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The Source with Kaitlan Collins

Trump Talks Abortion, But Doesn't Say What He'd Do; Special Counsel Cites Nixon As An Example That Presidents Can Be Prosecuted; Millions Of Americans Experience Total Solar Eclipse. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired April 08, 2024 - 21:00   ET



HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: Although I should say, a lot of your viewers think that I should be joining Canada. Maybe you and I can go together to Canada. It can be my first experience north of the border.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Canada is one of the great countries in the world, that the people are so incredibly nice there.

So, is there one experience, a big take -- any takeaway from this? We only got a few seconds left.

ENTEN: Yes, my -- I think my big experience, in here, is what you just said. Stay in New York, unless the two of us are going to Canada, because the truth is anytime I leave the city, only bad things happen.

COOPER: All right. Harry Enten, thank you. I'm sorry you didn't see it. But we'll show you some videos.

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


Donald Trump dodges on abortion. An announcement that he told me last summer he'd make is finally here. But still, really unclear, and landing really with a thought on both sides of the aisle.

Also, landing at the Supreme Court, tonight, a new filing from the Special Counsel, Jack Smith, is just in. The case that he's making against presidential immunity, just about two weeks before both sides will face the justices, in person.

All as we are getting our first look at what the potential jurors are going to be asked, when Trump's first criminal trial starts next week, one week from today, here in New York. On the list of topics, QAnon, Antifa, and Truth Social. Our best legal sources are here to break it all down.

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

Tonight, Donald Trump did what he promised he would do. He said something about abortion. What he didn't do is tell anyone what he would do about it, if he is president again. On a day when most Americans were looking away amazed, but also distracted by the eclipse, and without any reporters present to ask him follow-up questions, Trump tried to take abortion off the table, as a political issue. But he basically just stated where things currently stand on the matter.


DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: My view is now that we have abortion, where everybody wanted it, from a legal standpoint, to states will determine by vote or legislation or perhaps both. And whatever they decide must be the law of the land, in this case, the law of the state.


COLLINS: It's important to listen closely to that. Because if you actually do, and you listen to what he said, in that statement about abortion, he doesn't say that it should be left to the states.

He says it will be left to the states, which yes, is indeed the case after the Supreme Court overturned Roe versus Wade, which they did because of the three justices that he put on the Supreme Court, setting all of this in motion. This was Donald Trump's doing.

All of this, today, led to a nasty back-and-forth, with one of his staunchest defenders, Republican senator, Lindsey Graham, of South Carolina. He criticized Trump, for not staking out a position, on a federal abortion ban. And Trump has been absolutely pummeling him, ever since, ranting on social media repeatedly, against a member of his own party.

But that wasn't the only Republican, who did not like what Trump had to say, about abortion. His former Vice President Mike Pence, also called Trump's statement a quick, "Slap in the face," and suggested that he was retreating on the issue.

But behind the sniping, there's really not a ton of substance here. Trump did clarify that he wants to protect IVF access. And he claimed that he favors exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother.

But what he did not say is exactly what he would do, if a national ban, at any number of weeks, whether it's six or 10, or 15, landed on his desk as president.

It's a dance that Donald Trump has been doing for decades, on an issue that really he's taken just about every position imaginable on.


TRUMP: I'm very pro-choice. I hate the concept of abortion. But you still -- I just believe in choice.

I am pro-life.

There has to be some form of punishment. CHRIS MATTHEWS, AMERICAN COMMENTATOR: For the woman?

TRUMP: Yes, there has to be some form.

I'm going to come together with all groups, and we're going to have something that's acceptable

You have to ban it.

COLLINS: Would you sign a federal abortion ban into law?

TRUMP: It depends what--

COLLINS: You did not say how many weeks.

TRUMP: It depends what the deal is.


COLLINS: What is the deal? That's the question here. That's what people have been asking Republican challengers, in the Republican primary process, were asking Donald Trump that question. We asked Donald Trump that question a year ago. Still tonight, even though he touted this big announcement that he made today, no answers on that.

But if Trump thought he was in the clear, after these mixed signals that has been going on for months and, really, years, it doesn't appear to be the case. This is an issue that once had Democrats on their back foot. But it is now one that they are hoping will energize their voters, come this fall.

Let's get straight to my source on this tonight, Democratic governor of Massachusetts, Maura Healey, who tore into the former President, and called him a threat, to the rights and the health care of women.

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

I mean, what did you make of the fact that in this statement, and putting this out today, Donald Trump is really avoiding taking any position, on when he believes abortion should be banned?


GOV. MAURA HEALEY (D-MA): Well I think we can't let Donald Trump lie his way out of this.

Kaitlan, what he said today, in this video, is that he is proud to have overturned Roe. He claimed responsibility for that. So, that's the first thing.

The second thing is that his today's statement made clear that he supports abortion bans, in states, all over this country. And because of Donald Trump, one in three American women, right now, live under an abortion ban.

Donald Trump is a direct threat to women and a direct threat to reproductive freedom. That's who he is. That's who he continues to be. That's what he said today.

COLLINS: Well, given though, all of that, and he did thank the Supreme Court justices, individually, in that statement. But what he didn't do was something that people like Lindsey Graham, and Mike Pence, thought that he should have done, which is specify the number of weeks that he would support a national abortion ban.

And I wonder what that means for Democrats though. What does that mean for your party? Because, obviously, if he had come out and said, 10 weeks? That would have been something that Democrats would have been able to use and to point to, before November.

HEALEY: Let me just clarify from how I see it. He was quite clear today. The fact of the matter is this. There are 21 states, in this country, that have abortion bans total, or nearly total, including the majority, that don't provide any exception for rape and incest.

He supports, right now, his own home state's abortion ban, which is a six-week abortion ban, in Florida. Look at Texas and Missouri. He also supports bans there. So, I'm not quite sure what the Senate Republicans are driving at.

Trump was quite clear. He has been quite clear. And once again, he said, for the millionth time, in the last year, that he is going to take away, and supports taking away women's access to abortion.

And unfortunately, Kaitlan, in states like Massachusetts, and in others, where we stand up, for reproductive freedom, we protect our patients and providers? We're continuing to face increasing pressure, and see the real harm that it's causing women, in our state, and women across this country. And it is heartbreaking and shameful.

COLLINS: Well, but does that break through to voters, in the sense of, we've seen how it works, when abortion is actually on the ballot. But if it's not generally on the ballot? It will be certainly, in some states. You just noted Florida, obviously that is -- it's going to be on the ballot there.

But how does this work as a motivating issue for your voters, if Donald Trump doesn't come out and say a specific number of weeks?

HEALEY: Well, I think we need to be clear about this. Donald Trump, today, whether it was the eclipse, he's trying to distance himself from things or distract, I don't really know, Kaitlan. But we cannot let Donald Trump lie his way out of this.

I mean, let's take his words at face value, today, once again, where he says he is proud to have overturned Roe. He's proud of the fact that we have abortion bans, all across this country, in so many places, where it's now the case that one in three women live under an abortion ban.

So, he's been clear. I mean, Donald Trump, if there's anything we learned, from 2016, Kaitlan, is that when he says something, it's going to come true. I mean, those are promises that he kept. And as a former Attorney General, we took him to court many, many times, on the promises that he made, that he tried to implement as President.

And I think he's been really clear that he doesn't believe that women should have an access to an abortion.

He doesn't care about the women who, just since the Dobbs decision have died, who have suffered, really, life-altering medical ailments, as a result of the Dobbs decision and his court's, his own court's decision that he's so proud of, and that millions more today are having to travel hundreds of miles for needed care.

The other thing he doesn't care about is the other women, and patients, in places like Massachusetts, and in other states that have abortion, who right now, don't have access to cancer screenings, to pregnancy test, to pregnancy care, because we're seeing so many people have to come from other states, in order to access abortion.


HEALEY: So, Donald Trump is clear. He just doesn't care about women. And he certainly is a direct threat to abortion and reproductive freedom.

COLLINS: Is there any doubt in your mind that if he is reelected president and, a national abortion ban did come across his desk, that he'd sign up?

HEALEY: Absolutely, no doubt whatsoever, he'd sign that.

COLLINS: And what would you do, as Governor, if theoretically, that was -- I mean, some Republicans say that's never going to happen. But if it did, what would you as governor do? Would you enforce the national abortion ban, if it became law?

HEALEY: I have been trying to do everything I can, as governor, in my power, to protect reproductive freedom.


That meant stockpiling Mifepristone, before the Dobbs decision came down. It meant signing into law, strong protections here, for patients and providers, including those coming from other states. This is what Democratic governors and hopefully governors around the country will step up and do.

Because the other thing is this, Kaitlan. Let's remember that if he wants to talk about the so-called will of the people that he referenced in the video today? The polling is clear. The vast majority of Republican and Democratic voters, around this country, support women's access to abortion, and support a woman's right to make a decision for herself with her provider.

So, we need to keep pressing on this. We need to hold him accountable. We cannot let him get away with this lie, or at this attempted obfuscation.

He's been perfectly clear, and I think he was clear today in his message, that he's proud he overturned Roe, and that he supports abortion bans that are in place, in so many states, around this country. That's who Donald Trump is. That's who Donald Trump will be.

COLLINS: Governor Maura Healey, thank you for your time tonight.

HEALEY: Thanks for having me.

COLLINS: And I'm joined also at the table, tonight, by CNN Political Commentator and Democratic strategist, Maria Cardona.

And Alyssa Farah Griffin, a CNN Political Commentator, who once served as the White House Communications Director under President Trump.

Alyssa, I mean, what do you make of what the Governor is arguing there, about what Donald Trump's really trying to do, with this non- statement position on abortion today.

ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: So, as much as it pains me to say this, I think that Donald Trump was incredibly savvy, in this move today. He's being intentionally vague.

What he's able to do is throw a bone to conservatives and say, giving it back to the states is a conservative position, while also having to dodge on defending some of the most draconian sort of decisions you've seen.

Whether it's Florida, which is coming up in May, or some of these southern states, where abortion's outright outlawed, he could say, that's up to the voters, it's up to the governor and the legislature in those states.

Now, there's a lot of intellectual dishonesty in that. But that is what he's planning to do.

And one thing I would keep an eye on, I think he's going to go a step further, as he develop this -- develops his messaging on this. I think he's going to start challenging the notion that Joe Biden can do anything to restore abortion rights in this country.

And what I mean by that is short of a major change, on the Supreme Court, or a massive shakeup of the Senate, the law is as it stands. So, this was actually probably the safest place for him to be on a very politically dicey issue, for Republicans.

COLLINS: Well it's not a policy issue, though. It's a public relations kind of standpoint from Donald Trump, right?

FARAH GRIFFIN: And that's what he recognizes. He has no core conviction around this.

And he recognizes what Lindsey Graham is saying. 15 weeks is a total political loser, for Republicans. Democrats will frame it as a national ban. And conservatives will be mad about it.

This allows him to dodge, and kind of say, I'm going to leave it up to the states. If you have an issue with Florida, call Ron DeSantis, call the Legislature.

MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I see it a little bit differently. I actually think he did it because he is really scared of this issue.

He has said behind-the-scenes that this is a loser for Republicans. He knows it's a loser for Republicans. He has no safe place to go here. And this, to me, is an indication of just how scared he is of this, and how panicky his campaign is about this.

Because he might have said this, and I agree he is trying to have it both ways. But that's not working for him, right now. We're seeing the conservative-right is completely pissed off at him.

Democrats, as you heard the governor, and she's absolutely right, we're going to paint him, as not just wanting to have a national abortion ban, because there is audio of him saying that, but that he literally said he now supports what the states are doing.

What that means, Kaitlan, is that he supports the most egregious, the most dangerous bans that have put women's lives at risk, that have put women's reproductive futures at risk. And there is case after case after case that shows that. And we are not going to let him run away from that as much as he desperately wants to.

COLLINS: Well and he had been actively considering coming out, in support of 15 weeks or 16 weeks, whatever they had been looking at privately. I mean, what do you make of the fact that in the end, they pulled back from that? Do you think that's a Trump decision? Is that a political strategist decision?

FARAH GRIFFIN: I think it's a little bit of both.

I think he knows 15 weeks, Democrats would rightly say is a ban, and it would also tick off the right. The conservative-right will come around on this. Mike Pence probably will not because he actually has core convictions.

But the Susan B. Anthony List, these other groups have criticized Trump before, and they ultimately come in the fold. No one thinks Lindsey Graham isn't going to ultimately come around and embrace him.

His real issue, to Maria's point, is he's losing public sentiment on this, in a major way, and Republicans are losing down-ballot, if they don't moderate.

COLLINS: How do you make of how the Biden campaign is handling this? Because Biden responded, right away today, watching this. He's at a fundraiser, tonight, in Chicago, saying that no one trusts Trump on this issue, talking about, I mean, we just showed how many times he's changed his own position on this.


CARDONA: I think -- I think they are responding exactly how they need to. They have an ad out that is heart-wrenching about this woman, who is somebody, who tried to get her abortion care done. And she was, I believe, in Texas, and she was not able to get it. She almost died twice, and she probably can't have kids again.

And so, again, Democrats will paint this as a ban is a ban is a ban. Donald Trump was the architect of that. And we're not going to let him run away from it.

COLLINS: Maria Cardona, Alyssa Farah Griffin, great to have you both, on this very important issue.


COLLINS: Up next, we have still been reading through the new filing, from the Special Counsel, Jack Smith, tonight. He is urging the Supreme Court to reject Trump's claims of presidential immunity. And he's pointing to Watergate to make his case.

John Dean is our source here, to discuss next.

Also denied, Trump's 11th hour effort, to delay that trial that is supposed to start one week from today, as we are now getting a new look at the questions jurors are going to be asked.


COLLINS: In a brand-new filing that we are just getting our hands on, tonight, the Special Counsel, Jack Smith, is calling on the Supreme Court, to reject Trump's claim of absolute immunity.

Prosecutors are going to be making their case, about this in-person, face to face with the justices, in just over two weeks from tonight.


But, right now, Smith is giving us a preview of his argument, and he says and I'm quoting him here, "The closest historical analogue is President Nixon's official conduct in Watergate, and his acceptance of a pardon implied his and President Ford's recognition that a former President was subject to prosecution."

Few people are really more qualified to talk about the parallels here, between these two cases than the guest, who joins me now. Richard Nixon's former White House Counsel, John Dean.

And as usual, John Dean, it's great to have you.

And just as you're reading through Jack Smith's argument--


COLLINS: --I wonder what stood out to you, given your experience?

DEAN: Well, first, I thought it was an elegant brief. I've made a very fast trip through it at this stage. And he really relies on two core arguments. One is the historical argument that you mentioned. But before that, he

also relies on the basic separation of powers, that if Trump had his way, there would be no check on a president. And that's so contrary to our system. And it's unprecedented, just in asking, and even suggesting at as a possibility.

But you're right. The core of the argument is the historical argument.

COLLINS: Yes. They argue at one point that if Trump's argument stood that presidents could commit bribery, and treason and sedition, and they list all of this, and saying that that's not how it works. But what -- part of it seems to be getting at is this idea of official acts versus private acts, and some parts of immunity.

And where the ballgame really seems to be is where they argue that even if Donald Trump can make the argument that some presidents do enjoy immunity that they said, this is a private scheme with private actors to achieve a private end, his effort to remain in power by fraud.

DEAN: Well, you're right. This business of the official or non- official acts is that Trump is really trying to stretch a civil case, into a criminal situation. That's the Fitzgerald case.

And this brief very clearly knocks that down, the first that a criminal case is so much more weighty and important in the greater scheme of things than a civil case. So, they argued -- they just aren't -- you can't take the same principles and apply them.

Secondly, they go on to argue that again, in a historical context, you cannot take that case, and take it the distance. It just won't stretch that far. So, it's a good job of knocking down Trump's brief, in total. It's sort of eclipse it, as the day -- the metaphor for the day.

COLLINS: I picked that up. John Dean, that was very clever.

But when you look at this in and of itself, one thing that I had heard could be successful, from people, in Trump's orbit, recently was in Trump's filing, he and his attorneys kind of floated this option of sending the case back down to lower courts, until other issues are decided here.

But the Special Counsel seems to be basically rejecting that saying that that's not an option here. If you do take up on that premise that a lower court needs to decide this, they can decide that later on, and this case can get moving forward again.

DEAN: The Special Counsel goes head-on, on that argument, and says that what this court, the Supreme Court should do, if they find any reason that there is any kind of immunity, that they suggest is potentially applicable here, that the record has to be established during the trial.

And it can be done, by the judge, at the lower court, the trial can go forward, and an appropriate instruction can be given to the jury as well, as the judge protects the evidence that comes in, and controls it during the trial.

So, there's no real reason for a separate hearing, to send this back down to the lower court, to the district court, to have a trial on that issue, as to whether these are official acts, or even that would be applicable or not. They say let's just get on with a trial. And I think they make the argument that will carry the day.

COLLINS: You think that it'll carry the day. We will see if it does. Those arguments are starting very soon. John Dean, we'll bring you back when that happens. Thank you for that.

And from one Trump legal case to his hush money trial that is actually scheduled to start, here in New York City, one week from today, a judge has ruled it will stay in Manhattan, after Trump was shut down, in his latest. But I should note, probably not his last, based on what we've been hearing from our sources, attempt to keep this trial from starting as it is scheduled to.

We've also just obtained the questions that are going to go into picking the 12 men and women, who are going to hold the fate of the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, in their hands. We'll share those with you in a moment.

Jennifer Rodgers is a CNN Legal Analyst, and former federal prosecutor.

And when, you know, what Trump is trying to do here was to get the case moved out of New York, saying that, essentially his team is arguing that there's been so much publicity around this that people already have a negative view of Trump, and that he can't get a fair trial. The judge today said no.

JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, this is to move from one theme, the eclipse, to another theme of this month, the NCAA tournament. This is garbage time, right?


This is the very last-minute throwing everything at the wall, to see what will stick. This is them doing their own polling, and saying, well our polling shows that people here aren't fair, and so we need to move this trial out of Manhattan, and we need to do it now.

This is just one of many attempts that is not going to work, at the very last minute. He actually has three motions pending now, all really just designed to try to stop it.

COLLINS: I mean, they are so desperate to move this -- to delay this trial from starting.

RODGERS: Yes. Well, once it starts, it's not going to stop. So really, their last chance is to get some judge, to intervene, and say, OK, this might not have merit. But we do want to resolve all of these questions before we start. He's really hoping that. They've been bending over backwards to resolve all of his issues,

right? And that's what he's trying to do. Keep throwing them out hoping that a judge will say, let's just put it back a week, two weeks, whatever. Anything to stop it from starting.

COLLINS: OK. But it does seem like it is going forward, right now, knock on wood, we'll see what happens.

But with the jury selection beginning. And we're getting a look at what they want to ask these prospective jurors. And some of these questions are really interesting to me.

Have you ever considered yourself a supporter or belong to the QAnon movement, Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, Three Percenters, Antifa?

Do you have any strong opinions or firmly held beliefs about whether a former President may be criminally charged in a state court?

Do you have any strong opinions or firmly held beliefs about former President Donald Trump, or the fact that he's a current candidate? Or would that be able to interfere with you being a fair and impartial juror?

What does it say to you based on what these questions are going to look like?

RODGERS: Well, both parties want to know what these jurors think of Trump, right? So, they're trying to get at it without asking directly. Are you a Republican? Do you support Trump? Did you vote for Trump? You're not supposed to ask things like who jurors voted for. So these are proxy questions for that.

If people are QAnon supporters, if they have strong beliefs about the Proud Boys, et cetera? That doesn't automatically get them off the jury. But that gives the parties guidance, because they have these peremptory challenges, right, where they don't have to give reasons. And so, both sides want to know the answers to these questions.

By the way, they ask also, do you have any strong anti-Trump views, and have you participated in any of those movements as well? So both sides want to know that, so that they know who to strike.

COLLINS: How does it work with the question, though? Do you have any strong opinions or firmly held beliefs about former President Donald Trump?


COLLINS: I mean, wouldn't that kind of apply to like basically everybody?

RODGERS: Yes. And if they all say yes, then it doesn't really get anywhere, you know, right? It doesn't help them at all. So, a lot of these are going to be not super-helpful, but they just kind of dig through and they try to rank their jurors, and then decide according. COLLINS: I mean, and this really matters, if you're, you know, regardless of which side you're on, and who's looking at this, because one juror could throw off Alvin Bragg's entire effort, to prosecute Donald Trump here.


COLLINS: I mean, that's all it would take.

RODGERS: Has to be unanimous. So, both sides spent a lot of time on this. I'm sure Trump's spending a lot of money on jury consultants and the like. They both want to make sure that no one is going to be, yes.

COLLINS: How long do you think it'll take to get a jury?

RODGERS: Look, about--

COLLINS: They're going to be looking this carefully.

RODGERS: Yes. About a week they're saying. It takes longer in state court because the parties get to ask questions. There will be follow- up questions, after these questionnaires. So, I would say about a week, maybe a little more.

COLLINS: Jennifer Rodgers, we will be marking our calendars. Thank you so much.

RODGERS: Thanks.

COLLINS: And despite those legal problems that Trump is facing, there are a lot of Democrats, who are still very anxious about November. Just walk around Washington and you'll run into one.

But we're going to speak to one, who is not, and why he is predicting a second Biden term, trying to convince his party to calm down.



COLLINS: President Biden was in the battleground state of Wisconsin today, unveiling a new student debt relief plan, as he is trying to shore up support, among young voters, a key part of his coalition in 2020, certainly he's hoping will be a key part of his coalition in 2024.

This appearance today, comes amid some new polling, showing that this race is very close, across the critical swing states. All those numbers might give Democrats heartburn.

My next guest is one prominent Democrat, who is urging calm, predicting in The New York Times, last week, that come November, he believes, Biden will beat Trump.

Simon Rosenberg is a Democratic strategist, who has been involved in presidential campaigns, for the last 36 years, and is the perfect source on this tonight.

Simon, obviously, I mean, we all know--


COLLINS: --polling is just a snapshot. But with polling showing this concern, among these independent voters, over Biden's age, over other issues. I mean, what does it tell you about where you think the race stands today?

ROSENBERG: Yes, listen, my basic take on where things are today is that Joe Biden is a good president. The country is better off. The Democratic Party is strong, winning elections, raising tons of money.

And they have Trump, who is the ugliest political thing that any of us have ever seen. You just spent the first 30 minutes of this show, talking about all his troubles.

And so, I think that as someone who's been in elections, for a long time, I think there is a quiet confidence, in the Democratic Party. And the reason why is that we always felt that once the general election began, and voters started tuning in, that you were going to see Biden's numbers come up. And they have. I mean, he's in a -- he's clearly in a better place today than he was a month ago. He's now leading in more polls than Trump is in national polls.

And so, I think we feel good about where we are. But we also know we have an awful lot of work to do. But if we do the work, we should be able to win this election.

COLLINS: Well, how do you know which polls you trust? I mean, if you think the ones that show--


COLLINS: --that he's behind, aren't accurate. But how do you know you trust the ones that show maybe he's doing better in certain areas?


ROSENBERG: Yes, no, look, I think, to be fair, right? Trump was winning the election or ahead, a few months ago. He's not anymore. I mean, there have now been 19 polls, taken in the last few weeks that have Biden ahead in this election.

Yes, there are some polls that have been done in the states, showing that Trump is ahead. But I think, on balance, it's clear now, that Biden's gained a point or two, in recent weeks, the election is changing. It's improving for us.

You're seeing similar movements, in what's called the congressional generic, where things are getting better there. The Senate polls for us are holding all across the country.

And one of the evidence of strength of the party is how much money we're raising, and the fact that we've been winning elections again and again and again and all across the country, since Dobbs happened in the spring of 2022. We've had an extraordinary track record.

Remember, Kaitlan, usually, a party out of power loses ground in a midterm, and in the off-year elections. We've actually gained ground. We've gone -- we've done something really dramatic.

And I think it's because the most powerful force in our politics today isn't disappointment in Joe Biden. It's fear and opposition to MAGA. It's what's been driving our politics, since 2018. We had good elections in 2018, 2020, 2022, and 2023. And I think we're going to have another good one in 2024.

COLLINS: Well one argument that I've noticed that you've been making that is interesting is--


COLLINS: --is kind of about the two parties themselves. Not necessarily about the candidates, but the Democratic Party versus the GOP.


COLLINS: And I was kind of thinking about this today as we're watching, Speaker Mike Johnson is in trouble, right now, as a result of his own party. Today, Trump is attacking a prominent Republican senator--


COLLINS: --and huge ally of his.

But you kind of have made this argument that unison and the differences and those in the two parties will have a big impact.

ROSENBERG: Yes, I mean, this stuff matters. I mean, part of the -- part of what I do, and other political analysts do is we don't just look at polling.

You have all these other things to look at, right? The strength of the candidate, the arguments that they're making, how much money are they raising, the track record, right? But also about party unity, and whether the team is together.

The Democratic team is really together, right now. I mean, you've just seen in the last 10 days, Biden do events with Obama and Clinton and Bernie Sanders. And there was no serious opposition to Biden in the primary.

On the other side, Trump is facing an unprecedented rebellion, in the Republican Party, from people like Mitt Romney and Liz Cheney, serious people, right, who've said they're not going to be voting for Donald Trump.

We saw what happened with the Haley voters, in the polling, in these early states, where a big chunk of Haley voters said they were not going to vote for Donald Trump that they would be open to voting for Biden.

And I think the Republican Party has splintered. I think something broke inside the Republican Party, after Dobbs, in the spring of 2022, where even for a big chunk of Republicans, this was just a bridge too far. It was too much.

And I think you're seeing now, a Democratic Party that's unified, strong, winning elections, raising lots of money.

And a Republican Party that is an unprecedented dumpster fire, in my view, right now.

COLLINS: An unprecedented dumpster fire. Is that your assessment of the Republican Party?

ROSENBERG: Yes. Yes. Yes.

COLLINS: Well, I mean, OK. But President Biden does have some challenges of his.


COLLINS: And I wonder when you -- when you look at this given -- because I should note, you are someone, who predicted that the midterms would go better for Democrats.


COLLINS: And they did. Something that I know that you are proud of. But on the--


COLLINS: On the biggest issues facing Biden, whether it's what's happening in Gaza?


COLLINS: His age?



ROSENBERG: First off--

COLLINS: What do you think is his biggest challenge, right now?

ROSENBERG: Well, I think, on his age, I think he did a lot to assuage people's concerns, by his incredibly strong performance, in the State of the Union.

And I think that we have to recognize about his age is that we, as Democrats, have to say that age is not just a liability, for Biden. It's also an asset. It's one of the reasons he has been such a successful president. I mean, maybe during a time of enormous challenge, having the most

experienced guy, to ever go into the White House, was a blessing for the country, and not a challenge for us. And so, I think we have to take the age -- we've got to take the age issue head-on.

And on the rest of the issues, have me back, Kaitlan, and we can cover them more in-depth. But thank you for letting me be here tonight.

COLLINS: We certainly well.

I mean, they're not going away.


COLLINS: And obviously RFK Jr. certainly isn't.


COLLINS: We've talked about that a lot. Obviously, what's happening in Gaza.

Simon Rosenberg, great to have you on THE SOURCE, tonight, thanks for joining us.

ROSENBERG: Thanks so much, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: Speaking of Gaza. Prime Minister Netanyahu is ignoring warnings that are coming from the West, including from the United States. He says Israel has set a date to invade Rafah.

What that means for the millions of people, who are there? How U.S. officials are responding? That's next.






COLLINS: Israel says it has set a date to invade the City of Rafah in southern Gaza. But in his announcement today, Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu didn't say what that date exactly is.

The announcement is one that the White House had been dreading and trying to deter.


KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We have been clear in multiple conversations and in every way that any major military operation in Rafah would be a huge mistake. ANTONY BLINKEN, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE: A major military ground operation in Rafah is not the way to do it. It risks killing more civilians. It risks wreaking greater havoc, with the provision of humanitarian assistance. It risks further isolating Israel.


COLLINS: Here's why the U.S. feels that way. Rafah is that one tiny corner of Gaza, where over a million people have fled, to seek shelter from this war.

United Nations officials say that an invasion there would lead to what they say would be a bloodbath. But Netanyahu says the invasion is necessary, he believes, to fully take out Hamas.

Here tonight, Dan Senor, who was a foreign policy adviser, in the George W. Bush administration, and the host of the podcast, "Call Me Back," which has offered in-depth analysis, on Israel and the war in Gaza. It is an excellent listen for anyone who hasn't listened to it yet.


On this invasion that Netanyahu, he won't say what the date is.


COLLINS: Do you think this actually means that they are going forward?

SENOR: I do.

COLLINS: With an invasion?

SENOR: I do. I was just in Israel, a couple weeks ago. And I was struck by every official I spoke to, within the war cabinet, from different parties.

The sense that A, the military objectives have always been driven by this idea that in order to destroy Hamas, eliminate the threat, they have to go into Rafah. There are still four battalions in Rafah. It's most likely the most senior leadership of Hamas is in Rafah.

And that they can negotiate with the Biden administration, on how to go into Rafah. But the debate about whether to go into Rafah is not even like on the table.

So, there's a dialog right now. There is a real dialog with the administration. I think the administration, while they're saying Rafah, a major military operation, what Israel hears in that is OK, so doesn't have to be a major military operation. Maybe it's more limited military operation.

The Biden administration is saying, well, we got to think about the humanitarian implications. And so, Israel's coming up, they're getting more trucks and more humanitarian aid. They just removed a lot of their major forces, from the central part of the country -- or central part of Gaza.

So, a lot of the Palestinians from Rafah, in theory, could start moving out of Rafah. So, I think there's--

COLLINS: Yes, there's not really much to go back to. I mean, it's kind of total destruction.

But on that -- on that point, I mean, do you think anything with the announcement of this, today, by Netanyahu, has to do with the part of the -- far-right part of his government, complaining about withdrawing some of those forces from central Gaza?

SENOR: I think -- I think, in Israel today, there is such a wide consensus.

So, it is true that Netanyahu government, specifically his government, his original government, is very unpopular, in Israel, right now.

But the military strategy, focused on eliminating Hamas entirely, including going into Rafah, has broad consensus, from the hard-right to the hard-left in Israel. You'd be hard-pressed to go anywhere in the country and find anyone who doesn't support finishing this mission.

And I think if Netanyahu doesn't go into Rafah, he's at risk of being succeeded by someone like Gantz, Benny Gantz, who's not to his right, but who would be as committed, if not more, to going into Rafah.

COLLINS: So, what does that mean for the hostage deal, though? Because obviously, that is top of mind, for so many people, when they look at this. And if someone's wondering, well, does this hurt a hostage deal--


COLLINS: --that they've been negotiating?

SENOR: I'm -- you and I were just talking offline about it. I am very worried about the hostage negotiations.

I think those Israeli officials, I've spoken to, who are in touch indirectly with those advising Hamas, in these negotiations, convey the sense that from Hamas' standpoint, pressure has been mounting on Israel, over these last few weeks.

Yahya Sinwar has had a very good few weeks.

If you think, the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution that the U.S. basically green-lit that for the first time delinked the plight of the hostages, with a ceasefire?

Then you see the most senior Democratic politician, other than the President of the United States, Chuck Schumer, also a Jewish American, go to the Senate floor, and call for the toppling of the Israeli government? I mean, you just see example after the events, over the World Central

Kitchen, the tragic killing of those seven innocent aid workers, and the backlash that provoked against Israel, including from the President of the United States, giving an unbelievable statement, and the gentleman who leads the World Central Kitchen, calling it a deliberate and systematic attack, when everybody knows it wasn't deliberate or systematic?

And so, there's a sense that there's pressure on Israel has just mounted and mounted and mounted.

COLLINS: And you think it makes a deal--

SENOR: Well it means--

COLLINS: --that's favorable to Israel in any way less likely?

SENOR: I think that Hamas thinks they have more leverage now than they did a few weeks ago. And so, I think that is an unfortunate dynamic for Israel, while it's trying to get these hostages out of Gaza.

COLLINS: Dan Senor, we'll be watching it all closely.

SENOR: Thanks. Thanks, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: Thank you for joining tonight, after getting back from Israel yourself.

Also today, if you were watching most of CNN air, you saw some of the sky -- people taking to the skies to experience that solar eclipse, up close. I'll show you my view, from the highest outdoor observation deck, in America, more than a 1,000 feet above New York City.

Come along. And of course, we've got Donie O'Sullivan here as well.


COLLINS: Donie, what are you thinking about right now?

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm thinking about -- I'm thinking about how good a time this would be to be a pickpocket, right now.




COLLINS: Today's solar eclipse was a moment that nobody wanted to miss, including myself.

I could not watch it alone though. So I asked my friend, Donie O'Sullivan, to come along with me. I mean, the best spot here to watch in New York City. We took the elevator up, from our newsroom, here at CNN, a 101 floors to the edge, which is the observation deck, here at Hudson Yards.

This is what we saw way above the city.


COLLINS: So we're about 30 minutes away from full.

O'SULLIVAN: Yes, exactly 30 minutes.

COLLINS: As much of the eclipse is we're going to see here, which is about 90 percent.

O'SULLIVAN: There are hundreds of people here.

COLLINS: That it has gotten much more crowded out here.

And so--

O'SULLIVAN: This is your first eclipse, kind of?

COLLINS: Stop calling it my first eclipse. It's our first eclipse together.

O'SULLIVAN: It's our first eclipse together.

COLLINS: I have seen an eclipse before.

O'SULLIVAN: Probably our last eclipse together, but yes.

COLLINS: We're about a 1,000 feet above Manhattan, right now. We are at one of the best viewing sites, in all of New York City.

O'SULLIVAN: You're not afraid of heights?

COLLINS: No. Are you?

O'SULLIVAN: I mean, no, when I kind of think about it, yes. And I've had a lot of caffeine, today. So I'm getting a bit.

COLLINS: So, when you're caffeinated, and when you stare down--

O'SULLIVAN: Oh, yes, exactly yes.

COLLINS: --that means you're not (ph) scared of heights?

O'SULLIVAN: That's great, yes. But you could see some people out on the rooftops, of other buildings.


COLLINS: Well, yes, and also--

O'SULLIVAN: Over there.

COLLINS: But also look out in the harbor, because obviously this is the Hudson River. You could see a lot of boats out there. And I wonder who is getting a good view of the eclipse from the water, today.

OK, Donie, we've been watching up here on our little perch. Let's go downstairs though, and actually where everyone else is standing, to make sure we get a very good view of this.

O'SULLIVAN: Let's do it.

COLLINS: OK, great.

O'SULLIVAN: Down to the huddled masses.

COLLINS: How's it looking?

O'SULLIVAN: I think it's almost there. I mean, it's -- it's like -- I feel it's like 80 percent. You see?

COLLINS: I would say 75. You're close. My mathematical calculations would say 75.


COLLINS: But you're -- you're pretty close.

O'SULLIVAN: CNN has not called this eclipse yet. It is -- we have not called the eclipse.

COLLINS: We have not projected the eclipse yet. But as you can see?

O'SULLIVAN: I could see my house from here.

COLLINS: Donie, what are you thinking about right now?

O'SULLIVAN: I'm thinking about -- I'm thinking about how good a time this would be to be a pickpocket, right now.

COLLINS: OK, Donie, we're like five minutes away. And it's noticeably darker out here.

O'SULLIVAN: Yes, it's been weird, right? It's a bit--

COLLINS: It's kind of strange.

O'SULLIVAN: It's a bit spooky or something.

COLLINS: It feels like the sun is setting.


COLLINS: But it's 3:30 PM.

O'SULLIVAN: Feels like something terrible is about to happen.


All right, Donie.

O'SULLIVAN: There we go.

COLLINS: This is it. This is the moment we've been waiting for.

O'SULLIVAN: I looked it up, yes.

COLLINS: Stop. Put your glass -- just keep your glasses on. Stop taking it off.

O'SULLIVAN: You can see it pretty good now, right?

COLLINS: Yes. I just see a little teeny sliver of the sun left.


Yes, it's gone, right?

COLLINS: And the temperature has dropped noticeably.

Donie, how would you say this compares to other things that you've covered? You're typically covering disinformation.


COLLINS: Conspiracy.

O'SULLIVAN: This is a -- it's a light relief.

COLLINS: This has got to be more enjoyable, right?

O'SULLIVAN: It's a light relief, yes, yes.

COLLINS: It's just delightful.

O'SULLIVAN: It's a nice change.

COLLINS: It's kind of nice to cover something that--


COLLINS: --everyone's excited about.

O'SULLIVAN: Do you feel the eclipse has changed you in any way?

COLLINS: Only for the better, you know? Only for the better. Oh, it looks beautiful now.

O'SULLIVAN: Oh, yes, that's cool.


COLLINS: Those are two non-scientists that you were watching there.

But today's eclipse was also a chance for real scientists, to see how an eclipse impacts our world, what it looks like, the space around it.

I want to dig more in on that with Janna Levin, who is an astrophysics professor, at Barnard College at Columbia University.

And looking at this today, I mean, I can't even like listen to mine and Donie's comments, like listening to this. They're about as unscientific as they get.

But what do you could actually learn from this? I was actually interested in the sun's corona, which is like what you could actually see--


COLLINS: --around the eclipse, once it was actually happening.


COLLINS: What could they have learned from that today?

LEVIN: So for, where we were in New York, and what you were seeing, you're arguing if it's 75 percent, or 80 percent. But we got around maybe 90 percent. Some people argue about it, because they can't really be precise about the size of the moon.

But in totality, when the sun is completely eclipsed by the moon, you can see the corona, which is the outer atmosphere, and it's much less bright, you can actually look at it without glasses and be unharmed.

And it was very active, right now. The sun has magnetic cycles, very magnetically active, of about 11 years, and it's at a maximum, right now. So, the corona is actually much larger than it was with the last eclipse in 2017.

COLLINS: Oh, that's interesting.


COLLINS: Because the sun's on an 11-year cycle.

LEVIN: It's just--

COLLINS: And so essentially it's--

LEVIN: Coincided with that.

COLLINS: It happened to just work out.

LEVIN: Yes. And so, if you were in totality, you could see a lot of activity, presumably, the corona itself was enlarged. And you might even see the sun ejecting blobs of mass and plasma.

COLLINS: And what can scientists learn from that? I mean, I think regular people appreciated it today.


COLLINS: But what do actual scientists learn from something like that? LEVIN: Well, we learn about the sun's cycle. We learn about what makes it here to the Earth.

So, if you've ever seen the aurora borealis, that has to do with magnetic fields around the Earth, and charged particles from the sun hitting those magnetic fields, and radiating, as they do so. It's this beautiful display around the poles. And so, we see the winds and the solar magnetism, it makes it all the way to the Earth.

It's one of the reasons why Mars is so dangerous, is because -- for human life, because Mars doesn't have a protective magnetic field, against things like solar arrays.

COLLINS: Right. And you--

LEVIN: It's cosmic debris.

COLLINS: You could actually see other planets, though today--


COLLINS: --as a part of this eclipse happening.

LEVIN: Yes. Venus was nearby. And we couldn't see Jupiter. It was too bright for us still, even with the partial eclipse. But in totality, you could see Jupiter there.

So, there is this plane, in which most of the planets orbit and including the Earth around the sun. And so, a lot of things were aligning that plane, it's called the ecliptic plane. And the moon weirdly does not orbit us in the ecliptic. It's slightly offset. Otherwise, we'd have a total solar eclipse every month.

COLLINS: Oh, really?

LEVIN: Which would be fantastic.

COLLINS: How do we make that happen? It is--

LEVIN: Got to nudge the moon.

COLLINS: My friends were taking this seriously.

LEVIN: Yes, back into alignment. Yes.

COLLINS: I mean, this is the last time you're going to see it in the U.S.


COLLINS: For 22 years.

LEVIN: Yes. And there will be a solar eclipse, in a couple of years. But it'll go mostly over like Iceland, and the oceans. But eclipse- chasers will go there. And there's an eclipse actually, almost every year too. COLLINS: Yes.


LEVIN: They just don't always make it overland. And they don't necessarily make it over North America.

COLLINS: Scale of one to 10--


COLLINS: --how was today's eclipse?

LEVIN: Today was spectacular. And also, in about a half a billion years, there will be no more total eclipses, because the moon will be too far away, so.

COLLINS: Well in half a billion--

LEVIN: Get it in what you can.

COLLINS: Yes, in half a billion years. Mark your calendars for that.


COLLINS: Janna Levin, great to have you.

LEVIN: Thanks for having me.

COLLINS: Thanks for talking about the eclipse with us.

Thank you all for joining us, tonight.