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The Source with Kaitlan Collins

NYT: Judge In Trump Docs Case Rejected Suggestions To Step Aside; Trump: Biden Is A "Worthy Debater" Who "Destroyed Paul Ryan"; Mom Of Teen Victim: School And Police "Didn't Know What To Do". Aired 9-10p ET

Aired June 20, 2024 - 21:00   ET




ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: I feel great sadness, for his family, tonight, and his friends.

And I'm grateful for the life he lived, and what he gave of himself, to the rest of us.


COOPER: There was no one else, like Donald Sutherland, and there won't ever be again.

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


A stunner, about the judge, in the Mar-a-Lago documents case. "The New York Times" reports Aileen Cannon, rejected an extraordinary push, by her fellow judges, to hand off the Trump case.

Also, a CNN exclusive tonight. Kate Cox was thrust into the national spotlight, when she was forced to flee Texas, for an emergency abortion to save her life. Tonight, she's here with a major announcement.

And it's a tossup, Biden versus Trump, one week from this moment right now. And the candidates are already making moves, ahead of that time on the debate stage. We'll tell you which one will get the last word.

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

Thanks, but no thanks. That was essentially Judge Aileen Cannon's response, according to new reporting from "The New York Times," when two of Cannon's more experienced colleagues, on the federal bench in Florida, urged her to step aside from Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago classified documents case.

They apparently thought that given her lack of experience in trials, another judge should handle a criminal case against the former President. The first judge has not been identified. But "The New York Times" reports they made the case during a phone call, arguing that another judge would be better for logistical reasons, like the fact that Judge Cannon's courthouse doesn't have a secure room that could hold highly classified information. Well, it does now because taxpayers had to pay to build one there.

Then, and this is notable, the Chief Judge in the Southern District of Florida weighed in, with a more pointed argument, questioning the optics of Judge Cannon overseeing this case, because of what she did before Trump had even been charged.

You might remember this. Cannon intervened in the criminal investigation, by granting Trump's request for what's known as a Special Master, basically, someone who doesn't work at the Justice Department, to sift through all the documents that were found at Mar- a-Lago.

Investigators couldn't even access the evidence, during that time, which was quite remarkable. And a conservative-leaning appeals court ended up reversing her decision to do so, in what was a quite embarrassing rebuke.

It was the first of many questionable decisions that Judge Cannon has made, ultimately slowing the case to a near standstill, and all but assuring that Trump avoids trial before the election.

There is one person apparently quite happy with how she's handled the case, though.


DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I know it's a very highly respected judge, a very smart judge and a very strong judge.


TRUMP: I did. And I'm very proud to have appointed her. But she's very smart and very strong, and loves our country. I mean, loves our country. We need judges that love our country, so they do the right thing.


COLLINS: It is such a stark contrast, to how the former President has talked about basically every other judge, handling basically every other case that he has.


TRUMP: The judge hates Donald Trump. Just take a look. Take a look at him. Take a look at where he comes from. He can't stand Donald Trump.

He's a Democrat operative, and he's a disgrace to people that call themself judges. And I hope my lawyers go in, and I hope they fight him very hard, because this guy's getting away with murder. (END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: Murder.

All of this matters now, this new reporting, because especially what we are about to see.

Tomorrow, just hours from now, not Donald Trump, but the Special Counsel himself will be put on a trial of sorts, before Judge Cannon. She is holding yet another highly unusual and highly controversial hearing, on Trump's push to have Jack Smith fired.

My lead sources on this tonight are three of our best legal minds.

CNN Legal Analyst, and criminal defense attorney, Joey Jackson.

Retired federal judge, Shira Scheindlin.

And also, attorney, Renato Stabile.

It's great to have you all here.

But Judge, I mean, I have to start with you. Have you ever heard of a judge doing this, asking another judge to step aside?

SHIRA SCHEINDLIN, RETIRED FEDERAL JUDGE: No, I actually have not heard of that ever happening. I can assure you it never happened to me. But I cannot recall any judge asking another judge not to take a case.

COLLINS: Well, especially, we don't -- we don't have the name of the one judge.

But the second was the Chief Judge, the Chief Justice of this court. I mean, to have that person go to Judge Cannon, and say the optics of this are bad for you, and for her to not take that advice? Obviously, she's free to not take it. How remarkable is that?


SCHEINDLIN: I'm not sure it's remarkable because the Chief Judge is not the boss of another judge. We all have life tenure. We're all independent. And she -- Judge Cannon can make up her own mind.

But maybe she should have listened to this advice, because in the civil case that preceded the criminal case, when Trump sued the United States, because of the search, she drew that case randomly. And she made two really bad rulings. And she was slapped down hard by the 11th Circuit on appeal. So she might have thought, gee, am I the right judge to do this?

On top of that, it's a very high profile case, for the President -- former President of the United States to be on trial, in a criminal case. And she knows that she's not an experienced trial judge, in criminal matters. I think she's had four trials, in all of her life.

COLLINS: Well, I hear from Trump's allies, who say, people are too hard on her, she hasn't made that many mistakes.

I mean, given that scant experience that you talked about, how does this work? Do more experienced judges often go -- do younger judges, who are newer to the bench, go and seek out judges, who have been there longer than they have?

SCHEINDLIN: It may depend on the court. She's all alone where she is. That's one of the problems. She's sitting in Fort Pierce, Florida, where there's no other judges to talk to. Of course, she could pick up a telephone.

But in my court, which was a big court, it was very common for a new judge. When I was a new judge, I'd go to a more senior judge, and I'd ask advice. I'd say, Judge, I have this difficult matter. I've never had this before. What would you do? And I would take advice. And when I became a more senior judge, junior judges would come to me.

COLLINS: So, that was how that process worked.

Renato, you said you find it objectionable that these judges went to her, and urged her, encouraged her, to give the case to someone else. Why?

RENATO STABILE, ATTORNEY & JURY CONSULTANT: Well, look, I mean, she does have criminal experience. She was a former Assistant United States attorney, in the Southern District of Florida, so, in the court, in the jurisdiction, where this case is pending. So the notion that she's too inexperienced to handle this case, I don't think that's quite right.

She might not have a lot of trial experience, to Judge Scheindlin's point. But she certainly has criminal experience. She understands the issues. It's not like this is an antitrust case, or a patent infringement case, something that might be out of her wheelhouse.

So, I think, judges make mistakes. That's why we have appellate courts. The fact that she made mistakes, the fact that she was reversed by the 11th Circuit, is not necessarily a reason to ask her to move away from the case.

COLLINS: Joey, I mean, does it seem -- is she out of her wheelhouse, though? I mean, when you look at how she's handled everything.

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: So, here's how I take this, Kaitlan. I don't question her competence. I question her process. And let me tell you why.

I approach this from a practitioner. When you're in front of a judge, there are issues that arise. Prior to trial, there are a myriad of pretrial issues. You think the search is improper, right? You are going to make that motion to the judge. The judge can make a determination as to the search.

In a case like this, classified documents, how will we be reviewing it? What will the jury have access to? How do we file things? Should we file them under seal? I think the Special Counsel should be removed, OK, say if I'm a defense making the argument?

OK, great. What is your basis for that? What law do you rely upon, as it relates to the Special Counsel's removal?

I believe my client has been unfairly disadvantaged. He's been vindictively prosecuted.

So, when I speak to process, issues come up, Kaitlan, all the time. But what a judge then does is say, Mr. Jackson, file your motion.

You then submit your motion. You get a specific time to file that motion. The prosecution responds. And you have a hearing, and a decision is made.

So, with regard to process, my experience is judges like to move the docket. There's a lot of cases happening, of significance, right, to the people who are under investigation. It's not only the President's case. Move it along.

And so, to the extent that it's not moved along, and it appears that there's this, dillydally, what am I doing, entertaining all these issues? That's troubling to me as a practitioner, who goes before judges, and the judge says, file your motion, and you have a hearing. That hasn't happened. And I'm troubled by that.

COLLINS: Yes. It just has continued to stack up.


COLLINS: The decisions that she hasn't -- made these decisions on.

She's got another hearing tomorrow. And this is whether or not Jack Smith is rightfully the Special Counsel, because he wasn't Senate- confirmed. Neither was Robert Mueller, I should note.

But what's interesting, Judge, is she's letting outside parties come in, for these arguments that aren't working on the case. They're not prosecutors, for the DOJ. And they're not employed by the Trump legal team.

SCHEINDLIN: No, this is absolutely unique to allow what's called an amicus to argue in the District Court. It happens occasionally in the highest court, in the United States, in the Supreme Court, but it never happens in the District Court.

She has the brief. Read the brief and make a decision. And she has lawyers arguing each position. She doesn't need to hear from these people. It's just going to take all day.

COLLINS: So, you think she doesn't even need a hearing?

SCHEINDLIN: No -- oh, no, no, from these people. She doesn't need to hear from the amicus people, because they've submitted an amicus brief, and she can read it. So, she knows their argument. She can hear from the lawyers, on the case, who actually have a client, the United States, and the lawyers for Donald Trump. But she shouldn't be hearing these people.

JACKSON: And Kaitlan, they have also these law clerks, who are phenomenal, come from the best schools. They write extraordinarily well. They keep the judge moving along. There are novel issues that develop in cases all the time. Your law clerks study those issues. They come to the judge. They present what it is, and you make a decision.


And so, to the extent that decisions are not being made, I'm just brought to bear. Well, in my cases, decisions are made all the time. Why not here? And it just raises the specter of what are we doing, and is there bias.

COLLINS: Yes. And is this a legitimate point of interest? I mean, they have challenged this before, his appointment, Jack Smith's. Merrick Garland has said he doesn't regret appointing him. Is it just about a delay? Or is there a real argument here?

STABILE: Well, I mean, they had to file a motion, so the judge will decide how meritorious their arguments are.

But look, if Jack Smith thinks that she is acting in a biased way, he can make a motion, right? He can file a motion for her to recuse yourself. Remember, the Trump team filed multiple motions, for Judge Merchan to recuse himself. So, if it got to that point, it's within the ability of Jack Smith, to file that motion. And she'll decide it, and it could go to the Circuit, and we'll see what happens.



JACKSON: --Kaitlan, but here's the problem. There's been so much delay. Are we really notwithstanding any motions that are going to be filed, have this case tried prior to election? The answer is no. It's not going to happen.

COLLINS: Well, and the other, maybe more fascinating than tomorrow is the hearing that's happening early next week, which is Trump's request to throw out the testimony of his attorney, Evan Corcoran, which, as we know, greatly matters, because they were able to pierce attorney- client privilege. He talked about conversations he had, where Trump wanted him to make them -- made a plucking motion to throw out bad documents.

I mean, that could be a pivotal decision for this case.

SCHEINDLIN: Well, except that it's already been decided. The Judge in the District of Columbia has said the crime-fraud exception applies. That's why we have these documents, because there's no more privilege left. And she would have to take a different position than a different judge. If the question, and I guess they'll say is, well, OK, you have the documents, but should they be admissible?

But if the other judge already said, there's no privilege left, then there's no privilege left. So again, she would have to sort of go against the tide, to have a different view than the judge, who has already heard that decision, just like you said, about recusal, or about any of the issues coming up before her.

The gag order's coming up, I think, on Monday. So, she has a big week. She has Friday, Monday, and Tuesday, three straight days of hearings.

COLLINS: And how remarkable would it be if she disagreed with Judge Beryl Howell, in D.C.?

SCHEINDLIN: I think that would be kind of stunning. She sticks her neck out a number of times. One of these times you stick your neck out too far, you get hung.

So, this is what's going to happen, is he's going to move to recuse her, at some point. She will deny it. It will go to the Circuit. The Circuit will throw her out. And why she would want that to happen, I don't know.


COLLINS: You think she'll get thrown out?

SCHEINDLIN: I think it's possible. It depends what she does, with these three days, and how -- how off the wall, so to speak, her rulings are.

COLLINS: Wow. We'll see what happens here.


COLLINS: Judge Scheindlin.


COLLINS: Joey Jackson. Renato Stabile. Great to have you all.

That's going to be something to watch.


COLLINS: Up next, speaking of court cases, the Supreme Court is expected to rule any day now, on another big abortion case, one of the biggest since they overturn Roe versus Wade.

A big and emotional announcement here, from the Texas mom, who had to flee her state, to get the life-saving care that she needed, including an abortion.

Also, new details on the debate, to where each candidate is standing, and which one of those two gets the last word.



COLLINS: We are just hours away, from the Supreme Court, possibly ruling on a major abortion rights case.

This time, it's Idaho, where abortion is only legal to prevent a woman's death. And what the court has to decide, and what we're waiting to hear is what level of care is available to women, who are experiencing medical emergencies, in that state.

The decision is going to be one of the biggest ones, the biggest abortion rulings that we have seen from the High Court, since they overturned Roe versus Wade nearly two years ago. Since then, of course, countless women have had the decisions, about their lives, and their health care, taken out of their hands, including my next guest tonight, Kate Cox.

You may remember that she sued Texas, last year, and sought a court- approved abortion, to end her dangerous pregnancy. At the time, her baby was diagnosed with a deadly genetic condition, and it put her life at risk as well. In the end, she had to flee her state, her home state of Texas, for the life-saving procedure.

And Kate Cox is here, joining me now.

And it's so great to have you here. So, thank you for being here.

I mean, so much has happened since we first met you, since you first had to sue Texas to get abortion care, and were thrust into the national spotlight, and kind of became the face of this fight, for so many women.

How have you been? What has your life been like since then?

KATE COX, FLED TEXAS FOR EMERGENCY ABORTION AFTER BEING DENIED ONE: Well, I have some wonderful news to share. I'm actually pregnant. My husband and I are expecting a little boy, coming in January. So very, very exciting time for us now.

COLLINS: Congratulations.

COX: Thank you. Thank you.

COLLINS: And I can't even imagine what it was like to find out. Do you know what you're having?

COX: A little boy. Yes. And it's so exciting. And it's such a hard feeling, because so much happiness, but also being so scared at the same time.

COLLINS: Why does it? Tell me more. What do you -- why does it make you scared? COX: Because I live in a state, where emergencies in pregnancy can happen in a moment. And if I have an emergency, my first call would be my lawyer, and my second call would be my doctor.


COX: Like how upside-down is that?

COLLINS: It's really striking to hear that you'd have to call an attorney first, you think, given what you've been through.

COX: I'm grateful though. I'm three months along. And all the tests show healthy baby and healthy mama, so.

COLLINS: We actually have the video of the moment, when you -- when you took the pregnancy test--

COX: Oh.


COLLINS: --and you found out that you were pregnant. And I think anyone seeing that video, is it's going to bring them to tears, just to watch this.

COX: Wow. Oh.


COLLINS: What were you feeling when you saw that, that positive result?

COX: So much joy, so -- so exciting to have the opportunity, to get to bring a baby, home from the hospital. It's nothing else I want more in the world. So, so much joy, and also scared as well.

COLLINS: And to see those -- those two feelings intertwined, because of what you've been through, must be a strange feeling.

COX: It's very strange. I live in a state, where I know my doctors are fearful. I trust my doctors. But the State of Texas doesn't trust doctors, to make good-faith decisions. And so, it's a scary, scary time, in Texas.

COLLINS: And it's not just your state even. I mean, the Supreme Court ruling that we're waiting on is deciding where in Idaho, you can only get an abortion if the mother's life is at risk. And the Biden administration is arguing, that conflicts with federal law.

And just, for people who don't fully grasp what these -- what these laws are like, and when you live in a state like that, I mean, how severe are these bans?

COX: I think that people don't realize how severe they are.

I was so shocked, my husband, and I both, when we went through what we went through. I was so sick, in my pregnancy. I'd been in and out of emergency room, four times. I've had everything from severe cramping and bleeding, to fluid in the canal.

And on top of that, we had the most devastating news that parents can receive, when it comes to their baby that my baby would never survive. My doctor said every case, she's seen like this, either demises in utero, or hours or days once they're born.

And so, to force me to continue that pregnancy, where's the sense in that?

COLLINS: And also, the concern that you couldn't be where you are today.

COX: Right.

COLLINS: Preparing to have another baby.

COX: Right. Yes. This is -- it's our dream to expand our family. So, I'm so grateful today to be -- to be here, to be pregnant, for us to get to expand our family.

COLLINS: You must have never thought that you'd be in this position. Yes, I mean, you have become the face of this fight, for so many people, and other people who have had a similar experience to yours.

COX: Certainly. Certainly. I'm just one person, or just one family. I hear from so many all the time.

All the time, I have more and more women reaching out, going through devastating circumstances, to go through what is often the most devastating time, in your life, a complicated pregnancy, and then so much unnecessary suffering added to that because of the strict abortion bans. And I don't think they represent what people truly want.

The majority of Americans want reasonable policies, and the government out of their business.

COLLINS: What do you hear from other women? What have they said to you?

COX: Unfortunate, I've kind of a support group, informal support group of moms, that all in the same boat, trying to expand our families, who have had devastating pregnancies, sometimes twins, and one has a fatal anomaly and poses risks to the other.

The ruling in the Zurawski versus Texas case was devastating, because I feel that our state really had written off many of the women, and what they've been through.

COLLINS: But you're not -- I mean, you live in Texas. I think there's a lot of women like you, who find themselves, whether it's in Texas, or Idaho, or Alabama, they can't just move and uproot their lives.

COX: Right. COLLINS: What's that like to know that you will still be in that state, where you were denied care that you needed so desperately?

COX: It's hard. Because being pregnant, this is the time that should be just filled with joy and excitement. And it's scary, because pregnancy emergencies happen in a moment. And I don't want to be scared, if my water breaks too early, if I have a miscarriage that I'm not going to be able to access care. It's very scary.

COLLINS: And are you scared?

COX: Yes. I'm scared. I know my doctors are scared, because there is vague -- they're operating under vague laws. And the penalties are so severe. They could spend their whole lives in person. So, I know they're scared. And I wouldn't want that for them either.

COLLINS: And I know you have a daughter, too. I wonder how much do you think of her future, when you think of something like this?

COX: All the time. I hope that it's different by the time that she's older. That's why it's so important to vote. This next presidency will likely appoint two Supreme Court judges. This is a very important time.


COLLINS: And we've seen how that fight has gone from, not even just abortion, but to IVF and even contraception. There are concerns about that being limited, as well, from potential cases that could go before the court.

COX: Yes. It's terrifying, because building a family is often very difficult, for a lot of American families. And so, my hope is that everyone, who wants to bring home a baby, gets that opportunity. And a lot of times, that entails IVF, even birth control, abortion care.

COLLINS: When you think of the daughter that you've lost, and when you're going through this, and finding out joyful news, but also still dealing with that same landscape that you were in, I wonder what goes through your mind.

COX: It's hard, because yes, we went through a loss. And so, that will always be in our hearts.

I'm grateful that I was able to access health care, and that we get to make the decision that felt compassionate for our family. She had a devastating, fatal fetal anomaly, with a slew of really heartbreaking conditions. She never would have been able to survive. And we didn't want her to suffer.

We just -- we made the most compassionate decision for our family. We made it together. So, I'm grateful, in the end, that we got to make that decision.

COLLINS: Did you have a name picked out for her?

COX: Yes. Chloe (ph). Yes.

COLLINS: It must be quite something to look at this in the moment that I think of when you first talked to Dana Bash, in March, and to see where your story is now, with such joyful news.

COX: Yes.

COLLINS: But also, hearing from women, who feel, and are going through what you've gone through.

COX: It's hard, even. We walk around our home. And we have two little ones. So, we have, it's always two sippy cups on the counter, two little chairs in the living room, two little lawn chairs in the backyard. And it's hard, because it feels like there should be three. But we're grateful that we have this opportunity to take a baby home.

COLLINS: Kate Cox, your story means so much to so many people. So, thank you, for being willing to talk about it, when I can see it's so difficult.

COX: Thank you. I think it's so important. And we see more and more women, families, speaking out, because the reality is, this is what late-term abortion looks like. I see so often, people try to legislate for people that don't exist.

This is the women, who speak out, myself, or the women in the Zurawski versus Texas case. This is what it looks like. And when a woman has late-term abortion, it's because something catastrophic has happened. And it's the most devastating time.

COLLINS: And do you think lawmakers, the people who are actually deciding these things, not doctors, do you think lawmakers -- well, I guess what would you say to someone, who doesn't understand that?

COX: I would say, listen to the women that are speaking out. We have to legislate, based on the real women that exist.

COLLINS: Kate Cox, thank you for being here.

COX: Thank you.

COLLINS: It's great to have you.

COX: Thank you.

COLLINS: After a quick break, we have some breaking news, as we just got President Biden's latest fundraising numbers. We'll be digging into those, and bring you all the news, around the big CNN debate, including who is standing where, and who is speaking last.

Maggie Haberman is here next.


[21:32:56] COLLINS: Some breaking news for you, as we are now getting in numbers, from President Biden and the Democratic Party, announcing that they have raised more than $85 million, in the month of May.

That number is not as much as what Trump raised, in the same month, based on what the Trump campaign has said. They previously announced they pulled in about $141 million, along with the Republican National Committee.

But the Biden campaign does have a huge cash stockpile, when you look at these month-to-month's, and the big numbers overall. They have $212 million on hand, tonight.

And of course this is all coming, as we do know that in a race that really feels like a tossup, it's all coming down also to a coin flip. We're talking about who will be standing where, one week from tonight, during the Trump-Biden debate, and also who is going to have the last word.

Biden won the coin toss, which meant he got to choose either where he was standing, or who went last. He chose to be on the right side of your screen, just as in the last two debates with Donald Trump.

And Trump, in his reality TV fashion, has decided he would like to get the final word of the night.

Here tonight, on set with me, Maggie Haberman, Senior Political Correspondent for "The New York Times," and CNN Political Analyst.

Maggie, I think everyone's curious, what does debate prep for Donald Trump look like right now.

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: So, it's different this time than he's done it in the past.

In the past, he had Chris Christie leading it, and a bunch of other aides being part of it. And Christie did do some role-playing of, you know, this was not formal prep behind podiums, and so forth. But he would -- he would pretend to be the opponent. They're not doing that, at least as of now. I guess that could change in the next couple of days.

They're doing what is described to me as policy time. They are having him meet with various people. They're cycling in advisers, senators, a bunch of folks, to talk about different topics, whether that's abortion, or health care, or in some cases talking about how to answer questions, about January 6th, and the attacks on Trump about posing a threat to democracy.

COLLINS: That's interesting.

Because normally, in a mock debate, and what we heard from Bob Bauer, who helped Biden get ready for his last phase, they kind of try to get under your skin, they try to really emulate the person that they're going to be debating, so you're prepared for when that moment happens on stage. So, that is interesting that he's not doing mock debates at this moment.


HABERMAN: And that definitely happened in 2020. Several people described to me moments, where Christie would throw lines at Trump, pretending to be Biden, anticipating attacks. And Trump, I think, was genuinely surprised by them.

I don't think there's a ton that Trump is going to be surprised by, on this one.


HABERMAN: I think that the way that the Trump folks are looking at it is number one, Trump doesn't generally do prep the way people tend to. He doesn't like prep. It feels too much like school. And so, they try to find ways, where they can engage with him.

They have been trying to give him refreshers, on certain things, from his time in office, and then how to parry certain attacks. But I don't think there's so much that they think is going to be coming out of nowhere.


HABERMAN: I think it's pretty clear where this is going.

COLLINS: Well, and obviously, he's been on the debate stage with Biden, before.

He was talking today. He watched the Biden-Paul Ryan debate, from when they were both the vice presidential candidates. Here's what he said about Biden's debating abilities.


TRUMP: I watched him with Paul Ryan, and he destroyed Paul Ryan. Paul Ryan with the water, he was chugging water at a left and right, I didn't think a human being would be able to drink so much water at one time.


TRUMP: And he beat Paul Ryan. So, I'm not underestimating him.

I assume he's going to be somebody that will be a worthy debater.


COLLINS: That's in The All-In Podcast. I mean, it's interesting, though, for how they talk about Biden, he's now talking him up, saying he's a strong debater.

HABERMAN: And I was told that this was where he and his team were heading. As they went into the debate, they were trying to move from, Biden can't tie his shoelaces, and is going to trip his way all over the stage, to trying to suggest that they expect that he will be good, in the same way he was, say, at the State of the Union, several months ago.

And so, there is an awareness in Trump's world, that they have lowered the expectations pretty solidly for Biden there. I don't know that a week out from the debate is enough time to try to recast that.

But Trump did not help himself, in 2020, when he was constantly interrupting Biden. He knows that. He has said that to people. Trump is -- Trump and his folks are aware that they set the expectations too low for Biden. And Biden beat them. They're trying to avoid doing that now.

COLLINS: Can we just take a reminder of what that moment was like--


COLLINS: --when he was constantly interrupting him?

This is the first debate from 2020.



TRUMP: Are you going to pack the court?

BIDEN: Make sure you, in fact, let people know, your Senators.

TRUMP: He doesn't want to answer the question.

BIDEN: I'm not going to answer the question, because--

TRUMP: Why wouldn't you answer that question?

BIDEN: Because the question is--

TRUMP: You want to put a lot of--

BIDEN: The question is--

TRUMP: --new Supreme Court Justices.

BIDEN: The question--

TRUMP: Radical left. Who is on--

BIDEN: Will you shut up, man?

TRUMP: Listen, who is--


COLLINS: Do you think -- that's a great point. Because is it still in his brain? Because after that, he felt like he didn't do a great job at the first debate. They thought he did great at the second one.

HABERMAN: Yes, they--

COLLINS: But not the first one.

HABERMAN: Yes, well, so to be clear, also, and you know this. He walked offstage, and he thought he did fantastic. And it was only when he saw the coverage, and a lot of people were saying to him, that was not great that then he changed. He has since acknowledged that that was not a great debate.

You're right that both he and they think that he did better in the second debate.

One thing that was striking too, about that debate that you just played, part of why that moment popped, the way it did, was that Biden had been smiling, in response to Trump's interruptions, throughout the entire night, until he finally just seemed exasperated.

I don't know how much either one of these guys is going to be smiling at the other. I mean, the antipathy that they have for one another is deep.

COLLINS: Or any of us are going to be smiling. I mean, what did you make of -- so, Biden got to pick whether he wanted to pick his podium, or pick who went last. He picked where -- which lectern he'll be standing out, same side as always, which is his preferred side.

What do you make of Trump having the last word, though?

HABERMAN: I think that it's not -- A, it's not surprising. I think Trump likes having the last word, in all situations, number one.

But number two, I think that the Biden team likely sees that as a positive for them, because they think more of Donald Trump as a good thing. And so, if the last thing that viewers see is Donald Trump, I think, their expectation is that's more likely than not better for them. I don't know that that will be the case. But I imagine that's their thinking.

COLLINS: We'll see how it goes.

HABERMAN: We will.

COLLINS: Maggie Haberman, it's going to be fascinating, to say the least.

Speaking of the debate stage, RFK Jr. is now calling President Biden and Donald Trump, cowardly, after he learned he will not qualify to make that debate stage. We're going to check in on the state of his campaign, and the third-party threat, potentially. That's ahead.


[21:43:41] COLLINS: There's at least one presidential candidate, who will not be on the CNN debate stage, next week. RFK Jr., who is running as an independent, failed to meet the required thresholds, to be in Atlanta, next Thursday night, on stage, with President Biden and former President Donald Trump.

But RFK Jr. will be however, on the ballot, in at least seven states, come Election Day. That includes the swing state of Michigan, potentially posing a real problem for Biden's bid, to keep the White House, and maybe Trump's, to try to regain it.

Here, tonight, to discuss, CNN Political Commentator, Van Jones.

Van, great to have you.

Because when you look kind of at the holistic state, of the RFK Jr. campaign. He spent two and a half times, last month, more than he raised. His running mate, his vice presidential pick, Nicole Shanahan, has not put any more money, into the campaign, since that first initial tranche.

And I just wonder, when he's not going to be on the debate stage, you think that hurts his numbers?

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, listen, this is a visibility game for him. He's played a big role on the right-wing media. A weird thing is like he's a fixture now, in the right-wing media, even though he's allegedly a liberal, former Democrat.

And so, he -- to break out of that, there's only so many votes you can get from that. Most of that's going to go to Trump. He's got to get more attention. And he's not going to get it next week. So, that's a big body blow to this campaign.


But the reality is he wasn't on track to win the presidency, anyway. By this point, I think Ross Perot was at 30 percent. He's down below 10 percent. Where he's on track to do is to mess up the math, in Michigan. And that makes him a very big threat, to both Biden and to Trump.

Michigan is absolutely necessary for Joe Biden. Joe Biden is not likely to do well, looking at the polling data, in the Sun Belt. Georgia looks out of reach. Nevada looks out of reach. He's got to win in the industrial heartland. And Michigan is key to that.

And now, Joe Biden has somebody standing in the train tracks, who has no chance of winning, but could completely derail Joe Biden's election bid.

COLLINS: Well, and maybe two people, because Cornel West, the other independent candidate, has just submitted what he claims -- of course, we have to wait for the -- for Michigan to verify this. But what he claims is enough signatures to be on the ballot there as well.

So, it would be Cornel West and RFK Jr. on that ballot, in a state that Biden won by three points, in 2020.

JONES: Look, I mean, given a 50-50 country, three points is pretty respectable. But it ain't 30 points. It's not, you know, that's -- that's close.

And so, now you've got these little Mouseketeers munching on the cookie. That's what you got. Cornel West is not going to win Michigan. You know RFK is not going to win Michigan.

But you look at Joe Biden. He's got to do well in Pennsylvania, Michigan. He's got to do well in Wisconsin. What does that mean? That means Milwaukee. That means Philadelphia. That means Detroit. In other words, Black cities are key to those blue states. And you put a Cornel West into the mix. Where does Detroit go?

Do you have enough young people, in Detroit, who are African American, who are frustrated with the war in Gaza, who are frustrated with the decline of the Black Lives Matter movement, who start looking over at a Cornel West and say, you know what? I could pull the lever for somebody, who agrees with me, on these issues. They start moving that direction.

Then, you got other people, who might be older voters, who remember that Kennedy charm, who are frustrated with Biden? You start having real problems in Michigan.


JONES: And particularly in Detroit.

COLLINS: Yes. It's, I mean, the Biden campaign clearly is worried about it.

And -- but can I ask you, Van, about something else, when it comes to the numbers in the polling, because we got this new Fox News national poll yesterday that had Biden winning, or Biden ahead of Trump, for the first time in their poll since October, I think.

And so, unsurprisingly, Donald Trump is not happy with it. He called it trash, in all-caps. He argued about one point he said, quote, the number one issue in this country is not protecting democracy.

But what this poll found, and what I personally thought was fascinating is that these voters told Fox, that the number -- the two issues that matter the most to them, are the future of the American democracy and the economy. I mean, you can see in the numbers 68 percent and 66 percent.

I wonder what you made of the fact that democracy was number one.

JONES: Look, I think it's interesting.

A lot of people have been saying in the Biden camp, that as you get closer to the convention, as you get closer to people having to early vote, and actually vote, and people start looking down the barrel of what it actually means, not to have Trump as the kind of a protest vote, or kind of a countercultural rebel figure in a courtroom, but somebody, who might actually be in charge again.

People might start backing away from telling pollsters that they're so mad at Biden, and he's so old that they're willing to throw the country into, you know, back into Trump-world. It could -- this is the first sign of that. Most of us have said, that's ridiculous.

Most of us have said, this has been a stable race for a very long time. No matter how many dumb things Trump does, and how many great things Biden does, the poll numbers don't move, and the issue set doesn't change. And so, it looks very bad for Biden.

This is the first time you saw a crack in that. Well, hold on a second. If the issue set can change, and it's no longer immigration and economy, but it's economy and democracy? That starts looking very good for a Joe Biden.

Because the one thing you know, for sure, is somebody, who just tried to overthrow the government, somebody who will not accept the election result, somebody who is literally been convicted for breaking the law after law after law, is probably not a great champion of democracy. So, that's not your guy, if you're a pro-democracy.

So, if the issue set begins to change, you could have a different outcome. And that would be the -- this is the first time that may be in the cards.

COLLINS: Well, and just quickly, before we go, it's, everyone has been saying that Mike Donilon, and everyone in the Biden campaign, who's focusing on democracy is focusing on the wrong issues. But this could -- this could prove otherwise.

JONES: All I can say about it is next week is going to be the war to settle the score, the brawl to end it all. We're going to see these two people stand up against each other. And then after that, after that's over, we'll see what the issue set it.

COLLINS: "The brawl to end it all." Van Jones, I mean, no one says it better than you. I can't wait to talk to you, after the debate. Thank you for joining.

JONES: Looking forward to it.


COLLINS: Still ahead, her classmate made nude deepfake pictures of her. They shared them on social media. That Texas teenager is here, to tell us, her excruciating story, and how to help other kids.



COLLINS: A.I. technology used to create sexually-explicit deepfake images. It happened to one Texas teenager, her name is Elliston Berry, in her very first weeks of high school. Her family's fight, to get the pictures, the fake pictures taken down, and to protect future victims from this disturbing new form of cyber harassment that we're seeing, is now getting support in Washington, from lawmakers, on both sides of the political aisle.

I want to get straight to THE SOURCE, tonight, with Elliston Berry, and her mom, Anna McAdams, the family at the center of this traumatic ordeal.

And thank you all so much for being here.

And I just can't even imagine, Elliston. Starting high school, you're 15 now, I know. But you were just 14-years-old, when this happened. Can you just walk us through what it was like, when you first became aware of these altered photos being online?


I had just woken up, with so many different calls and text messages that these images were going around of me. And it was absolutely terrifying, knowing that there's nothing I can do about it. It was out of my control. And they were spreading. And I had -- I couldn't do anything.

COLLINS: And what was it like, Elliston. I mean, you knew these images weren't real, that they were fake. But what was it like to go to your mom, and have to tell her about this?

BERRY: It was really hard, because although they weren't real, I was still shameful and embarrassed. And it still created as much pain. And it was difficult to admit to her that these images were going around.

COLLINS: Yes. And I can't even imagine having that conversation.

And Anna, I mean, obviously these photos, we now know were shared anonymously, on Snapchat, when this happened last October.


COLLINS: I was stunned, though, when I heard that the pictures weren't removed until this week. I can't even imagine the anger--


COLLINS: --and the frustration, as a parent, that you must feel about that.

MCADAMS: Well, it has been very frustrating, and on many different levels. I mean, we've hit kind of a wall, when it comes to the school, the student -- well, the student code of conduct, which doesn't have anything in it about A.I., the school board.

Even the Sheriff and the Police, though they were very helpful, they have -- they had nothing in place. So, they didn't know what to do with this kid, and the offense that had happened. Now, we know, looking at the photos, that they are fake. I mean, because we know when that picture was taken. And of all the girls, family members were there. We know we can put the pictures side by side, the real beautiful picture off of Instagram, and then the nude. And so, we knew that it was fake.

But if you didn't know that, I mean, they are so real that I mean it is child porn. And there is nobody out there that's classifying it as that. So, if you were a predator, and you were to see these, these pictures, you would not know, or you would not really probably even care, do they look like child porn, of these girls that are 14-years- old.

So, it was very heart-wrenching. I mean, even with a warrant from the Police, Snapchat did nothing, you know? And it's so hard to get a hold of anybody. So, we knew that he could no longer post on those accounts, based on him -- his conviction. But those -- we don't know where, or who is showing those pictures. They're still out there in circulation.

So, it wasn't until Senator Cruz graciously worked for us, to try to get those two accounts of that kid's down.

COLLINS: Yes. Well, and yes, the frustration of not being able to get in touch with a social media giant, like Snapchat, on this.

And you mentioned Senator Cruz.


COLLINS: And this is a really interesting point, because you don't often see a ton of bipartisanship, in Washington, these days.

But Senator Ted Cruz and Senator Amy Klobuchar, both who've been here on THE SOURCE--


COLLINS: --they're leading on a bill that would make it a crime, to publicize non-consensual nude images, real or fake.


COLLINS: And also would make these social media companies responsible, to remove this, within 20 -- within 48 hours of getting a notice.


COLLINS: I just wonder, I mean, Anna, how much do you wish that this would have been in place, when this happened to Elliston?

MCADAMS: Oh, it would have been amazing.

I mean, because this kid, who is not getting any kind of real consequence, other than a little bit of probation, and then at when he's 18, his record will be expunged, and he'll go on with life, and no one will ever really know what happened.

Where our girls, even though it's off Snapchat, we don't know when, you know, if or when those pictures might resurface. So, they will live underneath what this kid decided to do to them. And he really has no consequence.

And so, if this had been in place, at that point, those pictures would have been taken down, within 48 hours, and he could be looking at three years in jail. And that would not leave his record.

COLLINS: Well and--

MCADAMS: So, he would get a punishment for what he actually did.

COLLINS: And you make a good point there about them not just being up for as long as they were.

But Elliston, I imagine. You're 15. You have so much life ahead of you, and going to college, or pursuing a career. And I just wonder, I mean, you must be worried about these fake photos just being out there.


BERRY: It was. It's still so scary, as these images are off Snapchat, but that does not mean that they are not on students' phones. And every day, I've had to live with the fear of these photos getting brought up, or resurfacing.

And by this bill getting passed, I will no longer have to live in fear, knowing that whoever does bring these images up will be punished.

COLLINS: Elliston Berry, Anna McAdams, thank you for coming on, and for sharing such an important story--


COLLINS: --that can affect so many.

MCADAMS: Yes. Thank you for getting it out there.

BERRY: Thank you for having us.

MCADAMS: The more people to know, the bigger the support can be, for this bill.

COLLINS: Thank you both.

Thank you so much, for joining us.