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Erin Burnett Outfront

New Filing: Trump Argues Against Strict Evidence Rules; Former Lt. Governor Subpoenaed To Testify In Trump 2020 Georgia Case; "Sell Out": NH Voters Heckle Pence Over January 6; Ukraine: 5 Killed, 31 Injured In "Repeated Shelling" By Russia On Residential Area In Eastern Ukraine; U.S. Responds To Chinese & Russian Vessels Near Alaska. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired August 07, 2023 - 19:00   ET



ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, Trump's team pushing back tonight against the special counsel's request to limit what the former president can say about the case against him, now accusing federal prosecutors of trying to restrict Trump's First Amendment rights. Do they have a case on this at all? Trump's former White House lawyer Ty Cobb will be with me.

Plus, a deadly strike. Russia ramping up attacks on civilian targets. We are learning tonight of a Russian plot to assassinate the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

And an alarming scene as a massive brawl breaks out between a Black man and a group of White voters in Montgomery, Alabama. And tonight police are vowing to make arrests.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, team Trump's response. The former president's legal team just now responding to a request from the special counsel that came after Trump posted: If you go after me, I'm coming after you, all caps.

Trump's team arguing that his ability to share information in the January 6th case is covered by the First Amendment. They say in a trial about First Amendment rights, the government seeks to restrict First Amendment rights. Trump's team says that I'm coming after you, all caps. There's just a generalized political comment, clearly implying it's not a physical threat, nothing to worry about.

Of course, though, the context here is that words spurred others to violence on January 6th. That's the reality. And, in fact, Trump quickly followed that threat: I'm coming after you with a video which included the Fulton County D.A. Fani Willis, and the New York D.A. Alvin Bragg saying, they were, quote, trying to get him. If you go after me, I'll get you.

Well, prosecutors say comments like this could have a, quote, harmful and chilling effect on witnesses. And Trump's threats are raising concerns already about the safety of the judge in the January 6th case. We are learning tonight that security has been increased around the Judge Tanya Chutkan who is overseeing the January 6th proceedings.

And all this comes as Jack Smith today made his first move since last week's indictment. He met with Trump ally Bernie Kerik who obviously had a huge stack of documents that Smith wanted. Kerik was a very close Giuliani associate, worked on Trump's post-election legal strategy to overturn the election.

CNN exclusively caught Kerik and his attorney after the appearance Tim Parlatore as they were leaving the special counsel's office.

And here is what Parlatore said tried to happen in that meeting.


TIM PARLATORE, ATTORNEY FOR BERNIE KERIK: It was mostly about all the efforts in between the election and January 6th of what the Giuliani team is doing and really just going through all of the efforts that they took at the time to take all the complaints of fraud, see what they can do to chase him down.


BURNETT: We begin our coverage tonight with Katelyn Polantz. She is OUTFRONT in Washington.

And, Katelyn, what more do you know about Trump's argument, and what we can expect from the judge there, right? He post, if you go after me, I'm coming after you.

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Yeah, Erin, there's a couple different things at play here. What we're talking about, what the fight is in court right now. It is over the material that Donald Trump has no access to at this time, that the Justice Department has that they've collected in the investigation and will give to him for trial.

The Justice Department, those records, they want to protect all of them. They want to make sure that Donald Trump is not going to be disseminating them on social media or sharing them in any other way talking about them with others. And the Trump team, they just want it to be slightly narrower than that. They want to designate stuff in that pile as specifically sensitive. And so they want provisions over that.

The judge, Judge Tanya Chutkan, she's going to have to come in and make some legal decisions here about exactly what governs all this evidence heading towards trial. She could be moving quite quickly on this. She did this weekend when the Justice Department asked her to intervene.

And once there is some sort of order in place on what to do here with disclosures or nondisclosures of this evidence, then everybody can really move toward trial and start working very hard there. So, that is what's going on legally. But there is this other conversation that's taking place as well, where the justice department did raise this Trump post in social media about: I'm coming after you.

Now, Trump's team, in response to that in their filing, they're saying, that wasn't about sensitive information, that had nothing to do what we're talking about here, that is what we call generalized political speech, pay no attention to that, and actually, we'll raise you with a tweet of our own that we want to show you, which was a tweet of Joe Biden holding a cup -- a mug that he is selling a cup of Joe never tastes better.


And the Trump team is saying that that is a thinly veiled reference to his administration's prosecution of President Trump. Now, the reason we're talking about all of this is it's in court papers.

And so, now, we watch to see if the judge here, Tanya Chutkan, if she addresses any of these social media posts at all, has anything to say about that. That could be really interesting, and at a time where this case is not alone in the dark, there is an ongoing investigation, clearly as evidenced by Bernie Kerik going in and talking to the special counsel's office today about Rudy Giuliani and others.

There could be other things that emerge here in the future, potentially before Judge Chutkan as well.

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

And, of course, you know, the hundreds of people who have been convicted in the January 6th insurrection and the riot, they've said it was Trump's words that launched them into action. They said so repeatedly under oath. So if you go after me, I'm coming after you, it's a threat.

OUTFRONT now, Ty Cobb, former Trump White House lawyer, is here.

And, look, Ty, you know, at issue here, you've been on the receiving end of some threatening posts from Trump, right? He makes comments and threats against people in words. In June, he said you'll be held legally responsible for what he called false statements. He didn't specify what they were. He hasn't follow through, and, in fact, in terms of physically following through, right, that's not something he's ever done.

So, now, he's saying if you go after me, I'm coming after you. So, is this just a case of prosecutors really aren't going to be able to do anything about it?

TY COBB, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE LAWYER: I think the prosecutors with the assistance of the judge will be able to tame this somewhat. I'm not sure that Trump's lawyers will be able to get him to adhere to whatever limitations they impose. And, as a result, he may be sanctioned and could even be held in contempt and put in jail and have to run for president from jail like Eugene Debs did back in the '30s. BURNETT: It's pretty amazing to even think that we're having such a

conversation. There are moments when I hear it come out of your mouth that I pause. So, Ty, Trump's lawyer is giving a lot of information about his defense, right? He's been speaking, and he told our own Dana Bash that Trump didn't direct Pence now to do anything when it came to not certifying the election. Here is what he said.


JOHN LAURO, TRUMP ATTORNEY: What President Trump did not do is direct Vice President Pence to do anything. He asked him in an aspirational way. Asking is covered by the First Amendment.


BURNETT: Aspirational, he asked in an aspirational way. He went on to say asking is not speech, it's not action. That's the heart of this, right? Speech versus action. Does that defense fly here?

COBB: Not at all. I'm not aware of the aspirational defense or the free speech defense to a gang leader saying to two of his subordinates, I need you two to please rob a bank for me and they do it. You know, that's aspirational. But it leads to a crime. And that's exactly what Trump did with Pence.

BURNETT: The aspirational -- it is interesting. I mean, what do you make, Ty, of the fact -- I know John Lauro is a very respected lawyer. A lot of lawyers have worked with him over the years. But what do you make of the arguments that he's making and I guess the way he's making it? Right now, he's making it through the media.

COBB: So I've been in his position before where he represented a very difficult client under, you know, great pressure who's concerned about the possibility of going to jail. I think one of the dangers -- and John is respected and he has a good reputation and he certainly knows his way around the courtroom, former special -- former federal prosecutor briefly.

But, think about it. He's been in this case for less than three weeks. There's no way he could have mastered the nuances of the record. I mean, they've got a lot of talking points to work from. But most of those talking points are false, just like the big lie is false.

And so, John stuck getting out there trying to -- trying to go toe to toe with Dana and other professionals who've lived this stuff for two years, and that's difficult, that's hard to do. And that -- he also admitted, you know, a couple of things that I think will come back to haunt them in terms of requests of Pence and acknowledgment that they did want to delay the vote.


So, I think -- I think it's dangerous to be out there, you know?

BURNETT: Yeah. COBB: Trump has needed somebody in charge. John seems to be taking charge. But he also needs somebody who can effectively communicate with the media with a finely honed message. And this message is a little awkward so far.

BURNETT: Yeah, it's certainly an aspirational defense, an aspirational request is certainly, even to a layperson, reads a little odd. I do want to ask you about the Mar-a-Lago case as well because the judge there, the Trump-appointed Aileen Cannon issued an order today, Ty, asking federal prosecutors to explain the use of a Washington grand jury. And this is -- she's asking for this even though a grand jury in south Florida, of course, saw evidence and indicted based on the evidence that they saw.

So, as far as we understand, the defense in this case is not asking for this explanation, but the judge is. Do you understand why, is this a normal thing?

COBB: No, it's not. This is a highly unusual request for most judges, although it's typical of the conduct that the 11th Circuit came down hard on her previously for insinuating defenses and ideas that even Trump hadn't raised, you know, in his defense when she bungled the search warrant and the special master issue and they finally forced her to dismiss the case.

I think -- I think this is a jump-the-shark moment. I mean, the reality is the defense attorneys are capable, nobody asked her to raise this issue. It suggests the possibility of misconduct by the Justice Department where there's absolutely no basis for it.

The law is you cannot use an existing grand jury to investigate existing charges, previously brought charges. But there's no reason that a grand jury in D.C. can't share information with a jury in Florida. In fact, it's specifically authorized under Rule 6E 3C of the federal rules of criminal procedure. And it was the Florida grand jury after receiving and reviewing that information that issued the indictment.

So there's no hand of impropriety and no sophisticated prosecutor would commit the one area of misconduct that is prohibited in a grand jury in terms of continuing to investigate in existing charge. That's not really what's at issue here. Her concern is can a grand jury in D.C. actually investigate additional corruption that may have occurred in her district, and the law is clear that they can't.

I don't think the Justice Department is going to whine about this. They'll brief it for her and hope she understands. But it's a very highly unusual thing. And it's the first time since the case was assigned to her that she has done anything that's remotely like the way she handled the initial issues that got her in trouble.

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

COBB: My pleasure. Nice to be with you.

BURNETT: All right. You too, Ty. And, of course, as Ty and I are speaking, live pictures of the Fulton

County courthouse because that is what could be next. Any day, Trump could be indicted for his efforts to overturn the Georgia election as we are learning tonight that Georgia's former lieutenant governor who has been a sharp critique of Trump is now planning to testify. Details next.

Plus, an alleged spy in custody accused of taking part in a Russian plot to assassinate the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

And a provocative move by China and Russia together, their warships spotted off the coast of Alaska.



BURNETT: These are live pictures of the Fulton County courthouse in Georgia tonight. Any day, there a grand jury could vote to indict Donald Trump for trying to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia. And a major sign tonight that the D.A., Fani Willis, does intend to seek indictments, a source confirming to CNN that former Republican Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan has received subpoenas to testify before that jury.

Sara Murray is OUTFRONT.

And, Sara, what else can you tell from these subpoenas, and I know they would come in terms of Fani Willis giving a final presentation to the grand jury. What do these subpoenas tell you about how close we may be to a decision?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, yeah, Erin, I think the reason they send such a strong signal that she is likely to seek indictments, whether that be of the former President Donald Trump, or a number of his allies, that she scrutinized in this case, you don't sit there putting together a full presentation that you would put before a grand jury with multiple witnesses, people like Geoff Duncan, the former lieutenant governor, you know, who told CNN he didn't sanction the appearance of people like Rudy Giuliani showing up before state lawmakers, and another former state lawmaker who was there and witnessed this Rudy Giuliani presentation, you wouldn't craft that kind of narrative and prepare it to go before a grand jury unless you were intending on seeking indictments.

And obviously, as you show there, there's been a very serious security presence around the Fulton County courthouse. Fani Willis has instructed her staff to work from home on a number of days, all of these things, of course, point to major indictments, potentially, of the former president, although we don't know that for certain yet. When you look at the timing in this case, one of the interesting things about the subpoenas going to these witnesses is it says we will give you 48 hours' notice when we need you to appear. Multiple witnesses have told us they have not received that notice yet, an indication that probably later on this week or next week would be the soonest she would start presenting this case. And our understanding is that the grand jury seated today, which meets

on Mondays and Tuesdays, heard the regular array of cases you would expect to hear in Fulton County, nothing particularly special, no indication of a Trump case. So I think we could still be a couple of days or into next week. But it's clear that whatever this indictment decision is, it's going to be coming soon.

BURNETT: Right. And, Sara, just one quick follow-up to that. We've all spoken to people who've been subpoenaed. But does that necessarily mean that she's going to use them all in her presentation? Or is this just giving her the right? I've subpoenaed you, I'll give you 48 hours notice, but just because you don't get the notice, does that mean it's not happening, or maybe she just doesn't need that individual?

MURRAY: No, I mean, there's certainly not a guarantee that if those people don't get called, that means, you know, oh, she's not presenting anything.


I mean, they could decide to change course entirely and just use their own investigators within her department and what they learned from the special grand jury, which, of course, heard from all of these witnesses and present that. But she seems to be at least putting these people on notice, so that she has this option to call in live witnesses, and craft this narrative before the grand jury if she chooses to do so.

BURNETT: All right. Sara, thank you very much. Sara's been covering, of course, what's going on Fulton County from the very beginning.

I want to go now to the Republican governor of New Hampshire, Chris Sununu.

And, Governor, I appreciate your time tonight.

Trump actually has come out and said he needs one more indictment. He was referring to Georgia, and he says he just needs one more to ensure his election.

Do you see the anticipated Fulton County, Georgia, indictment the same way?

GOV. CHRIS SUNUNU (R), NEW HAMPSHIRE: Well, I don't think it ensures his election, but there's no doubt he gets it, it builds up sympathy. To the average American, it is white noise.

The average American, I mean, you have four indictments, to ask the average American to follow the details of what's real and what isn't and where the pushback is, it's all become white noise. And so, you also have an individual in Trump where the mainstream media will say his name 157 times between 8:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. every single night, maybe one or two of the other candidates on the Republican side will get mentioned.

So he gets all the name idea in the world through the media. Yes, he loves it. It helps keep all those running against him out of the mainstream media, out of the headlines. Here in New Hampshire and Iowa, they are in the media, they are getting the headlines, and that's why Trump is doing so much worse here in New Hampshire and Iowa than the rest of the country because all these other candidates are gaining traction, they're bringing excitement to the party.

And that's why, as you've heard me say on your show, if we can narrow this down between Trump and one other candidate, he's in trouble -- he's in real trouble. But as long as we keep his name in the headlines, he's enjoying it.

BURNETT: All right. So, let me talk about one of those other candidates because we're hearing something from one of them that we haven't heard before. In fact, his nearest competitor, although he has really stalled and struggled to gain traction, Governor Ron DeSantis. He has, up until now, Governor Sununu, refused really to criticize Trump on all of these substantive issues. He's now saying something that, for DeSantis, is new.

Here he is.


INTERVIEWER: Yes or no, did Donald Trump lose the 2020 election?

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Whoever puts their hand on the bible on January 20th every four years is the winner.

INTERVIEWER: OK. But, respectfully, you did not clearly answer that question. And if you can't give a yes or no on whether or not Trump lost, then how --

DESANTIS: Of course -- now, of course, he lost.

INTERVIEWER: Trump lost the 2020 election? Okay.

DESANTIS: Joe Biden's the president.


BURNETT: Now, I'm curious, Governor, when you watch that moment, I mean, DeSantis has been struggling to gain traction. What do you read into him saying this now and that exchange?

SUNUNU: Well, I don't read too much into it other than I think all the candidates know they have to kind of be forceful, they have to hit Trump on his weaknesses, and there are many. I think this is just the first of many very big criticisms you hear out of both Governor DeSantis and Tim Scott and Vivek Ramaswamy. The whole gang of them realizes that you can't give this guy a pass, and he -- because he hasn't earned it. He hasn't earned a pass.

It'd be one thing if he earned it and everyone was just trying to push against him. But when he pushes the January 6th issues, when he pushes the election conspiracy issues, it's just, it's not a winning move for the Republican Party. And all these candidates are galvanizing around the idea that they've

got to be hard. And I think it builds a lot of momentum as they go into the debates. I mean, that's when we're going to see them go head to head. That's going to be very --


BURNETT: Although I will say it is amazing to me on a certain level to say we're in a moment where admitting Joe Biden is the legitimate president is the thing. And it is a thing, right, because we all know, right, 70 percent of Republicans -- so I get it, but still. Now, one person who has been, Mike Pence, he's been clear that Trump should never be president again because he put himself above the Constitution. Mike Pence has said that repeatedly.

But here is how some Trump supporters greeted him in your state this weekend.


NEW HAMPSHIRE VOTER: Why'd you sell out the people? Why didn't you uphold the Constitution, sir?

MIKE PENCE (R), FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: I have upheld the Constitution. Read it.

NEW HAMPSHIRE VOTER: You sold the people out. You sold 'em out. you sold all these kids out, too.


BURNETT: You know, amidst that oddity of can I take a picture with you with the kids, I mean, that's the campaign trail. But how does this watching this in your state make you feel, Governor?

SUNUNU: Well, look, angry, unhinged Trump supporters, I don't think anyone's surprised to see it. I mean, his base supporters tend to be very extreme, very angry. They're very defensive. They'll do anything to try to make sure that Trump just kind of is handed the nomination and doesn't have to earn it.

Obviously, they're going to use Mike Pence as a punching bag. Mike Pence stood up for America.


Mike Pence is -- the shoulders that he had to bear to do what he did when his partner, his president, asked him and told him to do something. God bless him for doing the right thing. We all owe him a debt of gratitude.

So, he's been taking those punches for a while. Mike's got very big shoulders. He's got a very thick skin, God bless him. He's still on the campaign trail trying to earn the votes.

BURNETT: All right. Governor Sununu, thank you. I appreciate it. SUNUNU: You bet.

BURNETT: All right. Always good to talk to you.

And, next, Ukraine now claiming Russia has fired nearly a half a million shots at Ukraine's forces in the past seven days. As we are learning new details about an alleged plot to assassinate Zelenskyy.

Plus, Chinese hackers have reportedly compromised the defense networks of a key American ally. Tonight, the Pentagon is worried about sharing sensitive intelligence as a result.


BURNETT: Tonight, at least five people are dead, dozens more injured from two Russian missile strikes on a city center which damaged residential buildings and a hotel in eastern Ukraine.

And on the front lines in the east and the south, both sides are bogged down by heavy fighting. There's been a struggle to make significant advances.

And this video into OUTFRONT of the fighting in the south, let me show what you're looking here. This is Ukrainians evacuating a fellow soldier. They're trying to evade a Russian drone.

Now, the drone basically is chasing them from the sky, ultimately strikes just behind their vehicle.

Fred Pleitgen is OUTFRONT tonight.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Nearly half a million munitions, that's how much the Ukrainians say the Russian army fired at them in only a week's time on the eastern front.


Still, Moscow reporting only modest gains.

Over the past three days, the advance of Russian troops in this direction amounted to 11 kilometers along the front and more than three kilometers into the depth of the enemy's defense, the army spokesman says. But the Ukrainians say in most areas, they are the ones advancing, and Kyiv is hitting Putin's military behind the front lines as well.

After Ukrainian sea drones hit both a Russian tanker and a warship in the past days, now an air attack damaging a vital bridge connecting occupied Crimea to Ukraine's mainland. A local Moscow-installed official trying to downplay the significance.

These are sneaky punches, he says, really sneaky, they can't be forgiven. They are just snarled from a wounded animal. Strikes like these often made possible by Western-supplied air-

launched cruise missiles. Glory to Ukraine, President Zelenskyy wrote on a French model during a visit to his air force this weekend.

But now, Ukraine's intelligence service says it foiled a Russian plot to assassinate Zelenskyy using an informant trying to scout out his whereabouts. The Ukrainians say questioning revealed the person was involved in other attempted plots as well.

The Ukrainians say their troops have been making some gains on the southern front, putting pressure on entrenched Russian forces there. Russian President Vladimir Putin meeting with the boss of one of Russia's top arms makers, urging him to speed up manufacturing of modern weapons.

Manufacturers promised me that they would increase the amount of production, he says, they deliver on that promise, but it needs to be increased even more. This Russian drone footage shows the aftermath of some of the fighting in Ukraine's south, very little territory won or lost, but nearly every building completely destroyed.


PLEITGEN (on camera): And, you know, Erin, that last area in our report is a place called Robatanov (ph), which is really where the some of the heaviest fighting have been taking place, and there the Russians are saying that they managed to bog the Ukrainians down, bBut the Ukrainians today also saying that several counter-assaults from the Russians have also been unsuccessful, but, at the same time, as we could see there in that video, the costs very high.

There was also a phone call today between Ukraine's top general, Valerii Zaluzhnyi, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mark Milley, where Zaluzhnyi said that he believes right now, the initiative firmly on the Ukrainian side, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Fred, thank you very much.

I want to go OUTFRONT now to Christo Grozev, the lead Russia investigator for Bellingcat who has placed on Russia's most wanted list for his work, which includes uncovering the men who poisoned the critic Alexey Navalny. And I want to ask you about him because there's been another development in that situation today.

But Ukrainian intelligence says it has detained a Russian informant and foiled a plot to assassinate Zelenskyy. They're coming out and saying this, Christo.

Is killing Zelenskyy still a top priority for Putin, from your reporting?

CHRISTO GROZEV, LEAD RUSSIA INVESTIGATOR FOR BELLINGCAT: Well, it is, but not at any cost. It was a top priority at any cost in the first days of the war, in the first weeks of the war, they made at least 20, 25 attempts, as was reported both by the SBU, the Ukrainian intelligence service, but also by sources on the Russian side. But then it became clear that unless it's a successful assassination operation, it will blow back to Putin to show another failure.

So, Russia has had, in my estimate, is one attempt to create a situation where Zelenskyy can be assassinated, but they haven't acted on it because they need to be 100 percent, 200 percent sure that they will succeed.

BURNETT: It's pretty frightening, though, if you're doing one a month. At some point, just your basic probabilities here. I sat down with Zelenskyy last month in Odesa. And there had been drones surveilling the area. Everything is always a question mark about his safety.

I asked him about those attempts on his life in the early days of the war and how it impacted him. And here's part of what he said, Christo.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): I'll be honest with you. Until I have decided if I will be thinking about it constantly, I will just shut myself down. Very much like Putin now who doesn't leave his bunker. Clearly, those sabotage groups might be back again and try to get rid of me.


BURNETT: I mean, he knows, sabotage groups and given all the people around him, right, that this can happen. You say these attempts against his life are happening on a shockingly regular basis now.

GROZEV: Well, again, the plotting, the planning but not necessarily attempts. So what we see now is the Ukrainian domestic security service SBU is making public one foiled attempt, one foiled plan, not attempt.


And this is an important thing, the messaging they're doing is we are tracking these. They're trying to discourage the Russians from going the final mile.

BURNETT: Right, sort of a callout, like we see this.

GROZEV: Right. Because, again, as long as the Russians are afraid it's not going to be successful, they're not going to act on it. At this point, the SBU are trying to achieve by leaking these foiled attempts early on.

BURNETT: So, now, Navalny, we learned today that he was sent to a punishment cell for two weeks, this is after he received that 19-year sentence to a special regime colony. His family says his health is deteriorating. Obviously, he did not look strong in the images that we did see from the sentencing. He's been losing weight rapidly.

You actually said that he's being treated like a serial killer. What's he now facing?

GROZEV: Well, he is facing 19 years in a facility with a special regime which is observed for serial killers and people who are essentially there for life. He will be treated perpetually as if he's in solitary confinement. Any time he needs to go to take a toilet break or go to the canteen, he has to put on these old-fashioned sort of not only the handcuffs but the whole chain. So this is how it's intended to be.

But let's remember that this is not the last indictment and the last charges because there is at least one charge that is pending, which is he's been accused of terrorism charges.

BURNETT: So, Christo, 19 years is a drop in the bucket I guess when you start adding it all together. However, they want to count it. How worried are you that he may not make it out alive?

GROZEV: Well, I've said this before. I think if it were left to Putin himself, especially in the post-Prigozhin, where he has been weakened, his ability to control the system of violence in the country has been somewhat challenged by Prigozhin, I think it is important for him to show some more semblance of ruthlessness, of violence. And he would go ahead if it were left to him and probably order the assassination of Navalny in jail.

But I still have a hope that people around Putin have more brains and they would know that somebody like Navalny and other political prisoners would be very handy bargaining capital for them when the war is lost or at least not won.

BURNETT: Hmm, and Vladimir Kara-Murza, you know, his wife, Evgenia, speaks on his behalf. But he is suffering dearly in Russian confinement right now.

A final point, you mentioned Prigozhin. How do you think this ends? Prigozhin -- are we sort of back to some sort of a status quo or no?

GROZEV: We're not. This is something that is being bargained and negotiated as we speak. The reason why we don't know the outcome is not because it is known to the Kremlin and we don't know it. There is an ongoing fight not only for how this war is handled but who gets lucrative piece of the business of war in Africa, who gets the Central African Republic, who gets Syria. This is all being bargained.

What Prigozhin started is just the beginning of a fallout of an internal strife on who gets to do what in the future.

BURNETT: All right. Christo, thank you very much, as always. Christo Grozev from Bellingcat.

And, next, the U.S. scrambling resources after 11 Chinese and Russian warships were spotted near the coast of Alaska. So, what's going on with that?

And police issuing more arrest warrants tonight after a Black city worker was attacked by a group of White voters. The assault, all of it, is caught on camera.


BURNETT: Tonight, Chinese military hackers attacking an American ally. Now, this is according to "The Washington Post." Hackers gaining access to military plans and capabilities for Japan, and it comes as 11 Chinese and Russian warships were spotted near the coast of Alaska. The U.S. then sent multiple Navy ships near the Aleutian Islands in response.

OUTFRONT now, the Democratic Congressman Ro Khanna of California who sits on the House Select Committee on China.

Congressman, I really appreciate your time.

So, Chinese and Russian ships doing this provocative move, and then the U.S. then sending Navy ships in response. I mean, how worried are you right now about the rising tensions between the U.S. and China?

REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA): I'm concerned about the Chinese should be under no allusion. The United States has naval superiority in the Pacific. We are extraordinarily strong there. I had led a delegation to Taiwan, there's bipartisan consensus to make sure that Taiwan has the self- defense weapons that they need. At the same time, the president, Secretary Blinken, have said that we need to engage with China in a constructive conversation so that we don't have accidental wars or conflict, and I hope the Chinese will reciprocate.

BURNETT: Well, this is at least the second time in a year that Chinese and Russian ships have come close to Alaska. I mean, today, Congressman, former President Trump weighed in on the incident. So actually not about indictments, he was talking about this incident.

And he said Russia and China would not be putting ships dangerously off the coast of Alaska if I were president, no caps, no way, no how, three exclamation points, no respect for Biden.

My question for you and I know it's going to be hard for you when Trump gets inserted into the conversation. But the point he raises is a real one, does China see Biden as somehow easier to antagonize, or not?

KHANNA: No, let's just look at the facts. I mean, the facts are that the export controls that President Biden has implemented with Jake Sullivan have been stronger than anything in the past. I mean, the controls are not sending sensitive semiconductor technology, not sending advanced A.I. technology, all under President Biden.

This president has actually brought some of the manufacturing home trying to bring home production from China. And this president has helped put new bases near the Philippines, has helped strengthen our presence in Japan, helped make sure that we have naval superiority.


So, I don't doubt that China has become more aggressive. But I don't think this is the time to play partisan politics regardless if there was a Republican or Democrat in the White House, the point should be how do we ensure American superiority, and how do we de-escalate the risk?

BURNETT: Congressman, I want to ask you about one other topic. You and I have talked about this before, Senator Dianne Feinstein. There are reports that she's given power of attorney to her daughter.

Obviously, she is from your state, Dianne Feinstein is, and this raises new questions about her health. I want to play for you a recent moment during a hearing. I know you know about, but just in case anyone didn't hear about this, this did raise some concern about her. She is, of course, a sitting senator.


SEN. PATTY MURRAY (D-WA): The clerk will call the roll.

CLERK: Senator Feinstein.



FEINSTEIN: Pardon me?


FEINSTEIN: Yeah. Uh --


FEINSTEIN: I would like to support a yes vote on this. It provides 823 billion. That's an increase of 26 billion for the Department of Defense. And it funds priorities submitted --


FEINSTEIN: Okay. Just -- aye.


BURNETT: Congressman, of course, you called for Senator Feinstein to resign when she had been absent for ten weeks with health issues. When she returned, you did stop those calls. But how do you feel about this now?

KHANNA: Well, it's sad to watch. I have such great admiration for Senator Feinstein for her career, what she's done for public service. I stand by the call that I made that I think the best thing to do for her would be to step down.

But, I don't want to belabor the point. I don't want to constantly have clips that are embarrassing her. I think we all heard sort of the dignity of respect for her lifetime of public service. And I just hope that she or people close to her do the right thing. But I stand by my call, and I haven't kept beating the drum on it out of respect for her.

BURNETT: Right. No, I understand, it's a complicated situation. And you do hope those around her do the right thing, the best thing as they see it.

All right. Thank you very much, Congressman Khanna. I appreciate your time, as always.

KHANNA: Thank you. Really appreciate it.

BURNETT: You, too.

KHANNA: And next, calls for justice after a Black dock worker in Montgomery, Alabama, was attacked by a group of white voters all on tape. You can see what caused the violent brawl, next.

And calls for an investigation after a bear -- a bear broke loose on a passenger flight.



BURNETT: And tonight, police in Alabama vowing to make arrests after a black man was violently attacked. The massive brawl along Montgomery's river front all was caught on camera. Video showing a fight seemingly divided along racial lines, that not only includes fists but a folding chair used as a weapon.

Ryan Young is OUTFRONT.


RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An altercation in a Montgomery boat dock over the weekend between a group of White voters and a Black employee escalated into a massive brawl that resulted in multiple arrests.

Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed is calling for justice to be served for attacking a man who was doing his job.

MAYOR STEVEN REED, MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA: It's an unfortunate incident, and it's something that we're investigating right now. We'll continue to go through that process before we take any additional steps.

YOUNG: It all began when the black employee was trying to clear the dock space with the riverside cruise. The cruiser was about to return to shore and needed its space to dock.

LAUREN SPIVEY, WITNESS FROM THE BOAT: You know, just doing his job and for some reason, they didn't like it. They didn't want to move the boat. And he decided to get physical with him.

YOUNG: you can see in the video the Black employee on the dock arguing with one of the men from the pontoon boat. Then another shirtless white man charging at the employee and hitting him in the face. Soon after that, you can see several others join in on the attack of the dock employee.

In some of the video, which has gone viral with millions of views, people on the boat can be heard yelling for someone to help the employee. Then at one point, you can see a young man who has jumped off the boat swimming ashore to help the man who is being attacked.

SPIVEY: The boat got closer. The guys and crews members and everybody got off, and that's when it happened. That's the reason why when they got off the boat, they came right to that smaller boat.

YOUNG: And that's when more fighting ensues, turning into an all-out brawl, that included several people getting hit over the head with a folding chair. Soon after, officers tried to take control, handcuffing people in the fight.

SPIVEY: They were antagonists in the whole situation, arrest them. Unfortunately when things happen, people in color are the first to be put in handcuffs.

YOUNG: Many questions remain about the melee that appeared to be very much split across racial lines.

REED: We are fully engaged and we are doing all of our due diligence to find out exactly what took place.


BURNETT: Ryan, it's really disturbing to watch that, especially what appears to be a racial breakdown, as you point out, in the fighting.


The video is, of course, getting a lot of attention. But authorities haven't said yet much. When do you expect to learn more?

YOUNG: Well, we have learned today that there will be a 2:00 Eastern news conference with the mayor and the police chief of Montgomery. That should happen tomorrow. So, we'll be interested to see what will happen.

There will be four warrants that have been pulled so far. When you talk about the viral nature of this, on the internet today, you can see millions of millions of hits, people talking about this constantly. People want to know what started this whole thing.

BURNETT: Yeah. All right. Thank you very much, Ryan.

And next, a bear somehow managing to break loose inside a passenger plane. So, what was it doing there in the first place?


BURNTT: Tonight, an alarming discovery inside a passenger jet. So, crews of the biggest airport in the world, Dubai international, discover a bear that managed to escape from its crate in the jet's cargo hold. You can see a man reaching his hand in in the plane to try to calm a bear.

While at first this could seem like a light-hearted story, it's far from it.


It's quite alarming. The bear was headed for Iraq and the prime minister has ordered an investigation because many of Baghdad's wealthy are now hoarding wild animals and it is common for those animals to be grossly abused. In fact, Baghdad is now calling the public to call police if they see exotic animals loose on the streets or ending up on restaurant menus.

Thanks so much for joining us.

"AC360" starts now.