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The Source with Kaitlan Collins

Greene: Motion To Vacate Speaker Johnson "Is Real"; Politico: Former Chief Of Staff Says Biden Too Focused On Bridges; Jeff Bezos, The Clintons, Robert De Niro Among Guests At Glitzy White House State Dinner. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired April 10, 2024 - 21:00   ET




ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST (voice-over): The deals he made, the vision he had, changed the television news business forever.

His wife, Carole, became an agent too, and a powerhouse, in her own right. She still is. She agreed to represent me nearly 30 years ago, when not a lot of people were interested in doing so. She changed my life too. And she's part of my kids' lives now as well.

For Carole, and Richard, career success was important. But their greatest accomplishment was and is the family they built. Their two sons, Adam and Jonathan, and their grandkids, Lily, Melody, Ellie and Jolie.

Richard Leibner died at the age of 85, this week. He was loved and he will be missed.


COOPER: He will be missed indeed.

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


A House Speaker scorned by his own party, Mike Johnson warning of the chaos if he is ousted, as he is heading for the mothership, Mar-a- Lago, to meet with the man, who just told his Conference, to defy him.

And for the third time, this week, speaking of Donald Trump, it is not the charm for the former President, who was just denied another attempt to delay his first criminal trial.

Plus, after Trump said abortion should be left up to the states, he's criticizing a state's abortion ruling. The Democrat, who is hoping to be Arizona's next senator, is our source tonight.

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

House Republicans erupted into complete chaos, again today, right in front of our very eyes, on the House floor. What is normally a pretty routine procedural move, ended up morphing into a disastrous defeat, for House Speaker, Mike Johnson.

Johnson was handed that loss, in part by Donald Trump, who woke up this morning, and ordered his party, to kill legislation that would have extended an expiring warrantless surveillance law. Though there were already a few Republicans, who were against it, the former President all but in short, its defeat.

The timing here really couldn't be worse, for Speaker Johnson, because like a large dark cloud, Marjorie Taylor Greene is threatening to oust him, as Speaker. Of course, we know it only takes one vote to start that process. No one knows it better than Kevin McCarthy.

But Johnson is offering a warning of his own, to Marjorie Taylor Greene about that.


REP. MIKE JOHNSON (R-LA): She's colleague. I've always considered her friend.

It doesn't serve our interest, I didn't think, to not fund the government and shut it down.

That wouldn't be helpful and nor does a motion to vacate help us in that regard either. It would be chaos in the House.


COLLINS: But Greene is not dropping her threat, at least not yet. After a tense 70-minute meeting that she had with the House Speaker today, she tells CNN that she warned Johnson not to move forward with aid to Ukraine, among other things.


REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): Mike Johnson doesn't have the trust of the Conference. And that's become very clear.

Most of the members I've taken to support the letter that I sent, and they completely agree with it.

It's a very serious letter and the motion to vacate is real.


COLLINS: Mike Johnson essentially responded with his own version of the Southern phrase, bless her heart.


JOHNSON: I try to follow all the biblical admonitions as I do every day. And one of them says you bless those who persecute you. I'm getting a lot of practice in that right now.


COLLINS: Johnson though is turning to a lot more than just prayers, as he is facing this latest revolt. He is headed to Mar-a-Lago, actually, for what is being billed as a joint press conference, and a major announcement on election integrity with Donald Trump.

Our sources are telling us tonight that the Speaker's allies are publicly urging Donald Trump, to support Johnson.

Our source to start us off tonight is New York Republican congressman, Mike Lawler.

And Congressman, for the uninitiated, in the ways of Washington, a so- called rule vote is usually done, along party lines. In this session of Congress, though, seven of these votes have failed, at the hands of your party.

What does it say about Republicans' ability to govern or to not be able to govern, if you can't get a rule passed?

REP. MIKE LAWLER (R-NY): Well, obviously, given the margins that we have, there's very little room for error, on any of these votes.

And this particular issue, about 90 percent of the base bill, there's agreement on, within the Conference. The question today was about amendments and process. And obviously, you had 19 people take down the rule, because they objected, in one form or fashion.

It is certainly frustrating, especially, for someone like me, coming from a district that I do, that Joe Biden won by 10 points, that has 80,000 more Democrats than Republicans. I'm here to govern. And I know the vast majority of my colleagues sharing that.

And so, the question for all of us is you're not going to get everything you want. We're in a divided government, number one. Number two, we have a very small majority. And so, you have to find compromise. You have to be willing to recognize that you're not going to get everything you want.


And so, from my vantage point, to continually try to take down rules, or block legislation from moving forward, does nothing to advance the cause and in fact, undermines the majority.

COLLINS: It sounds like a message, for someone like Marjorie Taylor Greene. I don't want to put words in your mouth.

But I mean, you just heard what she said that she's spoken with the -- the most of the people that she's spoken with agree with her letter, threatening to remove Speaker Johnson. I mean, do you agree with that?

LAWLER: No. And I don't think the vast majority of the Conference does. Certainly, we have people, who may be frustrated, in one form or fashion, with respect to the position of the majority of the Conference. But the reality is this. You have to compromise. And so, from my perspective, if the lesson of October was not learned,

and we advance another motion to vacate, all it will do is ensure a Republican minority, come January 2025.

We have a responsibility to govern. Yes, duke it out, fight it out on policy. Fight it out on the issues you believe. And that's fine. That's -- that is what we are in. We are in a republic. We are elected to represent our districts. We are elected to fight for these issues, to negotiate, to debate.

But ultimately, you have to advance legislation and get it across the finish line. And that's what we were elected to do. And so, while some may not like this, or that, that's life, get over it.

COLLINS: Well we'll see how many times that gets replayed.

Congressman, you just talked about the district that you're from. New York obviously held its primary last week. Did you vote for Donald Trump in that, by the way?

LAWLER: I voted in the primary, and I did vote for the former President, yes.

COLLINS: OK. Thank you, Congressman.

Let me ask you about another issue that I know is important to you, and that we've been talking about how much the U.S. spends on funding the Israeli military. We've seen more and more of your Democratic colleagues, in the House, saying that Prime Minister Netanyahu must go that he can't lead Israel.

Do you agree with those criticisms? What do you make of those?

LAWLER: Look, I think it's shameful what Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi have done, over the last two weeks, caving in to Bernie Sanders and AOC, and the radical left, and basically throwing Israel under the bus. They are trying to use Benjamin Netanyahu now as the scapegoat, to try and salvage their electoral prospects, in Michigan and Minnesota, because the Democratic base is in revolt.

The reality is this. Hamas is a terrorist organization. Hamas is responsible for what happened not only on October 7th, but the aftermath of it. They are continuing to hold hostages, including American hostages.

And for anybody to demand a ceasefire, including the President of the United States, and not make it abundantly clear that any terms of a ceasefire must include the release of these hostages, is disgusting. And it is putting--

COLLINS: But what about Netanyahu?

LAWLER: It is putting politics above any other consideration.

Look, Benjamin Netanyahu was elected by the Israeli people. The Israeli people will determine who their leadership is. Democrats talk a lot about protecting democracy, and not having

foreign governments interfere in elections. The fact is Chuck Schumer interfered in Israeli affairs, and it was wrong. And that is not what we should be doing, to our strongest ally in the world.

They are defending themselves after being mercilessly attacked, women, children, babies, slaughtered, butchered, indiscriminately, innocent civilians still being held to today, including American citizens.

I stand by Israel. And the vast majority of the Republican Conference stands by Israel.

What you are seeing today is a Democratic Party that is falling apart at the seams, and they cannot allow their electoral politics to be put ahead of the safety and security of Israel, and the release of American hostages.

COLLINS: Yes. And I'm not surprised by your criticism of them. But they may say the same about you, after what happened on the House floor today.

Congressman Mike Lawler, thanks for your time tonight.

I want to turn to another inside source here, as we start the show off, someone who worked alongside Donald Trump, as his National Security Adviser. Ambassador John Bolton is here.

And let me just ask you, because I know that FISA, this issue that -- maybe that's not a household name. But this issue that Republicans were basically falling apart at the seams over themselves today, is something Bill Barr says Trump's coming out against, is more about his own personal interest than logic.

What do you make?

JOHN BOLTON, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER UNDER PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, I think that's right. That's what Trump's Truth Social posting said that it was used against him, although he's got the wrong section.


Trump was always uncertain about FISA, even in the time I was there. And I think it shows he doesn't understand U.S. national security. He understands Donald Trump's security. That's what he cares about.

But both he and the 19 Republicans, who voted against this rule, demonstrated by that position that they don't really understand national security, or don't care about it. Neither alternative is very good.

COLLINS: Well, it's pretty remarkable, to see him come out, and say Republicans should vote against something that Mike Johnson put on the floor. And then now, he and Mike Johnson are holding this press conference, on election integrity, as they're calling it, this Friday. I mean, what do you make of that?

BOLTON: Well, I don't know what they're going to talk about, on Friday.

But I, if -- nobody's asked me to give the Speaker, advice. But the advice I would give him is that in Washington, if you want to do a senior job, and there are very few that are more senior than Speaker in the House, you have to be ready to walk away from that job. If you put staying in the job, as your highest priority over principle, you will ultimately be a failure.

So, I think he needs to get this FISA reform to the floor. He needs to bring the Ukraine aid bill to the floor. And if a political cannibal, like Marjorie Taylor Greene, brings him down, he'll go down with honor.

COLLINS: Are you worried that, you know, he is -- he does talk to Donald Trump often that it will influence whether he does ultimately put Ukraine aid on the floor?

BOLTON: I don't know what's going through his mind. But I think a real Speaker of the House is an independent political force. And I think House Republicans generally, for their own safety sake, in the election, if nothing else, need to show that they have integrity, and it's separate and distinct from Donald Trump.

COLLINS: I mean, I guess we've kind of seen House Speakers, who go really and align themselves very closely to Donald Trump, like Kevin McCarthy. It didn't work out for him.

But we've also seen, people like Paul Ryan, who break with Donald Trump a lot. And also, he's not in Congress anymore. I mean, he left.

BOLTON: Right. Well, ultimately, in Washington, if your job security is more important than your principles, as far as I am concerned, that makes you unfit to be a leader.

And everybody goes through testing. Speaker Johnson's going through it now.

COLLINS: On this election integrity thing, Donald Trump's daughter-in- law, and another acolyte of his is, who's an election denier. They're running the Republican National Committee, right now.

And I know you have made clear you're not voting for Donald Trump, come November. But you said that you really, you care a lot about Republicans doing well, in the Senate, Republicans retaking the Senate.

Lara Trump, and they sent out this scripted call to voters, on behalf of the RNC, that was basically saying Democrats committed massive fraud, in the 2020 election, which they didn't.

But I just want everyone to listen to that call that went out to people.


LARA TRUMP, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE CO-CHAIR: I'm sure you agree with co-chair Trump that we cannot allow the chaos and questions of the 2020 election to ever happen again.

We all know the problems. No photo IDs, unsecured ballot drop boxes, mass mailing of ballots and voter rolls chock full of deceased people and non-citizens are just a few examples of the massive fraud that took place.

If Democrats have their way, your vote could be canceled out by someone who isn't even an American citizen.

Can you support us with a special election security gift of 50 or 35 dollars today?


COLLINS: Is that how Republicans win in 2024, with a call like that?

BOLTON: Look, I think this constant focus on the 2020 election, that's obviously obsessing Trump, because he's -- he can't admit that he lost, will cost Republicans at the ballot. I think people want to move on from 2020, even most Republicans, although they don't seem to realize it.

So, this concentration on what happened in the past, I think, will work to Biden's advantage. And he's unpopular enough. He desperately needs it.

COLLINS: And you've said you're going to write someone in, in November.

BOLTON: That's what I did in 2020. And I'll do it again, this November.

COLLINS: Who did you write in, in 2020? You've never revealed that before.

BOLTON: Well, I might as well say it now. I voted for Dick Cheney.


BOLTON: And I'll vote for Dick Cheney again, this November.

COLLINS: You'll write in Dick Cheney?

BOLTON: That's right.

COLLINS: What made you write him in?

BOLTON: Because he was a principled Reaganite conservative, and he still is. Age is no longer a factor in American presidential politics. So, his age doesn't disqualify him. And I think he'd do an immensely better job than either Trump or Biden.

COLLINS: What about his daughter, Liz Cheney?

BOLTON: Well, I like Liz a lot. And maybe someday, she'll get my write-in vote too. But right now, stick with her father. COLLINS: I mean, I just -- people should know their -- that's news right now. You've never revealed who you wrote in, in 2020 before.

BOLTON: Well, I hope it sways the electorate, and prevents both Trump and Biden from being the successful candidate. And if I could start a nationwide write-in campaign, for Dick Cheney, maybe I should do that.

COLLINS: Ambassador John Bolton, great to have you on set tonight.

BOLTON: Glad to be with you.

COLLINS: Thanks for joining us, here on THE SOURCE.

Speaking of what is coming up next week, in Donald Trump's criminal trial, he has gotten his third no, in three days, to halt that trial as he's been trying to do. This appeals hearing today was so quick, it was held in a basement. We'll tell you more in a moment.


Also happening, right now, pomp and pageantry at the White House State Dinner, with a guest list of familiar faces, like Robert De Niro, and the Clintons. We're going to take you behind-the-scenes, of the hottest ticket in Washington, in moments.


COLLINS: From delay, delay, delay, to denied, denied, denied.

Today, Donald Trump's attempt to delay his first criminal trial was shut down, for the third time this week, by a New York appeals court. In all, Trump has tried to pause or delay this case from going forward, 12 times. And all 12 times, he has come up short.


You won't believe this. But Trump's motion today was so abrupt that the appeals court wasn't prepared to accommodate the emergency hearing. So, it had to be held, in the courthouse basement.

Yes. Tables and chairs had to be rearranged into this makeshift courtroom that had restrooms off to the side, and what we are told is this is the first time an accommodation like this has had to be made.

I want to bring in Elliot Williams, CNN's Legal Analyst, and a former federal prosecutor.

Elliot, I mean, just beyond the fact that it was a makeshift courtroom, I'm not sure if you've ever had to argue at one of those. I mean, which delay tactic would you say here, do you believe, has been the most creative, because they've really tried, basically everything.


And, look, Kaitlan, it's important for parties to be able, to raise the motions that they feel they're entitled to. It's common to raise a motion to change the venue of a trial, or to say that a jury has been tainted--


WILLIAMS: --by pre-trial publicity, particularly, where you have famous people who are on trial. That's of course, fine. But this is now truly out of hand.

And I think our friend, George Conway, said it best on the internet that the judges didn't even have time to stop laughing at the motion, because of how silly it was. And at a certain point, the clock is going to run out, and you just have to face your trial.

COLLINS: I mean, can you walk us through today, though, with this latest attempt to delay. Because it only took minutes for the appeals judge to say, no, this isn't going to delay what's supposed to happen on Monday. I mean, can you just break down this latest argument that they were--


COLLINS: --trying to make?

WILLIAMS: Yes, the latest argument just again, stems from the fact that they think that the judge ought to be removed.

Now, they've thrown a few different arguments out, as to why the judge should be removed, one, based on the fact that his daughter is politically connected, or at least works for a Democratic firm. That has been dismissed outright. It is never going to be the case that the employment of the child of a judge is going to lead to a judge's removal.

And then, there was sort of other questions about the judge's issuance of a gag order, in the case, keeping the former President silent, or at least, not speaking publicly about witnesses and other people connected to the case.

Both of those were sort of dismissed outright. Both, on the substance, they are simply not meritorious things to be raising at this point prior to trial.

COLLINS: I mean, it seems like Trump may have run out of options, to try to delay it. I mean, he's talking about this on social media, this morning, saying, on Monday, I'm going to be "forced to sit, GAGGED, before a HIGHLY CONFLICTED & CORRUPT JUDGE, whose hatred for me has no bounds... All legal scholars say it is a sham," and that "BIDEN'S DOJ IS RUNNING THE CASE."

I mean, basically, none of that is true.


COLLINS: I mean, I guess it's true he does have a gag order.


COLLINS: But that's pretty much the only statement there.

WILLIAMS: Forgive the sighing, and the eye-rolling. It's not just that it's not true.

And I'm not even going to take on the substance of the statements, Kaitlan. But if you state a falsehood enough to a public that doesn't understand it, they will start to believe it. Frankly, scholars who study misinformation call that -- they have a name for this. It's called the illusory truth effect.

If you say a lie enough in the public? If I were to say to you, right now, to the listeners who aren't watching on TV, but who are listening on the radio, Kaitlan, how dare you have worn red today? That color upsets me so much. And if I just said it enough times, people might start to believe that you're wearing red, even though everybody knows you have a lovely navy blue suit on. It's just and he--

COLLINS: It's actually Canadian tuxedo, basically.

WILLIAMS: OK. Thank you. Thank you. But needless to say--

COLLINS: It's denim.

WILLIAMS: --needless to say, this is a common, common tactic of the former President, to spin a half-truth into a lie, and very quickly talking about this, I am forced to sit in court statement.

You are, because the Constitution requires it. It is for your own protection, as a defendant, to be able to confront the witnesses against you. And he's just lying to the American people, and they're buying it.

COLLINS: Elliot Williams, thanks for complimenting my outfit. Thanks for joining us.

WILLIAMS: As always. Take care.

COLLINS: Barring any more delays in this, this trial is going to kick off on Monday. And of course, what comes first is not really just the arguments, the opening arguments. Before they get to that, it's jury selection.

So, how do you pick an unbiased jury, in a city that it's fair to say has very strong opinions about the defendant? My next guest knows all too well what this high-stakes process involves, having sought fair trials for public pariahs, like Harvey Weinstein and Rudy Giuliani before.

New York trial attorney, Arthur Aidala, joins me now.

And when prosecutors look at this, the jury matters a lot, because it can change everything. No matter how good the facts are your arguments, the jury can really change this.

ARTHUR AIDALA, TRIAL ATTORNEY: So, I make a really simple analogy, when I lecture to law students. Like, you know, in case you haven't figured out from my last name, I'm

an Italian-American. And on Sunday, right, we make the sauce. And I say, if you don't start with good tomatoes, it doesn't matter what else you put in there. It's not going to be a good sauce. If you don't have a jury pool, that's open-minded enough, and willing to listen, and really evaluate the evidence fairly.

Look, we all come into this, into life. And I tell this to jurors. We all have prejudice. We all grew up differently. We grew up in different parts of Brooklyn or Manhattan wherever you're picking a jury. It's just as that particular prejudice is so overwhelming, that you really can't be fair and impartial.


And it's going to be rough here. But I will tell you, if I was trying this case? I tried a case with Lawrence Taylor, the NFL great. And he's a tremendously commonsensical man. And I had him help me pick the jury. Because Kaitlan, there's no science to this. There's no magic. It's how you feel.

COLLINS: What do you mean? How did he help you?

AIDALA: Well, because the jurors are there. I get up. I speak to them. The prosecutor speak -- well, the prosecutor goes first.

COLLINS: The defendant's in there?

AIDALA: Probably right next to you.

COLLINS: OK. So how does Trump -- OK, Trump's going to care--

AIDALA: Trump could be right there.

COLLINS: --what this jury looks like.

AIDALA: Absolutely.


AIDALA: And look, Trump's -- is he still a New Yorker, like that's a thing that's -- or has he -- is he so disconnected.

But he should be able to look at people, look at their body language, hear their answers, and he should be able to say, that's someone who I think can be fair and impartial.

Someone asked me today, like what kind of jury are you looking for? If I'm defending Donald Trump, I want a real New Yorker. I want an MTA worker. I want a Con Edison worker. I want someone to look through.

And I want someone to look at Michael Cohen, and evaluate his testimony. I want someone to look at Stormy Daniels, and evaluate her testimony. Look at ulterior motives. Look at prior bias. And people who aren't really political, you want to get the political wants out of there. A question you're allowed to ask is where do you get your news from? That's an -- we've asked that in any case.

COLLINS: Which can be pretty revealing?

AIDALA: It can be pretty revealing. You know, a question -- you know, a question -- you know who I want in the jury? The one who goes, I don't really watch the news.

COLLINS: Not someone who says--

AIDALA: I don't watch the news.

COLLINS: --oh, I only read--


COLLINS: --conservative media?


COLLINS: What if all of that comes in?

AIDALA: The prosecutor -- the prosecutor's going to knock them off.


AIDALA: Because you have to look at, it's a chess game.


AIDALA: They go first. They knock off who they want. You knock off.

I just -- I just have to make a clarification because I know how, on your show, you try to be accurate about everything.


AIDALA: And my esteemed colleague, Elliot.

If the judge's daughter lived with him, he would have to recuse himself. There is an ethical -- a judicial ethical law that says if you have a child, living in your home, and you're a judge, who has some sort of stake, in the outcome of your case, you have to recuse yourself.

So, had she been in New York, living in his home, working at that same place? The administrative judge would basically tell him--


AIDALA: --under the laurels of ethics, you have to go.

And Trump's tweet about the DOJ being?

COLLINS: Well, hold on. That's-- AIDALA: Yes.

COLLINS: Well that's interesting, because -- she's a grown adult, we should note. So, she doesn't live with him, like that's been a whole thing.

AIDALA: No. It's only one of the mistake.

COLLINS: But can I ask you another question about the jury, though, because this is important.


COLLINS: This is Trump's first criminal trial. This is the first time he's there, where a jury is going to be there that is deciding his fate.

At some of these, he tries to kind of speak up. He makes very clear to his attorneys, if he doesn't like what the judge is doing, or the prosecutors are saying.

How does he handle that? And how does the judge, who's pretty no- nonsense handle that when he's in the room?

AIDALA: Well, let me just say this about the judge. He has a reputation of being a very fair judge, little bit leaning towards the prosecution, but not the way the judge was in Trump's civil case is, who made no bones about it, like he was the third prosecutor, a plaintiff's attorney in the room.

Judge Merchan is known as being a fair judge, who's a stern judge, and he demands respect. And he's earned that respect.

And I only know one of Trump's lawyers well, Susan Necheles. She is a veteran. She is a spectacular lawyer. The jurors are going to love her. She's a real New Yorker.

And I would -- it's very hard to keep someone like President Trump under control. I must say that I've had clients like that, who want their voices to be heard. And you just tell him, what's in your best interest is to be quiet and just let us do our thing.

But it's going to be hard, picking a fair and impartial jury. I expect it'd take about a week.

COLLINS: All right, we'll see.

Arthur Aidala, thanks so much for that.

AIDALA: Pleasure is all mine.

COLLINS: Up next here, when it comes to abortion, our lead story, last night, Trump backed a federal abortion ban, when he was president. But today, he said something differently. States should make their own decisions on abortion. But here's a state making its own ruling, and he says it goes too far. The Democrat, who is running to be Arizona's next senator is here to

read between the lines.



COLLINS: The political shockwaves, from the Arizona Supreme Court ruling, reviving that Civil War era abortion ban, have thrown yet another wrench into former President Trump's stance on abortion, leaving him once again trying to take kind of every side of the issue.

Today, the former President said it's up to states, to make their own abortion laws. But also that the state's ban went too far too. Trover that for a moment. He says that he ultimately believes Arizona's ban will just work itself out.


DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: That'll be straightened out and as you know it's all about states' rights. That'll be straightened out. And I'm sure that the Governor and everybody else are going to bring it back into reason and that will be taken care of.

For 52 years, people have wanted to end Roe v. Wade to get it back to the states. We did that. It was an incredible thing.

Everybody from the Democrats to Republicans, they wanted to bring it back for 53 years, bring it back to the states.


COLLINS: Of course, a bit of a reality check there. No, not everybody wanted to overturn Roe. Just ask Democrats, even though it's working out for them politically so far.

The former President though, not leaving it there on abortion, he also said that he won't sign a national abortion ban, if he's in the Oval Office again.


REPORTER: Would you sign a national abortion ban if Congress sent it to your desk?



COLLINS: I want to bring in someone whose own race has been jolted by this revived abortion ban, Arizona Democratic Senate candidate, Congressman Ruben Gallego.

Congressman, great to have you here.

REP. RUBEN GALLEGO (D-AZ): Thank you. COLLINS: Just on that last part there, I mean, do you believe Donald Trump when he says that he won't sign a federal abortion ban?

GALLEGO: Oh, absolutely not. You can't trust any of them.


Can't trust Kari Lake, who's already flip-flopped twice and lied about supporting a ban that would jail nurses and doctors who provided abortions, and let alone all the other things they can do, such as stopping abortion pills, which are also used by 60 percent of women. We cannot trust them. We cannot take our chances.

We did take our chances, and that's how we ended up getting these Supreme Court justices that ended up banning abortion.

COLLINS: Well, on the point, though, when Trump says that states should decide this, but also is saying that this ban in Arizona went too far, and he wants leaders, like the Governor, who I should note, of course, is a Democrat. He had endorsed Kari Lake, in that race, when she was running against her. To do something about it? I mean, what do you make of that?

GALLEGO: They're trying to run away from what they've been advocating, this whole time.

Kari Lake, for example, now is saying that she is against this. When she cited the actual statute, which is a statute again, that has no exceptions for rape or incest, when it comes to getting an abortion, would have jailed our doctors and our nurses. And now, because she has seen the outrage, and because she will lie and do whatever she can to win, she is basically flip-flopping on her position. But she cannot be trusted.

COLLINS: So, you don't think she's genuinely changed her position on this?

GALLEGO: Oh, absolutely not. This is a new position because she wants to gain power. And that's all it is.

The only way that we can actually stop this, and have any assurances in Arizona, is that we beat this, at the ballot box, with a ballot initiative that we have, hopefully on the ballot by the time it rolls around, and stopping people, like Kari Lake by supporting campaigns, like my campaign, at gallegoforarizona, to make sure we get out the vote, and people learn about Kari Lake, all the lies that she has done, she's continuing to lie, and the fact that she will be in support of an abortion ban.

COLLINS: Yes, I mean, she's calling on also the governor, and the state legislature, to do something. I should note that they, the Republicans in Arizona, stood in the way of that today, when Democrats did try to repeal this ban.

But I want to ask you about your own party, because President Biden also weighed in on this today. And there was a brief exchange that he had with the reporter about it. This is what he said.


REPORTER: What do you say to the people of Arizona right now who are witnessing a law go in place that dates back to the Civil War era?

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Elect me. I'm in the 20 -- it's the 20th century -- 21st century, not back then. They weren't even a state.


COLLINS: As you know, President Biden has not always been comfortable with abortion. He doesn't use the word often. He didn't actually say it in his State of the Union address.

I wonder what you want to see, from the White House, and how you want to see the President himself speak out on this.

GALLEGO: Well, I think the President has been very clear that if he gets Democratic-controlled Senate and House and, of course the White House back, that we will pass a national codification of Roe, bringing abortion rights back to this country.

I think that is very clear. I think maybe his wording might be different than ours. But they've been very clear about where they stand on this.

They do not want to see Arizona laws on the books, the laws that are going to imprison doctors and nurses that are going to be empowered by radical extremists, and dangerous candidates, like a Kari Lake.

And when we have the right Senate, House and person in the White House, we will be able to pass a real protection of abortion rights for the women in this country.

COLLINS: If that happens, if President Biden is reelected, Democrats take the House, if you are the next senator from Arizona, and the filibuster comes up, would you get vote to get rid of the filibuster?

GALLEGO: Absolutely, especially to preserve abortion rights for women, across this country.

We have women that are leaving states, like Texas, to get life-saving surgeries. We have people that are running away from states like Ohio to Indiana, to get abortion, because they've been raped. We have women that are being unfortunately forced to carry to term, that are victims of rape, all over this country.

If we're serious about protecting women, we're serious about protecting women's right to an abortion? That must mean including reforming the filibuster and passing a national right--

COLLINS: But would you--

GALLEGO: --to abortion. COLLINS: Someone's watching this and they're saying, OK, well, then what happens when it's a Republican in the White House, and a Republican-led Senate? I mean, would you not be worried? Because Kyrsten Sinema has said, that's a slippery slope if we get rid of the filibuster.

GALLEGO: Well, look at where we are right now.

And let's be clear. When the Republicans get to that point, they will do that. They've clearly been abusive of all the processes in the past. And by making this a national issue, then we will -- then Republicans will have to deal every election cycle, whether they're going to do this or not, and have to answer to the women of this country.


And clearly, when the women speak and they vote, and their allies, men that are in support of abortion rights? It has passed in every state. So, I think this is an issue that we can be proudly supportive of, when it comes to women having a right to an abortion. And I don't think we have to run away from it.

COLLINS: Congressman Ruben Gallego, thank you for joining, on such big news in that state.

GALLEGO: Thank you.

COLLINS: Ahead here, tonight, President Biden's former Chief of Staff openly questioning his messaging, as he is running for reelection, also dropping an F-bomb away. Actually it was one or two or three or four F-bombs. We'll tell you what he said after a quick break.


COLLINS: President Joe Biden, today, defending his handling of the economy, as stubbornly high prices are proving to be a quite a bane for his presidency, especially as he is headed towards reelection.


Even tonight, his former Chief of Staff, Ron Klain, who was incredibly loyal and works for him -- has worked for him for a very long time is criticizing the way that he says he's focusing too much on infrastructure.

This is Ron Klain, and according to this audio that was obtained by Politico, he recently said this of Biden. Quote, "I think the president is out there too much talking about bridges."

He went on to add, "He's not a congressman. He's not running for Congress... I think it's kind of a fool's errand. I think" it "also doesn't get covered that much because, look, it's a" effing bridge.

Klain said that "lauding achievements -- especially ones with abstract benefits -- is less persuasive with voters." Let's talk about all of this and see if these pair of Democratic sources that we have on tonight agree with that.

The man who managed Barack Obama's 2012 campaign, Jim Messina is here.

As well as former South Carolina State Rep., and CNN's Political Commentator, Bakari Sellers.

And Bakari, the reality is the last time President Biden was standing in front of a bridge, it was what happened in Baltimore. Before that, we saw him in Selma.

But do you think that Ron Klain has a point when he's talking about how Biden talks about the economy?

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, no, he certainly has a point. I mean, I think it's more of a both-and rather than an either- or. The fact is Ron Klain is right that many people, in their homes, are talking about inflation, they're talking about costs.

I had a conversation today, with Terrance Woodbury, and who is -- would hit strategies, and he talks about Black voters all the time. And Black voters care about the economy.

But the question is, what about the economy that they care about? The number one thing they care about is cost. And so, we're talking about the cost of goods, cost of services, not whether or not the infrastructure, which is in dire need of repair, is being repaired.

COLLINS: Yes, well, and Jim, the reality of this is people know they're still paying too much, because they feel it. I mean, look at the numbers, the inflation numbers that were coming out today. They were stubbornly high. And it raises questions about the Federal Reserve being able to cut interest rates.

I mean, when you're the President, and you're dealing with that in an election year, does any messaging have an impact on that?


What, you know, you really need to do two things, when you're running a presidential campaign. You need to talk about what you've done, to create the credentialing, to create the permission structure, to say what you're going to do. And I agree with Bakari. The Biden campaign needs this shift, and is shifting, to a forward-looking message about what he's going to do.

Because these voters that you're talking about, are sitting there, looking at their gas bills, looking at their grocery bills, and saying, hey, this is hard, who's going to help me here? And they're going to make decisions in the presidential race, based on who they think is on their side.

And so, every presidential reelection campaign is always trying to balance how much do you talk about what you've done, and how much do you talk about the future. And it is the hardest thing.

It's conversation, Barack Obama and I had a lot, because every incumbent wants to brag on their great achievements. But eventually, these voters are going to say, what are you going to do for me in the next four years?

COLLINS: Yes, I mean, Bakari, what does that look like? How does he push the message forward?

I mean, infrastructure was a big deal. It was bipartisan. It was something that the White House thought they'd be touting a lot. But whether or not it translates to voters being enthusiastic, as they're looking at what's going on in the political landscape, right now, what does that look like?

SELLERS: I mean, it looks like what it is. I mean, you can talk about the things you've accomplished, certainly. But you also have to give a forward-looking message. And that's very, very difficult.

And that's the problem that people have with these two candidates, to be extremely honest. Many of these candidate -- many of the people, who are voting for these candidates say they're too old, they're has beens, they're washed up, all of those things.

What Joe Biden has to do, is something he's uniquely prepared to do, particularly with Kamala Harris, which is a forward-looking agenda. We crossed that bridge. We fought for the soul of America. Let me tell you the transition for the next four years. That's what's important.

I mean, Messina's right. Look, we have to talk about the future. This can't be a race, about how old we are, and what happened in the last eight years or whatever it may be from 2016 forward. We have to talk about what it looks like the next four years, and the next 40 years.

COLLINS: Jim, in the reality, as someone who managed a successful campaign before, what do you think is the number one thing that they should be doing, right now, in April, this far out from the election?

MESSINA: Begin to drive the contrast. They have got to get this race to be a choice between Joe Biden and Donald Trump.

I used to tell Barack Obama, if it's a referendum on the incumbent, you usually lose. If it's a choice, you usually win. And so, they've got to get this to a place, where there's an actual choice between these two candidates. And Kaitlan, you're starting to see that. That's why the polls are getting better for Joe Biden. That's where we're starting to shift into a general election message.

But every day, they've got to drive this choice that Bakari and I are talking about, about here's my vision, and here is Donald Trump's vision, and here's why mine's better. If they can get it to that choice, they'll be OK in November.


COLLINS: Jim Messina, Bakari Sellers, great to have you both on tonight.

SELLERS: Thank you.

COLLINS: And speaking of the White House, it's safe to say that inflation is not the top topic tonight. It is instead a night of glitz and glamour, at the People's House. The stars and the dignitaries are out. It is the State Dinner honoring the Prime Minister of Japan.

We're going to dish on the dishes and the guest list, as you see everyone walking in there, with someone who once to put on these extravaganzas, next.



COLLINS: Jeff Bezos, the Clintons and Robert De Niro, walk into a room. It's the State Dining Room. They're among more than 200 guests, who are at the White House, right now, taking in the live music of Paul Simon, at the glitzy White House State Dinner.

The Bidens' official guest of honor tonight is the Japanese Prime Minister and his wife.

They spared no expense, planning every detail meticulously as they do at these meals, transforming the state floor into a vibrant field of flowers to mimic a koi pond, also crafting a menu that blends American and Japanese flavors. The California roll-inspired starter, dry aged ribeye steak with a Shishito Pepper butter for the main, and a salted caramel pistachio cake covered in matcha ganache for the desert.

My next guest knows exactly what it's like to plan these meticulous dinners. I got hungry, just reading that. He planned six of them. Our inside source is Jeremy Bernard, who is the White House Social Secretary under President Obama. And he joins me now.

And it's great to have you here, Jeremy.

I mean, just walk us through this. Because I think a lot of people have never obviously seen a State Dinner. I have, because I was lucky enough to cover the White House. But can you kind of just walk us through what's actually happening, when the moment is now finally here?

JEREMY BERNARD, WHITE HOUSE SOCIAL SECRETARY UNDER PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, it's an odd comparison that I compare it to how pilots go through their checklist.

There's been so much preparation, meetings, months in advance. And we'd go through step by step, every moment, from the arrival that morning, to their departure.

Secret Service, the State Department, every, any department that has a role in the State Dinner, which is quite a few, would be at these meetings. And we would start weeks in advance. And as it got closer, we would actually do walkthrough. Someone would

stand as where the President is. Someone would stand where the visitor is. And so, they really try to make it so there was no room for error, at least as much as humanly possible.

COLLINS: Yes. And there's this moment called booksellers, where you can -- you see where everyone who was walking through, the big guest of honor, who are there.


COLLINS: But also, all the other guests who are there. Robert De Niro is there. We're told that he's at the head table.

How does that work? Who decides who sits where? How do you know that he's the one, who's sitting at the head table, with the President, and the Prime Minister?

BERNARD: Yes, well, there's a lot of discussion. I would be in meetings, usually with senior staff. And then, I'd go over it with the first lady, and make sure she was fine with all the seating.

So, I would say it, after getting the guest lists, which included vetting all the guests. So, it was a process, even to OK each guest. And then, we would put them at different tables, or chairs -- with the first lady. State Department would look at it.

So, it was -- it was pretty, very intentional of where people are sitting. I hope you had a good seat when you were there.

COLLINS: I was just there as a lowly reporter. We didn't have any amazing seats.

But when you look at these events, and how special they are, and just everything that goes into them, all the planning that you're talking about? We see a lot of state visits. You don't see a lot of state dinners.


COLLINS: And I know one of your last ones was actually for the Japanese as well.

I mean, what's your favorite part of -- what was your favorite part of being involved in these?

BERNARD: Well, the entertainment is always great, because not just is it entertainment, and it's great to listen to. It's also the end, and you see the light at the end of the tunnel.

By the time the State Dinner was done, you were so glad it was done. You're also so glad that those weekly that turned into daily, meetings were done. So you really -- I hate to say that the favorite part was the end. But the entertainment and kind of being able to breathe because everything went well.

COLLINS: Well, and tonight the entertainment is Paul Simon.

BERNARD: Yes. In fact, when we did the State Dinner for Japan, we asked Paul Simon. But he had an obligation, a family obligation, he couldn't change.


BERNARD: So he -- the Bidens were able to get him. We tried. He's one of the few entertainers that we asked that couldn't do it.

COLLINS: So who is your favorite entertainer that you had?

BERNARD: Oh, there were so many, because they're so diverse. James Taylor was great.


BERNARD: And that was my first State Dinner which was in the Rose Garden, in early summer. It was beautiful.

And former first lady -- I mean, a former Social Secretary, actually, to Nancy Reagan's, once said to me, your first State Dinner's like your first love. It's your favorite. And that's true.


And that dinner outside -- and one time, the President saw a picture of it on the wall, and goes, that was my favorite dinner.

I said, thank goodness, you picked one of mine--

COLLINS: What a high compliment.

BERNARD: --because I would have really been upset.

COLLINS: Yes. That's a -- that's a very--

BERNARD: Yes, absolutely. Absolutely.

COLLINS: That's got to be the best compliment you could get.

BERNARD: Absolutely.

COLLINS: Jeremy Bernard, it's great to hear all the planning that goes into this. Thank you for coming on and sharing it with us, tonight.

BERNARD: Thank you so much. My pleasure.

COLLINS: I think James Taylor would probably be one of my favorites as well. How could you beat that?

Paul Simon, we'll see how he does tonight.

Thank you all so much for joining us.

"KING CHARLES" starts right now.