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Erin Burnett Outfront
Credit Suisse Shares Crash, Fueling Global Fears; Wagner May Be Short On Fighters As It Tries To Encircle Bakhmut; Cohen Testifies In Hush Money Case; Pence Makes Clear He Disagrees With DeSantis On Ukraine; Judge Behind Most Significant Abortion Case Since Roe Is A Deeply Conservative Trump Appointee Known For Undoing Biden Policies. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired March 15, 2023 - 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, the fear goes global. The bank sell-off stretching across the Atlantic as another major bank is on the verge collapse. The question everyone is asking -- is our money safe? Suze Orman is OUTFRONT with answers.
This just in, new video tonight of the moment a Ukrainian soldier takes down a Russian jet, as we are learning new details, we'll share with you, about Russia training elementary school children to fight. We'll show you this.
And Georgia investigators have another recording of Trump pressuring election officials to overturn the election. This is new. We have not heard before. And it comes as Trump's former fixer, Michael Cohen, testified for a second time before a grand jury in New York. Trump's attorney is my guest tonight.
Let's go OUTFRONT.
And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.
OUTFRONT tonight, fear going global, worry of banking collapse is now spreading beyond the United States with mega bank Credit Suisse shares plummeting, closing down 24 percent, a quarter of the value gone in a day. The Swiss Central Bank stepping in tonight, saying it's ready to bail out Credit Suisse with more funds if necessary. But that fear ricocheting back to Wall Street, with the Dow tumbled more than 700 points at one point, closed down nearly 300.
Shares of banks taking another brutal blow. And just take the regional bank First Republic. We've all been talking about that name a lot lately, right? It lost more than 20 percent of its value today.
Now, First Republic is a widely respected bank by people who no risk. As UBS analyst Erika Najarian wrote the other day, quote: We believe First Republic is no Silicon Valley Bank. She detailed all the map and the bank's reserves and its assets, but it just might not matter.
Someone with money at First Republic, who trusts the bank and finally decided psychology may matter more than reality, told me that they finally called to ask for their money back. The banker on the other end of the line, apologetically said, okay, I get it, but they are 80,000 people ahead of you in line.
Just to say, right, this is emotion. This is psychology. And in that environment, Credit Cuisse is ripe for crisis.
Its reputation is being marred by scandals, top executives have been scandal following multibillion dollar losses. A grim story to Credit Suisse, but then, again, so is the story of the second largest bank failure in the U.S. story, Silicon Valley Bank. It failed after how poorly executives manage to surge in technology start-ups deposits.
And so is the story of the third largest bank failure in U.S. bank history, Signature Bank, just the other day, of course. In this case, to make a leap of faith on crypto played a role.
But these different specifics in each case well down to the same story. Scared investors, ready to jump ship in an uncertain world reeling from the fastest interest rate hikes ever. Eight hikes in a year. And only now are we starting to see the impact of that.
On that point, personal finance guru Suze Orman is standing by to answer the questions we all have about what we should do right now, because everyone has those questions.
Because analysts like Michael Feroli, who covers banking at JPMorgan, estimates that economic growth overall now, from what we've seen in this past week, we'll take a hit. He says, for every $10 of loans that are not going to be made by now scared banks, the economy takes a hit of as much as $5 -- the whole economy.
So, think about that. These small loans from regional banks, these kind of numbers and ratios people are throwing around right now matter big time. And that's why Feroli is expecting a recession.
A renowned hedge fund founder, Ray Dalio, calls this a canary in the coal mine moment. Dalio, speaking about Silicon Valley bank, warning, quote, it is likely that this bank failure will not -- followed by many more problems.
And that's why what's happening day after day's worrisome. Well, President Biden did step in early. He made a huge statement. And that statement was loud and clear.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Americans can rest assured that our banking system is safe. Your deposits are safe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And he meant to convey calm and security. But, of course, at a deposit point, it's technically not true. The federal government cannot step in and make all deposits good at all banks, like they did at Silicon Valley Bank or Signature Bank. They can't do it because there just simply isn't enough money to do that if it were required. And that worry has caused Americans to pull their deposits and start
putting them into banks, if there's any that they truly see as too big to fail, like Citigroup.
And we begin our coverage OUTFRONT tonight with the former CEO of Citigroup, Mike Corbat. He's now a senior adviser at the investment firm 26 North.
And, Mike, really appreciate your time. You have seen this before. You have been through this before, and, you know, running one of the biggest banks in the world. You know all the banks that we have mentioned tonight, like First Republic.
Does what's happening right now surprise you?
MIKE CORBAT, FORMER CEO, CITIGROUP: I would say, Erin -- well, first off, thank you for having me.
I would start off by saying I think the speed and in some ways, I've heard the term -- violence with which Thursday, Friday, Saturday occurred, between SVB and between Signature, I think, really surprise people and I think set people back on their heels. And I think today, you know, people are spending -- yesterday and today spending time trying to figure out if there are more banks with similar characteristics to SVB or Signature out there.
And given, I think, the very bold and swift action that the government took, the combination, the Fed, the FDIC and Treasury -- is that enough? And does that stem the exodus from these banks? And I think that's some of the soul-searching that's going on right now.
BURNETT: And that's a question, is it enough, right? President Biden on Monday, you know, made the statement, right? Every American's deposits are safe. He wanted to convey calm, which, of course, was important to do. In a real situation, right -- it's not a promise that could be kept. Hopefully he is hoping he never has to, right? But the words were what would provide that come. But does that concern you at all, that promises like that could be made that cannot be kept?
CORBAT: Well, I think to go back, one is I think we've got to recognize that we do have probably one of the healthiest banking systems in the world. Levels of capital, levels of scrutiny, oversight, stress testing, all those things were there.
CORBAT: And we had, at the end of 2022, over 4,000 banks. So, I can't speak to every bank individually.
But the system itself isn't quite good shape. I think the measures that were put in place on Sunday evening, I think, were bold measures. They are not permanent. I don't think laws would allow them to be permanent. But I think they give the government flexibility to be able to step in and provide that liquidity in the system to make sure that each and every depositor that wants to take their money out or move their money has access to that money and ability to do that. That's something that, under this structure, won't be permanent, but
we don't need permanence. We just need enough time for those monies to get to where they want to get and to get the system to normalize without crisis -- to be able to move forward.
BURNETT: Right. And do you expect, bottom line, Mike -- and I know you don't, know because every day, as I pointed out, right, you can look at the ratios, you can look at the numbers, right, and then psychology wins. Is it possible that we have more bank failures in coming days?
CORBAT: I think it's always possible. But I think when you look at the numbers of SVB and you look at Signature, they have a couple things that were very outsized to me. One is that they had a level of almost two times the national average of uninsured deposits to insured deposits. So, therefore, the vast majority of their deposits were uninsured.
Their loan portfolios weren't typical to the industry. They had, in many cases, more esoteric, more illiquid loans. In the case of SVB, they had a very large -- almost half the bank was in a portfolio of being declared held to maturity, which means they really can't sell.
CORBAT: And so, that caused liquidity issues. It cause concerns around solvency issues and caused people to fear, people, maybe their money should be placed somewhere else.
BURNETT: All right. Mike Corbat, thank you very much. As I said, Mike Corbat is the former CEO of Citigroup.
And now, Suze Orman joins me exclusively, personal finance expert and "New York Times" bestselling author. She now hosts "The Women and Money" podcast, and a longtime person that I and so many so greatly admire.
So, Suze, I'm so glad to talk to you because, you know, Mike can say, talk about -- they've done the right things, and they've done what they can do, right? But people are worried. People are afraid about what this means for their bank accounts, the thing that you don't generally think about whether your deposits in your checking and saving accounts are safe, right?
Where is the safest place for people to have their money right now?
SUZE ORMAN, FINANCIAL EXPERT & HOST, "WOMEN AND MONEY" PODCAST: Listen, the safest place is, believe it or not, in a credit union or a bank that has FDIC insurance or treasury bills or notes. So, if you really are looking for safe, safe money, you want to make sure that whatever you are invested in is backed by something else that has never failed.
So, you have the FDIC for banks. You have the NCUA for credit unions. You have treasury bills, treasury notes, treasury bonds, backed by the authority of the United States government. You can have treasury money markets and things like that.
But you want to know that whatever you are invested in, Erin, is really ensured or backed by something that has nothing to do with speculation.
BURNETT: So, do you think small, regional banks are safe right now, Suze?
ORMAN: I think some are. I think it's really a shame. You know, they say this thing, like First Republic, a regional bank -- whatever, they are San Francisco, their New York, they are all over.
ORMAN: So, if you have your money anywhere -- I don't care where you have -- it and if you are within the FDIC or NCUA for credit union limits, you have nothing to worry about, in my opinion because it's there for you and I can't imagine that it won't be, Erin. It just is.
Listen, we got through the 2008 crisis, which really was far, far more worse than this, because that was a crisis that you did not know how to value anything.
ORMAN: At least people know what's happening right now. You know, my podcast on Sunday, I have Sheila Bair, who is the former chair of the FDIC, who had to go through 400-some-odd failures of banks.
ORMAN: So, if you talk to her, she really knows that if you are backed by FDIC or NCUA for credit unions, you will be fine. Stop panicking.
BURNETT: And what about the market? You know, you've got stocks, the Dow down more than 700 points, at one point, ended down 300. And that Suze to me was reminiscent of all those days.
I sat in the stock exchange, it'd be down 700, up 4 -- I mean, just the volatility and fear we are seeing it again. People have 401(k). People have money, obviously, in the stock market, in many different ways.
Should people be moving money around right now?
ORMAN: Now, do you remember, all the way back, 2009, when the markets were at really, almost down so much it was not even funny? And then 2010, 11 -- and it all came back. If you have time on your side, you have five years, ten years, 20, 30 years or longer until you need this money, you have to stay in the market, continue the dollar cost average, whether it is an ATF -- as long as you are diversified, hopefully you are getting dividends. There are many mutual funds or ETFs that pay nice dividends. You keep going, because as these things go down, your dollar cost averaging, eventually, it will be great.
However, you are a year or two away from retirement, you need that money. Now, that is a whole other story because it can take a long time, Erin, as you know -- when something goes down, 50 percent, it has to go up 100 percent just for you to break even.
So, it depends on your situation. Is this good or is it bad? It depends on how long you have to leave your money there.
BURNETT: So, you know, Suze, what I found amazing about all this is it immediately went in a moment, right, where there was real fear, right, and it was impacting people's lives, right? Depositors -- it immediately went to political talking points, right, that some group of depositors didn't deserve to get their money back because, they are, you know, tech people and somehow entitled.
And then on the other side it was -- well, the bank failed, because they are so worried about diversity that they were not running the bank right. I mean, we went right to those polarizing talking points and. Specifically on this point that the people at SVB, who, by the way, may have done criminal things -- I don't know, I'm not making a point. I'm just saying that they were so busy promoting diversity that they did not do their jobs.
Here is how it was put by the governor of Florida.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: I mean, this bank, they are so concerned with DEI and politics and all kinds of stuff, I think that really diverted from them focusing on their core mission.
REP. JAMES COMER (R-KY): They were one of the most woke banks in their quest for ESG type policy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And then, I know, Suze, you had to see that "Wall Street Journal" article -- the column by Andy Kessler where he wrote: In its proxy statement, SVB notes that besides 91 percent of their board being independent and 45 percent women, they also have one Black, one LGBTQ+, and two veterans. I'm not saying 12 white men would have avoided this mess, but, the company may have been distracted by diversity demands.
What do you say to all this?
ORMAN: That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard in my life. What govern SBB really -- SVB, rather -- was the desire for profits, to make money, to actually rather than to look at their loans and their deposit, to maybe make a quarter of a percent on it, they went and they wanted to make more on it.
It was the desire for earnings, because their stock was on the stock exchange. It was at $700 a share at one point. What did that have to do with diversity? So, when people start looking at things like that, to blame what
happened, that just shows you they are serious lack of economics, of money, and reality, and they are simply going for your vote.
And if I were going to vote for somebody that was that ridiculous, it would only be because I would be equally as ridiculous for wanting to do that when it makes absolutely no sense at all. That kind of thinking -- we will get this world into recession, into trouble faster than anything else, because you are not dealing with a real problem.
BURNETT: All right. Well, Suze, thank you so much. I'm so glad to have you on. Thank you.
ORMAN: Anytime, Erin, love you and miss you.
BURNETT: All right. And so good to see.
And next, new video tonight of the moment that a Ukrainian jet shot a Russian jet out of the sky. We have new reporting tonight on the Wagner group and the losses there. It's a story you'll see first OUTFRONT.
Plus, also this hour, New York prosecutors signaling an indictment could becoming -- Trump's former fixer Michael Cohen, again, today, was before the grand jury investigating hush money payments.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER TRUMP FIXER: My position is that, at the end of the day, Donald Trump needs to be held accountable for his dirty deeds.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURENTT: Well, Trump's attorney Joe Tacopina will respond OUTFRONT.
And a stunning new image tonight from space of what experts say is a volcano on Venus.
BURNETT: Tonight, new video just into out front of the moment a Ukrainian shoulder shoots a Russian jet out of the sky.
You can see the soldier inside what appears to be a home holding a shoulder fired surface to air missile launcher. It fires twice. And then you will see how much, obviously, that missile launch recoils, right? You see that entire recoil turning away.
And then you'll see the jets wreckage still burning. You can appear -- to see what appears to be a white parachute. We don't, know, obviously, would happen to that pilot. We do have new video of what appears to be a Russian hideout that was
destroyed. There you will see Russian fighters basically moving in between homes and then the Ukrainians say -- they filmed, is right? Once he, at one spot, it and there's a strike and you'll see that massive fire ball right in that neighborhood right there as you see.
Russia's losses that they are sustaining in this way in place after place along the front line is partly why Russia is now just -- you are seeing a big ramp up in recruitment efforts, we are hearing it anecdotally from on the ground. And now, we have new video of young children being taught to prepare to fight.
This is video that we've obtained in Crimea. These are children in kindergarten through eighth grade. They are in annexed Crimea, learning how to assemble rifles.
And that girl is pretty fast. They are learning tactical and physical training. We are told, along with radiation, chemical, and biological training -- these types of classes are also taking place inside Russia.
Wagner has its own youth club in St. Petersburg. And there are kids who now reportedly attend there and are able to use drone simulators reportedly. Russia is, though, across the board, returning to its youngest. There's been recruiting efforts were boys as faces mounting losses on the battlefront.
Melissa Bell is OUTFRONT tonight.
MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Wagner fighters at an industrial plant inside Bakhmut. They are making very gradual advances but, at huge cost.
This soldier says Ukrainian forces have vast amounts of ammunition and are heavily shelling the area.
We can't even raise our heads, he says.
Wagner has been trying to take Bakhmut for months, and may now be running short of fighters.
Its boss, Yevgeny Prigozhin, has lashed out at the Russian defense ministry for starving his men of ammunition.
YEGVENY PRIGOZHIN, WAGNER BOSS (through translator): We need the military to shield the approaches. If they manage to do so, everything will be okay. If not, then Wagner will be encircled together with the Ukrainians inside Bakhmut.
BELL: In his latest social media post, Prigozhin praised honest Russian soldiers, but claimed, quote, unprofessional scoundrels and in triggers, crush these modest guys and began to push them around and humiliate them -- yet another jibe at the military hierarchy in Moscow. Prigozhin has the accused the defense ministry of incompetence and corruption and compared his almost known continuous presence and Bakhmut to the notable absence of Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. But now, Yevgeny Prigozhin, once a Kremlin ally and nicknamed Putin's chef, is a man under pressure. He recruited tens of thousands of men from Russian prisons. But they have endured horrendous losses -- as many as 80 percent in some units.
He is dreading Russian sports clubs for recruits. And he's more experienced units are stretched as they try to encircle Bakhmut. Western analysts say that Prigozhin has fallen into a trap laid by Shoigu. It's a trap designed to weaken both Wagner and its boss.
Just when Wagner most needs the support of the Russian military around Bakhmut, it's curiously absent. Russia's elite are piling on the graph, outspoken oligarch. Commentator Aleksey Mukhin accused Prigozhin of political ambitions and said he was an incompetent commander, adding, he has exposed the Wagner fighters to a risk of encirclement, from the risk of counterattack.
The Kremlin has long tolerated Prigozhin as Vladimir Putin's license disruptor. But a Wagner is dismayed in an unsuccessful bid to take Bakhmut, he might find himself out in the cold.
BELL: For now, Erin, the battle for Bakhmut continues. The Ukrainian saying it's too early to draw conclusions one way or the other in this ongoing battle. What's also unclear at this stage is what happens in the battle within the battle and whether Yevgeny Prigozhin can come out unscathed, Erin.
BURNETT: Melissa, thank you very much from Ukraine tonight.
And OUTFRONT now, Major General James "Spider" Marks.
And, General, can Putin, right, afford to let the Wagner group totally fail?
JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: No, he can't, he does not want them to fail. I will tell you, Melissa's report was really phenomenal, the levels of detail and the analysis and the relationships and the internecine fighting that extensively takes place within Putin's hierarchy.
It is not frightening. It's to be expected, I guess. But it really is game of thrones kind of environment.
No, Putin can't afford to lose the Wagner group. And I would tell you, he will lose Prigozhin, somebody else would step up. They would be recruited in. And that individual would go about the business of creating a contract force not unlike the Wagner group.
The money exists and they are going to go find the recruits and they are going to pay folks. They've got money to buy the kit and by the individuals. That does not mean that they have to train.
So, I think Putin has kind of got himself a legitimate problem here for -- too much trust and too much freedom into Prigozhin's hand.
BURNETT: You know it's interesting? I spoke to a Ukrainian soldier who is in Bakhmut, and he told me about, you know, something that we might have heard about, seen some video of, but it's sort of stuns to imagine, which is that the Wagner group just runs into machine gun fire on a run in and die on mass, and here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMAN TROKHYMETS, UKRAINIAN SOLDIER FIGHTING IN BAKHMUT: I can't believe that people, we'll person, can run without afraid to die, without -- like, no -- they see how their fellows fall down and they continue running and Wagner help only have one chance to survive is to take our position, our trenches, that's all. They have no choice to return to the position because they will be killed from their fellow's.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: I mean, it is amazing, General, to hear him say it, right? And then I realized the key to their success because they can't turn around. They know they are going to die. So, their best shot is to run into a machine gun fire.
MARKS: Yeah, there is a distinct difference between a Ukrainian soldier, who is fighting for the sovereignty and independence of his nation, and the Russian conscripted and contracted Wagner group individual.
Russian is con -- the Ukrainian soldier is going to fight for his buddy, he's fighting for his organization. He's fighting for those on his left and his right. And that individual is more frightened about letting them down that he is potentially dying in combat.
The ones that are working for Wagner know that the end state is going to be the death of some sort, so they really don't care. They were fighting and dying but they are more -- in the head and they have to return.
That's a distinctive difference. You have professional soldiers vis-a- vis these contracted, conscripted killers with no motivation other than the threat from a boss. You know, feckless, horrible leadership, that they are going to -- they are going to end their lives one way or the other. So, they have no choice. It's really, really, incredible.
BURNETT: It really is incredible, though to, think about it, just for a moment, if you try to think about being in that position which, in a year ago, none of them could've possibly comprehended and yet here they are rushing en masse to die.
All right, General Marks, thank you very much.
MARKS: Thank you, Erin. BURNETT: And next, we're just learning of another recording of Trump
and this is in Georgia, pressuring officials there to overturn the election. You've heard, right, that call with Raffensperger. This is a new recording, a new conversation we are just finding out about. As in New York, a grand jury hears from Michael Cohen for a second time. So, Trump's attorney is my guest next.
Plus, Republicans piling on Ron DeSantis, slamming the Florida governor for saying it is not vital for the United States to support Ukraine.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would prefer to have a president that understands that what happens in Europe vitally affects us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Tonight, Donald Trump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen, testifying again, before a New York grand jury, investigating hush money payments, made to adult film star, Stormy Daniels.
Here he is, on his way, out of the courthouse, tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER ATTORNEY FOR DONALD TRUMP: This isn't a question of vindication. It's not a question, as I stated before, about revenge. This is a - my position is that at the end of the day, Donald Trump needs to be held accountable, for his dirty deeds, if in fact, that's the way that the facts play out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Daniels, also today, meeting with the Manhattan District Attorney's office.
Trump has been invited to appear before the grand jury, which is the clearest indication yet that prosecutors are nearing a decision, on whether to take the unprecedented step, of indicting a former President.
OUTFRONT now, Trump's attorney, Joe Tacopina.
And Joe, I very much appreciate your time.
So, you just heard Michael Cohen, coming out, today, just moments ago. What's your response to him?
JOE TACOPINA, DONALD TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: I mean, look, Alvin Bragg once said, and I hope he remembers these words, he can't see a world, in which he would base a prosecution, of Donald Trump, on the word of a convicted perjurer, and felon, like Michael Cohen.
He's still a convicted perjurer. He's someone, who was convicted of lying. And it's not about vengeance. It's about all about vengeance for him.
But putting that aside, Erin, here's the question. Does anyone actually believe, and anyone, left, right, middle, whatever, that if someone else were accused, of paying hush money, to avoid a public sex scandal, in the manner that Donald Trump is alleged to have avoided a public scandal, they would be prosecuted? The answer is on 100 percent no.
And we cannot, as a society, again, pro-Trump, anti-Trump, left, right, want the weaponization of the justice system, or a prosecutor's office, to pursue political opponents, with rule of law.
TACOPINA: And it's just not right. And that's exactly what's happening here.
BURNETT: I want to ask you about that.
But first, on the point you said about Michael Cohen. Convicted perjurer, OK, yes, and he served his time.
But the SDNY, the Southern District of New York, obviously is not going to indict, based on what Michael Cohen says. If they were going to do that, they would have done that a long time ago.
They corroborated it. They got their information.
BURNETT: We know actively in front of the grand jury, they heard from other witnesses. Kellyanne Conway appeared there. Hope Hicks appeared there.
BURNETT: Does any of that give you pause?
TACOPINA: Yes. I mean, well, it gives me confidence. It shouldn't give Alvin Bragg, pause.
The federal prosecutors of Southern District of New York is the top, the echelon, the Holy Grail, if you will, of Prosecutors' Offices, in this country. They had plenty of time, to indict former President Trump, if they wanted to. They chose not to, because they understand that campaign election law makes it very clear that there was no violation.
And, Erin, if there is no--
TACOPINA: --campaign law violation here, there is no case at all. At all!
BURNETT: Well, I understand, someone, who was involved in that the other day told me that time had passed. When that decision was made, not to indict that that they thought, "Well you know what? They could have had more information. They could have figured it out. They're not going to move without having that."
That's another way to look at this, right, that they got the goods?
TACOPINA: Well, that they got the goods, they evaluated it, and they didn't go forward.
The Manhattan D.A.'s office, despite what they said, about relying, on Michael Cohen, in the past, for three years, they have scoured Donald Trump's personal and business life. Scoured! And they've looked for a crime to fit the person.
And again, I will say this. This is not - we should all be concerned, about this. Whatever side, whether you'd like or hate Donald Trump, we should all be concerned that they pick the person, and are searching for the crime.
If you read Mark Pomerantz's book, a guy, who committed all sorts of ethical and, my opinion, criminal violations, by revealing secret grand jury information, to a third-party, his book, even he said that they picked Trump - he would have paid prosecute Trump, which is a scary statement, by a public prosecutor. But he would have paid to prosecute Trump. And they were looking for a crime, to fit this person, because he didn't like him.
BURNETT: Well OK - but OK - look, there's two-way - there are two questions there.
TACOPINA: That's sure is not my style (ph). I'm a former prosecutor.
BURNETT: One, if a crime is there, a misdemeanor or felony campaign finance, if a crime is there, a crime is there, right? You would agree, right?
TACOPINA: Absolutely, I agree with you.
BURNETT: Now second - to your second point, on the political - politicization, I know last night, Joe, you said "Donald Trump is going to win the election. If they bring this case, I believe it will catapult him, into the White House. I believe it." That's your - that's what you said, last night.
TACOPINA: Yes. BURNETT: But if that's the case, they surely would know that too. Why would they be going ahead, and doing this, for political reasons, if it's only going to help him?
TACOPINA: Listen, Erin, they may not see it the way I see it. They may think that if they indict someone that it makes them ineligible to run for president. I mean, there's some states that I think you actually can be disqualified, from being on a ballot, if you have an open indictment.
Look, I think it will embolden his supporters, OK? I think it will enrage the supporters, and make them feel stronger about the fact that they're politicizing the justice system.
But I think a prosecutor would say, he's a very Democratic prosecutor that's been supported by the far-left, going after perhaps the most far-right guy you have out there, and I think he's thinking, "If I prosecute him, I take him out of candidacy." And, again, that is not what a prosecutor's office should be doing.
BURNETT: Well, and of course, an indictment would not--
TACOPINA: Justice has to be--
BURNETT: --would not mean he couldn't run.
Now, if he's charged, Joe, is he prepared? The former President, Trump, is he prepared to appear in court, and defend himself?
TACOPINA: OK. So, one thing I'll tell you about Donald Trump, in my time that knowing him, and representing him, and having the honor of representing him, is he's probably the toughest guy I've ever met. Because most people would buckle, under this pressure.
Is he prepared? He's prepared. I'm prepared. Susan Necheles is prepared, my co-counsel, who is actually running lead on this thing. We're all prepared, because I - this case will be eaten up. It is - it fails on the law, and it fails on the facts. So yes, he's prepared.
Does he want this to happen? Of course not. Does anyone want to be charged falsely with a crime, because of a political persecution? Of course not.
But again, it's the facts in the law that all we have to look at is the facts in the law. And the law is very clear. Campaign finance law is very clear. You have scholars and former--
TACOPINA: --former Chairman of the Federal and State campaign finance law committees, who have all said, all opined, show me one who says differently, that these facts make out a crime? They do not.
BURNETT: Well the only thing I'd say is if it's going to embolden his supporters, and help him, why wouldn't you just want them to go ahead, and charge, if you think there's no merit, and it emboldens his supporters?
BURNETT: So, it sounds like you're talking out of both sides of your mouth!
TACOPINA: No, it doesn't. It's not - not at all. I'm saying I believe that will be the end result of this.
Don't say I'm talking out of both sides out of my mouth, because I'm not. I'm not saying, "It's a great thing, if he gets indicted." I said "If they indict him, if they indict him, it will embolden him." I think it will, because he will win this case, it will catapult him, to the White House. That's what I said.
What I'm also saying is that no one, in their right mind, wants to be indicted and charged falsely with a crime. So, I don't think I was talking out of both sides of my mouth. I'm just stating facts.
TACOPINA: I think it will ultimately embolden him, embolden his supporters, and give him more strength, because it will be proven to be wrongly accused. But on the other hand, who in their right mind wants to be indicted, and charged falsely to a crime? Nobody.
BURNETT: All right, Joe Tacopina, thank you very much. I appreciate your time.
TACOPINA: OK, Erin. Bye-bye.
BURNETT: And now, Ryan Goodman, former Special Counsel, at the Department of Defense, and Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Just Security blog.
So, here we are. Likely, indictment is pending here. What's your takeaway from Joe Tacopina?
RYAN GOODMAN, JUST SECURITY CO-EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, FORMER SPECIAL COUNSEL AT DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE: So, I thought what was most curious, is what he didn't want to talk about, or didn't talk about.
So, he's talking about things that are either not crimes, or not the central crime. So, he wants to talk about nobody would be charged for hush money. Well, that's actually true, because it's not - paying hush money is not a crime.
GOODMAN: Then he wants to talk about the campaign finance charges. And he's got a point there. That is actually shakier.
But the central charge that Alvin Bragg is probably going to bring is falsifying business records.
And that is that when they paid Michael Cohen, they did not say that the payment was for its true purpose. Instead, they said it was legal services, and then he was on a retainer. And that is what the central charge is, in the case, admittedly just a misdemeanor.
GOODMAN: But everything builds off of that.
BURNETT: Right. Now, just a misdemeanor, on that, I mean, just to be clear? And look, charges are charges. And there's a lot of other cases out there. But a misdemeanor, I mean, you're talking about fine?
GOODMAN: That's right. I don't think--
BURNETT: If convicted?
GOODMAN: If it all boils down to just that charge, and it's just the misdemeanor, then this is not about--
GOODMAN: --Donald Trump facing jail time. And there's a good chance that that is exactly what happens with this case.
BURNETT: Right, which, may be, in fact, why, they chose not to bring it before, unclear, right, whether more information came in, as Joe and I were talking about.
But if this happens, it'll be the first indictment of possibly several, right? Because you've got the January 6; you've got the classified documents; you've got Fulton County, Georgia.
And in that case, we have learned that there's a new call, a new phone call that we did not know about that we have not heard about. That was Trump, and he made this call, to the Georgia House speaker. And it was, to push for a special session, to overturn the election. OK?
So, now we know about the existence of this phone call. This is the third audio recording, to officials, in the State, from Trump, on that. But again, we did not know about this till now. How valuable is the evidence?
GOODMAN: I think it's incredibly valuable, because it's not just the existence of this phone call, in which he's trying to, it seems like, pressure, the House Speaker, to set up a special session, where the House Speaker - GOP leader pushes back.
But it's an audio recording of the phone call. That's very important. It's a vivid information that is - has this kind of inherent reliability and credibility for a jury that can be very compelling for a jury. Now, they'll have three, at least three audio recordings. I think it really does empower the prosecutor.
BURNETT: All right, thank you very much, Ryan Goodman. And next Republicans, shaming Ron DeSantis, for calling the war in Ukraine, a quote, "Territorial dispute," and one that is not vital for the United States involvement.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The war going on in Ukraine right now is not a territorial dispute.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Plus, a Trump-appointed federal judge, who has a history, of rolling back Biden's policies, is on the verge, of making what may be the most consequential rulings, since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. Special Report, tonight.
BURNETT: Tonight, Pence takes on DeSantis. The former Vice President making it clear, he disagrees with the Florida governor.
The Governor, of course, saying it is not a vital U.S. interest, to back Ukraine, in the war against Russia.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PENCE: Well, look, the war going on in Ukraine right now is not a territorial dispute. It is a result of an unprovoked war of aggression by Russia.
I strongly support continuing to provide the Ukrainian military the resources necessary to repel that Russian invasion.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Definitive and clear.
And, by the way, he is not alone. Republicans, on Capitol Hill, are piling on to make their views clear as well.
And Manu Raju is OUTFRONT.
Manu, what are you hearing, from Senate Republicans, on the Hill, today, on the heels of DeSantis' comments?
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, major pushback, among Senate Republicans, who say that this is essential, to American interest, to ensure that Ukraine has the resources it needs, to push back, on Russia aggression.
Not just from Republican leaders, like the number two Republican, John Thune, who told me earlier today that a majority opinion, among Senate Republicans, is that it is in the vital interest, to push back against Ukraine. Also, some traditional Republican hawks, like Senator Lindsey Graham, who said allowing Vladimir Putin, to essentially expand his footprint, beyond Ukraine, could be devastating, to the United States, and to the world, and could embolden China as well.
And other rank-and-file Republicans too, like Kevin Cramer, of North Dakota, who has - says that pulling back will essentially help Russia win this war very, very slowly. And the United States should ensure that Ukraine has all the resources it needs.
It very clear in talking to Republicans today that they believe that Ron DeSantis is on the wrong page, on this issue, and that he should reverse course.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ROGER WICKER (R-MS): I think he's mistaken, and I hope he reconsiders. But - but it is troubling, yes.
RAJU: I mean, could you see yourself supporting someone, who has this kind of position?
WICKER: I would prefer to have a president that understands that what happens in Europe vitally affects us.
SEN. SHELLEY MOORE CAPITO (R-WV): I think this is a much bigger issue than a territorial dispute.
SEN. TODD YOUNG (R-IN): I can't imagine what Xi Jinping, or the leadership in Iran would think, if we took that course of action.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: Now the challenge, though, for these Republicans, is that a growing number of Republican voters, particularly in the Republican base, are skeptical, of additional aid, to Ukraine.
And also, House Republicans aligning themselves with that skepticism, including some top Republicans, Kevin McCarthy, the Speaker of the House has repeatedly indicated that the next round of aid, to Ukraine, could be an uphill battle, on Capitol Hill.
So, divisions, not just on the presidential campaign trail, but also on Capitol Hill.
BURNETT: All right, Manu, thank you very much.
Amazing though, how quickly, and firmly, so many of them stood up, for this issue, though.
And next, a Trump-appointed federal judge, who is known, for rolling back Biden's policies, is about to make a decision, in the biggest abortion-related case, since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. So, who is he? We have a Special Report.
Plus, NASA, tonight, unveiling its new spacesuits, for astronauts, finally! And we're going to tell you about them.
BURNETT: Tonight, in what would be the most consequential ruling, since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, a Texas judge, is signaling he may revoke FDA approval, for a widely-used abortion drug.
The drug in question is there on the screen, Mifepristone.
(GRAPHIC IS SHOWN OF MIFEPRISTONE)
BURNETT: It has been on the market, for more than 20 years, and is used and more than half of all abortions, in the country. Pulling its approval would ban it, even in states where abortion does remain legal.
And the judge deciding the case is Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk. He is a Trump appointee. He has had a history of taking on Biden policies.
Jessica Schneider is OUTFRONT.
MATTHEW KACSMARYK, DEPUTY GENERAL COUNSEL, FIRST LIBERTY INSTITUTE: First and foremost President Trump for nominating me to this position, I would like to thank him.
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Matthew Kacsmaryk was a lead lawyer, working for the Christian group, First Liberty, when Trump nominated him, to become a federal judge.
By then, he'd made his conservative views well-known, warning in a brief, to the Supreme Court that a ruling, in favor of same-sex marriage, would lead to "Potential tyranny," against religious groups who don't approve; and slamming the Supreme Court, for finding a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, "Hiding in the due process clause of the 14th Amendment, a secret knowledge so cleverly concealed in the Nineteenth-Century amendment that it took almost 150 years to find."
Kacsmaryk pledged he'd be independent, as a judge.
KACSMARYK: Senator, I stand in a long line of nominees, who have been before this committee, and state that it is not appropriate, to state a personal view. I will say, for the record that it is binding authority.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): But court-watchers point out he's handed wins, to the Right, in several recent cases.
Judge Kacsmaryk struck down new Biden administration protections, for transgender people, late last year.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): In December, his ruling forced asylum-seekers, back to Mexico, while their cases proceed, in U.S. immigration court.
And he struck down a federal program that allowed minors to receive birth control, without their parents' consent.
KACSMARYK: I don't serve as a legislator. I don't serve as an advocate for counsel. I follow the law, as it is written, not as I would have written it.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Now, Judge Kacsmaryk will unilaterally decide whether to block the FDA's approval, of the abortion pill, Mifepristone, an action anti-abortion and religious groups are urging him, to take. And it's a move that could impact millions of women, each year.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Abortion rights groups fear his record, and his own personal connection, to the abortion issue, with his 17-year- old sister giving up her baby, for adoption, will influence his ruling.
"He's very passionate about the fact that you can't preach pro-life and do nothing," Kacsmaryk's sister told "The Washington Post." "We both hold the stance of you have to do something. You can't not."
But friends say Judge Kacsmaryk's beliefs will not be a factor.
ROGER SEVERINO, FRIEND OF JUDGE KACSMARYK: I would not characterize Judge Kacsmaryk, as emotional. I would characterize him as intellectual.
That's one of the first things you learn about him, when you get to know him, is he's a deep-thinker. And he's going to give this case its thorough examination, to make sure that it comports with the law.
SCHNEIDER: And Judge Kacsmaryk did hear arguments, in that abortion pill case, for four hours, today. He said, he'll decide the issue, and issue his decision, as soon as possible, Erin.
And it did appear that he is seriously considering undoing the FDA's approval of the drug.
SCHNEIDER: But at the same time, he indicated he could keep the approval in place, and instead actually block some recent FDA policies that have made it easier to obtain the abortion pill. So, we'll see whenever that ruling comes out.
BURNETT: All right. Jessica, thank you very much.
And next, new evidence of a volcano on Venus. It's incredible to know it, and it's also important. We'll tell you why.
BURNETT: And finally, tonight, a stunning new image, from space, one expert discovering, for the first time, direct evidence, of an active volcano, on Venus.
Painstaking analysis, of radar images, taken during NASA's Magellan mission in the 1990s are now revealing changes in shape and size, to a volcanic event, just over the space, of eight months.
This is a computer-generated rendering showing lava flow. But experts say it's a crucial discovery. It raises questions about Earth, and where we could be headed. Experts, of course, say Venus may once have been like Earth, until it was smothered, in carbon dioxide. It became obviously completely uninhabitable, the hottest planet.
It comes as NASA today debuted redesigned spacesuits, for astronauts, a massively overdue upgrade, but a crucial one. It's been 50 years, since that happened. The new suits are more flexible, able to fit various body types.
That dark color scheme you see though is just a cover. The new suits will be white, like the old ones, to protect astronauts, from extreme heat.
Thanks for joining us.
"ANDERSON" starts now.