Return to Transcripts main page

The Source with Kaitlan Collins

GOP Sen. Mitt Romney Announces He Won't Seek Re-Election; Zakaria: Summit Is A Sign Of Putin's Weakness; Musk: There's A Non- Zero Chance A.I. Can Kill Us All. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired September 13, 2023 - 21:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Short time ago, the National Hurricane Center gave its latest update, on Hurricane Lee.

Currently, Category 2 strength, hurricane watch has been issued, for parts of Maine. And tropical storm watches have been issued for other portions of New England, from Maine, to Rhode Island, including Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket.

Storm system is weakening, but it's also expected to remain, quote, "Very large and dangerous," which means even if the storm doesn't make landfall in the U.S., New England may still be hit with tropical storm force winds. And that could occur as early as late Friday.

That's it for us. The news continues. I'll see you tomorrow.



Senator Mitt Romney, a rare voice against Trump, in the GOP, announces that he won't seek a second term, and is taking on his own party for quote, "Putting the Constitution aside."

Plus President Biden, responding, for the first time, to Speaker McCarthy's impeachment inquiry, the one that his White House calls, a "Political stunt, baseless and illegitimate."

And in a brand-new interview, tonight, outgoing Joint Chiefs Chairman, General Mark Milley is responding, to that claim, by the former President that changes (ph) up an attack plan for Iran. He says, not so.

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

Republican Senator, Mitt Romney, is headed for the exit, and says he won't seek re-election. The Utah Republican, citing his age, and suggesting that other leaders, including President Biden, and former President Donald Trump, should too, and instead welcome the next generation of leaders, to step forward.

But he is also speaking bluntly about the state of his party, polarized politics, and yes, his nemesis, Donald Trump, delivering this scathing indictment, for Republicans' continued loyalty, to the former President.


SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): There's no question that the Republican Party today is in the shadow of Donald Trump.

I represent a small wing of the Republican Party. If you will, I call it the wise wing of the Republican Party.

My wing of the party talks about policy and about issues that will make a difference to the lives of the American people. The Trump wing of the party talks about resentments of various kind, and getting even, and settling score.

On the Trump wing of the party, I haven't heard policy, other than saying "We're going to build a wall." And by the way, he was President. He was President for four years. He built 50 miles. What did he get done?


COLLINS: Hearing that, and thinking about the state of the 2024 race, in the Republican primary, as it is now, it's almost hard to remember that it wasn't that long ago, Romney was the Republican presidential nominee, in 2012.

But he made a historic break, with others, in his party, when he became the only Republican senator, who voted to remove Donald Trump from office, not once, but twice.

His announcement is coming just weeks before the release, of the new biography, titled, "Romney: A Reckoning," by the writer, McKay Coppins. Romney told the author, quote, "A very large portion of my party... really doesn't believe in the Constitution."


ROMNEY: There's some portion of my party, and the opposition party, who thinks we need to have a strong person, a strong man, to put aside the Constitution. And for that matter, President Trump -- former President Trump said we should put aside the Constitution, and reinstall him as president. I mean, so yes, there are some people who believe that. I believe they're sorely wrong.


COLLINS: There's another stunning revelation, from the book that we are learning about, a text message that Romney sent to then-Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, four days before January 6th.

The exchange began, after a warning that he got from Senator Angus King to Romney, regarding this dark online chatter, leading up to the 6th. Romney was so alarmed by what he heard from Senator King, that he texted McConnell, this. And I'm quoting from the text message now.

"In case you have not heard this, I just got a call from Angus King, who said that he had spoken with a senior official at the Pentagon who reports that they are seeing very disturbing social media traffic regarding the protests planned on the 6th.

There are calls to burn down your home, Mitch; to smuggle guns into DC, and to storm the Capitol. I hope that sufficient security plans are in place, but I am concerned that the instigator -- the President -- is the one who commands the reinforcements the DC and Capitol police might require."

According to the book, McConnell never responded to that message.

For perspective on this, I want to bring in someone, who knows Senator Mitt Romney, well. Stuart Stevens was the Chief Strategist in his 2012 campaign, also worked on his Senate race, and is the Author of "The Conspiracy to End America."

Stuart, I mean, in this, Mitt Romney puts it bluntly. He says, "A very large portion of my party really doesn't believe in the Constitution." Do you think part of his decision, today, is that? He doesn't feel like there's room for him, in today's Republican Party?

STUART STEVENS, ROMNEY'S 2012 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: Well, I think Mitt's speaking his mind here. I mean, what he says, it's what he says. I think his off-the-record and his on-the-record are pretty much the same now.


Look, Mitt Romney was right, in 2016, when he came out in the spring, and said this about Donald Trump. And think about where the country would be, where the world would be, if others have any kind of courage at all, in the Republican Party, had followed him?

He had been the previous nominee. He had standing. And I think it's fair to say that he was surprised that more didn't follow him. And it's been a historical collapse, of a moral governing force, of what was once a serious party.

COLLINS: You mentioned that surprise. Part of this excerpt talks about how when Romney first came to the Senate, he was surprised by how many people agreed with him, about Trump. They were also disgusted by him. Yet he says that few were willing to say it publicly, like he was.

He said that McConnell told him, regarding when Trump was attacking senators, who were going to serve as jurors, in his impeachment trial, "Trump's an idiot. He doesn't think when he says things. How stupid do you have to be to not realize that you shouldn't attack your jurors? You're lucky," McConnell told Romney, "You can say the things that we all think."

I mean, what do you make of the fact that he says they all thought it but very few said it?

STEVENS: Yes, McConnell is wrong about that, like a lot of things. This is just an excuse that Mitch McConnell has come up with. Cowards love company. And that's what's happened in the Republican Party. So there's nothing to stop Mitch McConnell, from telling the truth. Mitt Romney did. Mitt Romney's like, he didn't get sent to a camp. He's there. He's a United States Senator.

COLLINS: Well he kind of got pushed out of the party, though, didn't he?

STEVENS: Well, I think if more had been willing, to put what the oath of office, they took, to put country over party? So, maybe you lose a primary. So what does that mean? You don't get to be Ted Cruz's colleague anymore? Is it not better to defend the country?

When you think about the legacy that this generation of Republicans inherited from the greatest generation? I mean, if they have just squandered that, it's really amazing -- it just so un-American, and amazing what they have done. And it's a -- I think it's going to go down as history, it's one of the great betrayals of what it means to be an American, and Mitch McConnell has led that parade.

COLLINS: It's not just about the threats of losing a primary, losing a race. It's also about physical threats.

I mean, he says, he talks, at one point, about being heckled, at a rally, in Utah, where a mother, who had her kid by her side, this is actually video, from where he was heckled, was screaming at him.

And essentially, other people, who watched what happened, to people like Mitt Romney, see that this is what happens, when you are Republican, if you do speak out, like the way he did against Trump.

STEVENS: Yes. I mean, I think that would be a textbook definition of cowardness. Wouldn't it be? To not do the right thing because you're afraid?

And, look, how did it work out for Mitch McConnell, and these Republicans?

Mitch McConnell woke up on January 5th, 2021, he was Majority Leader.

He woke up on January 6th, 2021, he was Minority Leader. And he and his colleagues were running for their life, in their own office, by -- from a terrorist group, instigated by the President of the United States that they had supported. And yet, Mitch McConnell still refused to convict this man.

I just think it's just such a -- if you were teaching a class, in how to destroy civility, how to destroy a social fabric, what it means to be a coward? You could not do any better than to look at Mitch McConnell, and these Republicans. And they know it. At some level, they are ashamed. And that's why they won't company.

And yet, Mitch McConnell still is afraid, to say Donald Trump's name. I mean, how sad is that, and how terrible it is for the country, and the world? COLLINS: Well and when Mitch -- when Senator Romney was speaking to reporters, today, after this announcement, he praised McConnell, and said good things about him and the work that he's done. It's just it's an interesting position.

Stuart Stevens, obviously, you know Senator Romney well. Thank you, for joining, tonight.

STEVENS: Thank you.

COLLINS: And joining me now is former Democratic Senator, Barbara Boxer of California.

Senator, thank you, for joining me.

I mean, since you've retired, from the Senate in 2016, we've seen Trump's grip, on the Republican Party, only get stronger, since then. What does a Senate without Mitt Romney in it look like?

BARBARA BOXER, FORMER U.S. SENATOR, (D-CA): It's bad. I'm really very saddened that he won't be running. I totally respect his decision. I made the same decision. I was exactly how old he was, when I left.

But here's the thing. This party is turning into an anti-democracy party. And I came up, a long time ago, in the 70s and 80s, and 90s and so on. And yes, we had huge disagreements, on a ton of issues.


But the one place we had agreement with was on voting rights, and democracy, and passing the Voting Rights Act, unanimously, almost. And before that, the both parties supportive lowering the age of voting, and vote by mail. All these things were embraced.

And now, we see this party. And you could see it in this impeachment, where the main issue driving them is power. Power and turning Americans against each other. And Mitt Romney never stood for that. He always stood for bringing us together, for solving problems, across party lines, and supporting democracy. So, I'm sad today about that.

COLLINS: Well, speaking of democracy, I mean, two people that he talks about, is Senator Ted Cruz, and Senator Josh Hawley, talking about how they, in his belief, placed politics above democracy, with their actions, echoing Trump's election lies.

This is what he added today, when he was asked about that, specifically.


ROMNEY: Democracy requires belief and credibility in elections. And so people who are casting aspersions, on our election process, are threatening one of the bases of our very -- very foundation.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COLLINS: But is that a reason, instead of leaving, is that a reason to stay, in your view?

BOXER: Leaving a job you love is hard. I don't know if he loved it. He was governor, before. He was a presidential candidate. I can't think about what's in his mind. But I do respect his decision.

It's all over the place. A lot of people say there ought to be an age limit. I don't believe in that. 75 and you're out. So, this proves the point. Don't have these artificial years, put on a person, because, right now, he's needed. Liz Cheney was needed. They voted her out.

So, it goes deep inside the Republican base, and this whole MAGA situation, where the most important thing is power, power, power.

And as I say, you could see it with Kevin McCarthy, who is just running around in circles, because the MAGA-right has him, in their grip, and they do everything, but say, "Sit down, stay, roll over Kevin, and give me your paw." I mean, this is where we're at. It's a horrifying situation of where the Republican Party is today.

COLLINS: You're saying that this is a reason, age shouldn't be a reason to leave. But he did cite his age. Obviously, you're saying you're the same age as him.


COLLINS: He'd be 80, in his 80s in a second term, if he did.

But he also said this isn't just about him. This is what he said about President Biden, and former President Trump, and their ages, given they're both running again.


ROMNEY: Oh, I think it would be a great thing, if both President Biden and former President Trump, were to stand aside, and let their respective party pick someone, in the next generation.

President Trump -- excuse me -- President Biden, when he was running, said he was a transitional figure, to the next generation.

Well, time to transition.


COLLINS: Do you agree with that?

BOXER: No, I don't agree with it.

Because I look at President Biden, and I do know, yes, he's 80-years- old. But look what this man has done. I mean, he brought order to chaos. He brought us back, from the depths of despair, with COVID. He's one of the most compassionate people. He's passed so much legislation. They're comparing him to FDR. And, yes, he's a transitional president. But maybe he'll transition in a few more years.

But look, we're going to see who stands up and runs. And each party has to bring forward, their best person, that they think is going to represent their values.

And, right now, it appears to be the Democrats will elect Joe Biden.

And the Republicans will probably put forward Donald Trump, which is really terrible for the country. Because this is a man, who literally has already told us what he's going to do, if he's elected. He's basically said he's going to do away with democracy. He's going to fire all the federal workers, and put his people in place. I've never heard of it.

So, it's a rough go and a rough patch for this country. But I have always believed, and I've lived through some very tough times, that the people are going to fight back. And every person within the sound of my voice, who knows that their freedom is on the line, the respect that they deserve, is on the line, and that we do better, when we're united, not divided, that's what's on the line.

COLLINS: Former Senator, Barbara Boxer, I should note, Trump is cheerleading Senator Mitt Romney's exit. But thank you, for your time, tonight.



COLLINS: Meanwhile, another impeachment could be on the horizon, as House Speaker, Kevin McCarthy, has appeased some on his right flank, by launching an inquiry, as he did, yesterday, that he defended today. But some troubles remain. A member of his caucus will take us behind- the-scenes, in a moment.

Also, two dictators, one very long handshake. What have Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un agreed to?


COLLINS: New tonight, Nancy Pelosi responding to her successor, in the House, coming after Kevin McCarthy, today, defended not holding a full vote, in the House, before he launched his impeachment inquiry, into President Biden, citing the way that Pelosi launched her impeachment inquiry, into then-President Trump, in 2019.

This is what she told Anderson Cooper.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): No, it's completely not true. We had a few weeks, where we had to make our case. And I assigned six committee chairs to get the information, and the rest, and that then prepared us to bring the bill to the floor.

They've had what nine months of collecting information? They had nothing.


COLLINS: For response to that, and more, tonight, I am joined by Florida Republican congressman, Mike Waltz.

Congressman, thank you, for being here.

Speaker McCarthy did say, 11 days ago, this wasn't going to happen, without a full House vote. And then, as you know, he did so without a full House vote. Do you know what changed?


REP. MIKE WALTZ (R-FL): Well look, I think, at the end of the day, one of the things about Speaker McCarthy is he listens to his rank-and- file members. And there are many of us, me included, that thought the evidence was so overwhelming, number one.

And number two, I hope Speaker Pelosi also took credit in that interview, for breaking decades and decades of precedent. We told her, at the time, that "If you break this precedent, kind of, the Pandora's box is open." She did anyway.

We told Harry Reid, 10, 12 years ago that if he broke precedent, and started confirming judges, without going to a filibuster, that that was going to let Pandora's box out as well.

That's why precedent matters, in our system. And Speaker McCarthy's following it.

COLLINS: But what changed in the 11 days? I mean, 11 days ago, he said he would not do this, without a full vote, in the People's House. A 11 days later, he did it.

WALTZ: Well, I think, he suggested that. I think a lot of people, you know, a lot of people say a lot of things. There are a lot of considerations that went into it.

But at the end of the day -- look, Kaitlan, the evidence here is just so overwhelming. We're not entering articles of impeachment, today. What we're doing is an enhancing an investigation, and giving it greater legal standing.

COLLINS: Yes, well --

WALTZ: And between the 150 Suspicious Activity Reports, between the shell companies, between the whistleblowers, between the testimony from his -- from Hunter Biden's business partners, that show that Joe Biden completely lied --

COLLINS: And Congressman, we'll get to what --

WALTZ: -- to the American people, on multiple occasions. I don't know what more evidence we need, to go down that road. In terms of what specifically went into Kevin McCarthy's calculation? I'm not sure. Because I, for one, was one saying there is plenty of evidence, to say, we need an enhanced investigation, here.

COLLINS: Well, Congressman, we'll get into what you're saying justifies the same moment.

But I'm just curious how you personally feel about this, because in 2019, when Trump was being impeached, and Pelosi did not call that full vote, as you noted, you said, "Something this important deserves members of the House to go on" the "record and vote." But you said that Pelosi and Adam Schiff were "clearly not concerned with fairness or transparency."

If fairness and transparency was important to you, then, isn't it important now?

WALTZ: Yes, sure. And, I mean, you can make an argument, like I -- we could go back, as far as you want, Kaitlan. We can make an argument that we should still have 60 votes, in the Senate, before we go to Judges.

But once you break that precedent, once you change what has been the established norms and rules? Then those are changed forever. That's what Speaker Pelosi did. And that's now the norms, and the rules, going forward.

COLLINS: OK. Well just, it's confusing, because he said it 11 days ago, they wouldn't do it.

But speaking of the actual what's at the heart of this, the impeachment inquiry, you speak about the evidence that you have?

WALTZ: Well but hang on. But hang on, Kaitlan. If we want to --

COLLINS: There are already three --

WALTZ: Hang on. If we want to stick with this?

COLLINS: Go ahead.

WALTZ: Speaker Pelosi, also, and I hope you pull that up, said that impeachment needs to be fully bipartisan, it needs to be thoughtful, there needs to be plenty of evidence.

I mean, she said a lot of things, before she then went to impeachment proceedings, number -- the first time, basically, on a phone call transcript. And then, the second time without zero investigation. She did the investigation a year after --

COLLINS: Well there was a whistleblower too.

WALTZ: -- going to --

COLLINS: But let's talk about -- let's talk about what's happening now, Congressman. WALTZ: -- going to it. Yes, but she -- you're right.

COLLINS: Let's talk about what's happening now.

WALTZ: She went on one whistleblower. Now, we have many. So, I mean, we can --

COLLINS: Yes. We've had one of the whistleblowers, on this program, Congressman. But what --

WALTZ: -- we can do that kind of back-and-forth for a while.

COLLINS: At the heart of this?

WALTZ: Yes, sure.

COLLINS: There were already three congressional investigations happening. So, does this inquiry, from your understanding, grant you any new powers? What can you do differently, now that it's gone from three investigations, and a Special Counsel, separately, at the DOJ? What is different now that it's actually an impeachment inquiry?

WALTZ: Well, I think that now we are going to want to see the actual bank records of him.

COLLINS: But you can subpoena those, two days ago.

WALTZ: Once we have a credible long-standing FBI informant, saying that a Ukrainian oligarch, has given $5 million, directly to the President, in addition to the $5 million to Hunter? When we have multiple correspondents of Hunter complaining of paying his father's bills? When we see shell companies, in the name of grandchildren? We're going to want credit card receipts. We're going to want tax returns. Did they pay taxes on that money? We're going to want bank records.

COLLINS: But you have subpoena power, last week. You had it three months ago.

WALTZ: And we know that all of that -- I mean, to answer your question?

COLLINS: That's what I'm confused about here.

WALTZ: That -- but to answer your question, all of those things are going to end up in the courts. We know that's where that's going to go. And at the end of the day, this inquiry gives us greater standing, in court, rather than just say, the Ways and Means Committee, asking for it.


This is part of a formal impeachment inquiry. It historically holds greater standings. We think our judicial system, and we hope, will give it greater weight. And that will get transparency for the American people. COLLINS: Well, you already have subpoena power now. I mean this is something other Republican colleagues of yours, and I've talked about, this is something you could have done, these subpoenas you could have issued, months ago. You've already actually issued other bank records.

But when you look at this inquiry itself, is there any chance that it doesn't turn into a full impeachment, in your view?

WALTZ: Yes, but I mean, yes, we're issuing subpoenas, I mean. But they're getting blocked, and tackled, and objected to, at every turn. And we think when we saw it going --

COLLINS: You've gotten a ton of access to bank records.

WALTZ: -- we think -- we have -- we have whistleblowers that are self- described Democrats, long-standing civil servants, saying they were not allowed, to even look into the tax records, when you have evidence, of taxes, not being paid, on millions of dollars. That's an internal investigation, much less a congressional one.

So, we have no confidence that we're going to have a cooperative DOJ. We have no evidence that we're going to have a cooperative White House. We know this is going to go to the courts.

COLLINS: But they -- OK, well they have been cooperating, in the sense that --

WALTZ: And we know, historically, that an impeachment inquiry has greater standing.

COLLINS: -- you've seen the Suspicious Activity Reports. We have interviewed House Oversight members, who went to the Treasury Department, and saw that. There's been conversations between Chairman Comer and the Justice Department.

But for you, yourself, when you're talking about the evidence that you say you've seen, and for those listening at home, have you seen anything that directly ties President Biden, and shows that he profited from his son's foreign business dealings?

WALTZ: We have his son complaining to his relatives, about how many of his father's bills he's having to pay, with these illicit gains. We have a declaration. We have a listing. We have a --

COLLINS: Have you seen direct evidence that President Biden profited?

WALTZ: Well, I mean, but Kaitlan, the point of the inquiry is to give us greater standing, to get the full evidence. If we get full cooperation, if they say, "We have nothing to hide," and give it to us, and we don't see anything, then that's where the facts lead us. But, right now, we feel like we need to get those.

COLLINS: So, you're saying it may not lead to an actual impeachment, if you don't get more evidence?

WALTZ: We need to -- we need to -- we -- we're going to follow the facts. We're going to do this responsibly.

But, I mean, it's pretty astounding to me that when you have, again, civil servant, long-standing whistleblowers, not one, as we decided with the case of Trump --

COLLINS: But you've already interviewed those whistleblowers.

WALTZ: -- but we have many? But they weren't allowed access to --

COLLINS: You already had the ability to talk to them.

WALTZ: They weren't allowed access to records. We haven't been allowed access to records. And what this inquiry will do, hopefully, is give us greater standing in the courts to get those records.

I mean, you're acting as though the Department of Justice, the IRS, and others have given us everything that we asked for. They haven't, nor did they give internal investigators, what they asked for. That's why they became whistleblowers.

COLLINS: Well, it's a legislative purpose, when you ask for this stuff. They have turned over a lot of bank records. We've heard Chairman Comer talk about it. And still, despite that, we have not seen direct evidence. We'll see what this inquiry leads to.

Congressman, thank you very much, for your time, tonight.

WALTZ: All right. Thanks so much.

COLLINS: Ahead, a one-on-one with the outgoing Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley. He is pushing back, on a claim that was made, by the former President, about a central piece of evidence, in the classified documents case.



COLLINS: Two international pariahs, turning to each other, when few other allies remain.

Russia rolling out the red carpet, literally, to woo the North Korean dictator, Kim Jong Un, who then grasped President Vladimir Putin's hand, for a full 40 seconds, upon his arrival, today, and said, and I'm quoting him now, he will always be standing with Russia.

This visit included a tour, of Russia's rocket launch facility, a state dinner, five hours of negotiations, and it ended with Kim, inviting Putin, to Pyongyang.

But Putin hoped for a major weapons deal, to help his supply and resupply his forces that are in Ukraine. In exchange, we were told, he was going to promise to help North Korea's struggling space program.

Joining me now tonight is Fareed Zakaria, the Host of "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS." And Fareed, I mean, I just wonder, seeing these two very isolated leaders meet, toasting, as Kim did, to Putin's sacred struggle, against the West, as he called it, how dangerous, do you believe, this new era of relations, between Russia and North Korea is?

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: Well, it's not dangerous, in the sense that it is a sign of weakness.

Vladimir Putin is grasping for straws. He's reaching out to the few people, in the international system, who are willing to be seen with him. He couldn't go to the BRICS summit, in South Africa, for fear of being arrested, by the South African government, on an international warrant. So, he is in much worse shape than he was.

North Korea is about the last ally he would want in the world. They are the backward impoverished country. They have a small nuclear program. So, it's not really a sign of strength. It's a sign that Putin is, he's up against on the other side, Ukraine's allies number 50, 60 of the richest most powerful countries in the world.

But these are two spoiler states, and by which I mean, these are two countries that basically survive and thrive, on disrupting the international system, on causing tensions, on causing instability. And in that sense, if the two of them band together, more tightly than they are, in the past, it is, you could imagine it causing some kind of trouble.

North Korea's nuclear ambitions may grow. It may gain some weapons technologies that it hasn't had before.

But mostly, I think, Putin is doing this because there are not a lot of allies, he can -- he can exchange pleasantries with, these days, let alone exchange any kind of meaningful commercial or military dealings.

COLLINS: Yes. And separately, as the U.S. is looking at this, obviously, this is something they are watching, very closely, this summit.

But speaking of leadership, here in the Military, I mean, General Mark Milley is going to be stepping down, soon, as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. That's at the end of the month. And you sat down and interviewed him.


And you talked about something that we've focused on a lot here, which are these allegations about this document that Trump had with him that was allegedly, these plans, to attack Iran, a classified document that Trump was waving around, in front of people, who didn't have security clearances. It's part of obviously a big investigation, into Trump, right now.

This is what General Milley told you about that alleged document.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ZAKARIA: There's a specific accusation about you, made by the former President's Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows. And he says that there is this four-page memo attack plan to attack, for the United States to attack Iraq -- Iran. Trump himself has talked about this. This is the famous --


ZAKARIA: -- classified document that he was waving around.

But Meadows makes the accusation that you were pressing President Trump, to attack Iran.

There are other reports that say, in fact, it was Trump, who was pressing you.

What is the accurate statement?

MILLEY: Well, Fareed, look, it'd be very inappropriate, for me to comment on anything that's under a current federal investigation. So, I won't.

But let me just say this. As the Chairman, or any member of the Joint Chiefs, our job is to render advice. We have plans for all kinds of things. And when we render advice, typically, we say, course of action one, two or three. We talk about the costs and the risks, and we make recommendations.

And I can assure you, that not one time have I ever recommended to attack Iran.


COLLINS: What do you make of that pushback, Fareed?

ZAKARIA: I thought it was striking. In fact, I thought he went a little beyond what he said he was going to go. He said, "I'm not going to comment on this." But it clearly annoyed him enough that he decided to comment on it anyway. And as far as I could tell, that was pretty definitive.

Trump has repeatedly claimed, and as you say, in those conversations, he had with people, who had no classified, you know, no security clearances that the Joint Chiefs, that Milley particularly were pressing him, to attack that this was an attack plan for Iran.

Mark Meadows writes that in the prologue, of his memoirs, and he gives it pride of place. It is the opening statement of the President's Chief of Staff.

And Milley says definitively that did not happen. It's worth noting that he's right, Milley is right, when he says they have attack plans for everything. The United States surely has plans, to all kinds of contingencies. But he was pretty definitive that he did, at no point, ever recommended that the United States launch an invasion of Iran.

COLLINS: Yes. Cannot wait to see the rest of this interview, Fareed. Thank you, for joining me, tonight.

ZAKARIA: Such a pleasure.

COLLINS: And for everyone else, who also wants to watch the rest of it, you can catch that interview, this Sunday, at 10 AM, and 1 PM Eastern, only right here on CNN.

And ahead, one of the few columnists that President Biden pays close attention to, that he likes, that he respects, is now saying that he should not be running, for president, again. This comes, of course, as the White House is preparing to face an impeachment inquiry.

Political powerhouse, James Carville, will weigh in, when we return.



COLLINS: A new Op-Ed, from one of the handful of columnists that President Biden reads closely, David Ignatius, writing, in "The Washington Post," "President Biden should not run again in 2024."

He points to his age, and Vice President Kamala Harris' poll numbers, as reasons. And I'm quoting him now, "Biden risks undoing his greatest achievement -- which was stopping Trump."

His Op-Ed, of course dropping, as Republicans launched an impeachment inquiry, into the President, on Capitol Hill.

James Carville ran Bill Clinton's 1992 winning campaign. He invented the modern day political war room, to respond to attacks. And he joins me now.

Thank you so much, James, for being here.


COLLINS: I mean, what David Ignatius is writing is he says this isn't just a Fox News trope. And I'm quoting him. He says it is the "Subject of dinner-table conversations across America this summer."

Does he have a point?

CARVILLE: Of course, he does. I mean, for anything, I can come on your program and say that's just Fox News made-up stuff, we need to pivot, and segue to the real issues, and talk about infrastructure, education, or something else.

And it's not just what David Ignatius thinks, or James Carville thinks, or some pundit thinks. You see, American public has real doubts about this. And you can see it in poll after poll after poll.

Now, the White House gets frustrated, with the media, for bringing it up. But they're not going to stop. This is going to continue to be an issue. And they're going to have to figure a way to address it, and address it forthrightly. But the idea of saying this is not a real issue, and you got to talk about something else? That doesn't work, because the public, it's a water-cooler issue, with the public. It just is. I'm sorry.

COLLINS: Yes. And --

CARVILLE: And you can -- you see it.

COLLINS: He says that basically, they got to decide this soon, or the stone will be cast, the decision will be made. Democrats, there won't be time to find an alternative.

Do you agree that it's a quick timeline here?

CARVILLE: No, I don't. I know it's a different era. President Clinton didn't announce until early October of 1991. Lyndon Johnson was running for president in March of 1968.

And so, I've got, on my podcast, I got Elaine (ph) an expert or writes books about delegates election, and timelines, and things like that. And I think that's some beltway mis-logic that if you don't do it within the next 10 days or 14 days, that process inevitably breaks down. I don't agree with that.

But, by the way, to be honest, there's no sign that President Biden is not fully intending, to run for re-election. I have to say that. And I have no inclination that they're reconsidering this, or anything like that, and I don't think anybody else does, to be honest with you. But the idea that the drop-dead date is September the 26th, I think is poppycock.

COLLINS: Yes, that's a good point, because there is no indication that President Biden? I mean, he likes David Ignatius. There's no sign he is listening to him.



COLLINS: When it comes to the impeachment inquiry, overall, what do you make of how the White House has been handling it so far? Do you think they're being aggressive enough? Or should there be a war room? Should there be a more out-front effort from them?

CARVILLE: Well, my honest opinion is the people they have leading it are not very smart. In fact, they're borderline stupid, I mean, James Comer, or Jim Jordan.

And the people in the House that are going to be on this committee, like Dan Goldman, or Delta (ph) Plaskett, I think, is from Virgin Islands, Jamie Raskin, these are very smart people.

I don't think the White House needs to worry too much about this, and let these congressional Democrats, who are whip-smart, are just going to eat these people alive. I so want them to do this that I can't tell you how much I want them to do this, that this is a very stupid idea. COLLINS: You want them to do the impeachment? What do you mean?

CARVILLE: I want them to hold hearings.

COLLINS: Why do you think it's a stupid idea?

CARVILLE: I want them to hold hearings. And I want -- and I want to -- and I want to let the American public see how thin, or how non- existent a case is, that President did anything wrong. And I want our people, who are quite effective lawyers, to get them on cross- examination, and do what they're going to do, and make fools out of them.

COLLINS: There is some polling, from CNN, and from others as well about, even though as we just talked about the Congressman, there is no direct evidence tying President Biden, to benefiting from this? 61 percent of people do think that he was involved. There's other numbers of people, who have questions about it.

Do you not think that those hearings could raise those numbers, could change that? What's your sense?

CARVILLE: I think it would change it. I think it would drive it down, because the public would pay attention to the hearings, and they would see front and center, how vapid and useless this entire endeavor is when it comes to the President, doing anything wrong. I mean, they can -- how much more can you embarrass Hunter Biden?

But there is zero evidence that the President did a single -- has not made a single penny out of this. And they're going to drive that point home, Kaitlan. And they're just they're going to drive it home hard.

And our people, in the House, I have a great deal of not so much affection for them, but respect, and respect for their legal expertise. I wouldn't -- I would not want Dan Goldman, to cross- examine me. I really wouldn't.

COLLINS: I don't want to put words in your mouth. But it sounds like you're saying you think impeachment could be a good thing. Is that right?

CARVILLE: That is correct. You're not putting words in my mouth. You're saying it.

During the Civil War, when the Sherman march in Atlanta, they told him that John Bell Hood was taken, to Confederate Romanov (ph), He said, "Good, I'll send them rations. Let them go. Great." And that ended up at the Battle of Franklin, which was an utter disaster.

And that's just what they're walking into. Yes, I actually think I was -- I was happy when McCarthy got out there, and said that that I thought it's, "Wow. How could we get so lucky?"

COLLINS: James Carville, we heard it from you first. Thank you.

CARVILLE: Yes, pleasure to be here. COLLINS: And I got to tell you, Roll Tide, this weekend.

CARVILLE: Roll out tide. Go Tigers. Thank you, dear. You bet.

COLLINS: Thanks, James.

CARVILLE: You bet.

COLLINS: Up next, Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, they might be rivals, who wanted to fight each other. But today, they came together, for a common cause, on Capitol Hill. No punches were thrown. We'll tell you what was said, next.



COLLINS: Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and Elon Musk, were among a host of Tech Titans, on Capitol Hill, today, warning about the dangers, of artificial intelligence.

During a closed-door meeting, the attendees were asked if the federal government needs to regulate A.I. Every single one of them raised their hands in agreement, according to Senator Chuck Schumer.

Why? Well listen to what Elon Musk said.


ELON MUSK, SPACEX & TESLA CEO, X OWNER: There is some chance that -- above zero, that A.I. will kill us all. I think it's low. But there is some chance. I think we should also consider the fragility of human civilization.


COLLINS: Donie O'Sullivan covers the intersection of tech and politics, for CNN.

He said it's going to kill us all. I mean, he's kind of joking? Maybe not joking?

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. You always bring me on, to talk about these uplifting matters, kind of.



COLLINS: By robot (ph)?

O'SULLIVAN: And look, I will say this meeting today was behind closed doors.

Everybody here has to be seen to be doing something, right, the people, who run these companies, the lawmakers. But really, bringing in these billionaires, who stand to make billions more dollars, from this technology, it's kind of the fox guarding the henhouse here, right?

In terms of, the problems with A.I., the potential dangers of A.I., it's not something that's in the distant future. I mean, what we're already seeing is artificial intelligence misidentifying, through law enforcement, particularly African American faces, in the facial recognition software. So, it's not totally clear, what is going to happen, what the lawmakers want.

But what we have seen, over the past few months, is the Biden administration getting some commitments, from tech companies. And I think we have some of them on screen there. Things like companies commit to testing their A.I. systems before release, commit to publicly reporting their capabilities, limitations, and areas of appropriate and inappropriate use.

And this is all setting up for a, what is to be expected is a Biden executive order on A.I. But again, they're pretty wishy-washy commitments there. So what are any -- you know, this executive order will actually have some bite in this, rather than having these companies grade their own homework? I mean, that's going to be the real test here.

COLLINS: Yes. Well, that's what's so interesting. I mean, a lot of them are responsible, for a lot of the technology that we're seeing, what this A.I. technology looks like.

And it can't help but think about what we're talking about, at the top of the show, which is Senator Mitt Romney, saying new generations of leaders, need to be in Congress, younger people, who can deal with today's issues, things like A.I.

Yet, were -- I mean, do they have confidence that these Congress -- that these lawmakers could deal with this?

O'SULLIVAN: Well, I mean, look, I will just say -- hate to be too much of a skeptic and cynic here. But Congress hasn't been able to pass laws, on the internet, never mind social media, never mind A.I.


So again, look, I mean, there's a lot of talk about this. But this is such a broad issue. I mean, they are doing the right thing, in the sense of bringing the key players, into the room, and hearing from them. But what that is actually going to translate into legislation remains to be seen.

I should also mention that in that room, today, there was Elon Musk, and Mark Zuckerberg, sitting at opposite ends of the room, as probably the first time they've been in the same room, since they challenged each other, to a cage match, whether --

COLLINS: No cage match happened today?

O'SULLIVAN: No cage match. Whether A.I. will be able to solve for that particular brand of toxic masculinity, also remains to be seen.

COLLINS: Well, at least all of this will keep you very busy and employed, Donie.


COLLINS: Fully employed.

O'SULLIVAN: Employed, we hope.

COLLINS: Donie, thank you.

Coming up, they got him. An escaped killer, he was caught, today, without a single shot fired. It couldn't have happened though, without a four-legged member, of law enforcement, with an excellent name. We'll tell you more, next.



COLLINS: New details, tonight, on the team, behind the capture of that escaped killer, in Pennsylvania, including Yoda, the Police dog. Officials say that the K-9 was the key, in the takedown, of Danelo Cavalcante, saying that he bit Cavalcante's head, and lower body, as the police were moving, to capture him, tonight.

You can join Laura Coates, for a special edition, of "CNN TONIGHT." "MANHUNT: CAPTURING A KILLER" at 11. You won't want to miss it. Learn all about it there.

In the meantime, thank you so much, for joining us, in this hour.

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

Abby, do you think your dog could do that?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST, CNN PRIMETIME: I don't even want to find out, really. But I will say Yoda looked --

COLLINS: I'm rooting for Booker.

PHILLIP: -- Yoda looked really proud of himself. He did a --

COLLINS: He sure did.

PHILLIP: -- he did a good job.

Thanks, Kaitlan.


PHILLIP: And good evening, everyone. I'm Abby Phillip.