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Erin Burnett Outfront

Prosecutors: Bannon "Decided He Was Above The Law"; All 16 Fake Trump Electors In Georgia Now Targets In Criminal Probe; Putin In Iran, Days After Russians Visited To Examine Drones; Griner's Ex-Coach Speaks Out After Decrying U.S.'s "Disgusting" Response; Uvalde School Officials Have Informed Police Chief Arredondo That Board Intends To Meet To Decide His Fate; U.K. Sees Hottest Day Ever, 21 European Countries Have Warnings. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired July 19, 2022 - 19:00   ET



ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, above the law. Prosecutors in the trial of Steve Bannon arguing the Trump insider defied Congress by blowing off a subpoena. As Bannon tonight lashes out at the chairman of the January 6th committee, calling him gutless.

Plus, Georgia prosecutors telling 16 fake electors they are targets in a criminal probe. So what does that mean for Trump himself?

And basketball star Brittney Griner in Russian custody since February, her former coach is speaking out tonight. Why he called the U.S. government's handling of Griner's case disgusting.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, above the law. Federal prosecutors making a simple case tonight against Steve Bannon who they say is guilty of blatantly defying the January 6 Select Committee. Now, Bannon is facing two contempt charges, if convicted he's looking at jail time. The man once dubbed Donald Trump's brain, Bannon leaving court after the first day of testimony, lashing out at the January 6 committee and specifically at its chairman, Bennie Thompson.


STEVE BANNON, FORMER TRUMP ADVISER: He's too gutless to come over here himself. He's made it a crime -- made it a crime, not a civil charge, of wanting my testimony, but a crime. And he didn't have the courage or guts to show up here and he sent a staffer.


BURNETT: Now here is the thing. Bannon now suddenly, right, after all these months, says he's willing to testify before the January 6th committee. But according to Thompson, Bannon hasn't even handed over the documents they've demanded in advance of an appearance which he has refused to do until this final hour. Federal investigators called Bannon's offer to testify nine months

after first rejecting the subpoena a stunt, just pure and simple. Bannon still is important in the January 6 investigation, and the reason why the committee wanted to hear from him in the first place is because he is a key player in Trump's attempt to cling on to power.

Just listen to him three days before the election.


BANNON: What Trump's going to do is just declare victory. Right. He's going to declare victory. That doesn't mean he's the winner. He's just going to say he's the winner.


BURNETT: All right. So he said it, right? This is what he said publicly. Declare victory even if Trump doesn't win. And up until January 6th, Bannon continued to push the lie that Trump won and the election was stolen, even after all the votes had been counted, recounted in many states, and formally certified.


BANNON: We're here for reality. Trump won a massive landslide on the 3rd of November.


BURNETT: He even is the one who convinced Trump to return to Washington from Mar-a-Lago. Remember Trump had gone off and probably wasn't even going to come back at all, but then he came back for the stop the steal rally.

According to Bob Woodward in a book, he said, quote, you have to return to Washington, make a dramatic return today, this is Bannon to Trump. People are going to go, what the F is going on here. We're going to bury Biden on January. F'ing bury him.

Bannon spoke to Trump twice on the day before the insurrection and after one of those calls, literally just a few minutes later, he's doing his radio show, gets off the phone with the president of the United States and tells his listeners, quote, all hell is going to break loose tomorrow.

Sara Murray is OUTFRONT live in Washington outside the courthouse where Bannon appeared earlier today.

So, Sara, what more can you tell us about what happened inside the courtroom where you are?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, the trial got off to a little bit of a slow start today, but it certainly ended on a fiery note as Steve Bannon railed against the January 6 committee after a day of opening statements in the case.


BANNON: It's a fine navy day.

MURRAY (voice-over): Steve Bannon's trial moving ahead with the judge finally swearing in the jury and both sides making opening statements. The prosecutor arguing Bannon blocked Congress from getting information it needed about January 6 because it was a subpoena, Congress was entitled to the information it sought.

It wasn't optional. It wasn't a request. It wasn't an invitation. It was mandatory, said prosecutor Amanda Vaughn, adding Bannon was warned in a letter if he refused to comply he could be federally prosecuted.

This is not a case of mistake, Vaughn said. The defendant didn't get the date wrong. He didn't get confused on where to go. He didn't get stuck on a broken down metro car. He just refused to follow the rules.

Vaughn adding the defendant showed his contempt for U.S. Congress, U.S. government, and that he's guilty.


The House Select Committee investigating the insurrection wanted to know about Bannon's interactions with Trump and his predictions ahead of January 6th.

BANNON: All hell is going to break loose tomorrow. It's not going to happen like you think it's going to happen, okay? It's going to be quite extraordinarily different. And all I can say is strap in.

MURRAY: But after the Trump ally and former White House strategist defied a subpoena he was charged with criminal contempt of Congress.

BANNON: We're going to go on the offense on this and stand by.

MURRAY: He pleaded not guilty to two contempt charges and faces at least 30 days behind bars if convicted.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is Steve Bannon and he's innocent of these charges, Bannon attorney Evan Corcoran proclaimed in his opening statement.

Fleshing out Bannon's biography with tidbits about his service in the Navy and current podcast, Corcoran got to the heart of his defense, claiming lawyers were still negotiating about the subpoena including the date.

There was no ignoring the subpoena, the Bannon attorney argued. There will be no evidence showing that.

Leaving court today an impassioned Bannon took aim at committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, who just tested positive for COVID.

BANNON: Have the guts and the courage -- the guts and the courage -- to show up here and say exactly why it's a crime. Bennie Thompson is a total absolute disgrace. (EDN VIDEOTAPE)

MURRAY (on camera): Now, obviously, Steve Bannon wanted Bennie Thompson to testify at the trial. The judge did not allow that.

There is still a slight chance the judge could revisit that decision. That all depends on how the prosecution's case plays out -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Sara, thank you.

And I want to go now to Alyssa Farah Griffin. She's the former Trump White House communications director, of course.

Elie Honig is our senior legal analyst and former assistant U.S. attorney for the southern district of New York.

And Juliette Kayyem is our national security analyst and the former assistant secretary of homeland security.

All right. Elie, so you hear Bannon's defense nine months after defying the subpoena for the first time. What do you make of it?


ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Steve Bannon's options and his defenses are narrowing by the day. I think heading into this trial Steve Bannon was expecting to turn this into a political spectacle, to make the speeches we just saw him make outside the courtroom, say they're targeting me because I'm Steve Bannon, because I'm unpopular and where is Bennie Thompson and all that.

But the reality is what happens inside the courtroom is a very different ball game and this judge has run a strict courtroom and he's not allowing any of that nonsense into play, nor should he because it's not relevant. That's left Steve Bannon to argue essentially I thought the subpoena was an opening invitation to negotiate. I think the prosecution's response is going to be, here we are nine months later. He still hasn't said a word or produced a single document.

So, I think that's the field of play moving forward.

BURNETT: I mean, right. Here we are nine months in and no documents, still defying the subpoena. But, Alyssa, they still want to hear from Steve Bannon, right, and we played three days before the election, he's going to declare victory whether he wins or loses. So much of what Bannon said was said publicly and yet there are things the committee thinks they can get from him that may have been private that could be important.

Since you know him, Alyssa, how much influence did he actually have over Trump?

ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: So he had a tremendous amount of influence and kind of stepping back a bit, the fact we're still talking about Steve Bannon in 2022, four years after Donald Trump fired him and claimed he has nothing to do with me, he lost his mind, Steve Bannon is, frankly, in many ways the leader of the current Republican Party and the chief strategist whether Trump admits it or not for many of his worst actions.

I'm of the mind personally he has very little value to offer the committee in terms of testimony, but bank records, potential communications that he has could be very valuable to show the coordination leading up to January 6. Most of the worst things he said openly on his podcast talking about how it's going to be wild, what the rally and the riot is going to look like.

I don't think the committee should actually give him sort of the stature of testifying in open committee. But he absolutely should be complying with the subpoena, and he has no claim to privilege. He hasn't been in the White House in nearly two years.

BURNETT: Right. That's the thing. First of all, the current president has privilege. Secondly, he wasn't even in the White House when this happened.

So, Juliette, when Bannon leaves court today, we heard him, as Elie was saying, right, one of his bombastic speeches, speaks to the committee chair Bennie Thompson in front of the cameras, saying, have the guts and courage to show up here and say why this is a crime, ranting that Thompson himself wasn't on the witness list.

So when you take a step back and look at that, is there any merit in that argument Thompson should be there?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: None whatsoever. But I absolutely loved this scene. And the reason why, I'm looking at all of this activity that can seem confusing in political and legal, I'm looking through the lens of is this going to stop the violence in the future, this ongoing insurrection? And I view the point of -- that point Bannon says he sent a staffer.

I love that because what you want to do to stop violence and to stop violent organizers like Bannon and Trump is you go after them legally.


You go after their monetary base, but you also essentially, you know, bring them down-to-earth, that you want to isolate the leadership. And that is what this trial is doing. Here is this cocky guy talking about taking over the U.S. government in early 2020. Now he's begging to not have a staffer come to a trial of which he's facing criminal prosecution.

I like to say in my technical wonky terms, they're portraying them as losers, and that is how you win a counter radicalization campaign. It just is.

BURNETT: So, Elie, when it comes to the DOJ's other investigations, right, and this is crucial. We talk about fake electors. But Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said today that a potential Trump candidacy, right, if he's going to run again for the White House, will not impact the investigations of January 6th. Now, she had to do that because there had been this huge brouhaha

maybe the DOJ would do the opposite and Trump would be off the table because of this memo from Merrick Garland. Where do you stand on this whole imbroglio?

HONIG: Well, she's correct that if Donald Trump declares for the presidency in 2024, legally that has no impact nor should it have any impact on what DOJ is doing. But left unsaid by Lisa Monaco and other leadership of DOJ, they have put themselves in a real predicament here by the slow pace of their investigation because prosecutors, yes, we live by the law, but you have to live in reality as well. You have to think how is a jury going to perhaps take this case some day?

And if Donald Trump becomes a declared candidate for president, if he becomes the front-runner, even the nominee, good luck getting 12 jurors to convict him unanimously. This is not a vote. This is not a majority rule. You need 12-0.

So, DOJ, look, we don't know exactly -- nobody knows outside of those doors what exactly DOJ is doing. But we do know we're a year and a half out and they're nowhere we can tell within remote sight of Donald Trump or anyone in any position of power. So, they're under the gun now and it's their own doing.

BURNETT: All right, which is one issue there.

Now, Alyssa, another issue is the committee which -- you know, one of these hearings would start in the spring. They have commenced. They have been extremely tightly produced. All of that is true.

Still, that took longer than many people would have thought. Here we are hours ahead of the final scheduled hearing, Thursday night. Again, you know the players. Matthew Pottinger who served as Trump's national deputy security adviser and Sarah Matthews, both are expected to be there Thursday night, both resigned because the events of January 6th.

We've heard a little bit from their recorded testimony but not much. Matthews testified she thought Trump needed to call off the rioters on January 6th.

Here is just a little bit of what we have heard.


SARAH MATTHEWS, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: We all talked at that point about how it was bad and the situation was getting out of hand. I know Ben Williamson and I were conferring, and we thought that the president needed to tweet something and tweet something immediately. Then I remember getting a notification on my phone, and I was sitting in a room with Roma and Ben, and we all got a notification. So we knew it was a tweet from the president. And we looked down, and it was a tweet about Mike Pence.


BURNETT: So, as for Pottinger, he resigned after seeing Trump's tweet attacking Pence for not overturning the election. Here is what he said about it.


MATTHEW POTTINGER, FORMER TRUMP NATIONAL SECCURITY ADVISER: I read that tweet, and made a decision at that moment to resign. That's where I knew that I was leaving that day once I read that tweet.


BURNETT: Alyssa, you know both of these individuals well. How important are they here?

GRIFFIN: They're very important and I think it was a really interesting choice to pair them together. So, Matt Pottinger was the senior most NSC, National Security Council, official at the White House on January 6. Robert O'Brien was out of town. Matt Pottinger has extraordinary credibility on a bipartisan basis across the board. Former "Wall Street Journal" Beijing bureau chief but also Marine Corps veteran, just a very credible person who, by the way, was close with Vice President Mike Pence. I traveled to Southeast Asia with Vice President Pence on two occasions and Matt Pottinger accompanied him and advised him.

But then, secondarily, Sarah Matthews, who I should note, is a personal friend of mine, worked just steps from the Oval Office in upper press in the White House and she's a tried and true Republican. They're not going to be able to attack her by saying she's a RINO. She's a Never Trumper. She came from the Trump campaign. She was hand- picked by Kayleigh McEnany to be her deputy press secretary.



GRIFFIN: She's worked for Republican lawmakers.

So they lend an incredible amount of just credibility of people who are public servants and wanted to be there but were so horrified by the actions that day. And they'll also be able to fill in the tick- tocks.

Sarah is going to know quite a bit about, you know, trying to get the president to denounce the actions, why -- you know, what he was willing and unwilling to say. And Pottinger is going to be able to speak to the national security updates that they were getting, evolving threat environment and what he was learning in real time and likely what was briefed to the president. So, very important in filling in those very important 187 minutes.

BURNETT: Yeah, as you point out, their credibility, you know, cannot be touched here. Juliette, that 187 minutes, sorry, you were interviewed by committee staff on the issues of violence and incitement. So, you do have a window into what they're looking at.

How will this hearing, which will focus on those 187 minutes, how is this going to look? JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: So, they're going to

focus obviously, as Alyssa was saying, on the tick-tock. What does that 187 mean? What's the silence? What is that? And we're calling it dereliction of duty. I think that's only one way to look at it.

The other way is how were his supporters, his violent supporters, interpreting the silence? Dereliction means he didn't do what he was supposed to do. But actually in not doing that, and sitting there in silence, they're reading that as a welcome mat.

His silence is then breeding more of the violence. And we know this to be true because the White House is getting dozens of calls from allies and others in Congress saying get the president out there. He's the only one who can stop him.

And as importantly, when the president finally gets out there, his guys follow, right? His violent leaders follow. I think that understanding of dereliction, that the silence is the incitement, is really key.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: All right. Thank you all very much. As we get ready for that crucial finale as it appears to be for the hearings.

And next, all 16 of Georgia's fake electors warned they are the targets of a Georgia prosecutor's criminal probe. This probe in Georgia could be the most important one. What could this development mean for Trump himself?

Plus, Putin's provocative move, tonight traveling to Iran and holding hands with the leaders of Iran and Turkey. That big, long table is gone by the wayside as U.S. intel points for Putin's next moves.

And tens of millions of people suffering under triple digit temperatures from northern England, the U.S., Europe. Tonight, fires are now breaking out around London.



BURNETT: Tonight, CNN learning all 16 of Georgia's fake electors who tried to overturn Georgia's 2020 election results, turn the state to former President Trump, are now targets of the Fulton County D.A.'s criminal investigation. This is yet another major sign that the investigation into Trump's efforts to overturn the election is proceeding rapidly in Georgia. There has been a flurry of activity in recent days.

Donald Trump's former White House attorney Ty Cobb told us, quote, the Georgia case under the control of the Fulton County district attorney appears to pose a serious threat of indictment to the former president.

Evan Perez is OUTFRONT.

And, Evan, obviously, those words from Ty Cobb are significant, and the Fulton County D.A. is moving quickly, sending letters to all 16 of those fake electors, saying they're no longer just witnesses but targets of a criminal investigation.

Tell me how significant this is, what it could mean for Trump.

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's a big deal for a prosecutor to go -- to go from -- to go from the point position where these people were considered to be witnesses, Erin, and now they are possibly going to face charges. What it tells us the prosecutors believe that there is additional information they've gotten which they believe could lead to charges.

And, of course, these are people who were working directly with the former president's campaign, with his lawyers. We know that they were coordinating this from the former president's campaign and his legal team and, of course, that brings us closer to Donald Trump himself.

And that's the reason Ty Cobb is making that statement. From the Georgia investigation perspective you can see how you can get from the people who were coordinating this effort to advance these fake electors to the former president who was the man driving all of this according to some of the witness testimony we've heard.

BURNETT: Now we mentioned Fulton County and how quickly things are moving there. Just yesterday, we found out the Fulton County D.A. subpoenaed the Republican Congressman Jody Hice, who's a major ally of President Trump who also voted to overturn the election on January 6. "Yahoo! News" reported that she sent, the D.A. sent letters to multiple Georgia Republicans that they could be indicted.

How quickly, Evan, from the context you have is this investigation moving in Georgia, this criminal investigation there, compared to the DOJ?

PEREZ: Well, there's a couple things that are happening. The Georgia investigation, frankly, is a lot simpler. We're talking about one state, right? I think you can see from the speed with which Fani Willis' office is moving they believe they have something they can get at, at least possibly maybe bringing charges and maybe having some of those people end up cooperating against someone higher which would be, of course, the former president.

In the case of the Justice Department they have perhaps a little more complicated investigation because they are looking at the process across seven states, Erin. It's not just Georgia. They are looking at other states and all of these electors, dozens of them. That is a complicated investigation, which is also, by the way, moving more quickly than people realize.

BURNETT: Yeah. All right. Evan Perez, thank you very much.

And next, a stark new warning tonight from the administration after U.S. intelligence reveals Putin's next move in Ukraine.

Plus, Biden takes executive action on Americans detained abroad, Americans like the WNBA star Brittney Griner. Griner's former coach, who once calmed the administration's treatment of Griner disgusting, is my guest tonight.



BURNETT: New tonight, the provocative show of force in Putin's first trip outside the former Soviet Union since he invaded Ukraine. Putin traveling to Tehran where he met with the presidents of Iran and Turkey, even -- look at this -- holding hands with them.

And Iran rolled out the red carpet, literally to welcome Putin when he arrived at the airport. This is just days after the White House says it expects Iran to give Russia hundreds of drones to use against Ukraine and that Russian officials visited Iran to look at them.

OUTFRONT now, CNN senior national security correspondent Alex Marquardt.

So, Alex, how does the U.S. see this trip by Putin, you know, this very visible, you know, hand holding, you know, replacing the big table and these meetings?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Erin, you're absolutely right. President Putin not getting out of Russia much these days. This is just his second trip to a foreign country since he launched his war on Ukraine in early in February.

And this is a trip that the U.S. says is driven, at least in part by the isolation and desperation that Russia is feeling these days, that they're facing enormous economic and political pressure that they've been isolated by the West. And so, they are turning to Iran, another country that has been isolated by the West.


When you hear what the leader said there today, the leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khamenei, parroting Kremlin's talking points, talking about how NATO is dangerous and that Russia had no choice but to act in Ukraine.

And so, you are seeing an example of the Biden administration says of that Russian desperation in that drone deal that you mentioned. Russia expected to strike a deal and buy hundreds of Iranian drones. A spokesman for National Security Council, John Kirby, saying that there is no evidence yet that the sale has happened or that training has happened but they do believe Russia has to buy these drones because they have suffered so many losses militarily in Ukraine and they are facing enormous economic pressure, and so they need Iran to replenish their military stockpile -- Erin.

BURNETT: So we also, Alex, heard a new warning from the White House about Putin's invasion of Ukraine and what is coming next. Here it is.


JOHN KIRBY, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL COORDINATOR FOR STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS: We are seeing ample evidence Russia intends to annex additional Ukrainian territory. Russia is beginning to roll out a version of what you could call an annexation playbook very similar to the one we saw in 2014.


BURNETT: Similar to the one in 2014 but presumably by saying that, obviously, we're talking about more than the Donbas. What does the intel say, Alex, about what Putin is looking at in terms of annexation?

MARQUARDT: Well, according to John Kirby, that ample evidence shows Russia wants to annex four different regions in eastern and southern Ukraine. The Donbas that you mentioned, that is comprised of two different regions, Luhansk and Donetsk.

And they already had breakaway republics that have been backed by Moscow for the past eight years. When you move further south the regions of Zaporizhzhia and Kherson, these are the four regions where Russia has the most control. But by no means total control n. Kherson, that was an area taken early on by Russian forces after they invaded in February and local officials there backed by Moscow said they are preparing for a referendum, and this is what the White House is saying we can expect, what they call a sham referendum modeled on what happened in Crimea in 2014.

Now, I was actually on the ground in Crimea and saw the referendum that happened after Russia invaded. It was totally illegitimate vote, but it allowed Russia to be able to say, see, these people want to be part of Russia and, therefore, we are going to take over this huge land mass.

So, you're starting to see according to the White House Russia preparing the groundwork by imposing the use of the ruble, by installing puppet governments and by forcing Ukrainians in those regions to apply for Russian citizenship -- Erin.

BURNETT: Yeah, using bureaucracy as a cloak of legitimacy.

Alex, thank you so much. Appreciate your reporting.

And I want to go now to James Clapper, the former national intelligence director under President Obama and a retired lieutenant general in the U.S. Air Force.

So, General Clapper, I want to start with you with this trip to Iran. What message is Putin sending, right?

As Alex pointed out, the first time he left Russia since COVID was to go meet President Xi after the Olympics, right? This is a significant trip for him to make. What was the message?

JAMES CLAPPER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, to me, Erin, this is akin to Mr. Rogers looking for friends. I think the most significant aspect about this was where he didn't go as in Beijing. So he has to resort to visiting another pariah state for a grip-and-grin photo-op. And I don't think a whole lot of substance.


CLAPPER: I think it does reflect Putin's desire to be seen as a legitimate player on the international stage, and when he can sit with a foreign head of state, that, I think in his mind, burnishes his stature.

BURNETT: So what about the other thing we pointed out, the holding hands, and the reason that is significant is obviously throughout so many meetings before the Ukraine invasion and after, Putin sat at that gigantic table, right, and it was almost a mockery because it was so absurd. But yet today he does sit and hold hands, right? He's very close with these world leaders.

Do you see anything in that? I'm talking about from a psychological perspective, anything you can read into it?

CLAPPER: Well, I think it is an interesting dimension from theatrics or image standpoint that he would agree to be that close. But you can bet that there was some careful testing and screening done before either party would agree to shake hands or have any of that intimate proximity.


But it was interesting given, you know, the long table meetings and all of that that he decided he needed to do that perhaps to ingratiating himself with the Iranian leadership.

BURNETT: Now, you just mentioned China, and the fact that this visit was to Iran and not to China. "The Financial Times" is reporting that House Speaker Pelosi is possibly traveling to Taiwan during a tour of Asia next month, and China threatened a war, essentially, as a response. A commentator for "The Global Times", which is run by the Chinese government, tweeted something that really stood out to me. I wanted to read it to you, General.

The tweet was: If she really dares to visit Taiwan, it will be a major serious incident. She will be the enemy that divides China. She will experience a risky visit. She will also bear historical responsibility for possibly triggering a military conflict in the Taiwan Strait.

So they're saying this could trigger an actual war and threatening her person. What do you make of that? Should she stay away from Taiwan because of this? Does this rhetoric mean anything to you?

CLAPPER: Well, no. I think this is natural Chinese reaction, and if they can scare us off with rhetoric, they'll do it.

I think it's a good thing to remember about the threatening rhetoric of Putin in the early stages of the invasion when he implied fairly directly the use of nuclear weapons. Well, we haven't seen that happen.

So, I think I would vote for not being intimidated by standard Chinese rhetoric. I think the Chinese, frankly, Erin, are on their own timetable with respect to Taiwan. And I also think that what they have seen happen in Ukraine is going to give them pause.

BURNETT: An interesting and powerful take.

Thank you so much, General Clapper.

CLAPPER: Thanks.

BURNETT: And next, President Biden asked to bring Americans detained overseas, including WNBA star Brittney Griner, home. Her former coach who had once characterized the administration's response as terrible is my guest. Has his opinion changed?

Plus, just in, we are leaning that Uvalde school officials have sent a message to the school's police chief, Pete Arredondo, about his future.



BURNETT: President Biden today issuing an executive order aimed at getting detained Americans back home. Basically what it does is give the administration the power to impose both sanctions and visa bans on anyone involved in hostage-taking or wrongful detentions. The order coming amid criticism that the White House simply has not done enough on this pressing issue.

Now one of the most high-profile cases right now is that of WNBA star Brittney Griner. She's been held in Russia for five months now, faces ten years in prison on drug charges.

OUTFRONT now, James Wade, who coached Griner for three years in Russia. He's now the general manager and head coach for the Chicago Sky.

Coach, I really appreciate your time.

You know, because you have been very direct in how you feel about this, you called Griner's treatment by the United States disgusting, at one point. You implored the U.S. government to pretend it's Tom Brady that we're talking about here. What about her treatment made you feel this way?

JAMES WADE, BRITTNEY GRINER'S FORMER COACH: I've always thought that art, entertainment, sport were pillars that brought the world together. So they were kind of untouchable when it came to politics.

And the fact that, you know, Brittney has been wrongfully detained and, -- you know, and casually been there for five months without -- you know, I didn't feel there was a sense of urgency. I felt a little more comfort once I heard that Biden's administration reached out to Cherelle Griner and let her know they were exhausting every option they could. But, you know, I felt like the sense of urgency should have been before that. She's someone that has, you know, played for her country and represented her country at the highest fashion. And, you know, she's someone that should be at the top of everybody's thoughts and minds when it comes to actually getting her home safely.

BURNETT: Well, to be honest, Coach, it didn't seem that way. When you made those comments, it made a difference, right? It certainly seems to have.

And now, your -- Biden signing the executive order. He has spoken with Brittney's wife Cherelle and now, the former New Mexican Governor Bill Richardson is also getting involved, travel to Moscow to try to negotiate her release.

Has your opinion of how her case is being handled changed? Have they in some fundamental way upped the ante?

WADE: I mean, I still feel the same until she gets home. I think the pressure --


WADE: -- should be on them to do whatever they could -- could do and whatever they can do.

It does give me some comfort that she -- you know, she is at the top of their minds. But I won't feel, you know, a resounding like rest or comfort in that. I think I speak for the entire WNBA when, you know, I say this.

We need her home at the -- you know, urgently at the earliest moment possible because with each day that goes by, you know, it's one day more that she doesn't get to be with the people that really love and care about her.

BURNETT: So, Coach Wade, you coached her for three years. You know her. What do you want me to know, everyone watching to know, about who she is?

WADE: She's a beautiful person. Very soft spoken, someone that -- you know, she -- we had a great time in Russia as far as playing for the organization that we were a part of.

And, you know, she always represented the United States at, you know, the best of her possibility, was always there for the fans, was someone that, you know, was there for her friends and there for her family, and very open to a lot of people.


And she just carried herself with a certain pride -- a pride that all Americans would be proud of.

So when you think about someone that represents the United States, she's -- she's that perfect person that does this and that's why I think she should be at the top of everybody's mind and hearts and thoughts when it comes to making sure she's safe.

BURNETT: You are certainly keeping her there by speaking out.

And, Coach Wade, I appreciate it. Thank you.

WADE: Thank you.

BURNETT: And next, parents of the students killed in the Uvalde school shooting demanding officers be held accountable. But now a crucial question: who actually has the authority to discipline them?

Plus, 100 million Americans in the danger zone as a brutal heat wave blankets a huge portion of the U.S.


BURNETT: Tonight, CNN is learning that Uvalde school officials have informed Police Chief Pete Arredondo that his fate will be decided in a school board meeting that will happen this weekend.


A source telling that CNN discussions are underway to remove Arredondo after several parents demanded his firing during the school board's meeting last night. One even giving the superintendent a deadly of noon today.

Now, state officials blame Arredondo for the decision to wait more than an hour before any officers entered that classroom where 19 students and two teachers were slaughtered.

And Arredondo told state lawmakers that he didn't consider himself the incident commander that day.

Rosa Flores is OUTFRONT.

So, Rosa, what are you learning about how much longer Arredondo is going to be able to sustain this whole back-and-forth?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Erin, apparently not long. And that is according to the incredible sources that my colleague Shimon Prokupecz has. These sources telling Shimon that school officials have told Pete Arredondo that they plan to meet Saturday to determine his fate and further, that the board plans to vote to terminate him.

Again, all of this is according to Shimon's sources. I reached out to Arredondo's attorney and I have not heard back.

BURNETT: So, Rosa, parents are asking for accountability, right, obviously, for Chief Arredondo, but beyond him. And you have some new reporting today that the state agency that's usually tasked with disciplining police officers in Texas now says it doesn't have the authority to do so in this case. How come?

FLORES: You know, the description of the authority that they have is, quote, toothless. Let me take you through this.

So, in the state of Texas, TCOLE, or Texas Commission on Law Enforcement, is the agency that regulates law enforcement. And, of course, Erin, you and I both have seen that surveillance video, the bodycam video. And I think it begs the question, should these police officers keep their badges.

That's why I reached out to TCOLE and asked that question. Will these findings be used to discipline officers? And the response that I got was that they don't really have the power to do anything based on these findings, based on this video.

Now, I did a little more digging. It turns out TCOLE is being audited by the state legislature, and this is normal practice, because agencies within the state have to be audited to make sure they're doing the work that's best for the people of Texas.

Well, in that report, Erin, the state is describing the power that TCOLE has as, quote, toothless. Then again, the state of Texas isn't known for its regulation -- Erin.

BURNETT: No, not at all, but amazing, as you say, fair to raise the question of whether they should have their badges. I mean, it's unbelievable. I don't think there's anyone in the country who wouldn't -- who wouldn't believe that to be the case.

Thank you so much, Rosa.

And next, multiple heat waves around the globe. More than 1,000 people are believed to have been killed in the extreme heat is now igniting wildfires across Europe. There are fires in London tonight.



BURNETT: Tonight, one-third of the U.S. population under heat related warnings. Temperatures over 110 expected in the Great Plains.

In Europe, 21 countries under heat warnings, and fires ranging in London. The temperatures and parts of the U.K. reach 104 degrees, the hottest day ever recorded there.

The U.K. meteorological office's chief scientist saying these temperatures would be virtually impossible in the country in an undisrupted climate.

Sara Sidner is OUTFRONT near London.

And, Sara, what are you seeing? And how odd does this feel there?

SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: It is surreal. Now, the fire is out. But the pictures that you were seeing from just outside of London look like something that you would see from an infamous fires that we see every year in the summer in California.


SIDNER (voice-over): Fire and stratospheric temperature scorching millions around the world. The United Kingdom has never been this hot ever. Parts of Britain hit 104 degrees Fahrenheit, a record.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've never had this kind of heat. So, why would we be prepared?

SIDNER: In a place where no one and nothing is acclimated to this kind of heat, it is a true danger to people and infrastructure alike.

Climate scientists say this is not normal. Not by a long shot. The new normal will be that it gets exponentially hotter for longer.

MYLES ALLEN, PROFESSOR, GEOSYSTEM SCIENCE, UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD: Well, as long as we keep dumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, the world will continue to warm. And as I say, it's warming around a quarter of a degree per decade.

SIDNER: In London Luton Airport, a runway buckled under the oppressive heat, stopping flights. But it's since been repaired.

Fear over buckling rail lines, one of the main modes of transportation in the country, led authorities to paint as many as they could with' reflective substance to repel the heat. But for safety, trains at one of the busiest stations in London were stopped for hours.

Trains that were running were told to slow their speeds to lessen the friction on the boiling hot tracks. Less than 1 percent of the homes in the country have air conditioning. Inside, temperatures are like being inside an oven in the heat.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, the world is burning and we are doing nothing about it. We are consuming, the industry is running and nobody is doing anything about the climate.

SIDNER: The land is literally burning, as London firefighters face one of the toughest days every.

The heat continues to fuel fires in France, Spain and Greece. Hundreds of deaths are being attributed to the heat as well.

Europe is looking a lot like the United States where more than 100 million people are under heat advisories from Texas to Kentucky. Fires are burning thousands of acres in Texas and Oklahoma, where temperatures have reached over 110 degrees.

And there is no immediate end in sight, as millions try to find relief.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think we just have to adapt. Our homes have to change, our way of life has to change.


SIDNER: And that is easier said than done. You know, we should mention that in Arizona, a temperature of 100 or 104 is like a cool summer day there. But here in the U.K., it is truly dangerous, with the government telling people not to go anywhere and not to do anything until the heat subsides -- Erin.

BURNETT: It is incredible.

Sara Sidner, thank you so much. Live from London tonight. Thanks to all of you for joining us.

"AC360" starts now.