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The Source with Kaitlan Collins
Former NY District Attorney Who Investigated Trump Speaks For First Time After Fraud Ruling; Trump Courting Blue-Collar Workers In MI At Non-Union Factory Amid Auto Workers Strike; Colin Kaepernick Asks To Join NY Jets In Letter. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired September 27, 2023 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: He returned, from the International Space Station, today, aboard a Russian spacecraft that landed safely, in Kazakhstan.
There was a big smile, from Rubio, understandably, and handshakes, after he exited the Soyuz capsule. He was only expected to spend six months in space. That changed after a discovery of a coolant leak, aboard his original ride, which was docked to the Space Station, at the time.
According to NASA, Rubio made nearly 6,000 orbits, around Earth, covering more than 157 million miles, which is roughly 328 trips, to the moon, and back.
I'll be back here, at 11 PM, along with Dana Bash, at the Reagan Library, for a post-GOP debate analysis.
For now, the news continues. "THE SOURCE WITH KAITLAN COLLINS" starts now.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST: Tonight, straight from THE SOURCE.
Donald Trump, on the brink, of losing his real estate empire, after a judge effectively branded him a fraud, and exposed a decade's worth of financial lies.
The prosecutor, who kicked off that investigation, is here with me, tonight.
Plus, the U.S. soldier, who mysteriously bolted, over the border, into North Korea, is on his way, back to the U.S., right now. Even more puzzling, why Kim Jong Un let him go?
And after more than six years, in NFL exile, quarterback Colin Kaepernick, now trying to get back in. But will the New York Jets pass on his Hail Mary?
I'm Kaitlan Collins. And this is THE SOURCE.
Donald Trump has just lost another legal battle, tonight, as he is also on the cusp of losing what's at the heart, of his entire identity, his business empire and his brand.
First, on the legal front. The judge, who is overseeing his federal election interference case, has denied his demand that she recuse herself, from overseeing that case. Judge Tanya Chutkan deciding that, quote, it is "Not warranted," after the former President claimed that she wanted to see him behind bars.
Meanwhile, tonight, Trump is calling for a different judge, the one here in New York, to quote, "Be stopped."
The judge found that he and his two adult sons were liable for fraud, saying that they massively overvalued his assets, deceived banks, and exaggerated Trump's net worth, in making deals and securing loans. Essentially, he's not as rich as he claims to be, and his property is not valued at what he said it was.
In his first hearing, today, that happened, since this ruling, came down, last night. Trump's attorneys seemed to struggle, to even understand the implications, of what the judge's call means exactly here.
One of Trump's attorneys actually asked the judge, to clarify, what does this ruling mean for his businesses? The attorney asked another question, one that's pretty fundamental, it seemed to be, what's the point of a trial, at this point, given this ruling?
Well, that trial is set to begin on Monday. But what is still at the heart of the question here, and what this ruling, from the judge, could mean, is whether or not this is the beginning of the end of the Trump real estate empire.
And let's go straight to THE SOURCE, with former Manhattan District Attorney, Cy Vance, who was the first to get Trump's tax returns, and then turn them over to the New York Attorney General, essentially kicking off the process that ultimately led to this ruling. And he joins me now.
Thank you so much, for being here.
We haven't heard from you yet, on this ruling, at large. What was your reaction to it?
CYRUS VANCE JR., FORMER MANHATTAN DISTRICT ATTORNEY, PARTNER: Well, I wasn't surprised by the ruling. Having litigated, against the Trump team, and its lawyers, and its tactics, I wasn't surprised by the some strong statements, by the court, about the tactics and the like.
But my reaction is that by granting partial summary judgment, on some of the liability issues, it's going to be a very uphill road, for the Trump legal team, as we get into next week's trial.
And obviously, the consequences of perhaps decertifying, the Trump Organization, affecting its ability, to operate in New York, is a major consequence, at least I believe, both practically and, I think, optically, for the Trump Organization, as it heads into this litigation-heavy year, coming up. So, I think the A.G.'s trial will be fascinating. I think the case that she has built, it, was very similar to the case that we were building, at the end of my tenure, as D.A. I think it's strong. And I think they've done an excellent job.
COLLINS: Do you think that this could be the end of the Trump Organization, as we know it?
VANCE JR.: I'm sure that there are people, in the Trump Organization, and in law firms, around New York City, trying to figure that out, right now. I wouldn't -- I'm not -- I wouldn't be -- give such a dire conclusion.
But I do think that the Trump Organization, based on the indictment that we brought, in Manhattan, in 2021, has been convicted, of numerous serious financial crimes.
Now, we have another court ruling, which impacts their ability, to operate, in New York.
So, the walls are closing in, on the Trump Organization, in a way that it has never experienced before. And now, as we move into this, I think, very strong civil trial, there will be much more information that comes out, about the Trump Organization that predominantly --
VANCE JR.: -- will be negative, and will impact the regulators, and others, deciding on how to manage the Trump Organization's operations, in New York City, and elsewhere.
COLLINS: As you mentioned, this is a civil trial. Should this have been charged, though, as a criminal case?
VANCE JR.: Well, it's very similar to the criminal case that our office was investigating, at the end of my tenure.
We had, as I say, we got the Supreme Court -- from the Supreme Court, favorable rulings, on the fact that no person, even a president, is immune from investigation, which led us to get the tax records. And within four months, the organization, Trump Organization had been indicted, along with the CFO.
We then moved into an economic investigation phase, which I brought Mark Pomerantz in, to lead. And I felt the case Mark was building, quite similar to the one that the A.G. has built, is a strong case.
It's not that it doesn't have challenges. It's a complex case. It's a historical case. It requires jurors, understanding real estate valuations, which isn't rocket science, but nonetheless, it's not an easy case to present. But I think it's a strong case.
And ultimately, my successor, and I'm not second-guessing him, but my successor decided not to proceed with the case, that we were building, and to proceed instead, on a case, involving hush money payments.
COLLINS: Would you have charged it as a criminal case?
VANCE JR.: Well, as I said before, I think the case should have continued -- I would have hoped the case had continued its investigation, and completed the investigation, to the point, where a grand jury had all the evidence, then if we could really see exactly what the evidence would be.
So, I was -- I felt strongly that the case was going in the right direction, and was potentially a strong case. So, I would have continued the investigation, to the next stage, before making a decision.
COLLINS: Well, but you could see this, pretty exhaustive ruling that we got, from the judge, here. It has these very specific citations in it. I mean, when you look at that, would you have charged it as a criminal case?
VANCE JR.: Well, I basically given more comrades, on our team, the go- ahead, to move to the next stage of the investigation assistance, which is, without going into exactly what evidence we had before the grand jury, Kaitlan, I was, as I said, I thought it was a strong case, and thought I brought in the right team, to manage it.
I think the property overvaluations were very clear. And clearly, the judge, in New York, gave short shrift, to the Trump Organization's attempts, to redefine those valuations as reasonable.
COLLINS: Yes. I'm not going to put words in your mouth. But it does sound like that seems to be a yes, that you could have seen it being charged as that.
VANCE JR.: Yes.
COLLINS: Trump's attorneys seem to be struggling with what the implication of this is, what this even means.
Do you think that this ends up stripping Trump, of control, over his signature properties, here in New York? Could we see his name, taken off Trump Tower, ultimately, as a result of this?
VANCE JR.: Well, I, you know, if your company essentially loses its license, to operate, in the State, it absolutely could lead to the Trump Organization not being able to operate, as the Trump Organization, in New York.
And of course, the Trump Organization is Donald Trump's alter ego. It's how he defines himself, to the world, as a successful corporation, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
And I think that the air on that balloon has been -- is happening quickly, with the series of first, the conviction of the corporation, for financial crimes, in the Manhattan -- from the Manhattan D.A.'s office, then the four separate criminal charges, and indictments, which are all serious. And the A.G. is beginning a trial, where the judge has, after exhausted discovery, pre-determined that many of the issues, the Trump Organization was fighting, were both frivolous and wrong. And I think the A.G. goes into this case, with the wind at her back, based upon a lot of great work that that office has done, offering -- and privileged to be in partnership, with them, in doing that.
COLLINS: Yes, I mean.
VANCE JR.: So, that's where we are, today.
COLLINS: Given that, I mean, Trump's attorney asked a question, today, which is, what is the point even, of a trial anymore?
What do you think of that question?
VANCE JR.: Well, there are unresolved issues, damages. There's lots of unresolved issues. It was not a -- the judge did not decide all the legal issues, in the case.
I'm not sure -- I'm not sure what the Trump lawyer said. But I'm -- I don't think that what he would be implying is that they should throw in the towel. And it seems like they're fighting every issue, apparently, also suing the judge. So, I'm not sure exactly what he meant by that comment.
COLLINS: Yes. I mean, Trump's been attacking the judge, here. Obviously, that's not a surprise. He's upset that the valuation of Mar-a-Lago was at $18 million. He says it could be 100 times that.
But I'm not going to ask you to evaluate the property value, of his beach club, in Florida.
But you brought up the judge here. The judge, in a separate case? And I know this is something that you've weighed in before. Judge Chutkan, in Washington, who is overseeing that election obstruction case, has just ruled, tonight, she is not going to recuse herself, after Trump wanted her to do so, from that case.
She said, quote, that the court has never essentially been able to prove that they -- that she took this position that they said she did, that Trump should be prosecuted and imprisoned. Those were his claims.
What did you make of her ruling, tonight?
VANCE JR.: Well, Kaitlan, I think, what the judge is doing is respectfully saying, "Donald Trump, you're not controlling this courtroom. I am." And I'm sure that her ruling, if he is convicted, I'm sure that ruling will be an issue on appeal.
But I think the judge is obviously a very smart, and very strong, very experienced judge. And I think she's saying "You don't get to knock me out of this case, just because you don't like me." And she's weighing out the list of reasons why Trump is wrong. It is legal and factual analysis. And she wants the case to move.
And this is the biggest challenge, I think, all these judges have is controlling the Trump legal team, and Trump himself, from trying to -- from disrupting the proceedings, both outside the courtroom, and inside the courtroom. And she's saying, "Enough. We're going forward."
COLLINS: Yes. Quite a decision.
Cy Vance, you truly have unique perspective on this, like no one else. Thank you, for your time, tonight.
VANCE JR.: Thanks, Kaitlan. Take it easy.
COLLINS: Seemed quite clear, from those comments that the former Manhattan District Attorney believed that this could have pursued the criminal case route. We'll standby for legal reaction to that.
Also up next, Trump is attempting to counter President Biden's historic trip, yesterday, to the picket line, in Detroit, also, trying to counterprogram Republican rivals.
Also, two men, from two very different worlds, getting another man's deepest sympathy. We're covering both of their struggles, tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL RYAN, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: There are two people that I feel really sorry for, these days. Aaron Rodgers and Kevin McCarthy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: Tonight, former President Trump is in the suburbs of Detroit, pitching himself, to current and former union members, there, amid the auto workers' strike.
But it's important to note where he is speaking, at a non-union auto plant, going off against President Biden, following his historic visit.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, 45TH U.S. PRESIDENT: He wants electric vehicle mandates that will spell the death of the U.S. auto industry. You know, it doesn't matter. I watch it, you're negotiating a contract, you're all on picket lines and everything. But it doesn't make a damn bit of difference what you get, because in two years, you're all going to be out of business.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: Did not take long, for the Biden campaign, to respond to those comments, from Trump, saying, soon they would be out of business.
In response, the campaign said, those comments were trying to distract from Trump's, quote, and I'm quoting the Biden campaign here, "Failed track record of trickle-down tax cuts, closed factories, and jobs outsourced to China."
Despite Trump's pro-worker claims that we have seen, recently, his record, as President, says otherwise.
Of course, Trump appointed members, to the nation's top Labor Board that rolled back pro-union policies. In 2018, he signed an executive order that made it easier to fire unionized federal employees. And he also announced shortly after that, that he would cancel their pay raises.
Also, Trump told residents, in Ohio this, after promising to keep a major auto plant, there, open.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Those jobs have left Ohio. They're all coming back. They're all coming back.
TRUMP: Coming back.
(AUDIENCE CHEERS & APPLAUSE)
TRUMP: Don't move. Don't sell your house.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: That was July 2017.
Two years later, GM shuttered that plant, despite Trump's direct calls to the CEO, and his attacks, on that company, for closing those plants.
Let's discuss more of what we are seeing, happening tonight, with two political veterans. Van Jones, a former Obama administration official; and Scott Jennings, a former Senior Adviser to Mitch McConnell.
I mean, Scott, as we're seeing Trump there, he always has kind of tried to have this mixed signal, that he sends, to workers, criticizing the union leaders, saying to the union employees, "I'm with you."
Given that President Biden though, was just there, saying, "Yes, I agree with your demand for a 40 percent pay increase," I mean, can Trump go there and not really pick a side?
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, what Trump has always tried to focus on are non-college working-class voters. He does very well with the blue-collar non-college segments, in a lot of these states, including a lot of the people, who he spoke to today, and who Joe Biden probably met, on the picket line, guarantee you some of them voted for Donald Trump. And so, I think, he's trying to continue to see if he can expand on that.
Now, some people think he's maxed it out that he's done all he can do, among that segment.
But I think the Trump campaign is hoping that because Joe Biden has such low marks, on the economy, because a lot of people blame him, for inflation, because a lot of people are upset, with the Biden administration, on the electric vehicle subsidies, and threatening their own livelihoods, that he could maybe inch it up, just a few points. And a few points, in any of these Midwestern states, could be enough.
COLLINS: Yes, it's certainly good.
And we talked to Secretary Walsh, last night, who was Biden's former Labor Secretary. He said they're not taking that for granted.
The Biden campaign though is clearly watching all of this closely. I mean, they immediately responded, to what Trump said, tonight. They also, Van, put out a new ad, tonight. I just want to play part of what that ad looked like.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He says he stands with auto workers. But, as President, Donald Trump passed tax breaks, for his rich friends, while automakers shuttered their plants. And Michigan lost manufacturing jobs.
Joe Biden said he'd stand up for workers. And he's delivering, passing laws that are increasing wages, and creating good-paying jobs. Manufacturing is coming back to Michigan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: Given what Scott pointed out about, I mean, how voters do really feel about Biden's economic policies, at least, I mean how does an ad like that work?
VAN JONES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes.
COLLINS: Is it effective?
JONES: Well I sure hope so. It's a tug of war, between this big labor Renaissance, this big labor upsurge. You got people, on strike now, coming to an end, in Hollywood, all across the place.
Labor is on the march, because there's a sense that the rich folks have taken too much, and working people have gotten too little. And for the first time, you're seeing a Republican presidential candidate, and a Democrat presidential candidate, going directly, and we haven't seen this for a long time, directly, for union voters. You rewind the tape, when Biden was running for Vice President, in 2012. Mitt Romney went out there, saying good stuff about unions. It was literally the Republicans were for business, and Democrats were for labor. The problem is that Trump has tried to scramble that egg a little bit. And it's forcing Biden to do more than he might have done.
But I think Biden is more credible, as somebody, who's stuck up for labor unions, than somebody, like Donald Trump, who stiffed unions, who stiffed contractors, who stiffed working people, his whole life.
JENNINGS: I think Van makes a great point about the anti-corporate nature of both campaigns' pitches.
You've got both Trump and Biden, and really both parties, right now, seeming to go out of their way, to side with labor here. And the corporate interests, the companies, that make the vehicle, seem to have no allies, right now, in the political system. It's amazing.
I was talking to somebody, the other day. And they said, "Well, it looks like the Democrats are socialists. The Republicans are now Democrats. And the conservatives are, I'm not sure what they are." And so, you just see the whole thing --
JENNINGS: -- moving to the left, right now. It's crazy.
COLLINS: Yes. It is fascinating to see how that's changed, and how Trump has changed that nature, in his own party.
Another thing, and this is on an entirely different subject, but something that has been, we've been talking about here, on THE SOURCE, which is Trump's claims, about General Mark Milley, the soon-departing Joint Chiefs Chairman.
Trump had basically implied that he had committed treason, because of phone calls, he made, to Chinese government officials.
He, General Milley, is responding to this, for the first time, tonight. This is what he told CBS News.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GENERAL MARK MILLEY, UNITED STATES CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: As much as these comments are directed at me, it's also directed at the institution of the military.
And the American people can take it to the bank that all of us, every single one of us, from private to general, will loyal to that Constitution and will never turn our back on it no matter what, no matter what the threats.
NORAH O'DONNELL, ANCHOR AND MANAGING EDITOR OF THE "CBS EVENING NEWS": The former Commander-in-Chief seems to be calling for your execution. Are you worried about your safety? MILLEY: I've got adequate safety precautions. I wish those comments had not been made. But they were. And will take appropriate measures, to ensure my safety, and the safety of my family.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: I mean it's kind of insane that the Joint Chiefs Chairman has to respond to something like that, from the Commander-in-Chief, who picked him and put him in that position.
JENNINGS: Yes, no kidding.
I see, though, a larger issue, here. And that is just the constant attacks, on the leadership, of institutions, while simultaneously telling the rank-and-file, of those institutions, "I'm with you. Your leadership has failed you." You see it with the workers, in Detroit. You see it with the military.
Trump has talked constantly, about how he's pro-military, and he's pro-soldier. But he's constantly attacking the leadership. It's, he senses that institutions, in the United States, are so weak, right now, and people are so ready to believe that the leadership of those institutions have failed. And I see this is going to be a constant campaign strategy.
COLLINS: What do you make of that and this moment --
COLLINS: -- overall?
JONES: Well, I mean, it's just chilling. I mean, if this were some other country, and you had a former President, or a Prime Minister, or somebody, who was calling for the execution, of the head of the armed forces, you'd say, "That country is in deep trouble." You say "That is highly unusual." But this is the United States of America. So, I think it's chilling.
And also, you don't usually see a General, blink the way he did. He said, "I have adequate," it was deadpan, "I have adequate security." But he's a human being. He's a grandpa. He's worried. And he shouldn't be.
COLLINS: And he's about to move off the military base --
JONES: Hey, listen? He's going to be --
COLLINS: -- that he's been living off, for four years.
JONES: He's got to drive up to McDonald's, like everybody else.
JONES: And who knows?
JENNINGS: There's all kinds of people, who've engaged in public service, who feel like they're under threat, right now. And the chilling impact that has on anybody else, out there, who might be thinking of going into public service mean that the ripple effects of that over time are significant.
COLLINS: Yes, especially for someone, who's served the nation, in the way --
COLLINS: -- General Milley has.
Scott Jennings, Van Jones, thank you both, for joining, tonight.
JONES: Thank you, Kaitlan.
COLLINS: There is little, almost really no time left, to avoid a government shutdown. And it would, of course, would have very real consequences, for Americans.
We're going to speak to a Republican congressman, about what is happening inside the dome that you see there, next.
COLLINS: Three days. That is how long until congressional dysfunction could upend millions of American lives, with a government shutdown.
It would mean men and women, in the U.S. military, putting their lives on the line, without getting paid. Same for Border Patrol agents, tasked with dealing with an ongoing surge of migrants, on the border.
Also, people still recovering, from disasters, like in Hawaii, could have to wait longer, to get the help that they need. And more than a 1,000 badly-needed air traffic controllers could be furloughed. It could also mean those proactive food safety inspections aren't happening.
Of note, tonight, members of Congress will still get paid.
The ripple effects of this are also being felt, in other areas, even for example, the 99th birthday celebration, for Jimmy Carter. It has been moved up to Saturday, a day early, because if there's a shutdown, it would actually close parts of his Presidential Library.
I'm joined, tonight, by Colorado Republican congressman, Ken Buck.
Congressman, thank you, for joining us, from Capitol Hill.
I mean, as you know, there are just days left, before the government runs out of funding. The last we checked, our reporting is that Speaker McCarthy's latest bill still does not have even the Republican votes that it needs. Is it clear to you, tonight, what his plan is? REP. KEN BUCK (R-CO): It's not clear.
What I do know is that this is more the same type of theater that we've seen in the past. When we had a debt ceiling problem, we ran it right up until the end, and then we spent too much money.
I anticipate that we will do the same thing here. We will run right up until the end. We may shut down, for a few days. And then, a bill will come to the floor that has too much spending in it. It will get Democrat votes. It'll get a lot of Republican votes. It'll pass.
People will feel relieved that we're no longer shut down. The reality is people should be more upset that we've spent too much money.
COLLINS: So, you think a shutdown is inevitable, at this point?
BUCK: I think it is likely. I don't know that it's inevitable, but I -- whatever the word you used. But I do think it's likely.
COLLINS: And it sounds like you think nothing will be gained, from it, ultimately, for your party?
BUCK: Oh, no, absolutely not. And it's really part of the same pattern that we've seen, for last 27 years.
We have not passed 12 appropriations bills, in the House and the Senate, for 27 years in a row. And everybody makes it sound like this is such a surprise. We've actually known that September 30th, this is the same day on the calendar. And it has been for years. And so, we know when that day is coming. And we do nothing to anticipate it.
COLLINS: Obviously, politics are at play here. It's Capitol Hill. You know that better than me. But is it clear to you why Speaker McCarthy is coming out. He's blaming President Biden. He's blaming the Senate, when it's House Republicans, who can't agree and can hardly pass anything?
BUCK: Well, there's a lot of finger-pointing going on. President Biden has blamed Republicans, for what's going on, at the border. Kevin McCarthy has blamed Democrats, for what's going on with spending.
The truth is that there is a bipartisan bankruptcy going on, right now. We spend too much money. We've got to find a way to reduce that spending. But no, we should have had a plan. We should have been working, on appropriations bills, and passing them, in June, in July, before we took our August recess. So, we came back in September, things would be ready to go.
COLLINS: You said you think a shutdown is likely. You didn't want to say inevitable.
Your Republican colleague, Congressman Ralph Norman, noted today, government workers will continue to get paid. But I mean, really, they'll just get back pay. They won't actually get a current paycheck, if the shutdown goes on.
As you know, the majority of this people, the people in this country, live paycheck to paycheck. I mean, is that a comment of someone, who understands what the consequences, of a government shutdown, would actually be?
BUCK: Yes, so, Kaitlan, what happens is government workers will get a paycheck, on September 30th. Since that happens on a weekend, they'll actually get that direct deposit, to their bank account, this Friday. So, they will be good, for two weeks, until the next check is due, on the 15th of the month. And so, in that case, they will be paid, while they are working.
Now, that's not ideal. I'm not excusing the behavior of Congress, for not passing these bills. But we're not talking about people, who are living paycheck to paycheck that can't make ends meet, during that time period. They will be hold, for a period of 10 days, 14 days. The key is to make sure that if we do have a shutdown, it only lasts a few days, so that those workers don't get hurt in the long run.
COLLINS: Yes. But if you're those workers, and you're watching what's been happening, on Capitol Hill, that's not really reassuring that "I got two more weeks of my paycheck in my bank account. But who knows what's going to happen after that?"
BUCK: Absolutely. It's not reassuring. And I don't mean to suggest that this body is anything but dysfunctional. I do want to make sure that we get things done. Hopefully, we don't have a shutdown. If we do, it is short-lived, and we get people back to work, and back to their families with some security.
COLLINS: You've said that you believe Speaker McCarthy needs to accept responsibility. At this point, would you support a motion to remove McCarthy, from his role, from his job, if he doesn't, and can't lead the Conference through this?
BUCK: I am not supporting that, at this point. I don't know who else there is. This is one of the most miserable jobs, in America. Trying to take 434 other egos, and bring them together, to find 218 votes, is not easy. I don't relish the opportunity, to see anybody else, in that position.
I think Kevin is doing his best, to manage a very difficult situation. I think it could have been managed better.
But I still think that there is a need, to maintain continuity, and leadership, through this year, so that we see that we could pass bills, we can get this government funded, we're sending the right message to our adversaries, in Russia and China, and we are not backing down from the challenges, that we have, in this country, on the border, and in other ways.
COLLINS: A noted voice of support, saying, you know, that is a question, who else could get 218?
Congressman, one other aspect of this is my colleagues, Melanie Zanona, and Annie Grayer, are reporting tonight that House Republicans are apparently planning, on moving ahead, with their impeachment inquiry, which formally starts, tomorrow, even in the event of a government shutdown.
Is that a good look for your party?
BUCK: I disagreed with the idea of walking through an impeachment inquiry, at this point. We have three committees that are doing great work, looking at Hunter Biden's activities, seeing if there's a nexus to Joe Biden's activities. I don't like calling it an impeachment inquiry. It is oversight. It's what we're supposed to be doing.
But no, I think that our focus, our sole focus should be, on this funding issue. We should make sure that we're funded through the next fiscal year. And, at that point, once we are funded? And it won't be with a Continuing Resolution. It will be with a larger bill. But once we are funded, then let's get back to our oversight, and make sure that we're doing the job that the people expect us to do.
COLLINS: Republican congressman, Ken Buck, a lot going on, in those hallways, behind you. Thank you, for taking the time, to join us, tonight.
BUCK: Thank you, Kaitlan.
COLLINS: Maybe not a lot going on, I guess I should say.
We'll see where it goes from here. Congressman, thank you.
Meanwhile, tonight, a rare diplomatic win, between the United States, and North Korea. Kim Jong Un has released a U.S. soldier, who sprinted into his country, on purpose. He is now on his way home, back to the U.S. But many questions still remain tonight.
More on that story, next.
COLLINS: Tonight, an American soldier, on a flight, back to the U.S., after he spent 10 weeks, in North Korean custody.
You'll remember, back in July, this news. Army Private, Travis King, ran from a tour, of the Demilitarized Zone, directly into North Korea.
Suddenly today, North Korean state media announced it was expelling him, from the country.
King was taken by a Swedish convoy, across the Friendship bridge, to China where he was then handed over, to U.S. government officials, ultimately brought back, to an Air Force base, in South Korea. He's now on his way, to the U.S. Joining me, tonight, is Sue Mi Terry, who analyzed Korean issues, for the CIA, and for the Bush and Obama administrations.
I think when this news was announced, so abruptly, this morning, the question is, why? Why did they let him go? I mean, we all remember what happened with Otto Warmbier, and that struggle. Why do you think this happened?
SUE MI TERRY, FORMER WHITE HOUSE OFFICIAL: Well, hopefully, North Korea learned a lesson, from Otto Warmbier's sad situation.
But I suspect that North Koreans after having debriefed, and interrogated Travis King, for a few months, at the end of the day, thought he didn't really provide intelligence value, or any more propaganda value.
And there is a cost, for North Koreans, to keep someone like him, right? You have to provide guards, translators, feed him. So, they probably thought it was more of a trouble, to keep him, than, let him go.
COLLINS: Yes. And I'm also -- I mean, his case was a bizarre one, given he wasn't someone, who was -- you know, Otto Warmbier had been captured. He wasn't someone, who was captured. He willingly ran across the Demilitarized Zone into North Korea.
But at the larger picture, of what this means that North Korea, seemingly, from what we know, did not ask for anything. They didn't try to leverage him, with the U.S., to get anything in return. What does that say to you about where North Korea is, how they're looking at the U.S., and how they're looking at a China and a Russia? Maybe looking more to them than they would look for here?
MI TERRY: So, that's a really interesting point. Because, as you know, in the past, North Koreans at least try to negotiate, make this into a big drama, have some high level American official, go and get an American out. They didn't even try to do that.
And this as follows Kim Jong Un's meeting, with Putin, the two James Bond villains, meeting in Vladivostok, talking about potential arms deal.
So, I feel like North Koreans are saying, "We don't even want to get there with Americans anymore." There's a complete impasse, with the U.S. There's complete, you know, there's no talks, on nuclear weapons anymore, since the collapse of the Hanoi Summit. Now, they're saying, "We have moved on. We have -- we're now dealing with Russia, dealing with China. And we don't need to deal with the United States."
COLLINS: Do you think that is a -- is that a Biden thing? Or is that a long-standing, no matter who is the next U.S. President that that is going to be kind of their approach?
MI TERRY: I think they tried it with President Trump.
And after the failure of the Hanoi Summit, which is really significant, in terms of psychological impact, on Kim Jong Un. And I think, basically, he's saying, "We're not going to deal with the Biden administration. We're not going to deal with the United States." They're going to focus on expanding, diversifying modernizing, perfecting their nuclear weapons program. And that's it.
Now, it might be all different, a year from now, when we -- if the U.S. has a different administration. But for now, North Korea is not interested in having talks with the United States.
COLLINS: Yes. And yes, they won't even pick up the phone at all.
MI TERRY: Yes, right.
COLLINS: I mean, that's what officials -- we check in regularly, have they -- "Has anything changed?" They say, "No."
And I think what was so interesting, you mentioned that Kim Jong Un- Putin summit is. Before, Russia had kind of treated North Korea, as this maybe annoying little brother, if I can put it, in regular terms, but they needed something from them. That's what was different, in this meeting. Needed artillery, and whatnot, for its weapon, in Ukraine -- for its war, in Ukraine.
MI TERRY: Well, it's a complete role reversal. As you said, North Korea's supposed to be a patron. It gives things to North Korea. What -- how pathetic it is at that Putin has now go to Kim Jong Un, the world's most isolated and despised leader, or dictator, to say, "We need your artillery. We need your ammunition."
So, it is a role reversal. They do need each other. They are two world's most isolated leaders. And they can give each other things that they need.
COLLINS: Yes. Fascinated to see what something like this release means, obviously, for the geopolitical standing.
Sue Mi Terry, thank you, for coming in, and for joining me, tonight.
MI TERRY: Thanks.
COLLINS: A new attempt, tonight by, for a comeback, by the quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, is underway. He has been out of the job, for years, after taking a knee, during the national anthem, of course.
Will the New York Jets now take him up, on his Hail Mary play? We'll tell you what it was, next.
COLLINS: The New York Jets need help. And tonight, Colin Kaepernick is offering his services.
The former 49ers quarterback has not played in a game, since 2016. Of course, that was when he refused to stand, for the national anthem, in protest of police brutality. He later became a free agent, after that season ended. And now, tonight, he is pitching himself, as an option, as a quarterback, for the Jets practice squad.
There is some head-shaking happening in here.
Of course, this is coming, after the team lost Aaron Rodgers, to a season ending Achilles tear, in game one.
In his letter, Kaepernick told the Jets, quote, "I know that there are currently depth issues and I've heard that the backup spot is likely to be filled by a veteran quarterback. As much as I would love the opportunity to fill that spot... I would" also "be honored and extremely grateful for the opportunity to come in and lead the practice squad."
For more on this, I am joined now by Cari Champion, Host of "The Cari Champion Show," on Prime Video.
I mean, what are you -- what do you make of this letter, and the chances of whether or not this could actually happen?
CARI CHAMPION, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: The letter, I think, was interesting. There are so many -- there are so many two-things-can-be-true moments.
Colin Kaepernick, when he left the NFL, in 2016, I do believe, because I covered the story, day in and day out, I do believe he thought he'd have an opportunity, to come back and play.
If we put a quick timeline together, we know he sued a few years after, and settled with the League. You don't get opportunities, to sue your employer, and then come back and work for them. It's just rare.
And yes, I do believe he was blackballed. Yes, I think it's unfair. And I think he paid a heavy price, because he was, what I'd like to call, an accidental activist. However, these are the facts.
And I won't even say, Kaitlan, that it's a business decision. I think, at this point in time, Colin would be a distraction, for any team. And I don't think they want that. They don't want to answer the questions, even if he was on the practice squad. And it's so unfortunate.
Because imagine someone telling you, in the profession that you do so very well, every single night, and I watch you, telling you that you can't do what you love? You can't hold people accountable? You can't use your voice to make a change? It would be painful.
And I think he is really late, in realizing this opportunity, just probably will pass him by. He no longer can do the thing that he loves so very much, at the highest level. And I believe that that is an injustice in itself.
COLLINS: Yes, I mean, he had been expressing interest, in returning. I mean, he worked out with the Raiders, last May. He never signed. I know, his team has previously said they contact all NFL teams, every single year.
Do you think this is the end of the road for him, with this outreach to the Jets?
CHAMPION: I think him asking to be on a practice squad, right? Here are the facts that I do know. He asked to be on a practice squad. They did not put him on the squad.
But they did still sign a veteran quarterback, who only had significant, he's been playing here and there, but significant play in 2017, in Trevor Siemian.
It's very clear that they just can't take that risk. And I think the risk for them isn't the bottom line, as some would say. It's the fact that they feel like Colin would be a distraction, in the locker room.
And unfortunately, in this society, being the first is very difficult. He's the very first, to stand up, in the way, in which he did. And so that cost him a lot. So that others can come behind him, and perhaps make noise.
But it's unfortunate. He's not -- I don't believe he will ever play football again. And that's unfortunate.
COLLINS: Yes, it's got to be a hard thing to reckon with, when of course, it's been your whole life. I mean, we've seen other athletes struggle with that. I mean, Aaron Rodgers is someone, who is dealing with that --
COLLINS: -- for a very different reason.
COLLINS: But --
COLLINS: -- one thing, I mean, on a lighter note that the Jets -- I mean --
COLLINS: -- this has been something that has just been every single day, talked about. Everyone's been talking about it, certainly here at CNN.
The Jets are going to get a lot of attention, on Sunday night, because they are playing the Chiefs. And we are now told that Taylor Swift is expected to be at that game, continuing this phenomenon that has been playing out, with the Kelce brothers. And actually, it was addressed for the first time, on their podcast, today.
Here's what they said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JASON KELCE, AMERICAN FOOTBALL CENTER: How does it feel that Taylor Swift has finally put you on the map?
TRAVIS KELCE, AMERICAN FOOTBALL TIGHT END: Shout out to Taylor, for pulling up. That was pretty ballsy. That was pretty ballsy, yes. I am -- I just thought it was awesome how everybody in the suite had nothing but great things to say about her.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: I mean, this has rocked the NFL world, like few things have. I mean, what do you make of the Taylor Swift effect that we're seeing play out?
CHAMPION: Well, Kaitlan, while we're on the show, I love that we can do this hard turn. We go from Colin Kaepernick, to Taylor Swift.
COLLINS: It is a hard turn.
CHAMPION: But it's OK. We can do it, because we're stringing along the Jets here in the process.
I do believe that we're all fascinated. I talked about this the other night. It's the human condition. The reality is, is now they have these photos, TMZ has these photos, of them hanging out, that night, and they look very cozy.
For some of us, we thought it was a publicity stunt, and she was just doing it to do it. Now, we're hearing that they've hung out before. And I think you know what, this is? Adult dating, and we're just fascinated because of who she is, and how she lives her life. She normally, as we know, keeps things very under wraps.
For us, to do the challenge of "I've never heard of Travis Kelce." I don't know if you've seen that challenge, going around, on social media.
CHAMPION: I know you saw it. I knew you did.
Travis Kelce is a star in his own right. And the fact that she's here and enjoying every moment of it, I find it interesting.
She has an effect. We can see his social media followers went up. The game that she attended was the most watched, on Sunday night. His jersey sales were up 400 percent.
All I want to know is if Taylor wants to be my friend, when I come to New York, and hang out with you. If she wants to do a paparazzi walk, and help me gain some social media followers, so be it. But I think it's fun. And I think it's light. And we need this, sometimes, in society. We really do.
COLLINS: I totally agree. And you know what I loved? And I don't -- this isn't confirmed, so I'll just make sure that -- make that clear.
But someone had posted a picture of what were her notes, about who were the best players, on the team, what did certain plays mean. I thought it was great. Maybe we should take her to an Alabama game sometime. We'll see.
CHAMPION: We go out -- look at you. You're like "We could use it in Alabama. We can use that kind of help." Yes, OK.
CHAMPION: I'm with it.
Kaitlan, thank you, for even acknowledging the fact that you are a diehard Alabama fan. Sorry about your season thus far. But you're OK though, right?
COLLINS: Hey, hey, our second half against Ole Miss looked pretty good. So honestly, we're all --
CHAMPION: It did.
COLLINS: I'm ignoring every other 120 minutes of play. I'm just focusing on that second half.
CHAMPION: You guys have had an embarrassment of riches, for years. So, it's still great. No complaints there. I understand. Go Tide -- Roll Tide.
COLLINS: Cari Champion, as always, thank you. Can't wait to see you in person.
CHAMPION: Of course, Kaitlan. Have a good one. Good night.
COLLINS: And all of this football talk brings us, tonight, to one of our MVPs, here at CNN, the biggest Buffalo Bills fan, on the planet, the one and only Wolf Blitzer. He was honored, tonight. We'll cheer him on. We'll tell you why, next.
COLLINS: And tonight, we would like to take a moment, to celebrate our friend, the one and only Wolf Blitzer.
Tonight, Wolf received one of TV's highest honors, a Lifetime Achievement Award, from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
Wolf is an absolute legend here, in the halls, at CNN. For 33 years, he has been the voice, and the face, of the most important stories. He's interviewed eight U.S. presidents, countless foreign leaders, and has been on the ground, in some of the most precarious corners, of the world.
But more important than his professional accomplishments? And there are many. His show has been on the air, for 18 years now. Wolf is also a wonderful mentor and a dear friend.
When I started, at CNN, he gave me advice, on how to cover the White House. Somehow, we both wore the same tan trench coat, at one point, in our years. Just last week, he was on the phone, helping me prepare, for an interview, with the Israeli Prime Minister. He is an absolute gem, to cover the news with, to learn from, and to work with.
And our congratulations, to Wolf, tonight. No one deserves this more than him.
Thank you so much, for taking the time, to join us, tonight, for this very busy night.
The news continues, right now, with "CNN PRIMETIME" with Abby Phillip.