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Erin Burnett Outfront

Trump To Be Arrested For Second Time In Weeks; Report: Top Russian Army General Killed; Christie To Take On Trump At CNN Town Hall. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired June 12, 2023 - 19:00   ET



ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, Trump hours away from being arrested. The former president in Florida tonight meeting with his legal team on the verge of his first court appearance in the case. Two of Trump's top former lawyers are OUTFRONT together tonight.

Plus, violent rhetoric on the rise ahead of Trump's arrival at the courthouse. Right-wing extremists and armed supporters threatening to show up. So is law enforcement ready? A former member of the Oath Keepers will be my guest tonight.

And a top Russian army general reportedly killed by a Ukrainian missile strike. OUTFRONT obtaining new video tonight from the front lines in Ukraine. We have that for you.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, former President Trump about to be arrested for the second time in ten weeks. He's holed up in one of his golf resorts, preparing to be formally placed under arrest and processed tomorrow at the federal courthouse in Miami. Of course, Trump is the former president in American history to face federal charges. To be exact, there are 37 counts in the indictment, including willful retention of national defense information and trying to thwart the government's attempts to retrieve and find the documents themselves.

Now, if you combine it just to give you a sense of the magnitude of what we're looking at here, the charges would carry a total maximum of 400 years in prison. Yes, it's maximums, but this is just important for everyone to understand how very serious these charges are. Trump is expected to spend the night tonight at his golf club in Miami. And tomorrow, he'll make the roughly 12-mile drive from there to the federal courthouse, which I'm going to show you now, the courthouse where police are bracing for up to 50,000 protesters tomorrow.

At this hour, we don't know who the president will even formally hire to represent him in this case, and whether that will impact how tomorrow goes in the courtroom. Two of Trump's top attorneys in this case resigned on Friday. Trump has had trouble retaining seasoned attorneys. Now, we know Trump's team spoke with a number of lawyers over the

weekend to try to find representation. We do know they've been reaching out to Florida-based attorneys to gauge their interest. But a number of high-profile attorneys who defended Trump and worked with him know that the case against him here is strong.


BILL BARR, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL: It's a very detailed indictment, and it's very, very damning.

JONATHAN TURLEY, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: It is an extremely damning indictment.

TIM PARLATORE, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: There are things in here that I think, if they have backup for are certainly problematic.


BURNETT: Well, the man you just saw there, Tim Parlatore, was one of Trump's attorneys in this case. He's going to be my guest along with Ty Cobb. They're both here together. That is in just a moment.

Also tonight, though, we do have information, new information about the prosecution's legal team. And our Evan Perez is learning that special counsel Jack Smith is also adding to his team, experienced Florida prosecutors.

Despite all of this, though, Trump is standing firm tonight saying he won't give up, he will not give in, on anybody, calling him to suspend his presidential campaign.


ROGER STONE, RADIO HOST: Is there any circumstances under which you can see yourself dropping out of the 2024 presidential election?



BURNETT: I want to begin our coverage tonight with Evan Perez. He's in Miami.

And, Evan, I mentioned the news that you broke about additions to Jack Smith's team. What more are you learning about that from the DOJ side?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Erin. We're expecting some seasoned lawyers from the U.S. attorney's office here in Miami are going to be part of the team that will be handling this case going forward. We know that Jack Smith already has a couple of prosecutors from the office down here who joined his team.

One of them is Karen Gilbert who, we're told, was part of the team that was getting ready or prepared the work for FBI agents to carry out that search last August in Mar-a-Lago. Now, we know that she has formally joined the team. And we expect she or someone else from the office here will be part of this team going forward.

Now, that's a big deal because we need people who know this district who know these judges and can handle some of the issues that will be arising here because, as you know, a lot of this case was investigated in Washington. The grand jury was hearing testimony. Now a lot of that stuff is going to have to go through a judge down here, and perhaps relitigate it all over again -- Erin.

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

And now let's go to Tim Parlatore, former attorney for president Trump in the Mar-a-Lago documents investigation, along with Ty Cobb, former Trump White House lawyer.

So thanks very much to both of you. And I'm so glad to have you both here in person. I know there's a lot you agree on and some you'll disagree. I want to give people a chance to think through this carefully.

So, Tim, you've had the weekend to really read through this again and again and again, because you were on the inside, and you know more from that side as an attorney who had been part of this case than almost anyone, you and Evan Corcoran.


How strong is the government case here?

PARLATORE: A lot of it's going to come down to how much of what is in the indictment do they have backup for. And when I read it through, there are certainly parts that I do think are not as strong. The two -- the two pieces of it that give me a little bit of pause are the exchanges between the president and Walt Nauta regarding the movement of boxes.


PARLATORE: Which, again, if they actually have all the video and everything that they claim to back that up, that's going to be a tremendous hurdle.

The other thing is the exchanges with the employee of the PAC about the map.

BURNETT: Right. Dissemination.

PARLATORE: Correct. That's going to be potentially problematic because there's no tape of that, it seems. It seems like that is something that is based on the testimony of somebody who may still work for him. So, that's -- that's something that's also going to be problematic. And we're going to have to find out a lot more about.

BURNETT: Right, and I should be clear on that when they talk about that exchange, there's a lot of quotes in here. PARLATORE: Yeah.

BURNETT: Right? There are a lot of quotes of what he said.

Now, Ty, interesting, you know, Bill Barr is joining you. He's saying he's toast. You've said before this even happened that he would be a dead man legally with all of this. And, you know, you've been through it here again and again. What's the most damning part?

TY COBB, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE LAWYER: I think it's very hard to triage what's the most damning part because they do appear to have a document, a tape, a picture, a witness for virtually every phrase and allegation in here.

I do think the -- one of the really, really unusual pieces of it is the Evan Corcoran crime fraud exception evidence that is reported in here, and the fact that the Nauta tapes suggest that Nauta was moving boxes to hide classified documents from Corcoran who was doing a search.

BURNETT: And I want to -- I want to dive down on both of these points. Can I first just ask you because you're as close to this as anyone other than Evan Corcoran?


BURNETT: When you read this part that says that Walt Nauta was moving documents and moving boxes so that Evan Corcoran, the lawyer, attorney number one, would not know it and would therefore say, okay, look, you have everything and lying to Evan Corcoran. Did your jaw sort of drop for a second?

PARLATORE: It was definitely different from how I understood the theory of these boxes moving to be. And, so, it was definitely something I looked at and I thought, wow, do they really have that?

And, in full candor, I read that and I was wondering, because if that's what they actually had, it's something that I would have expected us to know about earlier. It's something I would have expected them to use in more of the preliminary proceedings.

BURNETT: They didn't.

PARLATORE: No, they didn't. It's one of those things that they would've used to try and flip Walt Nauta to become a witness, but they didn't.

BURNETT: So, let me ask you, Ty, about that, because, you know, they're very clear here, and I know you say if they have it, and I understand it, they have to prove it.

But, you know, they're saying, they have tape, they have tape moving this many boxes and then X minutes later, a phone call, and then why many boxes? I mean, it's all very, very detailed, okay?

But why wouldn't they -- and then they have Walt Nauta in here lying to them, saying I wish I could tell you, but I don't know. If they had him on tape, why didn't they go, we got you on tape, are you sure that's what you want you want to say, and try to get him to flip?

COBB: So, we really don't know -- I wasn't present when Nauta was interviewed. So we don't really exactly know what he was asked or told. I know Walt. I have some affection for him.

BURNETT: Said he's a patriot.

COBB: He is a patriot. The highest honor that ever happened to him was being named Trump's valet. He's very loyal to Trump, and he would do anything for Trump. I think it would've made sense to do that approach, Walt, this is what we have.

BURNETT: To try to get him to prove --

COBB: Yeah, we need you to just acknowledge this and authenticate some of these things. I don't know that they didn't do it that way. But if they went about it in a way that was just too foreign for him to accept or to realize that his loyalty was misplaced, that's sad. I think that's sad. But he shouldn't have been moving the boxes.

Now, in terms of Tim's point about these are some of the things that the team should've known, I don't know how the team could've not known after Evan Corcoran spent a day in the grand jury going over all this evidence. Because he was asked question after question after question about his notes and about the timing of his search, who knew when he was going to search, why was there a delay?


So, it's difficult for me as I sit here without knowing exactly what happened to go as far as Tim. But I believe that there was information where the team should've been able to put together that they had some insight information.


PARLATORE: Well, that wouldn't have come out during Evan's testimony because they're only asking him what he knows. And their argument here is that this was concealed from him. So, there's no way to really derive that from the questions that he would have been asked.

You know, really, it is the kind of thing that I would have expected us to get that information because I know I've said this before, but the manner in which this DOJ team has acted is a very radical departure from the ordinary teams from the U.S. attorney's offices that we deal with where they would go and present this kind of stuff certainly to Walt to try and get him to change his testimony, certainly to other people.

I think that a lot of the ordinary prosecutorial tools were not used here, and it's -- I've been saying this even before I read this, that this team definitely tried to ratchet up the adversarial nature of things rather than working cooperatively. And so, that's -- it's problematic. BURNETT: Is there anything to the criticism?

COBB: I don't think so. I think this team had been confronted with lie after lie from the defendant and his representatives. They had been lied to about the existence of additional documents. They had been lied to about a detailed search, and there were no documents left. They were given an affidavit to that effect.

So I think, once they know that all that's a lie, you go in pretty aggressively. There's no reason to show your cards. You know you're playing a game that's going to end in an indictment because this is not a man who is going to plead guilty.

BURNETT: You both agree on that, right? No plea of guilty, no nothing?

PARLATORE: No, I don't think there's going to be a guilty plea here.

BURNETT: All right. So, let me talk about Evan Corcoran a bit more because this is really important. I know you both think he's very important in the indictment. There are a few things that he says -- obviously his notes, the contemporaneous notes. When a fraud or crime is committed and an attorney's aware of it you can't hide it behind the veil of attorney/client, right?

PARLATORE: It is a nuance to that. It is where the communications between an attorney and client are used to perpetrate a crime or a fraud in the future. It doesn't have to be necessarily something that the attorney is aware of at the time. But something about that communication is used in a future crime.

BURNETT: And you're nodding.

COBB: So, I agree with that to a certain extent, although there's an even deeper variation, which is the allegation here on the crime fraud is that the former president deceived his own lawyer in order to develop a strategy of which the lawyer became the victim. So the fraud was the deception of Corcoran, which led to the deception of the Justice Department.

BURNETT: And so -- okay, right, because Corcoran then affirms I've given you everything, when he hasn't, when Walt Nauta, according to the indictment, has hidden boxes, removed boxes. So, there's an incident in the notes when Corcoran's having a conversation with Trump and talking about getting rid of the documents. Trump's basically what happens if we don't respond at all or we don't play ball with them? Wouldn't it be better if we just told them we don't have anything there? Look, is it better if there are no documents?

Corcoran also records an exchange he has where Trump makes that plucking motion if there's a problem, pluck them out. Okay? So, it's all very damning. If this is -- these are the notes.

PARLATORE: Lacking context, those conversations there, to me, is classic attorney/client privileged communications. It's where a client who never went to law school is asking the attorney what can and can't we do. What are the left and right limits, are we required to give them everything, are we required to respond?

And what's missing in the way that it's being retold in the indictment is that he was actually citing a very specific case when he was talking with Evan and he was saying, you know, back -- I read back when Hillary Clinton got a subpoena, David Kendall deleted 33,000 emails. Can we do the same thing? And that's the context behind these.


And when you have a conversation like that with a client, which you want to encourage the client --

BURNETT: By the way, I should say, this isn't just any client. This is a really savvy sophisticated client who's dealt with lawyers, like Michael Cohen by his side as well. So, he's not a -- he's not a rube on this.

PARLATORE: But he's still -- no, but he still is new to the world of receiving a federal criminal grand jury subpoena. And when he asks these questions and he bases it on a story that he's heard about another lawyer, and Evan says, no, we can't do that and the client says okay, there's no crime there. And it's the kind of conversation we want to encourage clients to have --

BURNETT: Well --

PARLATORE: -- because if a client is told under Jack Smith's rule, if you ask your attorney a question, are we allowed to do something, and the answer is no, Jack Smith is going to use that to pierce attorney/client privilege and then charge you with even ask that question.

BURNETT: Well, after that, if there's anything bad in here, like, you know, pluck it out? I mean, well, okay -- I'll just give you a chance to respond to what Tim's view.

COBB: So, my point briefly and my response to that is I don't disagree that asking questions of your lawyer to get advice is standard protocol.


COBB: What isn't standard protocol is if you're asking him those questions to develop a strategy where you're going to deceive the government. And that's the way this is charged that he milked Evan Corcoran for legitimate advice, Corcoran gave him good advice based on what --

BURNETT: Don't hide it. Don't hide it.

COBB: And Trump then makes sure the documents disappear, Corcoran doesn't find them, and then the government's told that there are none.

BURNETT: So, bottom line here, I know there's going to be an argument on whether Corcoran's notes are included or not. I looked through the indictment and just pretended they were all gone. I'm still left with Walt Nauta moving boxes and moving boxes. I'm left with Evan Corcoran going in the next morning and the boxes aren't there.

Like, it's all there. He's still having that conversation with the PAC. I said 400 years combined for all the charges. You take Corcoran out, it's still damning, it's still terrible, isn't it?

PARLATOLRE: That's part of the problem is that if you have -- and this is something I've been saying for a little while here, is that if you really have such a damning air-tight case as they claim to have, you don't need to insert things like Evan Corcoran. You don't need to commit misconduct before the grand jury. You don't need to lie to federal judges in civil proceedings. You don't need to --

BURNETT: Well, you throw in two thing there's that we haven't had a chance to discuss.


PARLATORE: Those are things that -- yeah, those are things that I personally witnessed. You don't need to go to --


PARLATORE: -- a witness' attorney and dangle a judgeship in front of him. You don't need to play those games if you have a truly --

BURNETT: You did just throw a lot in there at the end, but I'll give you the final word.

COBB: Yeah. So, I think the simple response to that is, you know, if you have a mass murderer and 17 people are killed, you know, yeah, it's true you don't need to charge all 17, but dignity would suggest that every violation of your constitutional duty, if you're the president of the United States, should be out there for the public to know and to make sure that it never happens again in American history.

BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you both very much. I'm really glad we had this conversation. And I think it's important. So thank you both very much for that.

COBB: Thank you, Erin.

BURNETT: And next, rising concerns about security, new threats of violence emerging around the president's arrest. Police say they will be ready for tens of thousands of Trump supporters outside the courthouse as well. So what will happen? A former member of the Oath Keepers joins me.

Plus, we do have new video into CNN of Trump just moments ago, we're going to bring that to you next, as he's getting ready for tomorrow.

And one of Trump's most vocal critics, Chris Christie, about to be front and center in a CNN town hall. And we're going to take you there live.



BURNETT: Tonight, Miami police are preparing for as many as 50,000 protesters who may converge on the federal courthouse for Donald Trump's arraignment tomorrow.

This comes amid growing concerns about the lack of security that's in place to handle those crowds, crowds that could get ugly if they are spurred by the rhetoric we've seen from people like the Republican Congressman Andy Biggs. Just as one example, he tweeted: We have now reached a war phase eye for an eye. Unhelpful.

And that goes along with these comments from some other vocal Trump supporters.


KARI LAKE (R), FORMER ARIZONA GOV. CANDIDATE: If you want to get to President Trump, you're going to have to go through me, and you're going to have to go through 75 million Americans just like me.


And I'm going to tell you -- yep. Most of us are card-carrying members of the NRA.

PETE SANTILLI, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: The FBI's at war with the American people, and if anything happens, I'm telling you on Tuesday, if anything happens, we are warring back with the FBI.


BURNETT: All right. So our Shimon Prokupecz pressed Miami's police chief in this context of all of this rhetoric about the lack of security on the ground.


SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: We've been hearing from people in the building around that area that they are concerned that there's no hardening around the area, the perimeter and that people can just freely come and go, there's yellow tape right now that's been placed. Will that change? Because there is a lot of concern that people may try to storm the building or try to enter some of that area. Are you going to harden that area?

MIAMI POLICE CHIEF: Well, what I can tell you is reach back to the folks that reached to you and tell them that there's no reason to fear.


BURNETT: A very, you know, firm response there.

OUTFRONT now from the federal courthouse in Miami, Shimon Prokupecz.

And, Shimon, projecting confidence and taking umbrage even with that assertion that there wasn't security in place? So, in that context, what security is in place? Why are there so many concerns?

PROKUPECZ: Well, concerns are because when you look at what the situation was like in Manhattan when the former president appeared there two months ago, you saw really such a large presence of law enforcement and those metal barriers everywhere. We're not seeing any of that at this time.

Now, that could change, of course, overnight, and into the morning. But leading up to this, there just hasn't been that sort of sense of urgency that, anticipation for what could happen.


And like we saw in Manhattan -- and a lot of this is happening because of the rhetoric, the stuff that intelligence officials and law enforcement officials are seeing online. There is concern, there is concern that a lot of people are going to come here. And so, naturally, people inside the building, people that we've been talking to in this area are asking, okay, what is law enforcement going to do.

I mean, as of the last hour or so, we seen an increase in federal law enforcement officials who've showed up here. And they say by the morning we will see even more. And we'll see how the day goes. But for now, it's kind of like business as usual here. And we'll see what they do tomorrow.

Law enforcement has been meeting with federal officials and the state officials and the local officials all to discuss the plans. And they say they're going to be ready.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Shimon.

OUTFRONT now, Jason Van Tatenhove, the former spokesperson for the far-right Oath Keepers group. He quit the group several years ago. He testified before the January 6th Committee and warned of extremist groups using political violence.

And, Jason, I appreciate your time tonight.

You know, I share just some of the rhetoric that we've seen from political figures, right, on Twitter or spoken today. You have been watching that as well as other violent rhetoric online around this indictment. I know it feels heightened to you.

What have you been seeing and hearing from extremist and fringe groups that concerns you?

JASON VAN TATENHOVE, FORMER OATH KEEPERS SPOKESMAN: Well, really what concerns me more than, say, the organized groups like the proud boys who seem to have shifted their focus to drag events and protesting LGBTQ+ events, I'm more concerned with the rhetoric and the messaging that is kind of on this fringe around the national organized groups. You know, that's who made up the majority of the folks that turned out for the January 6th insurrection.

And that's really the most dangerous aspect of this, because the national groups are fairly good at self-policing and trying to keep people that may not be, you know, that may be more apt to take violent action kind of out of the area. But, you know, this seems to be more of an organic gathering of people that Trump has been messaging directly to. And we saw that start with the choosing of Waco for the kickoff of the campaign.


VAN TATENHOVE: So, you know, I'm very concerned.

BURNETT: So, you just heard Shimon talking about the situation tonight. And things could change, right? They could make decisions and adjust this even now. But currently the police chief was pretty adamant. And you saw the tone in his voice when he was questioned. They don't have a plan to separate or place a barrier right now between any of the groups, whether it'd be protesters or Trump supporters or anyone else.

Does that, in and of itself, this lack of a hard barrier of any sort, add to your concern?

VAN TATENHOVE: Well, I mean, it's a building and they're preparing to defend it. A federal courthouse is somewhat secure to begin with. You know, I think we're going to definitely see a lot of scuffling, maybe some fist fights break out in the crowd, and, you know, maybe they're not tipping their hand right now as to what they're doing. But I think law enforcement certainly has learned some of the lessons from January 6th and ignoring the warnings that are out there. So I certainly hope that's the case.

BURNETT: Yes, absolutely.

Now, I mentioned Andy Biggs, but I wanted to give you another Republican Congressman Clay Higgins tweeting another tweet that some have seen as a not very subtle in this case call to action, referring to Trump as rPOTUS. That stands for real president of the United States.

Now, I just want to notice that Congressman Higgins is an army veteran and he's using military-style language telling Trump supporters to, quote, buckle up.

When you hear -- you hear Andy Biggs talking about war and an eye for an eye, it's not just what message does that say. Does the fact that it is coming from elected representatives in any way open the door even wider or allow and encourage violence even more?

TATENHOVE: Absolutely. And this was part of the playbook that Stewart Rhodes employed with working with local officials, grooming people to run for local office. Because it gives a sense of legitimacy and authority to some of the more violent rhetoric and extremist views out there. And these words are more dangerous than bringing weapons to something, because they inspire, they go on.

It's hard to counteract words calling for violent action. It's much harder to defend against that than it is to harden up a building like a federal courthouse. So -- and no one has really been held accountable.


We've seen this type of rhetoric coming up to January 6th. We're just now beginning to see some sort of legal account being held.

But, largely, politicians that have been using this rhetoric to get elected and increase their following and what not, they really haven't been held to account for the actions that they are inspiring.

BURNETT: Jason, thank you very much. I appreciate your time.


BURNETT: Hopefully a sobering wake-up call for any who need it.

And next, exclusive new video of Trump inside his Florida golf course. He is on the verge of being arrested. And we have what he is doing now as he awaits that.

And Putin arresting another American citizen inside Russia, again, drug charges. And we'll tell you all about it.


BURNETT: Tonight, CNN just getting new and exclusive video of the former president. He is at his resort in south Florida tonight just hours away from being criminally arraigned on 37 counts, criminal counts related to his handling of classified documents, dissemination of those documents, retention, and obstruction.

Randi Kaye is OUTFRONT live from Florida.

And, Randi, what is Trump doing on the eve of this court appearance, which any lawyer will tell you should now be the single most important thing in his life?


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. Erin, he arrived here at his resort in Doral, Florida, about 3:30 this afternoon or so. He went upstairs with his son and his team of lawyers, and the rest of his entourage. And we hadn't seen him until just about 7:00 where I can show you this video that I just got of him in the lobby coming down the elevator to go to dinner with many in his team at the restaurant in the Doral Resort.

His son Eric had gone in there about a half an hour before with a bunch of individuals. He was obviously meeting him. And there were a lot of people outside the restaurant, many of whom were fans, they were shouting to him, Mr. President, Mr. President, we're with you, we stand by you, we love you, how do you feel about tomorrow? He did some thumbs-up action with the rest of them.

Then he stopped. Some people said can we take some pictures with you. And he actually paused and took some pictures with some people, listened to what they did for a living. And then he went on his way to the back room of the restaurant where he was going to dine with his family with his son Eric and the rest of his team.

But it was interesting just to see he seemed to be in good spirits. Earlier in the day he seemed a bit somber, said to everybody how are you doing, but was much quieter. And this time around he was cheery and taking pictures and had a very confident air about him on the eve of what is going to be a very, very critical day for Mr. Trump -- Erin.

BURNETT: Certainly is, it certainly is. Thank you very much, Randi.

And OUTFRONT now, Van Jones, Alyssa Farah Griffin, Laura Coates, and Scott Jennings.

So, Alyssa, let's look at in video again. It is interesting because you've got the people at the restaurant, Mr. President, Mr. President, you know, supporting him, taking pictures with him. It's interesting when Randi contrasts the kind of confidence he's now exuding, versus more solemnity earlier in the day. He just feeds off a moment like this, it's like oxygen.

ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right, this is what gives him life. And, by the way, Doral is sort of like a resort. So there are people there who are golfing, who is go and stay there and spend a lot of money in hopes of seeing him and hopes of getting a selfie with him.

This isn't unlike the prior arraignment in the fact that we're talking about a second arraignment for a former president is historic in and of itself. He really projected confidence the night before. I think tomorrow you're going to see a president that, again, is dealing with the weight of what happened in the moment, and then he is going to go out and give a campaign speech, and it's going to be fire, fury, you know, the Department of Justice, the Democrats are coming after us, it's not me.

This is all part of kind of his plan and I'm not sure it majorly shifts anything for him at this point.

BURNETT: No, and it's just the images that he wants, right? He wants to look like this guy, look, I'm coming into my club.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: We now have a playbook for how the president, the former president gets indicted and what he does the day before. This is crazy. This is crazy.

BURNETT: When you put it that way.

JONES: This is not normal, guys. This is weird.

So we know that he's going to be -- you know, tomorrow, he'll be somber in court, and he will probably do this again in Georgia. This is not -- the Republican Party needs to look around for somebody else to represent them. That's all I have to say. BURNETT: So, Laura, let me just -- I actually want to pull some notes

out with a conversation I had with Tim Parlatore who was on the other day. His comment about the moment that the former president is in, that this has to be the single most important thing in your life. It is a perilous place to be.

Does the former president get that?

LAURA COATES, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: He should. I mean, there is a tremendous amount of weight to have your name at the other side of United States versus. Now, of course, there's been a lot of commentary about how we have two justice systems in America, apparently only when it is in respect to Donald Trump. We've had differentiation for a very long time, and people are looking at now the presumption, of innocence mean the corruption by the DOJ.

But that's not actually the case here. The reason it has to be a singular focus is because every single word he says will be used against him in a court of law. Not might, not there's a chance, will be. The indictment itself already lists from 2016. They are intending for him to make some missteps.

All of this has been a self-inflicted wound. And guess what, there will be predictably others. So the focus has to be on the gravitas of this but also about, how do you work with your counsel to, on the one hand, have the bravado you're speaking about, to follow his own blueprint, and also be able to defend his actions.

BURNETT: I mean, Scott, I just want to read something. This is a little game. I'm going to ask you who said these things. Are you ready for my little game?

I mean, she should be going to jail, I don't know what the hell's going on. I don't know what's going on. She did so knowing full well it would put American lives at risk by making highly classified information highly vulnerable to foreign hacking. Hillary Clinton's email scandal, which put out classified information within reach of our enemies, disqualifies her from the presidency. One guess.


BURNETT: Okay, all right. I mean --

JENNINGS: I was going to say Van. Then I remembered it was the former president.


BURNETT: Does the gravity of this -- let me ask the question to you a little bit differently.


Does anyone around him understand the gravity of this? His son Eric, the people that he went tonight, or they all sort of the emperor has no clothes and just tell him what he wants to hear? JENNINGS: Yeah, that's a great question, because they've got two major

life events going on. One is keeping him out of jail at his age. And the other, of course, is perhaps their best legal strategy/political strategy, which is to win the election.

I mean, these are all-encompassing things, fighting for your life in court, fighting for your life politically. I mean, these things are all-consuming. And so, the gravity of both of them are enormous.

Everybody sort of laughed off the New York indictment, which I know is scheduled to go to trial early next year. You just can't laugh this off when you look at the evidence, and every single lawyer, including people like Jonathan Turley who's a conservative lawyer that's defended Donald Trump is on television saying you are in trouble here.

You can not laugh it off, you have to take it seriously because if he doesn't win the presidency and he does go to trial, he's in real jeopardy.

GRIFFIN: And, by the way, let's remember, he announced his candidacy incredibly early, historically early for a primary to announce. And I think a large part of it was because he knew that this could be coming, and it's a way to say I'm a candidate, this is a witch hunt. And, in fact, if he gets the nomination and goes on to be elected president, that's the best legal backstop that he has.

But I think this is a strategy they've been working with from the outset.

COATES: Erin, but (INAUDIBLE). I mean, if he were to become the president of the United States, it's not as if the case just goes away. The opinion is that you can not indict a sitting president, and the idea of having the distraction, so to speak, of federal prosecution, would be told if you were actually in office. It wouldn't obliterate the entire case if he were actually be there.

But, to the larger point here as well, consider this. Up until now, Republicans have criticized him for airing past grievances, the relitigation of 2020. This does provide him a brand-new grievance about post-presidential conduct. And I wonder if there is some warped sense of reality that suggests that, okay, well, you didn't want me to look in the past, how about right now? Whether that actually moves the needle for the DOJ, of course, it's not going to happen.


JONES: In general, I like when people run for president to save the country and not to save themselves. I'm old-fashioned in that regard, and so it's really, I do think he ran very early, as soon as the midterms were over, I'm running for president, trying to get ahead, not of the crisis for the country, trying to get of all these indictments. I hope people don't keep falling for it.

JENNINGS: There was some polling from CBS this weekend that indicated Republican primary voters strongly prefer that he talk most about his plans for the country in another term, they were far less interested in talking about investigations or relitigating the 2020 election. This thing being on the front burner, of course. In his speech in Georgia this weekend, he talked for 40 minutes or something about this stuff.

And, so, there is a messaging challenge in this in that I guess the possibility exists Republican primary voters might start wondering, do you really have a plan for the next four years?

BURNETT: Right. I waited to go to this rally, and I just have to listen to this. I mean, I don't know.

All right, thank you all very much.

And next, a top Russian general reportedly killed in the battlefield as Ukrainian soldiers are taking the fighting into the trenches again. The video just obtained by OUTFRONT. So we're going to share that with you.

And you're looking at live pictures ahead of CNN's town hall with Chris Christie, the former New Jersey governor, and prosecutors talking about the top target tonight, the DOJ, Donald Trump.



BURNETT: All right. This just in tonight. A top Russian army general reportedly killed by a Ukrainian missile strike on the front line of eastern Ukrainian. This is according to a new report, this report is from an influential Russian military blogger.

And in video that you're seeing now that we have just newly obtained, Ukrainian soldiers are claiming to clear out former Russian positions in trenches. So, you see them coming up here, along these trenches, dug into the ground. They're reportedly saying it's near Bakhmut.

We can't independently verify exactly when and where, but this is the video that we're getting. It's amazing to see them in the green field in the ground. It comes as the French President Emmanuel Macron says Ukraine's much-anticipated counteroffensive began, quote, several days ago. All of it coming as Secretary of State Antony Blinken says the U.S. is trying to, quote, understand what happened after another American has been detained in Russia.

Fred Pleitgen is OUTFRONT.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Ukrainian military video purporting to show strikes on Russian positions, behind the front lines, as Kyiv says its forces have dramatically ramped up their offensive operations, taking several villages over the weekend in the southeast of the country.

This drone video, the Ukrainians say, showing their troops is sweeping a settlement and taking several prisoners. The same unit displaying Ukraine's flag, after the battle.

They tried to push back with their artillery, the soldier says. We managed to seize back the initiative and slowly liberated the settlement one house after another.

But Ukraine says it's attacking you these Russians in several areas of the vast front line, Kyiv remains coy about whether the long anticipated large-scale offensive has really begun.

The head of Ukrainian military intelligence releasing this video of himself just sitting at his desk, with a message, plans love silence.

But the Russians say they are holding the line in most areas. This defense ministry video allegedly showing a Russian chopper, destroying Ukrainian reconnaissance vehicles, in total, the Russians say they've already destroyed a large number of Western provided armor, including German made Leopard 2 main battle tanks, and U.S. donated Bradley infantry fighting vehicles.

But as Russia's defense minister, Sergei Shoigu, hands out medals to Russian soldiers, the infighting between Russia's military and the Wagner private military company continues. Wagner boss, Yevgeny Prigozhin, refusing to abide by a defense ministry decree to sign a contract with the Russian army, saying his mercenaries are more efficient than regular troops.


Unfortunately, most military units do not have such efficiency, he says, and precisely because Shoigu cannot manage military formations well.

Balancing the rival factions in his war machine, a tall task for Vladimir Putin, as the country celebrated Russia Day. Putin urging people to keep supporting his war in Ukraine, while calling it a difficult time for his country.

Russia is based on faith and people, he said. People who go from victory to victory, basing their lives, and all their work, on faith -- faith in victory, faith in justice, faith in Russia.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine.


BURNETT: Thanks to Fred.

And next, we are moments away from CNN's town hall with Chris Christie. Can the man who was once Trump's allies convince voters that he is the way better bet?


BURNETT: All right. That is the room of the town hall.


Live pictures from where the Republican presidential candidate and former Governor Chris Christie will be taking audience questions in just a few moments here in New York, moments away.

Christie, of course, is also a former prosecutor. He's not just going to take questions from voters. He's going to try to make his case that the GOP needs to move on from Donald Trump. It's a case he loud and clear wants to make.

Van Jones and Alyssa Farah Griffin are back with me. And also joining me is Matt Mowers. He was adviser to Chris Christie for his 2016 presidential campaign and his New Hampshire director, also national field coordinator for the 2016 Trump-Pence campaign.

Okay. So, you know all the players here, actually from all sides. So, let me just start with this. You do go way back with Chris Christie. What do you think he needs to do tonight in this town hall?

MATT MOWERS, FORMR NEW HAMPSHIRE DIRECTROR AND ADIVISOR TO CHRIS CHRISTIE 2016: He needs to do what he started last Tuesday when he kicked off his campaign. I don't know if you watched that town hall meeting in New Hampshire where he was, went for over two hours. It was a real give and take.

He needs to show who he is, right, and be himself. And, you know, he's already been positioning himself as the tough talking forward prosecutor who can take the case against Donald Trump. After Thursday, that takes on a totally different meaning. And you're going to continue to see him take on that case against Donald Trump in a way that no other candidate really has the ability to do because of his legal background.

BURNETT: Well, let's say, it doesn't -- maybe doesn't have the ability, Alyssa, but certainly doesn't have the desire, okay?

GRIFFIN: Certainly.

BURNETT: Okay? I mean, Ron DeSantis does anything to not mention him. Others try to assuage and forgive and say, let's just move on to the future. The only one taking this fully by the horns -- Asa Hutchinson is in a polite way. But in the Chris Christie style is just Chris Christie.

Here's just some of what we heard from him already.



He's a juvenile.

He's a puppet of Putin.

A bitter, angry man.

A lonely, self-consumed, self-serving, mirror hog.


BURNETT: Okay. And that one actually seemed like he was thinking it up as he was going. It wasn't even a recited line.

MOWERS: Very shy, reserved.

BURNETT: The only Republican talking like this.

GRIFFIN: Because he understands Donald Trump -- well, a number of things, he understands Donald Trump is leading by double digits ahead of the next person after him. And Chris Christie has had a powerful line, which is, the only path to the nomination is through Donald Trump.

So, I think, first and foremost, he's on sort of a kamikaze mission against Donald Trump to lay out what most Republicans have been unable or unwilling to do, which is talk about his unfitness for office, the danger he poses to democracy.

And the second is this, because a lot of folks will talk about the fact that Chris Christie does have record high unfavorability with Republican primary voters. He hasn't been running for president since 2016. That is a universe ago in today's politics.

So, tonight is also an opportunity for him to reintroduce himself to the public. We know this GOP, unlike the GOP of past, they like a fighter. They like somebody who's angry and worked up. And this might actually be a moment for some minds to be turned and some hearts to be changed.

BURNETT: Which is interesting you see it that way with the voters, certainly with the other people running. They're really glad that somebody else is doing all the hard work, right?

JONES: Sure. He knocked out Rubio, but Trump benefitted. Can he be more than just a kamikaze? That's the question with Chris Christie. I think the way he does it, first of all, strength.

At the end of the day, people like Trump because he's strong. Chris Christie is also strong. The question is, can he define politics that's not just anti-Trump? What does he want to do with the party? Because you keep putting pins in this Trump balloon, it's never going to pop but it can deflate over time. And so, I think he's on a deflation mission and he hopes to benefit from it.

But the question is, what is the anti-Trump wing of the party besides just anti-Trump? If Chris Christie can be the toughest guy out there against Trump and say something beyond I would do Trump just better, he has a chance for the party to move toward him.

BURNETT: Do you have a sense from internal polling or anything that Republican voters, some of these -- the unmovables.

MOWERS: Uh-huh. BURNETT: The unmovables, I'm just going to call them that, right? But they are the Republican primary voting base. You need to get some unmovables to move if you're going to win, right?


BURNETT: Do you have data that this is fighting strength with strength? Not trying to assuage or appease will work?

MOWERS: Of course. I mean, look, you know, I live among those voters in New Hampshire, and I can tell you that they are looking for someone strong enough to take it to Biden, strong enough to stand up to Xi Jinping, strong enough to take on to Democratic Congress or member -- you know, Nancy Pelosi, you name it. That's what the Republican Party is looking for is that fighter right now.

They're not looking for someone to go along and get along. And, by the way, that also means not just to go along to get along to agree with Donald Trump. And that's going to be the key distinguishing feature for Chris Christie, not tonight but on this race. I mean, ever since Chris Sununu announced he wasn't going to run last Monday, that, for lack of better words, lane or path is clear for someone like a Chris Christie who is the only one out there talking like this.

BURNETT: And, quickly, you know, he's polling at 1 percent, and pretty much everyone is down at nothing except for DeSantis, and 38 points ahead is Trump. At this point, is it possible for someone to jump?

GRIFFIN: It's possible. And I'd say this, we talk about primary voters to turn out in primaries. Any registered Republican voter can come out and vote. So, if he goes to New Hampshire and he actually activates voters who didn't turn out in previous cycles, there's a path to move up in the polls.

BURNETT: All right. Well, thanks very much to all of you and thanks to all of you for joining us.

CNN's Republican presidential town hall with Chris Christie moderated by Anderson Cooper starts now.