Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

Princes William and Harry Stand Vigil Together at the Queen's Coffin; Dozens of Elected Russian Politicians Demand Putin Be Impeached; Biden Warns Putin of Consequences If He Uses Nukes in Ukraine. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired September 17, 2022 - 17:00   ET




JIM ACOSTA, CNN ANCHOR: And you are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Jim Acosta.

Queen Elizabeth II lying in state surrounded by her family. Today, all eight of her grandchildren stood vigil around her coffin with Princes William and Harry leading the way.

In the wake of the Queen's death, her grandchildren have remembered her as a wonderful granny. The public meanwhile is going to great lengths to honor the Queen. Those who wish to file past her coffin before she is laid to rest on Monday are braving 24-hour wait times, winding through parks over bridges, weathering the cold.

King Charles and Prince William saw this dedication in person, shaking hands and thanking people for their support.

CNN's Richard Quest joins me now from London. Richard, we knew the reaction to the Queen's death would be massive, but this I suppose is bigger than anything anyone could have imagined.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Yes, I think that is exactly right and it is probably right and fitting, bearing in mind the length of Her Majesty's reign.

What I'm also touched by and noticed, every shop that I go past has a tribute in its window, whether it be a digital display of Her Majesty, an expression of condolence.

Everywhere you go, there is some reminder that this country has lost its sovereign and has really lost a bit of its anchor in a sense. And the other thing fascinating is the number of places everywhere that will be shut on Monday. Things that you wouldn't think about necessarily, Jim.

So for example, gyms are closing because they want people to be able to -- to -- they want their staff to be able to pay respects. Most shops will be closed on Monday because they will open the afternoon afterwards. So altogether, it's the totality of the event that I think is most

extraordinary. One point to note, Jim, you were just talking about the line, the queue as we say to go in, my producer's just going to show me exactly what is the current line. It's 17 hours is the estimated queueing time now --


QUEST: -- 17 hours. Now the important thing there, Jim, is remember their closing the lying-in-state at 06:30 Monday morning. So now we're back 17 hours into Sunday because obviously they don't want people joining the line who subsequently won't get in. I'm guessing that that line will close sometime tomorrow morning, Sunday.

And Richard, what do we expect to see tomorrow on this final day of the Queen lying in state before her funeral? You were indicating some of that. It sounds like the line may be growing longer, the queue may be growing longer because people want to pay their final respects before they can't do it anymore.

QUEST: Right. But there will come a point when they won't be allowed to join the queue because there wouldn't be time for them to go all the way through it until they get to the actual -- the Westminster Hall.

I'm guessing that will be about 6:30, maybe 7:00, 8:00, 9:00 tomorrow morning -- Sunday morning. As further events, the big event tomorrow that people are watching is going to be the reception in the evening that will be held by the King and members of the working royals, not -- let's be clear -- not Meghan and Harry, they're not working royals. But the working royals will be having a reception at Buckingham Palace for world leaders and diplomats.

I fully expect President Biden will be going. And we'll also look tomorrow to see if President Biden goes to pay his respects at Westminster Hall. We expect him to. Of course, it's not confirmed until it happens.


QUEST: But along with others he will be going through -- he won't have to wait 24 hours, but he will be going through, and then there's an evening reception.

ACOSTA: Right, of course. And as you and I both know, Richard, with the travels of the president of the United States, we'll find out when it happens.

But let me ask you about this reception at Buckingham Palace tomorrow night. What is going on with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle?

We have some CNN exclusive reporting, where they invited by mistake? What can you tell us?

QUEST: Simple here, Jim, they should never have been invited. This is a reception for working royals. Those who are paid for by the government and receive money from the system.

And Meghan and Harry are no longer working royals, by their own choice it must be said. And they were invited by accident. And then somebody realized and then pointed out that this was only for working royals. So it's not they've been disinvited, but they've been told they were invited by mistake.

To be blunt, I think it's bloody clumsy what's happened. If you've -- I mean look, we've all invited people by mistake to a party. You just stick with it.


QUEST: You know, you don't create another -- you go with it. You don't create a furor particularly when you know the sensitivities around this particular couple and the royal family.

But it wasn't a snub. It wasn't intentional. They weren't meant to be invited. They were by accident, and the royals have managed to get themselves again into hot water.

ACOSTA: All right. Richard Quest, thank you very much. We -- I guess we had to expect some speed bumps and some stumbles along the way with all the sort of choreography --


QUEST: Hey, Jim, if that's the only one -- if that's the only one, then we're lucky.

ACOSTA: All right. Richard, thank you very much. Appreciate it. Well said.

To the long lines of people now waiting 17 hours and walking miles to pay their respects, CNN's Anna Stewart is with the queue waiting to see the Queen's coffin as she lies in state.Anna Stewart

Anna, You know, I -- I guess there's a part of me that -- perhaps it's the American in me who is way too impatient to do something like this, to wait 17 hours in line for anything.

But -- please make no comment there -- but at the same time, I'm just wondering how do you power through 17 hours of standing in line?

ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER: Well, from the people I've spoken to, you power through with coffee, tea, biscuits, the odd pint of beer and lots of chitchat with your friends.

I'll show you the line, it stretches at the moment for many miles. I'm looking at the live tracker it says it's now 17 hours long. That's actually shorter than it was yesterday.

At one stage it was 24 hours long. And for the people in it, they are bracing themselves for a very long, I would say, quite cold night. I'm feeling pretty chilly.

Emily is one of the people that has joined the queue from Redding, not too far from London. How long have you been queueing for?

EMILY: We've been in about three hours, 3.5 hours.

STEWART: And how are you feeling at this stage?

EMILY: We're still feeling good at the moment.

STEWART: Still feeling good?

EMILY: Still feeling good. It's getting a little bit cold.

STEWART: If you could slow down just a little bit, I promise I won't lose your place. Just tell me why you are doing that because I think that some of our audience, they'll think my goodness these people are queueing for almost 24 hours, what are they thinking?

EMILY: It's just I really want to pay my respects to the Queen for myself, for my grandparent who can't be here at the moment. And it's a once in a lifetime opportunity that we're going to get to say thank you to her for her service.

STEWART: And you're enjoying this queue, the mood?

EMILY: I'm enjoying the mood, yes. Everyone's been so lovely, and the atmosphere back there was just brilliant.

STEWART: Reporter: wonderful. Well, I'll let you get on. I won't let them lose their place entirely.

I'd love to introduce you to some other people. There is one genius person right here who -- show me what you've got here. Oh -- she's holding a bucket. Can you show us your bucket?

This bucket is not what it seems. It's actually a seat. Very clever idea because you're not allowed to bring necessarily seats in with you. But this bucket can be turned away. So I think it's brilliant.

And you guys have all made friends since you've been in this queue.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, we're getting on quite well, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not much else to do.

STEWART: How are you feeling about the queue? You happy?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. It's moving pretty good. Yes. No big delays.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're just being overtaken --

STEWART: You are being overtaken? I'm sorry --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have to cut this now.

STEWART: We're going to have to cut this short. Best of luck with the rest of your queue though.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you so much.

STEWART: This is part of the problem, Jim. It's that the queue stops for a little bit, never actually long enough for anyone to sit on a bucket. It moves pretty fast and relentlessly for many, many hours.

And I have seen small children, people over 70 doing this queue. It takes some stamina, I would say, but I think the mood and the spirit of the queue is actually probably what's powering people through the most, probably even more than tea and biscuits.


ACOSTA: Yes. A stiff upper lip and comfortable shoes, I imagine Anna, is going to carry folks through this.

Let me ask you, I mean, what are people allowed to bring with them as they wait -- you mentioned they can't bring seats. But I suppose they can bring just about anything else to stay warm. I know it's going to be cold tonight in London. How is that going to affect things?

STEWART: There's definitely a balance, isn't there, in terms of do you want to bring things that are going to weigh a lot for your 12-hour walk, but then it's quite nice to have an extra pair of shoes maybe, an extra coat. So I think that's a balance people are trying to strike.

When you're going actually through Westminster Hall, there is airport style security. People are being told not to bring big chairs or any kind of infrastructure, not to bring any food or drinks once they get there, they have to throw it away. So it is a little bit tricky.

Interestingly, a Girl Scout discovered that lots of people were throwing away food and drink just as they're approaching Westminster Hall because they have to, and has actually worked with a food bank so all of that can be redistributed. So some really sweet acts of kindness throughout the queue. And then at the end of it, as well.

But very -- I'm very impressed, let's say, with all the people that are doing this. But their spirits are high.

ACOSTA: I have to say they're in a much better mood than perhaps I would be waiting in that kind of a line. But I know that this Queen means so much to them.

And thank you Anna, so much for sharing their stories with us and sharing what has been -- you know, very festive occasion it seems out there in London. So thanks very much, Anna. We appreciate it.

All right. Coming up, more Russians calling for Putin to resign over military failures in Ukraine. Should he be worried about a coup?

Plus, live pictures of Air Force One. Let's show this to you right now. President Biden has just arrived in London ahead of the Queen's funeral on Monday. He's expected to attend that state funeral for Queen Elizabeth II.

We should see some live pictures of the president getting off of the plane with the first lady here in just a few moments. When that happens, we'll bring that to you in just a few moments from now. Stick with us.



ACOSTA: And welcome back.

President Biden just landed in London ahead of the Queen's funeral on Monday. Tomorrow the president is expected to attend a reception at Buckingham Palace, alongside other world leaders who have gathered in London to pay their respects to the late monarch.

You see the president there coming down off of Air Force One with the first lady. Of course we'll be continuing to cover their travels there in London as they pay their respects to Queen Elizabeth II.

We'll stay on top of that. Any new developments, we'll bring them to you as the president of the United States arrives in London.

In the meantime, President Biden with a stern warning for Russia's Vladimir Putin this weekend in case he's even thinking of using chemical or nuclear weapons in Ukraine. The president spoke to "60 Minutes" which airs this weekend. Here's a clip.


SCOTT PELLEY, HOST, "60 MINUTES": As Ukraine succeeds on the battlefield, Vladimir Putin is becoming embarrassed and pushed into a corner. And I wonder, Mr. President, what you would say to him if he is considering using chemical or tactical nuclear weapons.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Don't. Don't. Don't. It would change the face of war unlike anything since World War II.

PELLEY: And the consequences of that would be what? What would the U.S. response be?

BIDEN: You think I would tell you if I knew exactly what it would be? Of course I'm not going to tell you. It will be consequential. They'll become more of a pariah in the world than they ever have been, independent to the extent of what they do will determine what response would occur.


ACOSTA: Biden's strong message there comes as the war in Ukraine is seemingly at a turning point. A Ukraine counteroffensive has forced Russian troops back and liberated large swaths of the country that Russia invaded and occupied six months ago.

But the recovery of territory is leading to some disturbing discoveries like this mass burial site in the city of Izium. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says some of the bodies they found there show signs of torture. All of that coming as Vladimir Putin faces growing dissent inside of his own country and the Russian military suffers mounting problems on the battlefield.

CNN's Matthew Chance has a look at that.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Ukraine's gain, here set to dramatic music by their own troops, is increasing Putin's loss. Russia's stunning military setbacks stirring broad public criticism at home which shocked military hard-liners voicing anger --


CHANCE: -- like dozens of elected politicians, too, signing an official petition offered by this local councilor demanding President Putin be impeached.

The Russians have offered to pay fines for speaking out, even to hide him, he told me, if the Kremlin tries to put him in jail.

DMITRY PALYUGA, RUSSIAN COUNCILOR: Well, obviously Russian army is being destroyed right now. So we'll lose people. We'll lose weapons, and we'll lose our ability to defend.

CHANCE: that fact that the Russian army is suffering these setbacks, that is fueling anger, isn't it, not just amongst liberal aspects of Russian society but also amongst hardliners, as well. They're furious.

PALYUGA: Yes. Actually pro war activists, they are now really feel betrayed, and there is a point where both liberal group of people and that pro-war group of people can have the same goal.

CHANCE: Unlike these early antiwar protesters in Moscow back in February, hardliners complain of Russia being too soft on Ukraine and sending woefully underprepared troops into battle. But it's the heavy price Russia is paying where there may be common cause.



CHANCE: And why another Russian councilor has filed a second petition calling for Putin to resign. The Kremlin strongman, she told me, is depriving Russians of a future.

KSENIA THORSTROM, RUSSIAN COUNCILOR: Russians become poor. They are not welcome anywhere. There is less of facilities, supplies. Russia doesn't really produce anything itself. And I don't know what future can be for the country which is isolated.

CHANCE: Can you talk to me about what impact that lack of a future is having on people that you speak to? THORSTROM: Well, it's quite depressive now, very depressive atmosphere

in Russia, and the frustration, feeling fear, anger, shame.

CHANCE: The Kremlin insists the mood of the people is still with the Russian president. The growing criticism at home and abroad may at least threaten to take the swagger out of Putin's step.

Matthew Chance, CNN -- London.


ACOSTA: For more on this let's speak with retired general, CNN military analyst Wesley Clark. General Clark, former NATO commander and former Supreme Allied Commander in Europe.

General Clark, thanks so much for being with us. You heard Matthew Chance lay out, I guess, the rising dissent in Russia right now. It appears to be growing. Your sense of this -- I mean, does this mean that Putin's grip on power may be slipping?

GEN. WESLEY CLARK, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, there's no doubt that people in Russia see that -- some people in Russia see that the war's not going the way Putin's described it. There's always been a lot of distrust by ordinary Russians of the media because it's controlled by the state. But that's a long way from saying Russia is a democracy and he's likely to be impeached and thrown out of power.

Whatever happens is going to happen on the inside. We probably won't have any indication of it. And Putin has been aware of the threat for a long, long time. The last year he's taken extraordinary measures with his personal security, all these autocrats understand that the only way they're going to really be overthrown is by somebody close to them.

So they eliminate anyone who's close to him who might be a threat in terms of bodyguards, assistants, cabinet ministers, prime ministers, and then make sure everybody's in the boat with him.

So I don't hold a lot of hope for the overthrow of Putin. It would be nice if it would happen, great to see him impeached. He certainly deserves it, by our standards.

But I think this is a wobble in Putin's work, and I think he's going to come back and try to figure out how to strengthen the support of what he's doing in Ukraine, try to double down in some way on the military efforts. He's certainly counting on wintertime to make it tough on the Europeans.

And in the meantime, Jim, we've got to give the Ukrainians more military assistance. We're going to keep up the momentum that's been established. They're going to run out of armored vehicles. There are artilleries that one-third of it's inoperative that we've given. They're expending a tremendous amount of ammunition, they're taking losses.

So this is not like something we can say, ok, Putin's in trouble, hands off, let's see what happens. That's not it. We have to move on a two-track program.

On one track we've got to continue to assist the Ukrainians including I think giving them more assistance.

And on the other track, it's time for the United States to tell behind the scenes our allies that we're going to go to Putin and say get out, get out, account for all the people you've abducted, pay reparations, get out. And if you don't do that, we're going to increase the military assistance we're giving to Ukrainian, and they're going -- Ukraine, and they're going to drive you out.

So I think, you know, we have the momentum with us, we have the opportunity. We've done this in the past. This is the way we worked against Slobodan Milosevic in the 1990s and we succeeded with that.

There's an opening here for the United States to take a more formal, powerful role behind the scenes. And we should be doing that more.

And with Putin's back against the wall somewhat, you know President Biden is warning him to not even think about using chemical or nuclear weapons.

You probably heard the comment that was just aired that's going to be on "60 Minutes" tomorrow night. We had a portion a few minutes ago. Do you think Putin could do something that drastic at this point?

CLARK: Maybe he could do it, but we've looked at -- (INAUDIBLE) weapons for decades, in the United States Armed Forces, they're simply not decisive. They think they'll have a tremendous shock effect, and Russia would get a big blow-back from everybody around the world for using nuclear weapons. That wouldn't be productive.


CLARK: It's not going to stop the Ukrainians from fighting. And NATO would have to become engaged more actively at that point.

ACOSTA: What would tactical be --

CLARK: Well, tactical nuclear weapons, they're simply not decisive on the battlefield. It's a political weapon. That's what it is. And we know what it is, we know what we would do afterwards. The president's not going to disclose that, but we've done a lot of looking on the inside about it.

I think Putin, he's losing in the eyes of China and India, using a nuclear weapon makes him a bigger loser.

ACOSTA: All right. General Wesley Clark. Thanks you so much for joining us, as always. Really appreciate those insights. Thanks so much.

Coming up, Governor Ron DeSantis vowing to send more migrants to Democratic cities. Were these men, women, and children misled? From all accounts that was the case, before they boarded planes to Martha's Vineyard. We'll talk about it in a few moments.




ACOSTA: This week, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis joined an escalating Republican trend of shuffling migrants, some children, around the country like pieces on a chessboard.

Dozens of Venezuelan migrants were flown to Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, on Florida's dime. But these people weren't even in Florida. They left from Texas, giving the move all the appearances of a callous political ploy.

Here's what one told CNN about the journey.


UNIDENTIFIED CNN CORRESPONDENT: There were three options," he says, "Washington, Utah, here in Massachusetts, whatever was available. The plane left and brought us here."

"When you step on American soil, you feel at ease that you're here and well protected. You lose the stress of the journey we had to go through in seven countries. Very stressful across all of Central America."


ACOSTA: Some lawyers say these migrants were misled about where the planes were going.

Massachusetts officials say they were given no advanced notice of the arrivals. And DeSantis says he's going to keep on sending more.

I'm joined by Julian Cyr, a Democratic state Senator from Massachusetts who represents Martha's Vineyard.

Senator, thank you so much for being with us.

These 50 migrants are now at a military base in Cape Cod. What happens next for them? Will they have to be relocated again? What can you tell us?

STATE SEN. JULIAN CYR (D-MA): Good to be with you.

So, yes, these 50 Venezuelan migrants are now at Joint Base Cape Cod. Joint Base Cape Cod isn't terribly far from Martha's Vineyard. It's a fair ride, maybe a 30-minute bus ride.

From the island, Cape Cod is where Massachusetts has provided shelter and sustenance to migrants in the past. There were unaccompanied minors actually during the Obama administration. Massachusetts provided care during Hurricane Katrina. Also a place where we provided shelter.

There's just significantly more resources that we can bring for these Venezuelan migrants at Joint Base Cape Cod, everything from shelter and food, but also legal assistance, health care, as well.

There were a number of dental issues particularly that members of the group had. And so it's a more robust location for us to provide services.

They all were offered the opportunity to go and went voluntarily and are getting the care and compassion they need and deserve.

ACOSTA: Did any of the local officials there receive any communication whatsoever from Florida officials giving you a heads up saying, hey, they're on their way, get ready, or were they literally just dumped off?

CYR: So there was zero notification to any officials on Martha's Vineyard or to my understanding anyone in Massachusetts. The airport received notice from the planes 20 minutes before they landed. The planes landed.

Whoever plotted this, Governor DeSantis apparently, went out of their way to employ a TV camera to be there, to document these migrants deplaning.

They arranged for vans to bring them from Martha's Vineyard airport to Martha's Vineyard community services, Human health services organization about three miles from the airport, and that is it.

Literally, the executive director of this human service organization saw 50 people walking up to their doors.

Within a matter of hours, the island, you know, pulled together a whole sheltering operation. It was pretty remarkable and incredible what folks were able to do.

There was no advanced notice of this. This was truly a ruse and political stunt.

ACOSTA: And, Senator, DeSantis is saying he's going to keep doing this. Who knows if they'll come to Martha's Vineyard -- I suppose you won't get a heads up.

To your point about, you know, the political nature of this, a DeSantis aide tweeted this photo of former President Barack Obama's Martha's Vineyard home with the message, "Seven bedrooms with 8.5 bathrooms, 6,893 square-foot house on nearly 30 acres, employment of space."

They're obviously trolling here. That's the point. What's your reaction to that?

CYR: So Governor DeSantis actually parachuted into my district this summer to raise money at a $50,000-a-person fundraiser on Nantucket. But really didn't spend time getting to know the place. Median income on Martha's Vineyard is actually $43,000 a year.

Martha's Vineyard schools, you know, one in four students, they speak a second language. Their first language is English. One in four are students of color.

So this is a much more diverse -- diverse working-class place, especially in the off season than -- than we're portrayed to be.

What you saw in Martha's Vineyard were people opening their hearts and treating -- treating individuals and families who had been manipulated and who were in some of the most-dire circumstances, literally having their liberty taken away.


One of the migrants described to me that she had felt like she had been kidnapped.

And we answered that with dignity, with respect, with pulling together a whole slew of resources. When the migrant families were departing Martha's Vineyard voluntarily to go to Joint Base Cape Cod, there were hugs, there were tears. It was quite --


ACOSTA: Senator, some are telling you -- they're telling you that they were misled, that they were tricked or hoodwinked into this?

CYR: They were misled. These speak about being in a shelter in San Antonio. Of course, these are Venezuelans who had fled the repressive regime of Maduro, would come to the United States and already interacted with and been accounted to, to federal authorities, were in a shelter in San Antonio.

Outside of a shelter, a woman approached them with promises of expedited work permits, with work, with housing, if they would travel to the sanctuary.

And essentially, they were told they were going to Boston. It was really only when the plane was landing that they were told they would be on Martha's Vineyard, a place I don't think any of them had ever heard about.

So those are real questions about government taking into custody these individuals, the deception, clearly no informed consent here. So some big legal questions should be asked of DeSantis and anyone else who's involved in this.

ACOSTA: All right. Massachusetts Senator Julian Cyr, thank you so much for your time. We appreciate it.

CYR: Good to be with you.

ACOSTA: Thank you.

Still ahead, why the Department of Justice's next move in the Mar-a- Lago documents case could set up a fight that goes all the way to the Supreme Court. That's next.



ACOSTA: The Justice Department is asking a federal appeals court to let the FBI regain access to about 100 classified documents that were taken from Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate. It's the latest turn in the legal fight over the former president's handling of government records.

More now from CNN's Jessica Schneider.


JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jim, the Justice Department filing their appeal with the 11th circuit. They're really, though, asking for limited relief.

They're telling the court that what they want is just two things that Judge Aileen Cannon refused to give them when they ruled.

First, they want to be allowed to continue their criminal investigation into classified documents unimpeded.

Meaning they want to resume using those 100 classified documents in their probe that judge cannon has said they can no longer use. They want to be able to use them in grand jury proceedings or with witnesses.

And then the second thing they're asking for is DOJ is saying they shouldn't have to turn over those classified documents to Trump's legal team or the special master in this case who's been appointed.

They're saying that the lower-court judge here was just wrong to order them to hand over this highly sensitive material all in the midst of their ongoing investigation.

And then, in a broader scale here, the Justice Department is arguing that courts really shouldn't even be stepping in here because all the documents at issue belong to the government.

They put it this way: "Allowing the government to use and review the records bearing classification markings for criminal investigative purposes would not cause any recognizable injury to plaintiff."

And then they went on to say, "That is why courts have exercised great caution before interfering through civil actions with criminal investigations or cases."

And in that last sentence, the DOJ really criticizing the lower-court judge for even stepping in here. We'll see just how quickly the 11th circuit acts.

And this is all coming as the special master review of these documents is just beginning. Judge Raymond Dearie, who's been named the special master, he has

scheduled a hearing for Tuesday at 2:00 p.m. to go over how the scheduling will work.

Since, of course, the clock is already ticking. The special master has to review 11,000 of these documents by November 30th -- Jim?


ACOSTA: And our thanks to Jessica for that.

And CNN senior legal analyst and former federal prosecutor, Elie Honig, joins us now.

Hey, Elie. Thank you so much.

How do you see this appeal process playing out? Could it go to the Supreme Court? What do you think?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: It could, Jim. This is a very narrow and strategic appeal by the Justice Department. They're not appealing the entire special master order, as Jessica said. They're sort of playing their strongest hand here, they're focusing only on those 100 classified documents.

DOJ's argument essentially is there cannot be executive privilege applicable to those 100 classified documents, and the special master should not review them.

Donald Trump's response has been, how do we know, why not have a third party come in and take a look and let's make sure.

Now the next step here is the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. That is a conservative-leaning court. Seven of the 11 active judges on that court are Republican nominees, six are Donald Trump's.

You'll get through judges picked at random to hear this. The losing side can use the review. That means all 11 judges hear it. That's up to the circuit.

If that happens, it's going to be 7-4 in favor of Republican nominees. And then whoever loses there can try to get it up to the Supreme Court.

Of course the Supreme Court doesn't have to take any case. It will be up to them.

This is really just the start of what could be a long appellate journey. I think it's a fairly even chance as to what happens at the next step. Either side is going to have further remedies.

ACOSTA: And, Elie, CNN has confirmed that, last year, Trump's former White House deputy counsel, Pat Philbin, told the National Archives that boxes of records were newspaper clippings. Philbin says that's what he was told by the former White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows. Now a Meadows spokesperson saying this, "Mr. Meadows did not

personally review the boxes at Mar-a-Lago, did not have a role in examining or verifying what was or wasn't contained within them."

What's your read in all of this?


HONIG: Well, Jim, it's all about who knew. And let's let the finger pointing begin.

Let's trace it back. This is a false statement. There were way more than newspaper clippings at Mar-a-Lago. We know that for a fact. Pat Philbin, White House lawyer, made that statement to Archives.

He's saying, I didn't come up with that. I was told by Meadows. Meadows is saying, well, I didn't know that firsthand, somebody else told me.

So the challenge here for prosecutors is going to be to follow this chain of communications all the way down. Maybe somebody's already lying in those statements that we just went through.

But they're going to have to dig in. They're going to have to see if they can flip someone on the inside or find documents.

Somebody along the chain had to know there were more than newspaper clippings and made that false statement. Whoever knowingly made the false statement could be on the hook for false statements crimes and for obstruction of justice.

ACOSTA: Yes. Elie, we saw the pictures from Mar-a-Lago, from the Justice Department. I guess that one picture that showed all the documents with bold letters "top secret" on the document. That doesn't look like a press clipping to me.

You know --

HONIG: It's yellow and red. It's bright colors. Yes.

ACOSTA: Yes. So easy, you and I could spot them.

You know, Trump went on the "Hugh Hewitt Show" and claimed that he declassified the documents, even as his own lawyers are avoiding making that assertion.

Let's listen to that.


HUGH HEWITT, HOST, "HUGH HEWITT SHOW": Mr. Patel said he witnessed you giving verbal orders to declassify the papers that ended up at Mar-a- Lago. Do you remember making those orders?

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That's correct. And not only that, I think it was other people also were there. But I have the absolute right to declassify. Absolute. A president has

that absolute right. And a lot of people aren't challenging that anymore.


ACOSTA: Elie, can you give us an absolute fact check on this?

HONIG: Three quick things, Jim. One, the president does have very broad authority to declassify.

Two, there's zero evidence that Donald Trump did exercise that authority when he was president.

Three, there's quite a bit of counter evidence that he never did actually declassify, including the 18 or so public officials who served under Trump who told CNN they never heard of any such thing, and it's an outright fabrication.

ACOSTA: All right. Elie Honig, thank you so much. Great to see you. Appreciate it.

HONIG: Thanks, Jim. You, too.

ACOSTA: Tomorrow night, Jake Tapper goes one on one with key members from the January 6th committee's investigation. That special report, "AMERICAN COUP," begins tomorrow at 9:00 p.m.

Coming up, the great Elton John with a touching tribute to a Parkland massacre victim.


SIR ELTON JOHN, SINGER/SONGWRITER: So this is for Jaime. Thank you for dancing to my song.






ACOSTA: I want to take you back to London. This is live in Westminster Hall as the United Kingdom continues to pay respects to Queen Elizabeth II. The wait is now at least 17 hours long.

This is the third day the queen is lying in state. Her funeral on Monday. President Biden is among the world leaders who have arrived in London today.

They will all be attending a reception tomorrow night at Buckingham Palace with King Charles III. Of course, we'll continue our live coverage of all of that.

Several years after cheetahs were declared extinct in India, they are back thanks to a program called "Project Cheetah."

This is India's prime minister releasing eight cheetahs into a national park earlier today, five females and three males brought to India from Namibia as part of a years-long project to bring the big cats back.

The cheetahs are now settling into their new homes. Beautiful animals there.

Now, to a touching tribute from Sir Elton John to Parkland massacre victim, Jaime Guttenberg. This was last night in Pittsburgh.


JOHN: This song is in the memory of Jaime Guttenberg, who used to dance to this song and was killed in one of the awful school massacres.

And I had an e-mail just before I went on and it really upset me to think that someone so beautiful and so young could have been killed in such an awful way.

So this is for Jaime. Thank you for dancing to my song.




ACOSTA: Beautiful song, beautiful tribute.

Jaime's father, Fred Guttenberg, a friend to this show, tweeted to Elton John before the show, noting his sister would be in the audience.

Jaime was one of the 14 students and three adults killed in a school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School back in 2018.

Guttenberg reacted to the tribute, tweeting, "I am shaking and crying watching this. And my tiny dancer, Jaime Guttenberg, is dancing in heaven. Thank you, Sir Elton John, for recognizing the horror of gun violence and honoring Jaime."

Just a beautiful, beautiful gesture there from Sir Elton John.

Now here's this week's "CNN Hero."


LARRY ABRAMS, CNN HERO: So many of us have heard about food deserts, but there are also these things called book deserts. Areas where people don't have access to books. There are pockets of poverty where they don't have them in their home,

there are no libraries.

In this forest, a little elephant is born. His name is Babar (ph).

The most important tool that they get are words and some kids grow up hearing lots and lots of words because they are read to every single night.

Kids in book deserts don't have that, so reading books help level that playing field.

Very good stuff. This was a great haul.

Giving kids books almost ensures academic success.


What we do is irrigate book deserts by pouring hundreds of thousands of books in.

First grade, you'll probably want the picture books.

Teachers are the best distributors of books that we have. We are improving lives one book at a time.


ACOSTA: And to find out more, go to

That's the news. Reporting from Washington, I'm Jim Acosta. I'll see you back tomorrow at 4:00 p.m. Eastern.

Pamela Brown takes over the CNN NEWSROOM live after a quick break.

Have a great night, everybody.