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The Source with Kaitlan Collins

Trump Asks Supreme Court To Block Ruling Against Immunity; Trump Says He'd Encourage Russia To "Do Whatever The Hell They Want" To NATO Members That Don't Pay; Police: Megachurch Shooter Had Long Criminal History. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired February 12, 2024 - 21:00   ET




ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: That's it for us. The news continues. "THE SOURCE WITH KAITLAN COLLINS" starts now. See you, tomorrow.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST: And tonight, straight from THE SOURCE.

Donald Trump's emergency appeal, to the Supreme Court, could be his best and last shot, to quash his trial, till after the election, or forever. His argument to the justices is that without absolute immunity, from criminal prosecution, the presidency, as we know it, will cease to exist. What does his former attorney make of that? We'll ask him, in just a moment.

Plus, shockwaves from Washington to Warsaw, tonight, as the former President is deriding a 75-year-old security alliance, with U.S. allies. Instead, Trump says Russia can do whatever the hell it wants. Our guest tonight knows firsthand just how close he came, to pulling out of NATO, before.

We're also learning new unsettling information, about the woman, who walked into Joel Osteen's megachurch, with her son at her side, opening fire with an AR-15. What authorities say they found written on that assault-style weapon?

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

In case of emergency, break glass. And facing a five-alarm fire that could doom his chances, at the presidency, not to mention potentially land him in prison, tonight, Donald Trump is pulling the alarm.

The alarm, in this case, is an emergency appeal to the Supreme Court. It is the one that we have been waiting for. And it's also the one that Trump and his team of attorneys are hoping will either delay or deny a trial from happening at all.

These are the charges brought by Jack Smith, stemming from Trump's efforts to overturn the election in 2020. His attorneys say that the former President should be cloaked in absolute immunity, from criminal prosecution, for any of the actions that he took, while he was in office. But in bringing their case, to the highest court that there is, the Trump team has also sharpened its focus, and cut their arguments in half. That leaves the Supremes with some tremendous questions that have never been asked or answered before. Because we've also never had a president who has acted like this before.

But first things first, the question is will they even agree to take the case? And will the Trump strategy work?

Here, tonight, to answer that, potentially, is an attorney, who used to represent Donald Trump, including on the classified documents case, Jim Trusty.

And it's great to have you here, Jim.

Obviously, Trump is the first former President to ever be charged with a crime. Do you think that the justices will want to have the final word, on this significant of an issue?

JIM TRUSTY, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: Yes, I don't know that they want to. But I think they'll own up and take the responsibility of doing it.

I think Justice Roberts is someone, who's very concerned about the reputation of the Supreme Court, and probably doesn't like the fact that you've had these calls, for packing the court, and changing its composition. And I know that he's probably not eager to have fingerprints on huge electoral issues.

But it is important. And as you said in your opening, it's new territory, to be talking about absolute immunity.

And I guess the one thing they just point out preliminarily, Kaitlan is, absolute sounds like it's this dramatic thing, where the President can just do whatever the heck he wants and break the law. But really, it's still wedded to this idea of what's called the outer perimeter of official duties, a whole bunch of legal language.

But it basically means it's not a free pass, to do whatever the heck you want, as President. It's a question of whether it's tied in sufficiently to your legal obligations, as the President, to be, you know, to warrant immunity. And that's the issue, little narrower than the word, absolute, suggests.

COLLINS: But is that so, because the argument that his attorneys are still standing by, even though they say it's dramatic, in this filing, is the one that was brought up, at the appeals court hearing.

That theoretically, he could order SEAL Team Six, to assassinate his political opponent, and he could not be prosecuted for that, until, his attorneys argue, he was impeached and convicted by the Senate and removed from office.

TRUSTY: Yes, I'm not in love with their biting on the hypothetical of the SEAL Team Six. And maybe it's a little bit of shooting for the stars and settling for the moons. They take that absolute as kind of broader position than they need to, but all the while hoping the Supreme Court will come in, on a more narrow ground.


I think the Supreme Court will end up taking it. And I think they'll be very interested in the idea of essentially qualified immunity. I mean, it's absolute immunity, but it's still tempered by the idea of official duties. And I think that's something that they need to rule on, prior to him going to trial, on either of these cases.

COLLINS: If they take it, as you just said that you think that they will, it's a claim that's been rejected. As broad or as narrow as the scope is, however you define it, it's been rejected by two lower courts. Trump's team seems to think the Supreme Court will reverse those rulings. But do you see that happening?

TRUSTY: I think it's a real possibility. I mean, look, the D.C. court has not exactly been home turf, for President Trump.

And keep in mind, the history of this particular issue. It was Jack Smith, that in his eagerness, to keep the early trial date, the Super Monday trial date, said, let's get the Supreme Court to expedite, let's have them consider it, but let's have them hurry.

Supreme Court saw right through that kind of speedy trial imposture, and said, no, we'll take it in the regular course.

The D.C. court has still done everything they can, to accelerate the timetable, including telling the parties, if there's an en banc motion, which is means either a reconsideration, or a reconsideration by the entire D.C. circuit, on this issue, that they're not going to stop the clock, that everything has to move at an incredibly expedited pace.

So, I don't see that -- I don't see anything wrong with asking for a stay, and seeking Supreme Court cert. I think, for presidential issues, in the year we're in, there's a good chance that they end up taking it on the substance.

COLLINS: But isn't part of that just his strategy to burn time here?

TRUSTY: I mean, look, you can look at it as one of two things. Maybe it's a strategy for him to buy time.

But again, starting point is Jack Smith asserting there's a speedy trial right for the public that requires that a complicated case, essentially, insurrection case, but masquerading as a fraud charge, to say that that has to be tried in March is absurd.

And for a court to basically say, unlike almost any other federal court that deals with scheduling, to say a non-incarcerated defendant's trial has to happen by date X, I don't care about conflicts, I don't care about attorney issues? That's the exception, not the norm.

And I think for this case, it would be nice to see normalcy. It'd be nice to see kind of traditional treatment, by the federal court system and the prosecutor, and a lot of transparency, and not pushing for an early trial date, and then blaming the other side for delay.

COLLINS: Well, and the reverse, of course, is Trump's team trying to delay this, but then also complaining that this case could potentially be happening at the height of the election season.

Jim Trusty, as always, great to have you. I think we're past the point of normalcy. But glad you're still hanging on to that.

TRUSTY: See you, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: Of course, when you look at Trump's appeal, to the Supreme Court here, as we read through this, one thing that stood out was how his attorneys cite the landmark case, known as the United States versus Nixon, four different times. At one point, his attorneys say that the Watergate case is a reason that they believe this trial should also be delayed.

There's almost no one better to talk about the lessons, from that case than my next guest here tonight. Richard Nixon's former White House Counsel, John Dean.

It's great to have you here, John.

I wonder, when you look at this, do you think Trump's attorneys are missing the point of that case? Or what did you make of how many times it's surfaced in this filing?

JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I've noticed they've drawn on the Nixon precedents across the board. They -- we've had very few presidents, who've been in front of the Supreme Court.

And the case they're drawing on, he actually was already out of office, the Fitzgerald case, which did give a president, civil immunity. So, I -- and that sort of drew the line at official conduct, or the outer perimeter official conduct. So, we've really never had the same issue.

And the form, it's coming to the court, right now, Kaitlan, is not the full case. They're asking for an application for a stay. They're asking that the Court of Appeals not send the case back, to the D.C. trial judge. They want to hold that up, until at least they file an appeal, for the full court, to come back up and take on the case again.

It's a little confusing, I know. But it's a unique opportunity. If the Supreme Court wants to get rid of this case that's -- that request for stay, that application went to the circuit justice, who is Roberts in this, Chief Justice Roberts. He could -- he could make a decision, right now, to chuck the whole thing.

COLLINS: Yes. It'll be fascinating, because that would be probably the most dramatic outcome here, which we've--

DEAN: Very dramatic outcome.

COLLINS: People are -- people are torn on whether or not that'll be the case.

But if it does go to the Supreme Court, if they don't chuck the whole thing? You've testified at Justice Kavanaugh's confirmation hearing, and you talked about how you believed that if he was confirmed, that it would have -- we would have the most presidential-powers-friendly Supreme Court, in the modern age.


And so, if it does go, how do you think someone, like a Justice Kavanaugh, will look at the arguments that we were just talking about there, with Jim Trusty?

DEAN: I think he generally looks favorably, on presidential powers. He worked at the White House. He was in the Counsel's Office, in fact, knows how the machine works, and how to make it work better. He knows the restrictions that are on it. And his court has generally been very presidential-power-pro, and favorable.

So, I think that -- but this is a different issue. This is really the responsibility of whether a president has any boundaries at all. So, I would be -- I would be shocked if they -- when they get to the substance of this case, if they grant immunity. It really would be a really a dramatic change, in the nature of the American presidency.


DEAN: It's actually a foundation for a dictatorship.

COLLINS: Well, and reading, presidential powers is one thing, and thinking a president has power, when it comes to climate change executive orders, or something of that nature.

But if he's someone, who worked in the White House Counsel's Office, who understands what the powers of the presidency are, I mean, could you see a Supreme Court justice, looking at Trump's actions, in Georgia and in Pennsylvania, and what he did surrounding 2020, and thinking that that fits into the job description?

DEAN: No. I cannot. In fact, I think that he would find it abhorrent, the behavior unacceptable for a president. And so that -- but I don't think that's the issue that's in front of them at the time. But he's certainly well-aware of the underlying behavior.

He's also aware, Kaitlan, of the fact that Donald Trump is using the process, to try to get out of this whole thing. If he thinks he can get reelected, by fooling enough people, as to what he does and doesn't do, and get back in office, that he can kill these cases. He can tell his Attorney General of choice, kill the case, drop them. So, the federal cases would go away. And they could put up a pretty good argument, to tie-up the state cases, at least while he remained in office.

COLLINS: What would that mean for the presidency, if he did that? If he did get in? And we -- I mean, it's not that far-fetched. If he did, have the Attorney General just make his cases disappear? DEAN: Well, he has said he wants to be a dictator for one day. That's all it takes to change the American presidency.

He'll have a stack of executive orders lined up that will in fact make the presidency a dictatorship, even if he doesn't call it that. If he just says, I have a -- I've modernized the American presidency, giving him powers, the likes of which we've never known, in the American presidency? The checks and balances would go away. He'd be unleashed, and I think we'd be in trouble as a country.

COLLINS: John Dean, a stark warning. Thank you, for joining, tonight.

Also here, to break down that filing, a pair of former federal prosecutors, Kristy Greenberg, and Elie Honig.

Elie, who was actually quoted in this brief, I should note.


COLLINS: Were you a little surprised to see that?

HONIG: I'm learning that right now. I fear what they quoted me on.

COLLINS: You haven't seen this?


COLLINS: You're quoted in this. No one flagged this to you?

HONIG: I read the brief quickly. Tell me what I'm quoted on.

COLLINS: They cite -- well, it's in a footnote. But they cite something you wrote--

HONIG: That's probably why.

COLLINS: --which is that Jack Smith never uses the E-word--


COLLINS: --which is?

HONIG: Election, yes. Look, I am dubious of Jack Smith's motives. It's clear to everyone--

COLLINS: See, we're always breaking news here on THE SOURCE.

HONIG: Yes, right to the person's face.

COLLINS: We're just telling you that.

HONIG: My criticism of Jack Smith is obviously, he's pushing to get this in, before the election, I think, for good reason. But there's a level of disingenuousness, in his refusal to say that's why.

And I argue in the piece that I think they mentioned here that he should just say it, say what we all know, and say what the vast majority of American people understand, and believe is correct, that he's pushing to get this done before trial -- before the election. Excuse me.

COLLINS: Can we talk about what the Supreme Court is looking at here?

Because there are a few different pathways they can take. One of them, John Dean, already laid out for us, so we'll cross it off the list, which is that they could just say no, thanks, we're not taking this up. They could deny Trump's request to pause this.

What else could they do here?

KRISTY GREENBERG, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: So, this application, today, was just for, as John Dean said, for a state to put this on -- put this on hold, in the Supreme Court, so that it can go back to Judge Chutkan, and she can set a trial date.

The brief actually says that what they want to do is go to the whole D.C. circuit en banc, meaning all of the judges will hear this, and then potentially, depending on how that goes, go to the Supreme Court.

COLLINS: OK. But isn't that unlikely though, because it would have to get -- they'd have to have enough judges to -- one of the three judges who ruled this, to weigh in, to basically reject their own ruling, which is not going to happen, right?

GREENBERG: I don't think -- not only would the three not reject it. But I think the fact that you had the timing here be so quick, means that this has -- this opinion was socialized with the other justices, would be my guess, in the D.C. Court of Appeals.


COLLINS: OK. So, we're waiting to see what they decide. I mean, now Chief Justice John Roberts, given his role here, what's his next instruction to Jack Smith? What's the next timeline here?

HONIG: So, I think it's really important, people to understand. There's a lot of procedural terminology flying here, a lot of legal nerd words, mandate, certiorari, all that.

This is it. This is the moment of truth. This is where, at the end of this, the Supreme Court is going to tell us, are they putting a pause, on the district court, the trial court, and are they taking the case?

The first thing I think we're going to see is that Chief Justice is going to say, OK, Donald Trump, we have your request here to pause this. We'll give Jack Smith's team a couple days to respond. And then, the Supreme Court is going to decide, first, will we keep this on pause? And most importantly, will we take this case?

And to that end, I was looking at the brief here, not the footnote mentioning me. But I was looking at the brief here. Donald Trump's team is desperately trying, to convince the Supreme Court, you have to take this case, you, the Supreme Court. And they have the following quote. Donald Trump's team has the following quote, in their brief. Quote, "It is of imperative public importance that" President Trump's "claims of immunity be resolved by this Court," the Supreme Court, and quote "only this Court," the Supreme Court, "can definitively resolve them."

You know who they're quoting there? Jack Smith.

COLLINS: Jack Smith.

HONIG: That's a tough one.

COLLINS: And you know what? It's interesting, though, about this, when you talk about this moment of truth that we're in. The Supreme -- Trump could lose here on the merits, but still win, theoretically--


COLLINS: --because it's delayed so far that then the trial doesn't happen before the election.

GREENBERG: Right. And I think the Supreme Court knows that. And just like we saw, in the oral argument, with the Colorado ballot, where the justices were very clear, about, we care about the consequences. We think it's just a step too far, to disqualify him from the ballot. That seemed to be the consensus.

And similarly here, they get the consequences. They know that if they just sat on this, that it would effectively mean he does have immunity, even if not on the merits, just because it doesn't happen, before the election. I don't think they will do that.

I think within a week or two, they are going to make a decision about whether or not this goes back to the judge in the trial court. And I think that because this question, yes, it is a question of first impression. It hasn't been decided by the Supreme Court before.


GREENBERG: But this is such a strong opinion by the D.C. Court of Appeals. I don't see them overturning it. And for that reason, I do think this goes back to Judge Chutkan.

COLLINS: But also, this is such a big week. I think every -- you know, we talked about Trump's legal developments. This week stands alone, when I'm looking at the schedule.

Because also, on Thursday, in Georgia, the judge there, there's going to be hearing, and he said today that there is a world, where the District Attorney, Fani Willis, could be disqualified, if she benefited financially, from the relationship that she's now acknowledged, she has with a prosecutor on her team.

I mean, that could have monumental impact on this case.

HONIG: Yes. Everything is happening this week. I mean, literally every case, involving Donald Trump, criminal case, has something important going on.

This dispute is playing out in Jack Smith's immunity case. We also had a hearing today, on the Mar-a-Lago case that suggests that might be delayed. Thursday, we have a hearing, on the Manhattan D.A.'s hush money case that will tell us likely whether that's actually going to trial in March.

And then, Kaitlan, what you just raised, very worrisome signs for the D.A. Fani Willis, there. The judge said we are having a hearing. Fani Willis said, Judge we should not even be having a hearing, you should throw this out. Judge said, no, we need to have a hearing. Could be really troublesome for the D.A.

COLLINS: Big legal week. We'll be consulting our experts here.

Kristy Greenberg, Elie Honig, thank you both.

Also tonight, there is global outrage that is mounting, after Donald Trump threatened to encourage an attack, on NATO allies, if they don't pay enough in defense. His former National Security Adviser will react next.

Also, an NFL dynasty has been cemented, but not without plenty of drama. What we are now learning, about that moment, on the sideline, with Travis Kelce, and Coach Andy Reid. Bob Costas will be here to talk to us about it all.



COLLINS: Tonight, former President Donald Trump is defending his approach, to the military alliance, between the U.S. and key allies known as NATO. He claims that he actually fortified NATO, by encouraging countries, to pay their fair share of defense spending, while he was in office.

Of course, these posts, I should note, are coming after he is facing major backlash, from the international community, after he said that he would disregard what is at the heart of the NATO alliance. If one nation is attacked, others will come to its defense.

Instead, Trump said that he actually encouraged Russia, and I'm quoting him now, to do whatever the hell it wants.


DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: One of the presidents of a big country stood up, said, well, sir, if we don't pay, and we're attacked by Russia, will you protect us?

I said, you didn't pay, you're delinquent?

He said, yes.

Let's say that happened, no, I would not protect you. In fact, I would encourage them to do whatever the hell they want. You got to pay.



COLLINS: It's worth pausing here to mention that the only time NATO's Article 5, that collective defense article, was ever invoked was by the United States, after 9/11.

CNN has new reporting, tonight, about what a second Trump term could mean, though, for it, and his orders to top military officials, back in 2018, demanding that the U.S. withdraw from NATO. Jim Sciutto reveals these details, these officials that believe that Trump's direction was a lawful order, and they actually drew up the plans, to execute it.

My next guest was also in the White House, at that time, and recounts the whole situation as frightening. Former National Security Adviser, for the Trump administration, Ambassador John Bolton is here.

And Ambassador, it's great to have you.

I just wonder kind of bluntly, if Donald Trump is reelected, do you think that means the end of NATO, as we know it now?

AMB. JOHN BOLTON, FORMER TRUMP NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Yes, yes, I do. I think he will withdraw. I think you have to take what he's saying is coming directly from what he has long been saying privately and, in some cases, publicly.

It's a little disturbing now, to hear some Republicans saying, well, he's just bargaining with NATO, or this is just the way he talks. That's not right.


He has used this failure of many members, a majority of NATO members, to spend 2 percent of their GDP on defense, as they all voluntarily committed to do in 2014. Not to strengthen NATO, but to help destroy it.

It is true that after his criticisms, more was spent, by European members of NATO, on defense. But that wasn't going to change his mind, because there were a lot of other criticisms he had as well.

So, it is -- I was -- I was there with him in the spring of 2018, at the NATO summit in Brussels, where he damn near did get out of NATO. He is serious about it. And whether you're a Trump supporter, or a Trump opponent, don't think he's kidding about this one.

COLLINS: Yes. I noticed he doesn't mention that Germany is spending that percent of its GDP on defense now. Something that -- it was behind when they said they would get to it. But they are actually there.

When he was talking about that conversation with the world leader-- BOLTON: Well they're not actually, not yet.

COLLINS: But they're on track to be at 2 percent, this year, I believe, right?

BOLTON: No, they're not. They're not going to make it.

COLLINS: Oh, OK. Well, they say that they are.

BOLTON: That's the trouble. The Europeans make--

COLLINS: Well but we'll take--

BOLTON: The Europeans make it hard to make the case.

The case is, however, we're not doing this at a charity for the Europeans. We're supporting NATO, because it's a core American national interest to do it. And I think that's the case, frankly, that political leaders, of both parties, in this country have not made effectively, over the past several decades.

COLLINS: Yes. Well, I will note, the German officials say that they are there.

But on the point of what Trump is saying he's recounting that conversation, do you know which world leader he's talking about there?

BOLTON: I think he made that conversation up. I think that's a fairly typical Trump thing to do, because it makes it sound very dramatic and proving his point.

But just because that conversation is made up, again, people should not think that he's making up the point about withdrawing, or that he doesn't particularly care what Russia does to those, who don't spend adequately on their own defense.

I think this is -- this is exactly his view of alliances. They're totally transactional. It's like you add up every day, how much did you spend? How much did we spend?

And I'd tell you, the -- what it shows about Trump's view of alliances is if he's willing to knife NATO, he's willing to knife the relationship with Israel, with Japan, with South Korea. There's not a U.S. alliance out there that's safe with that kind of attitude.

COLLINS: Well, can you listen to what Senator Marco Rubio said about this? Because I think this is a key point, on how Republican senators, and just lawmakers, generally are treating Trump's comments, not as threats.

But here's how he put it to Jake, yesterday.


SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL): Well, that's not what happened. And that's not how I view that statement. I mean, he was talking about something, a story that he talked about happened in the past.

By the way, Donald Trump was president, and he didn't pull us out of NATO, you know? In fact, American troops were stationed throughout Europe, as they are today, they were then as well.


COLLINS: I mean, he is saying it's not really a threat, in his view.

BOLTON: Well, he should have been sitting next to me, at the NATO summit, in 2018, when I was called up by Trump, to his seat at the table, and he said, well, should we do it? And I said, go up to the line, but don't go over it. I went back to my seat, with Mike Pompeo and Jim Mattis, who said, what's he going to do? And I didn't know. That's how close it was.

And I would say to Marco, for whom I have an awful lot of respect. If you don't think Trump is serious, about getting out of NATO, then why did you recently co-sponsor legislation, requiring approval by two- thirds of the House and the Senate before a President can withdraw from NATO? Is there some other president or would-be president out there that you think is going to withdraw other than Donald Trump? I'd certainly like to hear that.

COLLINS: Ambassador Bolton, as always, thank you for coming on tonight.

BOLTON: Thank you.

COLLINS: Meanwhile, Donald Trump, not just those NATO comments is drawing more ire, for every other things he said, over the weekend. Something he said about Nikki Haley's husband, who I should note is currently serving in the U.S. Military overseas, that comment with our political panel, in a moment.



COLLINS: Nikki Haley, tonight, firing back at Donald Trump, after he questioned where her husband Michael was, during a rally, in her home state.


TRUMP: Where's her husband? Oh, he's away. He's away. What happened to her husband? What happened to her husband? Where is he? He's gone.


COLLINS: We know the answer to that question, because he is in his second active-duty deployment, overseas, supporting the United States Africa Command, as part of the South Carolina Army National Guard.

Nikki Haley responded to those comments from Trump, earlier on CNN, with Jake Tapper. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NIKKI HALEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The first thing I'll say is it's disgusting.

If you don't understand that everybody knows someone who has either lost their life, or served this country, in a way that's allowed us to keep our freedoms? That is not someone who deserves to be Commander- in-Chief.


COLLINS: Here tonight, former Trump White House Communications Director, Alyssa Farah Griffin.

And former Biden Deputy Assistant, Jamal Simmons, also a senior communications aide, in the Biden White House, and now a CNN Contributor.

Alyssa, I mean?



COLLINS: Yes. Literally, your resume is so impressive.

Alyssa, though, when you look at this, I mean, at one point, Haley today told reporters, the most harm that Trump has ever come across is whether a golf ball hits him, on a golf cart. And you're going to go and mock our men and women in the military. I don't care what party you're in. That's not OK.

FARAH GRIFFIN: Yes, President Bone Spurs.

I mean, this is fascinating what Nikki Haley is doing, because it's not new that Donald Trump denigrates the military. He did it to John McCain. He did it to Gold Star families.

But I think when it personally hits you? It brings out a certain realization of just how far the Republican Party has descended in the era of Trump. Not a single prominent Republican other than Governor Chris Sununu denounced these comments by Donald Trump.


I'm here for what she's doing. Because listen, South Carolina primary's coming up. There's virtually no shot that she's going to win there. But she's litigating the case against Donald Trump, I would argue, frankly harder than Joe Biden is, at this point.

COLLINS: Well, I mean, people laughed at that comment.


COLLINS: In South Carolina crowd. SIMMONS: It's pretty amazing to me. As a Democrat, who has spent my entire professional life, in trying to navigate the Republican advantage on national security, it is amazing to watch this president walk away from that advantage, on national security, and have so many conservatives follow him down that path, just give it away.

There are 170,000 American active-duty troops, right now, serving abroad. Everyone -- not every one of them, but so many of them, most of them, almost all of them have families, right? And so, the President of the United States is not just insulting Nikki Haley, when he goes after one of these troops. He's insulting 170,000 American families. I just don't understand how the rest of the Republican Party can go along with this.

COLLINS: That's a really good point, in the terms of like, if you're thinking of it, even, through a political lens that Democrats struggle to have ground with veterans.

And here Trump is actively mocking, and he doesn't suffer any consequences for it. I mean, he has a history of doing this, dating back to John McCain, when he mocked his Prisoner-of-War status.

FARAH GRIFFIN: Well, and he's frankly flipped Republican Party orthodoxy on its head. I mean, right now, the Senate is debating aiding Ukraine, an ally. He, this week said that we should, you know, who -- possibly withdraw from NATO, as you were talking to John Bolton about. This is literally goes against Republican orthodoxy, dating back to Reagan.

And now, we're the party of isolationism. And it's Joe Biden, who's saying we need to get aid, out the door, and we need to stand by our allies, and be firm on national defense.

COLLINS: I want to talk about Democrats as well, because there was a moment, in the Super Bowl, last night, that, everyone was talking about, this ad, by Robert Kennedy -- Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s. It was from a PAC that's supporting him.

This was the ad, in case anyone missed it.








UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you want a man for president who's seasoned through and through? A man who's old enough to know? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And young enough to do?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well it's up to you.


COLLINS: Obviously, that is a reference to JFK's 1960 ad. It did not sit well with members of the Kennedy family, as his entire campaign has not. And he's apologizing for it. But I mean, it was pinned on his Twitter profile, for most of the last 24 hours.

SIMMONS: Yes, it was. They spent $7 million, his Super PAC, spent $7 million. Let's keep in mind, $7 million, after a Republican donor, Tim Mellon, gave them $15 million, a Trump donor gave them $15 million, and DNC is fighting a thing with the FEC about that complaint.

But there is a -- the Kennedy family has not been in favor of this, the entire time. He had to apologize, to some of his family members, for using some of the images of their family in the ad.

And it's just sort of icky that he would use this ad at a time when the President of the United -- when he's running against a Democratic president about -- and it's a harken-back to the Democratic President most of us, in the Democratic Party, revere as one of our greatest leaders.

COLLINS: Jamal Simmons, Alyssa Farah Griffin, great to have both of you here, on set, tonight. Thank you.

Also, there was that shot on the sideline, last night, if you missed that. Also, there's a stunning admission, made today, and an NFL legacy cemented. All of the developments coming out of Super Bowl LVIII. Bob Costas is here.



COLLINS: After nearly five quarters of nail-biting football, yesterday, the Kansas City Chiefs beat the San Francisco 49ers, in a thrilling Super Bowl. I was lucky to be there to witness it.

And we just are learning about how many people at home watched it, making it, it was incredibly watched. It was the most watched thing, actually, on television, since the Moon Landing. Yes, that is not an exaggeration. The most watched thing, on television, since the Moon Landing, it averaged 123.4 million viewers.

And of course, part of that was an extended Super Bowl, as it was the only one to go into overtime, or the -- only the second Super Bowl, I should note, to go into overtime. But the first one that was played, under those new postseason overtime rules, rules that I should note apparently, multiple 49ers players were unaware of.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ARIK ARMSTEAD, SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS DEFENSIVE END: I didn't even know about the new overtime -- playoff overtime rule. It was a surprise to me.

KYLE JUSZCZYK, SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS FULLBACK: What I didn't even realize that the -- the playoff rules were different in overtime. So, I -- I assumed you just want the ball because you score a touchdown and win. But I guess that's not the case.


COLLINS: And here, tonight, to talk about the Super Bowl, legendary sports broadcaster, Bob Costas.

And can I just first, Bob, get your reaction to what we are learning. Because, I'm looking at the numbers here.


COLLINS: The record was set, just last year, when the Chiefs played against the Eagles, a 115 million people watched. What -- I mean, now the fact that a 123.4 million people watched, the most people to watch something, since the Moon Landing is pretty incredible.

COSTAS: Yes, and it just affirms what's long been obvious. In a now fractionalized meaning a universe, the one thing that aggregates gigantic audiences consistently, and that reigns over not only all of sports, but all of American entertainment is football in general, and the NFL, in particular.

Even the Conference Championship Games, get higher ratings. Forget about the Super Bowl, where you bring in many more casual viewers. The Conference Championship Games, and the playoff games that lead up to them, get higher ratings than the NBA Finals, or the World Series. Even if you're a baseball fan, or a basketball fan, before you're a football fan, you can't deny those facts.

COLLINS: Why do you think that is? I mean, as someone, with the career that you've had, and the people that you talk to, why do you think that is?

COSTAS: Well, first of all, the game televises well. Each game is just one a week for that team. So therefore, it used to be 14 games, then 16.

Now it's still just 17, which is still roughly a 10th of a Major League Baseball season, and a fifth of a hockey season, or an NBA season. And every playoff game is the equivalent of a seventh game in hockey, the NBA, or MLB. And a seventh game always gets a higher rating. It's a one and done every time.

And that's why, and I don't think enough is made of this, when Kansas City plays Buffalo, let's say in a playoff game? You don't have the same concern that other leagues have, oh gee, they're small markets. It'd be better if it was the Yankees against the Dodgers or, back in the day, the Bulls against the Lakers, or whatever it might be. [21:45:00]

The NFL is bulletproof from that, because even if you're not watching the Kansas City Chiefs, or the Buffalo Bills, you're watching whatever your team is, regionally. The pregame show, the halftime shows, the postgame shows and all the highlights bring you Josh Allen. They bring you Patrick Mahomes.

And so, the Kansas City Chiefs, not just because of their success, but because of the league in which they play, are now America's team.

No disrespect to the Cowboys. They've owned that for a long time. But they haven't been to the Super Bowl since the mid-90s.

The Chiefs have been to the Conference Championship, six straight years. They've been to the Super Bowl four of the last five. And they've won it, three of those four, including the last two in a row.

In Patrick Mahomes, they have one of the most dynamic players in all of sports. In Andy Reid, they have now a well-recognized Hall of Fame Coach. Travis Kelce, bound for the Hall of Fame, even before he hooked up with Taylor Swift. You add that element, that storyline? This is America's team, right now, for the foreseeable future.

COLLINS: Yes. It's pretty incredible how many different audiences it pulls together. But one thing that was stunning to me, as a huge football fan, was to hear the 49ers players saying today that they were not read in, on these new overtime rules.

And I was sitting at the game, and I asked the -- I didn't know what the NFL rules on overtime were. And I asked someone seated behind me about it. And he said that whoever scores first wins the game. But there's obviously a second possession that the other team gets.

COSTAS: Wrong.

COLLINS: I mean, what did you make of that?

COSTAS: It's very surprising, to put it mildly, that the players wouldn't be aware. Maybe it has no real effect on the outcome of the strategy, as long as the coaches, the coordinators, and the quarterbacks are aware, it may not make that much of a difference.

On the other hand, Chiefs players said that this had been drilled into them, all season long, and then repeatedly throughout the playoffs, the differences in the rules.

The rule is, and it's changed over time, in the regular season, if the team who gets the ball first scores a touchdown, the other team has a chance, to possess and tie the game, or prolong it, after which it becomes sudden death.

No, I'm wrong. I just misspoke.

If the -- if the team that gets the ball first scores--

COLLINS: See, no one knows what the rules are.

COSTAS: Yes, no, I do -- I do know. I do know.

If a team in the regular season, if the team that gets the ball first, scores on a field goal, the second team gets a chance, to possess the ball, score touchdown to win it, or score a field goal to tie it, prolong the game, which then becomes sudden death.

Now in the postseason?


COSTAS: If the team who gets the ball first scores a touchdown, then the other team, the game doesn't end then, the other team gets a chance to possess the ball.

If they don't score, the team that had scored first wins the game.

But they do score and tie it? Then the game continues, but it's sudden death. The next score, no matter who scores it, the next score wins the game.

Now, what you don't have, and I've always thought this was crazy, the clock doesn't matter. There may have been some San Francisco players, who thought well, there's still two minutes, or whatever was left in the game. When Hardman scores the winning touchdown, off the Mahomes pass, they may not have realized that the game ended there.

But from the standpoint of drama, taking the clock out of the game. Clock management, the race against time, how you use the timeouts, all that stuff? That's always been part of football's drama and theater. They take that completely out of the game.

So I've always thought that they should play a timed period. Not in the regular season. There's reasons to get it over more quickly then. But in the postseason, they should play a timed period. And they're going to have the Rules Committee figure out what that is.


COSTAS: 10 minutes, maybe it's a full 15. Maybe it's a full 15 in the Super Bowl. That would end the confusion and also increase the drama.

COLLINS: This is why I think that you should be in charge, Bob Costas, obviously. And also, it's something that should have come up in practice.


COLLINS: Thank you for coming on, tonight.

COSTAS: Yes, right.

COLLINS: Really appreciate you.

And I should note, you heard him mention there, Patrick-- COSTAS: Thank you, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: Thank you.

Patrick Mahomes. He is actually going to be on CNN, joining Abby, in the next hour. So, make sure you stay tuned to watch that, see his reaction, to winning the Super Bowl again.

Also tonight, we are following dramatic new details that we are getting from officials, out of Texas. A woman, yesterday, entered Joel Osteen's megachurch, armed with an AR-15, and her young son in tow, and opened fire. What the sticker on her gun said, what we are learning from police, who have also uncovered anti-Semitic writings.



COLLINS: We're learning more, tonight, from officials, about the woman, who opened fire, at a popular Texas megachurch, yesterday.

Police say that 36-year-old Genesse Moreno (ph) had a history of mental health issues, and also criminal charges, including assault. They said that when she entered, the pastor, Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church, with her 7-year-old son in tow that she was armed with an AR- 15 and a 22-caliber rifle.

No formal motive has been determined yet. But police say that there are possible clues, including that she had her AR-15 emblazoned with a sticker that read Palestine, and also had a history of anti-Semitic writings.


CHRISTOPHER HASSIG, HOMICIDE COMMANDER: I mentioned anti-Semitic writing. We do believe that there was a familial dispute that has taken place between her ex-husband and her ex-husband's family. And some of those individuals are of -- are Jewish. So, we believe that that is might -- might possibly be where all of this stems from.


COLLINS: Tonight, it's still unclear why she chose to go to this Christian megachurch.

But after firing 30 rounds, she was killed by two off-duty law enforcement officers, who happened to be there. The gunfire left her child, in critical condition, and another man was also injured.

For more on what we are learning about this tonight, I want to bring in Jennifer Mascia, CNN Contributor, and Writer for The Trace, a news outlet focused exclusively on gun violence.

I just wonder what stands out to you, when you are looking at the shape of this shooter's profile. JENNIFER MASCIA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, we saw the Palestine sticker, on the gun, right? So immediately, our minds went to is this political? Is this an outgrowth of the violence that's happening in the Middle East?

It looks like this shooter had a number of mental health issues. The Palestine reference might have been stemming from a dispute, with her ex-husband's family.


But what we see is this is the 14th mass shooter or active shooter, in a high-profile setting, who has been placed in an emergency hold, and not committed afterward, and got to keep her guns.

You are only -- a gunman is only triggered if you're committed, for a longer stay. And already, the Lewiston shooter, even the Virginia Tech shooter, we're seeing this time and again, where we have like a pattern of behavior that doesn't add up to a conviction, doesn't add up to a gun ban, based on mental health.

But it's in the aggregate something that another country would look at this, and deny a gun sale. But here, in America, we don't have many mechanisms like that, particularly in Texas.

COLLINS: Yes. And what do you -- I mean, so she was held. But it's because it has to be longer. I mean, that we saw a similar situation with, when we were talking about the Maine shooting, the Lewiston shooting that you mentioned there.

I mean, the other things that they're looking at is a string of arrests, for relatively minor offenses.

MASCIA: Right. Unless you're convicted for a felony that carries more than a year in prison?


MASCIA: You can be arrested many times. You can be held for many emergency mental health holds. And you can still buy a gun.

COLLINS: Jennifer, I know you'll keep watching this. Thank you, for joining, tonight.

MASCIA: You bet.

COLLINS: Also tonight, we are now hearing that Defense Secretary, Lloyd Austin, back in the hospital, in the intensive care unit. And an update on his condition, in a moment.



COLLINS: Defense Secretary, Lloyd Austin, will spend another night, in critical care, tonight, after he was put under general anesthesia, to treat a bladder issue, we are told. He had to cancel a trip to Brussels, and pass his duties, onto his deputy, at the Pentagon.

Of course, all of this comes, after he was criticized and apologized, after he failed to inform the White House, and the President, about his previous hospital stays.

Right now, we are told that his prognosis remains excellent. And obviously, everyone, here at CNN, is wishing him a speedy recovery, and that he is out of the hospital soon. We'll continue to keep you updated.

Thank you for joining us.