meantime, what we're learning is about how all of these co-defendants, those who have pleaded not guilty, and those who are, we are still waiting to hear what they're going to plead, though, I think we can guess, how desperate they're getting, to pay for their legal bills?

I mean, they are crowdsourcing essentially their legal funds. Rudy Giuliani is. John Eastman is. Rudy Giuliani is having a fundraiser, with Trump, next week. Jenna Ellis.

The question, I think, though, is obviously Trump is worried about how much it would cost, to pay for all these people.


COLLINS: He doesn't even like to pay his own legal bills.

But could it cost him in a different way? Could it be dangerous to him, to not keep all of these co-defendants unified?

AGANGA-WILLIAMS: I think, yes. First, it's, I think it's good for justice, that he's not paying the legal fees. I mean, we've seen what happens, when critical witnesses, take on a Trump lawyer.

On the Jan. 6 committee, we saw with Cassidy Hutchinson. She initially had a Trump-paid lawyer. And she came to us, and said, "I don't recall. I don't recall. I don't recall." When she got a new lawyer, she came in, she told the truth, and she provided some of the most damning testimony against Trump.

You've seen it in Florida, in the documents case, with Jack Smith. You had the IT worker, who had a Trump lawyer, and he perjured himself. He got a new lawyer. He came in, he told the truth, and really helped support the obstruction charges.

COLLINS: Superseding indictment.

AGANGA-WILLIAMS: Exactly. Again, and I think that shows you that the danger. So, I think it's good for justice.

And I do think it's bad for Trump. I think he may be short-sighted in that. When folks are feeling the pressure, they're going to be more inclined, to want to get out of the case. And when you're charged and indicted, the quickest way to get out of a case is to plead guilty. And the best way to avoid liability, when you plead guilty, is to cooperate.

So, some of these folks, especially those who are charged, with the RICO charge, which has heavier penalties, they start building financial pressures? That's just the beginning.

And we are early. We haven't had motion practice. We haven't had court appearances. This case has not even begun to warm up. So, when it does get moving, those bills are going to skyrocket. And you're going to see people, I think, start potentially turning on the former President.

COLLINS: Jenna Ellis, the former Trump lawyer, for example, who's complained that he's not paying legal bills for them, she's raised, I think it was $180,000, last time I checked. Does that even come close to covering what this could potentially cost?


AGANGA-WILLIAMS: I think a case like this could easily start running into hundreds of thousands of dollars. I mean, these cases are incredibly expensive, if you want the best representation? And here, you want motion practice. You're going to have legal research. You're going to have senior lawyers, working on this, a lot, full time. It's a really complicated matter, with a lot of moving parts.

And if you're a lawyer? You're not paying attention, just to your defendant. You have to keep track of what the other 18 are doing. You have to keep track of what Fani Willis is saying. You have to keep track of moving law. And you have to do all that while charging, as many of us lawyers do, by the hour.

So, everything you do cost a lot of money. And these folks are really going to feel it very quickly.

COLLINS: Yes, sounds like it.

Temidayo, thank you, for joining.


COLLINS: In Washington, today, two more members, of the Proud Boys were sentenced, for their roles, on the Capitol riot. We talked about this last night, the others, who had been sentenced.

Now today, Ethan Nordean, who prosecutors said was, quote, "The undisputed leader on the ground on January 6th," received 18 years in prison. That is one of the longest sentences, in this case, so far. And it ties the sentence that was given to the Oath Keepers' founder, Stewart Rhodes. But it does fall far short of the 27 years that prosecutors were seeking.

Nordean said that January 6, in his view, now, is quote, a "Complete and utter tragedy," and claimed that he actually went to the Capitol, to be a leader, and keep people out of trouble.

You might remember the other Proud Boy, who was sentenced, today. You see him here, Dominic Pezzola, this scene, where he smashed through a Capitol window, using a police riot shield, allowing therefore, the first wave of rioters, to storm the building. Once inside, he lit a celebratory cigar.

In court today, though, Pezzola told the judge that he wished he had never crossed into a restricted area. And he apologized, to the officer, whose shields he took, adding quote, "There is no place in my future for groups or politics whatsoever." That was in court.

When he walked, out of the court, after that apology, and after the judge sentenced him, to 10 years, which is half of what prosecutors wanted, he exited the courtroom, raising his fist, and defiantly yelling, "Trump won."

Ahead, Spain's suspended soccer chief now says he regrets that unwanted kiss that happened at the World Cup. He's asking for forgiveness. But he also says there's been a quote, "Manufactured campaign," against him.

But first, we have seen them come together, before, during emergencies. So, why is Governor Ron DeSantis now, not meeting with President Biden, when he is in Florida, tomorrow, just hours after President Biden said they would?



COLLINS: Tonight, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis says he has "No plans" to meet with President Biden, when he heads to Florida, tomorrow, to survey damage, from Hurricane Idalia.

That was apparently news to the White House, who told CNN earlier that yes, President Biden was going to be meeting with DeSantis.

Hours later, a spokesman, for the Florida governor, issued a statement that reads, in part, quote, "In these rural communities, and so soon after" the impact, "the security preparations alone that would go into setting up such a meeting would shut down ongoing recovery efforts."

That would be different than what we saw in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian last year, when Governor DeSantis, and President Biden, and the first spouses did meet.

The White House says their visit to Florida has been planned, in close coordination with FEMA, as well as State and local leaders, to ensure quote that "There is no impact on response operations," also noting that Biden told Governor DeSantis, yesterday, that he would be coming, and the Governor did not express any concerns during that call.

Joining me now, Jason Osborne, and Kate Bedingfield. Of course, Jason, former Trump campaign adviser, and Kate Bedingfield, the former White House -- Biden White House Communications Director, I should note.

Jason, I mean, I think, the question here is, is this a legitimate reason? Because, they met after Hurricane Ian. It didn't seem to be an issue, then. I think it was there were a few more days in between when the actual storm struck, and when President Biden came down.

But they also met after the condo disaster, in Surfside.

I mean, what do you think has changed here? And do you think this is legitimate?


Secondly, yes, I do think this is -- I think there's a couple things at play here, right? I mean, the security aspect of it is very important, because it is a rural area. I mean, if this hurricane was going to hit anywhere, if you needed it to hit anywhere, this is the area to hit it, because it was very rural and very farmland and foresty.

So, having Biden come in, and even having the Governor go in, to some of these areas, is a big undertaking. You have to set up the perimeters, around, for security purposes. You don't know what you're walking into, in many cases.

But I think the second part of it is there, if you watched the debate last week, where I can't remember which candidate made the comment, to Christie, about Christie, having Obama --

COLLINS: Vivek Ramaswamy.

OSBORNE: Right. There is that dynamic as well.

But also, I think if you look at what DeSantis is doing, is he's standing on leadership, and what he's done in disasters. I mean, if there's any State that is good, in handling disasters, it's Florida. And DeSantis took it up a notch, in Ian, last year, and did a really good job there. This year, with so far, with this hurricane, I think we saw record numbers of folks without power, getting their power back, and minimal damage.

So, I think there is some politics there, in a couple different ways, one, not wanting to be with Biden, and then secondly, standing on his own, and showing what he's been able to accomplish on his own.

COLLINS: Kate, you worked for President Biden, for a long time. I mean, you're familiar with how they operate, in the White House, what they believe. I mean, he clearly thought they were going to be meeting. He told my colleague, Arlette Saenz, yes, when she asked him earlier.

What do you think is going on, in the White House, right now? Does this affect anything, for his visit, tomorrow?

KATE BEDINGFIELD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, BIDEN ADMINISTRATION: Well, look, I mean, you were asking what's changed, from this year to last year? The only thing that's changed, about this year, versus last year, when President Biden was there, in the wake of Hurricane Ian, is that Ron DeSantis is struggling, in a Republican presidential primary.

So look, with regard to the President's visit? This won't change the substance of his visit. He will go. He will view the damage. He will talk to people, who are there, first responders, who are helping clean up. He'll talk to people, who have suffered. This won't change the substance of his visit, also won't change the substance of the aid that his government, is providing, to people, who need it, in Florida.


But it is a really unfortunate time, for Ron DeSantis, to choose to be small and petty. This is a moment, where people are hurting. They want to see their leaders. They want to hear from them. It's a moment for, to put partisanship aside.

Again, it's something that, you know, I was with President Biden, when he was there, last year, standing with Ron DeSantis. And it was a powerful day. And it was an opportunity to put politics aside, in a really difficult moment.

So, it's unfortunate that Ron DeSantis is choosing to do this. But I don't think we should kid ourselves that this is about anything but politics for him.

COLLINS: Well, yes, Kate, just to follow that. You know the logistics going into this, and the big footprint that a President does have when he travels. So, you don't believe that, that it's actually a logistics issue here?

BEDINGFIELD: There are certainly logistics. And you're absolutely right. The President brings a big footprint, with him, when he travels.

But the President has worked through. I was on the team that helped work through many of these visits, in the past, and when we've had no problem, standing with governors, with mayors, and with Ron DeSantis, himself, in at least two previous occasions, in Florida.

So, it can be done. It's a moment, again, when I think people want to see their leaders standing together. And it's unfortunate that Governor DeSantis won't be there.

COLLINS: Jason, you mentioned something, a moment ago that I thought about, when I heard this, just before we came on air, of what was happening here, which is, last week, at the debate, Vivek Ramaswamy did mention something that happened 10 years ago, after Sandy hit New York and New Jersey.

And, it was at the time, when President Obama was running, against Mitt Romney, for reelection. And President Obama came to New Jersey.

And Governor Christie, at the time, governor at the time, greeted him. He didn't give him a hug, which is lore. He just kind of shook his hand and patted him on the back. But it was something that Republicans roasted him over, saying that he helped Obama, in that race.

I mean, do you think that's what this is, that Governor DeSantis is trying to avoid a Chris Christie moment?

OSBORNE: I don't want to assume that it's like at the forefront of their mind. I honestly do think it is a security issue.

And also, this is an opportunity, for Ron DeSantis, to show what a leader, in the U.S., should be, as president, and not taking vacation, and then going over to Maui. That was a symbolism, I think, DeSantis went to distinguish himself, between him and Biden, in that he stopped the campaign, came down to Florida, and is in the field, talking to the people that have been affected by this.

So, I don't think that the Christie-Obama situation is at the forefront. It's probably for a few of the staffers, a memory that they would not like to relive.

But at the end of the day, I think if Biden wants to come down, and survey the damage, that's great. And to Kate's point, he's going to sit there and talk to the people that have been affected by this. Go ahead and do it.

Ron DeSantis is going to go out and be the governor, and do what he needs to do, and take care of the State, and helping the State recover from the damage.

COLLINS: But if it was a Republican President, do you think he'd meet with them? I mean, if you're saying it's leadership, wouldn't it be leadership, to have two prominent leaders, here, meeting together, despite having very different politics?

OSBORNE: No, I don't. I mean, I don't know if I would say that either. I mean, Trump had this situation, as well. I mean, there's a lot of places that Presidents should go. But there's a lot of places that they should be aware of the footprint that they're leaving.

And to Kate's point, when Biden went last year, Fort Myers is a much different area than the Big Bend of Florida, where there's one small military base, in that area, that they could even land Air Force One, and they can transport the multitude of people, that are accompanying the President.

So, it's distinguished by the area that it's in, and also the situation, and the damage that was not as bad as they pretended it to be, at the beginning.

BEDINGFIELD: But also --


BEDINGFIELD: Also, I would just add really quickly here that if the Governor wanted to send a message of unity and healing, he could also meet the President, at the airport, if there are logistical challenges, with having the Governor, and his security footprint, with the President.

There are ways to get a picture of the two of them together, if Governor DeSantis wanted to do that. He could certainly -- I am certain President Biden would welcome meeting him --

OSBORNE: What unity do they need to show?

BEDINGFIELD: -- meeting him at the airport.

OSBORNE: The federal government is providing the money through FEMA, which is what they've always done. And the relationship between FDEM, and the federal government, is very strong.

So, I don't know what the need here is, and why there's like such an importance, about whether or not the Governor of Florida meets with President Biden, to say, "Hey, we're in this together." We know they're in it together. There haven't been any --

COLLINS: It's just a longstanding tradition, though, I think, of presidents, dating back. I mean, you can think of any natural disaster.

You're right. The federal money still goes there. But this has hurt politicians before. I mean, we can cite several presidents, who we've seen that play out with them, in the sense of it's not just about the funding. It's also the symbolism of it.

OSBORNE: Well, I don't disagree with you.


And yes, there are situations, like that if you go back to Katrina. Certainly, that was a huge issue, right, with -- but there was a huge disconnect, I think, between the local governments, of the City of New Orleans, and the rest of the State, and the federal government, and the optics of President Bush flying around, over the damage of Katrina, was not good.

But, in this situation, where you have a State, like Florida, which is at the forefront, and leaning forward, on every disaster that comes in, and has a great relationship with FEMA? And FEMA has been, on the ground, since day one.

The President, to his credit, and I think, Governor even thanked him for it, issued the National Emergency declaration, therefore clearing up any -- cleaning up -- clearing any funds that needed to be given.

So, I don't know if there needs to be that picture. And I don't necessarily blame DeSantis for it. Of course, there's politics involved in it. But I don't necessarily blame him, for not doing it. And I don't think anybody's going to fault him for it, except folks that are not going to support him anyway.

BEDINGFIELD: Historically, in these moments after disasters, we've been Americans first, and we've cling to our political parties, second. And it's unfortunate --

OSBORNE: Is Biden going to Georgia?

BEDINGFIELD: It's unfortunate, to see, in this moment, where there's an opportunity, for Americans, to look to their leaders --


BEDINGFIELD: -- and say, they can set aside these kind of differences, when it matters, and when it counts. It's disappointing that this is a moment for leadership, where we won't see it from Governor DeSantis.

But President Biden will be there. As you said, Jason, the money will be there. The support will be there. And he will continue to help the people of Florida.

COLLINS: Kate Bedingfield?

OSBORNE: But is he going to Georgia? Is he going to South Carolina? I mean, they had damage too and there's still people without power in those states. And I don't see Biden going there.

So, if there's politics on DeSantis' part, there's also politics on Biden's part, because they know that they messed up, on Maui, and now, they know that they have a chance to get a dig in, at DeSantis. And so, I think, there's politics playing there --


OSBORNE: -- in those situations.

COLLINS: I would just note, Florida got the brunt of this. Obviously, that was where the focus of this was, when it first hit.

Kate Bedingfield, Jason Osborne, we will have to leave it there, on this Friday night. Thank you both.


OSBORNE: Thank you. COLLINS: Also, this week marks two years, since U.S. troops left Afghanistan, after a 20-year war.

We can never forget those 13 U.S. servicemembers, who did not come home, from that exit, and instead were killed, during the chaotic withdrawal. Their families tonight are still seeking answers. And so many questions remain about what happened.

We're going to talk about all of it. The anniversary, the deaths, also, what is the current issue, right now, with refugees, here in the United States, with a veteran, who once served there.

Jack McCain is the son of the late Senator, and war hero, John McCain. And he joins us, next.



COLLINS: This week marks two years, since the last U.S. military plane, left Afghanistan, ending America's 20-year war and presence there. The last days, of course, were mired in chaos and confusion. And that desperation was at its clearest, during these scenes, at the Kabul airport, as the Taliban took control of the country.

And Jack McCain joins us now. He is a veteran, of the war, in Afghanistan, and of course, the son, of the late Senator, John McCain.

Jack, thank you, so much, for being here.

How are you reflecting, on this anniversary, as now we hit two years, of the U.S. exit, from Afghanistan?

JACK MCCAIN, A FORMER AFGHAN HAND AND AFGHANISTAN WAR VETERAN, SON OF SEN. JOHN MCCAIN: Well, I'd like to say thank you, first of all, for having me on, and for allowing me to speak, on this issue.

I think, as I reflect on the anniversary, I just think so much about the work ahead, because while we can look back, we can go through the mistakes that we've made, I think the more important work to be done, is to figure out how we can take care of those, who took care of us, and who fought a war that we asked them to, on our behalf.

So, making sure that they are taken care of, in the United States, that they're evacuated, from the countries that they may be in now, whether it's Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran or elsewhere? That's what I think about as we go forward.

COLLINS: I know what they've done, obviously has meant so much to you, and especially during your time there.

President Biden, in his statement today, on the anniversary, a statement, yesterday, on the anniversary, he didn't specifically mention the chaos that characterized that exit, or the bombing that happened, at Abbey Gate, obviously, that killed 13 servicemembers. And their families have made very clear they still want answers, from the Administration. Here's what they said, on Capitol Hill, just recently.


JACLYN SCHMITZ, STEPMOTHER OF MARINE CORPS LANCE CORPORAL JARED SCHMITZ: They are sons and daughters, brothers and sisters that were pawns in some agenda. And we deserve some information and collaboration, from all political parties. It may not be easy, or on your specific schedule or docket. But neither was any of this, for all of us. Until it was.


COLLINS: You're obviously, from a military family, Jack. I mean, what goes through your mind, when you hear the pain, and frustration, in their voices?

MCCAIN: Having spent no small amount of time, in the military, I know loss. And I can appreciate keenly.

While I think that the issue is incredibly horrible, and one that we need to porous, to ensure that it doesn't happen again, proper policy should obviously be made, so that we can go forward, through the process of reconciliation, and trying to mitigate the moral injury, to our veterans, to their families, and to those affected and impacted by the war.

And not to bring it directly back to the issue at hand. But one of the ways to do that is by making sure that we pass the Afghan Adjustment Act to do right, by those that kept our servicemembers safe.

COLLINS: And there had obviously been hope that the Taliban had kind of moderated itself. I mean, they clearly haven't. It's become kind of a human rights nightmare, I mean, especially when it comes to women and girls. They're denying education and employment to them. They even shut down beauty parlors.

I mean, what have you heard about what life is like, on the ground there, since the U.S. exited?

MCCAIN: Absolutely. The Taliban are exactly who they said they were. They have clamped down, on entirely exclusionary aspects, of women's rights.


Not only that, but they have reprised, against those, that served, in the Afghan military, for the United States, something they specifically promised they would not do. They have murdered them, in large numbers.

So, the Taliban will remain who they are. And expecting them to change is expecting a tiger to change its stripes. It just will not happen. That's what, I think, going forward, about the Taliban. COLLINS: The President also noted an issue, obviously, that you mentioned, at the beginning, that something you care deeply about, the 117,000 African refugees, who have come to the U.S., since that withdrawal.

But, I mean, so far, Congress has failed to create a pathway for legal permanent residency, for those, who were evacuated, from Afghanistan. I mean, if a member of Congress is listening, to this interview, tonight, how vital is it, for them, to get that done, to get that passed?

MCCAIN: With no overstatement, this is an issue of absolute life and death, for those involved. Members, who served with alongside our armed forces, members who served, in the Afghan National Army and Air Force are at risk of death, if they returned to Afghanistan.

There is only one correct thing to do, and that is to make sure that they are taken care of, that they are given asylum and refugee status, in the United States, and that we take care of them, in every way possible.

It's the exact same thing that we did, with the Vietnam Adjustment Act, after the Vietnam War. This case is not unique. And it is a moral imperative that we do this correctly, not just for our Afghans, but for our servicemembers as well.

COLLINS: Jack McCain, I know this issue is very close to your heart. Thank you, for joining us, on it, tonight.

MCCAIN: I appreciate being here. Thank you.

COLLINS: And new developments, in the soccer scandal, in Spain that has rocked the world. The official suspended, for kissing a player, without her consent, admits to mistakes. But there's a catch.



COLLINS: Spain's now-suspended soccer chief has just released a new statement, on the unwanted kiss, that he gave, to a player, at the World Cup.

Luis Rubiales says that he made some obvious mistakes, which he says he regrets sincerely. But he's still claiming that his actions were consensual, when, of course, Jenni Hermoso says that they were not.

Julie Foudy is a retired Captain of the U.S. Women's National Team, and a gold medalist in soccer.

Julie, what do you make of his continued defiance, here, and the perspective, and the shaping this gives, to Spain's standing in soccer?

JULIE FOUDY, FORMER U.S. OLYMPIC WOMEN'S SOCCER GOLD MEDALIST, RETIRED CAPITAIN OF THE U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL SOCCER TEAM: Well, he just continues to dig that hole. I don't understand the point of all of this.

I think, obviously, what we've seen is, one, you have, for the first time ever, a women's team in Spain, win that World Cup. And that has never happened in that country.

So, in this moment of joy and glee, for these women, all of a sudden, all of that is taken away, by this man's, Rubiales' refusal, to one, even apologize, at first. He just said "No, I'm not resigning. I'm doubling down actually. And it was consensual," and it was almost blaming it on her. They even threatened to sue Jenni Hermoso, as we know, the Spanish Federation.

So, I think, the difference, honestly, Kaitlan, this time around, because obviously we know this has been happening for a very long time, in women's sports? And not just women's sports.

I think a lot of women, watching, will agree that this happens in a lot of different industries is that you have this movement, culturally, in society, where you're seeing a global reaction, to this. Not just soccer players, defending her, not just women. We've seen men soccer players. We've seen men's Spanish national team players, threatening not to play, for their Spanish national team.

But there has been a global reaction to that. And the government is responding to it. And so, I think this will not end well for him.

COLLINS: Not end well for him.

I mean, it certainly is resonating. Do you think it changes things, permanently, going forward, for not just this team, in this sport, but for the way people view this overall?

FOUDY: Yes, and I think actually, that's if you can find a silver lining in it? That is the silver lining, because it will be this transformative moment.

This is a team, just to give some context, to the Spanish national team, that a year ago said, there was 15 key star players, who said we will not play, for this national team, anymore, until there are systemic changes, in leadership, and coaching, and the way we're treated.

And so, the Spanish Federation, when that letter came to them, said, "How dare you even threaten this? That's not your lane. Apologize." They slapped him on the wrist and said, "Apologize, or you will never play for the Spanish national team."

So, that Spanish national team that actually won this World Cup had about 10 players, who would not go back to the national team, that were stars. It wasn't even their best team.

To give you a sense of this is not just about a kiss. This is about a larger systemic issue. And finally, you're getting a cultural reaction, not just in Spain, but globally, to something that, as we know, has been around for a very long time.

COLLINS: Yes, it's quite a moment.

Julie Foudy, of course, you have perspective on this, like few others. So, thank you, for joining me.

FOUDY: Thank you, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: Up next, a fight, over whether former President Trump, should be on the ballot, in New Hampshire, in 2024. A key Republican will join us.



COLLINS: New Hampshire Republicans have reignited a debate, over whether Donald Trump lawfully, can be on the ballot, in 2024, in their State.

This dispute took off, after an attorney, who Trump endorsed for Senate, I should note, in 2020, urged the Secretary of State, to review whether Trump is ineligible, to run for office, under the 14th Amendment. This, of course, bars any American official who has taken an oath to uphold the Constitution, from holding future office, if they later engaged, in quote, an "Insurrection or rebellion."

The man behind this push, in New Hampshire, Corky Messner joins me now.

Corky, of course, as I noted, it bears repeating, you were endorsed by Trump, when you ran, for the U.S. Senate, I should note.

And you recently met with New Hampshire Secretary of State, to urge him, to seek legal guidance, on this issue, before the Republican primary. Why?


And I think that because we're in the first-in-the-nation primary here, it's important that this issue get decided, as soon as possible, because if it gets decided, after the first-in-the-nation primary, here in New Hampshire, then the New Hampshire voters will be disenfranchised.

So, he's seeking guidance, from the Attorney General. I think that's a good move, on his part. And everyone's awaiting his decision. And then, based on that decision, we'll decide how best to proceed.

It's, the Baude article that talks about this, it's very, very compelling that Donald Trump is in fact disqualified. And I know the Secretary of State has that article. I suspect he's read it. I suspect the Attorney General has read it. And I think it's an issue that needs to get to the United States Supreme Court, just as expeditiously as possible.

COLLINS: Yes. MESSNER: So, we needed guidance from the court.

COLLINS: Corky, when people say, they look at this and say, this is a legal long shot? What do you say back to them?

MESSNER: Oh, I don't think so. This is part of the Constitution.


And the thing that has really surprised me, in this, Kaitlan is, is we, conservatives, are supposed to be constitutional conservatives, and we believe in what's written, in the Constitution. And suddenly, conservatives don't have much interest in that. And that really surprises me.

And the other part of it is I would have thought that there would be some counter, to the Baude argument, from those, in the Trump camp, in a similar article. But there's nothing been published. So, I think, it speaks to the strength of the Baude article, that, that's very compelling. It looks like a Supreme Court opinion.

COLLINS: Corky, Republicans, in your State, the Chair of the State Republican Party, says he's a friend of yours, but he doesn't agree, and that even if there is a lawsuit, they are going to intervene, on that behalf.

What do you make of that?

MESSNER: Yes, I know him. And, some of his comments, quite frankly, I think, have been a bit embarrassing for him.

I look at it this way. If we don't follow the Constitution, and fight for the Constitution, then we'd look like a banana republic. So, we need to honor the Constitution.

I don't think he, or the NH GOP, has looked at this issue, very closely. I urge them to. I have an opinion piece, in the Union Leader, this Sunday, that's coming out, that ask them to do that.

COLLINS: Well, Corky, we will be sure to read that as well, the New Hampshire Union Leader.

Corky Messner, thank you very much. And keep us updated, on what you hear, about that review.

MESSNER: Anytime, Kaitlan. Thanks for having me on. Have a good weekend.

COLLINS: You too.

MESSNER: All right.

COLLINS: And we'll be back, in just a moment.



COLLINS: Thank you, so much, for joining us, tonight.

Happy Labor Day weekend, to everyone.

And also, more importantly, happy College Football Kickoff Weekend, to all of those, who celebrate. And of course, Roll Tide.

"CNN PRIMETIME" with Abby Phillip, starts, right now.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST, CNN PRIMETIME: Kaitlan, I have absolutely nothing to add, to that conversation. But good luck, to you, and all who celebrate, this weekend. Thank you.

COLLINS: Thanks, Abby.

PHILLIP: Have a good evening.

COLLINS: Have a good weekend.