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CNN Tonight

Russian Generals Accuse Wagner Leader Of Attempting Coup, Reports Russia Sends Armed Vehicles Into Streets Of Moscow; Wagner's Prigozhin Vows Retaliation After Accusing Russian Military Of Bombing His Forces; U.S. Intel Has Long Assessed Power Struggle Between Wagner Group's Prigozhin And Russian Government; U.S. Coast Guard To Lead The Submersible Implosion Investigation; Special Counsel Asks To Move Mar- A-Lago Documents Case Trial To December; Russian Generals Accusing Mercenary Leader Of Coup Attempt. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired June 23, 2023 - 22:00   ET



REP. NANCY MACE (R-SC): I have more questions than answers and I would welcome anyone from the DOJ or the FBI to come to the Hill, and even if it's in the closed-door setting, answer some of the questions that we have. Because some of this evidence has been corroborated not only in the 1023 documentation but then it's been corroborated in emails and other investigations. And when you put it all together, there's a lot of smoke. When there's smoke, there's fire sometimes, Kaitlan. And they ought to be investigated to the fullest extent of the law.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Well, you say corroborated. I mean, there are still questions about these allegations. They have not been confirmed but they are still being investigated.

MACE: Well, for example --

COLLINS: But you do want David Weiss to come and testify?

MACE: Yes, I would like that. But, for example, in the 1023 form, there was a payoff alleged about $5 million from Ukraine. There were also emails in Hunter Biden's laptop that also potentially corroborated that $5 million payment. So, that's why I'm saying that this ought to be investigated, and we're going to follow the facts where they lead us.

COLLINS: Yes. I just think the keyword there is alleged, and, of course, a reminder, this was a Trump-appointed U.S. attorney handling this investigation. We'll see if he comes to the Hill. Merrick Garland says he'll respond to that.

Congresswoman Nancy Mace, thank you for your time tonight.

MACE: Thank you.

COLLINS: And the news continues as we're tracking major developments out of Russia. CNN TONIGHT with Alisyn Camerota starts right now.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. I'm Alisyn Camerota. Welcome to CNN TONIGHT.

We have breaking news on a chaotic situation in Russia. There are reports of military vehicles on the streets in Moscow right now. The Russian military is accusing the head of the mercenary Wagner Group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, of calling for an armed coup in Russia. Prigozhin is vowing violent retaliation for what he says was a deadly attack by Russian forces that killed a huge amount of his mercenaries.

President Biden has been briefed on this situation. We're told national security officials at the White House are closely watching developments and not weighing in until they have a clearer sense of what exactly is happening.

Let's go right now to CNN's Senior International Correspondent Matthew Chance in Kyiv. Matthew?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alisyn, tensions between Yevgeny Prigozhin and the Russian Defense Ministry are finally coming to a head with the Wagner leader threatening to attack Russian troops in retaliation for what he says was a deadly strike against his own paramilitary forces.

In extraordinary developments tonight, the Russian security services are accusing Prigozhin of starting a coup attempt and have launched a criminal prosecution against him. It could eventually see him jailed in what would be a dramatic fall from grace of one of the country's most prominent and outspoken figures.

For months, Prigozhin has been lambasting Russia's high command for its handling of the Ukraine war, routinely accusing the defense minister and the country's defense chief of incompetence.

In the hours before the alleged attack on the Wagner camp, prigozhin posted more comments on social media accusing the defense ministry of deceiving President Putin about the threat posed by Ukraine ahead of his February 2022 invasion. He also questioned Russia's invasion motives for the war.

Now, Moscow has been placed on high alert and Prigozhin has said there's going to be a march for justice against Russian officials he said were responsible for attacking Wagner, while his mercenary forces are said to be now entering the southern Russian region of Rostov. Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: Okay. Matthew Chance, thank you very much for the update.

Oren Liebermann is live for us at the Pentagon right now. Okay. So, Oren, to help us understand what's happening, we've heard some reports there are Russian tanks or armored vehicles in the streets of Moscow. Does the Pentagon know what's happening at this hour?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: We certainly see these videos that are being put out by Reuters and by others. So, it's clear that this is happening. The question is, what exactly does it mean and how far does this go? And that's where the Pentagon at least has not indicated to us exactly what they believe is the sort of process of events that they expect to play out, and that's because it's so difficult to know right now. We have spoken with U.S. officials who tell us they're watching this very closely.

And as Matthew Chance pointed out, for months, the U.S. has watched Yevgeny Prigozhin as he's tried to build his power base and essentially expand his influence, not only with Russian President Vladimir Putin, but with the Kremlin.

But this is obviously a dramatic change of events here, the U.S. watching this very closely, even if there isn't a precise picture of exactly what's happening on the street at this point.

CAMEROTA: Yes. So, Oren, Prigozhin posted this video that we have to social media that he says right here shows that the Wagner camp was hit by a Russian military strike. Other than this video, is there any evidence of that Russian attack on Prigozhin's troops?

LIEBERMANN: Not that we're aware of, and that's part what was makes this so difficult to know what's happening there. You have essentially three different bases of power. There are more but three big ones. And that's Yevgeny Prigozhin himself and his Wagner mercenary group, you have Russia and its state media, and you have the Russian Ministry of Defense.


Unfortunately, none of those are reliable sources of information, especially not at a time like this. Prigozhin himself has lied and exaggerated and contorted. Russian state media, as we've seen over course of the past year-and-a-half or more has put out essentially its own narrative and version of events. And the Russian Ministry of Defense has barely put out any reliable information on Ukraine.

So, it's incredibly difficult to try to parse through all of this and understand exactly what's happening, if what Prigozhin is using as his sort of reason to act here really happened or if he just essentially created it and fabricated it as a justification for himself.

CAMEROTA: Oren, as you know, Prigozhin is vowing retaliation for that attack that he says happened. Is there evidence that he is actually mobilizing a coup right now?

LIEBERMANN: I think in one of his statements, he denied he's trying to carry out a coup, and he hasn't, at least in the statements that I've seen, said, hey, I'm going all the way to Moscow and I'm aiming at the Kremlin. At least according to the statements he's put out, he is in, as Matthew Chance pointed out, Rostov, which is essentially a region just southeast of Ukraine there. And that's what the claim is right now, how far he wants to take this, how far he's willing to go, and whether he's even where he claims he is, that's something that hopefully will become clearer in the hours ahead.

CAMEROTA: Oren Liebermann, thank you very much for being live for us with that status report.

Joining me now is CNN Military Analyst Lieutenant General Mark Hertling. General, thanks so much. I know you've been monitoring this now for a couple of hours. What is happening in Russia?

LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Alisyn, some back and forth. Matthew and Oren just elaborated on some very important factors. First of all, you can never believe what comes out of Russia. There is always an element of what they call maskirovka. It's a deception effort to fool the enemy into thinking they're doing something that they're not.

But there are also indicators. We're seeing military vehicles loggering, forming groups within Red Square. They're increasing the security around the Moscow region itself. You're also seeing on Telegram channels some firefights going on in the province of Rostov, which, as Oren just said, to the southeast and it's just over the border from Ukraine. This is where Prigozhin said he was going to go with his forces and he also said his forces were attacked by helicopters when they were in a column going into that oblast in Russia.

But Rostov is about 200 miles away from Moscow. So, you don't create a coup outside of a capital city where Putin is and holding court. But this comes at a horrible time. All afternoon long, you've seen Russian generals get on Telegram channels saying, Prigozhin, don't do what you're doing right now, it's going to be harmful to what we do.

You now see the map of Rostov outside the border of Ukraine. And, again, to the northeast of that is the capital of Moscow. It would take a long time for Prigozhin and his troops to do something within the capital city where a coup is normally formulated.

But you have all these generals, Russian generals on Telegram channels today saying, Prigozhin, don't do this, it's only going to hurt our cause. The Ukrainians are coming to our zero line, which what is they call their final defensive lines and we have control. Don't mess with them now.

The problem is with that, Alisyn, there's a whole different subset between Russian generals and what's going on in the Kremlin and what the individual soldiers are experiencing on the frontlines. But when that trust and when that command infrastructure further breaks down, as we've seen it done so many times during this war within the Russian hierarchy, it only causes more problems at the front.

So, this is a fascinating dynamic of personalities inside of Moscow and the Kremlin. How much is it going to affect the frontline? I'm not sure just yet. But I got to tell you, I'd much rather be on the Ukrainian side right now than the Russian side, because there is utter chaos and dysfunction allegedly on the Russian side, whereas the Ukrainian side is continuing with their own momentum in their offensive.

CAMEROTA: And speaking of the Kremlin, do we know Vladimir Putin's status tonight night? Is he there? Do we know who he would side with, Prigozhin or his own military generals?

HERTLING: We don't know where he is right now, and that's stoking the fires. Is he well? Is he still alive? Has he been taken under house arrest? I mean, there's all kinds of conspiracy theories going on right now. I would bet that Mr. Putin is in a very safe place, continuing to execute his duties.

The problem is, this personality dynamic, as Matthew said and as Oren said, between Prigozhin, Putin, the defense ministry's Shoigu, the general in charge of all the army, Gerasimov, all the subordinate generals, like Surovikin, and others that were on Telegram channels this evening, you know, those are the kind of personality dynamics that has only hurt Russia since the very beginning of this war.


One other thing, if I may, Alisyn. I was in Moscow in 1994, a year after the last coup where a tank actually fired on that white building of the film that you were showing, the Russian parliament. It was the last coup they had. General Surovikin, who is pleading with Prigozhin tonight, was a young lieutenant colonel in the tank unit that fired the first shot at the Russian parliament. He spent several months in jail in a gulag because of that last coup attempt. And now he's on Telegram asking for support for Mr. Putin as this continues.

CAMEROTA: That is interesting history and context, General. So, we're trying to get real information in, and as you point out, it's very hard out of Russia.

So, Russian T.V. interrupted their regularly scheduled programming to denounce Prigozhin's claims as basically unreality. So, how will the Pentagon figure out what's actually happening there tonight?

HERTLING: Well, first of all, they're not going to rely on Russian T.V. for any truth-telling. That's for sure. So, the U.S. intelligence community probably has a much better feel for what's going on certainly than we do, but I would also suggest certainly a better feel for what's going on than even Mr. Putin does.

They have intelligence human factors inside of Russia that's giving them information. They have satellite imagery of any kind of troop movements. So, if Prigozhin really is moving, we probably have a pretty good feel for that. They have what's called Mazen (ph), signals intelligence, reading their mail. So, all of these things, I think, give the best-equipped intelligence in the United States with some very accurate information of what's happening. And, by the way, great question, because I'm sure we're sharing quite a bit of that with the Ukrainian government.

CAMEROTA: If Prigozhin does do this, if this is real and Prigozhin does -- is angry enough to retaliate, who has the upper hand, the Wagner group and his fighters or the Russian military?

HARTLING: Yes, that's a great question, because the Prigozhin-Wagner Group has been fighting very well on the frontlines. They have been somewhat successful. Although as we've reported over the last few months, much of that has been a meat grinder, they've just been throwing soldiers to their deaths.

But, truthfully, the Prigozhin-Wagner Group is mostly an infantry force, in other words, dismounted soldiers. They have some conventional equipment, but they certainly don't have fighter bombers or tanks in the scale that the rest of the Russian army has. But as we've seen throughout this war, the Russian army has not fought well either and there's an increasing protest movement inside of Russia, as well as some of the groups that have attacked within Russia from the Ukrainian side.

So, I think you're seeing a Putin that perhaps is taking a lot of hits from a variety of different angles. And I wouldn't bet on either side, to be honest with you, if it was Prigozhin versus the entire Russian military, it might be an interesting fight, but I'm not sure who would come out on top. But notwithstanding that, it's going to certainly be a benefit to the Ukrainian counteroffensive.

CAMEROTA: Okay, we're going to talk about that right now. General Hertling, thank you so much for your expertise.

Let's bring in now Ambassador William Taylor, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. Ambassador, thank you so much for being here. So, of course, you know this region well. Help us understand the gravity of what we're seeing unfold here.

WILLIAM TAYLOR, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: So, Alisyn, this is very important. As General Hertling just said, it's very important in particular for the Ukrainians. Ukrainians are now wrapping up their counteroffensive. This is the perfect timing for the Ukrainians to really take advantage of this chaos in Moscow, chaos in the Russian military.

So, this is an opportunity for the Ukrainians to take advantage of that misunderstanding, not knowing, as General Hertling just said, the Russian soldiers not real sure what's going on back with their chain of command. So, this is very important development that we'll be watching carefully.

CAMEROTA: As we understand that the Kremlin is cordoned off tonight. Do you have a sense of the status of Vladimir Putin, where he would be during all of this?

TAYLOR: Probably not in the Kremlin, Alisyn, probably not there. He doesn't spend many nights in the Kremlin. He is, I'm sure, in a very safe place. He's probably watching very carefully. He should be very nervous. I mean, he's got big problems here. He's got the military that has now diverted its attention to one of its own, to Prigozhin, to the Wagner Group. So -- and, again, as General Hertling just said, Putin has got a real problem within the country.


So, this is a series of problems that he's got to deal with right now.

CAMEROTA: Putin and Prigozhin go way back, as you well know. And they were -- Prigozhin was a close confidant of Putin's. Do you have a sense of where Putin's loyalties lie, if that is even such a thing with Putin?

TAYLOR: Yes, it's a good question, does he have loyalties? I think the answer is probably no. The understanding is that Putin changes his mind, shifts his favor from one to another, to ensure that no one gets particularly powerful that could threaten him. You're right, Putin and Prigozhin go way back but not as military.

So, Prigozhin has recently come on the scene as the head of the Wagner. For a while there, he denied he was even associated with it. Now, he admits and it's clear that he's involved in this thing. And Putin has got the worry that Prigozhin is mounting a coup. They're talking about a coup, an armed coup that could threaten Putin's regime.

CAMEROTA: So, is that for real? I mean, in other words, you're saying that the Wagner Group, if Prigozhin were to go ahead with this, this armed rebellion, as he's threatening, that he could pull off a coup?

TAYLOR: He has said that he's doing a march for justice. Someone earlier said that he was conducting a coup. He said, no, no, it's not a coup. This is a march for justice.

So, yes, he is hoping to get support from other units, other military units. He's hoping to get support from the Russian people. He's hoping to get support from Russian soldiers who were disgruntled. General Hertling just described how they've been thrown into the meat grinder around Bakhmut, in Ukraine.

There are families that have lost soldiers, a lot of families, 200,000, probably more, 250,000 families who have lost their loved ones. There's discontent. And Prigozhin is undoubtedly trying to capitalize on that. So, yes, this is a potential coup.

CAMEROTA: Let's talk about that, what you just touched on, the morale in Russia, because the war -- their war effort, has been roundly criticized as a disaster. It did not go the way Vladimir Putin had intended it to. The U.S. believes there's something like 100,000, maybe more Russian troops that have been killed. What effect is that having on morale in Russia, not just in the military, but broadly in terms of support for the war in Ukraine?

TAYLOR: Alisyn, it's a good question. We don't really know. We know the kind of thing you just said, that is somewhere 100,000, even 200,000 families have lost soldiers, have lost brothers and fathers. So, that's got to be weighing on a lot of Russians.

But when you look at the polls, the polling that is done, if you can put any credence into these polls, the Russian people up until now have supported Putin. However, when he's challenged -- as you just pointed out, he's made some big mistakes militarily. He's not done well on the battlefield. If he's now got problems within his own military structure, not within his army, but within the military structures, people are going to lose confidence. People could well lose confidence. And when a dictator loses the confidence of people around him, he could be in trouble. CAMEROTA: Ambassador William Taylor, thank you very much for walking us through everything that we're trying to understand tonight in Russia.

We're going to take a very quick break. When we come back, we'll have more of our breaking news, this chaotic situation in Russia. The Kremlin Security Service accuses the Wagner Group's mercenary leader of calling for an armed rebellion. We'll have the latest.



CAMEROTA: Okay, back to our breaking news, videos appear to show armored vehicles in the streets of Moscow tonight. The Russian military accuses the head of the Wagner Group of attempting a coup.

Let's bring in former Congressman Adam Kinzinger. He was on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and is a lieutenant colonel in the Air National Guard. Congressman, thanks for being here. What's your reaction to what's unfolding in Russia tonight?

ADAM KINZINGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it's not entirely surprising only because, you know, as we've seen in Russia in the past, it always ends with like coup attempts. There's always this internal strife in Russia. While I certainly didn't expect, I don't think anybody predicted what we'd be seeing tonight, certainly, you saw Prigozhin in the lead-up being very outspoken against the Ministry of Defense.

There was kind of this expectation that maybe some of this was a game or just power politics but this has certainly gone to the next level. So, this is actually really good for Ukraine in the long run and, frankly, for the world because, regardless of what ends up happening with this, the Wagner Group is probably going to be out of action around the world.

CAMEROTA: I'm, I guess, heartened to hear you say that because chaos in Russia doesn't always sound great for the world. So, chaos in Russia where the military, whatever move is happening is precarious, you're confident that that would work out well for Ukraine and the rest of the world? KINZINGER: Well, I'm not confident of anything because it is

obviously a very tenuous situation. And there's always going to be a lot of fear whenever you hear about instability in Russia. Russia has nuclear weapons. This happens about every few years. We hear about this. But for Ukraine itself, for the war in Ukraine, this can't be anything but good.

If you think about it, Wagner is actually really a terrorist organization, quite honestly. But they took Bakhmut and basically destroyed the entire city. They've been engaged in Syria, killing innocent Syrian civilians. They've been engaged in Libya, these mining operations in Africa and all over Africa. It's a really brutal organization. But you take that combat power now away from the war in Ukraine, obviously now the Russian military has to put some of its focus elsewhere. And for the whole world now have Wagner basically be on the outs with a lot of the terrible things they're doing around the world, I think that's a good thing in the long run.


CAMEROTA: Congressman, what would a coup even look like in Russia? Does the Wagner Group have the numbers in order to pull off a coup?

KINZINGER: Well, I think it all depends on where the military would end up falling, on where the population would end up falling. And he doesn't have to march all the way to Moscow. If you think about it, Russia is a very kind of limited in terms of logistics. So, all he has to do is take certain logistics hubs. All he has to do is cut off or control certain railway, for instance. And you can basically paralyze the military movements, you can paralyze the economy that way. And then Prigozhin can either extract something or bring the folks on thinks side.

So, I personally am not sitting around expecting a legitimate, traditional coup to happen in terms of Vladimir Putin is out, Prigozhin is in, it's possible, but I certainly think he's going to extract some big concessions. He has no choice now, because, now, there's a price on his head, for sure.

CAMEROTA: What does this mean for Vladimir Putin?

KINZINGER: Well, I mean, every day -- really, since he launched the war in Ukraine, his hold on power gets -- continues to weaken. I think on the one hand, the positive for him may be it could give him an excuse to end the war in Ukraine because he can say, oh, look, I have this internal security situation we now need to focus on it. It's possible. Because what he wants to do is he knows he's losing in Ukraine but he can't declare that. And so every day that goes by, he throws more and more bodies at this war simply because it buys him an extra day on the earth.

So, I think his hold on power is certainly tenuous. I don't think -- there's not a lot of people, including me, that would probably expect him to be in power in five years and so he just has to keep fighting and fighting and this is one more distraction for him.

CAMEROTA: So, in terms of Ukraine, how does President Zelenskyy capitalize on this?

KINZINGER: Well, you have a distracted Russian force. You have a confused Russian force. That doesn't mean they're not going to fight. It doesn't mean they're going to become any easier, they won't. But now that the Wagner troops have been pulled, you have that bit of a vacuum. There's a lot of confusion, so it's a good time to hit. And there are actually some reports that they're striking in Bakhmut tonight.

And so it's a hit to morale. It's a Russia with a divided attention span now. And it's actually weakened combat power. Not to mention, again, I mean, there really could be Russian soldiers that have some sympathy, maybe not for Wagner, but some sympathy for some anti-Putin sentiment.

CAMEROTA: How does the U.S. going to respond or what should the White House reaction be?

KINZINGER: Well, probably not too much right now. I think working with Ukraine to understand the intelligence of this, how you can take advantage of it on the battlefield, which they've been doing very well so far. You know, we don't want to necessarily get involved in a civil war or civil conflict in Russia.

But let me say this, too. This is an important moment for us now to remind those that have been parroting Putin's lies, whether it's Tucker Carlson or people in, frankly, the Senate and House, they've been parroting the lies that this was a war brought on somehow by NATO, that Ukraine deserved it, because Prigozhin himself, again, the head of basically a terrorist organization, said to the Russian people tonight that Russia has been lying to them about the cause of the war, Russia has been lying to them about who's the aggressor in the Donbas, and that's something to remember when American commentators are saying that Vladimir Putin is actually an honorable man that's telling the truth.

CAMEROTA: Yes, really good context. Congressman, thank you very much for talking to us tonight.


CAMEROTA: Okay. Up next, more breaking news on this busy Friday night, the U.S. Coast Guard will now lead the investigation into the Titan submersible disaster. We have the new details for you.



CAMEROTA: We have more breaking news tonight on the catastrophic implosion of the Titan submersible. The United States Coast Guard will now lead the investigation into this incident.

CNN's Jason Carroll is live for us in Boston. So Jason, what does it mean that the Coast Guard is going to lead now?

JASON CARROLL, CNN U.S. NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right, and just to point out, Alisyn, as you know, not just the U.S. Coast Guard, but in addition to that, we've also gotten word today that the National Transportation Safety Board is also going to be a part of this investigation. In addition to that, you've got the Canadian Transportation Board involved as well.

What's going to be key to the investigation, though, forensic evidence, right? You've got to get as much as you can, gather as many pieces as you can, of the Titan as possible. That's why it's so important for those remotely operated vehicles to continue work on the ocean floor. So while you've heard word about vessels pulling out of the area, and indeed that is happening in the North Atlantic, those ROVs, those remotely operated vehicles, are staying there.

They're continuing to scour the debris area, trying to get as much evidence as possible, because what forensic experts are going to have to do is they're going to have pieces of that hull, and they're going to have to get, try to do some testing on that to try to come to some conclusion about the integrity of the hull. This as we've heard from so many people over the last 24 to 48 hours who say that they raised issues with OceanGate about its safety protocols and about the integrity of the Titan. Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: But Jason, what about this marine certification company that rejected a request to certify the Titan?

CARROLL: Right. Lloyd's Registrar, and that is the company that typically does this type of marine vessel registration.


According to what we've heard it here at CNN, there was a request from OceanGate to have Titan Certified. This was back in 2019. And this company denied the request to do that. Did not want to work with them. The company did not provide a reason as to why that happened. But what's interesting about that, you'll remember that OceanGate on its website had said that... they had decided to forego getting registered, saying that it was standing in the way of innovation. That was something that was up on their website. That website has now been taken down. Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: Okay, still a lot of questions. Jason Carroll, thank you very much.

Let's bring in David Waud. He was a passenger on the Titan sub in 2021. In fact, he took the same trip on board the Titan to see the Titanic wreckage two years ago. David, thank you so much for your time and for being here.

Back at that time, two years ago, when you took this trip down to view the Titanic, did you have any reservations about the safety of the submersible?

DAVID WAUD, RODE ON THE TITAN IN 2021: No, I did not. And in fact, I felt very lucky to be one of only 200 some odd people who would have ever seen the Titanic underwater at the 12,500 foot level.

And now I feel of course very lucky that I went on the fifth trip with Titan when the hull was still strong enough to withstand that pressure. But I did not have any reservations. I thought the trip was very professionally run. I adored Stockton and P.H. who were on the trip with me. Only Stockton was in the submersible, not P.H. on that particular dye. But I didn't have any reservations. I just was so excited to be doing something that I'd been hoping to do for 11 years.

CAMEROTA: And what did Stockton tell you at that time about safety? What did you ask him? Did you know, for instance, that he had employed a sort of unorthodox construction of the submersible that other people in the industry didn't know if it would work. Basically, it wasn't industry standard. Did you know that at the time?

WAUD: No, I did not know that. I did know because I was originally supposed to go out in 2019 when they thought the pressure test would be finished and Titan would be able to take out passengers in 2019 and there were some sort of problems with weather in the Bahamas where they were testing it and other things and so they scratched all those trips that were scheduled for 2019. I think then the Titan was tested and found that maybe it had to be reinforced some more, which I think was done during 2020. I don't know all the details in that. And I was pretty confident in 2021 when I was on the trip that it was safe.

CAMEROTA: So, David, what was the trip like? What, I mean, did you get a good view of the Titanic?

WAUD: Okay. That particular trip I was on, which was on the fourth day of the five-day trip, we ended up near the stern rather than the bow, because you're never sure what the currents are. And where we were released and started to do the two hour descent, we ended up much closer to the stern. So I was very disappointed. I didn't get to the bow, but the stern is still fascinating. It's a mangled, very big piece of metal. And we also were in the debris field the next day, which was the last day for all those summer trips.

Three other men went down with Stockton and P.H. and actually got the film. And of course, when everyone thinks of the Titanic, they think of the bow. And I was also filming, cause I was gonna make a movie for charities about this trip. So I was disappointed, but still the whole process of going down 12,500 feet was amazing. So I considered it a very successful trip.

CAMEROTA: And what was it like? I mean, down there, was it pitch black? Are you all just looking out that one window? Are you all taking turns in that submersible?

WAUD: Oh, there also was a computer screen that fed us all the video footage from a camera that was mounted on top of the Titan. But otherwise, the two men in front of me who were seated, looking right out the 21 inch viewport and myself right behind them. That's what we were looking out of. It got dark fairly quickly. We then went through a little zone with phosphorescence, which was neat. And then it got pitch dark again all the way until we got close to the bottom.

Then Stockton turned on the lights. And so when we hit the bottom, we could see the silt come up all around us. It took a few minutes to settle. Then he started to use the thrusters to move us around.

CAMEROTA: Was it freezing cold?

WAUD: No, it wasn't that cold because we had just arrived at the bottom, but we did have different layers of clothes with us because it was very warm at the top when we got into the submersible and it certainly got colder and colder as we went down, but I don't remember it being really, really cold. CAMEROTA: Were there any moments during that whole process for you

that I guess, took hour, a couple of hours? Were there any moments that felt dicey? Was there any moment that you were nervous?


WAUD: No, I was not nervous at all. I thought I was in wonderful hands, a very professional team. Every day we had meetings at seven in the morning, seven at night, and they would talk about what we were going to do the first three days because of weather. All the dives were scrubbed, but they were so professional in their presentations. I did not have any problems anywhere going down.

Now, I've done some other things that are a little bit dangerous. I'm certainly not an extreme adventurer at all, but I don't get scared as easily as a lot of people, and I don't get claustrophobia very often, which I think was lucky being in that submersible for more than 10 hours.

CAMEROTA: Yeah, I can tell you don't scare easily, certainly. There are lots been made in other reports of how there was a kind of low- tech feeling to the construction. It felt a little jerry-rigged in there, you know. It was kind of a video game controller, things, products from off the shelf used to construct it. Did you see some of that?

WAUD: Only the video game controller and Stockton was very proud of that. I mean, he certainly did not hide the fact that anybody could control that submersible from this. I mean, I was not allowed to, but from this game controller, he was proud of it. He certainly was not trying to hide that.

But I've learned since this accident, I've seen some other video of other people in there, and saying there were some more things that he kind of bought off the shelf. But -- He felt that, I mean, he wouldn't have gone down dive after dive. He was the pilot on almost every trip. If he hadn't felt that submersible was 100 percent safe.

CAMEROTA: David, now that you've had these 24 hours to think about this tragedy, do you have a theory on what happened?

WAUD: Right when I heard that they'd lost communications with the submersible, I thought that it probably had imploded. And I just thought that because I knew they had not reached the bottom, at least when they had the last communication from it, they were still 45 minutes or so from reaching the bottom. So I didn't think they could be tangled up. There are many, many different ways to release weights to get back up to the surface if they had a problem with that.

So I just kind of, but I didn't say in all the interviews I did at that point, obviously that I thought it had imploded. And I kept positive the way almost everyone else did, but that certainly was my first thought, especially since I knew there had been some reinforcing and some problems with testing back in 2019. That was my first thought. CAMEROTA: Well, David Waud, thank you for sharing your experience with

us. It's really interesting to talk to somebody who did this very trip and to hear what it was like. And of course we're -- we're happy like you are that you got to have that experience. So thanks for being here.

WAUD: It was amazing. --

CAMEROTA: That's nice to hear.

WAUD: -- You're welcome.

CAMEROTA: Okay, there's also breaking news tonight in Donald Trump's classified documents criminal case. The special counsel is asking for a new trial date. We have the details next.




CAMEROTA: Breaking news tonight on the classified documents case against former President Trump. Special counsel Jack Smith filing a request tonight for the trial date to be moved to December.

We also have exclusive CNN reporting on the special counsel's investigation into Donald Trump's involvement in January 6th. So here to help us understand all of this, we have CNN senior crime and justice reporter, Katelyn Polantz and defense attorney, Misty Marris. Thank you both for being here.

Okay, so Katelyn, tell us about these late Friday filings.

KATELYN POLANTS, CNN SR. CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Late Friday filings, Alisyn. These are a little bit procedural, but they're important procedural steps that have to be taken. So there's the first one. Is this trial date request from the prosecutors?

This was very expected that trial date the judge put on the calendar earlier this week for August was never gonna hold because there needs to be a lot done in this case, especially around classified documents and the handling of them. That all has to be litigated with special proceedings.

So now the Justice Department is saying they want that trial date to be in December. Still a pretty quick turnaround for a trial. We'll have to see what happens though with the judge and Donald Trump's team. And the other thing, Alisyn, in these late night filings tonight is that there are 84 witnesses, according to what the Donald Trump's team says are on a list that the Justice Department provided that he is not allowed to be talking about the details of this case with.

That would be part of his release conditions as well as the release conditions of his co-defendant, Walt Nauta. And 84 names is quite a list. We're also going to have to wait and see what happens with that. The Justice Department did hand over that list after setting the bond

conditions following Donald Trump saying he was not guilty in court last week. But there could be some more disputes that arise as his co- defendant, Walt Nauta, is headed to be in court next Tuesday to enter his initial pleading of not guilty as well. Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: Okay, that's a lot of stuff. So, Misty, let's start with the trial date because I understand, as Katelyn was saying, that that's a short turnaround, December, moving it from August to December.

In the news world, it's an eternity, okay, between now and December. Why does it take six months to clear the classified documents?

MISTY MARRIS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Right. Well, in the news world, 15 seconds is an eternity, right?

CAMEROTA: Thank you, yes.

MARRIS: But in this case, so look, the court had to put this case on the calendar under the speedy trial provision in the statutes. That's 70 days from the indictment. But it was almost always going to be pushed back. Part of it as part of the prosecution's filing, they said, look, we need to get these clearances. They can take up to two months.


So this is the prosecution actually asking for this time. I would have expected that request to come from Donald Trump's team.


MARRIS: And I do think we're going to see his team jumping in and say, December 11th is not going to work for us. We have so many pretrial motions that we need to get filed. We're going to need even more time to account for that too.

CAMEROTA: And it also doesn't behoove them to push it into election season, further into election season?

MARRIS: Yeah. I think they're probably going to want to push it out as long as they can to see what they can do with this case because it's not looking so good right now.

CAMEROTA: OK. Katelyn, now tell us about the January 6th investigation. So the special counsel has given these two Republican fake electors limited immunity for their testimony. So what do we know about that?

POLANTZ: Right. So in the special counsel's January 6th investigation, around the 2020 election, there has been a lot of activity where they've been bringing in grand jury witnesses who know about the fake electors, the use that the Trump campaign had of these fake electors trying to say that Trump had won battleground states when he hadn't, and trying to get the Electoral College to swing in his favor. And what happened with this immunity situation is that two of those

fake electors from Nevada went into the grand jury last week and were given some limited immunity to force them to testify. They didn't want to answer questions under their Fifth Amendment rights, wanted to decline, and the prosecutors said that wasn't going to fly. They needed their testimony.

So, really, it's a moment where the special counsel's office is pushing for testimony, for answers, for locking down witnesses. and they're not interested in giving people delays or any ways out. And that comes amid a lot of different witnesses coming into the grand jury in this fake electors probe and January 6th.

CAMEROTA: So Missy, if they give them limited immunity, that means that they just have to say what they know or they testify against others.

MARRIS: They could testify against others. It could be what they know. When they have this limited immunity, it just means that they will not be prosecuted.

So now the door is open for them to go before that grand jury and tell their story without that fear of prosecution. So this reads that the special council needs their testimony for this probe. And I would think that I'd be a little nervous because this could encompass many others in this net.

The fake elector scheme, a lot of focus on that since April of last year when we saw the DOJ really start to investigate that aspect of the election front. So this is going to be a whole new aspect to the probe. And these witnesses could have some really key information in their testimony.

CAMEROTA: So if you were a fake elector, you'd be nervous right now.

MARRIS: I would absolutely be nervous and I would be going to the prosecutors and saying, I would like an immunity deal as well in exchange for my testimony to ensure that I don't get prosecuted at the end of the day.

CAMEROTA: Right. And so what else are prosecutors trying to look for here?

MARRIS: So prosecutors, it seems like there's a lot of focus on what happened after the election and all of the comments of the continuing of this narrative that the election was stolen, the money that had been received from the Trump campaign and from the people in his camp relating to that to fight it and where that money went. It seems like this is a really wide encompassing probe that really has a lot of focus on Trump's attorneys too.

So you're talking about Giuliani, Powell, that's what this is looked for, and the phones have been subpoenaed. So it seems that that's the direction they're going. Something wider than just the fake electors.

CAMEROTA: And just very quickly, what's a charge? What would the charges be?

MARRIS: Well, this could be conspiracy to defraud the United States. That would be the big one. To the extent that money, there were issues with that. It could be fraud. It could be money laundering. We don't really know where it's going to go until that information becomes public. Right now, it's behind the closed doors of the grand jury. So only time will tell.

CAMEROTA: Misty Marris, thank you very much for helping us understand that. Katelyn, thank you so much for being here.

OK, just ahead, more of our breaking news coverage. Russian generals accused the leader of the private Wagner military group of attempting a coup. And there are reports of Russian armed vehicles in the streets of Moscow tonight.




CAMEROTA: Welcome back to CNN TONIGHT. We're following the chaotic situation in Russia where there are reports of military vehicles on the streets of Moscow after the Russian military accuses the head of the mercenary Wagner group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, of calling for a coup. Prigozhin is vowing retaliation after what he claims was a Russian attack that killed many of his troops. We're told the White House is closely monitoring this situation and that President Biden has been briefed.

Let's get right to CNN's Ivan Watson for the latest on what is happening tonight. And of course, you're in Hong Kong tonight, but you have spent a ton of time reporting on all sorts of different Russian issues. So tell us your take on what's happening.

IVAN WATSON, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. Well, you basically have Russia's most powerful mercenary commander, Yevgeny Prigozhin, who is facing a criminal court case from the Russian government right now. They're accusing him of mutiny, of armed rebellion.

Meanwhile, what he seems to be doing, he's describing sending convoys of his troops, his mercenaries into Russia from Ukraine as a kind of march for justice.

He has accused the Russian military of attacking his forces on at least two occasions in the last 24 hours. One of those has been denied by the Russian Defense Ministry.

We have seen on social media signs of military convoys on highways in the Rostov region. We've also seen this, kind of, really dramatic footage of troops deploying in the streets of the city of Rostov itself. And we have geo-located those videos to show that they're near the headquarters of the Russian Defense Ministry's Southern Military Command.