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The Source with Kaitlan Collins

Hadley Duvall Talks About The Viral Ad That Set The Tone For Abortion Message In Governor's Race; Sources: FBI Approached Mayor Adams On The Street, Told Security Detail To Step Aside And Climbed Into His SUV; Secretary Blinken: "Far Too Many Palestinians Have Been Killed. Far Too Many Have Suffered." Aired 9-10p ET

Aired November 10, 2023 - 21:00   ET






She became the face of abortion rights, in a deep red state, with a searing personal story that may have helped sweep its Democratic governor to victory. And she's here, tonight.

Plus, the FBI seizing the phones and an iPad of the Mayor of New York City, marking a significant escalation of a corruption investigation. Eric Adams saying tonight that he has quote, "Nothing to hide."

And after resigning from office, nearly 20 years ago, over a sex scandal with a male staffer, the former New Jersey governor, Jim McGreevey, wants back into politics. He's here, to make his case, for a second chance.

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

Tonight, Democrats are seizing on a galvanizing force, in politics, one that led them to a string of victories, on Election Night.

Even in the unlikeliest of circumstances in pretty red States, ruby red States, actually, by making abortion access, the center of their campaigns, and their campaign ads, Democrats are now moving to get more abortion rights measures, on ballots, next year, in 2024. They've already notched now seven consecutive wins, since the Supreme Court overturned Roe versus Wade.

Candidates, who put it at the center of their campaigns, aren't just winning, in blue or purple States, but also those that are deeply red. Abortion could very well be the defining issue, again, in 2024. We already see President Biden campaigning on it.

And you can see how Democrats are prioritizing it, by how they're spending on it. Since the beginning of just this year, Democrats have spent more than $74 million, on ads, about abortion. Compare that to the $16 million that Republicans have spent.

The contrast is even starker, when you look at a state, like Kentucky, where are you saw, and heard from the Democratic governor, Andy Beshear, on the show, this week. He won re-election there. And that is where Democrats spent $1.3 million, on ads, this fall. Republicans, when it came to abortion, spent nothing.

Kentucky has a near-total ban on abortion. And it was this searing ad that many people believed helped Governor Beshear beat his Republican opponent. And it featured 21-year-old Hadley Duvall.


HADLEY DUVALL, OWENSBORO, KY: I was raped by my stepfather after years of sexual abuse. I was 12. Anyone who believes there should be no exceptions for rape and incest could never understand what it's like to stand in my shoes.

This is to you, Daniel Cameron. To tell a 12-year-old girl she must have the baby of her stepfather who raped her is unthinkable.


COLLINS: You can see why it was one of the most powerful ads, of this election cycle.

Governor Beshear is also hoping it'll help resonate past Election Day.


GOV. ANDY BESHEAR (D-KY): Hadley is one of the most courageous young women, I've ever met.

In Kentucky, we have the most extreme ban in America, where that 13- year-old, raped and impregnated, by her stepfather, would have no options.

It's about basic empathy, for somebody, who has been violated. And I certainly hope our Legislature will pass those exceptions, as soon as they come back.


COLLINS: And Hadley Duvall is here with me, tonight.

Hadley, I'm so happy that you're here. And thank you so much, for just being willing to come on, and tell your story.

I want to talk about that powerful ad, in a moment.

But first, I'd like to go back to the beginning when you first told your story publicly, in a post, on Facebook. What was it that made you do that?

DUVALL: The overturn of Roe v. Wade had a lot of people speaking out, on social media, in agreeance. And it just really got to me because there was people that knew me personally, but didn't know that part of my story. So, I just wanted them to know that I see their posts, other people see their posts, and it's not always black and white.

COLLINS: Kind of the message that you wanted to send, where people, who even if they were pro-life, and they thought that was something to celebrate, you thought maybe they weren't thinking of circumstances, like the one that you were in, when you were just 12 years old?

DUVALL: Exactly.

COLLINS: What was the reaction to that post like?


DUVALL: It went pretty viral. A lot of people were sharing it. People were telling me that they've never looked at it that way that they had no idea that that kind of stuff could happen, right there, in their town. And it really, it got a lot of conversation started.

COLLINS: Were you nervous when you first had kind of typed that message out, to actually post it and share it with everyone you knew?

DUVALL: Yes, I was really nervous. I knew I was putting myself out there to be judged, and to be vulnerable. But I just felt like it was something that I had to do.

COLLINS: So, after you heard from the governor's office, asking if you would be interested in telling that story, in an ad, for his campaign, how long did it take you before you said, "Yes?"

DUVALL: I said yes, the day that I got the phone call. They told me that they wanted me to be a part of an ad, and what I was going to be talking about, and I said, "Absolutely, I will."

COLLINS: What kind of impact do you think it had on this race?

DUVALL: I think it opened a lot of people's eyes, I think, putting my face out there, with the words, not just like making it something that you just hear about, like I'm a real person. People started looking me up. People have been messaging me, talking about me, to their therapists and everything. And I feel like that has really made a difference.

COLLINS: What do you mean to their therapists? Have you heard from people, who just, they were telling you how much your story resonated with them?

DUVALL: Yes, I had some therapists reach out to me, and just say that my name is being brought up, in different sessions, with different people, around the, not even just Kentucky, but in Indiana, and Ohio, and all of the surrounding States.

COLLINS: And of course, some of those were -- Ohio is a state, where voters went and voted to make sure that they had the right to an abortion, this week. I imagine, you've probably also heard from people, who had similar experiences to yours? DUVALL: Yes. I've heard a lot of people come to me and say, "Thank you for saying the words that I could probably never say." And I've had other people tell me that I'm the reason that they've been able to find their voice, and find their strength. And that itself means so much to me.

COLLINS: Hadley, that's amazing. I mean, to hear from other people, who went through something, as dark as that, and to know that, that you were an inspiration for them, and that you kind of gave them the freedom, to also tell their story.


COLLINS: Is it hard for you to talk about?

DUVALL: It's not easy. But talking about the healing is very healing for me. And knowing that there is a little girl, out there somewhere, that looks up to me, and, I'm probably helping her push through? Just knowing that, just because something happens to you, it doesn't mean that we stop there, we just got to keep going. And that means so much to me, knowing that there are little girls out there that look up to me. And it makes it worth it.

COLLINS: It's one thing to share it in a written post. And it's a whole another thing to do it, on camera, in the powerful way that you did. When you look back at that ad, and see the impact, did you ever think it would have that much of an impact, on the race?

DUVALL: No. I knew it was going to be a big deal. But I didn't think that it was going to get as big as it did.

COLLINS: Yes, it's just national attention.

And I think what's important, for people to remember, as they watched this race, is your home state has a near-total ban on abortion. There's one exception, it's if the life of the mother is at risk, or her health is.

There's no exceptions for rape, for incest. And I know, you know, Governor Beshear has made that part of his campaign. He wants to change that. But as you know, Hadley, he's dealing with a Republican supermajority, in the State Legislature. And it's a big climb. It's an uphill climb.

If you could speak to those lawmakers, though, who were in Frankfort, and have this power, to change this, if they wanted to, what would you say to them?

DUVALL: I would just ask them to look at their daughters, their granddaughters, their nieces, any woman, or a little girl, who's significant in their life, and just think that it was me, at one point, and it can be somebody else, the next day. And it's still happening. It's very real.

And I just want them to be able to take that into consideration, that abortion is not black and white. There are many gray areas in it. And those gray areas should be taken into consideration, no matter how small they say, the statistic is, because a lot of the times, it's not even reported correctly. So, those numbers aren't accurate.


COLLINS: Well and don't you think that's because so many of these girls, and women that this happens to? You were 12 years old, and you were a child. And that's, a lot of people are scared, even adults are scared, to come forward, and to report their rapes and their sexual assaults.

DUVALL: Yes, it's very scary.

COLLINS: What do you hear from your friends? You're now 21-years-old. What do you hear from your friends about this, and how they're thinking about, using your stories, and how powerful they are, now that Roe versus Wade has been overturned, and this is an issue that so many women, in the U.S., are dealing with now?

DUVALL: I've gotten a lot of support from, my inner circle, of course. They knew about the abuse, a long time ago. Whenever authors (ph) came out, they were right by my side, through everything. And I've gotten, throughout the ad, going as big as it did, I have gained so many more people, and so much more support. And we're all in this together.

COLLINS: Yes. We heard from Governor Beshear, this week, after he won. And he talked about its people like you, not him, he said, it's people like you, and he cited your name, who will lead to that change.

He said, he doesn't think that you are done either, that you'll continue to speak up for people, who feel like they don't have a voice.

Do you plan to do that in 2024, and just even beyond that?

DUVALL: Yes. So, that's always been a really big goal of mine, is to be able to speak out, and allow a helping hand, to girls that I relate so much to, because when I was that little girl, I was just looking for somebody, to help me, like somebody to help me find my strength, my voice. And knowing that I'm moving into that direction, I'm definitely not going to slow down now.

COLLINS: If any of those little girls were watching your interview, right now, what would you say to them?

DUVALL: I just want them to know that they're not alone, and they never would be alone, and to keep digging for your voice, find your strength. And there's power in women sticking together. So, we just need to stick together.

COLLINS: Hadley, I'm just blown away by your composure, and your grace, and your ability, to come out and speak about this. I know, a lot of other people are as well. And I just want to thank you, again, for being willing to come on here, and talk about it with us.

DUVALL: Well, thank you, COLLINS: Hadley Duvall, thank you so much.

Up next, here in New York, the Mayor of New York has just had his phones seized, by the FBI. It is a dramatic escalation, of an ongoing criminal investigation, tied to his campaign.

Also, we are tracking new major Military action in Gaza. What Israeli forces are targeting, tonight, as there could be a breakthrough, potentially in the hostage negotiations. That's next.



COLLINS: Stunning new details, tonight, into the FBI's seizure of New York City Mayor Eric Adams' electronic devices, all part of a federal probe, into whether his 2021 campaign received illegal donations, from the Turkish government.

Sources telling CNN that, FBI agents approached the mayor on the street, Monday night, this week, telling his security detail to step aside. The agents then climbed into the mayor's waiting SUV, where they showed him they had a warrant, for his phones, his devices.

He handed over two iPhones, and an iPad, possibly more, upon returning home. They were reportedly, according to The New York Times, later returned to him. This seizure though marks a dramatic escalation, of a federal probe, into Adams' campaign, just days after the FBI raided the home, of his chief fundraiser.

I should be clear, Adams has not been accused of any wrongdoing, tonight. And he denies that he'll be responsible for any. But he has come under increasing scrutiny, as prosecutors are zeroing in, on his inner circle.

This is what he told reporters, on Wednesday.


REPORTER: If the federal government came up with charges against you or local prosecutors charges against you, would you also be surprised?

MAYOR ERIC ADAMS (D-NY), NEW YORK CITY: Well I've got to be surprised if I'm the one that's leading the cry of following the law.


COLLINS: Tonight, the Mayor is telling CNN, in a statement, quote, "As a former member of law enforcement, I expect all members of my staff to follow the law and fully cooperate with any sort of investigation -- and I will continue to do exactly that... I have nothing to hide."

Joining me now is Cyrus Vance Jr., the former Manhattan District Attorney.

Cy Vance, thank you so much, Cy Vance, for being here. I mean, you're the perfect person, to talk about this with.

What kind of evidence did they need to get a warrant, to get the Mayor of New York's phones and his iPad?


In order to get a search warrant, whether it was for the materials, taken from the home, of his campaign finance fundraiser, or the mayor's cell phones and iPad, the government had to demonstrate, in a written document, called an affidavit, that there was probable cause, to believe that a crime was committed. And that evidence of that crime would be either in his son's house, or wherever the warrant was executed, or in the mayor's electronic phone and iPad.

Now, that doesn't mean that the mayor has done anything wrong. But that's the standard that the court will consider, before it grants a search warrant, and authorizes, in this case, the federal government, to enter the premises, of the fundraiser, or to seize copy, and take information, from the mayor's personal electronic devices.

COLLINS: Yes, and I'm glad you made that point. Just because they were able to obtain a search warrant doesn't mean that he's done anything. There's a lot we still don't know.

But what are they looking forward, do you think on these devices?

VANCE JR.: Well, as I understand, from reading the news, which is obviously, it not a full, complete picture, they, it would appear, according to the news, that they are looking for information related to the fundraising in the mayor's 2021 campaign.


I think you've read as I've read that there are allegations that non- Americans, who were not eligible to donate, used straw-party donors, that is, individuals, who were citizens of the United States, to make contributions, to the campaign, and presumably reimbursed those American citizens, for making those contributions.


VANCE JR.: The federal laws are different than the state laws. But the federal laws were probably focused, on mail fraud, wire fraud, violations of campaign laws, and the like.

COLLINS: And I think something that's important here is this is not the first time that Mayor Adams, or people in his orbit, have been under the scrutiny of law enforcement.

He was actually on the show, a few months ago, and we talked about an investigation, being done, by your former office, the Manhattan District Attorney's office. They had just indicted six people, including a New York Police -- former New York Police Department officer, in this straw donor scheme, to his 2021 campaign.

I want you to listen to what he told me, about those allegations, at the time.


COLLINS: Were you aware of any of that? Or what's your response to those charges?

ADAMS: No, not aware at all. And you know, I follow one rule, follow the rules. And the District Attorney's conducting his investigation. He did so. And it was clear that our campaign had no participation in that. And it's just an unfortunate situation. But I have a lot of faith in the D.A.'s office, D.A. Bragg's.


COLLINS: Given what we know, and I should note, it's not everything, do you think that Mayor Adams should be concerned, tonight?

VANCE JR.: Well, I think Mayor Adams is probably concerned for understandable reasons. First and foremost, he's the Mayor of the City of New York. This is a distraction from him, and from the citizenry.

I take him at his word, as we think, as I think we must. He's a former law enforcement officer. He has indicated that it was his direction, to make sure that the systems that monitored campaign contributions, which every campaign has, or should have, were operating.

But it is, of course, a dramatic fact that the federal government has gone to court, to get a search warrant, to allege the level of proof that I described to you that there's evidence of a crime, and that a crime has been committed, and that the devices the mayor possessed may have evidence of that on them as well. Something that is a -- it is a sobering events.

He has excellent counsel, Boyd Johnson. I think Boyd has immediately gone out to make sure that the public knows that the mayor is cooperating.

But there's so much that we don't know, much of which would be speculating, if we were trying to fill in the lines, at this point.

COLLINS: Yes. So, we will not speculate.

Cyrus Vance, as always, thank you very much.

VANCE JR.: Thank you, Kaitlan. Good night.

COLLINS: Ahead, there's a new bombardment, in Gaza, tonight, as Israeli forces say that they are operating, in what they call, quote, "Any arena that threatens" the State of Israel This comes as the Biden administration has now given one of its most direct condemnations, yet, of that growing civilian death toll. The latest ahead.



COLLINS: Israel is intensifying its Military operation, in northern Gaza, with heavy bombardment, and flares, tonight.

We saw a notable shift, in language, from the Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, today, on the evolving situation, one of his most direct condemnations yet of the growing civilian death tolls that we're seeing in Gaza.


ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: Much more needs to be done to protect civilians and to make sure that humanitarian assistance reaches them. Far too many Palestinians have been killed. Far too many have suffered these past weeks.


COLLINS: Those comments are coming as CNN is learning that the Administration has gotten stark warnings, from American diplomats, stationed across the Middle East, that the U.S. could be losing support, with Arab countries, for a generation, because of its strong backing of Israel.

We've learned now, today, that Israel believes around 1,200 people were killed, during those brutal October 7th attacks. That's a change from what we previously thought was 1,400. Israel, not explaining the revised number, in full. Of course, still questions about that.

But joining me, tonight, is Dan Senor, a Foreign Policy Advisor, under former President George W. Bush, and former presidential candidate, Mitt Romney. He's also the co-author of the new and timely book, "The Genius of Israel: The Surprising Resilience of a Divided Nation in a Turbulent World."

Dan, I'm so glad to have you back, here tonight. And I want to talk about the book a lot.

But those comments, from Secretary Blinken?


COLLINS: Do you think that shift, in language, from the U.S., leads to a shift in policy in Israel?

SENOR: Probably not. I think what Secretary Blinken is dealing with is he's bouncing around, if you've seen him in recent weeks, bouncing around from Arab capital to Arab capital. And, I think, he's hearing two things, in many of those capitals, at least according folks I've spoken to, who are familiar with some of the conversations.

On the one hand, they say the fighting needs to end soon. These images all over the pan-Arab media, of Palestinians getting killed, is a problem. But not before Israel finishes off Hamas. Make sure Israel finishes off Hamas.

Because, to many of these countries, particularly in the Sunni Gulf, they want Hamas wiped out. Hamas is a huge headache, for many of these Arab countries, not as much as it is for Israel, but it's still a headache. They want Hamas wiped out.

The images are a problem. And so, they want the -- they want Israel to -- they want the United States to put some pressure, on Israel. I don't think it will have enormous effect. Israel has agreed to these pauses.

The tension for Israel is if it -- the more it is rushed, the more it's, "Finish it up, finish it up, finish it up," that's typically when they have to operate more indiscriminately. If they're given time and space, they can be a little more targeted, a little more focused. And I think you keep the casualties down.

COLLINS: But for those countries that want Israel, to complete its mission, and do so sooner rather than later, I mean, Israel's objective here, is to not just diminish Hamas, but to eliminate Hamas.


COLLINS: Is that even doable?

SENOR: Yes. So, you're exactly right. Israel does not intend to return to the status quo. It's not interested in establishing a deterrent. It is removing Hamas' Military capabilities. They have a lot of infrastructure.


We think of Hamas as like a ragtag militia. What we saw on October 7th, and you saw it firsthand, when you toured what the damage they had done? It's like a real Military operation out, real training, real logistics, real fundraising, real weapons, supported and organized by Iran.

And so, they can get rid of a lot of that if not all that infrastructure, and they can kill or arrest all these senior commanders, and everyone who was involved in October 7th. I mean, based on the AI technology they have, they've identified most of the Hamas operatives and commandos that were involved in October 7th. So, they can kill or capture all of those people, or most of them, and wipe out their infrastructure, and you don't have a Hamas threat in Gaza.

COLLINS: So, you've written this book, "The Genius of Israel." Obviously, you wrote it before what happened, on October 7th. But I mean, it's all the more timely now. And I wonder how, when you're looking at the book, and it talks about Israeli society, the Israeli Military, and how that's such a centerpiece in that?


COLLINS: How do you think about the book differently, and the role of that, the Military, in that sense, before what happened on October 7th, and now?

SENOR: Yes, it's -- so we -- the Military, the role the Military plays, in Israel, I think it serves three very important purposes. Because it's compulsory service?


SENOR: So almost most Israelis serve, not all, but most, increasingly more, but most Israelis serve.

And it means that young Israelis, at a formative period of their lives, 18, 19, 20, 21, unless they go on to serve in the officer corps, or in an elite unit, they develop tremendous skills. That's why so many of these young people coming out of these, sophisticated units, these impressive tech units, these elite commando units, wind up running Israeli startups, because they develop all these leadership and management skills.

But they also do accomplish two other things. One is they become part -- they have this whole kind of communal group mindset. The whole culture in Israel is about "We," not "Me."

It's when you're applying to college, in the United States, it's all about your own individual excellence, right? Your grades, your test scores, your SATs, you, you, you, you, you, it's all about how you perform.

If you want to get into the best units in the IDF, it's the -- your individual excellence matters, your own performance, but also, how you work in a team, in a group, in a unit. The best people won't get into the best units if they can't work in a team. And so, the incentives, in Israel, for young people, are all about communal. It's all about how to work on a team, and it shapes the whole culture.

And the third piece here is as divisive as Israel gets? Remember, on October 6th, Israel was pretty divided, before this war.


SENOR: I mean, when we have been talking about Israel, earlier in 2023, it was deeply divided, over judicial reform and other political issues. As divided as it gets, Israelis tend to not look at each other, as the other.

Because in the hull of a tank, right? And you see these images right now, when Israel is going into Gaza, in the hull of the tank, I've seen these images, on like a Friday night, where these soldiers are celebrating Shabbat, the Sabbath together, in a tank.

You look around the tank. There's a secular Israeli, with ponytail and tattoos. And there's a very religious Israeli. And there's Israeli, who has Sephardic roots, from like Yemen, or Iraq or -- and then you have another Israeli who's from like, has roots in Eastern Europe, and the United States. You have a son of a cab driver, a son of a billionaire. And they're all forced to be together.

We don't have systems, in this country, that forces to all be together, from all walks of life. And because reserve duty goes well into Israelis, into their 40s, they maintain these relationships, throughout their adult life. And so, I just think as divided -- we felt, before October 7th, we obviously were writing this book, Israel looks really divided, right now? You ain't seen nothing. This country's capacity to come together, because of this -- these societal shock absorbers it has built into the society, and for the country to stay together, and not kind of have these cold civil wars, is unique in the world.

We wrote the book because we want the U.S., and other Western countries, that are so divided, and in somewhat of decline, to look at Israel, and see what lessons there are. Now, we're seeing it --


SENOR: -- in Israel and Israeli society, post October 7th.

COLLINS: And also just thinking of the reservists, who were living in other countries, and went back.

The book is very timely. It's "The Genius of Israel."

SENOR: Thanks.

COLLINS: Dan Senor, it's a great compelling read. I encourage everyone to read it.

SENOR: Thank you. Thanks, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: Thank you, for joining us, to talk about it.

SENOR: Appreciate it.

COLLINS: Coming up, 20 years ago, the Governor of New Jersey, he stood next to his wife, he announced that he was gay, and that he had had an affair, with a man. Today, Jim McGreevey is using that moment to announce what he hopes will be his political comeback.


JIM MCGREEVEY, (D) FORMER NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR: My truth is that I am a gay American. I engaged in adult consensual affair. It was wrong. It was foolish. It was inexcusable.


COLLINS: And Jim McGreevey joins me next.



COLLINS: A political comeback may be in the works, for former New Jersey governor, Jim McGreevey. In 2004, he became the first out-gay governor, in U.S. history. Moments later, he resigned.


MCGREEVEY: And so, my truth is that I am a gay American.

Shamefully, I engaged in an adult consensual affair with another man.

I have decided the right course of action is to resign.


COLLINS: As McGreevey announced that resignation, he admitted to having an affair, with a man, who was also an employee of his, while standing next to his then-wife. Nearly two decades after that, McGreevey is seeking office, again.


MCGREEVEY: I'm imperfect and I'll always be imperfect. It's important to take accountability to do the next right thing. It was painful. But I would not have traded anything that I've experienced. It's made me a better person, more compassionate.


COLLINS: And Jim McGreevey joins me now.

I'm so glad that you're here.

Tell me why you want a second chance from voters 20 years later.

MCGREEVEY: Kaitlan, part of it is I've had, I'm blessed to have the experience, both inside government in terms of Mayor of Woodbridge, and the Executive branch, and then also outside government.

For the past decade, I've had the pleasure of working with people, coming back from prison, and jail, and addiction treatment and Veterans. I mean, as I shared, one out of every three Veterans is court-involved, and helping them put back their lives, and candidly understanding the challenges of doing that.

And so, part of what I understand, if it's that tough for me, how about for the individuals, that don't have someone, in their corner, advocating?


And, Jersey City's where my grandparents came from, Ireland, and my grandfather was a beat cop, and my parents grew up. And it's a great city. But it's a city at the crossroads. And it's a city that's becoming increasingly not affordable.

And so, what I'd like to see is whether it's controlling property taxes, whether it's affordable housing, grappling with some of the issues of traffic congestion, improve the quality of our schools? Those are issues that are all important for working families.

COLLINS: Yes. You've been doing a lot of work, over the last few decades, with people, who were incarcerated.


COLLINS: Who just don't have the resources and whatnot.

And how has those last 20 years shaped, how you'd be different, if you are elected?

MCGREEVEY: Well, Kaitlan, it's, I'd never -- I would say this. But it was a blessing to have traveled the road I traveled, because I'm a very different -- you know, I was the young man in the hurry, the quintessential young Paul (ph), as distasteful as that may be.

And now, I just sort of -- and I still take a caseload. So, we have, we're blessed to have 20,000 folks, enrolled in the New Jersey Reentry Corporation. But I still take a hands-on in case loads. So, I know what it's like for somebody grappling with mental health or addiction, or homelessness.

In fact, tonight, before I came here, a young man told me that he and his wife and his young infant child, is about to be evicted. And he's like, "Jim, what can I do?" And I'm like, "All right, I'll call you tomorrow. I know I can get your wife and your daughter into a place in Catholic Charities. But I'm not sure about you," and he's like "Take care of them."

So, it's so much more real and tangible. And it's so -- it's not as if it's amount about moving bureaucracies. It's being very -- it's very real and very authentic.


And when you resigned, you cited the fact that you were a gay man. That was obviously not the only thing that was at play there. It was the person that you had an affair with, who I should note, disputes that.


COLLINS: That he was your top Homeland Security Adviser, unqualified.

MCGREEVEY: Well, he wasn't the top. He was a counselor. Yes, he was a --

COLLINS: But he was a Homeland Security Adviser.


COLLINS: He was unqualified for the job, didn't have the qualifications, couldn't get a security clearance.

So voters, who have long memories, in New Jersey, of course, as you know?

MCGREEVEY: It's Jersey.

COLLINS: If they're looking at that, can they trust you now? MCGREEVEY: Yes, I think, for 10 years, as Mayor of Woodbridge, I'd like to think I worked very hard and very smart. I was a good mayor. Controlled property taxes and made sure that affordable and good schools.

And I was grappling with -- I was grappling with my sexuality. I thought I was doing the right thing. And then, you meet this person.

And so, it's just -- yes, no, I think, as governor, we did a lot of good things. We did E-Z Pass motor vehicle reform, the Highland drinking water, third grade childhood literacy. So, I think we did good things.

But obviously, what I did was terribly wrong. And I owned it. I owned it. And, people said, "Well, you shouldn't have resigned." No, yes, I should resign. It was the first time. I had spent my whole life working for this. And I said, this is the right decision. And I'm going to do it for the right reasons.

COLLINS: You know, what, I'm fascinated by watching that video, is just thinking, that's never something that would happen, in that sense of the context, of you being gay, now in 2023.

MCGREEVEY: Oh, today, yes.

COLLINS: How do you think about how the U.S. electorate thinks of it? I mean, the fact that --

MCGREEVEY: It's just --

COLLINS: -- it was the Supreme Court decision. Congress passed the law --


COLLINS: -- protecting same-sex rights, last year.

MCGREEVEY: Yes. Well, one, I just want to make sure that people know that I understand that what I did wrong, I broke the vows of matrimony. When, on a personal level, my daughter's mother showed up, for the announcement, the other day, which I was touched, on a human level.

But it's miraculous, Kaitlan, that I think America, like I think of young Jim McGreevey, like hiding the fact, or thinking what I was doing, to hide my sexuality, was the right thing. And now, today, it's like, sort of put off by young people, it's like, no big deal.

Recently, my friend, Christian, runs, Executive Director of Garden State Equality, had a dinner dance. And I went there. And it was just, it was unfathomable to me.

COLLINS: Yes. Jim McGreevey, it's a fascinating return to politics.

MCGREEVEY: Thank you.

COLLINS: Grateful that you came on to talk about it, tonight.

MCGREEVEY: All right. Thanks so much for your time.

COLLINS: Thank you.

Up next, a deep dive, on election lies, here in the U.S., with a very familiar face that you know, well. That's just in a moment.



COLLINS: Election offices, in six States, are now crime scenes, tonight, as the FBI is investigating, after more than a dozen suspicious letters were sent to public officials. At least one of them contained traces of fentanyl.

Threats against the men and women, who do the work of counting votes, are not new, but instead have actually been on the rise, for the last three years, stoked in part by former President Donald Trump.

In his new book, "Network of Lies," the former CNN anchor, Brian Stelter, examines the role that Fox News played, in amplifying falsehoods, about U.S. elections. He writes that the role is what led one of Rupert Murdoch's children, James and, his wife, Kathryn, to see the network as, quote, "A growing threat to pluralistic democracy."

Brian Stelter is here with me now, for his first interview, back at CNN.

Welcome back, Brian. How are you?

BRIAN STELTER, FORMER CNN ANCHOR, AUTHOR, "NETWORK OF LIES": It's good to be here. Has anything happened since I've been gone?

COLLINS: No, it feels totally normal, right?

STELTER: Well, one great thing happened. This show.

COLLINS: Thank you.

STELTER: I do watch every night. I'm kind of a junkie.

COLLINS: Your show was one of the first ones I was ever on at CNN.

STELTER: That's true. I love that.

COLLINS: So, thank you. And I loved --

STELTER: I love that.

COLLINS: -- loved working with you.

This book is really important. And tying it back to what we've seen happening today, I spoke to one of these election workers, who got one of these letters, today. And I think what's important about it is just how much of this, you know, these threats against election workers, were stoked and exacerbated, by the former President, when he was in office, and when he lost the 2020 election.

STELTER: Right, because this didn't come out of nowhere. The Big Lie didn't come out of nowhere. It was made to happen. It was made to exist.

And what I realized, when I was reconstructing the 2020 period, for this book, is that it happened very, very specifically, the weekend that President Biden was named President-elect.

Remember that Saturday morning?


STELTER: When the projections were made?


Well, 24 hours later, on Sunday morning, it was Fox's Maria Bartiromo, and Trump friend, Sidney Powell, who seeded the story about Dominion that basically said, to Trump's audience, "There's a villain of the story. It's a company called Dominion. They somehow tricked you. They stole the election. And Trump is the victim."

And that story, they started tell that story, on a Sunday. And by the following Thursday, Trump started repeating it, as well. So, it wasn't Trump.

COLLINS: And you've been interviewing --

STELTER: It was Fox that started it.

COLLINS: I mean, and look at how we're still talking about this, almost the next election. You've been interviewing Dominion --


COLLINS: -- the Dominion lawyers. I assume they're pretty busy.

STELTER: And they're still busy, because they still have other cases, against Newsmax, and Powell, and Rudy Giuliani. And they're going to be litigating these cases well through 2024.

That's one of the crazy things about this situation. The accountability, for these election lies, is playing out mostly in the courts. You cover it every day, the January 6th cases, the Trump trials, and these civil actions, against Fox and Newsmax.

COLLINS: And you talk about Trump stoking this. But it wasn't just -- he had a platform to stoke it as well, by using Fox News, to push these election lies.

And there's a quote in your book, where you talk about how during the Trump years, Tucker Carlson's show was skyrocketing, you say, civility was plummeting, Americans more and more defining themselves, by who or what they opposed, detested denigrated. Instances of political violence spiked, and so did threats to media outlets.

STELTER: Right. And I think that's of a piece with what you're covering today, about these suspicious letters.

There is a generalized sense of negative partisanship, something which just happens, on social media, arguments that we just have at the bar. But then, it spreads out, and it actually, it leads to these acts of violence, these acts of incitement. And that has to be denounced, regardless of partisanship.

This is fundamentally not a partisan issue. And I know lots of Republicans, lots of Democrats agree on that. However, we still see, almost every day, Trump engage in these delusions, about the last election, as he seeks the election, once again. It is an incredibly challenging environment, for the news media, to cover.

COLLINS: Well, and what fascinated me was how you tied it to what is happening, right now, and what we saw, on Monday, and what we're seeing potentially, next March, and next May, Trump in court, all these trials that he's facing.


COLLINS: And how you said, all the indictments that he's facing, related in one way or another, to misguided advice --


COLLINS: -- misinformation, and the mendacity, of the right-wing media machine.

STELTER: That's what stood out to me, when I went through all those Dominion filings.

Basically, I held -- I had to write this book, because all the revelations that Dominion came up with, through the court process, where they were reading Tucker Carlson's emails, they were reading Rupert Murdoch's texts? I realized there's a story here that needs to be pieced together, to explain how this happened.

It was a choice. It was choices people made. Rupert Murdoch chose to sit back, and act like a bystander, instead of leading and actually managing his company. That meant that Sean Hannity, the likes of Sean Hannity were actually in charge, and they were the ones that were spreading misinformation.

Now, I would argue, that misinformation has hurt Trump. It has hurt the Republican Party. It has hurt them at the ballot box, in elections. They become so misled by their echo chamber.

And that's a warning not just for Republicans, or for MAGA believers. It's also a warning for Democrats, for everybody, not to get too caught up in an echo chamber, because of the consequences that can be so dire.

COLLINS: Did you ever think that you would write a book about Fox again?

STELTER: I did not. But I only did it because now these sources are on the record. I've always dealt with anonymous sources, people talking from the inside, because they couldn't put their name to it.

COLLINS: Who were still real sources.

STELTER: Exactly. They just couldn't put the name up.

COLLINS: They just don't put their name on it.

STELTER: But now, you have Rupert Murdoch's emails. You actually hear from him, in his own words. He was saying this was terrible stuff, damaging everybody. But he wasn't actually taking action to stop it.

And then, he gets deposed, earlier this year, by Dominion's lawyers, and he contradicts himself, and he backtracks, and he acted more like a passenger in the car, than the driver.

For me, it's a story about a lack of leadership.

But you mentioned James Murdoch. He's one of Rupert Murdoch's sons. James Murdoch is on the outside, holding fundraisers for Biden, plotting a takeover of Fox News, in the future. This could go in many different directions. And I think the right-wing media machine could evolve, in many different ways, in the years to come.

COLLINS: Well, and Rupert Murdoch, he's stepping down, next week, from this --

STELTER: Next week, yes.

COLLINS: -- this pivotal role that he's had for so long.


COLLINS: How different does his media empire, not just Fox, but everything, look after that?

STELTER: I think he looks diminished. And frankly, some of his own advisors have admitted that to me that he's not the swashbuckling media titan that he was.

It's the likes of Apple and Netflix that now control the media environment, and the likes of Tucker Carlson, who are now on the outside, plotting their own independent media outlets.

It's almost as if the energy has moved away from him. Although I think it's important to note, Fox is still the beating heart of the GOP. And that's where, for better and for worse, the narratives are still set.

COLLINS: Yes, I mean, what -- you see Trump now. I mean, he went from being someone who, I believe, you had a quote that he was 90 percent, he thought Rupert Murdoch and Fox, they were 90 percent right --

STELTER: Yes. That's what Trump said. "You're 90 percent good. I need you to be a 100 percent good."

COLLINS: Now, I think he'd probably argue they're 25 percent good. I don't know -- he doesn't see it at all like that anymore.

STELTER: In a primary, he would argue that. But come general election, they'll be in Trump's corner.

COLLINS: Brian Stelter, the book is "Network of Lies." It's great to have you back here, on CNN.

STELTER: Great to be here. Thank you.

COLLINS: I know the viewers are glad to see you.

Up next, how George Clooney is helping Veterans, on this Veterans Day. That's after a quick break.



COLLINS: It is Veterans Day, tomorrow. And there are more than 18 million Veterans, living here, in the U.S., that deserve recognition, for their service, to this country.

Amid all the concerns about political division, wars being fought, around the globe, and the challenges this world faces, and when, of course, we know there are many, one veteran himself, former President George W. Bush, delivered this message, on Veterans Day.


GEORGE W. BUSH, 43RD U.S. PRESIDENT: Stay positive, because if you study world history, or U.S. history, we go through cycles of being down. And yet, Americans ought to realize how blessed we are to live in this country. And yes, the images are grim. And yes, there's violence. But ultimately, love overcomes hate.


COLLINS: And for this Veterans Day, I am thrilled to again be a part, of an auction, for the amazing organization, Homes For Our Troops. It's championed and co-hosted by our friend, Jake Tapper. The proceeds of this auction go to homes, for our troops, which builds and donates custom homes, for Veterans.

Celebrities, like George Clooney, and Mindy Kaling, have some amazing offers. There's also one where you can Zoom with me.

The bidding is open, right now. You can check it out. You can bid. You can just donate, period, to Homes For Our Troops. You can go to EBAY.COM/HFOT. I'll also be sure to tweet the link as well.

Thank you so much, for any of you, who do donate, and take the time, for Homes For Our Troops, a worthy organization.

I want to thank you all, for joining us, this night, and every night, this week.

"CNN NEWSNIGHT" with Abby Phillip starts, right now.