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Biden Touts U.S. & Britain's "Unwavering" Support for Ukraine; DOJ Tells Trump He's Target in Classified Docs Probe; 75M Under Air Quality Alerts from Wildfire Smoke; Joran van der Sloot Arrives in U.S. Aired 3-3:30p ET
Aired June 08, 2023 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KIMBERLY DOZIER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: It's likely that the British government will start giving less aid to Ukraine. And the U.S. might be doing the same thing. That's why other European allies right now are looking at this situation going, who can we count on and Kyiv is especially worried about that.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: And that was the message that the Prime Minister was trying to send. He was saying that European partners in the U.S. that they are not going to tire and that Russia is counting on the fact that they will, but he was basically saying they're going to be disappointed.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORREPONDENT: Right. I mean, he said that there is no point trying to wait us out. We will be here as long as it takes. So I think that is the view of these two principals, these two presidents. But interestingly, of course, there are under pressure from third parties and the opposing parties most certainly.
DOZIER: And you get the impression that what they're trying to do right now is cognizant of the fact that they might be voted out. They're trying to front load as much as possible and make things like once you've given Ukraine, a number of F-16s and the way to support them, that's not something that a next administration can reel back like it can undo an executive order.
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: A lot to watch out for in that two and two. Clearly, both of these leaders fond of each other. We'll see what that means when it comes to making policy and, of course, helping with the war in Ukraine. Kimberly Dozier, Jeff Zeleny, thank you both so much.
KEILAR: Right now, Donald Trump and a small group of his aides are huddling at his club in Bedminster, New Jersey. There are more advisers who are expected to be joining him there in the coming days. And his team has also been reaching out to key allies on Capitol Hill and here's why, sources telling us the Justice Department has officially informed the former president that he is a target in the classified documents probe. It's really the clearest signal yet that he could be soon indicted.
SANCHEZ: And we're told that his team is preparing for the possibility that he could be indicted on multiple fronts and that Trump himself now expects to be indicted.
Let's take you now live outside the federal courthouse in Miami where we find CNN's Katelyn Polantz.
And Katelyn, another grand jury there has been hearing witness testimony. Bring us up to speed on what is happening there and this news that the DOJ has informed Trump that he's no longer just a subject of this investigation, but now a target.
KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Right. So Boris, there has been grand jury activity now two days in a row in this federal courthouse in downtown Miami. Yesterday, it was a witness coming in testifying for just under an hour, but a pretty substantial witness and that it was someone very close to Trump, Taylor Budowich, a spokesperson who worked for him and still works for him, but worked for him at a time where Donald Trump wanted to publicly declare he had turned everything over in his possession when the National Archives demanded White House records be returned to them. Of course, at that time, he didn't turn everything over and was talked out of releasing such an explicit statement.
And so we do think that Budowich would have spoken to the grand jury about that. But it's a sealed proceeding. It's very hard to see exactly what is happening within a grand jury moment to moment. They are back today or at least were at very least.
There are prosecutors here still from the Special Counsel's office in Miami, the same folks that we've been seeing in Washington, D.C., bringing in witnesses there, bringing in evidence to the federal court there. And so the focus has shifted to here in Miami and this question of how close is the Justice Department to a decision.
That target letter is something that happens in the very final stages. It's not something that necessarily says outright what Donald Trump may be charged with, what sort of crimes the Justice Department is considering or how close they are how many days we might be away. But it does signal the true end of an investigation where the Justice Department is ready to make a decision and it is a very important time to be watching the grand jury, Boris?
SANCHEZ: And potentially a historic time, a former president looking at the potential for federal charges brought against him.
Katelyn Polantz live from Miami, please stand by and bring us the latest there.
Let's expand the conversation too. We have CNN's Kristen Holmes, Zachary Cohen and Legal Analyst, Norm Eisen here to discuss.
Kristen, first to you. Right now, Trump is huddled with allies in Bedminster and he's openly acknowledging to them, according to your reporting, that he's going to be indicted.
KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. So for the last few weeks, we know that he had been asking people what they thought was going to happen in these cases. Now, it seems that he has pivoted and he believes that he will be indicted. And it's not just him, his entire team believes that they believe it's going to happen sooner rather than later and they've actually been reaching out to allies on the Hill trying to shore up their defense.
As we know, Donald Trump believes in the court of public opinion and that is something that he takes very seriously. He wants his most staunch allies, his most staunch defenders out there on the airwaves really trying to bolster his defense.
They're going to call this political. They're going to call this election interference.
Now, I will say, as you noted they're in Bedminster, they have planned to go to two campaign events this weekend, one in North Carolina, one in Georgia. They say nothing's going to change if he is in fact indicted, so we'll just have to wait and see. But they are preparing for this moment.
KEILAR: Do you need to pick that up, Nor? No?
SANCHEZ: He's getting a call from his sources.
NORM EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Breaking news.
KEILAR: It could be, you never know.
EISEN: Breaking news.
KEILAR: But if it's your mom, we're just going to move on. We're going to move on to Zach here. So you have actually spoken. You have new reporting about a witness who has been interviewed by prosecutors in both the Trump and the Biden investigations. What have you learned here?
ZACHARY COHEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Yes, Brianna. I spoke to a former White House official who is unique in the sense that he's the only known witness who's talked to prosecutors in both the special counsel investigation into Trump and the documents investigation into - related to Biden.
And he drew a really stark difference between the two investigations based on what prosecutors were asking him when he went in for his voluntary chat. And look, the prosecutors in the Trump case were very aggressively focused on firsthand knowledge of conversations with Trump about declassifying documents, but the declassification process.
And this official told them that Trump knew the declassification process and followed at times while he was in office. And we've seen prosecutors really try to get more of that firsthand testimony from former senior Trump officials, Robert O'Brien has gone in and told the grand jury about conversations that he had with Trump about the declassification process.
So prosecutors have tried to build more evidence around that declassification point. And on the Biden thing, the Biden probe, prosecutors were really more focused on logistics. They're focused on how to documents get from the vice president's residence to his house in Delaware, who packed the boxes. This official said that Biden would not have been anywhere near the packing process. So really different vibe, different tone between what these discussions and how they played out.
SANCHEZ: Yes, and those details about the testimony regarding the Trump case undercut claims from his lawyers that he either didn't know or could just think about declassifying documents.
And Norm, I wanted to ask you about something that Kristen brought up and that is the fight in the court of public opinion. And the talking points that are now being put out by the Trump team, to lawmakers, Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill, they're essentially trying to make the claim that Jack Smith, the Special Counsel is a Democratic operative who's going after conservatives, how might something like that impact the investigation itself?
NORM EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Boris, in the height of the political season, which is where we're headed, these kinds of claims, are to be expected. But I think that they are going to be tough to land on the classified documents investigation, because people understand, you are not supposed to take classified documents with you out of the White House and it's not just the removal. It's the cover up in the alleged obstruction of justice here.
So it's a one-two punch and the volume of them - I just think it's going to be very tough to get out from under this one. This is probably the greatest legal jeopardy that Donald Trump faces.
KEILAR: Is this playing out as it would play out with any other person being a target?
EISEN: Donald Trump has gotten far more leeway than anyone else would get. I wrote these rules, helped write these classified document handling rules when I was in the Obama White House. And then, as an ambassador, I had to live by them, and supervised hundreds of people who handle classified documents every day.
If there was a whiff that I even was hanging on to a single classified document, after repeated requests and a subpoena, I would have been prosecuted long ago. There's a long history of people far lesser conduct, being very severely treated by the court.
So Donald Trump is getting better treatment, but he's about to have that runway, I think, and face the same kinds of charges that others do in these situations.
SANCHEZ: And I'm curious to get your perspective about the multiple venues now for these grand juries ...
EISEN: Yes. SANCHEZ: ... one in Miami, one here in D.C. For Jack Smith, he's obviously considering a number of different factors when figuring out where to file charges, potentially if Trump is indicted,
EISEN: The - under applicable law, you need to bring each charge each count of the indictment in the jurisdiction where the so-called essential conduct occurred. Here, there's some essential conduct in D.C. where Donald Trump remove the documents other things happen. There's a lot obviously at Mar-A-Lago, particularly on that cover up and alleged obstruction.
The way you handle this to be safe is sometimes the charge in both places. That's what we saw on the Paul Manafort prosecution. Why? Because if you're wrong, the case is thrown out with prejudice, prosecutor's case is over or before it's begun.
Now, sometimes you'll say to a defendant, will you waive venue so it can all be brought in one place. There may be a discussion about that. I wouldn't be surprised to see two separate cases here.
KEILAR: It's going to be really interesting if that is what plays out. You guys, thank you so much for the discussion and for the great reporting. Norm, for the analysis, we do appreciate it.
SANCHEZ: Still to come on CNN NEWS CENTRAL, for the second day in a row, flights are grounded. Outdoor activities canceled and 10s of millions of Americans are being told to stay indoors as smoke smothers the Northeast. What precautions you can take and works when we are expecting the skies to finally clear?
KEILAR: You can hear it in everyone's voices.
KEILAR: I think even on this panel ...
SANCHEZ: A lot (inaudible) today.
KEILAR: ... that's right.
Plus, Joran van der Sloot, the prime suspect in the disappearance of Natalie Holloway is expected to land in the U.S. this hour. These are live pictures coming to us from the airport in Birmingham. We're going to bring this to you once it happens, once he's here.
SANCHEZ: And they are being attacked as they try to flee. Ukrainian officials say that Russia is shelling evacuation sites as civilians try to leave their flooded homes. The latest is next.
KEILAR: Now to the smoke that is smothering much of the United States, 75 million people are under air quality alerts caused by this smoke that we are seeing from more than 400 wildfires that is burning in Quebec, Canada. In some of America's biggest cities, officials say the air has become so thick with pollutants it is dangerous to breathe in.
Today, the D.C. metro area here and also Philadelphia are expected to get the worst of this, but New York's governor said every part of her state except the Adirondacks is suffering from poor air quality. We have correspondents across the East Coast covering this story for us. Danny Freeman is just outside of Philadelphia in Camden, New Jersey.
Brian Todd is covering our nation's capital from Arlington, Virginia just outside of the city.
And CNN Meteorologist, Chad Myers, is in the Weather Center. He is tracking the smoke's path for this. We're going to BEGIN the hour in Philadelphia with our Danny Freeman. He's just across the river there in Camden, New Jersey with a very nice view. What are you seeing there? What are you experiencing?
DANNY FREEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, nice view, I guess, is a little bit subjective when things still look as hazy as they do back here.
Listen, Brianna, the reality is here in Philadelphia that it is better than it was when it comes to air quality overnight and in the early hours of this morning. It was really bad. We were in that hazardous zone. Now we're in that unhealthy to very unhealthy stage right now.
But the reality is I told you earlier that there was a press conference in the one o'clock hour by the city of Philadelphia and our health commissioner said clearly, the city continues to experience serious air quality problems. And the thing that was mentioned and emphasized in that press conference is the air quality has fluctuated a lot over the past 24 hours and we should expect the same in the coming 24 hours as well. And they're still urging caution from residents.
But we asked - I should say, reporters asked Dr. Cheryl Bettigole, the health commissioner, just how bad it got overnight. Take a listen to what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. CHERYL BETTIGOLE, PHILADELPHIA HEALTH COMMISSIONER: Our air management services division tells me that the numbers peaked between 7 pm and 9 pm last night. We did have some monitors. I am told that it went as high as 500 at that time. Well, the scale goes to 500, so this is terrible. That's what that - I don't know how else to say that. But it's just dense particulates, you don't want to breathe it in. And anybody who had to go outside last night probably knows what I'm talking about. If you looked at streetlights, you could see the air.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FREEMAN: Yes, and I can attest, living here and having to make sure that my windows and doors were closed all last night, it was bad last night. But again, getting better throughout the day a little bit today. But like I said, the government is still urging caution, still urging masks for those who are sensitive and those who are outside all day. Last thing I'll note though, Phillies they just released their lineup for the game at six o'clock tonight, so hopefully the air quality holds up in time for that game. Brianna?
KEILAR: Yes. Let's hope, Danny. Let's hope.
All right. Let's head now to Brian Todd down the 95 Corridor. He is outside of Washington, D.C. in Arlington, Virginia. Tell us what it's like where you are, Brian?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, I'll show you what it's like and you can really get a good view of this kind of perspective when you look across the river from where we are. We're at the Marine Corps Memorial in Arlington. It's also known as the Iwo Jima Memorial.
I'm going to step out of the shot. Our photo journalist, Steve Williams (ph), is going to take you past the Iwo Jima. Now on a normal day in a straight line, you can see from here, you can see the Iwo Jima Memorial then right behind it, the Lincoln Memorial, right behind the Lincoln you see the Washington Monument and right behind the monument you can see the U.S. Capitol.
But as Steve (ph) goes in tighter, take a look at that, you can make out the Lincoln Memorial and by the way, you can make it out better now than you could a couple of hours ago. See if you can see the Washington Monument behind it. I don't know if you can see it from the camera, Brianna. But in the naked eye here, I can barely see it.
And the Capitol, Steve (ph) is going to do his best to try to train in on the Capitol. I can again barely make it out behind that, but - and maybe he can capture just the top of the dome there, but just barely.
I can tell you that just about every city-run entity from playgrounds to parks to athletic courts has been shut down and city officials getting the message out, they do not want people out engaging in any kind of strenuous activity. All the air quality readings are severe. It's code purple here, which is very unhealthy for everyone, Briana, not just people with respiratory issues.
KEILAR: No, certainly not. Steve has a very good shot, I will tell you.
That is not easy to do, especially considering how hard it is to see those monuments in the Capitol.
Brian, thank you so much for showing us that.
I want to go to Chad Myers in the CNN Meteorology Center with the very latest on this. What area is going to get the worst of the smoke tomorrow?
CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It's when the wind is going to stop and those particles that are floating around in the wind above the surface will all begin to settle back down. That's D.C., Philadelphia, Baltimore, again.
What I have in front of you here is a PM 2.5 indicator. It's a detector. This is what all those numbers are based on, something that's small. Now there are different sizes. And outside the studio right now out here in CNN in Atlanta, the number on this is 70 - 72.5 parts per million around outside. But inside this building, this says six.
That's why the official say stay inside. It does make a significant difference, 90 percent less of those particles in this office right now, but I'm about to change that. Because let me show you what one match will do to those numbers. They are going to spike.
This thing will get probably all the way to 999. It's the particles in the air that you breathe that can get caught in your lungs. What does it say now? 999 ...
KEILAR: It's like you know that was going to happen.
MYERS: ... that's one match, that - I knew it was going to happen, I have this thing at home, and I watch it all the time. But one thing in D.C. that I noticed now, you can see Rosslyn, Virginia from the tower here, from the camera. You could not see Rosslyn all day long, those buildings were completely invisible.
So things are getting better. It is part of the mixing process in the afternoon and then in the morning hours, all of that smoke, all of those particles all kind of settled down to the ground. A lot of red, a lot of yellow, lots of orange and our people up here in Quebec, Ontario, they've been breathing this for a while. It finally just blew down to the northeast part of North America over the past couple of days. Look at Philadelphia though.
So that was 999, Philadelphia, official (ph), you are 431, not one match in one studio. This is a lot of smoke over a wide area. I can get away from that smoke. You can't get away from 400 parts per million.
So here's where the smoke is right now, look - notice the orange, that's the worst. Push it into motion until tomorrow afternoon and things are going to slide a little bit farther to the south. But D.C. you're still right in that area. We would call this a training thunderstorm because things aren't getting out of the way like one train over another train over another train on the same track. But I push you ahead until Saturday, especially Saturday morning and it does get better.
There is much better air coming into New York City, Belmont right there and then also back out here to the west, worst air into parts of Michigan and Indiana and also parts of Ohio, because of the fires that are up here into parts of Western Ontario.
A mess for everyone and there are - we are now at a record case, without a doubt, even year to date or for any part of the year for these Canadian wildfires acres burned. It has been a tremendous disaster up there for them. KEILAR: Yes, horrible for them. And we're seeing it so far away. I'll tell you, Chad, we've been having ..
MYERS: Yes, that's right.
KEILAR: ... panels of people. We have a lot of news today and they sound like they have smoked a pack of cigarettes, which they have not but it is unbelievable, even the indoor air quality that we're dealing with here today.
Chad, thank you for taking us through that. And for that demonstration, we do appreciate it. Boris.
SANCHEZ: Happening right now in Birmingham, Alabama, Joran van der Sloot has just arrived in the United States. The Dutch national is the prime suspect in the 2005 disappearance of 18-year-old Natalie Holloway. He's also accused of extorting money from Holloway's mother in a plot to sell information about Holloway's remains in exchange for $250,000. The 18-year-old's body was never found.
We want to bring in CNN's Jean Casarez who's following this live from Birmingham. Jean, so what happens now?
JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, what happens now is that he asked to get off the plane. We watched it together just minutes ago. That plane landed right here in Birmingham. In custody, Joran van der Sloot on an FBI executive jet flown from Lima, Peru, here to Birmingham, Alabama, the hometown of Natalie Holloway, where she went missing. Her friends last saw her with Joran van der Sloot in a car in Aruba, and after that she was never found.
He is coming here for charges of extortion. But I've got some reporting from my colleague, Josh Campbell on that executive FBI jet that just landed. First of all, it is a fleet of jets that is housed in the D.C. area and they are used for counterterrorism missions as well as extradition transportation. This is for foreign transfer of someone in custody.
Now on that plane, Josh Campbell is reporting that there are two FBI pilots. There are three to five FBI special agents.
And their role was to monitor and continue to monitor Joran van der Sloot on that plane security-wise for the entire duration. There was also another FBI member, it's believed, on that plane. They were watching him every moment of every hour that he was on that plane approximately seven hours now. They were in the air from Lima to Birmingham, even monitored when he went to the restroom.
As is normal, he would also have been given a warning to not try to do anything of a dangerous manner on board that plane. And they furthermore provided him with food and beverage because this was a long plane - flight.
And so now he will set foot for the very first time in the United States in the custody of federal agents. He will be transported to a local jail here in Birmingham, where he will await his initial appearance, his arraignment in federal court on the extortion and fraud charges which stems from 2010. There was a reward for anyone who would know the remains and location of Natalie Holloway. He stepped forward demanding that $250,000, he led the attorney John Q. Kelly of the family to a home in Aruba, saying she's buried under the foundation within the gravel. He later emailed them saying it was all a lie and that's how these extortion and fraud charges were born.
According to public records, he will be having a public defender that can change but that's what it is at this point. And that public defender will most likely be visiting him before what we believe will be that initial appearance tomorrow.
SANCHEZ: And Jean, we are still watching the plane as it was just unloaded by a team of - what I assume are folks affiliated with federal investigators. This is obviously a case that has garnered international attention. It's been nearly 20 years now since Holloway's disappearance back in 2005. And for Joran van der Sloot, the prime suspect in her disappearance, this is only the latest chapter in this saga. He has a sordid history with law enforcement, right?
CASAREZ: He does. He is a Dutch national, so he is a Dutch descent. He and his family were living in Aruba. His father was a judge in waiting. And when Natalie Holloway disappeared, he was arrested several times but he was always let go. His father was very connected with all the law enforcement and all of the judges.
And then when this alleged extortion took place, he had $25,000 in cash and he admitted in interviews that he took that money and fled to Peru for gambling a poker tournament. That's where he met Stephany Flores.
And this case was international not only because he murdered Stephany Flores and he's imprisoned there. But when I was in Peru for a month for Joran van der Sloot, there was Dutch media there from all over. There was United States media and there were Aruban media.
It was really a worldwide event because there were so many unanswered questions and there have been. And Beth Holloway Beth Holloway Twitty has said in a statement that this is going to be justice for her. They still want answers. They still want to know the truth and there is hope that in this process as he is zealously defended by an attorney, that true answers, honest answers will come out as to what happened to Natalie Holloway.
SANCHEZ: And obviously, the significance of him landing in Birmingham, Alabama, not far from where Holloway grew up, that carries additional emotional weight for her family who's been locked in this struggle as you will know, Jean, for so many years.
CASAREZ: Absolutely. I went to her hometown which is a suburb of Birmingham yesterday and I talked with the people. They remember it like yesterday and they're angry and they're emotional. And what they told me was this isn't justice, because her family doesn't know where she is. They can't go visit her grave. They don't know anything. They don't know any more than they did 18 years ago.
So the people that live in her community, Mountain Brook, they - they're very upset and they want to see him in court, which leads us to - there will be defenses here and one could be a change of venue because this is her hometown, this is where she was from, but this is where he is touching down and will step foot for the first time on American soil.
SANCHEZ: And we were anticipating that that may happen at any moment as we watch what appear to be federal agents getting back on the plane that has just brought Joran van der Sloot back to the - or rather to the United States to face charges on allegedly extorting the mother of Natalie Holloway for some $250,000 for information related to the whereabouts of her remains.
Jean, stay with us for a moment. I'm curious about your vantage point and what you're seeing from where you are.