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Erin Burnett Outfront
Trump Weighing Release Of Surveillance Video Of FBI Search; Judge To Hold Hearing Tomorrow On Fate Of Mar-a-Lago Affidavit; Giuliani Now A Target In Georgia Election Probe, Testifies For 6 Hours; Washington Post: Trump Scrambling To Add Seasoned Lawyers To Team; Biden Cabinet Secretaries Hit Road To Sell $750B Spending Bill; Man Desperate To Escape China's COVID Lockdowns, Leaves Children Behind, Enters U.S. Illegally After Perilous Journey. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired August 17, 2022 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, Mar-a-Lago search tapes. CNN learning some of Trump's allies want the former president to release surveillance footage of the FBI searching his Mar-a-Lago home.
Plus, a celebrity attorney and an insurance lawyer, they make up Trump's legal team now, while other attorneys are reportedly saying no to working for Trump. We'll tell you who and why.
And a story you'll only see OUTFRONT. Desperate to get out of China, one man leaving his family behind in China, making the dangerous trek through South and Central America to get into the United States via the southern border. And he is not alone.
Let's go OUTFRONT.
Good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.
OUTFRONT tonight, there are tapes. CNN learning that some Trump allies are urging him to publicly release surveillance footage of FBI agents searching his Mar-a-Lago home. Now, we do not know what is on the tapes or not on the tapes. The footage has been held so close to the vest that a source close to the president tells CNN they're not sure if Trump himself has even seen the whole thing.
Now, Trump's son, Eric, has been happy to talk about it, saying they're ready for the whole world to see the tapes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: You still have the surveillance tape, is that correct? Will you -- are you allowed to share that with the country?
ERIC TRUMP, SON OF FORMER PRESIDENT TRUMP: Absolutely, Sean, at the right time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Absolutely, at the right time.
Well, the context here is we are awaiting a key decision on the Mar-a- Lago search because in just hours, the federal judge who approved the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago is holding a hearing, and the hearing is specifically on the merits of unsealing the affidavit. That was the affidavit that was used to justify the search warrant and to get approval for that search warrant.
So the affidavit lays out in great detail why prosecutors felt the need to search the home of a former president.
Now, the Justice Department has filed saying they are against releasing this information, they warn it would cause significant damage in their words, to both this investigation and they say other high profile investigations. Look, there's a lot of information in that affidavit which would answer some crucial questions, like what the search was about, what FBI agents were specifically looking for, and who the FBI has been talking to in this. Now, these are crucial questions we need answers to.
Tonight, we can say that one person we need to know a lot more about when it comes to the Mar-a-Lago searched seized materials is Trump's former chief of staff Mark Meadows. Meadows was with Trump in the final days of his presidency. He was actually formally appointed by Trump to oversee presidential records.
We'll just show the letter because it was actually signed in black and white on January 19th, 2021, addressed to the National Archives, signed by Donald Trump.
So in these final hours, maybe frenzied hours of document chaos, this letter is written and the president writes, with this letter I designate Mark R. Meadows, Trump names some other names, and then continues, as my representatives in all respects that pertain to the records of my presidency. So, it's interesting that as of tonight, we have heard nothing about the search from Meadows, because, frankly unusual, because Meadows is a person who regularly blankets the airwaves defending Trump. In this case, he has been silent. His last tweet was two weeks ago before the Mar-a-Lago search.
Now, we have a lot to get to tonight. Gabby Orr and Evan Perez are both standing by in Washington with the breaking details.
So, Gabby, let me start with you.
The tapes, Trump often talks about tapes and there aren't any. In this case, it appears there are from your reports but we don't know what's on them. What more are you learning about them and whether Trump will or will not release the tapes?
GABBY ORR, CNN REPORTER: Erin, we're learning tonight that former President Donald Trump is under pressure from some of his allies who want him to release CCTV footage from the day that the FBI searched Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach. Now, that is drawing mixed reaction from some inside President Trump's orbit. There are folks who think that releasing this footage could send a jolt of energy through the Republican Party base, and essentially give Trump's claims that he's a victim of political persecution a boost by doing so.
But there are others who cautioned that this could backfire, that he was specifically asked to turn off those cameras when the FBI was present at Mar-a-Lago on August 8th. And that to release that footage publicly could have implications for him, either legally or that it could just backfire and not have the expected results.
I want to read to you what one person close to Trump told me about releasing this footage.
This person said, quote, it's one thing to read a bunch of numbers on an inventory list. It's another to see law enforcement agents actually carrying a dozen plus boxes out of President Trump's home, knowing they probably contained sensitive documents. I don't see how that helps them.
So, of course, there is this discussion happening behind the scenes on whether to release this footage, or whether to hold it. It's also plausible, as Trump has done many times before, that he will just continue to tease this out, without ever actually releasing the surveillance footage, Erin.
BURNETT: Yeah, absolutely, Gabby. Thank you very much.
Certainly with some of the allegations they have put out there, you know, that these guys are going through and just taking some boxes, it does not comport with what Trump has alleged and his base expects.
I want to go now to Evan Perez.
And, Evan, the hearing tomorrow about the affidavit is another crucial piece of this, because, you know, when we got the warrant, okay, that was important. We got the receipt of what they took. That was important.
But the affidavit is the real deal, right? So many questions would be answered. Are we going -- are we going to get it?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Justice Department is opposed to releasing the entire thing. A judge could have them go through the document and find a way to release at least some aspects of it.
Again, the Justice Department itself, when they asked to release the search warrant, said that they understood that there was a public interest in releasing some information about this search. And given the fact the unprecedented nature of this, you could see where this could go. One of the things we would be looking for is, you know, often when lawyers for the Justice Department show up in court, sometimes they have a way of saying additional things that they wouldn't say necessarily in the court filings and documents.
So those are the things we'll be listening to tomorrow to see if we get a little more of the narrative, especially the key period after that June meeting where, you know, the Justice Department believes that they have taken away the classified information and clearly something happens to make them believe that there are still more boxes of documents. Of course, that's what they found.
BURNETT: Right, right, and, of course, how they figured that out and what human source may or may not have been involved. So I mentioned Mark Meadows who is crucial in so many ways and in so many investigations, whether it's this or the other quote unquote high profile investigations that the DOJ mentions when they say that's why they don't want to release the affidavit. We don't know whether the FBI has talked to Mark Meadows. He has been unusually quiet publicly about this issue. Why could he be so key here?
PEREZ: But, look, we don't know whether the FBI has talked to him. We know that they have talked to almost everybody else who was involved in the document issue. We know that they have talked to a number of aides, both the ones at the White House and the ones that are still working for him.
What's interesting about Meadows is if the FBI hasn't asked to talk to him, that's not a good thing for mark meadows. We know that Meadows is obviously a key witness, not only in this, because he was involved and in charge of helping secure documents near the end of the Trump presidency. We also know that he was deeply involved in this other investigation in this whole, you know, effort for the former president to remain in power, right, with the fake electors.
We know he was deeply involved in all of that. And that is also an investigation where the former president has some legal exposure, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Evan Perez, thank you very much, from Washington.
And now, Ryan Goodman, the former special counsel at the Department of Defense and now co-editor in chief of the Just Security blog, also professor at NYU School of Law, along with Stephanie Grisham, former Trump White House press secretary. She resigned on January 6. And Gloria Borger, our chief political analyst.
Ryan, let's start with the tapes. Should the FBI be concerned that Trump could release these CCTV footage tapes as Gabby is reporting?
RYAN GOODMAN, CO-EDITOR IN CHIEF, JUST SECURITY: So, I don't think they should be concerned in terms of they seemed to have followed everything by the book. But there's another reason for them to be concerned, and that's according to "The Wall Street Journal's" reporting. The FBI said to the folks at Mar-a-Lago, please turn off the surveillance tapes citing officer security and officer safety. And I think that's a real concern. So --
BURNETT: You mean in terms of people being identified who they are?
BURNETT: What a certain individual was doing by name. GOODMAN: Exactly. And if we see them and their faces, and things like that, that could be a serious concern. When the arrest warrant was leaked to Breitbart, for example, it included the two FBI agents' names.
So it's something of a similar concern. That's something real. And that's also what might be the legal jeopardy for those who thought it might be an interesting idea to release this kind of information.
BURNETT: Right. And we should point out, the FBI already says there's been an unprecedented number of threats against FBI agents, and that includes those who were there that day.
Stephanie, knowing Trump as you do, are you surprised that he hasn't released whatever he has now, since from the reporting, in this case there actually some CCTV footage, not something that he's just pretending out of the ether?
STEPHANIE GRISHAM, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: So I'm not surprised only because I don't think anything is there. I think Donald Trump would have released it already. He doesn't listen to his lawyers. He doesn't listen to who's around him. If he wanted it released, it would be released by now.
I think what we would see is hardworking FBI agents doing their jobs. I think if there was video of them ransacking rooms or stealing items like Donald Trump has purported, that would be out there.
BURNETT: Oh, yeah, without question. That's the reality. So you're going to put a video out there looking professional. That doesn't serve his aims at all, or what he's accused with them of.
Gloria, Eric Trump says they're going to release the tapes absolutely at the right time. Now, Eric Trump does not know what his father is going to do either. The question that this begs, though, is whether a release could backfire.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, I think a release could backfire. That's why there's an internal debate about it, and that's why they haven't done it already.
I mean, remember, at the beginning of all of this, there was talk about planted evidence. Ah, evidence was planted. Well, what would you see on the tape? Would you see FBI agents planting evidence? I don't think so. But that could backfire, because that was one of their stories early on.
Also, Stephanie is saying, you could see hard-working FBI agents. And I think the whole point of this from the -- from the Trump point of view is to show the president being a victim of an out of control government looking to get him. And so maybe they're waiting so they can put music to it, or release it at a certain time during a campaign. So he would, again, look like a victim and this would really rally the base around him. But legally, since they were asked not to tape this, it could really backfire.
BURNETT: Absolutely. And yeah, just to state the obvious, would completely backfire.
BURNETT: Ryan, I mentioned Mark Meadows, he was according to the letter signed by then-President Trump on January 19, 2021, in charge of presidential records. Here we go. We know that everybody else has been interviewed in this investigation. We don't know about Meadows. Whether he has or he hasn't, if he hasn't' obviously, it could be very damning, could be a target himself I suppose.
At this point, do you think they have spoken with him or not?
GOODMAN: That's a great question, because on that letter that you showed, he's listed first and it's not in alphabetical order.
GOODMAN: He's the point person and just recently, "New York Times" reported that he also ran the operation for what was going to be turned over to the National Archives in the last couple of weeks of the presidency.
So if they have not spoken to him, I do think that he's in serious trouble, because it must mean he's a target since they're speaking to everybody who is a witness to those operations.
BURNETT: So this is very crucial, because they mention, of course, other high profile investigations in that affidavit.
Stephanie, when it comes to the affidavit itself, that the DOJ adamantly does not want released, Trump says he does want it released. That doesn't mean he actually does. He may just bet that it won't be and he'll get credit for saying that he wants it to be.
However, what do you think he plans to do with it if it comes out?
GRISHAM: Well, this will be his way to fact find. This will be his way to see what they were looking for, try to figure out who it was that supposedly turned on him. This is going to be how he crafts his message next to see how he's innocent, he's a victim, et cetera.
He doesn't want it for transparency for the American people. I want it to be clear about that. He wants it so he can make up more lies and BS. I'll just keep it PG right now.
I think transparency is important. I think it's vital. I want to see what's in the affidavit. But also think, right now, keeping the integrity of the case is vital and I also think it's really important if there is a witness or witnesses who have cooperated, I think it is important we keep in mind the rhetoric right now and we keep those people safe.
BURNETT: Gloria, there could be a lot in this affidavit that Trump doesn't want to be made public. That's why I commented that he may be saying he wants it public, betting full well that it will never happen.
BORGER: Classified documents, right.
BURNETT: Absolutely, and what was there, more information about what they were looking for and why they were looking for it, those other high profile investigations. You've been talking to all of your sources about this. What are you learning?
BORGER: Well, I think -- I -- one former White House official made a point to me today that I think is very pertinent here, and Stephanie is a former White House staffer. He said look, if names in the affidavits are witnesses, and also there are people who are handling documents at the White House if they were classified, and they shouldn't have been handling them because they didn't have the security clearance, they now have legal exposure.
And these may be people who were just staffers, who were moving things around, who -- don't forget, it was chaotic at the end of this administration. There were lots of people in the administration who were more worried about keeping Donald Trump in office than classified documents.
But there may be other people who were trying to get things in order, get things moved, whatever. And they now have a lot of legal exposure. And those are people that the FBI is talking to or going to be talking to. So there's a question about whether there are a lot of people involved here who, you know, who are inadvertently facing a lot of legal troubles.
BURNETT: All right. All, thanks very much. I appreciate it.
And next, speaking of legal troubles and the mounting avalanche of them for the former president. Rudy Giuliani testifying before a Georgia grand jury about Trump's efforts to overturn the election -- six hours for Giuliani today behind closed doors.
Plus, Trump reportedly having a hard time getting reputable attorneys to work for him. So who is on his defense team tonight?
And a Little League World Series player suffering a serious injury after falling from a bunk bed. An update on how he's doing tonight.
BURNETT: Tonight, legal troubles are mounting for former President Trump. CNN learning that Allen Weisselberg, the former CFO of the Trump Organization, is expected to plead guilty tomorrow to a 15-year tax fraud scheme. Guilty, 15 years tax fraud.
A source says Weisselberg, who's known the Trump family since the 1970s, will be forced to testify as a witness, and that is under the terms of his plea deal, and that testifying will happen in the case -- if the case against the Trump Organization goes to trial.
This is going on as Fulton County investigation continues to pick up steam. In Georgia, former Trump Attorney Rudy Giuliani testifying before the Fulton County grand jury, which is looking at Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election there.
Giuliani was there for six hours, refused to answer questions from our Nick Valencia on his way into court, about whether Trump is the ultimate target of that investigation.
Nick Valencia is OUTFRONT. He was there all day.
So, Nick, six hours behind closed doors, what is Giuliani's team saying about his testimony tonight?
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Aaron, we ask Bob Costello, Giuliani's New York-based attorney for the details of Giuliani's testimony. But Costello said he wanted to respect the privacy of a special purpose grand jury process, so he declined to comment. We don't know exactly the line of questioning from the special grand jury, but we do know, as you mentioned that Giuliani was in there for roughly six hours, and it was Giuliani, as we reported, that appeared three times in the wake of the 2020 election before Georgia lawmakers, twice in person, once virtually.
And it was during those appearances that he spread conspiracy theories and baseless claims about election fraud. We don't know if he was asked about that, but if he was, the bigger question is was he cooperative? An interview before his testimony, he seemed to indicate he is willing to play hardball. And, Erin, he also said that any conversation he had with former President Trump is protected under attorney client privilege. But since Giuliani has been named a target, a criminal target in this investigation, it may not be that cut and dry -- Erin.
BURNETT: Certainly not, and he has been formally named a target and informed of that.
So, Nick, there are major developments tonight about other high- profile witnesses that the Fulton County, D.A. is hoping to hear from. What is the latest on them?
VALENCIA: Well, it was a busy day not just here in Fulton County but really across the country. A flurry of legal activity tied to the case. South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham is asking for a federal judge to intervene and put a stay on his subpoena. He's expected to appear next week if everything was the plan.
Also, the Georgia governor here, he's asking a judge to also get involved to squashes subpoena to appear before the special purpose treasury. It was earlier today that John Eastman, one of the five Trump campaign attorneys that were subpoenaed by Fani Willis, who's the lead investigator in the investigation, he was unsuccessful in his bid to get his motion or his subpoena rather quashed. A judge saying he was going to have to show up here one way or another -- Erin.
BURNETT: Nick, thank you very much, live in Fulton County tonight.
OUTFRONT now, Michael Isikoff, the chief investigative correspondent for "Yahoo News". He's been breaking a lot of reporting on the Fulton County investigation.
So, Michael, Giuliani was there, as Nick is reporting, for about six hours today before the grand jury. His attorney had signaled he will not be responsive, right? The comment was that we know how to play hardball, but Giuliani being a target, being there today, raises the crucial question about Trump's criminal exposure. What is the latest that you are hearing about that?
MICHAEL ISIKOFF, CHIEF INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT, YAHOO NEWS: Well, first of all, we can say this enough, the Fulton County investigation is the most imminent legal threat the president is taken, more so than what the Justice Department is doing on the Mar-a-Lago search, more so on what the Justice Department is doing on January 6, because Fani Willis, the Fulton County D.A., is proceeding across the board rather aggressively, no holds barred, pushing to a rapid close in this investigation.
I am a little surprised that Giuliani spent six hours in there because I did not expect him to say very much, given attorney-client privilege issues and also Fifth Amendment rights, but she has. He has been told he is a target. Few targets told that will then testify before a grand jury, because they are just giving prosecutors rope they can be hanged on.
But that said, I don't think it matters all that much. If you look at the way that Fani Willis is approaching this investigation and what she is trying to do, she is using the state's, Georgia's very expansive racketeering law to build a case of racketeering and conspiracy involving Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman, the 16 fake electors who met on December 14th at the Georgia state capital and declared themselves the duly elected electors of Georgia, even though they weren't.
ISIKOFF: And then the threats that folks had, such as Ruby Freeman, who after Rudy Giuliani's testimony about the state farm video and the supposed stuffing of suitcases of fake ballots, a charge that was completely baseless, Ruby Freeman and her daughter testified, faced really grueling and horrific threats to move out of their house.
BURNETT: So, Michael --
ISIKOFF: So, you put it all together, and that is the way that Fani Willis is looking at this. It does not matter what Giuliani said today before the country.
BURNETT: You've spoken to Fani Willis. She told you earlier this summer that she thinks he can finish in July or August in a perfect world. Here we are, getting towards the end of August, halfway through. How close do you think she is to deciding on an indictment or indictments?
ISIKOFF: Well, it's not a perfect world, right? So, I think at this point, given the challenges that folks have raised to subpoena, given the legal fights all around the country, I think it is pretty clear that she is not going to finish by the end of this month.
And then you get into September. And, remember, this is a special grand jury that won't issue indictments itself, it will provide a report to Fani Willis, who will then make the decision.
And Fani Willis also said that once early voting in Georgia starts for the 2022 elections, she will not do anything. She will not bring any charges during that period. That is October. So, I think at this point, as a practical matter, we are looking at the weeks after the election when Fani Willis decides whether to pull a trigger or not.
BURNETT: Wow, which is, of course, much later than many perhaps expected or hoped to hear a decision. Michael, thank you very much.
ISIKOFF: But before the DOJ.
BURNETT: Before the DOJ.
All right. Michael, thank you very much for your reporting on that, as always.
And next, meet the team that is fighting these legal battles for Trump right now. Among them, a celebrity attorney and lawyer specializing in insurance cases.
Plus, a story you will see only out front. And then so desperate to escape China that he traveled by plane, boat, bus, motorcycle and a foot to get to America. The way he chose was the Mexico-U.S. border. And he is not the only one making that perilous journey.
BURNETT: Tonight, help wanted. The former president facing legal jeopardy for possible Espionage Act violations and more. He's having trouble hiring lawyers for his defense team. This is according to the latest report in "The Washington Post".
So, who is fighting Trump's legal battles? Among them, an attorney known for defending rap stars and a lawyer whose specialty is real estate insurance.
Tom Foreman is OUTFRONT.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What do Waka Flocka Fame, Cardi B, and Migos have in common with a certain former president?
Atlanta lawyer, Drew Findling, known for big cases, big clients, and now helping team Trump faces slew of accusations, including election meddling in Georgia.
Never mind that in 2018, Findling tweeted, Trump was racist and pathetic.
Trump appears to be scrambling to consolidate his legal team, as cases swirl all around.
CHRISTINA BOBB, ATTORNEY FOR DONALD TRUMP: This raid was a shock to everybody because we have been extremely cooperative.
FOREMAN: That team now includes Christina Bobb, an election denier who worked for Trump and homeland security, and on the far right One America Network. Lindsey Halligan, a Florida lawyer known in part for handling insurance cases.
LINDSEY HALLIGAN, ATTORNEY FOR DONALD TRUMP: We still don't know what exact documents they took, other than some mementos.
FOREMAN: And Alina Habba, who has long defended almost anything Trump does.
ALINA HABBA, ATTORNEY FOR DONALD TRUMP: Why you would ask for a raid with a cooperating president? Do I believe this judge is going to reveal it? No, I do not.
FOREMAN: Other team members have more federal legal experience, such as Jim Trusty, who says it's all well for the FBI director to look in January 6th and say, nobody is above the law.
JIM TRUSTY, ATTORNEY FOR DONALD TRUMP: But he doesn't seem to be able to bring himself to use the same phrasing when he's talking about the Biden family.
FOREMAN: And Evan Corcoran, who was on Steve Bannon's team, when the former Trump it was found guilty of contempt of Congress.
STEVE BANNON, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: I stand with Trump and the constitution, and I will never back off that.
FOREMAN: There are more, and Trump has always sworn by the power of his legal team. But the relationship it's complicated.
JOE DIGENOVA, ATTORNEY FOR DONALD TRUMP: There was a brazen plot to illegally exonerate Hillary Clinton.
FOREMAN: Some who are expected to join the team in the past ultimately did not.
BURNETT: Do you think Trump deserves blame for January 6th?
TY COBB, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE ATTORNEY: Yes, I think that the president certainly deserves some blame for what happened. BURNETT: And others could soon be busy enough just defending
FOREMAN (on camera): Part of the problem for Trump's legal team is just this. While he can embrace wild theories and unhinged ideas, that's very different when you go into the court and you have to, in a straight face weight, stand in front of a judge and say, now I want to put that forward with no supporting evidence. And these lawyers can get into some trouble.
So it's a very difficult needle they are trying to thread here, Erin. The president wants him on his team, some of them seem rather hesitant.
BURNETT: Tom, thank you very much.
And I want to go now to Jim Schultz because he's a former Trump White House counsel, knows a lot about this.
So, Jim, I appreciate your time and, you know, you heard Tom Foreman's reporting here, you heard some of the sound bites from some of the attorneys who are currently on the team. Few of them, of course, have the background of fighting a federal criminal investigation, which is what this is.
What stands out to you about who is and who isn't on this team?
JIM SCHULTZ, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Look, I think, you know, anyone going through this, especially a former president and such a high profile case is going to want, you know, a big team of lawyers, certainly Washington lawyers who work in the D.C. federal courts to be on the team. I mean, he has a couple of folks there, Evan Corcoran and Jim Trusty, who are longtime prosecutors understand the criminal justice process, certainly good defense attorneys.
But I think -- the competent counsels. But I also think, look, what he's not getting are the big law names coming into Washington, who would normally work on these big cases joining the team.
BURNETT: So, and that is obviously a pretty glaring absence. None of the Washington ones, certainly not of the New York ones either. Why do you think those lawyers are saying no?
SCHULTZ: Look, I think a lot of it has to do with, one, the stigma associated with the January 6th -- events surrounding January 6th. Some of them probably has to do with the publicly reported issues when you represent the former president that's been publicly reported that he's a difficult client to deal with, at times.
And then, you know, I think those are the two big issues, you know, that you have a bunch of folks who have represented him in the past who, you know, quite frankly have ended up represented the government in the past as former White House counsel and up, you know, before a grand jury's, before the January 6th commission. That's not something that a lawyer wants to spend time doing, you know, in connection with a representation of anyone.
BURNETT: Right, obviously, Pat Cipollone, Philbin, you are talking about them. You, of course, also have the title of --
SCHULTZ: Yeah. Also, McGahn spent some time --
BURNETT: McGahn, yes.
SCHULTZ: McGahn spent some there to, right.
BURNETT: Right, so you and your role as a former Trump White House counsel, I'm sure glad you're not among those names right now, but when you rejoin your team? Is that -- or are those the same reasons that you would have for not joining?
SCHULTZ: Look, I'm a civil lawyer. I'm a regulatory lawyer. I'm not a criminal defense lawyer. That's not the space that I work in any way.
So -- but that's somewhat irrelevant. So, the bottom line is, I think, you know, the folks that he wanted on that team are folks who are D.C. barred lawyers, D.C. lawyers who work in the federal courts, former prosecutors from the Justice Department in main DOJ, and those are the kind of folks that would make up a team or the Southern District of New York, or some of the New York-based lawyers, because that's the place that he knows. That's what you expect to making up the team he just doesn't have.
BURNETT: No, he absolutely does not, as we just lay that out.
All right, well, Jim, thanks so much. I appreciate your time. I appreciate you being with me.
SCHULTZ: Happy to be on.
BURNETT: Okay, and next, the Biden administration hitting the road to sell that 750 billion dollar spending bill that Biden just signed. But when some of the most important benefits don't kick in four years, how does Biden sell it now?
And more than 100,000 Chinese taking desperate measures just to escape. We are going to follow one man's harrowing track to America, and the way he chose to come into the U.S. is the Mexican-U.S. border. It's a story you will see only OUTFRONT.
BURNETT: Tonight, the Biden administration trying to sell the $750 billion spending bill on health and climate that the president just signed. Three cabinet secretaries visiting Colorado, New Mexico, and California today, as part of what the White House is calling a, quote, aggressive effort to tout the new law. Now, passing the law is a major victory for Biden. That is a fact. But
many of its benefits won't be felt by Americans for years. The three- year extension of Obama care subsidies to begin immediately.
But limiting the monthly cause of insulin to $35 won't kick in until 2023. The $2,000 annual cap on out of pocket drug costs, 2025. And Medicare and negotiating prescription drug prices will only cover ten drugs additionally, and that doesn't even start until 2026.
So, what can President Biden do to capitalize on his bill now, years before key parts take effect?
OUTFRONT, David Axelrod, former senior adviser to President Obama and our senior political commentator.
So, David, can Biden capitalize on this now?
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah, I think he can. I don't think the greatest challenge is the one that you suggest, which is the timing of when these things happen. I think there's a great deal of support for these, and if he can tell this story, and the administration can tell the story, I think there will be well- received.
I mean, you didn't mention the climate pieces of this, which I think will be quite popular with many people and the minimum corporate tax, so that companies like Amazon and others who avoid taxes won't be able to. All of those are going to resonate with people.
The question is, you know the old expression, what if you threw a party and nobody came? What if you had a big victory and nobody knew? That is what he's contending with now.
First of, all these -- bills have so many different elements that, you know, it doesn't cut through. Secondly, you have Donald Trump, who is eclipsing all, as witnesses even by, you know, your show and every show has to deal with that first.
And so, he -- you know, they haven't punched through it. There's a goal today that's only 40 percent of Americans knew about this bill. So they have a fat task, it's a big one, and they have to kind of flood the zone with it. Senate cabinet members, to do local and regional TV, is one way to do it. Micro-targeting to the constituencies that are going to benefit these stories about what this bill will do and what has been passed is another.
The other challenge the president has is, you know, Joe Biden, his numbers have improved in the last few weeks. He's been on a very strong winning streak, particularly Democrats have noticed that and that has helped him. But he's still sitting there with a 41 percent approval rating, and a lot of candidates don't want him to come and tout these things. They want to tout these things, don't necessarily want to stand with him.
BURNETT: They don't see his face. And that's and that's the thing, whether his, you know, to your point, wanting to benefit from the policy, but not wanting his face or him involved with it. Before this bill was signed -- and I want to emphasize this was before, so before a lot of these victories were fully known -- a recent CNN poll showed that three quarters of Democratic voters wanted someone else to be their party's nominee in 2024.
Now, again, that was before this was signed and so, it's important to put that caveat out there. But 75 percent did not want him to be the nominee is pretty stunning.
Is passing this bill or having cabinet secretaries do micro-targeting going to fundamentally change that?
AXELROD: Yeah, it remains to be seen. I think the short term goal is to try to prove the prospects of candidates running in 2022. I think this could help with that. It gives Democratic candidates achievements.
And not just this, it's the burn pit bill. It's the semiconductor bill.
AXELROD: They have been, as I said, on quite a run. Democrats needed that. They need achievements that they can go out and tout. And the party needs to be advertising those achievements. So, yes, I think it could be helpful in the short run.
Whether it helps his standing is another matter. That's to be determined. You know, there are other issues that are involved in how people rate his potential, the most prominent of which is age. And, you know, this isn't going to change that.
But he certainly looks like a guy getting stuff done right now, and that has to be helpful to the party as they face what is a difficult election in November.
BURNETT: David Axelrod, thank you so much.
AXELROD: Great to see you, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. And next, we're going to follow one man who couldn't take China strict COVID policies anymore. Okay, so he wanted to come to the U.S. But how did he do it? He made a dangerous journey to the American southern border with new Mexico. His only way in was the legal way.
Plus, a Little League World Series player suffers a serious head injury after falling from a camp bed. An update on this condition.
BURNETT: Tonight, daring escape. One man embarking on a months-long journey in the desperate bid to flee China, so desperate he left his children behind but documenting every single step, as he travelled by plane, boat, bus, motorcycle and foot to get to L.A.
How did he do it? He came illegally to the southern border of U.S. and Mexico.
He was pushed to the brink as President Xi Jinping of China tightens his grip on zero COVID. But his man is not alone. The rate of Chinese nationals seeking asylum elsewhere increasing at a record clip apparently since Xi came to power.
Selina Wang has a story you'll see only OUTFRONT.
SELINA WANG, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This wall separates Wang Qun from his American dream. He is prepared to risk everything to climb over, illegally crossing into the U.S. from Mexico. But unlike most of the thousands of illegal crossings on the day on the southern border, he's not fleeing poverty or violent south of the wall.
His journey started at the other side of the world. We have been following him for months during his perilous escape of China by plane, boat, bus, motorcycle and on foot.
WANG QUN, IMMIGRANT WHO FLED CHINA (translated): It's worth it no matter how much I suffer.
WANG: He ran a bubble tea shop back in China. When COVID hit, business tanked from constant lockdowns. He left his son and daughter behind with his parents, hoping to bring them to America one day.
QUN: I couldn't make ends meet and I have two kids to raise. I have to get out.
WANG: China's unrelenting zero COVID policy, authoritarianism under Xi Jinping and stifling nationalistic education taught in his children's schools, pushed Qun over the edge.
QUN: In the past seven or eight years, everything is going backwards. And Xi Jinping is going to get his third term. I see no hope.
WANG: He is the strongman on top of a surveillance state, one that during the pandemic can control and track the movements of virtually all 1.4 billion people.
Since the start of the pandemic, China has kept its border sealed, a policy the government says is needed to fight COVID-19. And earlier this year, forbade its citizens from going overseas for nonessential reasons.
With China turning increasingly inward, Wang became desperate to get out, and he's set on one destination, America.
QUN: My impression of America is that it's a free, democratic, open and vibrant country. You can accumulate wealth through your own hard work.
WANG: Through online chat groups, he discovered a network of people in China planning to illegally emigrate to America through Quito, Ecuador. He applied for a language school in Quito and made it out of China in April with the school's admissions letter as proof.
He started documenting his whole journey, from Ecuador, he rode buses over 1,000 miles to Colombia, and then took a book to Panama, sharing the ride with other desperate but hopeful migrants. On the other side, a five-day hike through Panama's rainforest, and endless walk through mud, rivers and militants, a journey that Wang says almost broken from exhaustion. A brief respite at a refugee camp and then seven days of buses from panama to Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras and then Guatemala.
From there, a boat to Mexico's border, where police detained him for five days. When he was released, he paid an illegal smuggler thousands of dollars to get the Mexico City. Dozens of people squeezed into the back of a truck and then packed into a van more than 104 degrees Fahrenheit inside.
In Mexico City, Wang wrote a motorcycle 8,600 miles to the U.S. border, where we met up with him, determined to make it to the other side.
According to the U.N. Refugee Agency, the number of Chinese nationals seeking asylum has been steadily increased until it reached a record in 2021. Most of them, 70 percent, we're trying to get to America.
On China's Internet, searches for immigration started skyrocketing in March, as people struggle to get basic necessities and food during lockdowns across the country. Discussion forums with detailed tips on how to leave China have gone viral on social media. Immigration lawyers say inquires from Chinese wanting to leave have surged since the pandemic.
But for others like Wang, he says their only path to America is the illegal way. He ultimately made it to the other side, walk hours in the American desert over mountains. His sneakers fell apart.
More than a month later, we met Wang in Los Angeles. In this new world, he is found familiar. In the best-case, it will be years before he sees his family again.
WANG: How do you feel when you talk about your children?
QUN: My heart hurts.
WANG: Have you told your family where you are?
QUN: My parents don't know yet, but my son knows. I told him that there's no way out for me in China. So I came to America to make a fortune for you, and fight for a bright future for you.
WANG: That future is uncertain, but with China in his past, he has hope of living out his American dream.
BURNETT: An absolutely incredible report, Selina. And I know as you were -- this report was airing, much of it was blacked out in China and they put a no signal, but the majority of the report did not air where you are due to censors.
How is the Chinese government reacting to cases like Wang's?
WANG: Yeah, Erin, in our conversation right now, it is still being censored and blacked out. It says the signal here. We reached out earlier to the Chinese government to comment on the story. And Beijing defended the country's COVID policies and called China a land full of vitality and hope.
You know, stories like Wang's, they are a smear on Beijing's narrative, that China is getting stronger and more prosperous while America is in decline. Now, Wang's journey to America, it may be rare in extreme but we have spoken to others that are taking a similar path, including one man who illegally escaped China by walking across the border into Vietnam. From there you flew into Ecuador and is not taking that same path as Wang did, into the U.S. through the U.S.- Mexico border.
Now, of course, there are still people in China who support the zero COVID policies here, Erin, but more and more are feeling the sense of hopelessness about their future, a place in country they see their freedoms and opportunities disappearing -- Erin.
BURNETT: Selina, thank you very much. An absolutely incredible story with such a window into China, as well as the U.S. southern border. Thank you so very much.
And next, the Little League World Series announcing changes tonight after a player fell from a bunk bed and suffered a serious head injury.
BURNETT: Finally, an update on a 12-year-old who fractured his skull after falling from a bunk bed at the Little League World Series in Pennsylvania. Those close to Easton Oliverson says he's no longer sedated, he's asking for water, he's been waving to his parents and mouthing the words, I love you. Officials at the Little League World Series say, the dorm's bunk beds don't have guardrails. They've now removed all the bunks from the rooms.
Thanks so much for joining us.
"AC360" starts now.