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The Source with Kaitlan Collins

Judge Hears Closing Arguments In Willis Disqualification Hearing; Russians Gather To Mourn Opposition Leader Alexei Navalny; Jill Biden: Trump Is "Dangerous" To Women & Families. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired March 01, 2024 - 21:00   ET



HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: I always say I'm like roughly between 25 and 40.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: What? You actually say that?

ENTEN: Yes, absolutely.

COOPER: You're out on a date night. I mean, you have a beloved now. But before, when you were dating, and people were -- a lady would say, what's your -- how old are you? You'd say, I'm between 25 and?

ENTEN: It wasn't until the third date where I revealed my age. I had to really get to know them.

COOPER: My god. OK. This is, it's taking a turn.

Harry Enten, thank you very much.

ENTEN: Thank you.

COOPER: Concerned about the snowfall.

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


Delay, delay, disqualify, Donald Trump's strategy is on full display, in two different courtrooms, a cliffhanger in the Mar-a-Lago case, and dramatic final arguments, from Trump and company, in Georgia, and their effort to get the D.A. there, Fani Willis, kicked off the case.

Also, drastic measures being taken, as President Biden says the U.S. military is now prepared to start dropping humanitarian aid, from the air into Gaza, to get food, water and medical supplies, to so many who are starving.

Also, as lawmakers in Alabama, my home state, are rushing to protect IVF, couples in the middle of the process are still left shaken, fearing that their dreams of growing their families could be shattered.

I'm Kaitlan Collins. And this is THE SOURCE. Two more big steps, and Donald Trump's full-court press, to keep delaying his most serious trials, until after the election.

For the Republican frontrunner, even no ruling really looks like a win, tonight. That fact was only amplified after the Supreme Court dropped anchor this week, on the federal case in D.C. That's the one about his efforts to try to overturn the election, in 2020.

And then, in overlapping hearings today, judges heard arguments, in two of Trump's most dangerous cases, both personally, but also politically. Both judges went home without a ruling.

The former President sat in court, near his home, in Florida, as Judge Aileen Cannon said that the government's proposed July schedule, for the classified documents trial was quote, "Unrealistic."

At the exact same time as that was going on, in Florida, 500 miles north, in the Georgia election conspiracy case, District Attorney, Fani Willis, grabbed a front-row seat, for apparently the final day of attacks, allegations and accusations.


HARRY MACDOUGALD, ATTORNEY: She violated her public duty, as a prosecutor, to serve her personal interests, and the personal interests of her boyfriend.

RICHARD RICE, ATTORNEY: Over 2,000 calls, almost 9,800 texts. You know, I don't even think love-struck teenagers communicate that much.

CRAIG GILLEN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Prosecutors don't act like this. Lawyers don't act like this. These people, Your Honor, is a systematic misconduct.

She was the one playing the race card, in a way, to try to deflect from her own conduct.

STEVE SADOW, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: It was a calculated determination, by Miss Willis, to prejudice the defendants and their counsel.


COLLINS: I should note, Willis has denied all of those accusations, denials that her team repeated after the defense attorneys went.



It's ridiculous. It's absurd. And it is -- it's desperate.

We have absolutely no evidence that Miss Willis received any financial gain or benefit.


COLLINS: The judge, who was listening to both of those arguments, says that his decision, on whether or not he will disqualify Fani Willis, from prosecuting this case, will come within the next two weeks.

If she's removed, it would effectively end the case, potentially.

We have a host of brilliant legal minds, to sort it all out for you. Here with me tonight, a pair of former top federal prosecutors, Elie Honig, and Jennifer Rodgers.

And Elie, I mean, this is basically it. It is the ballgame.


COLLINS: We've got now two weeks to decide. Where do you think the judge's head is at on this?

HONIG: I'm going to make a bold prediction, right here on THE SOURCE.

COLLINS: OK. We'll let you.

HONIG: It's 50-50. I'm sorry.

COLLINS: Thanks.

HONIG: You know, you know, I would say, if I felt strongly one way or the other. This one's so hard for me to peg, because there's a thing we say, as prosecutors sometimes, which is, it's one thing to know something, it's another thing to be able to prove it.

Now, having watched these hearings play out, over the last couple weeks, I think there're very serious questions about when this relationship began, about whether Fani Willis and Nathan Wade told the truth, or lied, on the stand. It's one or the other. There's no gray area here, about whether she has some sort of untenable financial interest.

But the problem is the evidence was such a mess, it was so confusing and unclear and so muddled. And now, the judge is going to have to sort of wade through this.

And watching the judge today, he was begging for help. He was basically like, lawyers help me out here. What matters? What doesn't? What should I be paying attention to?

And I don't think either side really drove it home. So, neither outcome would surprise me here.

COLLINS: But you kind of thought that the defense attorneys did a good job, with their closing arguments. What stood out to you?


JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR, ADJUNCT PROFESSOR, NYU SCHOOL OF LAW: Well, I think they did a good job, at crystallizing what the issues are, saying here are the issues, judge, here where -- you know, here's where we think the evidence leads you to believe that she should be disqualified. I just thought that they were very focused in their arguments. I agree with Elie, the whole thing is a mess.

It's also really a big deal to disqualify her. I mean, this is basically the end of the case, if he does so. So, I don't know. 50-50, maybe I'm leaning against 51-49.


RODGERS: But I do think that they did a better job than Willis' office did, at making their arguments in court, today.

COLLINS: Well, what it all comes down to, it's not about her having a relationship with this person. It's about financial misconduct. That's actually--


COLLINS: --it's easy to forget, because of everything that is said in court. But really, what it comes down to is whether there was a conflict of interest, or if the judge cares that there was the appearance of a conflict of interest.

HONIG: Right. OK, so conflict of interest gets a bad rap. It sounds bad. But usually, a conflict of interest, it doesn't mean the person did anything wrong. It just means there's a crossing of wires here.

I'll give you an example. I was conflicted off of a case, and removed from a case, because one of the witnesses distantly knew something, to do with my dad. Had nothing to do with the charges in the case. And I didn't do anything wrong, nor did the witness. But it happens sometimes.

COLLINS: And you were removed, you--

HONIG: I was taken off the case.

COLLINS: You were taken off?

HONIG: It was given -- it was a case I didn't want anyway, so I was happy. But went probably to Jen, or somebody, in our hall. But it happens all the time. And you do it to protect yourself, you do it to protect your office, and you do it to protect the case itself.

You can't have -- in this case, to the appearance issue, you cannot have members of the public, sort of saying, well, wait a sec. Isn't there some conflicting interests here?

COLLINS: OK. But the bar here is not really clear.


COLLINS: And the defense attorneys came out, trying to set a very low bar.

But the judge himself, I'm glad you mentioned him, because he had a lot of good questions today that I do think reveal some insight.

And one of those questions was, is buying gum for your boss a personal benefit? This is what he asked the defense attorneys.


JUDGE SCOTT MCAFEE, SUPERIOR COURT OF FULTON COUNTY: If someone, you know, buys their boss a stick of gum, is that per se disqualifying?

JOHN MERCHANT, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: It may not meet a materiality requirement, but it's a personal benefit.


COLLINS: I mean, does this like kind of create a slippery slope?


COLLINS: If this is a basis for disqualification?

RODGERS: Well, we don't know. And this is getting to one of the questions the judge's trying to figure out, because the facts here are so crazy, right?

They have amounts of money that Wade paid for vacations that they both took. Fani Willis testified that she paid him back half of that approximately in cash. But it's all very rough. They don't have any records.

So, this is what the judge is trying to figure out. Where am I going to draw the line here? Because the law just isn't clear enough about it.

HONIG: That was a fumble, by the way. The answer when he's asked what a stick of gum--

COLLINS: He should have said, on--

HONIG: He should have said no. That's tiny -- a tiny amount. But $9,000 or whatever is more than enough.

COLLINS: Because what we're talking about are trips to Napa, trips to Aruba.

HONIG: Right.

COLLINS: Like it's much serious -- much more serious than buying a piece of gum.

HONIG: Yes. And this is a perfect example of where the evidence is so muddled, because it is clear that Nathan Wade laid out substantial amounts of money, for Fani Willis. But nobody was ever able to identify how much. And she said, well, I kind of repaid all of it, or most of it, or some of it, with cash. There's no receipts. There's no withdrawal slips.

And so, the judge has a tough one to wade, no pun intended, to--


HONIG: --wade through here.

COLLINS: Well, Elie and Jen, stick around.

Because we also have someone who knows Fani Willis well, here. It is also someone, who knows what it means to be a district attorney, in the State of Georgia.

Gwen Keyes Fleming is the former District Attorney of neighboring DeKalb County.

And it's great to have you, back here on THE SOURCE.

What Fani Willis has done here, from testifying in court, to sitting there, today, as her attorneys were arguing, from her office, were arguing, on her behalf, she made her presence known at the court, and was passing her attorney, notes.

I should note, my colleague, Nick Valencia said that she was trying to light a firecracker under her attorney, by sitting in that room today.

I wonder what you made of how it came off.

GWEN KEYES FLEMING, FORMER DISTRICT ATTORNEY FOR DEKALB COUNTY, GA: So, I'm glad you came to me, because I've been sitting on the edge, trying to jump in here.

Obviously, she's very interested in the outcome of this case. They've attacked her personally.

And again, at least in my view, reading, and this may be where I disagree with your guests in studio, I do not believe, based on the evidence that I saw, that the standard in Georgia has been met, in terms of there being evidence, uncontroverted evidence of an actual financial conflict.

And so, again, it is a high bar. The Supreme Court in Georgia is very clear, in that matter, and that the appearance of impropriety is insufficient.

So, I think what you saw, from the D.A. today is her being in court, and really demonstrating to all involved, the citizens that elected her, her team, the defense, that she maintains that this is her case, she's still involved, very heavily involved, in this case, and she's going to see it through.

And again, based on what I saw, and in this limited instance, the defense are the ones that have the burden here. And I simply do not see where they've met it.

COLLINS: So, you think she ultimately will be able to stay on, to prosecute this case?


KEYES FLEMING: I think there's a record. If you look squarely at the record, that is the result that I would come to. But certainly, as your guests know, we never can tell what a judge is going to do.

And so, I do think by the line of his questioning, he is concerned, not only about the facts in this case, but he recognizes that if he strays from the rulings, of the Georgia Supreme Court, he's going to have to find a new line. And so, sometimes, judges are reticent to do that. Sometimes, they're willing to do that. And again, as we all know, the stakes are very high here.

COLLINS: Yes. And one point that her office was making today, was that a lot of what has been dredged up, over the last few weeks, is not really relevant, to the actual allegation at hand, about financial misconduct, that they're just trying to embarrass her, and bring turmoil into this argument.

And at one point, I just want to listen to some of the language that the defense attorneys were using today, in this courtroom, knowing, of course, that cameras were also there, that were carrying it live, on cable news.

This is just a snippet of what they were saying.


MERCHANT: She put her boyfriend in the spot.

GILLEN: Boyfriend.


MACDOUGALD: Her boyfriend.

SADOW: They concealed it from all parties. From Daddy. Daddy.

Daddy was there, and Daddy would know.


COLLINS: What did you make of that?

KEYES FLEMING: So again, I think that that demonstrates how far we've gotten away, from the actual issues.

Was there any type of financial benefit contingent, either on the outcome of the case, or anything else? And that's the law. And so, again, all of this, and as salacious as it is, or as interesting as it may be to some, it has nothing to do with the underlying charges and the sufficiency of the evidence of those charges.

And again, remember, she already has four defendants that have pled guilty, and accepted some sort of accountability, in this overall scheme. And she's indicated that she is ready to go forward, within 30 days of notice from the judge.

So, I think a lot of this is -- and defendants are able to raise whatever issues they may want to raise. But they simply have not connected the dots, to demonstrate how they would be prejudiced, or that there is any type of legal conflict that would justify her -- justify her disqualification.

COLLINS: Yes. At least one of them said that if she does stay on that they'll -- they'll ask for a new trial.

Gwen Keyes Fleming, great to have your perspective on this, tonight. Thank you for that.

And of course, as all eyes were glued to Georgia, it was hard to ignore what was happening in Florida today, the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case. It may not have been on TV. But it was no less compelling than what was happening up north.

I want to bring in former Senior Justice Department National Security official and former Senior Prosecutor for the Robert Mueller investigation, Brandon Van Grack.

And it's great to have you back.

As you were listening to this? And I know this is just so much for people to keep up with. So, we're trying to tick through each of them separately. But in Florida today, what we heard from that judge, Judge Aileen Cannon, who of course, has so much sway over what that trial looks like, she said that she thought Jack Smith's proposed schedule, to start in July, was unrealistic.

If you're Jack Smith, how are you taking what happened in the courtroom today?

BRANDON VAN GRACK, FORMER SENIOR DOJ NATIONAL SECURITY OFFICIAL, FORMER SENIOR PROSECUTOR, MUELLER INVESTIGATION, PARTNER, MORRISON FOERSTER: Well, part of it is the realization that the trial is probably not going to happen in July. But you have, in that case, the former President's attorneys, saying well, we could technically have a trial in August.

And so, I think you're still not giving up hope, for the possibility of in fact, having a trial this summer. I think that's really the focus, right now. No one has said otherwise. And you at least have the other party that's conceding the possibility that could occur.

COLLINS: Yes. Did that make sense to you? Because what we've heard from all of Trump's attorneys, the ones who have been on this program, they've said, there's no way this trial, so complicated, and dealing with classified information, could happen before the election.

But yet his attorneys are now proposing a date that is in August, well before the election.

VAN GRACK: Well, it can occur, quite simply. I mean, the classified information, in fact that the judge has potentially, it seems, ruled on sort of some of the more difficult issues, in terms of what classified information must be turned over to defense counsel. So, it can happen.

And in fact, if you -- in terms of the filings and at the hearing, one of the key arguments that the -- the really two arguments that former President's attorneys were making, one, was this concern about election interference. That's not a timing issue. That's not a preparation issue. That's an election interference, which we can talk about.

The second was concern about just not being able to be in court. It wasn't about how do we prepare all these filings? There are a lot of issues.


But the reality is, is there actually was at least tacit understanding that a summer case could happen. It's really up to the judge, whether she wants to push the parties. But it's certainly within the realm of possible.

COLLINS: Yes. Well they were complaining about Trump being off the campaign trail, to be in the courtroom today, even though his presence was not required.

But, one point, Judge Cannon was questioning prosecutors, from the DOJ, about this policy there, of no overt investigative moves 60 days before an election.

And Jay Bratt, from the team said that it doesn't apply to this, because the indictments have already happened. He's already been charged here, and that that should have no effect on the timing.

Is that how you see it as well?

VAN GRACK: That's exactly right.

And let's just spend a moment. So, this policy? Again, it's not a regulation. It's not a statute. But it's a policy for good measure, is that the Justice Department shouldn't be taking actions, shouldn't be taking investigative actions that could interfere with the election.

But in a case, where there have been charges? The allegations are out there. These remarkable inflammatory serious allegations, they are already out there.

And what the Justice Department is saying is, there's no -- there's no interference issue. What we're talking about in terms of having a trial, it's not election interference. It's providing election information.

It is actually forcing the government to present the facts to a jury. It is having the jury decide this issue. If there's any interest, in terms of the election, the interest is, in fact having these trials, so that the voters have this information before they make the decision. COLLINS: Can I get your thoughts on one other moment, where it was from reporters, who were in the room, said that there was a moment where Jack Smith sat up straight, kind of raised his eyebrows, when the judge was asking a prosecutor, on his team, about when they plan to reveal their witness list, which the prosecutor said they're not prepared to do yet. There's been concern over the witnesses' names being out there.

What did you make of that moment?

VAN GRACK: Well, there's, you know, we don't have a trial date yet. And so, to ask the question, when are you prepared to provide the witnesses? The first question is, well, when -- when is there going to be a trial, and then we can work backwards on an appropriate time to provide the witness list.

And the core issue there was the defendants had filed a motion that disclosed, potentially the names of potential witnesses.

And what the government was saying is, at this moment, so early in the case, before there's been a trial, we're worried about harassment, that is, those names and information should be as close in time as possible to the trial, which is why it was sort of shifting.

It's like, well, when do we get the witness list? It's like, well, let's deal with these preliminary issues. But let's pick a trial date first.

And so, there was sort of a little bit sort of putting the cart before the horse.

COLLINS: That's really helpful. Brandon Van Grack, thank you for that.

And I've got Elie and Jen, back with me.

What are your final thoughts, on what happened in Florida? We talked about Georgia. But what about what happened in Florida today?

HONIG: Well I think it's good news for Donald Trump, anyway you spin it. I mean, worst-case scenario for Donald Trump, we get a -- he gets a trial, starting July, August. But that blocks the D.C. trial, the January 6 Trial. Today, I think--

COLLINS: Which the Trump team is well aware of.

HONIG: Absolutely. I think Jack Smith all but conceded today, not going to get that January 6 trial tried before the election. I think he's trying to salvage at least the Florida case, because, again, if the judge agrees with Jack Smith, and puts this in July, as Jack Smith has asked for, the Florida case? There's nowhere for the D.C. case to go.

COLLINS: But I think what is at the heart of this? And Trump's team says, well, it shouldn't be about politics. But the Trump legal team is less worried about the classified documents case, not necessarily because it's less problematic. But because I think they understand the appearance of a former White House aides, the former Attorney General, the former -- or the current Governor of Georgia, all these aides marching in, to talk about how Trump tried to overturn the election, is more damaging to his political prospects than even the classified documents.

RODGERS: All of that. And in a jurisdiction in Florida, which is much more favorable to him, with a much better jury pool, in front of a much more Trump-friendly judge. So, for all of those reasons, I agree with you, that's what they want.

COLLINS: Jennifer Rodgers, Elie Honig, we'll be watching closely since we have all these fun deadlines to wait for. Thank you both for being here, on a Friday night.

HONIG: Thanks, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: Up next, at the White House, tonight, President Biden made this announcement that the U.S. is going to start airdropping aid into Gaza, very soon. We're going to speak to a worker, who was just there, on the ground, where people are desperate and starving, if it's enough.

Also, notable comments from first lady, Jill Biden, taking on Donald Trump, casting him as a potential threat to women, if he retakes the White House.



COLLINS: President Biden says that the U.S. is going to start airdropping aid, into Gaza, quote, "Very soon," a move that the White House acknowledges comes in part because Israel was not doing enough, to get that aid to so-desperate civilians.


JOHN KIRBY, NATIONAL SECURITY COMMUNICATIONS ADVISOR: Not enough aid is getting in. And not enough people are getting the food, the water, the medicine and the fuel that they need. That's what's driving this.

We are rec -- we recognize the situation is dire. We recognize the need is great. And it hasn't been filled simply by the use of ground convoys.


COLLINS: As the President is grappling with the war that is now almost 5-months-old, he was seen leaving the White House, tonight, with this book in his arms. It's called "Possible: How We Survive (and Thrive) in an Age of Conflict."


This is coming, as the President is renewing his calls, for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, a deal that now has become even more complicated than it already was, after the carnage that we saw happen, yesterday, in Gaza City. Witnesses say the scene that you're looking at here, is Israeli soldiers, firing on a crowd of civilians, who were rushing the aid trucks. More than a 100 people were ultimately killed, many hundreds more injured.

Earlier today, we had an Israeli government spokesperson on. And we pressed him on this effort, to try to get more aid to those so-hungry people.


EYLON LEVY, ISRAELI GOVERNMENT SPOKESMAN: So, one option is to airdrop aid. And there was a successful pilot this week in cooperation with, I believe, Jordan, Egypt, the UAE, France, and the United States, to airdrop aid into Gaza.

And we're looking into other ways to deliver aid, into northern Gaza, and make sure, again, it gets to civilians who need it, while making sure Hamas cannot steal it.

COLLINS: But isn't there a safer, easier -- safer, easier way to do this than just simply airdropping it? And, I mean, the reason you saw that chaotic incident, is people are rushing these trucks because they're starving. I mean, it's desperation in its fullest extent that you're watching.

And we hear from the IDF saying, well, our forces felt that they were endangered, and that's why they fired upon the crowd, after firing those warning shots. That's what the IDF maintains.

LEVY: Well they said they fired, when people began to rush towards the soldiers in a way that endangered them.

COLLINS: But the people are rushing towards the soldiers, because they have food, and they're starving.

LEVY: Well and that was why they were rushing towards the trucks.

COLLINS: I mean, doesn't that speak to the desperation, and that the situation actually is not good, and there's not enough aid getting it?

LEVY: Oh, the situation is definitely not good. We don't downplay that Hamas has brought tragedy and disaster on the people of Gaza by declaring this war.


COLLINS: Here tonight, Rondi Anderson, who is a Senior Technical Advisor for the humanitarian group project, HOPE, and worked on the ground in Gaza, for two weeks in January.

And it's great to have you here tonight, Rondi.

Because you heard there, the Israeli spokesperson talking about Israel doing everything it can, to get aid in. But tell me what you saw when you were actually on the ground.


When I was on the ground, in Rafah, there was constant bombing happening just to the north. And even in the time that I was there, that bombing was getting closer and closer. And as a result of it, we were seeing hundreds if not thousands of additional people coming into Rafah.

Already when I got there, there was over a million people that had been displaced from the north, largely because their houses had been destroyed, and there was violence in that area, and they weren't safe. But also, because of access to food and water, people had moved to Rafah.

But while I was there, the violence continued to come closer and closer. And the people were uncomfortable, and agitated. With seas of tents, everywhere you looked, people squeezing together.

COLLINS: And obviously, a lack of access to food is a huge part of this. And so, were you even surprised, when you saw that video of the people, the Gazans, who were so desperate, rushing those aid trucks, because I mean, they're just struggling to get sufficient food at all, much less fruits and vegetables, and just enough to survive.

ANDERSON: We know that the people in the north are cut off, that even in Rafah, there -- the amount of commodities, including food, coming in, is a tenth of what it was, before this war happened, that we see lines and lines of trucks, on the other side of the border, waiting to come in, like the aid is there, but it's blocked.

But even when it comes into Rafah, it's not safe to move it to the north. So, even if we have commodities, in our warehouses, some can go. It's not that nothing is going. But as far north as Gaza, there are areas that are cut off that don't have internet. We don't -- we don't hear how they're doing. And even their families don't know how they're doing.

So, that level of desperation, I won't say that I was surprised. But certainly, it illustrates how cruel the conditions are, how much suffering is going on and how desperate, people are.

COLLINS: What do you make of this move now to airdrop aid? And do you think that's effective?

ANDERSON: Well I don't know enough about airdropping. But my guess is that it will just be a drop, I mean. That it will -- it will not be enough that it'll just be a little tiny bit.

And what they really need is these semi-trucks that are waiting, they need the border to be open, and they need them to come in. And there needs to be protection, in terms of moving around, wherever people are, to make sure that everyone gets what they need.

I mean, airdropping seems like an extreme measure to me. Although, I mean, at this point, anything is better than nothing.

COLLINS: Well, we saw, at one point, where they airdropped it, and it fell into the water, and people were swimming out, to get it.

But on this talk of a ceasefire that at the beginning of this week, President Biden had said he was hopeful it could come by the end of this weekend. It now seems much more complicated than that, given what we saw, yesterday, what happened with the IDF there, on the ground.


Even if there was a ceasefire, tonight, though, based on what you saw, how many people would still die of disease, and of hunger?

ANDERSON: We have estimates, from the London School of Tropical Medicine that says at least 11,000 more people would die, even if there was a ceasefire, right now.


ANDERSON: And we very much need a ceasefire, right now.

But the level of injury, the people that are in hospitals, even that have been treated, but that are recovering, that are still very, very fragile and vulnerable. And the level of hunger, I mean, we're seeing more and more acute malnutrition, particularly in the north. And the infectious disease that is, everywhere, right now. All of the clinics are seeing it. It's being reported. It's increasing. All of that will take time.

COLLINS: A lot of time, and a lot of time that those people don't have.

Rondi Anderson, thank you so much, for coming on, to share your experience with us.

ANDERSON: Thank you.

COLLINS: It was great to have you.

Also, here in the U.S., we're tracking an important story, happening in Alabama, as lawmakers, tonight, Republican-led lawmakers in that state, are racing to protect IVF treatments. But time is running out for at least one woman, who is trying to have a baby, with a uterus transplant. We're going to tell you her story, next.



COLLINS: Republicans, in the Alabama state legislature, are moving at lightning speed, to pass legislation that is aimed at protecting IVF and their providers.

The state was sent into a tailspin, just two weeks ago, after the Supreme Court, in that state, ruled that frozen embryos count as children. It sparked fear, among IVF providers and patients, of potential criminal liability, if embryos were damaged or destroyed. Within days of that ruling, three IVF clinics in the state paused treatments completely.

Now, legislators, after facing backlash of that decision, a major concern, even in Washington, are trying to get a bill, protecting IVF providers, to the Governor, Kay Ivey's desk, potentially as soon as next Wednesday. The Governor has signaled that she'll support this legislation, which would essentially protect IVF providers, from both criminal charges, but also from civil lawsuits.

Still, the ruling's impact is already being felt by families throughout the state.

And CNN's Correspondent Isabel Rosales has the story of a woman, who was born without a uterus, and now fears that this ruling could shatter her dream, of building a family.



ISABEL ROSALES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Nearly two decades ago, this moment.

GOLDMAN: What are you doing?

ROSALES (voice-over): Would have been unimaginable, for Elizabeth Goldman.

GOLDMAN: When I was 14, I had abdominal pain, and I hadn't had a period yet.

ROSALES (voice-over): Barely a teen, she got devastating, and life- changing answers, from her doctors.

GOLDMAN: I was told that I was born without a uterus, would never be able to carry my own baby, told that it was -- it would basically be impossible.

ROSALES (voice-over): Dr. Kathleen O'Neill doesn't see Goldman, but treats patients like her at the University of Pennsylvania.

DR. KATHLEEN O'NEILL, MEDICAL DIRECTOR, UTERUS TRANSPLANT PROGRAM AT PENN MEDICINE: It's not something that people talk about a lot, because there are a lot of issues of stigma and shame around, you know, being born without your uterus.

ROSALES (voice-over): In 2014, the world's first baby was born from a transplanted uterus, in Sweden.

In 2017, Baylor University Medical Center accomplished the same for the U.S.

Then came UPenn. And finally, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, in Goldman's home state.

GOLDMAN: So, I had to move up to Birmingham. So, we basically left our life, as we knew it.

ROSALES (voice-over): In the midst of a pandemic, she uprooted her life. On social media, thousands of followers watching her IVF journey unfold.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, like right here.


ROSALES (voice-over): And her uterus transplant.

Months later came the positive test.

GOLDMAN: It's a faint line, but it's a line.

ROSALES (voice-over): But it ended in a heartbreaking miscarriage.

Then, there was a Valentine's Day surprise. All the heartache, pain, determination, and nearly $60,000 spent on IVF cycles, for Zari Grace, five pounds, six ounces.

GOLDMAN: She is like my biggest dream come true. Honestly, I can't remember what life looked like before her.

ROSALES (voice-over): But Goldman says her journey isn't done. She wants to make the most out of her new uterus. She's allowed two live births, before having to undergo a hysterectomy.

GOLDMAN: With a uterus transplant, it's not a life-saving transplant, but a life-giving transplant.

ROSALES (voice-over): Every day, Goldman takes medication, to prevent her body, from rejecting her uterus. But it takes a toll.

O'NEILL: They can have at least temporary effects on the kidneys, potentially long-term. They can have effects on the bone marrow. These women can become more anemic. So, delays can be harmful to the patient.

ROSALES (voice-over): The ruling, from the state's highest court, pausing Goldman's IVF treatments at UAB, as she was gearing up for an embryo transplant, all at the same university that hosts one of just four active uterus transplant programs, in the whole nation.

O'NEILL: The fact that this happened in Alabama is just really so -- unlucky doesn't cover it. It's so incredibly unfortunate, because really leaves these patients in a very bad spot.

ROSALES (voice-over): This pause in reproductive care, leaving Goldman in limbo, and at risk of a medical complication.

GOLDMAN: And the reality is without doing another embryo transfer, without doing IVF, without having access to it, like my journey ends. ROSALES (voice-over): Goldman can only watch and wait for lawmakers to act with no time to spare.



COLLINS: We'll continue to watch that, and see if that bill does make it to the Governor's desk.

Meanwhile, today, the two largest pharmacy chains, in the United States, CVS and Walgreens, are going to start filling prescriptions, for the abortion pill, known as mifepristone. And in the coming weeks, it's going to be available there, at select ones, and in limited number of states, we are told.


Both pharmacy chains have said that they would gradually expand that access, to all states, where it is legal to do so. That medication has been at the center of various legal challenges, including the one before the Supreme Court, right now. The decision potentially restricting access to that pill is expected by this July.

Coming up, here on THE SOURCE, defiant Russians, showing up in the thousands, today, a remarkable moment, paying their respects to Alexei Navalny.


COLLINS: Thousands of Russians, defying Vladimir Putin, in Moscow today, a site that surely would have made Alexei Navalny smile.


His open-casket funeral, for the Russian opposition leader, was held in a church today, as the service was filled with members of his family, and his loyal supporters, after weeks of fear that Russia may never release his body. His mother and his mother-in-law were grieving.

While outside the church, there was a heavy police presence that you could see.

As of 9 o'clock, here on the East Coast, we've been tracking this. We know that at least 115 people have been detained, across Russia, for paying tribute to him. That's according to a human rights monitoring group.

Here tonight, to talk about this, exiled Russian journalist, Mikhail Zygar, who exchanged letters, with Alexei Navalny, shortly before he was killed, and is also the Author of "War and Punishment: Putin, Zelensky, and the Path to Russia's Invasion of Ukraine."

I just wonder what you made of that scene today, of these people, who were truly risking arrest by going out and paying their tribute, to Alexei Navalny.


I was watching it the whole day. I was watching all the interviews, with all those people, who were not afraid to talk. I was talking to my friends, who are still in Moscow. And the main impression is that the majority of the -- all those people who came are the elderly people. These are the parents of those people, who left the country, who emigrated.

And it's so -- it's so -- so sad that thousands of people came there, thousands of people are brave enough. But yes, it's so heart--

COLLINS: How many more people--

ZYGAR: --it's so heartbreaking.

COLLINS: --do you think that there were that wanted to go out, but they fear reprisal, for obvious reasons?

ZYGAR: It's hard to judge.

Actually, we know that everyone was expecting some kind of a crackdown. And there was a lot of police. Police was trying to prevent people from coming to the church. About 100 people were allowed to come to the church. The service in the church was just 20 minutes, to prevent people from entering.

But the amount of the people in that neighborhood was enormous, and like, and police was trying to make as many obstacles as possible, just to not to let all those people join into one big crowd.

COLLINS: Yes. I mean, you just can see the movement going on, even in his death.

And his wife, Yulia, shared a video, of just moments with her husband, talking. She has been reflecting on this. And she posted that they had 26 years of absolute happiness, and she said, yes, even over the last three years that he's been in prison. She said, I don't know how to live without you, but I will try to make you up there happy for me and proud of me.

ZYGAR: And she uses the song, very popular song of Russian rock singer, with the lyrics, please don't die, otherwise, I'll have to die as well. And that was really heartbreaking.

COLLINS: It must have been tough for you to see.


COLLINS: And she's vowing to continue on with his work. I mean, what do you think that looks like for someone who is -- you know, we talked about before. You kind of compared her, in the U.S. to, a Michelle Obama type, someone who doesn't embrace the political life, in front of the cameras, but now has kind of been placed there. ZYGAR: I remember, I started comparing her to Corazon Aquino, former President of Philippines, who had to become the leader of the opposition, after her husband, Benigno Aquino was killed, and she became the President of Philippines after, overthrowing dictator, Marcos.

And so, yes, there were rumors about once she had -- she have to do -- she has to do that, she will do that. So probably, she was left with no other options. And the first test for her is very near.


ZYGAR: The presidential elections. We're expect--


ZYGAR: We're expecting the strategy. She has already called for all Russians, to come to the polling stations in the mid -- in the midday, noon, into -- his strategy was to vote for any presidential candidate, except for Putin.

COLLINS: Anyone except Putin.

ZYGAR: So probably that would -- that might be very risky, for President Putin, because probably if everyone shows up, he might not win, on the landslide, in the first round.

COLLINS: Mikhail, we will be watching that first test very closely. Thank you--

ZYGAR: Thank you.

COLLINS: --for wanting to talk about your friend, tonight.

Up next, for us, in the U.S., as we talk about President Biden a lot, one thing we don't talk about is maybe the grudge-holder-in-chief.

There's an up-close and a personal look at the first lady, Jill Biden, her quiet but unmatched influence, over the President, and questions about her relationship with the Vice President. All of it in a new book, we'll talk about it right after this.



COLLINS: Tonight, first lady, Jill Biden, out with fierce criticism, of the former President, while on the campaign trail. She was in Atlanta earlier, speaking, to rally women voters, and she cast Donald Trump as a threat to women everywhere, if he returns to the White House.



BIDEN: To women and to our families.

He spent a lifetime tearing us down--



BIDEN: --and devaluing our existence.



BIDEN: He mocks women's bodies.


BIDEN: Disrespects our accomplishments, and brags about assault.


BIDEN: Now, he's bragging about killing Roe v. Wade.

How far will he go? When will he stop? You know the answer. He won't.



COLLINS: That address coming, on the start of Women's History Month, is the first of several events that she's going to be going to, throughout key battleground states, this weekend, highlighting her passion for women's issues.

That passion, as well as her influence, on her husband's reelection campaign are all detailed in a new book that is out this week. It is called "American Woman: The Transformation of the Modern First Lady, from Hillary Clinton to Jill Biden."

And the Author and New York Times reporter, Katie Rogers, is here with me now.

And I'm so glad to have you here.


COLLINS: And you have covered Jill Biden so closely. And to see her come out today, like we have never seen her with that fierce of criticism of Donald Trump, I wonder if that's something you think she's going to be doing throughout the 2024 campaign?

ROGERS: Yes. I mean, she doesn't like him. She has a deep dislike -- she has a deep dislike of Trump. But like her husband, she has waited until now, to really sort of bring out the torpedoes, sort of speak.


ROGERS: We don't usually see that kind of talk from her.

But I talked with her, for the book, about how she would feel, if Trump was the nominee again. And she said it would just make me work harder, to make sure he didn't win. So, she's staying true to that.

And with Roe becoming such an issue, this year, she's really targeting women voters. She's going around the country, to swing states, talking to women that she hopes she can rally.

COLLINS: And you report about how, she kind of steers clear of the West Wing. She doesn't spend a lot of time there.


COLLINS: But she still has a lot of influence on it. And a lot of influence on her husband himself. When he gives big speeches, she's always in the back of the room.

I mean, how much influence does she have over something we talk about all the time, his age and his decision to run in 2024?

ROGERS: Yes. I mean, she is somebody who -- she's the one who has the most concern, obviously, about the wear and tear of the presidency on him. He's the oldest person to ever have the job. So, she is somebody, who pays close attention, to how much he's doing.

But she has also told me, for this book, and has said, I think, publicly elsewhere, this is his decision. She doesn't have the power to stop or start a campaign. Joe Biden is the North Star here. It's not, you know, I think there are a lot of people, who think Jill Biden is the one who can stop him, or say that this is -- this is -- you know, what we're doing, it's his decision. And she believes he can beat Trump.

COLLINS: She also has so much influence. We referenced her as the grudge-holder-in-chief.


COLLINS: She kind of holds his grudges for him.


COLLINS: Like she never forgot when Vice President Harris went after him, essentially calling him a segregationist, back in the primary, of the -- for the Democrats. She didn't love Ron Klain, who was the Chief of Staff at first, because he had endorsed Hillary Clinton.

But this part that I loved was this was about a press conference that Biden had done, was about a year, he was coming up on one year in office. And I was there. It went on for forever, for two hours or so.

And you write, and I cannot believe you -- that someone told you this, which is the best part--


COLLINS: --but that they have been gathered in the Treaty Room, that they were talking about his answer, on bringing up Republicans.

And Jill Biden was in the doorway all of a sudden. And President Biden is here. And she goes, why didn't anyone stop that? And then she continued, and said, "Where were you guys?... Where was the person who was going to end the press conference?" Basically dressing down some of those senior members, because she felt like they weren't controlling--

ROGERS: Right.

COLLINS: --what it was supposed to look like.

ROGERS: She's also somebody, who thinks, you know, she believes that this let-Joe-be-Joe idea, that's a real thing. She wants Joe to be Joe. But she doesn't wanted Joe to be Joe for two hours, in the White House. So, I think she -- that was her signal. It was a really strong one that you all need to wrangle this, a little bit more.

They had passed him, they had tried to signal to end the press conference, and he just kept going. And that was a really, you know, she doesn't usually have to get that overt, actually, to walk in and say, what happened? But yes, if she thinks something goes -- is going awry, she will -- she has no problem, leapfrogging over everyone else--

COLLINS: Yes, that much is clear.

ROGERS: --in saying, yes.

COLLINS: But I mean, the book is not just about Jill Biden, though. It's about the job of the first lady, which is a pretty ill-defined role.


COLLINS: It's kind of up to every -- it's so far only been first ladies'. But it's so far up to each of them, to kind of decide what it looks like.


ROGERS: It's true. And I think what is -- the gist of this book really is that since Hillary Clinton, who was so ambitious, and so policy- oriented, and really sort of went too far, in terms of trying to reform American health care, the women since her have been sort of -- the theme has been reluctance, except for believing their husband could win.

So, the key to this role is to stick to your -- to what you're comfortable with, and be a polished messenger, or not. The role is optional. COLLINS: The book is incredible. I loved it.

ROGERS: Thank you.

COLLINS: I'm so glad you joined me on it. It's worth for everyone to read. So, thank you, for coming in, Katie Rogers. Great to have you.

ROGERS: Thank you.

COLLINS: And thank you all so much, for joining us, this night, and every night, this week.