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The Source with Kaitlan Collins
Attorney General & House GOP Face Off In Tense Hearing; Senate Confirms Joint Chiefs Chair Amid Tuberville Blockade; Zelenskyy: U.N.'s Inaction Comes At Expense Of Ukrainian Soldiers' Blood. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired September 20, 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.
A new Joint Chiefs Chairman finally confirmed. But Republican senator, Tommy Tuberville, is still blocking hundreds of Military confirmations. And Military families are still caught in the middle.
Plus, Attorney General, Merrick Garland, firing back, at some of his fiercest Republican critics, today, declaring that, he's not the President's lawyer or Congress' prosecutor.
And a new fight, for number two, in the Republican presidential race. And it is not Governor Ron DeSantis.
I'm Kaitlan Collins. And this is THE SOURCE.
The Attorney General grilled, on Capitol Hill, today. For Republicans, on the House Judiciary Committee, it was a preview, of what's to come, when their impeachment inquiry kicks off, next week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): The fix is in. Even with the face-saving indictment, last week, of Hunter Biden, everyone knows the fix is in.
REP. TOM MCCLINTOCK (R-CA): He originally offered Hunter Biden a sweetheart deal.
REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): Has anyone, at the Department, told President Biden to knock it off? With Hunter?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: During that combative hearing, the Attorney General pushed back, forcefully, on Republican accusations, while also defending, what he says is the independence of the investigation, into President Biden's son.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MERRICK GARLAND, ATTORNEY GENERAL: No one that I know of has spoken to the White House about the Hunter Biden case.
GAETZ: I'm wondering then.
GARLAND: Of course not.
GARLAND: I left it to Mr. Weiss, whether to bring charges or not.
No one has told me who should be indicted, in any matter, like this. And the decision about indictment was made by Mr. Smith.
I am not the President's lawyer. I will add, I am not Congress' prosecutor.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: Merrick Garland also said that he has not interfered, in the Special Counsel's investigation, into Hunter Biden. That was central to Republican questions today. Whether or not U.S. Attorney David Weiss, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump, had the authority, to decide whether or not the President's son should be charged?
Of course, keep in mind here, Weiss himself, has told the Committee's chair, quote, and this is from the letter that he sent to Jim Jordan, "I have been granted ultimate authority over this matter."
The FBI agent, who was managing the team, told the committee also, that David Weiss had the authority, and said, quote, "There has never been anything in my view that changed that."
As for the IRS whistleblower that Republicans often point to, as the basis for their questions, Gary Shapley, who you've seen, on this program, a high-ranking IRS official has disputed some of his claims.
My next guest kicked off today's hearing, by focusing on some of those central claims. Let's get straight to THE SOURCE, tonight, with Congressman Mike Johnson, of Louisiana, a member, of course, as I mentioned, of the House Judiciary Committee.
Congressman, thank you, for joining me, tonight.
What we saw, today, as we looked at that hearing, is that a roadmap, of what Republicans' impeachment inquiry is going to look like?
REP. MIKE JOHNSON (R-LA): Oh, I wouldn't say that. I mean, we were performing our constitutional function there. The Judiciary Committee has oversight responsibility, over the Department of Justice. And so, the Attorney General routinely appears, before the -- our committee, to answer questions.
We found the Attorney General, today, to be very evasive, and non- responsive, to some of the most important and, I think, fair questions that were asked. And we have a problem with it. COLLINS: Well, a lot of the questions seem to be centered around David Weiss himself, the U.S. Attorney, and his recent elevation, to Special Counsel.
But to the point that your fellow congressman and Republican, Ken Buck, made, he said, essentially, there's this idea that if Republicans would have revolted, if Attorney General Garland had either not made him the Special Counsel, as he asked, or if he had fired him, when he became Attorney General.
JOHNSON: Well, I don't know about that, Kaitlan.
But what I do know is the American people are losing faith, in this Justice Department. 65 percent. That's what the poll says. 65 percent of Americans have a negative view of the Department of Justice, under Merrick Garland. And the reason is, because they see a politicized Justice Department, they see a two-tiered system of justice.
They see, by way of example, speaking of Mr. Weiss, they see this aggressive prosecution of President Biden's main political rival, President Trump. At the same time, they see special treatment being given, to the President's son.
And so, what are they to conclude? They're losing their faith in our system of justice itself. And that is a real threat, in a constitutional republic, like ours. That's why the dialog, today, the questions, today, were so important. And I don't think he gave us satisfactory answers.
COLLINS: But is it special treatment? Because I mean, there are investigations happening, into both of them. I mean, they've both been indicted, by the same Justice Department, for very different crimes, I should note. But they have both been indicted.
Can you really say it's a two-tiered justice system, if President Biden's Justice Department has indicted his own son?
JOHNSON: Well, look, one of the questions that he wouldn't or couldn't answer, today, was why did they allow the most important charges, the tax fraud charges, to lapse? They let the statute of limitations run on that. That's very unorthodox, very beyond the standard, for the IRS, and for a prosecutor, in that case. The Attorney General couldn't tell us about that.
He didn't have any answers, for the double standard that we've seen across the board. We've seen, in the last two years, concerned parents, labeled as domestic terrorists. We've seen traditional Catholics be targeted, to be spied upon, in their own churches. We know that the federal court has found --
COLLINS: Well and --
JOHNSON: -- in a 155-page court opinion that the DOJ colluded, with Big Tech, to censor and silence conservatives, online. That's a court that said that. Not us. So, he didn't --
COLLINS: But Attorney General Garland --
JOHNSON: -- he wasn't able to give answers for that.
COLLINS: Attorney General Garland, on some of the points that you made there, obviously, people had to really watch these several hours of hearings, to know about several of those points.
But what you mentioned there, at the top, when Republicans were asking, about the Hunter Biden, paying his taxes, and that lapsing past the statute, a lot of this was still there, when Donald Trump was in office, and Bill Barr was the Attorney General. It's not like these were crimes that allegedly happened, as President Biden had taken office. They were still there.
So, why didn't you have these same questions for the Trump Justice Department?
JOHNSON: Well, we did ask questions. I mean, Mr. Barr appeared before us, for oversight, just like Mr. Garland. But we didn't --
COLLINS: About Hunter Biden's taxes?
JOHNSON: Well no -- we didn't -- I didn't know about that at that time. I mean, we were just finding all this out, after the fact. I mean, that's the important point here.
But I mean, look at the direct treatment, between President Trump, and President Biden. The classified documents scandal, right? They're aggressively prosecuting President Trump over that. But they have yet to file any charge, against President Biden, even though he had even more documents, in more locations, so.
COLLINS: Well President Trump fought a subpoena, from the Justice Department, and also allegedly hid documents, from even his own attorney, that were classified documents that were required, by the subpoena, to be turned over.
JOHNSON: Right. But President Biden had them in a box by his Corvette, right? I mean, the point is that the perception of the American people, they see these things very clearly. And what they see is a double-standard. It's the appearance of impropriety. And that's a problem.
We have to have a Justice Department that is above the fray, they have to project fairness. I mean, it's really important in our system.
COLLINS: Well I just think if you look at them --
JOHNSON: And that's what's suffering, right now.
COLLINS: If you look at the two different -- when it comes to the classified documents? We'll stick on that one. They are very different allegations that are against -- I mean, there is a Special Counsel, looking into it, to President Biden's. But the allegations, in Trump's indictment, I mean, you read through that, it's pretty damning. They've even were able to pierce attorney- client privilege, because the allegations were so bad.
But as I listened to this hearing, today, this is the first time that Merrick Garland was in front of your committee, since he brought -- since those two federal indictments have been brought, by the Special Counsel, of Donald Trump. There were very few questions about that.
And if Republicans are as concerned, as they say they are, why didn't more of you ask questions, about these investigations?
JOHNSON: Well, I don't know. We only have five minutes. I mean, I had a -- I had 50 or 100 questions.
COLLINS: Seems like a pretty big question.
JOHNSON: Well, I ran out of time, just asking two or three. And he was evasive in his answers.
You saw I asked very fair questions, Kaitlan.
I asked him, for example, did he have any discussions, with anybody, at FBI Headquarters, about the Hunter Biden investigations? He said he couldn't recall. I just found that to be remarkable, almost unbelievable.
Then, I asked him if he talked to Mr. Weiss himself. And he said he did not intend to discuss internal deliberations. I mean, that's not an appropriate answer, in a setting like that. We have oversight. It's our job to get those answers. And he didn't provide them.
COLLINS: Yes. Well I just --
JOHNSON: So, I don't think he did any service, to his cause, today.
COLLINS: I just thought it was interesting that there weren't more questions, about the Trump investigations, given what we hear, from Republicans, on TV, and in gaggles.
But I do want to ask you about what else is happening, on Capitol Hill, right now, Congressman, because House Republicans cannot agree on how to fund the government. I know you all met behind closed doors today. Do you believe that there's going to be a government shutdown?
JOHNSON: No, I don't. We had a very productive meeting, tonight. It lasted two-and-a-half hours. It was an intense family discussion. But it was productive. And we walked out of the room, I think, with an agreement, at least the framework, for an agreement, amongst ourselves on how to proceed.
I think there's an agreement on the top line spending number, which has been part of the controversy that we couldn't decide upon. We've got that now. I think we're going to do a stopgap funding measure that everybody's prepared to do, that will allow us additional time, to get all the appropriate -- COLLINS: Even the hardliners are prepared to sign on to that?
JOHNSON: Yes, I think so. I mean, I think all of them were in the room, tonight. We had very fruitful discussion. And I think we've got agreement, at least, like I said, the framework for that, going out. It was very positive, leaving. And we're in a good place.
COLLINS: So, those seven or so, who allegedly were not ready to sign on, to any kind of short-term bill, any stopgap bill, you are saying, tonight, that they are prepared to vote yes, for that?
JOHNSON: Well, I think so. I think the requisite number are.
What I do know is that some that voted -- of the five friends of mine, the Republicans that voted yesterday, to stop the rule, on the defense spending bill, for example, at least two of them, tonight, agreed to go along with that.
So, we'll have the rule vote, tomorrow, the procedural vote, to proceed on the defense appropriations bill. And then, the others will follow, in short order.
We intend to work through Saturday. I think Sunday and Monday are Jewish holidays. So, we'll be out. But we'll be right back at it, Tuesday. And I think we're going to meet the deadline, I really do.
COLLINS: But if this is dead on arrival, in the Senate, then what?
JOHNSON: Well, then we have ourselves in a good negotiation spot.
Ultimately, this will be worked out, in a conference committee. And everyone knows that. But the House is strong when we pass our appropriations bills and put that -- lay down those markers, so to speak. And, like I say, I'm confident that we'll be able to do that.
And I don't think there's going to be a government shutdown. I think we'll be able to get this done.
COLLINS: Do you think Kevin McCarthy's job is safe, as House Speaker?
JOHNSON: I think it is. Yes. Kevin has a very difficult job. We have a very small majority, one of the smallest, in the history, of this institution. And so, it's difficult, to get agreement, for everybody, across the board, especially on big spending measures. So, we're deeply concerned about the federal bid.
COLLINS: Difficult to say the least. I mean, as you wrote -- House Republicans voted down their own defense bill, yesterday. That never happens.
JOHNSON: Well, it was symbolic, OK? We're all worried about spending.
COLLINS: Symbolic of what? JOHNSON: Well, we have runaway spending, in Washington. And we are trying to say that we've got to reduce the spending, reduce the size of government.
We want to close the border. A lot of our members were really animated about that.
We want to reduce and get rid of the corruption, so people believe in our institutions, again.
There's a lot on our plate. And by doing the appropriations bill, we use these, as landmarks, to get those big measures done. And we're united on those causes. Everybody here agrees, on the Republican side anyway, agrees with those objectives. It's just a matter of getting the details done.
And it's the sausage-making process, right? You're seeing that out in the open, because we got back to regular order. This isn't done by four people, in a backroom, like it's been for the last several years.
Now, you're seeing the ugly process of legislation out-front. And this is -- the Founders knew this. This is what they knew would be involved. And we're moving in the right direction, in a positive way. And I'm really confident about it.
COLLINS: OK. You are a member of House leadership. You are saying that you are confident there will not be a government shutdown. We will see if that is accurate.
Congressman Mike Johnson, as always, thank you, for joining us.
JOHNSON: Thank you.
COLLINS: We have breaking news ahead. After six long months, a U.S. Military confirmation has actually happened, after one Senator's blockade.
Plus, can anyone stop Donald Trump, in the Republican field, because the poll positions have shifted, in the first primary state. This is a very interesting number. It could be a crucial early test, for Trump, but also for who is in second place.
COLLINS: Tonight, the highest-ranking Military officer, in the nation, was just confirmed. General C.Q. Brown will be the next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
It took more than six long months, though, for a single Military confirmation, to go through, all because of Senator Tommy Tuberville's blockade, a blockade that I should note is still in place, tonight. He is still demanding that the Pentagon scrap its abortion policy.
But with some maneuvering, today, he forced Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer's hand.
The Alabama Republican responded, tonight, by blaming the other side.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TOMMY TUBERVILLE (R-AL): Instead of voting, Democrats have spent months complaining about having to vote.
Senator Schumer could have confirmed these nominees a long, long time ago.
Allowing the backlog to build up, over six months, is his fault.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: The vote, tonight, to confirm Brown, was 83 to 11. Tuberville voted no. He was one of those 11.
But what about the other 300 Military members, who are still waiting, on their nominations to be confirmed? A list that we know could grow by the end of the year. The big picture here, tonight, is that Military promotions aren't usually political. The Senate approves them, in large batches, without much debate. But this hold has stopped that.
And until today, Senator Schumer was reluctant to bring votes, on an individual basis.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): Senator Tuberville is becoming more and more desperate, to get out of the box, he has put himself in. He's desperate to shift the responsibility onto others.
But due to the extraordinary circumstances of Senator Tuberville's reckless decisions, Democrats will take action.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: They confirmed one nominee, today. Two more are expected, tomorrow. But Senator Tuberville says this hold still stands, leaving the more than 300 promotions still in limbo, of course, disrupting the lives of servicemembers, and their families, and the Pentagon says, jeopardizing national security, and threatening the readiness, of U.S. Armed Forces.
Joining me now, for perspective on this, Democratic Senator, Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq War veteran -- combat veteran, and a member of the Armed Services Committee.
And Senator, thank you, for being here.
I mean, this is one down, hundreds more to go. Are you OK with the way that the new Joint Chiefs Chairman was confirmed, tonight?
SEN. TAMMY DUCKWORTH (D-IL): I'm not OK with it. I voted yes, because we need a new Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
But you have to understand, as soon as we promoted him, we actually added one more name, to the list of other officers, waiting to be promoted, because his position that he's currently in is now vacated. And now, we have to promote someone else to fill that position. So, there's no way, for us, to get these promotions done, if we do them one at a time.
And, by the way, Senator Tuberville allowed us, to move faster, on this nomination, and confirm him, tonight.
Normally, we would have to wait 30 hours, which would take us, into the weekend. And Senator Schumer has put out a statement that if we have to, we're going to be here, on Friday, and Saturday, and Sunday, voting.
And suddenly, Senator Tuberville said "Oh, OK, well, I'm going to allow you to go ahead and shorten that time, and we can have the vote, tonight."
DUCKWORTH: So, he's being quite hypocritical, about this.
COLLINS: This vote is for the Joint Chiefs Chairman. It's obviously an incredibly important one, given General Milley is about to retire.
What happens to the rest of them though?
DUCKWORTH: Well, that's the question to Senator Tuberville, because he's holding them all up.
And so, this is, these are not small position. This is our Military liaison to the NATO alliance. This is commanders that are taking command, in the Pacific Theater, where we are facing our greatest near-peer competitor, in the PRC, and the list just continues to grow and grow. And it really is putting our national security in jeopardy.
And in fact, Senator Tuberville has said, oh, he wouldn't be doing this if he thought it endangered our national security.
Well, I was there, today, when Secretary Austin said to the entire, the 100 senators that were in the room, and says, "You are jeopardizing national security."
And I've seen officer after officer after officer, come up, and say "Senator Tuberville, stop this. You are hurting Military readiness, and really jeopardizing the security of this nation."
COLLINS: But is this how nominees --
DUCKWORTH: And he continues to make them hold.
COLLINS: Is this how nominees are going to be confirmed, going forward, on an individual basis? Because, Democrats previously said they didn't want that to happen, because they felt like they were capitulating to Senator Tuberville.
DUCKWORTH: It's not about capitulating. It's just you can't do it. The numbers don't work out.
If we go through the Senate procedure, the way Senator Tuberville is forcing us to do, one at a time, we don't have enough days of the year left, in order to get everybody confirmed. And in fact, the list of officers waiting to be confirmed will only grow.
Just like tonight, we confirmed General Brown. But immediately, that created a vacancy that needed to be filled. So, we didn't get ahead at all, today. We took one step forward, and then we took one step back, because now we have a new opening that needs to be filled. And this is just going to continue, throughout the rest of the year.
We are 10 days away from government shutdown. And he is playing games. And he's playing politics, with something that should not be a political consideration. This, he has not said that he considers any of these officers unsuitable, unqualified, incapable, of doing their jobs, to which they're being nominated. But he is stapling politics, with the national security of our nation.
COLLINS: But he says he's not stopping. So, what happens?
DUCKWORTH: Well, this is on the Republican caucus. They have to step forward. Because, right now, other Republicans are coming in, to Democrats, and saying, "Hey, we agree with you. We don't think it's right what he's doing." Well, they need to step up and pressure him.
Republican leadership needs to step up. Otherwise, they are complicit. They are already complicit in this. And they have to push him to lift these holds.
COLLINS: Do you envision voting, for any more of these nominees, on an individual basis, beyond the two that are happening, tomorrow?
DUCKWORTH: I don't envision voting on any more beyond the two, tomorrow. Again, as I said, it is not sustainable. Because everyone that we promote, then we just add another -- same number of names to the list. And so, we will never get rid of the backlog, this way.
COLLINS: I want to ask you. I mean, this is such a serious issue that is facing your chamber, and what they are dealing with.
But there has been something else that has captivated a lot of your colleagues, this week, on Capitol Hill, as Senator Schumer has said, he's no longer enforcing the informal dress code, for the chamber.
That was on full display, today. We all saw Senator John Fetterman presiding over the chamber. He was wearing shorts.
Typically, for decades, members have been mandated, to wear business attire. Of course, Senator, as you know.
What do you think? Are you on board with the lack of a dress code?
DUCKWORTH: Look, I think, everyone will conduct themselves accordingly. I think the vast majority of us will be in business attire. I think it's on each senator to decide how they will conduct themselves, just as it is on each one of us, to run our offices.
Listen, you're not going to see me showing up, in shorts, and a hoodie, on the Senate floor, anytime soon. But I might bare my shoulders. I don't know. Come summertime.
COLLINS: So no hoodies for you. We'll put you down on the no-hoodies category.
DUCKWORTH: Yes, yes.
COLLINS: Senator, thank you so much, Senator Tammy Duckworth, for joining me, tonight.
DUCKWORTH: Thank you.
COLLINS: Up next, a 2024 shake-up, not the one you're expecting. But Ron DeSantis had already been struggling. He was in a distant second place, behind Trump. But there has now been a major shift, in the Republican race, at least in the first primary state, but not in the Florida Governor's favor.
We'll tell you more, next.
COLLINS: A new CNN poll, from the key state of New Hampshire, shows a tight contest, in the race, for second place, for the GOP nomination.
Former President, Donald Trump, maintains his commanding lead, among likely Republican primary voters, in the Granite State. But Vivek Ramaswamy, Nikki Haley, Chris Christie, and Ron DeSantis, are all essentially tied, for second.
DeSantis, of course, was once considered, to be Trump's closest rival, for the nomination. But he has dropped 13 points, among those voters, these likely Republican voters, since the last survey was done, in July.
Joining me now, for a perspective, on these numbers, former Trump campaign adviser, in 2016, Jason Osborne; and former Deputy Assistant to President Biden's White House, Jamal Simmons.
Jason, I mean, if you were looking at these numbers, if you had told someone this, a year ago, and they said that this is where Ron DeSantis was with voters? I mean, what would they make of that?
JASON OSBORNE, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISER: Well, there's no question. And they're not in a position that they want to be right now, right? But I think, when you talk to the campaign, and you talk to folks, close to the campaign, they say that their organization, on the ground, is doing very well.
And, I think, they're focusing on the fact that Donald Trump is less than 40 percent that Donald Trump still has, if you even look at that 40 percent, that there's only 69 percent of those folks that are saying that they are strongly supporting Donald Trump, in this race.
So, there is a huge amount of movement here that can be made. And the margin of error, really, is on second place. They have all four folks in there together. I think on any given day, you'd have DeSantis ahead, or you'd have Vivek ahead, or Christie ahead, or Nikki ahead. There is a lot of movement that's going to be made, in the next two or three months.
But in my view, the race, right now, is for second place. And once there becomes a one-versus-one race, then you're going to have a lot of those voters that are really don't want to pull the trigger for or pull -- mark the ballot for Donald Trump, they're going to look at that second-place person, and say, "OK, I have enough trust that I'm going to go to him."
COLLINS: You think so?
COLLINS: I mean, Donald Trump still has a really commanding lead. I mean, look at these numbers, when your -- moderate voters. Maybe those are the voters who aren't, as don't find Donald Trump as appealing.
But Ron DeSantis' support from them has seen such a sharp drop off, from 26 percent, to 6 percent, now. He fell a little bit less for -- among conservatives. But those are the moderates. Those are the people, who presumably would be on the table.
JAMAL SIMMONS, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: Yes. New Hampshire voters are some of my favorite people. I just have had such a great time, in that State, over the years.
What has happened, over time, is that voters get to actually know these candidates, one-on-one, person-to-person. You're in the living room with 15 of someone's closest friends. And they decide "You know what? Either I like that guy. Maybe I won't like that one that much," and they decide "Oh maybe I'll support them, and maybe I won't."
I think this is why New Hampshire is so important. These numbers are going to shift several times, between now and January, will be my bet. Because as more of this begins to happen, we'll see what happens.
There a couple of big factors that are going to matter here. Unaffiliated voters. In New Hampshire, this time, you don't really have a Democratic primary taking place. So some voters, who are Democrats, or some, who are Independents, will be able to vote, in the Republican primary. So, it matters who will get some of those voters.
The other thing that matters is who will drop out? Will anybody drop out before they actually go to primary? And if that happens, those 1 percent or 2 percent people, the Pences, and the Asa Hutchinsons, some of their voters are going to go somewhere. I think this thing is very fluid.
COLLINS: But it's not very many voters. I mean, if you look at Pence's number, I believe he was at 2 percent, in this poll.
COLLINS: Tim Scott, of course, wasn't doing well in this either.
They're obviously banking on Iowa and the evangelical vote there. But, I mean, when you're looking at this, if you're inside the Pence campaign, tonight, what are you thinking?
OSBORNE: I think, if I'm inside the Pence campaign, right now, I'm excited about the fact that I saw movement up, not on this poll, necessarily, but movement up, on the national poll, and also in Iowa, after the debate. And I think they saw a different strategy from him, during the debate. They saw a different side of him, during that debate, where he was a little bit more aggressive.
And I think also, to your point about, the folks shifting, on this, and what you were saying, about the moderate voters, the unaffiliated voters? In this poll, it showed that those folks were going towards Christie, which is interesting to me.
Because in 2022, the Dem voters, or the moderate voters, the crossover voters, were going towards the weakest Republican candidate. And, right now, they're with Christie. I think they start shifting back over, once they see somebody start rising up, I think they shift back over to Trump, to try and give him the election.
COLLINS: But Christie's in this second place tier.
COLLINS: I mean, this second tier place, with these others, in this race, for a second.
OSBORNE: He is, because New Hampshire is a strong point for him. He knows how to campaign in New Hampshire.
COLLINS: Well he's been there, non-stop, essentially.
SIMMONS: But it's nuts. He also has, I think, it was like 67 percent of Republican voters have an unfavorable opinion of Chris Christie.
COLLINS: He has the highest negativity rating, if you look at among these likely voters, in New Hampshire.
SIMMONS: They'll talk about somebody, who has a ceiling to grow, right?
SIMMONS: Like, I just don't know what happens to him, over time. I think Vivek Ramaswamy is also getting some of these unaffiliated and moderate voters. Because people like someone who's a little bit, against the system, I think that's going to work out for him.
COLLINS: I'm glad you brought up Vivek Ramaswamy, because he has some really interesting numbers here. His campaign has been touting these numbers, as has the Donald Trump campaign.
And when you look at who he's doing well with, it's Republicans who aren't registered. It's voters, who are under 35-years-old. He's up 28 points with them. I mean, he has been making this appeal, essentially, at every stop, that he is a new generation of the Republican Party.
OSBORNE: Who don't traditionally vote, in a New Hampshire primary. In the dead of winter, when it's really cold, those are not the voters that are getting out there, and voting, in New Hampshire. And so, I think he has a real problem, with an organization standpoint, and getting out there.
And also, I think Vivek has a real problem, moving forward. This next debate is going to be very key, because there's so many inconsistencies, on what he's saying, one day, and then the next day, he's backtracking, and saying it again. And I think voters are going to get tired of that.
And Republican voters are going to start looking, at other candidates, like a Nikki Haley. We're going back and looking at a Ron DeSantis.
OSBORNE: And looking at his record and as governor.
COLLINS: Can you -- with how these numbers look. And you were talking about, you know, this is all just days away, from the second Republican debate that is going to be next week.
Senator Tim Scott, I mean, they have said they're keeping their heads down. They're doing the work. When you look at the numbers, he has the second highest favorability rating, in New Hampshire, after Trump, among these voters.
But his numbers aren't -- it's not reflected in the actual poll numbers. Why do you think that is?
SIMMONS: Tim Scott has got a lot of room to grow. I think he is one of the best just on-the-stump candidates. I mean, I watched his events, and I feel like this is a guy in the before times that we would all say he's one of the top tier candidates.
Here's his big problem. He didn't fight, in that last debate, right? And so, at some point, voters want to know, not only "Are you going to fight for me? If you're not going to fight for yourself, how can I trust you that you're going to fight for me?"
He's got to figure out who it is, or what issues there are, that he's going to get in there, and really mix it up with people, so that people recognize, "Oh, here's somebody who's going to stand up for me."
Especially in the Republican primary, right now, where attitude, and people, who are walking around, with a chip on their shoulder, seem to be the ones, who have the most sway, in the Republican Party.
COLLINS: We'll see how these numbers bear out.
Jamal Simmons, Jason Osborne, thank you both, for joining me.
SIMMONS: Thank you.
OSBORNE: Thank you.
COLLINS: Up ahead, Ukrainian president, Zelenskyy, was at the United Nations, today, taking aim, this time, not just at Russia, but the United Nations' powerful Security Council.
Back with America's Ambassador, to the United Nations, right after this.
COLLINS: And Ukrainian president, Zelenskyy, had some blistering words, for the United Nations, as he addressed the Security Council, today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE (through translator): Ukrainian soldiers now are doing, at the expense of their blood, what the U.N. Security Council should do by its voting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: Zelenskyy is calling, on the United Nations, to strip Russia, of its veto power, within the powerful Security Council, saying that that would be a step in helping stop the war.
That's unlikely, though, because of course, Russia's status, as a permanent member, of that group.
Joining me now, for perspective on this, the U.S. Ambassador, to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield.
And I'm so grateful that you're here, tonight.
I mean, you heard. You were there, as President Zelenskyy was giving this forceful speech, today. He says Russia should lose its veto power. Do you agree with that?
LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UNITED NATIONS: Look, they're a permanent member of the Council. You said that. He understands that they are a permanent member of the Council. There are no procedures available, to strip Russia, of its permanent membership, or of its veto power.
We have however, created a mechanism, in the General Assembly, that requires Russia, or any country, who uses this veto power, to come and explain that, before the entire U.N. membership. And Russia will always be called upon, to do that. And it's, I think, it's a very powerful reason not to use that power.
COLLINS: Yes. I mean, we just -- he had such harsh words, for the United Nations, just as a body, today. I mean, he said "Humankind can no longer pin its hopes on the United Nations," saying that they are -- basically, because of that matter, there, it's a deadlock on dealing with aggression.
And given that, I mean, in your view, and from where you sit, and what you see, what can the United Nations do, to help stop this?
COLLINS: If there is not that reform, that's going to happen?
THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Yes. First, I really understand his frustration. They are under attack. And the attack is not just on Ukraine. It's on the U.N. Charter. It's on all of the values that we hold dear, in setting up the United Nations.
But all that said, we do accomplish a lot, in the Security Council. We have held Russia to account. The Security Council has isolated Russia. They don't win votes, in the Council, forcing them to use their veto power. They were condemned by 141 countries. 143 countries condemned their annexations. They are isolated. They're on their back foot. And they know it.
COLLINS: I know, you coordinate, obviously, so closely, with the White House. I remember that from the night that Russia actually invaded Ukraine, as you were sitting there, in that chamber, at the United Nations.
When you talk about this war, I mean, does the U.S. believe still that this is a winnable war for Ukraine?
THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Ukraine has to win, because if Ukraine loses this war, we all lose. They are fighting on behalf, of democracies, around the world. They are fighting, to defend their sovereignty, to defend their integrity, the integrity of their borders. They're fighting for their independence. So, they have to win this war.
And as President Biden said, several times, during his engagements, here in New York, we will stand with Ukraine, as long as they need us. COLLINS: President Biden has also called this a genocide. You have stopped short of going that far. You've talked about it being crimes against humanity. Secretary Blinken has said the same. How come?
THOMAS-GREENFIELD: They are crimes against humanity. And they have been accused, by the ICC, of having committed crimes against humanity, in this horrific war.
They are stealing Ukrainian children. They are taking children, as young as 4-months-old, from their parents. They are attacking institutions, such as hospitals and schools. It is a war of aggression. It is a war that Russia should be held accountable for. And we are calling it what it is. It is a war crime. And it is a crime against humanity.
COLLINS: When the Russian officials, Sergey Lavrov, others, are coming in and out of the room, they're not always there, for these harsh remarks that others direct towards them. I mean, but they come in, and they repeat Kremlin propaganda and lies.
I mean, what's it like to be sitting in that room? And do you think they're hearing what you're talking about, there, the isolationist speeches?
THOMAS-GREENFIELD: They absolutely hear it. The fact that they're not sitting in the room? It's broadcast on UN Web. It's reported on international news. They know exactly what is being said, in that room. And they pretend they don't hear.
But I'll share with you. When Lavrov was there, when we had the last meeting, on Ukraine? And I had Paul Whelan's sister, in the room, and I asked her to stand up. And I said, I want Lavrov, to see what's in your eyes.
I was looking at him. I was -- sorry, I was looking at her. I was not looking at him. But when I talked to her later, she said he raised his head, and he looked at her.
THOMAS-GREENFIELD: He heard exactly what I said.
COLLINS: That's a powerful moment.
COLLINS: Ambassador, thank you, for coming in, and for joining us, on this very busy week, for you.
THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Good. Thank you so much. Delighted to be here with you.
COLLINS: Also tonight, conspiracy theorist, and pro-Trump lawyer, Lin Wood, now denying that he has so, quote, "Flipped" on the ex- President, after it was revealed he is now a witness, for the prosecution, in the State of Georgia. That drama, ahead.
COLLINS: A key Trump ally, in trying to overturn the election, in the State of Georgia, may now end up playing a key role, in the case against him.
I'm talking, tonight, about the pro-Trump lawyer, Lin Wood. Buried in a new court filing, that came out tonight, was this line. And I'm quoting now, "Lin Wood is a witness for the State in the present case."
Wood, of course, if you don't remember him, was a fierce supporter, of Trump's, and often pushed numerous conspiracy theories, about the election. He's also admitted to hosting meetings, about how to overturn the 2020 election results, and even made public demands, of state officials, like this one.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LIN WOOD, PRO-TRUMP LAWYER: They've got to demand publicly, repeatedly, consistently, Brian Kemp, call a Special Session of the Georgia Legislature.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: Of course, Wood is not the only witness that we now know, prosecutors have lined out. Four of those fake electors, in the State of Georgia, have also been listed, as witnesses, for the State.
For perspective, on what this means, for the case, against Donald Trump, I'm joined now by former Senior Investigative Counsel, for the January 6 committee, Temidayo Aganga-Williams.
There were about 20 or so yes votes, to indict Lin Wood, in the special grand jury's report. Of course, that's what they believed that they should do. He was not indicted. Do you believe that, if he's a witness, for the State, that that's why?
TEMIDAYO AGANGA-WILLIAMS, FORMER SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE COUNSEL: Not necessarily. There's a lot of talk of whether or not he's flipped.
COLLINS: Which he says he hasn't.
AGANGA-WILLIAMS: He says he hasn't, and which may be true.
I mean, there's something we would typically call, as prosecutors, a cooperating witness. That's what in the movies, you might talk to, as an informant. That means you're signed up, with the State. You have confessed to all your crimes. You're going to plead guilty to a crime, and you're basically giving it all up. There's also just getting a subpoena. I mean, technically, a prosecutor can go and subpoena anyone, and had them compelled, to come to court.
And we know here that Lin Wood previously showed up, and testified, in front of the grand jury, as he said. So, he's showed that he's willing to comply with the subpoena. And what could be happening here is the prosecutor is simply saying "That someone I intend to call as witness," not necessarily, as someone is cooperating.
COLLINS: Yes. But given the role that he played, I mean, how would his testimony, even if he has not flipped, as he said, that -- he said, "That's just pure nonsense," is what he told The Atlanta Journal- Constitution, tonight. What does his testimony mean, potentially, though, for this investigation?
AGANGA-WILLIAMS: So, I think, it means two things.
First, I mean, he was really a yin and yang, with Sidney Powell, following his lawsuits, in December of 2020. So, any meetings he had, with her, and any statements she made, about her plans, as it related to overturning the election, or those lawsuits, could come in.
So, under the rules of evidence, if you're a defendant, and someone hears you say something, that proves your guilt? They can come to court, and testify against you, and say, "I heard Sidney Powell say this."
That's also important for the former President, because that's his co- defendants. So, to the extent there is evidence that Lin Wood could testify to, that shows the guilt of Sidney Powell, and proves up that RICO charge? That's also going to be evidence that could be that admissible against the former President, as one of his co-defendants, because in this kind of a case, evidence against one is really evidence against all.
COLLINS: And so, this could be really potentially dangerous, for Sidney Powell, who obviously has asked for a speedy trial that's expected to start next month. I mean, do you expect that he would be called, potentially?
AGANGA-WILLIAMS: I would fully expect that. I mean, from our work, in the committee, they really were together, and in public filings, you could see the work --
COLLINS: How close were they working together?
AGANGA-WILLIAMS: Well, you have the -- I believe, in Michigan, for example, you have the filing there that they worked on together, to seek to overturn the election. And these suits were critical, part of the President's broader narrative, as to election fraud.
So, I think -- and Lin Wood has talked about having meetings, where Sidney Powell, General Flynn, and others attended, where they talked about these, different election efforts. So, I think it's very possible. And I would bet that there were statements, she made, that D.A. Willis is going to want to put him on the stand, to say.
Now, it's also possible that D.A. Willis could be, in a kind of way, bluffing. I mean, prosecutors can notice a variety of witnesses. Doesn't mean she has to call him. But she could --
COLLINS: Well that's interesting.
AGANGA-WILLIAMS: So, she could be signaling, to the other defendants, how far she's willing to go. Meaning, she will call people, whether they're cooperating, whether they're hostile, she's willing to go full board. And that may lead to other people deciding, she's in very aggressive posture, and they want to cooperate.
COLLINS: And so, if you're a Sidney Powell, or you're Sidney Powell's attorneys, when you look at this, what is your first reaction?
AGANGA-WILLIAMS: It's not good. I think it's one of concern, right?
Because anytime you have a prosecutor, who's not only willing to sign up cooperators, but is willing to compel, potentially, what we call a hostile witness, to come to court, which means someone, who doesn't want to be there, but has to show up, otherwise, they'll get in, even more trouble? That's a pretty aggressive posture, for a prosecutor to be in.
So, I think if I'm Sidney Powell, and I'm heading towards a speedy trial, where I have less time to prepare, less time to file motions? I'm probably taking a step back, and deciding whether to reconsider that do I really want to be in front of a jury, in Georgia, in October of this year?
COLLINS: Can they reconsider a speedy trial request?
AGANGA-WILLIAMS: She could. I mean, Sidney Powell could go back to the court, and say, "Your Honor, I in fact, need more time."
What that means practically, is that once you pull back on a speedy trial request, you're not going to get a second bite, really.
AGANGA-WILLIAMS: You can't come back and say, "I changed my mind. Now, I want to go back again."
AGANGA-WILLIAMS: You really got to do this once.
COLLINS: What does it tell you, overall, about Fani Willis', the District Attorney's strategy here?
AGANGA-WILLIAMS: I think one thing it's been consistent is that she is in an aggressive posture. I mean, it was aggressive, to indict 19 people. She was aggressive, to request to have all 19 tried together.
Here, this addition of naming Lin Wood was in a sense, gratuitous. She didn't have to do this, in this filing. But she wanted to. So, I think that's what we take away, is that she is expecting a fight, and she's indicating that she's ready for a fight.
COLLINS: Yes. It was buried in that court filing. But we found it.
COLLINS: Temidayo, thank you, as always, for helping try to decipher, what we're reading, in these court filings.
Still ahead, an American icon, and a remarkable day, that truly transformed the world of tennis. It changed the world, for women, for generations. We remember this day, in history, 50 years ago.
COLLINS: It was 50 years ago, today, that the tennis legend, Billie Jean King, made and changed history.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(VIDEO -- 50 YEARS AGO TODAY: BILLIE JEAN KING WINS "BATTLE OF THE SEXES")
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Another double.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: Listen to the crowd. That was the moment that King, then the world's top women's tennis player, beat Bobby Riggs, the former men's number one, in a match that was known as the "Battle of the Sexes."
Riggs, of course, initiated that showdown, after proclaiming, at 55- years-old, that he could take on the top female player, and win, with $100,000 on the line.
Billie Jean King went on to win, in straight sets, in front of that global audience, those there, and also 90 million people, who were all watching, making it the most watched tennis match, in history, still to this day. The victory bolstered King's fight, for equal pay, in tennis, a cause that she continued to fight, for decades.
A bipartisan push is underway, to award King, a Congressional Gold Medal, for her work, in women's rights.
Reflecting back, on her triumph, the tennis icon said, quote, "More than a tennis match, it was a catalyst for social change & one of the most important days of my life. We have come a long way since 1973, but we are not done yet. Let's keep going for it."
Powerful words, from her, there.
Thank you so much, for joining us, tonight.
"CNN PRIMETIME" with Abby Phillip, starts, right now.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST, CNN PRIMETIME: Thanks so much, Kaitlan.
An important moment, for history, and for all women.
PHILLIP: Have a good night.