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The Source with Kaitlan Collins

President Biden Returns To Delaware, Embraces Son After Conviction; Paul Ryan: Trump Populism Is "Untethered" To Principles; CNN Projects Trump-Endorsed Rep. Nancy Mace Wins SC Primary Race. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired June 11, 2024 - 21:00   ET



SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Who showed up to vote, and found out they were actually registered in a different county or, in some cases, in a different state, which is an indication of sort of the education gap that still exists, for those who are behind bars.

There were dozens of folks, who wanted to vote, from the jail, today. And we expect that that number is going to be even larger, when we get to the general election in November. This was sort of a dry run, for the big event coming up.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: It'd be interesting to do polling, and see who they're voting for.

Sara Murray, thanks so much.


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

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST: I'm Kaitlan Collins. Welcome to THE SOURCE.

Tonight, President Biden wasn't scheduled to be back home, in Wilmington. But what happened inside a Delaware courtroom, earlier, abruptly changed his plans. His only surviving son, Hunter Biden, was convicted on all three felony gun charges that he was facing today.

Hours later, Hunter Biden was standing on the tarmac, as you can see here, to greet his father, when Marine One landed in Delaware. It was striking to see the two of them embrace, for the first time, since that guilty verdict came down.

And his only comment so far on the matter, President Biden said, in part, in his statement, I am the President, but I am also a Dad, as he also praised his son for overcoming a battle with drug addiction.

But this conviction also comes in the middle of a presidential election. And there was also a message, tonight, in Biden's statement, regarding his role as President. He said that he will accept the outcome of this case that he does accept it, and that he also respects the judicial process, seeming to reiterate a promise that he made, last week, that he won't pardon Hunter Biden.

But as Biden balances both being an anguish parent and president, in between the verdict, and that reunion that you just saw there on the tarmac, he also gave a speech on gun safety in Washington.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: It's time once again to do what I did when I was a senator. Ban assault weapons.



COLLINS: Before that speech, that was pre-planned, I should note, before the verdict came down this morning, it was in the Delaware courtroom, where the jury's decision on Hunter Biden was unanimous. Guilty.

But notably, three jurors told CNN after, that they questioned whether or not these charges should have been brought at all.

A fourth that was known to only us as juror number 10 said no politics were at play, when they were deliberating their decision.


JUROR #10, HUNTER BIDEN GUN TRIAL: President Biden never really even came into play for me.

You kind of put that out of your mind.

Politics was not even spoken about. The First Family was not even spoken about. It was all -- it was all about Hunter.


COLLINS: And of course, as we know, it is far from over for Hunter Biden. He is facing sentencing on the gun conviction that is going to come at the height of the general presidential election, and another potentially even more serious trial, on tax charges, this fall.

Few people know more about the personal toll that this has taken on President Biden than my source tonight. Evan Osnos is one of the country's foremost Biden biographers, and a CNN Contributor. He is the Author of "Joe Biden: The Life, the Run, and What Matters Now."

And Evan joins me now.

I mean, there's basically no precedent, for what we are seeing right now. A president's -- a sitting President's immediate family member has never been convicted on any kind of crime, while they were in office.

And I just wonder, what you make of, and what stood out to you, of how President Biden reacted today.

EVAN OSNOS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, it is something extraordinary to see. I mean, he is balancing these two distinct roles, as father and as president.

And on some level, this combination of private life and public life has been at the center of his relationship with Hunter, since Hunter was a baby. After all, you remember, of course, his mother was killed in that car accident, when he was a toddler. Joe Biden, at that point, was between being elected and being sworn into the Senate.

His -- Hunter's entire life has been, in some ways, straddling the struggles, the privileges, the choices, the risks that come with that. And I think of this, tonight, as a moment, in some ways, it's part of this long arc, this really sort of epic American political story.

COLLINS: Yes. And I mean, the family seemed surprised, when this came down today. It did happen relatively quickly.

Hunter Biden himself was not even at the courthouse today. And you saw them, then rushing back in there, and including the first lady, Jill Biden. But after, we didn't see any of this anguish, or their real response in front of the cameras, at least. We saw they embraced in the tarmac.

What do you think it's like, behind closed doors, in Wilmington, tonight?

OSNOS: Yes, they've got abundant experience of tragedy, on some level. And tragedy is not to be exculpatory here. When nobody and, least of all, Joe Biden is saying that Hunter Biden didn't make choices that led to this result.

But they have also learned over the years, about how you get through this. They turn inward. They have this -- it's not a coincidence that they're going to Wilmington, for this. That's sort of the ancestral homeland. And they go there, and they meet as a family. They have these traditions of these family meetings.


And the line that you often hear in politics, from Biden, is that through pain you have to find purpose. It can sound like it's a line, except that for him, it is at the core of how he gets through this.

And I can tell you that is no question what he is telling the other members of his family, that if we're going to get through this, part of our purpose is to demonstrate that nobody is above the law, that a president does not interfere in the activities of the court, that a jury can still find its way to a result, even in a time of intense partisanship.

COLLINS: You've spent a lot of time with Biden, I mean, and his family, as you're writing your book. Did you ever think that you'd see a day, like today?

OSNOS: I'll be frank. No.

I think when I first started interviewing Joe Biden, back in 2014, a decade ago, Beau Biden was alive. It was actually kind of a hopeful moment, in the course of his treatment. They thought that they might have had some good news.

And in so many ways, this story, the one we are inhabiting today is the result of Beau Biden's death in 2015. It was like a bomb that went off, in that family.

And I have to say, one of the things, we learned from this trial, and it really was a revelation, even to people, who know the family well, was the depth to which the impact of addiction, rippled all the way through. Hallie Biden, as we heard, of course, also ended up involved with crack cocaine. It was a just a period of his life.

And I think as political observers, we study presidents, not only because it helps us understand the choices they make, the pressures that they're under. But it's also a reflection of ourselves, of our country, and our time. And what this family was going through, between 2015 and 2021, and all the way up to today is in itself a very American story.

COLLINS: Well, as someone, who studies Biden, I mean, what is it -- what did you take away from -- they already had this pre-planned event, on gun safety, at the White House, which I think a lot of people were thinking to themselves, I mean, the timing here is unbelievable.

But he came out. He didn't give the full speech. He actually was going to talk about new gun restrictions that the DOJ has enacted, and what that has resulted in. He did not. He spoke about it more broadly, in his speech than what had been previously planned. But he didn't seem to give anything away--

OSNOS: Not a word.

COLLINS: --from what I saw, in that speech.

OSNOS: Yes. Not a word. I think there's a way that he has drawn this bright line, between what's happening with the family and what's happening in politics.

And it can almost look, I think, a little awkward, because people are sort of expecting him to talk about this thing in his life. But he is so concerned that it will be turned into a talking point by his opponent that it -- I think he's almost going out of his way not to talk about it.

COLLINS: Well, I wonder how, how does it weigh on him, when he hears three jurors, who told CNN -- obviously, they voted. This was unanimous. They voted to convict. But they were asking themselves, if this would have been brought at all, had he not been Hunter Biden.

OSNOS: That's been a fact for a while. I mean, Joe Biden has said to have told people around him that he knows that had he not continued on in politics that his son might not be facing the charges that he was on.

COLLINS: I mean, that must really weigh on him.

OSNOS: I think it's a heavy, heavy burden.

COLLINS: To have that thought.

OSNOS: I think it's a very heavy burden.

And look, Joe Biden's decision to be in public life, as long as he has, has added to the pressure on Hunter Biden. I mean, Joe Biden has always known for a long time, that the gene of addiction, which is in this family, is in Hunter Biden's life. And by staying in politics, by being as exposed as they are, in some ways, it has put pressures on Hunter Biden. And I do think that weighs on the president.

COLLINS: Well, and obviously, all of this is coming in the middle of the election year. We will talk about, in a second, about how Republicans are handling this.

But how does Biden handle this at the debate? I don't think anyone thinks it's going to have a huge impact on the election. But we'll see. But how does he handle it for the debate with Trump, who, of course, at the last debate brought up Hunter Biden?

OSNOS: I think in the broader sense, there is a way in which this adds to the psychic load, of what he is contending with. I mean, if you think about the Middle East, you think about the U.S., and now of course, within his own family.

Actually, though, as a political matter, and in the debate, that's actually an area where Joe Biden knows how to handle this. You remember in 2020, there was a moment, when he essentially telegraphed, very clearly: Back off, I love my son. And actually, and the data in the campaign was clear about this. That was a moment that Americans responded to. I think there is some piece of the public that says we want to see not only that president, but also that dad.

COLLINS: Yes. Evan Osnos, great to have you on this. Thank you for joining us.

OSNOS: Pleasure.

COLLINS: And of course, as I mentioned, the fallout from this verdict is already happening, in a fast and furious way, from Capitol Hill, all the way to Mar-a-Lago.

Tonight, joining us here also:

Andrew McCabe, the former FBI Deputy Director and CNN's Senior Law Enforcement Analyst.

Ashley Allison, CNN Political Commentator, and the former Coalitions Director for the 2020 Biden campaign.

And also David Urban, CNN Senior Political Commentator, and a former Trump campaign adviser.

So, we've really got the entire gamut here.


And Andrew McCabe, but let me start with you. Because we did hear from the Special Counsel, David Weiss, today, someone we have not heard from, very often, in this case. He came out and spoke after the guilty verdict.


DAVID WEISS, SPECIAL COUNSEL: No one in this country is above the law. Everyone must be accountable for their actions, even this defendant. However, Hunter Biden should be no more accountable than any other citizen convicted of this same conduct.


COLLINS: Obviously, Andrew McCabe, Hunter Biden's legal team has made clear they are going to challenge this.

But this is not the end of the legal exposure, legal troubles for Hunter Biden. He's got another case pending this November, or this fall.

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes. Kaitlan, he's not out of the woods by a longshot. The case that he has coming up, in September, on the tax charges, the very serious case. And it's one that on its own brings the threat of much more extensive potential jail time.

And now, of course, he'll go into that case, having already been convicted of another felony. So, he's no longer considered a first- time offender, in the resolution of the tax case, which could make his penalties, if he's convicted, even more intense.

COLLINS: OK. So, you do believe, Andrew McCabe that it would -- it could impact the outcome of that case, potentially?

MCCABE: Yes, there's no question. He goes into that case now, as having been recently convicted of another totally unrelated offense. So, that's not a good thing for him.

I think it was interesting that Weiss made those comments about the fact that Hunter Biden should not be held more accountable than anybody else. There's no question that this trial was conducted in the way you would expect to see any criminal trial conducted.

The prosecutors had an overwhelming amount of evidence. Their case went in very smoothly.

The defense had a very, very limited kind of range of motion to work with here, trying to get the jury to basically thread the eye of a needle, and focus on the fact that Hunter allegedly wasn't taking drugs the day he bought the gun. That was kind of a Hail Mary pass that obviously didn't work for them.

All of that aside, despite the validity of this jury verdict, I think Mr. Weiss is going to have some really tough questions to answer, in the long run, about the broader decisions that he made, along this path, about why he offered such a favorable plea deal that he then walked away from, and wouldn't give back to the defendant, once he -- when he asked for that initially.

So, there's a lot of questions about why Hunter Biden was held to this standard, maybe prosecuted in a way that most other defendants, who might be, who were allegedly involved in similar conduct, would not have been held to the same standard. So, those questions are still, I think, hanging out there--


MCCABE: --for Mr. Weiss.

COLLINS: Yes. We don't often see a case like this brought, as we've noted, and looked at the historical context.

David, can we talk about how the Trump campaign responded to this, today? Because obviously, Republicans talk about Hunter Biden a lot.

But this -- I noticed this today, with the Trump campaign, where they first released a version of the state -- of a statement on what happened, criticizing Biden, criticizing his family, essentially saying that Hunter Biden should have been charged with other things.

But at the end, on the initial statement, they said, quote, "As for Hunter, we wish him well in his recovery and legal affairs."

OK. But then they retracted that and put out another one, with striking that last line, and no longer wishing him well, and then kind of rescinding the statement altogether.

What do you make of that?

DAVID URBAN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, Kaitlan, I liked the -- I liked the first version better, right? Obviously, nobody wants to see anybody languish, in addiction, and spiral downward any more than they already have been, and is well-chronicled on -- on the laptop.

And as Andrew pointed out correctly, September 5th, Hunter Biden stands trial, again, on these tax charges, which is -- which are much more serious. There are seven charges, I think, three felonies and four misdemeanor charges that he's facing, for not paying over a $1.5 million in taxes, over a five year period on $7 million earned. And so, he's in for some rough sledding ahead.

And to your earlier -- again, to Evan's point, earlier, it's going to be right in the middle of the campaign. September 5th, it's kind of right when people are getting ramped up, in campaign season. And that's going to be weighing heavily on Joe Biden's mind. He's out campaigning, and it's going to be in the news every day, as Americans are contemplating what they're going to do.

I don't think it's going to have a dispositive impact on who votes for whom. But, people -- the Republicans are going to point back to the -- to the laptop, and the 50-plus national security individuals, who said the laptop was Russian, you know, Russian interference campaign, and it wasn't real.

And in this case, the laptop, where the FBI said laptop was real, as real could be. So, it's going to provide a bunch of fodder for the campaigns, for the Republican campaign, moving forward--



URBAN: --this fall.

COLLINS: And I just wanted to -- when we've had any of those officials, who've signed that letter, James Clapper, Brennan, we've talked to them about putting their name on that and whatnot.

But Ashley, in the sense of this, of what we're hearing from Republicans, and them struggling to kind of respond to this, some of them are saying that they believe the conviction is kind of dumb, in the words of one of them. In other situations, they've been arguing there was this two-tiered system of justice.

But, I mean, the President's son was just convicted by his Justice Department.

ASHLEY ALLISON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. I mean, it's interesting to see Republicans contort themselves, in certain moments, to make the story work for them.

Donald Trump was prosecuted with a state -- a state-level charge, not Joe Biden. They blame Joe Biden.

Now, Hunter Biden, Joe Biden's son, is prosecuted by the Department of Justice, who Joe Biden, our President nominated the Attorney General. And they still are not satisfied.

Look, I think, at the end of the day, I agree with David, in terms of there will be another case that Hunter Biden is involved in. And I do not think that these outcomes of the case, particularly related to Joe Biden's son, not Joe Biden, like Donald Trump, but Joe Biden's son, will be determinative on how voters actually decide to vote in the fall.

But what I do think it allows an opportunity to do is to draw a contrast, yet again, on how the two, one former president, one current president's, who both are fathers, approach the situation, talk about the situation, handle it with compassion, or lack of compassion, handle it with honesty. And I think that will be, and there'll be opportunity, this fall, to see the distinct contrast how one side handles that versus the other.

COLLINS: Well, and we heard from the House Speaker, Mike Johnson, on this. Listen to what he told Manu Raju, today, David.


MANU RAJU, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Mr. Speaker, you have been saying two-tiered system of justice for some time. Here's the President's son being convicted on three counts. Doesn't that undercut your claims?

REP. MIKE JOHNSON (R-LA): Yes. Come on. It doesn't. Every case is -- is different. And clearly, the evidence was overwhelming here. I don't think that's the case in the Trump trials. And all the charges that have been brought against him have been obviously brought for political purposes. Hunter Biden is a separate instance.


COLLINS: OK, but, David--


COLLINS: --is that really? I mean, it does undercut the claims that--


COLLINS: --that it's a two-tiered system of justice.

URBAN: Well, look, it does. And look, everyone's saying -- look, two things can be true here, right?

People are saying, oh, this wouldn't have been brought if Hunter Biden wasn't Joe Biden's son.

But yet, nobody's saying that same thing, right, except maybe for Fareed Zakaria, that nobody would have brought the case against Donald Trump, if he weren't -- if his name weren't Donald Trump.

So possibly, both those things are true in this, and these both cases. And I think that's what's getting Republicans' goads here.

COLLINS: Andrew McCabe, can I just get your thought on this? I mean, you were the Deputy Director of the FBI. How do you view this, in the sense of the rule of law, and the justice system, overall, and how that is, with this new political weapon at the center of everything?

MCCABE: Kaitlan, I've spent my entire professional life in it. The justice system, in this country, is not perfect. It's got a lot of flaws. But it is not two-tiered.

And I have also seen that people, who have outcomes they don't like generally don't like the system. And people, who have favorable outcomes, they like it. This, politics aside, that's basically what shapes people's opinions.

I guess, the Speaker believes that his own judgments, about the quality of evidence, in each individual prosecution, which he admits, they're all very different, his own judgment about those things should supersede the decisions of judges and juries.

I disagree with that. But I guess we just have to leave it there.

COLLINS: Yes. And I should note, Speaker Johnson was not actually in the courtroom, when we were listening to all of that evidence, of course.

Andrew McCabe, Ashley Allison, David Urban, great to have you all, talking about this, breaking it down with us, tonight.

URBAN: Thanks. Thanks for having me.

COLLINS: Ahead, Stop the Steal flags. And now, the wife of the Supreme Court Justice, Samuel Alito, is condemning the Pride flag, and more. Lots of flag talk. It's all on tape. We'll let you listen to it in a moment.

Also, former Republican House Speaker, unloading on former President Donald Trump, tonight, holding nothing back, truly.


PAUL RYAN, (R) FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: He's a populist. He's not a conservative.

This populism is untethered to principles.




COLLINS: Tonight, one of the former leaders of the Republican Party is unloading on the indisputable current one.

In a new interview, the former House Speaker, Paul Ryan, called Donald Trump unfit for office, and is squarely blaming him for Republican losses, up and down the ballot.


RYAN: He's cost us a lot of seats. I could probably--


RYAN: --spend some time, and come up with the numbers. He cost us Senate twice. He cost us the House. Because he is nominating, he is pushing through the primaries, people who cannot win general elections, but who pledge fealty to him. That's not a good way to build and grow a party.


COLLINS: That relationship still as icy as ever. We're also learning that another relationship may be on the verge of

thawing out. Donald Trump and Senator Mitch McConnell will share the same air, for the first time in nearly four years, this week, as after McConnell confirmed to CNN today that he will be at that meeting, Trump is having, with Senate Republicans, in Washington, on Thursday.


Now, this is so notable because Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell have not spoken since December of 2020. That was shortly before the January 6th attack on the Capitol, for which McConnell, as we all remember in that floor speech, said Trump was practically and morally responsible for what happened.

Then, of course, four years later, in a remarkable turnaround, McConnell announced in March that he will be voting for Donald Trump, come November.

My source on all of this, tonight, is former Republican congressman, Adam Kinzinger, who served on the January 6th congressional committee.

And Congressman, just first off, what do you make of Trump's upcoming meeting, with Senate Republicans, but also the fact that we don't know if they'll actually interact? It's not that big of a crowd. But that Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell will be around each other for the first time in four years.

ADAM KINZINGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, obviously, the meeting itself isn't surprising.

Mitch McConnell meeting with Trump really isn't surprising. He's a political animal at his core. I mean, he's -- he does some honorable things, like the support for Ukraine, and stuff like that. But he's made it clear from the very beginning that he will support the Republican nominee.

I wish he wouldn't, because, I mean, obviously, he could stay away. He could not say anything at all. And it's pretty obvious he's not going to be there in a number of years. So, why not go out with the legacy? So, it's too bad. But like I said, I'm not surprised at all.

COLLINS: Well, I mean, it's essentially the opposite of what we are hearing from Paul Ryan. He said he's not voting for Trump.


COLLINS: He's going to write someone in. He did that in 2020. So, it's not a surprise.

But this is what he said to Neil Cavuto, about why he can't bring himself to vote for Donald Trump.


RYAN: I think it really is just character at the end of the day, and the fact that if you're willing to put yourself above the Constitution. An oath you swear when you take office, in federal office, whether as president or a member of Congress, you swear an oath to the Constitution. And if you're willing to suborn it to yourself, I think that makes you unfit for office.


COLLINS: Why do you think that other Republicans, more Republicans, who feel the same way Paul Ryan does, don't say it?

KINZINGER: I don't know. And I wish they did.

I mean, look, there's reality that members of Congress, and former members of Congress, particularly, are ones that are leaving, don't want to make the party mad, because they can go make a bunch of money lobbying, after that. And so, a lot of them stay quiet, which is why people ask me, how come somebody that's leaving stays quiet? And with that, you don't want to tick off the party.

I'm very proud of Paul Ryan for saying it, because he could have stayed silent. He could have not said anything. But he made a very clear, concise case for why he's unqualified.

And on -- the point about the Constitution. Look, Kaitlan, when I swore into Congress, I did not take an oath to my district. I didn't take an oath to the 700,000 people I represented. I took an oath to the Constitution of the United States.

That is the most important thing. More than any issue, more than any tax rate, the most important thing is, are we going to uphold these basic principles, because democracy can't survive if you don't.

So, I think, Paul, the Speaker, made a very compelling case. He did it in front of an audience that didn't want to hear that. And I hope he says it more.

COLLINS: You talk about people, though, who are political animals, and that are interested in keeping their jobs on Capitol Hill. I mean, I think they look at this in a cynical way, and say, OK, well, if I say, what Paul Ryan's out there saying, look at Paul Ryan. He's no longer in Washington.


COLLINS: He is no longer the House Speaker. He left. He's out. And so, why would I take that route, if that's going to portend my fate?

KINZINGER: Yes. And that's, look, it's true, you will be kicked out. The question is of conscience. What is most important to you? A title? An identity? I mean, those are powerful things. Or your conscience? Or your country? Or the legacy that you leave?

And so, these people look at him, they'll look at Liz Cheney and I. And this is what a cult does, by the way. It takes a few people that are out of line that don't swear fealty to the leader. They kick them out. They politically execute them. And it sends a message to everybody else, don't get out of line. And that's why, over the last eight years, we've seen increasing, not just loyalty to Trump, but increasingly members of Congress, for instance, unwilling to go outside, criticize him for anything, unwilling to go outside of what other -- whatever his daily orthodoxy is, which has nothing to do with conservatism. And, look, it's really--


KINZINGER: --just a question of conscience.

COLLINS: Well I'm glad you said that about conservatism, because this is what Paul Ryan's essential take was on what Trump has done to the Republican Party. Obviously, you're a lifelong Republican. This is what he said also today.


RYAN: I'm a conservative Republican. He's a populist. He's not a conservative. I want to see someone who's -- who has fidelity to principles. I would prefer a party that is based on principles, not personality or populism. This populism is untethered to principles.


COLLINS: But is that the future of the Republican Party? I mean, that is the direction it seems to be moving in more and more.


KINZINGER: Look, it depends how far in the future. I think, in a year, yes, it's still that party. I think if you fast-forward 10 years, I believe there's not going to be a person on this planet alive that will ever admit they supported Donald Trump.

Because I think, look, if he loses, obviously he's a loser once again. And that has a way of basically waking people up in a movement or in a political party.

Even if he wins, he's president for four years. Very few presidents come out of that, more popular than they went in. America will be exhausted of him. And I think the Republican Party will start to eat him up by the end of that. That's my optimistic view.

But then somebody else could come along, and run that same formula. And so, who knows?

But this is why people, like Paul Ryan, speaking out, talking about being a conservative, but now being called a RINO, not because of what he believes, but because he's not pledging allegiance to a man. Instead, he pledges allegiance to a constitution.

COLLINS: Congressman Adam Kinzinger, thank you.

KINZINGER: You bet. COLLINS: And if tonight, there were not enough controversies, surrounding the Supreme Court, and one justice in particular, especially, Justice Samuel Alito? Tonight, there is a new one to keep up with.

It's a secret recording that has now been published, of his wife, Martha-Ann talking about flying even more politicized flags. We'll play it for you, after a quick break.



COLLINS: Tonight, Senate Democrats are pledging to push through a Supreme Court ethics package, this week, on the Hill. Comes after, the latest scandal to hit the High Court, a surreptitious audio recording of the Justice Samuel Alito, and his wife, Martha-Ann.

It was captured by a liberal activist, who posed as a sympathetic supporter, and a like-minded admirer.


MARTHA-ANN ALITO, SUPREME COURT ASSOCIATE JUSTICE SAMUEL ALITO'S WIFE: I want a Sacred Heart of Jesus flag because I have to look across the lagoon at the Pride flag for the next month.


ALITO: And he's like, 'Oh, please don't put up a flag.'


ALITO: I said, 'I won't do it, because I'm deferring to you. But when you are free of this nonsense, I'm putting it up and I'm going to send them a message every day.'


COLLINS: This audio, of course, coming to light, after The New York Times first reported on two flags that were flown on Alito properties, including an upside-down American flag, which became the symbol for the Stop the Steal movement, around January 6th.

Justice Alito responded to that in a letter to Congress, saying that in response to that reporting, blaming his wife for putting those flags up.

And tonight, their neighbor, in the Alito's house, Emily Baden said that she believes that everything that has happened, everything you hear on this audio, proves her right.


EMILY BADEN, JUSTICE ALITO'S FORMER NEIGHBOR: Absolute horror. If there's one thing that is the basic job description of a Supreme Court justice, it is to remain impartial. And with the upside-down flag, with the Appeal to Heaven flag, Samuel Alito has shown that he is not impartial.


COLLINS: Here tonight, the Vernon Jordan Chair in Civil Rights, at Howard University Law School, Sherrilyn Ifill.

And it's great to have you here.

I should note we haven't heard the full recording. This is just what has been posted online that we can hear.

But from what we did hear, I wonder what stood out the most to you, in all of this audio, that is mostly of Martha-Ann Alito, but also we hear from Justice Alito himself as well.

SHERRILYN IFILL, CIVIL RIGHTS LAWYER: Yes, Kaitlan, I am focused as well, on the recording involving the Justice himself, Justice Alito.

And the parts that I found most disturbing, probably the part that I find most concerning, is when the reporter says, that we need to return this country to godliness. And he says, yes, I agree with you.

I find this to be a very shocking statement, coming from a Supreme Court justice, in a democracy like ours, which is not a democracy, ruled by a particular religion.

When John Kennedy was asked whether as a president his allegiance would be to the Catholic Church, or to the Constitution. He said, I swear an oath to the Constitution, and that is what will guide my thinking and my work as President of the United States.

I would have expected Justice Alito or any justice on the Supreme Court, to say the same.

And then, similarly, I was very alarmed by his endorsement of the idea that it is impossible to compromise around a set of issues that people feel passionately about.

The very nature of the judicial function, on an appellate court, like the Supreme Court, is to engage in compromise, to engage in conversation, to find a way towards an answer.

Justice Alito is fond of citing Brown versus Board of Education, which is indeed a (inaudible) important decision that changed American democracy.

But it was born of compromise. To get to a unanimous decision, striking down separate but equal, required months of work and wrangling. But ultimately, the court created a unanimous decision, because they understood the importance of coming before the country, as one, speaking to such a volatile issue.

And what Justice Alito essentially said was that he concedes, he gives into the idea that there are simply things he cannot compromise on, and that the two -- what he calls the two sides cannot compromise on. And his framing of these decisions, as winners and losers, also suggests something that is -- that I think is contrary--



IFILL: --to how we think about the judicial function.

COLLINS: What does it say to you that we haven't heard from Justice Alito, since these recordings were published?

IFILL: Well I'd say a few things, Kaitlan, that I think we should be keeping our eye on.

First of all, as you know, Senator Durbin is going to try to move forward the Senate ethics bill that he and Senator Whitehouse have put together. That's obviously going to be a difficult thing to do. But he's determined to do it.

And when he was asked, why he's doing this push, is it because of the recordings? He said it is not because of the recordings. And he said it was because of financial disclosures and ethics statements.

And I would remind everyone that Justice Thomas issued new disclosures, just a few weeks ago, revealing trips from 2019. So, quite late.

And Justice Alito sought a 90-day extension, which he was granted. So, there may be other shoes yet to drop. And so, we don't know. And I think that Justice Alito is not going to respond to every drip and drop of the revelations that are coming out. I think he responded, last week, around recusal from the case, because that is imminent.


IFILL: But I don't think he intends to respond to each of these allegations.

COLLINS: Yes. We saw him respond to that, because they were asking him to recuse himself. He said he didn't feel -- he didn't think that it met the standard here.

But can I ask you something else, though? Because I am curious as we talk about this is, I wonder what you would say to people, who listen to this recording, and their response is, well, I'm uncomfortable, or I'm skeptical of this, because it was someone, posing as a conservative supporter, or a sympathizer of what the Alitos deal with.

I wonder what you would say to people, who raise questions about that, when they listen to these audio recordings?

IFILL: Yes, I mean, if the questions are about the ethics of recording someone pretending that you are sympathetic to their cause? That is one set of questions that I think are actually not the focus of our concern. I think that the focus is that Justice Alito was speaking in an environment, where he felt very comfortable. He was speaking unreservedly. He sounded as though he were speaking quite sincerely, as did Mrs. Alito.

And what was also interesting was that it confirmed much of the account that was given to us, by the neighbor, the very disturbing account, about what was happening, between them, in that community.

And even that violates, and at least as I read it, the court's own code of conduct that they released in November, last year, in response to pressure that they were getting, after the revelations of financial disclosures.

Many of us have criticized that code. But that code does say that a Justice should require similar conduct by those subject to the Justice's control--


IFILL: --in terms of harassing behavior and conduct.

So, simply saying it was my wife who hung the flag, or it was my wife who was engaged in the altercation, by their own standards, is not enough.


IFILL: So, we learned a lot from that recording that I think is important.

COLLINS: And we'll be watching closely for the disclosure as well.

Sherrilyn Ifill, great to have you. Thank you.

IFILL: Thank you, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: And I should note that tonight, on "LAURA COATES LIVE," you will hear new audio, of Justice Samuel Alito. It comes from the person that we were just talking about who's recorded this, the liberal activist, Lauren Windsor. She'll share new excerpts, from her secret recordings. That's tonight at 11 PM Eastern.

Up next here, though, on THE SOURCE, it is primary night, here in America. So, we're monitoring critical races that could sway the balance of power in Washington.

One major question is did ousted House Speaker, Kevin McCarthy, get his revenge he was seeking tonight? A brand-new CNN projection, right after the break.



COLLINS: Breaking news as CNN can now project that Republican congresswoman Nancy Mace will win her South Carolina primary tonight.

Former House Speaker, Kevin McCarthy, tried to take her down, by supporting one of her challengers, after Mace and seven other Republicans voted to oust McCarthy, from the Speakership, last year.

His revenge tour not playing out, though necessarily as he predicted.


KEVIN MCCARTHY, (R) FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: If you've watched her, just her philosophy, and the flip-flopping, yes, I don't believe she wins reelection.


COLLINS: CNN's Senior Political Data Reporter, Harry Enten is here, as these primary results are coming in not, just in South Carolina, but also across the country.

And obviously, the Mace race was interesting, because she had kind of, you know, didn't hesitate to criticize Trump, previously.


COLLINS: Especially after January 6th. That all changed as she was facing this challenger.

Listen to what she said, in her acceptance speech, tonight, about President Trump.


REP. NANCY MACE (R-SC): I also want to give a giant heartfelt thank you to the 45th and 47th President of the United States for his support.


MACE: President Trump, South Carolina will have your back in November.


COLLINS: How much of an impact did he have in this race?

ENTEN: Doesn't hurt, right? I mean, last time around, in 2022, Nancy Mace barely squeaked by in that primary, against Katie Arrington, when she was seen as more of the anti-Trump candidate. Now, she has this massive advantage.


And that kind of lines up with what we've seen throughout this cycle, which is when Trump makes an endorsement, in either governors' races or congressional races, his candidates have always won in 2024, at least before tonight. And the other thing I will note is nobody cares, at least in the

Republican primary electorate, what Kevin McCarthy has to say. He's not the Speaker anymore. The idea that he could go on this revenge tour, and somehow get revenge, against these candidates? These voters care about Donald Trump. He runs the Republican Party, not Kevin McCarthy.

COLLINS: Yes, there was some funding that Kevin McCarthy helped with, with Mace's challenger. But that was pretty much it.

But we're also projecting that the Republican, Michael Rulli, is going to win that special election in Ohio's 6th Congressional District. This obviously matters because, right now, Republicans have a teeny- tiny majority in the House. And he'll help with that margin, just a teeny-tiny bit?

ENTEN: Yes, yes, he'll help in that. But really, what's interesting to me there is the margin, which is he's not winning by a whole heck of a lot. The margin I last checked around was about 10 percentage points. And why that's important is Trump won that district by nearly 30 points.

This is just another example of Democrats turning out, in high numbers, in these special elections. Democrats are highly engaged. And that's the thing they're hoping for, come November, right, that this highly-engaged electorate that they're seeing in these special elections, will translate, come November, and their voters will turnout, and Trump's voters perhaps won't.

COLLINS: OK. So, that's interesting. So, he won the district by how much in 2020?

ENTEN: Trump won it by a little less than 30 percentage points.

COLLINS: And now, you're seeing how close that is--

ENTEN: And--

COLLINS: --in that race, tonight?

ENTEN: That's exactly right. And that's something we've seen throughout the special elections, since Roe v. Wade was overturned, is Democrats have been outperforming their 2020 baseline. And Democrats are hoping that translates to 2024. But of course, there'll be a much wider turnout in 2024. The question is, how much larger will that turnout actually be?

COLLINS: Yes. And highly-engaged voters is important.

Can I ask you? We were going to talk about a few of the other races. We're still waiting on some polls to close in Nevada. Can we talk about what is happening with George Santos?

ENTEN: Sure.

COLLINS: The Associated Press is reporting, tonight, that the former Congressman, who as we know is facing federal fraud charges, right now, has just won this bid, from a judge, to be able to go and visit the Poconos, in Pennsylvania, from a judge, essentially granting his request to be able to leave the state, to go to this area.

It's restricted as a condition of his release, while he awaits trial. But he is going to be at least allowed to go to the Poconos.

ENTEN: Isn't that nice? He can go skiing in the Poconos. Perhaps that could be my winter vacation, come next year. The next time, I take a winter vacation, I can go to the Poconos, maybe ski a little bit with George Santos, and have a good time.

I mean, George Santos is the gift that keeps on giving. That's really all it is. He's comedic relief, in a political world, in which everything seems to go wrong and it's so down. He is the comedic relief that actually allows us to smile, once in a while, when talking about politics.

COLLINS: But people don't ski in the summer, Harry. Water ski?

ENTEN: You know what? They can water ski. Why don't we go to a water park, with George Santos? We could do that. Skiing is for all seasons.

COLLINS: I'll leave that to you.

ENTEN: There you go.

COLLINS: Harry Enten, I know you're keeping an eye on all these races. And we will too. Thank you for that.

Up next, tonight, though, to a concerning development that happened, as the Feds have now arrested eight foreigners, who have suspected ties to ISIS. How they entered the United States, according to our CNN sources? That's next.



COLLINS: Some breaking news for you, this evening, as sources are now telling CNN that eight foreigners, with suspected ties to ISIS, have now just been arrested, here in the United States. We are told that they are rounded up, in Los Angeles, New York and Philadelphia, on immigration charges.

And law enforcement sources tell CNN that they came in through the southern border, the U.S. southern border, and that they were screened by U.S. officials, but apparently no red flags at the time. Investigators later discovered possible links to ISIS members, overseas, which is what triggered this initial federal investigation.

Here tonight, Donell Harvin, the former head of Intelligence for the D.C. Homeland Security Department.

Donell, I mean, how concerning is it that Homeland Security officials, and how worried are they, after seeing this, about potential terrorists, people with ties to ISIS, exploiting the U.S. southern border, to enter the United States?

DONELL HARVIN, FORMER D.C. CHIEF OF HOMELAND SECURITY AND INTELLIGENCE: Well, the good news is that the system worked, right? So let's just everyone take a deep breath. Federal officials caught these individuals. They investigated them. They tracked them down. They have them in custody. So, this is exactly how it's supposed to unfold.

Why they didn't catch them when they entered is a whole different conversation that we'll have to hear, as soon as the investigation goes through. It may be because of what we call tradecraft. These individuals may have hidden their intention. They may be well-coached. There may be a larger conspiracy at play.

And then federal officials followed them, that looked at some of their communications, some of their activities, and deemed that they were a threat. So, that's the good news. They were caught.

The bad news is, as Christopher Wray, in April, and many CBP, Customs and Border Protection high-level officials have told members of Congress, and the public, that they're concerned about terrorists, and known as what we call KSTs, Known and Suspected Terrorists, and people in the no-fly list, sneaking across the southern border, because of the volume of individuals that are coming, and the number of countries they're coming from.

COLLINS: I mean, and this is exactly what we have heard, from Republican critics, of the southern border, and how it's being handled at this moment, is a concern that this -- something like this could happen, and the system not working.

HARVIN: Yes, it's always a concern, especially when we call them up the gotaways.


So, if you look at, you know, if one in every 100,000 individuals, who get away is Known and Suspected Terrorist, you can have dozens or hundreds of individuals that are potentially threats. And so, this is really a wake-up call to all (inaudible)--

COLLINS: Yes, it certainly is, Donell Harvin. Yes.

HARVIN: --at the southern border.

COLLINS: Your connection broke up a little there at the end. But a great point. And we'll keep watching this. Donell Harvin, thank you for that.

And thank you all so much for joining us.