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The Source with Kaitlan Collins

NYC's Radio City Music Hall Hosts Historic Three President Fundraiser; Secretary Buttigieg On Bridge Collapse Conspiracies: Unfortunately They Are A "Fact Of Life" In U.S. Today; Sitting Judge: Threats Are Disconcerting Reality We Have To Deal With. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired March 28, 2024 - 21:00   ET





COOPER: Daniel Dale, God bless you.

How long did that take you, Daniel? All those calls?

DALE: A very little time. I mean, it took an hour or so to write. But to actually figure out what happened, a few minutes.

COOPER: It took an hour or so to write, yes.

DALE: Yes.

COOPER: A few minutes, wow, to do it.

Daniel Dale, amazing. Thank you. Appreciate it.

DALE: Thanks.

COOPER: The news continues. THE SOURCE WITH KAITLAN COLLINS starts now. Thanks for watching.


All hands on deck at Radio City, three presidents, a star-studded lineup, and a multi-million dollar show of force against Donald Trump. More on the Clinton-Obama-Biden trifecta tonight.

Also, the Port of Baltimore still paralyzed, tonight, as a massive recovery effort, to dismantle the twisted wreckage, of the Key Bridge, is now underway. The largest crane, on the East Coast, is arriving there shortly, so are federal dollars that are now pouring in.

Transportation Secretary, Pete Buttigieg, will join me.

And the Republican official, who went public with a sinister discovery, photo evidence of busses at the airport, loaded with what he referred to as quote, "Illegal invaders." Wait until you find out who was really on board.

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

If it's December, in New York, at Radio City it is the world-famous Rockettes.

If it's March, at Radio City, in the middle of an election year, its political rockstars, and some actual ones as well.

Former presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, joining President Biden, in a who's who of special guests, tonight, reportedly raising $25 million, for Biden's reelection campaign, against Donald Trump. That's a record, for the biggest political fundraising event ever.

Perhaps, they came out to see royalty. Queen Latifah is among the many performers taking part. Lizzo, also on stage, to get 5,000 Biden supporters on their feet.

But the main focus on those three presidents, have one mission, defeating Donald Trump. Sources tell CNN that Obama, in particular, views this as an all-hands-on-deck election, and plans to step up his own public support for Biden.

And the dollar signs really do matter here. Biden is raising more money, in one night tonight, than Trump did in the entire month of February. While Trump has been running slightly ahead in the polls, he's far behind Biden, in the money race, which Trump himself has been privately worried about.

Tonight also creates quite a contrast. Trump has never been in the so- called Presidents Club. The only living former Republican President, George W. Bush, has never supported him. But Trump doesn't even have the support of his own Vice President, or a string of former big name cabinet secretaries, like John Kelly and Jim Mattis.

Tonight, Trump team is saying, essentially, to President Biden, anything that he can do, they can do better, claiming that they are going to outraise the President, to the tune of $33 million, in one night, next week, at Mar-a-Lago. As Trump would often say, we'll see what happens there.

Joining me tonight, David Axelrod, the chief strategist for the Obama presidential campaigns, and a senior adviser to him, in the White House.

And, David, I know, you've been critical of some of President Biden's campaign choices, the reelection efforts so far. But for a big event, like this, with this kind of energy, three presidents there in one room, what kind of impact do you think it has?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I think you put your finger on the biggest impact, Kaitlan. You raise $25 million in one night? That's a good night's take for you.

I mean, the advantage that Joe Biden has, in cash, and his ability to raise money, has -- is a tremendous advantage. And as you know, and as you've reported, he's not having to hive off money for legal expenses, as Trump is, in dealing with his campaign.

So, this gives him a chance to raise money for the seven -- six or seven battleground states, where they have to run full-out campaigns to run -- to develop the kinds of organizations they need there, to run the media that they need there, and to run all the other operations that are necessary, in order to be competitive. That's a big deal.

And the show of unity and support, among the hierarchy of the -- of the Democratic Party, is a great contrast with Trump and the Republican Party. And it comes at a time when Democrats have been worried about the race. So, just as the State of the Union gave some of those folks, who were concerned, a shot in the arm, this will as well.

COLLINS: Well, what about Obama himself? I mean, what we're hearing from our sources is they've been speaking regularly, they're strategizing. What do you make of his involvement, this early on, and what he can do to help Biden?

AXELROD: Yes, I think so much has been made of this, as if this is really unusual. I mean, these guys really are friends. I understand that the reporting that's been done, about rivalries and tension between the camps and so on.


I was there. And I watched the relationship develop, between Joe Biden and Barack Obama, over the course of that presidency. And they've been -- they've spoken fairly regularly.

Most -- whoops. Most presidents don't -- I think I've lost my picture here. Let me see if I can fix that.

COLLINS: We can still hear you though.


Most presidents don't regularly speak to their fellow presidents, even ones they're close to. And -- but these guys have spoken regularly.

And look, President Obama, I can tell you, from my own conversations with him, is deeply invested in Biden's success, in this campaign, and very concerned that everything be done in order to succeed. So, I expect that you will see him, as you have before. You will see him at the convention. You'll see him out in the fall, campaigning.

And he's important. Because Kaitlan, the one thing that money can't solve immediately is the lack of enthusiasm, among young people, lack of enthusiasm among African-American voters, Latino voters. These are areas, where I think Barack Obama can be helpful, as a surrogate, heading down those critical final months--

COLLINS: Yes. AXELROD: --of this campaign.

COLLINS: Well, but on the money part, though, it can help down the road. And $25 million is obviously a lot of money. But how do you -- how you spend the money obviously matters just as much.

And he's got all of those coalitions that helped put him in the White House that you just mentioned there that he has cracks, with progressives, with younger voters, with Black voters.

How does he spend this money wisely?

AXELROD: Well, look, I think there are many different demands for this money. But I'm not sure, you know.

I think a lot of that action, reaching those voters, is going to happen on social media. And some of that will be in money spent. Some of it will be in amplifying influencers, on social media, who can reach some of those voters.

I think a lot of this campaign, right now, is being carried on below the surface, on social media, on TikTok, on Instagram, on the places, where young people get their news. They're not watching -- sadly, they're not -- most of them aren't watching us tonight. And they're not watching most news outlets. And they're not reading a lot of news sites.

They are getting their information on social media. And that's where I think the Biden campaign needs to dig in, and work, and compete with Trump, and make the contrast clear, with these -- with these young voters and with minority voters.

COLLINS: We're streaming on Max. The young people are watching that.

David Axelrod, thank you as always.

AXELROD: Good to see you, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: Meanwhile, just about 30 miles away, here in New York, Donald Trump attended the wake, of a slain New York police officer, today.

Jonathan Diller was fatally shot, during a traffic stop, earlier this week. The 31-year-old now leaves behind his wife and his 1-year-old son. The former President says that he met with Diller's widow today.

And after that wake happened, you saw him here, flanked by law enforcement officers, where Donald Trump called for, quote, "Law and order."


DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT AND 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They're not given the respect. The police are the greatest people we have. There's nothing and there's nobody like them.

We have to stop it. We have to get back to law and order. We have to do a lot of things differently because this is not working.


COLLINS: I'm joined, tonight, by CNN's Chief Law Enforcement and Intelligence Analyst, John Miller.

And, John, in your experience, just knowing what you know, and seeing Donald Trump, at this wake, today, I mean, how do you think the New York Police Department officers viewed this appearance?

JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: Well, I've talked to a number of them today. I've scanned through some of the chat rooms, where they have those conversations.

And Donald Trump generally plays well, among police officers, simply because that is a constituency in America, but especially here in New York, that really hungers for anything like unconditional support, from a political leader. So, his visit seemed to be welcomed.

There are some political aspects, because if you look behind him, what you saw, as he stood there, was the Nassau County Executive, a Republican. His police commissioner, Pat Ryder, who's been Police Commissioner, in Nassau County, through a number of county executives and the Nassau County police.

The New York City Police Department was going to a lot of effort, to stay out of the background, stay out of the politics, because, frankly, they were focused on making sure that this is about Jonathan Diller, his wife, Stephanie, their baby boy, Ryan, and a terrible tragedy and not falling into the political waters.


COLLINS: Yes. And it is absolutely tragic, to hear his story, about what happened to him.

And as you look at that, and the fact that Trump made the effort to come to this wake, you mentioned that there is also a political lens to this as well. And this is, as someone who covered Trump, when he was in the White House, now he finds himself facing 88 felony charges.

He's been attacking federal and state law enforcement officials, even just this week. He said he wants to free January 6 rioters, some of whom assaulted cops, on that day, dozens of cops. And he's also been, courting them, styling him, as you heard him there, as this tough-on- crime candidate.

And I wonder what you make of that.

MILLER: Well, it's a conundrum for police. But attacking prosecutors, particularly elected prosecutors, who many police officers view as simply just a different kind of politician, is not going to move the needle away from Trump.

Where the red line is, is referring to January 6 rioters, who arguably led to the death of one police officer, the serious injuries of others, and referring to them as hostages. That's where you're going to see real resistance there, because that's just not OK in the world of police.

COLLINS: John Miller, always great to have your perspective on this, especially given your contacts. Thank you so much, for joining, tonight.

MILLER: Thanks, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: And as we continue to look at that political lens that very much exists here, to both of these conversations we've had tonight, I want to bring in former Senior Policy Advisor for the Obama administration, and the National Coalitions Director for Biden's 2020 campaign, Ashley Allison; and also, former Special Assistant to President George W. Bush, Scott Jennings.

It's great to have both of you here tonight, right now, as this fundraiser is truly underway.

And Scott, I wonder, as a strategist, what you make of this, and whether this was an effective split-screen moment that we're looking at here?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO MITCH MCCONNELL, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, it's probably an effective day, for both of them, right? Biden's getting all this money, showing Democratic Party in unity.

But for Donald Trump, to go to this situation, this wake, where this police officer was tragically shot, by someone, who had been arrested so many times and let out of jail, it does drive home, the point that he, and the rest of the Republican Party, is constantly making. And that is with Joe Biden as President, with Democrats in charge, you just don't have people, who were serious about putting and keeping violent criminals in jail.

So, I thought that was an effective tactic that they did today. And I'm sure the police officers and the family that were there, sincerely appreciated it.

COLLINS: Ashley, I wonder what you make of that.

And also, this comment that was -- that came from Trump's spokesperson, for his campaign, Steven Cheung, who basically was comparing these two moments, what's happening at Radio City, and what happened with Donald Trump today, saying, calling them the Three Stooges, Biden, Obama and Clinton, at this glitzy fundraiser in this city.

And this is the response, from Trump, as I should note, right now, we're also getting pictures, of this fundraiser. You can see the three presidents there, on stage, at Radio City Music Hall.

(GRAPHIC IS SHOWN OF FIRST PICTURES FROM BIDEN, OBAMA, CLINTON FUNDRAISER) COLLINS: It's still just a remarkable moment for anyone, who cares about politics, to see three presidents on stage.

But Ash, I wonder what you make of that comment comparing the two of these.

ASHLEY ALLISON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER WHITE HOUSE SENIOR POLICY ADVISER, NATIONAL COALITIONS DIRECTOR FOR BIDEN-HARRIS 2020: Well, look, I think that it's interesting to hear Republicans constantly say that Democrats are soft on crime, when the reality is since Joe Biden has been a president, the statistics show that crime is going down, across all major cities.

So, whether or not President Trump goes to the funeral or not, the rhetoric that they are spewing after it just is not factual.

I also would point out that much to some folks', in the progressive movements, chagrin, Joe Biden is one of the most pro-police presidents that we have had, in a very long time, contrast to how Donald Trump treated law enforcement, on January 6th.

In regards to how Democrats and what this means for tonight, I think it is an interesting contrast.

So, your point, Kaitlan, you started the show saying, Donald Trump doesn't have his vice president, most of his cabinet secretaries are not supporting him. These are the people that he chose to work with him, for four years.

And yet, Joe Biden doesn't just have the person, who selected him to be his vice president, President Barack Obama. But he also has a former President, Bill Clinton, sitting on stage, talking about how important this election is, how people need to get engaged now, all hands on deck.

And that's the contrast that I think will come out of tonight that the Democratic Party, yes, the coalition might not be as strong as it is now, as it was in 2020. But we have work to do. These three folks can do it together. And when the campaign really gets out, and hits the streets, some with this $25 million they're raising tonight, that the voters will understand why in the fall, they need to vote for Joe Biden.

COLLINS: Scott, well, what do you make of the discrepancy? If you're running the Trump campaign, tonight, and you're seeing this $25 million number, and Biden is already far outranking Trump on cash? Of course, he didn't have a competitive primary or anything like that.


But how worried are you about being this far behind Biden?

JENNINGS: Well Democrats have had more money than Republicans, going back, really, to 2016. Democrats have been -- had become the party of big money, big money donors. They've become the party of dark money. So, I think all Republican strategists have been anticipating that

Democrats are going to have all the money, the money you can see and the money that you can't see or can't track.

But I think Trump will have enough.

And I have long wondered about this election, with Biden being so fully defined, and Trump being so fully defined, if there will be some diminishing returns, on massive amounts of money here. I think both will have plenty to do what they want to do and get out their message.

But at some point, the voters know both of these people. They also know how they feel about the results of both presidencies. And if you look at the polling, right now, there's a lot of nostalgia, for the presidency of Donald Trump, when people are asked to compare it to the results they're getting from Joe Biden.

COLLINS: We have a lot to discuss coming up.


COLLINS: Ashley Allison, Scott Jennings, thank you both.

Ahead here tonight, on THE SOURCE, we have new video, from inside that cargo ship that took down an entire bridge, in Baltimore. We also have Transportation Secretary, Pete Buttigieg here, to talk about the federal efforts.

Plus, Donald Trump back at it, attacking the daughter of the judge, who will oversee his first criminal trial, by name. More on that in a moment.



COLLINS: Tonight, Baltimore's port remains closed, which means key cargo deliveries are scrambled here, on the East Coast, that cargo that could include the car that you've been thinking about test- driving, or even the sugar that you put in your coffee each morning.

Maryland's governor says that the U.S. economy depends on reopening this port ASAP.

But it can't reopen until the collapsed bridge and the ship stuck underneath it are removed from the water.

And let's get straight to THE SOURCE, tonight, with Transportation Secretary, Pete Buttigieg, who met, today, with officials from ports, and labor groups to talk about these supply chain concerns.

Secretary, thank you, for your time, tonight.

Obviously, you know how vital this port is, to national supply chains, which has been a big concern for everyone. Do you have a better idea, tonight, of how soon that port could reopen? PETE BUTTIGIEG, TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: It's too soon to say exactly how long it will be, to clear the channel. That's going to depend on assessments, by the Army Corps of Engineers and others, as they work to understand the extent of the debris that's in there.

What I do know is that there are three heavy lift vessels, on their way in, the first of them should arrive tomorrow.

What we were able to learn today, when I gathered about 100 players, from across supply chains, is what to expect until that port can be reopened, which of course, we're seeking to have happen as soon as possible. But we know it's not going to be overnight.

And, in the meantime, there're going to be some real impacts. This is a significant container port, around a 10th in the U.S., depending how you count it. The good news is containers can be accommodated in a lot of other ports, up and down the Eastern Seaboard.

It is specialized though, in vehicles, it's actually the biggest vehicle handling port, in the U.S., as well as certain other bulk products like sugar. So, there's a lot of coordination going on right now.

That's part of what we're working to help support today, when we brought these players together. You got shippers, terminal operators, ports, cargo owners, even the rail and the trucking sector getting involved, because some of their plans have to change, all to figure out how to accommodate, reroute and plan for what's next.

COLLINS: Yes. I mean, you mentioned not knowing when this is going to reopen. It has people, who are sitting at home wondering, how it could affect them, and impact their lives. And the cars obviously has been a big impact of that.

I mean, do you have an estimate of the cost of that impact, and just how many Americans it could -- it could end up affecting?

BUTTIGIEG: Well, of course, the longer the disruptions go on, the more you can -- you can see them cause some of these economic distortions, although so far, there have not been indications that it's going to be in the proportions, of what we saw, a few years ago, on the West Coast, for example.

Many of the ships that call on Baltimore already also call on other ports, up and down the East Coast. And those ports are already gearing up, to try to temporarily accommodate that extra traffic.

For example, the port in New York and New Jersey, they indicated they have about 20 percent more capacity than they're using right now. So again, for those temporary changes, they should be pretty well- positioned to absorb that. We just need to make sure that whether it's vehicles or other bulk products, that there are plans for things that are -- that are a little more specialized.

Now, the other thing we're really concerned about, right now, is, of course, the workers on those ports. These workers have been through so much, from COVID to more recent disruptions. They need the cargo to be moving, in order for them to have an income.

There's a lot of work going on, right now, including with the State Department of Labor, under the leadership of Governor Wes Moore, my colleague, Julie Su, at the U.S. Department of Labor. Just another part of the whole-of-government effort, to support everybody, who has been impacted by this tragedy.

COLLINS: Yes, we saw Governor Moore with the hotline, earlier, for those workers.

The federal government, for its part, has just provided Maryland with $60 million, in emergency funds, that announcement that you made earlier. Do you have a better estimate, tonight, as you're looking at this, of really what the whole price tag for the recovery and rebuilding is going to be?

BUTTIGIEG: What I can tell you is this $60 million is helpful. But it's really a down payment. And that's exactly part of what they're working to get more information on, right now.


There are some expenses that are being incurred right away. That's why we made sure to process this emergency relief request, within hours of when it came in, formally, to our department.

Those $60 million can be used for things like demolition, debris removal, even detours, some of the costs associated with setting up the detours, associated with the traffic disruption, as well as things related to the design, and the construction, and ultimately, reconstruction of the bridge.

But look, this is not going to be a small project by any stretch. And we know that it's going to be costly. But we also know that that cost is worth it, to get Baltimore back on its feet, to get everything back to normal, and to support our traffic systems and supply chains.

And my hope is that this will continue to be something that enjoys bipartisan support. And it certainly enjoys the full-throated support of the President of the United States, as he pledged very soon after this tragedy was known.

COLLINS: Yes. I know, we've heard from some Republicans, talking about offsetting and having spending cuts, to offset that costs. We'll see what that looks like, with Congress.

But Mr. Secretary, I have to ask you about something that, I guess, we shouldn't be surprised by anymore.

But almost immediately, after this ship hit this bridge, and the bridge collapsed, there were these wild conspiracy theories, about what really happened. I mean, they ranged from a cyber-attack, to the captain having side effects from the COVID vaccine. They even blamed the Obamas, at one point.

And I just wonder, as a sitting cabinet secretary, if you ever thought that you'd have to combat something like that, when dealing with a crisis.

BUTTIGIEG: We're in the business of dealing with roads and bridges, and sometimes ships and trains.

So, we are not in the habit, as a Department of Transportation, of being in the business of dealing with conspiracies, or conspiracy theories, or that kind of wild-thinking. But unfortunately, it is a fact of life in America today.

What's really upsetting, of course, is that when misinformation or disinformation circulates, that is not without victims.

Remember, this is a human tragedy. Six people lost their lives. And everybody, from dockworkers to commuters, in Baltimore is, wanting and needing good information, about how this is going to impact them.

And we, as a department, need good factual information, about how this happens, so that we can include that in future decisions, on everything from maritime and shipping policy, to bridge design for the 2030s and 2040s. All of that requires being grounded in fact.

And that's what we're doing. That's why I admire and respect the independent work of the NTSB, the National Transportation Safety Board, which is really just ignoring all of the speculation, rumor and misinformation, making sure that we have a completely factual base of information, to use as a country, to use as a government, to guide better decisions, and get to the bottom of every piece of how this could have happened.

COLLINS: Secretary Pete Buttigieg, thank you, for your time, tonight.


COLLINS: Ahead, Donald Trump has not stopped attacking the daughter of the judge overseeing his criminal hush money trial. We have a sitting judge, here tonight, to react, someone who has also received threats against him and his family before.



COLLINS: The New York judge, in Donald Trump's upcoming hush money trial, has made it crystal-clear, this week, that he is not in the mood for any games, from the former President, or his legal team, banning Trump, from attacking prosecutors, witnesses and jurors.

So, Trump has found someone new to attack, Judge Juan Merchan's daughter.

In a new post, tonight, he calls her out by name. Trump goes after her as a quote, "Rabid Trump hater," because she's done work for Democratic campaigns in the past. He didn't stop there. He also accused her of posting a picture of him, behind bars, which Trump says quote, "Makes it completely impossible for me to get a fair trial." I should note, however, that that is apparently not true. And the New York State Court System says that long ago, did Judge Merchan's daughter abandon that Twitter account, and that it's also not linked to her email.

Even so, she's a private citizen. She's not party to this case.

I should note that the gag order that the judge did put in place, earlier this week, doesn't apply to himself nor to his family.

Tonight, I want to bring in senior U.S. District Judge, Reggie Walton, who was nominated for judgeships, by both Presidents Bush 41 and 43.

And it's great to have you here, Judge, tonight. And I just want to say thank you, for joining us.

And I think, to a lot of people, the dangers of attacking a judge and his family and their family is clear. I wonder how you would respond to something like this.

JUDGE REGGIE WALTON, U.S. DISTRICT COURT FOR DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Well, it's very disconcerting, to have someone making comments, about a judge. And it's particularly problematic when those comments are in the form of a threat, especially if they're directed at one's family.

I mean, we do these jobs, because we're committed to the rule of law, and we believe in the rule of law. And the rule of law can only function effectively, when we have judges, who are prepared to carry out their duties, without the threat of potential physical harm.

COLLINS: And you know personally, I mean, what this is like. Someone threatened your daughter once as well.

WALTON: Yes, threatened me, one day, and then the next day called and made a threat against my daughter, and also indicated my address. So, they obviously had done some research, to find out that I had a daughter, and what her name was, and also where I live.

COLLINS: I mean, what's that even -- that -- that must be terrifying.


WALTON: Well it is. But you kind of have to appreciate that you can't let that impact on how you live your life, and how you treat litigants who are before you.

Because even though threats may be made against you, and against your family, you still have an obligation, to ensure that everybody who comes into your courtroom is treated fairly, regardless of who they are, or what they've done.

But nonetheless, it is very troubling, because I think it is an attack, on the rule of law, when judges are threatened, and particularly when their family is threatened. And it's something that's wrong, and should not happen. COLLINS: Given that, I mean, and you said it shouldn't impact your work. But it's got to be something that's always kind of in the back of your mind, when you're going to work, when you're leaving, to have those kinds of threats hanging out there.

WALTON: Yes, I mean, unfortunately, it's a reality that it's not inconceivable that something could happen. We always have to hope that it doesn't occur.

But, several years ago, one of my colleagues up in New Jersey, her husband was seriously injured, and sadly, her son was killed.

And we had a judge out in Chicago, who someone came after her. Unfortunately, she was not there, but her family members were. And several of them lost their lives.

So, it's a reality that we live with, but you try not to let it impact on your day-to-day life.

COLLINS: I don't expect you to get political here, obviously. But do you think that's something that Donald Trump considers when he posts something like this?

WALTON: I can't get into someone's mind, to say whether they appreciate the impact that they're doing.

But I would think that he's -- any reasonable thinking person would appreciate that, when they say things? It can sometimes resonate with others. And I think that's particularly true, when you have somebody, who has status in our society, and they make certain statements, it can cause people to act on those statements, even if they don't necessarily intend for someone to do so.

So, I think it's very important that people in positions of authority, be very circumspect in reference to the things that they say, so that they're not causing others to act on what they say, and maybe cause injury or deaths to someone, as a result of that.

COLLINS: What do you make of how the judge here, Judge Juan Merchan didn't include himself, or his family, in the gag order?

WALTON: Yes, I understand why he wouldn't do that. I mean, again, I think we cannot make ourselves a part of the case. I mean, obviously, we are a part of the case, because we're presiding over the proceeding. But we can't make the case and the issue about us. And that can be very difficult. But it comes with the territory.

I mean, first and foremost, when we take the oath of office, we have an obligation to make sure that all parties, who enter our courtroom, receive a fair adjudication, regardless of who they are, what their politics are, or what they've alleged to have done.

And therefore, I think it's crucial that judges not make themselves a part of the issue. So, I think the judge did the right thing, by not including himself in the gag order.

COLLINS: You're someone, who has always been really straightforward, in your assessment of the former President.

If you read your comments, when you're -- when you're sentencing people, when you're -- when you're in these cases. You once referred to him as a charlatan, at the sentencing of a January 6th defendant. I know you've gotten a lot of those cases before you.

You've said that you don't think he cares about democracy, only power that you once seemed to suggest you didn't -- you weren't sure he'd accept defeat, if he lost in this election.

Do you still feel that way, tonight?

WALTON: I'd rather not comment on that. I mean, I've made those, you know, the comments I've made, in the context of the sentencings I impose, because I'm hoping that what I say to the individuals, who I'm sentencing, will resonate with them, and cause them to rethink the activity that they engaged in, that brought them before the court, and hopefully deter them, from engaging in further conduct of that nature in the future.

COLLINS: Have you been on the receiving end of more threats, since you've had the January 6 defendants, in your court?

WALTON: Yes, I've had more threats than what used to be the case. Yes, I have received a greater number of threats, as a result of that incident, and the fact that cases arising out of that incident have appeared before me.

I mean, it was rare. I've been a judge for over 40 years. And this is a new phenomenon. I'm not saying that it didn't happen before. But it was very rare that I would you ever receive any type of a threat, regardless of what type of cases I was handling. And unfortunately, that is no longer the case.


I know the Marshals Service has seen a significant increase, in the number of threats against judges. And I think obviously, that's very -- very concerning.

COLLINS: It's rare that we get to hear, from a sitting federal judge. But obviously, this is a gravely important issue. I wonder what made you speak out, tonight, and speak publicly.

WALTON: Well, I am concerned, because like I say, we have had judges, who've lost their lives, or family members have lost their lives, as a result of individuals, who have been litigants in their courtroom.

And I think it's important, in order to preserve our democracy, that we maintain the rule of law. And the rule -- the rule of law can only be the maintained, if we have independent judicial officers, who are able to do their job, and ensure that the laws are, in fact enforced, and that the laws are applied equally to everybody, who appears in our courthouse.

And I think it's important that as judges, we speak out, and say things, and reference to things that conceivably are going to impact on the process. Because if we don't have a viable court system, that's able to function efficiently, then we have tyranny. And I don't think that would be good for the future of our country, and the future of democracy in our country.

COLLINS: Senior judge, Reggie Walton, it's great to talk to you. Thank you for joining us, here on THE SOURCE, tonight.

WALTON: Thank you for having me.

COLLINS: A remarkable moment there, to hear a sitting federal judge, with the weight of these attacks, from a former President, and what they could mean.

Also, tonight, we've got another interview that you are also not going to want to miss. CNN's Chris Wallace had no idea what was coming, when he sat down with Larry David, of "Curb Your Enthusiasm," talking about the last season, but instead also talking about the 2020 election. You're going to want to see that moment, right after a quick break.


LARRY DAVID, ACTOR, "CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM": He's such a little baby.

He's such a sociopath. He's so insane.

A sick man.




COLLINS: Everyone is talking about what Larry David had to say, about Donald Trump, to Chris Wallace, on his Max interview show, "Who's Talking to Chris Wallace?"

And we have a brand-new clip from that interview.


CHRIS WALLACE, CNN ANCHOR: How do you wrap your head around the fact that he could very well be reelected president? I mean, right now, I'd say he's the favorite.

DAVID: He's just, is such an amazing con man. He has such a gift for lying, and fooling people, and convincing people of something that's a complete lie.

WALLACE: But the fact, but the point is--


WALLACE: --millions and millions and millions of Americans, more so than three years ago, they buy it. DAVID: They buy it. It's a testament to his conning abilities. He's -- he's the greatest con man we've ever produced, yes.


COLLINS: And CNN Anchor, Chris Wallace, joins me now.

I mean, Chris, this interview is really something else.

And Larry David's ire for Donald Trump is pretty well-documented. But what did you make of what he said to you?

WALLACE: Well, it wasn't really such a jump to go, from Larry David and "Curb Your Enthusiasm," to politics, because there's a lot of it, in this final season. The series ends in April. And in our interview, which drops on Friday, on Max, we talk about that.

Because one of the storylines he has, he's done in Atlanta. And there's a friend of his, who's waiting to vote. And he goes, and he gets her a bottle of water. And suddenly, he's arrested.


WALLACE: And they take his mug shot, which looks a lot like Donald Trump's mug shot. So, there's a lot of politics that plays through this.

And his distaste, for the former President of the United States, is pretty clear. In fact, in the previous season, he got a MAGA hat. And whenever he was in a situation, like he didn't want somebody to sit next to him, he would just put on his MAGA hat, and it would clear the room.

COLLINS: I remember it. And he would do it when he was driving his car, when he had road rage, as well.

I mean, you're seeing this intersection, between this humorous fiction-based show, but obviously has so many ties to reality.

And the thing that we've been talking about a lot, this week, is kind of this new thing that you're hearing from a lot of Republican figures, who are kind of saying, oh, our lies about the 2020 election are in the past. I'm thinking of Lara Trump and Ronna McDaniel.

You ask Larry David, about this entire kind of permission structure, about the election in 2020. Here's what he told you.


WALLACE: So how much has the whole 2020 election, and everything that has flowed from it, pissed you off?

DAVID: Oh, yes, I mean, you can't go a day without thinking about what he's done to this country, because he's such a little baby that he's thrown 250 years of democracy out the window, by not accepting the results of an -- I mean, it's -- it's so crazy. He's such a sociopath. He's so insane. He just couldn't admit to

losing. And we know he lost. He knows he lost. And look how he's fooled everybody. He's convinced all these people that he didn't lose. It's -- he's such a sick man. He's so sick.

Anyway, no, it hasn't impacted me at all.



COLLINS: I mean, it's such a Larry David way to end that comment.

WALLACE: Absolutely. He goes for the joke at the end.

But he's not joking. There is an incident that happened, I think, last summer, in Martha's Vineyard. Alan Dershowitz, the famous lawyer is up there. And they apparently had been fairly good friends. But now, Dershowitz has become pro-Trump, defended him in one of the impeachment trials.

And they both tell the story about Larry David and Dershowitz running into each other, in the tony suburbs of Martha's Vineyard. And Larry just says, you're disgusting, I don't want to talk to you again, I don't want to have anything to do with you again. So, he takes it personally.

But I just want to add, for this interview that I say drops Friday, on Max, it's not all politics. We talk about all the things that trigger him.

In fact, I went out to dinner with him, a few months ago, and he picked up the check. I thanked him for it. And then, the next day, I wrote an email, a quick email and just said, thanks so much for dinner.

And he wrote me back, specifically to say, when I take him out to dinner, don't expect a thank you note, because it's too much trouble.

We also go into a whole thing, about the nightmare of when you have a birthday, and everybody wishes you Happy Birthday online, and then you have to respond to it.

It's a really interesting entertaining interview. And I think it gives you some insight into the crazy mind of Larry David.

COLLINS: Chris Wallace, it's a great interview. I can't wait to watch the whole thing.

And for all of you watching, you can also watch Chris' entire conversation, with Larry David. As he notes, that starts tomorrow on Max, those new episodes of "Who's Talking to Chris Wallace?" drop every Friday.

Ahead, we're going to have a really important fact-check for you that it has to deal with March Madness. Games are going on right now. But there's a lot of things going out there that aren't true, including a conspiracy about quote, "Illegal invaders" at the Detroit airport. That turned out to be a team on the way to the Sweet 16.

The king of sorting out disinformation, Donie, is here on set.



COLLINS: We are experiencing a whole different kind of March Madness, right now, really one where you've got to file it under you have to see it to believe it.

A Republican state lawmaker, in Michigan, a State Rep., his name is Matt Maddock, he posted online what he claimed was a damning photo evidence of quote, "Illegal invaders," at the Detroit airport.

With all the gusto of an intrepid reporter, he captioned this photo, "Happening right now. Three busses just loaded up with illegal invaders at Detroit Metro. Anyone have any idea where they're headed with their police escort?"

Well, we do know where they were headed with their police escort, because it turns out it was the Gonzaga -- Gonzaga's men's basketball team. They and three others that are playing in the Sweet 16, arrived at the Detroit airport, on Wednesday evening. That was confirmed by the Wayne County Airport. Not illegal invaders.

Here tonight, to break all this down, is CNN's Donie O'Sullivan.

And Donie, what I cannot get over, and maybe it's just changed in the 57 minutes we've been on air, he hasn't deleted the tweet.


COLLINS: He just posted another one--


COLLINS: --following up on it.

O'SULLIVAN: Yes, he's doubled down. I mean, we live in such dumb time.

Yes, that lawmaker, he is a lawmaker, an elected official, in Michigan. This is what he said. I don't even want to read the whole thing to give him the dignity.

But he says "We know this is happening" hundreds of thousands of illegals are pouring in, says "we can't trust the #FakeNews to investigate, citizens will. The process of investigating these issues takes time."

Clearly, though, Matt Maddock did not take the time to investigate.

And our own intrepid fact-checking reporter, Daniel Dale, did do the fact-check. It didn't take him a very long time, he said. And clearly, there you laid out what is actually happening here.

But I think, really, Maddock's tweet here is so illustrative of the problem we are in, in this country, right now, where it's like, even when people are shown something is clearly false? Even maybe when it comes to all those videos and images that people like Giuliani were sharing after 2020 election supposedly showing ballots, being stuffed, and all this voter fraud?

Even when those things are debunked, and even when people are told that? People, like Matt Maddock will say, well, I could believe it would happen, and I know what's happening. Even though I said this was proof? Doesn't matter that it's not proof, I'd believe that it's happening anyway.

COLLINS: I mean, it's racist, and stupid.

And when you look into his past, I mean, I guess it shouldn't be that surprising. This is someone who -- his wife is one of the fake electors, who was charged in the State of Michigan. Both of them were among Republicans, who claimed that the state's electors were wrong, and they tried to enter the state, when they were casting Michigan's votes for Biden. I mean, they've also talked about COVID.

I mean, it goes back to what you said. This is an elected official, who's paid by the taxpayers, who's just lying.

O'SULLIVAN: Yes, the Maddocks, they sound like a great couple, to have around for dinner, right?

COLLINS: I don't know what dinner parties you are going to.

O'SULLIVAN: But look, I mean, I think, obviously, there was a time, where elected officials might have been held to a higher standard, when it comes to posts like this. Obviously, Trump and others of that ilk have kind of upended that system.


But I think also what you're seeing as when we saw this a bit, with all the conspiracy theories, immediately about the Baltimore bridge's -- bridge collapse as well, is that every single issue, every single story, every single day, online, is used as political battering rams, in the culture wars. All tied up in misinformation, everything is blamed on whatever the issue people want to choose it to be blamed on

COLLINS: Yes. And as Pete Buttigieg said earlier, I mean, this has like a real life impact.


COLLINS: It's not just for us to laugh about, at our dinner parties.

Donie O'Sullivan, happy belated birthday.


COLLINS: Thanks for joining us.

O'SULLIVAN: Thank you, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: And thank you all so much, for joining us, for a very busy hour.

"LAURA COATES LIVE" starts right now.