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Erin Burnett Outfront
Costello Tells CNN It's Impossible For Cohen To Refute His Testimony; CNN's KFILE Finds Trump Attorney In 2018 Saying He Believed Trump Had An Affair With Stormy Daniels, Something Trump Denies; Ukrainian Commander Going To Launch Bakhmut Offense Very Soon. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired March 23, 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 Trump witness who testified in the hush money case is speaking out to CNN. This as we have new details about what's happening behind closed doors in the Manhattan district attorney's case.
Plus, new evidence of just how much TikTok is helping the Wagner Group recruit fighters in the war in Ukraine, and how much it's sanctioned by China. Exclusive reporting.
And the Colorado dentist accused of poisoning his wife makes his first court appearance today. The same dentist who texted his wife as she began to feel sick, quote: For the record, I didn't drug you.
Let's go OUTFRONT.
And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.
OUTFRONT tonight, a star witness speaks to CNN. Robert Costello is the witness Trump's team pushed for in the Manhattan D.A.'s hush money investigation, and he is speaking out tonight to our Paula Reid and revealing new details about the three hours that he spent behind closed doors with the grand jury investigating hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels.
Now, Costello was a legal advisor to the D.A. star witness, Michael Cohen. And after testifying, Costello said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT COSTELLO, FORMER ATTORNEY FOR MICHAEL COHEN: I've listened to Michael Cohen stand in front of the courthouse and say things that are directly contrary to what he said to us. My obligation is to bring the truth to both the district attorney and to Trump's lawyers. That's exactly what I did.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Now we know that Costello's testimony was so important that District Attorney Alvin Bragg is considering bringing Michael Cohen there's a dueling doing witnesses here back for a third time to testify before that same grand jury.
So Costello's conversation with our Paula Reid is important and you're going to hear much more from her in just a moment because this all comes as again tonight. The entire country is waiting to see whether Trump is about to be charged and arrested or not, right. It's been this waiting game. So why is the D.A. not moving ahead yet?
The grand jury did meet again today, but this is really interesting. Sources tell CNN that they didn't even discuss Trump. And the D.A. Alvin Bragg today was in a war of words with Trump, the former president, sending out an email to supporters saying, quote, D.A. Alvin Bragg's expected indictment of Trump resembles Stalin's notorious tactics. Trump also reposted an article which is a picture of Trump holding a bat next to a picture of Bragg.
As for Bragg, he's accusing the former president of whipping his supporters into a frenzy by claiming he was going to be arrested on Tuesday, which Trump did right. He said he was going to be arrested on Tuesday. He's the one who said that expectation.
And the general counsel for brags office and a letter to House Republicans who are now vowing to investigate brags as quote Donald Trump created a false expectation that he would be arrested the next day, and his lawyers reportedly urged you to intervene.
Paula Reid begins our coverage OUTFRONT. She's outside the cover the courthouse in New York.
And, Paula, you did have this conversation with Costello, which is so crucial because he is at the heart of this entire situation right now. What did he tell you?
PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Erin, I called him to talk about what happened in that grand jury room that could have prompted prosecutors to then take a step back and determine if they want to bring back Michael Cohen or some other witness to rebut his testimony, and he described what happened in the grand jury room as contentious at times. He said before his appearance he had given prosecutors hundreds of documents. But he was only asked about six of them.
He said he challenged the prosecutor on why these weren't all being admitted as evidence. He said, at one point, he even looked at the grand jury and told them, he said, you guys need to get all of these documents. And he says that five or six of the jurors actually nodded in agreement.
He tells me that he believes that his testimony absolutely had an impact on the grand jury, and I asked him well, who is the witness that they could potentially bring into about this testimony, he said. It's absolutely not Michael Cohen, and when I asked if there were any other names, he says, there's no one. It's impossible to refute what I said.
He said, he hasn't heard from the district attorney since he testified Monday. BURNETT: So -- all right. That's interesting and interesting. I mean,
the color he's giving you all right. This is what he's telling you that, you know, five or six people were nodding along when he said that more information was needed.
Obviously, there's 23. They need a supermajority, you know to go ahead and bring these charges. That there does appear Paula to be a holding pattern with the grand jury. I mean, that's certainly what it feels like, right, this has been going on now for almost a week, and you have new reporting on what's going on.
REID: That's exactly right. It feels like that, because based on our reporting, that is the case. Right now, prosecutors are taking a moment to regroup. They are really contemplating the potentially historic decision that they have in front of them to possibly indict for the first time, a former U.S. president.
Now, we know they did not hear any evidence about the Trump case today, but the jury will reconvene on Monday when they are expected to once again hear evidence about the trust Trump hush money probe, they may also hear from a witness, but it's unclear, Erin, if they will move to then vote on a possible indictment.
That at this point is just unclear, so we'll be back here Monday, reporting it out.
BURNETT: Well, all right, Paula, thank you very much with all of that new reporting and Paul again, having a chance to actually speak to Costello herself.
Ryan Goodman is OUTFRONT, Karen Agnifilo, Stephanie Rawlings- Blake, and Scott Jennings all with me here to talk about this.
So, Ryan, when you hear Paula. She spoke to Costello today, and it does seem from everything we know that his testimony on Monday is causing a problem for Bragg, something in there did not go the way they expected it to go.
RYAN GOODMAN: You know, it may be the case. I mean, at some level, I think that Bragg's office probably anticipated a lot of what Costello would say because they've just been doing this work for a great deal of time, but it does make sense that if they do want to rebut his testimony, they might want to bring somebody else back in.
The statement that he has also made out on the street in front of the courthouse is something that's rebuttable. He says nothing irrefutable, but he says that you know, this whole thing was Michael Cohen's idea. Well, you know, David Pecker, who has already appeared before the grand jury through his company, American Media Incorporated, they submitted a statement to the federal prosecutors, which said that they were in on the scheme with Michael Cohen to set up the hush money payments, and they were doing it to suppress stories from coming up before the election.
That might be a good person that they'd want to bring in and that's what they need to consider.
BURNETT: So, Karen, what do you think is causing this delay?
KAREN AGNIFILO, FORMER PROSECUTOR: I think exactly what Ryan just said. I think they're considering what evidence they need to put in to shore up the case and to rebut what was said by Trump's witness, Mr. Costello. I also think they probably wanted for security reasons to not have too much time between a vote, an indictment as well -- and then a surrender because you have to keep the president -- the former president safe, you have to keep New Yorkers safe, and it will it will leak out if by no one else other than Trump, it will leak out and he will drum up protesters and potentially create another January 6th.
So if I were the district attorney, I'd be consulting with law enforcement so that we can we can have a little daylight between the vote, the indictment and his surrender.
BURNETT: And his surrender.
You know, it is interesting, though, Mayor, you know, Costello again, this is how he characterized it, so that's all you have to go on. But he told Paula five or six of the -- of the members of the grand jury were nodding when he said, you need to demand more information. There needs to be more paperwork.
Look, they only need a majority of 23 to indict. But as has been very clear when I said supermajority, that's not the requirement, but that's what is perceived to be necessary. In this case, you got to show with the grand jury that it's close to unanimous, if not unanimous.
So what is this all say to you?
STEPHANIE RAWLINGS-BLAKE (D), FORMER BALTIMORE MAYOR: It says to me that the Trump team is very disciplined in their efforts to create chaos. I mean, Costello said what he needed to say. They want to murky the waters. They want to make it. So anything that bragged does will be perceived by Trump supporters as a political -- a political decision and I think they're doing a good job of it.
BURNETT: So, you know, it's interesting, though, Scott, you know, on the -- on the Democratic side, there's been caution, right? Chuck Schumer didn't come out and say I support everything the D.A. did. Yeah, I said, I'll wait and see what happens, right? I mean, they've been incredibly cautious not to necessarily back him not to back what's going to happen.
Republican side, no such caution, right? They've been coming out full- throated behind Trump and House Republicans, you know, they're demanding information.
Is Bragg going to have to answer to Congress?
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Maybe -- I mean, they have the power to do things like this, and I think they needed to show their constituents their supporters that they were standing up for Trump. I mean, the truth is the entire Republican Party. Even the people who don't want Trump back are in lockstep on this. They think this whole thing is political and on a weaponization of the criminal justice system. And I do think there's a chunk of Democrats who would really rather Bragg not go forward. By the way on --
BURNETT: Van Jones is one of them. I mean, many of them are very open about it.
JENNINGS: I mean, I think there are plenty of Democrats and maybe even some Republicans who think it would be better for the other cases to go first.
On the issue of creating chaos, I don't see it that way. In fact, I look at all the personalities involved in this. Michael Cohen, Stormy Daniels, Donald Trump -- Costello seems like the only straight player to me. I mean, he seemed like the most credible guy in the whole bunch.
And if he's the one who went in and gave information that is causing Bragg, or the grand jury to hesitate, there's a reason for that is because he actually has credibility. He's not an agent of chaos. He's an agent of credibility when you compare them to the other people in the room here.
BURNETT: Well, I mean, it is it is a you know, a sort of a circus in a certain sense, Ryan, of characters.
GOODMAN: It is. Costello doesn't exactly have the most pristine background, so he is identified by name in the Mueller report as having a close relationship with Giuliani and in the Muller report. So, there's a very strong implication that he's involved in dangling a pardon with Michael Cohen, that on the same day that Trump had said Michael Cohen won't flip publicly that because that Costello sends him a note that says, you have friends in high places, sleep well tonight, Michael, and it's in the obstruction section in the Mueller report.
I could even imagine that Bragg introduced that for the grand jury to consider as well.
BURNETT: So -- and that's what we're going to, we're going to find out.
I mean, I suppose eventually, but what I'm curious about, Karen, you've got 23 New Yorkers going in, right? They get caught. They don't get called in one day. They're called in today.
So then today, they're called in the afternoon. Everyone anticipates a lot of reporting is going to be about Trump. Maybe it happens today.
Then we find out this grand jury is called in and it's not about Trump at all. What does that say to you?
AGNIFILO: That just means that this was a case -- this was a grand jury that was called for multiple cases, which is very common in these long term investigatory grand juries. They're normally for one or two or three cases, so it's just business as usual, but we don't usually see it because it usually happens in secret.
BURNETT: OK. So let me just ask a question. I understand this, but you know, these are 23 normal people. They understand that the situation that they're in here is extraordinary, okay? And the pressures on them extraordinary.
So what does that mean for them, right? I mean, it's not just you can just kind of take this and okay, you know, I just have to have a general sense of guilt where I'm just doing my job, and they know that the bar is very high here.
AGNIFILO: They've been sitting since January, so I don't think it's big -- I don't think it would mean much to them that it's been put over a few more days or another week. I think they take their jobs very seriously. Grand juries always take their jobs very seriously.
AGNIFILO: They listened to the evidence. And I'm sure that there was evidence given to them by Costello that has given some pause, and I'm I wouldn't be surprised if they anticipate some sort of rebuttal . If there was anything factual that was said that could be rebutted.
BURNETT: It is, though, interesting and I understand, of course, they take their job seriously, but they are now watching in this past week, that the level of scrutiny that the entire country is going to have. If they didn't already feel that and think that, they've seen it. They're not sequestered, right?
Stephanie, they can come home and watch all of this if they so choose.
RAWLINGS-BLAKE: I think that's why it was important that it looks like Bragg is taking a pause that he's as you said, taking a look at what Costello testified to and is going back and working to rebut it because he understands the pressure that these jurists are under, and they -- he doesn't want to put them in a position where they are not able to withstand the scrutiny of this moment and the jurors I'm sure don't want to be in that position, either.
So I'm glad that he's taken the time and not -- his hand isn't being forced by Trump's, you know, false statements.
BURNETT: And Trump, though, meanwhile, he comes out and retweets an article with himself and a bat, you know, and Alvin Bragg, in the context of January 6, in the context of what we're talking about. That's what we're seeing.
JENNINGS: Yeah. I mean, I think they feel like they're on offense here. I think this delay has emboldened them. I think they feel like they've got a fighting chance of maybe beating this thing.
And, you know, if you just look at what's happened this week -- I mean, look, I'm not in the room. I'm not a lawyer, just watching all the players and watch everything that's been said, it feels half baked to me, and it feels like there is some -- something going on.
And if you're Donald Trump and your preference would be to not be indicted, I would say they're going to be even more aggressive in their -- in their PR effort here to try to win it.
And, Ryan, just a final point. It would seem that at this moment, if they haven't really buttoned up, this is -- I can't believe they would have waited this long. But this is the moment, you would need to come with, you don't need to listen to Michael Cohen because and it's unclear we haven't heard anything about that. They would have that.
You know, just like that, something that would actually absolutely prove what Michael Cohen has said that doesn't involve him saying it.
GOODMAN: That's right. It has to be a difficult case, especially because Michael Cohen is a difficult character. I think almost everybody can agree upon that.
GOODMAN: So -- and there is some things to corroborate him, but it seems there's so much depends on him. The idea that he was going to be the final witness before they then give an opportunity to Trump or his witnesses, it does seem as though there's -- you know, we don't know what the answer to that question is.
So I do think it's like the big reveal. If there is an indictment, what is the other evidence that they have? What exactly is the indictment in terms of the charges?
BURNETT: Right, right, and just because we don't know there's a big deal doesn't mean there isn't one, but certainly, we have not heard anything about that, I think about that has leaked out.
All right, I thank you all very much.
And next, first on OUTFRONT, our KFILE uncovering more controversial statements from Trump's attorney in the hush money case revealing, but he really thought about the former president's alleged affair with Stormy Daniels and Trump's actions on January 6th.
Plus, new evidence of just how much TikTok is helping Russia's private army recruit young fighters with videos like the one you're going to -- you'll see on your screen and we have more to show you -- Wagner fighters, machetes, explosions. Why my next guest says that this has everything to do with China's supporting Putin.
And the Colorado dentist accused of poisoning his wife made his first court appearance today and we're learning more about the couple's money problems and chilling text that police say he sent her.
[19:18:38] BURNETT: Tonight, Trump's attorney's 180. CNN's KFILE just revealing more controversial comments from Trump's attorney in the Stormy Daniels hush money case, Joe Tacopina.
Now, we've told you about some of the comments Tacopina made in 2018 defending Michael Cohen's credibility and calling the Daniel situation of Pandora's box that would have bad results for Trump. But the famed defense attorney also suggested that he believed Trump had the affair with Daniels, which, of course, Trump repeatedly denies.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE TACOPINA, CONSERVATIVE LAWYER: We haven't seen them send a tweet or anything which is unusual. And by the way to me, it means you know it's true, right, because he hasn't threatened to sue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: All right. OUTFRONT now, the senior editor of CNN's KFile, Andrew Kaczynski of KFile.
All right. So, I mean, it's amazing when you took the time to go through and so much that you found this was not the only time that we just played there that you found Tacopina, saying that he believed Trump had an affair with Stormy Daniels, which, of course, is at the heart of Trump, saying nothing happened here because he's saying he didn't have an affair.
ANDREW KACZYNSKI, CNN KFILE SENIOR EDITOR: And what's interesting is, you know, Tacopina, in addition to being a well known criminal defense attorney, he's also a well known criminal defense commentator. He's been on this show. He's been on many shows over the years talking about all sorts of legal matters.
One of those, Stormy Daniels, 2018, and there's two interesting things I want people to listen to in these clips were about to play. One is him speculating over the situation.
His personal opinion, as we will hear is he thinks it's true.
The other is him, suggesting that this could be an in-kind campaign contribution. These are both things that he now says are not true. Take a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TACOPINA: No one was here is going. Oh my god, I can't believe this.
I've said all along, if he had just come out and said, yeah, I did. So what? And just chalk that up to another one of the things on his -- his list of minor scandals, he gets through it.
The great detail about her one night stand with him. What else can she say? There's nothing else to tell. This could be looked at as an in kind contribution at the time of the
election. This is a real problem.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Okay. So he -- as you said, clear that he believes that the affair happened and clear that he thinks it could be an in-kind campaign contribution and a real problem.
So, now, he's making the other side of both of those arguments. But this is not the only issue where Tacopina is at odds with Trump. So you found another clip from 2021 interview where Tacopina said very clearly and strongly that he believes that Trump deserves the blame and should be impeached over the January 6th insurrection.
So here's this one that Andrew found.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
TACOPINA: I don't think he did anything criminal. Did I think he did something impeachable? Yes, I do.
When you say to a bunch of lunatics, a bunch of, you know, people who have had a propensity towards violence before these groups that have gathered, you know, which was a planned gathering, hey, go to the Capitol and fight. And fight for what? Go to the Capitol and fight for -- what does fight mean to these idiots? What do you think it meant? They killed people.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BURNETT: He said it beautifully.
KACZYNSKI: And you know what's interesting about this guy is he is not just Trump's attorney legally. He is also Trump's attorney in the court of public opinion. We have seen this guy on CNN. We've seen this guy on "Good Morning America", on Fox News. He is out there, you know, repping Trump. So it is really interesting to hear him commenting on Trump, commenting on Capitol riot before he was legally representing him.
We did reach out to him. We asked him about this. He said -- he said his mind hasn't changed on the issue. What changed is that he learned the facts.
BURNETT: Okay, that's interesting, but these are really interesting to hear. I mean, and it's clear it's clear that he believed what he said when he said it. I'll just put it at that. It's clear he believed what he said, especially there on January 6th. And as I said, he said it beautifully.
All right. Thank you so much, Andrew, unearthing all of that, as he always does.
And this reporting from Andrew coming as Trump attorney, Kevin Corcoran is preparing to take the stand tomorrow in the special counsel's investigation of Trump's handling of classified documents. So yet another third legal matter.
Now, this is testimony that the Trump team fought hard to block. Corcoran is now not protected by attorney client privilege, and prosecutors argued there is evidence that Trump's interactions with him were part of a possible crime. Corcoran is the latest in a long line of Trump lawyers who have found themselves now front and center in a criminal investigation.
Tom Foreman is OUTFRONT.
REPORTER: Mr. President --
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With a Manhattan grand jury deciding whether to indict the former president, one of Donald Trump's former attorneys is under heavy fire for his testimony.
MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: My goal is to ensure that truth comes out,
FOREMAN: Michael Cohen says Trump authorized a hush money payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels to hide an alleged affair.
But attorney Robert Costello, a Trump ally, who once advised Cohen, went to the grand jury and says, no way. Cohen alone was behind the payment and he's bitter he wound up in jail for it.
ROBERT COSTELLO, ATTORNEY: And now, he's on the revenge tour. I understand it, but I don't condone it.
FOREMAN: The saga is just the latest example of Trump lawyers who are normally behind the scenes showing up front and center in case after case.
TACOPINA: Michael Cohen has the credibility of a pipe cleaner.
FOREMAN: Trump's attorney in the hush money case, Joe Tacopina, for instance, now, loudly defending the former president, a few years ago was just as publicly hearing Trump's defense down.
In the matter of those classified documents recovered from Mar-a-Lago Trump attorney, Evan Corcoran, has been ordered to turn over his notes and appear before a federal grand jury for questioning. Unusual considering how attorney client communications are usually protected.
The response from team Trump to all this: there is no factual or legal basis or substance to any case against the former president. Prosecutors only attack lawyers when they have no case whatsoever, but a former White House lawyer under Trump gave Erin a different take.
TY COBB, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE LAWYER: He turns lawyers into witnesses, you know, faster than any potential defendant in the history of the criminal justice system.
FOREMAN: And don't forget the cadre of Trump lawyers who insisted Joe Biden did not win the White House, that the election was rigged.
Sidney Powell --
SIDNEY POWELL, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: It is one huge, huge criminal conspiracy.
FOREMAN: Rudy Giuliani --
RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: This is really enough. It's enough to overturn any election.
FOREMAN: And Jenna Ellis.
JENNA ELLIS, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: We want to make sure to protect election integrity, and your president, President Trump.
FOREMAN (on camera): All three of those last attorneys and several others either already have or may soon face professional condemnation in a sense, actual penalties for what they did in the name of Donald Trump, and they certainly make it clear that sometimes when you defend Donald Trump, you wind up defending yourself -- Erin.
BURNETT: Again and again and again.
All right, Tom, thank you very much.
And next, we have new details on the Ukrainian offensive that could be a major turning point in the war. As we are learning tonight, and you'll see this exclusive report how much TikTok is helping Russia's private army recruit.
Plus, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis tonight and why he doesn't like rubbing elbows with the upper class, he says.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: I deal better with regular people than I do with some of the people in the political class.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So just how well does he do with regular people as he defines it?
Our Harry Enten breaks down the numbers.
BURNETT: Tonight, Ukrainians on the attack, a top general, signaling his troops will launch an offensive in Bakhmut, quote, very soon. It's a stunning development for this town that has seen some of the fiercest fighting of the war. The head of the Wagner Group, Russia's private military, had bragged,
of course, that Russia would take back more quickly, but that was seven months ago. And it has been nine months in total since Putin has tried to take that city. This Mykhailo Puryshev, a Ukrainian nightclub owner, we first met 11 months ago when he was helping his fellow Ukrainians escape the daily bombardment in Mariupol is now on another frontline hotspot Avdiivka, which he says is completely destroyed. Here's how he describes what he's seen tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MYKHAILO PURYCHEV, HELPED HUNDREDS OF UKRAINIANS FLEE MARIUPOL: You can hear all around the sound of gunshots and explosions. And just so you know, there are people actually living here amid this horror.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Mykhailo continues to try to help them. He was there helping those people living there, trying to deliver critical supplies. And as our Ivan Watson reports from Central Ukraine, even as the Russians leave some of the towns they've captured, they leave a lot behind. You go into house; you've got to check for mines and what they leave behind is dangerous.
IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Vast stretches of Ukraine's famously fertile farmland, pockmarked with craters and the tail fins of unexploded rockets. Long after Russian and Ukrainian soldiers move on. They leave behind another deadly threat just below the surface.
So, Alexander's brought me here to see something that's actually frankly, a little uncomfortable because right over here on the side of the road, or I don't know maybe 10 what appear to be tank mines.
My guide is a local farmer named Alexandre (ph). Oh, OK, we've got more anti-tank mines here. You can see there's one, two, three, four, five anti-tank mines right here on the side of the road.
He says I brought them out of the field and placed them right here. This 69-year-old farmer says he's desperate to plant seeds before spring, but can't because his fields are littered with land mines, some of which he found with this metal detector, and dug out with his own hands.
He said, I was afraid but I need to plant these fields. Both the Russian and Ukrainian militaries use land mines, some designed to take out 40 tons tanks.
MAIRI CUNNINGHAM, DEMINING CHARITY HALO TRUST: Lifting anti-tank mines is extremely dangerous. There's often anti-lift devices designed specifically to kill and injure people who tried to do that.
WATSON: Mairi Cunningham of the Demining Charity Halo Trust says Ukraine is now littered with a terrifying variety of explosive devices. CUNNINGHAM: We're seeing anti-vehicle mines. We are seeing anti-
personnel mines, anti-personnel bounding fragmentation mines on trip wires and grenades on trip wires and we're also seeing cluster munitions.
WATSON: The Ukrainian Military estimates nearly a third of the country is now contaminated with explosive devices. But clearing them is slow and dangerous work. And the war is still being actively fought. Littering the countryside with new explosives every day. Ukraine is one of the world's great bread baskets, every week, it seems there are reports of farmers like this man badly wounded in a blast while trying to plant his fields. Alexander (ph) says he lost all of last year's harvest due to the Russian invasion. The fighting also destroyed his office silos and millions of dollars' worth of farm equipment.
The most important thing now is to clear my fields, he says, so that I can plant the next harvest. If farmers like Alexander (ph) can't do their jobs, the world could see another year of soaring global food prices.
WATSON: Now Erin, we saw global food prices soar last year in part because Russia blockaded Ukrainian ports. They couldn't get their grain out to markets. And the concern now is that farmers like Alexander (ph), they just can't plant their fields because of the land mines. The U.S. government, the State Department has committed $91 million to the Ukrainian government to double the number of deminers out there clearing fields, but this is a huge job.
We're talking about an estimated area that's the size of Virginia, Maryland, and Connecticut combined. And it's going to take a long time. Consider this, to this day in Western Europe, farmers are discovering unexploded artillery shells, leftover from World War I more than 100 years ago.
BURNETT: Amazing. Ivan, thank you very much. And we all know you sometimes you walk along those fields and the only guide you have when you're even there as a reporter is well, the field was tilled. So that's the best chance you have to believe that there weren't mines and houses are left with mines and people describe them. They leave them underneath rugs when the Russians leave and this is what the Ukrainians are dealing with every single day in all of these towns.
And as the Wagner Group is trying to capture Bakhmut and there is still that battle going on and they're doing it by any means necessary.
My next guest has done an incredible compilation of what's happening there, saying there is a crucial connection between TikTok and Wagner Group, the Putin's private army. The TikTok video that you see on your screen right now features Wagner conscripts in either real or staged battles, right. It's TikTok, you can't tell. You see explosions, snipers, rocket launchers, fire to helicopters, they put it together like a highlight reel to try to get them to join.
Marc Ginsberg is Outfront now, the founder and president of the Coalition for a Safer Web, also former ambassador and White House Foreign Policy Adviser. And ambassador, I appreciate your time. So, you've taken a lot of time to go through all of this, to look at what's happening on TikTok on a day when the CEO of TikTok is being grilled on Capitol Hill.
You know, and we're learning so much more. You say Wagner has been exploiting TikTok and that it is a crucial recruitment tool for them. Tell me more.
MARC GINSBERG, FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT, COALITION FOR A SAFER WEB: Erin, there are just tens of thousands of accounts and video uploads that the Wagner Group has posted courtesy of TikTok, that's enabled it to recruit, to vilify the Ukrainians, to show executions, all in the name of supporting the Russian army offensive. And the atrocities that the Ukrainian (inaudible) have covered by the Wagner Group have been featured on these TikTok videos.
BURNETT: So, right now, we're going to show a video of a Wagner fighter. This person is fighting a guitar -- playing a guitar, I'm sorry, on the mobile rocket launcher with a caption that says concert of PMC Wagner. And then you've got another one when you talk about these tens of thousands of accounts. This one shows a montage of Wagner fighters brandishing guns, twirling machetes, there's explosions in the background. All of this and I know it's used as propaganda. But it's also as you point out, used as recruiting. Is it effective in that regard?
GINSBERG: Absolutely. In fact, it's been so successful, that the Wagner Group has been able through its organizational outreach in the caucuses of Russia, as well as in the Middle East, former ISIS fighters. I mean, my gosh, for all intents and purposes, Erin, it's the ISIS terrorist army for Russia at this point.
BURNETT: So, as I mentioned, the CEO of TikTok testified on Capitol Hill today. And it was intense. There were a lot of serious questions. But in light of what you're saying, and this is incredible stuff you're talking about, the use of tick tock in Ukraine never came up, never came up in context of Wagner Group. This is of course, a Chinese owned company. And on the week, we're talking about this Ambassador, Xi Jinping, the president of China spends three days in Moscow with Putin. Is it just a coincidence that these videos are being allowed to spread on this app?
GINSBERG: No, it's no coincidence. And I watched the hearing today from beginning to end, and I share your disappointment that the Ukrainian involvement with TikTok has not been mentioned or raised by members of Congress. But here's the deal. The fact is, is that the Chinese are knowingly enabling TikTok to be used both for these recruitment videos. Why do we come to that conclusion? For two reasons.
One, these Wagner Group are not being taken down, even though the European government, European governments and the European Commission have asked TikTok to take these down.
And number two, there's no doubt that these have been produced, like Hollywood videos, that the Chinese themselves are well aware supporting recruitment efforts of Wagner, not only in Ukraine, but Wagner terrorism operations continued to this day in Africa, on behalf of Putin's secret army initiatives in places where he does not want to place regular army recruits.
BURNETT: Well, Ambassador, thank you very much. And I think it is so significant that you talk about the ties, right. They are being told about these videos, they're being shown them tens of thousands of accounts, and they're not taking them down. And that is hugely significant when everyone asks about, well, how much does the Chinese government control TikTok, these are crucial questions.
And Ambassador, thank you so much for sharing all of this. I hope everyone will check out the full scale of all the scope of research that you've been doing. And I hope tonight that all of you will join Abby Phillip, she has a special CNN Primetime deep dive into TikTok. That is tonight at 9 with Abby Phillip.
And next, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis taking on the political elite.
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RON DESANTIS (R) FLORIDA GOVERNOR: They get mad. I don't do the cocktail parties. I don't like rubbing elbows with other people.
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BURNETT: So, DeSantis is saying that he connects with regular people, does he? We're going to break down the numbers, next. Plus, the Colorado dentist accused of poisoning his wife appeared for the first time in court today, and we're learning a lot more tonight.
BURNETT: Tonight, Ron DeSantis addressing head on what some people call his likability problem ahead of a likely 2024 presidential run. Here's what he told Piers Morgan in a new interview.
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DESANTIS: These are people who are in the political class, journalist class, politicians in like DC in particular, they get mad, I don't do the cocktail parties. I don't like rubbing elbows with other people. I like doing my job and then spending time with my family. That's just what I do. A lot of the people that are criticizing, they would say oh, he doesn't do well with donors. He doesn't glide with them. And yet I raise more money than any non-presidential candidate in the history of America. Are you kidding me?
So, we tend to do -- we do well, but I do think that I deal better with regular people than I do with some of the people in the political class.
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BURNETT: Harry Enten is Outfront now. So, Harry, DeSantis specifically telling Piers that he relates to regular people. And by the way, kind of making the point that he's raising more money than anybody for regular people, which you know, he's been a real big donor success, to state the obvious. So, do the numbers back this up, this regular people argument.
HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, if Ron DeSantis was doing as well with voters who make less than $50,000 a year as he is with voters making over $50,000 a year, this race would be tied between him and Donald Trump. But in fact, what we see is that Ron DeSantis has a major problem among Republicans who make less than $50,000 a year. I mean you can see it on your slide right there.
He is down by nearly 30 points that Donald Trump among voters who make less -- GOP voters make less than $50,000 a year. And that's the reason why he's trailing in the primary. So, his clip doesn't make all that much sense to me to be honest with you, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. So, hold this up for one more second, just as I set up the next question. So, you see that Donald Trump is doing much better, right, with this group under $50,000. Is that the same way it was for Trump? In the last cycles?
ENTEN: Yes, if you look back at 2016, you know, there was this whole idea that Donald Trump ran this populous campaign, right. And he was doing well among poorly educated people, but in fact, there was no real gap on income. He did about as well with voters who made less than $50,000, as he did with those making more than $50,000.
So, this year, we've seen this income gap really grow and this Trump populace campaign really seemed to take off.
BURNETT: OK, so that -- which is very interesting, because and you're talking about things with Trump taking off, right, the context everyone's hearing about is all this legal issue. And is that going to put -- take all the bloom off the rose such that there was any left, but you're talking about not just income, but also a coalition that appears to be coming together for Trump?
BURNETT: That Democrats would actually like.
ENTEN: Yes, it's very interesting. In a Republican primary, the two groups who Donald Trump is doing very well, well amongst are white voters making under $50,000. He has a double-digit advantage with them, as well as non-white voters. This is the type of coalition that Democrats would love to have in a general election. And what we're in fact seeing is that in this Republican primary, Donald Trump is doing what Democrats would love to have and what they used to have, but Donald Trump is doing himself.
BURNETT: And doing stuff with of course, but I should note with a GOP primary, that's not a high minority group.
ENTEN: Correct. No, but they still make up nearly 20 percent of the GOP effort.
BURNETT: Of the GOP, which is important.
BURNETT: OK. so, people who might say, OK, Harry, but it's important, 20 percent significant. Thanks.
BURNETT: OK. And this as a potential indictment looms for Trump and Stormy Daniels hush money payment case. We'll see if it really happens. But Daniels' attorney is joining Anderson and that is coming up on AC360. So, you will definitely want to see that.
And next, the Colorado dentist accused of poisoning his wife's protein shakes made his first court appearance today. This is the same dentist who police say, texted his wife for the record, I didn't drug you. Plus, I'll speak to actress Eva Longoria about her new series for CNN, Searching for Mexico.
BURNETT: Tonight, the Colorado dentist accused of poisoning his wife, hearing in court charged with first degree murder. James Toliver Craig allegedly put arsenic in his wife Angie's protein shakes This is according to an arrest warrant affidavit. Craig denies it. He texted his wife for the record. I didn't drug you. Kyung Lah is Outfront.
KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Colorado dentists James Craig appeared for the first time in court charged with the first-degree murder of his wife, shackled having traded in his dental scrubs for a jail uniform. Prosecutors say the Denver suburban area dentist murdered 43- year-old Angela Craig, his wife of more than 20 years by making and feeding her poisoned protein shakes.
JAMES TOLIVER CRAIG, DENTIST ACCUSED OF MURDERING HIS WIFE: My name is Dr. Jim Craig and I practice at Summer Brook Dental Group.
LAH: For nearly 20 years, Craig had been a licensed dentist. A joint Facebook page shows the couple sharing images of a happy family on vacation. The busy parents of six children. Investigators say beneath this veneer, Craig's dental practice had been in financial trouble, and the marriage was long troubled, an affidavit saying Craig had engaged in a new extramarital affair.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This makes me sick.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Seem real, seem like something that he could ever do to her.
LAH: But police believe the murder was planned. Craig's search history on his computer show phrases like how many grams of pure arsenic will kill a human and top five undetectable poisons that show no signs of foul play. Police say on March 4th, a package with arsenic was delivered to the Craig's home. Two days later, Angela Craig was in the hospital with dizziness and difficulty focusing her eyes. symptoms consistent with arsenic poisoning say investigators.
Angela Craig texted her husband. I had my protein shake. I feel drugged. Her husband texted back for the record. I didn't drug you. Three times this month, Angela Craig checked into the hospital where doctors struggled to understand why she was so ill. On her final stay at the hospital, police say James Craig had ordered another poison from the computer at his dental practice, potassium cyanide. It was delivered to Summer Brook Dental where a staff member opened the box and reported what she had found.
LAH: This was Craig's first court appearance; he has not yet entered a plea. He has been assigned a public defender, Erin. He is next scheduled to be in court next month. Erin.
BURNETT: Wow. All right, Kyung, thank you very much. And next, actress Eva Longoria is Outfront to tell us about her new CNN original series, Searching for Mexico.
BURNETT: And finally, tonight, actress and activist Eva Longoria is returning to her roots in the new CNN original series, Searching for Mexico. She travels across the country to bring all of us the stories behind the unique and often misunderstood cuisine. Here's a preview.
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EVA LONGORIA, ACTRESS: Every time I'm in Mexico, this is my daily ritual. Every morning I wake up and I do this, my favorite place ever. The enticing smell of this bakery can lure anybody in.
LONGORIA: I always time my arrival to when they're coming out of the oven. Sweet, fluffy and topped with crunchy sugar. I just can't resist. Oh my god, it's warm. This is a Concha I don't think anything makes me happier.
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BURNETT: Well, I had a chance to sit down with Eva to talk about her personal ties to Mexico and her inspiration behind why she's doing this series. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LONGORIA: I think the identity of Mexico is so much tacos tequila, which is great, by the way. I love tacos and tequila. But it is so much more than that. And I went to six different regions. And each region was totally different than the last. I mean it's so diverse in its culinary cuisine. And it's so -- the spectrum of food is so wide but there's such an identity in food in Mexico. It's really a beautiful show.
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BURNETT: And you can watch it. It's the all-new CNN;s originals here with Eva Longoria, Searching for Mexico premieres this Sunday at 10 o'clock PM. And thanks so much for joining us. It is time now for "AC360" with Anderson Cooper