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Donald Trump Indicted on Federal Charges; British PM's interview with CNN on supporting Ukraine; Wildfires in Canada now slowing down and decreasing air quality alerts to its residents; Donald Trump Indicted In Classified Documents Probe; Syrian Asylum- Seeker Accused Stabbing Four Toddlers And Two Adults At A Playground In French Alps Town; Asiana Plane Hero Speaks To CNN. Aired 2-2:45a ET
Aired June 09, 2023 - 02:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to all of you watching us around the world. I'm Kim Brunhuber.
Ahead on "CNN Newsroom." For the first time in US history, a former president faces federal charges. We'll look at Donald Trump's indictment and what it means as he seeks reelection. Also --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RISHI SUNAK, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: It's right that we stand up to unprovoked illegal aggression. We do it together. That's what the U.S. and the U.K. do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRUNHUBER: CNN speaks exclusively with the British Prime Minister about their partnership with the U.S. in supporting Ukraine. All this as Russian artillery fire hampers rescue efforts from a devastating dam collapse.
Donald Trump says he's an innocent man who did nothing wrong. But the U.S. Justice Department has a much different view that puts the former president in serious legal jeopardy. They've indicted Trump on seven counts related to his alleged mishandling of classified documents after he left the White House.
Trump attorney Jim Trussi says the charges fall under the Espionage Act and include conspiracy, obstruction of justice, destruction or falsification of records and false statements. Prosecutors previously claimed documents were likely concealed or removed from a Mar-a-Lago storage room as part of an effort to obstruct the FBI investigation. Trump says on social media he's been summoned to appear at the federal courthouse in Miami on Tuesday afternoon. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: It's called election interference. They're trying to destroy a reputation so they can win an election. That's just as bad as doing any of the other things that have been done over the last number of years. I'm an innocent man. I did nothing wrong. I'm innocent, and we will prove that very, very soundly and hopefully very quickly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRUNHUBER: Now, Trump was at his golf resort in Bedminster, New Jersey when he was informed of the indictment. And that's where we find CNN's Alayna Treene.
ALAYNA TREENE, CNN REPORTER: Former President Donald Trump was indicted Thursday night in the special counsel's investigation into the alleged mishandling of classified documents. Sources familiar with the indictment tell CNN.
And this is really a stunning development in the classified documents case. It's the first time that a current or former president has faced federal charges. Now, Trump has been charged, we're told, with seven counts in the indictment, and one of those counts is a conspiracy charge, a source tells CNN.
The special counsel has been investigating Donald Trump's handling of classified documents ever since some of these classified documents were found in his possession at his Mar-a-Lago Resort in Florida.
Now, the former president wrote on Truth Social, Thursday evening that he's expected to appear at a federal courthouse in Miami at Tuesday at 3 pm. We also told that, you know, here at Bedminster, we're very nearby to where the president is, and he's huddling with some of his aides.
He's feeling emboldened by this news. That is his first reaction to this. He's thinking that, you know, potentially this could have a political boost for his reelection campaign. But other advisors of his say that there are some concerns and reservations about how this could affect Donald Trump in the long term and affect his reelection campaign. Now, the special counsel, Jack Smith, was appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland, seven months ago, to look into this case once they learned that there were still classified documents in Donald Trump's possession, but also once it was clear that Donald Trump was running for reelection again.
Alayna Treene, CNN, Bedmnister, New Jersey.
BRUNHUBER: Now, The White House is keeping its distance from the indictment with one official saying they learned about it from news reports. Reporters asked President Biden about the possibility of charges against Trump earlier in the day. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNKNOWN: Mr. President, Mr. President.
JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: I'm sorry. It's a bunch of malarkey.
UNKNOWN: Mr. President, what do you say to Americans to convince them that they should trust the independence and fairness of the Justice Department when your predecessor, Donald Trump, repeatedly attacks them?
BIDEN: Because you notice I have never once, not one single time, suggested to the Justice Department what they should do or not do, or else I'm bringing a charge and I'll bring a charge. I'm honest.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRUNHUBER: Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is defending Trump, tweeting, quote, "Today is indeed a dark day for the United States of America. It is unconscionable for a president to indict the leading candidate opposing him." Now we have to point out Joe Biden didn't indict Trump, the U.S. Justice Department did.
All right. Ron Brownstein is CNN's senior political analyst and the senior editor for "The Atlantic" and he joins me now from Los Angeles. Thanks so much for being here with us, Ron. So, you know, always talking about -- we're always talking about how unprecedented all of these developments around Donald Trump are. Just want to get your reaction to this new first
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Yeah, look, I mean, you know, in some ways it is a day that has been a long time in coming. I mean, Donald Trump has lived essentially his entire adult life in the belief that laws do not constrain him, you know, and norms do not constrain him.
And we saw a presidency that constantly pushed against the boundaries of law and custom on everything from his phone call with Ukraine to his conduct after the November election. And this appears again to be another example of where he thought he could behave in a way that simply would be unacceptable for anyone else and ultimately the Justice Department has called him on it and now he will have to defend his actions in a court of law.
BRUNHUBER: All right. So we just played the reaction from Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. What do you make of the reaction from congressional Republicans and particularly Republican leadership?
BROWNSTEIN: Yeah, look, they have painted themselves into this corner long ago. I mean, they have had many opportunities over the course of the last, what is it, eight years now to separate themselves from Trump, and each time they have chosen to double down on their association with them.
So there's nothing surprising about them doing this. But they are creating a, I think, the unanimity of Republican leaders is creating a condition in which the message that's going out to Republican voters is that any concern about Trump's behavior, any sign of breaking from him is an act of disloyalty to the party.
Even his other rivals in the '24 race are sending that basic message. And it makes it very hard, I think, for anyone in the party then to argue that they shouldn't nominate him, because I think many Republican voters will view picking anyone else as in essence giving in, surrendering to this weaponization of the Justice Department.
Again, it's just another marker of the way in which they are lashing themselves to him preemptively before they know the facts and before they know what else may be coming from other indictments on other Investigations as well.
BRUNHUBER: But on those candidates, I mean there hasn't really been you know, unanimity exactly There have been different reactions from the -- from the presidential candidates. We had a call for Trump to end his campaign. We've had attacks on the Justice Department. I mean, how do you think those Republican nominees will stick handle this going forward?
BROWNSTEIN: Yeah, the one who called for him to end his campaign, Asa Hutchinson, has been firm on these points all the way through. He's polling at less than 1 percent. I mean, Ron DeSantis, who is his principal rival, you know, went out and mostly attacked the Justice Department about, you know, the weaponization.
There will be Mike Pence, who in his announcement speech yesterday was probably stronger than he had been at any point Trump was unfit to be president again, nonetheless, and his CNN Town Hall said the Justice Department should not indict him and that he would support him if he was the nominee, which is kind of a, you know, internally incoherent position.
I think it is going to be challenging for anyone near the center of the race to make the case that Trump is showing himself to be unfit, either to be the president, you know, on a moral ground or even that he could win a general election, given the chorus that's developing in the party. You probably saw that one prominent conservative tweeted tonight that all of the other Republicans should suspend their campaign and go down to Miami to demonstrate solidarity with Trump.
I don't think they're gonna do that, but it shows you the environment in which they are operating, in which making the case to voters that they should move beyond Trump is somehow now seen as, you know, conceding to the Democrats, despite whatever doubts they may have about his ability to win a general election.
And by the way, there is no there is no world in which this is beneficial to Trump in winning a general election. It may help him win a nomination, but the polling is very clear that outside the Republican Coalition, not surprisingly, multiple criminal indictments are not a calling card to assume executive power in the Oval Office.
BRUNHUBER: Yeah, I imagine that's right. So President Biden, then I mean, it's worth pointing out, he's also being investigated for his handling of classified documents, something that the Trump team and his allies are obviously keen to point out, Mike Pence.
You mentioned him, one of one of Trump's chief rivals for the nomination as well. You know, Trump's case is obviously very different from theirs. But -- but how much does this politically allow the Trump team to sort of muddy the waters and help them claim a double standard to help sort of portray this as a witch hunt as they've been doing?
BROWNSTEIN: Yeah well look I mean that's the case that they will make to their base and, you know, the court case that he makes on all of these allegations is really the same. It said they're going after me because they really want to silence you.
And there is a piece of the Republican base that clearly buys that argument but it is a much less persuasive argument outside of that of that Trump or I keep going back to this poll result that Marist College got in their national poll for NPR and PBS a few weeks ago, 63 percent of Republicans said they would want a second Trump presidency, even if he is convicted of a crime.
But 75 percent of independents said they wouldn't. 75 percent of people under 45. 75 percent of people of color and 81 percent of white college graduates said they would not want a second Trump term if he is convicted of a crime.
And that is the conundrum that Republicans are in. You have to say that the way the party is reacting to this does in fact mean that it strengthens his ability to win the nomination. But I think there's no question it further complicates his ability to win a general election.
BRUNHUBER: Yeah, it is surprising. All right, listen, we'll talk again very soon, Ron Brownstein in Los Angeles. Thanks so much.
BROWNSTEIN: Thanks for having me.
BRUNHUBER: All right, still ahead, clouds of wildfire smoke have been choking much of the U.S. and Canada for days now, but there is relief on the horizon.
Plus British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak sits down with CNN's Katlan Collins for a wide-ranging, exclusive interview. about Ukraine when we come back. Please stay with us.
BRUNHUBER: Air quality levels are slowly improving across the U.S. Northeast and Midwest as smoke from Canadian wildfires begins to dissipate. There are now roughly 50 million people under air quality alerts, down from 75 million Wednesday and Thursday.
Hundreds of firefighters from around the world have been arriving in Canada to help combat what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has described as the worst fire season the country has ever seen. [02:15:02]
Smoke from more than 400 wildfires has been making it difficult to breathe for millions of people and triggered air quality warnings across states and provinces.
CNN's Miguel Marquez has the latest from New York.
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN SR. NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): New York City bathed for another day in hazardous smoke.
UNKNOWN: I can feel it. I can't feel it.
MARQUEZ: What do you feel?
UNKNOWN: I can feel a little harshness in my throat.
MARQUEZ (voice-over): The smoky and shocking transformation of the city from a bright June day to a sickly looking orange. All of it from smoke, from enormous fires burning hundreds of miles away.
KATHY HOCUL, NEW YORK GOVERNOR: This is an extraordinary event. It's unprecedented in terms of the source of the air contaminants that we're experiencing right now.
MARQUEZ (voice-over): The noxious plume extending its reach, Washington's monuments shrouded in smoke. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in a haze.
The fires burning in Canada numbering in the hundreds. Weather patterns pushing the smoke south, trapping it there.
Air quality from the fires fell as far west as Wyoming and reaching deep into the American south from Louisiana to Georgia.
For a second day, Major League Baseball games postpone, this time the Washington Nationals. Horses at Belmont just days before the big race won't be taking to the track. The heavy smoke reducing visibility and interrupting flights in Philadelphia.
The U.S. now offering Canada all available federal firefighting assets to help contain the fires.
BIDEN: We already have 600 American firefighters on the ground and been there for a while in Canada, including hot shots and the smoke jumper crews.
MARQUEZ (voice-over): The effects of the smoke from mild coughing and headaches to serious shortness of breath and asthma attacks. Those caught in it? adapting.
UNKNOWN: Just the air just looks very dangerous out here. So just wanted to do something to, you know, I guess keep it in line. Try to mitigate it. Yeah, exactly. MARQUEZ (on-camera):So I want to give you a sense of what conditions
are right now in New York City. That's the Statue of Liberty out there in the harbor. You can see that haze. That's not moisture in the air. It's not fog. It's not dust. That is smoke still. This haze from the smoke, these massive fires.
It is still affecting other parts of the country. We -- officials tell us that in the next 24 hours here in the New York area at least it will improve and then it'll take a little longer for other parts of the country but those massive fires, as hundreds of fires in Canada still need to be brought under control. Back to you.
BRUNHUBER: Three days after the collapse of a major dam in southern Ukraine, officials there say more than 500 people, including 28 children, have been rescued from the rising floodwaters. And all the while, artillery shells continue to target the area.
President Zelenskyy surveyed the discretion firsthand on Thursday and said rescue efforts were non-stop to reach as many stranded people as possible. In his nightly address, Zelensky had harsh words for Russia's leader. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): This man-made disaster at the Novokovka hydroelectric plant is not a natural disaster or a manifestation of the climate crisis. The disaster is Putin. What he does, what he personally orders to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRUNHUBER: Meanwhile, Russia's military claims its forces were engaged in a major battle early Thursday in the Zaporizhzhya region. We get more from CNN's Fred Pleitgen.
FRED PLEITGEN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Breaking news on Kremlin-controlled TV claiming Moscow's forces are facing massive attacks in southern Ukraine.
OLGA SKABEEVA, RUSSIAN STATE TV ANCHOR (through translator): Ukrainian forces attacked with NATO tanks and light armored vehicles. Our army has fought off these attacks.
PLEITGEN (voice-over): Russia's defense ministry releasing aerial videos like this one allegedly showing their forces targeting advancing Ukrainian formations in the Zaporizhzhya region. Moscow also claims to have taken out a modern Western anti-aircraft radar system close to the front line.
On a visit to an arms depot, Russia's defense minister urging faster weapons deliveries.
The enemy tried to advance today, he says, so this equipment is needed. Let's hurry up.
While the Ukrainians have not confirmed offensive operations and CNN can't independently verify the specific Russian claims, U.S. officials have told CNN the Russians are putting up stiff resistance.
Ukraine's leadership says they understand their counteroffensive will be long and tough and they'll need lots of armor to penetrate Russia's defenses.
They showed us this repair and modification shop where they fix up mostly vehicles captured from the Russians including this modern troop transporter.
(on-camera): Even with all the Western equipment that the Ukrainians have already received, they still have a lot less than the Russians do. That's why every tank and every armored vehicle that they can get back on the battlefield will be vital for Ukraine's war effort.
(voice-over): That includes even seemingly destroyed vehicles like this blown up armored personnel carrier, the project manager tells me.
UNKNOWN: All this we can restore and return to the units.
PLEITGEN (voice-over): Further along the southern front line, the situation in the areas flooded by the recent destruction of a major dam is deteriorating.
Ukraine and Russia accusing each other of targeting operations to rescue flood victims. Ukraine's chief rabbi, dodging for cover as shells rained down.
MOSHE AZMAN, CHIEF RABBI OF UKRAINE: To bring people here from over the river and the Russian tear --
PLEITGEN: (voice-over): The Ukrainians say several people were wounded in Herson as the authorities continue to fight to bring those stranded to safety.
Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine.
BRUNHUBER: The war on Ukraine was top of mind for U.S. President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak during their meeting at the White House on Thursday. Both leaders emphasized their continued support for the devastated country.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: The fact of the matter is that I believe we'll have the funding necessary to support Ukraine as long as it takes. SUNAK: I think it sends a strong signal to him that there is no point
trying to wait us out. We're not going anywhere. We will be here for as long as it takes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRUNHUBER: Now, moments after a meeting with President Biden at the White House, Sunak sat down for an exclusive interview with CNN's Kaitlan Collins. He talked about the ongoing support for Ukraine from the U.S., the U.K., and other allies. And he says they're gathering evidence to make sure whoever is responsible for the destruction of the dam is held accountable. Listen to this.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF CORRESPONDENT: What's happening right now and that everyone is tracking so closely is this dam and on the front lines it has collapsed. Does your government believe that Russia is behind that?
SUNAK: I think it's too early to definitively assay and our military and security services are working through that as are the U.S. But if it does prove to be an intentional attack by the Russians, it would fit a pattern of behavior that we've seen throughout this war, which is Russia's deliberate targeting of civilian infrastructure.
COLLINS: If you determine it is. Russia, will there be repercussions?
SUNAK: Well, we are already supporting efforts to hold those responsible for war crimes accountable. The U.K., working together with other allies, is putting resources, funding, gathering evidence. And it's right that those who commit these appalling crimes are brought to justice and held accountable. We'll play our part in doing that.
But also just continuing to support Ukraine in the way that we are proud to have played a leadership role on providing the military support alongside the U.S., who have obviously played a very significant role. That's what we should be doing, because these values are universal, and it's right that we stand up to unprovoked illegal aggression. We do it together. That's what the U.S. and the U.K. do.
COLLINS: And a lot of what that, what the U.S. and the U.K. have provided, in addition to other countries, is to help with the counteroffensive that is expected. Do you believe this counteroffensive is Ukraine's best shot at winning this war?
SUNAK: Yeah, I think the first thing to say is, in one sense, Ukraine has been engaged in a counteroffensive for over a year. And remember that thing back a year, people thought this would be over in days or weeks. But I think Russia completely miscalculated, and the Ukrainians have been incredible in their bravery, their resilience.
They've now recaptured almost half the territory that Russia originally seized, so that speaks to their success already. But I think they can be even more successful, and they are doing that with the support of America, U.K., and other allies. And I think there's every chance of strong progress on the battlefield.
COLLINS: Do you think that's what this counteroffensive all look like?
SUNAK: Look, I think, without commenting too much on the details of it, you know, Ukraine rightly wants to recapture territory which has been taken from it. And they've been given an enormous amount of support by the U.K., the U.S. and other allies in the form of heavy tanks, long-range weapons, training of their soldiers. All of that is going to help.
But fundamentally, we have to remember Russia started this war. It's illegal. It's unprovoked. They are responsible for awful acts of aggression against innocent civilians. And it's right that we stand together with Ukraine, provide them with the support they need so that they can defend their homeland and their people.
COLLINS: You mentioned those long-range missiles. Your country is the first one to give them to Ukraine. How effective do you think they've been so far? And are you concerned about how Putin will respond if Ukraine uses them to strike into Russia?
SUNAK: I think what we've provided are called storm shadow. They're a longer range weapon, and that's because the battlefield has evolved and it's important that Ukraine has the resources it needs to defend itself and to make sure that the counteroffensive is successful.
And I think they can make a difference, and they are making a difference on the battlefield. And when it comes to retaliation, we have to remember nothing that Ukraine or the West or NATO did the cause this war, this war was just an act of unprovoked illegal aggression on Russia's part. And we can't ever forget that. There is just one culpable party here.
You know, our job is to support Ukraine to defend its country, to ensure and protect its territorial integrity. That's what the U.N. Charter's all about. It talks about territorial integrity. Russia has violated Ukraine's territorial integrity, and it has every right to defend itself and to have that territory back, and it's right that we're supporting them to do that.
COLLINS: So would it be appropriate then if Ukraine used those long- range missiles to strike into Russia since Russia is striking into Ukraine?
SUNAK: No, I mean, I think what Ukraine is first and foremost interested in doing is recapturing territory that is theirs, that it's their own country that has been invaded by Russia, and it's that territory that rightfully belongs to Ukraine, and they are going about trying to liberate it. I think that's entirely right and proper, and it's important that we support them in that quest.
COLLINS: Would it be helpful if the U.S. also provided long-range weapons to Ukraine? They'd certainly want them. SUNAK: I think it's important for actually me sitting here to say
thank you. Thank you to the American people for the incredible support of Ukraine. Once again, America has stepped in to defend values that we hold dear, doing that on the European continent. I'm very grateful to America for that support.
And you know, much as the U.K. has played a leadership role as your kind to acknowledge, I acknowledge very clearly that it's the U.S. that is the decisive difference in terms of the volume and scale of support that it provides. And we're very fortunate for that. It is making a difference. And lots of different countries have come together to support Ukraine.
And I think that is actually very positive, because it reminds us that security is indivisible, whether in Europe, the Atlantic, or indeed the Pacific, countries like Japan, who are changing their approach to defense spending, providing support in different ways to Ukraine.
I think that speaks to the fact that allies around the world believe that the values that we hold dear: freedom, democracy, the rule of law, are values that we need to defend when they're threatened.
BRUNHUBER: And next hour, you'll hear more of Kaitlan Collins' exclusive interview with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, including his views on the challenge China poses.
All right, when we come back, the next steps in the classified documents case against Donald Trump, the first former U.S. president to face federal charges. Stay with us.
KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR: And welcome back to all of you watching us around the world. I'm Kim Brunhuber. This is CNN NEWSROOM.
Donald Trump is remaining defiant in the face of his biggest legal threat so far. A source tells CNN that he and his advisers are "very jacked up and ready to fight back." That is after Trump became the first former U.S. president to face federal charges.
He was indicted Thursday in the special counsel's investigation into the alleged mishandling of classified materials. Trump's attorney called the charges "garbage," and confirmed the former president will show up to court on Tuesday.
Joining me now, John Dean is a CNN contributor and former White House counsel under President Nixon. He is with us from Los Angeles. thank you for being here with us. So, first, just -- you know, your reaction to these historic developments. JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, my first reaction was that I was surprised to the Department of Justice had not been more aggressive in announcing rather than letting Mr. Trump take the narrative and frame it as he wanted. But then I realized that he technically was not indicted today. What happened is that they issued a summons for him to come into court on Tuesday of next week and that is when they'll issue the former indictment. So, we don't really know the contents of the indictment. We just know that just a bit from the summons.
BRUNHUBER: Yes, that's right. Still, so many unknown things about the charges. But what do you make of them? Do the charges sort of match the facts we have heard so far, including the latest revelations on the -- on that tape of Trump's own comments about holding onto classified material?
DEAN: We do know that they appear based on the summons to track pretty well the misbehavior that has been reported in the press. That the possible of obstructions of justice. That he has been involved in a conspiracy. That he might have witnessed tempered.
There are a host of some seven counts that are alleged at this point that or rumored if you will because we haven't -- no one in -- the indictment is sealed still. But the summons indicates that's -- it's pretty much parallels of what we publicly know about his misbehavior.
BRUNHUBER: So far, Donald Trump has received plenty of support from Republicans. I want to play comments from former Vice President Mike Pence who will be challenging Trump for the Republican nomination. So, here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And if the Department of Justice chooses to move forward with an indictment, I would hope that it would meet the very high threshold for the unprecedented action of a federal indictment against the former president of the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRUNHUBER: So -- I mean my question is, is he right or is it naive to say that it should be the same threshold for everyone?
DEAN: Well, I think he is right in the fact that it would be very key need to go out and indict a former president on a weak case. So, I suspect that the case they have built is very strong. We have a very good prosecutor who has a lot of experience with public integrity, tight on crime.
And so I think that probably they have built a very strong case which would as I say there is as -- well, a former president should be treated as subject to the law and not get extra treatment. You do not want to blow either. You -- (INAUDIBLE) go out and make your case because he indeed appears to have violated the law fairly blatantly.
BRUNHUBER: You know, Trump himself, said it was a dark day for America. How big of a test is this for the nation and for the justice system?
DEAN: Well, it's a real test because Trump is, I'm convinced running for president again as his best defense against the criminal charges he faces.
He faces charges in Brooklyn -- or excuse me, in New York City from the New York D.A. He now faces these federal charges from the special counsel. There is another case on January six that is being investigated. And there is a case in Georgia by a Fulton County district attorney who is quite progressed in her investigation. So, he's got a lot of problems ahead of him. And this is just one of several cases that are coming down it appears.
BRUNHUBER: Yes, a lot of problems. And you reference the presidential election which looms large. So, if you were to be convicted on federal charges, big if, obviously. But would he be barred from running for office?
DEAN: No. Well, there are provisions in some of the statutes that might be employed that would preclude somebody from holding office. It has never been tested at the level of the presidency because the Constitution does not say a former -- somebody convicted of a felony or misdemeanor cannot hold the highest office in the land. So, there is debate in the scholarly legal community as to whether or not that would really bar any president from holding the office.
We've had other presidents have tried it -- or candidates have tried it. Eugene Debs decades ago in the 1920s ran from prison and mustered a million votes back then. So, this is -- I don't think it would bar him from office is the short answer.
BRUNHUBER: Yes. Presumably with all of the challenges and you know appeals, if there were any, it would -- it would take quite some time to unfold. So, it might be moot anyway. Listen, so many questions are still to be answered. Thank you so much for your expertise, John Dean. I really appreciate it.
DEAN: Thank you.
BRUNHUBER: All right, still to come. The passenger being hailed as the hero of the Asiana Flight incident last month tells CNN he thought he was going to die. His next story -- his story, coming up. Next.
BRUNHUBER: Pope Francis had a full day of rest Thursday after abdominal surgery to repair a hernia. The Vatican says the pontiff is alert and recovering well in the hospital and routine postoperative exams are positive. A Vatican spokesman says that the pope thanks to the public for the outpouring of good wishes and ask for continued prayers. Sources say that his surgery was likely connected to a prior surgery in 2021 which removed half of the pope's colon.
A heart-wrenching story out of France where four toddlers and two adults were stabbed at a Lake-town in the Alps. All of the toddlers were hospitalized. The youngest is just 22 months old.
The French president says the nation is in shock. And he slammed the "absolute cowardice of the attack." Emmanuel Macron's office announced that he will travel to the town to visit the victims and their families later today.
The suspect, a Syrian asylum-seeker is in custody. He was seen entering a playground with a knife and going after children in their strollers. Local prosecutors said that he was not under the influence of alcohol or drugs and there is no apparent terrorist motive.
The man being hailed as a hero of the Asiana Flight incident last month says that he thought he was going to die. In late May, a passenger opened the emergency exit door on a plane just as it was landing on its approach in South Korea. The plane's hero spoke with CNN's Paula Hancocks.
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): It turned into the flight from hell. An Asiana passenger allegedly opened the emergency exit door a couple of minutes before the airplane was about to land in South Korea. The man sitting next to him, seen here in red trousers, tells CNN he thought he was going to die.
LEE YOON-JUN, ASIANA AIRLINES PASSENGER (through translator): In disaster movies, everyone always seems to die when a door opens in the air. I wondered what I had done wrong in my life. It was just a fleeting moment, but I had so many thoughts.
HANCOCKS (voiceover): Lee Yoon-jun says he didn't see the man opening the door and initially assumed it was a technical malfunction.
LEE (through translator): The wind would sting my legs and hit my face so hard I couldn't even breathe properly.
HANCOCKS: What was the man next to you doing?
LEE (through translator): He didn't say anything. We were both trembling with fear. He seemed tense. When I looked down, I noticed his feet swaying in the wind.
HANCOCKS (voiceover): The police arrested the man in his 30's at Daegu airport after the plane landed safely. He told them that he felt suffocated and wanted to get off the plane quickly, adding he had been under a lot of stress after losing his job, according to police.
LEE (through translator): From the moment he boarded the plane, he'd looked pale and gave off of a bad vibe. He appeared somewhat dark, constantly fidgeting, looking around at people, and acting strangely.
HANCOCKS (voiceover): Asiana says it has stopped sealing certain emergency exit seats for safety reasons. An investigation is underway to find out how the door was able to be opened 700 feet on the ground. As soon as the wheels' down, Lee said the passenger appeared to try and jump from the fast-moving plane.
LEE (through translator): I heard the sound of someone next to me undoing his seatbelt. I realized he was leaning towards the exit. The flight attendant then shouted asking for help so I just grabbed him.
HANCOCKS (voiceover): Lee was helped by other passengers and flight attendants and is amused that he is being hailed as a hero.
LEE (through translator): I'm enjoying it. I suddenly became a temporary celebrity.
HANCOCKS (voiceover): Lee feels he's been given a second chance at life, and he is determined to enjoy it. Paula Hancocks, CNN, Seoul.
BRUNHUBER: And finally, before we go, the alert level for Hawaii's Kilauea volcano has been lowered from a warning to a watch. Now, have a look. these are live pictures right now.
Eruptions are confined to the crater within Kilauea's summit caldera. The Hawaiian volcano observatory said there was a six-meter rise of lava on the crater floor, but the level has now decreased by two meters. More eruptions are expected to continue.
I'm Kim Brunhuber. I'll be back at the top of the hour for more CNN NEWSROOM. "WORLD SPORT" is next.