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Erin Burnett Outfront

Tensions Mount As Putin Grows Desperate For Win In Ukraine; McCaul: Momentum "Increasing" For Sending F-16 Jets To Ukraine; NYT: Special Counsel Subpoenas Ivanka Trump, Kushner In Jan 6 Probe. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired February 22, 2023 - 19:00   ET



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, new signs of Putin's growing losses in Ukraine. Coffins full of Russian fighters as Putin turns to China now for help.

Plus, Jared and Ivanka Trump handed a subpoena. The new reporting that they are the latest targets of the special counsel investigating Donald Trump and January 6th.

And Ron DeSantis is cashing in, giving Donald Trump a run for his money, and the Florida governor hasn't even jumped into the race yet.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan, in for Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, a major warning from President Biden to Vladimir Putin, as new images show the true state of Putin's fighting forces.

Take a look at this new video of Ukraine attacking Russian positions on the front lines of Bakhmut. Putin's troops are suffering heavy losses.

And you can see that on stark display in this new video posted on social media and verified by CNN. Dozens of coffins containing the bodies of Russian fighters, they reportedly -- had reportedly been fighting with Putin's private force, the Wagner Group, which is fighting in Bakhmut. You can see death certificates with names and even the Russian region that they were from.

And I also want to show you a photo posted today by the head of the Wagner Group, and I'll warn, this is graphic. According to the head of Wagner, quote, these are the guys who died yesterday due to the so- called shell starvation.

Now, he's accused the Russian defense ministry of treason for their alleged failure to provide his troops with enough ammunition. Now there is no doubt that Russia is running low on ammunition and military supplies, and this fight within Putin's fighting forces certainly isn't helping his war. Perhaps that is one reason Putin is now talking about nukes, committing today to strengthening his nuclear triad one day after suspending Russia's participation in the new START nuclear treaty, a move that President Biden was asked about today.


REPORTER: Mr. President, any reaction to Putin saying he's pulling out of new START?


REPORTER: No time?

BIDEN: No. It's a big mistake.


BOLDUAN: A big mistake. But one Putin is set on making as his close ally, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev ups the Russian nuclear saber rattling, writing this. Quote, if the United States wants to defeat Russia, then we have the right to defend ourselves with any weapon, including nuclear.

Now, Sam Kiley is on the ground in Eastern Ukraine tonight.

Sam, you were near the front lines in Bakhmut today. What did you see?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, it is really interesting hearing -- and I've seen those images allegedly of dead Wagner fighters and the ongoing complaint coming from Prigozhin, the leader of the Wagner group, that his men are not getting enough ammunition.

I'm afraid the truth of the matter is that whatever the Russians have got, they've got about 10 or 20 times as much as the Ukrainians have.

Now, the casualties from the Ukrainian side, and we don't know any kind of accurate figure for either side, but I can tell you anecdotally speaking to commanders here, soldiers on the ground, I've been here on this rotation for about five weeks. A lot of it here close to the front lines -- they are very, very high, too.

The Ukrainians are suffering, they are bleeding, and they are taking a serious pounding from the edge that the Russians have, if not now, with NATO in terms of sophistication and volume when it comes to artillery.

Today, we were out with a medical group about two miles from the nearest Russian lines. There were howitzers firing, Ukrainian howitzers firing over our heads as a medical team stood by to take what was a steady flow of wounded from the battlefront as the Ukrainian wounded. We saw five body bags of Ukrainian soldiers who have been killed.

And the casualties are mounting on both sides to be sure. But the Ukrainians are not getting away Scott free, Kate. And that is why they underline as we go into the one-year anniversary of the beginning of Putin's invasion of this country, why they are continuing to beg the international community for those weapons that they believe will give them a strategic edge. In particular, jets, in particular, surface to air missiles to protect the air space and long-range artillery -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Yeah, Sam, thank you for being there.

Let's turn now to Russia where Putin held meetings today with the top Chinese diplomat and tried to rally Russians behind his war effort in Ukraine.


Fred Pleitgen is OUTFRONT in Moscow.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Russian leader Vladimir Putin rallying his nation for a tough battle. At a massive event in Moscow, Putin's message to the crowd, Russian troops in Ukraine are fighting for Russia's survival.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): There is a battle going on for our historical battles, for our people. It is led by the same courageous fighters who are standing here. They fight heroically, courageously, bravely. We are proud of them. Three cheers in their honor.

PLEITGEN: The concert in Moscow's stadium on the eve of the one-year anniversary of the war in Ukraine with Putin himself leading the rallying call.

For those attending, patriotism is the main message.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I adore Vladimir Vladimirovich. I'm prepared to support him with everything I've got.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The whole of Europe and the West is helping Ukraine. So, of course, it's taking a long time. But we will demilitarize Europe and U.S., too.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): My understanding is we are fighting for our interest there. Regrettably, it is not us who decide what those interests are.

PLEITGEN: Russian forces have made little progress on the battlefield in recent months with both Russia and Ukraine sustaining heavy losses.

As the U.S. believes Russia might be turning to China for military supplies, Putin reaffirming his commitment to relations with Beijing in a meeting with China's top diplomat Wang Yi.

PUTIN (through translator): Russian/Chinese relations are developing just as we planned in previous years. Everything is moving forward, developing, and we are reaching new milestones.

PLEITGEN: China has brushed off the U.S.'s concerns that Beijing might be contemplating supplying arms to the Kremlin's war effort, taking a swipe at the Biden administration.

WANG YI, SENIOR CHINESE DIPLOMAT (through translator): We would like to emphasize once again that the comprehensive strategic partnership between Russia and China has never been directed against a third party and is certainly not subject to interference and provocation by any third party.

PLEITGEN: While Beijing says it wants a political solution, Vladimir Putin is drumming up support for his military operation, trying hard to keep the Russian population motivated for a battle he deems existential.


PLEITGEN (on camera): And, you know, Kate, Vladimir Putin tonight, he doubled down on that message. He put out a video late this evening where he claimed that Russian troops in Ukraine were fighting against neo-Nazism there. He also promised those troops new and modern weapons, certainly not sounding like a leader willing to back down -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely not. All right, Fred, thank you very much.

OUTFRONT with me now is retired Army Major General James "Spider" Marks. And Steve Hall, former CIA chief of Russia operations.

Good to see you, gentlemen.

Steve, you heard Biden warning -- he was asked today -- warning Putin, it's a big mistake to suspend participation in the nuclear treaty. But Putin is doing just that. Why, do you think?

STEVE HALL, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, what he's doing, he's messaging because he knows, as does Medvedev, who was also mentioned in that report, he knows that the United States and the West gets nervous when they start talking about nuclear things. And so, that's really one of the few weapons that is left to him, especially on the propaganda side of things.

But you'll notice from his speech the other night that he didn't say that they were revoking or withdrawing from the treaty. He just said they were voluntarily suspending from it. So even when he tries to strike out in that fashion with that sort of propaganda weaponry, he's only got really half a hand to play.

He knows that it's actually in Russia's best interest to have a treaty like that. So he's only suspended it. So this is more the war of words that we're used to from the Kremlin.

BOLDUAN: And maybe this adds to it, General. Because while Putin is nuclear saber-rattling, the Kremlin declined to comment on CNN reporting about a Russian intercontinental ballistic missile test that appears to have failed. And that test was done we're told around the time that Biden was in Ukraine. What does that failure tell you about the state of Putin's military complex right now? JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: What it says to me is

that their readiness truly is very, very low. Look, we've seen it over the course of the last year, the failure of the Russian military in Ukraine, a lack of leadership, incompetence at all levels in the ranks.

And then when they want to shoot a missile, whether that was a planned event or whether it was a spontaneous event, my guess is it was a planned event, it didn't happen.


If that reporting's accurate, it didn't happen. They couldn't get that missile off, which tells you, across the board, Putin's got some legitimate issues. That military has some legitimate issues in terms of readiness, competence, and the ability to continue this fight in a meaningful way for them.

They can continue to throw young men into this meat grinder. That's not going to provide anything to them except a bunch of bodies that are piled up, and Ukrainians may be the ones running out of ammunition because of the targets the Russians are presenting them.

BOLDUAN: Oh, gees. You know, Steve, we showed this photo earlier posted by the Wagner chief. Again, I want to warn everyone, it is graphic, blaming -- he is blaming the deaths of his troops on the lack of support from the Russian military. He's also accused the Russian military of treason.

Are you surprised by -- with everything you know and have seen when it comes to Russia, are you surprised by his bold and very public accusations at this point?

HALL: Yeah. I mean, I really am. This is somewhat unprecedented. You've got an oligarch who has risen through the ranks that he has essentially his own army and feels that he has the strength perhaps emanating from having an armed group that basically responds directly to him to be able to criticize in very stark terms calling them treasonous, senior leaders inside the Kremlin.

Now, of course, he has stopped short of Putin. He understands what the red lines are there. But the fact that he has taken it upon himself to have his own private army and to be able to criticize that directly at that level is really interesting.

And, to me, it says he sees for himself some sort of leadership role for himself in Russia down a line either a successor to Putin or some other senior position at some point because no one gets away with that unless you think you have a future to be able to protect yourself inside of Russia.

BOLDUAN: Oh, that is interesting.

And, General, Putin then --

MARKS: Kate, can I pile onto -- I just love what Steve said. I mean, I view this -- I think Prigozhin's going to get himself killed. Putin's going to get tired of his crap. All he's doing is bitching about everything he can accomplish, right? He's not embracing his issues.

Prigozhin's got some real issues here. And he's saying every one of my problems belongs to one of those guys. I guarantee you, somebody is going to come along and hit him with a bus. And it's going to be driven by one of those near-dead general officers from the Russian military.

I don't mean to be flippant, but I can see Prigozhin ending up in one of those dead photos.


Gentlemen, it's always good to see you. Thank you for coming in.

OUTFRONT for us next, the U.S. has set aside more than $100 billion to Ukraine -- sent to Ukraine since the start of the war. But is Congress going to stop that?

Plus, new subpoenas reportedly issued for Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump. The January 6th special counsel wants to know what they knew.

And historically bad weather is sweeping across the United States tonight. A winter storm so fierce that people from coast to coast are now on alert.



BOLDUAN: Tonight, the push for the United States to give fighter jets to Ukraine. The Republican chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee says that he is seeing growing support for sending F-16s and long-range artillery to the fight.


REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL (R-TX): I am seeing increasing momentum towards getting both the artillery and the planes. We can start training the pilots now so they're ready.


BOLDUAN: That from Chairman McCaul. This is also after a bipartisan group of lawmakers penned a letter to President Biden saying that fighter jets could, quote, prove decisive to controlling Ukraine's air space.

OUTFRONT now is Democratic Congressman David Cicilline of Rhode Island. He's a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

It's good to see you, Congressman.

REP. DAVID CICILLINE (D-RI): Good to see you. BOLDUAN: Where are you on this F-16 question? Do you think it is still a matter of if Biden sends fighter jets? Or at this point do you think it's just a matter of when?

CICILLINE: I do think it's a matter of when. I think there's an understanding that we have a responsibility to do all that we can to be certain the Ukrainians have all that they need to be successful in this war. And I think what we heard at the Munich security conference from everyone we spoke to was let's begin training the pilots now so that when those planes can be provided, those pilots will be ready to go.

This is a critical fight not just for the Ukrainian people but everyone recognizes that this is a fight for democracy. If Vladimir Putin, an autocrat, is allowed to redraw the lines of a country by force, no country is safe from this kind of attack. And what I think is extraordinary is the president has rallied the international community, our NATO allies in really maybe the best way ever, they're more united than ever in understanding what's at stake and being certain that the Ukrainians have all they need to win.

They're willing to fight and die for their freedom. We have a responsibility as democracy-loving nations to give them all the tools they need to be successful in that fight.

BOLDUAN: I want to ask you about that responsibility, because we have heard a firm commitment from some Republican leaders in Congress continuing to offer the support and aid needed to Ukraine. But there is a vocal group of Republicans in the House, a smaller group of Republicans in the house, if you will, who are calling for the United States to cut off that aid.

How real is the risk over the next two years that the Republican majority will cut back or block funding to support Ukraine?

CICILLINE: Well, I think it's a very small number of people. There's broad bipartisan, bicameral support to assist the people of Ukraine in this fight for their freedom. But what gives me pause is there's a small subset of the Republican caucus, the most extreme MAGA members who Kevin McCarthy had to please in order to get to the speakership.

So, I worry that he will spend too much time listening to them and that they might hijack the Republican caucus on this issue. But I don't think that's likely. I think they're going to continue to complain about it, make misrepresentations about what's at stake here.

I think it's very important for all of us Republicans and Democrats in both chambers to remind the American people of what is at stake. The Chinese are watching to see the resolve of the U.S. and our European allies. The rest of the world is watching.

And it's critical that Ukraine win this fight that we beat back and assist them in beating back an attempt to take part of their country by force.

[19:20:00] If that happens, no country in Europe is safe. No democracies around the world are safe.

So, this is -- this is not just the fight for the Ukrainian people. It's a fight for all of us who care about democracy, the rule of law, territorial integrity of countries. And I think everyone understands that it's going to be a long fight, it's going to be an expensive fight.

But the cost of not supporting them in their victory will be much higher. And I think it's incumbent on all of us to continue to make that case to the American people so that we continue to have strong bipartisan, bicameral support.

BOLDUAN: And, Congressman, what I'm hearing from you is there is still work to be done, which is -- you surprised quite a few people in announcing that you are planning to resign from Congress in June to run a nonprofit back home in Rhode Island. Not only in this area that we're talking about right here, but you've also had a really active role in Congress.

I mean, taking on big tech. I always come to you with questions on that. LGBTQ rights. You were a Trump impeachment manager.

What made you decide that it's time to walk away right now?

CICILLINE: Well, you know, this -- the Rhode Island Foundation is one of the largest and oldest community foundations in the country. And it works on issues relating to ensuring Rhode Islanders have access to healthcare and creating economic opportunities for people all across our state and being sure, doing everything we can to improve the quality of public education. Many other issues I've worked on.

This is an opportunity to come home and continue to work on the issues that I really care about and work within an organization that I know is going to get things done. When I look at the House particularly right now, I think it's going to be difficult to get anything done under Republican leadership.

So I came to the decision that I was confident that I could actually have a greater impact on the lives of Rhode Islanders, my home state, the state that I love, in this position as president and CEO and continue to be able to fight for the things that matter to all Rhode Islanders. It wasn't an easy decision. I've loved my time in Congress. But my goal has always been to go to the place where I can have the greatest impact on improving the lives of Rhode Islanders.

And I think the presidency and the CEO of the Rhode Island Foundation is a place I can do that, more so than the next few years in the House.

BOLDUAN: Do you think you'll ever seek elected office again? Or is this it?

CICILLINE: You know, look, I'm going to put all of my heart and soul into my new job. That's the way I work and do everything I can -- BOLDUAN: Which is why I was surprised to see your announcement, yeah.

Keep going.

CICILLINE: But, you know, that's going to be my focus now, and I hope to be the best CEO and president of Rhode Island Foundation and grow its impact and grow its endowment and improve the lives of Rhode Islanders in all these areas. That's going to be my attention right now.

BOLDUAN: And also unsaid here is what happens down the road happens down the road. It's good to see you, Congressman, thanks for coming in.

CICILLINE: My pleasure.

BOLDUAN: Appreciate it.

OUTFRONT next, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump reportedly were just subpoenaed by the special counsel to testify before a federal grand jury. What do they have to offer? I'm going to ask the top investigator from the January 6th committee who has questioned them before.

And big money donors are betting on Ron DeSantis, investing millions in what appears to be the run-up to a presidential announcement.



BOLDUAN: New tonight, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner subpoenaed. "The New York Times" is reporting that special counsel Jack Smith is now demanding Donald Trump's daughter and her husband appear before a grand jury looking into Team Trump's efforts to overturning the 2020 election.

Both Ivanka Trump and Kushner, of course you remember, served in key roles in the Trump White House and provided key testimony to the congressional committee that investigated January 6th. That included Ivanka admitting she believed Attorney General Bill Barr when he said fraud did not impact the election and that Joe Biden won.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How did that affect your perspective about the election when Attorney General Barr made that statement?

IVANKA TRUMP, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE ADVISOR: It affected my perspective. I respect Attorney General Barr. So, I accepted what he was saying.


BOLDUAN: And here's Kushner admitting that Kevin McCarthy called him pleading for help as the capital riot was underway.


JARED KUSHNER, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE ADVISOR TRUMP'S SON-IN-LAW: I heard my phone ringing, turned the shower off, saw it was Leader McCarthy, who I had a good relationship with. He told me it was getting really ugly over at the capitol and said, please, anything you can do to help, I would appreciate it. I don't recall specific asks, just, anything you can do. Again, I got the sense that they were scared.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They meaning Leader McCarthy and people on the Hill because of the violence?

KUSHNER: He was scared, yes.


BOLDUAN: We're going to speak in a moment to the man that you just saw questioning both Ivanka Trump and Kushner. That's Tom Heaphy. He was the committee's chief investigative counsel.

But first let me bring in Evan Perez.

Evan, how significant is this move now by Jack Smith, the special counsel?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's very significant because obviously the former president's daughter and his son-in-law were very close advisers to the former president. They were there for a lot of the conversations, especially Ivanka Trump was there for a lot of the conversations in the lead-up to the events of January 6th as the former president was trying to figure out ways to challenge the elections, to try to find ways to pressure people to help him remain in power despite losing the election. And, of course, we as you saw there, Ivanka provided some very important testimony that the January 6th committee played during some of their hearings.

She also did a sit-down or a very lengthy sit-down with documentary filmmakers. We've seen her talk at length about all of the things that were going on up to January 6th. So she has a lot of story, a lot of important information that Jack Smith and his investigators are going to want to know.

And one other thing that I think is very remarkable right now that we're seeing is you are seeing a flurry of subpoenas coming from this investigation, from the Jack Smith investigation, indicating that they are trying to get closer and closer to see people right next to the former president, including former Vice President Pence. They're clearly homing in on trying to get as close to the former president as possible.

BOLDUAN: Yeah, it's good to see you, Evan. OUTFRONT now, Tim Heaphy, he was Chief Investigative Counsel for the January 6th Select Committee and is also a former federal prosecutor. Tim, thanks for coming in.


BOLDUAN: So, you lead, we saw you in some of those videos, you've led the questioning of both Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump for the January 6th Committee--

HEAPHY: Six or eight hours each. Yes, they were long, long conversation.

BOLDUAN: Long hours for everyone involved, you included. How important could their testimony be, do you think, to the special counsel's investigation now of Trump's efforts to overturn the election?

HEAPHY: I think it could be very important, as Evan just pointed out in your conversation with him, they were present for really significant events, the special counsel will want to hear about the president's understanding of the election results. And also, what happened on January 6th, and they both had direct communications with him about the events preceding, the riot at the Capitol. And then what happened in real-time over the course of that day, both of those bear directly upon the president's intent to disrupt the joint session, which is the central inquiry for the special counsel.

BOLDUAN: And intent is really, I know you've noted, intent is everything. And that's what exactly what you were trying to look into establishing what you believe that you saw in your investigation. It's been noted, Tim, that Ivanka said more than once in your interviews that she didn't recall certain events that others remembered more specifically. Here, we're going to show just six of the numerous times that we see some version of I do not recall in the transcript, and that's just us going through it really this evening.

What if she now does recall those events to the special counsel? Is that a problem?

HEAPHY: She was not under oath when she gave us the interview, it was completely voluntary. No, I don't think it's a problem. And to be clear, she didn't say she didn't say the things that others reported she said. She simply said she didn't recall. For example, when she reported, testified very specifically about the conversation that she witnessed between her father and the vice president on the morning of January 6th, that was a phone conversation, but she was in the room, when her father was talking to the vice president.

She said it was pretty heated. She didn't recall exact words. She went and told her Chief of Staff, according to her Chief of Staff that the president used the P word when describing the vice president and she, the Chief of Staff indicated that Ivanka was very upset, visibly shaken, I think it was her testimony.

So, there are additional words, there's additional color and context that other witnesses provided that if Ms. Trump is to come forward would be potentially useful. Because again, Kate, the crucial inquiry is the president's state of mind about on the days before January 6th, his understanding of the election loss and the lies that he was putting forth about election fraud. And then what he did or didn't do over the course of the day on the 6th. BOLDUAN: Right. And so, given this move by Jack Smith, the special counsel, what does it suggest to you about where Jack Smith is in his investigation, and whether Donald Trump is more or less likely to be indicted at this point? What does this tell you?

HEAPHY: It tells me it's thorough, it tells me he is going to approach and subpoena anyone that he thinks has relevant, germane information that bears upon the crucial events, particularly intent, he will not stop because of a family relationship, because of a purported executive privilege. He believes that the law entitles him to all of that information. And he's determined to get it.

Look, you don't charge a former president with a crime, absent doing your homework, and absolutely scouring the record for any possible relevant information. And Jack Smith and his team at the special Counsel's Office appear to be doing, I hope that they go beyond what we did, right? We didn't have the legal means to push through some privileged assertions or the time he does, and therefore he may get some information that because the rules of congressional oversight are very different from the rules that apply to a criminal grand jury process that we couldn't get.

BOLDUAN: Right. And to that point, you interviewed many people in Trump world, some cooperated. Some did not and there of course, were people who refused to be interviewed.

HEAPHY: Right.

BOLDUAN: And you were constrained by kind of the powers of what you have - what the committee had at the time. Who would - who do you think could be the most important person if there is one for the special counsel to put before the grand jury?

HEAPHY: Look, I think all of the people that he has subpoenaed have relevant information. What one thing that I would be really think would be crucial our direct communications with the president, right. We had a couple of witnesses who were very credible, but they stopped short of recounting those conversations. Marc Short, for example, wouldn't share with us conversations that he witnessed between the President and the Vice President. Those could be really, really important when you're talking about the President's intent.

Pat Cipollone, the White House Counsel, extremely credible, forthcoming, honest lawyer who was trying to do the right thing, he asserted an attorney client and executive privilege when it came to conversations with the President.


If the special counsel can get direct testimony about those conversations, it would bear pretty directly on the crucial issue of intent.

BOLDUAN: Another aspect of your investigation involved the efforts by Trump and others to overturn the election results in Georgia. I talked last night to the foreperson for the Fulton County, Georgia, grand jury that conducted its own investigation into Trump's efforts there. I want to play for you, Tim, part of what you told me about their findings?


EMILY KOHRS, FOREPERSON, GA SPECIAL GRAND JURY IN TRUMP PROBE: We definitely heard a lot about former President Trump and we definitely discussed him a lot in the room. And I will say that when this list comes out, you wouldn't - there are no major plot twists waiting for you?

BOLDUAN: What would your reaction be if the DA decides against bringing any charges after what you've seen?

KOHRS: I will be sad if nothing happens. Like that's - that's about my only request there is for something to happen. But I will be frustrated if nothing happens. This was too much, too much information, too much of my time, too much of everyone's time. There was just too much for this to just be OK, we're good, bye.


BOLDUAN: It was a fascinating conversation last night, and from everything that you have seen and been privy to, do you expect Donald Trump to be indicted in Georgia?

HEAPHY: It certainly seems that way from that interview, and the fact, again, the DA in Atlanta, the Attorney General of the United States are going to do their job based on the facts and the law. We found facts just in with - even with the limitations of congressional oversight that suggests that there were federal crimes committed. So yes, unless there's information inconsistent, which I don't expect, I think there will likely be indictments, both in Georgia and at the federal level. The Georgia case very specifically is about the president's effort to generate these fake electors, even after Georgia's election had been certified and the electors had been put forth, Biden electors because Biden won Georgia.

There's evidence that the president was involved in trying to get these fake electors submitted to Washington. And there's that very famous, that infamous call with Brad Raffensperger, where he says we just need to find 11,400 votes or whatever it is, right direct pressure on a sitting official to take action without basis or fact. In fact, a lot those are potentially criminal offenses that the district attorney seems to be focused on and your interview last night suggests that the special grand jury, they don't have the power to charge, they're just fact finders recommended that.

BOLDUAN: Well, Tim, there are so many of us that have been following your work very closely for a long time. Thank you so much for coming on to speak with us. I really appreciate it.

HEAPHY: Thanks for the opportunity, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Thank you. Outfront for us next, just how much do some rich Republicans want Ron DeSantis to run for president? Millions and millions of dollars much, the money is pouring in. And lots of time and money were spent addressing claims of election fraud in Arizona. Why did the State's Attorney General at the time reportedly hide records that debunked phony election claims?



BOLDUAN: Tonight, a massive haul, Ron DeSantis is getting a big nod from some top Republican donors ahead of his potential presidential run. CNN's Steve Contorno tonight is learning this. DeSantis has collected seven-figure contributions from some of the wealthiest donors in the party raking in $4.5 million in just the last couple of weeks. DeSantis isn't a declared candidate as of yet, but he has spent recent days holding campaign style events in New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago. Outfront now is Scott Jennings, Former Senior Adviser to Mitch McConnell and a CNN Political Commentator.

So, Scott, what's the significance of these big name, big dollar donors aligning behind DeSantis. What do you see here?

SCOTT JENNINGS, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO MITCH MCCONNELL: Well, I see people who are desperate for a way out of the Trump wilderness, and they see Ron DeSantis on that path, and they're willing to spend liberally, in this case to a widen that path and pave it for him. What's amazing about it, Kate is that he's not even a declared candidate. But you can see people at the top of the party on the fundraising side coalescing around him. But you also see people on the grassroots side as well.

So, right now DeSantis is really in a different universe when it comes to these donors and political supporters and virtually anyone else who's looking to challenge Trump.

BOLDUAN: Let's compare kind of the DeSantis money haul to Donald Trump's and from what we have right now. DeSantis has $75.5 million in cash on hand, Trump $81 million. And as you rightfully, perfectly stated, Scott, DeSantis hasn't even declared, when you see that. I mean, should Trump be worried?

JENNINGS: Oh, yes, he should definitely be worried. I mean, if you look at the numbers, DeSantis and Trump and a lot of the polling have very similar fav numbers, favorability ratings, which are quite high. But DeSantis has virtually no unfavorability number, while Trump's unfavs are high. And Trump is probably the most defined politician in America, I mean, he can raise a lot of money, but is the same a TV commercial about Donald Trump going to make you like him or dislike him more than you already do? Probably not. DeSantis, I think has room to grow. And he's going to have the war chest to do that.

So, right now, I would be quite worried if I were Trump, his best hope, honestly, may be that this field gets so large and people don't have the good sense to get out of the way. That is - that will work in Trump's favor. But DeSantis has the capacity to be a juggernaut, not just on the fundraising side, but I'm telling you, his net favs in the party are really high right now. BOLDUAN: And talk to me about timing here. I mean, if DeSantis is raking in this kind of money, and he's still not officially declared, he's not officially running, should he be in any rush to get in?

JENNINGS: He doesn't have to be. I mean, these campaigns are really about a race for attention and resources. And as the governor of Florida, he's getting all the attention he needs and also with some of the events he's doing and with the resources we see today from CNN reporting, that the resources are already coming in. This is where I think the candidates that have a platform have a bit of a - have a bit of an advantage over the ones that are out of office right now, you don't really have to have a campaign to get the attention and resources.


So, you can see right now DeSantis has to do very little to attract the attention that you would need to defeat Donald Trump.

BOLDUAN: That's great point. And it's great to see you, Scott. Thank you.

JENNINGS: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Outfront next, Maricopa County in Arizona was the epicenter of fraud claims in the 2020 election. New reporting tonight though that the State's Attorney General then deliberately hit record proving that there was no widespread fraud and also this just into us, two members of a news crew shot while covering a story and now we are learning one of them has died. We have more on this breaking news coming in. That's next.


BOLDUAN: Tonight, concealing the evidence. Arizona's former Attorney General Mark Brnovich, a Republican hid records debunking election fraud claims in Maricopa County, the county that became the epicenter of election conspiracies, especially by former President Trump in the aftermath of the 2020 election.

You'll recall the AG launched a massive investigation to find out if there was fraud and tonight The Washington Post reports that his staff prepared a report showing virtually all claims of fraud were unfounded. Yet the AG didn't release that report instead a month later he put out a report claiming his office found serious vulnerabilities.


Outfront now, Bill Gates, the former top election official in Maricopa County, also a Republican. Bill, thank you for coming in. The Post revealing how the Attorney General's Office knew in March of 2022, that there was no fraud in your county. yet the former AG never released the full true findings. What is your reaction to that?

BILL GATES (R) MARICOPA COUNTY, AZ SUPERVISOR: I'm really shocked, completely shocked that this is what happened. We know that general - former general Brnovich put out an interim report, as you said in April of 2022. That suggested, raised a lot of doubts about elections and election integrity in Maricopa County, knowing that he knew the answers to those questions, and that many of those accusations were false. Very shocking.

BOLDUAN: We really can't overstate how serious this became, especially the longer that it dragged on. And the personal impact of these conspiracy theories left lingering had on officials like yourself, I mean, you received death threats Bill, how do you describe the damage that was done in the time after, we now know that they knew there was nothing wrong in Maricopa County?

GATES: Well, like you said, those of us on the board recorder richer (ph), and many of our elections, workers had been subjected to death threats, and other sorts of criticism. And all the while General Brnovich and his leadership team knew that there was no basis to these claims, that they were unsubstantiated, for example, that we had deleted files that were requested by the Arizona State Senate, they knew back in March of 2020, that that was inaccurate. And yet they withheld that information.

And so, it's very disappointing. And unfortunately, some of the mistrust that people have an Arizona about their elections can point to the fact that they were not open and honest in providing all the information, thank goodness that General Mayes decided to provide this information to the public so that we can now all know the truth.

BOLDUAN: Yes, this is the new attorney general that's come in. Maricopa County was the target of conspiracy theories in the 2020 election, of course. Then, again, faced a bunch of questions and 2022 conspiracy theories I should clarify, including by Kari Lake, the Republican who ran and lost the race to be governor of your state. And I want to play for you what she said just in the last month.


KARI LAKE (R) FORMER ARIZONA GOVERNOR CANDIDATE: We all know there was corruption all across this great country. But nowhere, nowhere in the country was it more blatant and obvious than what happened right here in Maricopa County. Every day, we're getting more and more proof of how corrupt our elections in Maricopa County are, how terrible.


BOLDUAN: Bill, do you think this new information coming out puts those lies to bed? Or do you think that your county will continue, unfortunately, to be the target of election conspiracies?

GATES: I wish I could say that this was going to put it to bed. But unfortunately, I don't think that it will. As long as there are people who are out there, who are willing to frankly lie about what happened in 2022 - in 2020. We're going to have to continue to push back. And we're going to do that. I recently had the opportunity to speak to a focus group of election skeptics. And I talked to all of them. I said, if you have questions about how we run elections in Maricopa County, come on down, volunteer, be poll workers, be poll observers. And that's how we're going to continue to respond to this, continue to provide the facts and push back on allegations like those who just ran from Kari Lake that are without basis has been debunked over and over again.

BOLDUAN: And now we learn how long ago they were debunked. And now we are just learning more about it now. Bill, thank you for coming in.

GATES: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Outfront for us next, the breaking news I mentioned just a little while ago. Two members of a TV news crew shot while covering a story. One person is dead. We're going to have late breaking details on this coming in.



BOLDUAN: Here's some breaking news coming in. Three people dead in multiple shootings, including a member of a TV news crew who was covering the shootings in Orlando, Florida. A 19-year-old suspect has now been charged. This is all according to the Orange County sheriff.

Let's bring in Ryan Young, he's covering the stories Outfront for us. Ryan, what are you hearing about this?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, so far, tough story. But we'll have to tell you this. Five people shot in total, three dead. What we've learned so far is someone was shot early this morning and the news crews were covering that homicide. And when someone walked up, the suspect approached and open fire on the news crew from Spectrum News 13 in Orlando, and just around 7:20, we learned from this news conference that they've arrested a suspect in this case, but we're told that suspect didn't just stop at the shooting of the news crew. He then went down the street and apparently entered a home and shot a woman and her nine-year-old child.

We're told the nine-year-old child is dead. That mother is still suffering from the gunshot wounds. One of the members from the news team was also shot and killed. We're not sure which one just yet. The photographer was shot. And of course, you have the woman who was shot earlier in the day. Police have arrested 19-year-old Keith Melvin Moses, that's the man who they're going to charge with this case. They are not sure about the motive in any of these shootings right now. And it all happened in the Pine Hills area in Orlando.

So, there's so many questions surrounding this. But that news crew out there covering the story of the early homicide was targeted and shot and then there's a suspected shooter they moved on to shoot that mother and her child with that nine-year-old losing their life. So, so many questions right now as we continue to look into this case.

BOLDUAN: Yes, Ryan, thank you for gathering all of that and bringing that to us so quickly. I really appreciate it.

YOUNG: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: It's amazing, three different shooting sites, going to have much more on that. We will be continuing to gather more details on it. Thank you all so much for joining us.