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Erin Burnett Outfront
Grand Jury An Apparent No-Show as Trump Braces For Charges; McCarthy Makes Most Direct Impeachment Threat Against Biden; Trevor Reed, Ex-U.S. Marine Released by Russia In A Prisoner Swap, Injured While Fighting in Ukraine; LeBron James's Son Bronny Suffers Cardiac Arrest; CNN's KFILE: RFK Jr. Campaign Paid Republicans, Anti-Vaxxers; Chinese Foreign Minister Replaced, Whereabouts Still Unknown. Aired 7- 8p ET
Aired July 25, 2023 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, all eyes on the federal grand jury. What today's no-show could mean for an indictment against Trump. Trump's former White House lawyer Ty Cobb will be OUTFRONT.
Plus, new reporting from the KFILE this hour on where RFK Jr.'s money is going. Why the Democratic candidate for president is paying Republicans and anti-vaxxers who compared mandates to the Holocaust.
And a story we've been following closely OUTFRONT. China breaking its silence about that missing foreign minister who vanished more than a month ago. He's been replaced. No word, though, on where he is or why he was purged.
Let's go OUTFRONT.
BURNETT: And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.
OUTFRONT tonight, no show. There was no sign today of the federal grand jury in the case involving Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election. And the reason is unclear. But it was significant because we do know that the jury is expected to meet every Tuesday and every Thursday.
And we do know the activity in this particular investigation has been ramping up. And by all current accounts, is expected to end in a criminal indictment of the former president. Trump, in fact, has been bracing for any moment for an indictment since receiving the target letter from the special counsel. And that was nine days ago.
The case would, of course, if an indictment comes, as it could at any time, adding to Trump's already packed court schedule, which is in the center of the 2024 Republican primary season. I just want to show you this calendar so you can see it for yourself. In yellow, those are the known dates for Republican primaries next year.
And then in red, three of Trump's upcoming court dates -- January 15th, second E. Jean Carroll civil defamation trial. March 25th is the Manhattan hush money trial with the D.A. Alvin Bragg. And May 20th is the beginning of the Mar-a-Lago classified documents trial in Florida.
And hold that up for a second, because those red, those are just start dates, right? Once you start, you have a certain number of days or weeks where a trial would go on. So, as you can see, it is going to be a situation where these cases are happening while primary voters are casting their ballots. It will dominate the GOP election cycle, and I haven't even added in the potential indictment that could be coming January 6th or in Georgia.
And because of that overlapping the primary season, one of Trump's biggest allies on Capitol Hill, the speaker, Kevin McCarthy, is now trying to change the subject for the first time, directly threatening President Biden with impeachment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: And this is rising to the level of impeachment inquiry. This president has also used something we have not seen since Richard Nixon, used the weaponization of government to benefit his family.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: All right. Now, that was last night. Not even 24 hours later, here's McCarthy again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCARTHY: You've got to get to the bottom of the truth. And the only way Congress can do that is go to impeachment inquiry.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: This is significant because he hasn't been talking about that, he hasn't been using that word, he hasn't been bringing up. And now, suddenly twice within 24 hours.
Paula Reid is OUTFRONT live in Washington to begin our coverage tonight.
And, Paula, I started the show with the words "no show". You know, we were expecting on Tuesday, on Thursday, the grand jury which doesn't necessarily mean it's exactly tied to when news may break of a possible indictment. But what do you know about why the federal grand jury did not appear to meet today when this case appears to be coming to a head?
PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: It does appear to be coming to a head. And while this grand jury does usually meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays, that schedule can be amended to suit the needs of prosecutors. But, as you said, today there was no indication they were in the courthouse. But prosecutors have plenty of other work to do. Over the past 48 hours, they have received thousands of documents created by the team of lawyers that then President Trump assembled to try to find any evidence of fraud in the 2020 election.
Erin, late last night, we obtained many of those documents after reviewing them. None of them really seem critical to any possible prosecution of former President Trump. And it still remains our reporting that an indictment could come any day. He has received a target letter. He has been given the opportunity, which he declined to go before the grand jury.
Erin, there is one other thing at play here. Even if prosecutors were ready to indict the former president, it is unlikely they would do that this week because tomorrow is a high-profile hearing for President Biden's son Hunter Biden.
This is the hearing to solidify a plea deal he has reached with the Justice Department, and it is unlikely that Attorney General Merrick Garland who has spent his entire time in office trying to restore trust in the Justice Department, trying to prove to people that there is no political bias that he would want to do anything that would overshadow that. So even if they're ready this week, it is likely that that would be a consideration from the attorney general.
So, we'll be watching, that hearing is tomorrow, Wednesday. And then on Thursday, we'll be watching again for the grand jury.
BURNETT: All right. Paula, thank you very much.
And I want to go now to Ty Cobb, the former Trump White House lawyer.
And, Ty, as Paula said, no sign of the grand jury meeting of this case today. Many people, including yourself, thought that we would have an indictment by now. So what do you think might be slowing this down?
TY COBB, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE LAWYER: So, I'm not convinced 100 percent that it's slowed down. There is still the possibility that a sealed indictment was returned last Thursday, and that it hasn't been unsealed.
On the other hand, there's nothing that indicates that that's real, just like there's nothing that indicates when Jack Smith will reveal whatever indictment he's going to bring.
So, but that is a possibility, and could be an explanation as to why the grand jury didn't meet today.
With regard to the timing, though, I do believe that, you know, Smith is determined to go. I think he's probably not included in the strategic discussions about when or how to announce this that Merrick Garland is guiding, only to the extent that he will be given the green light at some point to release the indictment, because I don't think he's making any political decisions. I think the fact that the potential for an indictment on Thursday, you know, might somehow impugn the integrity of this process, which has been ongoing for two years now.
COBB: I don't -- I don't think that's -- I don't think that should be a major concern, and I think if they're ready to go on Thursday, they will.
BURNETT: Do you think --
COBB: I think the odds are, I was going to say, I think the odds are 50/50 on a release Thursday or next week.
BURNETT: So, on that front, let me ask you. I know you were noting that after the target letter was received by Trump, there was a change in counsel, and that perhaps even though, as Paula points out, Trump did not personally avail himself of the right to appear before the grand jury. Perhaps that new counsel who was coming in knew is.
COBB: Yes. That's also a possibility. There's nothing that -- again, there's nothing out there that indicates one way or the other that that's happening. On the other hand, if I took over a case like this, you know, immediately after a target letter, I would sure want to talk to Jack Smith. And, you know, there's no reason for Jack not to do that. Both he and are alumni of the eastern district of New York's U.S. attorney's office. It's a courtesy that would not be uncommon.
On the other hand, there's nothing that Lauro knowing as little as he does about the case, given the short time he's been allowed to be in it, is going to say that it's going to change Jack Smith's approach or decision.
BURNETT: And, just to be clear, I want to make sure what I said was clear, that Lauro had the right to ask for a meeting possibly with the special counsel.
COBB: Yeah, absolutely.
BURNETT: I said grand jury, just to make sure you heard me clearly.
COBB: No, that's right.
BURNETT: So, the Fulton County D.A. in this context, right, there's been this expectation of course that first goes Jack Smith, then goes Fani Willis. She had announced remote work days for the weeks of August 7th and 14th. And extra security needed which led everybody to believe that that was her plan.
Are they in lockstep? Are they working together? Does Jack Smith go and then Fani Willis go? Or are we all read too much into this?
COBB: Well, I don't think we've read too much into it. I mean, it is I mean, there is a tension here. If you're Jack Smith, you do not want a Florida -- excuse me, a Georgia district attorney to set out in a lengthy RICO case. You know, the theory -- her theory of the election fraud -- or not election fraud, but the election prosecutions that, you know, Smith is -- Smith is, you know, more well-versed and has more authority and power.
So, Smith needs to, I think, get out before she does in order to set the terrain and the terms under which the election interference charges are going to be dealt with. And it may be, for example, in Michigan, we saw the indictment of fake electors. It may be that Willis' case is as limited as that and not much more. Or if she may have a more wide-ranging case, we just won't know until we see what she does.
There are many motions pending in that case that are actually quite serious in terms of the arguments raised by the Trump team in terms of how the initial grand jury was used, and whether there were any abuses there and motions to recuse Willis, the appellate court has rejected, taking over -- taking that over so far. We'll see what happens after the indictment. But I think Smith, you know, has to and wants to be out in front of her.
BURNETT: All right. Well, obviously the clock is ticking here, as we say every day, every night. Ty, thank you very much.
COBB: Thank you, Erin.
BURNETT: And, as I mentioned, in the context of all this focus of the calendar, that no matter what happens here in these next two anticipated indictments, you've got a very busy primary and legal schedule for the former president. The House Speaker Kevin McCarthy today seeming to take offense to the idea that he's caving to the far- right fringes of his party in talking about impeachment.
Those fringes, of course, have been pushing hard for Biden's impeachment since Republicans took the House, right? It was one of their premises from the very beginning, right? They win, they move to impeach.
He has held the fort on that, but now different. Here's how he responded to a question about his stance against those fringes today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: What do you say to the moderates in your party who say you continue to decide and appease the right wing on many issues, including something like this?
MCCARTHY: Such as what?
REPORTER: I'm talking about an impeachment inquiry of President Biden, on appropriations, on a long list of things.
MCCARTHY: Well, I don't know because you haven't quoted anybody. You just say something -- you say -- you frame some brand of something.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, Larry Hogan, the former Republican governor of Maryland, also a national co-chair for No Labels, which is an organization supporting a third-party candidate. So, Governor Hogan, the House Speaker brings up impeaching President
Biden twice in 24 hours. He has been loathed to do so for months, right, ever since taking over, even though there were some who very actively have called for that since the very beginning of the Republican dominating the House.
Is this where he should be focusing his time now?
LARRY HOGAN (R), FORMER MARYLAND GOVERNOR: Well, no. I think it was really a mistake on the part of the speaker, and I think his messaging was really poor. Look, there are some serious allegations that are out there. But to jump ahead and throw this out the way that he did, you know, it looks as if it's the same back and forth, you know, Democrats -- the Republicans are complaining about the weaponization of the Justice Department and about the justice system in general. And yet we're going to try to weaponize it ourselves.
I mean, it's just really bad. What they should be focused on is things that really matter to the average voter, which is, you know, like fixing the economy and doing something about crime in our cities and focusing on improving education instead of this back and forth just fighting with one another. It's what most people are sort of completely fed up with, with the divisiveness and dysfunction in Washington really on both sides.
BURNETT: So, this is the most direct threat Speaker McCarthy has made against President Biden, as I indicated, Governor, and he's doing it, obviously, in the context of the clock ticking, right? This historic indictment of President Trump may come at any moment. So, do you think the two are related?
You're bringing up the perception is, well, we're saying you weaponize it, so how high do I need to jump, right? I mean, do you think the two are related?
HOGAN: Well, it's -- I can't, you know, just speculate as to what prompted the speaker's comments. I know that there are Republicans who have very serious concerns about some of the allegations against President Biden or the Biden family.
HOGAN: But the timing of it is certainly suspect. No question about that.
BURNETT: Right, absolutely.
All right. So, I want to ask you about obviously what we're seeing with the 2024 candidates. The 2024 nomination, you got Donald Trump obviously remaining the undeniable frontrunner. Monmouth poll just today has him leading Ron DeSantis by 32 points. And it comes on the same day that we've learned DeSantis is slashing a third of his campaign staff. Not a good sign.
Is there any way for DeSantis to turn his campaign around, as you see it? [19:15:03]
HOGAN: Well, it's a great question. Obviously, they're in serious rebuild mode. And the fact that he's apparently blown through a whole lot of money in a short of period that he has to get rid of one-third of his staff. It's certainly not, and the fact that he's been consistently dropping week after week.
I wouldn't say it's over, but it's certainly not going very well. And the fact that people seem to have taken a look at DeSantis as a possible alternative to Trump. And then went back to Trump because he's up higher than ever, which is somewhat amazing given the current circumstances that they finds himself in.
BURNETT: So, in this context, the Senator Mitt Romney from Utah who is an anti-Trump Republican, wants to pressure GOP candidate who's don't do well in the early vote stages just to drop out. He writes in "The Wall Street Journal" op-ed today, Republican mega donors and influences, large and small going to have to do something they didn't do in 2016, get candidates they support to agree to withdraw if and when their paths to the nomination are effectively closed. Left to their own inclinations, expect several of the contenders to stay in the race for a long time. They will split the non-Trump vote, giving him the prize.
Do you agree with Senator Romney?
HOGAN: Well, look, I have been saying for a long time that we've got to figure out how to get somebody that can defeat Donald Trump to move in a different direction. It's one of the reasons why I decided not to enter the Republican primary field, did not want a repeat of 2016, and not too many people listened to me because there are now 12 people running in the race and it's exactly what's happening.
You know, all of the talk about the Trump legal issues, you would think it was going to hurt him. It's actually brought people to rally around him to defend him. And it's also sucked all the oxygen out of the room. So we have -- we have 11 people that really aren't getting much attention or much traction.
And I think some of them are not going to make that debate stage. And they have to do some serious soul searching right away, maybe get out of the race. Then I think it's going to start to winnow down here by the end of the year, people aren't going to raise enough money, the very first couple of states.
I agree, you know, everybody has a right to get out there and make their case. But our best chance of moving the Republican Party in a different direction, selecting a nominee that can actually compete and win an election in November, we can't have 11 people trying to fight for scraps.
BURNETT: All right. Well, Governor Hogan, I appreciate your time. Thank you.
HOGAN: Thank you, Erin. BURNETT: All right. And, next, the former U.S. marine Trevor Reed. You
may remember him. He was released by Putin during a prisoner swap last year. Well, guess what, he just showed up injured in Ukraine. What was he doing there on a battlefield?
Plus, the son of NBA superstar LeBron James recovering from cardiac arrest. Elon Musk seizing on the health scare to push an anti-vax conspiracy theory. A cardiologist who works with professional basketball players will be OUTFRONT.
And how is Democratic presidential candidate Robert Kennedy Jr. spending all this money he's been getting? Well, guess what? Our KFILE looked into it, and you'll be surprised with what he found in his new reporting this hour.
BURNETT: Tonight, Trevor Reed, the former U.S. marine who was freed from Russia in a prisoner swap just over a year ago, was just injured while fighting in Ukraine.
Now, Reed was wrongfully detained in Russia for nearly three years in this -- obviously was sent to a Kyiv hospital and evacuated to Germany to receive medical care. One U.S. official telling CNN there are now concerns about what effect this could have on future negotiations to free Americans who are still detained in Russia, people like Paul Whelan.
OUTFRONT now, Christo Grozev, the lead Russia investigator for Bellingcat. He's been placed on Russia's most wanted list for his work which includes uncovering the men who poisoned the top Putin critic Alexei Navalny, who, of course, is languishing now in a prison in a work camp.
So, Christo, Trevor Reed gets freed in a prisoner swap, and this was obviously a huge focus, took a long time to have happen. He shows up in Ukraine, gets injured there. How does Putin see this?
CHRISTO GROZEV, LEAD RUSSIA INVESTIGATOR, BELLINGCAT: Well, we have to be honest about it, it's not the perfect look for Trevor, or for the United States here because it seems like it's all a government conspiracy. It looks -- it will be presented by Putin in the next few days. There hasn't been that much coverage. It was covered as an event in Russia, but not much instrumentalization of this event in Russian media. They're still waiting for instructions on how to present this. I'm sure they will give those tomorrow.
But they will try to present this as, you see, it's old. There is a lot of mercenaries from America. There's a lot of actual involvement of American marines in the war. They will probably inflate the numbers from approximately a thousand Americans who are fighting there as volunteers to maybe 10,000. So, I think this will be the angle --
BURNETT: Well, they used to say, look, this is what happens when we let somebody go in a prisoner swap so don't do it again? I mean, does it really go there?
GROZEV: Well, I mean, of course, they will try to raise the price of their negotiation leverage because of this example in future negotiations. And we know that there is currently no negotiation for a number of -- to Americans and maybe other prisoners that are held by Russia. And, of course, Russia will use this as leverage to say, you see, it's so hard for us to do this because you send them back to war.
GROZEV: But remember that one of the most desired prisoners that Russia wants to get back is a convicted killer, a convicted assassin that's Vadim Krasikov, who assassinated somebody on behalf of President Putin in Germany. There's not even much denial of that by the Kremlin.
So it's going to be a hard oral argument to make, well, we can't release Evan, the journalist, but we want to have a convicted killer released. So that will not be a strong argument.
BURNETT: Right, Evan Gershkovich, of course, who's also awaiting his fate as every day passes here. So this comes, Christo, as "The Washington Post" reports that on the night of the rebellion, that Putin was essentially paralyzed and unable to act decisively. In those initial hours, he was silent.
So, lower-level officials were waiting, and they were waiting for somebody to give guidance on what was going to happen, what they were going to do. Your reporting also shows something quite powerful about what was happening in those hours.
GROZEV: Yeah. We actually broke the story on your program that in the night of the supposed coup, the aborted coup, top generals from the military intelligence were not as interested as you would expect them to be in resolving the situation. And when we analyzed further those phone calls, hundreds and hundreds of phone calls of military officers, we found that the top GRU officer in charge of waging the war in Ukraine --
BURNETT: The top GRU officer?
GROZEV: The top GRU officer is the number two in the whole GRU system. And he was in charge of Ukraine. He called his girlfriend more than 40 times in the middle of the night. It seems like they were binge- watching on a show, like talking to each other, what do you think will happen next?
He only called his colleague a total of ten times, like the top- ranking colleague he called ten times. Forty times with his girlfriend. This is not serious. Clearly, he was not --
BURNETT: Right. In the middle of a potential coup --
GROZEV: Yeah. BURNETT: -- that's not what you would be doing.
GROZEV: No, no. But we also know and we've reported our investigative partner, the inside reporter on a couple of days, and a very good story where they -- we called some of the participants, and -- or some of the officials that agreed to talk to us to ask them what they did on that day, on that evening.
And many of them were honest enough to say, well, we just waited it out. I mean, one of them even said I continued drinking because I didn't want to be summoned to work, I just didn't want to get -- take a side in this.
GROZEV: So they just waited. They're on the fence.
BURNETT: So, -- OK, now -- which is really incredible, right? Not rushing to the defense and not even just the gossiping on it, as you say, almost it seems. So, you're reporting also on some drone attacks against Russia. Now, we've obviously heard about the Moscow attack this week and against Crimea. But you have some new details there.
GROZEV: Well, I mean, what is interesting now is that this must've been the most sort of numerous attacks by drones performed by Ukraine during the war. We count -- I counted at least 20, maybe 21 drones launched on that day two days ago to Russia from Ukrainian territory. There's no doubt that these didn't come from a place inside Russia. They came from Ukrainian territory.
That is -- that is very important because while in Crimea where approximately 17 drones were reported sighted. And one of them hit a munition depot, it takes much bigger power to reach Moscow. That's at least 600 kilometers above 400 miles to get from the closest border point to Moscow.
And at least three of the drones reached Moscow. Two of them hit locations downtown in Moscow. One of them hit Komsomolsky prospect number 20, that is the address that houses the most secretive cyberattack, cyber offensive unit of the GRU, the same unit that actually interfered with elections in the United States in 2016, 2018. They tried to -- this is the so-called Fancy Bear headquarters.
A Ukrainian drone got all the way there. And it -- true, it didn't destroy the building but it -- you can see it's debris just in front of the secretive location. It's not a good sign for Russia.
And another drone was found crashed right next to another communications facility, which coordinates all the communication between the Navy ships of Russia. Again, this is just a show of force and a future attack with more drones is likely to cause much more damage. BURNETT: Right, and they have -- and they have the intel know exactly
where all these places are, which, you know, showing -- showing that proof.
All right. Christo, thank you very much. Christo Grozev -- and you'll see more of his reporting, of course, coming out soon.
And, next, the 18-year-old son of NBA superstar LeBron James collapsing on the court after suffering cardiac arrest. How does this happen? And what happened?
And Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s campaign paying money to Republicans and to an anti-vax activist who compared vaccine mandates to the Holocaust. This new KFILE reporting is OUTFRONT, ahead.
BURNETT: Tonight, the 18-year-old son of NBA superstar LeBron James suffering cardiac arrest. It happened during a workout at the University of Southern California where Bronny James plays basketball.
The terrifying incident was quickly filed -- followed by wild speculation on conspiracy theories. Elon Musk today suggesting that the COVID vaccine caused Bronny's cardiac arrest, tweeting: we cannot ascribe everything to the vaccine, but by the same token, we cannot describe nothing. Myocarditis is a known side effect. The only question is whether it is rare or common.
What we do know answers to some of those questions and I'm going to get to that in a moment. We also do not know if James suffered from myocarditis.
I do want to go first to Natasha Chen. She is at the USC campus in Los Angeles tonight.
And, Natasha, what can you tell us about how Bronny is doing tonight?
NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, his family is not releasing much in terms of details, but did confirm this happened at the Galen Center, right behind me where the USC basketball team practices. It happened Monday morning.
He is out of the ICU now and in stable condition. The family also said that the medical staff here were able to treat him and take him to a hospital. Their statement reads, in part: LeBron and Savannah wish to publicly send their deepest thanks and appreciation to the USC medical and athletic staff for their incredible work and dedication to the safety of their athletes.
Now, the James family was seen in public just about two weeks ago at the Espy Awards where LeBron James was accepting an award, standing on stage with his wife and children who he called his greatest blessing, particularly saying how proud he is of his two sons and their own basketball journey. Bronny James, 18 years old, just committed to USC this spring. The
team had announced that they were going on a European tour starting August 5th. That's likely what they were practicing for. Bronny James ranked number 20 in ESPN's class of 2023. His father telling "The Athletic" last year that his goal was to stay in the NBA so he can play alongside his son.
And now, of course, all of that may be affected by what happened yesterday, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Natasha, thank you very much for that update.
And I want to bring in Dr. Matthew Martinez now. He's the director of Atlantic Health System Sports Cardiology at Morristown Medical Center. He's also a consulting cardiologist with the NBA Players Association, the NFL, the NHL, and Major League Soccer.
So, Dr. Martinez, you know more about a terrifying situation like this than almost anyone. And, sadly, often a very deadly situation. Bronny James is extremely young, 18 years old, going into cardiac arrest, it's his first season of basketball at USC.
Can you explain how something like this happens to somebody so young?
DR. MATTHEW MARTINEZ, SPORTS CARDIOLOGY DIRECTOR, ATLANTIC HEALTH SYSTEM: You know, it's a rare event. So, in exercises (ph) medicine, it's safe to participate in sports. We think in this age group under the age of 35, it occurs somewhere between 1 in 50,000 and 1 in 100,000 individuals.
As you say, it's usually in a young, otherwise healthy athlete.
We know that some athletes are at higher risk than others, men more so than women, African American men. But the highest risk, in fact, African American basketball players are the highest risk.
So, if you're playing basketball, football, or soccer, those are the highest-risk sports, men more than women, an African American men believe that. But these are rare events, no question.
BURNETT: And, so, you know, in this context, Elon Musk comes out today weighing in on the COVID vaccine, saying that it could've been responsible for what happened to Bronny. He tweets: We cannot ascribe everything to the vaccine, but, by the same token, we can not ascribe nothing. Myocarditis is a known side effect. The only question is whether it's rare or common.
Now, obviously, there are a lot of studies have been done on this. But it does touch on fears that a lot of people have. Doctor, what's your response to what Musk is saying?
MARTINEZ: My response is that myocarditis is definitely a cause of sudden death in young athletes but not a common cause. If you look at the data, which we published last year on athletes and professional athletes, COVID causes myocarditis under 1 percent of the time. So, myocarditis occurred before COVID. Myocarditis will occur after COVID. But it is one of the causes but not a common cause.
And the vaccine, based on data from Yale, causes myocarditis or inflammation of the heart muscle somewhere around 30 out of every 100,000 vaccines. And COVID the virus, the illness causes it twice as much, about 60 per 100,000.
So it's still better to -- safer to have the vaccine than it is to have COVID itself. And all of that happens usually in the first 21 days based on what the data. If you had the vaccine six months ago, it shouldn't be involved.
BURNETT: Right, which I think is important that you point out, and also those statistics that, yes, it can cause it, but the virus itself causes it more often than the vaccine from the studies thus far. You know, Bronny James is the second USC basketball player in the past year to suffer cardiac arrest.
And, of course, we all know about Damar Hamlin from the Buffalo Bills, collapsed at that football game. He was 24 years old. His heart just stopped. Obviously, he's recovering.
In the case of Hamlin, there was wild speculation, again, about the role of the COVID vaccine. It was unfounded, Doctor, but it was very prevalent. Do you have any hesitation at this point about recommending the COVID vaccine to young men?
MARTINEZ: We are currently recommending it. I don't have any reservations. The data analysis, in my mind, strong regards to the safety of this and the potential benefit related to the vaccine. So, I think USC should be commended for their emergency action plan and their utility of CPR. The message behind this is that you can't predict it, but when it happens, you better be ready.
BURNETT: And I want to ask you about one other thing, because obviously, as I mentioned, you know, you work with the players association, NBA, NHL, NFL, Major League Soccer. In this context, LeBron James himself has been extremely vocal about wanting to play in the NBA with Bronny.
Here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEBRON JAMES, NBA PLAYER: I got to be on the floor with my boy. I got to be on the floor with Bronny.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Obviously, you're not treating him. So you're not able to give a definitive answer. But do you think that could still be possible given what has happened?
MARTINEZ: Possible for sure. So the diagnosis matters, and we can develop a plan. And then we can talk about prognosis. We are actually publishing data on this in genetic heart disease,
depends on what he ends up having. A plan can be delivered. We can work with an exercise plan and we develop that plan for safety including all the stakeholders.
Absolutely, this is an opportunity for Bronny to still play. They'd have to decide what's wrong and come up with a therapy before we tell you if that's safe or not.
BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you very much, Dr. Martinez. I appreciate your time.
MARTINEZ: Thanks for having me.
BURNETT: And, next, Democratic presidential candidate RFK Jr. telling Congress just last week that he is not anti-vaccine, although, of course, the tape proves otherwise.
And new reporting from CNN's KFILE tonight will reveal that RFK, Jr.'s campaign has actually been paying anti-vax advocates. You'll see it for yourself.
And China officially announcing its top diplomat has been replaced. No mention, though, of where he is, where he's been for more than a month. He vanished without a trace, scrubbed from government websites. So where is he tonight, and is he even still alive?
BURNETT: Tonight, Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s campaign paying money for consulting and other services to anti- vaccine activists, public health conspiracy theorists, and Republicans.
Now, this is according to campaign finance statements reviewed by CNN's own KFILE. One of those anti-vaccine advocates compared vaccines with the persecution of Jewish people during the Holocaust, which is something himself Kennedy did last year when he suggested that Anne Frank was in a better situation than people living under vaccine mandates.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT F. KENNEDY, JR. (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Even in Hitler's Germany, you could cross the Alps into Switzerland, you could hide in an attic like Anne Frank did.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Andrew Kaczynski is the senior editor of KFILE. And Harry Enten is our senior data reporter.
So, Andrew, let me start with you and your reporting. RFK Jr. is a longtime spreader of vaccine misinformation. But now, his campaign is actually paying people who are -- you know, that's their track record, that's their view, that's what they do.
What more are you learning about who is making money from RFK Jr.'s campaign?
ANDREW KACZYNSKI, SENIOR EDITOR OF KFILE: Yeah, that's right. His filings show that some of those people that he paid were anti-vaccine and public health conspiracy theorists. Now, this guy that he paid who wore a Jewish star to protest vaccine mandates. And this was in 2019, even a year before COVID.
Now, this guy that he paid, he paid him for communications consulting. Those are typically the people that you pay to keep yourself out of the headlines, not to get you into the headlines.
Another group that he paid were associated with spreading this false claim that genetically modified foods could cause autism, and these are just a few of the people that he paid. Somebody that he paid hosts a podcast that frequently discussed aliens and created a clubhouse channel where -- and I'm reading this from the story -- they discussed witchcraft. Users discuss witchcraft and reptilian humanoids.
BURNETT: Reptilian humanoids.
KACZYNSKI: Reptilian humanoids.
BURNETT: And he's paying these people?
KACZYNSKI: These are everybody, it's in the filings, absolutely.
BURNETT: This is incredible. So those are some examples.
Now, obviously last week he was at this hearing, the star witness for the Republicans in the hearing for the weaponization of the federal government. That's what they call the committee. And they say that during his testimony there, he got $5 million in donations.
So just in the few hours that he was sitting there on C-Span, the money's flowing in. And now you're finding that this tie to Republicans is not just talking to Republicans and appearing at their hearings, it's deeper.
KACZYNSKI: Yeah. And so, this is a Democratic primary you typically would expect to see a campaign paying Democrats. But that's not what we found. We found thousands of dollars of payments to Republican either through their firms or individually.
And it's not, you know, super surprising, because -- and I'm sure Harry is going to talk a little bit about this. But who is boosting his campaign? Who are his supporters? Republicans. Who does he have those good favorability ratings with? Republicans.
So -- and, of course, these anti-vaccine activists, people who share his views who he also supports. BURNETT: I mean, it's amazing, paying the guy who wore the Jewish
star, paying someone for communications reptilian humanoids. People would think you were doing a comedy skit, but this is real. This is from FEC filings.
So, Harry, RFK, Jr. is more popular among Democrats than Republicans to the point Andrew's making, right?
HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, in fact it's the inverse. We can take a look at the net favorability rating. What we see here is among Republicans, he's running at plus 26 points. Among Democrats, it's the exact inverse. He's running at minus 26 points.
So everything he's doing may appeal to Republicans, but it's very much turning off Democrats.
BURNETT: Okay. But, overall, what's amazing when you hear all this, I think it's important to emphasize, he's likeable. People like him.
ENTEN: Yeah. You know, if you look at the net favorability ratings, overall, RFK Jr. is the only one of the candidates running who have any sort of real name recognition who has a net favorability that's positive, that's positive. It's plus three percentage points.
And you look here, you see Joe Biden is well underwater at minus 14 points. Donald Trump is well even further underwater at minus 19 points. At this particular point, we may sit on this set and be like what is RFK Jr. talking about. But the fact is voters at this particular point, a good number of them, actually like him.
BURNETT: Right, and what's amazing about this, you hear Chris Christie will slam him and Democrats will slam him, right? The people in the moderate center lane, and I understand that's a subjective definition, but that's where you get the criticism from both sides from all these headlines we're getting, people who hear these things and say this isn't okay. But are the negative headlines hurting him, more broadly?
ENTEN: Not really, no. I mean, take a look at the net favorability ratings in July versus June. What you see is they're basically staying about the same, within the margin error. Plus, five points in June, plus three points in July. All those negative headlines have not really damaged his net favorability rating.
BURNETT: And that's something that a lot of people can take note of.
BURNETT: Thank you both very much.
And, next, he was part of Xi Jinping's inner circle. Now China's top diplomat, who's missing, been missing, is now replaced in a dramatic fashion. Any trace of his tenure completely wiped from the Internet. So what the heck happened?
And investigators turning up, quote, quite a lot of evidence in their search of the Gilgo Beach murder suspect's home. The latest on that, next.
BURNETT: Tonight, the mystery deepens. The Chinese government breaking its silence about missing Foreign Minister Qin Gang but doesn't acknowledge he's been missing for 30 days or even nod to where he might be. Public speculation has been running rampant since Gang was last seen in public with this Russian diplomat. We're showing you the last picture publicly of where he's been seen.
Today, the Chinese government making a very public announcement that Gang has been replaced. His name was scrubbed from China's foreign ministry web page as if he never existed, and they've never given a reason for his removal. But he was the top diplomat, a really important person.
I want to bring in our senior international correspondent Will Ripley, who, of course, has been coffering this for us.
And, Will, Gang was a close ally to Xi Jinping. His wife reportedly carried favor with the president, as you reported by making moon cakes for her. He disappears. They scrub everything of any evidence of him.
But, obviously, he was a huge public figure, the top foreign diplomat. So, now, it seems very huge that they are acknowledging something did go wrong. What can you tell us?
WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, his predecessor Wang Yi was in the position of foreign minister for a decade. They don't have turnover in Chinese upper echelons of their diplomatic ranks. Xi Jinping basically took Qin Gang, helped guide him up through the ranks, gave him this position of foreign minister, the number two diplomat of all of China, the face of China diplomacy. This is the guy who was the U.S. ambassador, who was at the Washington Wizards game trying to do a three-point shot and on CNN the next minute blasting the United States and Nancy Pelosi in saying that China might take military action.
He was true definition of a wolf warrior, who's only -- he's only 57 years old, should have been in this post for quite a long time, especially that, you know, Xi Jinping with this third presidential term, you know, he put people in place who were going to be the people that he can trust, the people that he handpicked to lead China and basically Xi Jinping, the whole system is centered around him.
And so the fact that somebody that was so close to him is now out in such a dramatic and abrupt and secretive manner, it's really -- it indicates that something has gone seriously wrong.
But because of China' opaque political system, Erin, we have no idea what happened. And also, adding to this, he still has an even higher title, Qin Gang still has a title of state counselor, that wasn't taken away from him. So, he hasn't been completely purged but certainly purged from the ministry of foreign affairs and there could be more to come. There could be an investigation, because just don't know, Erin, because it's China.
BURNETT: Well, and, you know what's so fascinating about this, so as you say, every mention of him, every image of him is deleted from the foreign ministry web page. But they can't just sweep him under the rug because everybody knew him, right? I mean, the whole point was he was a top foreign diplomat.
They -- you know, he met with the Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Now they wipe that out too. What's interesting is a lot of sensitive topics out of China, COVID, remember the Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai, our CNN reporting was often blocked. You'd be doing the reporting, they go to bars and tone. They actually just did a few seconds, 30 seconds ago halfway through your report, Will. What do you read into that?
RIPLEY: Well, it's -- you know, the Chinese censors are very heavy- handed on social media. I mean, sometimes there are certain terms that are so innocuous that get completely wiped. And yet they have been allowing people to speculate on social media about what happened to Qin Gang, even speculating to things relating to his personal life, relating to his career, what happens to wolf warriors. Those comments were allowed to stay on social media. And some of our coverage on this topic has been airing in China.
But, you know, you start talking about Xi Jinping, you start talking about the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao and anything sensitive pertaining to him, they went right to the color bars and cut off our signal inside China, which is not surprising. It happens a lot.
But it is interesting how they selectively have been allowing certain things to be out there on social media, on TV, and other things, they cut off the signal.
BURNETT: Right. And interesting as you say, as you did start talking about Xi Jinping, that is when it happened.
All right. Will, thank you very much for all of this. And your insight there. Will reporting live from Seoul tonight.
And next, police concluding their search of the Gilgo Beach murder suspect's home. So what did they find?
BURNETT: Tonight, police completing their search of Gilgo Beach murder suspect Rex Heuermann's home after 12 days. Authorities saying they recovered, quote, quite a lot of evidence in the search. Among their findings, about 280 weapons. The district attorney describing the home as, quote, very cluttered.
Now, the D.A. also said today that no remains were uncovered in the yard, which investigators did spend days digging up using ground- penetrating radar, a also said today that no remains were uncovered in the also said today that no remains were uncovered in the yard, which investigators did spend days digging up using ground-penetrating radar, a police dog, and a backhoe to try to do an exhaustive search. Now investigators face the gargantuan task of parsing their findings for more clues.
Thanks so much for joining us.
"AC360" starts now.