Return to Transcripts main page

The Source with Kaitlan Collins

Sen. Cruz Won't Commit To Accepting 2024 Election Results; Trump Claims If He's Elected Putin Will Free Jailed WSJ Reporter; Louisiana Legislators Vote To Criminalize Abortion Pill Possession Without Prescription. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired May 23, 2024 - 21:00   ET



STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And Anderson, this is the first time that the twins will not be living together. But they say they plan to stay in touch, stay close, and take those lessons that they've learned from Lieutenant General Honore, and hold them close to their heart.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: That was Stephanie Elam, reporting. Amazing to see. Hard to -- I can't believe it's been 19 years.

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


The former and potential future President is keeping close tabs on how top Republicans answer, what should be a simple question. But the right answer could get you on the wrong side of Donald Trump.

Also, the former President is holding a raucous campaign rally, this evening, in New York City, in a deep blue state that frankly is not in play for him, in the White House. But he is hoping to make inroads with Black and Latino voters. My source is a Congressman, who represents the Bronx, where that rally was held.

Also tonight, the hottest ticket in America is not a Taylor Swift concert. It's the White House State Dinner, a who's who of stars, dignitaries, and four presidents wining and dining, as we speak. We've got the inside scoop, and we'll go inside THE SOURCE.

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

Election meet litmus test. As we draw closer and closer to November, top Republicans aren't just falling in line. They're also falling over themselves to appease the party's presumptive nominee. A new trend is taking place, to not only cast doubt about the last election, but to also raise questions about the next one in 2024.

We are watching, as top Republicans are declining to answer, a straightforward question, or at least twisting themselves into pretzels, when they are asked about committing to accepting the election results.


SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL): No matter what happens? No. If it's an unfair election, I think it's going to be contested by each side.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): Yes, I'll accept them, if I think, you know, if there's no massive cheating.

SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC): The 47th president of the United States will be President Donald Trump.

WELKER: Yes or no? Will you accept the election results of 2024, no matter who wins?

SCOTT: That is my statement.


COLLINS: And what a statement that truly is.

Then, in addition to what you just saw there, here on THE SOURCE, last night, you saw another prominent Senator, joining in that effort.

Texas senator, Ted Cruz, as we remember, was the first senator, to object to certifying the results in 2020, for Arizona. He was also in the building, on January 6th, when rioters stormed inside, and lawmakers were forced into hiding.

Here's part of our exchange, when asked him that question, last night.


COLLINS: Will you accept the results regardless of who wins the election?

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): So, Kaitlan, I got to say, I think that's actually a ridiculous question.

COLLINS: It's a yes-or-no question though.

CRUZ: No, it's not.

So, you're asking, will you promise, no matter what, to agree an election as illegitimate, regardless of what happens? And that would be an absurd thing to claim.

The media engages in this weird game, post-Donald Trump that you insist no voter fraud has ever existed. Why does every state have laws in place to challenge voter fraud, if it occurs--

COLLINS: The media doesn't--

CRUZ: --why do you have election challenges?

COLLINS: This isn't a game. There was no widespread voter fraud.

CRUZ: It is a game. It is -- you only ask Republicans that.

COLLINS: There was this--

CRUZ: You ask what--

COLLINS: Because it was Republicans, who tried to block the transition of power. You have to acknowledge that.

CRUZ: So--

COLLINS: We've never seen it on a scale of what happened in 2020. And we've never seen the President refuse. He wouldn't even let Joe Biden get classified briefings at the beginning. I recall that.

CRUZ: So let me be--

COLLINS: So, my question for you, again, free and fair election, will you accept the results regardless of who wins?

CRUZ: Look, if the Democrats win, I will accept the result. But I'm not going to ignore fraud, regardless of what happens.

COLLINS: But was there fraud in 2020?

CRUZ: Of course, there was fraud in 2020.

COLLINS: No, there wasn't. And you still objected.


COLLINS: As has been made clear, there was no material fraud that would have altered the outcome of the 2020 election. Trump's own Department of Homeland Security said that the 2020 vote was one of the most secure in history.

Dozens of lawsuits, contesting the election, were dismissed and dropped because of a lack of evidence, or a lack of standing, by courts, across the country.

Trump's own Attorney General, Bill Barr, someone who has said that despite everything that happened, he is still voting for Donald Trump, this November, described it as playing a game of Whac-A-Mole, to run down the avalanche of false claims of fraud that were coming into the Justice Department.

Senator Ted Cruz, of course, is aware of all of that. And he's also deeply familiar with Trump's false claims about losing elections. In 2016, eight years ago, Trump actually accused Cruz of stealing the Iowa caucuses that he won.


CRUZ: Donald finds it very hard to lose.

Donald Trump guaranteed a victory in Iowa. And then he lost. And he doesn't like that.

What Donald does, when he loses, is he blames everybody else. It's never Donald's fault. It's always somebody else's fault.


COLLINS: It's pretty remarkable to see that, of course, Cruz not embracing Trump's claims of fraud, then.


My lead political sources, tonight, are both CNN Political Commentators.

Former Obama administration official, Van Jones.

And also, the former Republican Lieutenant Governor of Georgia, Geoff Duncan, who I should note was among those, pressured by Trump and his allies, to change the 2020 results.

And Geoff, just given that, have you ever -- what I'm kind of struck by is that it is such a simple and straightforward question that so many Republicans have a difficulty answering, these days.

GEOFF DUNCAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It was so painful to sit here and listen to all those audio clips of just everybody tying themselves in pretzels. I mean, I flip the script back on Ted Cruz, and say, just spend that hot air that you just spent trying to twist around, and actually lay out some proof.

I mean, we're almost four years into this. And there's not one ounce or shred of proof that anything happened other than a fair and legal election, in Georgia, and everywhere else in the country. Was there anomaly? Certainly. But there was never been an election that's been more scrutinized than the Georgia election.

And look, this is painful to watch. It takes you back to your high school days, where somebody wants to be in the cool-kids club so bad, they will do and say anything that eventually they look back and say that was a huge mistake.

There's -- it's not an if. It's when Republicans will recognize Donald Trump as the biggest stain on our party's history.

COLLINS: Van, do you think that will -- that'll happen that it is not an if, but a when of Republicans regretting how they answered that question?

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, and in the fullness of time, I hope so, mainly because the thing that strikes me about Ted Cruz is, those are not the answers of a patriot.

A patriot defends the integrity of American institutions, American democracy. It's geopolitical adversaries that want people to not believe that America is a fair place, to not believe in our institutions. Ted Cruz, until a few years ago, called himself a patriot. What kind of patriot won't even defend the most prized democratic experiment in history, American democracy? He won't even defend it.

He won't even just say the simple truth, which is that we do a damn good job in this country. Those poll workers do a damn good job in this country. People in both parties do a damn good job of carrying these votes. And we are the envy of the world. He won't even defend American democracy. But he wants to be called the patriot.

COLLINS: But Geoff, Georgia is one of the states that altered its voting laws, since the 2020 election. We've talked to Georgia governor, Brian Kemp, about that, multiple times here, on this show. I mean, we have seen where it led to changes in election laws in certain states.

And as Senator Cruz pointed out, last night, if there is an issue, with an election, because obviously we don't want there to be material fraud in our elections? There's a place to adjudicate that, to deal with that. And it's a court.

And what happened when Donald Trump and his allies, and Rudy Giuliani took it to court was they failed. Everything was thrown out. They were all dropped.

DUNCAN: There is a process in place to modernize elections, as we go forward in time. It's been as long as I can remember.

And certainly, in the past election cycle, we did that. We looked at some of the anomalies that were in place. Both Democrat and Republican ideas came together. But that's what we constantly do in America. We are willing and able to update those laws.

But look, this whole thing started because Donald Trump lost. And he didn't lose for any other reason than he was the worst candidate in the world. And Republicans, specifically Republicans in the suburbs, figured out he was a snake-oil salesman.

And he acted like he was a Republican for four years. But he didn't. He wasn't. He was fake. He added $8 trillion worth of debt, when he said he wouldn't. He built a selfie station at the wall instead of actually building a wall. He acted like a clown around the world. And he had self-serving interest in every meeting that he had.

Other than that, he was decent, I guess, right? But we saw through it.

And anybody, who thinks that the suburbs are going to come back and vote for him again, have it wrong. If we give Donald Trump four more years, in the White House, it's like giving a drug addict more drugs to fix the problem. We know what we have to do. We have to get rid of him and move on as a party.

COLLINS: Well Van, I mean, the question is how people deal with this.

And Van, I wonder what your response is to what you heard from Senator Cruz there. And we've heard this from other Republicans, is they point to comments made by people like Stacey Abrams, in Georgia, and Hillary Clinton. Though, of course, Hillary Clinton gave a concession speech, we all watched it after the 2016 election.

They do use those moments, though, in these arguments to say, well, it's the same thing. Even though of course, John Kerry never condoned what was happening. Joe Biden, when he was Vice President, certified the election and the results of it, on Capitol Hill.

JONES: Well, I mean, you can cherry-pick unfortunate comments from anybody, Hillary Clinton or anybody else. Nobody's perfect. But the question is, when it's all said and done, do you do the thing that we've always done? You give your concession speech, you shake hands.


Look, we want our kids, after the end of the basketball game, after the end of little league, they line up, they shake hands, they appreciate each other. They come back the next Sunday, the Saturday, try and do it again, they try and do better.

We got Republican Party failing kindergarten now, on just basic decency, basic fair play.

And yes, sure, you can cherry-pick. But it's interesting to me, you don't cherry pick anything else Democrats do, to defend Republicans. So, why is this one big behavior, a couple people?

And also, I remember, after -- in the year 2000, I'm old enough to remember, in 2000, Al Gore coming before the country, when it was clear to us, as Democrats, that he had been robbed and ripped off and mistreated by the Supreme Court. We were angry. People would have gone to the streets in an instant.

And Al Gore said, I accept the Supreme Court's decision. Let's move forward.

It was an act of courage. It was an act of patriotism. And we've seen nothing of the kind, from this Republican Party, despite the fact that there's plenty of evidence that Al Gore could have pointed to, and none that they can point to.

So, what is -- what does patriotism mean? If you only love the country when you win, you're not a patriot.

COLLINS: Well, and Geoff, that's what is kind of confounding about this is. I was looking at how different Republicans have answered this. Senator J.D. Vance, in an interview, I believe, with Dana Bash said, yes, if it's a free and fair election, Republicans will enthusiastically accept the result of it.

But why is it so difficult for the others to just say yes, to that question?

DUNCAN: Well, because they're addicted to the hot burning spotlight that follows Donald Trump. And they have spent their life, trying to chase that spotlight for themselves. But they realized if they want to stay in it, they got to get close to Donald Trump. And so, that's just more important to them than doing the right thing.

This is -- this is crazy to watch these individuals twist themselves into pretzels. And that's really what has led me. If we're going to see a GOP 2.0, if we're going to see a Republican Party, get back on its feet, it's not going to include Donald Trump, and we've got to beat him right here in his tracks and move on.

That's the reason why supporting Joe Biden -- as a lifelong Republican, who plans to continue to be a Republican, is supporting Joe Biden, because not because I agree with his policies, but because he's going to give us a chance to move on past Donald Trump.

No matter who wins in this election, if you're a hardcore Republican like I am, who's not angry, just conservative? You lose either way. Either Joe Biden wins or Donald Trump wins. Either way, we don't get our voices heard through our policies.

COLLINS: Yes. Van, there was a lot in this. This interview that we did with Senator Cruz was probably 30 minutes having commercial break. There was a commercial break in between.

But there was -- we talked about IVF. We talked about abortion. And we talked about what came out in Trump's trial with the National Enquirer, which Cruz was right about in 2016, that Trump and David Pecker were coordinating these vicious, ugly lies about him. And we talked about whether or not he felt vindicated by that testimony.

But the other thing we talked about was Nikki Haley. Because she came out yesterday, said she would vote for Donald Trump, after. She was in a similar position to Cruz, someone, who was a hearty critic of Donald Trump's, and then turned around.

I just want everyone to listen to how Ted Cruz talked about being in the position that Nikki Haley now finds herself in.


COLLINS: Do you empathize with her? She's in a similar position to you.

CRUZ: Well, look, I understand that journey. And I was in that position. Now, she didn't win any states. But she was the last-person- standing. I understand.

And that's -- and she was in a hard-fought primary. I had been in that spot. And it took some time for me to decide what to do. And I did not initially endorse Donald Trump.

And I said at the time, I said, listen, I'm not sure what Trump will do in office. I don't know if he'll be a conservative or not. But I know what Hillary is promising to do. And what she's promising to do, I think would be really harmful. And so, I'm going to make the decision to go with someone, who is saying he will do good things, and I'm going to do everything I can to help encourage him to do good things.

COLLINS: Yes, we've seen--


COLLINS: What do you make of that response, Van?

JONES: I mean, I think that's, frankly, close to the truth for Ted Cruz. I mean, we were all there. We watched him struggle. He tried to give a speech in front of the Republican Convention, and not endorse Donald Trump. He was really trying not to endorse Donald Trump. And he eventually came around, and coughed up the furball. And, now, he's a loyal part of the Kool-Aid cult.

But I think he's -- I don't think he's wrong in describing that process. But I think the conclusion that he came to was wrong, then. And I think Nikki Haley has come to the wrong conclusion, now.

We need more people, like our colleague here, who say what they mean, and mean what they say.

If you tell America that this person is completely unqualified and a threat to the country, and then tomorrow, say, but he's -- I'm now going to vote for him on his team? It makes politics seem like professional wrestling, where it's just nobody is actually on the level. It's all just a game. It's all just you can turn heel at any moment. It's all for entertainment. And that is also destructive of American democracy.


Political parties need to stand for principles, when they're popular, and when they're not. And political leaders need to lead, when it's hard and when it's easy. And what we have is neither.

We have political parties that go whichever way, at least in the Republican camp, go whichever way Donald Trump goes today, and then they say stuff that they won't stick up for the next day. And that is also destructive of American democracy.

COLLINS: Van Jones, Geoff Duncan, great to have you both here, to start off the show tonight.

DUNCAN: Thanks, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: Meanwhile, here in New York, there's a rare Trump rally, in New York City. It's not exactly Trump country, of course. But Trump is instead in one of the -- the heart of one of the deepest blue states. And we'll tell you why.

Also, the former President's latest claims about Evan Gershkovich, who is the Wall Street Journal reporter, being wrongfully detained in Russia, now over a year. His fourth and final National Security Adviser will join me.


[21:20:17] COLLINS: This evening, Donald Trump held a campaign rally, in one of the bluest counties, and one of the bluest states in America.




TRUMP: Who would think? Who would think?


TRUMP: I'm thrilled to be back in the city I grew up in.


COLLINS: There is the presumptive Republican nominee on stage, in a borough of New York City that he lost, I should note, by almost 68 points in 2020, in a state that no Republican has won since 1984.

But Trump's stop here, tonight, has very little to do with actually winning the Bronx, or even really New York, despite what he says. But the former President is hoping to continue making inroads that could pave his path to the White House, come November.

A reminder, the Bronx is 64 percent Hispanic. President Biden won the majority of Hispanic voters in 2020.

But what we've seen in new numbers, and of course, these are just a snapshot of where the country is, right now, show that Biden and Trump are essentially tied for those voters right now.

Trump is polling at what would be the highest level of Black support for any Republican presidential candidate, since 1964.

My source on this tonight is the Democrat, who represents the South Bronx, Congressman Ritchie Torres.

And, Congressman, it's great to have you here, on THE SOURCE.

You're a Bronx Democrat.


COLLINS: Donald Trump is arguing that he thinks New York could be in play for him.

TORRES: I mean, he is famously delusional. I mean, the Bronx is the antithesis of Trump country. It's anti-Trump country. I think we in the Bronx are no stranger to Donald Trump. We know that he's fundamentally a fraud. And I'm confident that most Bronxites are not going to buy the snake oil that he's selling.

And keep in mind that were not for the fact that he's facing criminal prosecution in New York City, he would never be caught dead, campaigning in the Bronx. He's a criminal suspect with 91 felony counts. His highest priority is not the people of the Bronx. It's his own self-preservation.

COLLINS: Yes. But, I mean, he did have a pretty sizable audience there tonight.


COLLINS: And a crowd. I mean, we were watching the rally earlier, as he was talking about this. He even seemed to be surprised by the amount of people that showed up.

And we had reporters out there, talking to voters, and some of them are open to voting for a Republican. And I wonder given you know these people incredibly well--


COLLINS: --as you represent them, what do you make of that?

TORRES: Look, he might make gains at the margins, although keep in mind, the rally was -- was largely unrepresentative of the Bronx. The Bronx is almost exclusively Latino and African American. And there was far less diversity in his rally. But look, he might make gains at the margins.

But I'm confident in the end the Bronx is going to vote overwhelmingly Democratic, because Joe Biden has delivered for the Bronx.

One example is we have the highest rates of diabetes in the Bronx. Joe Biden capped the price of insulin at $35 a month for senior citizens on Medicare, which is a life-changer, even a life-changer and -saver for the Bronx, which has some of the highest rates of diabetes.

COLLINS: Yes. And you mentioned the margins. But the margins are going to really matter in 2024, from everything we've looked at so far--


COLLINS: --and how this has gone.

And the other part about the Bronx is it's one of the poorest, if not the poorest district--


COLLINS: --in the United States. And 35 percent of people live below the poverty line there. I was looking into the numbers, from the Census data, there. Obviously, inflation cripples families like that.


COLLINS: I mean, no -- they don't have any extra spending room or money in their budgets. And what we hear from voters is that they don't feel like the White House fully registers how they're feeling about that. And I wonder what you think President Biden--

TORRES: Look--

COLLINS: --should do differently to address that?

TORRES: Look, I think the President has a success story to tell. He should come to the Bronx and tell it.

But he has delivered for the people the Bronx. I mean, from the moment he's entered the presidency, he created 15 million jobs, compared to the 2.9 million jobs that were lost under Donald Trump.

Donald Trump deceptively markets himself as a tax-cutter. He imposed the largest tax increase on New York, in recent history. The loss of SALT deductibility cost us $15 billion in revenue. We, as New Yorkers, are paying more in taxes, we're receiving lessened services, because of Donald Trump.

So President Biden has a story to tell. And I agree, there needs to be improved messaging.

COLLINS: Do you think he should -- he should -- President Biden should come to the Bronx?

TORRES: He should come to the Bronx. I mean, the Bronx is the most Democratic county in America. And we would more than welcome him. Because if you can make your policies work in the Bronx, you can make them work anywhere in America.

COLLINS: Have you had any conversations with the White House about that? Because you've cited those numbers. And we hear that from the White House.


COLLINS: They get asked this question all the time. And they look at these poll numbers as well, even though of course President Biden loves to dismiss them. He's not a big fan of the poll numbers.

But the question is, is it breaking through? And it's not. So, how do they change that? Besides just saying, this is what we've done, here's how it's benefited you.


COLLINS: How do you make people feel that?


TORRES: Look, I think the most powerful example is the cost of pharmaceuticals. I mean, President Biden is the first president in recent history, to empower the federal government, to negotiate more affordable drug prices for senior citizens on Medicare, like that's the kind of policy that has a real impact, in improving people's ability to afford the cost of living in New York City.

COLLINS: What about Latino voters?


COLLINS: Because you've mentioned them as well. And 65 percent of residents in your district are Hispanic, 31 percent are Black, according to the U.S. Census data. Those are also numbers that we see they helped President Biden get into the White House in 2020.


COLLINS: Now we are seeing in polls that he is very close with Donald Trump in that. What do you attribute that to?

TORRES: Well, I think keep in mind that the Latino vote historically has been bipartisan. In the 2000 election, George W. Bush won 40 percent of the Latino vote.

And we have to keep in mind that the Latino community is hardly a monolith. The Dominicans and Puerto Ricans in the South Bronx are quite different--


TORRES: --from the Cubans and Venezuelans in Florida, who are quite different from the Mexicans in California, who are quite different from the Mexicans in Southern Texas. And so, we have to be careful not to paint a community as variegated as the Latino community--

COLLINS: Of course.

TORRES: --with a broad brush.

COLLINS: But I wonder about your community, and what you hear from them.

TORRES: I think my community is going to be overwhelmingly for Biden, no question. I mean, if you do polling, among likely voters, in the South Bronx, Donald Trump is so unpopular, as to be radioactive, that he's less popular than the Boston Red Sox in the Bronx.

COLLINS: So, you don't have any concerns about what those margins could look like, in 2024, and how that could affect what the race looks like, ultimately?

TORRES: Look, we should not take any county, any state for granted. We should have a 50-state strategy. And it would be powerful, if President Biden came to the Bronx. And we would welcome him with open arms.

COLLINS: Congressman, it's great to have you.

TORRES: Of course.

COLLINS: Your Red Sox joke, I'm sure Trump will love that.

TORRES: Yes. COLLINS: Thank you for being here. It's great to have you, on THE SOURCE, for the first time.

TORRES: Of course.

COLLINS: Speaking of the former President. He is making quite a new claim on social media, tonight, saying that he can get Russian President Putin, to free the American journalist, and Wall Street Journal reporter, Evan Gershkovich, who has been wrongly detained there, more than a year. But only if he's reelected.

We'll talk to Trump's former National Security Adviser in a moment.



COLLINS: Former President Donald Trump arguing that he'll be able to secure the release, of the imprisoned Wall Street Journal reporter, Evan Gershkovich, from Russia, if he is reelected, saying in a post today, quote "Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, will do that for me, but not for anyone else."

I should note that when the Kremlin was asked about that post, from Donald Trump, a spokesman said, quote, "Putin has no contact with Donald Trump."

Of course, this is not the first time that we have seen Trump boast about his close relationship with the Russian leader. And it's also not the first time he has made grandiose claims, about resolving complex foreign issues.

You'll recall that at CNN's Town Hall with him last year, Trump argued that he could settle Russia's war in Ukraine, in quote, "One day," a notion that President Zelenskyy dismissed and also said was dangerous.

My source tonight is Robert O'Brien, who served as the Trump's fourth and final National Security Adviser, and also as the U.S. hostage negotiator.

So Ambassador, it's great to have you here.

And given your experience, with hostage negotiations, and Americans who are wrongfully detained abroad, you know how difficult this is, and how sensitive and nuanced these conversations are.

I think some people may look at this and say, OK, well, that's putting a political lens on it, for Trump to say that only it will happen if he's reelected president.

ROBERT O'BRIEN, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Well, thanks, Kaitlan. And thanks for having me on tonight.

I think one of the things that President Trump understands, and even the left, the haters, gave him credit for this. He brought home an unparalleled number of American citizens, either hostages or wrongful detainees, when he was president. And he did it without paying ransom. And he did it without the big prisoner exchanges that we've seen of this administration.

So, I think the point he's making with Evan is that the United States has a lot of tools to bring back wrongful detainees. And with Russia, we got some really significant tools.

First, we have business (ph) sanctions. And those have not been used by the Biden administration, to encourage the Russians or pressure the Russians to release Evan.

Number two, we could sanction the Russian Federation Central Bank, which we've never done. And so, Russia has actually made money, selling oil on this war with Ukraine, because we haven't sanctioned the Russian Federation Central Bank.

And number three, we know that there are Russian spies and organized crime syndicate members all over America. Russians usually want to get those people home, if they're picked up. We could bring it -- we could pick up several of those folks. And I don't want to get into who they are, and sources and methods and that sort of thing. But we could certainly pick up some people that are important to Vladimir Putin, and trade those back to Evan Gershkovich.

Now, none of these things have been -- none of these tools have been used by the Biden administration, which is kind of shocking.

I mean, Roger Carstens is a great negotiator, and a friend of mine, and I think highly of him, the current SPEHA, the current hostage envoy. But the Biden administration is basically sending out hashtags from Tony Blinken, saying, Free Evan.

Well, Vladimir Putin's a tough guy, he's a thug. And he's not going to respond to a Twitter hashtag or Twitter campaign. He's going to respond to real hard -- American hard power.

And I think President Trump understands that. And that's how we got so many people out of Russia. We got people out of Iran. We got people out of Turkey. We got people out of Yemen, across -- Venezuela, across the board, under the Trump administration, when I was both hostage envoy, and National Security Adviser, because President Trump was willing to use all the tools of American power, including hard power, to get our people home.


COLLINS: Yes. I mean, it reminded me though, of when Trump said that he had an opportunity to exchange, Paul Whelan, who is still wrongfully detained in Russia, in exchange for Viktor Bout, who of course, was ultimately part of that exchange, with Brittney Griner, when President Biden was in office.

But let me ask you, Ambassador, because you just got back from a trip to Israel, where you met with Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and other top officials.

Netanyahu obviously is, right now, facing a lot of pressure at home--


COLLINS: --to secure the release of the hostages, who are still being held in Gaza, also over how he's conducting the war in Gaza.

What can you tell us about what he said to you?

O'BRIEN: Well, I think Benjamin Netanyahu understands that we've got to put pressure on Hamas, to bring the hostages home. As long as there's no pressure on Hamas, they're going to keep the hostages and try and use them as leverage against the Israeli people, try and drive Israeli public opinion, and trying to extract concessions from Israel.

So, this heinous act, where they went and captured hostages, many women, committed terrible sexual violence against them, we know they committed sexual violence in captivity against them. We've known that from hostages, who have been released. And they're using these hostages as pawns.

I think Netanyahu understands he's got to put pressure, military pressure, on Hamas. And that's the only thing that's going to bring Hamas to the table to negotiate about bringing them home.

COLLINS: Did he signal--

O'BRIEN: I think it's important--

COLLINS: Sorry, go ahead.

O'BRIEN: No, I met with one of the hostage families. And I've got a lot of experience dealing with hostage families, as you know, Kaitlan. And it's just heartbreaking.

My heart goes out to the -- this family of a hostage, who has died in captivity, and Hamas won't release his remains. So, he can't be buried in peace. He can't rest in peace in Israel. And you know, in the Jewish religion, it's important to get buried very quickly after death. But Hamas is holding him, to try and secure the release of terrorists. And it is heartbreaking to have those conversations, as you can imagine.

COLLINS: Yes, it's devastating. I mean, I've spent a lot of time there, after October 7th. And those conversations are so painful, and for those families.

And when you hear about that day, and obviously how it's completely marked in Israeli history now, Trump has always argued that he thinks it wouldn't have happened, had he been in office. I wonder if you agree with that.

O'BRIEN: I do agree with that. And I said that in Israel, to the Israeli officials, and to the Israeli public. And the reason is this.

COLLINS: But why do you think that? O'BRIEN: Because peace through strength works. And it's not just a cliche. And we had no new wars, never -- didn't expand any wars, under Trump. It was the first time since Jimmy Carter that that happened. We had peace treaties in Serbia-Kosovo, the Gulf rift with the Emirates and Qatar. We, of course, had the historic Abraham Accords. Because America was strong.

And keep in mind, Hamas is a total proxy of Iran. Hamas wouldn't do anything without permission from Iran, same with Hezbollah.

And so, Iran would have never taken the chance to attack Israel, this heinous way, the worst attack on Jews, since the holocaust in Europe, they would have never done that with Trump in office, because they know the response would have been overwhelming and devastating.

And going back to your point about the hostages. Keep in mind, Kaitlan, some of those hostages are American, at least five of them that are still alive, we believe are American. Where's Delta Force? Where is the SEAL Team Six? Where is our effort to go get those hostages back? 30 Americans were killed.

We need to treat ISIS like the -- treat Hamas like the ISIS caliphate and destroy it. And then, that'll give the Palestinian people a chance to live in peace, and maybe some -- a little bit of freedom. But we've got to eliminate this--

COLLINS: Yes. And--

O'BRIEN: --this caliphate.

COLLINS: Well, and obviously the White House has been closely involved in that. And we've seen the other American dual citizens, who are released. It's obviously a very troublesome issue.

But on what you just said that you do agree with former President Trump that that day wouldn't have happened, had he been President. When you said that and expressed that sentiment when you were there, did Prime Minister Netanyahu agree with you?

O'BRIEN: Well, Prime Minister Netanyahu is a real pro. And I made it clear, I was there as an American citizen, a private citizen, not on behalf of President Trump. He didn't send me.

I was there to get educated on what's happening, and to see somebody is that -- really friends, who we negotiated the Abraham Accords with, and see how those -- how enduring those Accords were, but also to get a close-up view, like you did, of the music festival, and the kibbutzim, on the Gaza -- in the Gaza envelope that were so brutally attacked. And so, I certainly expressed that.

But Prime Minister Netanyahu is a real pro. He understands that there's a -- one president at a time, with the United States. And the President today is Joe Biden. And so, he wasn't going to react to that. And no one's going to in Israel.

COLLINS: Yes. O'BRIEN: They understand the diplomatic niceties of relations between the U.S. and Israel.


O'BRIEN: And one thing I did -- I told them, as well is, look, we're going to have policy disagreements with the Biden administration.

Jake Sullivan happened to be there, coincidentally, the same time I was. So, he was leaving meetings, as I was coming into meetings, Jake Sullivan being my successor as the National Security Adviser.

But I told my Israeli friends, like we disagree dramatically on policy, especially in the Middle East, and the appeasement of Iran, and paying the ransom to the Iranians, and then turning the blind eye to the sanctions relief for Iran.

But it's important for the Israelis to maintain a close bond with the United States of America. That our adversaries want to see a wedge between Israel and the United States. And so, whoever the President is, whether it's President Biden or President Trump, the Israelis need to maintain a close relationship with the United States.


O'BRIEN: And that's the message I sent him.


COLLINS: Ambassador Robert O'Brien, thank you for coming on, tonight, to talk about your trip.

O'BRIEN: Thank you for having me, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: Meanwhile, tonight, back here in the United States, Louisiana just passed another set of restrictions on abortion pills. We'll tell you what the state legislature did.

My next source will also share her deeply personal story, on how her life was put in danger, because of Louisiana's laws.


COLLINS: Louisiana is on the verge of becoming the first state, in the nation, to criminalize the possession of abortion pills, if you don't have a prescription.


The new bill, which was passed today, by the legislature, and which is expected to be signed into law, by the State's Republican governor, Jeff Landry, classifies Mifepristone and Misoprostol, as Schedule IV drugs. That designates them as dangerous controlled substances, on the level with how the FDA classifies narcotics and depressants, like Xanax, Valium, and Ambien. Anyone who was found in possession of these drugs, without a prescription, could face a felony charge, and up to 10 years in prison, as a result of this new legislation.

Of course, abortion is already banned in the State of Louisiana, with no exceptions, I should note, for rape or incest. Medical professionals are warning that on top of that, this bill could spark confusion, and even potentially delays, in providing timely emergency care.

That's something that my source, tonight, Kaitlyn Joshua, has personally experienced, in that state, when she had a miscarriage. I should know she's now working with the Biden campaign.

And Kaitlyn joins me tonight.

And Kaitlyn, first, I just want to say, thank you for coming on, to talk about something that is so personal, and also so painful, and being willing to talk about it publicly.

Because, for those who aren't familiar, with your story, when you became pregnant, you were told to wait weeks, for your first prenatal appointment, because of that abortion law that I just mentioned there.

Can you just walk us through what happened to you?

KAITLYN JOSHUA, TURNED AWAY FROM LOUISIANA ER DURING MISCARRIAGE: Yes, certainly. And thank you again for having me on, this evening.

My husband and I found out that we were expecting the summer of 2022. We were extremely thrilled. I moved to call my provider, and scheduled my first prenatal appointment. But was denied that prenatal appointment, as a result of the -- at the time, was the recent Dobbs decision.

And the provider's office basically told me that they were not seeing patients until that 12-week mark, just to try to mitigate a bit of the medical liability that comes with seeing patients before that 12 weeks.

Unfortunately, my husband and I did not make it till 12 weeks. I miscarried, right around 11. Unfortunately, went to several different medical providers, in my city, to be able to get care. I knew that I was miscarrying, at the time. But unfortunately, no one would tell me that, right? No one would write it on paper, or explain what was happening with my body.

And ultimately, the first hospital that I went to, sent me home, with prayers. The second hospital that I went to denied any type of procedure or, at the time, medication abortion, to be able to pass my pregnancy with dignity. And I was left to pass it at home by myself. I mean, it took weeks on end to be able to do that.

And I am just advocating for women, across this country, so that they do not have to face the same implications that come into play, as a result of an abortion ban. COLLINS: I mean, to hear you say that it took weeks, and just to think of how painful and challenging that period must have been, I think it's hard for a lot of people to even fathom, having to go through that.

JOSHUA: Yes. And unfortunately, it is a rally (ph) that we are seeing play out all across this country right now.

COLLINS: And so, when you -- when you look back on your experience and what happened, and then you see what happened today, with the legislation that passed, designating these abortion pills as dangerous controlled substances?

I mean, this is something that the FBA -- FDA has studied, and says is overwhelmingly safe and not dependent, doesn't have a dependency potential, like the other drugs, I was just talking about.

I mean, what's your reaction to that?

JOSHUA: I am absolutely infuriated. I think that we are seeing firsthand the policies, in which Donald Trump first was able to overturn Roe versus Wade, and the Dobbs decision coming down, and ultimately, states across this country seeing an abortion ban put -- play out, right, in real-time, right?

And essentially, we know that if we allow Donald Trump to get back into that White House, we're going to look at what's happening in Louisiana is going to be happening all across this country. And it is infuriating.

I certainly believe that in a state that has such terrible maternal morbidity rates, has terrible fetal morbidity rates, we are going backwards, and essentially not allowing women to have access to the health care that they need, in dire situations.

This is medication. And both Mifepristone and Misoprostol is already, as you alluded to, prescribed all the time, thousands of times a day, to manage miscarriage treatments, similar to my story, and handle postpartum hemorrhaging--


JOSHUA: --and a host of other reasons, right, a host of other issues that women face during, whenever they're going to the doctor, routine biopsies, you name it. The list is very long.

And to see that my state passed a bill that's unprecedented, it's not just for the South, but for this country. And essentially, it's taking a step back and putting women's lives at risk, just to check a box, and for what reason we are unsure.

But what we do know, it is so important that women, and men, in this moment understand that this too could be your state. And we've got to do whatever we can to make sure that we get President Biden and Vice President Harris, back in the White House--


JOSHUA: --to restore Roe, and do away with these draconian laws that we are seeing across this country.

COLLINS: Well, Kaitlyn, you live in Louisiana. This is something that you've had to deal with.


My home state of Alabama, right next door, abortion is also totally banned there. And we were just talking, here on the show, last night, about what happened with IVF clinics, after a decision by the Supreme Court there, and their ruling.

I think a lot of people may not understand, what is it like, to be a woman in the South right now.

JOSHUA: It is frightening. It's a feeling that I don't want another woman to feel.

And I want folks to understand. Right now, I think there's this idea, Kaitlan, that if you live in a safe state, quote-unquote, that you don't need to worry about a federal abortion ban.

But essentially, we know a federal abortion ban would allow for the same things that we're experiencing in Louisiana, the same things we're seeing, experiencing in Alabama to be happening all over this country.

And they're not -- when I say they, MAGA Republicans are not going to stop at just IVFs, or contraception, or what we're seeing right now, playing out as scheduling drugs that are misappropriately scheduled, and potentially putting so many women's lives at risk.

We know we will see women perish, as a result of this law, being enacted in Louisiana today. And it is just so frightening, and frustrating, and all the things.

But one overarching message that I am hoping to convey is that folks, plug in and understand that we've got to do what we need to do, this fall, to make sure that we elect President Biden and Vice President Harris, to make sure that we restore Roe versus Wade.

COLLINS: And I know that in addition to your 5-year-old daughter, you and your husband recently welcomed your 6-month-old son as well, Kaitlyn. So, congrats on that.

And thank you, for joining us, here tonight, on THE SOURCE.

JOSHUA: Thank you so very much. I appreciate you.

COLLINS: Up next, the stars and the dignitaries, out tonight, for the White House State Dinner. We'll take you behind-the-scenes, of one of the hottest tickets in Washington.


COLLINS: Tonight, you are seeing the first images, of the Grammy- winning country star, Brad Paisley, performing at the White House State Dinner.

White House is hosting Hollywood stars, sports icons, and Washington bigwigs, as part of President Biden's State Dinner, welcoming the Kenyan President William Ruto, and his wife.

As you can see here, as we always watch to see, who was invited to the state dinner, there are some big names that we noted, walked across that carpet, and into the White House.

Actor and director, Sean Penn. Former President Bill Clinton, and former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. The NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell. Also, NBA Commissioner, Adam Silver. Plus, there was a brief cameo appearance, from former President Barack Obama.

My inside source tonight is all too familiar with what it's like to plan a state dinner, given it was his job, as Social Secretary to President Obama.

And Jeremy Bernard is back with us.

And it's great to have you, because this is an interesting -- all state dinners, in my view, are interesting. But this one's also notable because it's the first state visit that--


COLLINS: --a U.S. president has held for a president of an African nation, since 2008.

And I just wonder, when you are doing something like that, it's not even just your average state dinner, what's the most important part, when it comes to nailing it?

BERNARD: It's good question.

The most important part is actually to just make sure everything goes as planned. And that's true with all of the state dinners, because they're all very important.

This one, it is the 60th anniversary of our relation with Kenya. So, this has a special importance. And it looks beautiful, from what I can see. It's done in a pavilion, this time on the South Lawn, which means you can get more guests, but you can't get, technically, cannot get, the White House china. Has to be rental.

COLLINS: Oh, wait, why is that?

BERNARD: The curator does not allow for the china to be outside of the White House, and doesn't consider a temporary pavilion, or tent, to be part of the White House property or the mansion. So, you're not allowed to use it. I think we broke that one time, and because I think we used the Reagan china. But I know those are the rules. And I believe that's the rule tonight.

COLLINS: That's so interesting, you learn something. I covered the White House for six years. I didn't know that. You learn something new, every day

Because they are in this -- Brad Paisley joked that it kind of looks like a greenhouse out there. We saw all of the major floral arrangements. And obviously, Brad Paisley is someone. He's a beloved country singer.

How do you decide who the -- and I should note, Howard's Gospel Choir is also there. That's who you're looking at right now.

But how does -- how do you decide who the musical act is going to be, at a state dinner?

BERNARD: Well, after you find out what the preferences are of the guest, which was gospel and country music, then you can narrow it down, depends who's available, and who has -- you've used before.

We first used Brad Paisley, for a July 4th event. And then, after that, I think we -- he was at several different things. So, he's really wonderful to work with. And I completely understand. He's talented. He's good. And he's easy to work with. You can't ask for better.

COLLINS: Yes, he's a great guy, obviously beloved.

I should note, also your former boss was there, President Obama. We didn't catch him on the carpet. He obviously must have snuck through. We'll see if there's any photos of him being there.


COLLINS: Jeremy Bernard, though, what a special thing to look at.


And thank you, as always, for joining us, and for giving us the inside-source information, including--

BERNARD: Thank you.

COLLINS: --about the White House china. It's great to have you.

BERNARD: Thank you.

And I'm not certain -- I don't believe President Obama is attending the dinner.


BERNARD: But I could be wrong.

COLLINS: No. I think you're right. I think he just stopped by briefly. But he's not staying for the dinner. BERNARD: Yes.

COLLINS: Jeremy Bernard, great to have you.


COLLINS: Thank you for that.

BERNARD: Yes. Yes.

COLLINS: And thank you all so much, for joining us.