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The Source with Kaitlan Collins
Biden Urges World To Stand Firm Against Russia; UAW Chief: "Can't Keep Electing Billionaires" Who Don't Know What It's Like To "Live Paycheck To Paycheck"; Rudy Giuliani Sued By Own Lawyer For $1.36 Million. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired September 19, 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: Tonight, straight from THE SOURCE.
President Biden, urging the world, not to grow weary, on standing with Ukraine. But that might be a tougher sell, in Washington.
The Republican Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee is here with me.
Plus, what a central witness, in the Trump classified documents case, has now reportedly told federal investigators? Something that the ex- President apparently urged her not to tell them.
And if Rudy Giuliani did not have enough legal problems that were already facing him, they just got a lot worse. He is now being sued, by his own attorney.
I'm Kaitlan Collins. And this is THE SOURCE.
In a rare visit, to the United States, Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, is issuing a blunt warning, about Russia, saying that "Evil cannot be trusted."
He was speaking, today, to world leaders, at the United Nations General Assembly, here, in New York, in-person. But it's not clear if all of the world leaders, who were in the room, or even some Republicans, in Washington, got that message.
This is what Zelenskyy told Wolf Blitzer, about what is on the line, in this fight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE: We hear their voices on the front line. And we hear them, and they're demotivate us, the Russian demotivated, they're afraid of us.
And all Putin wants now, all things he wants now, is really, to push United States, to change the minds of society, to push E.U. partners, to change the mind of the people of E.U. countries. He understood that only by propaganda, he cannot win. He cannot to lose this war. (END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: President Biden is also here, in New York, where he sought to rally other world leaders, behind Ukraine, urging democracies, to stand by their core principles.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Russia believes that the world will grow weary and allow it to brutalize Ukraine without consequence.
We have to stand up to this naked aggression today and deter other would-be aggressors tomorrow.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: If you were listening closely, to President Biden's speech, today, that message was not just intended, for the world leaders, and the diplomats, who were gathered here, in New York.
That impassioned plea was also intended for lawmakers, back in Washington, where some Republicans, on the far right, are fighting against more funding, for Ukraine. That is only part of why we could see the 11 -- just 11 days away, from the federal government, running out of money.
The Republican Party is so far apart, right now, on agreeing on how to fund the government, House Republicans were even voting, against their own defense bill, on Capitol Hill, today. That almost never happens.
House Speaker, Kevin McCarthy, is working, furiously, to keep his party together, but also to keep his job.
All of this is happening as President Zelenskyy is set to visit Washington, later on, this week.
Tonight, one of the key Republicans, who is not only meeting with the Ukrainian leader, but who is also, on the front lines, of fighting, to keep the government open, is here with me.
And let's get straight to THE SOURCE, with the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Texas congressman, Michael McCaul.
Congressman, thank you, for being here.
President Biden says that the U.S. will continue to stand with quote "The brave people of Ukraine." But a vocal faction of your party is saying no, to more money. Do you think your party will eventually vote to pass another aid package, to Ukraine?
REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL (R-TX): Well, I do think the majority, the majorities, both House and Senate, support this effort. We'll be meeting with Zelenskyy, on Thursday. There will be House Republican leadership. But I think we also need answers. I mean, we -- to have a supplemental dropped on us, we need to know, a lot of members want to know what is the plan for victory? Why aren't we putting the weapons, into Ukraine, that they need to win, rather than a slow-bleeding survival rate that was counterproductive to the counteroffensive?
So, I think, Republicans wanting to support this, but seeing the Administration not really managing it very well. And they also want to make sure that our NATO partners are paying their fair share, of the price tag, on this.
COLLINS: But a lot of the Republicans, who are voicing opposition, to funding -- more funding for Ukraine, aren't making those conditions. Some of them are. People like Speaker McCarthy, is talking about wanting to know where it's going. But several of them that are not. They're not saying they have questions. They're just saying "No more funding. Period."
MCCAUL: Right. And I think that's still not in the majority. But I will say that I think it is in our national security interest, for Ukraine, to win. But we need to see a plan, and press Congress to be drafting the plan for victory. And I think that's one of the bigger issues, here, is that we don't want a long dragged-out war.
Putin wants a war of attrition. And that's what he's getting, right now. And the longer this drags out, the more difficult it's going to be. Because he knows he can drive the will of the American people down, and perhaps our European partners.
I want to see Ukraine win, because it has enormous stakes, from a national security standpoint. It will directly impact how Chairman Xi, and China, views Taiwan. So now, we are the largest invasion, in Europe, since World War II, greatest threat to the Pacific. And if we don't get this right, we're going to find ourselves having to commit U.S. troops, which so far we haven't had to commit one U.S. soldier.
COLLINS: Well, given that, Congressman, when Speaker McCarthy was asked, today, about committing to another round of funding, this was his answer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Is Zelenskyy elected to Congress? Is he our President? I don't think I have to commit anything. I have questions for him. Where's the accountability on the money we've already spent? What is the plan for victory? I think that's what the American public wants to know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: You're talking about the majority of the majority supporting this. I mean, does that sound like a House Speaker to you, who does want to pass more funding for Ukraine? MCCAUL: Well, the Speaker, I know, supports our efforts, in Ukraine. But he's raising questions that we hear, from our Conference, all the time.
And, I think, we're going to meet with Zelenskyy. I certainly support this effort. But I think there are, as this war drags out, there are more and more questions, from our members, about what is the plan for victory? Why aren't you putting the weapons, in necessary, to win, rather than to just survive?
This counteroffensive has not gone as well as we'd hoped. And we don't want a long dragged-out war of attrition. But the White House and Jake Sullivan have taken the slow-walk, in terms of weapon systems. Why aren't they giving them the ATACMS that can hit Crimea? I don't understand that. And I've been a strong critic, about this.
Now, I'm going to support Ukrainians. It's the right side of history, and the right thing to do. But there are mounting and growing questions, within our party, and our Conference, and questions --
MCCAUL: -- that quite frankly, deserve answers.
COLLINS: I also want to ask you, given you are the Chairman of House Foreign Affairs, about this deal, that was made, to bring five Americans, who were wrongfully detained in Iran, home? I mean, we saw their families celebrating, crying, as they were finally able to greet them, and to hug them.
Do you think that this was the wrong deal?
MCCAUL: That's what we're worried about is because -- well, first of all, to unleash, and unfreeze, or freeze up these sanctioned assets, $6 billion, to the largest state sponsor of terror?
The JCPOA, under Obama, was only half a billion dollars.
Now, we're pouring $6 billion, into the Islamic Republic of Iran, that they will then -- and I was told, for humanitarian purposes only. But now we hear, from the President of Iran, this can be used, for any purpose they want. That would include their terror proxies, whether it be Hezbollah, Hamas, Shia militias, all throughout the Middle East.
And since that time, you've seen Iran kick out a third of the IAEA, that's the International Atomic Energy Agency's inspectors out of Iran. And now, the Saudis are questioning whether they should be doing this deal with Israel. It's having a direct impact.
And Kaitlan, to be honest with you, our chief negotiator, Mr. Malley, now, is under investigation, for the mishandling of classified documents. And we still haven't gotten to the bottom of that.
COLLINS: But on the --
MCCAUL: So, there are a lot of unanswered questions COLLINS: On the assets themselves, I mean, they are frozen Iranian assets that were in, in South Korea that they're essentially unfreezing. It's not like it's U.S. money that is going to this. And the White House says they will have a strict oversight of it.
But I do want to ask you, because all of this is part of separate from Iran, but back to Ukraine, when we're talking about that, what we're seeing happening, where you are, on Capitol Hill, right now, this fight, over funding the government. I mean, House Republicans, today, were even voting against their own defense bill.
Is all of this, all of the fight that is happening over spending and funding the government really worth jeopardizing servicemembers' paychecks?
MCCAUL: No, I don't think so. I agree with you.
I think in the 20 years I've served, in Congress, I've never seen the rule brought down, on a defense appropriations bill. I think it's disrespectful to our active-duty, to our veterans, and our current service members. They deserve better than this from Congress. It's a good bill.
And you know who's enjoying this more than anybody, Kaitlan, is Chairman Xi, and China. He often says to the President Tsai of Taiwan, or he says it to us, "Democracy doesn't work. Democracy is a failure. I can make a decision like that, and I am more effective than democracy."
And what I worry about is we just proved him right, with this vote, today, taking down the rule, on a defense appropriations bill, that is desperately needed.
I'm a conferee, to the National Defense Authorization bill, which is an authorization. But for God's sakes, if we're going to authorize but not fund, our Department of Defense, we're putting ourselves in jeopardy, and emboldening our adversaries, which I would say, this Ukraine thing is tied to that as well.
Because, you're talking about Iran, putting drones in Ukraine. Now, Putin is begging, Kim Jong Un, panhandling for weapons and money, and he's aligning with this unholy alliance.
COLLINS: So, why is your party so dysfunctional? Why can't they get these spending bills passed?
MCCAUL: It's a handful. You're talking about --
COLLINS: But they're able to take down --
COLLINS: -- potentially not funding the government. MCCAUL: I think against the will of the American people. You're talking about five members that don't represent the Conference, in my judgment. They may have their own reasons. But I don't quite understand it.
And I think it's dangerous, because our adversaries are watching. And when they see something, like this, take place, on the House floor, it only emboldens our adversaries. It does not strike any fear into them. And that's dangerous.
COLLINS: I want to follow up with you on something you said recently, about the impeachment inquiry that has just been launched, into President Biden.
This is what you said, for our viewers, who didn't hear that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAUL: With respect to foreign policy decisions the President may have made, or Vice President, at that time, with respect to money coming in, to try to tie the two. We don't have the evidence now. But we may find it later.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: Congressman, are you acknowledging that you do not have the evidence, against President Biden? And if so, why pursue that impeachment inquiry? Why not just have the committees that were having these investigations continue to do so? Why take this next step, but there's not evidence to back it up?
MCCAUL: Well, I think there is. And, I mean, I was the U.S. attorney. I think there's enough -- there's predication, enough predication, to open an investigation, into that. And what do I mean? $20 million, in wire transfers, going to Hunter Biden, and possibly family members.
And it's not just me. The judge, the federal judge, threw out the plea agreement, which is almost unprecedented, based upon the amicus brief, of the IRS tech -- you know, the whistleblower, that talked about how his leads, to the family, were cut off, by higher levels, at the Justice Department.
That's not supposed to happen, at Justice. And that's why the federal judge did what she did. It's also why Merrick Garland has now appointed Weiss, as a special prosecutor, to investigate this very --
COLLINS: But we haven't seen anything tied directly to President Biden.
MCCAUL: -- very issue.
COLLINS: That's the issue, I think, that people have raised, with the inquiry. MCCAUL: Well it's too early, in the investigation. I mean, the Justice Department has decided to open this investigation. The federal judge thinks it's warranted.
COLLINS: But not into President Biden? That's I'm not -- Hunter Biden is separate from this. I'm saying any evidence directly tying it to President Biden, I mean, that's the impeachment inquiry is into --
COLLINS: -- President Biden, not Hunter Biden, obviously, as you know.
MCCAUL: Well, I worked at DOJ, for many years. I worked on the Johnny Chung case, where we had all this money coming from China, into shell corporations, and then laundered, to go into the President's reelection.
This is nothing new, whether it be China or Russia, the money. I mean, when you got that kind of money going into shell corporations that have no legitimate purpose? That automatically raises an alarm, and a flag. And I think it warrants an investigation, not just by the Justice Department, at the behest of the federal judge, but also by the Congress.
Still no direct evidence to President Biden. We will wait to see obviously if this finds that.
Chairman Michael McCaul, thank you, for your time, tonight.
MCCAUL: Thanks, Kaitlan. Thanks for having me.
COLLINS: Also, up next, tonight, there is brand-new reporting, from "The New York Times," on a key witness, in the Trump classified documents case. This is a long-time aide, to the former President, who worked for him, in the White House, traveled with him, to Mar-a-Lago, and now apparently, has been talking, to federal investigators, and has told them something he did not want them to know.
Plus, Rudy Giuliani, already struggling with his mounting legal bills. Now his former longtime lawyer wants him to pay up.
COLLINS: A close aide, to former President, Donald Trump, who followed him, from the White House, to Mar-a-Lago, has now reportedly told investigators that he wanted her to apparently lie to them, or at least certainly not tell them the truth.
Molly Michael was an assistant -- Trump's assistant, in the White House, and after his presidency. And "The New York Times" is reporting, tonight, that Trump wanted her to say that she didn't know anything, about the boxes, containing classified documents that were found, at his Florida resort, and taken with him, when he left office.
When he learned that federal officials wanted to speak with her, he told her, according to "The New York Times," quote, "You don't know anything about the boxes."
That of course would be the boxes that per this federal indictment were openly stored in a Mar-a-Lago ballroom, in a bathroom, among other places, at the former President's property.
Michael also reportedly told investigators that Trump would use documents, with classified markings, to jot down to-do list, for her.
For a perspective, on what this evidence means, to investigators, I am joined now by former federal prosecutor, Elliot Williams; and former Deputy Director of the FBI, Andrew McCabe.
Elliot, let me start with you. I think the obvious question here is how strong is this testimony? Could it be, when it comes to what Trump is facing, which are obstruction charges?
ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Look, these are acts of obstruction, at least as alleged.
Now, I don't think, based on what's available, right now, that the Justice Department would charge him with obstruction, just for this conduct here. What you have is the statement of one witness. As far as we know, it's not corroborated by anything else. There aren't text messages, establishing it.
But look, this is an act of obstruction of justice, if what she's saying is true. What you have is a defendant, who is aware of an open investigation, and he's urging another person, to either influence, delay, or prevent her testimony. That's right out of the obstruction of justice statute.
So, at a minimum, it's valuable testimony. It speaks to sort of character, and misconduct, and a guilty mind, even if they don't charge him, with it, specifically.
COLLINS: Well, and I think Elliot makes an important point, there, Andrew McCabe, because this isn't just one isolated thing.
I mean, we already know, from the indictment that Trump made a plucking motion, with his hand, when he was speaking, with his attorney, Evan Corcoran, about documents that the attorney believed met, I don't know, if there's anything bad in there, for him, to essentially remove it.
So, taken altogether, what does this mean for their case?
ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I think, it shows us, Kaitlan that the prosecutors have a lot of evidence that we're not even aware of yet, right? The indictment itself was incredibly detailed, kind of a speaking indictment, as they like to say. And it certainly gave us a great vision, into the strength of their case.
But beyond that, they are sitting on the testimony of witnesses, like Michael, who provide these incredibly vivid glimpses, into the way business was done, in and around Mar-a-Lago.
And, I think, this, the reporting that we're talking about, tonight, about this alleged comment that she, to Michael, that "You don't know anything about the boxes," the context is incredibly important. So allegedly, he made that comment to her, after she told him that she had been requested, to be interviewed, by the FBI.
So, in response to learning about her imminent interview with the Bureau, he responds with essentially a direction, to forget anything you know, about the boxes, or, you don't know anything about the boxes.
It's really very damaging, very damaging testimony, potentially damaging testimony, to the former President. And it's just a piece of what we're learning, right now. There may be many others.
And Elliot, I mean, Chris Christie has been not shy, when it comes to criticizing Trump. He said last night that all the comments Trump keeps making, about the election subversion case, could make his attorneys want to vomit, I believe was the quote that he used.
He was also asked about this new reporting tonight. And this is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS CHRISTIE, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The worst is when he called that assistant, when she was going to go before the grand jury, and said, "You don't know anything about my boxes, my boxes of documents." I mean, that is active witness tampering.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: He's a former federal prosecutor.
What do you make of that?
WILLIAMS: I think he's absolutely right. It is active witness tampering. And it actually might be able to be admitted, as evidence, even if he's not charged with that specific act, because, this sort of touches on what Andrew was talking about before.
There are other instances of a specific intent, to obstruct justice, the plucking motion, take these documents out, and so on. And it might be able to come into court, where you could have Molly (ph) Michael come in and testify that "Oh, and look on another occasion" -- he's not charged with this conduct. "But on other occasion, he sought to have me do almost the same thing." It's a pattern of conduct in the same scheme of events.
But I think the Governor is absolutely right there. This is tampering with the witness.
When you charge someone, with a crime, you have to sort of fit their conduct, to the statute. And statutes aren't always written entirely, clearly. This one is. It's, "If you're tampering with someone, to get in the way of their testimony?" And that's kind of what Molly (ph) Michael, at least appears to be saying happened here.
COLLINS: And Elliot, you would call her to testify?
WILLIAMS: Based on what is publicly available now, yes.
But again, I don't know, for instance, her background, if there's anything that on which she could be impeached, in terms of credibility. I don't, again, I don't know this individual. Does she have a criminal history or anything else? Those are the kinds of things that prosecutors have to think about --
WILLIAMS: -- before deciding whether to call somebody. Could they be undermined, in some way?
But based on this reporting, certainly, and just the reporting, it's certainly valuable.
COLLINS: Well, and Andrew, I mean, obviously, the other -- the immediate thing that you think about, when you read the story, is Yuscil Taveras, the IT worker, who was also told to, instructed to delete surveillance footage. I mean, these are all people that could be people, who worked for Donald Trump, some still work for him, that could be called, in that very situation, to testify.
MCCABE: Yes. So, as we've all been kind of expecting, after the drop of the indictment, you're now seeing the government lineup full- blooded cooperators, who are going to take the stand, in the government's case, and testify against their former boss, the former President of the United States.
So, Taveras is a key witness. But even Taveras, to what we know, so far, or was publicly reported, didn't have a direct interaction, with Trump, about the direction, to delete -- the alleged direction, to delete the servers.
Michael is potentially more significant, in that regard, because what she's relating is a conversation, with Trump, in which he is allegedly making this direction, to obstruct justice, and impede her testimony. So, could be very powerful testimony.
COLLINS: Yes, that's a good point. It's one step closer to him than the other witnesses.
Andrew McCabe, Elliot Williams, thank you both, for your expertise, on this, tonight. Up next, the head of the United Auto Workers Union, is now pushing back, at former President, Donald Trump, who is planning his own trip to Detroit, as the first-ever strike, against all Big Three automakers at once, is now well into day five.
COLLINS: The head of the United Auto Workers Union, now on day five, of a strike, against the Big Three automakers, had some blunt words, for former President, Donald Trump, after he announced plans, to skip the second Republican debate, next week, and instead counter-program, with the speech, to autoworkers, in Detroit.
The UAW President, Shawn Fain, wants essentially no part of that visit, and said today, quote, "Every fiber of our union is being poured into fighting the billionaire class and an economy that enriches people like Donald Trump at the expense of workers. We can't keep electing billionaires and millionaires that don't have any understanding of what it's like to live paycheck to paycheck."
Fain has not exactly, I should note, had kind words, for President Biden, either, despite how the President embraced his strike, and some notable comments, last week.
Joining me now, for perspective, on all of this, former Biden White House Communications Director, Kate Bedingfield; and the former Republican National Committee Communications Director, Doug Heye.
Lots of Communications experts here.
So Doug, I'll start with you. I mean, Trump is clearly trying to win over the rank-and-file members here. He's criticizing this, leaders, in this strike. I mean, how does that work, as he's trying to court, the voters? Do you think he has any chance of success here?
DOUG HEYE, FORMER RNC COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, there's a real difference. There's the medium. And there's the audience.
And the medium is exactly that, the UAW, the leadership, those places, where he would go to and go through.
The audience is much broader than that. That's everybody that Donald Trump appealed to, in 2016, a lot of whom he lost, in 2020, to Joe Biden, but that where he had a message that remember, he said, "Hillary Clinton says, I'm with her. I'm with you."
That's going to be Donald Trump message, here, when he speaks to autoworkers, and the broader audience that looks at this. And that's where Donald Trump could have success here. And it's why, I think, Democrats should be a little nervous here.
Donald Trump gets it in a way, and I say this, as somebody, who's not a fan of Donald Trump, he gets it in a way that audiences, outside of those thought bubbles, in Washington, in New York, and in this case, Detroit, understand and cause real consternation, I think, potentially, for Democrats.
COLLINS: Kate, you worked in the White House, not that long ago. I wonder what you make of the situation, playing out now, where President Biden had said, he was going to send two of his top aides.
We've now learned apparently, that trip has been scrapped, as we're seeing some lawmakers, like Congressman Ro Khanna, saying, that Biden himself should join the picket line.
If you were in the White House, what would your advice be?
KATE BEDINGFIELD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I would want to do everything that I could, to show that President Biden is standing, with the workers, who are out on strike. And I'm certain that that's what the President and his team are doing too.
But they're going to do that in a way that is working, with union leadership, making sure that they are providing help, and resources, where the Union wants it, and not where they don't, so.
But I think the thing here that is different? I was listening to Doug, and I agree with some of what he was saying. But there's a really key difference here, between 2016 and now, which is that, Donald Trump is effectively an incumbent.
Donald Trump now has a record, four years, of factories closing, under his watch, of jobs going overseas, of him saying things like, "Your job should go overseas, and then you can negotiate better deals here. And let's see how you like that." So, he has a record that he has to defend.
And I think the contrast there with President Biden, who has created 800,000 manufacturing jobs, since he took office, and has helped lead a manufacturing boom, in this country, that economic contrast is intense. And that's where the Biden campaign is going to try to drive the comparison here.
COLLINS: Yes, though, I mean, the UAW hasn't endorsed him yet, saying he's got to earn it.
But Doug, for your party, Senator Tim Scott, had an interesting comment, today, compared to other 2024 hopefuls, who are all being asked, to weigh in, on this. When he was asked, he invoked for President Ronald Reagan, who of course, once fired more than 11,000 air traffic controllers, who were on strike.
This is what Senator Scott said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC), (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Ronald Reagan gave us a great example. When federal employees decided they were going to strike, he said, "You strike, you're fired." Simple concept to me to the extent that we can use that once again, absolutely. (END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: I mean, Doug, the difference here is United Auto Workers, members, they're not federal employees. The President can't fire them. I mean, there's federal labor laws also that that protects them. I mean, what did you make of those comments?
HEYE: I think it highlights, and we've seen this, on a lot of issues, the way Donald Trump's entrance, into the Republican Party, and then obviously, running for president, has caused Republicans to morph in so many different ways, and then split.
And so, what Tim Scott is stating is where Republican orthodoxy may still be, certainly used to be. Donald Trump is presenting a different vision to that where a lot of the party has gone. Think about the issue of trade as well.
And here's where it gets slightly complicated, Kaitlan, is when you were talking to Mike McCaul, one of my favorite members of Congress, earlier, talking about the shutdown? The longer if a shutdown happens, the longer it goes on, the more unpredictable it is, on how there's a resolution, and what the fallout may be. The longer this strike goes on? The same thing.
COLLINS: Kate, do you agree with that?
BEDINGFIELD: I do agree with that. And I would feel confident that the White House is, again, working to try to help come to a resolution, as quickly as possible, however, they can help do that. So certainly, I don't think anybody wants to see the strike extend on and on. Of course, there's unpredictability, when you do that.
But, again, I think, for the President, the key here is for him, to use this moment, and to use Donald Trump, being in Detroit, next week, to really draw the comparison, on who has stood for workers, and who's made this economy better, for working people, like the people, who are out on strike, right now.
COLLINS: Trump will be there, on Wednesday night. Of course, we'll watch that closely.
Kate Bedingfield, Doug Heye, thank you both.
HEYE: Thank you.
COLLINS: Ahead, an emotional reunion happened today, for five former Iranian hostages, who are now back in America, hugging their loved ones, for the first time, in a very long time.
Someone, who knows all too well, what a hug like that feels like, is here with me, tonight. Former Russian prisoner, and U.S. Marine, Trevor Reed, joins me next.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COLLINS: Tonight, five Americans have been reunited, with their families, after being freed, from years of wrongful detention, in Iran.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(VIDEO -- FIVE AMERICANS BACK ON U.S. SOIL AFTER DEAL WITH IRAN)
(CROWD CHEERS & APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: The man, you see there, descending those stairs, is Siamak Namazi, pausing, taking his first breath, on U.S. soil, for the first time, in eight years.
He, and four others, embraced their loved ones, on the tarmac, outside of Washington, as one of the Americans was overheard, telling his wife, and two daughters, quote, "We're home."
Over the last two years, we counted 30 Americans have been freed, including WNBA star, Brittney Griner, who, of course, as we all remember, was released, last December, after nearly 10 months, in Russian captivity.
And also, Trevor Reed, a Marine veteran, who was freed, in April, of last year, after being wrongfully detained, for nearly three years, in Russia.
And Trevor Reed joins me now, of course, has the only, best perspective that only very few people do.
And, Trevor, I know you believe that the criticism that we've heard, over the terms of this deal, the unfreezing of the $6 billion, in Iranian revenue, is unwarranted. That -- of course, it is also important to note this was not U.S. taxpayer money.
But I want to listen, for those, who haven't heard, what Republicans are saying, about this deal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TOM COTTON (R-AR): It is a quid pro quo. It is called a ransom payment.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): The latest example of President Biden rewarding and incentivizing Tehran's bad behavior.
CHRISTIE: Americans are now more of a target, for Iran, than they were before.
NIKKI HALEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Every enemy we have, are now going to be realizing that if they take Americans, they can get $6 billion too. MIKE PENCE, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will never ever pay ransom, to terrorists, or terrorist States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: Trevor, what do you make of that?
TREVOR REED, FORMER RUSSIAN PRISONER: Well, first off, I just like to say that that has no bearing on reality.
So, if you look at my case, as one example, the Russians took Paul Whelan, hostage. They, when the United States asked them to release him, they immediately asked for concessions, to make an exchange, to get something, in exchange for Paul.
And the United States refused to negotiate, with them, which is what a lot of people are saying, "Well, if you negotiate with them, then there's no reason why they should take Americans hostage." So, the United States did not negotiate. They refused to negotiate, to bring Paul Whelan, home.
And after that, the Russians took me hostage. At that point, the U.S. government also refused to negotiate, to get me home.
And after that, they gave Brittney Griner, a hugely disproportionate sentence, which was completely political.
So, if you just look at that, one example, I think you can see anyone, that is reasonable, can see that you, refusing to negotiate, with these governments does not guarantee that they're not going to take other hostages.
And any of those governments that are already taking Americans, hostage, they don't need an incentive, to take Americans hostage. They're going to continue to do that.
Their incentive for taking Americans hostage is that they're Americans. And they can show that to their own citizens that they've done that. They've spited the U.S. They've embarrassed us. And the United States can't do anything about that. That's enough for them.
They don't need material concessions, a hostage, money. If they can get those things, they will try to do that. But that's not going to stop them, from continuing to take hostages.
COLLINS: Yes. And you also seem to be seeing this, through the lens of even if a prisoner swap, or a negotiated deal, like this one, is potentially politically disadvantageous, to a lawmaker, or to a president, or even maybe strategically the risk here, you still think it's the right move to make.
REED: Absolutely. And President Biden and his administration doing this, they've obviously done that, because they thought that was the ethical decision to make. President Biden and his administration are not fools. They knew that as soon as they did this, there was going to be harsh criticism, of that administration. And this is, quite soon before an election. So, I think that him doing that, that was probably rooted, in his morals, and his feeling that he needed to do what was right, over politics.
COLLINS: Just seeing that images of the Americans returning home, I mean, it obviously made me think of you returning home. And obviously, your parents had been outside the White House, so many times, advocating, to get the White House to negotiate, for your release.
I mean, you know what it's like. What are they going through tonight?
REED: Everyone handles that differently, and goes through, their own experience.
But, for me, especially those first hours, they're just incredibly surreal. You don't feel like it's real. You feel like maybe that's not happening. Maybe you're imagining that, maybe you're dreaming that. And it takes a while for that kind of feeling, to go away, before you can start feeling, actual real emotions.
COLLINS: Yes. I can't even imagine. I don't think many people can.
Trevor Reed, thank you, for coming on, and sharing your experience, with us.
REED: Thank you, Kaitlan.
COLLINS: Also, tonight, another story that we are tracking.
Rudy Giuliani, we have talked about this many times, he was already strapped for cash. His former client, Donald Trump, is not directly helping him, with those mounting legal bills. He's refused to do so directly.
But now, Giuliani's longtime lawyer, and defender, is suing him, marking a new low, for the former New York Mayor.
COLLINS: Rudy Giuliani was already on the verge of a financial breaking point. But, tonight, his problems have gotten much worse.
He is now being sued, for more than $1.3 million, by his own lawyer. The firm that was representing Giuliani says he only paid $214,000, a small drop in the bucket, of the $1.5 million that he owed. His most recent payment was just for $10,000.
And adding to the problem here is that Giuliani already owes millions of dollars, to various law firms, not just this one, when it comes to fees, related to his efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Those bills just keep piling up as he is not just facing that, also, a sexual assault and harassment case, and could have to pay damages, for his lies, about two Georgia election workers. Of course, on top of all that, the 13 criminal charges, over the attempted election subversion, in that Georgia case.
Andrew Kirtzman has literally written the book, on Giuliani. He's here with me. He is the Author of "Giuliani: The Rise and Tragic Fall of America's Mayor."
Before we even get to the money part, Andrew, I mean, Bob Costello, and Rudy Giuliani, have had a relationship that dates back decades.
ANDREW KIRTZMAN, AUTHOR: Decades.
COLLINS: I mean, this is a big breaking point.
KIRTZMAN: Sure, almost half a century.
And, I don't think that Giuliani values anyone as much as his former Justice Department colleagues, right? It's his life as a prosecutor, is like intrinsic to who, Giuliani is.
And so, Giuliani's comment, today, it had a note of betrayal, right? His, you know, "I can't believe that he would do this." But then in classic Giuliani fashion, then he attacks him, right, for inflating the bill.
COLLINS: Yes. I mean, that's what -- he said, "How can he take a personal affront when he owes my firm" nearly "$1.4 million?"
But, I mean, Giuliani, in his statement said, quote, "I can't express how personally hurt I am" --
COLLINS: -- "by what Bob Costello has done."
COLLINS: And saying that he had, this was in excess of legitimate legal fees.
COLLINS: I mean, Bob Costello has played a very important role, in Giuliani's recent life, since taking over, I guess, as attorney, in about four years ago. I mean, Costello has tried to get Giuliani, out of trouble, almost as fast as Giuliani has gotten himself into trouble.
I mean, one of the striking things, about the lawsuit, I read, today, was just how much trouble Giuliani has gotten himself into, over four years. It's, Costello has represented him, through four investigations, three of them criminal, 10 civil suits, two disbarment hearings. And I don't even know if that includes the sexual harassment suit, by a former employee.
I mean, Giuliani has just this deep attraction to danger. And his, you know, he has no one to blame but himself. I mean, all of the problems that he's facing, right now, are a result of his personal recklessness, which is a Giuliani trait.
COLLINS: But when you move into the last four years, I mean, all of that also goes back to his dealings with Donald Trump.
KIRTZMAN: That, well that's true. I mean, there was the Ukraine scandal. There was the effort to overturn the election, right? There was the defamation case that he triggered, by criticizing those two election workers. There was Dominion. There was Smartmatic.
I mean, it's all in service of Donald Trump. And I think if one day Giuliani ends up, sitting in a jail cell, he's really going to have to think through, whether it was all worth it.
COLLINS: When you look at the big picture of all of -- I mean, you and I've spoken a lot about Rudy Giuliani. And you covering him, what he was then, what he is now. This break with Bob Costello, his own attorney, a very loyal defender of his?
COLLINS: I mean, where do you put that? And what that means to all of this?
KIRTZMAN: Well, I mean, Giuliani is going broke. He's going broke. And he's facing prison. And his catastrophic fall is just one of the great kind of rise and falls, of our generation.
I mean, Giuliani was once worth $100 million. His Giuliani Partners was founded, right after 9/11, to capitalize on his 9/11 fame. The place made $100 million, over five years. Giuliani has squandered it. He's had several divorces. He lived very high. His ex-wife said that they were burning through $250,000 a month, on sheer fun.
COLLINS: A month?
KIRTZMAN: A month.
I mean, he lived very well. And now, he's penniless and facing prison. It's extraordinary story.
COLLINS: What's the future for Giuliani look like?
KIRTZMAN: I mean, it's very hard to see how he gets himself out of all this trouble, you know? I mean, he's just facing so many civil suits, so many criminal investigations. He's in a world of trouble.
Andrew Kirtzman, you have documented all of it. Thank you, for joining, with your expertise, tonight.
KIRTZMAN: Thanks for having me.
COLLINS: Well, a government shutdown is looming. Some Republican senators have been squabbling, about a newly relaxed dress code, taking special aim, at Democratic senator, John Fetterman, who says, the Right is, quote, "Losing their minds," over it. We'll tell you more, next.
COLLINS: Tonight, in Washington, America's leaders are fighting for style, over substance, all because Majority Leader, Chuck Schumer, directed the Senate's Sergeant at Arms, to no longer enforce the Chamber's formal dress code.
This move was seen, at least partially, in response to Pennsylvania senator, John Fetterman's preference, for wearing shorts, and a hoodie, around the Capitol, instead of a suit.
Some lawmakers, a lot of Republicans that we heard from, are not on board, with this change, however.
Senator Shelley Moore Capito called the decision, quote, "Terrible."
Senator Chuck Grassley said "It stinks."
And Senator Susan Collins even threatened to wear a bikini to work, though she said she wouldn't actually do that, just noted that she could.
Asked to weigh in, on the fashion fight, Fetterman said, quote, "Oh my god... The Republicans think I'm going to burst through the doors and start break dancing on the floor in shorts. I don't think it's going to be a big issue."
We'll keep you updated, if that happens.
Thank you so much, for joining us.
"CNN PRIMETIME" with Abby Phillip, starts, right now.