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Erin Burnett Outfront

Biden Addresses Nation in First Oval Office Speech; Trump Attorneys Unable to Find Classified Document Tied to Tape; Private Russian Army Chief Claims Russian Defense Ministry Planted Explosive Devices Along His Fighters' Exit Routes. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired June 02, 2023 - 19:00   ET



ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, President Biden speaks to the nation, in his first televised speech from the Oval Office.

And tonight's message in this address will be one of victory for the president, because it comes less than 24 hours after Congress passed that bipartisan bill allowing Washington to pay its bills, right? To raise the debt ceiling. A major win for the president, and it does follow weeks of tense negotiations, and some very dire warnings of economic catastrophe. A deal that cuts spending and extend the debt ceiling coming just days from what would have a devastating default, right? And we had heard that from bank CEOs, not just from politicians.

Tonight's speech also coming on the heels of what was a blockbuster jobs report, nearly 340,000 jobs added in the month of May. That was a stunning number, and it did send the Dow surging more than 700 points.

So this is a significant event, this Oval Office address the first of his presidency.

Phil Mattingly is live outside the White House where the president will be speaking just a few minutes.

Of course, Phil, this is a Friday night, it is a summer Friday night.

What more are you learning about why now and what we can expect when the president tonight?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Erin, when this is put in the schedule last night, it was certainly an interesting development for a president that is never given Oval Office remarks in an even incapacity before now, despite the kind of historical significance of that moment, but also the timeline itself.

The way it has been framed, to me, from White House officials and I think you can see this from the excerpts we've seen from the president's remarks that he will be given shortly is this is a moment after the passage of this legislation on its way to the White House that underscores two things. One, just how grave the lawmakers try to negotiate this, just how great this was potentially for the U.S. economy. I think it's something that White House officials in the president to underscore.

This is an, despite the fact, it feels like we've had these moments repeatedly over the course of the last ten, 11, 12 years. This one was different. This one is very dicey for a period of time, and yet, the White House negotiators, with their House Republican counterparts, were able to reach an outcome, a bipartisan outcome and a very big vote in the House that the president will emphasize.

But also, one that White House officials believe on net is a win, or at worst may be a wash in the sense that it does not dramatically affect any of their major legislative priorities the president got across the finish line over the course of his first two years. Even some of the issues that progressives have had with this legislation, they feel like work requirements specifically, they were able to mitigate some of what Republicans wanted. I think more broadly, they feel like they kept out the vast majority of the Republican priorities in this agreement.

But more than anything else, Erin, I think particularly on this day we can see that jobs number, the wreckage of the U.S. economy's durability, and stability over the last several months has really defined the predictions of Wall Street, of economists, is the fact that the issue of default is off the table, it has been hanging over the White House and the president for the better part of the last six months.

Getting this off the table, given where the economy still is at this moment in time, and looking at weeks, and months ahead where these major legislative buyer tolls and self-imposed crises are simply not on the radar there was an opportunity here to turn the page. That is something the president will focus on.

BURNETT: Right, and obviously, just to emphasize everybody, the duration of this deal matters a whole lot, right? Because every time you get to one of these brinkmanship moments, you have a lot of uncertainty that can cause a lot of fall out, economically, right? This gets you through the election. They have agreed to get past the 2024 election in 2025, which politically I realize the significance.

So, of course, Phil is staying with us. I also want to bring Jeff Zeleny, Van Jones, Rina Shah, and Michael Smerconish in just these couple of minutes here before we anticipate the president will enter the Oval Office.

Michael, this is Biden's first speech from the Oval Office. But as I mentioned, it is a summer Friday. What do you make of his choice of venue and time?

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST, "SMERCONISH": I find it very unusual. I think he is entitled to a victory lap, but listening to fill, it doesn't make sense to me that the purpose is to educate about a grave danger averted. If you are such a grave danger, then a week ago would've been the appropriate time to deliver these remarks. The cynic in me says it's intended to dilute the image of the

president taking that stumble at the Air Force Academy, and to end the week on a positive note because he did have a major achievement.


VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think he is doing well, and I think it must be very frustrating for people in the White House to have a win like this, and everybody talking about momentary stumble. In fact, I stumbled coming in here not over a sandbag, but somebody left something out there.


So, yeah, these things happen, and that becomes -- it's a true story. These things happen, and people talk about that, and they don't talk about something that the boss did well. And so, I think that's what you are seeing. I think people do want to take a victory lap here, it's weird. Usually, you do something on a Friday night, you want nobody to hear.

But he won this week. He wants to celebrate this week. I understand.

BURNETT: Right, right, and it is usually when you put something out on a Friday night you want nobody to see or hear. I mean, that's the reality.

But, Jeff Zeleny, that's not the case here. Of course, you are sitting in Iowa, and you have Republicans flocking in fast and furious, right, to try to win over Iowa and get ready for these caucuses, as Biden is trying to seize the national stage here on this Friday.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Look, Erin, it is hard to imagine either side getting a lot of credit from the country for what is happening this week, but it is a significant development. For the president, yes, for doing what he said he would do, work with Republicans and for Speaker McCarthy, yes, as well.

He has been underestimated throughout the first part of this year. The White House never thought he would be able to keep his Republicans unified. That is what happened. I can tell you, being out here for several days talking to voters on both sides, there's not a lot of applause for Washington. There's not a lot of credit for averting a crisis from happening.

But there is no doubt, President Biden despite if he doesn't on a Friday night, how we consume the news now and everything that is chopped up and shared on social media, this will get into the bloodstream. That is what we are trying to do.

I think Michael is probably correct. The White House is very savvy. They want to remove the images of the fall. This is also something that they want to tout.

But, bottom line, it's hard to imagine this helping him in the long term for 2024. BURNETT: Yeah, I guess that is the big question. The president is

about to begin speaking in the Oval Office. Let's listen in.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My fellow Americans, when I ran for President, I was told the days of bipartisanship were over and that Democrats and Republicans could no longer work together. But I refused to believe that, because America can never give into that way of thinking.

Look, the only way American democracy can function is through compromise and consensus, and that's what I worked to do as your President -- you know, to forge a bipartisan agreement where it's possible and where it's needed.

I've signed more than 350 bipartisan laws thus far in almost two and a half years, including a historic law that -- rebuilding America so that we can rank number one in the world in infrastructure instead of where we're ranked now, number thirteen in the world.

Another historic law, rebuilding our manufacturing base so that we'll lead the world once again in making semiconductor chips so much more -- and so many more and so many sophisticated ones.

And now, a bipartisan budget agreement. This is vital because -- it's because it's essential to the progress we've made over the last few years -- is keeping full, faith, and credit of the United States of America and passing a budget that continues to grow our economy and reflects our values as a nation.

That's why I'm speaking to you tonight: to report on the crisis averted and what we're doing to protect America's future.

Passing this budget agreement was critical. The stakes could not have been higher.

If we had failed to reach an agreement on the budget, there were extreme voices threatening to take America, for the first time in our 247-year history, into default on our national debt. Nothing -- nothing would have been more irresponsible. Nothing would have been more catastrophic.

Our economy would've been thrown into recession. Retirement accounts for millions of Americans would've been -- been decimated. Eight million Americans would have lost their jobs.

Default would have been -- have destroyed our nation's credit rating, which would have made everything from mortgages to car loans to funding for the government much more expensive. And it would have taken years to climb out of that hole. And America's standing as the most trusted, reliable financial partner in the world would have been shattered.

So it was critical to reach an agreement. And it's very good news for the American people.

No one got everything they wanted, but the American people got what they needed. We averted an economic crisis, an economic collapse.

We're cutting spending and bringing the deficits down at the same time.

We're protecting important priorities, from Social Security, to Medicare, to Medicaid, to veterans, to our transformational investments in infrastructure and clean energy.

I want to commend Senator -- Speaker McCarthy. You know, he and I, we -- and our teams -- we were able to get along and get things done. We were straightforward with one another, completely honest with one another, and respectful with one another. Both sides operated in good faith. Both sides kept their word.


And I also want to commend other congressional leaders: House Minority Leader Jeffries, Senate Majority Leader Schumer, Senate Minority Leader McConnell. They acted responsibly and put the good of the country ahead of politics.

The final vote in both chambers was overwhelming, far more bipartisan than anyone thought was possible.

So, I want to thank the members of Congress who voted to pass this agreement, which I'm going to sign tomorrow and become the law.

So here's what the deal does:

First, it cuts spending. And over the next 10 years, the deficit will be cut by more than $1 trillion. And that will be on top of the record 1.7 trillion -- $1.7 trillion I already cut the deficit in my first two years in office.

And it's clear: We're all on a much more fiscally responsible course than the one I inherited when I took office four years ago. When I came to office, the deficit had increased every year the previous four years. And nearly $8 trillion was added to the national debt in the last administration.

And now we're turning things around, and that's good for America.

You know, my dad used to have an expression. He said, "Joey, don't tell me what you value. Show me your budget; I'll tell you what you value." And that's at the heart of this debate: What do we value?

Protecting seniors. You may remember, during my State of the Union Address there were a -- there was a spirited exchange between me and a few Republicans spontaneously occurring on the floor of the House of Representatives. I was pointing out that, for years, some of them were putting forward proposals to cut Social Security and Medicare.

And some of them that night took exception, and they said very loudly that that wasn't true.

So I asked them on the House that night. I said -- asked them a simple question: Will you agree not to cut Social Security and not to cut Medicare? Would they agree to protect these essential programs that are a lifeline for millions of Americans? Programs that these Americans have been paying into every single paycheck they've earned since they started working and that provide so much peace of mind.

With the bright lights and cameras on, those few Republicans who were protesting, they agreed. They said they wouldn't cut it. That's how we protected Social Security and Medicare from the beginning and from it being cut, period.

Healthcare was another priority for me -- a top priority. I made it clear from the outset I would not agree to any cuts in Medicaid -- another essential lifeline for millions of Americans, including children in poverty, the elderly in nursing homes, and Americans living with disabilities.

The original House Republican proposal would have cut healthcare for up to 21 million Americans on Medicaid, and I said no. And Medicare was protected and so were millions of people most in need.

Look, I've long believed that the only one truly sacred obligation that the government has is to prepare those we send into harm's way and care for them and their families when they come home and when they don't come home.

That's why my last budget provided VA hospitals with additional funding for more doctors, nurses, and equipment to accommodate the needs of veterans and more appointments.

The House Republican plan would have meant 30 fewer million VA healthcare visits for our veterans. But we didn't let that happen.

In addition, this bill fully funds the bipartisan PACT Act, the most significant law in decades for veterans exposed to toxic burn pits and for their families. It expands access to those veterans and their families to healthcare and to disability benefits.

Look, we're investing in America and in our people and in our future.

We've created over 13 million new jobs, nearly 800,000 manufacturing jobs.

Where is it written that America can't lead the world again in manufacturing?

Unemployment is at 3.7 percent. More Americans are working today than ever in the history of this country.

And inflation has dropped 10 straight months in a row.

In this debate, I refused to put what was responsible for all this economic progress on the chopping block. This bipartisan agreement protects the law that will help us build the best infrastructure in the world.

It fully protects the CHIPS and Science Act, which is going to bring key parts of our supply chain to America so we don't have to rely on others -- like semiconductors, those tiny computer chips smaller than the tip of your finger that affect nearly everything we rely on, from cellphones to having -- building automobiles, to the most sophisticated weapons systems, and so much more.

We protected another law that I passed and signed last year that finally beat Big Pharma, which I've been trying to do for over 30 years.


It finally gives Medicare the power to negotiate lower drug prices, just like the VA has been able to do for veterans.

This law has already dramatically cut the cost of insulin for seniors from as much as $400 a month to just $35 a month for insulin.

Negotiating lower drug prices not only saves seniors a lot of money, it saves the country a lot of money -- $160 billion that is not having to be paid out, because we have drug prices that are more rational. We pay the highest drug prices of any industrial nation in the world.

And it's just the beginning.

You know, we also protected the most significant breakthrough ever in dealing with the existential threat of climate change.

Today, new wind and solar power is cheaper than fossil fuel.

Since I've been in office, clean energy and advanced manufacturing have brought in $470 billion in private investments. That's going to create thousands of jobs -- good-paying jobs -- all across this country and help the environment at the same time.

And remember, at the beginning of this debate, some of my Republican colleagues were determined to gut the clean energy investments. And I said no, and we kept them all.

And there's one -- and there's so much more to do. We're going to do even more to reduce the deficit. We need to control spending if we're going to do that. But we also have to raise revenue and go after tax cheats and make sure everybody is paying their fair share.

No one -- and I promise no one making less than $400,000 a year will pay a penny more in federal taxes.

But like most of you at home, I know the federal tax system isn't fair. That's why I kept my commitment, again, that no one earning less than $400,000 a year will pay a penny more in federal taxes.

That's why last year I secured more funding to go -- more IRS funding to go after wealthy tax cheats. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office -- and it is nonpartisan -- says that this bill will bring in $150 billion, and other outside experts expect that it would save as much as $400 billion, because it's forcing people to pay their fair share. Republicans may not like it, but I'm going to make sure the wealthy pay their fair share.

I'm also proposed closing over a dozen special interest tax loopholes for Big Oil, crypto traders, hedge fund billionaires -- saving taxpayers billions of dollars.

Republicans defended every single one of these special interest loopholes. Every single one. But I'm going to be coming back. And with your help, I'm going to win.

Right now -- catch this: Right now, the average billionaire in America pays just 8 percent in federal taxes. Eight percent. Teachers and firefighters pay more than that.

That's why I proposed a minimum tax for billionaires. Republicans are against it, but I'm going to keep fighting for it.

No billionaire should pay less in federal taxes than a teacher or firefighter.

Look, let me close with this. I know bipartisanship is hard and unity is hard, but we can never stop trying, because in moments like this one -- the ones we just faced, where the American economy and the world economy is at risk of collapsing -- there is no other way.

No matter how tough our politics gets, we need to see each other not as adversaries, but as fellow Americans. Treat each other with dignity and respect. To join forces as Americans to stop shouting, lower the temperature, and work together to pursue progress, secure prosperity, and keep the promise of America for everybody.

As I've said in my inaugural address, without unity there is no peace, only bitterness and -- and fury. And we can never become that country.

I can honestly say -- I can honestly say to you tonight that I've never been more optimistic about America's future. We just need to remember who we are. We are the United States of America, and there's nothing -- nothing we can't do when we do it together.

I thank you all for listening, taking the time tonight to listen to me.

May God bless you all. And may God protect our troops.

Thank you.

BURNETT: All right. Listening to President Biden there speaking from the Oval Office, his first address from the Oval Office as president, touting the passage of the bipartisan bill to raise the debt ceiling. Interestingly calling out Speaker McCarthy by name, crediting him for operating in good faith, saying the Republican negotiators kept their word.

[19:15:08] Also mentioning Mitch McConnell. He did interestingly in all of this make sure to count something Democrats really wanted and that had really caused many Republicans who opposed it to go ahead with opposition of the vote and that was to tout some of the additional funding for the IRS.

So, our panel is back with me now.

Phil Mattingly, just to ask you, you know, your sense when you heard that. Obviously, he was talking about how he protected Social Security and Medicare, those important things for seniors, but he did make a point of both complimenting the Republicans, which is a double edge sword, and touting the IRS.

MATTINGLY: Yeah, Erin, you know, I was just exchanging texts back and forth with a Republican member of Congress who said there was nothing new in here. My response was exactly.

And while that might seem a little bit strange, given the fact it's an Oval Office address, given the fact it's a Friday, this has been the theory of the case. This is what his theory of the case was during the campaign. And I think you listen to the speech, understanding where his priorities were and what he has long been focused on, what his messages and will be over the course of the next 15, 16 months, like yes compromise is important, bringing down the temperature is important, being willing to negotiate is important.

On policy and in order to govern, not on principles, and by that, I mean, he's focused on the fact that Medicare and Social Security were kept out, to your point about the legislative priorities and legislative winds he had in the first two years to ensure that those were largely untouched, except for the shifting of that IRS funding, but making very clear that the willingness and ability to talk to Republicans and get bipartisan agreement was important.

There was no dramatic new development or announcement or policy in these remarks. This was a framing speech, a last word speech, and I think very much this is the president's theory of the case speech, whether you think it's new or not.

BURNETT: Right, right, well, in theory of this case, it's, of course, what he is doing as he's now, right, up for reelection, right? This is a campaign.

You know, how do you think it goes over with Speaker McCarthy, with Senator McConnell when the president of the United States calls them out to complement them, to say they operated in good faith, to say they kept their word? Do those things -- are those things good for them or are those things just unfortunately in the world that we live in now just bad?

RINA SHAH, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: They are what they are because it is no change to who Biden has been all along, from the time he took office to now, he hasn't changed his tone at all when he talks about Republicans. He starts out by thanking them and complementing them. To the point about this being a campaign now, I haven't seen Biden

take on campaign mode compared to his predecessor Trump who would speak about whatever the substance of the day was policy-wise in a way that was moody. Trump took a different tone every time.

Biden, what you see is what you get, and there's a lot to bite off tonight and in tonight's remarks. He really ran the gamut, talking from the deficit, cutting spending, complement and Republicans as you said, but a couple of things I liked. I like that he used line that I said no. I think that was strong. He wanted to show that he is still here and still in command and able to do the job cognitively. That's really big.

But the other part that I didn't love because I don't think this is going to have an impact. When we go to the store shelves what we feel and what do we see? He talked about inflation slowing for the 10th straight month.


SHAH: I don't feel that in everyday life. Republicans certainly don't. So whatever this was, him taking a victory lap, and certainly this was historic, this was still an 11th hour governing situation. So, I see Biden as having maintained the status quo and not really bringing the claws out tonight.

BURNETT: What do you think, Jeff Zeleny? Was this -- was this a taste of a Biden campaign speech or not?

ZELENY: Without question. I mean, and he shouldn't be faulted for that. I mean, this is a president reasserting his authority from the Oval Office to the American people about what he has done and what his ideas are to go forward. This is what presidents do.

I think that it was as much of a theory of the case for his campaign for his reelection than anything we have heard. We have seen a campaign video and see him do a couple of addresses. This laid out his view, his theory of the case.

Erin, the question is, are American still listening to President Biden? The question is, are independents or even some of the Democrats that supported him still listening to the president. And to get the president's approval rating up from historic lows, the White House knows they must win over some of the very people who supported him, some of the very people who generally have good feelings for him but are ready to move to something else.

I think this is the beginning of reasserting his command and reasserting his control over Washington showing, I did work with both sides. This is why you sent me to Washington.


Again, Erin, the most important part, are people still listening to Joe Biden? BURNETT: And, of course, that's going to be the crucial question, Van.

I will also say, you know, when you hear this, I understand you operate in the moment. That politics are about the moment, they're about I protected you. They are not about big picture.

But, Van, honestly, some of this is frustrating, right? Okay, Social Security is protected. Benefits will be cut by 25 percent. People will get less than 80 percent of what they think they are going to get in just a few years, right, because something has to be done on Social Security.

So I get it. You seize the moment. I did nothing now. It doesn't take away the fact, Van, that there are very huge decisions the country needs to make. The political system right now completely fails us at doing.

JONES: I think you are correct, but it is just a question. Do you want to use a debt ceiling hostage debate situation to resolve that stuff?


JONES: I agree. You have to have stuff to do and you got most for it.

I just want to say, you know, Joe Biden just keeps being Joe Biden. He just does the same Joe Biden thing, and he keeps winning. It is kind of strange because he says I like everybody. We can all get along in America can do great things and you guys have a good night.

It seems kind of corny, but then you look at the record of all the bills that he has passed and the stuff he has done on climate and infrastructure and the CHIPS act and the debt ceiling thing behind. So, there's just -- I think for those of us that expect something new or dramatic or exciting or interesting or different, he's like that old slugger that goes up there every time and hits a triple and then goes back to the dugout. He hits another triple, and you look at the scoreboard and he is doing pretty well.

That said, there are big problems that are still not being addressed. If they ever to address, it will be I think it looks like in the mode of a Joe Biden where you do it at the end of the day, after all the nonsense, you get to a bipartisan consensus and get a big vote. Everybody gets a little bit of love and gets to go home with a cookie and a pat on the hip from grandpa, and we do it all again next week.

BURNETT: You know, Michael, to your point about, look, an Oval Office address maybe the reason he has not given one until tonight is it's not the best format for him. Let's just be honest, right? He's better when he's interacting with people.

But he had -- he delivered his speech and he at the moment where he seems to be the most animated talking about his father, right? His father saying, don't you tell me what you value, show me your budget and I'll tell you what you value.

You know, there were moments where he as -- you know, as if there were other people with him. Did he -- did he deliver in that regard, Michael, what he needs to or as everyone saying here, does it just not matter because people know you get what you get? He's a known quantity.

SMERCONISH: It was a fine set of remarks. In my notes, I wrote preview of coming attractions because of a slightly different take. On the Republican side of the aisle, this campaign has gone from zero to 100 in like no time.

And I sense that he is chomping at the bit to be heard and this is the way in which he is going to campaign. Much like he stayed in Delaware, and I don't say that as a pejorative. We were in the midst of the pandemic. But I think it's going to be an Oval Office, Rose Garden strategy, and this is the way you're going to see him try to respond to that which is said about him by his Republican opponents for the next several months.

BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you all very much. And stay with me.

Next, we have a CNN exclusive. Sources telling CNN that Trump attorneys, right now, here we are after all of the searches and the subpoenas, they cannot find the classified document about a potential attack on Iran that the former president was heard talking about on tape. After all this, no one knows where that is? Where is it?

Plus, why is Trump posting a congratulatory message to North Korea's brutal dictator, Kim Jong Un? That actually happened today.

And the, quote, gates of war have opened inside Russia. This is the words of a senior Ukrainian official. The attacks inside Russian territory tonight intensify. We'll go to the ground.



BURNETT: Tonight, a CNN exclusive: Team Trump can't find the classified document that the former president said he took from the White House during a 2021 tape recording, the document that discussed a potential military strike on Iran by the United States.

Now, sources telling CNN that Trump's lawyers are unable to find the document after special counsel Jack Smith issued a subpoena for any and all documents involving Iran. And the Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley, of course, this was apparently a document, but he was the one who had come up with a plan for it. So, any documents involving him.

So I want to go straight now to Katelyn Polantz. She, obviously, has been core to this all over the story and one of the reporters who broke the story about the tape. So, Katelyn, what else do you know about the missing document and, I mean, I guess after this all the subpoenas, searches, check here again go to a warehouse and somehow this one is still MIA, how does all of this impact the criminal probe of Trump underway?

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, Erin, this is part of the investigation around what happened in July of 2021 in Bedminster, as far as we can tell. That moment in time where Donald Trump wave surrounded document and is captured on audiotape talking about these battle plans, apparently, to have a strike or invade Iran.

And what happens in March, so very recently, the Justice Department brings in a witness who was in the meeting and talks to that witness and the grand jury. This is a communications aide of Donald Trump named Margo Martin. As soon as she leaves the grand jury like minutes after, the Trump team becomes aware that the Justice Department has this audiotape and knows about this particular meeting in July of 2021 at Bedminster and has interest in it, and that's because they get a subpoena. And that subpoena tells them at that point in time, you have to turn over any document that you have related to General Milley, the object of Trump's ire at the end of his presidency, who's talking about the Iran plans with.

And they are also asking for any documents related to Iran, including invasion plans or any maps that Donald Trump might have on his possession, any classified. And, of course, they've been asking to get back all of these classified documents for quite some time.


There was a previous subpoena, but it happens there again and the Trump lawyers they cannot find anything. They make some productions, but they cannot find the exact document that they believe he was waving around in that July meeting.

BURNETT: Which is pretty incredible, and I guess it gets to the heart of what makes this case different from other cases out there, right? There just were so many documents and so many places and after subpoenas and searches they are still not there. They still don't seem to be forthcoming.

It is very different than what we saw with the classified documents with both current President Biden and the former Vice President Mike Pence. I know there's a big development in the Mike Pence case. What is it?

POLANTZ: Right. So, in the Pence case, this is a separate investigation in the shadow of this Donald Trump investigation as he was looking for documents, and as the Justice Department was trying to hold him in contempt of court for not turning over these documents, Mike Pence sent his team to go look, to make sure he didn't have any federal records of classified documents in his possession. There was a criminal investigation that arose out of that because his lawyer did find some in January, at his home in Indiana.

And then very soon after that, the FBI made sure there were no other documents in Mike Pence's possession. They searched his office and his home. That investigation is closed with no criminal charges filed. The Justice Department told Mikes Pence, his team that just yesterday in a letter -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Katelyn, thank you very much.

And everyone is back with me as well, as Ryan Goodman, of course, our legal analyst.

So, Ryan, can we just start with Katelyn's reporting on the classified document? What is the significance in the fact that after the subpoenas and searches and, you know, storage facilities and all of this, that after all of this, they still can't find the classified document about the strike on Iran that Trump was saying he had.

RYAN GOODMAN, FORMER SPECIAL COUNSEL AT DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE: So, if Trump -- the reason they can't find it is because Trump is still sitting on it somewhere, that would be extremely bad now that he has been served two different subpoenas to try to get at all these documents, or if it is just missing and the cannot locate it, which sounds like that's the more plausible scenario.

BURNETT: Meaning, and just to be clear, meaning they have it in a box somewhere that they have taken from him and cannot find it.

GOODMAN: Yeah, they, being the Trump lawyers, can't find the document. Where is the document on Iran contingency attack plans? That would be for criminal law matters. It is very serious on a number of levels.

That is, in fact, the very harm that it's trying to -- that the law is meant to avoid. So, we penalize people for retaining classified kinds of information like this in case it gets out into the wild. To lose control of it, that is a three-alarm fire within the government, especially something like this.

That would mean it is much more likely they indict. That's a serious aggravating factor. It's much more likely a jury convicts because that is the story here. It's not just that he retained it but he lost control of it.


GOODMAN: And it's also much more likely that he gets a steeper sentence. His lawyers must advise him that if this is the situation and we go trial and you're convicted, the likelihood you get a steeper sentence for this is much higher because this is an unusual case in which something like this will be lost into the wild.

BURNETT: Right. Okay, so that is significant, and his own lawyers are saying they cannot find it. So, just to be clear, it's not Jack Smith saying Jack Smith isn't finding another stuff, it's Trump's lawyers.

Okay, the other context on this as Katelyn was saying is the difference in the cases between Biden, Pence, and Trump of classified document retention. But you have Trump weighing in on Pence not facing charges. So, Pence finds out, Trump finds out.

Trump says, just announced they're not going to bring charges against Mike Pence and the documents hoax. That's great. But when am I going to be fully exonerated? I'm at least as innocent as he is.

Okay. Obviously, they're completely different. But I would imagine given what they did to Pence, we're going to hear the same about Biden. GOODMAN: Right. So, Pence is on an entire opposite of this spectrum,

diametrically opposite from the Trump case.


GOODMAN: Biden pretty much still the same. They should have covered Biden's properties were quickly. They also learned a lesson from Biden's team had handled it.


GOODMAN: But does it like -- it does not even cross the bar possible criminal indictment. That's why they closed down the investigation, there wasn't a special counsel appointed for Pence.


GOODMAN: And, in fact, if I were Trump's defense team, I would be very worried about the announcement from the Justice Department. That is kind of a prelude where they are showing, look, we are evenhanded. We're not politicizing this.

When you behave appropriately when he discovered classified information, turn it over to us immediately and acknowledge it, nothing happens to you. But if you do the opposite of that, things --

BURNETT: Yeah, and interesting that they are coming out and saying that now. That is as the news of these tapes are coming out, as this document is in the wild as Ryan says.

I mean, Jeff Zeleny, you tried repeatedly yesterday to get Trump to answer questions about the situation with this Iran -- this classified Iran strike paper he was caught talking about on tape repeatedly. Let me just play it.


ZELENY: Mr. President, why did you take classified documents concerning General Milley?


Mr. President, why did you take classified documents concerning General Milley? Can you talk about that please, Mr. President?

Mr. President, how did those documents get to Bedminster, sir? Mr. President, will you talk to us about the classified documents? How did those documents get to Bedminster, sir?


BURNETT: So, no answer at all. When he did go and more friendly territory with Sean Hannity, he said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: You know, I don't know anything about it. All I know is this, everything I did was right. We have the Presidential Records Act which I abided by 100 percent.


BURNETT: Okay. Just put that aside for a second.

Jeff, what are you hearing from Republican voters on the ground there? Does this -- will this move the needle if this indictment comes as it is expected to soon?

ZELENY: Erin, I think in this specifics, not necessarily. You do get the sense that this is one of these things that is a reason for the Republican voters who are looking for someone new, the Republican voters who simply are interested in winning back the White House and looking forward and not looking backward.

This is one of the examples that they cite. They are not in the weeds about this specific classified document about General Milley at Bedminster. The president knows that and that's why we asked him the question. Sometimes you shout questions often on the South Lawn as he covered his White House, he would turn an answer. He is certainly willing to do that and often has.

But Republican voters, even though they are not following the minutia of this, the ones that are open to and, in fact, eager and hungry to find someone new are following this. You get the sense that there is this case, the case in Georgia, on and on that it is beginning to create a weight.

Now, is that enough of a weight to change the Republican primary? Not necessarily, but they are indeed paying attention, particularly the ones who are looking for someone new.

BURNETT: Which is fascinating if they are, because what you are saying is a bit counter to what we keep seen in the program political press. So, fascinating.

Rina, I want to ask you about something else when you talk about Trump's behavior. Something he posted today on social media caught my attention about North Korea. He says congratulations, Kim Jong Un. That was the post. It was the story about North Korea being granted a spot on the World Health Organization's executive board.

What we're not -- why are we not hearing from Republicans tonight saying that that's a problem that a former president and their current front runner for the 2024 nomination is doing that, is congratulating Kim Jong Un?

SHAH: Erin, just a decade ago you would have heard such a chorus from Capitol Hill of Republican saying this is unacceptable, this is disqualifying to praise a dictator. But in the era of Trump, and after he's been gone now, what you hear from Republicans is look at him saying what feels right to him, saying what feels natural and maybe saying what may not be politically popular. So, a lot of defense for the former president posture towards

dictators because what I keep hearing over and over each week as I talk to people who voted for Trump in 2016 and again in 2020 and maybe even considering doing it again, they say he keeps people on their feet. He keeps our enemies on their feet. He creates chaos that gets people wondering, well, what are we going to do now? Are we going to be friends with North Korea?

I think what he saw in (AUDIO GAP) is literally what just came to him, is that a leader was able to get something done that they did not think he could do. So, that is Trump (AUDIO GAP) is being more of the same, and it doesn't make sense for the policies that the United States should have toward enemies, but that is our former president and that is what a lot of Republican voters like about him. He says what feels natural and what they are thinking.

BURNETT: Well, we know, you know, he considers Kim Jong-un, right, you know, the love letters among the documents that they took from the White House, Van.

JONES: I mean, this is -- this is just awful. I mean, what can you say? He says nicer stuff about a murderous dictator than he says about Mike Pence, his former vice president.

Republicans think that's good. I mean, I don't -- you just have to laugh. I mean, he said he was in love with the guy. He said we fell in love -- remember?


JONES: He said he fell in love with Kim Jong-un and Republicans say, that's fine with us. And now he is congratulating him for, you know, his next accomplishment. This is somebody that is trying to lob nuclear weapons at the West Coast where I am sitting right now.


JONES: This is a guy that could end up back in the Oval Office. And, you know, so, I mean, what can you say about it?


All right. Thank you all very much. I appreciate it.

And next, just in, the head of Putin's private army is now accusing, prepare yourself for this one, Putin's defense ministry, right, so Russian troops of planting explosive devices, mines, on the path of the Wagner group and other Russians fighting for Putin are using to get out of Bakhmut.


So, Russians mining the road to kill Russians.

Plus, she spent nearly 2 years in space, more than any other American. And tonight, NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson is already thinking about her next mission. She'll be OUTFRONT.


BURNETT: Tonight, the head of Russia's private military, the Wagner group, is accusing Russian defense ministry of something unbelievable, of burying landmines along the roads that Prigozhin's troops are using to exit Bakhmut. So, the Russians, the former Russian military laying mines to kill other Russians.

Yevgeny Prigozhin is making the stunning claim in a Telegram post just moments ago. He did not offer met any evidence but it comes as attacks inside Russia are intensifying. There's new video that we have tonight near Belgorod, which is, of course, that Russian city near the border that has been under attack by anti-Kremlin Russian forces.

This shows a barrage of artillery strikes near a checkpoint. Massive plumes of smoke are seen from the air where the missiles hit their marks in Shebekino. A senior Ukrainian official saying today that, quote, the gates of war have open on Russian territory.

Sam Kiley is on the ground OUTFRONT with the latest.


SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A Ukrainian strike in a Russian occupied Berdyansk.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ooh cool. How cool is that?

KILEY: It's heating up across several fronts and Russia.

The governor of Belgorod province struggles to reassure a rattled population.


BELGOROD GOVERNOR (through translator): I heard that the armed forces of Ukraine continue to shell our territory. More than 2,500 people are staying in temporary shelter facilities. There are many questions that residents of Shebekino and border villages are asking, starting with who will pay my utilities? What about our property? And who is watching over it?

KILEY: Ukrainian-backed Russian dissident soldiers claimed to have raided Russia a second time. In a stunt that could've been filmed anywhere, one fighter displayed a fridge magnet from Belgorod on social media. Soon, you too be able to walk in free Belgorod, and then across all Russia, he said.

Vladimir Putin has stepped in to steady the national nerves.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Today, we will also address these issues in relation to ensuring Russia's security. In this case, domestic political security. Considering the efforts our foes are still taking and stepping up in order to destabilize the situation inside Russia, we must do everything we can to prevent this from happening at any cost.

KILEY: The U.S. setting out some grim truths for Moscow.

ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: When you look at President Putin's long term strategic aims and objectives, there is no question. Russia is significantly worse off today than it was before the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, militarily, economically, geopolitically.

KILEY: That is certainly the message that Ukraine is trying to deliver to Russia and now by force.


KILEY (on camera): Causing destabilization, consternation, and controversy within Russia, particularly within the ranks of the nomenclatura, at the top of the tree, Vladimir Putin, is very much part of the Ukrainian agenda, particularly as they approach what we understand to be an even bigger counteroffensive to try to regain land inside Ukraine -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Sam, thank you very much.

And coming up on "AC360", as the use of drones, we have heard so much about them recently. "360" has a report from inside a factory making combat drones, and that will be at the top of the hour.

OUTFRONT next, I'm going to talk to the first woman to command a private space flight, astronaut Peggy Whitson. She spent nearly two years in space. So, what does that do to the human body? You're going to hear her fascinating answer to that and more next.

Plus, breaking news, Joran van der Sloot, the prime suspect in the disappearance of Alabama teenager Natalee Holloway now in the process of being moved to the U.S. and development there tonight.



BURNETT: Tonight, a pioneer, the first woman to command a private space flight is back on earth for now. Peggy Whitson is a former chief astronaut at NASA. She spent more time in space than any other American, and she's already thinking about her next mission, telling reporters, quote, I'm ready, let's go.

Now, this comes after she just spent ten days leading a crew to the International Space Station, adding to the staggering 675 days she's spent in space.

And Peggy Whitson joins me OUTFRONT now.

Peggy, thank you so much. It is such an honor to be able to speak with you. And, you know, just thinking about all of the experiences you've had in your career, the times you have gone up into space. This time it was a private space flight.

I know if I'm right, you went up with Axiom. You came back in a SpaceX capsule. How is it different doing that than working for NASA?

PEGGY WHITSON, RECORD-BREAKING ASTRONAUT: Well, it is a different mission, mostly because the objectives are different. NASA has a certain set of objectives that, as an astronaut, I was able to contribute to. And it was a very satisfying and gratifying.

But space industry is changing now. And exploration is changing. If you look at NASA's plan to go back to the lunar surface, you know, Axiom space will be one of the companies that is providing lunar suits for the astronauts who will walk on the moon. Other companies are providing rovers and space communication capabilities.

So, it's really an exciting time to be a part of space as it is changing. The Axiom 2 mission was exciting because it was the first time we had private and government astronauts represented on a mission like this. And it was fun for me because I had a great crew, number one.

But it was -- it's neat to be a part of this process, as we change. And Axiom's objective is to increase access to space, to governments, individuals, and institutions who want to fly research or people into space. And get access that maybe before they didn't have.

BURNETT: We're showing now some pictures that you took of space. And as I mentioned, you spent more time there than any other American. You call it your second home.

And I know it's been described as so beautiful, but of course it's also -- it's also deadly. It's a void.

Peggy, what is it about it that keeps you going back, that just ignites such passion in you?

WHITSON: For me, it's, I think, the perspective that you gain from that place. It provides you a look at the Earth. You see all of humanity except for the few handful of people that are with you are down there, as far as we know, anyway. And, you know, it's our place, and it seems -- you know, it's so very, very important. It's got this atmosphere that provides all the things that we're trying to artificially generate in space.

It's basically -- I like to think of it as spaceship Earth. But then you look out to the stars, and you see thousands and thousands and thousands of stars and you're, like, we're just one of billions and billions of galaxies. And it's -- it's overwhelming in this sense of perspective for me keeps drawing me back.

You know, and then of course there's just the lack of gravity to float around and move around. It's the only place I particularly feel comfortable and graceful.

BURNETT: And graceful. I like that.

But we talk about that. All this time you've spent, right, and in zero gravity, 635 cumulative days. Just to state the obvious, that's nearly two years in orbit. It takes a toll on your body, obviously. I mean -- as we talk about trying to recreate Earth there, tell us about that most fundamental challenge.

WHITSON: Well, it is very challenging because we have to compensate for that lack of gravity. Your body changes a lot. It expands. Your spinal column expands. You grow a little bit taller. Your muscles, if you're there for very long, will start atrophying. They deteriorate because you don't need them to fight against gravity.

Your bones will also deteriorate if you're not exercising very rigorously. We were only there on this Axiom 2 mission for ten days. But on my previous flights, my longest one being nine and a half months, we exercised two and a half hours each day to try and compensate for that.

And it actually really did work. I mean, I came home, and I could bench press more than my body weight after each of my missions, which I thought was pretty impressive.


BURNETT: I think anyone watching would think that was pretty impressive. I suppose that's one of the benefits of nine and a half months in space.

Peggy, thank you so much for just sharing some of this with us. Congratulations and great admiration for you. Thank you.

WHITSON: Thank you very much for having me.

BURNETT: And next, breaking news. The process of transporting the main suspect in the disappearance of American Natalee Holloway, Joran van der Sloot to the United States is now underway.


BURNETT: Tonight, Joran van der Sloot, the prime suspect in the disappearance of Natalee Holloway is officially beginning the process of extradition to the United States tonight. This is first reporting on CNN. He's being moved from a prison in Peru, where he's serving time for the murder of a Peruvian college student. Van der Sloot, of course, is the last person to be seen with Holloway before she disappeared while vacationing in Aruba in 2005.

Jean Casarez is OUTFRONT.

And, Jean, you are breaking this story first. They officially began this process. What more do you know?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: CNN has just confirmed that the extradition of Joran van der Sloot, the transferring of him from Peru to the United States to face criminal charges on the disappearance of Natalee Holloway is beginning tonight.

Now, Peru is requesting that this is a temporary transfer because Joran van der Sloot is currently in the midst of serving a murder sentence in Peru, and once the proceedings have concluded in the U.S., he must go back to Peru. They are asking that he remain in custody. But CNN has confirmed that that extradition is beginning tonight.

Now, the charges involved here stem from the 2008 disappearance of Natalee Holloway, but it is extortion and fraud. The charges came about in 2010 because there was a reward at that point of up to $250,000 for anyone who could help show the family where the remains were of Natalie Holloway.

Joran van der Sloot step forward. He said, I can tell you where the remains are. I want the $250,000. I want a cash down payment.

Representatives of the family went there, showed him where the remains were, later he told the family, I lied to you. He will be represented by an h down payment. Representatives of the family went there, showed him where the remains were, later he told the family, I lied to you. Thus, extortion and fraud, he will be represented by an attorney in the United States, innocent until proven guilty.

BURNETT: Right, of course, that's hugely significant that this is actually happening after so many years.

All right. Jean, thank you very much.

And thanks to all of you for being with us.

"AC360" starts now.