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Erin Burnett Outfront

Judge Rejects Trump Request For Trial After Election; Zelenskyy Vows Response To Russia's Nightly Attacks; Chris Christie: Trump's "Latest Scam Is His Campaign"; Report: Search Warrant Reveals Serial Killer Suspect May Have Taken "Trophies" After Alleged Killings; Mystery Deepens Over Chinese FM's Disappearance; Legendary Singer Tony Bennett Dead At 96. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired July 21, 2023 - 19:00   ET



ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, the data set. Trump expected to go to trial in Florida during primary season. Is it the GOP's worst nightmare or not? This as we're learning new details about the Georgia investigation and what charge could be coming Trump's way.

Plus, a Russian hardliner and former FSB officer under arrest after calling Putin a low life and a cowardly bum as Ukraine braces for a fifth night of missile strikes, pounding the same city over and over again.

And 2024 Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie is OUTFRONT, not holding back about Trump's legal problems, Tim Scott being liked by more Republicans than he is and RFK Jr.'s conspiracy theories.

All that ahead. Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening, I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, Trump's many days in court. The judge overseeing the former president's classified documents case now setting a date finally a date for that highly anticipated trial, and that date is May 20th, 2024.

That, of course, is not what Trump had wanted. His lawyers wanted to postpone that criminal trial indefinitely or at least until after the election. Now, of course, it is possible the trial does get pushed back further. Trump could get his wish, but, for now, here we are with a May 20th date.

Now add that into the packed court schedule that the former president faces. It's just pretty incredible. October 2nd, $250 million civil fraud case begins in New York. January 15, his second E. Jean Carroll civil defamation trial starts. March 25th is the date for his Manhattan hush money trial. And May 20th is the start for the classified documents trial in Florida.

And, of course, you note that I did not even include a January 6th trial or a trial of the Georgia case, both of which, if charged, would be in that window likely as well. We already know Trump without that will be spending a lot of time in

courtrooms during the primaries and Trump would win the nomination before the Mar-a-Lago case even gets to trial if he wins. I mean, keep in mind, back in 2016, he had secured enough delegates to officially become the party's nominee by the end of May. And now, they switched it, right? So, there's even more winner-take-all situations.

Trump today is saying it would be very dangerous if he's sent to jail for mishandling top secret documents anyway.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: I think it's a very dangerous thing to even talk about.

HOST: Okay.

TRUMP: Because we do have a tremendously passionate group of voters, and I mean maybe 100 -- 150 -- I've never seen anything like it. Much more passion than they had in 2020, much more passion than they had in 2016. I think it would be very dangerous.


BURNETT: As usual, what is he saying there? It would be dangerous, it would be dangerous. Are we talking about violence?

This comes as other cases against Trump are heating up. But I mentioned Georgia. "The Guardian" tonight is reporting that the Fulton County, Georgia prosecutor, Fani Willis, who has you know is investigating Trump's efforts to overturn the election results in Georgia in 2020, quote, has developed evidence to charge a sprawling racketeering indictment next month. And of course, the January 6th situation Trump has received that target letter and an indictment could be coming within days there.

Evan Perez is OUTFRONT live in Washington on this Friday night. And, Evan, the May 20th trial date, at least for now, when you add all this together, and as I said, you've got four cases already and two that may be coming very soon, Trump is going to be spending a lot of time in court during the campaign.

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. He's expressed interest, Erin, and at least one of those trials appearing personally. That is the E. Jean Carroll case, which I believe is set for January. Of course, he said that before, and then doesn't show up.

And the other complicated thing here is the former president and his team have really made an impression on the judge. You know, he has a campaign to run. He is trying to run for office. He doesn't do a lot of retail campaigning. He doesn't show up at Iowa state fair, let's just say. He does a lot of weekend rallies.

So, but, you know, for now, the judge seems to have bought into this idea that this is a complicated case, if there is going to be a lot of legal fighting, a lot of litigation over the classified documents at stake here. She certainly raised that. She points out that in her ruling today going to be a lot of issues that the court is going to have to confront, dealing with a 38 count indictment.

And that is partly why it's very likely that that May Day may end up sliding a lot, which is exactly what the former president wants.


Some of his allies today were saying that they believe they can make that made date go beyond the November election, which is exactly what their strategy has been.

BURNETT: Right, absolutely. And, of course, to emphasize, there is that, there is the January 6th case also coming in possibly in Georgia, both of which could move more quickly.

All right. Evan, thank you very much.

Let's go now to Leslie Caldwell, the former assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's criminal division. She was Jack Smith's boss at the DOJ. So, she's with me, along with Ryan Goodman, former special counsel at the Defense Department, and Margaret Hoover, the host of "Firing Line".

I appreciate both of you, all of you taking the time, sorry, all three of you taking the time.

Leslie, let me start with you. When you look at this, jack smith obviously the Mar-a-Lago case is his. He's got a big decision to make on January 6th. How do you think he perceives this date today coming in at May 20th? He also wanted to be much sooner than that, right, in December. How do you think he sees this in his chessboard here?

LESLIE CALDWELL, FORMER U.S. ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: So I obviously don't know how he sees it, but how I would see it in his shoes is not a surprise. I think the government asked for the December day to signal that they were ready and this case could be tried. The preparation could be done and the case could be tried in that timeframe. I don't think they would be surprised that it slipped into 2024.

BURNETT: Right. And, Ryan, at that point, not surprised because they knew Trump was pushing for. This case, so everyone can remember, because it involves classified documents, you've got to get permissions and clearances for the lawyers involved. There is an extra layer around the entire thing, to peel this particular union.

But, you know, Team Trump is saying this is a setback for the DOJ. They've got to leave it to may and he wants it later than the. Even to get May 20th to get the point. By May 20th, you've all had the voting of the primaries. How big of a setback is this for DOJ?

RYAN GOODMAN, FORMER SPECIAL COUNSEL AT THE DEFENSE DEPARTMENT: So, in terms of getting the case to trial and seeing if there will be a conviction, it's a bit of a setback, but not a huge one. I don't think a lot of bells are going off inside the DOJ, that there will be a reasonable pushback. But I do think they might still be very concerned that may 20th doesn't stick.

There are ways in which this could be moved back in. Like you say, this is about classified information, there's a whole set of procedures. The judge announced a schedule. One would look at the schedule and there's even a narrow window in which the very last issues they will litigate will come up before the trial, 18 days before the trial. That could be appealed. That would shift the date back and back again. I think that is one concern that might be kind of watching for right now.

BURNETT: And, Margaret, obviously this is the big one for the special counsel. Now we will see if there is a January 6th indictment in these next few days. That trial presumably would also be coming up sometime between now and then.

But you have in Fulton County as well, all these things happening. We already know of four trials already scheduled. Right? October 2nd, January 15th, March 25th, and May 20th, all trials. So, how bad is this for the GOP? When you layer into it, Margaret, a primary calendar that would have a very easily a very clear winner by May 20th.

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, that's exactly right. I mean, because the Republican Party has made earlier the entire process, the Iowa caucuses are on January 15th. There is actually a big break in March, forget about a Super Tuesday in March. That's going to happen in February and then other states later in April.

So, you're right, Erin. This could be wrapped up in terms of the GOP nomination. Trump could have it all wrapped up, given how he leads in the polls, by the time the trial were to start, if it even did start in May. And that's the main point.

If this gets pushed from May to June to July, however far it pushes, we could be in the throes of a nomination. You know, the nominating convention for the party, while the candidate is on -- is in court, and potentially even also the presidential election. Actually, the September and October time frame given what happens in the next indictment. So, in some ways, this may prevent the Republican Party from making another choice.

I mean, there are two chances for the electorate to defeat Donald Trump. First for Republicans to defeat him in the primary. Second, for the general electorate to choose another candidate. And that really bears out in stark contrast, if you have a candidate, up for the race and that is on trial at the time. That is a very graphic visual for all of us to think about.

BURNETT: Yeah, right, and to imagine how that would look. It is a visual, as Margaret points out. And, Leslie, one of Trump's lawyers was asked today about him appearing before the grand jury, investigating his efforts to overturn the election, right? Whether he would actually do that in these final hours, possibly left.

Here's what the lawyer said about that.


The shot he took at Jack Smith. Let me play it.


JOHN LAURO, TRUMP ATTORNEY: There's no need to appear in front of any grand jury right now. President Trump did absolutely nothing wrong. He's done nothing criminal. The bottom line is that the special prosecutor, which is really the Biden Justice Department, is after President Trump, and that's the focus.


BURNETT: And, obviously, you know Jack Smith and you know his integrity. Do attacks like this have anything, any bearing on his likelihood, the likeliness of him bringing charges in the January 6th probe?

CALDWELL: No, absolutely not. My guesses at this point the noise is impossible to ignore because it is so loud and constant, but he is not going to be making any decisions based on anything that is coming out of the defendant's camp. So, I don't think it will have any effect whatsoever.

And you know, it's standard procedure if you're issuing a target letter to invite the target to tell his side of the story. It rarely happens because most people will not go through the grand jury unless they are granted immunity, which if they are the target of the investigation, they are unlikely to be granted immunity for all these reasons. So, I think Jack Smith will be completely unfazed and his plans will not change at all based on this kind of talk.

BURNETT: Right. And, Ryan, I know you've made it clear. He is ready to go, you think this will be coming in the next days. We are not talking weeks, and terms of Jack Smith's decision.

But what about the Fulton County D.A, racketeering indictment, that this is basically packaged and ready to go, it would be extremely widespread of those charges would come in August. So, when does that all come to fruition and how serious are these charges as you see them reported?

GOODMAN: This is also consistent with earlier CNN reporting that the district attorney was considering racketeering charges.


GOODMAN: It makes all the sense in the world. She hired people specialized in it. And she's done it before. I think it means it's a widespread, sprawling indictment in all likelihood, sweeping in a number of people.

And if it comes in middle August, I also think it incentivizes some of those people to try to strike a deal with the feds, because they can get immunity, that would apply to the state level as well. It probably means people like John Eastman, Kenneth Chesebro, and Rudy Giuliani, the private lawyers who helped Trump in Georgia to try to overturn the popular vote, if I were them, I would be very worried by this news and it seems very credible.

BURNETT: Margaret, I want to -- Trump, we'll play again what he has said recently about what would happen if he goes behind bars. Just to hear sort of the implication there in. Here he is.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: I think it's a very dangerous thing to even talk about.

HOST: Okay.

TRUMP: Because we do have a tremendously passionate group of voters, and I mean maybe 100 -- 150 -- I've never seen anything like it. Much more passion than they had in 2020, much more passion than they had in 2016. I think it would be very dangerous.


BURNETT: So it's dangerous to put him behind bars. He says it more than once, Margaret, warning then his pas -- supporters have more passion now than they did before. What's he saying?

HOOVER: Look, we've seen these veiled threats before and it's not so veiled. I mean, that is a threat.

He is threatening the peaceful transfer of power. He is threatening the justice system. He's threatening a division of our government. He's threatening peace.

If justice -- he doesn't believe that on his own two feet, he can stand a front in the justice system and stand trial and receive a fair trial. He's -- you know, another constant -- example of constantly undermining our democracy and our system of justice.

But those are not so veiled threats. We all hear it. And what we really need is more of hearing that and then seeing what our choices are, electorally, because there's a very good chance we will have a candidate for president of the United States on trial during the next presidential election.

BURNETT: All right, thank you all very much, I appreciate your perspective, as, of course, we await that charging decision at any time from special counsel Jack Smith.

And next, Ukraine's president vowing to retaliate as Odesa, a major port city in Ukraine, is bracing for a fifth night of attacks. All of them happening around this time each night. Inside Russia, meantime, a military hard-liner against Putin has now been silenced.

Plus, I will speak to Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie, why he says Trump is pulling a fast one on his donors tonight. And then we will remember one of the most beloved musicians, Tony

Bennett, a smooth singer who had a legion of fans, including stars like Frank Sinatra and Lady Gaga.



BURNETT: Tonight, there will be punishment. That's the warning from Ukrainian President Zelenskyy as his country braces for a fifth night of Russian missile strikes. Now, we've been bringing you these images every night this week. Waves of Russian missiles and drones coming down on the vital southern port city of Odessa.

The barrage coming like clockwork during this hour Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, around two a.m. in Ukraine. Russia's latest attack came later, just before 4:00 a.m. and Ukraine today, followed by another during the daytime.

Alex Marquardt has been there through the weekend and he joins me OUTFRONT now from Kyiv in Odesa.

You are in Odesa for those four straight nights of these attacks, joining us live, sometimes air raid sirens, sometimes not. Those tracers, those spotlight as they were trying to find the drones.

Do you have any indication of what's ahead tonight as of course it is 2:20 a.m. again where you are?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Erin, we started this day in Odesa. There was nothing in the predawn hours, it came very quickly as the sun came up. After four straight days, Erin, you can imagine that Odesa and the surrounding region and really so much of southern Ukraine bracing for this onslaught to continue.

For right now, there isn't any kind of indication that anything is coming but that changes so quickly, it really does change on a dime. He talked about how this was like clockwork. This was a pattern that was remarkable to see for the first three nights, right around two a.m., those tracers going up into the sky, the attack of drones and cruise missiles.


That pattern was broken today, and the attack happened as the sun came up in the early morning hours, seven cruise missiles, so not as intense as the three previous nights but still hugely destructive as the seven missiles hit what Ukrainian officials called an infrastructure site to the southwest of Odesa, not in the city itself but still in the region, destroying this facility, destroying equipment and around 120 tons of food.

Local official in the region saying that Russia is now using what she called cunning tactics to try to get through Ukrainian air defenses. Ukraine has gotten very good at shooting down certain types of missiles. And now, Russia is using a variety of different types of cruise missiles to get through those air defenses. That is why Ukraine has repeatedly been asking Western allies for more and more sophisticated air defense systems to try to swat these drones and missiles out of the sky -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Alex, thank you very much, live from Kyiv tonight.

And Alex's reporting comes as we are getting new video out front of a prominent Russian military hard-liner, also actually a former FSB officer. His name is Igor Girkin, and he's making his first appearance in court.

Why? A FSB agent, prominent pro-military guy. Well, he was arrested and charged with inciting extremist activity just three days after he took on Putin directly in a Telegram post, in which, after all of the support he give, and he called Putin a low life and a cowardly bum, taking him.

And one Ukrainian official says his arrest comes amid signs of, quote, confrontation inside the Kremlin.

Fred Pleitgen is OUTFRONT.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): With Ukraine now using U.S. supplied cluster munitions to try to penetrate the Russian army's entrenched positions on the southern front, Russian leader Vladimir Putin ripping into the U.S. and allies for aiding Kyiv.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): The whole world can see that the supposedly invulnerable equipment that the West boasted about is on fire. And technically, it's often even inferior to some Soviet-made weapons. Yes, of course, additional Western armaments can be supplied and thrown into battle. This, of course, causes us certain damage and prolongs the conflict.

PLEITGEN: But while Putin tries to project superiority on the battlefield, at home, the Kremlin continues to silence critical voices, even some of those supporting their war.

Prominent military blogger Igor Girkin, who also goes by Igor Strelkov, arrested today, his wife said, after remarks blasting the lack of progress of Russia's military campaign in Ukraine.

The situation with a special military operation and the country in general is deplorable, to put it mildly, he said. This is a result of actions of the incumbent power.

Girkin is a former colonel in Russia's security service, FSB, and was a defense minister of the so-called Donetsk People's Republic in Eastern Ukraine, when the Malaysian Jetliner MH-17 was shot down there in 2014.

Girkin was found guilty of mass murder in absentia by a Dutch court for involvement in the incident, which he has never acknowledged.

While Girkin is considered a war criminal in Ukraine, he deems himself a Russian ultranationalist who feels the war should be prosecuted even more brutally.

Putin's grip on power was only recently challenged by the uprising of the Wagner private military company and its boss, Yevgeny Prigozhin. Now the Russian leader wants to calm things down, CIA Director William Burns believes.

WILLIAM BURNS, CIA DIRECTOR: Putin is trying to buy time, as he considers what to do with Wagner and with Prigozhin himself. Putin in my experience, anyway, he is overreacting.

PLEITGEN: But that doesn't mean Prigozhin is forgiven, Burns says.

BURNS: If I were Prigozhin, I wouldn't fire my food taster.


PLEITGEN (on camera): The CIA director also called Vladimir Putin the ultimate apostle of payback, which obviously could mean dire consequences for Yevgeny Prigozhin somewhere down the line, you know? For Igor Girkin, Erin, as well. This guy was one of Vladimir Putin's most important guys in the east of Ukraine back in 2014, and now, what a fall from grace. He's been ordered to remain in custody until September 18th and could face up to five years in prison, Erin.

BURNETT: Fred, thank you very much.

And, next, Chris Christie joining me on Trump's day in court. Tim Scott's likability and RFK Jr.'s conspiracy theories.

Plus, why Bounty paper towels from the company's modern print collection could be key to linking the suspected Gilgo Beach serial killer to his victims.



BURNETT: Tonight, Donald Trump continuing the campaign, raising money for his 2024 presidential bid off his possible third indictment. But according to a "Washington Post" review of FEC reports, a lot of the money that Trump has been raising for his campaign is actually going to his legal bills.

The Trump opponent Chris Christie tweeting, I quote him: Grifting is a Trump family tradition and the latest scam is his campaign. The self- proclaimed billionaire is swindling 50 percent of his campaign donations to pay for his personal legal fees. We don't need a con artist. We need a leader who can beat Biden.

And joining me now is 2024 GOP presidential candidate and, of course, the former governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie. And I also should say, Governor, in the spirit of full transparency, I

will note you are my husband's second cousin, for anyone interested in our family trees.

So, let me start off by --


BURNETT: -- by asking here, off of what you tweeted, do you believe that Trump supporters would not give money to his campaign if they knew he was using it for his legal fees? Or do you think maybe they are well aware and they are happy with it, they want him to use his money to fight his legal battles?

CHRISTIE: Well, I don't think they're well aware, Erin, because he's lied to them, as typical for Donald Trump. First, he said 1 percent of the money they gave would go towards his legal fees. I think most people would say, okay, that's fine. Then he said 10 percent of the money is going towards his legal fees.

Well, here's my problem when it gets to 50 percent of the money. You really need this billionaire, a guy who says, according to a recent "New York Times" story, that he's made a billion dollars since he left the White House.


Now, I don't know if that's true or not, but that's what he says. You really need to have people who are donating $10, $20, $50 to your campaign, pay for your high priced lawyers for indictments that you all put on yourself by paying off a porn star, by holding back classified documents, despite the fact that they've been asked for voluntarily for 18 months?

I mean, this is ridiculous. And he is using these people in a way I don't think that they completely know about. He set up a legal defense fund, Donald, and if people wanted to give to that, they will.

But people are giving to him, Erin, because they think it's going to help him get reelected president, when all he is doing is grifting off these people. He is a con artist who is cunning them out of their money, pretending he wants to be their president, while what he wants is a free ride for the legal defense he's getting for the criminal charges he personally faces.

BURNETT: Now, we found out on one of these cases, you mentioned the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case, Governor. Aileen Cannon, the judge, they're ruled today that that case will begin on May 20th.

Now, May 20th, by then most of the GOP primaries will be over. By the way, in 2016, Trump had clinched the GOP nomination by May. So, May is late in the election cycle.

What do you think about the timing?

CHRISTIE: Well, look, I can't make a judgment on, you know, what the judges seeing, what's going to take time to do this case the right way. As you know, Erin, I was a U.S. attorney for seven years, a federal prosecutor. And, you know, classified documents cases will take a long time to get ready.

Some of them argue with what the judge did. But who cares? We don't need, as Republicans, to know necessarily what even the result is. What we know is, if Donald Trump winds up clinching the nomination by May of 2024, then our candidate for president in our party will be sitting in a courtroom in Florida for weeks --


CHRISTIE: -- being accused of crimes that could expose him to 30 years in prison.

I mean, do you really think that is the person who's going to beat Joe Biden? Republicans need to wake up to the fact that Donald Trump is in this for himself, he always has been. And now with this trial date, the right thing to do would be to step aside.

He won't do that. So, you know what, Erin? I'm going to push him aside.

BURNETT: I spoke to the former Republican Congressman Fred Upton the other day. You know him. He told us he contributed to your campaign.


BURNETT: Then, Governor, he went on to tell me this.


FORMER REP. FRED UPTON (R-MI): Trump is using this to raise more money. He is stronger than ever before. He's got all the wind out of the balloon from any of the other dozen or so candidates out there. They can't get a breakthrough. And it's -- it's really sort of over in terms of his -- his winning the Republican nomination.


BURNETT: He says it's over. What do you say to that?

CHRISTIE: Well, first of all, I appreciate Fred donating my campaign even after he says it's over. That's really very nice of him.

But I -- what I would tell you as I think Fred, respectfully, is wrong. Erin, we've been in this race for six weeks. We have gone from zero to 10 percent in New Hampshire, a half a point behind Ron DeSantis. We are in third place, DeSantis in second.

We have just got going here in telling the truth to the American people. And the American people need to hear the truth, that Donald Trump is not fit to be president of the United States or fit to be the nominee of the Republican Party. And he has done it to himself, and he's let us down. He didn't repel or replace Obamacare. He built 52 miles of wall in

four years, Erin. He said he would build the whole wall. Mexico was going to pay for it. We don't have our first peso.

And if he goes at that pace in the next term, he will need 110 years as president to build the whole wall.

BURNETT: You mentioned Ron DeSantis when you are comparing your numbers in New Hampshire. Today, he says he is pushing for legal action against Bud Light's parent company. Obviously, this is in the wake of the conservative backlash to Bud Light using a transgender influencer, right, in their ads.

In a letter obtained by CNN, DeSantis writes, Governor, the company breached legal duties owed to shareholders when it decided to associate with what he calls radical social ideologies.

Do you agree with him?

CHRISTIE: I don't, for this reason. Governor DeSantis is showing himself every day, and I think this is why his campaign is falling apart, he's showing himself every day to be a big government Republican. I didn't think there were any big government Republicans around, but apparently there he is.

He thinks government is the solution to every problem. Let me clue Governor DeSantis in on something. You know, the Bud Light situation was dealt with by the consumers. They don't need government to tell them what was right or wrong or good or bad, or what they liked or didn't like, and they didn't need government action to do it.


The American people decided they didn't like Bud Light's advertising campaign on social media. So they stopped buying Bud Light. That is the way to do this.

I thought -- you know, I swear I watch Governor DeSantis sometimes, I really think he's a big government liberal, because I always grew up knowing that liberals were the ones who wanted to get the government in the middle of every argument, because they thought government could resolve them better.

You know what? I put my trust in the American people, and their ability to send messages when they want to. And I think Bud Light has gotten a very strong message from the American people, given all the Bud Light I see in shelves at liquor stores at the Jersey Shore.

BURNETT: So, you -- I want to ask you about Senator Scott as well because you are in his home state. Tonight I know you're going to be hosting a town hall as soon as we're done talking. But he -- it comes to favorability, overall. People who know Senator Scott like him, 46 percent have a favorable view. Your numbers on that front is the same comparable -- same exact poll, Quinnipiac, are 15 percent.

Do you see Senator Scott as a formidable competitor? CHRISTIE: Of course, Tim Scott is a formidable competitor. Anybody

who knows Tim knows a few things. That he's a good, decent, honest person, and that he's put forward a lot of really valuable public services for the American people and for the people of South Carolina, both in the House of Representatives and the Senate.

So, I make -- I make no mystery about the fact that I like Tim Scott. And I think he's a formidable candidate. There's no doubt about that. I think I'm the better one. And now, the Republican Party voters are going to decide that.

And in July of the year before the election, remember something, Erin, in July of 2015, Jeb Bush was the runaway front runner. And so -- and Scott Walker was number two.


CHRISTIE: So, we've got a lot of work to do here. But I'm in Tim Scott's state. I'm a fan of Tim's. I always have been. I like him a great deal.

And I don't have anything bad to say about Tim Scott. We disagree on some things, but as -- just as Republicans should, and not the way Donald Trump does it, by, you know, mocking, making fun of, and degrading it.

I will tell you one thing, neither me or Tim Scott has ever said, we never said it would be okay to suspend the Constitution of the United States. Donald Trump has. And the oath of the presidency is to preserve, protect, and defend, not suspend, and that, quite frankly, disqualifies him.

BURNETT: One question here, I want to ask you about Robert F. Kennedy Jr. He was on Capitol Hill yesterday, Governor, as a guest of Republicans, testifying at a hearing that they called about, Governor, sponsorship. He denied saying things that he actually has said many times.

Here's one example, Governor.


ROBERT F. KENNEDY JR. (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I've never been anti-vaccine. Everybody in this room probably believes that I have been because that's the prevailing narrative. I have never told the public to avoid vaccination.

I see somebody on a hiking trail who was carrying a little baby and I said to him, better not get him vaccinated.


CHRISTIE: That's just one example. And then, of course, as you know, Governor, he previously said at a fund-raiser, actually, and I quote him, COVID-19 is targeted to attack Caucasians and Black people. The people who are most immune are Ashkenazi Jews and the Chinese. And so, he said that last week. At the hearing yesterday, and then he

claimed this.


KENNEDY: I'm under oath. In my entire life, I have never uttered a phrase that was either racist or antisemitic.


CHRISTIE: Governor, the GOP gave him a big platform yesterday and it helped him significantly. The PAC backing him says they raised $5 million during the hearing yesterday, 5 million bucks just flowing in as he was saying those things.

Are you disappointed that Republicans in Congress gave Kennedy that platform?

CHRISTIE: Look, I'm more disappointed, Erin, in Robert Kennedy for saying the things he is saying. I think it's very, very disappointing, and I think it is quite frankly diminishes the great legacy that his uncle and his father left for this country of public service.

And so, I'm -- I'm focused on Robert Kennedy and his comments, which I think were divisive. But I think what it also tells you, Erin, is why debates are so important and should happen both on the Democratic side and the Republican side in a robust way with everybody there, because then people can confront folks on that, you know, flip-flopping that he was just doing, they confront them directly about it.

That's why I urge everybody to go to, donate to me to make sure that I'm continuing to be on the stage all the way through and we have this kind of debate with Donald Trump.

But on Robert Kennedy, I'm disappointed in what he says and Joe Biden should get on the stage with Robert Kennedy, debate him, and make sure he calls him out on these things.


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

CHRISTIE: Thank you, Erin, for having me on.

BURNETT: All right. And next, belts, knives, scissors, investigators just revealing a new list of potential trophies the suspected Gilgo Beach serial killer may have taken after murdering his victims.

Plus, the mystery deepening after China's top diplomat vanishes without a trace. A U.S. official now telling "The Washington Post" the missing foreign minister had many enemies in the communist party. So what happened to him? This is a special report that you will see first OUTFRONT.


BURNETT: Tonight, Bounty paper towels, specifically from the Bounty modern print collection. A new search warrant revealing potential trophies that accused serial killer, Rex Heuermann, may have kept that could be key to the murders. The paper towels among them.

Now, this is according to "The Chester News and Reporter" which has seen the warrant. This is a neighbor of Heuermann comes forward tonight telling NewsNation that he heard Heuermann digging in his backyard in the early hours of the morning. This comes just one day after investigators told us they believe that Heuermann likely committed some of the murders at his home.

Jean Casarez is OUTFRONT.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The guy was odd and strange but never violent.

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Neighbors of the suspected serial killer speaking out about his past behavior.


One telling NewsNation Heuermann dug holes in his backyard, another saying that they remain friendly after a confrontation 28 years ago, when Heuermann would look over the fence and try to talk to his wife while she was sunbathing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It happened so many times that finally I pulled him over and said, we had to talk.

CASAREZ: Residents in this Long Island suburb still in shock.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Something like this to happen, right under our nose.

CASAREZ: As authorities continue to collect and investigate potential evidence, they are now trying to determine if the alleged serial killer may have committed the murders of Melissa Barthelemy, Megan Waterman, and Amber Costello, right in his own home.

Investigators are combing through Heuermann's home, searching for clues, including personal effects linked to the victims.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every piece of evidence that could be gathered, whether from storage containers or from his home could be valuable not only to the murders that he's currently being charged with, but more importantly, if we could connect them to other murders.

CASAREZ: But it is the forensic evidence from possible victim that will establish the home as the primary crime scene. Documents say authorities believe they already have circumstantial evidence that points to the Long Island home where victims may have been murdered. In 2022, a comprehensive investigation revealed for the first time,

Heuermann used burner phones to arrange dates with the victims. Documents state before each victim went missing, triangulation of cellphone tower data showed the burner phones and the victims phones traveled to Massapequa, Long Island, at about the same time as a Heuermann, where his family home was located. They were never seen again.

Heuermann was charged in the murder of the three women, he has pleaded not guilty. Legal documents also reveal Heuermann's wife, Asa Ellerup, was out of town each and every time that the three victims were last seen. On Thursday, Heuermann's wife filing for divorce from her husband of more than 27 years.

Her attorney telling CNN in a statement, the sensitive nature of her husband's arrest is taking an emotional toll on the immediate and extended family, especially their elderly family members. Authorities are also expanding the investigation as well as looking to see if you are a man is connected to unsolved homicide cases in Nevada, South Carolina, and New Jersey.


CASAREZ (on camera): And crime scene processing of that family home will continue this weekend. You know, Erin, this is one of the longest crime scene processing of a home that I've ever seen. They are looking to see of the murders were committed in the home.

They have got to find forensics that show that those women, those young women, were in that home. And this all happened in 2009, 2010.

BURNETT: Wow. All right. And, of course, there's all the others out there is still looking into to see if they could charge him with more, in New York and other states as Jean's reporting shows.

Thank you so much.

And next, he became a member of Xi Jinping's inner circle after his wife reportedly made mooncakes for the Chinese leader family. They're close. But now, he's missing. What happened? A special report, next OUTFRONT.

And we'll remember the true music legend Tony Bennett, the king of duets.



BURNETT: Tonight, 26 days and no sign of China's top diplomat, with no explanation from the Chinese government. Mysterious disappearance of China's foreign minister, Qin Gang is spurring wild speculation around the world. A senior U.S. official telling Washington columnist Josh Rogin that Qin could be a victim of political infighting, saying, quote, Qin has a huge number of enemies inside the government. He was a marginally talented person who just through being close with Xi, catapulted up.

And that, and I continued the quote here, after Qin's wife gave Xi's wife homemade mooncakes, Qin won entrance into Xi's inner social circle.

Will Ripley is OUTFRONT.


QIN GANG, CHINESE FM: China has every right to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: As China's ambassador to the U.S., Qin Gang was combative and controversial.

QIN: We are fully justified to do what we must.

RIPLEY: Polarizing, persuasive, performing under pressure, a patriotic poster child of China's wolf warrior diplomacy, for an assertive new era under Xi Jinping. China's powerful president promoted his loyal aid to foreign minister last December, a meteoric rise, making Qin, China's second most powerful diplomat, darting around the world, welcoming allies and adversaries to Beijing. Just last month, U.S. secretary of state, Antony Blinken, and his last known meaning on the 25th with Russia's deputy foreign minister.

Since then, he's been missing for more than three weeks. Absent from high-profile visits by top U.S. officials, Janet Yellen, John Kerry, and most recently, former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It's very rare for senior Chinese diplomat to have gone missing more than 20 days ago. In my memory, that has never happened before.

RIPLEY: China saying that he was unable to attend meetings due to health reasons. But even that, official expeditions later deleted from the Chinese foreign ministry website. The ministry often leaves out contacted deemed sensitive for its transcripts.

Qin's disappearance was also not mentioned in China's state-controlled media, fueling intense speculation online. On Chinese social media, one Weibo user asked, we can't guess what happened to him. And others saying, is this how our wolf warriors end up?

China's diplomacy is on a busy schedule these days, driven by a stream of high-level exchanges between Beijing and Washington.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The fact that the Chinese foreign minister has disappeared in this particular time has created a lot of attention, and discussions.

RIPLEY: Discussions fueled by China's authoritarian system, a one- party state focused on Xi Jinping, China's most powerful leader in decades. Few outsiders know what's on his mind -- the lack of transparency igniting discussions about the missing foreign minister, and what his future might hold. QIN: It's great to have you.


RIPLEY (on camera): Erin, it seems that literally nobody is safe in Xi Jinping's China, a China that has disappeared A-list movie stars basically, wipe them off of existence on the Internet and television because they did something that ran afoul with the government. And now, you have so much, so many questions about what could've happened to the second most powerful diplomat in this massive country who has just vanished, still trying to figure out what happened.

BURNETT: Amazing. All right. Thank you so much Will Ripley.


And next, we will remember the legendary Grammy winner, Tony Bennett.


BURNETT: And, finally, the loss of a legend. Tony Bennett, iconic singer, songwriter who entertained generations, has died.

Here's Chloe Melas.


CHLOE MELAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER (voice-over): For eight decades, Tony Bennett thrilled audiences with his golden voice and smooth style.

Earning 19 Grammy awards and a lifetime achievement award along the way.

Winning admiration from legions of fans, as well as legends like Frank Sinatra.

But as his early popularity waned, Bennett struggled with drugs and debt. His son Danny helped him recover from both and helped him revitalize his career.

Later in life, despite being diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2016, Bennett kept performing.

In 2011, he teamed up with Lady Gaga, touring the world and releasing two albums together.

Forming a friendship that bridged the generations.

LADY GAGA, SINGER: Just like Frank Sinatra said, he's the best in the business.

MELAS: At the age of 85, he was the oldest living artist with a number one album. Then for his 90th birthday, the City by the Bay honoring Bennett with a statue in front of the hotel where he first performed "I Left My Heart in San Francisco", 55 years earlier. And to celebrate Bennett's 95th birthday -- Tony Bennett performs one

last time, sharing the stage with Lady Gaga at Radio City Music Hall., making his swan song in this hallowed halls.

And leaving a lasting legacy. He was 96.

Chloe Melas, CNN, New York.


BURNETT: It's amazing how his voice never grow old.

Thanks so much for joining us on this Friday.

"AC360" start now.