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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
Judge Declines To Recuse Herself From Trump Election Interference Case; Donald Trump Once Again Skipping GOP Presidential Debate; Sen. Bob Menendez Expected To Address Senate Democratic Caucus On Thursday; First Biden Impeachment Hearing Scheduled For Tomorrow; Massive Manhunt Underway For Extremely Dangerous Convicted Felon Suspected Of Killing 26-Year-Old Tech CEO In Baltimore; Private Travis King On Flight Back To U.S., Months After Crossing Into North Korea; NASA Astronaut Frank Rubio Returns From Record-Setting Mission In Space. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired September 27, 2023 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, and basically, he is now emboldened to make a big announcement just within the last two hours, Erin, we got word from North Korean state media that they have rewritten their Constitution in North Korea to make them officially a nuclear weapons state, a nuclear power.
That means that nuclear weapons are there to stay. Any hope of denuclearization that the US had, well, they shouldn't be encouraged by this quick return of the soldier. If anything, North Korea figures they already have what they want, what they need, and they'll be testing their nuclear program pretty soon.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Wow. And as you point out, the symbolism of officially, as you say, just the past two hours announcing them being a nuclear state in their Constitution. Those things matter.
Will Ripley, thank you very much.
And thank you all very much for being with us as well. It's time now for AC 360, of course, with Anderson.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Tonight on 360: A setback on top of a body blow. A federal judge tells the former president, she is not going anywhere. She's not recusing herself despite what he says about her and we've learned more about another judge's ruling that legal experts are calling a possible death penalty for Trump's business built on fraud.
Also tonight, senator and Mrs. Menendez, partners in marriage and in crime, say prosecutors. How they came to be a couple and how they pleaded to the bribery charges today, what happens next.
And later, the manhunt for a convicted predator and alleged murder, a man one top police official warned will kill and do anything he can to cause harm.
Good evening. Thanks for joining us.
We begin with breaking news. The end of what would already be a difficult day even for someone whose business empire which was just dealt a devastating blow by one judge.
Tonight, another judge, federal district judge, Tanya Chutkan, denied the former president's motion that she recuse herself from his election subversion trial.
In her ruling, Judge Chutkan said that her comments made during the sentencing of two January 6 defendants were not evidence of bias as Trump's attorneys claimed.
The court, she writes, "has never taken a position. The defense ascribes to it, that former President Trump should be prosecuted and imprisoned." Now, this comes of course after a New York judge's summary judgment yesterday that the Trump business empire was built on fraudulently and often comically inflated valuations of assets, and now must be dissolved.
How that happens? Not yet clear. The New York judge today gave the defense 20 more days on top of the 10 days, they'd already had to put forward a plan for putting the Trump Organization into receivership.
Meantime, the rest of the civil trial, which could result in a quarter billion dollar civil penalty goes on. Whatever happens next, the judge's fraud ruling has certainly knocked down some of the foundation upon which Donald Trump's business was built over the years and how he portrayed himself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now, here's the goodness. I'm very rich.
I started off with a million dollar loan. I built a net worth of over $10 billion.
I would say that I'm worth more than $5 billion.
I'm very rich.
Hey, I'm rich.
This is really taxing the rich by a very rich guy.
The money you're talking about is a lot, but it's peanuts for me.
I have many, many companies, hundreds and hundreds of transactions and many, many, many deals. A lot of cash and very little debt.
Great assets, low debt, great cash.
I built a very big net worth.
It's a lot of money, but I have fun, and it's just a scorecard. Fortunately, I'm very rich.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Perspective now from "New York Times" senior political correspondent, Maggie Haberman; CNN legal analyst and former New York chief assistant district attorney, Karen Friedman Agnifilo; and former federal judge, Shira Scheindlin.
So Judge Scheindlin, what is your reaction to Judge Chutkan rejecting the former president's demand that she recuse herself. A surprise?
SHIRA SCHEINDLIN, FORMER FEDERAL JUDGE: Not at all. She did absolutely the right thing. It's a well-written, well-reasoned opinion in every way. The fact is, the standard is whether the impartiality of the judge might reasonably be questioned. And she goes carefully through the facts and shows that no one could question her impartiality, as you already told us. These statements that he thinks showed partiality were made in proceedings in the courtroom. They're called intrajudicial statements.
They weren't made on a TV show. They weren't made in a rally. They were made in court, in the sentencing, and she was responding to the arguments of the two people who are being sentenced.
She has to state the reasons for her sentence. She has to respond to the arguments made. And it's important that people trust the judges who make decisions.
So she did absolutely the right thing in every way and it is a good strong opinion. I don't think there's any risk of reversal on appeal.
COOPER: And judge, just to be clear, how high is the bar for a judge to recuse him or herself?
SCHEINDLIN: It's very high. You really have to show that a reasonable person knowing all the facts would question that judge's ability to be impartial.
And so the judge gives us some examples of cases where the judge says outright, this person is guilty, this person should be in jail before there was ever a trial.
So the example she gives or a judge saying in an interview, the witness there was a liar and I know it, before the trial was even complete. So those are examples where a judge has expressed partiality very, very clearly.
Nothing like that happened here.
COOPER: Karen, could Judge Chutkan's decision to not recuse herself be used as grounds for an appeal if the former president is convicted at trial? KAREN FRIEDMAN AGNIFILO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, he certainly can
try, but I agree with Judge Scheindlin that this is appeal proof, this particular decision. She also goes on to cite a case from Watergate times, which was very similar, where the judge there was sentencing multiple people in that case and actually said, talked about those particular defendants and actually talked about -- gave names of people she thought should be prosecuted.
And there the entire DC circuit, all the judges upheld that decision. So I think she is completely appeal proof and will be fine.
COOPER: Maggie, let's talk about the other judge that comes, you know, just yesterday, New York City judge found the former president and his adult sons liable for fraud, cancel the Trump organization's business certification. How much does that cut to the heart of the former president's identity?
MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: And there's two questions here, Anderson. One is the legal question and what it means in terms of the reality of this decision, and I think that Trump's lawyers have made very clear in court that they're not quite sure what that looks like.
But in terms of what the judge's words were about the former president and about the reality that he created for himself, he was very clear, which was that Trump was creating something of a fantasy world and this is an image as a successful businessman, you know, fabulously wealthy person that Trump has honed for a very long period of time over many decades, used it to thrust himself into pop culture, he used it to push himself into politics, used it to become, you know, a best- selling author and then a reality television star.
And look, Anderson he is much wealthier than many Americans. There's no question about that. But exactly what he is worth has always been something of a question.
Some reporters had pulled back the curtain, Tim O'Brien at Bloomberg while he was at "The New York Times." My colleagues, Sue Craig, Russ Buettner, and some others had worked on it. But this is the first time he's been held to account in this kind of way.
COOPER: And Judge Scheindlin, the trial for the New York fraud case, that is set for Monday. Can you explain what that would entail given the judge has already granted a partial summary judgment? I mean, how long could appeals drag out that case?
SCHEINDLIN: Oh, the appeals can go on for a long time. In fact, I'm sure they're going to appeal his recent summary judgment opinion, and there could be a stay.
So if they go to the appellate division as fast as they should, the remaining days this week, they may get a stay of Monday's trial, because there's a lot of things are at are uncertain as to what is left to be tried.
Surely, they have to try the damages. There other charges there that are not part of his summary judgment opinion. So far, the opinion really dealt with two major properties in New York City, but there are properties all over. There's properties outside New York, and it's unclear whether the ruling can reach those properties eventually, too.
So I don't know if the whole empire is going down or just the New York portion. I don't think anybody knows yet. So things are unclear if these things are unsettled.
COOPER: Yes. Karen, I mean, the process of dissolving some of Trump's properties. I mean, it's incredibly confusing. Would he have to liquidate, I mean, most of his New York holdings or New York City holdings? Could he try to move his -- you know, move them to an umbrella company, the Trump Organization to another state?
AGNIFILO: Well, he's under a monitorship right now with a former judge -- former federal judge, Barbara Jones, and she has been overseeing the finances and making sure that all the paperwork and everything remains accurate, and she has found that during the pendency of this case, that he's continued to misrepresent his information and his assets. So he can't really do that without her permission.
And the other thing that this decision did today is it said that any licenses he has in New York, including his LLCs, he can no longer have those certifications and those licenses.
So many things, in addition to real property are going to be at risk here and dissolved. And so I think it's just a matter of when it happens, because this judge gave 10 days, and then now another 20 days, and then let's see if an appellate court stays the execution of this.
But in the meantime, he can't do much because of former Judge Barbara Jones, who is very much in charge of making sure that he doesn't do things like that with his assets.
COOPER: And Maggie, the former president is skipping the Republican debate which happens later tonight. The more legal problems he has doesn't make him, do you think less interested in facing his opponents? I mean, not that -- I mean, he certainly didn't get harmed by not being there the last time in terms of polls.
HABERMAN: I don't know. I don't think that appearing at the debate has much to do with his mindset at the moment. I think that they don't see advantage in his campaign, because he is so far ahead in the polls.
I do think Anderson that you would see some of his rivals in the Republican primary certainly someone like a Chris Christie use this ruling from the New York judge to try to attack Trump as not what he says he is, and I think that you will hear that in the coming days.
I think the question is going to be how Trump is processing that himself, and how he handles this going forward, because to go back to the earlier question, this company, Trump Tower, these are central to his identity and how he sees himself and I think that seeing that potentially gone is going to have real ramifications just for him personally and psychologically.
COOPER: And Maggie, I mean, is it clear, does he have $250 million, if that was an actual penalty that the company was to pay?
HABERMAN: I'm not sure how liquid he is at the moment and whether he could pay that. I don't know whether they will get that in damages.
You know, they have had a couple of cash infusions with some sales recently, one the DC hotel, one the license on the Bronx golf course, you know, among other ways that they get cash.
But this is obviously a big question as to what his actual assets are. His folks have insisted that he has a lot of money.
We will find that tested, I think, if this goes ahead. Again, they could win on appeal. His lawyers have made a ton of arguments, arguing this is not legal. We'll see how it plays out.
COOPER: Maggie Haberman, thank you, Karen Friedman Agnifilo, and Judge Shira Scheindlin as well, thank you.
As we mentioned, the former president is not in Southern California. He'll be speaking shortly. We'll be listening to what he says. We will bring you anything newsworthy.
Notably, he's not at the Reagan Library where seven primary opponents will be debating in about an hour.
Dana Bash and I will have special post-debate coverage tonight at 11:00 PM Eastern.
With us now, CNN's John King, Audie Cornish, also CNN political commentators, Alyssa Farah Griffin and David Axelrod.
John, we'll start with you.
I mean, obviously, he's not at the debate. He's talking to auto workers or members of organized labor. What does that signal about the importance of Michigan as a swing state in this upcoming primary?
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, he thinks first and foremost, that he thinks he's going to be the nominee. He doesn't think he has to engage these seven other candidates, and you could make the math argument that he's right.
There's a political argument, we could debate, but he's up 30 or 40 points in Iowa, he's up 30 points or so in New Hampshire. They're the first two states that vote.
So the challenge on the other seven is for one of them to emerge as the closest to Donald Trump and no one's anywhere right now.
So what is he doing? He's going to run against Joe Biden, he's going to run Michigan, you'll see him in Wisconsin, you'll see him in Pennsylvania, pick your six or seven swing states. He thinks he's already the nominee. He is not. But right now, he's been bulletproof, within the Republican primary
electorate for all of these mounting legal challenges. Will that change someday? We'll see. But as of right now, he says, I don't need to be there. None of you are anywhere close. I'm going to run against Biden.
COOPER: You know, Audie, the first debate was so fascinating, because you know, Chris Christie was talking about how he was going to really prosecute Trump on that stage, didn't really happen. DeSantis seemed to not really get his footing.
It was the chance for candidates to introduce themselves for the first time. Do you think strategy is going to be different this time around?
AUDIE CORNISH, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: Well, to be clear, some people did distinguish themselves in that moment, obviously, Ramaswamy went running away with that moment in terms of trying to get more earned media.
COOPER: Nikki Haley.
CORNISH: I think Nikki Haley has done quite well and I know in New Hampshire, has repositioned herself in a way that's very good.
I think the question is, to what end? Are we looking at a debate among potential Cabinet members? Are we looking at a debate again, we always talk about VP? Or are we just looking at people who are like, completely not relevant in so many ways to large chunks of their own party?
The one thing I want to say about Trump, though, is, this is the most substantive move towards looking ahead to the general election we have seen from him to date. He captured more of sort of union households, especially White men than previous Republicans had.
And obviously, he's seeing a moment to try and like capture that energy again. And I think it's fascinating for this country to be in a moment where you have the president and then also a leading candidate, both vying for a union vote after years of being told that union membership was on the decline, and that that somehow that vote wasn't significant to both parties the way it is now.
DAVID AXELROD, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I mean, I think that that -- just to pick up your point, I think this is entirely about him sending a signal that this race is over, that this event is irrelevant.
Yes, Michigan is important. I think he was looking for a dramatic event that could counter -- he is a programmer. He is counter programming against this debate.
I do think there's meaning in Michigan. I do think that going after -- you know, Michigan was the home of the Reagan Democrat, remember the Reagan Democrat. They've morphed into Trump Republicans. He's going to talk to them. But the biggest thing he's trying to do is say, don't pay much
attention to what's going on over here. It is irrelevant. This is over. I'm moving on.
COOPER: It seems -- because Vivek Ramaswamy did get a lot of attention from the last debate, didn't necessarily translate to bumps in the polls.
ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Correct. And one thing to keep in mind is of the seven candidates you'll see on the debate stage tonight, their collective general election national polling adds up to 36 percent, still under Trump's roughly 50 percent.
So in some ways, this kind of does feel like a run for vice presidency or the Cabinet. But something that I think you can't ignore is, there is a CBS/YouGov poll out of Iowa and New Hampshire that says about as many as 75 percent of Iowa Republicans are open to considering someone other than Donald Trump.
So what should we watch for tonight? Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis. I think all eyes are on the two of them. She has come close to overcoming him as second place. And mega GOP donors who want to see someone other than Trump are kind of softening on DeSantis.
If she can pull ahead, prove that she -- make the case for general election electability where she head-to-head does the best against Biden, about six points ahead of him that could signal a difference.
But there is -- I underscore there is no historic evidence of any candidate overcoming such a significant lead of what Donald Trump has.
AXELROD: To be clear, Nikki Haley has slipped ahead of DeSantis in some New Hampshire polling. She is still in single digits in the national polling, but I do agree, I think that look, to be the nominee, you have to beat Donald Trump, to beat Donald Trump, you have to beat all the other people and become as John said, the singular alternative to Donald Trump.
DeSantis' whole campaign was premised on that he was that guy, and now, he is fading. I think they're going to try and accelerate that tonight and I think Nikki Haley by virtue of her performance last time, will warrant more attention.
The worst thing in politics is to be ignored. She's earned the right not to be ignored and she's going to be tested tonight.
COOPER: John, you just got back from it. I mean, you spent a lot of time in New Hampshire lately.
KING: Yes, in both Iowa and New Hampshire, there is no question Trump is ahead. What gets fascinating, and we'll watch these candidates tonight, one of them is trying to convince Republicans, I have a chance to beat Donald Trump. I am the alternative to Donald Trump. That's the challenge for all of these candidates. Yes, Iowa, about 60 percent of the electorate in the caucuses will be
evangelicals. Watch for Governor DeSantis, Tim Scott tonight. They will go hard on the abortion issue. A little bit even at Donald Trump's saying he is back to a yes, he gave you the Dobbs decision with those Supreme Court justices, but now he's gotten soft on abortion.
What does Nikki Haley do? She is trying to be more of a moderate. She says she is pro-life. She's like, let's not judge people. Let's not get in women's faces on this because she wants to take back the suburbs.
So you have a conservative electorate in Iowa, a more libertarian, not a liberal electorate, but a more libertarian electorate in New Hampshire where abortion is much less of an issue to these fractured candidates now to try to find a place to make a statement.
Do they run one campaign? Someone has got to try to win Iowa, someone has got to try to win New Hampshire. If nobody catches Donald Trump, the fracturing and the state by state strategy helps Donald Trump.
AXELROD: One of the interesting strategic questions is, should you focus on trying to differentiate yourself from Trump? Or should you focus on trying to differentiate yourself from the other contenders on the stage?
Chris Christie will clearly continue to go after Trump and he has made some progress in New Hampshire, but he's very unpopular among Republicans. What do the others do? I suspect they're going to be focusing on each other, which is another reason why Trump --
KING: Well, how much of that conversation -- forgive me -- real quickly -- how much of that conversation does the Fox panel allow?
COOPER: And Audie, who are you going to be watching for tonight?
CORNISH: I'm going to be interested in seeing Tim Scott. He's staked out a ground of saying like, look, if it was me, I'd want to fire all of these auto workers. That's a weird line to walk in this moment when you're going to have the frontrunner around making a speech trying to show support for striking workers. I'm interested in Nikki Haley as well.
But to your point, I think fundamentally, you're calling it a fracturing. There's some incoherence to what is anybody's laying. What do you represent, right? If you can't beat up on Trump, because that is verboten, who are you and what do you want? And what do you offer a voter?
And I don't say that as opinion, but actual analysis. It is -- I have not understood out of the past debate or even the dialogue after what a coherent alternative to Trump theology-ideology is out of the Republican Party.
COOPER: All right, Audie Cornish, John King, David Axelrod, Alyssa Farah Griffin, thank you. We'll see all of this team for a post-debate coverage along with the Dana Bash.
Coming up next Senator Bob Menendez and his wife stay in court answering the bribery charges and what we're learning about her alleged role.
Also new reporting on the looming government shutdown, what some House Republicans are doing with the precious few days remaining hat really doesn't have anything to do with it, ahead.
COOPER: Welcome back.
So, Senator Bob Menendez and his wife, both of whom are under indictment on federal bribery charges were in court today. They pleaded not guilty. More Democrats in the Senate today call for his resignation, and Menendez is expected to speak to fellow Senate Democrats tomorrow.
CNN's Kara Scannell joins us now with more.
So can you walk us through what happened in court today?
KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Anderson, so the senator and his wife arrived in court this morning holding hands in a sign of solidarity, but prosecutors say that they are partners in this alleged bribery scheme.
So the course of this 30-minute arraignment, the Menendezes entered pleas of not guilty. The senator sat fairly still with his hands clasped on his lap. He only spoke twice when the judge asked him if he understood what was going on because it was his attorney who entered that not guilty plea.
Now, two of the other three defendants in the case were also there. They entered pleas of not guilty. The other one had entered a plea yesterday after he was arrested at JFK Airport while he returned from Egypt. Now, all the defendants are due back in court on Monday.
COOPER: And so as the corruption case plays out, what kind of conditions of release were placed on the senator?
SCANNELL: So the senator had to post $100,000.00 bond and surrender his personal passport. He is allowed to keep his official passport and continue to travel internationally on official business, but interestingly, the judge also imposed a condition saying he can't have any contact with any of his staff, any staff on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, or any political aides who have personal knowledge of this investigation without an attorney present.
So a sign that perhaps some of the people he works most closely with could be potential witnesses in this case.
COOPER: And what about calls for him to resign? SCANNELL: So the growing number of calls from Democrats. We're now up
to about 30 or so, at least, who have called for him to resign. Today, Senator Dick Durbin, the Majority Whip yesterday was saying that he shouldn't resign, today changing his mind saying that he does think that he should step down.
But there's one prominent senator, the Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who has not called for him to resign, so he is still in Menendez's corner at this point -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right, Kara Scannell, thanks and as rare as it is to see a sitting US senator being arraigned, it is rarer still for a sitting senator to be charged along with their spouse. The question is who is Mrs. Menendez and how does she figure into the charges? With that CNN's Jason Carroll is here.
HOST: Hi, Nadine. Welcome to The Armenian Report.
NADINE ARSLANIAN-MENENDEZ: Hi, Anna. Thank you very much.
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over) : Here is some of what Nadine Arslanian-Menendez said during an interview with The Armenian Report posted in April 2020.
ARSLANIAN-MENENDEZ: Both my parents are Armenian. I was born in Beirut, Lebanon and during the Civil War, we fled Lebanon to Greece to London, and came to the United States.
I went to NYU undergraduate and graduate school and I majored in international politics and French culture and civilization.
CARROLL (voice over): Menendez also talked about having Armenian relatives who were among the hundreds of thousands massacred by Ottoman forces during World War One, and how grateful she was to Menendez who helped pass a US Senate Resolution in 2019 recognizing the mass killings as genocide.
ARSLANIAN-MENENDEZ: I know when he puts something in his mind and he believes in it, he doesn't stray.
CARROLL (voice over): Menendez also told The Armenian Report she has two children now grown from a previous relationship.
The couple told "The New York Times" they met in December 2018 at an IHOP in Union City, New Jersey, where Menendez grew up and had served as mayor.
She told "The New York Times" she thought Menendez was very intelligent, and very, very hot. Their courtship led to a proposal in October 2019 while on a trip to India.
ARSLANIAN-MENENDEZ: Oh my gosh. CARROLL (voice over): According to the indictment, Nadine Arslanian
before she became Nadine Menendez befriended Wael Hana. Hana is originally from Egypt, and has close connections with Egyptian officials.
Hana in turn introduced New Jersey businessman, Jose Uribe rebate to the couple. Fred Daibes is also an associate of Hana and friends with the couple. He's a real estate developer and longtime fundraiser for Menendez.
Prosecutors say the three men offered bribes in exchange for Menendez's influence, to enrich themselves, and in ways that benefited the government of Egypt.
The couple received gold, $500,000.00 in cash and a $60,000.00 Mercedes Benz convertible according to the indictment, which says on or about February 3, 2019. Nadine Menendez texted Hana, "All is great. I'm so excited to get a car next week."
Prosecutors say she was unemployed before she began dating Menendez and received a low show or no show job from the men in exchange for allegedly arranging meetings with Menendez and Egyptian officials requesting military sales and financing.
All five of them, now co-defendants have entered not guilty pleas to the charges. Nadine Menendez's attorney says she will vigorously defend against these allegations and if that 2020 interview is any indication, it would seem Nadine Menendez will stand by her husband.
ARSLANIAN-MENENDEZ: He's very, very caring, almost to a fault. Because he goes non-stop, but whatever he does, I just support him.
CARROLL (voice over): Jason Carroll, CNN, New York.
COOPER: Just ahead tonight, Republicans not letting a likely government shutdown stop their impeachment inquiry plans, their first hearing happens tomorrow. We have new details in the documents and testimony they cite as evidence, next.
COOPER: While all signs point to a government shutdown this Saturday, at midnight; Republicans are nevertheless going ahead full steam with their impeachment inquiry into President Biden. Three committees in the Republican-led house in charge of that investigation. Tomorrow, one will hold the first impeachment hearing about President Biden and the business dealings of his son, Hunter. Today, a second committee released 700 pages of material based on the information from two IRS agents.
The Republican Chairman called it, "new and alarming." On Tuesday, Republicans said that they subpoenaed a bank for Hunter Biden's records and received two wire transfers from Chinese nationals to Hunter Biden in 2019. They attached a lot of importance to the fact that the records listed the president's Wilmington, Delaware address. The question is what does that add up to?
Melanie Zanona joins us now from Capitol Hill. So, I know you've been combing through the more than 700 pages of material, what have you found?
MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Yeah. So, Anderson, these documents shed some light on the interactions and disagreements between IRS agents who were investigating Hunter Biden and the prosecutors at the DOJ. And how that case has been handled has become one of the central pillars of the House UP's (ph) impeachment inquiry into Joe Biden. And in this latest trove of documents which includes emails, letters, handwritten notes, memoranda, these IRS agents describe in their view encountering road blocks every time Joe Biden's name came up.
But prosecutors say there were some legitimate reasons for why they were steering clear of the elder Biden. One example of this is a search warrant pertaining to whether Hunter Biden was violating foreign lobbying laws. In an initial draft of that search warrant, a Justice Department official instructed her colleagues in an email to remove that reference, saying there was no legal reference to be -- reason to be referencing Joe Biden's name.
Now, we did see a copy of that email as part of that trove, but the search warrant itself was very heavily redacted. So I just want to note that here. But Republicans have said, this is an example of the way the DOJ was trying to protect Joe Biden. Now, important to point out here that this was in the summer of 2020 when Donald Trump was in office and Joe Biden was not. But nonetheless, Republicans still pushing ahead with their claims and the White House saying, it's important to remind everyone here that Republicans have not provided any evidence of wrong doing by the president himself.
I want to read you the statement from Sharon Yang. She is the spokesperson for the White House. She said House Republicans have again cried wolf and provided no evidence tying President Biden to wrong doing. Instead of wasting time with media stunts, trumpeting half-baked conspiracy theories, House Republicans should realize the clock the ticking. It's time they stop to trying to strap and start focusing on priorities that matter to the American people. But, Anderson, nonetheless Republicans pushing ahead with those investigations even with a looming government shutdown this weekend.
COOPER: And what do we expect to see at tomorrow's hearing?
ZANONA: So, tomorrow's hearing is the first official impeachment hearing since Republicans launched their inquiry into Biden two weeks ago. It's being held by the House Oversight Committee. We know the witnesses are going to be a conservative lawyer and some financial experts. And it also comes one day after the Committee said it obtained some wire transfers between Hunter Biden and foreign nationals.
And it is the first known example of Hunter Biden receiving that money directly instead of through a shell company. But as far as tomorrow, Republicans are not even saying they're going to tread entering (ph) new ground. They say they want to rehash what they've already uncovered. And really, the point of tomorrow for Republican is to try to justify why their impeachment inquiry is warranted. And that, Anderson, is a message that is not only aimed at the public but perhaps at some of their own members as well.
COOPER: Melanie Zanona, appreciate it. Democratic Congressman Jamie Raskin joins me now. He's the Ranking Member on the Oversight and Accountability Committee. This impeachment hearing into President Biden begins tomorrow. So Congressman Raskin, what do you make of this newly released material from Republicans?
REP. JAMIE RASKIN, (D-MD): It's pretty much the same old stuff we've been seeing. It's about Hunter Biden; it's not about President Joe Biden or anything that he's done in office. They have not been able to connect him to a single dime of all of these allegations. And we've looked at more than 12,000 bank record pages. We've looked at more than 2,000 SARS reports. All of these witnesses, Hunter Biden's former business associates, former FBI special assistants, you name it, and they have not laid a glove on Joe Biden. And this should have been called off a long time ago.
Lev Parnas, who, you know, was at the center of the Burisma conspiracy theory, which is still the basic foundation of the conspiracy theory that they're promoting today, wrote us a long letter explaining how he and Rudy Giuliani were gallivanting all over the world to cook up evidence against Joe Biden and that nothing is there. And that Chairman Comer should call off what he described as the wild goose chase.
The problem is that Donald Trump won't let them call off the wild goose chase because he says they impeached me, so we should impeach him. And of course, that's not the constitutional standard whether you're mad at the president. The constitutional standard is treason, bribery, and other high crimes and misdemeanors, and we will hold them to the constitutional test.
COOPER: This Hunter Biden -- this wire transfer that Hunter Biden received, why do you think Republicans are touting it as relevant evidence when apparently it doesn't show that President Biden received any money or did anything illegal?
RASKIN: Well, look, we've been dealing with this for the last eight months, Anderson. And you know, there are dozens of Republicans led really by Ken Buck, who is the Chief of the Criminal Division of the U.S. Attorney's Office in Colorado and he's a member of the House Freedom Caucus. But he just keeps saying, there's nothing there. There's no evidence. There's no smoking gun. So, of course, the burden is on them to show something, so they have to take these memos that keep showing the same thing over and over again, which is that Hunter Biden was involved in these various business deals and tried to pretend that that has something to do with what they call the Biden crime family, which is elocution which attempts to link Joe Biden to Hunter's businesses.
But of course, there's a Special Counsel who's working just on Hunter Biden. He has already indicted Hunter Biden on gun charges. And that was the guy who was the U.S. Attorney for Delaware appointed by Donald Trump. So, the rule of law and the Department of Justice are working in that case. They've not going on Joe Biden. But every day, there's another counterfeit bombshell which the media is supposed to get interested in.
COOPER: And we mentioned these three witnesses are scheduled to testify tomorrow. (Inaudible) none of the witnesses appear to have direct evidence or knowledge of what has been alleged about President Biden. Are you expecting anything -- revelations from their testimony?
RASKIN: Well, I mean, that's the thing. We thought, OK, they want to launch an impeachment inquiry after eight months of this aimless deep sea fishing expedition, they've got to have something. There's some reason that they want to proclaim it's time for impeachment. But they don't have anything. We thought that there would be fact witnesses. They've got three witnesses, none of them are fact witnesses. And one of them is Jonathan Turley, who's a constitutional law professor or law professor whose expertise in this field is performing mental acrobatics to change his position according to whatever the Republicans are asking him to say.
COOPER: Tomorrow's hearing, it obviously comes amid the looming shutdown. CNN has reported, according to multiple Republican lawmakers and aides, in the event Congress can't reach a deal to fund the government, the committees leading the impeachment inquiry will be deemed essential and their work will continue despite the shutdown. Do you support that?
RASKIN: I mean, it's a completely scandalous situation.
I mean, here we are, they're about to shut down the government of the United States of America, something that no foreign enemy of the United States has ever been able to do, all at the beck and call of Donald Trump. And why does he want to shut the government down? Because he thinks that will interrupt and stop his criminal prosecutions long enough for him to delay it to get into the intensive election period, so that he can delay it past the election. And he believes if he can win the election, then he can render himself a self-pardon. So -- I mean, he has been very straightforward about that in his postings on social media.
And Matt Gaetz said, Donald Trump has said no continuing resolution, hold the line. So, they're doing everything in their power to shut down the government. That means, like NIH, which is in my district, they can't take any new patients for clinical trials. That's a life or death situation. It means cutting off WIC payments to millions of women and infants and children. I mean, it's scandalous what they are doing and all of it for one guy who thinks it's going to help improve his legal posture.
COOPER: Yeah. Congressman Raskin, I appreciate your time tonight. Thank you.
RASKIN: Thank you.
COOPER: Coming up next, a 26-year-old tech CEO found murdered in her apartment building tonight. Baltimore Police are searching for the suspected killer, convicted felon, who they say is extremely dangerous and linked to other recent attacks.
COOPER: A massive manhunt is underway tonight in Baltimore for a convicted felon, who authorities warn is armed and dangerous, wanted in connection with the murder of a 26-year-old tech CEO Pava LaPere. A vigil was held tonight to celebrate her extraordinary life and the profound impact she had on the community. More on the case from CNN's Brian Todd.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD WORLEY, ACTING POLICE COMMISSIONER, BALTIMORE POLICE: This person is extremely dangerous.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, a growing manhunt underway for convicted felon Jason Billingsley, suspected of murdering a prominent tech CEO inside a Baltimore apartment building.
WORLEY: This individual will kill and he will rape. He will do anything he can to cause harm.
TODD (voice-over): Police say they found 26-year-old Pava LaPere inside a secure apartment building Monday, dead with blunt force trauma to the head. Her sudden, violent death has stunned loved ones and members of the Baltimore tech community.
KORY BAILEY, PAVA LEPERE'S FRIEND, BUSINESS ASSOCIATE: It's devastating. As young as she was, she was so intelligent, so charismatic.
TODD (voice-over): Police did not give details on how they connected Billingsley to LaPere's death. And a woman who identified herself as Billingsley's mother told NBC, she did not know if her son knew LaPere. Scarlet Billingsley also told NBC, her son showed her a gun on Monday, but she claims he is trying to sell it. She says she texted him, urging him to turn himself in, fearing the police are going to kill him.
WORLEY: There is no way in hell that he should have been on the streets.
TODD (voice-over): Records show Billingsley pleaded guilty to first- degree assault in 2009, second-degree assault in 2011, and he pleaded guilty to a first-degree sex offense in 2015 and was sentenced to 30 years in prison with 16 months already served. She was released from prison in October 2022. Billingsley had not been patrolled but was released "on mandatory supervision as required by statute."
A spokesperson for Maryland's Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services told "The New York Times," LaPere's work recently landed her on Forbes 30 Under 30 list. She was co-founder and CEO of the company EcoMap Technologies which sells tools for artificial intelligence, including a customizable chatbot.
DELALI DZIRASA, PAVA LEPERE'S MENTOR AND FRIEND: She was ambitious. She was hard driving. But it wasn't for the sake of like Pava needs to see her name in lights. It was always about how do I lift up other people, how do I support other people. She saw the best in absolutely everybody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And Brian Todd joins us now from Baltimore. Is the suspect connected to any other crimes?
TOOD: Well, Anderson, the Baltimore Police now say that this suspect, Jason Billingsley, is wanted in connection with attempted murder, rape, and arson related to a separate incident that occurred in Baltimore last week. In the arson incident, two adults were left in critical condition. That's according to Baltimore Police. We should note the reward for information leading to Billingsley's capture is now at $6,000.
COOPER: Brian Todd, appreciate it. Thank you. Just ahead, the U.S. Army Private who crossed into North Korea two months ago is heading home, expelled since North Korea after what a U.S. Official describes as intense diplomacy involving a number of countries. Details ahead.
COOPER: In the next few hours, we are expecting to see the results of what a U.S. Official calls intense diplomacy between the U.S., North Korea and a number of other countries. Travis King, a U.S. Army Private, will arrive back in the United States. North Korea says they expelled him who -- when he crossed -- two months after he crossed into North Korea.
Alex Marquardt has more on how the exchange came about and what we know about why Travis King entered North Korea in the first place.
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): The announcement came as a surprise.
MATTHEW MILLER, STATE DEPARMENT SPOKESPERSON: The United States has secured the return of private Travis King from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
MARQUARDT (voice-over): Now, the U.S. expects to learn what drove Private Travis King's dramatic escapade into North Korea, as well as details on his more than two months in North Korean custody. U.S. officials say multiple countries had undertaken intense diplomacy to free King, and that Sweden which represents U.S. interests in North Korea played a pivotal role.
MILLER: We thank Sweden and the People's Republic of China for their assistance in facilitating that transfer.
MARQUARDT (voice-over): King was taken from North Korea to the Friendship Bridge with China in Dandong, where he was met by the American Ambassador and Defense Attache. From there, he flew to Shenyang in China and then on to the U.S. Air Base Osan in South Korea, before flying back to the United States.
MILLER: We expect him to arrive in the coming hours.
MARQUARDT (voice-over): The U.S. providing no clues as to why the North Koreans decided to expel King now.
MARQUARDT (on camera): Was there anything that the North Koreans asked for or received in exchange? Was there a trade at all?
MILLER: We did not give them anything. We've made no concessions as a part of securing his return.
MARQUARDT (on camera): Do you have any idea why they decided to suddenly expel him?
MILLER: I'm going to follow my General here and not try to get into the heads of foreign governments, and certainly not that one.
MARQUARDT (voice-over): King is said to be in good health, very happy to be free, and eager to see his family. A spokesman for his mother saying in a statement, "She will be forever grateful to the United States Army and all its interagency partners for a job well done." King's family had previously said they didn't understand why King had done what he did.
JAQUEDA GATES, SISTER OF TRAVIS KING: This is really, really hard on my mom. That's her baby boy. His room is still in her house.
MARQUARDT (voice-over): When King fled from the airport in Seoul, South Korea, to the DMZ, he had been ordered back to Texas to face discipline after pleading guilty in South Korea to assault for which he was sentenced to 50 days of labor in South Korea.
COOPER: Alex Marquardt joins us now. What happens when he returns to the U.S.? I mean, does he face discipline either for the illegal crossing into North Korea or for the actions in South Korea?
MARQUARDT: Well, Anderson, at first they're going to attend to medical needs he may have. He's going to go to land in San Antonio, Texas and go to the Brooke Army Medical Center. There he can get evaluated. There's also a specialized program that helps patients get re- acclimated to normal life in the U.S. [20:55:00]
It's the same program, it's the same medical facility that Brittney Griner and Trevor Reed went to after their ordeals in Russia, after they were released. But, of course, Anderson, these cases are very different. Travis King was not considered to be a hostage, was not considered to be wrongfully detained. He simply fled. And so now, there are major questions about why he went AWOL, what kind of punishments he may face, whether there will be any kind of discipline, whether he could face a court marshal.
These questions were put to the administration today. They say that for now, they are not necessarily thinking about that. They want Travis King to get back on his feet, on solid footing, senior administration officials said, and they will address those questions after what this official called the reintegration process. Anderson?
COOPER: Alex Marquardt, thanks so much.
Coming up next, something to make you smile at the end of the day, how a NASA astronaut made history today.
COOPER: A NASA astronaut now holds the record for the longest U.S. space flight, more than a year, 371 days to be exact. Frank Rubio is his name. He returned from the International Space Station today aboard a Russian spacecraft that landed safely in Kazakhstan. There was a big smile from Rubio, understandably, and handshakes after he exited the Soyuz capsule. He was only expected to spend six months in space, but that changed after a discovery of a coolant leak aboard his original ride which was docked to the Space Station at that time.
According to NASA, Rubio