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The Source with Kaitlan Collins

Reports: Trump Allegedly Shared Nuclear Sub Info At Mar-A-Lago; Liz Cheney Offers Bleak Warning On Jim Jordan's Speaker Bid; George Santos' Former Campaign Treasurer Pleads Guilty To Conspiracy To Defraud The United States. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired October 05, 2023 - 21:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, ANDERSON COOPER 360: A bittersweet reminder now that Poet, Carl Sandburg, was right. Chicago is the "City of Big Shoulders." Chicago South Side is where the massive and legendary NFL linebacker, Dick Butkus, was born, 80 years ago.

Overnight, a world away, in Malibu, California, he died peacefully, which was not how he played, not at the University of Illinois, and certainly not throughout the 60s and 70s, with the Chicago Bears. He was a terror, on the field, and a champion, in every sense, of the word, both on and off it.

Hall of Famer, Dick Butkus, was 80-years-old.

That's it for us. The news continues. I'll see you tomorrow. THE SOURCE WITH KAITLAN COLLINS starts now.


A major new report that Donald Trump allegedly revealed sensitive U.S. secrets, about nuclear submarines, to a billionaire member of Mar-a- Lago. It could potentially get a lot worse because that businessman reportedly shared those secrets, with dozens of others. I have new reporting on that story in just a moment.

Also tonight, one of the deadliest attacks yet, on civilians, in Ukraine, has now prompted new calls, from the White House, to keep U.S. aid flowing, while some Republicans, including at least one, who is a leading contender, to be the next House Speaker still say, no more money.

And today, President Biden has said that walls do not work. Yet, his administration is expanding one of Donald Trump's signature policy goals, even after Biden said not another foot will be built, on his watch.

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

Tonight, I have new reporting, on the Trump classified documents investigation. This comes as ABC News dropped this report, tonight, that months, after leaving the White House, Donald Trump allegedly discussed potentially sensitive information, about U.S. nuclear submarines, with a member of his Mar-a-Lago beach club.

And not just any member. That member is the Australian billionaire, Anthony Pratt, who runs one of the world's largest Packaging Companies.

And sources are confirming, tonight, that federal investigators have interviewed Pratt, as part of their investigation, into whether Trump mishandled classified documents. He is someone, who had a close relationship, with Trump, when he was in the Oval Office.

His company, Pratt Industries, actually opened a plant, in Ohio, when Trump was president, in 2019. You can see him, here, at that opening, together. During that, Pratt and Trump unveiled an official plaque, commemorating the opening.

But a source tells me tonight that during that visit, Pratt also wanted to unveil a second secret plaque, in honor of Trump's catchphrase, which read, "Make America and Australia Great Again." I'm told that Pratt was advised against that move, and ultimately did not do so.

Now, according to ABC, Pratt has told investigators that during a conversation, they had, Trump allegedly disclosed the exact number of nuclear warheads that U.S. submarines carry, and also exactly how close they can supposedly get, to a Russian submarine, without being detected.

Pratt allegedly, then went on to share this information, with at least 45 other people, including more than 10 Australian officials, three former Australian Prime Ministers, 11 of his own employees, and six journalists. Not this one.

Trump spokesperson has put out this statement tonight, saying, quote, "These illegal leaks are coming from sources which totally lack proper context and relevant information." They say "President Trump did nothing wrong... has always insisted on truth and transparency, and acted in a proper" manning -- "proper manner," I should note, "according to the law."

I want to get straight to former Deputy Director of the FBI, and CNN's Senior Law Enforcement Analyst, Andrew McCabe.

Andrew, when you read this, and you see that this information apparently spread far and wide, from journalists, to former foreign politicians? If Trump actually was telling an Australian billionaire, this information, how damaging is that?

ANDREW MCCABE, FORMER FBI DEPUTY DIRECTOR, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Oh, my gosh. Kaitlan, it's so unbelievably sensitive nuclear information, about some of our most sensitive national defense assets.

And before I talk about that, I should just say, in response to the Trump team's public statement, there is no proper context. There is no context that makes disclosing national defense information, to a foreign national, acceptable or lawful, really, under any circumstances, whatsoever. So, that's where we are. This information is so sensitive, that it is one of the very, very few categories of information that even a sitting president cannot unilaterally declassify. So, Congress has carved out special laws, to cover nuclear defense information. This clearly would fall within that purview.

So, it's not something that Trump could declassify, even if he was president. And we know, of course, when this conversation took place, in April of 2021, he was not. So, it's just --


MCCABE: -- incredibly concerning.


COLLINS: Well, and it's not even just that he told this one person. I mean, apparently, Pratt then went on to, allegedly, I should note, because he hasn't responded to our request for comment, told at least 45 others.

I mean, you were in the FBI, for more than 20 years. What does the Intelligence Community think, when they read a report like this?

MCCABE: Folks, in the Intelligence Community, and in the military, I should add, are, they spend their lives, collecting, perfecting and disseminating, very carefully, national defense information, Top Secret, highly classified information.

So, to see someone, anyone, so blatantly abuse and misuse that information, and handle it so irresponsibly, communicate it, disseminate it to a foreign national, it's just like an offense, to everything that those folks hold sacred, everything they've spent their lives defending. It's just an absolute disgusting offense.

COLLINS: I'm hearing from sources that Pratt has been questioned, by Jack Smith's investigators, by his team. If you were, in that room, what kind of questions would you be asking, Anthony Pratt?

MCCABE: Well, you obviously want to establish, with as much granular detail, exactly how that interaction took place.

Where they were? When it happened? Who might have been around them? Who might have been standing with the former President, the details of everything that he said? Questions that Pratt may have asked, or what his reaction was, to the things that he heard the President say.

Then, you would want to move on to find out who did he first speak to, after hearing that information? We know, from at least one former Mar- a-Lago employee, overheard Pratt, then relaying that information to another person.

So, you literally have to track the chain of disclosure here, from Pratt, to all of those 45 people. Then, you're investigating all of those 45 people, to find out who they told that just it becomes an incredibly burdensome investigation, but one that's essential to pursue.

COLLINS: Yes. Well, and apparently Pratt is on the list of people, who could be called at trial. We'll see if that actually does ultimately happen.

Andrew McCabe, thank you, for joining us, tonight, with your expertise on this.

MCCABE: Thank you.

COLLINS: I want to get more reaction, now, from someone, who is challenging Trump, for the 2024 Republican nomination. Former New Jersey governor, and maybe more importantly, on this subject, former U.S. Attorney, Chris Christie.

Governor, I mean, when you hear that Trump allegedly discussed potentially sensitive information, about U.S. nuclear submarines, with a member of Mar-a-Lago, and an Australian national, I mean, what's your reaction to that?

CHRIS CHRISTIE, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It just shows you how unfit he is for the presidency. I mean, it's just that simple.

I mean, this is him, though. He wants to show off. He wants to make himself seem important. It's not enough for him to have been the former President of the United States. Now, he has to spew secrets, sensitive information, to people, to show off, on the balcony, at Mar- a-Lago.

It's just it's both completely unthinkable, but also completely typical, at the same time. And it's why he doesn't have the temperament, the self-control, the self-discipline, to be President of the United States.

COLLINS: You think that's why, if he did this, why he did this, he was just showing off?

CHRISTIE: Oh, no doubt in my mind about it. I've known him, for 22 years. He wasn't trying to do anything nefarious. He can't shut up. He can't help himself.

If he thinks it's going to make him look good, or important, or in the know, for a second, to somebody? He does it. He's done it his whole life. He's never been able to keep a secret. And even when he has access, to some of the most important secrets, in our country, he can't help himself. It's just so typical. And it's another reason why he's unfit to be President of the United States.

COLLINS: Well, I mean, and everyone remembers, when there were so many times, when he was actually, in the Oval Office, that it was kind of a nightmare, for Intelligence officials, whether it was bringing the U.S. Ambassador, or the Russia ambassador, to the U.S., into the Oval Office, other instances.

But, in this case, if he did actually tell this Australian billionaire, this information, and then he went on and told at least 45 other people, apparently? And Trump is under investigation for mishandling classified information. If you're a prosecutor, how much does this factor, into your case, to make your case?

CHRISTIE: It's just more whipped cream on the sundae, Kaitlan. That's it. It is just more and more evidence that he is not only willing to mishandle these secrets, but anxious to do it.


I've told people all along, he took those documents, he kept those documents, because it made him feel important. It allowed him to show off, to other people. We've seen the examples, allegedly, of him flashing the documents around, at a table, at Mar-a-Lago. He's got intelligence reports, in the top desk drawer, in his office, at Mar-a- Lago.

I mean, look, this is a guy, who is so insecure, a guy who is just so needy, that he has to do these things, that being one of only 45 people, who have ever been President of the United States ain't enough.

COLLINS: Do you --

CHRISTIE: He's got to keep showing off.

COLLINS: Do you think it matters to Republican voters, though?

CHRISTIE: I think it will matter to Republican voters. Look, what Republican voters should understand is two nights ago, we saw our own party, a very small element of it, of an eight of them, who are Trump supporters, dispatching the Speaker of the House.

And when this tumult is going on, in our House of Representatives, in our caucus, where's the guy who was nominee for the party twice? The guy who's the front-runner, right now? Was he there, in Congress, helping? Was he on the phone, talking to folks, trying to convince them, to support the Speaker? No. He was in a courtroom, defending himself against civil fraud charges.

I want everybody to understand, out there, who is watching. That's going to be the scene week after week after week, from now, through the election, and after. A guy, who's not leading our party, against the Democrats, a guy, who's not making the case. A guy, who is sitting there whining and moaning and complaining, about his own misfortune, and then spending all of his time, in a courtroom, because that's where he's going to be compelled to be, I mean.

And now, you've got some people, in Washington, who are talking about making him Speaker of the House, for even five seconds? I mean, this is outrageous.

COLLINS: Trump's talking about that.

CHRISTIE: Who are these people, I mean?

COLLINS: I mean, what do you make of -- I mean -- CHRISTIE: Well, of course he is.

COLLINS: -- Trump is saying that he need to be a short-term Speaker.

CHRISTIE: Of course. It would aggrandize him. It would give him another title. He could preen around there like the peacock, he is, and act like a big shot. He wouldn't do anything.

This is the guy, who didn't get Obamacare repealed and replaced, when he had majorities, in both houses.

This is the guy, who added $7.8 trillion, to the national debt, when he had control of the House, and the Senate.

This is the guy, who said he was going to build a big, beautiful wall across the entire border of Mexico, and built 52 miles of new wall, in his entire presidency. And Mexico hasn't paid the first peso towards it.

I mean, this is the guy, who could get things done, as Speaker of the House? He was President of the United States, and couldn't get anything done. He should not be Speaker. And every presidential candidate should be out there saying the exact same thing.

But remember, these were the people, who raised their hands, and said they'd support him, even if he was convicted of felonies. So, I'm not expecting any of them to stand up now.

COLLINS: Yes, I think, you and Mike Pence are the only ones, who have said that he shouldn't actually be the House Speaker.

CHRISTIE: Me And Asa Hutchinson, to correct you, Kaitlan, it was me and Asa Hutchinson, were the only two.

COLLINS: Well no, Pence weighed in.

CHRISTIE: Mike Pence raised his hand too.

COLLINS: I was saying, Pence weighed in, today, saying that Trump should not be the House Speaker, even for a little bit.

CHRISTIE: Well, good for Mike.

COLLINS: But you're right that you were the ones, on the stage, about not supporting him.

Governor Chris Christie, we'll have you back soon. Thank you, for your time, tonight.

CHRISTIE: Kaitlan, thanks so much for having me. And I appreciate always being on THE SOURCE.

COLLINS: Absolutely.

Up next, speaking of that fight that Governor Christie was referring to, a blunt warning, about one of the leading candidates, to replace Kevin McCarthy, as the Speaker of the House. What Liz Cheney, who of course chaired the January 6 committee, is predicting, if Jim Jordan wins the gavel.



COLLINS: The list of Republicans, angling for a chance, to be the next Speaker of the House, is continuing to grow, ranging, from a longshot seemingly Donald Trump, who is actually planning a trip, to Capitol Hill, on Tuesday, we are told, even though his multiple criminal indictments would seemingly disqualify him from that job.

To the underdog, Oklahoma's Kevin Hern, who is also said to be considering running, and throwing his hat in the race, to the current number two House Majority Leader, Steve Scalise, who says he is officially, in this race, working to get votes, from his home state of Louisiana, in recent days.

And then, there is Jim Jordan, a man that the former Speaker, John Boehner, once called a, quote, "Legislative terrorist."

By the end of the week, there may be even more Republicans, lining up to be the third in line, for the presidency.

And joining me now is Louisiana Republican congressman, Garret Graves.

Congressman, thank you, for being here.

Obviously, when Liz Cheney was on Capitol Hill, you worked with her, on several issues. Here's what she said, recently, about one of the contenders, for the next House Speaker.


LIZ CHENEY, FORMER UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE: Jim Jordan knew more about what Donald Trump had planned for January 6th, than any other member of the House of Representatives.

Now, somebody needs to ask Jim Jordan, why didn't you report to the Capitol Police, what you knew Donald Trump had planned?

If they were to decide that, there would no longer be any possible way to argue, that a group of elected Republicans, could be counted on, to defend the Constitution.


COLLINS: Congressman, what do you make of what Liz Cheney is saying there, about Jim Jordan, possibly becoming House Speaker?

REP. GARRET GRAVES (R-LA): Look, I don't know anything about what Liz is talking about. I know that, obviously there's a bit of animosity there, with her and some House Republicans.

But look, I want to tell you something that I think is really important. Jim Jordan came to Congress, before I started, and had been there a number of years. And the number of members of Congress had said that the Jim Jordan of 2010 or 2020 is a night-and-day difference, to the Jim Jordan of 2023.


And there's been a lot of change and, I guess, maturity in the way that he's approached things. I think he's a great communicator. And I think that Jim is absolutely a viable candidate. I think that -- I think that Steve's a viable candidate.

But more importantly, I think one of the things we need to be doing is really focusing on the stability or structure of the job, the position of Speaker of the House.

COLLINS: Jim Jordan obviously defied a congressional subpoena, from the January 6 committee. Is that a factor at all on whether or not he's the right person to succeed Kevin McCarthy?

GRAVES: Look, the January 6 committee was a partisan effort.

If there had been a committee that was actually set up, that the Republicans got to choose, who was on it, and got to appoint their own members, I think that would have been a different story. But, to go out and structure it the way they did, at the beginning, you really did undermine the integrity of that committee.

While every other committee --


GRAVES: -- in the Congress, you have the respective parties, that get to choose who their members are, with expertise to serve.

COLLINS: Well, that was a decision of course --

GRAVES: In this case, Speaker Pelosi.

COLLINS: -- Congressman by Kevin McCarthy. There were two Republicans on it, including Liz Cheney.

But putting the committee aside, I mean, it sounds like you would be willing to potentially vote for Jim Jordan, as the next House Speaker?

GRAVES: Look, I think what's most important, and what I'm prioritizing, is stabilizing the structure of the position of Speaker of the House.

Kaitlan, after that, yes, we need to have a robust discussion, about who is best. Is it Steve Scalise? Is it Jim Jordan? Is there a third candidate out there?

But what I'm focused on is the functionality of the House of Representatives, undoing this disaster, that Matt Gaetz, and the rest of the Chaos Caucus have done, to the House, and making sure that we get back on track, doing the things, that we need to be doing, for this country.

COLLINS: OK. So, it sounds like you don't think it's a two-man race, at this point. You are a close ally, of Kevin McCarthy's. You were there, during his 15 rounds, to become Speaker, in January.

Are you disappointed that the former President didn't try to come to his defense more, as he was in the throes of being ousted, from his job?

GRAVES: I'm disappointed that Matt Gaetz went out and fabricated this narrative, and then acted on it. I mean, this was the Jack Abramoff of Congress, the disgraced lobbyist that created problems, for his clients, and then charged them more money, to fix them. That's what Matt Gaetz did. That's where my frustration is.

This is something that's internal to the Congress. This is not something that's external to outside forces.

COLLINS: Well, that's interesting you said that because Trump is coming. Apparently, he's considering it to the -- it's likely, I am told, by sources, to the Capitol, on Tuesday --


COLLINS: -- as you were having your candidate forum, the day before, you're going to have your actual Speaker.

He's claiming, tonight, that he could actually take the job as House Speaker, on a short-term basis. Do you believe that that can happen?

GRAVES: Look, there's a part of me that just sitting down, and buying tickets, to watch the chaos, would be incredibly entertaining, to see what the Democrats just created.

But in a, I guess, more serious fashion, look, my focus is on restoring functionality and stability. My guess is just based upon precedent that the next Speaker of the House is going to be a member of the House of Representatives.

But as you have seen, and I have seen, there are a few members of Congress that have said that they think that he would be a viable speaker.

But as you know, there has not been an external Speaker. I think that while the Constitution does provide for it, I think, we're going to have a member of the House, that's Speaker of the House.

COLLINS: That was a pretty big sigh from you. Are you saying that you don't think Trump should come, on Tuesday, that it's not helpful?

GRAVES: No, I didn't say that at all. It's just that when you look already, at the --

COLLINS: Well do you feel that way?

GRAVES: I'm sorry? COLLINS: Do you feel that that he should -- that his influence there, his presence, on Tuesday night, is not helpful?

GRAVES: No, I'm not saying that. I'm just saying that we're in this situation, where we have chaos, we have uncertainty. And I do think that his presence is certainly going to add another dynamic, of excitement.

But what I'm focused on, and I'm going to remain focused on, is getting the functionality of the House.

Look, Kaitlan, we can talk about all these externalities all day long. What we need to be doing is securing our southern border.

We need to be fixing energy policy that's so brainless, right now, that we're becoming more dependent upon other countries, and watching emissions go up, as compared to they did, under President Trump, where they actually went down.

We need to be focused on getting spending under control, get our fiscal house in order.

Those are the things that I'm concerned about, and I hear the most from our constituents.

COLLINS: Yes, I hear the word "Excitement" there, though, you had just said, a "Chaos."

But obviously, Congressman, what is at the center of this, as well, is Ukraine funding, on the line here.

A Russian strike, today, as you saw, on a grocery store, killed at least 50 people.


You recently voted in favor of an amendment that would have blocked security assistance to Ukraine. It didn't pass. But in total, 93 Republicans voted for that, including you.

Does an attack, like what you see today, where the Ukrainian officials say there's no military target, anywhere, near where this attack happened, does that shift your position at all?

GRAVES: Let me be very clear. What Vladimir Putin has done, in Ukraine, is absolutely inexcusable. As a defender of liberty and human rights, the United States has a responsibility, and an obligation, to participate.

But I can't go to our constituents, the people that we represent, and say that we need to invest tens, or even hundreds of billions of dollars, in Ukraine, and we're not going to do a damn thing about our southern border, because our President has blocked efforts to secure it. Number one.

Number two. Let's be really clear on what's going on right now, because this is important. Today, the Department of Defense has $6 billion available, to offer assistance to Ukraine. Today, the State Department has $3 billion available to Ukraine.

They have -- there was some discrepancy here. But we believe they have full authority, transfer authority of those dollars, to shift them around different DOD programs. So, there is not an imminent crisis on funds.

Is there one potentially in the future? Yes. We've got to have a candid discussion about accountability, about transparency of the funds, about objectives, and about the participation of our European allies. And I'm willing to have that conversation.


GRAVES: I think the White House has not done a sufficient job, in explaining the justification, for the dollars that we've -- that they're requesting so far.

COLLINS: Well, I think, on the border, that's another subject, we're going to be speaking about that later in the show. Obviously, we're seeing the White House now build new barrier there.

But when it comes to doing this, are you saying that you would be willing to vote for Ukraine funding in the future?

GRAVES: I am willing to have that discussion. I absolutely am.

But I want to be clear, Kaitlan, you got to put yourself in a position of a Representative. We're going to take American taxpayer dollars, and secure Ukraine's border. And we're not going to do a damn thing about our own? We're having cartels. We've had 106,000 Americans die of fentanyl deaths. We've had --

COLLINS: Well Republicans do have the House majority.

GRAVES: The cartels are profiting $13 billion a year from human smuggling. This is unforgivable.

So, we do something about our southern border. This administration provides justification. I'm willing to have that conversation with them.

COLLINS: Can't you do both at the same time, if you wanted to?

GRAVES: Again, there's not an imminent loss of dollars. There's not a zero account balance. They've got time, with the $6 billion and $3 billion. There is time to have a conversation about it.

Yes, we can have a conversation about the southern border, and Ukraine, at the same time. But, again, I want you to put yourself in my position. I represent 800,000 people that are taxpayers. I'm not going to go out and say another country's border is more important than our own, when our own citizens are being shot, or being killed, or being poisoned, as a result of the fentanyl. The 147, I think, folks on the terrorist watch list that have come across the southern border. This is dangerous that the conditions, right here, in America.

COLLINS: Congressman Garret Graves, thank you, for your time, tonight. Good luck, next week.

GRAVES: You bet. Thank you.

COLLINS: It's an idea that President Biden once said was not a serious policy solution.


LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, NEW YORK TIMES HOST: Trump campaigned on "Build that wall." Are you willing to tear that wall down?

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: No, there will not be another foot of wall constructed on my administration.


COLLINS: Well, now, he is adding more than another foot. He's actually building miles more of what was Donald Trump's signature objective, at the southern border.

We're going to speak to the reporter that you saw there, getting Biden, on the record, next.



COLLINS: President Biden expanding the wall, at the U.S.-Mexico border. Yes, you did hear that right. His administration, waiving 26 laws, to do so, despite once, vowing that he would never add another foot to that wall.

Today, President Biden said that he had no choice.


BIDEN: The money was appropriated for the border wall. I tried to get to them to re-appropriate it, to redirect that money. They didn't. They wouldn't. And in the meantime, there's nothing under the law other than they have to use the money for what it was appropriated. I can't stop that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you believe the border wall works?



COLLINS: Despite that one-word answer there, the project is set for the Rio Grande Valley, where Homeland Security Secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas says, and I'm quoting him now, in a notice that went out, in the Federal Registry, "An acute and immediate need to construct physical barriers" to ease the surge in migrant crossings.

Doing so will require Biden to bypass laws that his administration has moved to protect, including the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the Clean Water and Air Act.

The White House is defending the move, saying that they are just simply following the law, by using this money, to expand the wall.


KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This is not new, right? This is something that came from the last administration, under the Republican leadership, in fiscal year 2019. And we are required to do this. We are required -- DHS is required to comply by the law. That's what we're doing here.


COLLINS: I want to bring in Lulu Garcia-Navarro, a New York Times host, who interviewed Biden, on the border wall, talked about this issue, as he was a candidate.

Lulu, you were the reporter, who of course, pressed then-candidate Biden, about this.

I want to remind our viewers what it was exactly that he told you.


GARCIA-NAVARRO: Trump campaigned on "Build that wall." Are you willing to tear that wall down?

BIDEN: No, there will not be another foot of wall constructed on my administration.

I'm going to make sure that we have border protection, but it's going to be based on making sure that we use high-tech capacity to deal with it.


COLLINS: Given how forceful that he was in that answer to you, then, what do you make of then versus what he's doing now?


GARCIA-NAVARRO: I think there's that old adage, "Never say never." And I think what we're seeing now is precisely that.

He was very clear that he was not going to build any barrier, in the southern -- on the southern border.

And, of course, what we're seeing now, is the plan to make about 18 miles of -- 18 to 20 miles of new border fencing. It's going to be about 18 -- sorry, 18 feet high. So, it is going to be an actual barrier.

And I think the administration is trying to have it both ways.

On the one hand, they're saying, "Barriers don't work. Walls don't work. That's something from the Republican administration."

But on the other hand, we are seeing, as you pointed out quite clearly, that there is a need, on the southern border, according to DHS, saying that there are these -- this very large surge, in migrant crossings.

And this area, where this barrier is going to be built, is a very porous area. I've been down there many times. It is a place with a lot of crossings. And there is, according to DHS, a need for a barrier.

COLLINS: Yes. And of course, you hear the White House saying, "Well, this money has been appropriated. We have no choice." Of course, money is appropriated all the time, and not actually used.

But when you look at this, from a political perspective, every politician knows what you said, essentially, which is, there's a difference, when you're campaigning, and when you're actually in office, and unpredictable things that happen.

And the President's approval rating, when it comes to border security, and immigration, it's actually even lower than his overall approval rating, which is also quite low. Do you believe part of that is also what's at stake here for him?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I think so. I mean, the situation, on the southern border, and just immigration, writ large, is becoming a very important topic, not only for Republicans, who have been campaigning on this, for a long time, but for Democrats.

We've been seeing, in Democratic cities, across this country, Chicago, New York, Washington, D.C., Denver, huge numbers of immigrants.

I was just talking to one of my colleagues, from The New York Times, Ernesto Londono, who is in Chicago. And he was stunned by what he was seeing. Migrants camped out at police stations. There's about 800 migrants in one of the terminals, in O'Hare Airport.

This, of course, has brought this issue home, to the very constituents that Biden needs to win the next election. And so, what we're seeing here is him trying to thread the needle.

On the one hand, building more barriers, on the southern border, isn't going to appease the right.

But on the other hand, it is going to infuriate the left. And we've already seen that. I've been, seeing quotes, all day, from Biden's supporters, and others, saying this is a horrific step, step backwards.

And so, he's in a very difficult position. There is real urgency around this. But, on the other hand, he needs to be seen as doing something.

COLLINS: Yes. Lulu Garcia-Navarro, I mean, you're the perfect person, to speak with this, about. Thank you so much, for joining me.


COLLINS: Up next, he has been viewed as a potential spoiler, of the presidential cycle, a label that he has denied, on this program. Now, Cornel West says he is running as an Independent. Why and what changed? We'll ask him, in his first interview, next.



COLLINS: Progressive presidential candidate, Dr. Cornel West, is changing lanes again, in his bid, for the White House. He announced today that he will no longer seek the Green Party's nomination, and instead is going to run as an Independent.

It was, just, of course, a few months ago that Dr. West left a lesser- known liberal group, to join the Green Party, to run, for that ticket. He defended his quest, for the White House, amid criticism, from Democrats, and many of President Biden's allies that his run could tip the election, to potentially Donald Trump, if he's the GOP nominee.

Dr. Cornel West is back here with me.

Welcome back to THE SOURCE. Thank you.


COLLINS: Thank you for being here.

WEST: And again, salute you, and the work you're doing.

COLLINS: Thank you very much. We had you on, in the first week of this show.

WEST: Absolutely.

COLLINS: Tell me why you made this move and you're going to run as an Independent now?

WEST: Well, I'm thoroughly convinced that we're at such a low level in the history of the country, with the spiritual decay and moral decadence, political paralysis, the corporate greed, suppressions, so many ways, the UAW workers and, now, health care workers. We have to raise our voices in a serious way.

And I'm thoroughly convinced that both parties are beyond redemption. They are almost like plantations.

The Green Party is a progressive party. And I was so glad that sister, Jill Stein, and my dear brother, Ajamu Baraka, came in, and allowed me to become a part of that process. But I discovered that lo and behold, even there, there's certain impediments.

And you see, Sister Kaitlan, I really am a jazz man, in the life of the mind and the world of politics, which means, it's difficult to play, in the party band. It's difficult to have to deal with those constraints and all.

COLLINS: What do you mean impediments?

WEST: Impediments having to do with, first, is a long nomination process. You got a number of different appearances you have to make. You have to make your case. And I understand that democratic process. But when it becomes so internal that I don't have time to focus on the pain and the social misery of the people?

COLLINS: But do you worry it complicates your bid, for the White House?

Because if you did run, as the Green Party nominee, you're on the ballot, in, I think, 20 or so states.

Now, you've got to raise a lot of money, have this effort, to get your name, on the ballots, which you know, as well as I do, it requires tens of thousands of signatures.

WEST: Well, my Green Party brothers and sisters have 18 states.


WEST: So, we still have 32.

And the two-party system, the corporate duopoly is just so unjust, in terms of making it difficult, for any independent party. And that shows you the way in which they want to reproduce the status quo.

Now, I've got 50. But it's easier, as an Independent, to gain access to the ballot, than it is to be part of the third parties.

And so, we've got folks on the ground, operations on the ground. I've got an organizational genius, in my dear brother, Peter Daou, and magnificent high-quality team. And we're hitting the ground running. And we're going to be in at least 35 or 40 states.


COLLINS: Did you hear anything, from anyone, in the White House, or the Biden campaign, or any of President Biden's associates, about this move?

WEST: No, not at all, not at all. And we want to continue to put some fear into them.

Because see, when you speak to the greed of Wall Street?

When you really speak to the military adventurism, and the possibility of a World War III, which the United States and the Russian Federation mediated, with that ugly, ugly suffering of our precious Ukrainian brothers and sisters?

When you really speak to the mass incarceration, the plight of those, in the hoods and barrios, and the reservations, poor White folk, and poor working people, across the board? That puts fear in the status quo, both Democrats and Republicans, and both of them tied to Wall Street.

COLLINS: You don't think this helps Biden at all?

WEST: I don't know. We got to keep in mind, to get things in such flux, my dear sister, Biden might not even be the candidate. He's running out of gas. Trump may be either in jail and on the way to jail. We don't know. We got a whole year.

I have to be true to my calling. And I have to be consistent. And most importantly, I want to try to be an example. As fallible as I am, I want to be an example, of a quest, for integrity, honesty, and decency, in a moment, where there's so much hatred and greed and revenge.

COLLINS: Given you want to be that example? And you just mentioned, what you said is the potential for World War III?

WEST: Yes.

COLLINS: You and I've talked about this before, with Russia and NATO --

WEST: Yes.

COLLINS: -- the last time you were here.

You recently were headlining an event that was put on by an anti-war group. But Mother Jones is saying that at that event, that there were -- it was co-sponsored by activists, who are known to have worked for Russian state media, for the Chinese Communist Party, the North Korean regime. I mean, how do you justify being on stage with all of them?

WEST: No. No. Mother Jones, what a great figure she was? She'd be critical of what's being done in her name.

It was sponsored primarily by magnificent brothers and sisters, named Code Pink, Medea Benjamin, and others, who have been critical of oppression, across the board. It could be oppression in Russia. It could be oppression of Muslims, in China.

What we were calling for the stoppage of the war, because we don't want another endless war, like Afghanistan and Vietnam, we don't want billions and billions being spent, when we don't have money for health care, jobs with a living wage, decent housing, quality education.

It's part of the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., right?

COLLINS: You've --

WEST: The bombs dropped overseas, landed in poor and working class communities here, because we don't have resources. That was the spirit of that gathering that we had, in Washington, D.C.

COLLINS: You've said that you're against funding to Ukraine. And you've said that you've blamed NATO, for Russia's invasion, which of course, U.S. officials say that is Kremlin propaganda, Kremlin talking points.

You haven't said yet what terms of a ceasefire you would accept.

WEST: Look, I don't blame NATO. I blame the United States, using NATO, as part of their imperial policy, to provoke Russia.

COLLINS: But Russia provoked Russia.

WEST: Well Russia is an empire.

COLLINS: Russia didn't invade a NATO country. They invaded Ukraine.

WEST: It's wounded. It's a small empire. It's repressive. Putin himself, of course, authoritative.

COLLINS: Not that small.

WEST: Well, it's small. The economy is roughly the size of Italy.

COLLINS: Yes, it's not (ph) the biggest militaries.

WEST: I mean, it's small compared to the United States.

COLLINS: I mean, they're not that effective, clearly, but.

WEST: Well Russia has got what 30 military units around the world? We got 800 around the world. There is no comparison in that regard.

But my point is this though.

COLLINS: A strike on what you saw today doesn't make your mind?

WEST: My point is this. We have to be consistent in our critiques of oppression, wherever it is. If it's Russian oppression, we're critical of it. It can be oppression in Iran, vis-a-vis, our precious young Muslim sisters. It can be oppression in Guatemala. It can be oppression in Uganda. We have to be consistent.

But we have to take U.S. responsibility. And U.S. responsibility is what? Special operation units, over 150 countries, 800 military units, in over 85 countries. That's world --

COLLINS: I'm just speaking about Ukraine, specifically.

WEST: No. But NATO --

COLLINS: Obviously --

WEST: NATO was a particular expression of U.S. power. It has been, from the very beginning, you see. So that doesn't in any way justify the criminal invasion of Putin. But it means when you provoke any nation? I mean, if Russia had missiles in Mexico and Canada, what would be the response, will be of the Democrats or Republicans?

COLLINS: I know -- I know you've said this before. You know we disagreed.

WEST: Blow it to smithereens.

COLLINS: You know we disagreed on this.

WEST: We would blow it to smithereens.

COLLINS: The U.S. did not provoke that invasion.

WEST: That's how empires behave.

COLLINS: That was Russia.

WEST: Yes. But, I mean, we got deep disagreements on that. But that's all right.

COLLINS: It's a conversation --

WEST: But somebody's right and wrong. I'm not a relativist about this. Somebody's right and wrong.

COLLINS: It's a conversation that we appreciate you having.

WEST: Yes.

COLLINS: We'll continue, Dr. Cornel West, now running as an Independent. Thank you for coming, and joining us, here, on set, tonight.

WEST: Thank you, indeed. And I salute the work that you do. And you're putting a smile on the faces of folk in Prattville, Alabama.

COLLINS: Thank you, Dr. West.

WEST: Absolutely.

COLLINS: Coming up, a new guilty plea that could mean even more, more trouble, for the indicted Republican congressman, George Santos. We'll tell you who it is, next.



COLLINS: The former campaign treasurer, for George Santos, pleading not (ph) guilty, today, in a blow, to the already-embattled congressmen. Her charge, conspiring to defraud the United States.

Nancy Marks, a major operative, for New York Republicans, admitted today that she falsified financial documents, and donation records, for the Santos campaign.

Joining me now, Political Commentator, Errol Louis. I mean, essentially saying that she tricked these Republicans, into supporting Santos, and helped falsify documents? That does not mean good things for him.

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, POLITICAL ANCHOR, SPECTRUM NEWS: Oh, no, no, no, that -- it spells huge political problems for him, and very, very serious legal consequences as well.

The political problems are obvious. She's going to be sentenced to prison. This comes with a recommendation that she serve as much as five years, in prison. She is going to be sentenced in April. Now, in those six months, before that happens, she is going to be talking, obviously, with prosecutors.

And they were indicted at the same time. And this is a campaign that benefitted him. So, the crimes that she admitted to in court, today, were really on his behalf. And while he claims that she went rogue, and he had nothing to do with it? That's going to be a very, very difficult claim to explain, both to voters, and to prosecutors.

COLLINS: Yes. And her testimony seems like -- I mean, she doesn't have a cooperation agreement yet. But this seems to almost guarantee that she'll get one.


LOUIS: Well, that's right.

And look, the filings were preposterous. I mean, she had to plead guilty. There's no way she could have survived a trial. There were things, Kaitlan, like $250,000 worth of unitemized expenses, each of which was $199.99, which is the threshold for explaining what you spent the money on.

I mean, it was an outrageous campaign. There were people, who were listed, who had never donated to anyone. There were addresses that were given, as the address of where donors live, where there was no one there. So, she explained what it was all about, why it was done, how it was done.

And for George Santos to say that "This person, my very close associate, that I worked with, that I went into business with, did all of this behind my back?" Absolutely preposterous. It's as unbelievable as the filings themselves.

COLLINS: Yes, just adds to this ever-growing story.

Errol Louis, I know you've been covering it closely. Thank you.

LOUIS: Thanks.

COLLINS: And, of course, we'll be right back, and after a quick break.


COLLINS: And thank you so much, for joining us, tonight. "CNN PRIMETIME" with Abby Phillip, starts, right now.