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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Minutes Away: Trump Team Deadline On Evidence Rules; Former Georgia Lt. Governor Subpoenaed To Testify Before Fulton County Grand Jury in 2020 Election Probe; GOP Presidential Candidates Sharpen Criticism Of Trump; Ukraine: Woman Detained In Plot To Assassinate Zelenskyy; Supercell Storms Move East, 120M In Danger Zones; "Barbie" Movie Tops $1B In Global Box Office Sales. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired August 07, 2023 - 16:00   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: And we've heard him laugh. We see his orange shoes, even got him looking straight at the camera. They're going to find that guy.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: So, we have a golden retriever and that little wagging tail, it tells the story. They just want to make friends, you know? But it works.

KEILAR: I think that he got all that they need to catch this bike thief.

SCIUTTO: Fair enough. That is -- that is a golden retriever, the crime dog.

THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER starts right now.

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN HOST: Donald Trump has less than an hour to respond to a judge.

THE LEAD starts right now.

Lawyers for Donald Trump approaching a 5:00 p.m. deadline as prosecutors push to limit what the former president can say about the federal case against him.

And after years of dodging the question, Governor Ron DeSantis bluntly said, of course, Trump lost the 2020 election, as the former president's rival tries to reset his campaign.

Plus, pink is in the new green. Barbie and Taylor Swift and Beyonce proving to be big business for the U.S. economy.


GOLODRYGA: Welcome to THE LEAD, everyone. I'm Bianna Golodryga, in for Jake Tapper.

We start today with our law and justice lead. Donald Trump is on the clock. His lawyers have just minutes to let a judge know what they think about a request that would block Trump from sharing some of the evidence in the January 6 case. Prosecutors say if Trump were to start publicly talking about or posting about evidence in the case, it could have a chilling effect on witnesses and they point to this post Trump shared on Truth Social on Friday, where he wrote, quote, if you go after me, I'm coming after you.

But Trump's lawyers say over the weekend, they're going to fight this request because they think that the public should be able to see the evidence before the trial.

In another major development in the case, CNN has exclusive reporting about an interview the special counsel conducted today with New York City Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik. This is the first movement we've seen from the special counsel since Trump was indicted.

So let's go straight to CNN's Paula Reid who has been following every development in this case.

Paula, let's start with this new exclusive reporting. What are you learning about today's interview?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, we've learned that Bernie Kerik, as you noted, he was the former New York police commissioner, but he was also a close associate of Rudy Giuliani and he was part of the team that tried to investigate allegations of fraud following the 2020 election.

Well, he met with special counsel prosecutors today for the first time. He was interviewed over several hours and after that interview, his attorney, Tim Parlatore, spoke exclusively to CNN to talk about what they learned. Let's take a listen.


TIM PARLATORE, BERNIE KERIK ATTORNEY: It was a little cut short by incoming tornados. But we're all good to go.



REPORTER: Jack Smith in the room with you?

PARLATORE: No. He didn't want to see me, I guess.

REPORTER: What did they ask you about?

PARLATORE: It was mostly about all of the efforts in between the election and January 6 of what the Giuliani team was doing and really just going through all of the efforts that they took at time, to take all of the complaints of fraud, see what they could do to chase them down and really kind of establishing that at that time, you know, while they weren't able to necessarily establish proof, they had probable cause and they were pursuing an investigation into good faith.

REPORTER: Okay. And you say you don't think that Rudy Giuliani is going to be charged?

PARLATORE: No. Not at all, because, you know, one of the things that Mr. Kerik made clear today is that he and Mr. Giuliani and that whole team, they were chasing these claims and they were limited by the time and resources but ultimately, the idea that Rudy Giuliani was intentionally pushing claims that he knew were false, is not something supported by the evidence.

REPORTER: And any other?


REID: And, Bianna, you could hear our colleague Abby Vucinni (ph) asking those questions there in that exclusive interview. This is really significant because this is the first investigative step that we've seen the special counsel take since former President Trump was indicted last week in the January 6 investigation.

Now, also notable that Tim discloses there that they were asked about Rudy Giuliani, that is something that we expected. But as he is understood to be mentioned in the indictment as co-conspirator 1, a lot of questions about whether Rudy Giuliani will be charged, Bernie Kerik could be one of the most valuable witnesses to help answer that question. Though the Kerik team expressing confidence that he won't be charged.

And, Bianna, we know there are at least one additional witness expected to speak with special counsel prosecutors over next few weeks.

GOLODRYGA: And it is interesting to hear from Tim that Jack Smith was not in that meeting today as well.

Paula, let's talk about this major deadline that's just moments away.


How significant is this?

REID: Well, this is significant because here, special counsel prosecutors are seeking a protective order over sensitive information in the January 6 investigation. To be clear, this is not a gag order. This would be an order to limit the former president's ability to share sensitive information over social media or in any other public forum. Protective orders are very common in cases, and here, prosecutors are appearing to have a concern based on the former president's habit of expressing his opinions on this investigation on social media, that he may be inclined to disclose sensitive information to the public. So they want to protect his ability to do that.

Now his attorneys got this request late Friday. They asked the judge for additional time to respond. She denied that request so they have until 5:00 this afternoon to respond. But this is a pretty tight time line, Bianna. This is another example of how Judge Chutkan wants to move along pretty quickly. GOLODRYGA: Yeah, the deadline just minutes away.

All right. Paula Reid, we'll be watching. Thank you.

Well, road closures are now in place around the Fulton County courthouse in Atlanta as security measure are put in place for a possible fourth Trump indictment. Prosecutors have been investigating Trump's and his allies' efforts to over turn the presidential election results in Georgia.

CNN's Nick Valencia is outside of the courthouse for us.

So, Nick, when do we expect to learn about more possible indictments?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It could come at any day, Bianna, and there are several indications that this sprawling and wide-ranging investigation which has gone on more than a year could be nearing its end. Let me get out of the way here and show you what I'm talking about. Those orange barricades began to put by police around the Fulton County courthouse last week. This morning, metal barriers were added to block vehicle traffic. Foot traffic is still open.

But they are taking security here very, very seriously and in part because of the rhetoric from the former president. Former President Trump has called this investigation politically motivated. He's called the D.A., Fani Willis, who is leading this investigation a racist and that has added to the security concerns.

We also have new information that we want to share with you. This just into CNN. Moments ago, we've learned that former lieutenant governor here in Georgia, Geoff Duncan, has been asked to be -- or he was rather subpoenaed to appear before the Fulton County grand jury.

And while he was lieutenant governor, he was president of the Georgia Senate. It was the same Senate that Rudy Giuliani spoke in front three times to spread election interference, lies and conspiracies theories. Duncan joins two others who have been asked in subpoena. Perhaps, that, coupled with the security precautions, perhaps the strongest indication that this investigation is nearing its end -- Bianna.

GOLODRYGA: That is interesting.

Nick Valencia in Atlanta for us, thank you.

Well, joining many he to discuss is former federal prosecutor Elie Honig.

Elie, always good to see you.

So, let me get you to react from what we just heard from Paula Reid and that is that prosecutors met today with former police commissioner Bernie Kerik.

What do you make of that?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it tells us that when prosecutors say their investigation is ongoing, it is indeed ongoing. Now, the way this is supposed to work is, once you've indicted Donald Trump as they have already, the ongoing investigation is only supposed to relate either to different charges or to different people.

And hearing what Tim Parlatore just said to Paula Reid, it certainly sounds like they're focused on Rudy Giuliani. We know he's been identified in the indictment as co-conspirator one. Parlatore seems to think that they're not likely to charge Rudy Giuliani. I'm not sure I agree with that assessment but we shall see.

GOLODRYGA: Elie, meantime, when it comes to this 5:00 p.m. deadline for Trump's team to respond about publicly sharing evidence, Trump claimed on this Truth Social page today that I shouldn't have a protective order placed on me because if would impinge upon my right to free speech.

But, Elie, that's not what this is about. I mean, the argument from prosecutors is that if Trump, quote, were to begin issuing public posts or using details or for example grand jury transcripts obtained in discovery here, it could have a harmful, chilling effect on witnesses or adversely affect the fair administration of justice in this case.

So given that, how do you expect the judge to rule on this?

HONIG: I do think that the judge is going to issue some sort of protective order. It is important to understand what this would be and what this would not be. What this would do is limit Donald Trump's ability to take certain pieces of evidence and put them out in the public. What it would not do is limit Donald Trump's ability to see the evidence, it would not limit Donald Trump's ability to use any evidence in his own defense of trial, and it would not necessarily limit Donald Trump's ability to speak about the case publicly.

So it seems like what prosecutors are asking for here is fairly narrow and tailored to protecting witnesses and a jury pool, and I think given the judge 's insistence on a very quick briefing schedule, she's likely to grant that.

GOLODRYGA: Meantime, we're beginning to see how Trump's legal team will defend him in this case. Over the weekend, his attorney John Lauro was all over the morning shows arguing that Trump's actions did not constitute a crime but instead, he said, an aspiration.




JOHN LAURO, TRUMP ATTORNEY: What President Trump did not do is direct Vice President Pence to do anything. He asked him in an aspirational way, asking is covered by the First Amendment.

(END VIDEO CLIP) GOLODRYGA: So we know from the indictment then subsequent interviews that Mike Pence and his aides did not interpret Trump's actions as aspirational.

But, Elie, is this a legitimate legal argument at least for his lawyers to be making?

HONIG: Well, in theory, it is a legitimate legal argument. I just don't know that it's going to hold up given the facts of the case here. If indeed a person merely said, hey, public official, I hope you will do things this way or that way, that's hard to make that into a crime. But I think Jack Smith's position is, Donald Trump did much more than merely benignly ask mime pence to do something. He pressured him to do something that they both understand was unconstitutional, was against the law.

And it's important that we not parse out each fact on its own and say is that a crime in and of itself. Prosecutors are going to urge the jury -- look, it's not just about the conversation between Donald Trump and Mike Pence, that is part of the broader fraud and the broader conspiracy that we've charged here.

GOLODRGYA: What did you make of Lauro also saying that they believe Mike Pence will be one of their best witnesses at this trial?

HONIG: Boy, I presume he knows more than I do. But based on the indictment, I don't think that's correct. It's clear that prosecutors are relying on Mike Pence as one of their key witnesses.

There are paragraphs that seem to be based on Mike Pence's testimony and his handwritten notes, including this incident where Donald Trump said to Mike Pence, quote, you're too honest and if we needed another indicator, Mike Pence just said the other that he was approached by Donald Trump 's and, I quote Mike Pence here, a gaggle of crackpot lawyers. That doesn't sound to me like a witness is going to do any good for Donald Trump.

GOLODRYGA: Let's turn to Atlanta and the case in Fulton County, do you expect this will be a sprawling case with many people charged or a more marrow indictment like the one we saw last week.

HONIG: Oh, it's going to sprawl. I think that's quite clear. Fani Willis has been investigating this case for two and a half plus years. Now, remember, the special grand jury foreperson told us that they recommended the indictments of over a dozen people. That doesn't necessarily mean Fani Willis is going to follow that recommendation or that that the actual grand jury is going to do that. But all indications are that this will be a very broad indictment.

GOLODRYGA: And "The Wall Street Journal," it's interesting to see them report today that lawyers who have worked with Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis in the past expect her to invoke Georgia's RICO Act.

What does that mean? HONIG: So, RICO stands for Racketeer Influence and Corrupt

Organizations. There was originally a federal law passed to that effect, and now, a lot of states including Georgia have followed suit. Essentially as a prosecutor, if you're going to charge RICO, you have to the show, first of all, the existence of a criminal enterprise, meaning an organization committing a pattern of racketeering activity, meaning two or more connected crimes.

So it could be tougher for prosecutors to show, but if you can, the advantage is you get to charge the whole case and explain the entire enterprise to the jury. And I should note, the Georgia RICO law carries a mandatory minimum of five years in prison. Meaning, any person convicted of that has to go to prison for five years. That's actually even more severe than the federal RICO statute.

GOLODRGYA: All right. Quickly, do you think that's is what we'll see from her?

HONIG: I do, based on all the reporting and based on all the other indicators. Yes.

GOLODRYGA: All right. Elie Honig, always great to see you, my friend. Thank you.

HONIG: Thanks, Bianna. All right.

GOLODRYGA: Coming up, after years of dodging the question, what Ron DeSantis is now saying that his chief rival still won't? Why the Florida governor is changing his tune, for now at least.

Plus, a foiled plat to assassinate Volodymyr Zelenskyy. What we're learning about the woman allegedly behind it.

And millions of Americans are bracing for severe weather. We'll tell you what to expect. That's all up next.



GOLODRYGA: In our 2024 lead, as Donald Trump's legal woes grow, Republicans on the campaign trail are offering their sharpest rebukes yet of the former president. It comes as the Iowa caucuses are just over five months away and many of the GOP presidential candidates spent the week courting voters in the Hawkeye State.

But as CNN's Jessica Dean reports, many of the campaign conversations are still centering around Donald Trump.


JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Florida Governor Ron DeSantis saying directly what his chief rival, former President Donald Trump, refuses to. That Trump lost the 2020 election.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Of course, he lost. Joe Biden is the president.

DEAN: DeSantis making the case in a new interview that if the 2024 election is about Trump and his legal battles, Republicans will lose.

DESANTIS: That's not a pathway for success for the Republican Party. I think a lot of our voters understand that.

DEAN: It's a similar line of attack former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has been using against the former president.

CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I want Republican voters to know, this is a preview of the election coming up if Donald Trump is the nominee. He'll be talking about Donald Trump rather than Joe Biden and what we should be focused on is talking about Joe Biden and his record, and that's why he cannot be the nominee.

DEAN: Many of the Republican candidates spent the weekend in Iowa, courting voters in the first in the nation caucus state.

NIKKI HALEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Iowa is an important state. Not because of the caucuses, that is an important thing, but for our national security. Food security is national security. You supply us with our food, you supply us with ethanol.

DESANTIS: I'm asking for your support in the January caucus because I could pledge to you this, I will get the job done. I will not let you down.

DEAN: But Trump continues to go after DeSantis.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: DeSantis has fallen very dramatically.

DEAN: And his other rivals, most pointedly his former Vice President Mike Pence, writing on Truth Social, quote, he's delusional and now he wants to show he's a tough guy.

Pence has been sharpening his criticism of Trump following the former president's third indictment, saying Trump put himself before the Constitution and anyone who does that should not be president.

MIKE PENCE (R), FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: President Trump was wrong. He was wrong then, he's wrong now. I have no right to overturn the election. And more and more Americans are coming up to me every day and recognizing that.



DEAN (on camera): Former President Trump continues to pull at the top of all of these polls looking at Republican primary, Bianna. And so, all of these other candidates are looking for a moment to break out, to really make their moves to voters. And we're about two and a half weeks from the first debate and they're hoping that could be it.

But people like former Vice President Mike Pence, he hasn't met the threshold yet to get on the debate stage and at this point, it's unclear if Trump will be there or not. But it is certainly shaping up to be a very pivotal moment and it's so close now.

GOLODRYGA: Yeah, and these indictments, at least thus far, aren't impacting him with voters there.

DEAN: Right.

GOLODRYGA: Jessica Dean, thank you.

Well, with me now is Doug Heye, the former communications director for the RNC. And Kate Bedingfield, she's a former White House communications director for the Biden administration.

Welcome both of you.

So, Kate, let me start with you. So, yes, DeSantis had to be pressed and it really is just stating the obvious. But nonetheless, it was notable. What do you make of him finally saying, of course, Trump lost?

KATE BEDINGFIELD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, the fact that this is a baseline litmus test for Republican candidates who are running for president is, it frankly shows you where the bar is. This is Donald Trump's party an fact that it took Ron DeSantis this long to acknowledge what very clearly happened legitimately in 2020 is pretty startling. I think the other important thing to think about here is we saw the clip saying he lost. But he's also continued to sow doubts about mail-in ballots and about the legitimacy of the election around the edges when there is no evidence that there was any fraud.

But so, I also think that is a really peculiar political strategy given that casting doubt about mail-in ballots given that the aim here is to get as many people to vote for you as possible. So continuing to sow doubts on people's minds about the legitimacy and the validity of being able to vote by mail, where they could vote from the convenience of their home and send it in, that seems like a really peculiar political strategy to me.

GOLODRYGA: So, Doug, Kate just teed you up from what we heard from DeSantis, saying, yes, Trump lost but still placing a doubt on the 2020 election. Listen to what he said.


DESANTIS: I don't think it was the perfect election. I remember after a lot of the media was saying this was most secure election in history. How could it be secure when it is the mail-in ballots going out?


GOLODRYGA: It wasn't the media saying that it was the most perfect election. It was Trump's own Department of Homeland Security that put out a statement days after the election saying it was most secure in American history. So why do you think up until this day so many Republicans still can't accept that?

DOUG HEYE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, it is part of a chicken and egg process. Because Republican voters have been told this time and time again by Donald Trump, they tend to believe it and it comes at a real cost.

When I started, Bianna, in politics, one of the things that was remarkable was the advantage Republicans had on what we used to call the absentee ballot chase and in North Carolina where I worked two Senate races when I was in college, what we would do is send people absentee ballots and we would chase them day after day until they returned them. It was a big part of why we won in North Carolina and nationally.

Under Trump, we've seemed to throw that in the waste bin. And even as Trump has come around on mail-in ballots a little bit, those doubts have still been sewn and my concern for Republicans moving forward is that we have Donald Trump going there you multiple trials, we're going to hear over and over again from Trump that there -- that essentially the election was a fraud, that it was stolen and all of the things that tell voters as we've learned in Georgia senate races, to stay home. It has a real impact on how voters operate.

GOLODRYGA: Hmm. Doug, let's move on to the topic of Trump's legal woes. Rich Lowry, the editor in chief of "The National Review", has an op-ed in "The New York Times" on how the indictments appear to be helping Trump at least thus far.

Here's what he wrote. He said, there are many Democrats who believe they could somehow indict Mr. President Trump out of presidential contention but many Republicans who opposed him have dreaded the indictments as sure to bolster him and so it has proved. A figure like Mr. Trump, a colorful populist adored by a political base that loves him in part because he's so embattled, is unlikely to be taken down by the authorities that he says are corrupt in a raid against him.

Doug, do you agree with Rich there?

HEYE: To some extent, yes. There are a few reasons for that. One is what we see with these indictments, and I think obviously they're very serious both politically and legally for Trump, is that it reinforces his core message. Bizarrely, an indictment reinforces Donald Trump's standing within the party and sort of proved his point that the system is rigged, there's a two-tiered system of justice, all things I think are false, but politically, shore Donald Trump in the short and immediate term.

But also, some of this is a self-fulfilling prophecy. It shores up Donald Trump because his opponents shore up Donald Trump. His opponents have echoed that it is a two-tiered system of justice, that this is a sign that it's rigged.

And ultimately, what we see, Bianna, is in "Star Wars" we learned that Luke Skywalker eventually had to confront Darth Vader. He couldn't sit back and just wait for the force or Hans Solo to take care of it for him. [16:25:05]

So, a Ron DeSantis and a Tim Scott and a Mike Pence, if they want to win, the nominee goes through Donald Trump and you have to confront him. Hope is never a political strategy.

GOLODRYGA: Yeah, so far, it's Mike Pence and maybe Chris Christie that are really speaking out against these indictments and supporting the Justice Department thus far in making them.

Kate, on Saturday, Trump called Mike Pence, quote, delusional. But it was interesting the former Alabama Congressman Mo Brooks, a Republican, has rushed to Mike Pence's defense and here's what he tweeted.

He said: Donald Trump said Mike Pence is delusional and a liar, well, Mike Pence not a serial adulterer, not found guilty of sexual assault or rape, not paid porn star hush money, not say make Mexico pay for wall and not even try. Pence equals honest, Trump equals con. Character matters.

Does it surprise you we haven't seen more of a reaction similar to this from other Republicans?

BEDINGFIELD: Well, I mean, look, there's probably not a lot that former Congressman Brooks and I agree on, but I agree on that. No lies spotted as the kids like to say.

But, it is also important to remember that Donald Trump and Congressman Brooks have a contentious history themselves. President Trump revoked his endorsement of Congressman Brooks in the Alabama Senate race. So I think he's grinding a personal ax here a little bit as well.

But, look, across the board, it is incumbent upon Republicans to call out Donald Trump. I agree with my friend Doug, Trump is not going to fall on his own. Hope is not a strategy. And so, if Republicans are going to reclaim the heart of their party, they're going to have to call him out.

And I think it's also important to writ large, this is an alienating strategy for the independent voters, and we're all kind of mired in the Republican primary but whoever emerges from this primary is going to be running against President Biden who has spent the last two years laying down an economic foundation, passing legislation to tackle the climate crisis and we've seen wages outstrip inflation.

So he's taken steps and able to go to people and say here are the things that I've done that impact your life. And it is a lot harder when Republicans are squabbling with each other about, you know, about character for them to make a compelling case to voters that they should be elected and they're going to actually move things forward for them. So I think that that contrast is going to be incredibly powerful for the Democrats and for president Biden moving forward because the Republicans have made very clear that this is where they intend to keep the conversation. GOLODRYGA: Well, Doug, for now, I mean, overwhelmingly, the

Republicans seem to be in their strategy, continuing to criticize the Justice Department for bringing these charges against Donald Trump. But listen to what Senator Mitch McConnell, what he argued after the Senate acquitted Trump on impeachment charges of inciting an insurrection.

Listen to what he said just a month later.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Impeachment was never meant to be the final forum for American justice. We have a criminal justice system in this country. We have civil litigation. And former presidents are not immune from being accountable by either one.


GOLODRYGA: So is it just too much time has passed? I mean, Doug, Republicans are criticizing the DOJ for doing exactly what Mitch McConnell and others thought it should do.

HEYE: Well, it shows how much the party has been subsumed by all things Trump. Ultimately, we have so many politicians who are trying to score points with Donald Trump and his base and the reality is, Donald Trump doesn't give points. He only takes them away one at a time.

So you have to back him today, you have to back him tomorrow. Whether that's Manhattan, Georgia, the Department of Justice, wherever the next indictment may come if there are more indictments to come, you always have to back Donald Trump if you want to play his game.

GOLODRYGA: All right. Doug Heye and Kate Bedingfield, I finally welcome to the network, Kate, good to see you.

BEDINGFIELD: Thank you. Great to be here.

GOLODRYGA: Well, ahead, the foiled plot to assassinate Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. How they Ukrainian government say they caught the suspect red-handed.



GOLODRYGA: In our world lead, Ukrainian officials say Russian missiles hit residential buildings in both the Donetsk and Kharkiv regions, killing a total of at least seven people and injuring more than 35 others. It's the latest attack from Russia after Ukraine blew up parts of a critical road that linked occupied Crimea with parts of the Kherson region over the weekend.

All of this escalated violence has Ukrainians say they've stopped an assassination plot against President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is in Zaporizhzhia for us.

And, Nick, the Ukrainian say they caught an alleged Russian informant. What more do we know about this woman and the plot to kill Zelenskyy?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: We don't quite know how far this plot progressed and it is important to bear in mind Volodymyr Zelenskyy is certainly a hunted man by Moscow. He often goes to the front line to coral troops.

And so, this plot standing out frankly because of the Ukrainian security services bid to essentially publicize some of its details. What we do know. We don't know the nationality of this informant. We do know she is a woman who lived in Ochakov. That's a peninsula off of the coast close to Crimea. And that she worked in the military surplus store.

Allegedly, this plot was about the recent visit of Zelenskyy to Mykolaiv, a port city on the southern coast and she was apparently requested in messages that the SBU, the security services put out with Russian interlocutors asked about times, days, perhaps take pictures of the location. I should point out that the Ukrainians have arrested about 29 or so informants in the last few months or so.


So this is something that does occur relatively regularly. But there was clearly something about this plot that made them feel they need to publicize it, but again, a reminder of how Zelenskyy is someone who Russia would like to kill -- Bianna.

GOLODRYGA: As you said, it occurs regularly, specifically in that part of the country, the eastern part of Ukraine there. Let me ask you about what happened over the weekend in Saudi Arabia. We saw peace talks held there, more than 40 nations came including Ukraine, the United States and China. Notably, Russia was absent.

Saudi Arabia and China are very close. So how did this come about and what came out of it?

WALSH: I think it is a really a bid not to talk peace talks but about framing the narrative in the event that over the winter, like some analysts expect, we do see negotiation takes a more prominent role if the winter slows down battles on the front line. What's key about this is China, frankly.

Yes, there are Saudi Arabia inviting many of the global south nations, some of whom have had quite close relationships with Moscow in the past, but the fact China was there and the fact that China said that this consolidated the international consensus, that does suggest that the Americans are trying to guide this managed to form a narrative with TV with Ukraine about exactly what the terms of a peace deal might originally be and that is bad for Moscow.

GOLODRYGA: Yeah, President Zelenskyy's chief of staff said the group may meet as soon as a month, an a month and a half away again. Nick Paton Walsh in Zaporizhzhia with always great reporting for us, thank you.

Well, coming up, 130 million Americans are bracing for severe weather. Who is going to be affected by tornados and 75-mile-an-hour winds? We'll tell you, up next.



GOLODRYGA: Heads up for the east coast. This is kind of severe weather headed your way. Just look at these images. This is south of Knoxville, Tennessee. A line of super cell thunderstorms is moving closer to major east coast cities from New York all the way down to Georgia. This line could cause flash flooding and tornados and even hurricane-force wind gusts. Storms could get so bad that the federal government shutdown D.C. offices.

So let's get right to CNN meteorologist Chad Myers.

Chad, tell us what you're seeing and what is making you so alarmed when you see these maps.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: What's making me alarmed is that the lines have not lined up into a squall line yet. When you get them all lined up, they fight with each other. When they're all by themselves, that's what you just said was a super cell. They could begin to rotate and put down tornados.

So, this is the area from New York down to Alabama for that matter. But the wind gusts potentially here, 75 to 80 miles per hour. That's the biggest threat. Smaller threat, because these may be small tornados but not if it is near your house, but this is Philadelphia down through D.C. and that is where we're seeing the strongest storms.

Tornado watches in red, severe thunderstorm watch in yellow and some are rotating. Not that far from Charlottesville, Virginia. Not that from Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania. We do have storms separated from the rest that are producing a little bit of rotation. That doesn't mean every rotating storm will put down a tornado but it is possible. Look at the warnings in a line.

So, here we go. Closer up to D.C., probably another hour before you start to see it on the West Virginia area, starting to see some rotation near front royal not that long ago. Zooming in here to D.C., yes, there is one right there. That is now a new tornado warning. That looks like that is near Marshal. Still ways away from D.C. but way out there but it is that storm with the potential that could have the potential as it gets closer to I-95 for sure.

All of the storms should be gone by 8:00 tonight. So the 6,000 planes that are delayed, maybe you'll get out, maybe you might have to get out tomorrow. There's an awful lot of potential before this finally ends likely after 10:00 tonight.

GOLODRYGA: Yeah, everyone should be heeding their local weather alerts. These are not your typical summer storms. Chad Myers, thank you.

Well, up next, the female forces driving the economy this summer. As the "Barbie" movie makes more than $1 billion, and then you got Beyonce and Taylor Swift dominating sold out shows. Our favorite segment, that's ahead.



GOLODRYGA: The world is seeing pink and that means a lot of green at the box office.


GOLODRYGA: Over the weekend, "Barbie" became the first film with a female solo director to surpass $1 billion in ticket sales around the world.

Vanessa Yurkevich joins us.

And Greta Gerwig accomplished this in just three weeks. That's something that has taken other billion dollar movies months.

VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS AND POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: Amazing to hit a million dollars and amazing to do so in such a short amount of time. Just take a look at the box office numbers. Domestically, the film pulling in $459 billion and then internationally, $572 million at the box office, bringing it well above $1 billion in overall sales. "Barbie" becoming now the 53rd movie only to cross the $1 billion mark and that makes Greta Gerwig the first female director to cross a billion dollar.

And so, you know, the screen, though, Barbie has a long way to go before it becomes a top movie earner. You have "Avatar" and "Avengers" and "Titanic" all well above $2 billion. But certainly, Bianna, $1 billion is still an accomplishment in itself.

GOLODRYGA: A great early start, no doubt. And Greta Gerwig is not the only woman with an enormous economic impact right now. You've been reported on this all day. Taylor Swift and Beyonce are actually impacting inflation and the GDP with their current tours?

YURKEVICH: That's right. Two big huge economic powerhouses. We have one economist telling us that they believe that Taylor Swift will generate $5 billion in U.S. GDP because of ticket sales, air fares, hotels and merchandise.


And we also have word leaders wanting to get into on a piece of the economic Taylor Swift pie.

You have the mayor of Budapest, Hungary, and the president of Chile both writing to Taylor Swift, asking her to come to their city and their country. And you also have Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeting this to Taylor swift. He said: It's me, hi. I know places in Canada would love have you. So, don't make it another cruel summer. We hope to see you soon. And Taylor Swift adding Toronto to her tour list.

And we cannot forget Beyonce, she has done in the past historically, $757 million in terms of money coming in from her world tours. This tour is expected to do just as well if not more.

And on the inflation front, though, Beyonce has caused a bit of a stir when she launched the world tour in Stockholm, Sweden. The county was feeling high inflation, economists were hoping to see it dip in the month of May, Beyonce had other plans.

When she came to town, so many people wanted to see her. They were spending like crazy. So, they were happy to have Beyonce, Bianna, but they were not happy to have high inflation.

GOLODRYGA: But I bet they would say that was money well spent today.

Vanessa Yurkevich, thank you. It's our favorite story of the day.

Also in our money lead, Zoom, the company that virtually connected people during the pandemic, and also opened up the possibilities of remote work, now once its own employees to come back into the office.

CNN's Tom Foreman is here to explain how this works.

So, Tom, Zoom isn't the only company that's cutting back on allowing its employees to work from home given that the name is synonymous with working from home. How do you interpret this?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh the irony. Yes, they want people back at least two days a week and they joined some other big names like Google, Amazon, Salesforce and the U.S. government, saying, yeah, we want more people to come back to the office. The general reason you always have, they say it's more productive and more of a community and the synergy that people like to talk about. They want to get people back than they have been saying it will be better, including Zoom.

GOLODRYGA: So, how are people responding? Are they willing to come back in?

FOREMAN: Not very well, as you might expect. Look, if you look at the numbers here, when firms allow remote hybrid work, those firms in the period of time saw a 5 percent increase in their workforce, more people wanting to join, to 0.6 percent for those who want only in person. This really focuses on better educated younger workers who don't want to be trapped this way.

Generally, employers want only one 1.6 days work per week of remote work, workers want more, 2.3 days and we don't divide the days this way, as a practical matter, workers are pushing for three days a week at home and they want 2 days a week at home. That's sort of what it works out to. Pretty big difference. Why do workers want this? And this is really it becomes a key issue

here. You don't have to commute, 40 percent say that, childcare is easier, better able to focus, and all workers say they see working from home as a 8 percent salary hike, no wonder workplaces are struggling.

GOLODRYGA: It is a sensitive topic. Tom Foreman, thanks for breaking it down for us.

Well, finally in our money lead, a real kitchen table issue. When you think Campbell's, you really think soup. You've known them since you were a kid, right? But the company is much bigger. Swanson's chicken broth, yeah, that's Campbell's, Snyder's pretzels, that is them too.

Now for all of you fans of upscale pasta sauces, when you think of Rao's, you also need think of Campbell's. As of today, it's buying Sovos Brands, Rao's parent company. The deal is valued at $2.7 billion. That is a lot of sauce.

As long as the case doesn't change, I'm okay with it.

Well, next, remembering the legendary career of a man who turned a staircase into a symbol of terror.

But, first, a look of what's up next in "THE SITUATION ROOM". Here's Wolf Blitzer.

Hey, Wolf.


We're going to see what happens at the top of the hour, this is important, when the Trump team is up against the deadline in the January 6 case. And I'll ask -- we'll discuss Trump's potential criminal indictment in Georgia as well with the state's former lieutenant governor, Geoff Duncan. We're learning Duncan was subpoenaed in the grand jury investigation of Trump's efforts to overturn the presidential election results in Georgia.

That's coming up a lot more, all the day's important news right here on the situation room at the top of the hour.



GOLODRYGA: In our pop lead, some sad news. William Friedkin, the director of the "Exorcist" and the "French Connection" has died.


GOLODRYGA: Friedkin's films were box office successes in the 1970s, earning him an Oscar for best picture in the 1972 for "The French Connection". The "Exorcist" is one of the highest grossing films of all-time. It was mostly shot in Washington, D.C.'s Georgetown neighborhood, turning the steep stairs into a landmark. Jake Tapper interviewed Friedkin at the foot of the iconic stairs back in 2015 and asked him about their importance in the film.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Did you have any idea when you are shooting it that this would become so iconic, and that decades later the film would still be so important?

WILLIAM FRIEDKIN, FILM DIRECTOR: Absolutely not. You never have any idea like that. It's the luck of the draw. I always felt that these steps were like a metaphor for the story of the film, the ascent from darkness up into light.


GOLODRYGA: Friedkin's wife said he passed away at home from heart failure and pneumonia. He was 87 years old.

Well, that is it for us this hour. Thank you so much for watching.

Our coverage continues now with Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM".