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Erin Burnett Outfront
Putin Says Nukes Now in Belarus, "Just the First Ones"; Special Counsel Seeks Order to Ensure Trump Does Not Publicly Disclose Materials Shared in Criminal Case; Blinken Heads to China Amid Deep Distrust; Dramatic Drone Video: Texas Town Leveled by Tornado. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired June 16, 2023 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next: Putin's nukes are on the move, as Putin warns he can still destroy Ukraine's capital. We are live in Moscow and along Ukraine's front lines where the attacks are intensifying tonight.
Plus, the Justice Department tonight taking steps to prevent Trump from releasing classified materials in the Mar-a-Lago case, as one of his now former lawyers reveals why he's no longer advising the former president.
And after the spy balloon and dangerous close calls, can the U.S. prevent another dangerous incident with China? A critical meeting about to happen.
Let's go OUTFRONT.
Good evening. I'm Brianna Keilar in for Erin Burnett.
OUTFRONT tonight, Putin surrounding Ukraine with nuclear weapons. The Russian president declaring today he now has nukes on standby in Belarus, which is where Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine from more than one year ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): The first nuclear warheads have been delivered to the territory of Belarus, but just the first ones. This is the first batch. The use of nuclear weapons undoubtedly is theoretically possible for Russia. For Russians, it is possible if there is a threat to our territorial integrity, independents, and sovereignty to the existence of the Russian state.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: And Putin didn't stop there. He went on to brag about the sheer number of nukes that Russia has with some choice words for NATO.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PUTIN (through translator): We have more of these weapons then NATO countries do. They know that, and they keep telling us to start negotiations on reductions. Well, you know what? They can shove it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: Putin does have the largest stockpile, about 4,200 ICBM nuclear warheads. In addition to his estimated nearly 2,000 tactical nuclear weapons. Chilling comments by Putin, who maintains Ukraine is failing on the battleground, a claim at odds with what we are seeing. This is new video of Ukraine Special Forces taking out what is said to be Russian positions near Bakhmut.
And in Kyiv, Ukraine says it was able to take down 12 Russian missiles overnight. We are live tonight in Moscow, and along the front lines in Ukraine starting with Fred Pleitgen in Zaporizhzhia.
Fred, tell us about the latest on the ground tonight?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Brianna.
Well, the Ukrainians are speaking about fierce resistance on the part of the Russians on the southern front, and they say that Ukraine's artillery and missile forces in the span of only 24 hours conducted some 1,500 missions. Now, we were in the area around the frontline earlier today, we did speak to some Ukrainian soldiers, and they say the progress that they are making right now as tough, but they say they are making progress and it's important progress, and they also believe in the success of the counteroffensive.
Here's what we witnessed.
PLEITGEN (voice-over): Ukraine's army continuing to take the fight to the Russians on the southern front. This video shows the 128 territorial defense battalion clearing trenches after ousting Vladimir Putin's army, the unit says.
One of the soldiers nicknamed "the octopus", telling me the fighting remains fierce.
We are currently launching an assault, he says. Our front line is moving forward. We have already advanced a lot, more than two kilometers, so now we are only moving forward. Even after returning from the front line, the troops continue to train assaulting enemy positions so important for Ukraine's ongoing major counteroffensive.
The guys here say the battles they've had with the Russians have been extremely tough. They have had to fight for every yard. And yet, they are confident, they say, that they can make this counteroffensive a success.
Troops we spoke to say the biggest threat to them as Russian air power. This video released by the Russian defense ministry purporting to show a Russian attack helicopter hitting a Ukrainian armored vehicle.
The 128's deputy commander acknowledges choppers, planes, and drones are making his forces advance tougher.
They work continuously, he says, all day long, either with helicopters or with planes. It is hard to advance like that, but we take territory, we do not allow them to hit the columns.
And the unit says they have managed to capture not only territory, but also hardware from the Russians including this infantry fighting vehicle. Mechanics now fixing it up to use against the Russians. An angry Russian president complaining about Kyiv's offensive and claiming that Russia is beating back Ukraine's forces.
They have suffered large losses, Vladimir Putin says, ten times more than the Russian army, and that is a fact. The Ukrainians do acknowledge some losses, but also say they have taken out a lot of Russian assets, and these troops vowed to press on and take more vehicles from Moscow's troops as they advance.
PLEITGEN (on camera): So as you can see there, Brianna, the Ukrainian forces generally upbeat here in the areas around the southern front lines. And it's not only there, also in the east around Bakhmut, where we are getting some upbeat reports from the Ukrainian military. They say that the Russians are moving some pretty combat ready forces in there to try and hold the Ukrainians up, but the Ukrainians are saying they are making some important progress there as well-- Brianna.
KEILAR: All right. Fred Pleitgen, thank you for the very latest there.
Let's go now to Matthew Chance, he is in Moscow, for more on Vladimir Putin's big speech today.
Matthew, what else did Putin say?
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this was a speech, remember, Brianna, that was meant to be an economic forum. And so he made some remarks about the Russian economy, and how well he said it was doing, despite the Western sanctions against. It but he also spent a lot of time talking about the conflict in Ukraine as well, basically repeating his claim that Ukraine stood no chance of success in its ongoing counteroffensive.
He spoke about the losses that Ukraine had suffered at the hands of Russian forces saying that Russia had destroyed 187 Ukrainian tanks in the course of the past ten days, which of course seems an extraordinarily high number. Hundreds more armored vehicles of all descriptions he said had also been taken out. Soon, the country will be only using western military equipment, and you can't fight long -- you can't fight long like that, Putin said.
He also referred, Vladimir Putin, to the recent cross border attacks that have been taking place inside Russia, and seem to suggest that Russia's response to those attacks had been somewhat restrained. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PUTIN (through translator): These attempts to do damage to the Kremlin, to the presidential residence, the attacks on the Belgorod region, and the neighboring regions. It is on attempt to provoke Russia into retaliatory powerful actions. Look, if we destroyed five Patriot missile complexes in Kyiv, and then we easily can destroy any building in the center of Kyiv. There are no restrictions to do so, but we do not do this for a number of reasons.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHANCE: Well, Putin there saying that he could if he wants to destroy any building in Kyiv, but in fact, Ukrainian officials are told me earlier today that there were at least six hypersonic Russian missiles fired directly at Kyiv today from Russia, and all of them were taken out by Patriot missile batteries -- Brianna.
KEILAR: All right, Matthew Chance, live in Moscow, thank you for that report.
OUTFRONT now, retired Army Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, former commanding general of Europe and Seventh Army. And we also have Steve Hall, former CIA chief of Russia operations with us this evening.
General Hertling, you just heard Putin saying he can destroy any building in Kyiv if he wanted, but you heard Matthew fact check that as well. He also said today about Ukraine, they have suffered large losses, ten times more than the Russian army, and that's a fact.
I mean, is any of that true?
LT. GENERAL MARK HERTLING (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Brianna, you know, one thing that I think all of us has come to understand since this war started is a thing that is becoming universal truth. Mr. Putin has proven himself to be a lying liar, who lies a lot -- gaslighting, misinformation, what the Russians call maskirovka. It accompanies every type of their operation.
When you look at the troops on the ground, no, Ukrainian forces have not lost ten times as much as Russia. We already know that to be true. And no, Mr. Putin has not been able to conduct successful multiple missile attacks against the capital in Kyiv. These are just lies. They are unfortunate, because he has a small group of people who are believing that, but the rest of the world knows who he is.
KEILAR: Yes, Steve, he knows who he is. He's doing this for an audience or audiences that are disinclined to believe fact-checks of it, right? Or disinclined to believe, say, American fact-checks of it. And some of those folks are going to be the Russian public.
By and large, are they believing what he is saying?
STEVE HALL, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yeah, Brianna, I think Mark's got it exactly right. This maskirovka and the other types of, you know, technical things that the Kremlin does to try to spin things to do propagation operation, psychological operations. You know, most of us out here in the West, we see this for what it is.
Are we really going to believe that Vladimir Putin said a couple of days ago, thank goodness for this war because it taught us how to improve the Russian military. Or that we can hit anything in Kyiv anytime we want to. We know that to be garbage.
Unfortunately, inside of Russia where Putin controls 90 percent of, you know, what most Russians see, you know, he finds an easier audience for that. But the interesting thing for me and all this, Brianna, it's like Mark said. We see all of this layer of, layer upon layer of propaganda.
Every once in a while, you will see a blip, you'll see Putin say something like, well you know, our army could've done better. We could have improvements. And whenever you see a blip like that, it is different, it is worth watching, and it is worth wondering why he says those things. I think it is because he is going to have to try to survive this himself once the war is over -- Brianna.
KEILAR: Yes, maybe he's accidentally saying the truth there at some points, or on purpose. General, I mentioned there at the top of the show, you heard Putin threatening today that the use of nuclear weapons, undoubtedly, it's theoretically possible for Russia. It's not that we did not know that, but the fact that he is saying it is certainly newsworthy. He said the first nuclear warheads have also been delivered to Belarus.
How concerning is this saber rattling about nuclear weapons?
HERTLING: It has taken a different turn in the last couple weeks, I think, Brianna. Steve would probably be better from an analytical standpoint. But the fact that there has been this alleged transfer of tactical nuclear weapons from Russia to Belarus under Mr. Lukashenko, and even watching their conversation over the last few days, Putin says oh, no, no we still controls weapons we are giving them. Lukashenko says, oh, no, no, I get to use them whenever I want when I put them on my airplanes, and these things will be hugely dangerous for all of NATO.
So you're seeing this kind of confusion, or perhaps planed confusion to attempt to make the West blink again.
Now, we can't say they're not going to use nuclear weapons, but we haven't show them to they want to do that because they're fearful of the repercussions. But this most recent issue of transfer to Belarusian, I think might give the Russians and Mr. Putin a little bit of plausible deniability of what might happen in the future. And I still think we have to be very concerned about these nukes.
KEILAR: Yes, Steve, how are you seeing this? HALL: Well, it's interesting to say the secretary of state today that
he still sees no indication that the Russians are preparing, or intent to use nuclear weapons. So he is a senior consumer of intelligence, so understandably he has information that would cause him to say things like that.
Putin himself has that well, only if Russian territory, or existence is threatened. But really, I think that the most successful use of these nuclear weapons, and by the way, we don't know how many them still work. We thought it was a great army before I went to the Ukraine, it didn't end up so well. So who knows how many of these things work, that said it doesn't take many.
The best use of this for Putin right now is exactly how he's using it, for psychological and propaganda purposes, because he knows we get worried in the West when he starts doing the nuclear saber-rattling thing.
KEILAR: Yeah, certainly do. Hard not to.
General, Steve, thank you so much for both of you for your analysis this evening.
HERTLING: Thanks, Brianna.
KEILAR: OUTFRONT next, a new court filing from the Justice Department in the classified documents case is. We are learning more about the man in Trump's ear who was telling him that he did nothing wrong.
Plus, Trump vowing to got transgender rights if reelected president, but as CNN's KFILE uncovered, this wasn't always his view. Far from it, we have the audio.
And an amazing new discovery, researchers have just identified a new dinosaur species.
KEILAR: Tonight, special counsel Jack Smith's team asking a judge to block Trump from publicly releasing any classified information in the Mar-a-Lago documents case. In the new filing, prosecutors say, quote, the discovery materials include sensitive and confidential information. The materials also include information pertaining to ongoing investigations, the disclosure of which could compromise those investigations and identify on charged individuals.
Evan Perez is OUTFRONT for us.
Evan, why is a special counsel taking the step?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, these are standard orders that are issued with cases. You know, especially this has to do with unclassified parts of this investigation. But, of course, this is not a standard case, right? This has to do with a former president of the United States who is accused of mishandling classified information, national security information.
And, of course, he is also accused of obstruction. He is also accused in this case of tampering with witnesses, and encouraging witnesses to lie. So, one of the things, of course, to see what this relates to is the idea that the special counsel as you just pointed out in that section of the order, that the special counsel is still doing an investigation. There's other part of this case that could be charged, there is also parts of the January 6th investigation which Jack Smith, the special counsel, still investigating there.
Some witnesses, Brianna, who testified in this part with the Mar-a- Lago documents, and also our witnesses in the January 6th case.
So all of that means the former president is not allowed to, perhaps, go on social media and talk about things that he might find out as a result of the discovery that is being turned over from prosecution.
KEILAR: It would certainly make sense. And this is coming as key former Trump attorney Jim Trusty, who just left Trump's legal team in the Trumps document case is now saying in a new court filing, that he has irreconcilable differences with the former president. This is adding to the legal drama surrounding the former president.
PEREZ: Right, and as you know there's always a bit of drama going on with the former president and his legal team. We knew that there has been a lot of infighting in a legal team.
And according to Jim Trusty, he's asking the judge in this case to release him, to let him withdraw from this civil lawsuit that Trump has filed against CNN seeking $475 million down in Fort Lauderdale. He is accusing CNN of defamation and other things, but the part of this request that Jim Trusty filed got everyone's attention.
He says: Mr. Trusty's withdrawal is based on irreconcilable differences between him and the plaintiffs. Of course, we're talking about Donald Trump.
And the issue here is that Trusty, of course, has already stepped down from his work with Trump on the Mar-a-Lago case, so did John Rowley, in the -- in the days before the former president was arraigned. So it's not surprising he is withdrawing, but just the fact that he is mentioning irreconcilable differences sounds a little bit more like a divorce than just a lawyer withdrawing from a case.
KEILAR: Yes, sounds very acrimonious indeed.
Evan, thank you so much.
OUTFRONT now, Karen Friedman Agnifilo, CNN legal analyst and former chief assistant D.A. in the Manhattan District Attorney's Office, is with us to understand this better.
So, Karen, a special counsel asking for a court order to make sure that Trump does not publicly disclose materials in the case. That makes sense that he should not do that. What do you make of how quickly this was filed though?
KAREN FRIEDMAN AGNIFILO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It is very clear that this is on a fast track. I think Jack Smith, the special counsel, is aware that if this case does not go soon, it won't go at all because of the general election. So they are desperately trying to get all of the discovery over to the defense as soon as possible, and move this case along as quickly as possible in order to try to get a trial hopefully by the end of 2023 is what I think they're trying to do.
KEILAR: Yeah, which is pretty quick.
So, you also heard Evan talking about this Jim Trusty irreconcilable differences, former Trump lawyer in the Mar-a-Lago documents case. His quote is, Mr. Trusty's withdrawal is based on irreconcilable differences between counsel and plaintive, and council can no longer effectively and properly represent plaintive as a trust a pull off of this lawsuit involving our network CNN.
What do you think of that language? What does that indicate to you?
AGNIFILO: Just that communications have broken down so significantly between them that he had to put that language in there. I mean, look, he's not the first lawyer who is no longer working for Donald Trump, and Donald Trump is having a hard time even finding legal representation because of the position that he puts his lawyers in. He asks them to make frivolous motions, he asks them to do things that they don't believe in, or that even get them into trouble.
If you recall, Evan Corcoran is all over the Mar-a-Lago case. And the reason is, in the indictment, and the reason is because the attorney client privilege was pierced there, based on what's called the crime fraud exception because Donald Trump gets his lawyers -- he asks them to do things, frankly, the violate the law.
And so, I think this is just one more example, I don't know why, or what the irreconcilable differences are, but this is just one more example of one more lawyer who is just refusing to work with Donald Trump.
KEILAR: Yes, we've seen it before and we may see it again.
Karen Friedman Agnifilo, thank you for your time this evening.
So this is coming as the man who sources say encouraged Trump to hold on to those classified documents is insisting that Trump did nothing wrong, even after his indictment. Who is the man in Trump's ear?
Tom Foreman is OUTFRONT.
TOM FITTON, CONSERVATIVE ACTIVIST: The fact is, Trump cooperated, right? He turned those documents over in the beginning of the year, those 15 boxes, and then they harassed him further.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): That's Tom Fitton, conservative activist, head of the right-wing Judicial Watch, and a man some Trump insiders say helped guide the former president into the very trouble he is facing now over those papers at Mar-a-Lago, a claim Fitton does not like.
FITTON: Let's start yelling about Tom Fitton, as opposed to the Justice Department who was going to in indict Trump and entrap him in a wildly abusive way.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: I did everything right and they indicted me.
FOREMAN: Sources close to the former president say last year as a government repeatedly asked for the return of the documents, and some on Trump's team tried to work it out, Fitton told Trump to give nothing to federal officials.
FITTON: They lied to him about the law, or mislead him about the law, and then, of course, that all led to the boxes being returned, them finding allegedly classified information, which were really personal documents of his.
TRUMP: Tom Fitton and that group, they did a fantastic job.
FOREMAN: Trump and Fitton already had a relationship. Before the 2020 election, Fitton pushed a false idea of widespread voter fraud, and after.
REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): Inside activists Tom Fitton.
FOREMAN: The January 6th Committee said Fitton urged Trump to quickly declare victory before all the votes could be counted.
So in the documents case heated up, a person close to the former president told CNN that Fitton weighed in, adding: The moment Tom gone in the boss's ear, it was downhill from there.
FITTON: If all could be true, and he's still innocent, because they haven't shown any crimes.
FOREMAN: And now, despite the indictment, the arrest, and the very real charges of mishandling national security secrets and obstruction, Fitton shows no sign of letting up.
FITTON: And frankly, I don't -- based on this analysis, Trump should get every single document took from him back. These are all personal records.
FOREMAN: CNN first reported on this relationship many months ago, and when our Evan Perez reached out to Fitton about this latest pause, he insisted as he has all along, that all of these papers belong to Donald Trump and the story, even though the law says all presidential records belong to the federal government. Furthermore, Fitton says when he spoke to a federal grand jury about
this matter, he called the judicial abuse of Trump, and just for good measure he mentioned that he had dinner with the former president just this past week -- Brianna.
KEILAR: Tom Foreman, thank you for that report.
OUTFRONT next, a tense faceoff about to take place as the U.S. tries to lower the temperature with China following the spy balloon episode, and alarming Chinese intercepts in the air.
Plus, heartbreaking new images just coming in of the catastrophic damage from the tornado that tore through Texas. At least three people are dead, including an 11-year-old boy. We are on the ground with the latest.
KEILAR: Just hours from now, Secretary of State Tony Blinken will be on his way to a high stakes visit in Beijing. The U.S. leaving the door open for a face-to-face meeting between Blinken and Chinese President Xi Jinping. Blinken's trip is happening in the wake of several highly charged military-related incidents between the U.S. and China. The most recent was earlier this month in the South China Sea.
You see it here, a Chinese warship cutting off a U.S. navy destroyer. This is an incident that was caught on video as the Chinese ship came dangerously close here, just 150 yards in front of this American ship.
Today, Blinken says that he is prepared for quote, candid conversations.
Oren Liebermann is OUTFRONT.
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A high stakes visit with low expectations. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken heads to China trying to reopen crucial lines of communication with Beijing.
ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: Intense competition requires a sustained diplomacy to ensure that competition does not veer into confrontation, or conflict. And again, that is what the world expects of both the United States and China.
LIEBERMANN : Blinken's trip was canceled once before after the U.S. shot down a Chinese spy balloon that flew over sensitive U.S. sites in February. Since then, relations have declined, a series of dangerous encounters between two of the most powerful militaries on earth ratcheting up the tensions.
In late may, a Chinese fighter jet sliced in front of a U.S. reconnaissance aircraft in international airspace over the South China Sea, according to the U.S., forcing a larger, heavier U.S. plane to fly through the week turbulence of the Chinese jet.
Days later in the Taiwan Strait, a Chinese navy ship cut 150 yards in front of a U.S. destroyer in what the U.S. called an unsafe, and unprofessional maneuver. China said the U.S. was there for provocation.
Earlier, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin shared a Chinese counterpart in Singapore, even as Beijing rejected a former meeting. Austin emphasized Friday that he is ready for dialogue.
LLOYD AUSTIN, DEFENSE SECRETARY: The door is open in the -- my phone line is open, and so they can pick up the phone and call at anytime.
LIEBERMANN: A senior White House official said dialogue is how much, or strong militaries interact. And the stakes are too high to avoid these critical lines of communication. But at the highest level of the military, Austin has not met with his Chinese counterpart in a year. Blinken is now trying to thaw toes frosty relations as Beijing maintains a deep distrust about Washington's intentions for the region, and for China.
WANG WENBIN, CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESPERSON: The U.S. needs to respect China's core concerns, stop interfering in China's internal affairs, and stop undermining China's sovereignty, security, and development interests and the name of competition.
LIEBERMANN: The State Department said it's not expecting a breakthrough from this visit, just a realistic approach to managing the competition of world powers in a responsible way.
BLINKEN: If we want to make sure, as we do, that the competition we have a China doesn't veer into conflict the place you start is with communicating.
LIEBERMANN (on camera): Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told lawmakers one month ago that the U.S. and the Biden administration were preparing a weapons drawdown for Taiwan, could ship quickly and much the same way the U.S. quickly sends weapons to the Ukraine. But we have not heard much about it since then as we await this further announcement.
Brianna, it certainly seems possible that the U.S. has is on hold right now so it does not disrupt, or derail this delicate diplomatic process that Blinken will try to advance here when he departs edged a few hours.
KEILAR: Oren Liebermann, thank you for that.
OUTFRONT now, Democratic Congressman Ro Khanna of California. He is a member of the House Oversight, and Armed Services Committees, and also the Select Committee on China.
Sir, thank you so much for taking a time with us this evening.
As you see Secretary Blinken taking this trip, what do the deliverables need to be? Does he need to meet with Xi for this trip to be a success?
REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA): Brianna, first of all, it's good that he's going. I would define success as just opening the lines of communication. If we can get military to military contact back, if we can have more regular contact between our secretary of state and secretary of defense. I don't think the benchmark should be whether he meets Xi Jinping, if that happens that's good, but the benchmark should be how do we get communication going between our two countries?
KEILAR: Bill Gates, the billionaire, met with Xi today and China. Xi called him a, quote, good friend. It's notable, because this is a visit that comes just after Elon Musk was in China, meeting with top government officials there.
Does it concern you that you people like Gates and Musk, these billionaires, who have a better relationship with the Chinese government than the U.S. government officials do?
KHANNA: Brianna, you are absolutely right. I mean, you have Bob Iger, and Disney, Tim Cook at Apple, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, the NBA commissioner, who frankly had more contact with China than our own military leaders, or our own political leaders. And I believe that's why we should applaud Secretary Blinken going there, so that we have that dialogue. We had dialogue with the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War, and people should re-read President Kennedy speech at American University where he said we need that dialogue even as we seek to win the Cold War.
So there are places we have to stand up to China, but that does not preclude dialogue.
KEILAR: As I mentioned, you are on the armed services committee. So I want to ask you about Republican Senator Tommy Tuberville who's blocking more than 250 nominations of generals and admirals because of the Pentagon policy that provides reimbursement for travel, and also paid time off for service members and their family members who are stationed in states where abortion is illegal so that they can receive reproductive care.
I know you think Tuberville is wrong, and actually Mitch McConnell agrees with you. But does Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin need to engage with Tuberville as he is requesting?
KHANNA: Well, we should not negotiate with Senator Tuberville who is holding up key promotions for his own ideological agenda. I would never do that, most Democrats wouldn't do that just to get our way to hold up these promotions, and it matters because one of the commotion's being held up as a joint chief of staff, and as you know the General Milley has to retire by October, and if the president does not get his pick in place, then we will have an acting joint chief of staff and that hurts our national security.
So I just hope that on this, whatever other maneuvers he wants to do, that's his right but he should not hold up our military.
KEILAR: Well, it's not held up yet, to be clear. But it will be held up if he continues to do this.
KEILAR: And I hear what you are saying, not to negotiate with him. But what other option is there? As you have Republicans like Cornyn, Senator Ernst who are offering him these legislative alternatives, and he is just rebuffing people even in his own conference. I mean, what else can be done at this point?
KHANNA: Well, I think this is for the leadership of the Republican caucus to figure out. I mean, they have responsibly supported the armed services. We have disagreements, but when it comes to our national security, when it comes to respecting our military that is, still fortunately, a place where there is bipartisan agreement. I hope Senator McConnell, and Senator Cornyn will say there are lines you don't cross, and one of those lines as you don't hamper the president from getting the people he needs to keep this country safe, especially when we have threats in China, and the threat of Taiwan.
KEILAR: Congressman, thank you for joining us.
KHANNA: Thank you, Brianna.
KEILAR: OUTFRONT next, millions of Americans are facing severe storms tonight after a tornado ravages one Texas town, leaving at least three people dead. We are going to take you to the ground, next.
Plus, Trump promising to crack down on transgender rights, but our KFILE has uncovered video of Trump boasting about letting a transgender woman compete in his Miss Universe pageant.
KEILAR: Tonight, more than 50 million people remain under a severe weather threat, with more devastating storms expected across the South. Damaging winds and large hail are possible from Arkansas to Florida. The Texas governor tonight issuing a disaster declaration, dramatic new drone video into CNN you see it here showing this catastrophic damage from this tornado that ripped through the Texas panhandle last night.
At least three people, including an 11-year-old boy, were killed in a small town of Perryton.
That's where Lucy Kafanov is OUTFRONT tonight.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have major damage in town. Oh, my God.
LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Terrifying video of a deadly tornado captured by storm chasers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my God.
KAFANOV: As the powerful twister leveled many of the small town of Perryton, Texas, killing at least three, sending up to a hundred people to the hospital.
JAMIE JAMES, PERRYTON RESIDENT: It was just barely sprinkling and then, all of a sudden, a tornado formed and just dropped on us. And it came out of nowhere, and there was no sirens. No time to get to shelter. There was a time where I thought that I was going to die.
KAFANOV: Jamie James's home is still standing but nearly everything around it destroyed. The community of roughly 8,000 residents is left in shambles.
And this was an immensely powerful tornado. Take a look over there. That vehicle was flipped completely on its roof, slammed into the building.
From the brick structures on Main Street, to mobile homes completely flattened.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Total devastation.
KAFANOV: This cell phone tower snapped in half. Transition lines have sustained damage and many power lines are down in the town, the energy company says.
BRIAN EMFINGER, STORM CHASER: I feel like it was almost a worst case scenario.
KAFANOV: The Weather Service gives notice as quickly as it can but one storm chaser on the ground said this storm didn't look particularly dangerous at first.
EMFINGER: I never heard sirens. And the reason why is when they issued the tornado warning, the tornado was already in town doing damage in the power had been cut to the town.
KAFANOV: Xcel Energy says the city's power facilities were shut off for safety purposes. Residents begin to pick up the pieces, including at the fire station which took a direct hit, but still has trucks assisting in the cleanup efforts.
COLE UNDERWOOD, ATHLETIC DIRECTOR, PERRYTON HIGH SCHOOL: The loss is unthinkable. I don't think you could put it into words.
KAFANOV: James tells us one of the victims was a local shelter volunteer who was always kind to her. If she survived, she would have been among the first to help.
JAMES: She served people. Friendly and hugging people like me who needed it so bad. So many good people in this town. (END VIDEOTAPE)
KAFANOV (on camera): And, Brianna, that's main street. This area taking a direct hit. Cleanup crews have been out here all day moving the downed trees to overturn power lines, trying to bring this town back to some semblance of normal. But, of course, in the small community, with over 100 people homeless, dozens injured, three dead. Among them now we're learning, an 11-year-old. The emotional scars will take a lot longer to heal from -- Brianna.
KEILAR: Lucy Kafanov, thank you for that report.
And ahead, OUTFRONT next, Trump now promising to radically rollback transgender rights which, as hurricane file found, is not how he felt about the issue just years ago. .
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: People go. They use the bathroom that they feel is appropriate. There has been so little trouble.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: And scientists just discovering a brand new, heavily armed species of dinosaur.
KEILAR: Tonight, CNN's unearthing past comments from Donald Trump touting his decision to allow a transgender woman to compete for a spot in his Miss Universe pageant in 2012.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: This is a young woman who according to the laws of Canada and according to the laws of the United States, is allowed to enter the pageant system. What I did is I said, we have 58 contestants in Canada. I said, let her run, and maybe she'll win. And if she wins, she'll go to Miss Universe. And I think I made the right decision. I feel fine with the decision.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: Eleven years later, Trump has done a 180 making the repealing transgender rights a central part of his 2024 campaign speech.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
TRUMP: No serious country should be telling its children that they were born with the wrong gender.
We will defeat the cult of gender ideology to reassert that God created two genders, male and female.
And here's another beauty. I will keep men out of women's sports.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
KEILAR: OUTFRONT now, Andrew Kaczynski, senior editor of CNN's KFILE.
So, Andrew, you heard him there, keep men out of women's sports, he says, but not apparently out of women's pageants back in 2012, a decision that he seemed to tout pretty proudly back then, on Fox no, less.
ANDREW KACZYNSKI, SENIOR EDITOR OF CNN'S KFILE: Yeah, this has become a hugely volatile issue in Republican politics, and where was Donald Trump a decade ago? He was on the complete opposite side of this issue.
Now, you heard those comments he made earlier in the year. The context for these comments in 2012 is there was a transgender Miss Universe contestant in Canada. The existing policy for the Miss Universe pageant was that there was a ban.
She threatens legal action and Donald Trump personally says that he overturned the ban. He celebrates the buzz around it. He calls it modernizing the pageant.
And what does he do to use as his rationale for changing the pageant? He cites the Olympics allowing transgender athletes.
Now, we know we just heard him ranting against transgender women in sports. Fast forward just a few months at the Miss Universe pageant, the eventual winner, Olivia Culpo, gets asked whether she agrees with transgender women competing with the pageant. She gives an answer where she says that she does. She cites them having sex reassignment surgery.
And Donald Trump was very enthusiastic about this. He approved of it. And in a couple of instances on "Fox and Friends", he even praised her for it. Take a listen to these.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: She gave a great answer, a very tough question. But transgender, just the question everybody wants to hear. She gave a great answer. And she really did a great job. Her answer was a very intelligent answer, and that's one of the reasons, I assume, the judges picked her.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: And there are also more recent comments where Trump spoke out in support of the transgender community. What else has he said?
KACZYNSKI: Yeah, that's right. In 2016, Donald Trump spoke against that bill in North Carolina, the so-called bathroom bill, as critics dubbed it. And this was an issue in that primary, where Donald Trump was actually running to the left of most of the other Republicans. He got criticized at the time for it by Ted Cruz after Caitlyn Jenner
had transitioned. There was also an incident where Trump is asked, if Caitlyn Jenner goes to Trump Tower, would you let her use the bathroom for her gender identity, and Trump is very, again, enthusiastic, in support of her.
Listen to these two clips from that 2016 campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: You leave it the way it is. There have been very few complaints the way it is. People go, they use the bathroom that they feel is appropriate. There has been so little trouble.
INTERVIEWER: So, if Caitlyn Jenner were to walk into Trump tower and want to use the bathroom, you would be fine with her using any bathroom she chooses.
TRUMP: That is correct.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KACZYNSKI: So, you've heard his rhetoric back then. You've heard it today. We did reach out to the Trump campaign to ask how he squares those past comments with today. But we did not hear back.
KEILAR: All right. Andrew Kaczynski, thank you for that.
Coming up in the next hour, Cornel West has announced that he is running as a Green Party candidate. And some Democrats worry that it could hurt President Biden's chances for re-election in 2024. Cornel West is live on "AC360" ahead.
OUTFRONT next, a fascinating new find. Researchers have just discovered a new dinosaur.
KEILAR: Tonight, a pretty wild discovery. Researchers found a new species of dinosaur on an island off the coast of England. This is according to the Natural History Museum in London. These are images showing the Vectipelta barretti. It is the first of its kind to be discovered on the Isle of Wight in 142 years.
You see those sharp spikes there? Those are for armor. The museum saying that the dinosaur would have lived as far back as 145 million years ago, and experts say there are very few fossils from this period this could reveal information about the mass extinction of dinosaurs.
The dinosaur, by the way, is named after Professor Paul Barrett, who has worked at the museum for 20 years. He says he's flattered, and that any physical resemblance is, quote, purely accidental.
Still to come on CNN, Republican Party Chair Ronna McDaniel joins Kaitlan Collins on "CNN PRIMETIME" at 9:00 p.m.
Thank you so much for joining us.
"AC360" starts now.