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Erin Burnett Outfront

Ukraine: Russia's Deployed 180K Troops To The Front; Special Counsel Zeroes In On Trump Lawyers, Fake Electors Scheme Amid Signs Probe Is Nearing End; Trump Once Warned A President Facing Criminal Charges Makes It "Virtually Impossible" To Govern; Israel: Biggest Strike In West Bank In 2 Decades. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired July 03, 2023 - 19:00   ET



ERICA HILL, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, a massive buildup of Russian forces. New details on just how many men Putin has sent to the front lines as we have more of Erin Burnett's exclusive interview with President Zelenskyy. Does he believe Ukraine will finally be invited to join NATO?

Plus, the investigation is Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election, heating up as the special counsel focuses in on Trump's legal team.

And the terrifying video of a visible crack in a support beam of a popular rollercoaster, the man who shot this video. The video that eventually forced the park to shut the ride down is my guest. Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening on this Monday. I'm Erica Hill in for Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, an alarming buildup of Russian forces. Putin has now said to have more than 180,000 men to the front lines in Ukraine. That includes 50,000 near Bakhmut, according to Ukraine's defense department.

And the buildup comes as Ukraine claims it is slowly making progress in the east, taking back more than 14 square miles over the past week, despite Russia's attack there, more than doubling.

We are also getting some dramatic video from the north, a massive fireball seen rising over the city of Sumy, at least two people were killed, according to Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Russia hit a number of residential buildings, and a security service building.

These attacks underscore why Zelenskyy is out repeatedly, pressing for Ukraine to be able to join NATO. In an exclusive interview, Erin asked Zelenskyy if he believes Ukraine will ultimately get that invitation.


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: We are days away from the NATO summit. Have you had any assurances, at least even from the United States that they will directly support Ukraine's bid for membership?

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): I'm grateful to the U.S. for their support. President Biden and the U.S. Congress, both parties despite their preparations for the elections, pay great deal of attention to the war in Ukraine. They are on our side and they support us.

It's difficult for Ukraine to survive without the U.S. support. And it's a fact. I'm very direct one saying this. Without the U.S.'s help, it would become a frozen conflict. With the U.S.'s help, we will de- occupy our territory. The occupation of any next town is weakening Putin. We don't have to be scared of that.

The U.S. decides today whether Ukraine will get invited to NATO. This is today situation, it's a fact. The majority of the NATO countries support invading Ukraine tornado. Those who have their doubts look only at President Biden, and he knows that this depends on him. It will be his decision.

BURNETT: So, he has -- he has a decision to make coming into this week?

ZELENSKYY: Yes, for today, yes. He is a decision-maker for the day, to be Ukraine in NATO, or to not be. But I -- we have great relations. I mean, that -- so he supports our future in NATO, but we are speaking now about very in very important for motivation of our soldiers, fact (ph). Not invitation, just technical thing. Just wording, invitation, Ukraine to NATO.

BURNETT: Not down the line, now.

ZELENKYY: Now, it's very important, now, it will push Russia. It will push our soldiers to de-occupy quicker, because of their mobilization, because of the people. It's so important to feel that you are really being in through around allies in the future.

But we know that we will never be in NATO before war finish.


ZELENSKYY: So, we understand that. But this signal is really very important. It depends on Biden's decision.


HILL: We will have more of Erin's inclusive interview in just a moment.

But, first, Ben Wedeman is OUTFRONT in eastern Ukraine.

Ben, what's the latest from there?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Erica, the commander of Ukrainian ground forces visited the front lines around Bakhmut today, and while claiming some advances, he pointed to what he called deep Russian defenses around the town, as a major factor slowing down his troops.


WEDEMAN (voice-over): Ukraine's much anticipated counteroffensive now well into its fourth week, the front lines ever more intense.


But the gains so far are small and incremental.

Ukrainian forces are pushing forward in the south, liberating just over 150 square kilometers. That's only 60 square miles.

But as Ukraine advances, the country's deputy defense minister says, Russia is stepping up attacks in the east.

The enemy is trying to force our troops out of their positions, but is receiving a worthy rebuff, she said in her latest update.

On several fronts, Russian forces are managing to move forward, now on the offensive in the town of Sratovek (ph) in the Luhansk region.

Back in Moscow, Russia's military leaders continue to project strength, even after the recent mutiny by Wagner mercenaries.

SERGEI SHOIGU, RUSSIAN DEFENSE MINISTER (through translator): These plans failed primarily because the person and the armed forces, showed loyalty to their oath, and military duty. The provocation did not have impact on the actions of the grouping of troops. The serviceman courageously and selflessly continued to solve the task assigned to them.

WEDEMAN: Russia's assault on Ukraine also continues further from the front lines, hammering civilian infrastructure.

Monday, four Russian drones were launched in northeastern city of Sumy, hitting two residential apartment blocks in local administrative buildings. That attack killed two people and injured at least 19. Rescuers are determined to quickly clear up the aftermath.

Just as Ukrainian forces tell CNN, they are determined to keep inching forward.


WEDEMAN (on camera): Ukrainian officials have insisted there is no time limit for the counteroffensive, slow, steady progress combined with unrelenting pressure on the Russians, may yet yield results -- Erica.

HILL: Ben Wedeman, appreciate the reporting. Thank you.

OUTFRONT now, retired U.S. Army Brigadier General Peter Zwack, former U.S. senior defense attache to Russia, and Steve Hall, former CIA chief of Russia operations.

Good to see you both tonight.

General, if I could begin with you, as Ben, we heard from what Ben laid out there, Ukraine's again so far have been small, somewhat incremental. Now Ukraine is talking about these, more than 180, 000, men Russia has moved to the front lines.

How do you think this will impact the counteroffensive?

BRIG. GEN. PETER ZWACK, U.S. ARMY (RET.): First, let's dissect that 180,000 reported. They are looked to be out of their reserve formations that were not stood up long ago. Also, the storms Z companies which are groups of convicts and things like that, so these are not elite first string troops that they are committing. I'm suspecting a lot of the reserve forces that are being pulled out are probably not particularly motivated to be there, though they are considered voluntary citizens.

You've got that. Most of the 300,000 of last fall have been committed. So, it's serious, their numbers. Quantity has a certain quality of its own. Stalin would have said, these are not elite guys, but it is a factor, but it also may put stress, Erica, on the Russian people, and the regime.

The battle itself, the grinding Ukrainian offensives, these are probes. They are big probes. They are hard probes. We are looking for weakness.

They have not committed their main force brigades. They are looking, and we have to have tactical operation patients for this to play out. And everyone said, including the Ukraine, this would be hard and ugly.

HILL: Well, as we watch, to your point, hard and ugly and could take a while longer at that.

Steve, I want to play another part if I could, Erin's new interview with President Zelenskyy. Take a listen to this moment.


BURNETT: Mr. President, you know, you recently said that you have dealt, and I quote you, the way it quoted, with different Putin's. It is a completely different set of traits and different periods. Now, of course, he has faced a rebellion, and attempted coup from Yevgeny Prigozhin.

Have you seen any changes in how you think he is acting in his behavior since the attempted coup?

ZELENSKYY: Yes, we see the reaction after certain Wagner steps. We see Putin's reaction. It's weak.

Firstly, we see he doesn't control everything. Wagner's moving deep into Russia and taking certain regions, it shows how easy it is to do. Putin doesn't control the situation in the regions. He doesn't control the security situation.



HILL: What he pointed out there, he never controls the security situation.

Steve, this mutiny by Prigozhin and Russia, how much of a lasting impact do you think it has had in terms of changes on Putin and even the power that he still does or perhaps in some areas does not hold?

STEVE HALL, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yeah, Erica, I think that's the question that probably everybody is asking at this particular point. There are those Russia watchers who sort of say, look, we can't know a lot about what's going behind the walls of the Kremlin because it's such a Byzantine place. That's absolutely true.

But there's also some stuff that's happened on the ground that I think is just irrefutable. The first is, how did -- how did the Wagner guys get as far as they did? I think everybody could probably have sat back and said, while this Prigozhin thing, it does not look like it's going to go well for the Kremlin.

I mean, if we can see that, and all we have access to is general reporting, you can't tell me that the Russian intelligence services, specifically the internals service, the FSB, either didn't see this, or somehow didn't send it up the line into the -- how do you explain that?

So, that's -- that's either lack of focus or a lack of -- or an increased focus on something else, to the detriment of Putin's regime, which is, you know, that's job number one for all autocrats is to stay in power. So, I think we're looking at a weakened Putin.

The question remains is, how weakened? And what will his response be? Because he's going to try and show that he's, of course, not been weakened. That's going to, you know, we'll see how that turns out.

HILL: Right. And there are a lot of concerns about what that could look like, understandably.

General Zwack, you heard President Zelenskyy in that interview with Erin, talking about NATO, about whether Ukraine would be allowed to join NATO. Talking specifically about President Biden, Zelenskyy said he knows that depends on him, it will be his decision.

What do you make of that take? Clearly, there is a message in there. He talked about her relationships he and President Biden have. But that particular warning was interesting.

ZWACK: President Zelenskyy is a master of the narrative. I think going directly to President Biden can understand that, because there is strong American influence, obviously, in NATO towards that decision.

But we have to remember, it's an alliance of 31 nations. It just takes one or two that does it. So I think President Biden is acutely aware of the issues. How I think the intense and we're reading it all around, is more and more, not just in our own nation, but also in our allies, that there will be a day where Ukraine is worthy of NATO, certainly.

I think the narrative that, how the president -- put some pressure on him, is I think, this is really, really hard. I think though that the Ukrainians deserved it. They are certainly in the pipeline, but Article Five, attack on one is on attack on all. And Zelenskyy to his credit did not mention that.

You can respond and talk about -- but you can't bring Ukraine into NATO, but not a full invitation at the summit for the reasons we talked about.

HALL: As we watched to see what develops there, Steve, today, the U.S. ambassador to U.S., was able to meet with the detained "Wall Street Journal" reporter Evan Gershkovich. This was the first time since April 17th.

Ambassador Lynne Tracy said Evan was in, quote, good health, remain strong, despite the circumstances. He's facing espionage charges, in Russia. The Russia has reputed those, of course, called them baseless.

But I wonder, based on what we were just talking about in terms of the recent issues in Russia, and how Putin is in this moment. Is it more or less likely that we could see something happen with Evan Gershkovich, because of recent events?

HALL: Yeah. First of all, Erica, let me reiterate what you correctly said, which is the charges of espionage against this journalist, against really any Western journalist for sure, are absolutely false. This is something that the Russians do. It's hostage taking.

It really has nothing to do with, you know, a real police force, and a real rule of law, and real prosecutors. They've got all the, trappings. They've got courtrooms and stuff. That's not what's going on.

He and all the other Americans and Westerners who are being held in Russian jails are simply pawns caught up in the game. And, unfortunately, because what we were just talking about, in terms of how Putin is going to respond to the challenge by Prigozhin, and perhaps some of his own generals, I think the outlook for these in- person Americans is even worse, because it would look weaker for Putin right now to say well, I'll to the West a favor or, I'll do the United States what it wants. It wants these people released, so I'll go ahead and do that.

That would look weak. And that's not something that Putin wants to do. He wants to do the opposite to appear more strong in the threat that he just recently faced. So, I'm afraid, it's probably looking worse for these imprisoned Americans rather than better.


HILL: Steve Hall and General Zwack, good to have you both with us. Thank you. ZWACK: Happy Fourth.

HILL: Happy Fourth to you as well. Appreciate it.

Be sure to tune in for Erin's exclusive interview with Ukrainian President Volodymyr. It airs this Wednesday, 7:00 p.m. Eastern, right here on OUTFRONT.

OUTFRONT next, the special counsel investigating Trump's efforts to overturn the election now focusing its attention on Trump's legal team. Why?

Plus, Trump apparently not taking his own advance. CNN's KFILE uncovering audio of him warning about what would happen if a president we're facing, or candidate we're facing criminal indictment.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: It would create an unprecedented constitutional crisis that would cripple the operations of our government.


HILL: And tensions mounting in the Middle East amid Israel's largest military operation in the West Bank in some 20 years.


HILL: Tonight, more legal troubles looming for Donald Trump. Walt Nauta, the Trump aide charged, along with the former president for allegedly mishandling classified documents, is scheduled to be a arraigned this Thursday in Florida. Nauta is also facing Thursday, drop dead deadline to find a local tourney to represent him.

And this comes amid growing signs the special counsel Jack Smith is also ramping up his probe into Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election, whoever overseeing that as well, focusing both on Trump's legal team and also on a fake Trump or electors.


Katelyn Polantz is OUTFRONT.

So, Katelyn, this sounds like it's shaping up to be potentially a rough summer for the former president.

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Yeah, Erica, it's certainly not going to be a sleepy summer, for Donald Trump. That's because he has this huge cloud hanging over his campaign in the form of the indictments against him in Florida from the special counsel's office related to documents at Mar-a-Lago.

And that case has kicked off with Donald Trump pleading not guilty a few weeks ago, but really is going to get moving in earnest towards a trial, beginning this week, because on Thursday, that's what his codefendant Walt Nauta is due back in court, and Nauta will be pleading not guilty at that time. We will also have a lawyer show up from Florida at that time.

It's going to be a short and sweet and procedural hearing from what we know. But it does kick off a lot in that case, where they can move towards arguments, they can move to discussing classified material, and we also know that the Justice Department keeps wanting to talk to more witnesses around there.

So, there could be a lot of things happening in that case, then in the January 6th investigation, Erica, there's a lot there. The prosecutors have been extremely aggressive in recent weeks, especially focused around the fake electors probe.

We saw them offer immunity to get grand jury testimony out of two fake electors in the state of Nevada. We also know that there are two people that were organizing that fake elector effort on behalf of the Trump campaign, one who was subpoenaed to the grand jury, another one who in recent weeks has agreed to be talking to prosecutors and then they got to talk to Giuliani himself, Rudy Giuliani, the guy at the top of the Trump legal network, in 2020.

And so, how that all comes together, if there's a case coming soon, a lot of signs point to that, but there is a lot they are the prosecutors are doing, and then finally, of course, we are almost in the window, just days away from when the Georgia grand jury in Fulton County is going to be able to look at whether they are going to be bringing an indictment, July 11th I believe is the beginning of that period of time -- Erica.

HILL: Yeah, not going to be a sleepy summer for the former president, and certainly not for you, my friend. Katelyn, appreciate it. Thank you.

OUTFRONT now, Ryan Goodman, our legal expert.

So, Ryan, based on what we just spoke with Katelyn about, let's look specifically at this investigation into January 6th, into the fake elections.

You know, as Katelyn laid out, they were ramping up but it seems for what they're talking to. When you're looking at what we know publicly, in terms of who's been spoken to, who do you think should be more concerned more tonight? Is it Donald Trump, or is it his legal team that he had at the time, those former attorneys?

RYAN GOODMAN, FORMER SPECIAL COUNSEL AT DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE: That's a great question, in a certain time it's both. I think that the lawyers must be very worried about their own legal jeopardy, and the lawyers that were thinking about happen to also be the lawyers of the January 6th select community referred to the just parts department saying, these are the individuals that were criminally conspiring with the former president to try to overturn the election.

Rudy Giuliani is named by the committee. John Eastman is made by the committee. Not as much of a household name, but Kenneth Chesebro is named by the committee is conspiring with him.

And in some ways, they had even more legal liability, because their fingerprints are all over the false electors, they were running that scheme.

HILL: So, a lot of fingerprints, but just boil it down for us if you could. What do you think when you look at this? Why do you think a special counsel is to focus specifically on the legal team and the advisers, what does that tell you about the direction?

GOODMAN: So it tells me that in the direction that this is also about the false electors, and they are the ones that are running points on the false electors' scheme. They had the greatest legal way ability in that sense.

Rudy Giuliani is running this across the seven states. That's all the reporting, the January 6th committee as well. It's a lot of documentation. So I'd suggest that there is a very strong case that could be brought, and he could potentially flip these people to. Even though they are lawyers, there are ways in which special counsel can do that.

HILL: So interesting to see, in terms of flipping. That but we do know the special counsel was able to pierce attorney-client privilege, when we are looking at the Mar-a-Lago documents case. What do you think the chances are we could see something similar here?

GOODMAN: I think the chances are high. It's almost like low hanging fruit. It's ripe for the picking, in the sense that we have a federal district court in California that already determined that Donald Trump and John Eastman, one of his private attorneys, it was beyond -- I'm sorry, a preponderance of the evidence, and more likely than not that they are engaged in a criminal conspiracy to pierce the attorney- client privilege.

That was for the January 6 to get certain documents. So here's the special counsel, he could also walk into court and say, I want to pierce the attorney-client privilege, too, get testimony, get documents, et cetera. That's what Eastman, but Giuliani similarly. I think this is in his playbook, as you mentioned he already did Mar-a- Lago, why wouldn't he do it here?

HILL: Really interesting to watch, it's going to be busy. As we keep getting, but wisely.

Ryan, always appreciate it. Thank you.

OUTFRONT next, Trump showing sign he intends to drop out of the race, despite being indicted twice. Yet a CNN's KFILE uncovers, it was not actually that long ago Trump was saying this.



TRUMP: We could very well have a sitting presidents under felony indictment, and ultimately a criminal trial. It would grind government to a halt.


HILL: Plus, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis getting slammed by members of his own party, for promoting an ad that's being described as homophobic and desperate. So where do DeSantis, where does the party stand, when it comes to the rights of LGBTQ Americans?


HILL: Tonight, nearly seven years before he himself was indicted, Donald Trump warned of president under indictment would lead to a governing crisis. That audio from 2016 unearth by CNN's KFILE: Take a listen.


TRUMP: We could very well have a sitting president onto her felony indictments and ultimately a criminal trial. It would grind the government to a halt. If she were to win, it would create an unprecedented constitutional crisis. That would cripple the operations of our government.


HILL: That, of course, is Donald Trump as candidate, referring to Hillary Clinton who is under federal investigation.

Now, Clinton was never indicted, Trump of, course was. He's now facing 37 felony counts from mishandling classified information.

OUTFRONT now is Andrew Kaczynski, senior editor of CNN's KFILE.

So, this wasn't a one-off comment, once or twice. This became a pretty consistent narrative in those days, repeatedly warning that this legal cloud hanging over Hillary Clinton would be a real issue if she was elected.


ANDREW KACZYNSKI, SENIOR EDITOR OF CNN'S KFILE: Yeah, that's right. The president can't effectively govern if they're under felony indictment for mishandling classified information. You just heard Donald Trump say that six years ago in 2016, and where does he find himself now? Under felony indictment for allegedly mishandling classified information.

And he didn't just say this once. He said there's upwards of six times at the end of that campaign after James Comey reopened that investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server. Listen to this clip here of Donald Trump talking about how he thought this scandal would engulf her presidency.


TRUMP: Her current scandals and controversies will continue throughout her presidency. And we will make it. Honestly, look, it's going to be virtually impossible for her to govern.


KACZYNSKI: And I think the thing we should probably note about this too is those comments that "lock her up" chants that we heard during the campaign. That was all about that Hillary Clinton email scandal.

HILL: And it's important. There are a lot of differences as we know about classified information dealing with Hillary Clinton, and the private email server, and the classified documents that were found at the former president's Mar-a-Lago home.

You found some comments that I think are also interesting about when Trump was saying specifically, what he believes his powers were as president when it comes to classified information.

Yeah, that's right. And what's interesting as we've heard that take that CNN exclusively played that was in the indictment of Trump talking about how he was sharing classified secret information with a group of people, he said he could not, he could no longer declassify it. He could only do that as president.

And we found actually a similar clip of Trump in 2020 making very similar comments. He knew that only the president can declassify classified material. Listen to this.


TRUMP: The newspapers and the press and the fake new, they would say he just gave away classified information. I said, no, I will -- look, me right in the -- first of all, I am allowed to do it, I'm the president, so I'm allowed. I'm the one, I'm the only one that's allowed.


KACZYNSKI: We did reach out to the Trump campaign, we asked them about those comments, how they squared what he said so prominently at the end of the 2016 campaign was today, but we didn't hear back from them.

HILL: Interesting. Let us know if you do. I will be -- I will be ready to listen.

I always appreciate it. Andrew, thank you.

OUTFRONT now, Van Jones, CNN political commentator and former special adviser to President Obama, and Republican strategist, Rina Shah.

Good to have both of you with us tonight.

Rina, when we look at the impact of the indictment, political reporter Marc Caputo talk to nearly two dozen Republican leaders in Iowa, and they say the indictments are actually helping Donald Trump. In fact, here's how one grassroots activists sums it up, saying, quote, there is a truly ferocious pro-Trump feeling right now, there are so many people who voted for Trump in the past and then we're going to go for DeSantis, or somebody else. Then after the, indictments people were, like wow, no.

There is a reason they're out to get, him because he's a threat to the powers that be, and that's a good thing.

What's your sense of just how widespread that feeling is outside of Iowa?

RINA SHAH, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: You know, the key words there is out to get him. When I've heard from Republican voters coast to coast, particularly in places like Texas, and Florida, even out in southern California, they say, will something does not square up here. Are they out to get Trump? Are they finally let it all out not because it makes sense right now? They want to keep him away from the White House.

So, it all trends toward this conspiracy theory notion stuff. And what I find most problematic about it all is that moderates are seeming to look at this and scratch their heads and say, it is a moments in which not just -- does it challenge our consciousness, but also, it gives us this question of, what does the Constitution say about any of this?

And so, in essence what I'm learning from Republicans, that still sort of are lukewarm about Trump, is that they are willing to take a chance on him again, because they've got amnesia about the end of his term, about what he was even able to deliver. They just remember the good stuff.

What they are looking now at Biden, and saying, his cognitive, ability his physical ability, it's drawing in contrast, and I think that makes it so tough for anybody in this GOP primary to come out and really swing at Trump, when all he does is enjoy these, not just blips of sympathy boost, it seems like a sustained sympathy boost, amongst those that are likely -- again likely to go for somebody, else and that could be a DeSantis type, but again, looking at Trump and feeling sort of nostalgic for the Republican Party, while we had the White House.

HILL: It's interesting too, because this is a message that, on one level or another Trump has been honing now for years. It's a witch hunt, everybody is out to get to me. So given that it's been out there, we have a little bit more fuel in that fire now that he is added to it.


Van, do you think Democrats actually have a plan to counter that message?

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I don't think so yet. I think what is not working for Democrats just continuing to point out that he's a rogue, that he's a criminal. Like I think people have the country thinks he's a rogue, and they don't like it. Half the country like cities a rogue, and they do like it.

So, I think that what you have to do, is point out how Donald Trump being restored to presidency is going to hurt every day Americans. Not just of be the norm-busting thing, not just something that offensive sensibility of people who want to play by the rules, but how dangerous it would be for every day Americans. You have to draw a line between this reckless conduct during his time in office, now and how it's going to hurt everyday people.

When we do that we may have a better chance. But I guess, you would say, don't be surprised, if he continues to rise in the polls, because it's tribal identity, people just feel like one of their own is under fire. They just have to rally to the flag.

HILL: We look at the rest of the field too. I found this interesting, to a former Republican lawmaker from New Hampshire since she was the ideal deal Ron DeSantis voter, until his campaign reposted this video that's gotten so much attention over the last couple of days, slamming Trump for his past support of LGBTQ rights. I want to play a portion of that.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can transgender woman compete in Miss Universe?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Make America great again.



HILL: That video also went on to attack Donald Trump for vowing to protect the LGBT community. That happened, of course, in the weeks after the Pulse nightclub shooting, that killed 49 people.

You know, where does the Republican Party stand today when it comes to support for LGBTQ Americans?

SHAH: Well, first, I want to start with my own personal vignettes. Over 15 years ago, I got involved with the freedom to marry movement in the Republican Party. It was very strong.

I want everybody to know that there are not bigots in the Republican Party writ large. There are a lot of people that worked so hard to make sure that same-sex Americans could have the freedom to do what they wanted to do. And those people are still in the party today.

So, what I see happening when you see politicians come out and push this button, this hot button on making people fearful of where we're going as a country, of our cultural differences now, things that are happening around them, such as transgender individuals coming out and wanting to be recognized, and how -- and being told that they have the same rights.

Look, we have no second class citizens in America, but what troubles me the most was where the data is showing -- and what the data is showing us. A recent Gallup poll showed a dip in support for same-sex relationships, and saw it mostly with Republicans. You know, overall, 64 percent of Americans say that same-sex relationships are morally acceptable. But that's down from 71 percent in 2022.

And when you look at that 64 percent again, this is from May, from Gallup. You found 80 percent of Democrats saying that same-sex are morally acceptable, but only 40 percent of Republicans.

That's a vast delta. That makes me scared that the message that some of these lawmakers are promulgating is going -- is making its way and fearful. Making Republicans fearful of what's to come. Therefore, they're making it harder for same-sex couples to be recognized as full citizens in this country.

HILL: I mean, you look at messages that are being put out there, Trump is, of course, reminding voters about his three Supreme Court nominees, all of whom, Van, this weekend LGBT protections by ruling in favor of a Christian web designer who refuses to make websites for same-sex marriages. So, we see with that messaging is there, and maybe likely to continue.

JONES: Well, it's disgraceful decision on the part of the Supreme Court. But DeSantis is -- should be ashamed of himself. Anybody was jumping up and down saying, anybody what Trump, we want Ron DeSantis, we think Ron DeSantis can beat Trump, we love Ron DeSantis.

Take those words back, because this guy is worse than Trump. Ron DeSantis is worse than Donald Trump. Donald Trump was at least trying to open the party up, the Republican Party up by reaching out to African American voters and gay voters, saying hey, everybody is welcome here. You have 99 things you can hate, but that was the one good thing he tried to do.

DeSantis wants to punish him for that. He wants to punish a U.S. president for opening his heart after gays and lesbians were gunned down in a nightclub. You don't punish a U.S. president for that if you are patriot, if you're a human being, if you're a Christian. If you're a descent carbon -based being, you don't do that.

Ron DeSantis is doing that. Ron DeSantis is trying to punish Trump for trying to do something for criminal justice reform, with the first setback, he had 25,000 people come home, and only 12 percent ever got in trouble again. The most successful reform ever, help the black community. Ron DeSantis wants to punish him for that.


Ron DeSantis is trying to punish Donald Trump for the few good things that he did. Ron DeSantis is despicable. He is disgraceful. This ad is disgraceful.

And anybody who was on his bandwagon should apologize and get off immediately. He's worse than Trump.

HILL: Van Jones, Rina Shah, good to have you both with us tonight. Thank you.

OUTFRONT next, a deadly attack Israel launching its largest military operation in the West Bank in more than 20 years. We're going to take the region, next.

Plus, a popular rollercoaster showdown tonight after this video you see here, a crack in a crucial support pillar, the man who shot this video is OUTFRONT.


HILL: Tonight, the Middle East on edge. Israeli military forces tearing up their largest military occupation offensive in the West Bank city of Jenin in more than 20 years, involving at least 10 airstrikes, hundreds of soldiers. Palestinian officials say at least eight people are dead. Dozens more hurt.

Hadas Gold is OUTFRONT.


HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hundreds of Israeli soldiers descending on Jenin. Massive raid supported by air strikes and bulldozers, tanks on the outskirts of the city -- the largest incursion into the West Bank in two decades since the days of the Second Intifada.

RICHARD HECHT, ISRAELI ARMY'S INTERNATIONAL SPOKESMAN: We want to break of the camp being a safe haven for terrorists.


GOLD: Easier said than done. Israeli forces facing stiff resistance. The army bulldozing its way through. Air strikes hitting what the military said was terrorist infrastructure.

Soldiers firing from nearby homes in their hunt for weapons, explosive tunnels, at what they say are militants.

Palestinian authorities have condemned the raid, calling it a new war crime against our defenseless people.

MAHMOUD ABBAS, PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY PRESIDENT (through translator): We renew our demand to the international community of the need to provide urgent international protection for our people and to impose sanctions on the occupying entities.

GOLD: In Jenin, some residents say they were overwhelmed by the sheer force of the Israeli attack.

HUSSEIN ZEIDA, JENIN RESIDENT (through translator): We are unarmed people. We don't have anything in the camp to respond to this force. There is nothing safe in the camp. They dug all the streets with bulldozers.

GOLD: The Israeli government says it's not at war with Palestinians like Zeida, but with these men who are blamed for violence against Israelis.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAEL PRIME MINISTER: Our troops are battling the terrorists with unyielding resolve and fortitude while doing everything, everything to avoid civilian casualties.

GOLD: The latest raid on Jenin building on over a year and a half of regular military operations, following a recent wave of Palestinian attacks on Israelis.

But the cycle of violence only intensifying. Militant group Hamas calling on its members to strike Israel by all available means. But for those caught in the crossfire, Israel warning the operation will last as long as necessary even if it says it doesn't want to hold ground.

HECHT: We are focused on the infrastructure inside the camp. It could be hours, it could be days.


HADAS (on camera): Erica, I was just in Jenin yesterday with our team to speak to residents there. And while Israeli military raids targeting militants have become a regular occurrence really over the past year or so. And while were there, we could see just bullet holes riddling so many buildings and cars, evidence of the stories of raids and clashes.

The residents there today say they have seen nothing like what has happened now, at least in the last two decades or so. And as night fell, the Palestinian Red Crescent is saying that at least 500 families are now evacuating, fleeing the refugee camp, obviously, in fear of what the ensuing hours will bring. Because while the Israeli military is saying civilians, of course, are not their target, they do say this operation could continue for another day or two -- Erica.

HILL: Hadas Gold with the very latest for us -- Hadas, thank you.

OUTFRONT next, I'll speak with the man who shot this video. It shows a large crack in the support post for a popular rollercoaster, a rollercoaster that is now shut down.

Plus, troubling details emerging about the Titanic bound sub that imploded. The ominous warning from a former employee.



HILL: Tonight, inspectors on the scene at a North Carolina amusement park after a crowd was spotted in a rollercoaster support pillar. The Fury 325 rollercoaster peaks at 325 feet high. It takes riders as fast as 95 miles per hour as it whips around the track.

Jeremy Wagner was at the park when he noticed the crack. He took this video that you are watching right now.

He joins us. He's OUTFRONT.

So, Jeremy, you notice this issue. You were in the parking lot, happened to look up and see it. At this point -- look, your kids love this ride as far as I know. They have ridden it several times that day. I believe eight times for your daughter and your niece.

What went through your head as you looked up and realized there was a crack there?

JEREMY WAGNER, TOOK VIDEO OF CRACKED ROLLER COASTER POST: I thought it was a joke. Then I started looking at the other pillars and I'm like, no, that's legit. I can see light through that crack. And to think, I had pulled upfront, and my kids had to admit they were on the way out. So, I pulled upfront to pick them up. I went up at the park about 30 minutes early to pull the vehicle down.

Now, as I was waiting on them, I saw the correct. Then when the car came by, I saw the shift. I jumped out of the truck and started to film, took a couple of pictures, the kids looked up and I said look, you were just on that. And that were like, oh my. You know, a 13-year- old, 14-year-old's reaction.

HILL: They had written it so many times. Did they say to you that I noticed a difference in the ride as the day went on? Did anything feel off to them?

WAGNER: No, and I don't know if it really would or not, but they didn't say they notice anything. And even after the fact, people may be like who rode it multiple times, they maybe like, actually, I do remember that, but they didn't mention it.

HILL: Right. So, you showed, as I understand it, you showed the video that you took to several employees at the park. You are understandably concerned but you didn't really feel a sense of urgency. It appears that it wasn't until you called the local fire department that the ride was actually shut down.

Have you heard from anybody at the park? Have they spoken to you, talk to you about what they are doing and what went wrong?

WAGNER: No, I haven't heard of thing. And it was a sense of urgency. And that's -- I felt there's no urgency in any of the employees. Even after, they had me or drop the video, the guest services person walked off and said, I'll send this to somebody. They turned around and walked off, you know, nonchalant.

HILL: Uh-huh.

WAGNER: And I looked around, I was in a room of about 15 park goers. And I just wanted to be like, you will need to turn around and leave, but I didn't say anything, it's not my place. I was hoping they would do proper thing and shut the right down.

When I woke back out to the vehicle and lift, the right was still going and I called the fire department when I got back to town because I knew, if anything happened, Charlotte Fire would be responding and if they -- if anything, they could ride over and take a look to see if they could shut the ride down.

HILL: The park has said safety is a top priority, rides are inspected every day. Do you have any reservations about you or your kids getting back on the rights at that park?

WAGNER: You know, I've been asked that every interview. And actually, I've got friends coming in from out of town next week, and we had plans to go.


That day I was there, I was sending him pictures of the park and the rides and stuff for what we do it next week. So I am planning on coming back.

I don't -- I don't have any reservations. I would like to trust their safety protocols in place. And --

HILL: Well, let us -- let us know. Stay in touch. Let us know how it goes and let us know if you hear anything from the park. I'd be interesting to see if they reach out.

Jeremy, appreciate you taking the time tonight. Thank you.

WAGNER: OK. Thank you.

HILL: OUTFRONT next, we're learning more about an ominous email which was sent years before the titan sub imploded.


HILL: Troubling details emerging tonight about the doomed Titan submersible. According to "The New Yorker", David Lochridge, who was a previous employee of OceanGate, he was so concerned about the vessels safety he once sent an ominous email to another employee about the company's CEO Stockton Rush, writing: I don't want to be a tattletale but I'm worried he kills himself and others in a quest to boost his ego.

Rush was among the five people who died last month when the OceanGate sub imploded on a trip to the Titanic.

Thank you for joining us on OUTFRONT.

"AC360" starts right now.