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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
Biden Convinced Putin Has Decided To Invade Ukraine; Judge Rules Trump Can Face Civil Lawsuits Over Jan.6 Riot; Former Minnesota Police Officer Sentenced To 2 Years In Prison For Daunte Wright's Death; Right-Wing Media Drops Coverage Of False Hillary Clinton Spying Story, After Week Of Nonstop Coverage; New Original Series On Lyndon B. Johnson's Presidency Premieres Sunday At 9P ET On CNN. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired February 18, 2022 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Putin is right about that. He is just wrong about what those ties mean.
Ukrainians we've met here in Lviv are fiercely patriotic and they will not yield easily.
Thanks so much for joining us, and a reminder that this weekend to watch new original series on the life of Lyndon Johnson, "LBJ: Triumph and Tragedy" premieres Sunday at nine o'clock Eastern.
AC 360, though, starts now.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: President Biden says he is convinced that Vladimir Putin has made up his mind to invade Ukraine and that it will happen within days.
The President gave specifics about a possible attack, including that it will target the country's capital of Kyiv.
I'm John Berman, in for Anderson.
This is by far the most definitive we have heard President Biden about the plans and the scope, especially about Kyiv, a city of millions, asked twice, this is what President Biden said about Putin's decision.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Do you have any indication about whether President Putin has made a decision on what he is going to do and do you feel confident that he hasn't made that decision already?
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As of this moment, I'm convinced he's made the decision. We have reason to believe that.
QUESTION: You are convinced that President Putin is going to invade Ukraine, is that what you just said a few moments ago?
BIDEN: Yes, I did. Yes. QUESTION: So is diplomacy off the table then?
BIDEN: No. Until he does, diplomacy is always a possibility.
QUESTION: What reason do you have to believe he is considering that option at all?
BIDEN: We have a significant Intelligence capability.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Now, no one can state definitively that an invasion will occur, only Vladimir Putin could do that. What we do know is what administration officials say they have seen from the Intelligence. One Defense official tells CNN that nearly half of Russian forces surrounding Ukraine are in attack position, and that the Russian military has continued to move forces toward the border.
We also have more new satellite imagery tonight. These come to us from the space technology company, Maxar, which says they show a substantial increase in Russian helicopter forces deployed to the Ukrainian border. That same Defense official also spoke of a destabilization campaign by the Russians ahead of any possible invasion. It is something President Biden alluded to as well with accusations of a disinformation campaign, as well as a false flag operation involving what the U.S. says was a staged attack on a Russian made jeep in one of the breakaway eastern cities.
And then there's the threat of cyberattacks. The U.S. and U.K. both publicly blamed Russia for attacks on bank websites in Ukraine this week. And today, here in the United States, officials met with representatives from some of the nation's biggest banks to discuss the possibility of cyberattacks by the Russians.
As we've done every night this week, we want to talk to our reporters in the key locations as only CNN can. Our chief White House correspondent, Kaitlan Collins; our chief international correspondent, Clarissa Ward, who is in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, and Jill Dougherty, who is in Moscow right now. She is a CNN contributor and expert on Russia at the Wilson Center in Washington.
Kaitlan, first to you, obviously, these remarks from President Biden are hugely significant, the most definitive characterization today of Russia's intentions, what makes the President so sure, and what sort of diplomatic efforts remain ongoing?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I think what makes him so sure, John, is the Intelligence and the President is citing the capability that they have earlier there when he was speaking with reporters just briefly on this.
But what we're hearing from sources is really what the President said today matches and lines up with what they have been seeing and reading in the Intelligence that they've been looking at and pouring over for the last several days. But what is notable about this shift from the president is that no one
has said this publicly yet. Even President Biden himself has said he guessed that President Putin would go into Ukraine. He said that at his press conference a few weeks ago, but they always repeatedly said only Putin knows what he is going to do, and maybe even his top aides aren't really sure if he's made up his mind.
But President Biden saying today, his clearest indication yet that he does believe the Russian leader has made up his mind to go into Ukraine, and I think it's also just based on what you're seeing happening on the ground, because the Defense Secretary was saying yesterday that he has been a soldier before and when you're having this kind of buildup, you don't just do it for no reason.
And so of course, President Biden did leave the door open a little bit to diplomacy today. They have obviously tried to go down that path several times with the Kremlin. That is something that has been rejected so far, and he did say, looking at that meeting on Wednesday, that is supposed to happen between Secretary Blinken and the Russian Foreign Minister, that that is still planned for Wednesday.
But of course, if Russia does invade before then President Biden will consider that door to diplomacy closed.
BERMAN: So Clarissa, how are Ukrainian leaders responding to all this?
CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, as can be expected, there is a slight difference of opinion here among the leadership about President Biden's comments, they don't dispute that his position is based on solid Intelligence, but an aide to President Volodymyr Zelensky has told CNN quote, "It's impossible to say with certainty what exactly is going on in the thoughts of the Russian leadership."
And he went on to say that essentially the real focus should be on the most important part, in their opinion of what President Biden said, which was that the door to diplomacy is still open until there is an actual invasion of sorts.
It's not entirely surprising to hear them talk in these tones. We have heard them disagree with the U.S. on a number of occasions. Obviously, that's in part to try to tamp down any sense of panic or any sense of looking weak to the Ukrainian public.
But on the other hand, John, you are seeing other Ukrainian officials responding to what has been happening in the eastern part of the country in these breakaway republics, where they have been staging what Ukrainian and U.S. officials are calling sort of false flags or staged provocations.
They have been busing people who have been allegedly coming under heavy fire to the border to Russia, trying essentially, it appears to create some kind of an elaborate manufactured refugee crisis. Again, it has been speculated many, many times before, that this could give President Putin some kind of a pretext with 600,000 Russian passport holders in that part of the country to launch some kind of incursion.
We've heard Ukrainian leaders warning of the danger of that, and also dismissing as theater and as provocations these claims from pro- Russian separatists leaders in the far eastern part of the country, that they have been coming under sustained attack, and that there is an imminent, large scale offensive plan.
So I think you're hearing two different sides from the leaders, which makes sense, given the context of the fact that Ukraine is in an awfully awkward and difficult position here --John.
BERMAN: So Jill Dougherty in Moscow, what do you think we are going to hear from the Kremlin? And how is all of this playing in Russian media?
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You know, the comments came out kind of late here in Moscow. So initially, there wasn't really that much, but there was a comment that we noted from the spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, and she said, you know, the most monstrous thing about this was there was not one word about the civilian population at Donbas.
So what she is saying is, you know, really in line with what we've been seeing today, which is really part of this very heavy information war taking place right now, and that is constant repetition of video coming in from the Donbas region.
Clarissa just referred to it, pictures of mothers and children being loaded onto buses, leaving for Russia, afraid, supposedly, that they're going to be attacked by the Ukrainians, and the Ukrainian government saying they have no intention of attacking that region.
And then also, we had President Putin today, he met with President Lukashenko of Belarus, remember, Belarus, of course, is where all of these major military exercises have been held. And President Putin said, essentially, there is an easy way to solve this. And he said: "All they have to do, all Kyiv has to do is come to the table and talk with those leaders of the Donbas region." But Ukraine so far has said they have -- they're not going to do that.
And then finally, John, just one other, perhaps visual that we will see on Saturday. These are the strategic military exercises. It will have missiles and be probably quite impressive. They will be held on Saturday, President Putin will be there, and this is not to say that they were going to use nuclear missiles at all. I think President Biden referred to that.
But it's a symbol that they can change the equation. They are, of course, the other superpower when it comes to nuclear missiles.
BERMAN: Kaitlan, do you have any reporting on what President Biden plans to do for the weekend now?
COLLINS: He'll be here at the White House monitoring this because today when he came out and gave that most direct statement yet, the next question is, is that the step that Putin takes? And the White House has said that they hope that that is not what he actually does, that they are -- they've been very clear, they know they are very upfront with their predictions here and their estimates of what he is going to do.
And Secretary Blinken said yesterday, he hopes he is wrong, and that he doesn't actually go in, but they seem pretty clear that he is going to.
And so we're told President Biden will be here at the White House monitoring this, meeting with his National Security team, potentially having some more calls with world leaders, which he has done basically on a daily basis and he had several of them on the phone earlier today, talking about these latest developments over the last 24 to 48 hours or so.
And he had initially been planning to go to one of his Delaware homes, which is pretty routine for him on the weekends. He ended up deciding to stay here in Washington.
And one other thing we should note that he is going to be getting dispatches from are his top National Security aides, they are all in Europe right now.
If you look at the Defense Secretary, he's there. The National Security Adviser, Jake Sullivan was in Brussels today. The Vice President is in Munich, as well as Secretary Blinken. And so obviously, he's going to be talking to them about what they're hearing on the ground from these European leaders as well.
BERMAN: Kaitlan Collins, Clarissa Ward, and Jill Dougherty, I think a tense several hours in store for all of you. Thank you so much for being with us tonight.
I'm joined now by CNN military analyst, retired Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, the former Commander of the U.S. Army Europe and Seventh Army General, thank you so much for being with us. Were you surprised to hear President Biden say point blank, that he's convinced that Vladimir Putin has made up his mind to invade?
LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (RET), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Yes, I was surprised to hear him say it so subjectively that he has, obviously some evidence, John, and listening to your conversation just now, it really struck me that what we're seeing and what we've been seeing -- you remember, I told you last week that there would be a lot of preparatory moves. The military calls that a synchronization matrix.
You have to do this before you do that, then do this, then -- I mean, it's literally following one thing after another that will lead to D- Day. If you call D-Day, as we know it, the day that the attack starts. We're in D-minus one or D-minus two right now. We've seen indicators of that all week. I go back to when President Biden refused to delay talking to Mr.
Putin on Tuesday and wanted to do it on, I think it was Sunday instead. That tells me that he had some information that things were going to start earlier.
Listening to the President today very subjectively talking about what might happen. That tells me that we're reading the Russians' mail. I've told you this before. I think he's got exactly what the synchronization events are and they seem to be occurring in sequences.
First, you know, the cyberattacks -- limited cyberattack in Ukraine, that's the Russian seeing what would happen. Then the attack -- the artillery attack on the school to see how the Ukrainians would respond, then the attack or the false flag operation, and then later today, not mentioned was the bombing of the pipeline in Luhansk, I think it was. It all leads to something, the taking of the refugees out of the area. All of these things are telling me that yes, something could certainly happen.
The President said: Hey, we're still -- the potential for diplomacy and to stop this, there is a potential just like Eisenhower depended on whether on D-Day to delay the D-Day landings.
Putin could certainly stop. There's no indicators that he is just yet though.
BERMAN: Synchronization matrix, a new term, but it really describes, I think what you are seeing happen over the last few days. I want to ask you about something else President Biden said, too, which is that his relative certitude that the Russians are going to attack Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, a city of about three million people. That's like the population of Chicago.
So how would the Russians go about doing that?
HERTLING: I don't know, John. But what I'll say is, it could happen in a series of ways. It could be just a massive artillery barrage on the city, and that could kill a lot of civilians, which would be horrific and it would be a war crime.
It could be a limited assault, and I'll give you another key word tonight to start thinking about, Spetsnaz soldiers. That's the Russian Special Operations guys that come in just like our Delta Force. It could be a maneuver, a small maneuver toward Kyiv to continue to focus the attention on a faint in the north while Putin does more action in the Donbas region. I just don't know.
When you're talking about an operation with this many troops around, you allow yourself as a commander or President Putin as the Commander- in-Chief to have a variety of options and he is playing this very well.
Again, he may be using a synchronization matrix. If they do this, we will do this. This is a pretty interesting game of chess here and he has options depending on what the West's reaction is to what he does next. BERMAN: A deadly and dangerous game of chess with millions of people
caught in the middle. General Mark Hertling, appreciate you being with us tonight. Thank you so much.
HERTLING: Thanks, John.
BERMAN: We're going to continue this conversation just ahead with Fiona Hill, who memorably served as a Russia expert in the National Security Council under the former President. We'll hear her thoughts on the President's remarks today.
Also, the former President's legal troubles got a whole lot worse. We'll tell you what the National Archives found in those boxes of documents he took when he left the White House and about the civil lawsuits he is facing over his role in the January 6 attack.
BERMAN: Our breaking news this evening that President Biden is convinced that Vladimir Putin has decided to invade Ukraine. Understanding Vladimir Putin, his objectives and strategy is something that has stumped many analysts for decades.
My next guest spent a career trying to understand him and the Russian state. She is Fiona Hill, the former Senior Director for European and Russian Affairs on the National Security Council. She's also the author of the memoir, "There is Nothing for You Here: Finding Opportunity in the 21st Century."
Miss Hill, thanks so much for joining us. You heard President Biden say today that he is convinced Vladimir Putin has made the decision to invade Ukraine. Obviously, the President has access to Intelligence, you do not, but do you agree?
FIONA HILL, FORMER SENIOR DIRECTOR FOR EUROPEAN AND RUSSIAN AFFAIRS ON THE NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL: Well, based on what he said in his speech, particularly in response to the last set of questions by reporters, he was pretty adamant that he had Intelligence to that effect and he was pretty convinced that Putin had made his mind up or to invade.
Obviously, he was a little bit more cautious on the exact timing, but I think given the fact that he was so emphatic that clearly underscores that he has got information that he firmly believes is pointing in that direction.
BERMAN: So you've heard Secretary of State Blinken warn of false flag operations that Russia could use as a pretext for an invasion of Ukraine.
Now, you see, the Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine report a car bomb, and an evacuation of civilians to Russia. In your opinion, is this part of the excuse that Russia will use to go to war?
HILL: Well, it's entirely possible. Look, I myself was in the National Intelligence Council back in 2006 to 2009 when the Russians went into Georgia, and we saw very similar events in the run up to the Russian invasion of Georgia -- false flag events, basically emanating out of the Socialist Republic of South Ossetia with various shellings, lots of reports of all kinds of incidents in the run up to that.
The mantra that we're hearing now in Russia, on Russian television to the Russian public about rising tensions, and aggressive actions then being taken by the Georgians now been taken by the Ukrainians against separatist. So this is actually unfortunately, following a very familiar pattern that over the years, we've seen the Russians engage in.
BERMAN: What do you think of the U.S. strategy to declassify and reveal so much Intelligence about what's going on including the Russian disinformation? Do you think it has had an effect on Vladimir Putin's tactics or actions up until this point?
HILL: Well, it probably has in terms of making him shift his calculus somewhat, because what Putin wants is operational surprise, and in some respects, what we might call plausible implausibility. I mean, we know that these things are not true, but there are plenty of people out there who are willing to believe Russia's version of events and what President Biden and the administration are trying to do is to get ahead of that.
And in fact, it's something that many people have been advocating for some time, because the Russians, as you point out, they're the masters of disinformation. And sometimes the best way to fight disinformation is with information, but also knowing of course, that this is going to be a battleground over whose version of the events gets traction.
I think the administration is doing, you know what it certainly can, I mean, it's basically trying to inform the rest of us -- you, me and everybody listening to this about what's happening, so we're not taken by surprise.
BERMAN: You wrote in a "New York Times" op-ed several weeks ago, quote, "Mr. Putin plays a longer strategic game and knows how to prevail in the tactical scrum. He has the United States right where he wants it," end quote.
So has anything in the last month about the United States and NATO response change your mind on this?
HILL: Yes, so we one of the reasons that I wrote this article, back when I did a couple of weeks ago now was to alert us to the fact that Putin was doing the kinds of things that we're talking about right now, and that we ought to be vigilant, we ought to respond. And it's not just, I have been shouting these alarms, obviously, the administration and many others have been doing exactly the same thing.
Putin has a lot of players that by now, to be honest, are quite familiar. Remember, he's been with us for 22 years as either President or Prime Minister of Russia. So this is, to some degree, a known quantity, it's not a surprise, he hasn't just appeared in the last 22 days or 22 months.
A lot of time, many of us have had to observe his actions and the kinds of things that he does. And what Putin does is bank on the element of surprise on being able to control the information space and control it and basically manipulate it to his effect, and also banks on us being divided and fighting among ourselves.
And the fact that the administration has been able to work so closely with allies across Europe and elsewhere, the fact that there has been, to some degree, a pretty unified response across the aisles in Congress, that would have been something of a surprise for him and it may have very well caused him to recalculate and shift some of the things that he's doing.
But the fact that he does play a long game means that we're going to have to be at it for some time as well. We're going to have to have the kind of strategic patience and the resilience that we had, unfortunately, during the Cold War, during the height of our confrontations of the past.
We're in here for the long haul, and we're going to have to buckle up, unfortunately.
BERMAN: You heard President Biden say that he believes that Vladimir Putin has Kyiv in his sights. If Russia were to launch this larger scale, almost full scale invasion of Ukraine, what do you think happens next? What's the ultimate goal?
HILL: Well, I think as President Biden has said, the ultimate goal is taking control of Kyiv and by that, it's also the political system, it is not just the physical city itself and its infrastructure.
What Putin has in his sights is basically overturning the current Ukrainian government and having it replaced with a government more of their liking, either by themselves during the toppling as they believe the United States has done an intervention in Iraq and other places. There'll be a lot of what about-ism that we'll see here as well.
BERMAN: Where if the Russians, you know, do go ahead and do this in the next several days and weeks, they will basically say all the time, well, the United States has done this, the United States has done that, and you know, to make it difficult for us to push back because the whole point is that they want to have in Kyiv, in Ukraine, a government that they can manipulate, a government of their choosing of people who are close to them or at least beholden to them, so that they can veto any of the vital political, economic and security decisions that Ukraine makes.
BERMAN: Fiona Hill, is such an important discussion. Thank you so much for your time.
HILL: Thank you so much. BERMAN: Up next, breaking news involving the former President, what
the National Archives is saying about classified documents found at Mar-a-Lago, also why the former President could face legal action against him for the January 6th Capitol insurrection.
BERMAN: There is breaking news in the multiple investigations in cases against the former President.
The National Archives confirms it found classified documents in boxes taken from Mar-a-Lago after the former President left office and they have discussed it with the Department of Justice, so there's that and there's also a ruling against the former President with a Judge saying that civil lawsuits filed against him for his alleged role in inciting the January 6th insurrection can move forward.
CNN's Paula Reid joins us from Washington with more now. Paula, what are you learning about this classified information that was found in these boxes that again, the President took with him to Mar-a-Lago?
PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Exactly. Well, John, the archives says it's still going through these 15 boxes of materials they received from the former president's residence at Mar- a-Lago. But they say among the items that the former president took with him when he moved to Florida are items that are marked classified national security information. As you noted they've had discussions with the Justice Department about this discovery, but it's not clear if they have made a referral.
Now, the archives also revealing that it believes that former President Trump continued to destroy documents, even after being warned about his obligations to preserve them while he was in office. In this letter, the archives reveals that back in 2018, after seeing media reports about Trump's habit of ripping things up, dumping it in the trash, staffers retaping things, they reached out and they said the deputy counsel assured that this would be addressed. But John based on what they have received from the Trump administration, they say it's clear that the former president continued to destroy documents related to his time in the White House, that he had an obligation to preserve.
John, these are missing pieces of history that are supposed to be in the public record. According to this letter, the Trump team is supposed to be looking for other records that may not be in the possession of the archives.
BERMAN: Paula, what does the National Archives learn about other presidential records, particularly from social media accounts?
REID: Well, as we know, social media was such a big part of the Trump administration. And according to the archives, and they said they found and identified records, both from the former president and staffers on social media accounts, these are direct messages or deleted messages that were not properly preserved. Now, they also say that White House staff conducted official business using unofficial electronic messaging accounts that were not copied or properly forwarded to their official accounts.
John, in covering the Trump White House, I can tell you, I distinctly remember some sources directing me away from these non-official channels just to make it easier for them to preserve things, and others directing the right to them. So, it's clear there may not have been a total effort to preserve all of these messages that they were obligated to keep under the Presidential Records Act.
BERMAN: Paula, as I mentioned, a federal judge ruled today that the January 6 related civil lawsuits can move forward against the former president, how significant is that ruling?
REID: This is incredibly significant, John, and this is just another in a series of really significant legal losses for the former president this week. In this ruling, the judge said that plaintiffs in three civil suits and these plaintiffs include members of Congress and police officers who are at the Capitol on the day of the insurrection, that they may be able to seek information from the former president about his role in the attack.
Now these lawsuits allege that the former president conspired with others like his former attorney, Rudy Giuliani, his son, Donald Trump, Jr., and extremist groups like the OathKeepers and the Proud Boys to sow doubts about the 2020 election, which culminated in the violence at the Capitol.
Now, Trump's lawyers have tried to argue that when he was speaking at the rally that preceded that violence, he was acting in his official capacity and that he should have immunity. But the judge rejected that instead, he does not have protections under immunity, or First Amendment and John that is incredibly significant, because he may now have to sit for a deposition.
BERMAN: Paula Reid, a lot there. Thank you so much.
Perspective now from CNN political analyst, Maggie Haberman, a Washington correspondent for The New York Times. Also CNN contributor John Dean, who is the former Nixon White House Counsel.
And John, the Presidential Records Act was enacted because of Watergate, which, you know, more than a little about. The idea of a foreign president taking classified national security material to his private residence. Could he have legal exposure from this shooting in your view?
JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It's a good question. In a lot of the circumstances, we don't know yet exactly what he was doing with them how they got there. Did he direct that they'd be taken, are they lump of documents that he just put in a box and said, let's look at these later. We don't have enough facts. But he has a lot of leeway in what he can classify and declassify himself. He could say on the way out the door I declassified all these things so I can have them. That would -- that might hold up, but certainly might hold up in a criminal case. In a civil case, it might not do so well believe it or not.
So this is gray. We don't really know quite what's happening here with the facts, but it is very troublesome and indeed the act is a result of Nixon threatening to destroy his tapes and papers.
BERMAN: Maggie, do you have any reporting on the why here, why was this stuff all taken? And also, you know, Paula's nuanced reporting also on this letter which does indicate that in terms of destruction of stuff the President's propensity to tear stuff up the former president, he had been warned not to.
MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. John, we'd known that the President has been was more -- the former president was worn several times by various staffers. We had heard this throughout the administration after my colleague Andy Kearney reported that Trump was in this habit of ripping up official records or official pieces of paper that should have been preserved. So, but we don't know what the motive is. We don't know what the rationale is. All we know right now is the documents that they believe are classified ended up in these boxes.
We know that there was an -- we've reported this, CNN reported this as well, there was a chaotic exit from the White House where a bunch of boxes were taken. And they left the why is unclear, as John said, you know, the President, any President has a fair amount of discretion over, you know, classified documents, and how they're characterized, but we don't know what he did. We don't know if he tried to declassify any of these. We don't know, we don't know how any of this was done. And as we know, this was not a White House, the Trump White House that was big on process. So there's a lot of unanswered questions.
BERMAN: Right. And you also can't retroactively declassify them, right? If you put them in the box when they were classified --
BERMAN: -- he can't now that he's a former President say, oh, but I meant to classify them. I just forgot.
John, the letter from the National Archives to the House Oversight Committee also said, some White House staff conducted official business using non-official electronic messaging. So, how is that legally different than what Hillary Clinton did when she was Secretary of State using private e-mail for official business?
DEAN: Well, you would think after the campaign, attacking Hillary Clinton and all that staff, all of Trump's staff would have known they shouldn't use unofficial devices for official business. It's just not the way you're supposed to do because they're supposed to be a record of that administration. This is a law John with not really a lot of teeth. It's expected people have that level of government will comply with the general legal standards they've set up. I think, post Trump at some stage, Congress is going to put teeth on this, because what we've seen happen. BERMAN: So Maggie, the most surprising better news today might have been this federal judge allowing the simple case against the former president for January 6 to go forward. She wrote in her opinion, was written in the opinion, the President's January six rally speech can reasonably be viewed as a call for collective action, end quote. Presidents facing civil suits and may be deposed for accounting reasons right now, you have any sense of how concerned he might be or his advisers are for these civil cases surrounding January 6?
HABERMAN: They're less concerned around the January 6 civil cases, they're certainly not thrilled. But that's a different bucket. Anything that in the former president's mind relates to his family business or to him directly, not related to January 6, is much more concerned about.
However, it is interesting, John, that in this suit, you know, you had a bunch of defendants who successfully argued to be removed from the suit. Most notably, the former president's son, Rudy Giuliani was removed, that he left Donald Trump saying, essentially, this is such an unprecedented moment, that that him, you know, citing free speech doesn't really work here. This is different than the approach that you saw Trump's own lawyers use yesterday with the suit in New York with the Attorney General where they're essentially arguing that everything around Trump is so specific, and Trump is in a special class, that he needs to be a -- you know, he can't he can't be deposed like a like a regular citizen. Because if he pleads the fifth, there's going to be some inference that's made, that would be different for somebody else, because there'll be a lot of negative press coverage.
It's fascinating to watch. And we saw this throughout the presidency, the former president, claim sort of, you know, the mantle, the presidency when it was effective for him and then claim his rights as a private citizen when it was effective for him and you're seeing that play out in these suits.
BERMAN: It really is fascinating, John --
HABERMAN: And now he's only -- now he's only --
BERMAN: -- (INAUDIBLE) thank you so much today.
HABERMAN: Thank you.
BERMAN: All right, Maggie, thank you.
Before a Minnesota police officer convicted of killing Daunte Wright after saying she confused her handgun for a taser has been sentenced to two years behind bars but Wright's family calls it a slap in the face. The details next.
[20:43:30] BERMAN: It was an emotional scene in court today as former Minnesota Police Officer Kim Potter was sentenced to two years in prison two years after being convicted of shooting and killing Daunte Wright during a traffic stop.
CNN's Adrienne Broaddus has a story.
KATIE WRIGHT, DAUNTE WRIGHT'S MOTHER: Daunte Demetrius Wright, I will continue to fight in your name until driving while black is no longer a death sentence.
ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tears and raw emotion filled in Minneapolis courtroom today as former Minnesota police officer Kim Potter was sentenced to two years in prison.
KIM POTTER, SENTENCED IN KILLING OF DAUNTE WRIGHT: And I'm sorry --
BROADDUS (voice-over): In December Potter was convicted of first degree and second degree manslaughter for fatally shooting 20-year-old Daunte right when Potter said she mistakenly pulled her gun instead of her taser.
ARBUEY WRIGHT, DAUNTE WRIGHT'S FATHER: Because of Kim's recklessness Daunte's life was cut short by Kim Potter who claims she thought she had a taser. She pointed a gun into my son's chest and pulled the trigger. Not only killing Daunte, she also damage my whole family's heart.
BROADDUS (voice-over): Both of Wrights parents broke down during their victim impact statements.
K. WRIGHT: She took our baby boy with a single gunshot through his heart. She shattered mine. My life and my world will never ever be the same.
A. WRIGHT: Everything we do as a family ends in tears. Because all we have is memories left of our son.
BROADDUS (voice-over): The mother of Wright's two-year-old son also spoke before the sentencing.
CHYNA WHITAKER, MOTHER OF DAUNTE WRIGHT'S SON: Kim Potter took my son's best friend away from him, and things haven't been the same since. I am now a single mother not by choice by force.
BROADDUS (voice-over): Potter tearfully apologizing to Wrights entire family turned and spoke directly to Wright's mother.
POTTER: Katie, I understand a mother's love and I'm sorry I broke your heart. My heart was broken all of you. I am so sorry that I hurt you so badly. BROADDUS (voice-over): Judge Regina Chu appeared to hold back tears as she handed down her sentence of 24 months in prison and a $1,000 fine.
REGINA CHU, JUDGE, HENNEPIN COUNTY, MINNESOTA: Officer Potter made a mistake that ended tragically, she never intended to hurt anyone. Her conduct cries out for a sentence significantly below the guidelines.
BROADDUS (voice-over): Spelling out the actual time Potter will spend behind bars.
CHU: You shall serve two-thirds a bad time or 16 months in prison. And a third on supervised release.
BROADDUS (voice-over): Prosecutors initially asked Potter serve more than seven years in prison. Wright's family requested the maximum penalty.
A. WRIGHT: I walk out of this courthouse feeling like people are laughing at us because this lady got a slap on the wrist. And we still every night, sitting around crying, waiting for my son to come home.
K. WRIGHT: Kim Potter murdered my son and he died April 11th. Today, the justice system murdered him all over again. This isn't OK. This is the problem with our justice system today, white women tears Trump's. Trump's justice.
BROADDUS: And John, Daunte Wright's family and members of the community said earlier today this was a slap in the face. Daunte Wright's sister spoke before Kimberly Potter was sentence and she referenced and I'm paraphrasing here a time when she Daunte and their mother talked about their whiteness protecting them from police.
And despite all of this, nobody wins. Attorney General Keith Ellison didn't speak publicly. But he said he accepts the judgment from Judge Chu. He encourages the public to accept the judgment. But he did follow-up and say that the community does not have to accept that decision.
The big question now is how does this community move forward? What will healing look like? At the end of the day nobody wins. Daunte Wright will never return to his family. His family will grieve forever and Kim Potter has to live with the guilt of killing Daunte Wright. And some believe that is a life sentence. John.
BERMAN: Adrienne Broaddus, thank you very much.
The right-wing media erupted this week over a new filing from Special Counsel John Durham and it spawned a whole lot of misleading claims about Hillary Clinton. So, why has the story now all but disappeared? That's next.
[20:52:29] BERMAN: Never let the facts get in the way of a good conspiracy theory the old saying goes. Well, that's not exactly how the old saying goes. But it sure was on display this week. A story about the former president and Russian phones and all sorts of characters exploded into wild accusations about Hillary Clinton and even the death penalty. But now poof, the story has mysteriously all but disappeared from those right-wing outlets. So what happened?
CNN's chief media correspondent Brian Stelter, host of "RELIABLE SOURCES" joins me now.
Brian, this is a complicated story is based off of an actual legal filing, but to get from there to hear, what happened?
BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: There's always a little germ of truth here. And it starts this time last week with special counsel John Durham who has been investigating the origins of the FBI as Russia probe. He submitted a vague technical filing. Here's the CNN headline about it saying, Special Counsel Durham alleges Clinton campaign lawyer used data to raise suspicions about Trump.
OK, so a little bit of a story, a Durham of a story, but it was suddenly blown up by right-wing media as if Trump had been proven right that he was spied on that there was a crime of the century. Here's the Wall Street Journal editorial board saying, Trump really was spied on. Donald Trump himself said in a statement at a stronger time in our history, the death penalty will be applied to the criminals here. This was Trump as victim being proven right even though that was not true at all. This went on for days and days and right-wing media in so until John it started to fizzle.
BERMAN: It started to fizzle because John Durham released a follow up statement to clear things up. Yes?
STELTER: That's right the air started to fizzle out of a balloon that shouldn't have been blown up in the first place. Here's the New York Times headline saying, Durham Distancing Himself From The Furor in Right-Wing Media. He basically acknowledged that the internet data question here, it came from the Obama era, not the Trump era. But already there have been five and six days of hyped completely crazy coverage from right-wing media trying to prove Trump right. That is always the issue in these stories, John, there's an attempt by his surrogates and allies to try to say Trump is right, even when he's wrong. And it distracts from the real news that you covered earlier this hour about the real crimes and sins of the Trump era, for example, classified documents, they just want to talk about Hillary Clinton instead.
So all the headlines for the past week have been about Hillary Clinton allegedly spying, and now it's all falling apart. So what is Fox done? They've moved on. They basically talked about Hillary at all. She did say in a speech yesterday, this will come close to actual malice. Basically, she was putting these right-wing outlets on notice saying you're coming close to libeling me. I don't think she's actually going to sue John, but it's notable she saying that because even in 2022 Hillary Clinton is still the right-wing's boogey woman, they still treat her as this terrifying presence. They claim she's going to run for president in 2024. They just can't get enough of Hillary.
BERMAN: Brian Stelter, thank you very much.
Up next to look at, the new CNN original series on the life and presidency of Lyndon Baines Johnson, airing this President's Day weekend.
BERMAN: This Presidents Day weekend, CNN is premiering a new original series on the life and Presidency of Lyndon Johnson from passing historic legislation like the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act to navigating war and conflicts both in the U.S. and abroad. The new series explores it all.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: LBJ was intensely aware that he came into the office under the cloak of tragedy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It drove him to try to do things no one else had ever achieved.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He said to his aides, what the hell is the presidency for if you're not going to do something old by be here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think Lyndon Johnson would be seen today is one of our greatest presidents because of all that he did. But he made one bad mistake.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Vietnam really pulled him apart. He couldn't make a win out of this, no matter how hard he tried.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: LBJ said, I wish they knew that I want peace as much as they do.
LYNDON JOHNSON, FMR PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: It's important to reflect and look back and see what has been done, because there's no better way to judge the future than by the past.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: LBJ, Triumph And Tragedy, premieres Sunday night at 9:00 on CNN.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: The news continue, so let's hand it over to Laura Coates in "CNN TONIGHT." Laura.