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The Source with Kaitlan Collins

Nikki Haley: Republicans Are In "Total Chaos"; U.S. Strike Kills Iran-Backed Militia Commander In Iraq; A.G. Notifies Congress Special Counsel Investigation Into Biden's Handling Of Classified Docs Is Complete. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired February 07, 2024 - 21:00   ET




It is being called an epic fail of losses, for Republicans, as another critical bill goes down. Nikki Haley is calling it total chaos. Donald Trump is celebrating. And President Biden is saying it's time for Republicans to decide who they serve.

Also, history in the making at the Supreme Court. Nine justices will give their first indication, of where they lean, in the fight, over removing Trump, from the ballot, ahead of the election, for what he did after the last one.

And we have new updates for you, tonight, as the U.S. is striking back, for the deaths, of three Americans, in the Middle East. A top militia commander dead, tonight, and there are dramatic new images and details.

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

In the words of one Republican senator, tonight, quote, I'm just pissed off. Lisa Murkowski is hardly the only one, in her party, who feels that way, right now, and is completely exasperated by what's been happening, on Capitol Hill.

In just the last 24 hours, her party lined up to sink the border bill that one of their own negotiated for months. You could hear the frustration in that Senator's voice, James Lankford of Oklahoma, as he lamented how the politics have overtaken the policy.


SEN. JAMES LANKFORD (R-OK): This is the pin that I was handed, at that desk, when I was sworn in, to the United States Senate.

There's no reason for me to have this pin, if we're just going to do press conferences. I can do press conferences from anywhere. But we can only make law from this room.


COLLINS: No laws being made, right now. Senator Mitch McConnell was even among the no-votes today, even though he helped craft this bill. But that was after it was clear, it was not going anywhere.

Tonight, many in the Republican conference are sounding the alarm, worried that the dysfunction, across the Capitol, could lead to losses, in the midterms.

It's certainly no secret who is at the center of this dysfunction. Donald Trump is even taking credit for it.


DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT AND 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Please blame it on me, please, because they were getting ready to pass a very bad bill.


COLLINS: The last candidate, who is standing, between Donald Trump and the Republican nomination for president, Nikki Haley, summed up what's been happening with her party, this way.


NIKKI HALEY (R), 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Republicans lost a bill on the border. Republicans lost a bill on supporting Israel. The RNC Chair lost her job. Donald Trump was found that he's not immune from any of the charges that are coming up. It is total chaos.


COLLINS: That could be one thing that everyone in Washington agrees on, because right now the Senate is now trying to pass a version of that immigration bill, with the national security parts, but minus the immigration parts, minus the border changes that Republicans had been demanding, in exchange for that aid for Ukraine.

Yet even that is up in the air, at this moment. Senator Chuck Schumer just sent everyone home, for the night.

As President Biden in New York, at private fundraisers told donors, he believes it's time for Republicans to decide, quote, who they serve.

Here tonight, someone, who knows the border battle, inside and out, a Republican, who used to represent one of the largest districts in Texas, along the southern border. Former Congressman, Will Hurd.

Welcome back to THE SOURCE, Congressman.

I mean, you heard Speaker Johnson saying today that he does believe there are steady hands, as he described it, at the wheel. But is that what you see, in what's happening, where you used to work?


It's ridiculous that they can't get things done. We can't get big things done. And one of the things I'm sure you've heard Governor Haley say time and time again, we shouldn't replace a Democratic chaos with Republican chaos.

This is one of the reasons why Republicans haven't won the popular vote, the national popular vote, in two decades. This kind of chaos is why Donald Trump lost the House, the White House, and the Senate in 2018, 2020, and 2022. By the way, the last time a president did that was 100 years ago, Herbert Hoover, which is absolutely ridiculous. And you shouldn't have someone, who's running for president applaud the fact that dysfunction actually happens in Washington, D.C.

The border has been chaotic. It's a crisis. Something needs to get done. And these men and women in Congress were sent up there to solve problems.

COLLINS: But can I ask you?

HURD: And unfortunately, all we're seeing is hand-wringing.

COLLINS: You're -- you ran for president. But you're now endorsing Ambassador Haley here.

The question is she just kind of summed it up there for voters. But how does that break through, to Republican voters generally, as she's arguing that it's in total chaos, when Donald Trump is taking credit for the chaos?

HURD: Well, one group of voters that it definitely is resonating with is general election voters. That's why Ambassador Haley is beating Joe Biden by double digits.


If we want to have a sure election in 2024, we should have Ambassador Haley, as our nominee, not Donald Trump, because she trounces Joe Biden. And guess what? That helps people down the ballot. That could prevent us from losing the House. That could ensure that we have the Senate. And it rolls down to state Senate seats and city council races as well.

And so -- but the message is resonating. We're seeing Ambassador Haley raising more money, over the last month, in June -- in January, excuse me. She'll raise more money in one month, than she had any previous quarter. And people are starting to realize, there's one woman, in the -- that can prevent the rematch from hell, between two grumpy old men. And that's Nikki Haley.

COLLINS: But on what's going to happen, talking about losing down ballot, in the fall, I mean, what do Republicans run on?

Because they -- here this opportunity was, where we heard a lot of Republicans on the -- in the Senate side, believe that they kind of had Democrats, at their will, who were going to make concessions. That, Democrats wouldn't have voted for this bill, if it was a Republican president, Republican Senate and a Republican House, but they were willing to vote for it here.

I mean, how do Republicans run on that after turning down this immigration bill? Even though it didn't have everything they wanted, it certainly was pretty conservative, when you look at past legislation and past proposals.

HURD: Look, this piece of legislation that was missing some things. Of course, you never have perfect legislation. But not solving the problem means you're opening yourself up, to attack.

Because if something would have gotten done, you can say that the border crisis is so bad, even Democrats came to the table, to vote for Republican ideas. That would have resonated with voters. And those Democrats would have to go on and champion a Republican bill.

And now, Democrats are going to say, hey, we're blaming Republicans. We tried to come to the table and negotiate. That's what's going to be written.

Now, the reality is, there's a lot on the border specifically, that Joe Biden can do, with a stroke of his pen that he has power, within the executive branch.

And that's why we need a strong executive that understands the issues at the border, that's going to make sure that we stop, catch and release, and we do catch and deport. We got to make sure that we have someone that understands the problems, and how asylum is being abused by people, and how we're letting human traffickers--

COLLINS: But this would -- bill would have addressed asylum.

HURD: --get away and make money.

COLLINS: This bill was going to--

HURD: It would address many parts.

COLLINS: --address that.

HURD: Look, I'm not disagreeing -- I'm not disagreeing with your -- with your sentiment. It would have addressed parts of the asylum process.

But what I'm saying is that Joe Biden still has power, in his own DHS, and directing DHS, to stop treating everybody as an asylum-seeker. That's a policy that began under the final years of Donald Trump. And Joe Biden has continued it and multiplied it by a 100, which has caused this chaos, and more -- north of 5.5 million people, coming into our country, illegally.

But people in Congress are elected to get things done, not just beat their chests and scream about it. And unfortunately, when it comes to these issues, many Republicans and Democrats would rather criticize and complain about the problem, rather than fixing it.

COLLINS: Well, that's Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat obviously said today, that told Jake Tapper, Republicans can't live in a world, where immigration is actually solved, because then they have nothing to run on. I mean, it's clear that politics is playing a factor. I don't think

that applies to every Republican. But it is clear that it is playing a factor in their decision, to sink this.

HURD: And that's why the American public has an important decision to make, in the coming weeks that are we going to elect a leader of the Republican Party that's going to be focused on actually solving problems? Or just complaining about the past, about the additional drama?

The drama is going to continue with Donald Trump. And that's why I'm supporting Ambassador Haley. And that's why I hope Ambassador Haley becomes the Republican nominee.

COLLINS: Former Congressman, Will Hurd, thank you, for your time, tonight.

HURD: Always a pleasure.

COLLINS: Also, here tonight, someone who is stuck in the middle of this mess, on Capitol Hill, Democratic Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland.

And Senator, I mean, just to see what's been happening, over the last 24 hours. It's pretty clear just the frustration.

Right now, I think the question that I'm wondering, if you can give us the answer to, is whether or not your party is going to be able to salvage, at least part of this deal that doesn't include anything to do with immigration.

SEN. BEN CARDIN (D-MD): Well, first, Kaitlan, it's good to be with you.

We're frustrated, disappointed. We'll tell you it just, it should have passed today. We're not going to give up. It's just too important. The entire package is important.

For example, aid to Ukraine is absolutely necessary, now, in order for Ukraine to stop the aggression of Russia. And if Russia wins in Ukraine, it doesn't stop there. It goes on to other countries, in Europe, and it risks United States Military personnel, getting involved, if they attack a NATO country.


So, we're going to continue these efforts. It's important to get the Ukraine aid done, the Israel aid done, help the Taiwan, the humanitarian assistance. And yes, we are going to continue to fight for border security.

This was a package that was carefully negotiated. It would have made a huge difference, on our border. It is extremely frustrating. We did exactly what the Republicans wanted us to do. They said, put border security into the security package for Ukraine. We did that. And then, they said, take it out. Now, they're saying maybe we should put it back in again. The Republicans need to act in the best interests of our nation, and not just respond to President Trump.

COLLINS: Senator, well, I'm glad you brought that up, because James Lankford, who is the very conservative Republican senator of Oklahoma, who was -- who was negotiating this deal, for his party, on their behalf, he had this really striking comment today, that I've been thinking about, on the floor, as he was talking about the factors that were at play in sinking this.

I want everyone to listen to that.


LANKFORD: I had a popular commentator, four weeks ago that I talked to, that told me flat-out, before they knew any of the contents of the bill, any of the content, none of -- nothing was out at that point, that told me flat-out, if you try to move a bill that solves the border crisis, during this presidential year, I will do whatever I can to destroy you, because I do not want you to solve this, during the presidential election.


COLLINS: I guess, the question is, are popular commentators running the show, on Capitol Hill, or the people who are elected to be up there making laws?

CARDIN: On the border security issues, the compromise that was in the package, voted down today, would have made a big difference, on individuals, coming to our border, and the proper processing of people to come to our border.

It would have set up a much more orderly process, and stopped the large flow of people into America. The Republicans knew that. They knew that. And yes, part of the motivation in blocking this is they'd rather have it as a campaign issue than solve the problems.

We have a crisis now. It's our responsibility to solve it. My Republican colleagues know better. They need to vote on what's right.

COLLINS: How did negotiations work in the Senate going forward, between -- I mean, Democrats, obviously, in the majority.

But between the two parties, in the Senate specifically, how does that work, given they both were working on this, for months, an Independent, a Democrat or Republican, among others, and it just totally and spectacularly collapsed?

CARDIN: Well, I was at the floor about two hours ago. I was in conversations with Senator Schumer, and other members of the Senate. We're not going to give up. We are meeting, tonight. We are negotiating with Republicans. We're trying to find a path forward.

It's just too critical for our national security. We got to get this done. We've got to get to the finish line. So, we're going to look for ways, in which we can move this forward. Right now, we have a vote scheduled for tomorrow that would move the security package, the aid to Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan, in humanitarian assistance, plus dealing with the--

COLLINS: Do you think it will pass?

CARDIN: I don't know. We had 58 votes, on the board, tonight, for reconsideration. You need 60, tomorrow.

I know so many of my colleagues who voted no, I know that they support aid to Ukraine. They've said it over and over and over again. So, I can't see how they can vote against bringing this bill to the floor that provides the aid to Ukraine and to Israel, and to our friends in Taiwan.

So, I would find it extremely difficult to understand how they can justify voting no, to get -- on the bill. This isn't even passage. It's just to have the bill on the floor, so we can consider amendments and have debate. Do we want to take up aid to Ukraine?

COLLINS: Yes. It's just step one.

CARDIN: So many of my Republican colleagues, who voted no today, have said yes to that, and see how they vote tomorrow.

COLLINS: But can I ask you? Because I do think what people realize -- or maybe not fully realize or appreciate is that aid to Ukraine is literally on the table, and it could evaporate, if this doesn't go anywhere. There is no other aid for them to draw down from, to send to Ukraine, whether it's weapons or money.

I mean, what are the implications, if this doesn't go anywhere tomorrow, if the Senate can't get at even step one achieved?

CARDIN: The soldiers in Ukraine are, today, rationing their ammunition, because they don't have enough, in order to keep the aggression of Russia at bay.

There's territory in dispute, tonight, that Ukraine needs the help, for military supplies that are not being provided, because we don't have the resources, to give them the help that they need, because Congress hasn't passed the aid package.


It is urgent that would -- that money be released. That's why we are going to continue to work until we get this done. And our -- the vote, today, was a major setback. But we're not going to give up.

COLLINS: Senator Ben Cardin, we will stay tuned, closely tomorrow, to see what happens on the Hill. Thank you so much, for joining us, here on THE SOURCE.

CARDIN: Thank you, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: Up next, breaking news here tonight, as there is a precise U.S. strike, on the streets of Baghdad, killing a militant commander, who was blamed for the attacks on American forces that happened.

Also tonight, the U.S. Supreme Court is about to take on one of the biggest cases it's ever seen. Can Donald Trump stay on the ballot?


COLLINS: Tonight, the U.S. says it successfully killed a top commander of Kata'ib Hezbollah, a powerful Iranian-backed militia, in Iraq, that officials say was responsible for those attacks, on U.S. forces, in the region.

This is in the aftermath of that deadly drone strike, on a car, in Baghdad, part of a promise by President Biden, and his national security advisers, to continue retaliating, for the deaths of those three U.S. soldiers, who were killed in that deadly drone strike, in Jordan.


Right now, U.S. officials say there are no indications, of collateral damage, or civilian casualties, as a result of what you're seeing here.

Joining me, tonight, CNN Military Analyst, retired Air Force Colonel, Cedric Leighton.

Also here, Axios journalist, Barak Ravid, who is also a CNN Political and Global Affairs Analyst.

We'll start with you in a moment.

But this commander, we're told was in charge of logistical support. What's the impact of the U.S. taking him out tonight?

COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST, U.S. AIR FORCE (RET.): So Kaitlan, it's actually really important. His name, Baqir al-Saadi (ph). He was responsible for, as you said, logistical support, as well as the drone production, and movement of drones, into the area where they can be launched. So, as a result of that, he is a key figure.

And because you pick those key figures, he in essence, was what we would call a high-value target. And a high-value target is one by definition that you want to take out, in a situation like this. We have a lot of history of doing that kind of thing, going all the way back to the drug wars, in Latin America. But this type of operation shows how precise the intelligence was that we have on him.

COLLINS: Well, can we also talk about how precise this strike was? Because, I mean, you could see, from this video that it's a crowded neighborhood, in Baghdad.

But I wonder what it says to you about how the U.S., as they are continuing following the initial strikes that we saw, they're continuing to target these Hezbollah -- Kata'ib Hezbollah senior leaders. LEIGHTON: Right. The Kata'ib Hezbollah's senior leaders are, they, like everybody else, they have a pattern of life. And what the intelligence does, when we look at this from an intelligence perspective, is we determine that pattern of life.

We see where these people are, how they're going to and from their different places, where they work, how they do things. And that's how we go after them. We go into their, basically their thinking mode, and we see if we can find them, based on their patterns of behavior. And that is how we go after them.

COLLINS: These are pretty senior leaders. Obviously, we see why they're targeting them. But how much does U.S. have to do to actually degrade their power of these groups? Because I imagine just taking one leader out, does not do that.

LEIGHTON: Yes, you kind of have to think of these groups as like a Hydra. There are many possible heads of these different divisions, within Kata'ib Hezbollah, or any of these other groups. And when one is taken out, another one will replace it. Now, whether that person is as effective as the one, who was taken out is of course, another question.

So, what we're kind of banking on is basically attrition working, in this particular case, and that attrition as we take these people out, then it becomes a lot harder for them to conduct their missions.

COLLINS: OK. And so, we're monitoring the aftermath of this. Right now, still, we're told no civilian casualties.

But Barak, as we're looking at this, what we're also hearing from U.S. intelligence officials, is that deterring these attacks, they believe, also comes down to what is happening on the ground in Gaza.

I mean, we just saw today the Israeli Prime Minister, Netanyahu, dismissing that counterproposal from Hamas, for a ceasefire and a hostage deal, as I believe he called it "Delusional" was one of the words.


COLLINS: The question I have is, is that a no from him? Because he didn't seem to outright say that he was rejecting it.

RAVID: Yes. It was definitely, in my opinion, not a no. And he was even asked, I think twice, Prime Minister, do you reject the response that Hamas gave? And he did not say yes, I reject it. He called it delusional. He called it -- he called it crazy. He said this will be a capitulation to accept it out of hand. But he did not reject it.

And the reason he did not reject it is because the Israelis were quite surprised, when they saw the response, because they thought the response will deal with the process, not with the substance. And then, they saw a response that dealt a lot with the substance, and looked more or less like a, I don't know, Yahya Sinwar's Ramadan gift list, meaning everything you can imagine that he would want. COLLINS: The Hamas leader?

RAVID: Yes, the Hamas leader. From prisoners, to ceasefire, to the Al- Aqsa Mosque, and to even, he asked for 60,000 mobile homes for Gaza to, for people, who lost their homes, in the war.

COLLINS: So, Israelis just didn't know what to do with it necessarily?

RAVID: I think they would want to go now, and they already did, go to the Qataris and to the Egyptians, who are the mediators, and ask them, what is this? What does it mean, OK? Does it mean that Hamas is giving here, a maximalist position, because it doesn't want to negotiate? Or this was just an addition to give us an idea, what is the -- what Hamas wants to talk about, in the actual negotiations?

And the main question mark is whether we're going to see within days, Hamas officials, and Israeli officials, coming to Cairo, and engaging in what's called proximity talks, meaning both sides sitting in different rooms, with Egyptian and Qatari mediators, moving between the rooms, to start talking about the actual details, and not just negotiate about how to negotiate.


COLLINS: And Secretary Blinken just had a sit-down with Netanyahu. You've reported a lot on the widening gulf between the U.S. and Israel, ever since October 7th. Hard to believe we're now at the four- month anniversary of that today. But what did you hear about how that meeting went?

RAVID: So, I think it was OK, meaning as far as I know, nobody shouted on the other side. Netanyahu did say in his press conference that he protested to Blinken, about this executive order President Biden signed, on settler violence.

But I think what was most interesting is what Blinken said, in his press conference. And what he said was that, while Hamas, the Hamas response had some non-starters, it did give space for getting an agreement. And this is very different from what the Israelis said.


RAVID: And it's even different from what President Biden said yesterday, when he said that Hamas' response was a bit over the top.

So, I think the U.S. is pushing towards getting this deal. And why? Because the U.S. needs a ceasefire. Joe Biden needs a ceasefire. And he needs us to stop talking about it on TV, so, because of his election campaign.

COLLINS: When he gets interrupted, and so did the Vice President, just yesterday.

Barak Ravid, great reporting.

Colonel, thank you so much for joining, obviously, with your expertise, as well.

Also tonight, an important update that we're continuing to follow here, at CNN, as police in Austin say that they have -- the stabbing of a 23-year-old Palestinian American does now meet the definition of a hate crime.

Zacharia Doar was hospitalized, and he needed surgery, after what happened, on Sunday. He was leaving a pro-Palestinian protest, when this stabbing occurred.

And according to his father, Doar's anger extends to the White House, over this particular issue that Barak was just talking about.


NIZAR DOAR, VICTIM'S FATHER: He's in pain. He's in agony.

He said, Mr. President, Mr. Joe Biden, I blame you. If you would have called for a ceasefire three months ago, this would have never happened.


COLLINS: 36-year-old Bert James Baker, as I should note, is already facing charges of second-degree aggravated assault, with a deadly weapon. The District Attorney there is going to have to decide now whether to elevate these charges, to include the hate crime that it has now been determined to be.

Up next, for us, here tonight, on THE SOURCE, back to politics, as President Biden, the incumbent, wants this election to be a referendum, on Donald Trump, who he believes will be his opponent, in this race. What he is telling donors, tonight, behind closed doors, as he's also addressing the turmoil in the GOP, on Capitol Hill.



COLLINS: With congressional conservatives, in a bit of a meltdown, tonight, President Biden is using this moment, going on offense, against Republicans, on what polls show is one of his weakest issues. Immigration.

He was speaking to supporters, tonight, at a fundraiser, in New York. And he said, quote, "Every day between now and November, the American people are going to know that the only reason the border is not secure is Donald Trump and his MAGA Republican friends."

Here tonight, to talk about that and everything that is happening, on Capitol Hill, Democratic strategist and CNN Political Commentator, Paul Begala; also Republican strategist, Rina Shah.

And Rina, that's kind of my question is, is Biden going to be able to effectively switch this? Because it was, or and is, and that's why they kind of don't have the interest in keeping it that way, a pretty powerful argument against him right now.

RINA SHAH, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think the messaging on all this has gotten really jumbled up, on both sides. So, the question is kind of how do you move forward from here on out?

Every day, it gives you this opportunity to say, who created the disaster? And every Republican wants to say, well, it's Biden, who has this on his hands. And therefore, Mayorkas can change things. Oh, wait, let's just get rid of Mayorkas, right? So, the three sensible folks, who said let's not get rid of Mayorkas, see the writing on the wall, that this is egg on their faces as well. This is in Congress' lap as well.

And so, I think what people fail to understand, when they say the border is open, and it's porous? These are Republicans, who say this to me all the time. I say, well, law enforcement, at the border, is taking these credible claims of asylum, and they're following the process that Congress has laid out.

These are two entities, Mayorkas, Homeland Security Secretary -- excuse me, the Secretary, and Congress that should come together and fix things. But again, it gets back to Biden-Trump, Biden-Trump, because of the election. So, it's no telling who wins here, Kaitlan.

But again, the reality is this. We still have a situation, at the border. Nobody seems to want to handle it. And talking about it responsibly, to me, I only see one person doing it. Nikki Haley.


COLLINS: Paul, it is a cynical bet that they are taking, which is essentially, it kind of neutralizes what they've been saying, since December that this is a national security crisis, on the border, and then sinking their own bill, at least doing something to address it.

But I do question whether or not that rings through with voters, who so far intrinsically, are holding President Biden responsible?

BEGALA: Absolutely. And the key thing, that pull quote you had up there, from our President, was the first six words, "Every day between now and November."

Trump comes out of real estate, where it's location, location, location. Communication is repetition, repetition, repetition. And by the way, Trump, the Republicans are great at that.

SHAH: That's right.

BEGALA: They parrot whatever it is -- I shouldn't say parrot. They repeat whatever it is, Mr. Trump says.

Democrats need to get in line behind Joe Biden, and repeat this every single day.

And by the way, I think Biden is an underrated communicator, OK? I was helping to get Obama reelected. He was the Vice President. And he said, how's this for a slogan? General Motors is alive and bin Laden is dead. I was like, ooh, good one, Joe. And he said, don't compare us to the Almighty. Compare us to the alternative. That's a good one. So, he's got the talent.

I want to see the team on the field though. He's got a really good cabinet. I never see him. Are they knocking on your door to come on this program? I saw a few. Are they?

COLLINS: Currently no.

BEGALA: They should though. They should be out there buttressing this. But they have to say it every single day. And OK, you want the slogan? They all ought to go out and say, we want to close the border. They want to close the abortion clinics. Those are the two issues in this race.


He can win back the immigration issue. I watched George W. Bush win back the education issue, big Democratic issue. He campaigned. And Bill Clinton won back the crime issue, big Republican issue. He can do this.

So tonight, I couldn't be happier. I've criticized the President and his campaign. But I couldn't be happier now.

COLLINS: Well obviously he's saying it off-camera, not in front of reporters. He didn't speak to reporters, as he got on Marine One.

But what do you make of what Paul's argument is?

SHAH: I just don't see that discipline happening, Paul. I think it's hopeful.


SHAH: Again, because this administration tends to get in its own way. Take Joe out one day, let Joe be himself another day. Oh, let's not do any of that, right?

Here, he has a chance to say, to the American people, and make that argument, of how this crisis ended up, like it did.

But I still remember, as most Republicans do, the failure of this administration, to go to the border, of Harris and Biden, to physically take themselves there, and address this.

Instead, Harris, all I can remember is her just saying, just don't come. That's not a solution. That's just as bad as a Republican.

COLLINS: Well can I ask actually about that? What--

SHAH: Sure.

COLLINS: Super Bowl is on Sunday, obviously a huge audience. Biden -- President Biden -- the President famously does an interview before it with whoever's hosting it. He did not do it last year. He's not doing it this year. Do you think that's a mistake?

BEGALA: You hate to turn down an audience. It's like--

COLLINS: A big audience.

BEGALA: Yes, a big audience. It's like the old joke about the politician. Back in the 1800s, there was a hanging. And they asked the condemned, do you have any last words? He said, no. And a politician said, well, I have a few then. You don't want everyone pass it.

Having said that, he may be making the right call, in terms of the culture like, this is the one time, where we don't want -- not the one time. This is the one time we want to, come together, drink beer, watch football. And now, I have a politician talking to me. So, it may be that that tradition has come and gone. It's time has passed. So, I'm OK with that.

If he will every -- if he will keep to his word tonight, and every day between now November, they want chaos. You heard Will Hurd, a good Republican, former Congressman, say they for chaos at the border. And they are.

And I do think, for whatever problems they've had in the border before this, I think almost any American would nod their head if you say, Trump's for chaos. It's what Nikki Haley's saying every day. Trump's for chaos, I'm for order.

And he's got the case now to make. He's got the most conservative strict enforcement bill ever proposed. And he's willing to support it, and Republicans have killed it, because they want chaos for their political ends. I think it's a good argument.

SHAH: I'm just not sure who wins here. Because I do think President Biden should be talking to the American people, more frequently. Maybe it's shorter interviews. But be willing to take tough questions.

Because let's be honest, even if he did agree to this interview, before the Super Bowl, it'd be light-hearted. I mean, you've got an estimated 200 million Americans, who are supposedly going to be watching this thing. That's half the country almost.

And I would just say, look, this is a moment in which this Biden administration, as well as the campaign reelect understands this is a president, who looks weak, every day of the week. And I don't know that one interview can change many minds that are very much made up.

COLLINS: Paul Begala.

BEGALA: Every day between now and November, Mr. President, keep your--

COLLINS: What is it?

BEGALA: --keep those sticks out (ph).

COLLINS: Repetition is the mother of learning?

BEGALA: There you go.

COLLINS: Paul Begala, Rina Shah, thank you both.

SHAH: Yes.

COLLINS: Great to have you here in-person in Washington.

Tonight, we are just hours away, from the start of a case here, in Washington that could upend the 2024 presidential election. It's one of the first times we do expect the Supreme Court to take a big role. We'll tell you what is going to be decided, by Trump's attorneys tomorrow.



COLLINS: In just about 12 hours from now, the Supreme Court is going to be hearing arguments, over whether or not Donald Trump is eligible to be on the ballot.

Even at this late hour, Democrats in Congress are calling for one of those justices, Justice Clarence Thomas, to sit this argument out.

Dick Durbin, the Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee that you've seen here, on THE SOURCE, tweeted "Given the questions surrounding his wife's involvement, Justice Thomas should recuse himself so there's no question of bias."

Another Democrat, Congressman Jamie Raskin made a similar suggestion, last month.

Of course, the person they are talking about is Ginni Thomas. She has been a conservative activist for decades. She was in communication with the Trump -- Trump's Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows, leading up to January 6th. And text messages that came out after show that she was also pushing false claims of widespread fraud in the election.

CNN's Senior Legal Analyst, Elie Honig is here, to break down everything.

First off, just on this issue, I mean, does anyone really think that Justice Thomas will recuse himself?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: No. And there's no chance he will. He has not recused himself.

But let me say this. I actually agree with Representative Raskin and others. I think he should recuse himself, because of his wife's involvement. And it's important to understand, recusal is not punishment. There's not necessarily a judgment, like you've done something wrong.

COLLINS: It's not admitting wrongdoing.

HONIG: Right. It just means you can have recusal, for perfectly benign reasons. If your spouse works, for a company and, they're a party to a lawsuit? Nothing wrong with that. You just, as a judge or justice, you say, I'm out. And that's what Justice Thomas should do now, and should have been doing.

But nobody can force it. There's no way to force him. These Supreme Court justices, they do what they want. He will be sitting, tomorrow.

COLLINS: OK. So, he'll be there. All nine justices, three of whom Trump appointed will be listening to this, which will be fascinating, I think, to hear the arguments, and the different questions they have.

What are you going to be listening for?

HONIG: I'm really going to be tuned into what the three liberal justices are going to say, Justice Jackson, Justice Sotomayor, and Justice Kagan.

Because it's fairly clear to me that the other six are going to rule against Colorado. They're going to rule in favor of Donald Trump. I think they're going to restore him to the ballot.

One of the questions I have institutionally, for the Supreme Court is, are they going to come up with at least one of the liberals, and maybe a nine to zero bench?

Because Chief Justice Roberts, I think this is really important to him that this not come through as yet another predictable six-to-three split. I think this is such a large case it will be resonating through history. And I think he wants this to be seen as a moment, when the Supreme Court could actually come together, and agree on something, just based on the law itself.

COLLINS: And just to remind people, what's at the heart of this, is this little-known insurrectionist ban.


COLLINS: It has been used since 1919, I believe?


COLLINS: I wrote 1991 earlier, and I was like, no, that's wrong.

HONIG: No, for sure.

COLLINS: 1919.

HONIG: I was alive than you were. It's not been used then.

COLLINS: I was close.


1919. They're basically looking at an argument that has actually kind of gone surprisingly further than I'd even think some of the advocates of it thought it would go. HONIG: Yes, what's so interesting it was ratified in 1868. It's barely been used. It was ratified after the Civil War, to try to keep Confederates out of office.

And this is brand-new. And this really started as a theory you would see in the law reviews, and maybe the scattered Op-Eds. It started shortly after January 6. And it's gotten this far.

And while I remain of the view that it will fail in the Supreme Court, I will say this, give credit. Because we need some guidance on what on earth this thing is, and how it works, most importantly. And no matter what, no matter who wins or loses, we will know a lot more about the 14th Amendment, when this is all over.

COLLINS: But they won't necessarily be deciding, Donald Trump did or did not commit an insurrection, or engage in it, or partake in it, or contribute to it. They may just forego that question altogether, and just say, yes, he should be on the ballot.

HONIG: I think they very likely will not make some grand declaration he did, or did not engage in insurrection. First of all, not what the Supreme Court does. They're not fact-finders. They don't have a witness box. They don't hold trials.

They're going to be looking at the statutory, the legal, the constitutional questions. And I think they're going to be looking specifically, really at, two major things. One, is the president a, quote, officer of the United States under the 14th Amendment? We're going to hear some deep dives into linguistics and history and that kind of thing.

But the more important I think more likely basis for this decision is who decides how this works? Does it have to be the U.S. Congress, setting up rules? Or can the states do it for themselves?

COLLINS: You're going to be watching?

HONIG: I'm ready.

COLLINS: We'll be listening very closely, both Elie Honig and I.

Thank you, Elie.

HONIG: Thanks, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: Up next here, on THE SOURCE, a year-long investigation, into President Biden, and his handling of classified documents, now done. The next steps, right after this.



COLLINS: Tonight, Attorney General, Merrick Garland, has notified Congress that Special Counsel, Robert Hur, has finished his investigation, into President Biden's possible mishandling of classified documents.

Hur's report, which we are told, is now under review, by the White House Counsel's Office, for any executive privilege issues, could be released to Congress, and to us, the public, by the end of this week.

As you know, from our coverage here, no criminal charges are expected in that case. But we could learn more, about the documents that were found, at President Biden's home and office, from his time as VP.

Here tonight, former Deputy Director of the FBI, Andrew McCabe.

Biden himself was interviewed by the Special Counsel's Office, for two days, last fall.


COLLINS: I believe it's over 100 aides, who were also interviewed, as part of this.

What are you expecting to see? What are you going to be looking for in this report?

MCCABE: I think what we're going to see in the report, Kaitlan, is a report of incredible breadth and detail.

From folks that I've spoken to, there's no question that Special Counsel Hur has taken the approach, of turning over every single conceivable rock, speaking to every person, who might have had any exposure, to the places, where these documents were contained, or to people, who may have been involved, in the decision-making process around them.

So, I think we're going to see a very, very detailed, granularly detailed report, but one that we know is not going to include the top line, the headline-grabbing moment of recommending criminal charges.

COLLINS: Which is the opposite, of course, of the Special Counsel into Trump's mishandling of classified documents, and what Jack Smith found there, and that Trump obviously was indicted on that.

People will, I'm sure Republicans will, will certainly take parts of that report.

How different are these two investigations, in the sense of Trump's handling of classified documents and Biden's handling?

MCCABE: Well, we'll see. I mean, from what we know so far, the difference is in that crucial element of intent, right?

What you had in the -- from the revelations of the search warrant, and all the investigation that was done at Mar-a-Lago, we know that there is reason to believe that the Special Counsel has evidence, of the intentional retention of national defense information.

So, the question is did the Special Counsel Hur, find similar evidence of intentional retention of materials, on the part of President Biden? By the simple fact that we know he's not recommending criminal charges, the answer is likely no, he didn't find evidence of that.

COLLINS: Didn't find.

MCCABE: But he is in almost a self-defensive way, the Special Counsel here, is going to reveal an enormous amount of detail, to kind of prove his case that there's not more to see here--

COLLINS: Well that's interesting.

MCCABE: --we didn't find anything significant.

COLLINS: So, we might learn more as he's explaining why there are, I mean, Hur is.

MCCABE: I think he's going to go really deep more than--


MCCABE: --more than we need.

COLLINS: Well then, we'll talk to you on Friday, probably, or whenever that report comes out.

This other report that I'm fascinated by that came out today is showing -- it's from the U.S. And it's showing that Chinese hackers were in American infrastructure for five years.


COLLINS: What does that tell you about just the fact that they had access, for at least five years? What all they had access to, and for how long without anyone in the U.S. understanding that they did?

MCCABE: It tells us a lot of things. It tells us provisionally that the Chinese have upped their game, in the cyber sphere, right?

Five, six, seven, eight years ago, we thought about the Chinese, in terms of their ability, to just kind of break into systems, and steal data, almost for no apparent purpose, like didn't even know what they were taking, just took anything they could get.

Now, what we're seeing is they were engaged, in what is essentially operational preparation of the battlefield. In traditional military terms, that's where you go out, and prepare the battle-space. You build fortified positions. You prepare to be able to fight once the fighting starts.

That's what the Chinese have done, in these systems, these critical infrastructure systems. They've maintained positions, silently and covertly, for years, creating the capability, to really negatively impact us, in the event that hostility start between us.


COLLINS: I mean, but what we're hearing from Intel chiefs now is that they're already embedding themselves into this infrastructure systems like water and electricity, they were talking about.

And I think the question is, do people have an understanding of just how bad that could be, and how devastating that could be, if they chose to wield that power?

MCCABE: I think the answer to that is obviously no, right? Because a lot of the progress that the Chinese have been able to make is because many of our systems' critical infrastructure, our private sector systems, have not taken the steps they need to, to protect themselves, from that sort of infiltration.


MCCABE: So, I think wholly, no, we're not -- most people are not aware of how vulnerable we are.

COLLINS: Andrew McCabe, as always, thank you.

MCCABE: Thanks.

COLLINS: And we'll be back, in just a moment.



COLLINS: This just in, as Marianne Williamson has announced that she is suspending her campaign, for the Democratic presidential nomination, ending her long-shot bid, after 10 months of campaigning.

Also, a quick reminder, tonight. I will be anchoring "SPECIAL COVERAGE" of the "TRUMP BALLOT BATTLE AT THE SUPREME COURT" with Jake Tapper. That starts, right here, on CNN, at 9 AM, tomorrow.