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CNN Tonight

New Unredacted Videos Show DOJ Had Video Of Trump's Boxes Before Mar-a-Lago Search; DOJ Appeals Order Blocking Biden Officials From Communicating With Social Media Companies; Zelenskyy: Russia Is Ready For Possible Nuke Plant Attack; Shark Spotted Swimming Near Crowded Florida Beach; Earth Saw Its Hottest Days Ever This Week. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired July 05, 2023 - 23:00   ET




ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Welcome back to CNN TONIGHT. New developments in the Trump investigation. A less redacted version of the Justice Department's search warrant for Mar-a-Lago last summer reveals what prosecutors knew before the FBI went in looking for classified top secret documents. Investigators say -- quote -- "video footage reflects that evidence has been moved recently."

Joining me now, CNN legal analyst and former assistant U.S. attorney Jennifer Rodgers, CNN senior political analyst and anchor John Avlon, editor-at-large at "Reason," Matt Welch, New York GOP surrogate Joe Pinion, and Rolling Stone columnist Jay Michaelson. Great to have all of you.

So, Jen, this affidavit, what did they know? What does this less redacted affidavit reveal?

JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY: Well, not a whole heck of a lot, Alisyn. It is still heavily redacted. But at least we know that they knew about some of the shenanigans in and out of the storage space, right? And that not only forms the basis of the classified documents at least of the case but the obstruction part of the case, right? All of this in and out, and Trump is reviewing documents and they were hiding all of that from his lawyer at the time, Evan Corcoran.

So, it is really important evidence and we didn't know how quite -- how early DOJ was on to that. That has ended up being one of the big building blocks here. But we'll have to wait to see more. Of course, Trump and his team will have access to the unredacted version and they will make their challenges to search warrant based on that. The rest of us will have to wait and see as the litigation proceeds whether we can learn more.

CAMEROTA: And does it look, Jen, to you as the Walt Nauta who was Donald Trump's body man, you know, he was helping him at all times, sort of an aide, and he was apparently caught on tape moving the boxes, is he in more trouble today? RODGERS: Well, you know, no because DOJ, obviously, has (INAUDIBLE). So, this is not really about who is in more trouble or less trouble but what we all know about what kind of trouble they're in, right?

But yes, Walt Nauta, of course, was wrapped up all in this obstruction case. So, you know, he is the thick of it. And soon as he gets himself a lawyer and actually gets litigating in this case, we will have to see what he decides to do when faced with this question of whether he rather face these charges or perhaps cooperate against his boss.

CAMEROTA: John, the latest polling from Fox finds that Trump has gained ground since the -- post indictments. So, since all of this stuff has come to light, his polling numbers are up among primary voters. What does that tell us?

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST AND ANCHOR: It tells you that the Republican primary voters fill sort of a rally around Trump effect based on the indictments. But, I -- you know, we need to emphasize to folks that is not a national audience, that's Republicans, and it does mean that they're rallying to him because they feel he is being somehow not prosecuted but persecuted.

That said, there is a 0 percent reason to do anything but enforce the law (INAUDIBLE). Don't over index it. Don't think it is going to last forever either. If they are reacting negatively to the fact that kind of (INAUDIBLE) is finally being imposed, let's see how they feel in six months or eight months.

CAMEROTA: What makes you think it will change?

AVLON: I think because gravity starts taking over. The reality that while his polls numbers are rising among Republicans, they're sinking like a rock among independents, among the general electorate.

And if Republicans -- and look, Republicans, you talk to them. They all know this is a disaster, to have multiple indicted ex-president who tried to overturn the last election be the standard bearer going to the next one. But they're all still afraid of Trump, they're afraid of the base, they're afraid of those poll numbers. So, they're trying to keep it down unless your name is Chris Christie in which case you're really embracing it.

But it is not going to last. I'm not saying his numbers (INAUDIBLE). He is in poll position right now.


AVLON: But some people will look at this and say, see, the problem was we enforced the law.


That just made him stronger. That is exactly the wrong lesson to take.

CAMEROTA: Matt? MATT WELCH, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, REASON: I think when you look at the numbers, what is striking to me, especially over the last like two, three months, it is small amounts right now. We are not talking about large amounts. Donald Trump has been around 50 percent plus a couple percentage points for a long time. State national doesn't really matter. DeSantis is at 20, and then everybody else is in the single digits.

It says to one of two things. Either -- this is what I really hope for -- no one is really paying all that much attention because damn it, it is July and June of 2023, we should not be paying, we should be touching grass and watching baseball games with John.


However, it could also suggest perhaps that there is some number, this is the greatest question in American politics right now, what is the lowest possible number of the Trump support within the GOP? Is it 50 percent? I tend to think that it is probably lower. But it is not going to be all that much lower probably. How many (INAUDIBLE) votes are there right now? I think it might be 40. It might be 35. We don't know.

But until the Republican Party figures that out, they are stuck in a bit of a doom loop, right, because Trumpism is not popular with the general electorate. It just isn't. How many times do we need to see that proved out? So, until there is a republican challenge to that, a meaningful one that is not 16 people, it is a couple, they are in trouble.

CAMEROTA: Joe, you have your finger on the polls of republican politics being a Republican. So, why aren't the Republican opponents seizing on it? Do you agree with their assessment of what will happen?

JOE PINION, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST, FORMER SENATE CANDIDATE: I disagree with the assessment. Part of the reason that the opponents aren't seizing on it is because they realize that if they did, their numbers would go down and his numbers would go up.

I think you see that reflecting in what is happening with Chris Christie who has some of the highest negatives of any candidate running in spite of the fact that he is, for all intended purposes, a quite accomplished governor who got a lot of stuff done in New Jersey.

So yeah, I think the reality is that no, I don't think that gravity takes over. I think, in many ways, President Trump is only going to go up from here. But also, correlation, not causation.

It is also because of the fact that the other people namely Ron DeSantis who was touted to be the preeminent challenger to President Trump has in many ways continued to bite his own tongue and stub his own toe, including that latest bizarre ad that ended up on Twitter because again, it appears that we're more concerned with trying to win the Twitter news cycle than actually trying to cultivate an actual constituency within this republican primary that has all of their hopes and dreams still in the basket of Donald Trump. JAY MICHAELSON, RABBI, WRITER FOR ROLLING STONE: We must need a whole different methodology for dealing with this phenomenon, right, which is having to do something with a cult of personality and how people do or don't change their beliefs. It does seem -- I think Jen just perfectly summarized what's going. This case is about shenanigans. That is the legal term. I could define it. It is Latin. But basically, we know what this case is about.

But it does not matter. Right? It clearly does not matter. I think that question of like what is the percentage of Republicans (INAUDIBLE), that is the question.

But we need to be thinking about what -- what if anything -- I mean, maybe we should be talking to (INAUDIBLE). What if anything can penetrate the kind of orifice of this information and of group belonging?

I'm not -- this is not right or left issue, right? This this happens on the left as well where there are cults of personality. And we saw it with what sometimes called conspirituality (ph) where left-wing people take on right-wing conspiracy theories because it fits (INAUDIBLE).

UNKNOWN: Uh-hmm.

MICHAELSON: We are seeing a real growth in profoundly nan-rational and non-reflective thinking in this country across the ideological spectrum. It is frustrating to come here night after night and talk about the latest development that no one seems to care about.

AVLON: There is a pattern for how you get people out of cult. I mean, that reverse radicalization process. Problem is it is not scalable. But, you know, that is a known pattern. You need to confront people with their ideals, not go directly at the figure they have attached themselves to for reasons of the saving face. But remind them of what their own alleged beliefs were and let him de-escalate.

But right now, the environment is creating this group think (ph). But the fever will break. Cults do end. And law and accountability has got to go forward no matter what the horse race polling shows in the short run.

CAMEROTA: I find your optimism really --

AVLON: Defiant.

CAMEROTA: Defiant.

MICHAELSON: That's the John Avlon 101.

CAMEROTA: Because -- I mean, there was -- I like what you are saying about the fever breaks because, obviously, we fight misinformation every day here at CNN. But there was an insurrection. So, the fever --

AVLON: Yeah.

CAMEROTA: -- did not exactly break before there was a violent insurrection.

WELCH: That is not 50 percent of the Republican Party.



CAMEROTA: Of course not. I'm just saying that in terms of John saying that people come to their senses at some point, not always.

WELCH: Some people come to some of their senses. And to the point, it is everywhere on the spectrum. It is not only right focused in it.


AVLON: That is true. But let's not do the (INAUDIBLE) moral equivalence here. I mean, I think what Jay is talking about is, you know, Robert F. Kennedy, the anti-vaxxer stuff is a good example of the horseshoe theory where the far-right and the far-left conflate.


But right now, there is no equivalent to Donald Trump.

MICHAELSON: And the numbers are like 10, 15 percent of Democrats falling for this guy whereas it is, you know, 56 percent.

PINION: I think there is this misnomer that President Trump created the paradigm for our current body (ph) politics when in reality it is our body (ph) politics that created Donald Trump. I think that this is the kind of really bizarre way of how we try to approach covering President Trump.

I think it makes it very difficult to understand what is going to the minds of Republican voters. I get that you don't agree with that, but I also think that is why you keep thinking that somehow --

AVLON: But Joe -- but Joe, you're a Republican who is expressing distaste for what is going on but not offering a prescription for how to solve it other than don't dare take on Donald Trump directly.

You know, at some point, you got offers for solutions. You know, heal myself. What would you do if you are trying to stop Donald Trump from being the nominee? As a Republican, what would you do?

PINION: Well, my job is not to stop Donald Trump.

AVLON: No, no, no.

PINION: My job is to stop Joe Biden from having a second term because --

AVLON: Okay. But --


AVLON: To be clear, first, are you endorsing Donald Trump for reelection?

PINION: I'm not endorsing anyone right now.

AVLON: Okay. Good.

PINION: We are going to have the people choose --

AVLON: So, do you think the Republican Party should nominate Donald Trump?

PINION: I think the Republican Party should nominate who the people go into the polling places.

AVLON: That is not an answer.

PINION: I think it is an answer. I think maybe you don't like that answer because --

AVLON: No. I just think it is by standard, not a leader position answer.

PINION: Well, the reality is my position is to say that we have to do what the people in the party want to do. I think that is --

AVLON: That is not taking a stand.

PINION: Taking a stand for what? My job is -- Chris Christie is running for president. I'm not. My job is to sit here with you and try to figure out why these Republican voters continue to support President Trump in spite of what has been thrown at him.

I think the reality is that people believe that -- call it what you want to call it, but I think that is just what we deal with right now.

CAMEROTA: All right, gentlemen, thank you very much for the debate and all of the perspectives. Coming up on tonight's reality check, the social media account that went viral purporting to be from a left leaning, wildly liberal activist. But it may not be what it seems. John is going to explain.




CAMEROTA: A federal judge ordering some Biden administration top officials to stop their communications with social media companies about certain content. This is a win for GOP states in this lawsuit against the government, accusing them of going too far in their effort to combat COVID-19 disinformation. And this just in, the Justice Department is appealing the judge's order.

My panel is back with me. Okay, Jen, tell us what you think about this ruling. What do we need to know here?

RODGERS: Yes, Alisyn. So, this is a deeply flawed ruling. I mean, the kind of commonsense macro view that the judge is going to prohibit large swaths of the government from having any contact with social media companies when things show up on social media that are dangerous, that threaten our national security, threaten individual's personal safety, is ridiculous.

But as a legal matter, it is seriously flawed. You have no standing here. You have a misunderstanding on the part of the judge of First Amendment jurisprudence. You have a vastly over brought injunction issue on so many levels. This opinion was improper.

I think DOJ is very smart to appeal it. I think that they will win that appeal. I'm sure the panelists will talk more about how outrageous the notion of this is in a more general sense. But legally, this is very, very problematic.

CAMEROTA: Matt, here is what the judge said, blocking the Biden administration from communicating with social media companies. Specifically flagging content or posts on social media platforms and/or forwarding such to social media companies urging, encouraging, pressuring, or inducing in any manner for removal, deletion, suppression, or reduction of content containing protected free speech. That is a lot of legalese.

WELCH: It is.

CAMEROTA: Your thoughts on this?

WELCH: There is also a lot of kind of open door in the second half of the injunction, allowing for some national security kind of suppression or job boning (ph) to get in, which I find is unfortunate. I think it should have been broader. I think the outrage here is from the government's behavior, especially in the year 2021.

CAMEROTA: Wait, help us understand. What do you think they should not be doing?

WELCH: I think that the president of the United States should not be saying Facebook is killing people because that is nonsense on toast. I think that the surgeon general of the United States should not be out there calling for a whole of society, not even whole of government, a whole of society crackdown on misinformation, which then fails to define.

I think that Jen Psaki as White House press secretary should not be telling Spotify that you got to do more about Joe Rogan here. That is crazy.

Twenty years ago, after 9/11, we all remember this, right, when Ari Fleischer came on, he took so much heat from CNN, from a lot of people here probably, from me, definitely, when he said that in the wake of 9/11, Americans need to watch what they say. That is all he said. There wasn't anything, you know, backed up. There wasn't regulation.

Americans that he was talking about did not have business in front of the government, the federal government. He said that he took a ton of heat because we understood we don't want the government to be telling us that. Now, we have the government telling social media companies, you need to kick (INAUDIBLE) off Twitter. That is bad. They are using national security to suppress the Hunter Biden laptop story which was national security story. That is bad.

So, the outrage for me is not this ruling, it is weird, it is 45 pages, the outrage is in the government's behavior, especially in the year 2021.


MICHAELSON: I mean, look, this really is the Twitter file case. This is a weird mismatch of a sort of sublimation of anger at exactly what Matt was talking about. I'm not sure I share that anger, but that is what it is, that rage into a very bizarre order that is short to be overturned on appeal.

This particular judge does have a record of kind of some wacky rulings on -- you know, that is just his track record. I don't need to stay MAGA to know that that is what it is, but that is what it is.


And I think this is a very poor vehicle for expressing some of that real concern. There's also a real naivete and I don't think it is naivete but a sort of a willful naivete, there are some exceptions in the order, which Jen included in her quick summary of it, which do, except national security and couple other things, criminal acts.

If there is sort of, you know, sex trafficking ring that the government knows about, they can tell the social media companies, the social media. So, there are those exceptions.

However, it is obvious, free speech law does not mean you can say shout fire in a crowd at theater. That is a cliche. That is true. What that just means is you can't say speech that causes imminent harm. There may be a question of fact as to whether COVID misinformation causes material harm. That might be an interesting factual debate which we could have.

But the idea that any speech except for these tiny exceptions for national security and so forth is just allowed because we support free speech, that has not been the law of free speech for 225 years in this country.

PINION: I think we find ourselves in a dangerous place where the government is effectively building back doors into private companies to monitor its citizens. I think we can have an intelligent conversation about where does misinformation begin, what qualifies as that being a danger society, but we have many, many instances now that have been put before us that show that these were not imminent threats, that these were just people who are saying things that people at the White House disagree with, and all of a sudden the call would go out, the email would get sent. So, yes, I would agree with you that it is just probably, again, a ruling that will be overturned, this is probably, again, a poor vehicle to have that outrage sent there, but if we go all the way back to the patriot act, what happened with metadata --


PINION: -- and we know all the things that were dangerous about that, I don't think this --

MICHAELSON: There was better regulation of the social media giants who have so much control --

CAMEROTA: You mean their own --

MICHAELSON: -- so much impact. If there was actual --


MICHAELSON: Instead, we have this --

PINION: Whose fault is that?

MICHAELSON: No, I'm not arguing with you.

WELCH: We have a legal category of journalists for more speech regulation. It is just bizarre to me.



MICHAELSON: This is megaphone --

CAMEROTA: I understand what you're all saying.


CAMEROTA: Hold on, we have to get John in because, also, misinformation is dangerous. We do know that. Misinformation is disinformation. It is very hard to police, John, as you are about to show us because in reality check, you have this particularly acute example of how hard it is to tell what is disinformation online.

AVLON: And misinformation. I appreciate Matt's point. (INAUDIBLE) is what I always appreciate on the panel. But this is a really interesting story about the difficulty and importance of dealing with some of these. So, let's take a look at this.

Look, if you believe like I do that hyper-partisan polarization is one of the biggest challenges that America faces, then you probably know that there is an outrage industrial complex profiting (ph) online. It is a feedback loop between the extremes. And this is just an excuse to increase distrust and division.

The thing is, though, a lot of them is fake. All ginned up. It was brought home by a "Washington Post" story reported by Drew Harwell. A prominent social media account that purported to be a self-styled Democratic activist under the name of Erica Marsh. The account went viral by carving extreme positions on the issues of the day.

The account is now suspended. But while active, get this, one pre- published after the Supreme Court's affirmative action decision, that tweet was viewed 27 million times, providing plenty of opportunities for "I told you so" outrage and virtue signaling from folks like Congressman Matt Gaetz.

Now, for allegedly liberal account, its audience seemed to have been primarily people on the right looking for confirmation bias. According to the account's biography, it is not some random person on the far- left screaming into the digital wilderness. No. It was someone who purported to have worked as a field organizer on the Biden campaign, volunteered at the Obama foundation, someone who seemed to be in the proximity of power.

But as it turns out, that seems to be, there is a lot work, because according to "The Washington Post," there is no record of this person, Erica Marsh, ever existed.

CAMEROTA: So, John, who is -- who is acting as Erica Marsh then?

AVLON: Well, this is part of the difficulty of figuring out the root of the stuff. That is actually just part of the latest example of this sort of weird culture of (INAUDIBLE) puppet accounts created by people who are looking to gin up anger and self-righteous defense on their side of the aisle.

Seriously, let that cynicism sink in, and then understand why we need to do a better job at reigning disinformation efforts that are designed to divide our democracy. We need guardrails, reasonable regulation, especially with the rise of AI that promises to supercharged disinformation efforts going forward.

It is a job for platforms as well as politicians who are willing to think beyond partisan self interest in the short term to take an action together to get something done. That is your reality check.

CAMEROTA: John, come back and join us. Thank you. That was a great object lesson.

UNKNOWN: There you go.

CAMEROTA: Because -- so, she does not exist. Basically, this Erica Marsh does not appear to exist. They can't find any records of her. And yet she gins up all this outrage and she is used by the right as, look at this crazy liberal.


This is what we are all fighting against. But she is a bogeyman.

WELCH: Yeah, and thankfully, we had a lot of good private speech and journalism that showed that. We are talking about it on this -- (LAUGHTER)

-- network here. It is a wonderful corrective. It really is. And we saw that a lot during COVID. There's a reason why people are mad because voices that dissented, that was sometimes wrong, but sometimes they're also right. Were kicked off of platforms, under pressure from the government. It made the discourse about our measures worse. We should be mad about that. That's okay to be mad when the government wrongfully suppresses viewpoints.

CAMEROTA: Let me get Jen Rodgers in. Jen, there is -- I mean, I hear what everybody is saying. Yes, freedom of speech is obviously fundamental. However, disinformation and misinformation is dangerous. If the social media platforms aren't self-policing, what is the answer?

RODGERS: Well, listen, if this lawsuit were filed by someone who was kicked off and they filed a lawsuit alleging that they had been kicked off because someone in the government applied serious pressures to threaten the social media platforms if they didn't remove this person, then you have a real lawsuit.

That is not what we have here. What we have here is a group of states that don't have standing, trying to get what they got which was a nationwide massively overbroad order, saying that these large swaths of the government, not individual actors but agencies, entire agencies, are not able to communicate with the social media platforms.

You can't even point out that there is a problematic post. You have to trust that they will find it with their own algorithm. The government has a massive, massive infrastructure in place to find problematic communications. They're saying, you can't even let them know about that so that their own processes for taking out that disinformation can kick in.

So, it is just -- it is an overwhelmingly problematic order. It is taking a blowtorch (INAUDIBLE) your analogy, right? You need a little tiny hammer, you're taking a blowtorch. It's not the right approach here and it's definitely going to be overturned.


MICHAELSON: If we were to zoom back, I think Matt brought up the patriot and some of the controversies 20 years ago, if you were to tell me 20 years ago that these fundamentally unregulated, gigantic, monopolistic companies would have so much authority to either regulate, to suppress speech, to allow speech, to decide who to regulate that, it would be up to one billionaire Elon Musk to totally change the rules of the game on a platform that has massive impact in terms of how people act in terms of -- I thought you're crazy.

We're living in this bizarre digital-gilded age where because of the failure of government to do what they're supposed to do, which is to have standards that we can argue about, that we could have a libertarian and nonlibertarian argue about in an actual democracy, we would actually debate some laws and we would figure out what the standards should be.

Instead, there has been this complete application of responsibility and it's the wild west. So, there is this back-channel connection between the government and these companies which is, I agree, completely outrageous.

PINION: But no one is talking. I hear you, right, but it's not like Joe Biden is getting on TV and saying, we must either hold these tech companies to the actual letter of the law when it comes to Section 230, or we must get rid of those protections. No one is really having those real conversations. I see you shaking your head but --

AVLON: I am because this has been a conversation with President Biden and people in Congress. This has been a bipartisan priority. Part of the frustration is --

PINION: -- bipartisan priority, it would've happened.

AVLON: No, Joe. Welcome to Congress. This is the problem. This is the problem. There is --

PINION: -- Section 230 but incompletely --

AVLON: Exactly. Correct. But there is room for actually establishing some reasonable regulation, some basic guardrails, and saying that it should be able to get done and it needs to get done. So, it's not at the discretion of whoever is running the federal government at any given time. We got to put partisan consideration outside and think about what is best for democracy. That is why we need rules.

PINION: But that is not what is happening down in D.C. That is all I'm saying. I think there is a broad coalition of people that goes beyond, you know, Republican or Democrat who wants to see something get done. But even in the legislation around TikTok, that was even an abomination. I mean, it was an abomination that made, you know, the patriot. That looked like it was something you would actually want to have.


CAMEROTA: All right.

PINION: It is really a problem. I think we just need to get to the real issue here because what you're talking about is great, but no one in D.C. is actually having that conversation.

CAMEROTA: Let's leave it there. I often get Joe the last word, as you know.

AVLON: I'm just going to let you --

CAMEROTA: I know you are. Thank you. I appreciate that.

Up next, Ukrainian President Zelenskyy in a CNN exclusive interview warning that Russia may be planning an attack on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine, Europe's largest nuclear facility. We have more, next.




CAMEROTA: New concerns in Ukraine tonight that Russia may be planning an attack that could unleash a nuclear disaster. Ukrainian President Zelenskyy tells CNN's Erin Burnett that Russian troops could be planning a terrorist attack on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE: I have real intelligence. I have documents. I don't -- I can't tell you what kind of documents but it is something connected with Russia. I said that they are technically ready to do something. It is very important that they mine some local mining --


ZELENSKYY: Yeah, at Zaporizhzhia, in the station. They are technically ready.


That is why we push -- I-A-E-A, yes. IAEA. We push them and we said, look, your team, they are four people, and this plant is like a city.


ZELENSKYY: It is huge. Four people will not find mines.


CAMEROTA: Joining me now is Colin Clarke, director of Policy and Research at The Soufan Group. Colin, thank you so much for being here. So, let's talk about that. Why would Vladimir Putin unleash a nuclear disaster so close to his own borders?

COLIN CLARKE, DIRECTOR OF POLICY AND RESEARCH, THE SOUFAN GROUP: Well, I mean, look, nothing is beyond the pale for someone like Vladimir Putin. This is an individual that detained people, tortured them, executed his own citizens. He will do anything to hold on to power.

I think coming on the heels of if Yevgeny Prigozhin supported mutiny, he feels more vulnerable and his legitimacy more challenged than ever before. So, Putin may be looking to do something drastic in order to kind of gain the upper hand.

CAMEROTA: Okay. Let's listen to what President Zelenskyy told Erin about how he believes Putin will now have to consolidate Russian power and society even further in the wake of Prigozhin's failed mutiny. Here it is.


ZELENSKYY (through translator): I think that Putin will make attempt to consolidate his society. He will make everything in order to break and nullify the Wagner's fame and everything they were doing. He will be distancing himself from all of that and will be communicating extensively in order to unify the society.

His society is unified. Pay attention to this interesting example. After all these events, where did Putin go? I can tell you, he rarely comes out to the street. We see him in his office, et cetera, but we never see him out and about.


CAMEROTA: Colin, you have written an opinion piece in the "Times" this week about the relationship between Putin and Prigozhin. So, what do you think Putin will be next?

CLARKE: I mean, I tend to agree with Zelenskyy here. I think he is desperate. He has never been embarrassed the way that he was just recently with Prigozhin kind of standing up and marching into Russia.

You know, if you have seen these interviews with Putin where he is at one end of a really long table and someone else is at the other really long end, whether it is Macron or someone else, now, all of a sudden, he is out on the streets with Russian citizens.

He is backed against the wall. I think Putin is likely to try to consolidate power. But the reality is he needs Wagner, or if not Wagner itself, another Wagner-like entity. Russia is now addicted to mercenaries and they rely on this kind of sub-state actor as the tip of the spear for Russian foreign policy. They can't live without it.

CAMEROTA: So, let's talk about that. I mean, since he has dispensed with Prigozhin and many have said that Putin looks weakened after Prigozhin's failed uprising, so, what will he do without Wagner?

CLARKE: Well, he has got a couple of options. One, he can disband Wagner and try to reflag them under the Russian military. That comes with its own set of complicated circumstances, including the fact that many of these individuals have been accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity. It makes Russia even more of a pariah in the international system.

He can try and disband Wagner and put them into preexisting private military companies. That kind of decentralize their power. It makes them less of a force multiplier.

Or what I think he is most likely to do, install a new head of Wagner- like entity, someone far more pliant than Prigozhin, and try to go about business as usual, which is essentially what he has told African leaders and others in the Middle East, not to worry, don't worry, the Russians aren't leaving, we are still going to be there operating in the same fashion.

CAMEROTA: Colin Clarke, great to get your expertise on this. Thank you so much. Obviously, we will watch -- wait to see what happens in this very tense moment. Thanks for being here.

CLARKE: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Just ahead, a series of shark sightings and attacks in Florida and New York over the 4th of July holiday weekend. Is this normal or is something different going on? We are going to get answers from wildlife expert Jeff Corwin.




CAMEROTA: It was a busy holiday weekend for shark sightings and attacks. In Florida, frightening video shows a shark swimming right by a bunch of swimmers near Pensacola. In New York, on Long Island, five people were bitten by sharks in 24 hours between Monday and Tuesday. In a separate incident, off the coast of New York's Fire Island, a 15- year-old boy was bitten on the foot by a shark while surfing Monday afternoon.

So, what is going on here? Joining me now is wildlife biologist and host of ABC's "Wildlife Nation," Jeff Corwin. Jeff, great to see you as always. Why are there so many shark attacks in the New York area?

JEFF CORWIN, WILDLIFE BIOLOGIST: Well, it's summertime. And summertime means people are loving the beaches, they're surfing, they're swimming, and so are the sharks. All the bait is in, Alisyn. If you know anyone like me, chances are you're on the water with your fishing rod looking for (INAUDIBLE) to catch the stripers and tunas, looking for the mackerel.


Well, so are sharks. All the bait is in. At the scene of the life (ph) moment along our coastlines in New England, New York, and Connecticut, sharks are there, people are there.

The good news, though, if there is good news, is these are probably very small sharks, maybe like sand tiger sharks, certainly not great white sharks. If it was a large predatory shark like that, it will be more than just someone getting bit on the hand and foot, it would be quite a serious injury.

CAMEROTA: Yeah, but I don't want to be bit on the hand or foot either, by the way, by a smaller shark. But did you see, Jeff, that video of all the swimmers in Pensacola? And the shark is so close to the shore. Isn't that unusual? Isn't that different seeing a fin like that that close?

CORWIN: It's actually not unusual at all. Every time I am in Florida, I see sharks. Every time I am on the water, I was out today, and I saw a shark. They're very common.

We've said this before, if you are in a healthy, pristine marine ecosystem, you're never more than 300 feet away from a shark. Most shark attacks happen in five feet of water or less. In the case of this one, this shark was not interested in the people.

This was likely -- I am guessing it was a very large hammerhead shark and it was clearly in pursuit of fish, a school of fish, which it was hammering into, as they do so well, because there were a lot of nice, delicious-looking people on the beach there, and that shark did not mess with any of them.

CAMEROTA: Okay, I will take some comfort in that. Do you know how the number of shark attacks already this summer does compare to previous years?

CORWIN: So, there have been a lot of attacks this year. And thankfully, we did not have a significant amount of fatalities. The most significant shark attack that we've had was actually in the Caribbean where a woman lost an appendage when she was scuba diving. Actually, she was snorkeling and was likely hit by a bull shark.

But thankfully, we have not had any extreme attacks as of yet that I am aware of, but they are up, and I think that has a lot to do with a lot of people spending a lot of time at the beach in the water. We are also seeing an increase in shark attacks. There you go, it's up by one. Not so bad. Am I reading that right?

CAMEROTA: You're reading it right, but it is only -- I mean, we're only halfway through the summer at most, maybe a third way through the summer. I was just wondering because there seems to be so many sightings. I know you'll probably say that they are just being reported more, people have more cellphones. But it feels like there are more. I mean, do you understand why people are feeling a little freaked out this summer?

CORWIN: Absolutely, because we're seeing an increase in shark numbers in New England. And we've mentioned this before, because the seal population is increasing, gray seals, harbor seals, well, that is the ultimate buffet treat for sharks. That's why we're seeing more sharks here.

And along Florida, the southeast coast, we're seeing more sharks because there is a lot of fishing going on and there is a lot of shark fishing going on and a lot of interactivity, and that is likely increasing sharks.

It is also the breeding season. People are there for all the fish and the healthy ecosystem. The sharks are there for the same reason. They're popping (ph) at their nurseries. We've had a lot of rain. You know what it has been like in New York. Here in Massachusetts, it has been raining 4th of July. That turbidity in the water makes it hard for sharks to discern between a tasty fish and a human being.

CAMEROTA: Yeah. I don't like that. Jeff, I also want to get to this video that you sent us of a whale being caught in fishing gear. Just tell us how dangerous obviously this is for the whale but also for the people trying to rescue the whale.

CORWIN: Well, this is -- this is a horrible situation that we're in right now. This is a North Atlantic right whale. Alisyn, only three -- we were just discussing this recently. And because of our conversation, I've really delved into this situation. It's really catastrophic. Three hundred and forty remaining North Atlantic right whales. They're getting hit by container ships and other vessels when they navigate from Florida up north.

The climate change is affecting the fisheries in the north, but they are getting entangled in fishing gear. Here, we see a crew. We have crews from NOAA. The Center for Coastal Studies which are experts at going in like we see right here, this is dangerous work. These folks with the Center for Coastal Studies and with the IFAW, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, they're doing whatever they can to save the species.


Alisyn, they only produced 11 surviving offspring this year. That means this uniquely New England ambassador whale species will become extinct at this rate within the next few years. So, every will matters, which is why we have groups like CCS and IFAW and NOAA out there trying to save these whales.

CAMEROTA: Thanks for alerting us to this desperate situation. Jeff, always great to talk to you. Thanks so much.

CORWIN: My pleasure. Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Monday and Tuesday were the two hottest days ever on planet earth. We will tell you the temperatures, next.



CAMEROTA: Our planet hit its hottest temperature ever. Two new world records were set over the last two days, according to the U.S. National Centers for Environmental Prediction.

The first record was set on Monday when the average global temperature reached 62.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Then yesterday, it climbed even higher to a world record of 62.9 degrees Fahrenheit.

Those temperatures may not seem like a heat wave to the average person but the figures are almost a full-degree Celsius above the average between the years 1979 and 2000, and they represent a new indicator that the earth's climate is heating up faster than anticipated.

Scientists say climate change combined with the warm weather pattern known as El Nino are responsible for these rising temperatures.

On that toasty note, thanks for watching "CNN Tonight." Our coverage continues now.