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The Source with Kaitlan Collins

Source: Trump Answered All Questions In Pre-Sentencing Interview; Israel Launches Massive Daytime Mission To Rescue Four Hostages; Giuliani: "Very Proud" After Posting Bail In AZ Fake Electors Plot. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired June 10, 2024 - 21:00   ET




The President and the probation officers. We have brand-new details from inside Donald Trump's pre-sentencing interview that could have a huge impact on his punishment, including whether Judge Merchan sends him to prison.

And Rudy Giuliani's latest mugshot, this time in Arizona. As the once- powerful Mayor drowns in debt and scandal, he says he has no regrets. We've got the tape of him today.

And new images of those extraordinary moments that hostages are found alive, during that daring rescue mission, in Gaza, in broad daylight. A top Israeli official will join me here live.

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

Let this sink in for just a moment. The presumptive Republican nominee, and the former President of the United States, just met with probation officers, ahead of his sentencing, which happens to be one month from tomorrow, here in New York.

Now, these pre-sentencing interviews are routine procedures, for convicted felons. But it's safe to say there is nothing ordinary about this interview, or this convicted felon.

Here's what we do know, as of 9 PM, here tonight. It was around 3:30, this afternoon that Donald Trump met virtually, from his Mar-a-Lago club, down in South Florida, with officials, here in New York.

Our sources say that he answered all the questions that were asked of him. CNN's John Miller was told that Trump was polite, respectful and accommodating to the probation officers, who conducted this interview. And the whole thing was over in just under half an hour.

It is quite the call. But adding to the unusual nature of this whole thing, we're told that the Commissioner of New York's Probation Department was present for it, along with the General Counsel, and the officer who's assigned to the case.

And Trump, as we know, with the permission of the judge here, Juan Merchan, was joined by his lead attorney, Todd Blanche, who argued this case. Now typically, a convicted defendant would meet with their probation officer without their attorney there. But this was different here, like many of the dynamics here.

And ultimately, it is the Probation Department that will submit a report, based in part on today's interview, to the judge here, who of course, will then ultimately decide what Trump's punishment will be.

I'm joined tonight by Trump biographer, CNN Political Analyst, and New York Times Senior Political Correspondent, Maggie Haberman.

Maggie, I mean, it's a required step before a sentencing. But just the aspect that he is undergoing this is just remarkable in and of itself.

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Everything about this is remarkable. And I do think that we lose sight of it, especially those of us, who were in that courtroom, as you and I were.

This is a former President, who was -- try to understand that his supporters think that this was not a case that should have been brought. They say that all the time. I think his lawyers feel this way too. But nonetheless, he was convicted, and it took less than two days.

And now, we are hurtling toward a Republican National Convention, where he is going to be nominated for a third time, as the party's nominee, and he will have just been sentenced, a few days earlier, on July 11th. And so, I don't think we can overstate how remarkable this is. I think where it stops feeling remarkable is that voters don't seem particularly interested in it.

And so, this is history. This is something we have never experienced before. Everything you just described is not the usual procedure, in this kind of a sentencing report interview. But this is not typical, as you said.

COLLINS: Yes. For all the talk of how Trump is treated. I mean, he does get special treatment--


COLLINS: --in some of these circumstances.

And you talked about how the sentencing is on -- it's on a Thursday. The convention starts that Monday. Based on what you've heard, has it set in for Donald Trump himself, though, that this is happening, that he is having to answer these kinds of questions to probation officers?

HABERMAN: It has. And I actually don't think that the conviction has left his mind much, even though he's, I think, the best compartmentalizer many of us have ever seen, on the political stage. I think he is well aware of what he is carrying, over the next four weeks.

COLLINS: This situation, where most of them would try to get a lesser sentence, in these kind of interviews, or when they go before the judge. Trump will have an opportunity to speak, to offer to be contrite.

But it doesn't seem like he's going -- I mean, he hasn't been making that argument, based on what he's been saying on Truth Social, or rallies, or in interviews, about this case. And we do know he's also planning on appealing it, right after that sentencing happens.

So, I mean, how does he balance the two of those?

HABERMAN: So, my assumption -- and we don't know specifically what he said in this interview, it was pretty short today. I don't know what the average length of those are. But 30 minutes is not a long time on its own.

My assumption is that he was actually not contrite, but certainly more subdued, in that interview, than what we have seen on Truth Social, what we saw outside of the courtroom, in the hallways at the courthouse, what we have seen him do at rallies, what we've seen him do in interviews.


It will be very hard for him to then suddenly argue that that's all just politics, or he didn't mean it, or what have you.

I mean, remember, he's going to be sentenced by a judge, who cited him for violating a gag order, several, several times. And at one point, said to him, the last thing I want to have to do is put you in jail, but made clear that that was on the table, if he kept doing it.

So, I don't know what this ends up looking like. I don't see a world, where Trump stands up and says, I'm really sorry, because Trump still denies anything happened.

COLLINS: Especially to this judge of all people--

HABERMAN: Correct. Correct.

COLLINS: --who he rails against repeatedly, which is -- you make a really good point there that how he acts inside the courtroom, or, based on what John Miller heard about how he was in this interview, is quite different than how he talks about it, at rallies, on TV, in front of the mics.

HABERMAN: As you and I know well, from covering him, for a long time, he can be very different, depending on what crowd he is playing to. And when he knows that he is playing to the probation commissioner, and his probation officer, the person assigned to the case, I am expecting that he was slightly more subdued.

Now, do I think that that means that he said, you're right, I feel terrible about all of this? No, I find that very unlikely. But I doubt that it was sort of the spoken version of the all-caps Truth Social posts.

COLLINS: And part of this process is family members, friends can submit letters, to the court, on the defendant's -- the felon's behalf. Do you think that'll happen in this situation?

HABERMAN: I actually do think that there are a lot of people, who are potentially going to write testimonials. We'll see if that happens.

But we certainly saw that he and his aides were getting people, to attend the trial. Normally, when people do that, it's so that the jurors can see sympathetic people, around the person. In Trump's case, it was so Trump could roll heavy with elected officials, for the most part.

But I could see efforts by his family members, by friends. He went to court a couple of times with Steve Witkoff, one of his oldest friends, who's a real estate investor from New York. I could see people like that sending in notes to the judge.

COLLINS: Yes, it's interesting. I mean, I also wonder, the VP contenders, who also started showing up, the Doug Burgums, the J.D. Vances, I mean, making very clear, it's also a question of whether they would say something, on his behalf, or if they're just doing it, on television and interviews.

HABERMAN: My assumption is that they are much likelier to do it to the cameras than they are to the judge, because they're playing to a different audience than the judge. They're playing to Trump.

COLLINS: CNN's Senior Legal Analyst, Elie Honig is also here.

Elie, when we look at this, how much impact does what happened today, in this whole pre-sentencing report that's going to go to the judge, how much impact does that have on the actual sentence itself?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: These reports matter. They are not binding on the judge. But they absolutely matter.

Because this is the first time you hear from some sort of neutral third-party, trusted by the court's probation department. And I promise you, whichever side likes the recommendation will say, look, the probation department is with us, they're on our side.

And just to give you a sense of how closely held this information is. When we would get these pre-sentence reports, sent to us, as prosecutors, it would come in two emails. First, an encrypted email that you couldn't open unless you had the code. And then a second email giving us the password to open it. So, that's how sort of confidential this information is kept.

It's seen as is proprietary, it's private information. It's personal information. So, it's very closely guarded by the courts.

COLLINS: Does it ever make a difference to the prosecution, of what they're going to ask the judge for, in terms of sentencing, when they look at a report like this?

HONIG: For sure. Because let's put ourselves in Alvin Bragg's position here, for a second. This is going to be a really close call at sentencing. What does Alvin Bragg ask for? I think he's likely to ask for some term of imprisonment. I think it's hard for him to bring a case like this, to get 34 for 34 convictions, and then say we're fine with probation.

And if probation, the Probation Department itself has come in first and said we recommend prison? It's much easier, as the D.A., to say we agree with them, yes, do that.

COLLINS: There's a lot of information in this pre-sentencing report that actually could pertain to his other legal issues that he's dealing with--


COLLINS: --from the civil ones, here in New York, but also with the other criminal cases.


COLLINS: Could that complicate anything? I mean, is that why Todd Blanche attended this today, when normally an attorney would not be present for it?

HONIG: Has to be. If I had a client, who had three other pending indictments and several civil verdicts in the process of appeal, I would absolutely insist on being there. Because what he says can be used against him in certain circumstances.

Another thing to keep your eye on here is now that Trump's been convicted, once he's sentenced in New York, that could actually bump up his punishment, if he's convicted in the other cases.


HONIG: Because those cases, what you do is you calculate a person's criminal history. Now, he has a criminal history.

COLLINS: You're agreeing, Maggie. I mean, what impact do you think it could have?

HABERMAN: I think it could have all of the impacts that Elie just described. I also think that it could end up being -- and I'm not sure that this will happen, but -- because it hasn't happened yet. But it could end up being a factor in whether prosecutors, in any of the other cases -- and Elie, correct me if I'm wrong.


HABERMAN: If they want to suggest that this impacts his release conditions from--



HABERMAN: --on those indictments. Now, again, I don't think that's likely.

But I do think that we have seen Jack Smith raise concerns about his attacks on the FBI. Judge Cannon, in that case, the Mar-a-Lago documents case, did not agree with them. It's just something -- it's more grist that prosecutors can point to.

COLLINS: Well and if he's not -- if there's not jail, as a result of this, I mean, even if he's checking with the probation officer, that would be pretty remarkable, in the homestretch of the presidential campaign.

HONIG: Yes, and have a curfew, at least sometimes, and to have a geographic restriction. I mean, the conditions for probation can differ quite a bit.

But I do want to make this point. Even if Judge Merchan sentences Trump, to prison, and I think there's a decent chance he does, that sentence will almost certainly not be imposed--

HABERMAN: Exactly.

COLLINS: --until after appeal.

HABERMAN: I was about to say it.


HABERMAN: Yes, I assume that he is going to defer the sentence, until after -- while the appeal is ongoing, and setting aside.


HABERMAN: But again -- and then that likely gets us till after the election.

HONIG: For sure.

COLLINS: And of course, we know Trump is going to appeal this.

Elie Honig, Maggie Haberman, great to have you both, to start off the show tonight.

Coming up here. Trump's co-defendant in Georgia smiles for his new mugshot, in Arizona. Hear what Rudy Giuliani said, after he just posted bail in Arizona today.

But first, the helicopter pilot, who flew hostages out of Gaza, is now speaking out, as we are seeing new video, showing that rescue happening. Israel's Ambassador to the United Nations is here to weigh in.



COLLINS: Looks like the scenes out of an action movie. But in reality, it was almost heart-pounding to watch the new details, and the new video, from two simultaneous raids that happened, and ended up freeing four Israeli hostages, who were being held in Gaza.

This is the moment that you're about to see, where three of the male hostages were rescued under heavy fire, in an Israeli raid that happened in broad daylight, and all caught on cameras, on the helmets of the IDF officers.

The audio drops out, for a brief moment. But watch this.









COLLINS: In that video, you could see the faces, of the three male hostages, in a room. One of the Israeli forces is heard on that camera audio, saying, we came to rescue you, in Hebrew, they tell them, be calm.

This operation was carried out by Israel's Police National Counter- Terrorism Unit, and Israeli intelligence operatives.

We have new video coming in, of the hostages heading home, also in a helicopter.

A short distance away, another surprise raid, to free a fellow hostage, Noa Argamani, who was emblematic of what happened on October 7th. Everyone remembers the video of her being kidnapped into Gaza. She was being held in a building nearby.

Along with the joy of those rescues has also come criticism, from the international stage, of the deadly costs of the operation that also killed Palestinian civilians. As we know, Hamas embeds itself, in and around civilians, and in the areas they live and operate in.

According to Gaza's health ministry, at least 274 people were killed, a number I should note, CNN cannot verify.

I want to bring in someone, who knows the kinds of decisions that go into a mission like this. Former Commanding General for the U.S. Army in Europe, CNN Military Analyst, Lieutenant General Mark Hertling.

What goes into something like this? When you see that video? I mean, it's remarkable. What stands out to you? LT. GENERAL MARK HERTLING (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Hours of preparation.

What you don't see in that video -- that's the action film. What you don't see is how many times those operators rehearsed that, the intelligence that drove their entry into those buildings, the kind of actions that a team has, multiple repetitions in what's called a shoot house.

I was at the Israeli training center, where they do urban operations. And when you see the kind of things they go through, to get this right, it just boggles your mind.

This is the final effect, Kaitlan. What happens before that is massive amount of intelligence gathering, and just the rehearsals that prepare these troopers to do that.

COLLINS: We woke up to this news here, in the U.S., on Saturday morning. Was it remarkable to you that this happened in broad daylight?


COLLINS: I mean, typically, this kind of stuff seems to happen at night.

HERTLING: It was interesting that it did happen in daylight.

When I was in combat, truthfully, Kaitlan, we did normal conventional operations, in the daytime. And the nighttime was left mostly for the special operators, to do these kind of hits within our area of operation.

So, to do this in daylight, it's just phenomenal, to me. That takes even more training. But they had to get in there. They had to see the ground. And they had to see the terrain that they were operating on.

COLLINS: And what does that tell you about the hostages? Notice they're being held in buildings and in apartments. We know some of them, we're told, are being held in tunnels. But clearly, some of them are being--


COLLINS: --moved around, and being held above tunnels.

HERTLING: Not only held in buildings, but held in Palestinian homes, where Palestinians were aware that they were there. This is the coercion that Hamas has, on the local residents of Gaza. And it's right smack in the middle of a neighborhood. And in fact a U.N. relief agency building was nearby.


We have seen this throughout the campaign that these kinds of operations, by the Israeli Defense Forces, are taking place in neighborhoods with mosque, with hospitals, with schools, all of it within the environment of the Palestinian people.

COLLINS: It's remarkable.

General Mark Hertling, great to have you, on set, here tonight.

HERTLING: Pleasure to be here.

COLLINS: Also, here tonight, Israel's Ambassador to the United Nations, Gilad Erdan.

Great to have you back.


COLLINS: Do you know how the hostages are doing? What have Israeli officials heard about them?

ERDAN: They said that they're doing well. Obviously, they need the psychological treatment, and other kinds of treatment, to recover from what they've endured. But thank God, they're at home, and they are with their families. And that's the most important thing.

COLLINS: And these were four people, who were rescued. This puts the total that Israel has rescued of hostages, since October 7th, at seven people. And obviously, it's undeniable that this is a success for the families, and that they are happy to see this.

But also the question is, do you -- are you worried that it jeopardizes a potential bigger hostage agreement, with Hamas, to release them?

ERDAN: On the contrary, I don't think it jeopardizes the bigger hostage deal.

Since we had the first deal, Hamas refused every offer that was put on the table. There were already -- today, we had the fourth Security Council resolution that passed. But we had three previous ones that were rejected by Hamas, calling for the release of the hostages.

So, it's -- the only thing that can work is this combination of diplomacy, applying international pressure on Hamas, that started only today with the resolution that passed in the Security Council, and using our military might.

COLLINS: But you can't -- what Israel has not been able to do is rescue all of them, through these special ops operations that are happening. I mean, we just talked about the difficulty of it.


COLLINS: You can see it there. It's so -- I do think that's a real question, tonight, of what it means for, for a hostage deal, for getting the rest of the hostages home.

ERDAN: I don't think we forget them. I mean, we are willing to sacrifice. You saw we are losing, when we're paying the ultimate price. Our best soldiers are losing -- are sacrificing their life to save the hostages. Hamas does the opposite.

But what other choice do we have, as long as Hamas refuses to every hostage deal? I mean, President Biden said it. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said it. The resolution said that we accepted the new hostage deal. We are accepting the outline that--


ERDAN: --appeared in the resolution today.

COLLINS: Ambassador, I want to ask you about what happened at the United Nations today.

But on this, Israel is facing a lot of backlash, internationally, because of how many Palestinians were killed, as a result of this raid.


COLLINS: How does Israel justify how many fatalities is worth going in and conducting a raid like this, in broad daylight, when civilians are obviously out and about?

ERDAN: Sadly -- sadly, you cannot interview here, one of the Hamas commanders, because he's the right address to ask him this question. It's not us to justify. They are putting their own civilians in harm's way. What other choice do we have? Any country would do the same, in order to release and rescue their hostages.

And still, we don't really -- know the real numbers of uninvolved civilians. There were so many civilians there that were cooperating with Hamas, to keep -- to keep the, you know, to keep the hostages, in apartments, to report to Hamas, when our forces are getting closer.

And many times, we know that Hamas is using civilians that are not affiliated with any terrorist organization. But still, they are terrorists. So, we cannot still use the terrorist numbers. As you said, these are Hamas numbers.


ERDAN: Figures, the 276.

And we regret the loss of life. We, always, when there's an opportunity, and there's an option, we warn the civilian population, we hope that they're not going to stay in harm's way.

COLLINS: But you're not denying obviously, that innocent lives were also lost as a result of that raid that happened.

ERDAN: I assume. I assume, yes. And I regret it. And it's a tragedy.

But we cannot -- I mean, if we don't put the blame on Hamas, we are helping and advancing their strategy, because otherwise, other terrorists are going to use the same strategy, in many other countries. If you can abduct innocent civilians, and then hold them in civilians' apartment, and think that you have immunity? It's not going to work. We will never defeat terrorism.

COLLINS: Let's talk about what happened at the United Nations today. Because you just mentioned in that Security Council, the resolution that passed. It is the first time we've seen something like this passed, since October 7th happened, in the eight months since the war happened.

You were present for the vote today. But you didn't address the Security Council. Why not?


ERDAN: Well, I thought that we don't want now to emphasize any differences. I know when sometimes, when I speak, people are listening to me and they're listening to what they want to listen to. So, we prefer to lower the tone, today.

As I said, we accept President Biden's -- first of all, we respect him. And we are grateful to all of his efforts, and his administration efforts. We accept, and we accepted the outline of the deal.

But I have to admit. We had our concerns about the way it will be interpreted by Hamas. That's why we held an intimate dialog, with our American counterparts. Once our security concerns were addressed, so we accepted the deal.

COLLINS: You said you had concerns. This is a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire, ultimately, a permanent one, and the release of all hostages.


COLLINS: Can you say, tonight, that Israel unequivocally backs this resolution?

ERDAN: Again, it depends on the interpretation, because there's phase one, phase two, phase three.

Moving from phase one, that calls now for the release of the wounded, and the women and the elderly, that should be done by Hamas. And then, moving to phase two, that then you get to the permanent end of hostilities. Ceasefire, it needs to be -- it depends on -- upon an agreement that should -- must be achieved between the parties.

One of our conditions is not only the release of the hostages. It's also the future of Gaza. And we cannot agree to Hamas continuing to be the rulers of Gaza, because then Gaza will continue to pose a threat against Israel.

COLLINS: But this deal is Israel's proposal. Why can't Netanyahu say outright that he supports it?

ERDAN: Well, I don't know what he said to Secretary Blinken today, when they met. But the fact that I--

COLLINS: He hasn't said publicly that he supports it.

ERDAN: The fact that I wasn't instructed to speak out against the deal means that we accept the deal. I believe.

COLLINS: Does it? Wouldn't it mean that you support it if you could come out and say you supported it?

ERDAN: But I'm saying here that we accept the deal. Again, it's pretty much depends on the way it will be interpreted by the negotiators--

COLLINS: But you're saying--

ERDAN: Because Hamas--

COLLINS: You're saying--

ERDAN: --let's say, from moving--

COLLINS: Ambassador, you're saying we support it, but. You're not just saying unequivocally that Israel does support it.

ERDAN: Because the words are very important. Because when it -- when you say that if the negotiations continues after six weeks, we need to continue with the ceasefire, so Hamas can exploit this clause, and continue with endless and meaningless negotiation that means nothing. Obviously, that wasn't the meaning of President Biden, when he--

COLLINS: So just to be clear--

ERDAN: --outlined his--

COLLINS: --even if Hamas comes out tomorrow and says, yes, we accept this. Israel still wants to negotiate what it would actually look like to implement it?

ERDAN: No, no, no. There is -- if Hamas accepted it. And you listen carefully to what they said today. They said empty words. They welcome the resolution, but they still didn't say that they accept the deal.

They know exactly what is the deal already. For sure, they know the first phase, phase one. So, they can say yes to phase one. We will see, hopefully, the release of the women, the elderly, the wounded. Israel will hold its fire for six weeks. And then, there will be negotiations on moving to the second phase, which is the permanent ceasefire. But it depends on some conditions that need to be negotiated.

The resolution says that upon agreement between the two parties, the parties, not only two parties. There will be other parties as well.

COLLINS: Well, we'll see if what they -- what they say.

Ambassador Gilad Erdan, thank you for joining tonight.

ERDAN: Thanks for having me, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: Ahead, Rudy Giuliani's latest mugshot, after he just posted bail, today, in Arizona, but still spreading lies about the 2020 election.

My next guest is worried about misinformation, in this election. Arizona's Secretary of State will join us here, with a new AI video that he created as a warning to voters.



COLLINS: You are now looking at the latest mugshot, of former Mayor, Rudy Giuliani, released in Arizona, just a few hours ago.

Donald Trump's former attorney, of course, as we know, has pleaded not guilty, after being charged with nine counts, including conspiracy for his alleged role in trying to overturn the 2020 election.

Giuliani pleaded not guilty, last month. He wasn't processed by Arizona authorities until today. That's why you're seeing this photo now.

And here's what he said after he posted the $10,000 in bond.


BRAHM RESNIK, MODERATOR FOR "SUNDAY SQUARE OFF," KPNX/12NEWS, NBC AFFILIATE IN PHOENIX: Do you have any regrets about what you did in Arizona after the election?


RESNIK: Why not?

GIULIANI: I'm very, very proud of it.

There was a substantial amount of vote fraud that went on here. That was covered up. Probably one of the biggest conspiracies in American history.


COLLINS: Joining me now, Arizona's Secretary of State, Adrian Fontes.

And Secretary, it's great to have you.

Just for context for everyone. You were previously the recorder, in Maricopa County. You were on the front lines of the election in 2020. So obviously, you have great experience with what actually happened, in the 2020 election.

And I just wonder what your response is to hearing Rudy Giuliani say that that he has no regrets, about the efforts, to try to overturn the election there. ADRIAN FONTES, (D) ARIZONA SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, first, thanks for having me on.

And second, I stopped taking Rudy Giuliani seriously, after the Borat tape. And so, I'm not going to countenance any of his lies further than they need to.


He's been indicted. And he is innocent until proven guilty. And that's really what the process is that we're fighting for. We think the rule of law should be applied to every person, regardless of their station. And that's really, I think, where it ends.

COLLINS: And I know you can't talk about the specifics of the case. But the other thing that he said there that caught my ear was, he said that there was a tremendous amount of evidence, and that there was an abundant amount of evidence.

I mean, you oversaw the counting of the ballots, in Maricopa County. Was there a tremendous amount of evidence of voter fraud from what you saw?

FONTES: Well, I'm glad you pointed that out, because the 2020 election actually was the election, where I was running for re-election. And unfortunately, the voters had a different opinion than I had. And I ran the election. That was my own loss.

And we know that the elections are solid in Arizona. They always have been. The people that run them have run them with honor and integrity for a long time.

I can't say the same for folks, who have been proven wrong over and over and over again, in every actual inquiry that has occurred. And so, we're going to let the process play its way out, and let the chips fall where they may for these folks who have been accused.

COLLINS: As you look ahead to 2024, you did something recently that is really remarkable. You created this AI-generated video of yourself. It looks like you. It sounds like you.

I just want our audience to see this video, but just as a reminder is actually not real.


FONTES: This is an impersonation of Arizona's Secretary of State Adrian Fontes, using generative AI. The video was created as part of the Arizona election security and AI tabletop exercise for the media. Our goal is to make sure folks understand the capabilities of current deepfake technology, and the dangers it poses to the public.


COLLINS: I mean, it's unsettling to see that, to hear that, to look at you right now, in real life. And I just wonder, the fact that that can be so easily done, how much it concerns you about what election workers, election officials, like yourself, are up against?

FONTES: Well, this is one of the reasons why we started engaging AI experts, and training our own elections officials, in Arizona, last December, during a tabletop exercise.

We want to make sure that our folks are as well prepared as possible that these things are not new to them, if and when they get used in malicious ways, against them or our voters. That is really what this is about, being prepared for the possibilities.

We do all kinds of other preparations in election administration. If we've got delivery trucks, we've got backups. If we have electrical systems, we've got backup generators deployed. This is part and parcel of the new reality in election administration. And it would have been irresponsible of me, as the Chief Election Officer, in Arizona not to prepare my folks.

It's just like when I was in the Marine Corps. You use the tactics and the weapons of the enemy to prepare yourself for the impending battle, hoping that that battle never comes.

COLLINS: Secretary of State, Adrian Fontes, thank you for joining us tonight.

FONTES: Thank you for having me.

COLLINS: Also, tonight, we are tracking some veepstakes developments, because one leading contender is revealing some of the questions that they are being asked by the Trump team, including, have you ever committed a crime.



COLLINS: Have you ever committed a crime? It's a pretty standard question for most Americans who are applying for a job.

But it is also one of the same questions that is being asked apparently to the contenders, who may be on the ticket with Donald Trump, Republicans who are vying to serve alongside a convicted felon in a historic first.


SEN. J.D. VANCE (R-OH): They've asked us for a number of things. I think that a number of people have been asked to submit this and that.

STEVE DOOCY, FOX & FRIENDS CO-HOST, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: Like your taxes or something?

VANCE: You know, I don't know. Everything that they've been asked.

DOOCY: Your criminal background?

VANCE: But yes, I mean, certainly like, you know, have you committed a crime, or ever lied about this?


COLLINS: My team of political sources joins me here tonight at the table.

Former Trump White House Communications Director, Alyssa Farah Griffin.

Former New York City Mayor, Bill de Blasio.

And former Republican Congressman, Lee Zeldin.

Great to have you all here.

I mean, Alyssa, obviously this is kind of standard in the sense that they want to make sure they know everything about these candidates. It's kind of like a security clearance type form, which I know you had to fill out. But what do you make of that?

ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I want to know more though. I mean, is it a prerequisite? Do they also want someone else, who's committed a crime with a convicted felon on the ticket? Unclear to me.

I still think it's remarkable, listen, the uncharted territory that we're in. You cannot work in the West Wing, I could not have worked in the West Wing, if I had ever had a felony charge. Yet there's a very real chance we'll have a president, overseeing the West Wing, who has 33 or 34 felony charges on him.

COLLINS: Yes, that's a good point.

I mean, what do you make of that question, have you ever lied? Kind of what this process is looking like for these potential contenders?

BILL DE BLASIO, (D) FORMER NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: Look, I go back to the voters. I think that voters actually care, if there's this kind of history. And I think the criminal conviction that Trump has had is going to matter in the end. I know there's some polling that suggests otherwise, right now. But I think it's going to matter in the end.

So, this actually is important, because if for example, the process that they have says it doesn't matter if you've lied or committed a crime, that's going to come back to hurt him. If they say, oh, no, no, we must have a vice president, who's never ever committed a crime, it kind of advertises the problem with the top of the ticket.

And I think one thing we can say for sure, top of the ticket dominates here in a way we've rarely seen. VP is going to be so marginalized compared to past races.

But this question kind of speaks volumes. [21:45:00]

COLLINS: Well, and the question is also does it affect the margins? Because that is going to be incredibly important in this election.

And so, when you -- when I've been talking to people, and tell me what you've heard as well, is that it seems like it's J.D. Vance, Doug Burgum, and Marco Rubio, who have risen to the top of who's under consideration.

Electorally speaking, who do you think would be the most beneficial to Donald Trump's ticket?

LEE ZELDIN, (R) FORMER NEW YORK CONGRESSMAN: I haven't publicly stated any favorite. They come with strengths and weaknesses.

I'm sure, if you come up with a list of seven or eight names, they all bring their own positive, like electoral history, and they have their positions on issues that might have more symmetry with an electorate. But that's ultimately up to the President to choose who he wants to be his running mate.

COLLINS: But you've run a bunch of races. You just ran one, here in New York. I mean, that is something that people--

ZELDIN: I would say--

COLLINS: --take into consideration.

ZELDIN: One of -- for me, I think, in 2024, one of the best skills is going to be the ability to get into cities, to go talk to longtime Democrat voters, about issues that they care about. There are disenfranchised voters, out there, who aren't going to just come around and vote for your ticket.

I'll be this Saturday in Detroit. I'll be speaking a few hours ahead of President Trump.

We saw President Trump going to the South Bronx.

I found during my race for governor, as I was talking to Asian voters, and Black voters, and Hispanic voters, when you show up and you don't pander, you show up and actually talk to them, about the quality of education in schools, or crime, or mental health challenges, or homelessness and more? On the issues, there are these issues that transcend blind partisan loyalty.

So ultimately, if you're going to ask me what trait, as far as getting out and campaigning and making a difference, I would say it's the interest, the willingness, the ability, to get out and not just talk to Republicans, who maybe already with you, but being able to win over the support of Democrats.

COLLINS: Are you saying that you should be under consideration? You're going into the city.



ZELDIN: That's not -- that's not what I'm saying.

COLLINS: Are you pitching yourself, right now?


DE BLASIO: We'll nominate you, Lee.



DE BLASIO: You know we'll nominate you.

ZELDIN: Well I'm sure that'll help my cause.

COLLINS: Yes, I mean.

DE BLASIO: I'll be the first to speak up for you.

FARAH GRIFFIN: He makes a very good point.

ZELDIN: Mayor de Blasio has some of the good stuff in the cup.

FARAH GRIFFIN: The VP doesn't necessarily matter beyond what can he add that the top of the ticket doesn't. Donald Trump needs somebody, who can be a monster fundraiser. He's lagged Joe Biden this cycle.

He needs someone who can go and campaign independent of him. He is going to be tied up in courtrooms. He's going to be busy. Who can go out, turnout crowds, and reach voters, who he maybe hasn't been able to? And then, he wants someone is fiercely loyal to him. And this is the key thing. It's somebody--

COLLINS: And you've worked for Pence. So, you know this very well.

FARAH GRIFFIN: I know, personally. It's somebody who would not do what Mike Pence did on January 6th. That's been a bit of a litmus test in some of these discussions. I think Rubio and Burgum make a lot of sense.

I am kind of stunned, though, that there's only really one woman in consideration. And she's kind of considered the second tier. Considering that abortion is one of the top issues, this cycle, Trump's consistently been bleeding support with suburban women. And I think having a woman in contention would be a huge boon for him.

DE BLASIO: Yes. I hear you. But I have to say I think it's past that point for them. You know?


DE BLASIO: The first time in American history that a right has been taken away, the right to choice has been taken away by the Supreme Court, those people named by Donald Trump. Having a woman as VP is not going to erase that. There's no way you can make that up.

And I think the challenge here is there's -- none of these figures that are being talked about for VP are big enough, to really have an effect on the election. They're not going to win the swing voters over.

I think this is a key thing, you just said it right. Suburban women are going to determine this election. Right now, that's something that's going to help Joe Biden, in my opinion, in those swing states.

Who of these folks that Donald Trump is looking at for VP are possibly going to help to change that balance. I don't see any of them as decisive. Trump is just too dominant, and he has crossed the Rubicon, on issues related to women, in such a profound way, VP is not going to save him.

COLLINS: Do you believe any of those three names that could help with that? I mean, a Marco Rubio, or any of those names that could potentially help with some of those voters? Or do you see that some of that?

ZELDIN: Well I think first and foremost, the most important trait out -- you know, we're talking about one quality, a few minutes ago, about winning an election, in November.

The most important trait is somebody who can fill the position of being President of the United States. And that really should be like the top three priorities, of picking them. And there are talented people here.

I mean, you mentioned Doug. Doug Burgum is the governor of a state, and he's a wealthy businessman.

And Marco Rubio is, he's a good messenger, and he speaks Spanish, and he can get out and communicate with a larger demographic.

But like, as you go down the list, J.D. Vance, he comes on your show, and you might ask him tough questions, and he's ready for it. He'll give you tough answers. And you're ready to go back to him. And I think the audience likes to watch the back-and-forth there.

There are talents. But I don't think anyone really is going to change the election as a VP.


DE BLASIO: And none of them are particularly presidential. In my opinion, respectfully, and I could say--


DE BLASIO: --Democrats and Republicans, I could say different, the same analysis for people in both parties. These particular folks don't strike me as like-- ZELDIN: Can I add?


DE BLASIO: --the person who's going to step in, if they were ever called upon.

ZELDIN: There's one dynamic though, that I think is going to work.

DE BLASIO: But I just want to finish.


DE BLASIO: I just don't think -- it would be very interesting, if Donald Trump said, I'm going to go for a really well-known highly- respected kind of crossover American figure, someone that people can see as their president. I don't think the people we're talking about here meet that standard.

ZELDIN: I just think that when you get to a VP debate, and you get one shot, right? And there might be as few as one debates -- one debate.

And Vice President, Kamala Harris, is on stage, with that candidate, and you're talking about these issues, related to the border, or the economy, foreign policy and energy. And you're flushing out not just your own positions as a candidate, but really the positions of your ticket and your party in a moment.

FARAH GRIFFIN: But well can I say I'm old enough to remember--

ZELDIN: I think that there are some great candidates for that.

FARAH GRIFFIN: --when Mike Pence arguably beat Vice President, Kamala Harris, in a debate. And the next day, Donald Trump stepped on the entire message.

At the end of the day, Donald Trump's fatal flaw, since he won in 2016, is not being able to pivot to a general election. He's out there, this weekend, talking about wind turbines, and sharks, and boats and sinking, not talking about issues, voters care about. Always talk about rage and retribution.

So, you could have the best messenger out there. I think Mike Pence was arguably the best person he could have chosen, last time around.

COLLINS: Who also navigated the Trump dynamics in a way that wasn't really appreciated.

FARAH GRIFFIN: Remarkably better than most could. I think -- I don't know that anyone's going to be able to bring him back to these independents he's losing.

DE BLASIO: Exactly right.

COLLINS: A great discussion. We will see. It's the countdown until Donald Trump picks. Mayor de Blasio, Alyssa Farah Griffin, Lee Zeldin, thank you all for being here.

Up next, the fate of President Biden's son, Hunter, is now in the hands of a jury, after a heated day of closing arguments. We'll tell you what they said.



COLLINS: Hunter Biden's fate is now in the hands of a jury, tonight, as tomorrow morning, those 12 jurors will continue their deliberations that they started today, in his federal gun trial.

In the closing arguments that happened today, though, before they got started, Hunter Biden's attorney, the defense here, Abbe Lowell repeatedly slammed his fist on a lectern, calling prosecutors, and I'm quoting him now, "Extraordinarily cruel," for at one point asking Hunter Biden's daughter, if she had ever used drugs. At another point, glaring in the direction of the prosecution, while accusing the State of doing what he called magician tricks, throughout the trial.

And meanwhile, in their closing arguments, the prosecution argued in part that who was in the room during this trial did not matter. Notable comment, given we often saw the presence of the first lady, Jill Biden.

And quote, the prosecution said, "The people sitting in the gallery are not evidence. You may recognize some of them from the news or from the community." Of course, in this trial, "you may have looked at them and they may have looked at you... But respectfully, none of that matters."

Here tonight, defense attorney and jury consultant, Renato Stabile.

Do you think we'd get a verdict in this case tomorrow?

RENATO STABILE, JURY CONSULTANT: I think we are going to get a verdict tomorrow. I mean, it's not a complicated case. We only had four days' worth of evidence. The jury certainly knows what the issues are. I don't think they have to spend more than tomorrow, on this.

But I think if they don't get a verdict tomorrow, you could be looking at a hung jury here, because like I said, the facts are not that complicated, and the legal issues really aren't that complicated.

COLLINS: And as we know, if it's a hung jury, they'll try to send them back in, like what we were speculating with the Trump case as well?

STABILE: Yes, they would get an Allen charge, which is a charge to tell them to continue to deliberate. But they'll also be cautioned not to give up their firmly-held beliefs. So it kind of--

COLLINS: Just for the sake of coming to a close? STABILE: Yes. Well jurors like want to reach verdicts. They know they're supposed to reach a verdict. But sometimes, they can. And sometimes, Allen charges work. And sometimes, they don't.

COLLINS: I wonder what you thought. Because you're always -- we're always trying to get the minds of the jury. We don't know what they're actually thinking.

But what do you think how they took the prosecution's closing argument today, not to pay attention to who was in the room? I mean, it was a pretty clear comment directed at the first lady, Jill Biden.

STABILE: Well, I mean, to refer to people in the gallery are not evidence, I think that was the direct quote, to refer to the first lady, as people in the gallery. I think it could have been very off- putting.

You have to assume that the Biden family -- and forget about what you think of Joe Biden. Forget about what you think of Hunter Biden. I'm sure Jill Biden enjoys a good reputation in the State of Delaware, the rest of the Biden family.

It seemed like a little bit of a cheap shot. I think the prosecutors felt like they had to acknowledge what they perceived as the elephant in the room, that you have the Biden family there. But it wasn't inappropriate. They were all close family members, right? It's not like you brought in political allies, or people that you wouldn't normally expect, people you wouldn't have Thanksgiving with.

COLLINS: Yes. If you were the attorney, representing Hunter Biden here, would you have sent the family in?

STABILE: Oh, absolutely. I would have had the family there. Interestingly, I think I would have considered bringing the President there, just for the summations.

COLLINS: Really?

STABILE: Now, you can't bring the President there for the whole trial, because people will say, well, doesn't he have better things to do than sit here for a week? But for summations, for a few hours? It would not have been inappropriate to do that.

COLLINS: That's interesting. So you think a President Biden being in there would have been helpful?

STABILE: I'm sure that discussion was had, between the Biden family, and Abbe Lowell. And they decided against it. And I can understand their reasons to decide against it.

But if you do bring the President there, it does show respect for the system that he's there, sitting as a father, interested in the fate of his son. But he's not there -- and you would have to acknowledge that he's not there, as the President of the United States. He's there as the father of Hunter Biden.


COLLINS: Yes. I mean, it is remarkable.

Abbe Lowell going 90 minutes today, where the jury was closing their eyes, at some points, is that a bad sign--

STABILE: You can't--

COLLINS: --good sign, no sign?

STABILE: Look, it's not great. But you can't read too much into that.

COLLINS: Yes. Renato Stabile, we will be waiting to see if there is verdict, tomorrow. Thank you for joining us, tonight.

Thank you all so much for joining us as well, as we continue to monitor all the news here, at CNN.