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The Source with Kaitlan Collins

DOJ Filing: Indicted FBI Informant Told FBI He Got Dirt On Hunter Biden From Russian Intel Officials; Major Alabama Health System Pauses IVF Treatment After Court Rules Frozen Embryos Are Children; Documents Reveal 24 Biting Incidents By Biden's Dog. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired February 21, 2024 - 21:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: To a school bus stop, in the morning that she disappeared. But she never arrived.

They say they have detailed evidence, of his movements, that day, including video and cell phone footage, as well as evidence that he lied about his whereabouts. They also have a rope that the killer used, and say it was consistent with ropes seen in McDougal's vehicle.

Our hearts go out to Audrii's family, tonight.

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

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

Republicans finally get a Biden under oath before Congress, right as their push to impeach the President implodes. Their star witness has been indicted, for lying about the Bidens and bribes, a big embarrassment, for House Republicans, who are still vowing to push ahead, tonight.

Also, an uproar over a first-of-its-kind ruling. The Alabama Supreme Court says that frozen embryos are children, and destroying them could land you in prison. How it could impact fertility treatments for people who want to have a baby.

And tonight, President Biden is weighing going in alone, to address the border crisis, after Republicans tanked a bipartisan border deal, an executive action that would make it harder for migrants to get asylum, and easier for the U.S. to deport them.

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

Tonight, the impeachment investigators are back on Capitol Hill, just in time to interview their first member of the Biden family under oath. The President's brother, James. And they're preparing to haul in Hunter Biden to testify a week from today. They believe that they've got President Biden right where they want him, or so they had hoped.

Instead, it has blown up in their faces, in a very public and embarrassing way. The apparent centerpiece of this inquiry, as we now know, a now former FBI informant, says that his claims about the Bidens, and the millions of dollars in bribe money, actually came from Russian intelligence.

So, it would appear if the newly-indicted ex-informant, Alexander Smirnov, is telling the truth? And we don't know, given his history. House Republicans did exactly what Vladimir Putin was hoping that they would. At this point, if the impeachment inquiry is not dead, yet, it is certainly on life support.

But just don't ask the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee that. Listen to what Jim Jordan said about this, just a few weeks ago, about what the claims of this very informant are, compared to what he's saying today.


REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): The most corroborating evidence we have is that 1023 form, from this highly credible, confidential human source.

MANU RAJU, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You said the 1023 is the most corroborating piece of information you have.

JORDAN: It corroborates, but it doesn't -- it doesn't change those fundamental facts. So now--

RAJU: But it's not true.

JORDAN: Well, so, OK, so it's the -- the FBI told us that this source was so -- 14 years, this source was a paid source by the FBI.

RAJU: But your promotion of a bribery scheme was false.

JORDAN: Not at all.


COLLINS: Not necessarily not at all. But we'll talk about that in a moment, more with one of Jim Jordan's colleagues, in the House, who has had a few choice things to say, about what's been going on.

But here's really where we stand tonight. The James Biden interview, today, lasted more than eight hours. Republicans, still grasping at straws to keep this going.

But as CNN has learned, James Biden was just the latest, in a string of witnesses, to tell Congress that Joe Biden did not have any involvement, in his business dealings.

Even Republicans' handpicked witnesses here have undercut their claims, including in that now-infamous televised hearing, I should note the only one that we've ever seen.

And also, Republicans' star witness is now facing federal charges. He's wearing an ankle monitor, tonight. And the Special Counsel, in that case, is hounding a federal judge, to put him back in jail, pending trial, worried that he is a flight risk. With all of that as the backdrop, some Republicans are now trying to say it's FBI's fault, for relying on Smirnov, in the first place.

Joining me here tonight is Republican congressman, Ken Buck, who serves on both the House Judiciary and Foreign Affairs committee -- committees.

And, Congressman, it's great to have you.

Looking at what you said, last September, you were condemning your own party's impeachment efforts, saying that "Republicans in the House who are itching for an impeachment inquiry are relying on an imagined history."

Did you ever think that that it would collapse in this spectacular of a fashion?

REP. KEN BUCK (R-CO): Well, Kaitlan, it's even more of an imagined history, now. Obviously, this witness -- and we were warned at the time that we received the document, outlining this witness' testimony. We were warned that the credibility of this statement was not known.

And yet, people, my colleagues, went out and talked to the public, about how this was credible, and how it was damning, and how it proved President Biden's, at the time, Vice President Biden's complicity, in receiving bribes. It appears to absolutely be false, and to really undercut the nature of the charges.


We've always been looking for a link, between what Hunter Biden received, in terms of money, and Joe Biden's activities, or Joe Biden receiving money. This clearly is not a credible link, at this point.

COLLINS: So, James Comer, and Jim Jordan, they knew that this was not corroborated information. Yet, they still went public with it, talked about it, on television, used it to fuel these investigations, regardless?

BUCK: That's what it appears. I certainly didn't have any evidence outside the statement itself that it was credible.

And as a prosecutor, for 25 years, Kaitlan, I never went to the public, until I could prove the reliability of a statement. And even then, the only public statement a prosecutor makes is the charging document. Let's see what the evidence is, in this impeachment, if there is more evidence, before going forward.

COLLINS: You've been very skeptical, of this effort that was so clearly in the making, this impeachment inquiry. You still voted for the impeachment inquiry, though. Do you now that -- what's happened this week, wish that you had not voted for that?

BUCK: No. Big difference between voting for an impeachment and an impeachment inquiry. The inquiry was really required, because the White House declined to

provide documents that were requested, subpoenaed, because they said that there was no formal impeachment inquiry, voted on by the House. At that point, I thought there is no downside, to voting for an impeachment inquiry, as long as the public knows, and as long as my constituents know.

I don't believe that the evidence is there that warrants an impeachment at this point. But certainly, an inquiry allows the gathering of information. Let's gather information. But let's not draw conclusions, before we have all the information.

COLLINS: Well, now that the witnesses that Republicans have brought in have undercut their claims, the informant is indicted, James Biden, today, saying that his brother had nothing to do with his business dealings. Is it time for Republicans to drop this impeachment inquiry?

BUCK: I don't know. I don't know what all the evidence is, Kaitlan. And I don't want to judge the evidence, one way or the other, until I have a chance to sit down, with the investigators, and go through the evidence.

But this certainly undermines a lot. If the impeachment inquiry was based on this witness, it undermines the credibility of this impeachment.

I will say that it's suspicious that anybody would pay Hunter Biden, as much money, as they paid him, without any expertise in the oil and gas industry, without any expertise in international banking. So, those things are suspicious. But again, there's no link directly to Vice President Biden's activities.

COLLINS: So then, why is there an impeachment inquiry? Because I mean, what evidence is it that you're waiting to see? Because what we've heard has all been basically undercut by this.

BUCK: I don't disagree with that, Kaitlan. I think that what evidence, I'm waiting to see, in order to vote for an impeachment, is that Joe Biden took actions, based on payments that were made to Hunter Biden. I have not seen that yet. And I am still a no, on an impeachment, until I see that type of evidence.

COLLINS: I guess, my question is, is how do you continue an inquiry, when the person that the inquiry was based on, which is this informant? That's the 1023 form that you're referencing, that they said they couldn't corroborate? We now know this person has been indicted, for lying to the FBI. So, how do you continue an investigation, based on someone indicted for lying?

BUCK: Well, if there's other evidence, besides this witness' testimony, there's other evidence that indicates? Could be bank records. Could be a different witness. That indicates that there is a connection? I think the inquiry is warranted.

Certainly, Hunter Biden's activities are -- bring the Biden family, really, integrity into question. I think it's fair to look at those things. I think the public has a right to know, exactly what this Vice President did.

Right now, I don't see illegal activity, from this Vice President.

But the inquiry itself is fair. The federal government, and other governments, state and local governments, examine people, all the time, and conclude they don't have enough evidence, to go forward with charges. And that's a -- that's a conclusion that the Republicans, in the House, are going to have to reach, unless there is some direct evidence--

COLLINS: But your--

BUCK: --that Vice President Biden -- I'm sorry, go ahead.

COLLINS: You're on the House Judiciary Committee. Have you seen any evidence that justifies continuing it so far? There's been -- investigations been going on for a long time.

BUCK: Well--

COLLINS: It's not new.

BUCK: It's not new. But Kaitlan, I distinguish between moving forward with an inquiry or an investigation and charging.

I absolutely think that an inquiry is fair. Looking at this situation is fair. Drawing the conclusion that Vice President Biden committed a crime, high crime or misdemeanor or an impeachable offense? I don't -- I don't draw that conclusion, at this point.


COLLINS: I think some people may look at this, though and see, even the handpicked witnesses, by Republicans, have undercut their claims. Here's what's happened here.

And then, they look ahead, to what's happening March 1st, a budget bill is due that we haven't seen any progress on so far, and say House Republicans are focusing on the wrong thing here.

BUCK: Well, I think certainly I've voted against the Mayorkas impeachment. I've voted against some of the actions that I believe were political, and not that that really moved the ball forward, in trying to help America, at this point.

I'm in favor of Ukraine funding. It passed the Senate. I'm hoping it comes to the House floor. Those are things that I think we need to work on. And certainly, spending is one of those, keeping the government open is one of those things, one of those priorities.

But this doesn't necessarily take away, this investigation doesn't necessarily take away from the resources that are necessary, to pass those other very important bills.

COLLINS: Yes. I just think there's a lot of questions, about the foundation of it, and its very existence. Congressman Ken Buck, we'll see what happens, when Republicans are back in Washington. Thanks, for your time, tonight.

BUCK: Thank you.

COLLINS: I want to talk more, about this ex-FBI informant, though, the one that the Special Counsel is now saying, should be still in jail, as he awaits trial, but has been released, and this possible Russian intelligence operation that has clearly potentially made its way into Congress.

We have the former CIA Chief of Russia Operations, and also CNN's National Security Analyst, Steve Hall here.

And it's great to have you, Steve.

I think some people may look at this, and wonder, how did this happen? How do you go from having someone, who was considered a prized source, at the FBI, who has now been turned into an indicted former informant?

STEVE HALL, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes, there's a lot of questions, valid questions about that, Kaitlan. I mean, it was interesting to hear that this guy has actually been, or actually was a confidential informant, for the FBI, for 10 years.

Having been in the human source business myself, previously, not domestically, but overseas, human beings are sometimes difficult to get to the bottom of. But when you're talking about a reporting relationship, you would think that those types of things would be addressed, and taken care of, in the first months, or maybe a year into the relationship.

And this is apparently a 10-year relationship. So, I'm sure people will be looking at that to try to find out how it was that somebody, who ends up being a liar, actually is reporting and providing information for that long of a period.

COLLINS: Yes, he was talking to his FBI handler, on a daily basis, we're told.

And Evan Perez has been reporting on this. And he says that the FBI had been suspicious, of some of Smirnov's information, as far back as 2020. But despite that, our reporting is there's no indication that he was polygraphed.

Wouldn't it be typical for that to happen, for the FBI, to be able to assess their sources?

HALL: You know? And I can't speak directly for FBI M.O. on this. But the polygraph is a useful tool, in some circumstances, not all circumstances. And you've got to be really careful with it, because it can -- it's a very inexact type of device.

But that said, there's a whole bunch of other types of testing, corroborating from other sources, there's all sorts of things that can be done, in the background, to try to find out more about who these sources are.

Of course, if the source is actually acting on behalf of the Russian intelligence services, or any state intelligence service worth their salt, it makes it a lot harder, for people, who are trying to find out, where the lies are, because you got professionals running this guy, on the other side, which I think was probably what was happening in this case.

COLLINS: So, you believe he was basically a double agent?

HALL: I believe the Russian intelligence services got ahold of this guy either, or sent him in cold, and made him -- had him made -- make contact with the FBI that way.

But this has all the -- all the hallmarks of a Russian disinformation operation. They're very good at this kind of thing. And that, again, makes it a lot harder, for those looking for that type of operation, to find the deception immediately, at least.

COLLINS: Well, and given the history, recent history, at least, of sources, who were once prized, and then became notorious, and investigated, people like Christopher Steele, who I should note wasn't charged?

If the FBI knew they couldn't corroborate his claims, why did it take until last summer, to try to start unraveling them, and to tell Congress, or to tell the public, but also to tell Congress, given, clearly, these members, some of them, had a propensity for pushing this stuff, even though they had been told, hey, this isn't corroborated information. But they're the ones who've been out there repeating it into oblivion, basically.

HALL: Yes, I think we're describing here, Kaitlan, the sort of that line between the professional, the collection of information and intelligence, and law enforcement type of activities, and then transitioning into the political handling of that information.


I mean, sure, as we've been talking about, it's incumbent upon any organization that's running human sources, to try -- to try to get to the bottom and find out the level of their veracity, and then report that information to the government, the U.S. government, with the appropriate caveats, if that's appropriate.

You can report something and say we're not sure that this guy is telling the truth, or there's these other issues. That's perfectly acceptable. But then, when politicians get a hold of this stuff and say, well, to me, that's exactly what I want to hear? Then, it becomes a political question. It's no longer a law enforcement or intelligence question.

COLLINS: Yes. And now, it's something that so many people will believe. It's still being pushed as they're downplaying it.

Steve Hall, it's great to have you, breaking this down. It's a fascinating story.

HALL: Good to be here.

COLLINS: Up next, there's a ruling that has sent shockwaves, across the country, as frozen embryos, in Alabama, are now considered to be humans. It's a decision that could end up having national implications, for people, who are seeking fertility treatment.

Also, tonight, President Biden may be taking a major executive action, on the border soon.


COLLINS: Tonight, in my home state, the University of Alabama at Birmingham Health System is now pausing in vitro fertilization procedures, after the State Supreme Court ruled that frozen embryos are considered children. That ruling came, from a pair of lawsuits, in which couples had sued a clinic, for wrongful death, after their embryos were accidentally dropped on the floor, and destroyed.


But now, out of fear of the legal consequences, of this new ruling, health care providers, in Alabama, say that they are stopping IVF treatments.

Reproductive rights advocates and medical experts are warning that that decision is going to have a profound impact, on patients.

My next guest, tonight, could be one of the hundreds of thousands of potential IVF patients affected.

Julie Eshelman is a military wife, and a mom to a beautiful 2-year-old daughter, who was conceived with the help of IVF. For Julie, that was a five-year odyssey, involving multiple miscarriages and heartbreak.

And now, the prospect of growing her family has been thrown into doubt, yet again. Her family is preparing for another move, potentially to Alabama. And what she will do with her embryos remains an open question, tonight.

And Julie is here with us now.

And Julie, I just want to say, I'm so grateful that you're here. I mean, everyone knows the grueling and expensive process, that is, IVF. And just given that, I want to know what you thought, when you found out about this ruling, and the implications that it could have.

JULIE ESHELMAN, IVF PATIENT: Honestly, I was shocked. I was enjoying the long weekend, out of town, with my family. And I got on Facebook, and I saw a post about it. And, I mean, my heart just dropped. I -- shocked is really the only way to describe it, because of the implications that it really could have, on family-building and IVF, not only in Alabama, but nationwide.

COLLINS: And what's your biggest concern with that? ESHELMAN: That access to IVF is going to be stripped away. I mean, it's already hard enough, to access insurance coverage, for IVF, for many families.

And the idea that now you have to be worried about where you live, or for me, where my husband is stationed, and whether or not that would even be legal, for us to pursue IVF, to move our embryos, to that state, so that we didn't have to travel for treatments? There's a lot -- I mean, there's just more things than I can even articulate at this moment that I'm concerned about.

COLLINS: And this is something that you've confronted before. I mean, I know when you -- when you -- before, when you moved, and you were going from Illinois to Pennsylvania, you moved them, but that was only after you saw the state turn blue, in the election. And I think the concern is what would happen, if you -- if you took them?

Would you feel that they were at risk, if you took these embryos, your embryos, to Alabama, given this ruling?

ESHELMAN: Almost certainly. I mean, I don't even know -- I mean, I don't even know that I would actually even think about moving them, to a state like Alabama, given the current climate, just because I know that they're safe where they're at, right now.

And I mean, I don't even know, if we would be able to pursue family- building, if we were to be stationed in a state that, with this ruling, suddenly changed their personhood laws, or changed access to IVF.

COLLINS: How does it feel, as someone, who has gone through IVF, and knows, you know how painful it is, how grueling it is, how difficult it is, for so many women? And it's obviously normally a really private thing that people want to talk about. It must feel strange to now have to consider what the government thinks, about that decision. It must feel invasive.

ESHELMAN: Kaitlan, it really does, because there are so many decisions that a couple has to make, when they are going through the family- building process. And that's just naturally going through the family- building process.

And then, you add a diagnosis of infertility, or other challenges that a couple might face, in trying to build their family, and they need to seek fertility treatments, there's all these different decisions that go into that.

And then, now you're adding the complication of get -- the state's getting involved in those decisions, and lawmakers and politicians that have opinions, on some of these subjects. But maybe they're not fully informed, and fully understand the repercussions that these decisions, and that these laws could have, for families like mine.

COLLINS: Yes, it's certainly a concerning ruling.

Julie, I'm grateful that you came on, to talk about something, like this, because it impacts so many women. And sharing your story is so important. So, thank you, for your time, tonight.

ESHELMAN: Thank you. It's an honor, to be able to share my story, and to raise awareness.

COLLINS: Julie Eshelman, thank you.


We have much more ahead, on where this ruling could lead. There are major questions, about the implications. We're also hearing presidential candidates, including Nikki Haley, weighing on this. We'll tell you what she said, right after a quick break.


COLLINS: We just heard firsthand the personal fallout, from this unprecedented ruling, from the Supreme Court in Alabama that says frozen embryos now count as people.

We're also hearing, from 2024 candidates, tonight, weighing in. Here's what Nikki Haley said, earlier.


NIKKI HALEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I mean, embryos, to me, are babies. So, I mean--


HALEY: I mean, I had artificial insemination.


HALEY: That's how I had my son.

When you talk about an embryo, you are talking about, to me, that's a life.


COLLINS: Haley, agreeing with the ruling there, but also taking a more nuanced position, saying that IVF treatment is an incredibly personal issue.

Here tonight, Nancy Northup, the President and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights.

And it's great to have you back.

We just heard from Nikki Haley, again. She was on "KING CHARLES." They asked her, to follow up, to clarify, what she said there. And this is what she told them.


HALEY: I didn't say that I agreed with the Alabama ruling.


What -- the question that I was asked is, do I believe an embryo is a baby. I do think that if you look in the definition, an embryo is considered an unborn baby. And so, yes, I believe, from my stance that that is.

The difference is, and this is what I say about abortion as well, we need to treat these issues with the utmost respect.


COLLINS: What do you make of that answer? Not even just from a political sense. But what it means for what someone who wants to be president, how they see this?

NANCY NORTHUP, PRESIDENT & CEO, CENTER FOR REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS: I mean, let's just step back about how radical this decision was, this decision that frozen embryos, at an IVF clinic, are, in the court's words, children. I mean, it's patently absurd.

But what is really frightening, about the decision, is it uses the very concept, and I am quoting the decision, extrauterine children. I mean, if it weren't so scary, in its implications, it almost sounds like a farce.


NORTHUP: So, it is problematic that anyone is framing this as a reasonable decision.

COLLINS: I wrote that down as well, to ask you about, because I looked at it. And it's the opinion, that -- obviously, they're typically stored in freezers. And it referred to them as extrauterine children. Is that a typical medical term, have you heard of that?

NORTHUP: Of course not. An embryo is an embryo, right? A born child is a born child.

And what is frightening here is the fact that, we're seeing it all over, this erosion of reproductive autonomy. Of course, we saw it in the reversal of Roe versus Wade, with respect to abortion.

But now, we're seeing it with families that want to create children, being told that their decisions are not theirs to be made. But in this case, that Alabama will consider extrauterine children are what fertilized eggs are.

COLLINS: I guess that's part of the irony here, because what the judges -- the justices were saying in their ruling was this is about protecting life and protecting children.

But so many women, in Alabama, use IVF, to have children. I mean, out of -- the five of eight fertility clinics have reporting data. More than 400 babies were born, through the help of IVF treatments. So, in turn, it could actually hinder more children being born, because, I mean, the UAB, the biggest health care system in Alabama, is now stopping these IVF procedures.

NORTHUP: That's right. And as your prior guests pointed out, couples want to make these decisions for themselves. This is in the realm of the most personal decisions that people can make. And people want to create families.

And the notion, again, to push a political agenda, by taking a medical term, embryo, and turning it into extrauterine children? I mean, it is absolutely absurd.

But again, frightening, because we're seeing taking away reproductive autonomy, taking away reproductive health care decisions. And it's not just women. It's men and women, when we're talking about access to IVF treatment for family creation.

COLLINS: You mentioned Roe versus Wade. Would this decision have happened, if Roe versus Wade had not been overturned by the Supreme Court?

NORTHUP: I don't think you would have seen the boldness that we're seeing, from courts, from politicians, about the fact that they are pushing this agenda, equating embryos with full personhood.

And so, I do think that the reversal of Roe versus Wade has unleashed this notion that what we took for granted, about being able to make decisions, about contraception, about IVF, about abortion, that these were our decisions to be made, are all of a sudden being taken away.

COLLINS: UAB closing, what's your concern that it's not the last?

NORTHUP: Well, it's a concern that this concept, again, of the extrauterine children could spread to other states. Personhood laws have always been a problem in other states.

And again, it is just heartbreaking, for families, who may not be able to choose, as military families cannot, where they reside, to live in a state that doesn't respect their rights, to make these family formation decisions, for themselves.

COLLINS: Nancy Northup, it's a wide-ranging decision. Thank you for joining us, to talk about the--

NORTHUP: Thank you.

COLLINS: --impact it's going to have.

NORTHUP: Thank you.

COLLINS: And, of course, you can watch the rest of Nikki Haley's interview, with "KING CHARLES" that will air at the top of the hour. So, continue watching here on CNN.

Up next, for us here, on THE SOURCE, President Biden, we are told, tonight, is considering major new executive action, at the southern border. Question is what the extent of it is, after Republicans, in the House, tanked a bipartisan deal from the Senate.



COLLINS: Tonight, CNN has learned that President Biden is considering an executive action, to restrict the ability of migrants, to be able to seek asylum, at the southern border. The President, trying to reclaim the mantle, on an issue that he polls the weakest on.

And of course, this comes fresh off what we saw in the House, with Republicans there, refusing to take up that bipartisan deal that came out of the Senate, to secure the border, or at least attempt to. It was a deal that they had demanded, in exchange for more aid for Ukraine. But then, after had been negotiated for months, they killed it, at the behest of Donald Trump.

While no final decision has been made, and we are told that the White House is not commenting on this reporting tonight, this action does appear to be an extension of some of the toughest measures that would have been, in that border bill.

I want to talk about this, with two political vets. Paul Begala, a Democratic strategist. And Lee Carter, a Republican strategist and pollster.

And Paul, I mean, obviously, this is something the White House was prepared to do, if this immigration bill had gone forward. What does it say to that now they're looking at it from an executive order, even though they had claimed before that they were pretty limited on what they could do?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: They probably are pretty limited. Barack Obama tried to use executive authority, on immigration issues, and the courts backed him off, of several of those. Donald Trump, the same.

I think the President has a good argument. We need new laws. And the political argument that wins is when he says, belatedly, but now says we have to control the border. I will close the border, if Congress gives me the power.


I could -- you know what? I could go into an election with Joe Biden saying, I want to close the border, and open the women's clinics. Mr. Trump wants chaos at the border, chaos in your daughters' lives and your sisters' lives. Those are two, because it's taking the Republicans' best issue away from them, or at least trying to neutralize it.

COLLINS: Yes, and it very well could, they could sign this executive order, could be challenged in the courts.

But even if it is, would it give President Biden a win here, in the sense that he could say, well, at least I attempted to do this, House Republicans blocked this bill, and I at least tried to implement it from what I could do with the power of the pen?

LEE CARTER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well I think it actually could hurt, because on the other hand, Republicans have been saying that he can do it without this law, that he could just do it if he wanted to. So, if he can show that he can, then maybe this would backfire on Republicans. So, I think there's actually an interesting argument to be made here.

COLLINS: What do you make?

BEGALA: People want order. We love immigrants. I think W (ph) had it right. I think Obama had it right, right? And they were used to say we're a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.

And I do think that Democrats have been slow, to come to the conclusion that we've got to have order. Once you then have order, then people open their hearts, they love immigrants, they want immigrants, but they got to have order. Biden is now going to give them order.

COLLINS: Lee, on another note, tonight, something that stood out to me is we heard from Lara Trump, Trump's daughter-in-law, but also now apparently going to be the next Co-chair of the Republican National Committee, after he endorsed her for that role.

She was talked about Trump's legal bills, which we know have been ballooning and skyrocketing. And she said this, about what she thinks Republican voters think about that.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You think paying for President Trump's legal bills is something that would -- is of interest to Republican voters?

LARA TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP'S DAUGHTER-IN-LAW: Absolutely. That's why we set GoFundMe (ph) get started. That's why people are furious, right now. And they see the attacks against him. They feel like it's an attack not just on Donald Trump but on this country.


COLLINS: But do Republican donors want to pay Trump's legal bills?

CARTER: Not all Republican donors do.

But I've got to say, there is a huge set of Republicans, specifically Trump supporters, who do want to support him. I spoke with one voter who said, and this really just stuck out to me, and said he has fought for us, now it's our time to fight for him. And they're really looking at this as a time to support him.

When I talk about his legal bills, this is about the campaign. For them, they feel like this is about a fight for democracy, that the system is rigged, that there is a two tier system of justice that they have to fight back. They want a fighter in Donald Trump, and they want to support him. And

if that means that their money needs to go to the court cases, then they'll do it. And it's really hard, for everybody else, to understand, because if you don't support Donald Trump, you don't see it that way. But that's how his supporters see it.

COLLINS: Paul Begala, how do you, a non-Trump supporter, I should note--


COLLINS: That wasn't obvious, you know.

BEGALA: I think it would be amazing if it just once Donald Trump had a thought about anybody other than Donald Trump. He's going to some of the best people in the country, some of the poorest people in the country, and taking their money for his needs. Everything is about him. And when he's on the stump, it's all about him. He is, you know, he's like Pavarotti warming up before the opera, me, me, me, me, me, me, me.

And Joe Biden ought to say, I'm going to be for you. And I think that's a nice distinction, because people actually want their president to work for them.

CARTER: Yes. It is an interesting distinction. But 82 percent of Trump supporters feel like he cares about them--

BEGALA: Yes. But they're Trump supporters.

CARTER: --that he's fighting for them.

COLLINS: But Paul--

BEGALA: They've got -- we actually have half a country that can't stand a guy.

And so, I don't think -- I don't think spending all my time analyzing Trump supporters is all that useful, because they're there, and God bless them, and we hope that they all vote. And we love them. And we hope they give all their money to legal bills, for Mr. Trump. I could give a rip.

But the people going to decide this election are not in search of a president, who's going to focus on himself, and his own legal woes.

COLLINS: Well, I mean, what about Republicans, though, who maybe they don't love Trump being the top of the party, but they care about other Republicans getting elected? I mean, is that the best use of the RNC, to use it to pay for his legal bills?

CARTER: I'm not sure it's the best use. But certainly, when you look at so much of the polling, there's so many Republicans, out there, who do feel, whether or not they support Trump, they do feel the system is rigged against them. They do feel like things are unfair. They want a fighter. And this is more than 80 percent of Republicans say that they want

somebody to fight back. And so, they are looking for this. I don't think that they necessarily want to support his legal bills. I don't think it's that. But there's something symbolic, about this fight that I think people want to be part of.

COLLINS: Speaking of raising money, sometimes the most forthcoming comments that we see from President Biden are at these fundraisers that he does.


COLLINS: They're behind closed doors. Unfortunately for us, they're not on camera.

But he's -- I always read the reports, because he's often very blunt and very Bidenesque.

And tonight, he's at one, in San Francisco, and he was talking about climate, and the change that it threats -- the threat that it poses. But he also slipped into this moment, where he was talking about President Putin, and he called him an S.O.B., and was talking about the very real nuclear threat.

And I wonder what you make of how Biden has been speaking about Putin, compared with what we've heard, from Trump himself, just saying yesterday that he's like the dissident, who was killed in Russia.

BEGALA: Yes, I think this is great. This is Biden being strong and Trump being weak. And Trump voters love this notion that he's strong. And I think Biden should press this.


Putin's got something on Trump. And what he's got is a particular part of his anatomy, right in his pocket. Trump spends all his time, bowing before Putin, on his knees, to Putin. He's weak, weak, weak.

And here's Joe, who's supposed to be a doddering old man, he's ready to take the fight to Putin. So, I like that as a Democrat. I like it, as an American.

Putin is our enemy. And I don't want to see anybody, in either party, bowing before him, the way Mr. Trump is. It's pathetic. It's actually very weak. It's, I don't understand why--

COLLINS: Well it's also not--

BEGALA: --he's such a wuss.

COLLINS: --very Republicanesque to, for Republicans to embrace someone, who doesn't condemn the Russian -- the Russian leader?

CARTER: No, it's not at all. I mean, it's not what you would expect. I mean, you think about to Mitt Romney, when he said the biggest threat to America is Russia, and he was made fun of for that. So it isn't-- BEGALA: I mean, by me. I'm sorry to interrupt. By me. And I later apologized, publicly, because I was wrong, and Mitt was right. And I think it just--

CARTER: Yes, there you go.

BEGALA: --good political decency requires that I point that out. I was one of those knuckleheads.

CARTER: Well, and I think it's just a fascinating turn, right, that this is where we are, right now.

Except, I do think that Republicans look at Donald Trump, and they think he's being a tough negotiator. They think he's somehow being smarter, than everybody else by saying, oh, Putin is so smart. They think that he's doing something crafty, The Art of the Deal, or something behind the -- behind the curtain, of what he's doing. I don't think that they're looking at it as weakness.

COLLINS: Lee Carter, Paul Begala, thank you for your -- what did you call it, when you apologized, your decency?

BEGALA: Well, I try to be decent.


BEGALA: I often fail. But yes, at least try to be accountable.

COLLINS: Even for a Texas fan. Thank you, Paul.


COLLINS: Also tonight, CNN has gotten some new Secret Service documents, and what they say about one member of the Biden family, Commander, the German Shepherd, on the record, 24 biting accidents. What that means for the Secret Service, and the impact of that next.



COLLINS: We have new CNN reporting, tonight, that reveals that President Biden's dog, Commander, bit Secret Service personnel, in at least 24 incidents. 24. That's according to documents, obtained by CNN. And these documents include images of clothes torn by one of his bites.

I should note, this number, 24 does not include the additional biting incidents that involved other White House staff, on the grounds, which we know, from our previous reporting, has happened.

But these new documents do reveal that the German Shepherd's behavior became a serious hazard, in the workplace, and it forced the Secret Service to actually adjust their tactics.

Joining me, here tonight, is former Secret Service Special Operations Officer, and President and Founder of K9 Hurricane's Heroes, Marshall Mirarchi, along with his K9, Hurricane.

It's so great to have you. I don't think we've ever had a dog on this show. So first off, this is a huge win for us. I'm just happy to have you.

But Marshall, on the seriousness of this, we are told Commander's no longer at the White House. He is now with other members of the family. But when you hear that agents had to actually change their tactics, given, their job is to protect the President, I wonder what you make of that?

MARSHALL MIRARCHI, PRESIDENT & FOUNDER, K9 HURRICANE'S HEROES: Yes. I mean, that's definitely disheartening to hear.

I spent over 10 years at the White House, have a lot of experience with the family pets. We started with President Bush and the Scottish Terriers. And then, I did all eight years on Obama's -- President Obama's SWAT team, with his Portuguese Water Dogs. So, definitely didn't experience some of the things that are going on now.

But it's definitely a different environment, for sure. It sounds like the problem has been taken care of. But yes, 24 is definitely astounding number, to say the least.

COLLINS: Is there any -- I think, first off, when this first was happening, I was still covering the White House. And the question was, is there anything that they could do to fix this?

Obviously, presidents have long had their pets, as you mentioned, at the White House with them. Is there any kind of training that could have resolved this, clearly, behavior of a dog that was moved into a White House, with a lot of people around, which isn't a typical environment?

MIRARCHI: Yes, being a dog lover, and obviously, the charity, I always side with the dog. So, the dog can be trained, and probably at one time that could have been fixed. Obviously now, I think it's a little -- a little too far gone for that.

But a lot of it comes with knowing your dog. Hurricane, since the day he was born, has been trained to protect, been trained to bite. So, I have to be cognizant of that. He technically was a weapon when he was working. So, I have to be very careful. If I would let him run around free, he would -- he would do the same thing.

So, a lot of it is just, on the owner, to make sure that those things don't happen. If you are going to have a dog that is going to roam free and bite somebody? That's obviously something that can't continue.

I've had him 12 years. And I know when he can be roaming free, and when he has to be obviously at my side. And that's on me, to protect other people, from getting hurt, and then obviously to protect him, because I don't want to put him in a situation, where he thinks he's doing the right thing, you know?


MIRARCHI: And then getting in trouble.

COLLINS: Yes, he thinks he's at work. I mean, we all saw the dogs, at the White House. They had vest on that say obviously, do not pet the dogs.

I mean, he was there with you, when you -- he was a Secret Service dog. He was there with you, when you were also in the Secret Service. What has the transition been like, from going from the White House, to being a pet outside of the White House?

MIRARCHI: So, he's changed completely now. He's almost 15. So, he's obviously very different.

But he did retire early, from that incident, during President Obama's administration, when the intruder jumped the front lawn, and Hurricane did jump out, and stopped him. But he got -- he got hurt pretty bad in the process. So, he retired early.

He's been retired over seven years. So, the process has been very gradual. And as you can see now is, he's pretty much in full pet mode. Every now and then, he will try and protect me. But he's pretty much a full-time pet, at this point, which is, is good. That's what I wanted. I want the dogs to be able to enjoy their retirement.

COLLINS: He is so cute. Next time, you guys have to come in studio. This is my next condition, for when you join.

Marshall Mirarchi, and Hurricane, thank you, for coming on, tonight, to talk about this.

MIRARCHI: Thank you so much.


COLLINS: Ahead, on a more serious note, this story that we're following closely here. Another U.S. citizen was just detained in Russia, a ballerina charged with treason, for donating to a certain charity, and the fight now underway to bring her home.


COLLINS: A 33-year-old Russian-American has now been detained, in Russia, and charged with treason. All because of a $52 donation, to a Ukrainian charity, here in the United States. Russian officials have charged Ksenia Karelina, with providing financial assistance, they claim, to an enemy state.

An American official tells CNN that Karelina, a dual citizen, traveled to Russia on January 2nd, and that the U.S. found out about her arrest just a few days ago, on February 8th.

Her boyfriend spoke to CNN, earlier tonight.

[22:00:00] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS VAN HEERDEN, KSENIA KARELINA'S BOYFRIEND: Knowing Ksenia is, that's the difficult part is, I know who she is. She's so full of life. She needs to be out there, in the sense, she needs to be with a friend. She needs to live life.

I believe in America. I do believe that America will bring her back to me, and that that's the hope I'm holding onto.


COLLINS: Right now, we are told, U.S. officials have not been given consular access, to Karelina.

Russia is claiming that she will be detained until April, although we've seen them extend those before. We'll continue to keep an eye on that.

Thank you so much, for joining us.

"KING CHARLES" starts now.