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Erin Burnett Outfront

Trump's Ex-AG Testifies Trump Was "Detached From Reality"; Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) Is Interviewed About The New Developments On The January 6th Investigation; Capitol Officer: January 6 Mob Like "Something Out Of Medieval Times"; Trump Backs Election Denier, Seeks To Unseat Rep Who Admits He Lost; White House Reiterates Biden Plans To Run For Reelection In 2024; Zelensky: Fighting In Eastern Ukraine Will Go Down In History As "One Of The Most Brutal Battles In Europe"; Senator Spearheading Gun Deal: "This Was A Calling". Aired 7-8p ET

Aired June 13, 2022 - 19:00   ET




Idiotic, BS, completely nuts, just some of the words from Trump insiders who described the former president's claims of a stolen election. This as all eyes on the Attorney General Merrick Garland and whether he will charge Donald Trump.

Plus, it's Donald Trump versus Nikki Haley in South Carolina GOP primary where Trump is backing an election denier and Haley is supporting an incumbent who had stood up to Trump. Who will prevail?

And the whispers are getting louder. Questions from Biden's own party about whether he should run again. We'll speak to a Democrat who says the president should call it quits after one term.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, mentally gone, detached from reality, or just a liar. Well, the star witness in today's January 6th committee hearing was Trump's Attorney General Bill Barr who says in no uncertain terms that he made it clear to Trump that the lies about the stolen election were exactly that, lies. But according to Barr and many other Trump aides who testified, Trump didn't care


WILLIAM BARR, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL: There was never an indication of interest in with the actual facts were. I was somewhat demoralized, because I thought, boy, if he really believes this stuff, he has, you know, lost contact with -- he's become detached from reality if he believes the stuff.


BURNETT: And the so-called stuff that was being peddled by the president and his rag-tag team of lawyers, well, this is how they were described by the Trump aides and officials who looked into them.


BARR: They were idiotic claims, bull -- it was bullshit, crazy. It's completely bogus, and silly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the theory was also completely nuts.

AL SCHMIDT, FORMER PHILADELPHIA CITY COMMISSIONER: Not only was there not evident of 8,000 dead voters voting, in Pennsylvania, there wasn't evidence of eight.


BURNETT: And tonight, new questions about whether the former president broke the law amid revelations that Trump's campaign raised $250 million, otherwise said as a quarter of a billion dollars based on election fraud lies. Yet, according to the committee, most of the money went into a PAC, and the PAC that wasn't even used to actually try to overturn the results.

All of this is a lot for Attorney General Merrick Garland to think as he ultimately makes the decision, because it will be his decision on whether to charge Donald Trump or not. Tonight, though, he is making it clear he is paying close attention


MERRICK GARLAND, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I am watching and I will be watching all the hearings


BURNETT: Jessica Schneider begins our coverage OUTFRONT live on Capitol Hill.

And, Jessica, what are you learning about what we can expect from the committee's next public hearing, which obviously, is again going to be this week scheduled for Wednesday morning?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Erin, we have five more hearings for the committee to build out its case here. So, Wednesday, at 10:00 a.m., Vice Chair Liz Cheney says they will be delving into Trump's quest to corrupt department officials with those election fraud lies. We're expecting some former DOJ official to testify. But today, though, was a who's who of former Trump aides who all agreed, Erin, that there was no widespread election fraud.


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): The January 6th Committee back to spotlight how former President Trump was intent on spreading lies about the 2020 election being stolen, choosing to listen to his allegedly drunk adviser Rudy Giuliani on election night, instead of the aides telling Trump he was likely to lose. BILL STEPIEN, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: My recommendation was to

say that votes were still being counted. It's too early to tell, but the president disagreed with that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was there anyone in that conversation who, in your observation, had had too much to drink?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the mayor was definitely intoxicated.

SCHNEIDER: Giuliani's lawyer denies Giuliani was drunk. It was Giuliani's advice that the former president ultimately followed that night.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: Frankly, we did win this election.

SCHNEIDER: The committee playing taped depositions from former Trump advisers, including his former campaign adviser Bill Stepien who was a no-show at the hearing after his wife went into labor. Multiple former officials including a Trump White House lawyer and the president's own attorney general, Bill Barr, explained that the conspiracy theories Trump was voicing were flat out false, including the one about Dominion voting machines switching votes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I never saw any evidence whatsoever to sustain those allegations.

BARR: I told them it was crazy stuff and they were wasting their time.

SCHNEIDER: President Trump refused to listen, despite Barr repeatedly shooting down the lies.


BARR: The claims of fraud were bullshit, completely bogus and silly based on complete misinformation. I thought, boy, if he really believes this stuff he has, you know, lost contact with -- he's become detached from reality.

SCHNEIDER: Witness testimony portrayed President Trump as grasping at conspiracy theories after he lost the election.

BARR: He said more people voted in Philadelphia than there were voters and that was absolutely rubbish. There was nothing strange about the Philadelphia turnout.

RICHARD DONOGHUE, TRUMP ERA DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE OFFICIAL: There were so many of these allegations that when you gave him the very direct answer on one of them, he wouldn't fight us on it, but he would move to another allegation.

SCHNEIDER: Stepien said he considered himself part of, quote, team normal on the Trump campaign, as oppose to Rudy Giuliani's team, which included former Trump adviser Peter Navarro who were pushing multiple false claims.

ALEX CANNON, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: I mentioned at that time that Chris Krebs had recently released a report saying the election was secure and I believe Mr. Navarro accused me of being an agent of the deep state working with Chris Krebs against the president.

SCHNEIDER: Pushing the big lie turned out to be highly lucrative. The committee alleging Trump raised $250 million from donors based on those lies.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On November 9, 2020, President Trump created a separate entity called the Save America PAC. Most of the money raised went to this newly created PAC, not to election related litigation.

SCHNEIDER: The committee saying $5 million of the $250 million went to the company that put on the January 6th rally at the ellipse near the White House. That morphed into a march on the capitol and ultimately, the insurrection.


SCHNEIDER (on camera): And Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren even claims the committee has evidence that Trump's family members personally benefited from that money that was raised. Erin, Congresswoman Lofgren says that Kimberly Guilfoyle, the fiancee of Donald Trump Jr., she says that she was paid $60,000 as a speaking fee to speak at the ellipse of that rally before the January 6th Capitol attack.

Erin, we reached out to Kimberly Guilfoyle, but so far, no comment.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Jessica.

And I want to go OUTFRONT now to a member of the House January 6 Committee, Democratic Congressman Jamie Raskin.

And, Congressman, I always appreciate your time.

It does seem -- you heard the reporting there -- but it seems watching this that your committee is making the case that financial crimes were committed here. And, of course, you know more than we do at this point. Do you believe there is a criminal case?

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): Well, the key point that came across today was that Donald Trump was perfectly aware that he was telling the big lie. He was being told by everyone from his campaign manager, Bill Stepien, to the attorney general United States, William Barr, to all of his campaign advisers, family, that this thing was over and, you know, he really needed to let it go.

And Stepien was pretty clear about that, Attorney General Barr said all his claims were bogus, nonsense, BS, and so on.

And yet, they continued to disseminate the big lie, and then to raise a lot of money on it, more than $200 million.

So, again, we're less concerned with whether or not there was a specific statutory offense committed than making clear to the public that there was no rational basis upon which anyone could conclude that he had actually won the election. And nobody is -- nobody is contending that today, at least I haven't heard anybody challenge the overwhelming weight of this evidence.

BURNETT: So, in a testimony you played from Bill Barr --Barr, as you pointed out, he said it again and again, he told Trump that these conspiracy theories of election fraud, they were false and they were misguided. And then he said about Trump, quote, if he really believes the stuff, he has, you know, lost contact with -- he's become detached from reality.

Congressman, this is a crucial point. Do you think it is possible that Trump became detached from reality? That he really just lost it? That he started to believe all that stuff? That he was not intentionally misleading people?

RASKIN: Well --

BURNETT: Or do you know that he knew -- that he knew and he did -- he did know it was a lie?

RASKIN: You know, the president, the vice president, the cabinet, all of those people rejected the House of Representatives' effort to get them to invoke the 25th Amendment, to at least meet consult on that question. So, at this point it's kind of moot.

We have to assume that he was a rational actor, and I do assume that he was a rational actor. There was a lot of money still to be made based on this bogus, BS claim as the attorney general put it. And they raced more than $250 million on it.

You know, when a political campaign is over, it's almost impossible for the losing candidate to raise any money at that point, because nobody really wants to invest in a lost cause, a cause that's already gone.



RASKIN: And yet, he figured out a way to keep the money flowing in by claiming that he had won the election and there they were somehow battling it out, even after 60 courts had already rejected every claim of electoral fraud and corruption that they had suggested.

BURNETT: So the only person putting this forward and stuff out in detail aggressively is the former president. He's put out a 12-page statement. And he goes through all of this again and again -- you know, look, even putting him something to see that they don't -- they don't even put on Fox News, because it has been debunked. But nonetheless, he's going through it here line by line.

In it he says, Congressman, I'm sure you've not had a chance to read it, we just got it. But there's a couple of lines here that are particularly important for your committee. He says MAGA witnesses were interrogated behind closed doors and order to not record their own testimony, yet the unselect pseudo-committee has coordinated with their media puppets to broadcaster their witnesses on national television without any opposition, cross examination, or rebuttal evidence.

What are the members of this treasonous committee afraid of? Why can't they let the countervailing opinion be heard? Why are they hiding evidence from the public and only showing information that favors the Democrats tall tale?

I can give you 12 more pages where that came from, Congressman, but I want to give you a chance to respond to that.

RASKIN: Well, let's start with this. There have been efforts to challenge the legitimacy of our committee, and they've all failed in court. The courts have repeatedly upheld the composition of our committee, the purpose of our committee, and the legitimate legal and legislative function of our committee. So, all of that is silly.

Nobody has disputed a single fact that the committee has reported. We are a bipartisan committee that has undertaken a deadly serious, solemn investigation into the worst domestic attack on the Capitol, on the United States Congress in our history, the first one to interrupt the peaceful transfer of power.

So, I understand that there might be more bogus, nonsense, BS claims coming from the former president. But that's just quoting his own attorney general, William Barr, who he praised so much over the years.

BURNETT: He did praise him. And you're right, that is the attorney general. You played him saying about the president today.

I want to ask you one other thing today that stood out. It's got a lot of people talking, Congressman, and that was the allegations in the hearing today that Rudy Giuliani was drunk on election night. That's when he went to advise Trump to declare victory, to do it early, but the context was that he was presumably drunk.

Now, Giuliani's lawyer is now denying this allegation, but I wanted to understand from you why you felt it was important to include?

RASKIN: I don't know that it was important to include, because I really cannot tell the difference between those two conditions for him, and it doesn't make any difference because what he was spouting as Attorney General Barr said, and these numerous witnesses confirmed, was complete nonsense. And he was telling fairytales about foreign leaders and deceased communists and so on. It was just one absurdity after another.

And, you know, I think the reason why Congresswoman Lofgren decided to include that portion, was simply to show that Donald Trump was being advised by serious lawyer, serious campaign advisers, campaign manager that this thing was basically over, and that it was a hopeless enterprise, and on the other hand, you had Rudy Giuliani who may or may not have been inebriated at that point but who's recommending that he go out and declare that he's actually won the election. So, that's an absurd situation and it's one that is reflective of

generally the path that Donald Trump was on. He was recycling the most absurd claims in order to tell the big lie, keep raising money, and then leading all the way up to the disaster that took place on January 6th.

BURNETT: All right. Congressman Raskin, I appreciate your time as always. Thank you.

RASKIN: You bet.

BURNETT: And I want to go to Gloria Borger now our, chief political analyst.

So, Gloria, when you hear Congressman Raskin, you know, that was important how he addressed the Giuliani point, but that talking about today. And, you know, where do you think we are? Obviously, we're just two in here. We got another week and a half of hearings.

But where are we?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think what we saw today is a portrayal of a president who was kind of this island inside the White House with the people who really worked for him, who -- for whom he had a great deal of respect that one time or another.


You have his former attorney general. You have Bill Stepien who ran his campaign. You have lawyer after lawyer saying, you know, this is rubbish, you shouldn't believe this. There's nothing going on here.

And then you had this president listening, apparently, and then deciding that he was going to listen to or believe, we're not sure which it is, right, listen to, or believe the likes of Rudy Giuliani and the rest who came from the outside and kind of invaded the White House, if you will, because these were the people who were willing to talk about the conspiracy theories.

It's important for people to understand, we always say, I wonder what was going on inside the White House. Well, this is what was going on inside the White House. Rudy Giuliani was the Trump whisperer and the people who worked for the president, actually worked for the president, were trying to figure out how to deal with Rudy Giuliani and the president of the United States.

And so what the committee is doing is drawing a line and saying, look, he wouldn't believe then, he believed this hocus pocus and then they're going to draw a line in the future about how that led to what occurred on January 6th and tell the people who went to the rally that day that they were played. They were played by the president.

BURNETT: And, you know, when you look at these 12 pages the former president just put out.

BORGER: Yeah, I'm looking through it. BURNETT: You know, look, the most basic reporting has debunked every

single thing in here, right? Reporting when you go to Republican officials in Georgia and go through -- it's bogus, OK?

But the reason I mention it is that what it shows is that this election fraud lie is not going to end with these hearings. It is not going away. The fact, you got the former president standing up for it in the 12 pages making it clear he somehow still believes, makes it clear he could be going to run for president again, talking about how he is ahead in the polls in that regard.

But you got in Pennsylvania, one of the key attorneys for the former president during this election fraud now going to be a senior legal adviser for the Trump-backed Republican nominee for governor in Pennsylvania, Doug Mastriano.

BORGER: Right.

BURNETT: So the players at the core of the election lie are now core in one of the most crucial elections coming up this fall.

BORGER: And, of course, as he pointed out him, Mastriano himself has pointed out, that if he were the win he would appoint the next secretary of state in the state of Pennsylvania, which as you know very well, is a battleground state.

Yes, this is now very common all over the country. You got election deniers running for secretary of state in about 18 states. And they could win. And this is all a result of what we saw take place and still continuing under the leadership of Donald Trump throughout the country, which is that people cannot believe their own elections and this was a president who refused to have peaceful transfer of power which is at the core of our democracy. If you don't have that, you don't have our democracy.

BURNETT: All right. Gloria, thank you very much.

And next, I'm going to speak to Capitol police sergeant who was trampled by the rioters on January 6th. Hearings are personal to him. He almost lost his life. So what did he hear today?

Plus, Trump versus Nikki Haley, now pitted against each other in a race that is an election denier against an incumbent who stood up to Trump.


NIKKI HALEY, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: What I love about Nancy, she is not a push-over.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: You have another horrendous RINO known as crazy Nancy Mace.


BURNETT: And Democratic doubts about Biden are growing louder. I'm going to talk to one member of the DNC who says the president shouldn't run again. Why?



BURNETT: Something out of medieval times. That is exactly what Officer Eugene Goodman today called the January 6th attack on the Capitol. Goodman was testifying at the trial of Kevin Seefried and his son, they carried the Confederate flag through the Capitol. The flag, Officer Goodman says, Seefried jabbed at him repeatedly. Goodman, you may remember, is the officer who led senators away as attackers tried to breach the Senate floor.

OUTFRONT now, one of the heroes of January 6th who risked his life to protect America's Capitol, Capitol Police Sergeant Aquilino Gonell.

And, Sergeant Gonell, I really appreciate your time, and I'm glad to speak with you again. We heard from Officer Goodman today as the second hearing was unfolding for the January 6th committee, how do you feel watching these hearings on Capitol Hill and seeing footage American citizens have never seen but you actually lived through?

SGT. AQUILINO GONELL, U.S. CAPITOL POLICE: Thanks for having me, Erin.

I don't know, I think it's good that the American people get to see what actually happened instead of getting their information from one source. And a source that is continuing lying to them and kind of like don't believe your own lying eyes. And I think the American people need to look at the evidence. I think the January 6th committee is doing a great job presenting the information, to let them know that what happened on January 6th was a political and judicially, a great danger to our system, democratic system and our democracy.

BURNETT: So, Sergeant, today, the January 6th committee played a lot of the testimony of former Attorney General Bill Barr and specifically, they played, when he took on Trump's claims that the Dominion voting machines manipulated votes and that that is what cost him the election. And Barr told the January 6th Select Committee that he warned Trump that this was complete nonsense about the voting machines and for Trump to keep saying this was, in Barr's words, a grave disservice to the country.

But Trump continued to push that conspiracy theory about the voting machines again and again and again and that Trump supporters who went to the Capitol where you were on January 6th, they believed him.


Here they are.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Vote early, it went well, except you can't really trust the software. Dominion software. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We voted, and right in the top, right hand

corner of the Dominion voting machine we used, there was a Wi-Fi symbol with five bars, so that most definitely connected to the Internet, without a doubt. So they stole that from us twice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two hundred thousand people that weren't even registered voted, 430,000 votes disappeared from President Trump's tally.


BURNETT: So, even now, when you hear this, the people who attacked you, and your hand was smashed, your shoulder was torn, you had surgery on your foot. They believed Trump's lie and they acted violently because of it. Do you think, sergeant, that he will be held accountable?

GONELL: I hope so. Like I said, the January 6th is doing a great job laying out the evidence. It's up to the Department of Justice to make that determination. I hope, it's personal to me, and I hope that if their charges are warranted and there is enough evidence to make those charges, regardless who that person is, or what position in our government or our government they hold, that those people should be held accountable. Because on January 6th, January 6th happened and the person in the White House was doing, orchestrating, and planning of these things.

If he gets back in power, there's no saying or telling what else is going to happen if he gets back to power. And those people who aid and abetted him in terms of orchestrating this horrific day in our history should be also held accountable. I'm disappointed that some of these individuals, especially like on today's hearing, they came forward because there was subpoena or they were investigating. My thing is that I should have come forward sooner during the impeachment and tell the American people what they witness.

BURNETT: Sergeant Gonell, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

GONELL: Thank you for having me.

BURNETT: All right. And next, two South Carolina Republicans who stood up to Trump after January 6th now fighting to keep their jobs. Voters in their state head to the polls. We are hours away from that crucial primary. Will they be punished for taking on Trump?

And the White House, making it clear today that Biden is running for re-election after several voices in the Democratic party are publicly voicing serious doubt.



BURNETT: Tonight, hours ahead of a major test for Trump, a key primary in South Carolina pitting a Trump-backed challenger against GOP incumbent, Nancy Mace. And vocal Trump supporter Nikki Haley, the former governor of South Carolina, she's backing Mace, going against Trump. This is a crucial race and a crucial test and Jeff Zeleny is OUTFRONT.


NIKKI HALEY, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: What I love about Nancy, she is not a push-over.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Congresswoman Nancy Mace is locked in a tough Republican primary, and getting a big hand from Nikki Haley, a former South Carolina governor who served in President Trump's cabinet.

HALEY: You may not agree with 100 percent of everything she does but she is fighting for you everyday.

ZELENY: Her fight complicated by none other than the former president, intent on defeating Mace since she voted to certify the 2020 election, over the objections of Trump and his followers.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: You have another horrendous RINO known as crazy Nancy Mace.

ZELENY: Along the South Carolina coastline, and the state's vast Lowcountry, the power of Trump's persuasion faces yet another test on Tuesday, in two congressional races with heated Republican primary contests. Trump set his sights not only on Mace, the first female graduate of the Citadel Military Academy, but also on Congressman Tom Rice, one of 10 House Republicans who voted for impeachment.

As a select congressional committee shines a more damning light on Trump's conduct in office, the next round of GOP primaries offers a new moment to measure the party's mood and direction and also highlights a rare divide between Haley, the former U.N. ambassador who is fully behind mace and Trump, who's backing her rival, Katie Arrington.

KATIE ARRINGTON (R), SOUTH CAROLINA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Who is excited to see Donald J. Trump? I am. I've been waiting a couple of weeks to see big daddy come home and I cannot wait.

ZELENY: She embraces election fraud conspiracies and accuses her rival of turning her back on Trump.

ARRINGTON: The Liz Cheney of the South, none other than Nancy Mace.

ZELENY: At a weekend campaign stop.

REP. NANCY MACE (R-SC): You have to nominate someone who knows how to win.

ZELENY: Mace told us she has no regrets over certifying the election and speaking out against the violent attack on the Capitol.

MACE: What we couldn't do, allow one person the vice-president of the United States to overturn the results of a presidential election, then you're setting a precedent that Kamala Harris can do that in 2024.

ZELENY: Yet, she took just gently around Trump, and has dialed back some of those early critiques. Not so for Rice who served in Congress for nine years, and stands by his vote to impeach, even if it costs him re-election to Russell Fry, a Trump-backed state lawmaker.

REP. TOM RICE (R-SC): If doing the right thing costs me an election, then I'll wear it like a badge. I think Donald Trump is the past and we need to move on.

ZELENY: You think Donald Trump is the past?

RICE: Absolutely. I think he was a very consequential president. I think we got a lot of good things done that lifted a lot of people.


But I think he's the past now and we need to move on to somebody else.

ZELENY: It's far from certain whether most Republicans are ready to move on, but several voters supporting Rice and Mace say they feel no obligation to follow Trump's lead.

JOHN MCAULEY, VOTER: He makes misspeaks a lot, you know? I mean, I like him, I think he was a great president, but I don't agree with him coming in and trying to influence this election.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm a Trump supporter, and I'm also a very big Nancy Mace supporter.


BURNETT: It just shows you people can have these two points of view, right, in one person. So, Jeff, I know you spoke with both mace and rice and both handling Trump in very different raw ways.

ZELENY: Erin, they are, and records are different. I mean, Nancy Mace did not vote to impeach Donald Trump, Rice did. That could be a definer tomorrow night when the votes are cast here, but Nancy Mace clearly is touting her America first policy, she calls it. She clearly is cueing a closer line, trying to, you know, really get those some of those Trump voters. And our conversations with these voters, Erin, as we heard last month in Georgia and other states as well, people are perfectly happy to support Donald Trump and not follow his lead.

Tom Rice has a much harder hill to climb tomorrow, no question at all, but Erin, as this is all unfolding with the January 6th hearings back in Washington, certainly reviving Trump's role in all of this, we'll see if it affects tomorrow's election.

BURNETT: That's going to be crucial.

All right. Jeff Zeleny, thank you very much from Charleston tonight.

And next, the whispers for Biden to step aside in 2024 are not really whispers anymore. I'm going to talk to a member of the DNC who says it is time for a new Democratic ticket in 2024.

Plus, chilling new video from Russian attack helicopters taking out a crucial Ukrainian stronghold.



BURNETT: Tonight, U.S. stocks plunging. The S&P 500 down, as you can see nearly 900 points. Bear market territory for the Dow, down nearly 900.

Look, it's been grim, and just more grim news, adding to the economic anxiety that has been gripping the United States. The White House insists the American people are, quote, well-positioned to face these challenges.

The White House also says President Biden intends to run for re- election, reassurance after influential Democratic Congressman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez struggled to answer a very simple question. Would she support Biden in 2024?


REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): We'll cross that bridge when we get to it, but I think if the president has a vision and that's something certainly we're all willing to entertain and examine when the time comes.

DANA BASH, CNN HOST: That's not a yes.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: I believe that the president has been doing a very good job so far and, you know, should he run again, I think that I -- you know, it's -- we'll take a look at it.


BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, Steve Simeonidis, who's a Florida-based member of the Democratic National Committee. He's taken a look at it. He says Biden should announce he's not running for re-election as soon as midterms are over.

And, Steve, I appreciate your time.

I want to be clear: you're a member of the DNC. You are a supporter of President Biden, right? So, let's just put that out there. But you don't think he should run for re-election. How come?


First of all, I think Joe Biden has done an amazing job as president. He's passed some historic legislation in the infrastructure bill. He's really helped to regulate ghost guns through ATF. He's helped student loan borrowers significantly since he took office and most importantly, perhaps, with regards to the Russian aggression, he's effectively led a NATO coalition so far.

The problem is, he's not and his administration is not effectively communicating those wins, which is part of the reason you're seeing his approval ratings hover in the 30s.

BURNETT: So, okay. But what's your reason for, I mean is that your reason for not thinking he should run again, or is it just quite simply as David Axelrod said, at the end of his next term, he'd be closer to 90 than 80, what is the reason?

SIMEONIDIS: It's a host of factors. The first being that the approval rating is not where it should be at this point, but also more importantly, if you look at the polls with regards to the direction of the country, less than a quarter of Americans think our country is on the right track. With polls like that, people are going to be looking for a changed candidate. They're not going to be looking to vote for an incumbent with approval ratings down in the 30s.

BURNETT: So let me ask you, the former president just put out a 12- page screed about the January 6th committee and at the end he says something important. He says, this is merely -- talk about the January 6th committee -- an attempt to stop a man that is leading in every poll against both Republicans and Democrats by wide margins from running again for the presidency. They're doing everything in their power to stop me, but we can't be stop. We have to save America.

So President Biden says he's running again. Trump's statement certainly suggests that he is too, which would put the United States in for a repeat of 2020.

Does that change your view?

SIMEONIDIS: No, I mean no matter who the Republican nominee is, if '16 and '20 are any guide, it's going to wind up being a fascist, our democracy is going to be at stake. The stakes could not be higher and in that situation, every Democrat should want to put the best nominee forward.

Just because we were successful with one plan of action in 2020, things are much different in 2024 when you're talking about now he's an incumbent and he needs to wind up -- the 2024 election is not going to be something you can win remotely. You can largely campaign from one location back in 2020.

In this situation, you're going to wind up having an 80-year-old man with the most pressure-cooker job on the planet needing to also full- time run a nationwide campaign which is a significant ask and again, we're still dealing with him starting out with very low approval ratings.

BURNETT: All right. Steve, thank you very much. I appreciate your time.

SIMEONIDIS: Thank you.

BURNETT: And next, horrific scenes of deadly street fighting that is now taking place in what Ukraine's president calls one of the most brutal battles in European history.

Plus, Senator Chris Murphy, he's made it his mission to pass gun control laws. He's dedicated a decade to it and tonight, he is closer than he's ever been.


BURNETT: Tonight, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says the intense fighting underway in Eastern Ukraine will go down in history as, quote, one of the most brutal battles in Europe. And it comes as Ukrainian military officials say they have been pushed out of the center of the crucial city of Severodonetsk. It was one of the last major cities standing in Putin's way of controlling the entire Donbas region of Eastern Ukraine.

Matthew Chance is OUTFRONT.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There's no end in sight to this war, but its horror is plain to see.


An old woman crosses herself in prayer as troops fight street to street.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get back, get back.

CHANCE: It's the battle in and around the city of Severodonetsk where the Ukrainian president says the fate of Donbas in eastern Ukraine is being decided.

But it seems more a case of when, not if, this devastated region will fall into Russian hands.

The embattled Ukrainian president is again expressing his frustration. Ukraine needs modern missile defense systems, he says in his latest address. Did we get them? No. Do we need them? Yes.

On both sides, there are signs of fatigue setting in, but these latest images from the Russian defense ministry show its forces on the offensive. A squadron of attack helicopters hitting what Russian military officials say are Ukrainian positions. Target hit, the pilot reports.

Thanks very much, guys. God be with you, comes the response.

By concentrating its fire, Russia appears to be gaining momentum.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Operational tactical and army aviation hit three Ukrainian command posts in 25 areas of concentration of manpower and military equipment. As a result, more than 150 Ukrainian nationals, 6 tanks, 5 field artillery pieces and 10 special vehicles for various purposes were destroyed. CHANCE: Of course, Russia is paying a heavy price for waging this

war, what it calls its special military operation in Ukraine too. It's estimated to have lost thousands of troops and countless tanks and other armored vehicles, some of which have been placed here in the center of the capital, Kyiv, on public display.

But nearly four months into this grinding and relentless conflict, Ukraine seems dangerously outnumbered and outgunned.

From the black sea, Russia's naval bombardment continues apace. These four cruise missiles fired at a warehouse of anti-tank weapons supplied by the United States and its allies according to the Russian military. Ukraine says the missiles hit mostly residential areas in the West of the country, injuring 22 civilians, including a 12-year- old child.

Of course, Ukrainian forces are fighting back, like here near the northeastern city of Kharkiv, where they say this old captured Russian rocket launcher has been turned on the invaders.

But Ukrainian officials say they need many more long-range weapons from the U.S. and its western allies if they are to push or even hold the Russians back.


CHANCE (on camera): But, Erin, when Ukrainian officials say more, they mean a lot more. They're talking about 500 tanks, 300 rocket launcher systems, 1,000 howitzer field guns, 2,000 armored vehicles, all to achieve what they call heavy weapons parity necessary, they say, to end this war.

BURNETT: Matthew Chance, thank you so much in Kyiv tonight.

And next, he has been fighting his entire Senate career to pass a gun safety bill. Tonight, Senator Chris Murphy is on the cusp of accomplishing a goal that is so personal to him.



BURNETT: Tonight, Senator John Cornyn, the lead Republican negotiator on gun legislation, telling CNN he expects a gun safety bill on the Senate floor by next week. It is the first bit of progress on an issue that Democratic Senator Chris Murphy has championed for a decade.

Sunlen Serfaty is OUTFRONT.


SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This picture and quote from Mister Rogers has been hanging in Senator Murphy's office for a decade.

SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): It's a quote about the importance of helpers.

SERFATY: First going up in the days after the 2012 shootings in Newtown, remaining on the wall through over 3,000 mass shootings and multiple legislative failures on gun control since.

Today, Murphy is testing his own ability to be a helper, tantalizingly close to reaching a deal on Capitol Hill that for his entire career in the Senate has been out of reach.

In December of 2012, 20 children were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in his home district. Murphy, then only 39 years old at the time, had won his election to the Senate only a month before and hadn't even been sworn into office yet.

With two young sons of his own, the personal impact he felt as a father fueled his response.

MURPHY: My oldest son is the same age as those kids in sandy hook. He just finished first grade. My wife and I are the same age as those parents, and I am furious.

SERFATY: This thrust the new senator into the center of one of the most politically complicated and emotionally charged debates.

MURPHY: I never imagined that my maiden speech would be about guns or about gun violence.

SERFATY: A debate he admits he was entirely unprepared for.

MURPHY: I'm pretty embarrassed that prior to Sandy Hook, I hadn't worked on the issue of gun violence.

SERFATY: Ten years later --

MURPHY: What are we doing?

SERFATY: -- the issue has become central to his political identity and a personal quest.

MURPHY: This, you know, was a calling and a mission in a way that I, you know, had never felt before.

SERFATY: Murphy tried to capitalize on fresh political will in the wake of each new shooting to push through new gun control laws.

MURPHY: I'm going to remain on this floor until we get some signal, some sign that we can come together.

SERFATY: And then harnessing the outrage --

SEN. MAZIE HIRONO (D-HI): The amendment is not agreed to.

SERFATY: -- when those efforts failed.

MURPHY: I'm at my wits' end. SERFATY: Murphy along with his Republican counterparts are trying

again, and he says this time feels different.

MURPHY: I still think there are more paths to failure than there are to success, but we've never gotten this far on complicated, comprehensive negotiations before.

SERFATY: The fate of a deal still hanging in the balance on Capitol Hill for the country and for Murphy to deliver for Newtown.

MURPHY: As much as I will feel a professional failure if I don't make a difference on this issue before I hang up my spikes, it's almost -- it's almost more devastating, the sense of personal failure to them.

SERFATY: Sunlen Serfaty, CNN, Washington.


BURNETT: And Senator Chris Murphy is joining Anderson tonight. Thanks for joining us.

"AC360" begins now.