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The Source with Kaitlan Collins

Gov. Kemp: Judge Deciding Whether To Disqualify Fani Willis Is "A Good Man" And Will Follow The Law; Prosecutors: Indicted Ex-FBI Informant Who Lied About The Bidens Is "Peddling New Lies That Could Impact U.S. Elections"; Trump: $355 Million Civil Fraud Ruling A "Form Of Navalny". Aired 9-10p ET

Aired February 20, 2024 - 21:00   ET




ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Lastly, tonight, two men were charged with murder, and other felonies, today, for their roles, in the mass shooting, after a hometown rally, last week, for the Super Bowl- winning Kansas City Chiefs. Lyndell Mays and Dominic Miller are the two men. This is separate from the two teens, facing gun-related and resisting arrest charges.

As you may know, Lisa Lopez-Galvan, a 43-year-old mother of two, and a local DJ and radio host, was killed, during the shootout. More than 20 others, including nearly a dozen children, were wounded. Investigators said the two men did not know each other, and got into a verbal argument, which then escalated.

The news continues. "THE SOURCE WITH KAITLAN COLLINS" starts now.

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

Donald Trump is responding, for the first time, after Nikki Haley said not only is she not dropping out of the 2024 race, she doesn't fear his retribution either.

Also tonight, our one-on-one with Georgia governor, Brian Kemp, a key witness, in both election interference cases, revealing to CNN, for the first time, he's been interviewed by the Special Counsel, Jack Smith. Also, what he makes of the 2024 race, and the District Attorney scandal unfolding in his state.

Also, tonight, this stunning revelation that we are still digging into. The former FBI informant, who has been indicted, for lying about the Bidens, now says those lies were fed to him by Russian intelligence officials, then, amplified by Republicans in Congress. A key Democrat will respond, in moments.

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

Four days, ahead of the South Carolina primary, tonight, where Governor Nikki Haley is trailing Donald Trump, in her home state, she has just delivered what may be the most defiant speech of her campaign yet.


NIKKI HALEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: South Carolina will vote on Saturday. But on Sunday, I'll still be running for President. I'm not going anywhere.


HALEY: I'm campaigning every day until the last person votes.


COLLINS: Haley is pledging to continue her longshot pursuit of the GOP nomination, casting herself as a David taking on Goliath. And she's also ramping up her attacks on the former President that she once served under.


HALEY: I feel no need to kiss the ring.

I have no fear of Trump's retribution.

He's getting meaner and more offensive by the day.

It's not normal to insult our military heroes and veterans.

It's not normal to call on Russia, to invade NATO countries.

He's gotten more unstable and unhinged.

He's completely distracted. And everything is about him.


COLLINS: I'm told by multiple sources that Trump's campaign is increasingly irritated, by Haley's refusal to drop out of this race. And officials, with his campaign, said today that she has no mathematical path, they believe, to the Republican nomination.

The former President himself is responding to Haley's persistence, tonight.


DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: She's down by 30, 35 points. And everybody knows her. You're not supposed to lose your home state. Shouldn't happen anyway. And she's losing it bigly.

I don't think she knows how to get out, actually. I really don't.

The Democrats are giving her money and she's playing into the game.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COLLINS: For more on the state of this race, I want to turn now, to a prominent Republican, one who has faced Trump's retribution, and famously stood up to the pressure campaign, from the former President, to overturn the legitimate election results, in the State of Georgia.

Let's go straight to THE SOURCE, tonight, with Georgia governor, Brian Kemp.


COLLINS: Governor Kemp, thank you for being here. Good to sit down with you, again. Great to have you on THE SOURCE.

On the news that we heard today, Governor Nikki Haley saying that she is staying in this race, no matter what happens, on Saturday. Do you support that?

GOV. BRIAN KEMP (R-GA): Well, I've said all along, you got a process. It's playing out in the race. I'm glad the RNC or whoever the powers that were be that were trying to inaugurate, I guess, President Trump, to be the nominee, didn't do that. I think it's best to let the process play out the way it's designed.

Certainly, it's up to Nikki Haley's, her campaign and herself to decide whether she wants to keep running or not. And she is. And so, I'll support that. Of course, if I was in the Trump camp, I'd be continuing to put pressure on her, to get her out. So, I think that's the way it's supposed to play out. And we'll see what happens on Saturday.

COLLINS: One thing she said in her speech that stood out to me, she said, we don't anoint kings, in this country. We have elections. And Donald Trump, of all people, should know that we don't rig elections.

Do you think Donald Trump knows that?


KEMP: Well, I thought it was pretty good line, for her situation. But no that's, she's right, you know? We don't need the processes to be rigged. They need to play out. And you could ask Trump if he knows that or not. I mean I wouldn't be able to answer that for him.

COLLINS: We've talked about the election.

But on the 2024 race, generally, you have been very concerned about Republicans winning, and what that looks like. And something you said recently that, you said, it's unacceptable to you that Republicans have not won the popular vote, for 20 years now. And you said, quote, as bad as Joe Biden is, this election will not be a cakewalk.

Do you think that Donald Trump could win the popular vote or just the election? Period.

KEMP: Well, I definitely think he could win. I definitely think he could lose. And that's really what my point is. I mean, we need candidates, I think, to be able to win and to be able

to win in November of 2024, to be focused on the future, to be telling the American people, what we're for, why they should vote for us, not why the other person's so bad. I mean, look, there's plenty of bad things, in my opinion, about Joe Biden, and the way he's governed the country.

But also, I think you got to give people a reason to vote for you. And that's been my message, not only just few weeks ago. But also, a few months ago, I was saying the same thing.

COLLINS: How do Republicans do that? What does winning look like for them? Because you're someone, who was able to successfully win reelection, in your state, when it was an open question, initially, when we talked, then. What do they need to be running on, come November, in your view?

KEMP: Well, I think, looking back, I mean, take the border, for instance, right now. The reason the border is a disaster is because we didn't win the 2020 election, at the presidential level. We got -- we got beat. We lost the election. Therefore, you're seeing bad policies that have created a disaster, at the border.

So, it's imperative that you win to be able to get into positions, like I'm in, where you can -- you can actually govern. And if you look at my reelection campaign, I mean, look, there was plenty of distractions, people trying to talk about this issue or that issue.

And we kept telling the people of Georgia, what we're going to do for them, what our record was, like getting the economy going, coming out of COVID, not backing down to people that were pressuring us not to reopen or shut back down, and to keep our kids in the classroom, and not to defund the police, and go after bad criminal actors, and Antifa, and other people that were trying to burn down the City of Atlanta.

We didn't get distracted on these other issues. And that's what we need to do, in the presidential election, in my opinion.

COLLINS: And when you talk about how that happens, the Republican National Committee is obviously a part of trying to help other Republicans get elected.

I wonder what you make of Trump being in the middle of kind of maneuvering to this takeover of the RNC. He's putting in a loyalist in charge, his daughter-in-law, also, both of whom I should note, are election deniers.

Do you think that's going to put Republicans in a good spot for this fall? Or do you have concerns about that?

KEMP: Well, I mean, look, we'll see. I've had concerns about the RNC, and their ability to get the vote out, and to get the early vote out, and to raise enough money, to be able to help candidates on the ground. And in Georgia, we had to do a lot of that ourselves. And I'm not

trying to pick at anybody that's in the state party, the National Party. But it's just--

COLLINS: Yes, but you lived it.

KEMP: It's just the fact that we could not rely on them to get the vote out. We've had to do that ourselves. And I think that's the concern. That any campaign, whether it's Nikki Haley, or Donald Trump, or anybody else that's going to be running, I mean, you got to have a good ground game. You got to raise a lot of money to get the vote out. We don't need to wait till Election Day to do that.

And, quite honestly, the last couple cycles, we haven't done that. If we had, we'd have won close states versus losing them.

COLLINS: I want to talk about something that happened in your home state, last week. We all watched that dramatic testimony from the Fulton County District Attorney, Fani Willis.

Based on what you saw, do you believe that she should be disqualified?

KEMP: Well, listen, we've had a political process there that, believe it or not, has gotten more political. And we certainly saw that last week.

I got to be very careful about what I'm saying here, because as you know, I was subpoenaed to be a witness in that -- in that grand jury. And so, I really don't want to speak too much other than, what I've said all along, is I followed the law and the Constitution.

But I've been very concerned about that being a political process. And I think now, Fani Willis is seeing how political it can get, on the other side.

COLLINS: Well, there was this effort, though, by far-right Republicans, in Georgia, to try to sanction her, or defund the investigation. You pushed back on that and said, this could create a precedent and have backlash that you all don't really see what's coming.

I mean, do you have concerns that the public -- that now the public won't accept how she conducts this investigation, if she does stay on?

KEMP: Well, I would just say, two years ago, we started pushing legislation, to have oversight for district attorneys.

We have a lot of district attorneys in the state, and they're all around the country. They're not following the law. They're not going after the people that they need to go after, to keep our local communities safe.


And so, we worked with the General Assembly, to get a bill passed. Last year, there was a lawsuit, on the constitutionality of just one small part of that. The judge has basically sent a signal to the legislature that we need to fix that. And so, we're in the process of doing that right now.

But the commission has been made up. It'll be a commission of district attorneys peers that will look and see if there has been violations. And there'll be a process for the public to be able to file complaints, just like we do with our judges in the state.

To me, that is the law. That is how this should play out, if people have issues, with Fani Willis, and would like to file a complaint, versus a bunch of politicians doing that.

COLLINS: You think it should be in that process.

If she is disqualified, though, it's an open question of what happens to the investigation. And, I think, what's at the heart of this investigation has nothing to do with the complaints about her, and the questions about her, the allegations about her.

Are you worried that Georgia voters may not get justice, in this case, if she is disqualified--

KEMP: Well.

COLLINS: --and the case falls apart?

KEMP: Yes. I would just tell you that six months, eight months ago, I never thought this case would go to trial, before the election then. And I think most people think that's the case now.

So, as far as I'm concerned, I don't think voters should get too distracted, on all of this, and just stay focused on what's at hand, going into November, and let Judge McAfee make his ruling, based on just--

COLLINS: And you'll trust his ruling?

KEMP: Well, listen, I believe he's a good man. I mean, I appointed him. And I think he -- I'm very confident that he'll be a constitutionalist, if you will. He won't make up the law. He'll follow it. And we'll see what his ruling says.

COLLINS: You mentioned that you're a witness, and that you were also contacted, in another investigation, into the election, and the efforts to overturn it. That was Jack Smith, the Special Counsel's. We reported that your office was contacted.

When did you sit down with Jack Smith's office? And how long did you talk to them for?

KEMP: I don't know exactly when that was. I mean, it's been months ago. That really didn't last that long. I mean, I basically told him the same thing, I told the special grand juries that I followed the law, and the Constitution, and answered all their questions, truthfully. COLLINS: Trump is making an argument right now that is in the hands of the Supreme Court, where it goes that he has broad immunity, from being president, and that he can't be prosecuted, for anything he did while he was in office.

I wonder what you make of that claim.

KEMP: Well, listen, I don't think anybody's above the law, a Democrat or a Republican, an Independent, myself or anybody else. So, that's my personal opinion.

COLLINS: Do you think that those cases should go to trial before the elections and voters can make a decision based off that?

KEMP: Well, listen, I think most voters probably feel the same way, I do. I mean, we're a country that was built on laws, and the Constitution. And it's up to us, really, as elected leaders, to be the ones that exemplify that, in a lot of ways. So, we'll see where the process plays out. I think probably they will be ruled on before the election.

COLLINS: Governor Kemp, thanks for your time today.

KEMP: Thank you.


COLLINS: Up next here, from Russia to Republicans, breaking news, tonight, apparent lies that are at the center of the Republicans' impeachment inquiry, into President Biden that actually apparently came from intelligence officers, in Russia. That's according to the former FBI informant, who is now been indicted by the Feds.

Also tonight, Donald Trump with a do-over on the death of Alexey Navalny. But guess what, still not condemning Putin, instead comparing what is happening to Navalny, to his own legal troubles.



COLLINS: Breaking news, tonight, because the former FBI informant, and I put that in quotes, because he has now been charged with lying about the Bidens' family -- Biden family's dealings, in Ukraine, now says it was Russian intelligence officials, who passed along that bogus information, to him, about Hunter Biden. A judge, tonight, has just ordered his release from jail pending trial.

CNN caught this video, of Alexander Smirnov, leaving court, in Las Vegas, tonight. It's hard to see. But yes, that is him, completely covered with a hood, a hat and a mask.

This comes after, earlier today, we read through a new Justice Department filing that says that person there, the ex-informant, told authorities, after he was arrested that he had extensive and extremely recent contacts, with foreign intelligence officials. Remember, of course, this is the man behind the information that House Republicans have used, as the key evidence, to launch their impeachment inquiry, into President Biden. And again, it's information that is not true. It's false.

Prosecutors now say that he has been quote, "Actively peddling new lies that could impact U.S. elections."

CNN's Chief Legal Affairs Correspondent, Paula Reid, is digging through this remarkable filing, and joins me now.

Paula, I mean, prosecutors, they were trying to disclose this information, to keep him in jail, as he awaited trial. Clearly, the judge has disagreed, and released him under certain conditions.

But walk us through what we did learn, from this filing.

PAULA REID, CNN CHIEF LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Kaitlan, this is truly stunning. And I want to emphasize that the source of this information, is Special Counsel, David Weiss. He's the one, overseeing two criminal prosecutions, against Hunter Biden. He's also overseeing the Smirnov case.

Now, as you noted, this filing was an effort, to try to keep Smirnov behind -- behind bars, detained, pending his trial. That didn't work. But he still revealed these additional new details, about what they're learning.

So, they allege that after Smirnov was arrested, last week, because of the lies he told, about Hunter Biden and Joe Biden -- Biden allegedly receiving $5 million in bribes. Once he was in custody, he told investigators that some of the information he had, about Hunter Biden, came from Russian intelligence. Now, that is a bombshell.


But I also want to caveat that in this filing, prosecutors don't have any independent verification of Smirnov's claims. There is no proof that he did talk to Russian intelligence officials. Though, they do indicate that he has a long record of having contacts with foreign intelligence officials.

Prosecutors also emphasize the impact that his lies have had, on U.S. politics. They say, quote, "The false information he provided was not trivial. It targeted the presumptive nominee of one of the two major political parties in the United States. The effects of Smirnov's false statements and fabricated information continue to be felt to this day."

That appears to be a reference, of course, to the GOP effort, to impeach Biden, much of that resting on what the DOJ says are lies.

But Kaitlan, it was interesting, just a short time ago, a judge dismissed these concerns about politics, saying that they're not relevant, and also said that these concerns, about foreign intelligence interference are, quote, speculative. COLLINS: But well, I mean, that's interesting, because what the Justice Department was saying, Paula, was basically they had real concerns, about his contacts with those Russians, and what it could mean if he got out. I mean, they were talking about how much money he had, which they said he lied about--

REID: Yes.

COLLINS: --when he was arrested. They were talking about his access to get an Israeli passport. He lived in Israel, for 20 years. They had real concerns that he could be a flight risk.

REID: Absolutely. They were arguing that there were no conditions, under which he could be safely released. They pointed three things. One, his access to millions of dollars, his web of foreign contacts, and his history of lying.

As you noted, he lied about how much money he had. He said he only had a couple grand, when in fact he actually had access to millions of dollars, through a joint account, with someone he refers to as both a wife and a girlfriend, in different -- in different conversations.

But they also point to the fact that he doesn't really have any ties, here in the U.S. Most of his family is in Israel. And they say, quote, "What he does have is extensive foreign ties, including, most troublingly and by his own account, contact with foreign intelligence services, including Russian intelligence agencies, and has had such contacts recently. Smirnov could use these contacts to resettle outside" the U.S.

Now, he will be subject to GPS monitoring. He has to hand in his two passports. But in the filing, prosecutors say, look, he's an Israeli citizen, he can go to the embassy, and get a new Israeli passport.

COLLINS: Paula Reid, it is a stunning filing. Thank you for breaking the key parts of it down.

For reaction to this, here tonight, is Democratic congressman, Jamie Raskin, the Ranking Member of the House Oversight and Accountability committee.

And Congressman, I mean, let me just start there, because this is something that members of your committee, Republicans, of course, on it, not Democrats, have been using as the basis for this.

And I wonder, if when you look at this, you wonder if James Comer, Jim Jordan, Chuck Grassley in the Senate, if they have fallen for this apparent Russian disinformation campaign, but not just that, they've amplified it.

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): Well, and that lie, told by Mr. Smirnov, has been the foundation of the entire impeachment investigation, for more than a year. And they've continued to defend it right up until last week, when Smirnov was indicted, for lying to the FBI and filing false statements, creating a false documentary record. This revelation is really explosive, because it really ties the whole thing together. We know that Putin has been trying to interfere, in American elections, and successfully interfering in American elections, since 2016, when 17 U.S. national security agencies found that he had been engaged in cyber surveillance and cyber espionage against the DNC, against Hillary Clinton, then in 2020, when even Donald Trump's own Treasury Department issued sanctions, against Putin, for his interference in the 2020 election.

And now, it leads all the way up to the 2024 election, where they're continuing to recycle and, as you say, amplify these falsehoods that are concocted, as part of a Russian conspiracy theory.


RASKIN: So, I hope that our colleagues, on the Oversight Committee, and Mr. Comer, will finally just give up the ghost, and shut down the circus, and say, all right, this is over. We tried our best, but there's nothing there other than disinformation and propaganda by Vladimir Putin.

COLLINS: But do you think they will?

RASKIN: Well, so far they've not. I mean, we had another guy, who was supposed to be a bombshell witness, who turned out to be an asset, or an agent, for the Chinese government. And that blew up in their face too. And every other witness really implodes on them. And they just go on to the next one, as if we wouldn't notice the pattern.

But I do think this is the end of the road, because this is where it all began, with that original lie. And now, it's becoming very clear, how it got started. This is all part of a propaganda and disinformation campaign, by Russia, attempting to help Donald Trump.


And when we point out the very clear contours, of this story, our colleagues just start chanting Russia hoax, Russia hoax.

Well what's the hoax? Is it the brutal invasion of Ukraine, and the tens of thousands of Ukrainians, who've died, or tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands of Russians who've died? Is it the death of Navalny that's the hoax? What exactly is the hoax they're talking about?

Because it seems to me that the most likely hoax--


RASKIN: --is really Donald Trump, who's been manipulated, by Putin, for a long time, or is certainly in love with Vladimir Putin, and refuses to say a negative word about anything he does.

COLLINS: And Congressman, I just want to read part of this, because this is the concern that prosecutors had in here, was saying that the false information he was providing, was not just trivial information that it was spreading.

And it was not confined even to the last election that is related to this election. They said, "He is actively peddling new lies that could impact U.S. elections after meeting with Russian intelligence officials in November."

I mean, what's your concern about that?

RASKIN: Well, if you go back to the beginning of the Trump administration, and then the first impeachment, when there was the shakedown of Zelenskyy, it's very clear that Russia was defending the corruption, in Ukraine, against the reformist forces, including Joe Biden, who was working to get rid of a corrupt Prosecutor General.

And so, they have viewed Ukraine, from the very beginning, as a target for Russia. And then they've generated all of these lies, and all of this propaganda, to try to insulate Putin's attempts, to subdue and control Ukraine, right up to the invasion, and then right up to today, because we know exactly what's going on.

Vladimir Putin, who was the head of the KGB, said that the biggest tragedy of the 20th Century was the collapse of the Soviet Union. He wants to recreate the Russian Empire, this time, not as a communist autocracy, but as a right-wing autocracy. And he wants Ukraine to be part of it, and Poland and Estonia.

COLLINS: Congressman? But can I ask you?

RASKIN: And you name it, and so.

COLLINS: I'm sorry to interrupt. But this is a really important part of this, I think, which is the role that David Weiss has played, in all of this.

And the fact that it took the Feds this long, to vet this information, to figure this out, given this person has been a source for them, a confidential human source, for over 10 years, they note, in this filing.

I mean, what questions do you have, for David Weiss, tonight?

RASKIN: Well, yes, and of course, we should be clear that David Weiss was appointed by Donald Trump. So, he's served in different administrations.

But when Chairman Comer first went down this road, of the form 1023, and they wanted to place everything on this false statement that Burisma had given Joe Biden $5 million? They assured us that the person, who was reporting that, from a third-party, was a reliable, confidential human source.

Why were they so certain, back then, that they would tell Chairman Comer, I mean, that this guy was a reliable source? He clearly wasn't a reliable source, or he had not been thoroughly vetted. So, I'd like to know that. But the critical thing now, to understand is that it's a complete House of Cards, built on a lie, and a conspiracy theory. And it's all gone. The House of Cards has collapsed now. And Chairman Comer should simply terminate the investigation, and say, there's nothing there. That would be the intellectually honest approach, at this moment.

COLLINS: Congressman Jamie Raskin, thanks for hopping on, with us, on this breaking news tonight.

We also have much more to come, on the extent, because these lies weren't just peddled, on Capitol Hill and amplified by Republicans. They were also amplified by right-wing and conservative media, for voters to believe. We'll break down that right after a quick break.



COLLINS: More now, on our breaking news, tonight, as the former FBI informant, who is charged with lying about the Biden family's dealings in Ukraine, now says it was Russian intelligence officials who gave him those fake stories.

Much of this information, from this informant, and quite possibly was, and quite possibly still is, at the center of the GOP's impeachment efforts, into President Biden, and has been amplified relentlessly, by right-wing media, essentially doing Putin's work for him.

Here tonight is CNN's Senior Media Reporter, Oliver Darcy.

And Oliver, just to give people a sense of what this has sounded like, and what this has looked like, for people who watch these channels, or visit these sites. This is what this has been like, for the last few months.


SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: There are now real and growing concerns that your president, the President of our country, is compromised.

How real of a bribery scandal -- Joe Biden bribery scandal allegation is this?

REP. JAMES COMER (R-KY): Well, every day, this bribery scandal becomes more credible.

REP. NANCY MACE (R-SC): We already know the President took bribes from Burisma.

HANNITY: This is about the big guy himself, Joe Biden, a corrupt career politician, who is now very credibly accused of public corruption, on a scale this country has never seen before.

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): The most corroborating evidence we have is that 1023 form from this highly credible, confidential human source, according to U.S. attorney, Scott Brady. (END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: I mean, I guess to their credit, the FBI was treating this person, as a confidential human source that they've been relying on. But clearly, we've seen what has happened now that they've looked into his claims.

OLIVER DARCY, CNN SENIOR MEDIA REPORTER: Yes, I mean, most media and organizations, were skeptical of these claims, given what they are, that the former Vice President took a $5 million bribe, along with his son. And so, they treated them with skepticism.

Fox News, on the other hand, aired this propaganda, left and right. If you were watching Fox News, you were being inundated with these claims.

And if you talk to Republicans, and they say, Biden is head of this Biden crime family, this crime syndicate. And you wonder why that is. It's because they're being inundated by people, like Sean Hannity, who are repeating these claims, in almost 100 segments, just last year, with this information.

And so, if you want to understand why so much of the Republican Party supported, for instance, impeaching the former President, last year, it was like, I think, it was like 78 percent Republicans supported that, you have to understand where they're getting the information, and it's coming from people like Hannity who are lying.

And now, of course, now that this is falling apart, in public, they're really nowhere to be found. They're either ignoring this, or you see people even stoking further conspiracies, saying that basically, anyone who speaks out against Biden, gets arrested, and that's what happened in this case.

COLLINS: So, they're not--

DARCY: And so.

COLLINS: --coming out and reporting on the fact that this filing says, he's basically been making it all up, and getting it from Russian intelligence officers?


DARCY: The night this broke, it was not mentioned by people, like Hannity, who have relentlessly amplified this claim. And now, they're sort of acknowledging it, but acknowledging it in a way that, again, stokes further conspiracy theories.

COLLINS: Oliver Darcy, thank you.

Reaction now, from two friends of THE SOURCE, Democratic strategist, Paul Begala; and former Trump White House Communications Director, Alyssa Farah Griffin.

I think, Paul, a lot of people were probably reading this filing, thinking, are we really doing this again?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. Russia is our enemy. Russia wants to hurt America. They -- people say meddled. They didn't. They invaded, cyber invasion, in the 2016 election. They're apparently trying to do it again, with human sources.

And the people, who are repeating this, first, in their defense, the strongest drug, I know is confirmation bias, right? So, you hear something. I don't like Trump. So, anybody says (ph) bad about Trump, I'm going to believe it.

Having said that, people, who have a media platform, have a responsibility, to do more than just nod their head, when something confirms their bias. And they have become dupes, what Stalin used to call useful idiots. You hear that phrase a lot these days. And that's what a lot of the right-wing media has become.

COLLINS: Alyssa, what do you make of this?

ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, listen, this is the Russian playbook.

And I think if the average American had a better understanding, of how Russians engage in information warfare, and disinformation warfare. And they've been doing it for decades, in the U.S., but in this era of democratized media, social media, right-wing and part -- highly polarized partisan media, it's able to be amplified so much quicker.

This is textbook. Anytime you see something that caters to exactly to your point, what you dislike about an opponent, and it almost seems so out there, and there's not much backing it? You should be skeptical. You should be skeptical of information, you're provided. And real journalists will kind of suss that out.

But, I mean, Sean Hannity mentioned this specific issue, more than two dozen times on his program, and opening monologues, without going into the layers of actually pulling back, who this person could be.

I think there are a lot of members of Congress, by the way, Republican members, who don't have the sophistication, to suss out what might in fact, just be Russian disinformation.

COLLINS: Yes, I mean, that's concerning.

Paul, on the other topic, we started the hour with Governor Brian Kemp, talking about Trump's legal troubles.


COLLINS: We've learned tonight, I should note, that his leadership PAC, Trump's, not Kemp's, paid out more than $2.9 million, to law firms, last month, racked up another $1.9 million in unpaid legal bills, at the end of January.

This is what Governor Kemp said about Trump's legal issues, and when he predicts they could be resolved. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KEMP: I think most voters probably feel the same way, I do. I mean, we're a country that was built on laws, and the Constitution. And it's up to us, really, as elected leaders, to be the ones that exemplify that, in a lot of ways. So, we'll see where the process plays out. I think probably they will be ruled on before the election.


COLLINS: We don't hear that from many--

BEGALA: Right.

COLLINS: --Republican leaders.

BEGALA: Right. No conspiracy theories. No trashing of the prosecutors, or the judge who he appointed, in this case, Judge McAfee in the Georgia case.

What Brian Kemp has that I don't know many Republicans do is a fearlessness. He's not scared of Donald Trump.

Donald Trump put up a really talented Republican primary opponent against him. David Perdue, a millionaire, former senator. Kemp beat him by a margin of 52, a margin. He took on Trump's best guy, and whipped him.

And the rest of these Republicans ought to listen to Brian Kemp, and watch him. They're also cowed by Trump, you can hear them moo.

FARAH GRIFFIN: And, by the way, he did it while passing conservative policies--

BEGALA: Right.

FARAH GRIFFIN: --while actually delivering for his state, and while not making Trump the focus, but when asked, being honest, being principled and sticking to his core beliefs. He's kind of a model for what a post-Trump Republican should, and could look like.

BEGALA: Absolutely.

COLLINS: Alyssa Farah Griffin, Paul Begala, as always, thank you both.

Up next, here on CNN, President Biden is promising a major new punishment for Russia, following the death of Alexey Navalny. Ukraine's Ambassador to the U.S. will join me, as critical U.S. aid is stuck in limbo, as Russia is making gains on the battlefield.



COLLINS: Tonight, we heard, from former President Trump, on Alexey Navalny's death, for the first time publicly, as he called the Russian opposition leader, brave.

But when the subject turned to Trump's own legal bills, Trump turned it back to Navalny, with this comparison.


LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST: How will you put up that kind of money? Because you have a bond to put up.


INGRAHAM: Even if, if you appeal, you got to put up escrow money. That's -- it's a lot of -- lot of dough.

TRUMP: It is a form of Navalny. It is a form of communism or fascism.


COLLINS: No, it's not.

We heard that comment there. Of course, this is coming, as we are also seeing other developments happening on the battlefield. The former President, I should note, has not condemned Russia or Putin, for Navalny's death. Instead tonight, he praised Russia's military.

Put that in contrast, with what you were seeing, from the White House, which announced today that new sanctions are going to be coming, against Russia, citing Navalny's death, and Putin's ongoing war in Ukraine. Of course, this Saturday will mark two years, since Russia invaded.

And joining me now is the Ukrainian ambassador to the United States, Oksana Markarova.

And thank you, Ambassador, for being here.

I wonder if you agree with the assessment that we heard, from your Foreign Minister, earlier today that that key Ukrainian town of Avdiivka, would not have been lost, if Ukraine had more ammunition in its hands.

AMB. OKSANA MARKAROVA, AMBASSADOR OF UKRAINE TO THE U.S.: Hello, Kaitlan. And thank you for having me.

Well, it's actually 10 years today exactly, since Russia attacked us the first time. And it's very difficult to comment in the war on what would have happened. But we can clearly say that this war, since the beginning of reinvasion, for two years, has always been a function of weapons.

We always had enough motivated Ukrainians, who defend our homes, our loved ones. We still continue to do that. And we will not surrender. And right now, we're having the ratio of six to one at most. And it makes it very difficult.

Now, we know we can win this. We know that with a little bit more supply, and a little bit more sanctions, frankly, we can get back on a strong offensive. But right now, it is what it is.

And the destruction of Avdiivka has been very painful, and even though Russians have lost a lot of people there.

So, we really count on the continued support, and we need more weapons, from all of our friends and allies, so that we can stop Russia, and get back on the -- on liberating our land.


COLLINS: Yes. The one thing that will be different, on this anniversary, from year one and year two, is that there's not that continued U.S. support that we're seeing, in terms of military weaponry, and aid that is coming, because right now it's at a standstill in the U.S. Congress.

And obviously, you're the Ambassador. You're in Washington. What are your conversations like with these Russian -- House members? Are you getting assurances that they do believe another aid package will be passed?

MARKAROVA: Well, we still have very strong bipartisan support. We saw it every time, we speak. President Zelenskyy, in Munich, met was both House and Senate delegation, 70 votes on the Senate floor. And of course, it's an internal issue, how to support us, who has the total votes, separately, together. We really shouldn't be getting into it.

But we needed it yesterday. And you're right. We have to be ordering more. We have to be receiving more, right now, in order to stop Russia, not only for the sake of Ukraine.

For us, it's existential. We know that they want to kill all of us. And there are people, who have been killed and raped, as we speak, on the territories that they still occupy, and children who have been kidnapped.

But we have to stop them. Because let's listen to Putin. It's well beyond Ukraine for him. He threatens Poland. He threatens Baltic states. He threatens other NATO allies. He threatens anyone, who believe in the same values, freedom, democracy, something that we all breathe and think anyone should have a right to, if they decide to choose.

So, this is a very pivotal moment, really. And I really hope and pray that when Congress comes back, they will be able to find a form or modality, in which to continue this support.

COLLINS: And we'll continue to watch that closely, and have those conversations.

Ambassador, as always, thank you, for your time, tonight.

MARKAROVA: Thank you, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: Up next, a movement is growing, in a key battleground state, to vote against President Biden, not necessarily for him. It is coming with the help and the push, by a congresswoman, from his own party.



COLLINS: Tonight, the United States vetoed a United Nations resolution, calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. The U.S. has its own draft resolution that CNN has seen that calls for a temporary ceasefire in Gaza, as soon as practicable.

Notice the subtle but significant distinction in that language. For months, the Biden White House has avoided using the term, ceasefire, instead, preferring the term, pause, when we've had those brief moments of a pause in fighting. But this comes amid protests, from many on the left, against President Biden's stance, on the war in Gaza.

Here tonight is former Virginia governor, and former Chair of the Democratic National Committee, Terry McAuliffe.

Governor, it's great to have you here.

And what we're hearing from the U.S. is they're essentially saying that if they voted yes on this, that they believe it would hinder and affect the ongoing hostage negotiations.

But critics will note this is the third time that this has happened. Aid agencies say that the decision to veto this is unconscionable.

How do you think angry voters are going to respond to this?

TERRY MCAULIFFE, (D) FORMER GOVERNOR OF VIRGINIA: Listen, this is a very tough, challenging situation we have in Israel.

Israel has the right to defend themselves. But as the President Biden has said, he has said the response has been over the top. And that's why the President's worked so hard to get humanitarian aid in. And Tony Blinken and Jake Sullivan, you have the Director of the CIA, Bill Burns, all working their hearts out, trying to get these hostages out. Very, very tough situation.

But it's important. This is the United States of America. They're a strong ally. But with our close allies, we also have to do it in a humanitarian way. We've got to protect the civilians, who over there in the Middle East today.

COLLINS: I mean, but we're not seeing -- we're not even just seeing the anger from voters. I mean, every time Biden goes somewhere now, he is interrupted, it seems like, by a protester, who is protesting his stance on this.


COLLINS: People in his own party, Rashida Tlaib, the Congresswoman, from Michigan, she is endorsing and pushing for this movement, where basically what she wants to happen -- have happen in the Michigan primary, is for voters to send a message, by voting uncommitted.

I wonder what you make of that.

MCAULIFFE: Well, listen, this is the Democratic Party. As a former Chair of this party, we have a lot of voices. They like to have their voices heard.

But listen, Michigan is a critical state for us. You saw the UAW, the other day, came out and supported the President. You look at the jobs created, the union jobs that are being created. People understand what Joe Biden has done.

And listen, we're coming into -- I think, March is going to be a very important month. The President is going to give the State of the Union, layout his term -- what he wants to do in the second term. And in addition, I think Donald Trump will be the nominee, of the Republican Party, come sometime mid-March. And then, the contrast will be clear.

I mean, here's Joe Biden. 15 million new jobs. Inflation is down two- thirds. Unemployment under 4 percent, the longest we've had Kaitlan, in over 50 years. Student loan debt forgiveness for millions of people, prescription drug benefit, infrastructure bill.

And contrast that against Donald Trump, a campaign that he wants to do, revenge and retribution. He wants a national abortion ban.

But I'll tell you what bothers me the most is last week, is when he told folks that he believes that Russia, basically gave the green light to Putin, to go invade our NATO allies. Now, my father fought in World War II, as many of his generation did. I think that's disqualifying to be President of the United States of America. He has called those that have fought in our wars, losers, for those that were killed.

This is, he's supporting Putin. Invaded Ukraine. You heard the Ambassador, a few minutes ago. He just killed his opposition leader, who was in prison.

They just arrested a newly-minted U.S. citizen, a ballerina from L.A. Charged her with high treason, why? She gave $51.80 to a Ukraine relief effort, two years ago.


So, there's a real contrast in this election--


MCAULIFFE: --of what Donald Trump wants to do for America, and what Joe Biden has done and where he wants to take this country.

But look at, look where we are. Joe Biden has won every primary convincingly. He just won South Carolina by 69 percent.

COLLINS: So Governor, you're not worried about-- MCAULIFFE: The money has been great.

COLLINS: --about Michigan and this effort?

MCAULIFFE: The RNC has $8 million in the bank.

Joe Biden's campaign has $130 million. And what's really exciting is 30 percent of those are new donors. So, the campaign's hum and the campaign's doing great.

I just believe when it becomes a contrast, between Joe Biden and Donald Trump, and what Donald Trump stands for, and what Joe Biden stands for, is going to become clearer, and as we move forward, about eight and a half months away, from the election.

But Donald Trump wants a national abortion ban. Americans don't want that. And they don't want a president, who tells our biggest enemy, today, to go invade our NATO allies. He invaded Ukraine.

COLLINS: Yes. Governor?

MCAULIFFE: I've been to the frontlines of Ukraine. I've been in the trenches.


MCAULIFFE: As artillery fire was going off. These people are fighting their hearts out.

And here you got Congress. The Senate passed a bipartisan bill. And yet, the House can't pass an Israel aid bill? They can't pass a Ukrainian bill. And they can't pass a bill to--

COLLINS: Yes. Governor?

MCAULIFFE: --fund what we need to do to keep our border secure and safe. It's a disgrace. I mean, they couldn't even pass a bill today to name a post office after George Washington.

People are sick of the politics. They want to get things done. And Joe Biden's got that record. You'll see him win big, in Michigan, and will continue, as we go forward.

COLLINS: Governor?

MCAULIFFE: But it's an exciting time.


MCAULIFFE: And we're going to win this election. I supported Joe Biden in 2020. I was a big supporter of the President's. Because why? He puts coalitions together. And that's what we need.

COLLINS: Governor Terry McAuliffe, thanks so much for your time.

And we'll be back in a moment. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)