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The Source with Kaitlan Collins
Trump: Hunter Biden Had "Deal Of The Century"; GA Judge Shuts Down D.A. Fani Willis' Effort To Try Trump & 18 Co-Defendants Together; Biden Touts Economic Plan, Calls "MAGAnomics" Extreme. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired September 14, 2023 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST, THE SOURCE WITH KAITLAN COLLINS: Tonight, straight from THE SOURCE.
The Biden Justice Department indicts a Biden, President's son, Hunter, in the first charges ever, against a sitting President's child.
And we're also counting down, tonight, when the clock strikes midnight, Union workers could strike, against the Big Three automakers. It could upend not just the car industry, but the entire U.S. economy.
Plus, a lot of F-bombs dropping, on Capitol Hill, today, as House Speaker, Kevin McCarthy, swears and dares his right flank, to oust him. They just might take him up on it.
I'm Kaitlan Collins. And this is THE SOURCE.
Another historic indictment. Not only is the Biden Justice Department prosecuting former President Donald Trump, in two separate cases, it is now also prosecuting the sitting President's son, indicting Hunter Biden, on three criminal charges, all in connection with a gun, that he purchased, in 2018.
The charges include two counts of lying, on an ATF Form, to buy that gun, and possessing a firearm, as a drug user. He allegedly lied about his drug use, to buy a revolver, in Delaware, as he was struggling with drug addiction, alcohol abuse, and in and out of rehab, which he wrote about openly, in his book.
Hunter Biden, his legal team, and really the whole White House, had hoped that this would be in the rearview mirror by now. But his plea deal collapsed, over the summer, in stunning fashion.
And now, tonight, his legal team is vowing to fight these new charges.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ABBE LOWELL, ATTORNEY FOR HUNTER BIDEN: This charge, brought today, violates the agreement, the government made, with Hunter Biden. That was a standalone agreement different than this plea.
And second, the constitutionality of these charges are very much in doubt.
And third, if it got past those two, and we don't think it would, then if there were ever a trial, on the facts, we don't think the facts are as your expert today thought them to be. There will be a defense.
Hunter owned an unloaded gun, for 11 days. There will never have been a charge like this brought, in the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: We'll see how those arguments end up, and if it works out in court.
But what all of this means is that we could be in a pretty remarkable place, where Hunter Biden could be on trial, as his father is running for reelection, against the former President, who could also potentially be on trial, or really, maybe trials, next year.
To bring all of this into perspective, maybe if they can do that, it's a tall order, former federal prosecutor, Jennifer Rodgers; and former Deputy Assistant to President Biden, Jamal Simmons, are here with me.
Jennifer, can we just put in perspective how often -- you heard Abbe Lowell there. How often is a case, like this, brought, against someone, who is a first-time offender?
JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Virtually never. I mean, I think that the paperwork offense, the lying on the form, that's brought occasionally. I've never seen it.
But I can see in an instance, particularly, where you have a dangerous offender, it could be brought, if they have nothing else to bring, or maybe in conjunction with other charges.
But this, this person, in possession of a firearm, an adequate possession of a firearm, we used to bring cases, all the time, where you had a convicted felon, in possession of a firearm. Those are pretty common. I have never seen this addict, in possession of a firearm charged, anywhere.
COLLINS: Well, so they're saying he lied about it, when he filled out that form. You're supposed to say that you were not on any controlled substances and whatnot. And he said that he wasn't, and essentially wrote in his book that he was.
But the law that is being used, what Abbe Lowell was mentioning there, it's on shaky ground, after a judge, I believe, it was in New Orleans, was the latest, to strike down part of it.
Is that going to be a chance that Abbe Lowell and Hunter Biden's legal team could be successful, in arguing, that this law is actually not something you could prosecute this on?
RODGERS: Oh, for sure. I think he actually laid it out really well. He said, you have a couple of legal challenges.
One is the constitutional challenge, after the Supreme Court's decision, in Bruen, the term before last, all of these gun possession charges, really, are in question, these gun possession laws. Because now, what the court is saying is that it's just much harder, to charge someone, with possessing a firearm, if it wasn't in place at the time, our Founders, created the Constitution.
So, he's right on that. And the facts also, as he said, are a problem for them too.
COLLINS: Jamal, I mean, obviously, this is not something that a White House wants to see.
You used, to work, at this particular White House. I mean, when something like this happens, they thought it was going to be finished, with a plea deal, over the summer. That fell apart, while they were actually in court.
How does -- what's going on, inside the White House, right now, tonight?
JAMAL SIMMONS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT BIDEN, FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR TO VP HARRIS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: So, I think, in the best of all worlds, this would have been resolved in July, when they had the plea agreement. Obviously, that's not what happened.
The question now is whether or not, as Abbe Lowell has laid out, we're going to see this get resolved, in court, or through some sort of agreement, going forward.
If you're in the White House, what you're thinking about is, "What is the President doing every day," because that's what the American people care about. This has nothing to do with the President of the United States.
This is a private citizen, who had an addiction issue, like two-thirds of American families recognize they have someone, in their family, who has an addiction issue. This is a private American.
So, if you're at the White House, what you're thinking about is, "Let's keep the President focused on the business at hand. Bring together his Cancer Cabinet. Let's talk about Bidenomics versus MAGAnomics," as what the President was doing today, right, what's happening, how the Republicans want to cut things, for the American people, cut important programs. So, you're focused on the issues, not being focused on this private issue, for the President's family.
COLLINS: But that's pretty difficult to do. I mean, given the fact that an impeachment inquiry has just been launched, on Capitol Hill, that's ostensibly related to Hunter Biden. And now, you saw Republicans responding to this today.
I mean, how does this complicate his campaign, if he is running? Well, he will be. He says he's running next year, obviously. If he is running, and this is something that's going to be brought up, by Donald Trump, or by ever which Republican's running against him?
SIMMONS: Yes, if you're Donald Trump, you want to bring it up all the time, right? Because you're like "Look, look at them there. They're in trouble too," right? But the magnitude of what we're talking about is just so completely different.
Again, two-thirds of Americans have a family member, or a close person, who's been involved, who had an addiction issue. This is a President, who he loves his son. He's made that very clear.
And the two big pieces of evidence that they have is that Hunter, whose last name is Biden, told people, his father was Vice President, when he was out pitching business. And secondly, that the President may have talked to some of those folks, on the phone, from time to time, and said, "Hello," and talked to them about the weather.
Those are the two big issues here. I just don't know those are the kinds of things the American public would equate with a President, fomenting armed insurrection, against the Capitol, to keep himself in power.
COLLINS: Well, Republicans would disagree with you, on the former half of that, and what they're looking for here.
The other part of this, though, is that when you look at these charges, this is related to the gun that he bought.
There are also the tax charges, the misdemeanors that he was going to plead guilty to. They could still charge him, with that here, potentially. It's unclear if David Weiss, the Special Counsel, will.
They also could potentially look at his foreign business dealings.
I mean, this doesn't necessarily seem that this is the end of the road, for Hunter Biden's legal issues.
RODGERS: So, what happened here was that the statute of limitations was about to expire. So, prosecutors, having failed to reach an agreement with him, had to either charge him, or let this go. So, that really was the precipitating factor here.
It may be that they don't want to try this case that they're still willing to negotiate some sort of solution. But I do think that they will charge him, with the tax offenses, if they can't reach some sort of agreement. I mean, he already had agreed to plead guilty, to the misdemeanor. So, I think those are definitely coming.
The business stuff, I don't know, we really haven't seen evidence of that, despite extensive investigation. But I think the tax ones are probably coming. And hopefully, to be fair to everyone, they can just wrap it all up, in a similar deal, to what didn't manage to happen, a couple months ago.
COLLINS: The former President was asked to weigh in on this, tonight. You were just talking about what he's going to be saying about it, on the campaign trail, next year.
This was his answer, when he was asked about Hunter Biden's charges.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, 45TH U.S. PRESIDENT: Well, I think there's no question about it. He had a plea deal that was the deal of the century. The art of the deal, you could write a book on it. The art of the deal.
And all of a sudden that was broken up by a judge, who was able to -- a brilliant judge, actually, who was able to see through what was happening.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: What do you make of that response?
SIMMONS: The very fact these charges are brought against Hunter Biden, undercuts a pretty big point the Republicans have been trying to make, and former President's been trying to make: There's a two-tiered justice system.
What we have, if we strip away all the wrapping here, is Donald Trump's Justice Department, did not file any charges, against Joe Biden, or his family. The Biden Justice Department did file charges, against Joe Biden's family.
So, the idea there's a two-tiered justice system is just thrown out on its face, when you see the Biden Justice Department going after the President's son.
COLLINS: But part of that sound bite that was missing from that was where Trump says no one should be happy about this. I mean, how do you think Republicans are handling that?
SIMMONS: Well, it's the right thing to say, because no one should be happy about this.
COLLINS: Well, because -- but people -- James Comer is saying, this is just a small start. Unless they invite -- investigate everyone involved, it will be clear that they're protecting.
I mean, they're like pushing back completely on what you're arguing that this is not -- this is proof, it's not a two-tiered justice system.
SIMMONS: Yes, of course, they're going to say that, because what else do they have to say?
But remember, they're the same people, who went after Hillary Clinton, on these issues, on scandals, quote-unquote, "Scandals," when she was the Secretary of State, because they wanted to have a political issue, in the campaign.
The President, the former President himself, Donald Trump, is making the case, that it may have been retribution, I think, he said, in one of these earlier interviews, right? "If they hadn't come after me, then maybe they wouldn't be going after his son."
This is not about the politics of this. This -- in a sense. This is about Donald Trump, fomenting an armed insurrection, against the Capitol of the United States, to keep himself in power.
COLLINS: You're saying it's separate?
SIMMONS: It's very different.
COLLINS: What's next, here, quickly before we go?
RODGERS: Well, I hope they can negotiate something. I mean, they charged, because they had to. I hope they can work something out, if they can't. I mean, Abbe Lowell laid out they've got a lot of good defenses to this. So, it's going to be a real fight.
And it's got no jury appeal. I really don't see a jury convicting, if they get to that stage. But let's see.
COLLINS: Jennifer Rodgers, Jamal Simmons, thank you both, for joining.
Ahead, a risky bet, on Capitol Hill, as Speaker McCarthy is staring down a right-wing revolt. He is now daring his critics, try to oust him, and dropping a few F-bombs, along the way, actually, several of them.
And a major strike could be several hours away, one that could impact much of the nation. So far, still no deal between the United Auto Workers, and the Big Three automakers. What could happen if the clock strikes midnight, with no deal in sight?
COLLINS: We are less than three hours away, right now, from a huge and historic strike, potentially, that could rattle the U.S. economy.
Thousands of autoworkers may be walking out on the so-called Big Three automakers, if their contract expires at midnight. That's General Motors, Ford and Stellantis, which is the new company that includes Chrysler.
There has never been a simultaneous strike, against the Big Three, in U.S. history. The stakes are so high that President Biden himself has been working the phones, today, speaking to both the automakers, and the United Auto Workers Union.
A strike, like this, just wouldn't impact the auto industry. It could have an effect, on everyone, who drives a car. One report estimates that a 10-day strike would cost the U.S. economy, more than $5 billion. $2 billion, in those losses, would be the result of drivers, who can't get their cars repaired, because dealers won't have the parts.
The UAW is sticking to its demands, tonight, including a 40 percent pay hike, over four years, cost of living increases, and health care coverage, for retired workers, along with pension plans.
But the Big Three are far from meeting those demands. And what they have countered proposed, instead, offering pay increases, at a max of 20 percent at GM and Ford, with Stellantis a little bit lower than that.
This unprecedented moment is one that the UAW President, Shawn Fain, has been predicting, for weeks now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHAWN FAIN, UAW PRESIDENT: This trashcan is overflowing with the bull (bleep) that the Big Three continue to peddle.
September 14th is a deadline, not a reference point.
And I got a question for all of you. Are you ready to rumble?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: Joining me now, someone, who is watching this closely, Michigan Democratic congresswoman, Rashida Tlaib, whose father worked for Ford Motor Company, and was a UAW member.
And, I should note, you can see it on your shirt, right there, Congresswoman. As you're watching this all closely, tonight, do you believe that a deal can be reached by midnight?
REP. RASHIDA TLAIB (D-MI): I'm not sure. Everyone hopes that, even the workers. Folks are, anxious about this. But they know what's at stake.
So many of our UAW neighbors, throughout my district, constantly tell me how they're struggling, that they're living, check by check. They should be able to take care of their families, like my dad did.
And so, they know what's at stake, and they're willing to use one of the most powerful tools, we have, in our country, to fight against corporate greed, which is the right to strike.
COLLINS: Do you think a strike is inevitable?
TLAIB: I mean, I don't know. We were going to find out today. I think President Fain is going to address, live on Facebook. He's being as transparent as possible.
But know this. The Big Three waited five weeks. I mean, they had the proposal, from the UAW, five weeks, with no response. That's why they had to file a labor violation, because they were just, again, moving so incredibly slow, and not being responsive.
So, I'm not surprised that we're close to midnight, on the day of the deadline that the contract expires, and that folks are talking about striking.
Shouldn't be a surprise, to Jim Farley, and every single other CEO, that all of a sudden, they're trying to hustle and figure out what to do. They knew, again, what the, demands of the UAW was. And sure we got some progress. But they didn't move fast enough.
COLLINS: I'm glad you brought up Jim Farley. He's the CEO of Ford.
The UAW wants, as we noted, their demands a 40 percent wage increase, over four years. Jim Farley says that those demands would put Ford, out of business, was the quote that he used.
What do you say to him and that response?
TLAIB: Jimmy, $20 billion in, I think, he got like a 40 percent increase in his CEO salary. Maybe that's what's going to lead to bankruptcy, for his company that he works for. Maybe he should take a pay cut, like many of the UAW workers that helped Ford stay afloat in 2009. They took a hit. They sacrificed and got rid of COLA.
We have a majority. The majority of the UAW workers, in our country doesn't even have a pension.
For me, if anything, they should have paid more attention, should have invested more into the workforce. That is the reason that they're making record profits. That is not by coincidence.
And so, why doesn't he focus on his greed, and the fact that he's making so much money, on the backs of the workers? I mean, 300 times more pay, for himself? Maybe he should focus on maybe cut there, so he can give it back to the workers.
COLLINS: And you're back home, tonight. You were just in Washington, this week. Obviously, this has political ramifications as well.
President Biden always says he's the most pro-labor union president ever in office.
Donald Trump right now is trying to win the UAW's endorsement.
What is at stake for your party, and how these negotiations turn out?
TLAIB: I mean, look, this is about the working class.
I know for myself. My dad only had fourth grade education, came to the United States at 19-years-old, and was able to get on that line, at Ford Motor Company, in Downriver Michigan, and he was able to build up a family, be part of the middle-class, buy a home, buy the same vehicle that he helped build.
This is what we got to get back to. When UAW workers are holding signs, saying about saving the American Dream, we should be laser- focused on that, because that's what's at stake here.
Folks need to understand that majority of UAW workers, that are living check by check, they have these tears now, where somebody, doing the same exact job, for over close to even 10 years, in some cases, are making completely different wages. That, to me, is just uncalled for, having workers against workers.
I mean, it is corporate greed at its core, and we got to stop it. I mean, they're price gouging cars. I mean, 30 percent increase in the cost of cars? And they're only really spending about 10 percent, just alone on workers. So, it's not the workers that are leading to the cause of so-called increase in cars.
It's their greed. They did shareholder payouts just fine. Why can't they treat the workers, with the same respect, that the workers had for them, in 2009, that sacrificed their living now, over 10 years? It's 2023.
Every single UAW contract, Kaitlan, and since 1948, had COLA until 2009, cost-of-living adjustment. And you're telling me we're in 2023, and they got to beg for the cost-of-living adjustment, to get back in contracts, when you're making record profits?
That's what we got to be laser-focused on, is building up the communities and, again, the workers, who are literally living check by check. They should not be struggling this much.
COLLINS: Yes. It has been a summer of strikes. I mean, it's just been a moment, for organized labor, overall.
Obviously, we're watching the clock, closely here, to see what does happen, at midnight. I know you're watching it. You'll be there as well.
On the news of what happened, today, we saw President Biden's son, Hunter Biden, was indicted, on gun charges, today. What did you make of those charges?
TLAIB: I mean, I got to be honest with you all. Again, this is the son of the President. And, I knew folks were going to, oh, ask me about it.
But my residents are not asking me about Hunter. They're asking me whether or not the Social Security office is going to be open, on October 1st. They're really worried about the government shutdown.
I was at the VA hospital, Dingell VA hospital, with Congresswoman Dingell, the other week. And literally, workers were saying, "Hey, are we going to have a government shutdown?" That's what folks are asking us about.
Of course, we want everybody be held accountable, absolutely.
But the American people are laser-focused on not only what's going on, with the UAW, today, but also about the fact that we haven't passed a federal budget. And they're really scared. They're scared that they're not going to be able to get verification processes, for their social security, or that, they're not going to be able to get maybe a passport, or whatever.
These are essential, again, services, for our federal work -- federal -- through federal departments. And our federal workers, employees, they saw what happened, the last federal shutdown. Many of them didn't -- contractors, especially independent folks, weren't even been able to actually recoup the loss, in wages.
TLAIB: And so, that's what folks are asking me about, Kaitlan, honestly.
COLLINS: Well --
TLAIB: They're so laser-focused on the fact that they're like, "Am I going to lose my health coverage? Am I going to lose my Social? What's going to happen, Rashida, if we get our government shutdown, on October 1st?"
COLLINS: And part of why there may be a government shutdown, is this division, in the Republican Party, in the House, that they can't pass spending bills.
And part of the reason that Kevin McCarthy, Speaker McCarthy opened this impeachment inquiry was demands, from far-right members. It didn't seem to really appease them.
But clearly, the impeachment inquiry is here. Do you believe that President Biden's impeachment is inevitable, based on what Republicans are saying?
TLAIB: I mean, they're going to do what they're -- they've been talking about it, since they got into the majority, Kaitlan. I mean, literally, from day one.
They didn't want to talk about different things, going on, with the U.S. Census, and the House Oversight, or the fact that Big Pharma is literally price gouging, our families. They didn't want to have Oversight hearings on that.
They wanted to be laser-focused on basically, revenge, going after someone they don't even think actually won the election. I mean, it's a complete obsession, and complete chaos.
They can't even get the Ag budget out. Ag budget has always been bipartisan. We've been able to support our rural and urban farmers. And they got food assistance in there, the WIC program, all of those things. We usually are able to get those out. But there's so much chaos, on the Republican side, they can't come together on it. So, they haven't even engaged the Democratic caucus, on Ag budget.
So, I can't imagine, the fact that because they're so laser-focused on that, that they're even going to be able to come together, on these budgets. I'm really, I'm incredibly fearful.
And, the anxiety, among our families, especially most vulnerable, the seniors, some of the federal workers, others, that again, are, at the beck and call of the Republican leadership, in the House.
COLLINS: But do you think the government's going to shut down?
TLAIB: And I'm not saying this, kind of partisan.
COLLINS: It sounds like you do.
TLAIB: I mean, I'm really worried we can't get any budgets out. By this time, we would have at least had a handful.
Again, Kaitlan, we've had a handful of budgets, in the past, that we've been able to come together, in a bipartisan way. And Ag was one of them, legislative departments, and all of those, we've been able to actually work together on those.
And again, I'm, this is my sixth year, going on my sixth year, serving. And I've never seen this. I've never seen them being able to -- they're not able to actually get it out of the Rules Committee. There's more of them taking bills off the docket, than actually getting them through the House.
COLLINS: It's quite remarkable -- I mean, the same with the Department of Defense Bill. It's quite remarkable, even Republicans are expressing that.
COLLINS: Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, obviously, we'll stay in touch with you, as you watch what is happening, tonight, with the autoworkers, very closely. Thank you, for joining me, tonight.
TLAIB: Thank you.
COLLINS: And speaking of what is happening, on Capitol Hill, there's often a lot of insults heard, in the hallways. But today, lot of F- bombs within the Republican Party, including from the Speaker of the House, himself. It's like a swear off, essentially. We'll tell you what he said, next.
COLLINS: The Speaker of the House is staring down a right-wing revolt, tonight, one that has devolved into an F-bomb-laden back-and-forth, over a spending showdown, and threats to remove, him from his job.
The Kevin McCarthy, who dared his members, behind closed doors, today, to quote, bring the effing motion to oust him, didn't quite use that language in front of cameras. But he did have this to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): I don't walk away from a battle. I knew changing Washington would not be easy. I knew people would fight or try to hold leverage for other things. And you know what? If it takes a fight, I'll have a fight.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: Might have -- might be a fight. One of the faces, of his opposition, Florida congressman, Matt Gaetz, called McCarthy, quote, "Sad and pathetic," and added this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): I'm concerned for the Speaker that he seems to be a little rattled and unhinged.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: For perspective, on how Republican infighting looks, to Republicans, outside of Washington, I am joined, tonight, by New Hampshire governor, Chris Sununu.
Governor, without using any curse words, what is your assessment, of what's going on, with your party, tonight, in Washington?
GOV. CHRIS SUNUNU (R-NH): Did -- I'm sorry. Did Matt Gaetz just call somebody else unhinged? Is that where we've come?
COLLINS: That is where we are.
SUNUNU: Look, it's -- I get -- look, I guess it's football season. Everyone's going to be throwing some F-bombs back-and-forth. And there's a lot of drama there.
My frustration with the rest of America is, to Washington, just start getting something done, start moving the ball forward.
I get that when there's drama, and there's conflict, everyone will send out fundraising emails, tonight, and they'll all be raising millions of dollars off of it. But none of that actually matters.
All that matters is that they actually get something done. You'll get politically rewarded, by the way, if you move the ball forward, actually start talking about balancing budgets, and getting some of these appropriations done, the right way.
So, it's just America is tuned out. Like you and I are in it. Like we talk about this stuff, we're in this world. But most of Americans, right now, have kind of chalked Washington up to be a bunch of white noise. They're not even paying attention.
But some real serious stuff is happening there. Don't get me wrong. But most of America has now just tuned it out, because they've lost trust, in the whole process. There's a lack of transparency. Everything is overly politicized.
That's why I love being a governor. I'm not going to lie to you. 50 governors, Republican or Democrat, our job is to just to get stuff done. And we do at a localized level. I think there's a lot of success there.
So, I don't know, I just think Washington needs to take a page out of our playbook. I think they need to kind of listen to the American people, for once, and say, "Look, what do we do to actually come together, and move it?"
And you'll have a lot of folks. If you reject the extremes, on both sides reject the extremes, there's a huge path, for folks, on the left and the right, to actually come together, and do it. But that takes leadership.
COLLINS: Well, America may start paying attention, if there's a government shutdown that would obviously affect their day-to-day lives.
SUNUNU: That's right.
COLLINS: I mean, your party is staring down a deadline, to fund the government. It's in 16 days. They can't even get the easy spending bills passed, like the ones related to the Military.
But they are pursuing an impeachment inquiry, Republicans are, into President Biden. I mean, do you think they have their priorities straight?
SUNUNU: Well, look, the impeachment inquiry is very serious. I think Kevin McCarthy has actually done a pretty good job, over the last 48 hours, really explaining what is there, why they're going forward with it. There's obviously going to be the perception of politics, driven by that. That's understandable.
But to your point, they still have to do actual things that keep the government open. Nobody should want a shutdown. A shutdown is really bad. It's a failure, on everybody's part, in Washington, if that were to happen.
As somebody, who's in charge, of making sure the government doesn't shut down, in my State, we go -- that is really a last resort of failure, right? And that's all it is. It's just a failure. You get nothing accomplished by it. No one feels any more pressure or leverage. It's just a big fiasco.
So, the hope is that, they can continue down these parallel paths. They can focus on both of these issues. Whether one is more of a priority? I'd say keeping the government open, that, is clearly the biggest priority, right now, because it really gets to a very, almost dangerous situation, when you shut down the government, in terms of everything, from air traffic controllers, to safety, on the highways.
SUNUNU: All these things really come to a halt.
COLLINS: Well, I'm curious what you said about McCarthy, and what he -- how he's described this impeachment inquiry. Because, you said, earlier this summer that you thought impeachment was terrible, for America. I mean, do you still feel that way?
COLLINS: Or have you changed your mind on that?
SUNUNU: Oh, of course. Oh, my gosh. No, impeachment is a horrible thing, for this country. There's no question about it. Now, if there's --
COLLINS: So, you think they shouldn't be pursuing this?
SUNUNU: Well, no, I guess we got to find out, right? I think what my biggest challenge with all this is we don't really know what's there yet, right? And, I guess, I know, they got to go through the process. But they got to be crazy-transparent, because it is --
COLLINS: But they have been investigating for eight months now.
SUNUNU: Yes. And look, and there's clearly a lot of implication that the former President was involved in things that he should not have been involved in. Whether it's the business dealings, or what he knew, whether he was lying about it or not, that all really does have to come to bear.
But again, I think, to your point, understand, it is a horrible situation, for America. It is divisive. Nothing good comes of it. The world kind of laughs at us, when we do it. It means that we made a huge mistake, as a country. It brings even more polarization and divide as we go into the 2024 election. It's really everything most Americans don't want to see.
This is why no one wants Joe Biden on the ticket. This is why no one wants Donald Trump on the ticket. This is why they're hoping that there's still an opportunity. I think there is.
I think it's a huge opportunity for 70 percent of Americans to get very happy, when they see neither Joe Biden, nor Donald Trump. It's not easy to do. It doesn't mean it's an absolute. But there's a very clear path there, to getting it done.
COLLINS: Yes. I mean, we've continued to ask the Republicans, pursuing this, for that direct evidence. They have not been able to provide any yet.
But I do want to ask you about something that Donald Trump said, before we came on air, tonight. He was asked about this idea that has been tossed around, as he's facing all these legal issues, about whether or not he would pardon himself, if he were to be reelected. This is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I was told by some people that these are sick lunatics that I'm dealing with. 'Give yourself a pardon. Your life will be a lot easier.'
I said, 'I would never give myself a pardon.'
KRISTEN WELKER, "MEET THE PRESS" MODERATOR, NBC NEWS: Even if you were reelected in this moment?
TRUMP: Well, I think it's very unlikely. What did I do wrong? I didn't do anything wrong. You mean because I challenged an election they want to put me in jail?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: Do you believe that if he was reelected and convicted that he wouldn't pardon himself?
SUNUNU: Of course, he'd pardon himself. That's the main reason he's running. I mean, that is not some sort of Washington secret. Of course, he would pardon himself.
I get that he's trying to convince everyone that he didn't do anything wrong, and all that. And who knows? I mean, we really don't know. We'll let the courts and the judicial system figure all that out.
But at the end of the day, of course, he's going to pardon himself. Any president would.
COLLINS: Governor Chris Sununu, congrats, on making it through this interview, with no F-bombs. Thank you, for joining me, tonight.
COLLINS: Up next, a Georgia judge has ruled, on the trials, of Donald Trump, and his 18 co-defendants, and who will have to be on trial, next month.
COLLINS: Former President Donald Trump will not be on trial, in Georgia, in October. But two of his co-defendants will be, Kenneth Chesebro and Sidney Powell. A judge, today, granted both of them the speedy trials that they had asked for. But the judge did also rule that Trump and the other 16 co-defendants will be tried, at a later TBD date.
Now, tensions ran high, inside the Fulton County courtroom, today. Of course, there are cameras in there, so we can see all of this, as it plays out. And there was this moment, as defense attorneys, for Chesebro and Powell, were battling, over whether or not they could speak with grand jurors, who had first handed down the indictment.
This is what the prosecutor argued, and also how Kenneth Chesebro's attorney responded.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DAYSHA YOUNG, FULTON COUNTY PROSECUTOR: But we'd ask that it's not -- that it does not happen because it is not authorized by law.
SCOTT GRUBMAN, ATTORNEY FOR KENNETH CHESEBRO: Ms. Young's trying to send my client to prison. And we have the right to know if it was done properly.
We can talk to grand jurors. So, the fact that she got up here, and lied, lied to the court. She --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, Mr. Grubman. Didn't need to go down that road.
GRUBMAN: Your Honor, she lied to the court.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Grubman.
GRUBMAN: And I apologize. And she defamed my co-counsel.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Grubman, I've said it's over.
GRUBMAN: All right. Well I wish you would have stopped her --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right.
GRUBMAN: -- from defaming my co-counsel.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: Fascinating to be able to watch all of it play out, in court.
In the end of what was happening, in that room, the judge signaled that he would allow those defense attorneys, to speak to the grand jurors, but saying, at first, they need to propose a list of questions, they'd like to ask them.
For perspective, on these rulings, today, joining me now is former Georgia prosecutor, and criminal defense attorney, Sarah Flack.
So good to see you now that we're both inside, in air conditioning. Last time, I saw you, we were sitting outside the Fulton County Jail.
The judge here is basically, though denying what the District Attorney, Fani Willis wanted, which was to try everyone together. What do you make of the call that he made today?
SARAH FLACK, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY & FORMER GEORGIA PROSECUTOR: Well, it's not completely unexpected.
I mean, what D.A. Willis was wanting was basically, to have everybody be tried, in the next few weeks, a 19 co-defendant, biggest case that she's ever tried, that office, maybe anyone ever, in this country, has tried, wanting to do that in less than two months, after an indictment. I don't think that that was realistic, for a host of reasons.
Most importantly, the defendants have a right, and their attorneys have asserted those allegations, for those, who did not want the speedy trial, to be able to review these thousands and thousands of pages of discovery and evidence. And nobody can do that in really, two months.
We're seeing that's going to happen, with these two defendants. But when you allege, you're saying you want this speedy trial, you're now giving up all these extra discovery rights, that you have, in the State of Georgia, because you're saying, "I'm ready to basically try this case tomorrow."
FLACK: So, I'm not totally surprised that the judge ultimately severed just these two.
COLLINS: And Donald Trump very much does not want a speedy trial, which his legal team made clear.
But the judge, today, signaled that there could be more separations to come, that it may not be realistic to even try the other 17 together, saying additional divisions may be required.
Do you think that more cases will be broken up?
FLACK: It's possible. I think, as they start to comb through the discovery, I think the reason you'll see them, if we do see extra or more severances, will be if there are some Confrontation Clause issues.
Let's say there are certain people, who may have made statements, especially other co-defendants, who have made statements, at some point, or to other people, or about another co-defendant. Those other co-defendants now have a right, under the Confrontation Clause, to be able to cross-examine those other statements, made by a co-defendant.
So, those are some legalities that would, I think, require the judge, under Georgia law, and really, United States Supreme Court law, federal law, to sever them.
FLACK: But other than that, I don't think that they will end up severing these cases.
COLLINS: And you just watched part of that moment with, I believe, that was Scott Grubman, Kenneth Chesebro's attorney, and other defense attorneys, who were in there. I mean, tensions were obviously high between them, and prosecutors. It's remarkable, for us, to be able to see it, and to have all of this play out, on camera.
Is that typical, during a preliminary hearing, saying, "They're defaming my co-counsel," talking about the prosecutors in that way? FLACK: No. I think we are seeing the start of a show. And they mentioned it on court today that there are cameras watching. All of that is irrelevant.
If you disagree with the prosecutor's argument? That happens every day in court. We disagree. I'm a defense attorney. We disagree all the time. But to say somebody's lying? You may not agree with her statement or her argument.
But it's a show. It sounded like he was speaking more to the millions of people, watching, and trying to make a statement, to potential jurors, because ultimately, that's what this is about, is getting these jurors in, and trying to sway them, to believe what they're wanting them to believe. But I think this is just the start of a very long show. So, stay tuned.
COLLINS: Yes, that is safe to say. Sarah Flack. So, we will be bringing you back to join us, for the rest of that show.
FLACK: Thank you.
COLLINS: Thank you for joining tonight, though.
FLACK: Great to see you, Kaitlan.
COLLINS: Great to see you as well.
Ahead, we have an admission, from Trump, about that newly-launched impeachment inquiry, into President Biden. It might surprise you. It might not.
COLLINS: In what may be a surprise, to no one, former President Trump, says that the current impeachment inquiry, into President Biden, might be revenge, for his own two impeachments.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I think had they not done it to me -- that I'm very popular, in the region, or they like me, and I like them, the Republican Party -- perhaps you wouldn't have it being done to them.
And this is going to happen with indictments, too -- fake indictments. And I think you're going to see that. As time goes by, you're going to see Republicans, when they are in power, doing it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: Joining me now, Mo Elleithee, the former Communications Director for the Democratic National Committee; and Jason Osborne, a Campaign Adviser to Donald Trump, in 2016.
Jason, I think people may hear what the former President said there, Democrats probably particularly, and say, "Yes, that's exactly what's happening here."
JASON OSBORNE, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Yes, without a doubt. I mean, I, and actually, out of that whole interview, I appreciated that statement by Trump the most, quite frankly, because at least he's being honest about it.
And I think more folks, in the Republican side, and I've talked to a number of members, over the last couple weeks. And they just want this problem to go away. They don't understand, why there's this impetus, to try and do an impeachment that's going to take up another six to eight months, and it's never going to get solved.
COLLINS: Mo, does it seem pretty obvious to you, though, that given they've started this inquiry, that this is the road that this is headed down?
MO ELLEITHEE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, GEORGETOWN INSTITUTE OF POLITICS & PUBLIC SERVICE: Yes, well, there's not -- I mean, there's not a lot of precedent, for Congress, to begin an inquiry, and not follow through. And so, it seems like this is the path they're headed down.
And Donald Trump said the quiet part out loud. This is exactly what it appears to be that the Republicans are being retaliatory. It's not a surprise. Many of the members of the MAGA caucus, in the House, were saying this, openly, at the beginning of this congressional term.
And I think there's some real political liability, for Republicans, on this, right? An impeachment's supposed to be the last resort. And here they are, without even having any evidence, beginning this journey, and for what is clearly now being admitted to be political retaliation.
COLLINS: Well, I want to ask you about something else, that the former President said, when he was, in this interview.
He was asked about these concerns that we've heard, not just from Republicans, but also some Democrats, about President Biden's age. Of course, and it is worth noting, Trump is only three years younger than Biden. He's 77.
But his answer does not sound like what most Republicans are saying. This is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: No, not old. He's incompetent. He's not too old. He's incompetent.
And age is interesting, because some people are very sharp, and some people do lose it. But you lose it at 40 and 50 also.
But no, he's not too old at all. He's grossly incompetent.
(END VIDEO CLIP) COLLINS: The grossly incompetent part obviously isn't surprising. But what did you make of him going out of his way, to say "No, Biden is not too old?"
ELLEITHEE: Well, look, as you said, the former President is about the same age as the current President. And so, if he were to be engaging in, in some of these ageist attacks, he'd be sort of implicating himself.
But what he said there is exactly the playing ground, the Biden campaign wants to be on, I would suspect.
They want to be able to compare the record of the Biden administration, to the record of the Trump administration. They want to make it a contrast in competence, a contrast in chaos. He was elected in 2020, in large part, because people were reacting to the chaos of the Trump years.
This was exactly where the Democrats want to be, I suspect.
COLLINS: Jason, what do you make of that answer?
OSBORNE: Well, I appreciated the answer, quite frankly. I mean, because I don't think it is necessarily an age thing.
But what I'm frustrated by is, if we're talking about being honest, out there, there is no question, in my mind, that President Biden does not have the faculties that he had three, four or five years ago. And let's just acknowledge that. That doesn't mean to say that he is not a strong leader, that he's not a strong president, that he can still make sound decisions.
But let's not gloss over the issues that are coming up, in some of these press conferences. I seem to recall, during the Trump administration, there was hours of discussion, in the media, about whether Trump was clinically insane, or mentally out there.
And so, I think we need to have that discussion, and have somebody come up and say, "Look, I get it." Senator McConnell has had some issues, and people are starting to talk about those as well.
But Senator -- President Biden is having problems. And we need to understand why. And is it affecting his ability to be President? I'm not sure that he -- it is. But I'm not sure that it isn't.
COLLINS: Mo, President Biden, speaking of what he was -- him speaking, he was in Maryland today. He was touting his economic policy. What the White House is trying to do is make this argument, about Bidenomics, what he has been talking about, and contrasting it with MAGAnomics, saying that he's basically done more, for working families.
This is what he told voters, today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: They have a very different vision for America.
Look, their plan, MAGAnomics, is more extreme than anything America has ever seen before.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: He's basically saying that they're undercutting working-class Americans. Of course, this comes as we are watching, what could happen, in two hours, from now, this strike, and the auto workers.
What do you make of that message, and whether or not it's resonating with people?
ELLEITHEE: Well, it's going to have to, right? And the only way it can, is that the President, and his allies, are out there touting it.
Look, they've got an economic argument to make, about how they have started to get the economy back on track, after COVID wreaked havoc on it. And they've got specific proof points they can make.
But there's an extra step here. And that is to say, "We get not everybody is feeling it yet. So let's get these initiatives in action. And then here's what comes next." And always be looking to the future so that more people can buy get bought into this.
The second part of it is they've got an easy contrast to make, with Republicans, on this. While we are working here, to get the economy back on track, and make your lives a little bit easier? They're out there talking about book bans. They're out there talking about what can be taught in a classroom, and whether or not, the "Don't say gay" stuff down in Florida.
They can talk about the culture wars, taking away a woman's right to choose. That is the Republican Party's priorities. Ours are very different.
COLLINS: Yes, that skyrocketing child poverty rate might be part of why people aren't feeling it.
Mo Elleithee, Jason Osborne, thank you both, for joining, tonight.
OSBORNE: Thank you. Roll Tide.
COLLINS: Roll Tide as always, Jason.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump had a moment, during a new interview, where he couldn't remember something that happened, in his White House, involving a key player, in the administration.
Or maybe he is choosing to forget.
COLLINS: One moment, to draw your attention to, today, as former President Trump was left guessing, when he was asked, by Megyn Kelly, who might have awarded Dr. Anthony Fauci, a presidential commendation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MEGYN KELLY, HOST, "THE MEGYN KELLY SHOW": You actually give him a presidential commendation before you left office. Wouldn't you like a do-over on that?
TRUMP: I don't know who gave him the commendation. I really don't know who gave him the commendation. I wouldn't have done it.
KELLY: Well it's a presidential commendation. One went out to Mark Milley, too.
TRUMP: I know. Somebody probably handed him a commendation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: Of course, the someone, who handed Dr. Fauci, and others, who were involved in Operation Warp Speed vaccine efforts, that commendation was former President Trump himself. You can see it here. This happened, on his last full day, in office, January 19th, 2021.
One of his 2024 campaign rivals is not buying that he doesn't remember who did so.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL), (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Was that the immaculate commendation that just happened to happen? It said 'Donald Trump awards Fauci this commendation.'
So, I thought it was really pathetic, to sit there and listen to that drivel. It is totally false.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: "Immaculate commendation." That's one that just does not roll off the tongue.
Thank you so much, for joining us, tonight.
"CNN PRIMETIME" with Abby Phillip, starts, right now.
Abby, I don't think I ever thought that that would be what was said, in the middle of this 2024 race.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST, CNN PRIMETIME: The gloves are apparently really off between those two. We'll see where this one goes.
Thank you, Kaitlan.
COLLINS: Bye, Abby.
PHILLIP: All right, good evening everyone.