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Erin Burnett Outfront

Washington Post: Trump Workers Moved Mar-a-Lago Boxes Day Before DOJ Visit; Russian Video: Ukrainian Forces Launch "Massive" Strike in Occupied City; Anti-Vaccine Activist RFK Jr. Hits 20 Percent in New CNN Poll Among Dems; DeSantis Holds Donor Retreat a Day After Rough Twitter Launch. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired May 25, 2023 - 19:00   ET




Trump employees at Mar-a-Lago moved boxes of documents the day before the FBI showed up. This is according to "The Washington Post", and it points to even more evidence possible obstruction by Trump. Former Trump White House attorney Ty Cobb is my guest.

Plus, Putin tonight caught in a lie. Russia is denying a prized ship was attack. But new video into OUTFRONT shows a Ukrainian drone slimming into that ship.

And vaccine skeptic Robert Kennedy Jr. tonight polling at 20 percent in a new CNN poll. So who are his supporters? And should Biden really be worried?

Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, Trump's mounting legal problems. "The Washington Post" with significant new reporting this hour. Two of Trump's Mar-a- Lago employees moved boxes of documents at the residence, Trump's residence, just one day, one day before the FBI and a prosecutor visited his home to retrieve classified documents.

So, just let me give you a sense of the timeline here. This was in June 2022. It was after a subpoena had been issued, right, and it was the day before the FBI was scheduled to come and get documents. Sources familiar with the matter telling "The Washington Post" that investigators believed that that timing is suspicious, and a sign of possible obstruction.

Sources also revealing to "The Post" that Trump and his age allegedly carried out a, quote, dress rehearsal for moving sensitive papers he didn't want to turn over to the feds. There is also evidence, according to the post, indicating that Trump had classified documents in his office that were both visible and at times shown up to others.

Which would, of course, appear to contradict what Trump said during the town hall earlier this month.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN MODERATOR: When it comes to your documents, did you ever show those classified documents to anyone?

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: Not really. I would have the right to. By the way they were declassified after --

COLLINS: What do you mean not really?

TRUMP: Not that I can think of. Let me just tell you, I have the absolute right to do whatever I want with him. I have the right.


BURNETT: As he continues to say, that story, also revealing one date that is very important. Or, another date I should say. And that date is in this month, of this year, May 5th, 2023. That is apparently the last time the grand jury investigating Trump's handling of classified documents met. That would be the grand jury's a longest break since December, which could signal that we are almost at some sort of a finish line here. We'll see. CNN has reported the special counsel appears to be in the final stretch of the classified documents probe, a probe were Trump's former White House lawyer Ty Cobb predicts an indictment is imminent for Trump and tie will be OUTFRONT in just a moment.

First, though, I want to go to Perry Stein. She's one of the reporters who broke this story for "The Washington Post" and she's up front.

So, Perry, look, this is -- this is information that the special counsel would have, the grand jury may have seen. This is important information that you have. That you report that Trump's Mar-a-Lago employees moved boxes out of storage and returned them just before the FBI showed up.

Now, are your sources suggesting, I just want to be very black and white about this, that someone took the boxes, went through them, maybe removed to hide documents from the FBI, and then put the boxes back?

PERRY STEIN, JUSTICE REPORTER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Yeah, I mean, that is a suggestion in this. I mean, we know that when investigators searched his home, with the search warrant, this was the unannounced search on August 8th, this was after they were supposedly -- gave back everything in compliance with subpoena, they still find lots of classified materials, documents marked as classified in his home.

So, I mean, I think you're exactly right. That is the implication here that in moving these boxes, they potentially removed things, and that is why during the search, the unannounced search months later, they did still find classified materials on his Mar-a-Lago property.

BURNETT: So then the other thing, Perry, that you're reporting is this dress rehearsal. Can you tell me more about that dress rehearsal to move documents?

STEIN: Yeah, absolutely. So, just rehearsal suggests that they had practiced this before. This is moving up documents. That was a term that was used in a sealed court document, so what they are alleging is that even before the subpoena came, so this was back when NARA, that's the government agency that is in charge of presidential records, when they were in the back and forth with Trump asking these documents -- asking for these materials back, they are suggesting there that Trump allegedly removed some of these documents to look through them to determine what he wanted to keep.


And they call that a dress rehearsal, as this was in preparation for a bigger scale thing that we see happened in June, or allegedly happened.

BURNETT: Right. And, of course, again and again, you know, you hear Trump saying, I have the absolute right to do whatever I want with them. He continues to say that.

What are you hearing from one of your sources, I understand the lawyer, for one of the employees who actually move those boxes, about what Trump's intent was or his role was?

STEIN: Yeah. And that's -- we have an on the record statement right now from a lawyer of one of these two employees who says that hey, my guy didn't know what was going on. He was just told to move these boxes. So we have the people that have been alleged to have moved these boxes, saying they didn't know, they were just doing what they were told. So we can move from there what investigators think that the president or what people think their intent was.

BURNETT: All right. Perry, thank you very much. I appreciate it.

Perry sharing her new reporting with us.

And I want to go now as promised to Ty Cobb, the former White House lawyer.

So, Ty, obviously, you had been very consistent that you believe an indictment is imminent for Donald Trump in the classified documents case, and then obviously the obstruction charges are his biggest threat, right? We are getting more and more information now. The latest here from Perry on what the special counsel knows.

How solid does the case now look to you?

TY COBB, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE LAWYER: You know, the case looks increasingly solid every day, but it has been solid for months, as far as I'm concerned.


COBB: You know, keep in mind that actually, the post first reported the fact that documents were moved the day before the FBI showed up in October. And there has been a lot of digging into the circumstances there.

They have one of the gentlemen who represents one of the two individuals involved in the -- in the moving up the documents on record saying his client did help, Nauta, move the documents, but he wasn't sure exactly what he was doing. You know, Nauta was a long time aide to Trump, he worked in the White House, I saw him at least twice a week.

BURNETT: This person?

COBB: Yes. And, a nice guy, not a -- not a decision maker.

BURNETT: And it looks like Ty's feed may have frozen there. So, we're going to try to get that back up for you right now. So just give us a second here. And then we'll have a plan B if we don't get Ty back.

Do we think we're going to get Ty back right now?

All right, what we are working to do that, let me just give everyone a sense of where we are right now. So, "The Washington Post" obviously reporting that not only were boxes move the day before, the FBI came in June 2022 after a subpoena, but reporting that they were moved and then replaced. I don't know if you just heard Perry Stein from "The Washington Post" who had reported that, but she said the very clear implication is that somebody would have gone through them to take out documents, which could add to the obstruction case.

The other thing that I'm going to ask Ty about as soon as we get him back, is that the grand jury has not met, the grand jury that obviously is working in the Jack Smith special case on classified documents, has not met since May 5th, which is the largest hiatus for that grand jury since the month of December.

So, I want to see if Ty thinks that that makes this whole thing more imminent. Anybody who watches knows that -- that knows that Ty has obviously been clear he believes Trump will go to jail, will go to prison over this.

I'm sorry, what did you say?

Okay. We are going to get Ty back in just a moment. We're going to work on that.

I want to move on to our next story here, because I don't want to waste any time. I promise we will get back to Ty, but I want to go to our other key story tonight, which is, of course, Ukraine. We have new video just in where Russian officials say is a Ukrainian strike on a Russian occupied city.

So what you are looking at here is a missile hitting the city of Berdyansk, which is deep inside Russia controlled Ukrainian territory. So, the city is about 60 miles from the front lines, and, obviously, mileage really matters here because it means that they are using -- you can ascertain what type of missile. It appears from that distance that Ukraine likely used the new longer range Storm Shadow missiles that they just got from the United Kingdom. And this comes as we also have new video in tonight. This is that

Ukrainian drone hitting a prized Russian reconnaissance ship in the Black Sea.

Now, Russia claims that the ship was not hit at the attack. They say it wasn't hit at all, but look at the new video. You can see that that is untrue. The video was taken by the drone, as it zeroes in and that you see the strike.

The extent of the damage, though, we don't yet know. But of course, we know that this strike, like many others, is why Putin is not meeting his goals in Russia.


Even state TV propagandists are now actually talking about how worried they are. Just listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): If it continues like this, the country will be fraught with problems, because people will start to ask, why.


BURNETT: Of course, the fear. Why. The Russian people may find out how poorly this war is going for Putin, not just the family of the many thousands of Russians who have died or have been maimed. The Russians on the ground already know this, of course.

One Ukrainian soldier who we've spoken to, so you may know his face, Roman Trokhymets. He sent us a new video today. So, here's the context: he and his fellow soldiers met a Russian soldier, they were face to face with him, he was wounded. So Roman says that the Russian soldier had been shot twice, he did then surrendered.

And as he surrendered, he had this conversation.


RUSSIAN SOLDIER (through translator): They forced me here.

UKRAINIAN SOLDIER (through translator): Forced? You didn't want to come here?

RUSSIAN SOLDIER (through translator): I wanted to refuse.

UKRAINIAN SOLDIER (through translator): You could run away and go to prison.

RUSSIAN SOLDIER (through translator): I wouldn't be able to. How can I escape?

UKRAINIAN SOLDIER (through translator): Did you come here from prison?

RUSSIAN SOLDIER (through translator): Yes.

UKRAINIAN SOLDIER (through translator): Are you in the Wagner group?

RUSSIAN SOLDIER (through translator): No.

UKRAINIAN SOLDIER (through translator): From where?

RUSSIAN SOLDIER (through translator): From the ministry of defense.

UKRAINIAN SOLDIER (through translator): Is the ministry of defense already recruiting soldiers from prisons?

RUSSIAN SOLDIER (through translator): Yes.

UKRAINIAN SOLDIER (through translator): How long have you've been fighting here?

RUSSIAN SOLDIER (through translator): Three days.

UKRAINIAN SOLDIER (through translator): How long did you prepare?

RUSSIAN SOLDIER (through translator): Two weeks training.


BURNETT: Now, we can't confirm every detail of this, but think about that one moment. Three days on the battlefield, already injured and already out of commission. Two weeks of training.

This is stunning. And this is Putin's army.

Fred Pleitgen is OUTFRONT in Kyiv tonight with more.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Just as the Ukrainian military say their forces are retaking ground on the outskirts of Bakhmut, Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin says his mercenaries are moving out.

That's it, moving out intend in 10 to 15 minutes, he tells these tankers. Everyone leaves before June 1st. We'll rest, prepare, and then get a new task.

Wagner's exit could mark a turning point in one of the bloodiest battles in Europe since World War II. The mercenaries assaulted Bakhmut for months, often using human waves to try and storm Ukrainian positions.

Prigozhin trying to prove to Putin his hired guns could get the job done where regular Russian units fail. Even during the withdrawal, a swipe at Russia's defense minister. Prigozhin joking that he would leave two scrawny fighters behind to help the army when they take over Wagner's position.

That is Bieber, and that's Dulik (ph), he says. The moment that the military are in a tough position they'll stand up and block the Ukrainian army. Guys, don't bully the military.

While the Ukrainians tells CNN that they cannot confirm Wagner is really pulling out of Bakhmut, they believe that a withdrawal could give them a boost in Kyiv's quest to retake the city.

SERHII CHEREVATYI, UKRAINIAN ARMED FORCES (through translator): Compared to other units of the Russian army, Wagner did fight better and conducted more offensive actions. But this was literally due to bloody discipline and threats of execution.

PLEITGEN: While Moscow's army struggles in Ukraine, Russians clearly feel threatened on the home front as well. The intelligence service FSB releasing dramatic footage of arrest from earlier this month of what they claim were Ukrainian intelligence operatives plotting to attack two nuclear power plants in northwestern Russia.

While the Ukrainians haven't commented, Russia blames Kyiv. Moscow also lashing out after U.S. intelligence assessment is saying that Ukraine may have been behind a drone attack on the Kremlin in early May.

DMITRY PESKOV, KREMLIN SPOKESMAN (through translator): Behind this is the Kyiv regime, we know this and we are carrying out our work based on this.

PLEITGEN: Russia using the incident to justify its war against Ukraine where Putin's top missionary is regrouping his forces and vowing to return.


PLEITGEN (on camera): And, of course Erin, one of the things that we always have to keep in mind with Yevgeny Prigozhin, is that he did threaten to pull his forces out of Bakhmut several times over the last couple of months, every time he felt he wasn't getting enough ammo, every time he was in some sort of issue with the Russian defense ministry.

The last time, in fact, was May 10th, when he said he was going to pull them out and then he had to backpedal. Now that we are getting from Ukrainians is they are telling us that they cannot confirm this pullout is really happening, this complete pull out, but they have noticed a significant decrease in attacks coming from the Russian side in the Bakhmut area.

Of course, as we heard there from that Ukrainian soldier, if Wagner is pulling out his forces completely, the Ukrainians to believe it could be good opportunity for them. To them, the battle for Bakhmut is by no means over. They say they still have a foothold in the city and they say they are making gains on the edges of the city as well, Erin.


BURNETT: Fred, thank you very much from Kyiv.

And I want to go now to retired U.S. Army Brigadier General Peter Zwack, former U.S. senior defense attache to Russia. And he just returned from Ukraine.

So, let me -- General, I really appreciate your time.

What about this Prigozhin's latest announcement, his troops out by June 1st? Obviously, as Fred shows, it has never been through the times he said it before. But Ukrainians are saying they are seeing -- they are seeing a real decline in the number of Wagner troops visible on those front lines. What do you make of this announcement now?

BRIG. GEN. PETER ZWACK, U.S. ARMY (RET.): Well, Yevgeny Prigozhin, a warlord and a firebrand, and have formally up Putin crony, is increasingly working his own narrative. And it's divisive for the Russian, for the Kremlin, the military, the position on the ground, and whether they pull out on the 1st of June, it just creates confusion on the other side.

The Ukrainians have a measure. This was not a -- this was not a turning point battle at all, though it was gruesome for both sides, worse for the Russians. And I think Prigozhin, the fact that he called out in the last day or two the regime, and talked -- and used the word revolution in the context of 1917, in talking about the situation, is extraordinary. Stay tuned.

BURNETT: It did seem extraordinary. Now, I played the sound earlier, general, from Roman Trokhymets, that Ukrainian sniper that we've talked to many times on the show. So, he and his fellow soldiers have had a Russian soldier who surrounded. He was shot twice, he was talking to them, answering their questions.

He said he was recruited from prison from the ministry of defense, not Wagner, right. He had only been on the frontlines three days, and this is how it ended, right, obviously, now injured, and in captivity. Two weeks of training.

What -- I mean, I know it's not surprising we are hearing this, but now we are actually seeing this. This is a soldier we know who filmed it and send it to us. What is your assessment of the state of Putin's army at this time?

ZWACK: Yeah. Well, first, whether Wagner or the regular army ministry of defense, the fact that they are using convicts and convict units just shows extraordinarily depravity in -- to me. This shows, remember, they had a massive call up of 300,000 while ago and they haven't all been committed. Well, it looks like a lot of them are being committed, and yes, they're poorly trained, morale is horrific, the word is out among the Russian military that this is awful.

If the Russians regret (ph) and the Ukrainians have been very depth with this, in finding mechanisms to bring the Russians across the battle lines to surrender, it just shows that while the Russians have still a lot of weaponry, they are really, really fragile, and the Ukrainians may try to push the whole rotten door down this summer.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, General. I appreciate your time.

ZWACK: As always.

BURNETT: All right. And next, we have Ty Cobb, Trump's former White House attorney, he is back with us. And he is going to talk about this imminent criminal indictment that he sees coming.

Plus, abortion access, legalized marijuana, paid leave for parents, and that's just the start. All of this accomplished by Democrats in Minnesota. So, how did they do it with a one seat razor-thin majority? State's governor Tim Walz is my guest.

And a couple's business nearly collapsed during COVID. They have now spent years rebuilding. Could the debt limit crisis bring it down for good?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You just have to figure it out and hustle. That's what a small business is. And it's a lot of hustling.




BURNETT: And as promised, back to our top story. The significant reporting from "The Washington Post" on the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case. "The Post" reporting that two of Trump's employees at Mar-a-Lago moved boxes of documents the day before the FBI and a prosecutor visited his home to get those documents. And then they put the boxes back, so unclear what they did.

The grand jury in the case apparently has not met since May 5th, that's 20 days ago. That would be its longest hiatus since December.

So, on that note, let me bring back Ty Cobb, former Trump White House lawyer.

And, Ty, I'm glad we have you back, and, you know, it's good to have to do some tap dancing every once in a while, make sure everybody's awake. So, I'm glad we got you back.

Okay. So, I know you believe in indictment is imminent, you made that clear, but I wanted to ask you about that grand jury not meeting in 20 days. What does that signal to you?

COBB: I think that's a significant thing. You know, the last time they met, some of the reporting indicated what the activity of the day was, and I think we had an exchange where, you know, I was commenting on, it sounded like a lot of I-dotting and T-crossing which suggests that they are near the end.

I do believe that's the case. They have -- they have some compelling evidence. I think the evidence with regard to the moving of the boxes, you know, the evidence that they are relying on primarily with regard to the movement of the boxes, they received the day after those boxes were moved, which included tapes of -- surveillance tapes of and -- you know, access -- to the storage room.


COBB: So, they have known about that for a long time, and reporting has been out on that for a long time. But as they zero in on that issue, they have two witnesses. One of them is represented by John Irving, that's the source for "The Post" quote about --


BURNETT: The statement of that, yeah.

COBB: Yeah, the statement they got about not knowing what was going on. Walt Nauta, who, you know, surviving that process and in charge of that process, he was with Trump at the White House. I saw him two or three times a week. He is not a management guy. He's a -- he's a very nice guy and I'm sure he would do whatever Mr. Trump asked him to. But I don't think Mr. Trump let him in on very much.

But the fact that they were moving those documents, the fact that the Justice Department has poured in on that, you know, it has been widely reported that Walt was interviewed repeatedly by the Justice Department and at one point admitted moving boxes in the direction of Trump on that day, and also subsequent -- subsequently to the delivery of the subpoena.

So, I think that's -- I think that's very -- I think that will be very important evidence. There was a point at which he was likely to be immunized and cooperating, but he is not currently immunized or cooperating. I suspect that will change.

I think that the -- I think another thing that brings this us into focus and makes it relevant now is the testimony of Evan Corcoran and Tim Parlatore, you know, two lawyers who, because the court denied Trump's claim of attorney-client privilege and found that the crime fraud doctrine overcame Trump's claim, and forced him to testify, keep in mind that Corcoran testified that he warned Trump that he could no -- he could not retain any classified documents beyond the subpoena.

BURNETT: Right, yeah.

COBB: And Parlatore, you know, who has subsequently resigned, you know, expressed great concerns about the directions that were being given by Boris Epshteyn, and the extent to which Epshteyn was translating their advice faithfully.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Ty, thank you very much. As always, and, of course, we'll be speaking to you soon.

And next --

COBB: Take care. Thanks, Erin. Good to be with you.

BURNETT: All right. You, too. You, too.

And the Robert Kennedy Jr. phenomenon is not fading away. A new poll showing the Democratic candidate is only at 20 percent, so just who are his supporters now? Harry Enten goes inside the numbers.

And the head of the Oath Keepers just given the longest prison sentence yet for the January 6th attack. The judge making it clear he believes the man is still a threat.



BURNETT: All right. Tonight, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is not going away. The controversial candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, and he is polling at 20 percent in our latest CNN poll.

Twenty percent against a sitting Democratic President Joe Biden. By the way, this is second poll showing this in a month.

Keep in mind, in the 2020 election, Democrats only needed 5 percent in four qualifying polls to participate in debates. Now, Kennedy is not meeting that threshold. He is obviously trouncing it.

Kennedy was, of course, once best known for his environmental activism, and his family name. But now, he has gained a lot of attention, a lot, for his anti-vaccine stance -- a stance that is supported by some on the right, and apparently some on the left. Of course, his spread of other types of misinformation. So, I want to bring in Harry Enten, our numbers expert.

Harry, let's just talk about this from the actual numbers. Twenty percent is a big number, okay? And I think what stands out about it is not just that it is big, it is that it is consistent and it is not an outlier.

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: It's not an outlier, right? Our CNN poll had Kennedy at 20 percent. It had two Fox polls in the last month, one had about 16 percent, the other had him at 19 percent.

And so, we are seeing this very sort of consistent range of Kennedy of somewhere between 15 and 20 percent, and all those polls generally have Joe Biden in the low 60s. So Biden is clearly ahead, but the fact is Kennedy is putting up a far more impressive showing than I would've thought when he first entered the race.

BURNETT: Right. And I guess the real question is, if this is consistent, who are these people? Who is the base for Robert F. Kennedy Jr.?

ENTEN: Yeah, the base can be best described as people who don't -- who don't self identify as Democrats, those who self identify as independents, and those who are not liberal, those who are moderate or conservative.

In fact, if you look at our CNN poll and you look at the primary support among moderate or conservative independents, look at that, Biden is ahead, but just by six points. Look how close that race is.

And this kind of makes some sense to me over who some of the people who are backing Kennedy are, someone like a Jack Dorsey, the former head of Twitter.


ENTEN: He was somebody who supported Andrew Yang, and Tulsi Gabbard, those are the types of people who I think are sort of congealing behind the Kennedy candidates.

BURNETT: And who knows whether they'll stay there, but I guess some of these individuals may be people who just -- they just don't want to vote for Trump, but they like some of the other things, maybe the vaccine skepticism or other controversial items.

ENTEN: I would call them antiestablishment. That is what I would call them, right? They're people who don't -- don't necessarily identify as Republicans, they are more on the left side of the ring, but their anti-establishment and they do not like Joe Biden. That's the best way to put it.

BURNETT: All right. Traditional Democrats, though, Kennedy seems to be a nonstarter, despite the name.

ENTEN: Right. Exactly right.

Look at -- look at the view that, quote/unquote, strong Democrats have of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Look at this, just 27 percent favorable, 50 percent unfavorable. Kennedy is a nonstarter among traditional Democrats. It is really those in the middle who self-identify as moderate or conservative and not Democrats where his support lies.

BURNETT: Right. Well, it's fascinating, because when it comes to a broader election, right, depends on where you can vote in a primary. But obviously, independents are the biggest identified group in the country.

All right. Harry, thank you.

ENTEN: Thank you.

BURNETT: Well, more on that jaw-dropping RFK Junior number in just a moment. But first, there are some very big things happening in the state of Minnesota that have been flying under the radar nationally. But they are important to know about.

The Democratic governor there Tim Walz doing a victory lap tonight. His legislature with a one seat Democratic majority -- let me say that again -- a one seat majority, has passed a Democratic dream list of laws. These include guaranteeing abortion access, securing the largest infrastructure package in Minnesota history.


There's a new child tax credit in there. Free meals for school children in there. Universal background checks for gun purchases, legalizing recreational marijuana.

And just moments ago, up to 20 weeks paid family and medical leave for Minnesotans. I mean, this is any Democrat in the country, right, people are looking back saying they've got all those things? Well, Republicans in the state are not happy.


MARK JOHNSON (R), MINNESOTA STATE SENATOR: Republicans represent nearly 50 percent of the state. And at the end of the day, this has been the most partisan session, not in my memory, but in the history of the state.


BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, the Democratic Governor Tim Walz of Minnesota.

And, Governor, what do you make there of Mr. Johnson's point, too? I mean, look, this is a list that almost every Democratic governor is incredibly jealous of, right? That you are able to accomplish not just one of those things, but it goes on and on and on.

How did you do it with such a razor-thin margin, that one seat majority in the Senate?

GOV. TIM WALZ (D), MINNESOTA: Well, I think, Erin, it was courageous legislators understanding that you don't get political capital to think about the next election. You burn political capital to improve lives. And these are very popular things.

Access to reproductive and abortion services, universal meals and our schools, expansion of health care to anyone who's in Minnesota -- these are things that we know that improve lives, and they make us more competitive.

In response to Republicans on this, no, I am not going to be partisan in your hate and bigotry. I am not going to pass legislation like we see to our neighbors to the west that are worried about bathrooms and worried about some woke culture war. We are going to pass things that move people's lives.

People have a right to be home with a sick relative. I think it is more about the messaging and the courage of legislators who are sick and tired of the gridlock and say these things improve lives.

BURNETT: So, when he says, look, you got only about 50 percent, just over 50 percent, but you are essentially getting, you know, 100 percent, you are getting so many things that you want, you don't think that makes sense?

WALZ: Well, many of their members voted for these things. They maybe try to message it, but they will be at the ribbon cuttings for roads. They were there for school funding, I'm sure they are upset about abortion access and those things, but no.

I mean, I -- look, I represented a very rural district in congress, and I was in the majority and the minority. It's terrible to be in the minority, but this is how this works. I think what happens is that they are focusing on coming to the next election, good luck telling people you're going to make it easier for people to get guns in schools, good luck telling women they're not going to be respected for their health care decisions. Good luck taking literal food out of this, because you're angry we didn't pass tax cuts for millionaires.

I just think again, you got a party that's pretty devoid of ideas right now, they want to fight culture wars here and Minnesotans were not interested in that. They were interested in improving quality of life.

BURNETT: All right. So, what do you say? You mentioned Congress. What do you say to your political peers in Washington who are really on in gridlock, they are not able to pass sweeping legislation like you have, they can't even guarantee that the nation pays its bills? What do you say them?

WALZ: First, I know they're all a reflection of the voters. They were all sent there by the voters. I would say to those voters, too, if you really want to see things get done, get that done, this debt ceiling thing is ridiculous. I was asked by President Bush, President Obama, and President Trump, other members of Congress, to support the debt ceiling, and I did it because it is an absolutely essential thing that has nothing to do with spending or anything else.

And I would just simply tell them and tell the voters, we can have nice things. We can get to carbon free energy, we can create some of these new jobs we're talking about, and we can protect our children. None of these things are radical positions.

And I think they're really playing with fire in that I think the electorate is going to come out and I think they're going to ask for real, effective change. And that electorate is younger, that electorate is more engaged, I think they want to see that change.

BURNETT: All right. I want to talk about that electorate, at least on the Democratic side. RFK Jr. in the poll that we were just talking about, he is obviously now -- this is the second poll we've got, a CNN new poll tonight, 20 percent among Democratic voters. Now, last month, a full month ago, Fox News had Kennedy at 19 percent, right?

So these numbers are incredibly consistent. It's not like it just came in a flash and it's gone, right? Obviously, he is known for positions including his vaccine skepticism. What do these polls tell you about your own party, Governor?

WALZ: Well, I think that we're big tent. We are not a lockstep ideology. We certainly don't look like the Republicans where, you know, I tell you what, if Democrats were there on January 6th, I would be the first one condemning every one of them. They can't do that.

And, look, I have voted for people in the primary who didn't win, and in fact polled in the low twenties. But I certainly voted for the Democrats in the general election. So I think it shows that we have a healthy party, a lot of ideas, I certainly disagree strongly and I think Mr. Kennedy's statements around COVID were dangerous and risky.

[19:40:01] But there's all an electorate out there that's listening to that. I think when they take that totalitary of things like abortion access, climate change, and other things. And to be very honest, Mr. Kennedy did do some good things around climate, he is just simply wrong on this.

So I -- so I take it that Democrats are watching, it's a new electorate that's out there, but at the end of the day, they are certainly not going to vote for, you know, the former president or whoever else gets the nomination.

BURNETT: All right. The polls, though, last time around, if you pulled at 20 percent, that entitled you to a debate. Do you think that the sitting president running for reelection, if these polls continue, should actually be on a debate stage with RFK Jr.?

WALZ: I don't know. I have to tell you, I dealt with this here too. I think there's a responsibility of people who are putting out information. I dealt with it as a governor during COVID, and I've got the Mayo Clinic and the best health care systems running into people who are promoting, you know, horse medicine and things like that.

I think there is a responsibility to screen out some of the dangers, but, look, I am all for democracy. They will work that out when it gets out. President Biden is going to get the nomination. He is going to win reelection because he's doing the work. So it's fine, we are a healthy party, we can deal with it.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Governor Walz, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much.

WALZ: Thanks, Erin.

BURNETT: And next, Ron DeSantis meeting with key donors today, the day after his rocky campaign launch. So, has that set him back? One of the donors he met with joins me next.

And tonight, the White House fighting back after the head of the RNC, Ronna McDaniels, said a default on the debt, quote, bodes very well for the Republican field.



BURNETT: Tonight, Ron DeSantis is off the campaign trail, despite launching his 2024 bid for president, just last night. A launch, of course, that was delayed by technical glitches on Twitter.

One long time Florida political reporter with sources inside the DeSantis campaign says the governor's inner circle admits the launch did not go over well.


MARC CAPUTO, FLORIDA POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, they certainly weren't pleased, and they're not so happy with the fact that they trusted Elon Musk and Twitter to pull this off. After all, this is a guy who launches rockets, and builds electric cars, and they couldn't pull off a glitch-free Twitter Spaces interview, which happens with others.


BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, Dan Eberhart, a DeSantis donor who met with him today.

I know you're going to see him for dinner momentarily, Dan.

So, you know, you heard Marc Caputo's reporting, and CNN is reporting that veteran GOP operatives with this ties to the DeSantis campaign also called the launch a missed opportunity.

He said, quote, I think the format was bad, I don't think the tech glitches were a big deal. You could spin that. The biggest problem was the content.

What are you hearing from inside the campaign?

DAN EBERHART, DESANTIS DONOR: I don't think that's true at all. Look, the content was great, I think the governor really showed that he's focused on policy. And that he can talk about policy at length, you know, and draws a really stark contrast with the performance politics of Donald Trump.

BURNETT: Do you wish, though, that he'd done something with his wife, and his children, and sort of a more, yes, traditional but also inspirational message?

EBERHART: Well, I think the way he launched was bold. I hope on the campaign trail, that we see a lot more of his family, and a lot more of his wife, he really showcases the depth of the family and the traditional values that he espouses.

BURNETT: Now, what's interesting that is, in terms of the jumping on the glitches, however important they may end up being, or not being. Obviously, Trump is jumping on it. So are others who really want nothing to do with Trump. So, let me just play that.


REPORTER: What do you think about Ron DeSantis?

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: I think he had a rough opening.

GOV. CHRIS SUNUNU (R), NEW HAMPSHIRE: I like Elon Musk, but apparently, he fired one too many I.T. guys, right? That's what it is.


SUNUNU: It did not work out well, obviously. But you can't blame Ron DeSantis for that.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: So even if DeSantis is not to blame and that, of course, was Governor Sununu, right, who is very clear he doesn't agree with DeSantis on a lot of policy things. He is saying even if DeSantis is not to blame, there is concern.

Do you worry this may stick?

EBERHART: I don't worry. Look, I think eventually what this is going to come down to is how people in Ohio and New Hampshire vote. I think that, you know, 18 months from now, the launch will be forgotten. What won't be is Governor DeSantis' record in Florida.

BURNETT: So, Dan, if DeSantis did take some subtle shots today at Donald Trump, subtle but not direct, what is he saying? Is he going to take the gloves off and have it out with him? Is there a strategy for when he does that? Or is that still undecided?

EBERHART: Well, I think what you're going to see from Governor DeSantis is he's going to punch back and hit back against Donald Trump on policy. I think you're going to see his style is drastically different from Donald Trump's. You're not going to see him in the gutter. You won't see him trying to smear people.

You're going to see him saying, look, here's the policy difference. Here's how I can -- here's how I can win and put points on the board for conservative policy, and pro economic growth measures.

BURNETT: But where does he differ from Trump on policy?

EBERHART: I think he's a consistent conservative. I think he doesn't flip-flop. He has a track record in Florida of producing economic growth.

And Trump's policies are all over the board. He is trying to be to the left and to the right of Ron DeSantis on abortion, for instance. He's not really clear on spending. He's not really clear on other policy initiatives where Governor DeSantis has got a clear record and a clear vision.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Dan, thank you very much. I appreciate your time tonight.

EBERHART: Thank you.

BURNETT: All right. And next, the head of the Republican National Committee saying a default on the debt, quote, bodes very well to the Republican field.

And a judge called him a peril to our democracy. The founder of the Oath Keepers receiving the longest prison sentence yet for the January 6th attack.


[19:52:49] BURNETT: Tonight, the White House slamming a, quote, appalling comment from the Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, who said if the U.S. defaults on its debt, quote, it bodes well, very well, I'm sorry, for the Republican field ahead of 2024.

This as America's small businesses. Some of them finally back to thriving after the pandemic, may take a fatal hit if Washington does not reach a deal.

Kyung Lah is OUTFRONT.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where they are, bend the knees, pull the carriage in.

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Inside the opening of this brand-new Brooklyn Pilates studio --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You got it, 20 seconds left.

LAH: -- is the story of America's small business revival.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In three, two, one.

LAH: In the last two years, the U.S. has seen an unprecedented surge of new business openings, a nearly 30 percent increase in new businesses as compared to before the pandemic.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Excellent. One minute.

LAH: Part of a nationwide post pandemic boom for mom and pop shops and the nearly half of all private workers they employee.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let's take a deep breath. Inhale and exhale.

LAH: This is something Jen Yates and Alex Hartunian once thought would never happen.

ALEX HARTUNIAN, OWNER, STUDIO METAMORPHOSIS: Obviously, we have been through a lot the past three years. It's been a lot.

LAH: This was their Los Angeles street in 2020, the start of the pandemic. COVID shut down the country overnight, cratering small businesses.

JEN YATES, OWNER, STUDIO METAMORPHOSIS: I was sitting on the floor, just sobbing.

HARTUNIAN: How are we going to survive with -- we're going to wake up the next morning and have zero income.

LAH: That wouldn't change for a year.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What are we doing with this thing?

LAH: $300,000 in debt, they started selling off equipment.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Separate your legs. Don't leave the floor.

LAH: Pivoting to virtual classes. Struggling to stay open, they moved exercise machines outside.

HARTUNIAN: Eighteen machines, yeah, 350 pounds each.

LAH: Every single morning and night while they wondered if they'd ever climb out of a financial abyss.

HARTUNIAN: The whole prospect of having a business in this climate seems impossible.

LAH: But there was a lifeline.


HARTUNIAN: We're desperate for this relief from the government.

LAH: They filed for and got PPP, and SBA loans which kept them open.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That left leg bent and drive it up. You're doing awesome.

LAH: And as the lockdown lifted and Americans returned to restaurants and the gym, they reopened in Los Angeles.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You got it. Keep going. Keep pressing.

In three, two, one.

LAH: And broke ground this spring with a new studio in Brooklyn.

YATES: We were so unsure. We didn't know that small businesses, there was ever going to be a boom again. Sometimes you just got to go for it. You got to take the risk and just go for it.

LAH: With headwinds from inflation, lack of workers and fears of the debt ceiling impasse, economists say it may be months before we'll know if the small business surge sustains, or if this year becomes another struggle for Main Street.

HARTUNIAN: You just have to figure it out and hustle. I mean, that's what a small business, and it's a lot of hustling.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You made it. Nice job, you guys!


LAH (on camera): Despite what the economic indicator show, despite the various reports like the jobs report, and despite the fact that small businesses are having a very good year, it doesn't feel that way to studio metamorphoses, and that's a sentiment being echoed through a lot of independent small mom and pop shops. The numbers may say one thing. But how they feel about the economy is vastly different -- Erin.

BURNETT: Kyung, thank you very much.

LAH: And coming up on "AC360," with her husband now a declared candidate for president, a closer look at the first lady of Florida, Casey DeSantis. That's coming up next hour.

And next here, a federal judge ripping into the leader of the Oath Keepers as he received the longest sentence yet for what happened on January 6th.


BURNETT: Tonight, 18 years, that is the prison sentence a federal judge handed down to Stewart Rhodes, the leader of the oath keepers for his role in the January 6th insurrection. He was convicted of seditious conspiracy. The judge pulling no punches in handing down the sentence, telling Rhodes, quote, I dare say, Mr. Rhodes, and I have never said this to anyone I sentenced, you pose an ongoing threat to democracy and the fabric of this country.

The Oath Keepers were a key presence at the Capitol that day clad in camouflage among the crowd.

Thanks so much for joining us.

It is time now for Anderson and "AC360."