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The Source with Kaitlan Collins

U.S. Preparing For "Significant" Attack By Iran, Possibly Within Days; More Than A Dozen Aftershocks Rattle NJ, NYC Area After Rare 4.8 Earthquake; In 37 Page Filing: Trump's Lawyers Claim Judge Merchan's Daughter Has A "Direct Financial Interest" In Hush Money Case. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired April 05, 2024 - 21:00   ET




ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Canada is awesome.

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: I wanted to go to Canada, twice in the early aughts. But there was plane problems both the times. And maybe I wanted--

COOPER: Early aughts? Wait, wait, Victorian?

ENTEN: In the early aughts, the early 2000s. Yes, I mean, look, it's 2024, Anderson. What's the early aughts now?


ENTEN: You know, it's almost near back as far when I was born--

COOPER: All right.

ENTEN: --it would have been like the 1950s.

COOPER: All right. Harry Enten, with your early aughts. We got to go. Thank you very much. I hope you have a great eclipse. We'll probably chat about it, Monday.


COOPER: The news continues. THE SOURCE WITH KAITLAN COLLINS starts now. Have a great weekend.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST: Breaking news from THE SOURCE tonight.

As America is on high alert, bracing for what senior U.S. officials are calling a significant attack by Iran, on Israeli or American targets, in the Middle East, both countries now working to find who or what they plan to strike, and when.

Also tonight, aftershocks from a rare earthquake that rattled New York City, shaking the Northeast, from Boston all the way to Baltimore, prompting millions of people to ask each other, did you just feel that? One of the country's foremost quake experts, Dr. Lucy Jones, is our source tonight. And with 10 days until his first criminal trial gets underway, Donald Trump is making a last-minute push, tonight, to get the judge kicked off his hush money case, by taking aim at his daughter, yet again.

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

Senior U.S. officials are calling it quote, "Inevitable." And tonight, the American and Israeli governments are both actively preparing, for what they say could be a significant attack, by Iran, revenge for the Israeli strikes that took out some of Iran's top and senior most commanders.

The Iranian attack, we are told, could happen within the next week, somewhere in the Middle East. But right now, we are hearing that neither government knows exactly where, when or how Iran plans to strike. What we do know is the two governments are working, to get in position, for whatever is coming their way.

Our sources are telling us that this potential retaliation was a major topic, during that call that happened, yesterday, between President Biden, and the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

Among the worst-case scenarios here would be a direct strike by Iran on Israeli soil. But that is exactly what Biden officials say that they are bracing for, tonight. It's not only a worst-case scenario, because it would rapidly escalate Israel's war with Iran's proxy, Hamas. But the fear is also that it could lead to a much broader conflict, across the region, which is something that no one wants to see happen.

Let's get straight to THE SOURCE, tonight, with former Defense Secretary under former President Trump, Mark Esper, who is now a CNN Political Commentator.

And Secretary Esper, it's great to have you.

Because what we're hearing from these sources is that senior U.S. officials and their counterparts believe that this is inevitable. It's not clear where or when. But can you just kind of walk us through what's happening inside the Pentagon? What's happening inside the Situation Room, right now, as they try to, to make these assessments?


And, as you mentioned, I think, I've had the benefit of gone through this, when we struck Soleimani, on January 3rd, 2020, and then had to figure out, fully expecting that Iran would respond how and when they would do that.

Now, we had very good intelligence about that. But we knew this much. And I think these are principles apply in this situation as well. They are going to act. They're going to feel the need, to uphold their dignity, to maintain credibility with their proxies, throughout the region, and to really meet the demands of hardliners, within the theocracy that wants to see something done. But on the other hand, they're not going to want to make this a wider war. They don't want to escalate. They know that a major conflict with Israel, let alone Israel and the United States would be disastrous for Iran. So, I suspect that they will limit the attack to Israel, Israeli targets.

As you mentioned, I don't think -- I'd be surprised if they attack Israel proper. And so, the question is, will they look at other sites in the region? Maybe there's an outpost somewhere that we're not aware of.

It could be go as far as maybe, there are Israeli diplomatic facilities, in UAE, which is not far from Iran, because keep in mind, Iran is at least a 1,000 miles away from Israel. So, that's a tough target to strike. They're not going to use aircraft. I doubt that they'd use ballistic missiles.

But has been postured, as we're hearing as maybe your reporting is telling you, they're thinking about some type of drones or cruise missiles, which had the benefit of giving you some degree of unpredictability, in terms of how they fly. So, they could be used to strike some type of, again, military, maybe a Mossad outpost, something like that would -- that'd allow the Iran to take an eye for an eye.


ESPER: Because that's the culture we're dealing with.

COLLINS: Well, I mean, one of the first things that my mind went to, though when MJ Lee reported this earlier, from the White House is, I mean, there is American troops in the region, and Syria and in Iraq. What is the likelihood? I mean, what's the concern inside the Pentagon that they could be a target?


ESPER: Sure. Again, I don't think we would be, because I think Iran knows that we weren't involved. And secondly, they would not want to strike the United States, because the United States would act as a restraint on Israel, should this start getting out of control. They know Biden does not want a larger war.

But back to the Pentagon, look, we would be taking every preparation to make sure that our positions were hardened, we were protecting the troops. We were doing everything defensively, we can, to protect our positions.

But at the same time, quietly, moving things, forces in place, in case we had to respond quickly, or to at least, have ready for the President as many options as possible, in case this does get out of control, and the President wants some type of response.

So, you'll see a combination of first, defensive moves, again, hardening, sheltering, protecting the force, our capabilities, but then secondly, also making preparations in case where some type of response is needed.

COLLINS: You noted how the Pentagon has made quite clear that they were not aware of the strike that Israel was going to conduct. I mean, they've gone out of their way to say that the Pentagon -- or they said -- the State Department said that they communicated that through channels to Iran.

I mean, how much does Tehran listen to that? And how much stock do they put in a denial like that?

ESPER: They did. There is some reporting that some -- they said something like we asked them not to attack us. We pleaded not to attack us, which I think the administration described as spin and properly so.

But I will tell you, after, again, after the Soleimani strike, and they hit back at us, very quietly, through the intermediary -- intermediaries of the Swedish Embassy, I think it was, or maybe the Swiss Embassy, they told us they were done. They had no more. They didn't want a bigger fight.

So look, I think the communications, behind-the-scenes, through the intermediaries is pretty clear, pretty frank. And I think that's going to be a conduit, going forward, over the coming days.

COLLINS: Secretary Mark Esper, you have a great experience on this. And thanks for joining us, tonight, with your expertise.

ESPER: Thank you, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: And we also have two other excellent sources with us, tonight.

Bob Baer, who was the former CIA Operations Officer, who spent more than two decades, working in the region.

And also, retired Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, who commanded U.S. Army forces in Europe, and is now a CNN Military Analyst.

It's great to have both of you here.

General Hertling, let me just start with you.

Because I think a big question here is the options that Iran has, when it comes to hitting Israel. I mean, the concerns is not just Israeli assets, but also American assets. I mean, how limited are Iran's options? Or do you feel like they're kind of broad here?


And what former Secretary Austin was talking -- excuse me, former Secretary Esper was talking about, with primarily the military strikes within Israel, what I think is, the potential for happening is of a much wider range. And the military looks at this, from the most dangerous course of action of the enemy, to the most likely course of action of the enemy. I think Secretary Esper was talking about the most likely.

But there are dangerous options here that Iranian forces could do. This is a Quds Force. There could be the potential of striking in Israel.

And at this time, after a weekend, where President Biden has scolded Prime Minister Netanyahu, tensions are erupting between Israel and the U.S., and there are the context of their situation could cause different actions.

It would be very difficult, if Israel got attacked, and they are becoming sort of a pariah, on the world stage, especially in the Middle East, for the United States to immediately come to their aid. And I think Iran is weighing that.

But as the Secretary also said, you're talking about multiple forces, U.S. forces, in Jordan, in Iraq, in Saudi Arabia, in Qatar, in the UAE. We have forces throughout that area at different bases. And so, they are all preparing for any kind of action that might come against them, while also preparing to assist in anything that might occur against Israel.

COLLINS: Bob, what would you be looking for, at this moment?

BOB BAER, FORMER CIA OPERATIONS OFFICER, AUTHOR, "THE DEVIL WE KNOW: DEALING WITH THE NEW IRANIAN SUPERPOWER": The easiest way for Iran to hit Israel is using the proxy of Hezbollah. And they have direct control over some of those forces.

And at any moment, they could roll rockets out, solid-fueled and fire them into Israel. You fire enough of them at the same time, you can swarm Israeli air defenses, Iron Dome. You can hit Haifa, for clearly, you could also hit Tel Aviv. That would be for the Iranians. One or two drones, I think, the Israelis could knock down.

We also have our forces in Iraq, which are subject to pro-Iranian militias. They -- our bases could be hit at any time. The American Embassy could be hit at any time. It's well-protected. But a large force, under Iran's control, could hit us.


And as far as terrorism, you know the Iranians can hit the Israelis anywhere, anywhere in Europe. They could even hit them in the United States. There are Iranian sleeper cells here, as we know from Salman Rushdie that could be brought to bear.

So, they have broad options. And as everybody's been talking about, it's the problem of escalation. And if we move to escalation, the Iranians for certainly would take out the Gulf's oil facilities, infrastructure. And they've done this before. They hit Abqaiq. And they would move to that in the case of escalation. They know -- they don't want to escalate. But I agree that they, at this point, that they need to respond, in order to keep their proxies in line, and save their credibility.

COLLINS: Well, General Hertling, after the feeling, the need to escalate, and you heard Secretary Esper there, talking about, when the Soleimani strike happened. I mean, there was kind of this fear, among experts, that there was going to be a serious escalation, then.

But then you saw Iran kind of respond, in a rather limited way, for what people were expecting. The U.S. did not respond to that. I mean, is that a pathway here? Or does it seem clear, from these warnings that something's going to happen?

HERTLING: Yes, I think you have to consider the context of the current situation versus what happened in the strike, against Soleimani. That was a one-off strike. It was a singular action, by the United States, against a terrorist or an Al-Quds target that was in Iraq.

Now, we're talking about an ongoing war, a six-month-war-plus, that's been going on in Iran, where this -- the fears of various Shia militias, within the area, all pro-Iranian, and as Bob said, it could come from Hezbollah, it could come from the PMF forces in any number of countries in the Middle East. It's just that the context is different today.

There -- it's an inflamed Gulf. I spent a lot of time in Iraq. And I think they're going to be put between the rock and a hard place, in this particular action, because they're trying to tamp down the Iranian militias, inside of Iraq, right now. They haven't been successful in doing that.

But if Iran strikes inside of Israel, or nearby, or causes their proxies to strike, as Bob just said, this could escalate very quickly. And it's been counter to what the Biden administration has been attempting to do is to keep this not inflamed into a regional war. And that could happen, very quickly, in this situation. I'm very concerned about what we're seeing, right now.


And, Bob, on that note, this warning came about kind of suddenly, today. I think everyone had been bracing ever since the Israeli strike happened, that there could be retaliation. But it was noticeable that this came down suddenly, from the administration today, saying that, yes, they are bracing for this.

What kind of intelligence would lead them, to essentially say -- make that warning?

BAER: Yes, well, first of all, General Hertling's absolutely right. It's the context. This war has been going on for six months. The Iranians have been holding back so far.

The problem is that we don't know what goes on in the inner circles in Iran. There's no way to know. All those discussions are held face-to- face. Same way with Hezbollah. We can generally see preparations, for a strike on Israel. But we don't know whether they're going to follow through or not. It's just impossible to get into these circles.

Both Hezbollah, as I said, and Iran, we just don't know what they're going to do next. And the fact that we haven't got a back-channel message, saying don't worry, should worry us.

COLLINS: Bob Baer, and General Mark Hertling, great to have you both on, as we continue to monitor this developing situation. Thank you.

HERTLING: Thanks, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: Ahead, we're also following the situation, here in New York, as aftershocks after that rare earthquake, in the Northeast. It is the strongest to rumble New York City in more than a century, and more than two in New Jersey, leaving many things and many people shaken.

Plus, Donald Trump's new attempt, to oust the judge, overseeing his first criminal trial, yes, again. This time, just days before that trial's set to begin.



COLLINS: There have now been more than a dozen aftershocks, since this morning's historic 4.8 magnitude earthquake, originating from New Jersey, including one that was a magnitude 4, just a few hours ago.

This morning's quakes and tremors, across the Northeast that left many people, especially here in New York City, including myself, wondering what just happened.

And I know, I know, our viewers on the West Coast watching, right now, might be rolling their eyes at us. But this doesn't often happen here. So, let us have our moment.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is this an earthquake? Yo. Is this an earthquake?


COLLINS: That was basically my reaction.

This morning's quake was the strongest to hit New Jersey, in more than 240 years. The Empire State Building was among the first, to reassure other New Yorkers tweeting, quote, "I am fine."

This was the view from the Statue of Liberty. You can see here, even the shakes.

Listen to the sounds of this baby monitor.




COLLINS: Don't worry. That is an empty crib that you were looking at there. But it is just about a mile from the epicenter, and you can see just how more -- how serious the shakes were there.

I should note, there have been no reported injuries or serious damage, thankfully. But there was a lot of levity, coming with this earthquake, today. Some people ironically remarking, we survived and we will rebuild.


Welcome news, given how unpredictable these events can sometimes be. And no one knows that better than THE SOURCE, on all things earthquakes, Dr. Lucy Jones, a seismologist, who worked for the U.S. Geological Survey, for more than three decades, and joins me now.

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


COLLINS: Because this is not exactly part of the country that is accustomed to this. And I wonder what stands out to you, our foremost expert, about what happened, here in New Jersey and in New York.

JONES: Couple of things. One is a reminder that earthquakes really can happen anywhere, you just have them a lot less often, if you're in New York.

And I think the other part is how the East Coast earthquakes are felt, over a larger area, than the same sized earthquake in California. Because the rock where you are, is old, and cold and hard. And just like a really hard, dense steel bell, it'll ring for a long time.

Here on the West Coast, we're broken up with a lot of faults. And so, when the earthquake happens, and the waves start traveling out, they get disrupted by all the faults in the way, and it doesn't travel nearly as far.

So, this earthquake was felt by an extremely large number of people, and a much larger area than we would have had here in California.

COLLINS: OK. That's really fascinating, because it was kind of something where people in D.C. were asking if they had felt it, in Philadelphia, obviously, here in New York. Everyone was talking about it.

And the thing is, we've kept -- it's continued.


COLLINS: I mean, there have been more than a dozen aftershocks, so far. There was one, just a few hours ago, as we were prepping for the show. That was a 4.0. How long do would -- should we expect these to go on for?

JONES: They'll be going on at some level for quite a while. I mean, we define it as an aftershock, as long as the rate of earthquakes is above what it was before the main shock happened. And the rate there was very low. So, you could technically be having aftershocks for years.

But probably there will be more felt earthquakes within the next few days. And the chances of getting one that's large enough to be felt will go down pretty quickly.

COLLINS: Did you say years?

JONES: Yes, there's a rather famous -- this equation to describe how aftershocks decay was developed in 1890, in Japan. And a 100 years later, it was still following the same decay pattern. So technically, they were still aftershocks.

COLLINS: OK. We'll be preparing for that, I'll be sure to make sure, for years to come. I did not have that on my calendar when I got up this morning.

But when we were looking at the numbers here, and this was the most powerful earthquake in Jersey -- in New Jersey, in more than 200 years, 240 years.

JONES: Right.

COLLINS: I mean, you talk about how this happens more often than we think, and that it happens in more places than we should be surprised by. But what does this say about how often this could happen, going forward?

JONES: This shouldn't really change the rate of earthquakes, in New Jersey. I mean, right at this location, we'll probably be seeing some more aftershocks over the next year or so. But over a larger area, it's partly -- I'll be rude. Your states are a little small. So, defining it by the state isn't a very big area, right?

If you look at the Northeast, there's been 98 earthquakes, in the last 30 years, above magnitude 3. And that rate is probably going to continue. So, several earthquakes a year, above magnitude 3, and one out of 10 of those is going to be bigger than magnitude 4.

COLLINS: Well, OK, you can be -- you can be rude by the size of our states. I'll also be rude by our buildings, because most of our buildings in New York were built, before earthquake provisions were kind of added. I think it was in the mid-90s in New York.

JONES: Right.

COLLINS: And so, if this had been worse? I live in a very old house. What would that have meant for damage that we could have seen here in Manhattan?

JONES: It depends on how much bigger and where. Because that thing I said that it travels farther on the East Coast, but it's still really right on top of the earthquake that you see the larger shaking.

If you took this earthquake, and put it in the borough of Manhattan, you could have been having damage. If you now make it a bit larger, you're almost certainly going to be having some damage. The one thing to be said as having some damage and actually really hurting people are two different things.

The most dangerous type of buildings are what are called unreinforced masonry, buildings where they're made out of brick, and it's the brick wall that's holding up the roof. And those, unfortunately, are pretty common, on the East Coast. And you put a strong enough earthquake, and then you're going to see a lot of problems.

COLLINS: Can I just ask you one last question? Because a lot of people on the East Coast don't know what to do, in the event of an earthquake. I don't.

JONES: Right.

COLLINS: I'm from Alabama, which is also probably part of that.

But the Mayor, Eric Adams, put out some outdated advice, today, telling people to take cover in a doorway, which I know is not what you're supposed to do.


JONES: Right. We have -- we've been able to unify, as a earthquake community, to say the best thing to do is drop, cover, hold on, which means get to the floor before the earthquake sends you there. You didn't have such strong shaking. But make it a bit stronger, and it's very difficult to stand. You really can't move in an earthquake without hurting yourself.

So, drop to the ground before the earthquake puts you there.

Cover under sturdy furniture. Getting under a desk is really like the best possible thing. Even if there's failure in your building, it will protect you from that, and it protects you from flying objects.

And then, we say, hold on, because a big enough earthquake? That table's not staying in one place. So you want to make sure it stays above you.

COLLINS: Where did that doorway thing come from?

JONES: Oh, it's actually from the 1952 Kern County earthquake, where there was an old adobe or Mexican adobe house that hundreds of years old and made out of mud.

So, the mud dissolves and the wood frame still was standing, the wood doorframe, the lintel. And literally, a Red Cross person saw this, and went wow, look, that must be a good place to be. And the Red Cross started recommending standing in doorways.

But doorways usually have doors. And when they get swinging in an earthquake? That can be a problem.

COLLINS: Dr. Lucy Jones, great to have you. Thank you for joining me.

JONES: Good to be here. Thanks.

COLLINS: Up next, we are digging into the last-ditch bid, by Donald Trump, before his first criminal trial gets underway, testing the boundaries of a newly expanded gag order, focusing on the judge's daughter, again, in a new attempt, to get him removed from the case.



COLLINS: As part of Donald Trump's last-minute attempts, to delay his first criminal trial, his social media rants are morphing into actual court motions, tonight.

Four days ago, a reminder, he was hit with that gag order, for attacking the Judge Juan Merchan's daughter, online. It was expanded to include her, so he could no longer attack her.

Well, now, a new filing from his legal team tries to argue the judge, in the hush money case must step aside, because his adult daughter, quote, has "Direct financial interest" in the proceedings.

The truth is her business has nothing to do with the trial itself. She consults for Democratic candidates.

But the presumptive Republican presidential nominee is 10 days away from a reality that he has never faced that no other former President has ever faced. It's a criminal trial and proceedings that go with it, with the threat of possible jail time.

I'm joined, tonight, by a former U.S. District Court judge, for the Southern District of New York, Shira Scheindlin.

And Judge, it's great to have you back on THE SOURCE here, twice in one week, which shows you how many legal filings we're dealing with.

I just wonder what would, your response be to a motion like this, 10 days before you're set to go to trial.


But I had the chance to read the motion. And they've put together a composite of issues that would cause me a little bit of pause. And I can explain all the various things that they've put together.

The main focus of this motion, as opposed to the previous one, a year ago, which the judge denied, is on the daughter's line of work.

As you already said, the daughter does work with many, many high- profile Democratic candidates. She works on their social media. They put out a post. They get contributions. She, as an owner, gets a percentage of those contributions.

So, there is a statute, in New York, which says a judge must disqualify himself, if a person known by the judge, be within the sixth degree of relationship, and a daughter is the first degree, has an interest that could be substantially affected by the outcome of the proceeding.

So, the question here is, is this daughter likely to profit, to benefit, from the outcome of this proceeding? And you have to understand, it's not actual conduct that's worrisome. It's the appearance, the appearance to a reasonable person, that this judge cannot be fair and impartial, given that relationship.

So ordinarily, I would think that a benefit, financially, would be to a spouse, because they share the income. This is an independent adult daughter. They don't share income. But according to this -- according to this statute, according to this statute, the judge must recuse if she would substantially benefit from the outcome. So that's one thing that concerns me.

But if you add to that a few other facts that are of concern, at least to me, was the judge's original contribution to President Biden, four years ago, which he made himself, very small contribution, $35.

COLLINS: Yes, I think it was $10, right?

SCHEINDLIN: $35, $35, I'm told, $35. A small contribution, but he made it through ActBlue himself, on the internet.

He did give an interview, where he said he wouldn't comment on the case. But then, he said he's been intensely preparing, and he wants to be fair and impartial, and justice is important.

He and his daughter discussed the former President's use of social media, which the judge condemned, in that discussion. And she -- the daughter reported on it.

The Office of Court Administration said the daughter's Twitter account ended a year ago. So, any recent posts on that were not from the daughter.


SCHEINDLIN: And I kind of wonder--

COLLINS: Well can I--

SCHEINDLIN: --why the Office of Court Administration was defending the daughter.

So there, if you put all these together, is my point. It's certainly enough that maybe a reasonable person could have a doubt about impartiality. So, I think it's kind of a serious motion. I realize it's 10 days before the trial, and don't expect it to be granted.

COLLINS: OK. So you don't expect it to be granted. But looking through it, this is all information that was available to them, before this was one thing.


And the comment about having an intense schedule, I was confused how that could be construed as him weighing in on, saying--


COLLINS: --it's going to be an intensive proceeding, how that -- how that could be construed as he--

SCHEINDLIN: You're absolutely right.

COLLINS: Go ahead.

SCHEINDLIN: He did not opine, in any way, on the merits of the case. You're absolutely right.

But being a sitting judge being interviewed at all, and saying, I've been intensely preparing, that's what he said, this is going to be intense, and my preparation has been very intense? It could be construed as commenting. I'm just saying if you put six or seven things in that motion together? And I'm not sure that all of them are known.

This really digs into the daughter's financial stake, in this company, Authentic, and how she earns money from the posts and from her work with these candidates. And it explains that she takes a percentage of the take. So, when they advertise the arraignment, or the indictment, and tens of millions come into these candidates, around the country, she gets a percentage of that.

So, it's the appearance that is of concern to me. I'm not saying that the judge did anything wrong, or will do anything wrong, and I'm sure he can be fair.


SCHEINDLIN: But the question is to the reasonable person on the street, is there an appearance of impropriety?

COLLINS: We'll see.

SCHEINDLIN: Or could there be an appearance of bias?

COLLINS: We'll see what the judge here decides.

Judge Shira Scheindlin, as always, great to have you on.

SCHEINDLIN: Thank you.

COLLINS: Also here tonight, we have former federal prosecutor, Shan Wu.

Shan, what do you make of what you heard from Judge Scheindlin there?

And also, this decision now before Judge Merchan, that he turned down last year. But as she noted, they're kind of -- it's a little bit lengthy of an argument that they're making about his daughter, this time around?

SHAN WU, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR, FORMER COUNSEL TO THE ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, with all due respect to Her Honor, the only thing I agree with her about is that it's highly unlikely to be granted. It's directed to Judge Merchan, again. He's going to turn it down again.

And the arguments that they make are very, very weak. I mean, this is the judge's adult daughter. But the way I think about it is imagine if the judge had an elementary school kid, who had drawn a picture of Trump, as a clown. And Trump's lawyers are saying, look at that, you're going to be biased against me.

It's completely irrelevant. The idea that she would benefit from the outcome of the trial, if you take a look at that, narrowly, makes no sense.

The fact that her company may be benefiting from the idea that this is a highly publicized trial, where there's a lot of politics going on, and they're political operatives? That's totally removed from an interest, and the outcome of the trial. Whether Trump's convicted or acquitted has no relationship to her company's work.

COLLINS: Can I ask you a question, beyond the merits of the argument here. She's now included in the gag order.

And in this filing, her name, the judge's daughter's name is the second sentence in here. How does that overlap? Or does it not overlap at all? If it's in a gag order, they can still make an argument about it in a filing, how does that work?

WU: I think it's a very clever way of trying to get around the gag order. Let's file a whole bunch of motions that lay out the same things that he would like to post about on social media. But he's a little bit constrained now, because of the gag order.

So, in the filings, they can talk about it, although I suppose the judge could actually take the extra step of placing those under seal.

COLLINS: Shan Wu, we're going to watch all of this closely. I have a feeling it will be the last filing, we see from the Trump team.

WU: I agree.

COLLINS: Meanwhile, a presidential candidate not named Donald Trump is now questioning whether January 6 was a quote, true insurrection. You're going to want to hear our explainer, right after this.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COLLINS: Robert F. Kennedy Jr. choosing to whitewash January 6. In a new statement today, the vaccine-skeptic turned presidential candidate, downplaying what you see happening here, and what we all saw happen on that day.

He's also pledging that if he is elected President of the United States, he'll appoint a Special Counsel, to investigate the Justice Department's efforts, to prosecute the rioters that you see here, forcing their way through the halls of Congress.

He says that, quote, "Reasonable people" tell him that day wasn't a quote, "True insurrection."

May be the most apt line of his statement was this one, though. "I have not examined the evidence in detail." That much is abundantly clear, given this, the mob of people forcing their way into the Capitol. But what about this one? Police officers finding themselves in hand-to-hand combat. Somehow, he just happened to miss all of that evidence.

His newest statement is coming after his campaign called the rioters, activists, yesterday, who had been quote, stripped of their constitutional liberties. That one, they tried to walk back.

But I should note, none of this is exactly new, coming from Mr. Kennedy.


ROBERT F. KENNEDY JR., INDEPENDENT CANDIDATE IN THE 2024 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION: What's the worst thing that could happen, right? I mean, we have our entire military, Pentagon, a few blocks away.

You can rebuild a Capitol.


COLLINS: Given the fact that Kennedy, who I should note, 13 percent of Americans, right now, say they would like to be the next Commander-in- Chief, is pushing these lies. We wanted to take a moment tonight to set the record straight.

In his second attempt at a cleanup, in as many days, and in response to a CNN request for comment, he's already retracting part of his claim that those same reasonable people tell him, protesters carried no weapons.

The truth is folks like Guy Reffitt, are serving time for bringing a gun, onto Capitol grounds, that day; or because court documents show that Christopher Alberts was arrested, carrying a loaded pistol and 25 rounds of ammunition. There's also Mark Ibrahim, an off-duty agent for the DEA, who was charged with bringing his service weapon on Capitol grounds.

[21:45:00] That's all before you get to the guy, who was arrested with a pistol and a rifle, who showed up too late for the riot, but had talked about killing Nancy Pelosi; or the man who parked a truck with a 11 homemade bombs, a handgun and a rifle, just two blocks away from the Capitol.

In all, the Justice Department has said a 122 people face charges, connected with carrying weapons on that day. That includes guns, stun guns, knives, batons, baseball bats, flagpoles and chemical sprays.

RFK Jr.'s statement also claims that none of the rioters had plans, to overthrow the government. Even as more than a dozen members, of the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys have been convicted of, or already pleaded guilty to sedition.

And the idea that this is all politically motivated, by the Biden administration, completely ignores the fact that the prosecutions began almost immediately, while Donald Trump was still in office.

I'm joined, tonight, by someone who knows all this all too well, former Congressman, Adam Kinzinger, a Republican, who served on the January 6 congressional committee, and is now a CNN Senior Political Commentator.

Congressman, I mean, part of the statement that I just can't get over. "I have not examined the evidence in detail." You obviously did examine it in detail. What would you say to him tonight?


Look, what you named on the people that were found with weapons. There's this idea that somehow the government knows everybody that was carrying weapons anyway.

The government was unable to arrest everybody, that day, or really many people that day, because they were fighting for survival, of their own lives, in the Capitol. That's why there weren't that many arrests, because they had no place to take them to. You can't take them into the middle of a war zone.

So, the vast majority of those people left the Capitol grounds. And we have no idea who else was armed, because it's not like we have X-ray vision, and we can go through the tape and see that.

Look, this is -- this is one of the more insane ramblings I've heard from him. And I've heard some insane ramblings.

When he says, I haven't looked at the evidence in detail? You were around politicians a long time. You know how a politician is trying to like skate when they say things like, we have to take a deep look at something, or we need to have a conversation about it, is a way of punting because they don't want to answer.

This is his way of pleasing those that want to hear that he just hasn't looked at the evidence in detail, and winking to the MAGA folks.

I mean, here's the thing, Kaitlan. He is -- his campaign has been hijacked by MAGA, maybe not hijacked, maybe voluntarily. And so, you're going to start seeing more and more of this kind of Donald Trump conspiracies. And he's either going along with it, because that's going to help him raise money, and get notoriety, or he truly believes it. Regardless, he's absolutely wrong. And this is a frightening thing.

COLLINS: Well, and it also comes the same week that he -- you know, both campaigns have been worried about him, certainly more so the Biden campaign. But it comes after he said that he believed Biden was a bigger threat to democracy than Donald Trump.

And when you're looking at what happened, on January 6th, and exactly what Donald Trump did or did not do that day, I mean, it just makes those comments seem even richer in hindsight.

KINZINGER: Look, you can dislike Joe Biden, like but you can't with a straight face. This isn't even an -- this isn't even subject -- I mean, it's not even subjective. This is like fact. You can't with a straight face say that Joe Biden's a bigger danger to democracy.

Joe Biden has gone along with democracy, as he's president. He's gone along with the rules of democracy. He's not trying to overthrow any election results.

The other thing he said is, what is it like, not a true insurrection or something along that line that are real insurrection is?


KINZINGER: I looked up the definition of insurrection, just before the segment. And it's like, a violent uprising against an authority or government.

So, what part of a violent uprising, against an authority or government, was not a true insurrection? Was it not violent? Was it -- was it not against the government? Like it's pretty basic definition, it's absolutely an insurrection.

And he's just trying to get these MAGA folks to give him money. They give money to Donald Trump, and they're probably giving some money to him. I mean, his Super PAC is being run by Republicans, for God's sakes.

COLLINS: Well, what does it say, though, that there are 13 percent of Americans, who, right now, who knows how they'll vote, once November comes, but that want him to be president at this moment?

KINZINGER: I think it's basically two quick things. It's like so either he, you know, they just still hear the Robert F. Kennedy name, and there's some intrigue, or they like the fact that he's kind of outside of the Establishment. I'm not sure that 13 percent number holds up in the long-term, though.

COLLINS: Congressman Adam Kinzinger, great to have you on. Thank you very much.

KINZINGER: Of course.

COLLINS: And on another note, as you look at the calendar, it is almost hard to believe that this weekend will mark six months, since the October 7th terrorist attack on Israel that killed 1,200 people.

Tonight, more than 130 hostages are still being held captive in Gaza.


And CNN's Bianna Golodryga traveled to Israel, and spoke with four hostage families, heartbroken, desperate to get their loved ones back, including the 19-year-old -- including the mother of 19-year-old Naama Levy.


BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN ANCHOR & SENIOR GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST (voice- over): Dr. Ayelet Levy Shachar didn't get Naama back. But she did learn how her 19-year-old daughter was coping in captivity, from released hostages who said they saw her.

AYELET LEVY SHACHAR, MOTHER OF 19-YEAR-OLD NAAMA LEVY: From what she told them, she was alone for over 40 days, along with her captors, moving from one hiding place to the other. She told them that she didn't eat much. They described her injuries. She has a lot of shrapnel wounds. Her legs are very swollen. And she has burns.

GOLODRYGA (on camera): Burns.

LEVY SHACHAR: In her legs.

GOLODRYGA (on camera): From what?

LEVY SHACHAR: Probably from a grenade that went off in the attack, just before she was kidnapped.

I worry most that she will despair, and that she will stop fighting from inside, you know, stop hoping. And this is why I keep telling her, in my mind, you know, don't -- don't stop. Just stick in there, hang in there. Don't darken. Keep the hope and keep moving, you know, physically and mentally, keep moving.


COLLINS: And you can see Bianna's full report, on "THE WHOLE STORY WITH ANDERSON COOPER" this Sunday 8 PM Eastern.



COLLINS: Question for you tonight. Would you pay a $1,000 to stay just one night, at a Super 8 hotel in Grayville, Illinois? Because that's the going rate, this weekend, for a room that usually

goes for about 95 bucks, as millions of people are traveling to the path of totality, to get the best view of Monday's solar eclipse. That includes my next guest. From the Super 8 to the Ritz-Carlton, prices for this weekend are up nearly 10 times the normal rates, and many hotels completely sold out.

Here to discuss, astrophysicist and NASA adviser, Paul Sutter.

And, Paul, it's great to have you back.


COLLINS: First off, let me ask, do you have your travel and your hotel all set, and all booked, for this, for Monday?

SUTTER: Oh, I absolutely do. I would not miss this.

COLLINS: And how far in advance did you have to book?

SUTTER: Just to be sure, about a year ago, I actually booked four different hotels, along the path, because I wasn't exactly sure where I was going to end up. And I was able to cancel those hotels, as my plans firmed up.

And I will be in Indianapolis, for this upcoming eclipse.

COLLINS: And what made you pick Indianapolis?

SUTTER: Actually, I will be covering the eclipse live, all day long, with The Weather Channel, providing all-day coverage. And so, I get to enjoy it, and share my joy with the country. It's going to be such a fun event.

COLLINS: Yes. Well make sure you go to St. Elmo Steak House. It's so good.

OK. But there's the one part of this, that -- I'm serious. There's one part of this that we are so fascinated by. And it's called the Purkinje effect. And I'm assuming most people, like I didn't before this, know what that is.

Can you just kind of walk us through what it is, and why it's going to affect how people are seeing colors in certain ways, on Monday, when the eclipse is underway?

SUTTER: Yes, one of the many cool things about the eclipse is the way it messes with our normal rhythms, and our normal physiology.

In this case, the Purkinje effect, which is named after a Polish scientist, who first identified this, happens when our eyes switch from primarily bright-day mode, which uses the cones in our retina, to night-mode, which uses the rods in our retina. Usually, that transition takes 30 to 45 minutes as dusk settles in. And that's what our eyes are adapted to doing. But during totality, it will plunge from a bright sunny afternoon, to

the middle of the night, in a matter of minutes. And that's not fast enough for our eye to catch up. And so, there's, we get these like crossed wires and mixed-up signals. And what you'll see is that reds will become very, very muted, and blues and greens will pop out of the gray background. It will be a very interesting effect.

COLLINS: Oh? So what color are you going to be wearing on Monday?

SUTTER: You know what? I don't know if I am going to be looking for this effect, because I don't think anything is going to take my eyes off of the eclipse itself.

COLLINS: I was thinking for everyone, who has put so much effort into planning, like you have, a year out in advance. We've been watching the weather forecast very closely, here at CNN. And I know that it's going to be cloudy in some of these areas that are in the path to totality.

What will -- what effect will that have? Or will they still be able to have, a great eclipse viewing experience, even if it is a little bit overcast?

SUTTER: It's a little bit bittersweet. I was clouded out. I was in Nashville for the 2017 eclipse. And our location got clouded out with two minutes to spare.

And you get a lot of the really cool effects. You get the darkening of the sky. You get to hear the birds and insects come out, because they think twilight is here. And you definitely sense that something strange is happening in the sky.

But if it's cloudy, you don't get to see the fire around the moon, you don't get to see the beauty and just sheer cosmic majesty of totality.


So, if you are mobile, be mobile. Get to a sunny patch, because I guarantee, that there is nothing like this that you have ever experienced before, in your life.

COLLINS: Paul Sutter, we all can't wait. We'll be watching it here in New York. Good luck in Indianapolis.


COLLINS: Thank you all so much, for joining us. And we'll see you all, on Monday, for our special coverage of the eclipse.

"CNN NEWSNIGHT" starts right now.