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The Source with Kaitlan Collins

Trump Defense Divided On Calling Witness To Discredit Cohen; 2016 Surveillance Video Shows Diddy Assaulting Ex-Girlfriend; Speaker Johnson On Verbal Brawl: "Not A Good Look". Aired 9-10p ET

Aired May 17, 2024 - 21:00   ET




ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: If Melania Trump is watching this, what would you want her to know?


COOPER: Or say to her?

MCDOUGAL: Yes. What can you say, except I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I wouldn't want it done to me. I'm sorry.


COOPER: That does it for this Special Edition of AC360, The Karen McDougal Interview.

The news continues on CNN. Have a good night.


I have brand-new reporting, on a tense divide over, who might take the stand next, at Trump's trial. My lead source has extraordinary insight, first, as a top DOJ prosecutor, now as one of America's go-to attorneys for high-profile clients, most recently, Britney Spears.

And critics, tonight, are calling for a Supreme Court Justice to step aside from Trump's appeal for immunity, after Justice Alito admits a symbol of so-called Stop the Steal was flying in front of his house, just days after January 6th. He says his wife is to blame for the upside-down American flag.

There's also a new fallout, tonight, from a shocking CNN exclusive. Sean Diddy Combs caught on camera, violently assaulting his then- girlfriend, a beating that he previously denied. Diddy's former assistant will join me live.

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

Fresh off of a cliffhanger, in the courtroom, Donald Trump is back on the campaign trail, tonight. He's about to speak at a Republican dinner, in Minnesota. We're monitoring that for any news. But the former President flew there, from Florida, after attending his youngest son Barron's high school graduation. That's the reason he was not here, in Manhattan, in court today, after Justice Juan Merchan granted an off-day, so he could do so.

But shortly before the judge adjourned court, he made clear that the end of this whole trial could be quite close. As we here, at THE SOURCE, have been digging into what or, I guess, I should rather say who could trigger the next dramatic moment in court.

I've learned tonight that there's an internal divide, among Trump's legal team, over whether or not to call Robert Costello, as a witness. That would be Michael Cohen's one-time legal adviser, though he says not his lawyer, who claimed publicly that Michael Cohen is lying about key claims that he made about Donald Trump on the stand.

That decision, which we are told is still up in the air, as of tonight, and remains to be seen what they will ultimately decide, comes after we saw Trump's attorney, his lead attorney here, Todd Blanche, have Cohen on the ropes, trying to chip away at his credibility, inside that courtroom, essentially painting Cohen as a liar that the jury shouldn't trust.

I've also learned about a notable spectator, at the Trump trial, yesterday, not in the rows of Republicans, who were up near the defense table that we saw later on television, defending him, but one of Trump's co-defendants actually, in the State of Georgia. Jeffrey Clark was seen towards the back of the room.

Yes, that Jeffrey Clark, you know? The senior Justice Department official, who Trump nearly made Attorney General, but backed off after others threatened to resign in protest of that decision, the one who wanted to leverage the agency and its powers to help Trump overturn the election results in 2020.

As far as Clark goes, in this case, he is just part of the sideshow, not really a main focus of the case. But the real showdown, at the heart of this, the alleged crime is a campaign finance violation and a cover-up.

My lead source, tonight, has been called one of the sharpest attorneys ever at the Justice Department. He was a prosecutor on the DOJ's Campaign Finance Task Force. And he's currently in high demand, as one of America's top attorneys, representing clients including Steven Spielberg, Sean Penn, and most recently, Britney Spears.

Mathew Rosengart, welcome to THE SOURCE. This is your first time here. It's great to have you.


COLLINS: I mean, I could ask you a lot of questions about those three clients.

But on this case at hand, as it stands right now, we haven't heard your thoughts on this. What do you make of where it is, at this moment?

ROSENGART: I called this a few weeks ago, or it seems like months ago, before the case started, a lawyer's case. And what I meant by that is a case that really, and it may sound odd, but somewhat unusually, in a criminal case, comes down to who is a better lawyer.

And I say that because the government really should win every case that it charges. And as a lawyer's case, it comes down to preparation, skills in the courtroom. And that's the difference-maker.

Right now, given what we saw last week, I think it's a toss-up, whereas going into any case, it really should generally be a shoo-in for the government.

COLLINS: And what -- at what point did it become a toss-up, in your view?

Because we saw, the first day that Todd Blanche had a chance at cross- examining Michael Cohen, he didn't really land any kind of knockout blows at his credibility. Michael Cohen stayed very even-tempered, even as yesterday was heating up.

Where was that turning point for you?


ROSENGART: I think it was a close call. And I'm on record, although I don't like to make predictions, going into the case. But after Wednesday afternoon, I think it's a toss-up, and I think the defense has momentum going in.

That can change in a heartbeat. That's the interesting thing about trials. It's going to be very interesting, to see how the prosecution, and they've got a weekend to deal with it, will rehabilitate Michael Cohen. But they've got their work cut out for them.

COLLINS: If you were on the prosecution, I mean, what would you do, when you get the chance to have Michael Cohen, to re-question him after Trump's team is done with him?

ROSENGART: Well, the first thing I do is I would shed him, and I would shed myself. And what I mean by that is the government was caught unaware. And that's something that never should happen. Either Michael Cohen should have told them about the text messages, even though it was a long time ago, or they should have, through their preparation.

And one of the things about being the government, to my point earlier, is that you've got all the time in the world, prior to a case, in determining whether to charge a case, and when to charge a case, and how to charge a case, to know everything. And they were caught unaware.

Now, what will they do to rehabilitate Michael Cohen and their own credibility with the jury, which is essential? They are going to have to come up with an explanation. I think Michael Cohen hinted at what the explanation is going to be. I thought it was weak. But it was, well, we talked about other things, during that conversation as well, that 96-second conversation. So, it's going to have to be something like that. Or maybe there's another surprise.

COLLINS: Yes. And the question is does the jury find that credible, that in 96 seconds, you could have both of those conversations.

But I mean, this is -- the Michael Cohen moment was certainly a standout moment. But this is bigger than that.

And I keep thinking back to the other testimony that we heard, from David Pecker, from Hope Hicks, everyone who tied this back to the election, saying this is very clearly -- that David Pecker said that they didn't want the story, from Karen McDougal, to embarrass Trump or hurt his election chances.

Hope Hicks said that Trump's opinion in the White House was better to deal with the Stormy Daniels story after he was president than before.

I mean, do you think the prosecution has done enough to prove the campaign finance violation charges (ph)?

ROSENGART: I hate to sound too much like a lawyer. But the answer is it depends. Potentially, yes, in part because the campaign finance statute, unlike very specific, and somewhat Byzantine federal campaign statutes, the type that I used to prosecute, is very vague here.

And I've got to note, just so I get it correctly. New York Election Law 17-152 prohibits conspiracies to promote the election of a specific candidate through unlawful means.

I don't know, sitting here today, exactly what that means. It's broad, however. And that's very good, because it gives the government, the opportunity to argue that what happened here falls within the scope of that statute.

COLLINS: We've been hearing this repeated refrain, from the Republicans, who've been coming and hanging out in those first two rows, behind the defense table, about that they don't think that they've -- that they've made -- that they've met their burden, that they've proven this case.

Just a little bit, you know, as my Attorney General from my home state--

ROSENGART: Not shocking that they said that.

COLLINS: Well let's -- I want everyone to listen to it, because we put them, several of them together. It starts with the Attorney General, from my home state, commenting on this.


STEVE MARSHALL, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF ALABAMA: There is no basis for this crime.

REP. NICOLE MALLIOTAKIS (R-NY): Here you have a made-up -- made-up charge.

REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): This is a made-up crime.

REP. LAUREN BOEBERT (R-CO): What is the crime? Because everyone in this court has not been informed of what the crime is.


COLLINS: I think everyone's kind of walking away there, at the end, as Lauren Boebert was talking. I'm not sure what happened there.

But as the prosecution, meeting their burden here, do they need to spell out that specific statute for the jury, which includes two attorneys, I should note?

ROSENGART: I think that they do, because alluding to something that you said before, the government, really all it has is its credibility. The judge looks to the government for credibility. The jury looks to the government for credibility. They're held to a higher standard.

And what the government must do, in my opinion, and what they failed to do so far, is take ownership of their problems, to take ownership of complex legal issues, to take ownership of credibility issues with witnesses, which I think they failed to do, as we saw on Wednesday with Michael Cohen.

So, I think it's very important for the government not to run away from their problems, including their circuitous legal theory that they put together here, but rather take ownership of it. And it's now more important than ever, because I thought -- I think they've lost credibility with the jury based upon what happened on Wednesday.

COLLINS: That -- do you really think that one moment undermined the other days, where like, I mean, you would see David Pecker get up there, Keith Davidson, they had some--


COLLINS: Even the Jeff McConney, from the Trump Organization had some strong testimony.

ROSENGART: I don't think that that one moment will overwhelm the rest of the case. But what -- and again, we'll see what happens, over the next couple of days. The government now has time to regroup.


But what does happen, again alluding to something you said, there's a zeitgeist in any case, and there's a rhythm to any case. And if the government loses faith -- excuse me. If the jury loses faith in the government and loses faith in Michael Cohen, it's a big problem for the government that has an overlapping effect. And it could control what the jury thinks about the rest of the government's case. At the end of the day, juries often, I think, do the right thing. And in doing the right thing, they determine who do we like? Who is most credible? Question is has the government lost too much of its credibility to come back and win the case.


We also have two other friends, sitting here, listening to this fascinating conversation.

CNN's Senior Legal Analyst, and former Assistant U.S. Attorney, Elie Honig.

Also, retired New York State Supreme Court Justice, Jill Konviser.

Elie, what do you make of what his view of where this stands, and what the prosecution needs to do, in the next few days?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: So, I agree with Mathew. I think the moment we saw with Michael Cohen was devastating. And I think it's really hard to recover from that.

I mean, as Mathew said, your credibility is everything. And one moment like that, one moment, where the jury is going to conclude either this witness was lying, or was sorely mistaken? That is devastating. And I think juries will make a decision, based on one moment like that, that sticks in people's head.

Think about presidential debates. How many presidential debates through history, do we remember for one moment, right? And I think juries tend to be the same. One visceral moment of collapse like that, I think, can haunt you through to the verdict.

COLLINS: Is that true, Judge? Is that how you -- what you've seen?

JILL KONVISER, FORMER NEW YORK STATE SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: I think, generally, you're both correct.

I think the difference here is that everyone knew going in, everyone in that room knew going in, who Michael Cohen was. The bar was very low. They knew him to be a liar, a convicted liar. I don't think--

COLLINS: Because other witnesses had testified to that.

KONVISER: Because everyone -- right. Not only that. They probably read about it. Everyone knew about it. Doesn't mean it disqualifies -- disqualifies someone from being on the jury. So, I think, in this case, under these facts, it's slightly different.

But I do think that People need to, through their redirect examination, do some of the heavy-lifting here, to explain it, if they can.

COLLINS: Can we talk about what -- I mean, there's still a question, right now, from what I've heard, from both sides of whether or not they're going to call this other witness, on the -- for the defense, Robert Costello.

He is someone who, you know, the jury saw a text from Costello, to Michael Cohen, basically saying, after Michael Cohen is very clearly in legal trouble, I could be your back-channel to Donald Trump. Hire me as your attorney. And through Rudy Giuliani, we'll talk to Trump. He'll protect you. Stay strong. All of these comments.

There's a divide though, because it kind of feels like a rabbit hole, to bring him in, at this point in the case.

I mean, what's your outside view of that?

ROSENGART: I agree with that. I'm generally conservative. I don't think the decision is going to be left up entirely to the Trump defense team. I think Trump's going to make the decision. And I think what we've seen from him, is more as more, as a trial lawyer, I think Elie would agree, you want to be generally conservative.

The defense has momentum now, as a result of what they did to Michael Cohen. It's hard for me to predict what they'll do. Maybe they think Costello would be icing on the cake. He's a forceful person. He's a former federal prosecutor as well. On the other hand, they might want to just lay low, and let Michael Cohen be the last witness they've heard from.

COLLINS: Yes. I mean, the prosecution has Robert Costello's emails that sounded a little Tony Soprano-like, when you read them, when you were reading them in court.


COLLINS: I had my binoculars. I was looking at them. And he was -- he kept saying, my friend's client--

HONIG: Right.

COLLINS: --referring to Donald Trump, you know.

HONIG: Right.

COLLINS: Let me know if you have a message for my friend.

HONIG: I'm a hard-no, on calling Robert Costello, if I'm on the defense team here. Why? You don't get enough out of him, first of all.

If he's going to say, well Rudy wanted a pardon and -- I mean, excuse me. Well, Michael Cohen wanted a pardon? That's already come up. We already have evidence to that. If he's going to undermine Michael Cohen, in other ways? We have emails between them already.

Calling Robert Costello gives you very little upside, as the defense, and a lot of downside. The last thing you want is to have Robert Costello get blown up, the way Michael Cohen just got blown up. And then, that's the last thing the jury takes in. There's no reason to do it. It's, I think, if they call him, it's reckless, and they're asking for trouble. COLLINS: The judge has also been a singular point of focus for Donald Trump here. I mean, he rails against him, and calls him corrupt every single day.

There was, you know, CNN learned tonight, that this ethics complaint that was filed against him, because he donated $35, to a group that tries to help like Democrats. It was dismissed against him last summer, and it was dismissed as what's called a caution.

Can you just -- what is that? What's the significance of that?

KONVISER: Well, I'll say a few things. One is $35. He shouldn't have done it. Like we can all agree with that. $35, however, is de minimis.

There is a New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct that reviews complaints of judges, and ensures that any complaints are investigated, where they should be and then there's action taken. I used to be a member of that commission. And the lowest level that they can -- the lowest sentence, if you would, is a caution, which is what he got. Essentially, don't do it.


And that came on the heels of the ethics -- an Ethics Advisory Committee advisory opinion, which said this is -- anything less than $50 is not anything we need to worry about. And it also came on the heels of Professor Stephen Gillers saying there's no reason to recuse yourself here.

So, yes, you're right. Donald Trump goes in front of the cameras, every day, and he rails against the only person, who is not covered in the gag order that he can, who is the judge.

But think about it for a minute. The judge has issued dozens and dozens of opinions, decisions, rulings. This is what he's worrying about, the $35? Judge Merchan has hit it down the middle, fairly throughout.


KONVISER: So, he's picking on the one thing he can.

COLLINS: Yes, but that's not how Trump sees it, or frames it, or certainly would not acknowledge.


COLLINS: But what do you -- I mean, how does that -- could that -- obviously, Trump's legal team does not want him doing that publicly out there, every single day. If Trump's convicted here, which we don't know, this is the judge, who will sentence him.


ROSENGART: That's right. That's right.

COLLINS: I mean, as an attorney, is that like your worst nightmare for a client?

ROSENGART: It absolutely is. But there's only so much control that they have. It certainly is your worst nightmare.

And the really interesting question is going to be whether or not he testifies, in this case. I mean, to me, that's the backroom discussion. That's the ultimate discussion. His lawyers do not want him to testify. Will they get to make that ultimate decision? No, it's up to him.

COLLINS: Elie, I have to ask you about Jeffrey Clark thing in the courtroom. Because I--


COLLINS: We saw Carter Page. There are other allies. Rudy Giuliani's son has been coming in.

But Jeff Clark being there, and someone stressed to me, he was not with the Trump entourage. He was there on his own accord.

HONIG: OK, as a free agent. That really caught my attention. I didn't realize he was there until I just saw the open to the show.

Let's just remember who Jeffrey Clark is, in the whole scheme of things. This is the guy, who was a very high-ranking DOJ official, under Donald Trump. In the closing days, when Trump was trying to steal the election, Jeffrey Clark was trying to work a back-channel, and get himself installed as the temporary Attorney General.

And what he did is he drafted a memo that was false, fraudulent. He drafted a memo that he wanted DOJ to send to the State of Georgia, saying we have detected potentially significant election fraud in Georgia. He wanted to send it to the Georgia legislature, and say you need to convene a convention to reconsider your electors. That is an outrage.

And I will say if Donald Trump becomes president, heaven help us, if he makes Jeffrey Clark, the Attorney General. I don't think he ever gets confirmed by the Senate. But I mean, this guy is -- he's under indictment now, in Georgia, Jeffrey Clark.


HONIG: And for good reason.

COLLINS: He's pleaded not guilty. But we certainly could see him in a second Trump term. We'll see.

Elie Honig, Judge Konviser, Mathew Rosengart, great to have you, joining us.

KONVISER: Thank you.

COLLINS: Up next here, tonight, we have new backlash that is coming after the discovery of what we just mentioned at the top of the show. That Stop the Steal symbol that is widely recognized by people who participated in January 6th. This time it was seen outside the home of a Supreme Court Justice, Samuel Alito.

New calls are coming tonight, for Alito, to recuse himself from two key January 6-related decisions that are before the High Court.

But first, we do have this exclusive and extremely disturbing, frankly, video, showing rapper Sean Diddy Combs, violently assaulting his then-girlfriend, an attack he previously denied.



COLLINS: Tonight, CNN has exclusively obtained 2016 surveillance video, showing Sean Diddy Combs physically assaulting his then- girlfriend, Cassie Ventura, in the hallway of a Los Angeles hotel.

I want to warn you, because we're going to show you this video, and it is disturbing.


COLLINS: At the beginning, you see Ventura, in the hotel elevator, barefoot, trying to put her shoes on.

And then, around the corner, here in the video, as she's got her bags with her, comes Diddy, holding a towel around his waist, running down the hall. He grabs her, by the back of her neck, and he throws her to the floor, still holding his towel close with the -- on the other hand, as he turns to kick her.

Seconds after that, where you see him grabbing her bags, here in the hallway, he's seen here, sitting down, in a chair, grabbing an object off the table, we believe it's a vase, and throwing it at her.

This incident is important, and it matches the allegations that are in a now-settled lawsuit that she filed against him, last November, allegations about what happened at these since-closed InterContinental Hotel in Los Angeles.

Diddy's attorney says that there was no admission of wrongdoing, as a result of that settlement. And I should note that he has previously vehemently denied these allegations.

But after CNN obtained this video, and published it today, Ventura's now-husband appeared to respond on Instagram, posting a message, addressed to the women and children on there.

He says in part, and I'm quoting him now, "Men who hit women aren't men. Men who enable it and protect those people aren't men... To all the survivors, your stories are real, and people believe you... To the abusers, you're done, you're not safe anymore, you're not protected anymore," and "the men by your side are just as weak."

I want to bring someone in, who knows Diddy, personally. Suzi Siegel was his former assistant, during the time that he began dating Cassie Ventura, the singer.

And I should note you became his assistant, as a part of the reality show, to work for him.


COLLINS: Everyone remembers watching that.

I mean to -- well, first, just, I mean, what is it like for you just see this video that came out today?


SIEGEL: I felt sick. And I felt violently angry. And I felt like, I'm sure a lot of men and women feel looking at that video, that it's so disturbing. But that the video doesn't lie.

COLLINS: I mean, when I watched it, what stood out to me, initially, after Elizabeth Wagmeister got it was, she's barefoot, in the beginning. And it's like she was so quickly running out of the room, to get to, to the elevator that she didn't even put her shoes on yet.

SIEGEL: I mean, that's terror. That's what you would do if there was a fire. Right? You would just run out, grab what you could. So, I can only imagine, looking at that, the fear that she felt, she had to get out of that room in bare-feet, in order to be safe or protect herself.

COLLINS: I mean, you worked closely with him?

SIEGEL: I did. I was his assistant between 2008 and 2009. And they were dating, when I worked for him.

COLLINS: And what was -- well, what was he like? And what were -- what did you observe about them, at this time?

SIEGEL: I observed nothing that would lead me to believe or I -- there was no scuttlebutt about it. I never saw him speak harshly to her, or be abusive toward her, or anything like that. I rode in the limos with them. I went to parties with them.

I guess what I would say is, even though I never saw anything that could corroborate what's in that lawsuit, and what we just saw, there was not one cell in my body that was surprised.

COLLINS: Why not?

SIEGEL: It's going to sound a little bit weird, because I don't have any facts, right? And nobody's going to call me to testify. But I would say that it's woman's intuition. I would say that I was around him a lot, and I got a feeling for who he was. I didn't see anything that could get him in trouble.

But I think that the power dynamic, in a situation like that, especially her, at the beginning of her career, so young and beautiful and talented, and she hooked herself, or became involved with somebody who had so much power. And I felt that working for him. I'm sure that the whole team felt that. And I mean, that's great, he's a mogul. So of course, he's the big boss.

But I think that you could imagine, certainly, in my interactions with him, you could imagine how that would dissipate, and sort of seep into every aspect of his life, and especially his relationships.

COLLINS: Yes. Because I mean, she was 19, I believe, and he was 37, when they first began dating.

SIEGEL: Right. So, imagine how that would be. And then he's rich. And not only is he rich, but he controls your career. And all you want, in your career, right is she's an artist. She wants to make music. She really was an artist, is an artist. And now, all of a sudden, she's with somebody, who could make that happen for her. And it doesn't happen.

COLLINS: So, you don't -- you don't -- it wasn't anything specific. You just -- you got a strange, uncomfortable feeling from him, or?

SIEGEL: I mean, it was -- I think it's more to do with the way that he treated people. Again, nobody was mistreated, that I saw. I didn't feel mistreated.

But it was very clear to me. Again, this is intuition, right? This is what we pick up, as women, and humans who are smart and have been around. He just didn't see your humanity, when he looked at you. I felt -- it felt very obvious to me that everyone was just sort of there, to be used, that he can get the most out of you.

For example, I went to go work for him. I'm a pretty senior person. It was sort of an odd thing. I have a fancy master's degree, whatever, who cares. But it was, you know, he wanted to get me for as cheaply as he could. And most people would just dive in and take it, right, because you think that you're going to get something by working for him.

COLLINS: And I wonder how that video which, he denied these allegations. And those allegations were in the lawsuit. I mean, he's facing five other civil lawsuits--


COLLINS: --that are accusing him of a range of sexual misconduct and illegal activity. Everyone remembers the raid, at his homes--

SIEGEL: Of course.

COLLINS: --in Miami and New York, where it was the -- the part of the Department of Homeland Security that deals with human trafficking.


COLLINS: And I should note, he hasn't been charged with it anything.

SIEGEL: Of course.

COLLINS: They've maintained that he hasn't done anything wrong. But it must be really strange to see what we see now, in black and white, on that video, and to be someone who had worked for him.

SIEGEL: Well, there you go. That's how you know that -- your intuition is right. Right? I didn't see that proof. Obviously, I saw it with the rest of America, today. But when I saw it, I knew that that was something that he could be capable of.

And he's -- he's a genius. He's brilliant. He's one of the best minds I've ever been around. But I think when the power differential is so awful, and you just can get away with anything--


SIEGEL: --that you want.

COLLINS: Suzi Siegel, thank you for coming on to talk about that.

SIEGEL: Thank you so much.

COLLINS: And I should note that the Grammy Award-winning songwriter, and one of Cassie's close friends, Tiffany Red, is going to be on CNN, in just a little bit. She'll be joining Laura Coates, tonight, at 11 o'clock. So, make sure you watch that.


Meanwhile, tonight, another story that we are tracking closely, here at THE SOURCE. That upside-down American flag, flown, outside the home of the Supreme Court Justice, Samuel Alito, is now behind the growing calls, for him to recuse himself, from the monumental 2020 election- related decisions that the court is about to make.

He is not denying it. But we will tell you how he is explaining this.


COLLINS: Tonight, top Democrats are calling for the Supreme Court Justice, Samuel Alito, to recuse himself, from all cases, involving the 2020 election, including that major decision that we are waiting for, right now, on whether and to what scope former President Donald Trump has immunity.


CNN has now confirmed this New York Times reporting that this upside- down American flag flew, outside of the Justice's home, just a 11 days after January 6th. The New York Times was the first to report this story, and to explain why this is so notable.

And if you don't know why, here it is. An upside-down flag, an American flag, is a symbol that is popular with Trump supporters, and is a known symbol of 2020 election denialism. We saw a lot of it, in those days, after the election in 2020, leading up to January 6th.

Today, after the New York Times published this story, Justice Alito did not deny it, in a statement, but told Fox News that his wife was responsible. He said that Martha-Ann Alito did this, over a disagreement with a neighbor, who had displayed an F-Trump sign.

It's remarkable.

Here tonight, to talk about all of this is, former New York City Mayor, Bill de Blasio, soon to be working with the Biden campaign, I should note.

Former Deputy Assistant to President Biden, Jamal Simmons.

And CNN's Political Commentator, S.E. Cupp.

And Jamal, I mean, even if you take him at his word, the Justice here, that this was his wife doing -- his wife's doing, after she got into an altercation with a neighbor that was ugly, that they said things to her, and then she did this. I mean, he's not denying knowing the symbolism of what that meant, especially in such a fraught time.


And what's disturbing about all of this, and you can include what's happened, with Justice Thomas as well. It is so obvious that they are being conflicted -- they have conflicts here. And we need to find a way, to have a Supreme Court that people have confidence in.

I am afraid that in the Trump era, this is just becoming the norm of how we do business, where all of the things that we took as sort of customs, no longer apply.

You have members of Congress, who are calling each other names and talking about their appearance.

You've got Supreme Court justices that are hanging out with donors, and before they have rulings to make.

And then, you have a Supreme Court justice, whose wife is flying a flag upside-down, in a way that I'm sure every conservative, certainly every conservative jurist knows, this is inappropriate.

COLLINS: Yes, I mean, his statement, he's not denying that this happened. And he's not even kind of disavowing the message that that could have sent, even if it is truly over a dispute with a neighbor.

BILL DE BLASIO, (D) FORMER MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY: This goes beyond any partisan consideration. I mean, this is the most important legal body on Earth, the Supreme Court of the United States of America. And you cannot have a semblance of conflict there. And I think actually, Democrats and Republicans, who have been on that court, would agree on that, over the generations.

So now we have two justices, who have overt conflicts. And meanwhile, the court is trying to resist the kind of ethics rules that everyone else in government has to live by. It makes no sense.

And I actually want to remind everyone, the American public does not believe that election was stolen. Almost two-thirds of Americans believe that the 2020 election was the legitimate election. And obviously, it was.

So, to have a Supreme Court justice, taking a political stand, right there, unacceptable, unprecedented, out of step with the American people, and then acting like that's not a conflict? It is. So, you know, what would be great? If he voluntarily recused himself, and showed an honorable approach, that might give people some faith in our institutions again.

COLLINS: Well, and I think, you know, when -- you mentioned Clarence Thomas, I mean, you think of Clarence Thomas' wife, Ginni Thomas.


COLLINS: And her efforts in support of people around January 6th.

CUPP: Yes. First of all, that picture makes me nauseous, generally.


CUPP: Generally. The upside-down flag has serious meaning, both before and after January 6th, and it's literally makes me nauseous.

To see it on the lawn of a Supreme Court justice is deeply, deeply troubling.

And the point is that she knows better. He's been a Justice for 18 years. She knows better than to do that. So does Ginni Thomas. They all know better, so does Sam Alito -- Alito, know better than to abide this. So that's troubling.

But I think the problem here is? And people are going to say, oh, why is everything Trump's fault? But you have to trace this to Trump, because that flag was flying for Trump, because Trump said that the election was stolen.

Trump has cheapened so many of our institutions, including the meaning of democracy. He's made it cheap. He's cheapened the importance of our legislative body and Congress. That's why people are acting like this in Congress, because it's cheap now.

It doesn't have the meaning or value that it did before, because he doesn't care about any of it. It's all for his use, like it's a Monopoly board game. If it lines his pockets, and if it gets out of his way, as he's trying to get power, then it's fine. Anything else is useless to him.

And I think that's had a big effect, not just Congress, democracy, the Supreme Court. I mean, the ripple effects, we are seeing them daily.

COLLINS: Yes. But I think the two decisions that are coming -- that are before the court are massive. And they're both related to January 6th, to a degree.

[21:40:00] Obviously, Trump's immunity case, but also, the other case that is about what the January 6th rioters can be charged with, in an obstruction statute. I mean, these are consequential decisions that Justice Alito, as of this moment, is part of making.

SIMMONS: These are consequential decisions. They're the most consequential, because the question is not just about an individual moment.

The question is, are we going to have a country, where we are governed by rules, customs, laws that we all can agree upon? And even if we have arguments, those arguments are going to occur in a way that doesn't lead people to throttling each other on the streets, right? It's supposed to be the point of politics.

Listen, I've been in some rough and tumble campaigns. I have lobbed grenades over the wall, rhetorically, right, at people, and I've had them shot back at me. But I think we all know, at the end of the day that when it's over, we say congratulations to the winner. We shake hands, we go out, maybe even have a beer together, down the road, and we fight another day.

DE BLASIO: And you look what we're seeing now is an extremism. And it's not in concert with where the American people are. I think this is the big, big story here.

When a Supreme Court justice is calling into question, the legitimacy of an American election? And again, where the vast majority of Americans say wait a minute, now, that was a legitimate election, Joe Biden won by over 7 million votes? What that sets up is a new recognition among the American people of what they care about.

Now, I think in the end -- I'm a progressive, I'm a Democrat. But I think there is a moderate core, to the American experience, to the American political reality. And people look at something like this, and they say, that's so far outside the mainstream. And I actually think this is going to hurt Republicans.

CUPP: Well let me just counter that.

DE BLASIO: I think it's going to hurt them in the elections.

CUPP: Because I agree with you, obviously. I agree with you completely.

However, I don't think voters care about this, right? When they're going home, and they can't afford gas and groceries, and they haven't gotten a raise in five years, and there's other stuff. This isn't really the stuff they're thinking about.

I think there's a high-level argument about the threat to democracy that we can have, because we're comfortable, OK? We're not worried about our paychecks, right?

DE BLASIO: Yes. CUPP: I think for a lot of other people, this is kind of like, noise, the sort of the -- the stuff of the elites, because we have the -- we have the liberty--

DE BLASIO: I hear you.

CUPP: --of worrying about those.

DE BLASIO: May I challenge--

CUPP: It is worrisome. But I don't think it's a voter issue.

DE BLASIO: May I challenge the distinguished gentlewoman?

CUPP: Yes, you may.

COLLINS: Yes, you may.

DE BLASIO: Who is a -- who is a wonderful commentator--

COLLINS: Sometime.


DE BLASIO: --and knowledgeable.


DE BLASIO: And I would only say this. It brings it back to the Supreme Court.

CUPP: Yes.

DE BLASIO: Supreme Court equals the decision to take away a woman's right to choose.

CUPP: Yes.

DE BLASIO: So I would say--

CUPP: The stakes are high.

DE BLASIO: Well, not only that. I'm saying I think the signal here is the Supreme Court as an extremist reality that has done something--

CUPP: Yes.

DE BLASIO: --unprecedented in American history, taken away a fundamental right.

CUPP: Yes.

DE BLASIO: And this election will hinge largely on the question of a woman's right to choose. I fundamentally believe that. We've seen that in 2022, 2023, 2024.

CUPP: I think so (ph).

COLLINS: Yes, I mean, they make massive decisions that--


DE BLASIO: So, the conversation is once again about the Supreme Court.

CUPP: That's the tie.

DE BLASIO: And that's where it becomes electoral.

CUPP: You're not wrong.

COLLINS: Mayor de Blasio, Jamal Simmons, S.E. Cupp, always great to have all of you.

Up next, if there wasn't enough chaos?

See how polite everyone was there, disagreeing?

DE BLASIO: We could do it.

COLLINS: Not happening on Capitol Hill. Brace yourself for what's coming next.


REP. JASMINE CROCKETT (D-TX): You are the one talking about. I just--


REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): I think your fake eyelashes are messing up what you're reading.

CROCKETT: No, ain't nothing messing.

REP. JAMES COMER (R-KY): Hold on. Hold on.



COMER: Order.




COLLINS: Tonight, even Speaker Mike Johnson is acknowledging that things got out of hand, at a House Oversight hearing that really looked more like an episode of reality television than it did lawmakers conducting, well, oversight.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. MIKE JOHNSON (R-LA): It was not a good look for Congress. And we all, I think, need to control the emotions better and get the job done. That's what we're trying to do here.


COLLINS: That might be the understatement of the year.

This hearing was ostensibly about Attorney General, Merrick Garland. But it quickly devolved into personal attacks, deeply personal attacks, with Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, criticizing Congresswoman Jasmine Crockett's appearance, prompting a response, from Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.


CROCKETT: Do you know what we're here for? You know we're here about--



TAYLOR GREENE: I don't think you know what you're here for.

CROCKETT: --President. Well you are the one talking about. I just--


TAYLOR GREENE: I think your fake eyelashes are messing up what you're reading.

CROCKETT: No, ain't nothing messing.

COMER: Hold on. Hold on.



COMER: Order.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Chairman, would you please--


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's beneath even you, Ms. Greene.

COMER: Order.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: --regain order of your committee.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's beneath even you.

COMER: Order.

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): I would like to move to, to take down Ms. Greene's words.


OCASIO-CORTEZ: That is absolutely unacceptable. How dare you attack the physical appearance of another person?

COMER: Meeting will suspend. Meeting with suspend.

TAYLOR GREENE: Are your feelings hurt?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Move her words down.


OCASIO-CORTEZ: Oh -- oh, girl. Baby girl.

TAYLOR GREENE: Oh, really.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Don't even play with me.

TAYLOR GREENE: Baby girl? I don't think so.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: We're going to -- we are going to move and we're going to take your words down.

Thank you very much.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I second that motion.


COLLINS: Crockett is responding, saying that Congresswoman Greene is a racist, and she's also facing her own backlash for this comment.


COMER: Ms. Crockett.

CROCKETT: I'm just curious. Just to better understand your ruling. If someone, on this committee, then starts talking about somebody's bleach blonde bad-built butch body, that would not be engaging in personalities, correct?

COMER: A what now?

REP. ANNA PAULINA LUNA (R-FL): Chairman, I make a -- I make a motion to strike those words.

CROCKETT: I'm trying to find clarification.


COMER: I don't -- I don't think that's a--


COMER: --part of it.

CROCKETT: I'm trying to find clarification on what--


COMER: I didn't--

PAULINA LUNA: Motion to strike those words.

COMER: I had no idea what you just said.

PAULINA LUNA: We're not going to -- we're not going to do this. Look, you guys, earlier literally just--

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, you just -- you just voted to do it.

CROCKETT: I'm trying to get clarification.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: --so you don't want to talk about it.

CROCKETT: You just voted to do it.


COMER: Order. Order.

PAULINA LUNA: --Marjorie.

CROCKETT: I'm trying to get clarification.


PAULINA LUNA: Look it, calm down. Calm down.

CROCKETT: No, no, no, no, because this is what you all do.

PAULINA LUNA: I will like to get through proceeding.

COMER: All right.

CROCKETT: So I'm trying to get clarification.

COMER: Hey, Ms. Crockett, you're not recognized.


COMER: Ms. Crockett.


PAULINA LUNA: I can't hear you with your yelling.


CROCKETT: And you don't want me to be--

PAULINA LUNA: Calm down.


PAULINA LUNA: Can you please calm down?

CROCKETT: Don't tell me to calm down.

PAULINA LUNA: Calm down.

CROCKETT: Because you all talk noise.

PAULINA LUNA: Please calm down.

CROCKETT: And then you can't take it

PAULINA LUNA: You are out of control.

CROCKETT: Because if I com -- if I comment--

PAULINA LUNA: Let's -- Chairman can we--

CROCKETT: --and talk (bleep) about her, you all going to have a problem.

PAULINA LUNA: --take a break for five minutes.



COLLINS: Those are the esteemed rooms of Capitol Hill. All those people are paid for by your taxpayer dollars. And yes, that is what happened in a House Oversight hearing, last night.

My next source, tonight, was in that chaotic room. Democratic congressman, Shontel Brown, joins us.

And, Congressman, I'm just glad that you didn't have any insults lobbed at you and that you were not part of this.

But can you just -- what was it even like to be, in that room, last night?

REP. SHONTEL BROWN (D-OH): It was -- it was embarrassing. It was not our finest hour. But I think it's important that we talk about how we got there.

The fact of the matter is, we had that late-night hearing, because my Republican colleagues thought it's better use of their time, during the day, when we would be conducting regular business, at 11 o'clock, which -- 11 o'clock AM, which was the time the meeting was originally scheduled. They thought their time would be better-served in the courtroom, auditioning to be Trump's number two. And so, we had to delay the people's business, because Republicans want to be entertaining the Master Manipulator of Mar-a-Lago, instead of doing real work.

So, when we have extremists, and the most extreme member of the committee, like the Congresswoman of Georgia, launching personal attacks, this is the result that you get.

They have no agenda. They have no policies. They have no plans. They truly are the Party of No. And so, what we witnessed, yesterday, was complete distraction, of them, showing that they have no ability to govern. As a result, we are the most unproductive Congress, in this nation's history, because they don't have a plan. And because they don't have a plan, they would rather hurl insults than try to discuss policy.

COLLINS: I mean, so Congresswoman, what you're talking about, for people who weren't watching yesterday, a bunch of the House Oversight members were up here in New York, and were in the courtroom. I saw them with former President Trump. So, they pushed the timing back. I mean, so it was at night.

Congressman Raskin, the Ranking Member of -- the Democrat Ranking Member on this Committee, that you saw there, looking just as confused by, as Congressman Comer did, Chairman Comer, he seemed to suggest that -- it was suggested to him that alcohol was involved.

I mean, did you see any drinking? Or did you hear that as well?

BROWN: It was not the most professional environment that we were in. I cannot speak to what were in the individual's cups. Plastic cups were in the committee chamber. And it was an unusual sight.

But I think it's also important to recognize, for folks at home, who did not -- who do not know this, this was a three-hour committee. And what you witnessed was a snippet, a well-edited put-together snippet of some of the most, I guess, lowlights of the meeting.

And the fact that this committee -- the fact that this committee meeting was even held was really pointless, partisan, petty, and the fact that they're trying to continuously, desperately find reasons, to impeach the President, or members of his cabinet is, again, an effort to distract from their inability to govern.


BROWN: I was proud to launch -- go ahead.

COLLINS: Can we just revisit -- plastic cups, is that normal? Do people normally bring in like, like Solo cups to the room?

BROWN: It is absolutely not normal, Kaitlan. I think that the people would expect better in the highest offices of land.

Just a reminder, to the folks back home, the Congress is a co-equal branch of government, to the President-- COLLINS: Yes.

BROWN: --and the Supreme Court, right?

And if the President acted like this, you know what we would call it? Donald Trump. And that's the problem that we are experiencing right now. He has emboldened his MAGA minions, to do what they are doing, which is insult people, try to embarrass them, and distract from their ability, to really not be able to put forth any policies that benefit the public.

When I came back home, one of the top questions--


BROWN: --that I got going through the airport, I hope you weren't on that committee. Are you on that committee? Were you there?

That is not what Congress represents.


BROWN: And so, again, the most extreme member does what she does, this is what we get. So, when you put people in positions of power--

COLLINS: I mean--

BROWN: --they don't really know how to exercise or have any restraint? It is going to turn into chaos and confusion.


BROWN: And she has been successful, the queen of chaos and confusion.

COLLINS: Well and it takes away from even what they were trying to do, even though you described it as pointless. But I mean.

It's remarkable, Congresswoman. And thank you for coming on and joining us, sans plastic cups here tonight, on a Friday night. We're glad to have you.


BROWN: Thank you, Kaitlan.

And happy birthday, Mom.

COLLINS: That's so cute. Happy birthday to your mom. Thank you for joining us.

BROWN: Thank you.

COLLINS: Up next here, we have a fascinating new look at one of the biggest art heists, in history. Stay tuned for that right after the break.


COLLINS: One of the biggest art heists in history. And that art has never been recovered.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: DNA wasn't on at the time, and a lot of the forensic capability that exists, not even a fraction of it was -- existed at the time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The security in museums, at the time, it was almost primitive. So, the investigators did what they could with what they had.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think, initially, there was a lot of speculation, and belief that organized crime was involved.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's talk of Whitey Bulger, who was one of Boston's most notorious gangsters. Could he have been involved?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But if you're in Boston, on the morning of March 18th, 1990, and you hear that not one, not two, but three Rembrandts have been stolen, you think of only one person. You think of Myles Connor.


COLLINS: Tune in this Sunday, at 9 PM, for "HOW IT REALLY HAPPENED," "Gardner Art Heist: Stealing Beauty."