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Erin Burnett Outfront

Trump Braces For Possible Indictments In Two More Cases; Death Toll Rises From Attack On Zelenskyy's Hometown; Trump Remarks Unearthed Of Him Railing Against Those Who Destroy Evidence As He Faces New Obstruction Charge; Veteran GOP Operative On DeSantis: He's the Problem. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired July 31, 2023 - 19:00   ET



ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, two major indictments looming for Trump on this Monday. The D.A. investigating Trump's efforts to overturn Georgia's election says her case is ready to go, as the federal grand jury investigating Trump and the elections meets tomorrow. All of this as special counsel Jack Smith gets new evidence in the Mar-a-Lago case.

Plus, remarkable new video into OUTFRONT of Ukrainian forces taking out one of Putin's prized rocket launches. This is as a Putin arch nemesis who has survived two poisoning attempts loses his appeal. His wife is OUTFRONT.

And a long time Republican operative quits Ron DeSantis. Why he says the problem isn't the campaign, it's DeSantis's himself. Ed Rollins is my guest.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, new surveillance video in the Mar-a-Lago case just surfacing. A development tonight, a breaking development, we'll share more details in a moment because it comes as two major indictments are looming for Trump.

In Washington, the grand jury investigating Trump's efforts to overturn the election is expected to meet just hours from now, and in Georgia a grand jury that could vote on whether to indict Trump met today. That vote could come as early as tomorrow.

In Atlanta, where barricades now surround the Fulton County's superior court, all eyes are on those two grand juries currently hearing cases there. One of them meets Mondays and Tuesday's, the other one meets Thursdays and Fridays. So, Willis and her team can present their case to either of those two grand juries. So, they could've started today.

Willis making it clear that she's ready to go.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) FANI WILLIS, FULTON COUNTY, GEORGIA DISTRICT ATTORNEY: The work is accomplished. We've been working for two and a half years. We're ready to go.


BURNETT: Ready to go.

So the window for a possible indictment in Georgia is now wide open. Team Trump knows that. Today, they're long shot bid to try to shut down that investigation failed. The judge rejecting Trump's efforts to disqualify the Fulton County district attorney you just saw there, Fani Willis who was a Democrat, from investigating the former president.

The judge writing: The drumbeat from the district attorney has been neither partisan in a political sense, nor personal, in marked and refreshing contrast to the stream of personal invective flowing from one of the movants.

This all comes as yet another investigation involving Trump, the special counsel Jack Smith's probe into Trump's handling of classified documents in Mar-a-Lago is heating up tonight. Mar-a-Lago property manager Carlos de Oliveira made his first court appearance. He is, of course, accused of plotting with Trump to delete surveillance footage sought by investigators.

Now, he didn't enter a formal plea. He was released on $100,000 bond. His attorney is currently being paid for by Trump Save America PAC, a PAC that we know has spent more than $40 million covering Trump's legal fees.

Well, Evan Perez is OUTFRONT live in Washington.

And, Evan, of course, we've got this new evidence breaking news as well as two grand juries, D.C. and Georgia, meeting tomorrow. The Georgia one, of course, it was hearing Trump also met today, we don't know. And indictment could come in either or both cases a soon as tomorrow.

What are you learning?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, we know, certainly, our eyes are going to be here on the grand jury in Washington. They had an unusually long day last Thursday. They were in there for several hours. We saw an unusual amount of activity from prosecutors, pretty much in all the prosecutors in dealing with various parts of this investigation, from -- starting from the January 6 allegations obviously to the efforts of the former president to try to overturn election results in those states.

All of that happening last Thursday. So, it is possible that come tomorrow, this grand jury is going to be convened and they could take a vote. Certainly everybody was anticipating that it could happen even Thursday or sometime this week. So, certainly for the special counsel team, they are aware of the calendar they know that we are about three weeks away from the first Republican debate.

So, certainly, all eyes are on them tomorrow. We don't respect, Erin, for example that there are some voices to come like Bernie Kerik. We don't expect that really affects the calendar here.


PEREZ: We expect that they could vote as soon as tomorrow.

BURNETT: All right. Now, obviously, that possible huge development. You also have in the Mar-a-Lago case for Jack Smith, new surveillance video surfacing. Now, we know that superseding indictment talked all about their efforts to hide videos, so this seems pretty extraordinary.

Now, we've got new footage. What more do you know about it?

PEREZ: Well, this is in a court filing that the prosecution made certainly to sort of explain to the judge why they are producing some of the stuff to the defense team.


As you know, they have to produce all of this information as part of the production for the defense. Here is what they say today. They say that they received new video that was related to the new obstruction and claims that were made by prosecutors in the latest indictment that was published on Thursday, I was handed up on Thursday. They say that this was new footage that they received, again since the initial indictment that was back in June.

So that tells us that new information that they were able to receive from Trump organization or from somewhere that relates to those allegations showing that they believe or indicates that there were members of the -- of the Trump's employees who are trying to plot to delete surveillance footage. Again, part of the obstruction picture that prosecutors are laying out and again explaining to the judge why they are only now producing this to the defense.

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

And I want to go now to Ryan Goodman, former special counsel at the Defense Department; Van Jones, former special adviser to President Obama; and Karl Schmae, former FBI special supervisory special agent.

Thanks to all.

So, Ryan, let's start with this. We get the superseding indictment. They are talking about efforts to hide and deny surveillance footage and now, we find out new footage has come forward.

What does this mean?


BURNETT: Most curious.


GOODMAN: So it's a puzzle. Why would they be subpoenaing for new footage in April of 2023, which is year after the first subpoenaed for this video footage and why did they obtain new footage after the first indictment?

So, we do know from at least "The New York Times" reporting that the government was very concerned in early May, at least, that there were gaps in a surveillance footage. So, that's the big question.

And that we do -- there's this idea that Mr. Tavares, the person who's in control of the surveillance video in Mar-a-Lago, is now the person cooperating. Was the government given some information? Did he then say, well, here's where the gaps are, here's additional footage, or here where it is in a different server, a backup? That's what very curious about it because they say specifically it relates to the obstruction charge itself.

BURNETT: Right, right, which is -- which is crucial.

Now, as we await a grand jury possibly making a decision here, returning an indictment tomorrow in Washington, you've also got what's going on in Georgia. That Georgia judge today ruled against Trump. His last-ditch effort to disqualify Fani Willis there, saying the drumbeat of the district attorney has been neither partisan in the political sense nor personal.

Trump's obviously paints a very different picture. And Republicans, many of them, believe him. So, when this comes, does this one have any chance in Georgia of being seen as nonpartisan?

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I mean, Trump's whole playbook is just to attack institutions, attack individuals, try to discredit anybody who stands against him because he's standing on a pile of quicksand. I mean, it's obvious that he behaved in a way that no president has ever behaved after an election. It's obvious that he's hiding boxes, doing all kinds of weird stuff, telling people to do stuff. He only has one move, to discredit the people who are trying to hold him accountable. There are people who fall for this.

I'm glad to see a judge point out this is -- he's actually being treated like any other defendant. This is the normal course of business for our justice system. And that's why he says he's got to deal with that.

BURNETT: And, Karl, two potential indictments against Trump that could come within days, right, Georgia and the federal election interference case. So we know originally Fani Willis have requested additional security in Georgia around that Fulton county courthouse for this couple week period that we're entering now. So how concerning is this from a security standpoint? You're talking about what's going on in Fulton County and also what's going on in Washington, D.C.

KARL SCHMAE, FORMER FBI SUPERVISORY SPECIAL AGENT: I think it's very concerning. Look, we know that president Trump has enormous influence over certain population here in the United States. We saw that on January 6th where people were incited to storm the capitol. Over 1,000 people have been arrested by the FBI for those efforts. Many of them said they were following what they believed were orders given by the president.

And, you know, in the Georgia case, we have seen cases where people took -- showed a lot of bravery and courage to stand up to Trump. I think Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger refused to find more votes, got a lot of harassment and was concerned, very concerned for his safety as a result of taking that stance.

BURNETT: He was.

Ryan, so, you know, in Fulton County, Fani Willis said she's ready to go. She spoke with an Atlanta radio station and she said something, you used the word curious. This is curious.

I don't know what Jack Smith is doing and Jack Smith doesn't know what I'm doing. In all honesty, if jack smith was standing next to me, I don't know I would know who he was.


My guess is he probably can't pronounce my name correctly, playing off her, you know, funny Fani.

For a long time, you and many others have said that there had to be some coordination between these two. That would be important both from a legal perspective and also from logistical perspective. What do you hear when you hear her say, I wouldn't even know who he was?

GOODMAN: It's most unusual in the sense that the norm would be for the federal prosecutor and the state prosecutor to coordinate, compare notes, maybe even share information about what witnesses have said because otherwise there would be a disadvantage, vis-a-vis a potential defendant. The defendant would have more information to discovery in both cases than each individual prosecutor would have on their own. That's why they would to want share that information and the like.

BURNETT: That would be completely above board and normal.

GOODMAN: Yes, above board and normal. It's bizarre in a certain sense because they're not serving their own interest. Each one of them, their best interest should probably be in some level of communication. So, one wonders, is it ego? What's going on here? Why is one keeping a distance from the other?

That doesn't quite make sense for what their true self-interest should be for pursuing justice.

BURNETT: You don't want to hear the word ego coming into these things, that's the whole point. I think it's significant you mentioned this.

Van, the context is also that Republicans are focusing on Hunter Biden, right? House Oversight Committee questioned his former business partner today. Congressman Dan Goldman said that Devon Archer, that's the business partner, said Hunter put his father on call with business partners more than 20 times but Congressman Goldman says they did not talk business. He was put on the calls but no business was discussed in those conversations.

And a source familiar with the interview with Archer says that Hunter Widen was selling the illusion of access to his father.

So, Van, how long do you think Republicans will continue down this path? And how damaging can it be?

JONES: I think they're going to continue because they don't have much else to talk about. Listen, people with famous last names using them for their own purposes, whether you're talking about Billy Carter, remember, Jimmy Carter's brother Billy Carter. Bill Clinton had Roger Clinton.

You have people in your families, they're ne'er-do-well, this is as old as time. The only thing that matters is did Biden know that something bad was happening? Did Biden benefit? There's no evidence at all of that. It's just a bunch of conjecture. But I think Republicans will continue to raise this issue because they want to dirty up Biden's name.

BURNETT: So, Ryan, in the court of public opinion, if Biden -- if indeed this is what he was saying, he was on the calls, but business wasn't discussed, still, why was he on the calls? To promote the brand is what Archer is saying. Is that just a PR issue if this all is actually the way it's laid out or is there a legal issue?

GOODMAN: I don't see a legal issue from the facts we currently have. There's an irony here in a certain sense because Congress is trying to justify the Republican members this investigation on the idea we might need legislation --


GOODMAN: -- in order to try to regulate this behavior because right now you don't see any conduct that's legal, there is regulational law that's prohibiting, even though it might be highly unethical or --

BURNETT: Distasteful.

GOODMAN: Or distasteful, yes.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you all very much. I appreciate it. So many moving parts here as we await these crucial grand jury meetings in these next few hours.

Next, Trump's own words coming back to haunt him. Our KFILE uncovering video of the former president railing against Hillary Clinton for the same allegation he's facing now, trying to destroy evidence.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: And what about the serve server? What about the server? How did that happen?


BURNETT: Plus, denied. A Russian court rejecting an appeal from top Putin critic, Vladimir Kara-Murza. He's facing 25 years now for criticizing Putin's war, heading to a penal colony. So, what's next? His wife is my guest.

And suspected Gilgo Beach serial killer oversaw projects worth millions, including work on Trump's Wall Street Tower. Yet, he's reportedly using food stamps. So where did his money go?



BURNETT: Tonight, at least six people are dead, including a mother and child, and more than 70 injured after Russian missiles hit a residential area and a university in President Zelenskyy's hometown of Kryvyi Rih. The missile strike coming a day after Zelenskyy said the war was, quote, returning to Russia as Ukraine targeted Moscow with another drone attack for the second time in a week.

This as we have some new video coming into OUTFRONT, Ukraine's military saying it hit a Russian surface-to-air surface missile in south Donetsk. This is the same kind of weapon that has been used to attack Ukrainians. Now, CNN cannot independently verify when and where it happened but obviously it would be a significant development.

Nick Paton Walsh is OUTFRONT tonight on front lines of Ukraine's counteroffensive.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: The fight so fierce and victory so bitter, there is little left Stavamayorsky (ph) to defend it from. No cover for troops, no structures, just the dust of a tiny four-road village, the first gains of Ukraine's renewed full-throttle counteroffensive, so small but symbolic. Russia even claimed Monday with constant shelling it had pushed Ukraine out of it again.

Something these men fresh back from that fight would scoff at.

(INAUDIBLE), his call sign, fought all ten days of the assault until the Russians finally fled.

Here he is as shells rain around in the initial advance.

When you assault on the enemy shelling, he says, you have nowhere to hide. That's the hardest part.

They've since tried to assault again twice with small groups. And he fought here, too, the town before it where the Russians hid 200 troops in the basements, not even leaving for the toilet, so Ukraine attacked with a smaller force. He takes us to where the Russians made their final stand, the school

hall and its corridors. There is no love, says the wall. They seem to relish the nothing they brought and left no clues as to why they fought.


One of the hard things for the Ukrainians to understand is quite why the Russians are fighting so hard for here, and more recent victory down the road. Is it that these are the last lines of defense?

Well, no, they think there's far more fighting to be done.

I hope that when we get through the last line of defense, he says, then they start to run. For now, they still feel there is something behind them. Yeah, we feel support, but we are very, very tired. There is so much more ahead to come. Ukraine may have put in its reserves now to the fight, but they face the same Russian brutality.

The tactics haven't changed, he says. They put the storms convicts in front with no communication or information. They stand till death. I don't understand their motivation or what they're fighting for.

Reva (ph) carries a new Russian AK-12 as a trophy as he describes the gas they used on him.

There was chaotic shooting, he says, to find out where we were. Then, the gas. You don't feel it, it moves slow along the ground. I was packing my rucksack when I felt burning on my throat and nose.

One mine zapper call sign Bolt (ph) is busy telling me how the Russians have started booby trapping mines, putting a grenade under an anti-tank mine when he's interrupted.

Almost endless the noise of outgoing fire. They are moving, but just not sure how much longer for.


WALSH (on camera): Erin, make no mistake, the success they saw in Stavamayorsky (ph) is rare, frankly, and a change in pace. Some say that is potentially Ukraine stepping up a gear in its counteroffensive, but the troops we spoke to have been fighting similarly brutal fights for months now. Pleased to see some success, but perhaps concerned as to how much longer they can keep that kind of pressure up, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thanks very much, Nick, from Ukraine tonight.

And also tonight, a Moscow court rejecting top Putin critic Vladimir Kara-Murza's appeal of his 25-year prison sentence treason.

Kara-Murza is a dual Russian-British citizen. He lived with his family in the United States. He was in prison for nearly 16 months after calling Putin's government a, quote, regime of murderers. He survived two assassination attempts after being poisoned in 2015 and 2017, and now an additional 25 years in this sentencing.

Evgenia Kara-Murza, the wife of Vladimir Kara-Murza is OUTFRONT.

And, Evgenia, I'm glad to speak to you again. I, of course, am sorry about the circumstances that we're speaking here tonight. I know that you knew what you were facing here with this trial. I put the world trial in, quotes, but what went through your head when you heard the news that your husband's appeal was rejected?

EVGENIA KARA-MURZA, WIFE OF JAILED PUTIN CRITIC VLADIMIR KARA-MURZA: Well, first of all, thank you very much for inviting me here again, Erin, and thank you so very much for reporting on and following Vladimir's case because justice in Soviet times as in today's Putin's Russia, publicity is very often our only weapon to keep alive our loved ones who've been imprisoned by the Russian government for speaking against the war or for protesting against the crimes of the regime.

To answer your question, well, of course, the rejection of the appeal did not come as a surprise, not after this very long and tiresome Kafkaesque trial. It was held in Moscow. And I did not expect him to behave any differently now that the trial finally reached its end. So, no surprises there.

BURNETT: No surprises, and yet you're looking at a situation where your husband who has survived poisoning attempts, multiple times, and I know still suffers very seriously and grievously from those. We now we're hearing he's going to Russian penal colony. It's a 25-year sentence. I mean, Evgenia, what happens now?

The next step is the transfer. And this is a very dangerous period and the life of any prisoner, especially political prisoners in Russia, because the Russian government is now using a new tactic, a new method of silencing these opposition activists. They tend to lose prisoners during transport.

You see under Russian law, there is no set time limit on transfers. Transfers can take several months, and during this period, the Russian authorities under Russian law are not required to provide any information about a person's whereabouts to either this person's family or to his lawyers.


So during this period a person is basically lost to the outside world, and anything can be done to the person during transfer. And, then, of course, after the transfer will be the strict 25 years of regime, somewhere very far away from Moscow, I suspect, but since we're not dealing with any normal legal procedures, we're not dealing with a normal justice system and the entire process is just simply Kafkaesque, we have no idea when the transfer will happen, where will Vladimir be transferred, we have no idea how quickly it will be done, nothing. So, nothing, just -- we don't know anything.

BURNETT: And I know you must be so worried, you and your children, of course. Their father looking at a 25-year sentence. What are your biggest concerns now about his health? As you mentioned, I know he has been suffering very much during these past 16 months?

KARA-MURZA: Well, Vladimir indeed has symptoms of polyneuropathy that were provoked by the two previous assassination attempts against him with poisoning. And these symptoms, of course, are not getting much better because he is not receiving the care that a person with subhuman occult conditions should receive. A person with Vladimir's condition should leave a very active left and trying to do physical exercises all the time. He has no such opportunities behind bars.

But he is not alone in this. Many prisoners in today's Russia are held without proper medical care. Just to name a few, Yevgeny (INAUDIBLE) is suffering from a heart issuing, Alexei Gorinov is suffering as well. Many activists of Crimea (ph) were majority are held behind bars with no medical care at all.

So Vladimir is not alone unfortunately in this, and this is yet another method used by the authorities to deal with those who oppose the regime.

BURNETT: Evgenia, thank you very much, I appreciate your speaking and of course our thoughts with you in or your children. Thank you.

KARA-MURZA: Thank you very much, Erin.

And next, our KFILE uncovering video of Trump slamming Hillary Clinton for the same thing investigators say Trump did, and that's destroy evidence.

Plus, he's a long time respected Republican operative parting ways with DeSantis and, he's doing it in a very, very clear way, calling him a very flawed candidate. Ed Rollins is OUTFRONT.



BURNETT: Tonight, Trump's words coming back to bite him. Our KFILE just unearthing example after example of the former president on the record railing against accusations of destroying evidence, when the allegations, of course, were leveled against someone else -- Hillary Clinton in this case.

Prosecutors, of course, alleged Trump employees, Walt Nauta and Carlos de Oliveira, attempted to delete surveillance video's footage at Trump's request, after the Justice Department issued a subpoena for the footage. Here's some of what our KFILE found that Trump has said about this very issue when it came to Hillary Clinton.


TRUMP: She even created an illegal private email server, then she deleted 33,000 emails to try and cover her tracks.

Thirty-three thousand deleted or gone. Remember they used to say wipe the server. And what about the serve? What about the server? How did that happen? How did that happen? She deleted her emails. People go to jail for that.

CROWD: Lock her up! Locker up!


BURNETT: Andrew Kaczynski is the senior editor of the KFILE, joins me now.

So, Andrew, those are just a few of the examples that you have unearth of Trump's hypocrisy. Just a few.

ANDREW KACZYNSKI, CNN'S KFILE SENIOR EDITOR: Yeah. And it seems like every different step of this investigation, there is a new Trump hypocrisy angle.

First, it was when this investigation were first starting, all of those calls that we found that he made called for lengthy jail sentences first for Clinton and then people in his own administration who he alleged had mishandled classified information. Then we saw this indictment, it was those past attacks inmate on Clinton at the end of the 2016 campaign where he was saying basically that if somebody, a president was under a felony indictment, it would grind the government to a halt. He said it would create an unprecedented constitutional crisis.

And then we finally see with these clips, where he's talking about, you know, Clinton wiping the server, we see that hypocrisy there. Take a listen to this other comment on Clinton from 2016.


TRUMP: They even took a hammer to some of her 13 phones to cover up her tracks in obstruction of justice. These email records were destroyed after she received a subpoena, remember that word, after, after she received a subpoena from Congress to turn them over. If you do that on private enterprise, it's a violation of the law. She did this after receiving a subpoena from the United States congress.


BURNETT: That is what, of course, they are saying is the very same thing he did, you know, she's -- the hammer -- the infamous hammer.

We don't know what he wanted them to do with the surveillance footage. We know that they seem to have some level of incompetence, not actually succeeded at deleting it, which is sort of an interesting twist to this. And so much of the special counsel's case has been bolstered, even in the case of the surveillance video, right, Andrew, by text messages. They put them in the indictment and you're literally reading the actual conversation that people had on text.

And you found a very specific example of Trump warning against this very thing, putting anything in writing.

KACZYNSKI: Yeah. There's very famous line on the show "The Wire" where they're talking about not taking notes of a criminal conspiracy theory, and this seems to be advice Trump himself in the past has talked about taking when he's talking about, well, we didn't have text messages when he made these comments in 2005.

He's talking about email. Take a listen to Trump basically saying, you know, don't put anything in writing.


TRUMP: What really fascinates me is email. I have friends -- first of all, half of my friends are under indictment right now because they sent emails to each other about how they're screwing people, right? But it's unbelievable.

Email is unbelievable. You talk on the phone, you can't even say hello. They don't want to say hello or good-bye, yet they'll write a message they're having sex with 15 different married women. It's unbelievable.


KACZYNSKI: So that was then, this is now. It's going to be interesting to see how this stuff plays out as the case goes on.

BURNETT: Right, because as I said, you're just reading the text messages. It's like reading a novel but these are actual texts the special counsel has obtained.

All right. Andrew, thank you very much, unearthing all of this.

Now, let's go to Stephanie Grisham, the former Trump White House press secretary.

So, Stephanie, the irony of these comments the KFILE has uncovered, you know, you've heard from Trump over and over, over the years, right, this obsession with Hillary Clinton and the server and the lock her up, right? It was the chant of his campaign, but it all takes on new meaning now.

STEPHANIE GRISHAM, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Yeah, you're right, Erin. And thanks for having me, by the way.

It was as interesting as I was listening to those clips, I was considering who was the audience that Trump was talking to when he was talking about Hillary Clinton? It was when he was running for office. He was talking to people he wanted to vote for him.

And it just hit me literally three seconds ago. The people who are running against Trump should be doing this exact same thing. They should be using his own words but against him and getting that very audience to understand the hypocrisy and also the deep amount of trouble that he's in right now with all of the investigations.

But, you know, aside from Chris Christie and a little bit from Will Hurd, you have not heard from any other Republican candidates really, you know, slapping him the way he would slap Hillary on a daily basis. BURNETT: Well, and we know from the indictment, of course, Stephanie,

that Trump spoke to Carlos de Oliveira, his codefendant now, he spoke to him on the phone for roughly 24 minutes. After that conversation, de Oliveira tells another Mar-a-Lago employee that the boss wants the security footage deleted.

Yet, de Oliveira even now, Stephanie, has not yet turned on Trump. Why do you think he is so willing to risk everything for Trump, as, by the way, Walt Nauta appears to be.

GRISHAM: You know, I think this is a design that Trump does to people. I think he chooses and selects vulnerable people to surround him. I'm putting myself in that -- in that group, by the way. You know, if you think about this new gentleman who I've never seen at Mar-a-Lago, and I spent a lot of time there, when you consider him the fact that he started as a valet, worked his way up, he really owes Trump.

This is what he does. He chooses people who have -- they work their way up and we feel ingratiated towards him, we owe him. And then it's really scary, the thought of turning on Trump right now. His lawyers being paid for right now and he has a job. You get out into that world without the Trump cushion, and it's very scary and it's not very friendly, I've got to tell you.

It's not lucrative and you have to think about, how am I going to support my family? How will I ever pay for these legal bills? And so, you know, I think it's a very basic necessity of survival that somebody like Carlos wouldn't turn on Trump.

BURNETT: That was pretty incredible, and, of course, now possibly looking at very, very serious prison time. Those security footage pleas carried I believe 20 years as a maximum. So, he's got very serious decisions to make.

Thank you, Stephanie. I appreciate it as always.

And next, a top Republican strategist who was all in on Ron DeSantis now saying the problem is not the campaign, it is DeSantis himself. Ed Rollins is OUTFRONT next.

And we are learning the accused Gilgo Beach serial killer's firm did work for both Target and the Trump Org. That's not all. So, what did he do and where did all the money go? We have new reporting ahead.



BURNETT: Tonight, a veteran Republican operative who helped get Ronald Reagan elected says it's not Ron DeSantis' campaign that's the problem, it's Ron DeSantis.

Ed Rollins has worked on eight presidential campaigns. He knows the Iowa caucus inside and out, was responsible for Huckabee's surge there and victory, and started a super PAC last year supporting DeSantis. But tonight, he is calling him, quote, a very flawed candidate, and it comes as a new poll shows DeSantis 37 polls behind Trump. DeSantis performing weakest among key demographic groups for Republican candidate, only 9 percent support among voters 65 and older, just 13 percent among those without a college degree.

And Ed Rollins is with me now. He ran the pro-Trump Great America PAC in the last two elections and just quit the pro-DeSantis super PAC for 2024.

So, Ed, I very much appreciate your time. I know even as you and I were sitting here in the few minutes before you came to air, you're talking about the changes in your party. What made you quit DeSantis?

ED ROLLINS, FORMER CHIEF POLITICAL STRATEGIST FOR A DESANTIS SUPER PAC: You know, I thought DeSantis -- my biggest problem with Trump today is I think all the legal problems are going to just weight him down. It's going to be very hard to run a campaign and communicate effectively. The ultimate goal is to get Biden out of there and you have to win in order to govern.

I thought DeSantis based on his victory over Charlie Crist in Florida was going to do that. I started to worry about all the stuff that he's doing down there, go to war with Disney, go to war with the schools, what have you.

Iowa is a different place. Iowa is a place that Ronald Reagan in 1980 didn't go to Iowa because he had been the voice of Iowa and his manager at that time said, we don't need to go there, we're going to win it. George Bush went there, went day to day, and became vice president because of it, beat us by a couple thousand votes.

Jimmy Carter basically won the presidency on Iowa. Iowa is a place that wants you to come and talk to them about their kids, about what's -- about their farms. They don't care about all this stuff that DeSantis is talking about.

BURNETT: You're talking about the culture wars?

ROLLINS: The culture --

BURNETT: The drag queens, Disney.

ROLLINS: What they want to know, they want to know about farms, want to know about price of grain, how much a tractor is going to cost, and there's none of that.


And I think there was no game plan there. And so, he raised a lot of money. Money doesn't make it.

I mean, Jeb Bush was a great candidate, a great governor. Didn't -- couldn't put it together.

BURNETT: So, DeSantis -- so, okay, you're talking about his culture war he's chosen to pick. That is where he's staked his claim, right? Disney, right? Every time he gets, he goes down on that. He is responding to you, though, and your criticisms on his decision

to focus on that in a new interview on Fox tonight. Let me just play what he said.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When I hear about culture war, standing up for the rights of parents, standing up for the well-being of children, that's not some, quote, culture war. That is central to the lives of tens of millions of people throughout this country. It is the right thing to do to stand with our kids. It is the right thing to impose indoctrination in the schools.

And I totally reject being in Iowa and New Hampshire that people don't think those are important. They do think they're important.


ROLLINS: Well, first of all, attacking me is foolish. I'm just an old man who's been around politics for a long time. He needs to be attacking Biden. He needs to talk about what he would do differently as a governor -- as a president.

The reality here is, some people may understand his issues. Florida is not a place that everybody lives. It's a great place. A lot of people love it.

But the culture war is not something most people understand. And I think to a certain extent if that's where he's going to go, he's going to basically drive -- people want local schools. People in Iowa can determine what they want in their school books. And I think to a certain extent if that's going to be his campaign, it's not going to be very good.

BURNETT: So -- all right. So, if that's his campaign, it's not going to be very good. It's also, though, what we've been seeing from him. In Iowa, it's very blatant. As you say Iowa, it's small, a diner, 20 people, you need a warmth about you. And then that goes more broadly.

Here's what we've seen from Ron DeSantis the past few days in Iowa. Here it is.


DESANTIS: What is that? An icee? That's probably a lot of sugar, huh?


DESANTIS: Well, I'm here. I don't know -- yeah, yeah, it's good. Say hi to everyone.


ROLLINS: Anyone who's been to Iowa, I know you have many times, state farm, those kids are all very important issues. You go in there prepared. My sense is he flew in there, got off his plane and basically thought he was going to be the challenger to Trump. Trump still has his base and Trump is going to be very tough to beat.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Ed, thank you very much.

ROLLINS: My pleasure.

BURNETT: I appreciate your time.

ROLLINS: My pleasure. Thank you.

BURNETT: And next, the wife of the suspected Gilgo Beach killer speaking out saying her children cry themselves to speak after their father's shocking arrest.

Plus, the actor best known for playing Peewee Herman has died.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know you are, but what am I?




BURNETT: Tonight, the wife of suspected serial killer, Rex Heuermann, in an exclusive interview, revealing her two adult children cry themselves to sleep following the shocking arrest. They no longer feel human.

Asa Ellerup also telling "The New York Post" that the damage to her home is so bad, she doesn't have a bed to sleep in. Her husband charged with killing three women and suspected in a fourth murder is expected in court tomorrow, where we will see him for the first time since his arrest.

And tonight, we have new reporting on his finances. Despite living in this dilapidated house, just purchased for $170,000 and reportedly shopping with food stamps, the 59-year-old architect may be worth millions.

I want to go straight to "Newsday" city hall reporter, Matthew Chayes, because he's been investigating Heuermann's finances. He's been on the ground at Gilgo Beach in the days after the bodies were discovered as well.

So, Matt, you have been covering the story since the beginning. Your latest reporting is fascinating. So, let's start here with the projects Heuermann worked on. Multimillion dollar contracts, his client list includes a who's who list of global brands. He helped design a Target store in New York City. You've confirmed he worked on Donald Trump Wall Street Tower and that Trump deal alone was worth $200,000.

How much was he making, Matt?

MATTHEW CHAYES, REPORTER, NEWSDAY: You know, Erin, first, thank you for having me. It's a mystery how much exactly Mr. Heuermann made. But we added up all of the projects that we were able to find records for, and we got roughly a total of $68.1 million over the years.

I spoke to a professor, coincidentally at his alma mater, who said that in general, architect's fee is about 10 percent to 15 percent. So, do the math, 10 percent of $70 million. What is that? Seven to -- 15 percent? It's like $7 million to $11 million.

BURNETT: Yeah. And that's how much he would -- you're just thinking you're making that over years and you're investing it, you're saving it. He certainly wasn't spending it on his home. And that's the next question here, Matt.

I mean, let's look at where he was living. He was living in a single story house. His family were reportedly using food stamps to buy food, which obviously is a crime, too, if you have money.

So, where in the world do you think the money went? Do you have any reporting sense of that at this point?

CHAYES: You know, another mystery of Rex Heuermann, Erin. I don't know where he spent his money. I will say he had a gun vault in the basement, had a lot of guns, according to the police department, who searched it very thoroughly.

He had property, I believe, in Nevada, in South Carolina. But as for what he was doing with his money, it's another mystery.

BURNETT: It is incredible. And you talk, again, $7 million to $11 million over years, just basic investment. This person could be a very, very wealthy man.

And Heuermann's neighbors have described him as a cold, scary individual who would dress in grubby clothes. But, again, you spoke to some of his colleagues, and they had a very different impression of them. So, what did you learn from them?


CHAYES: Really a contrast again. Long Island is how you describe it. Go to the city. He's not living in -- he's not working in a ramshackle place. He's working on Fifth Avenue. He's in the shadow of the Empire State Building. One of his colleagues described him as very well put together, very professional, very pressed, very professional. And someone else on his floor said he would make small talk, nothing amiss.

His office, you know -- I was there last week on Friday. You look in, from what we could see, average office anywhere in America. There's a conference table. There's Wrigley chewing gum on the shelf. There's unopened boxes that are addressed to his daughter, who, of course, worked there.

So, yeah, there's this contrast between Long Island, as you describe, and, you know, what we found in the city where he worked.

BURNETT: Right. And so bizarre. And, of course, his wife and as I mentioned, his grown children, seeing both sides of that. It is unbelievable.

Well, thank you so much, Matt. I really appreciate you're sharing all this reporting. I know you've done an extraordinary amount of work on it.

CHAYES: Of course.

BURNETT: Thanks.

And next tributes --

CHAYES: Thank you so much, Erin.

BURNETT: -- now pouring in for the actor best known as Peewee Herman, who has died after a long and private battle with cancer.


BURNETT: Tonight, Paul Reubens, the comedian behind the iconic and eccentric character, Peewee Herman, has died. He was 70 years old.

And here's a clip the fans of the show will recognize.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then you're crazy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know you are, but what am I.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know you are, but what am I?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're an idiot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know you are, but what am I?


BURNETT: He was a goofy, quirky, childish character, but a sensation, a beloved one, as the star of the show, "Peewee's Playhouse", which ran for five years in the '80s and '90s. The series was a fantastic success, earning 22 Emmy Awards during its run. And his death comes after a secret six-year battle with cancer. His illness revealed in a statement released by his representatives today in the wake of his death.

Thanks so much to all of you for joining us.

"AC360" begins now.