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The Source with Kaitlan Collins

Trump Holds Grievance-Filled Meeting With House Republicans; Biden: Reproductive Freedoms Still In Peril Despite Supreme Court Preserving Access To Abortion Pill; Biden On Putin: "He Cannot Wait Us Out. He Cannot Divide Us". Aired 9-10p ET

Aired June 13, 2024 - 21:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Charlie and I spent more than a month, reporting from New Orleans, and the Gulf Coast, in the difficult days after Hurricane Katrina.

The last show we did was from a badly-damaged street, and it was all deserted. And it was Charlie and me and maybe seven, or eight others, cameramen and engineers and satellite truck operators. We finished around midnight. We broke down the equipment. We wrapped up the cables, or other people did.

Neil Hallsworth, one of my cameramen took out some beers, from the cooler in his truck, and passed them around. We lingered there for a time, talking, remembering the things we'd all just lived through. Not wanting that, that feeling we had, to end. But it had to. Everything does.

Charlie and I got into our car, and we drove through the pitch-black streets. And we didn't speak. We didn't need to.

I'm very thankful that Charlie's still going to be at CNN. But I'll miss that feeling, driving in the dark, heading toward a new adventure, side by side with Charlie.

That's it for us. The news continues. "THE SOURCE WITH KAITLAN COLLINS" starts now.


With a handshake, for the ages, Donald Trump has cemented his iron grip on the Republican Party, rolling out the red carpet for his return to the Capitol building, for the first time, since a mob sent many of those, now heaping praise on him, running for their lives.

And the Supreme Court unanimously upholding access, to the most common method of abortion, here in America. Why that victory though, for abortion rights advocates, may be short-lived.

And the fallout from that interruption, during my sit-down with a former Georgia special prosecutor. The lawyer, who first exposed Nathan Wade's relationship, with the District Attorney, is here live.

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

Picture it. Washington, D.C., the Capitol building, the year is 2024. Mitch McConnell, and Donald Trump and a snapshot that tells you really everything you need to know, about Donald Trump's standing, in the Republican Party today.

The two men had not even spoken, since December of 2020. Something happened a few weeks after that. I don't really remember. But apparently it's now water under the bridge.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you talk to him directly?

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Yes, we shook hands a few times. He took questions from the audience, and it was an entirely positive session.


COLLINS: "An entirely positive session."

We're actually told by sources, tonight, that Trump praised McConnell, during that meeting with Republicans, today, which unless you have been living, on a deserted island, for the last few years, and we wouldn't blame you if you did, you know what an extraordinary full- circle moment, this really is.

McConnell had been one of Trump's favorite targets, calling him, among many names, a broken old crow, even making racist remarks when referring to McConnell's wife, and Trump's longtime Cabinet Secretary, Elaine Chao, which she herself told me she believed were racist.

And of course, no one can forget what Mitch McConnell had to say, after January 6th, 2021.


MCCONNELL: They had been fed wild falsehoods by the most powerful man on Earth. Because he was angry he'd lost an election.

Trump's actions preceded the riot were a disgraceful, disgraceful dereliction of duty.

President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day.


COLLINS: But that was then. And this is now. And now there's a presidential election to win.

With all of that as the backdrop, it's really no wonder you saw the former President walk out with such a pep in his step, when he left today's meeting.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT AND 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We met, as you know, with the full House, Republican House today. And we had a tremendous meeting with them also. And there's great unity.

This is an outstanding group of people. I'm with them, a 1,000 percent. They're with me a 1,000 percent. We agree just about on everything. And if there isn't, we work it out. And we've had a -- I've had a really great relationship with just about everybody here.


COLLINS: Did you catch that part of the end? "Just about everybody"? "Just about" loosely defined there.

Trump took a moment, today, as he was on Capitol Hill, to boast that most of those 10 House Republicans, who voted to impeach him, are no longer there. They've left office or been voted out.

We also heard from sources, inside that room, as he was meeting with House Republicans, that it was quite the airing of grievances, and that the Department of Justice is, according to Trump, dirty no-good bastards.

The former President seeming to love every moment of what happened today, anointed king of the Hill for a day. Or as former House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, put it, returning to the scene of the crime.

My political sources, tonight, are:

Democratic strategist, Julie Roginsky.


CNN Political Commentator, and veteran of two Republican presidential campaigns, Margaret Hoover.

And the former New York City Mayor, Bill de Blasio.

It's great to have you all here.

Margaret, I mean, it's been three and a half years, since those comments there, from Mitch McConnell at the end.

I wonder what you made of seeing this photo. If we could put this photo up again? This is what really just stood out that Doug Mills of The New York Times captured. It's McConnell and Donald Trump shaking hands, and there's a bit of a smile on McConnell's face.

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, there are two things that are happening here.

First, Donald Trump is returning to the scene, or the sight of the place, where for the first time in American history, more than roughly 250 years, there was a violent transition of power. We did not have the hallmark of a democracy, a peaceful transition of power. And Mitch McConnell knows that. And every single one of those senators was there, and was witness, and ran for their lives that day. For them to welcome back the person, who their leader said, was the impetus for that violent attack on the Capitol, and at the heart of democracy.

That they all know our allies, around the world, have asked all of them in private sessions, is the United States going to be a stable leader in a free world? Because they saw those attacks, and they -- I mean, the idea that they welcomed him back is so deeply disturbing.

The flip side is that you're seeing the Mitch McConnell that didn't vote to convict, even though he gave that speech, saying Donald Trump was responsible.

COLLINS: Well and he suggested that--

HOOVER: Right?

COLLINS: --that the -- that Trump could be handled in the court system by what happened that day. That's what he heavily--

HOOVER: And, by the way, he's being handled in the court system, as -- but maybe not soon enough. And so, you're seeing the very -- the institutionalist, Mitch McConnell, with all the decorum and demeanor and respect for the institution, but lacking the moral courage that he had. In that moment, he had enough moral courage to call Trump what he was, but not enough--


HOOVER: --to vote to convict, and to welcome him back to the scene of the crime.

COLLINS: But Mayor, I mean, you, from a political perspective, I mean, it's politics. This is, I mean, I don't think anyone should be surprised.

HOOVER: It is.

COLLINS: Mitch McConnell, of course, is someone, who is a political animal at his core. And Donald Trump is the nominee. And is this just Republicans realizing someone else is not going to be the nominee? They're getting in line behind who is?

BILL DE BLASIO, (D) FORMER MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY: Well, in normal times, I think that would be accurate. But you're talking about an attempt to overthrow democracy. And he's going right back to where it happened. So, I think this is a huge backfire, honestly.

If I were advising him, I would have never said, go to Capitol Hill, remind everyone that you supported an insurrection against democracy. Or go up to Capitol Hill and talk about abortion at great length, which he did, and tell people it's not such a big deal, which is telegraphing to American women, a reminder of who took away their right to choice. I mean, this to me is insane that he would go there, and act like all could be forgotten. For example, forget the fact that Republicans overthrew their own House Speaker. Yes, that wasn't a show of unity. That was a -- like a hostage video, you know, where it really seemed like everyone had to seem like they were OK. But they're not really OK. And the American people can figure that out.

COLLINS: Well, and you saw who was standing behind him. That was -- those were the Senate Republicans that were standing behind him.

J.D. Vance of Ohio, who is also rumored to be one of Donald Trump's vice presidential picks, potentially. We'll see. Julie. Had this to say about what Trump said, when he was at the Capitol today.


SEN. J.D. VANCE (R-OH): I think that no real Republican with any credibility in the party is still blaming him for January, the 6th. Even -- so, frankly, some of his -- some of his critics were in the room, and were supportive, and are supportive. So, it's a good thing.


JULIE ROGINSKY, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Look, they bent the knee to the guy that tried to kill them.


ROGINSKY: I mean, let's be very clear about what happened today.

And ultimately, what Donald Trump is trying to accomplish here is to say, no big deal, January 6th was not a big deal, because the very people who were in the House that day, or in the Senate that day, don't think it's a big deal. They've completely forgotten about it. So what's -- why are the rest of you freaking out about this? It's off the table. It's done.


ROGINSKY: And that, to some extent, is a startling, startling turn of events, because, as we've talked about earlier, these are people, who fled for their lives. And yet, they are pragmatic. They're not institutionalists.

They don't care about the institution. What they care about is winning elections, and with or without Donald Trump. And since they can't do it without him, they're going to do it with him. And that's -- that says something about where we are, as a nation, today, in 2024, where one of our two major parties does not care about anything other than clinging to power.

DE BLASIO: But people can see that. I mean, I think the important point here is that that comes across. It's so craven. It's so abrupt. The public is smart. I mean, I think we should never underestimate the voters. They are watching all these signals. And the voters, of this country, I believe, are fundamentally-- [21:10:00]

COLLINS: But are they watching that closer than inflation at the grocery store, the southern border, issues like that, or--


COLLINS: --are they worried about. Because you don't really see the optics, when Trump was on the Hill today, no one really is bringing up January 6th, except the reporters, who were asking these Republicans about it.

DE BLASIO: I agree with you. I think there are other frontline issues, kitchen-table issues that are more on their mind.

But I'll tell you one thing. I think the American people do believe in democracy. I think they are fundamentally moderate. They want a sane head at the helm. Today reminded them of instability.

And the American people do believe in the right to choice. And again, by having a long dialog, with the congressional Republicans, about how you talk about the fact that the right to choice was taken away, he just reminded American women, yet again, who took that away from them.

COLLINS: Well, and what was also notable is behind closed doors, he did talk about abortion.

The other thing he complained about, unsurprisingly, was the Justice Department. And I mentioned, he called them bastards -- no good -- dirty no-good bastards.

And this comes as Republicans in the House are trying to pursue a bill that would essentially allow them to move state-level cases to federal courts. It's not going to go anywhere. It's not going to happen. But it shows that Republicans, when they're in charge, will put legislation behind Donald Trump's grievances.

HOOVER: He wants to get rid of -- he doesn't want to be held accountable. I mean, he's been held accountable by a New York court. And it's driving them bonkers.

And so, I mean, he's been -- the reports are that he's been going to Mike Johnson, saying, we have to overturn this, we have to overturn this. And so, they're putting these bills through, to create some kind of pathway for him to overturn it.

The truth is, if he is reelected, he will have his federal cases abrogated. They will not -- he will not be held accountable. And that's, I mean, this is one of the hallmarks of authoritarianism.

Authoritarian leaders try to shirk responsibility, accountability, and they politicize justice. And that is what Donald Trump is very clearly trying to do. And I just think it's incumbent upon those of us, who have the moral courage, to call it as it is.

And by the way, like it does not make me happy that the Republican Party has become this. I mean, this is not the Republican Party, I grew up in. This is not the Republican Party that many of us remember, even if you were never part of it, right? But we need two you healthy parties. And this is it's--


HOOVER: --this is just -- it is such a tragedy for American democracy.

COLLINS: But we still see some of that crossover, of the Republican Party before Trump, and Republican Party now.

I mean, Larry Hogan is running. He was the Governor of Maryland. He's running for Senate there. He was criticized by Trump's campaign, who said his campaign was dead in the water, because he said people should respect the verdict here in New York.

But he was up on Capitol Hill today. Trump was up on Capitol Hill. He was asked about Larry Hogan. He said he's endorsing him that he does want him to win. And I mean, that could be, one, a shocking move from Trump, but two, a cold political calculus, because he wants the Senate to be in Republican hands.

ROGINSKY: Today. I mean, he's saying he's endorsing him today, until Larry Hogan says something else that Donald Trump gets upset about, and then he's going to take back the endorsement. I mean, look, if you're Hogan, do you really, in Maryland, do you really want Donald Trump's endorsement? I mean, the problem for--

COLLINS: He said he didn't vote for him in 2016 and 2020--


ROGINSKY: The problem for Larry Hogan is he's kind of in a bind, right? On the one hand, he can't win without the MAGA faction coming out for him.


ROGINSKY: On the other hand, he really can't win being a MAGA guy. And having Donald Trump's endorsement may be the kiss of death. And maybe Trump knows that. And maybe this is his revenge--


ROGINSKY: --against Larry Hogan. I mean, who knows? So, that's a -- you can't get into the mind of Donald Trump. So, you can't really understand what the motivation is other than revenge, vengeance and craven power.

COLLINS: OK. But I have to ask you, Mayor, about the other thing that was said today, which was about Nancy Pelosi. And Trump reportedly said, inside the room, that one of Nancy Pelosi's daughters -- she has several -- told him that he would have a quote, great romance, with their mother in another life.

Christine Pelosi did not like that. And she spoke for all of her sisters, to say that Trump has a "Deranged obsession with our mother." She said that it was a lie.

But I mean, I -- what are you going to say about that?

DE BLASIO: Yes. What can you say?

Look, but this is another example of getting a -- when every time he's not talking about the issues that actually might be a stronger suit for him. I don't agree with the fact that so many Americans think he'd be a good steward of the economy. But the polling does show that, for example.

He's not talking about the economy. He's not talking about inflation. He's talking about what a great romance he might have had with Nancy Pelosi in another life. I mean, just tells the American people, he is not focused on their needs or their lives.

And he's also tells them -- tells them he's got a rich fantasy life. And I don't think they want a president with a rich fantasy life. They want a president who can start to solve some of the problems we're dealing with every day.

COLLINS: Yes. I mean, the other thing he talked about was Milwaukee, where the Republican Convention is. We'll get to that in a moment.

Margaret Hoover, Bill de Blasio, Julie Roginsky, thank you all for being here.

And tonight, on "LAURA COATES LIVE," you're going to hear from the Milwaukee mayor, Mayor Johnson, because he's going to respond to what Trump said today. There was a high dispute over it, whether or not he called it horrible, and what his context was. That will be at 10 PM Eastern. You won't want to miss it.

Also, coming up for us, here on THE SOURCE, a Supreme Court ruling that stunned many today. But you've got to read the fine print of this decision, on access to the abortion pill.


Plus, you saw the former top prosecutor, on Trump's Georgia case, on this show, last night, dancing around the timeline of his relationship, with the District Attorney.

Now, the attorney, who brought all of that to light, is going to join me.


COLLINS: Tonight, abortion rights advocates are celebrating a narrow victory, but quite possibly also a temporary one.

President Biden is warning that the fight for reproductive rights, in the United States, is continuing, saying in a response, to the Supreme Court ruling, "Attacks on medication abortion are part of Republican elected officials' extreme and dangerous agenda to ban abortion nationwide." [21:20:00]

All of this comes after that unanimous ruling we got today, from the Supreme Court, preserving access to the abortion pill, known as Mifepristone.

Joining me, tonight, to discuss, Democratic senator of Minnesota, Amy Klobuchar, who is one of the Senate's most vocal supporters, of protecting abortion access.

So, it's great to have you here, Senator. Because, originally, this case was--

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): Thanks, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: --was quite broad. They wanted to basically erase the FDA's approval. But it was narrowed significantly by the time it reached the court.

So, I wonder, do you fear that this is a short-term victory, for abortion rights advocates?

KLOBUCHAR: Well, for good reason. Because their way to protect women's rights, in this country, their health care, their rights to everything, from IVF, to abortion, the way to do that is by codifying Roe v. Wade into law. Not by having a series of lawsuit after lawsuit after lawsuit, so that you, Kaitlan, become like a perpetual court reporter.

And, yes, this was narrow. And we are pleased that this case was thrown out. I predicted this on this network.

But what Justice Kavanaugh said in this case was they don't have standing. That means, like, where's the beef, basically? They don't prescribe this drug. They're not forced to prescribe this drug. He points all that out. But what the concern is he leaves open, which is, a fact that other people could come and bring cases in the future. It doesn't rule out that someone wouldn't have standing.

Now, then you get to the merits. And the merits are ridiculous. This has been approved in 90 countries. It's a safe medication. That is very clear.

And the fact that you've got judges in Texas, and legislatures and courts, looking at lawsuits, right now, Kansas, Missouri, Idaho, are all looking at suits themselves.

So, the way to stop this perpetual lawsuit machine, when it comes to women's rights, where you've got one state doing one thing, another one doing another, criminalizing doctors, you can't travel across state lines? It's a horror show. There's thousands of women that are traveling to another state, getting on a bus, getting in a car--


KLOBUCHAR: --just to get reproductive health care. And that's why the answer is what Joe Biden wants to do, which is to codify Roe v. Wade into law.

COLLINS: Well, and also, I know, on the Hill, Democrats were trying to pass a bill, today, that would protect access to IVF, nationwide. Senate Republicans blocked it. Almost every single one of them, voted against it.

And I wonder what you say, though, to those Senate Republicans, who voted against it, because they say it's political grandstanding by Democrats like you.

KLOBUCHAR: I'd like them to say that to the two women that I met with, this morning, from Minnesota, both of whom have lovely children, because of IVF.

8 million. 8 million kids born in the United States with IVF. Over 1,100, just in my state alone, last year. These are real families. These are families that look at this with horror.

And of course, we want to codify it into law. And so, if they want to do it, don't just talk about it, do it. And we had a perfectly good bill that made it very clear, led by Senator Murray and Duckworth and others, that made it very clear that this would be the law of the land, the right to IVF that we made sure our veterans had access to the health care, and we made sure that people could afford it through their insurance.

COLLINS: But what about--

KLOBUCHAR: That's what that vote was about today.

COLLINS: But what about the bill--

KLOBUCHAR: And two Republicans only, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski voted with us.

COLLINS: Yes, and they said you--

KLOBUCHAR: The rest voted against it.

COLLINS: --they thought women should -- should have--

KLOBUCHAR: Every single one of them.

COLLINS: They thought women should have access to--


COLLINS: --to this abortion drug, which is wildly popular and safer than Viagra, I should note.


COLLINS: But we're talking about the access -- the contraception bill that they also blocked earlier this week.

But when we had Senator Ted Cruz, on the program, a few weeks ago, specifically on the IVF issue, he and Senator Katie Britt, from my home state of Alabama, had proposed a bill to protect IVF. That was blocked by Senate Democrats.

I think regular people sitting at home will look at what happened today, and what happened last week, or earlier this week, and say, well, if they both agree that IVF access should be protected, why can't they just come together and pass something together?

KLOBUCHAR: There were some serious issues with that legislation. Many people have said that, because while the words were there, it actually would open up the possibility of all kinds of restrictions, whereas our bill was very clear.

And come on now. Either you want to allow IVF, or you don't. And I've always believed like you have got to allow women the right, to make their health care decisions. Not politicians. And you don't want Ted Cruz in the waiting room. And I don't think he's the one you want to trust, to protect women, when it comes to IVF.

COLLINS: Senator, before you go, I've got to ask you about an investigation going on, into Supreme Court ethics.


Because we learned today, from the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Dick Durbin, that Justice Clarence Thomas actually took more trips, on that GOP megadonor, and his friend, Harlan Crow's plane than we previously knew.

But this is actually what stood out to me, because a spokesperson, for Harlan Crow, said the committee got this information, from none other than Harlan Crow himself, in exchange for the committee agreeing to end its probe with respect to Mr. Crow.

Are you on board with that condition?

KLOBUCHAR: Well, let me make clear that this isn't over. There can be investigations in the future. This was about this specific investigation, and the request that was made from this committee.

Because what are we finding? We're finding that Harlan Crow paid for Justice Thomas' trips on yachts, trips on private planes. It's like a full-time travel agency, like it's unbelievable. His mom's house. And yet, Crow is on Boards of Directors that have cases or filed briefs on major cases that are pending before the court.

And so, all we're really trying to do, right now, in addition to this investigation, which is going on at different levels, is to get to the bottom of why can't we have an ethics law, codified into law for the Supreme Court?

Every other federal judge, in the country -- and this is Senator Whitehouse's bill -- every single court and federal judge in the country abides by these rules, rules about recusal. So, why would you recuse yourself, as Clarence Thomas did, from a case, involving--


KLOBUCHAR: --Virginia Tech, because his kid went there, and not the insurrection cases, now that we know his wife's role and the like.

Also, ethics and money, and making very clear what the rules are. That's what we're trying to do. We've got to have very clear ethical rules, because it's just one thing after another.


KLOBUCHAR: And I want people to have trust in the court. And you do it with ethics rules.

COLLINS: Yes. Just surprising to see that part about the Harlan Crow, ending the investigation into him. We'll continue to track it closely, as I know you do as well.

Senator Amy Klobuchar, thank you for your time.

KLOBUCHAR: It's great to be on, Kaitlan. Thanks.

COLLINS: Thank you.

And also tonight, the Fulton County District Attorney, Fani Willis, was in public today, calling out her critics, in a fiery speech. That comes just hours after our sit-down with the prosecutor, who resigned from her office, after my next guest exposed their relationship.

The attorney for one of Donald Trump's co-defendants in Georgia is here, next.



COLLINS: The prosecutor, who charged Donald Trump, and 18 others, in the State of Georgia, is fighting for another term. And today, that prosecutor, the Fulton County District Attorney, Fani Willis, called out her critics, in a speech, at a Black church, outside of Atlanta.


FANI WILLIS, DISTRICT ATTORNEY, FULTON COUNTY, GEORGIA: They get mad when I call out their lunacy. I mean, you can't piss on me and tell me it's raining vicious (ph).

I live the experience of a Black woman who is attacked and over- sexualized.


WILLIS: See, I'm so tired of hearing these idiots call my name as Fanny, in a way to attempt to humiliate me. Because, like silly schoolboys, the name reminds them of a woman's rear.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COLLINS: The election conspiracy case, against the former President, right now, is bottled up in a state appeals court. And defense attorneys want Willis disqualified still, over her relationship with a former prosecutor in her office, Nathan Wade.

It was just last night that you saw him on this show. He had this reaction, when I asked him about the timeline of their relationship.


COLLINS: Just to clarify, when did the romantic relationship, between the two of you start?

NATHAN WADE, EX-FULTON COUNTY PROSECUTOR: Yes. So, we get into -- there's been this effort, to -- to say that, OK, these -- these exact dates are -- are at issue, and these exact dates are -- I'm getting -- I'm getting signaled here.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. We're going to go off-mic for a second?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Go off-mic for a second.


COLLINS: Of course, the attorney, who first brought up the existence of this relationship, joins me now.

Ashleigh Merchant represents Donald Trump's co-defendant in the State of Georgia, Michael Roman.

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

And Nathan Wade, as you heard, in that interview, said that the defense attorneys, you, as part of that, are using his relationship with Fani Willis, to create delays and distractions in this case. What's your response to that?

ASHLEIGH MERCHANT, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I think that's ridiculous. We are not the one causing delays.

If they did not want to delay, they could have sent this to a neutral prosecutor, a different prosecutor, to review the case. And that would have stopped all of these delays. They could have withdrawn from the case.

There's a lot of things that could have happened that would not have furthered these delays. These delays are nothing but their own fault. They're not the defense lawyers' fault. COLLINS: Well, I think they may see that and say, if Fani Willis herself withdraws from the case, it's not clear that another prosecutor, in your state, would take it up.

MERCHANT: Right. Well, and Mr. Wade also said he felt very strongly about his case. If they felt so strongly about the evidence, then why are they so scared about another prosecutor reviewing it?

That is what I don't really understand. Why would they be so scared about transparency? Why are they so scared about someone else actually reviewing this? If the case is that strong, then they shouldn't be scared of that. They should welcome it.


COLLINS: Yes. And I should note that you're still trying to remove District Attorney, Fani Willis, from this case. Right now, it is going to go before the Court of Appeals.

But when you look at the arguments that you're expected to make about this. I mean, if Judge McAfee listened to your arguments, for two and a half days, heard all that testimony? He didn't find a reason to remove her. Why do you believe that the Court of Appeals will find any differently?

MERCHANT: Well, because we think that he applied the wrong standard. We think that we showed more than enough to show an appearance of impropriety. We think we actually showed a conflict as well. So, I think that it goes much further than that.

And you've got to understand. Nathan Wade has been paid more than any prosecutor, in American history.

The timing of the relationship is important. You got a little bit of a taste of what I experienced, when I was questioning him, on the stand. Very evasive, didn't want to answer that question.

It is a very simple question. When did this relationship start? That is not a tough thing to remember. When you started having an extramarital affair with your boss? That's not something that's difficult to remember.

And these constant inconsistencies, that's what we're talking about in this case. And I think the Court of Appeals is going to see that.

COLLINS: So, you're not going to be arguing -- your plan, right now, is not going to argue any different facts, or show any different evidence, but you just believe the standard that Judge McAfee used here is going to be what's ultimately different here?

MERCHANT: Well, Kaitlan, I wish I could argue more on additional facts. But we're not allowed to do that. In the appellate courts, unfortunately, we have to review what's already in the record.

I think if we were able to put more evidence in, and if people were more forthcoming? For example, I would have loved to have seen their cell phones. They have got machines in their office, where they can hook their cell phone up, and we could actually see proof of when this relationship started. We would have liked to have seen receipts, from all of these cash transactions. We didn't get any of that.

I wish we could do that in the appellate courts. But we're not able to. So unfortunately, we're stuck arguing what is called review. And so, just reviewing what was heard previously, in the court below.

COLLINS: What do you -- what do you say to people, who look at this, or hear that interview with Nathan Wade, or watched when you questioned Wade, and Fani Willis, and say, OK, they had this relationship, it's unseemly, and certainly not becoming of prosecutors in this office. But what does it have to do with Donald Trump, and these co-defendants trying to overturn the election, in the State of Georgia? It doesn't -- those two aren't actually related.

MERCHANT: It is always relevant. Any conduct that undermines the American public's view of the justice system, anything that undermines our legal system is always going to be relevant.

It's no different than if we had a police officer, who did a racially- biased stop. And then we challenge it, and we file a motion to suppress. We're not challenging whether or not the person had drugs that they found in the car. We're challenging the police officer's conduct.

If the police break the law, then their evidence is thrown out. If the prosecutor breaks the law, then they are not able to continue to prosecute a case. That is always relevant. Anything that undermines the justice system is always relevant.

COLLINS: But I would say obviously, racially profiling is illegal. Having a relationship with someone that you work with is not. But what's at the heart of this case is in--

MERCHANT: Oh, it is in Fulton County though. It's actually illegal in Fulton County.

COLLINS: But what's--

MERCHANT: And that's why it wasn't exposed. They didn't expose it. And if it hadn't been illegal, they would have told the Fulton County Commissioner. They kept this a secret, because it is illegal. And it is actually a federal offense to have honest services fraud.

COLLINS: But the judge here, Scott McAfee said that the defense did not meet the burden of proof, to prove that there was a conflict of interest, whether it was from the relationship, or even from, obviously, the financial aspect of this, as well, which was a big part of this.

But to the heart of this, which is, what I'm interested in is the indictment in and of itself.

MERCHANT: Yes. COLLINS: And your client, Mike Roman, is not just charged in Georgia. He's also now been charged in Arizona and Wisconsin, with attempts to overturn the election.

And so, I mean, you do acknowledge that the behavior of the Fulton County prosecutors has nothing to do with those charges, in those other states, right?

MERCHANT: Oh, in the other states, definitely. It only has to do with the Fulton County case. And I don't know about the behavior of the prosecutors in those states.

But what I do know is the case in Fulton County, he's charged with racketeering. That's a very serious felony. That carries up to 20 years in prison. That is very different than what he's charged with in Arizona, and what he's charged with in Wisconsin, which are lower- level felonies. Very different charges.

And I don't really understand what exactly he's charged with in those states, because I'm not involved in it. But the Fulton County case is definitely much more serious, because of the use of the racketeering offense.

COLLINS: I mean, but in -- well, in Arizona, it's -- they're quite serious as well. I mean, obviously, it is racketeering in Georgia. But in Arizona, it's conspiracy, and fraudulent schemes and artifices. Six counts of forgery there in Wisconsin, obviously, similar charges as well.

And so, when you -- when you look at what your client has said so far about this? When he testified, before the January 6 congressional committee? He was subpoenaed.


COLLINS: He pled the Fifth, on every single question, about his activity, after the election.


COLLINS: If he testifies, if this ever goes to trial, is he also going to plead the Fifth? Or how would he answer those questions?

MERCHANT: Well, it's a little bit different in a criminal trial, where a defendant has a constitutional right, to not take the stand or to testify.



MERCHANT: So, you're not put in a position, where you're under subpoena, like you are in a civil proceeding, and you have to plead the Fifth. That's a little bit different.

And unfortunately, you have to plead the Fifth, when you think that what you are saying can be used against you, in political prosecutions.

And so, any good lawyer is going to advise their client, when they don't know that the entire world could determine, to use lawfare against them, and try and prosecute them for anything that they've said, a good lawyer is going to say, plead the Fifth, in that instance. And that's the safe bet, always.

COLLINS: But even, you know -- sure. And obviously, everyone has a right to plead the Fifth. But I mean, one of the questions was, where were you on the day of the election?

MERCHANT: And, I didn't advise him at that point. So, I wasn't the one that was advising him on what to plead the Fifth to, and what not to plead the Fifth. But the big problem, as just as a criminal defense lawyer, when you don't know what other states -- and I mean, look at Georgia.

This -- you know, if you look at all of the discovery, in the Georgia case, I've seen nothing illegal. There is nothing illegal. And we've asked multiple times, come forward, tell us what it is that they did, that's actually illegal. There's nothing. There's no intent to defraud. There's no proof of that.

So, if you've got that fear, the safest option, when you're appearing in front of January 6th committee is to plead the Fifth, because you don't know how that is going to be used. He has been indicted for something that's not illegal, here in Georgia. And so, you have to have caution, when you're testifying in front of a committee like that.

COLLINS: Well, conspiracy to commit forgery in the first degree, conspiracy to commit false statements and writings, violation of the RICO Act, conspiracy to commit impersonating a public officer, and conspiracy to commit filing false documents. And those are illegal in the State of Georgia.

MERCHANT: Those are illegal, definitely, if he actually did those. The problem with the State's case is that they have to prove he had an intent to defraud. There's no intent to defraud.

And that's one of the things that if we had had a prosecutor, who was not interested, if we had had a prosecutor, who was not having an affair, a prosecutor, who was not paying her boyfriend, more than any other prosecutor in American history has ever been paid? I don't believe we would ever have seen an indictment, in this case.

And it's really not that hard to get an indictment. I think that's one thing that a lot of people don't really understand. Getting an indictment is not hard.

I used to be a public defender, in Fulton County. And one of my fellow public defenders was indicted, along with his client, just because his name appeared on a legal pleading. That's how easy it is. I mean, when they say, you can indict a ham sandwich, you truly can indict a ham sandwich.

COLLINS: Ashleigh Merchant, we'll see where this case goes, once the Georgia Court of Appeals hears it. Thank you for joining us tonight.

MERCHANT: Thank you.

COLLINS: Up next, President Biden has a new warning, to President Putin, on the global stage, alongside Russia's archenemy.



COLLINS: Tonight, seven of the most powerful leaders in the free world have struck some blockbuster agreements, pledging new support for Ukraine's war against Russia.

They include a new 10-year commitment, from the United States, on weapons, intelligence sharing, also troop training as well, and up to $50 billion in loans, backed by funds, from frozen Russian assets, here in the United States and abroad.

Some complicated measures. But ultimately, it's President Biden trying to send a direct message to the Russian president.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We cannot -- he cannot wait us out. He cannot divide us. And we will be with Ukraine until they prevail in this war.


COLLINS: Here tonight, Professor of International Affairs at The New School, Nina Khrushcheva, who is also the co-author of "In Putin's Footsteps: Searching for the Soul of an Empire Across Russia's Eleven Time Zones."

You know what stood out to me, today, was to see those G7 leaders, and Zelenskyy, standing next to them, obviously, in the eighth spot that used to be occupied by Vladimir Putin.

NINA KHRUSHCHEVA, RUSSIAN HISTORIAN: It used to be occupied by Russia. Yes.

COLLINS: And just to see that dynamic. And obviously there, the -- Ukraine is not part of the G7. But I wonder what you made of, of just seeing them side by side, 10 years later, Russia ultimately kicked out because of their illegal annexation of Crimea, to see that visual today?

KHRUSHCHEVA: Well, it has been 10 years. So by now, it's really not that relevant. For the Russians, for example, was much more relevant that Russia was not presented at the Normandy celebration, that Ukraine was there and Russia was not, because Normandy would not have happened without the Soviet Union. And yet, that was kind of this irony or tragedy of history, which of course, then followed up with the G7 meeting as well. COLLINS: Well, and obviously, the U.S. election is looming over all of this. And I mean, Zelenskyy, he talked about that today, because it is a question of does the U.S. support for Ukraine still look like it does today?

This is what he had to say.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE (through translator): It seems to me that no matter whom the nation chooses, first and foremost, it seems to me that everything depends on the unity within this or that state. And if the people are with us, any leader will be with us, in this struggle for freedom.


COLLINS: I was in Ukraine, a few months ago, when they couldn't even get weapons, because of the Russians block -- the Republicans blocking them, on Capitol Hill. I mean, do you think that's overly optimistic?

KHRUSHCHEVA: I think it is overly optimistic. I mean, I think he has to say it, and Joe Biden has to give a direct message to Putin. But Putin is not going to hear it.

I mean, this war is going to go for as long as Putin wants it to go, and for as long as the United States and the West continues to support. The fact that Ukraine insists that it can win it, I'm really quite doubtful about that.

COLLINS: Yes. And I think we've heard from a lot of national security experts as well.


The other news that we got today was Evan Gershkovich, The Wall Street Journal reporter, is now going to stand trial, in Russia soon. They've prepared this indictment, on espionage charges, which of course the U.S. has said are totally baseless. They've not provided any evidence.

What is he about to go through? I mean, you know what the justice system in Russia is like, from your friends, who are Russians, who live there? What's it like for Evan Gershkovich?

KHRUSHCHEVA: Well, I don't know exactly what his trial is going to be like. I think it's going to be closed. We are not going to see what's happening, because it's espionage. So, it's national security.

I would imagine that the sentence is going to be quite large. I don't know how many years he would get, but it's going to be quite large, because the Russians would have to make him into a value target.

So, if there is going to be exchanges, the more he gets, the more years he gets in Russian prison, the more value person, here in the United States, would be negotiated for him. And I think that's the reason for that trial, and that's the reason to keep him, in jail, to make sure that he can become then, a great exchange person.

COLLINS: Do people, who go on trial, in Russia, are they ever found innocent?

KHRUSHCHEVA: Not anymore. I mean, now, basically, somebody winks, and you become guilty altogether, so. And I think for an American, it's absolutely an extra, extra problem.

COLLINS: It's a bleak look.

Nina Khrushcheva, thank you for sharing your insight on it tonight.


COLLINS: Up next, a question resonating around here. What do Donald Trump, Frank Sinatra, and Elvis have in common? It's not music. I'll tell you that. But Donald Trump has an idea. We'll tell you next.



COLLINS: A social media superstar, with a massive following, meets a fellow influencer of sorts. Donald Trump sat down, tonight, for an interview with Logan Paul.


MIKE MAJLAK, AUTHOR: Is this -- is this your mugshot?

TRUMP: This is. Yes, can you believe it?


TRUMP: This is what we're reduced to.


PAUL: No way. No way.

MAJLAK: Should we put them on now?

TRUMP: Yes. Isn't it--

PAUL: You know that's--

TRUMP: Isn't it crazy though?

MAJLAK: That's amazing.

TRUMP: And it sells. Well, Elvis had one. Frank Sinatra had one.

PAUL: This shirt?

TRUMP: But we've eclipsed them. A long time ago, we've eclipsed them. PAUL: This is crazy.

TRUMP: Isn't it cool?

PAUL: I have to be honest, I'm jealous.

TRUMP: It's actually, you know, I'm not sure I love it or not but--

PAUL: Oh, no.

TRUMP: --it is what it is.


COLLINS: Here tonight to discuss, CNN Political Commentator, Errol Louis.

And Errol, I mean, obviously Trump is like laughing about his mugshot there, where he has fundraised off it to the tune of hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars. But to see that he is -- what he's doing with this is trying to reach young voters. I mean, Logan Paul has a massive following online.

ERROL LOUIS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: That's right. He's got over 23 million followers, on YouTube.

This is an interesting kind of inversion that's going on, where normally it's Democrats, who appeal to younger voters, and not Republicans.

But the polls are showing that we've got it sort of upside-down. Seniors are more gravitating toward Joe Biden, and young people are gravitating to Donald Trump. So, here he is, 77-years-old, awkwardly trying to connect with the generation of his grandchildren.

COLLINS: Well, and speaking of merch, I mean, they sell that T-shirt on the Trump campaign website.

Joe Biden just posted this T-shirt that he's selling on his campaign website. It has the State of Wisconsin on it. And it says "(NOT) A Horrible City."

For people, who weren't paying attention to the back-and-forth, on the Hill, today. Donald Trump was up there, and apparently called Milwaukee, a horrible place, was talking about the crime rate there.

Milwaukee is where Republicans are holding their convention, in like three weeks from now.


COLLINS: And so, it caught a lot of blowback, from officials there, who--

LOUIS: They strategically picked the city for a reason, because it's a state where, you know -- I mean, it went Democratic by something like 21,000 votes or something.

They need that state, if they want to win in the fall. And so, they wanted to go to the city, and sort of show that -- it's a little out of character, to go to a Democratic city, like Milwaukee. But they were going to try and make a good show of it. Donald Trump had other plans and so.

COLLINS: I mean, it became this huge thing today, where reporters were asking the Wisconsin delegation, about what Trump said about Milwaukee, obviously a source of pride for them. Some of them were saying, he didn't say it. Some of them were saying he did, but they didn't hear it.

Trump himself confirmed in an interview later on, with another reporter that he did talk about Milwaukee.

LOUIS: Yes. Look, by the time the convention rolls around, everybody in the Republican Party will have to be on the same page.

And I think that page will be, we love Milwaukee, we want and need every single vote we can possibly get out of Wisconsin, and anybody who says anything to the contrary, misspoke or took the President -- the former President's comments out of context.

COLLINS: OK. I have to ask you, because we are sitting here in New York.

And we often talk about the New York City Mayor, Eric Adams. He is in a little bit of hot water over a comment that he made to a reporter, about their physical appearance.

This is what he said.


MAYOR ERIC ADAMS (D-NYC, NY): Well you look like you've been working out, man, you know.


ADAMS: You've got that summer body going.


COLLINS: The reporter said that they were -- it was a guy. He said he was not offended by that comment.

Obviously, that fits into a pattern of what we've seen, from the Mayor. What do you make of that?

LOUIS: Yes. He's made a lot -- well, he's made of comments like that.

And look, the reality is everyone watching, who's ever dealt with their HR department, knows that you cannot, you should not, you must not make those kind of comments. Doesn't matter if the person wasn't offended, it doesn't matter if you

were just joking. It doesn't matter if everybody else in the room laughed, and thought it was OK. You're just not supposed to do it. It's not appropriate for the workplace. And that's whether you work in a factory, or whether you work in an office, or whether your work in City Hall.

COLLINS: Well, and especially in the year of our Lord 2024, it's--


LOUIS: Yes. I always think that there's sort of a power dynamic going on, when people in power, try to have fun at someone else's expense. It's a way of saying ha-ha, big me, little you. I get to make fun of you. I get to call attention to your appearance and so forth.

And of course, it doesn't work both ways. Reporters don't do that to the Mayor of New York. And I think, in some ways, that's the whole point.

COLLINS: He might be fine if they did.


LOUIS: Well, you know, that's true. But there again, as your HR Director will explain to you, it doesn't matter if everybody thought it was a joke. You're just not supposed to do that.

COLLINS: Errol Louis, quite a time to be following politics, as closely as you are. Thank you so much for being here.

LOUIS: Thanks.

COLLINS: And thank you all so much, for joining us, on this Thursday night.

Up next, "LAURA COATES LIVE" with that interview, with the Mayor of Milwaukee. You won't want to miss it. "LAURA COATES LIVE" starts right now.