Return to Transcripts main page

The Source with Kaitlan Collins

Trump In Michigan, Attacks Governor Gretchen Whitmer; Trump In Michigan, Promises Statement On Abortion "Next Week"; Gonell: "Total Betrayal" If Trump Pardons Rioters. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired April 02, 2024 - 21:00   ET



CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I mean, there is a blizzard warning, right now, for the U.P. of Michigan, that upper part of Michigan, with snow and wind. Wind could be 50 to 60 miles per hour.

This is what we get, this time of year. Spring saying, hey, I'm here. Winter saying, hey, not so fast. And that's this clash of air masses that brings all of this together.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: All right, Chad Myers, thanks very much.

A lot to cover, the news continues. "THE SOURCE WITH KAITLAN COLLINS" starts now.


Donald Trump dodging questions about abortion, on the campaign trail.

As a top Democratic governor, who wants President Biden to push the issue more is here. You'll hear from Michigan governor, Gretchen Whitmer, in moments.

And at the White House, Biden hosting Muslim American leaders, but only a few of them, after many rejected his invitation, with anger building over the war in Gaza. One Palestinian doctor, who spoke at that meeting, to President Biden, will tell me why he walked out.

And Trump has been promising to free January 6 inmates in D.C. jails. Yes, the convicted criminals that he calls hostages, often. But a new report details how almost all of them were charged with assaulting law enforcement.

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

But we start with our top story tonight, as Donald Trump is back on the trail, before going on trial, in two weeks from now.

The former President was in a pair of states that could make or break his 2024 campaign, Michigan, and Wisconsin. These are states of course that Trump narrowly won in 2016, then narrowly lost four years later.

He spent much of today, trying to make people as afraid as possible, it seemed, speaking in pretty ominous terms, and warning about violence, consuming American cities even though of course, as we know, from the data, crime is actually down in major cities.

Trump used the phrase bloodbath, once again, but this time talking about the southern border, repeating his baseless claim that other nations are sending quote, yes, I'm quoting him now, "Prisoners, murderers, drug dealers, mental patients and terrorists" to the U.S.

It's a claim we've heard from him before. And we've asked his campaign, many times for evidence of all of that. They have still yet to this day, to provide any.

But there was one topic though, that Trump himself seemed afraid to weigh in on.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mister President, do you support the six-week abortion ban that the Florida Supreme Court just upheld?

DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: We'll be making a statement next week on abortion.


COLLINS: Next week. Where have we heard that before?

We'll keep you updated on what happens, what is on his calendar next week.

But in the meantime, President Biden is wasting no time, responding to that non-answer, writing, and I'm quoting Biden now, saying, "You already made your statement, Donald," and circling the part where Trump had bragged in the past that he was able to, quote, "Kill" Roe versus Wade, and also underlining that part where he said "Without me there would be no 6 weeks."

Of course, that means a ban on abortion, after six weeks of pregnancy, which is about to be the law, in the State of Florida, after the Supreme Court cleared the way, yesterday there, as you saw that decision. But they also gave voters a say on that, in the ballot, this fall.

It's an issue that has proven to be potent for Democrats, in states like Michigan, where voters made their voices heard and enshrined abortion rights into the state's constitution in 2022, while also reelecting the governor, who had made that issue central to her campaign.

And let's go straight to THE SOURCE, tonight, with Democratic governor of Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer, who is also the National Co-Chair for the Biden campaign.

Governor, it's great to have you here tonight.

I want to get into your bill, in a moment.

But former President Trump was in your state, today. And he did not give an opinion, when he was asked about Florida's six-week abortion ban that is going to go into effect in just 29 days from now.

I wonder what you made of the fact that he had nothing to say, about one of the strictest abortion bans, in the nation and his home state.

GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D-MI): I think it just tells you, you got to watch what the guy does, not listen to what he says. He changes his position all the time on this.

But we cannot forget, his actions speak louder than any words he's uttering yesterday or tomorrow.

He's the one that put three court justices, on the Supreme Court that overruled Roe v. Wade, put out the Dobbs decision, and has created a patchwork of rights and freedoms across this country that people are speaking out against, and are now trying to take to the ballots, in their individual states.

So, let's be very clear that the reason we've got this mess is because of Donald Trump. And regardless of what he says his position is now, that fact remains.


COLLINS: Well, and you signed a bill, in your state, this week, ending Michigan's criminal ban, on paid surrogacy and surrogacy contracts. I think it would surprise a lot of people to know that this was even still illegal. Michigan was the last state, where it was.

Why was this important for you to do?

WHITMER: I agree. It's crazy that it was still on the books, you know? We also had that 1931 law that would have made Michigan one of the most restrictive states, in the country, if we hadn't amended our constitution, to protect abortion rights.

This law would criminalize anyone who paid for surrogacy. It was something that made sense to get rid of, take it off the books. I don't know why it was put on, in the first place.

But when we saw the Alabama court issue their IVF ruling, we heard Republicans, all across the country say, we support IVF, we want families to be able to start, we support the science.

And yet, here in Michigan, when we took this surrogacy prohibition off the books? Only two Republicans voted to support that, and IVF. And so, it just tells you, I think, back to my first point is, you can listen to what people say, but you've really got to watch what they do.

And in Michigan, we're trying to make this a state, where you are in control of when and whether or not you bear a child, and you've got lots of options, to how you start that family, whether it's surrogacy, or IVF, or protecting it under the law.

COLLINS: Well, given what you signed this week, given the measure that was on the ballot, in 2022, about enshrining the right to an abortion, in the state's constitution, in Michigan, there is still that 24-hour waiting period, to get an abortion.

Given that you're in the governor's mansion, and Democrats control both chambers, why hasn't your party been able to deliver on repealing that?

WHITMER: Well, it was a part of our initial package that we tried to get done, last year. We did have a couple of Democrats that didn't support it. And we've got very, very slim margins in Michigan. That should be no surprise to anyone, right? That's why the whole world is going to be watching Michigan, as we go into this presidential election. We're a very close state. We go back and forth.

And so, right now, in our House, it's a 54-54 tie. You lose one Democrat, you know, you can't get the agenda done, on a party-line vote. So, we're going to continue to work to expand access to abortion rights.

But most importantly, I'm going to work my tail off, to make sure that we elect -- reelect Joe Biden, because we know that a second Trump term means all the progress we've made, in Michigan, could be set back, if we have a president, who wants to sign an abortion ban.

COLLINS: Well, you just mentioned, the concerns about what happened in Alabama, with the Supreme Court there, and the IVF ruling, and really what that could mean, for other reproductive rights.

On that ruling, in Alabama, you have not said whether or not you agree that frozen embryos are considered people. What is your position on that?

WHITMER: You know what? Who cares what my position is, Kaitlan? What matters is what the parents and their doctor, agree is whatever is right for them, how they define it. That's the only one whose opinion should matter, not a judge, not a politician, not a governor from a different state.

That's what the fundamental question is here. Are we going to empower Americans, to make their own healthcare decisions, and make decisions about how they go about starting their family, and whether or not they go about starting a family? And that's what I'm fighting for, here in Michigan.

COLLINS: You have been out in the forefront, on this issue, though. I think people would care what you -- what you think of that.

WHITMER: Yes, but I'm not a doctor, and I'm not in anyone's individual situation.

When we did this surrogacy bill, yesterday, we heard from parents, who went through IVF, couldn't carry a baby to term, so had a surrogate do that. When they saw all of the laws that were changing, they were worried that they would lose the ability to make a decision, about those embryos.

And a couple of the parents, at our event, testified that they decided to have the embryos destroyed. That was their decision. They were their embryos. I don't think that the government or any politician should get in the middle of that choice.

COLLINS: You just mentioned President Biden's reelection campaign, and working on that effort. Obviously, you're a Co-Chair of it. In January, you said that you believed more blunt language from him on abortion, on this issue, would be helpful. But I wonder if you've seen any noticeable change since then.

WHITMER: This President is the one person, who has, whether it's through orders, through his departments, at the federal level, or a vow to the American people, to make sure that if he gets in the opportunity, to appoint a Supreme Court justice, he gets a Congress that will send him a bill to codify the rights under Roe v. Wade? He'll sign it. I mean, he is -- he is right there on the issues. And there's no question about that, in my mind.

I think the big question is what is Donald Trump's position going to be at any given time? And if he's back in the White House, whether it's the threat to democracy, or threat to these fundamental rights, or just to rights as individuals with dignity in this country? I think all of that is unknown. And I think it's very scary.


COLLINS: But President Biden, he didn't even use the word, abortion, in his State of the Union speech. I mean, do you think that that he should be able to be saying this, in his speeches, if this is going to be a big issue that Democrats are running on?

WHITMER: Well, I think we all know where he's at.

But, to your point, I do think that every advocate out there should listen to women, and understand how we talk about these rights, whether it is a local official, or it is someone on the federal level.

I've done so many roundtables across Michigan. That is why I feel very comfortable using language that people are using.

Whether it is a failed miscarriage that didn't complete, and you have to go to the doctor's office. We used to call that a D&C. It's an abortion, right? We know that. We've used different terminology for different situations. But to terminate a pregnancy, or to, you know, for complete a miscarriage, that is an abortion. And I think that's why the language does matter, yes.

COLLINS: OK. It's, you said it does matter, that language does matter.

The reason Trump was in your state, today, was in addition to being asked about abortion. He was there to talk about immigration, which has obviously been an issue that he has used, to his advantage, politically, ever since the 2016 campaign.

President Biden told you and other governors, over a month ago, I believe it was February 23rd, that he was considering new executive action on the border. Do you understand why he hasn't taken any of that executive action that he was considering? WHITMER: Well I'll tell you. The former President was in Grand Rapids today. And he was capitalizing on a horrible tragedy that happened here. There is a family that is grieving the loss of Ruby Garcia. And she was a real person with a real story. And it is a horrible story that happened.

All of that being said, he came into the, you know, perpetrate the continued storyline that he had done everything to keep us safe, which is baloney.

We know that under the Trump administration, he actually called me, the Governor of Michigan, to ask that we send the National Guard to help with surveillance on the southern border. And we helped him out, because he couldn't get it done.

He's also the reason that the negotiation, in Washington, D.C., didn't come to fruition. He torpedoed a deal that would have had the strongest border security, in decades, in this country that President Biden put on the table. He had told the Republicans to walk away, and they did.

So, I've really, you know, I cannot abide when someone comes in, and just tries to score political points off of someone else's pain, and perpetuates a problem instead of actually trying to solve it.

COLLINS: Well, he also invoked you, by name, at one point. I just want everyone to listen to what he had to say today.


TRUMP: The radical left-wing governor, Gretchen Whitmer, a real beauty she is. I had to deal with her in COVID.

Biden and Whitmer are stealing your money to give free housing to illegals, and then asking you to quarter these people, put them in your homes and feed them, and do everything else. And it's just the whole thing is so -- is so crazy. And she's a terrible governor, by the way. Your streets are bad.



TRUMP: Your everything's bad.


COLLINS: Do you want to respond to that?

WHITMER: Not particularly. I mean, it's baloney.

And anyone in Michigan knows that I was reelected by almost 11 points, a year and a half ago. I am proud to be the Governor of Michigan. And we're making great progress here. Thanks to the Biden infrastructure plan, we're actually fixing the damn roads. But there's a lot of good stuff happening in Michigan. And I just think those talking points don't matter a whole lot, to people, every day. Michiganders are hardworking people. They want leaders, who see what they're struggling with, and work to solve those problems. And that's exactly what I will continue to stay focused on. And I know that's what President Biden will continue to stay focused on.

COLLINS: Well Michigan is going to matter a whole lot, to the 2024 election. Of course, both President Biden and former President Trump will be in Michigan a lot, I expect, over the next six months or so.

And obviously, one of the key issues here has been what's happening in Gaza, and how the situation has only deteriorated there. And we've seen so much anger, from Arab Americans, about the way that President Biden is handling this war.

What are you hearing from people in your state about that?

WHITMER: Well it's gut-wrenching, Kaitlan. Michigan is a state that has a robust Jewish population, and a robust Muslim population, Palestinian population, Arab American population. They're not all one and the same.

And I think that it's really important to do everything, we can, to support people here. That's why I've worked so hard, to make sure that people are safe in their communities, wherever they worship, trying to get people out of the region in the early days.


But I really do hope that we see the release of hostages, and the cessation of violence that is playing out, because there have been too many innocent lives taken. And it's just gut-wrenching.

People in Michigan, many people are one degree of separation from someone who's at risk of starving, or has lost their lives, or is being held hostage. And I think that's why this is so important that we continue to try to resolve this, and use every ounce of American might that we can, to do that.

COLLINS: Do you believe that there should be a permanent ceasefire?

WHITMER: I believe that the hostages need to be released, and that the violence needs to stop, and we need to really talk about rebuilding Gaza, and supporting the Palestinians.

COLLINS: But would that be -- some people have called for a permanent one, President Biden has called for one, for at least six weeks, I believe, with the release of hostages.

Where are you?

WHITMER: Well, I would like to see -- I would like to see a peaceful resolution here. I don't know that that is on the horizon immediately. But I sure as heck hope so.

COLLINS: Governor Gretchen Whitmer, great to have you on THE SOURCE. Thanks for joining us.

WHITMER: Thank you.

COLLINS: And as the other part of that abortion issue, in Florida, now that it's going to be on the ballot in November, there's a big question of whether or not Democrats now believe the state could be in play for them. The Biden campaign sure seems to think so.

Plus, what happened inside a meeting, at the White House, just tonight, between President Biden and Muslim leaders, who were outraged, over the war in Gaza, and how it's being handled. We'll speak to someone who was there and walked out.



COLLINS: Donald Trump has a policy announcement he claims, on what could be the issue, to make or break his campaign, in key battleground states, this election. But he says he's not telling voters just yet. The former President instead says he'll have a statement to make, about Florida's six-week abortion ban that's going into effect in about a month, next week.

But of course, keep in mind he has refused to answer this question, for nearly a year now.


TRUMP: Some people are at six weeks. Some people are at three weeks, two weeks.

COLLINS: Where is President Trump?

TRUMP: President Trump is going to make a determination what he thinks is great for the country and what's fair for the country.


COLLINS: I just want to give you one more chance, though, because you did not answer whether or not you'd sign a federal abortion ban or how many weeks into pregnancy you believe abortion should be banned.

TRUMP: Yes, but I've given you--

COLLINS: Can you answer either of those tonight?

TRUMP: I've given you the answer probably four times already.

COLLINS: Which one is it, then?

TRUMP: I'm looking -- I'm looking--

COLLINS: You haven't answered it.

TRUMP: --at a solution that's going to work. (END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: That was last May. Here we are now in April. And still, no firm number from the former President.

I am joined now, tonight, by CNN Political Commentator, and former Obama administration official, Van Jones; and CNN Political Contributor, and the former Republican Lieutenant Governor of Georgia, Geoff Duncan.

And Geoff, I mean, I guess, when you look at this, do you think we're going to hear Trump's stance, on the six-week ban that's going into effect in Florida, before or after we see his health care plan?

GEOFF DUNCAN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: That sound bite you heard reminded me of a politician on ice skates, going backwards. He didn't have an answer for the question.

And quite honestly, I mean, look, this is a tough issue, for Republicans too. If we're talking about IVF? If we're talking about the vernacular of abortion? We're losing ground. And it's a difficult subject. I think the Republicans' strategy on this has got to just lean into what the courts did. And they did push it back to the states. And each state's going to decide.

Governor Whitmer's state is not a heartbeat bill or heartbeat state. Georgia is. Brian Kemp beat Stacey Abrams, because the majority of Georgians thought it was OK to have it recognized, that heartbeat. Florida is going to be on, on a separate issue.

But this is not a winning issue, just like immigration isn't a winning issue for Democrats, right? If we forced Democrats to talk about immigration, every time they're on the stump, they're going to be -- it's going to be a losing issue.

COLLINS: Well, Van, on this issue, specifically, I mean, it seems like it's reignited a lot of hope for Democrats, when they look at Florida.

But that is a state that as you know, has broken a lot of Democratic hearts, over the years. And I saw some Republicans, tweeting out memes today, about Lucy and the football that it's just making Democrats think maybe Florida is within reach, because abortion is going to be on the ballot.

What do you think?

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think that Florida is tough for Democrats.

But I think that this issue has to stay front and center, not for political reasons, but for human reasons. As these stories just pile up and pile up of heartbreaking stories of women, whose lives are being risked, whose health is being risked, who have to travel far away, just to have basic health care? That really shouldn't be happening in this country. There should be a baseline of rights and respect for women's autonomy

that's been torn away because Donald Trump packed the courts with people, who don't care about women's rights or bodies.

And so, that is going to have to become a centerpiece. Does it open Florida up for us, to somehow win in that state? I don't know if it does or doesn't. But it does -- it's going to be an important issue, on the ballot, in Florida. And I think we got to keep talking about it.

COLLINS: Well, Geoff, you mentioned immigration, which is the issue that Republicans would prefer to be talking about, almost non-stop. It was Trump's focus, in Michigan, today.

I want everyone just listen to part of what he said, as he was kind of ramping up the fear factor.


TRUMP: The Democrats said please don't call them animals, they're humans.

I said, no, they're not humans. They're not humans. They're animals.

Nancy Pelosi told me that she said please don't use the word, animal, sir, when you're talking about these people.

I said, I'll use the word, animal, because that's what they are.


COLLINS: I mean, I remember, back in 2018, when he said, that he was only talking about MS-13 gang members, when he used that kind of language.

I mean, what do you make of how he framed it in Michigan today?


DUNCAN: It's sound bites like that that make me embarrassed to be a Republican, to listen to somebody like that, that is that -- the essentially the nominee of our party, talking those terms.

Look, we need solutions, on the border. Almost everybody, including Democrats, except for Joe Biden, believe that the border needs to be secure. And we need to have a plan and a strategy. If we want to solve the problem, we need to go to work, and invite the best and brightest, to actually solve the border issue.

And all of these issues, right, they're just too prime for politicizing--


DUNCAN: --these issues, and campaigning on them. And when you listen to Trump like that, it's struggling. The brutal realities of this are a majority of Americans would rather

slam their finger in a car door than vote for Joe Biden, or Donald Trump, right now. But we've all become victims of gravity, and just showed up in this spot, where we have no choice.

JONES: Well--

COLLINS: Van, what's your response to that, besides slamming your own finger in a car door?

JONES: Only thing I'd say, to the Lieutenant Governor, is that, you know, he says that Biden doesn't care about the issue.

In fact, Biden, and all the Democrats were willing to do a deal. I thought that the Republicans would jump at that deal. That was the toughest deal that Democrats ever signed off on, with nothing for us, no pathway to citizenship, none of the ideas we have, just trying to do something about helping at the border.

And Donald Trump slammed the entire Congress' hand to the car door, and stopped that from getting done.

So, you talk about politicizing and that kind of stuff. I hope that Americans realize whatever Donald Trump says, about the border now, it's his open border. He is keeping the border open. If it's open, he's keeping it open. And I do think that we could do a lot better than we're doing right now.

COLLINS: Well, and I think we've seen why Trump wanted that bill killed. I mean, Republicans made clear, it's because he thought it would be a good issue to run on.

And look at what the RNC did today. They introduced a new website. It's called They're basically blaming him, for what's happening on the border.

I mean, Geoff, you were just saying there about comments like that make you embarrassed to be a Republican. I mean, is bloodbath now the new campaign slogan that Republicans are going to be running on, in 2024?

DUNCAN: Van's right to say that Donald Trump is equally to blame for this, and the Republican leadership that didn't take the opportunity, to just put politics aside and fund the border security.

And yes, this is just -- we keep politicizing these issues. And I'm coming at it, from a Republican standpoint. It really is embarrassing to watch us just talk and spin, as the world continues to go in a direction that isn't healthy for us.

We certainly are going to be sitting on the precipice of an economic downturn. We have global tensions. We have spending issues that are really jeopardizing the future of our economy. These are real issues that I think 70-plus percent of America wants somebody to show up to solve. But that's not going to happen in this election cycle. We're going to

have Joe Biden or Donald Trump. Pick your poison. This country is not going to be better the day after the election, if either one of these guys wins.

COLLINS: Well, it seems like that's going to be the choice. We'll see what happens.

Geoff Duncan, Van Jones, thank you both.

JONES: Thank you.

COLLINS: Meanwhile, at the White House, tonight, President Biden met with a few Muslim leaders, during the holy month of Ramadan.

But a Palestinian American doctor, who was at that meeting, and walked out, is here to explain why, right after a quick break.



COLLINS: President Biden saying in a statement tonight that he's outraged and heartbroken, over the deaths of those seven aid workers, in Gaza, including one American citizen. He also sharply criticized Israel, in his statement, saying quote, "This is not a standalone incident," and Israel has not done enough to protect aid workers and civilians.

The Israeli military, responding to that deadly airstrike, saying that it was quote, a "Mistake that followed a misidentification" at night.

But the World Central Kitchen, which is the group founded by Chef Jose Andres, says the convoy was traveling through a designated safe zone, and also had coordinated their movements with the IDF.

These are the seven workers, who were killed, after trying to bring more aid into Gaza, and to feed hungry people. We are thinking of all of their families tonight.


COLLINS: In the middle of all of this, President Biden, at the White House, is continuing to face anger and frustration in-person, of his handling of the Israel-Hamas war.

Officials had planned an Iftar dinner, at the White House, tonight, an event to break the daily fast, with Muslim Americans, during Ramadan. But sources tell CNN that so many of them declined the invitation, uncomfortable with the idea of having a celebratory meal, as people in Gaza are starving.

That means the White House scales it back to just be a policy meeting. But even that did not go as planned, for the White House. One Palestinian American, who is an emergency medicine physician, and

volunteered in Gaza, earlier this year, walked out of that meeting. That doctor, Dr. Thaer Ahmad, joins me now.

And Dr. Ahmad, it's great to have you here.

Can you just start by telling me what happened, when you went to the White House tonight, what was said inside that room?

DR. THAER AHMAD, VOLUNTEERED IN GAZA: Well, yes, thank you for having me.

I think, we had shown up to this meeting really concerned, about what was taking place, in the Gaza Strip. And I'm glad that you mentioned that we were insisting that there not be any food there. It made no sense, for us, to sort of break bread, while talking about a famine taking place.

We had shown up. And the President, and the Vice President, the National Security Advisor are in the room. And it was very brief comments, by the President saying he wants to hear from us, and he wants to listen to us.

And so, I spoke first, and I let him know that I am from a community that's reeling. We are grieving. We -- our heart is broken for what's been taking place, over the last six months.

And that the rhetoric that has been coming out of the Biden administration, that's been coming out of the White House, it's frustrated a lot of people especially people who are Palestinian Americans, Muslim Americans, Arab Americans.


We are not satisfied with what has taken place. There has been no concrete steps. But keep in mind, we're very concerned about the people that are over in the Gaza Strip that are in Palestine, right now, who are not just starving, but are facing the threat of a looming Rafah invasion.

And so, I was able to share that with the President, and let him know that out of respect, for my community, out of respect, for all of the people who have suffered, and who have been killed in the process, I need to walk out of the meeting.

And I want to walk out with decision-makers, and let them know what it feels like, for somebody to say something, and then walk away from them, and not hear them out, and not hear their response.

COLLINS: Wow. I mean, what did -- how did President Biden respond to that?

AHMAD: There wasn't a lot of response. He actually said that he understood. And I walked away.

And I think, for me, just like many of the other Palestinian Americans, and Palestinians are, as I mentioned, many of the people, who are interested in what's going on, we're panicking. I mean, we're talking about 1.7 million people are in Rafah, right now.

And we heard that there was a U.N. Security Resolution that had passed, and the U.S. abstained, and we were thrilled about this. But only moments later, to have that sort of joy ripped from us, when our own White House is saying, oh, it's a non-binding resolution. They're undermining the very U.N. Security Council resolution that's calling for a ceasefire.

OK. Well, then let's think about what happens next. Oh, then we hear that there's an arms transfer that's going to take place, and we know that included in these arms transfers, these 2,000-pound bombs that are leveling neighborhoods?

I mean, I was in Gaza, in January. I saw the devastation of Khan Yunis. I saw Deir al Balah. I mean, these bombs are wreaking havoc, and people are fleeing to the South, to Rafah, the southern edge of Gaza, bordering up against Egypt.

And we're transferring more bombs, more bullets, more fighter jets? What's going to happen to those people in Rafah?

I mean, I'm telling you that every single humanitarian aid organization, every single person invested in what's taking place and watching, we are trying to scream, at the top of our lungs, please, we cannot allow a ground invasion to take place. We need food, to be able to enter and it to be distributed safely.

And I'm glad you mentioned the tragic loss of the World Central Kitchen workers who were--


AHMAD: --a part of an approved route. I mean, these are people, who are coordinating, and just trying to deliver food to hungry people. And they're assassinated, in the process. And so, there's so much wrong in Gaza.

COLLINS: And it sounds like you don't think that the White House is hearing you. Were you the only Palestinian in that room tonight?

AHMAD: Yes, I was the only Palestinian American in that room. I think that there were plenty of people, who probably declined. But I know that there are many people, who I had mentioned, who should be present there, who I, for whatever reason, weren't given the invite.

And it's important to mention. And I'm a humanitarian physician. I go to the Gaza Strip. I am a Palestinian American.

But I'm not an organizer. I'm not a leader of any local community here. I'm not a part of any organization that I'm the president of. And so, even me being selected to be invited to here -- to this place, it's not really representative of the diverse community that makes up the Palestinian diaspora. It's not representative of them. COLLINS: Well you just mentioned the arms sale. We've been -- our reporting is that they're close to the sale of as many as 50 American- made F-15 fighter jets.

You were in Gaza, in January. You want to go back, I know.


COLLINS: I mean, what are your thoughts, on what Biden is saying, tonight, about this strike and about how Israel handled it, and the idea that they're also on the verge of approving that?

AHMAD: Yes, I mean, it's devastating. And I'm so frustrated and angry to hear something like that, to hear about a fighter jet sale.

When we were in Khan Yunis, at Nasser Hospital, the second-largest hospital, we would hear these fighter jets flying around.

And every time they're ready to release a missile, or strike somewhere, you can hear the whistling from that bomb. It's terrifying. And when it hits, it shakes every building around it. I remember thinking that the hospital was going to come crashing down, or shrapnel was going to fly through the window and kill us.

I mean, it's totally unacceptable, to be thinking that we're going to continue to arm this war. And it's playing out the way that it's playing out, with so many people suffering, and so many people hurting.

And so, I mean, it has to stop. It cannot just be rhetoric. It can't just be the President saying he's very sorry, and demanding answers.

I mean, it's been six months of incident after incident, aid organization being hit, people who are fleeing places, being killed, Palestinians, who are trying, who are very hungry, trying to access flour convoys, ending up in body bags.

I mean, it's incident after incident, and it's time that we take a firm stance, and we say there can be no invasion in Rafah, that aid needs to enter from all land crossings, and that organizations that are on the ground need to have some safety and security, and hospitals cannot be targeted. I mean, 400 health care workers have been killed this far. And many of them have been also arrested.

Gaza is becoming unlivable. I mean, there is nothing left there. There's no schools. There's no hospitals. And people are living in tents in a very cramped area.


I am hope -- I hope that I'm communicating the urgency, in my tone, because it's something that everybody is concerned about, across the board. It just seems that the White House has not decided to take that leap.

COLLINS: Yes. AHMAD: And really put their -- put their foot down.

COLLINS: Yes, and I know you gave him a letter, from an orphaned 8- year-old little girl, living in a tent, asking him to end this war.


COLLINS: Dr. Thaer Ahmad, thank you for joining, and sharing that critical perspective with us tonight.

AHMAD: Thank you for having me.

COLLINS: Up next, Donald Trump has promised to free January 6 hostages. But a new report shows that nearly all of the people, who are behind bars, right now in D.C., attacked law enforcement on that day.

We're going to speak to one of the actual heroes, from that day, a brave officer, who defended the Capitol, right after this.



COLLINS: It's something that we've all heard Donald Trump say over and over and over again.


TRUMP: You see the spirit from the hostages, and that's what they are, is hostages.

They ought to release the J6 hostages.


TRUMP: I call them the J6 hostages, not prisoners, I call them the hostages.


COLLINS: Make no mistake about it. Trump calling, those who were incarcerated, for crimes, on January 6, hostages, is a ridiculous comparison, especially as there are actual hostages being held in Gaza, right now.

But take this report that was released today, by Just Security, taking it inside look at the 29 inmates, currently being held in Washington. Just Security reports that 27 of them, assaulted law enforcement officers, on that day. Eight of them have been charged, and are awaiting trial. Another 10 have already been convicted, and nine more have pleaded guilty.

What you're about to see is the graphic video, from that day of those, as he calls them, hostages, in the act. One of them is Jeffrey Sabol. That's the man that you see in the

orange jacket and the green backpack. There he is, beating a police officer, who is lying face-down, on the ground.

Here is Vitali GossJankowski, in blue, convicted in March of last year. You can see him at the front of the pack, holding a flagpole, motivating others to do similar, fighting with other police officers to do everything -- who are doing everything that they could, to stop this vicious mob.

These are just two of the people that Trump has been referring to, as hostages, and also has been pledging to pardon if he wins a second term.

Joining me, tonight, is one of the many brave officers, who defended the Capitol, on that day, former U.S. Capitol Police Officer, Aquilino Gonell.

And it's great to have you here, because you're also the Author of "American Shield: The Immigrant Sergeant Who Defended Democracy," an important book for those who haven't read it.

But I just wonder what it's like for you, to hear Donald Trump call these people, hostages, and how he glorifies them at his campaign rallies.

AQUILINO GONELL, FORMER CAPITOL POLICE SERGEANT: For me, it's very disappointing and outrageous.

We risked our lives, to defend those elected officials, from the mob of -- of his supporters, who were enraged, because of what he said. And then, he -- at their own -- on those disagreement of the outcome of the elections, on his behalf, and he attacked them -- they attack us, on that day.

And we defended -- I defended Nancy Pelosi and Kevin McCarthy and Mitch McConnell just the same. I didn't take particular sides, on that day, on who was I protecting. I did what I was supposed to. I did my job.

And for him to say that he's going to offer and dangle pardons on convicted felons? They're not victims. They're convicted felons. That's what they are. And they attack us, the police officer. And it's very incredible that he selectively chooses when to support the police, and pander for their votes.

Because he never reached out to us, Capitol Police officers or Metropolitan Police officers, those of us who defended the Capitol, on January 6. To this day, the only outreach that he had done to us is, call us, pussies, after the January -- while we were testifying for the January 6 committee. That's the only outreach that he has, including to the Sicknick family, who voted for him.


GONELL: He had never reached out to them -- to them, to this day, three years later.

COLLINS: Well, I think you make a good point, because he always talks about his support for law enforcement, his love for them. I mean, he attended the wake of a slain New York City Police officer, just here last week. Today, he was flanked by law enforcement, in Michigan.

I mean, how do you square him doing that, with also saying, these people are hostages, they should be pardoned, they were unfairly treated, they're political prisoners?

GONELL: I mean, he does take those unfortunate event, and violent, and then use it for his benefit.

Today, I just read that the family of that person, Rudy -- Ruby Garcia, they never spoke to him. But yes, he's claiming that he'd met with them--

COLLINS: Yes, the woman killed in Michigan.

GONELL: Correct.

And he never spoke to us. But he claims that he supported the police, he supported law enforcement officer. He's a pro law and order President, Back the Blue.

But guess what? His people, the people who he sent, on January 6, to the Capitol, were the one attacking the police officer. And we simply were doing our job to protect the members of Congress.


Mike Johnson today said that he wants to protect those people that happen to be walking through the Capitol.


GONELL: Well how did they get in, you know? That's half--

COLLINS: Well what would it mean for you, if -- given that language, from Mike Johnson and others, what would it mean for you if Donald Trump did pardon these people?

GONELL: Total betrayal. It's very unfortunate that they think that they could use our sacrifices, and then throw it away. We put our lives on the line, to protect them, to do their job. And the least that they could do is do their job, and hold people accountable.

These people who they call hostages, political prisoner, patriots? They assaulted police officers. They attack our democracy. They attack our Constitution.

And the only person that is calling for political violence is not Joe Biden. It's somebody else, and is the leading candidate for -- from the Republican Party.

And if those people were that -- attacked me, were those things, hostages, political prisoner and whatnot? Then who do they consider us, the police officer, who defended the Capitol, on January 6?


GONELL: Who are we to them? That means that we are the hostage-taker, you know, the scary roles (ph), the sequesters? We were doing our job. We were defending--


GONELL: --the Capitol on that day. Not them.

COLLINS: It's a good question.

Former sergeant, Aquilino Gonell, thank you for your time tonight.

GONELL: And thank you for having me.

COLLINS: Meanwhile, a sitting federal judge, who appeared right here, on THE SOURCE, last week, and delivered that rare rebuke of Donald Trump's attacks on the Judiciary. Now, a Trump ally has filed a complaint, over that interview. We'll tell you more in just a moment.



COLLINS: Tonight, a conservative firebrand, and an ally of the former President's, is lashing out over an interview that you saw, right here, on THE SOURCE.


JUDGE REGGIE WALTON, U.S. DISTRICT COURT FOR DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: 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.

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.


COLLINS: Now, it is rare to hear from a sitting federal judge like that.

But last week, Judge Reggie Walton, who we saw there, while not attacking Trump, or weighing in on the merits of his cases, made clear that extraordinary times require an extraordinary response. And that's what you got there. Nothing he said was particularly controversial.

But you wouldn't necessarily know that if you're reading a new complaint that was filed, against Judge Walton, by a Trump ally, Mike Davis, who I should note has also been floated as a possible Attorney General, a role, if Trump is reelected. I want to bring in CNN's Legal Analyst, and former federal prosecutor, Elliot Williams, who has appeared before Judge Walton, who knows the judge's style well.

Well, one, I want to hear about that.


COLLINS: Because I've gotten a lot of feedback, from prosecutors, who said--


COLLINS: --I went in front of that guy.


COLLINS: But on this complaint, you know the judicial code of conduct.


COLLINS: Does this complaint have any merit, in your view?

WILLIAMS: No. No. What did -- what did Judge Walton say there that was -- that was impermissible? That we can't have threats against federal judges, or that the rule of law needs to endure, in order to have a functioning democracy? Those are literally uncontroversial statements.

Now, if he had attacked the former President, or identified cases by name? Of course, there'd be a problem there. But he was just stating, in effect, platitudes, about how good it is to have a functioning government.

COLLINS: Yes. And I mean, it is rare, to see a judge come out.


COLLINS: But he didn't name Trump.


COLLINS: He didn't even say Trump's name, as he was talking about the threats that are real. And his concern was saying, the Judiciary can't function if we're worried about threats of physical violence.

WILLIAMS: Right, absolutely.

Now, this is sort of why judges don't speak out very often, Kaitlan, because of the fact that when they do, their words are picked apart. And someone, who might be a litigant in another case could sort of think, well they're speaking about me.

But again, he did not identify the former President by name. He did not speak any specifics about any case. And just really said, when people threaten each other, the justice system can buckle under it all. So, it's a little bit of an audition reel, for Attorney General. Let's be blunt. And I think that's what Mr. Davis is doing here. But I just don't see much there-there.

COLLINS: Do you think this complaint goes anywhere, then?

WILLIAMS: I don't think it goes anywhere.

Well, because it had -- so it has to go to the chief judge in the District right there. And what's he going to do? Have a disciplinary hearing, for one of his subordinates, who did not actually violate the code of ethics? It's just hard to see.

And more to the point, Kaitlan, the complaint names more people than the judge. The complaint goes off on Democrat campaign aides, and Joe Biden, and the Biden and Obama Justice Departments. Everybody, it's almost like a litany of attacks on the Deep State more than it is about this one judge, who was appointed to the bench, by Republicans.

COLLINS: Yes, by Bushes and Reagan's, and Republicans.


COLLINS: I was thinking he -- Judge Walton has said a lot, as he's been sentencing January 6 criminal defendants. He called Trump a charlatan, in one of them. He said he was worried that Trump wouldn't go easy, if he lost in another election.

Those are things that he's made, while sentencing people. But I haven't seen a complaint about, until he decided to come on here--


COLLINS: --on THE SOURCE, and talk about the threats to other members in the Judiciary.

WILLIAMS: Judge Walton's been on the bench for 30 years, and has been making -- look, real quick, he goes off on people, when sentencing them, to a point that you're kind of afraid to appear in front of him.


And the idea that all of a sudden, he appears on Kaitlan Collins' program, and he's a threat to democracy, in some way, is nonsense. And so, it's just, again, it's political silly season, right now. And I just don't see much merit to it.

COLLINS: Yes. But it speaks to the moment that we're in.

WILLIAMS: It speaks to the moment.

COLLINS: Elliot Williams, always great to have you.

WILLIAMS: Thanks, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: Do a little reality check for us. Thank you all so much, for joining us.