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Erin Burnett Outfront

Trump Team Proposes 2026 Trial Date In Federal Election Case; Maui Death Toll Reaches 111; State Media: Russian General Dies From "Long Illness" At 58; Support Wanes For Texas Governor's Aggressive Border Tactics. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired August 17, 2023 - 19:00   ET



ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, breaking news -- Trump's legal team just submitting its proposal for the start of his federal trial over January 6th. Their suggestion: April 2026. This as the FBI is now investigating death threats directed at Fulton County officials after Trump's indictment.

Plus, 1,000 people still unaccounted in Hawaii. State officials fear that many of them could be children who are off from school that day. The mayor of Maui is my guest.

And a Russian general turning up dead, the second Russian general to turn up dead this week. Were they targeted by Putin?

Let's go OUTFRONT.


BURNETT: And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, the breaking news Trump's legal team proposing a new date for his federal January 6th case. The date, April 2026. To state the obvious, this is years away, and Jack Smith, the special counsel obviously is pushing for the first court date of 2024 just about four months from now, January 2nd.

Well, it comes as the FBI is now working with the Fulton County sheriff's office in Georgia and they are investigating threats being made against the ground jurors who voted to indict Trump, along with 18 others. In a statement, writing: We take this matter very seriously and are coordinating with our law enforcement partners to respond quickly to any credible threat and to ensure the safety of the individuals who carried out their civic duty.

This is coming after we reported that the purported names, photographs, and even addresses of some of the members of the grand jury are now circulating on far-right websites. Some users on those websites calling for violence against those jurors, American citizens, civilians, doing their civic duty.

In a moment, I'm going to speak to Daniel Jones. He's a former FBI investigator who's first spotted these threats. He's going to give us the details, because this is alarming. Right?

The context here is we just learned a Texas woman has been charged with threatening to kill Judge Tanya Chutkan, who's overseeing Trump's January 6th federal election interference case. According to court documents, Abigail Jo Shry left the judge a voice mail who threatened to kill anyone who went after former President Trump.

And since 2020 election, we know this, right? We've heard this. People come on the program some of them to talk about the threats they've perceived, election officials, mayors, governors, members of Congress, all of them receiving these threats because Trump turned against them.

And tonight, the former president is not letting up on the constant veiled threats of violence in one of his first interview since being indicted in Georgia. Trump said this.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: It's a witch hunt. It's a continuation of a witch hunt. They want to silencing you, they want to silence you, and they mean silence. They are -- I think they're sick people. I think they are people that have no idea how the world works and they have no idea the anger they cause.


BURNETT: No idea the anger they cause.

And tonight, CNN is learning Trump's news conference as he called it where he said he was going to talk about the election. We would've likely heard the same attacks and lies within the Georgia election, but he was going to try and refute the indictment. That may not happen at all because sources tell CNN, few of his advisers knew of this event before Trump announced it. Since then, Trump has been told to bail on it. They fear it could complicate his case.

And you may remember we spoke to Trump's former White House lawyer, Ty Cobb, and this is what he said, why Trump's so-called press conference could backfire in a major way. It's for this reason.


TY COBB, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE LAWYER: There's a good chance that whatever documents he produces ends up as evidence against him. It could even -- could even end up, you know, as a basis for obstruction count against the -- against the author, because it's likely to be fiction and solely for the purpose of contaminating the jury pole.


BURNETT: All right. I want to begin tonight with Sara Murray. She's OUTFRONT live in Washington.

So, Sara, all of this moving quickly, you now got Trumps' coming out with a trial date request, April 2026. What more do you know about that? SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I mean, obviously, it's

a huge gap between what the Trump team is asking for and what the Justice Department has proposed, as you pointed out January 2024. In this new court filing, Trump's team says that he needs time to prepare for this trial. There is an enormous amount of discovery. They say the government is essentially asking for the type of timeline that's quicker than you would see in a misdemeanor case that doesn't involve any documents.

And, interestingly, they also list Donald Trump's mounting legal problems and point out he is also going to have to prepare for trial in the classified documents case in Florida. He also has to prepare for trial in the Georgia case where he's just been indicted. He also has to prepare for trial in the Manhattan case.

So, they sort of lay out all the reasons why they believe this is too tight of a timeframe in 2024, and why the former president is going to take years, apparently, to prepare to go to trial in this case.

BURNETT: Well, we'll -- we'll see how that develops, and I know we're going to hear more about the judge in these upcoming days and what trial date will be.

You also have some information, Sarah, from your reporting about what is next in the Georgia case, the Fulton County case of Fani Willis. What do you know about that?

MURRAY: That's right. I mean, the next up in this is really the surrender process, and that is really the only point we know in the near term that Donald Trump and his defendants are going to have to show up in Georgia, and be processed. And we're learning that Trump's team has already been in congregations with Fulton County's district attorney's office. We're also learning, though, that other defendants have begun preliminary hearings with the D.A.'s office.

These conversations are supposed to continue early next week in person, and they are going to cover things like what potential bonds would be like for Donald Trump, or other defendants. What the police conditions would be like. And, frankly, the defendants have an incentive to hash this out with the D.A.'s office ahead of time, because as we were talking to attorneys about how this process works, they said if you walk into that jail, and again they have to surrender themselves before noon next Friday, if you walk into the jail without a bond agreements, they are going to book you process you, and they're going to retain you in custody.

So, it is a good incentive for these lawyers and these defendants to be meeting with the D.A.'s office ahead of time and working out these agreements before anyone has a set foot in the Fulton County jail -- Erin.

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

OUTFRONT now, Ryan Goodman, former special counsel of the Department of Defense, now with Just Security; Alyssa Farah Griffin, former Trump White House communications director; and Daniel Jones, the former FBI investigator, now president of Advanced Democracy.

And, Daniel, you have so much new information on these threats, and they want to get to that in just a moment. But, news is just breaking, Ryan and Alyssa, about the trial date.

So, Trump putting out April 2026. Interesting as Sara says, his defense I have to prepare for the other ones. I understand some of those dates have been set. Some are being negotiated. But it seems like this is the one he viewed doesn't want to have happened. This is the latest date he requested.

RYAN GOODMAN, FORMER SPECIAL COUNSEL AT DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE: That's right. I think that there's a good chance the other ones are going to move. So the very argument he's making that these other pieces are in place, I think they're going to move.

For example, the district attorney in Manhattan has already suggested that he's willing to move to let the feds go first.

Also, there's this kind of peculiarity in his brief because they say they will accept the government's recommendation that he only needs four to six week to prepare his case. If that's true, if it's not such a complex case, he can do it in four to six weeks, then why do you need so many years to prepare?

BURNETT: Why do you need two and a half years? Right.

GOODMAN: Yeah, it's kind of internally contradictory. I don't think the judge is at all going to recognize that date as realistic. Maybe they're like, get the judge split the baby, but then, you know, just saying 2018, split the baby in 2016. I don't think it's anywhere close to --

ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's very much a delay tactic, but I mean, just taking a step back and thinking about what Donald Trump is walking into. So, this next week ahead, he's going to have to turn himself over for his arraignment in Georgia, all happening while the first GOP presidential debate which he's likely not participating in is taking place.

He's also trying to negotiate several different trial dates he's going to have to deal with in the New Year which may line up well with the primary calendar, whether the Iowa caucuses or New Hampshire. He's running for president to stay out of jail but he's coming up along all these roadblocks along the way of having to deal with the legal system that he put himself in.

BURNETT: Right, right.

So, Daniel, in this context, you've got these threats that we talked about against the grand jury in Georgia, right? Is that -- we're waiting for him to turn himself in and others as Alyssa refers to. You found these threats. You first spotted them online. And I know you have a new report with some key examples.

How scary are some of these threats? DANIEL JONES, PRESIDENT, ADVANCED DEMOCRACY: Well, as you've

reported, when Trump's rhetoric gets at its worst, it leads to a ton of vile information online and comments, threatening not only government officials, undermining government institutions, but now, we're seeing some of Trump's statements actually leading to threats against people who are doing their civic duty, right, serving on a jury.

And again, over the last 48 hours, it's really been a peak. It's starting to increase. The amount of racist language we're seeing right now is really off the scales, incredibly alarming.

BURNETT: So, the racist language is off the scales. Can you draw, Daniel, from what you've seen a direct line between the threats and Trump himself?

JONES: Yeah. Well, I'd say there's four things you can draw a straight line from Trump and what we see online and what we don't want to see, which is real world violence.

Number one is timing, right? So Trump says something and then immediately, we see comments online.


That's very simple, A to B.

Reposting Trump statements. He may say something online. Someone will post what he said and then provide a comment with violent or racist language.

They will also borrow his language, right? The terms witch hunt, which you've already mentioned today -- rigged election, which we know well. Radical left. Fake news. So we'll see these terms repeated.

And then finally, we'll see content alignment, okay? Say Trump actually mentions a volunteer who's a poll worker at a station, then we'll see that name online and threats against this person online.

So, of course, you can draw a direct line between what Trump is saying and what this violent and racist language we're seeing online and again, eventually, real world violence as we saw on January 6th and as we talk about this woman in Texas. And of course, the gentleman in Ohio, and Utah who was just recently killed, who was making threats against Biden. So, there's a real connection between what Trump says, what happens online, then what happens in real life.

BURNETT: And, Ryan, the question is, these threats are right now, specific -- I mean, he's talking about a lot of threats, but specifically directed at the grand jury, right? So, these are civilians, citizens who just did their job. They didn't even -- they weren't -- they weren't on a jury to decide whether to convict him. They were just on a jury to decide whether it met the bar for charges.


BURNETT: Does this -- does this mean, can he be held accountable for any of this? Does it have any repercussions?

GOODMAN: I think he needs to be quite worried about it in the sense of twofold. One is that there is going to be an arraignment hearing in Georgia. Under Georgia law, the judge has to determine that he, Donald Trump, the defendant, poses no significant risk of witness intimidation and also colluding and obstruction of the administration of justice.

He's already kind of violated that rule with his statement about Geoff Duncan, trying to push Geoff Duncan not to testify and then saying very negative things about him.

BURNETT: He said he should not test -- I mean, he was very clear.

GOODMAN: Yeah, which is actually not testify, means like not abide by the subpoena, that he was given to force him to testify.


GOODMAN: That's already one. And then the fact he's having this causal effect and conspicuously saying nothing.

So, Daniel's report is known across the country right now. I'm sure Donald Trump knows about the report. He said nothing. Not to his supporters like do not do this, stand down, right?


GOODMAN: What a normal political leader would do in that circumstance.

So when the judge has to determine, okay, is this person going to -- can I say that this person poses no significant risk? It comes up, and that's an arraignment for whether or not the person gets detained.

I don't think he'll be detained at stage one but he poses a serious risk. Back in D.C., we were just talking about -- he has now asked for a 2026 date for the start of the trial. What did the federal judge say? If you make inflammatory statements that pollute the jury poll, I'll have to go faster and this is what's happening now across the country. That is polluting a jury pool because Georgia is a subset of the D.C. case.

BURNETT: Right. And, of course, it's not only does he not say stand down ever, right? The famous words were stand by, right?


BURNETT: Stand by.

I mean, does he -- obviously his silence speaks volumes. Does he revel in these threats?

GRIFFIN: I think he does and I think he knows what he's doing. Like he's been very clear, his attacks on Jack Smith, on Judge Chutkan, this is other people kind of following the lead he's already put on his Truth Social.

I would note Georgia's particularly interesting and kind of concerning from a security standpoint because there will likely be cameras in the courtroom. So you'll see the faces of the court officials in the way that it's a lot more closed door, the D.C. cases and every one of them faces running into what Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss did, intimidation, harassment and frankly witness tampering.

BURNETT: Right. Which, of course, was incredibly documented in the indictment.

All right. Thank you all very much. I appreciate it.

And next, as Trump faces four criminal indictments, 91 now from all charges, there is now a Republican who is surging polls not named Trump. Not named Ron DeSantis. Who is it?

Plus, a Maui official tonight defending not using the warning sirens during the wildfires that tore through the island killing more than 100 people confirmed. The number will be much higher. Should they have been activated? Maui's mayor is my guest.

And millions of Americans are in the path of a growing hurricane getting stronger. Tonight, we're going to have the latest on its path.



BURNETT: New tonight, get tough. Well, former president Donald Trump sending that message to Republicans after his unprecedented fourth indictment. This time in Fulton County, of course, as you know.


TRUMP: I got four of them now. If you look, I mean, this is not even possible. Four, over the next last couple of months. And, frankly, it discredits everything. And they're all similar in the sense there's no bases for them. It's a disgraceful thing. And Republicans can't get them get away with it. Republicans have to be tough.


BURNETT: Of course, each indictment has been backed up with pages upon pages of evidence, including text messages, direct conversations, all of which support the charges against Trump.

Harry Enten is now OUTFRONT at the magic wall.

Just to talk about -- when he talks about Republicans get tough, Harry, Trump says there's no basis for any of his indictments. Do Republicans see it the same way?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: You know, it feels like deja vu all over again. Each time we have a new indictment, you look at the polling and you know, you say, okay, the GOP who think Trump should have been indicted.

Look at this. They're all the same numbers. The hush money case, 14 percent. The efforts related to overturning election, January 6th, 15 percent. The Georgia election case, 15 percent. Classified docs handling, 16 percent.

The fact is, when you look at all these different indictments, and, of course, they're all quite different, the numbers are the same. Most Republicans do not believe that Trump should have been indicted. You can see this, very few believe that should have been.

BURNETT: Which is interesting they're all exactly the same.

ENTEN: The same.

BURNETT: So two things I know stand out in the latest fox news poll to you. And one is how little these indictments are impacting Trump's 2024 bid and, well, there is a Republican though on the rise. .

ENTEN: Yeah. So, if we look at these numbers, take a look here, this is the top choices of the GOP nominee.


Look at March, pre-indictments, compare to now. Look at Trump, these numbers are the same. They're well within the margin of error. There's no movement going on here. Trump getting above 50 percent of the vote.

There is one candidate who's clearly going down, that's Ron DeSantis. Look at this, he's at 24 percent in March. Look where he is right now, he's at 16.

But look here, Ramaswamy. He was at just 1 percent, just 1 percent back in March. Look at where he is right now, 11 percent and you know, this is just one poll, but I've looked across a slew of them and the average also have Ramaswamy in third place and rising. He's the only candidate nationally at this point who's rising.

Trump's still way ahead, but let's see what happens especially as we go into this first next week.

BURNETT: It's fascinating.

All right. So on the Democratic side, sources, Harry, are telling us that White House aides admit the Hunter Biden investigation is a very sensitive topic, that is largely avoided around President Biden, which is pretty interesting and important information.

How do Americans view the Hunter Biden investigation?

ENTEN: Yeah, so I think it's very interesting to note here.

Okay, this is a question from ABC News. Is the DOJ handling of the Hunter Biden case in a non partisan and fair manner? The plurality, very clear here. No, they are not confident that the DOJ is doing this. Just 32 percent feel confident that they are in fact handling the case in a nonpartisan and fair manner.

So, this is something that I think worries Democrats because the fact is, yes, the overall population doesn't necessarily like Donald Trump but they also don't like the way the DOJ is handling the Hunter Biden case.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much.

And I want to go now to Democratic Congressman Ro Khanna. He's a member of the national advisory board for the Biden-Harris 2024 campaign as well.

So, all right. I want to talk about the Hunter Biden actually in a moment, but first, Donald Trump, right, because we've got four indictments, 91 criminal charges. I have to keep saying that to myself. It's pretty incredible, 91. But he's -- it's not just that he's the clear GOP front-runner.

The people -- Republicans don't think he should be charged. I mean, sure, you see Ramaswamy rising, and we'll see what happens with that, but nothing has moved the needle, absolutely nothing has moved the needle.

Does anything?

REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA): Well, first of all, we have to have the process play out with law enforcement. The seriousness of the charge is that he tried to overturn a election. That goes to the heart of democracy.

Look, I was talking, Erin, to someone this morning who's a DeSantis supporter who said that the indictments are making him more sympathetic to Donald Trump, that this is a sentiment among Republicans.

So there's no doubt this is strengthening him in the Republican field. I don't think it's going to help him with independents.

BURNETT: No, no, but it is amazing. You're talking to a DeSantis supporter, that is where we've seen the erosion at least in that poll Harry was just showing.

All right. Now, on Hunter Biden, you saw nearly half of all Americans aren't confident that the Justice Department is handling the Hunter Biden investigation in a fair and nonpartisan manner, 32 percent are confident. Those aren't good numbers from the institution of justice.

You were one of the rare Democrats to raise questions about Twitter's handling originally of how they handled the Hunter Biden laptop story. And you stood by that. You and I talked about.

So what do you think about this probe now? Are Americans wrong to question the DOJ probe and do you support that there's a -- that the special counsel is now a special counsel?

KHANNA: Well, I think we need more communication and I think the appointment of David Weiss will help. If he comes to Congress and testifies, my sense is that the process has been followed, that the Justice Department has given him the authority to make any decision and that the more he can be transparent and communicate, the better.

BURNETT: All right, so do you -- do you feel, what did you think when your reaction to what we were saying, that Hunter Biden coming up, that they don't bring it up around the president? He doesn't want to hear it.

KHANNA: I think the president deeply, deeply loves his son. I think a president who has lost his son, who lost his wife, who has gone through such grief, he has understandable emotion and any parent should understand his love for his son, and I think it's that's simple.

BURNETT: All right. So, as I mentioned, you are on the national advisory board for his re-election campaign. So, you're well aware of the polls. The latest "Associated Press" poll finds 75 percent of Americans do not want Joe Biden to run for president. That is a higher number than Donald Trump. I mean, Donald Trump's number's bad, okay. It's 69 percent. But Joe Biden's number is worse. More Americans don't want Joe Biden to run than don't want Donald Trump to run.

How do you even synthesize that?

KHANNA: Erin, I was on the other side to President Biden when I chaired Bernie Sanders' campaign. When he entered, there were a lot of Democrats who didn't think he should be running then. And people have consistently underestimated this president.

The polls don't matter. You know what matters is how he does. He defeated Trump. He had a midterm election that was better than expected. He has passed significant legislation.


The economy is much better than people thought it would be.

He has earned the right to have a rematch against Donald Trump. He's the only person in our party who's beaten him.

BURNETT: All right. So, one final question. RFK Jr., right, he's challenging him. And you and I talked about him as well. Still at 20 percent. I think at 20 percent when we talked a few weeks ago. It's very, very steady.

Kennedy has the highest favorability rating of anyone running, anyone, 46 percent, of any Democrat or Republican. Biden is the 43. Trump and Kamala Harris both at 39.

And our John King has been doing this amazing report on voters around the country. He's in Iowa. He talked to some Republicans. Here's what they said about RJK Jr.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think he's a really good guy.

JIM MUDD SR., IOWA REPUBLICAN VOTER: He's the first Democrat I think I've ever listened to and admired what he had to say. Might have been another one that I'm overlooking, but this guy, Kennedy, he sounds like a real genuine individual to me. He's smart. And he's even minded -- he's open minded I should say.


BURNETT: Okay. Is RFK a bigger threat to Biden or even to Trump than it appears, right? This is a very steady poll performance.

KHANNA: The president's going to win the nomination but I'll say this, look, I grew up memorizing John F. Kennedy speeches and Bobby Kennedy speeches. If someone told me there's a Kennedy in the race, I'd go check the person out, too. And he invokes Bobby Kennedy and John F. Kennedy every time in every speech. That's part of the poll numbers.

The other thing is he's been talking about some issues like having bases overseas, and 800 of them, and we need to look at whether that's actually justified and not having endless war. Some of those themes strike a cord.

But he's adding to the political debate, but I have no doubt that the president is overwhelmingly going to win the primary. President's going to win in South Carolina. He's going to win in New Hampshire, Nevada, and he's going to be our nominee.

BURNETT: All right. Congressman Khanna, thank you very much. I appreciate it.

KHANNA: Thank you.

BURNETT: Good to see you in person.

KHANNA: Thank you.

BURNETT: And next, new claims that Maui's firefighters did not have immediate access to bodies of water that could have been crucial to killing the fire. Maui's mayor responds, next.

Plus, one of Putin's closest allies tonight revealing the Russian president is no longer his old self after the attempted coup.



BURNETT: Tonight, Hawaii's attorney general just ordering an independent review into the response to the Maui wildfires after residents were forced to flee with virtually no warning. The death toll tonight, a catastrophic 111 people killed, including children, a number that will rise. The governor believes more than 1,000 people could still be missing.

I'll be speaking the mayor of Maui County, in just a moment, but first, our Bill Weir has been there outside in Maui for this week.

And, Bill, you've been seeing the damage. You've been talking to people there, searching through the ashes. Tell me what you're seeing.

BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's that number, more than 1,000 still missing, this long after the fire that has all of our attention right now, Erin. A lot of the communications are back up. The power is steadily coming back on. So you'd think anybody cut off from family would have been able to communicate, but I recently just spoke to urban search and rescue veteran from FEMA who's here from Texas, along with a growing number of teams and K9 teams to try to find things. He says this is unlike anything he's seen before. Take a listen.


STEPHEN BJUNE, PIO OFFICER, FEMA URBAN SEARCH AND RESCUE: What's been really powerful is the fact there's a number of local firefighter and PD that have lost their homes, lost their everything, and they're out there working side by side with us. So this is something very personal to us. So to be able to help them and to see them working in their own destroyed community is really powerful.


WEIR: They're sifting through, looking for life, you know, proof of life at the granular level, Erin. And the most gut wrenching and heartbreaking idea to think about is that school had yet to start in Lahaina. There are a lot of kids reportedly were at home staying with relatives while their parents worked. So, the greatest fear is how many young souls were in that now over 1,000 missing.

BURNETT: A thousand missing, so long after as you say the power on. It is very sobering to even think about it.

Bill Weir, thank you very much and I do as promised now want to go to the Mayor Richard Bissen of Maui County.

Look, Mayor, I'm so sorry. You know, it's -- we hear about this number of 1,000 people missing, and cell phones are back working. It would appear if people were alive, we would know.

Do you have any sense of where this stands?

MAYOR RICHARD BISSEN, MAUI COUNTY: No, but thank you for your concern and for all the outpouring of not just donations, but sympathies and care for our community. We know there are 111 that were recovered, or remains were recovered. We continue to search. Searched about 45 percent of the affected, impacted area, which is about a five square mile area. They -- the number is very fluid as to how many folks are missing. We're not exactly sure of that.

A number, however, we do thank the FBI who's doing a lot of the data search on cell phones, phones that are located that they were able to find those folks. We're continuing to do that, asking for family and friends to provide us not just with name, but also with cell phone numbers that can get them. That does assist the FBI's team in tracking and tracing folks. So we are asking for that.

BURNETT: So let me ask you about the children because we have heard from several state officials that school has been canceled on the day of the fire because the power was out. So school had been canceled and many of those children were at home around the community. So it has raised this horrific fear that many of the victims and yet unknown victims could include these very young children.

You know, do you believe, mayor, that this is possible? There's a part of me that says look, it's children. We would know if they were found by now, because someone's looking for them. So you would have an active list of how many were missing or not missing. Do you feel that you know how many children are missing right now or not?

BISSEN: Of course, we care and we love our children. As we do our elders, and anyone else that's involved. We don't know and I would not want to speculate if there are any of those that are missing, we don't have them categorized by age or group.

So I just don't want to speculate. I know that there are families that are working to assist in this. And we're just going to have to continue to use the resources that are there. We have over 200 search and recovery folks, 40 cadaver dogs, 30 working at a time, 10 resting. So there's all possible resources have been to put to try and answer that very question that you're asking.

BURNETT: The emergency chief in your county was asked whether he regretted the decision not to use those emergency sirens on the island and, of course, everyone's talking about that particular decision. He stands by it though, Mayor. He says he did not regret it because he says it could have caused people to run away from the water.

Obviously, they're in Hawaii. The fear people have is tsunamis. You get a siren. You may run up, which have been towards the fire. That's the argument that he's making as to why he doesn't regret that decision.

And here's how a state senator who represents Lahaina has responded to that. Let me play it for you.


ANGUS MCKELVEY (D), HAWAII STATE SENATOR: I've heard the line that oh, people would have panicked and ran up to the mountains because it's a tsunami siren. The reaction of the community to that is utter disbelief. It's insulting to think people would be that clueless. That they wouldn't know that sirens blasting was because of the fire.


BURNETT: Mayor, what do you think? Is he right? Do you think the sirens should have been activated and it's an in insult to their intelligence to argue otherwise?

BISSEN: Well, of course, I think we as leaders should do everything we can to protect our community. We are going to -- there's obviously an investigation going on by the attorney general as there should be.

Whatever information they're seeking from us, we will provide. We will cooperate. We want to do everything we can to protect our community and to help them in every possible thing we could have done is what we should have done and should always try to do. We will find out what could or could not have been done as this investigation goes on but, of course, the main focus for us now is the focus on the loss of those families and try to bring closure to them.

BURNETT: All right. Mayor Bissen, thank you very much. I appreciate your time.

And next, another Russian general cut from Putin's inner circle turning up dead, the second to suffer an untimely death just this week. So were they killed? And the Republican governor of Texas well- known for his hard-line stance on immigration, but now some of his own supporters think he's taking it too far.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We can have border security without cruelty.




BURNETT: Tonight, a leading Russian general purged by Russian President Vladimir Putin is dead. It's the second untimely death of a Russian general this week.

Army General Gennady Zhidko died, quote, after a long illness. This is according to the state news agency TASS. He was 58 years old. Zhidko reportedly led the invasion of Ukraine as commander of the southern group in the forces before being ousted after he failed to grab the key city of Kharkiv. No official announcement of Zhidko's death has been released but his biography published on TASS doesn't even mention his time serving as commander in Ukraine.

Joining me now is somebody who was targeted by Putin for more than a decade, Bill Browder. He's the CEO of Hermitage Capital, also author of several books, including "Freezing Order: A True Story of Money Laundering, Murder, and Surviving Vladimir Putin's Wrath".

Bill, I appreciate your time.

So here we are, another untimely death of a senior military commander. Do you think it's possible that this wasn't simply a, quote, long illness?

BILL BROWDER, PUTIN CRITIC, WANTED IN RUSSIA: Well, in most other countries, if you were to hear this headline, you would say you know, the guy died of heart attack or cancer or whatever. But in Russia, there have been so many murders, poisonings, people thrown off buildings, mysterious deaths, that you have to apply some probability that this guy was killed, particularly since he was somebody who was effectively sidelined and ousted for his performance on the war in Ukraine.

And remember, there was just oligarch after oligarch who were dying in these mysterious situations who were clearly murdered.

BURNETT: I mean, and Zhidko was the second Russian general just to die this week. The other one was Putin's personal bodyguard, has overseen the building of his Black Sea palace. He was in prison, had just become eligible for parole and suddenly is dead. His death came out of nowhere and it does raise some suspicions of foul play.

Since the start of the war, as you point out, there have been many suspicious, at best, Bill, deaths of prominent Russians. Are you surprised that this keeps happening and that no one does anything about it? That no one starts to murmur and talk and turn on him?

BROWDER: I'm not surprised at all and I'm 100 percent sure that many of these deaths are the result of murder. When you put it into the context of what's happening with the war, it makes complete sense. Russia has lost more than 250,000 soldiers since the start of this war. That's based on Ukrainian estimates.

That would be 17 times more people killed in this war in Ukraine in 533 days than were killed over ten years in the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Life has no meaning in Putin's Russia. Death and murder are par for the course. It's part of their life, part of their culture and an every day occurrence in Russia.

BURNETT: Well, the Belarusian president today, Alexander Lukashenko, was one of Putin's closest allies, gave an interview and he talked about Putin quite extensively. And one of the things he said was that Putin was not weakened by Wagner's mutiny and Prigozhin's mutiny. He said, in fact, and I wanted to quote him.


He's no longer his old self. He is now wiser and more cunning. If someone thinks that Putin has been weakened by Prigozhin's munity, it's total nonsense. Putin is more mobilized, more cunning and wiser.

Bill, I mean, obviously, Lukashenko is going to say what Putin wants to hear, but is Putin more cunning, more mobilized post-Prigozhin?

BROWDER: So, Lukashenko is like Putin's assistant. He's going to say anything he can possibly say to butter up his boss. Putin is totally humiliated. He's humiliated by Prigozhin.

Remember, Prigozhin was on a march towards Moscow to take over the country. Putin called him a traitor, called an enemy of the state. And then a week later, Prigozhin is having tea at the Kremlin with Putin. And a week after that, he is welcoming African dictators at the Russian-African summit.

So the whole thing sounds ridiculous. Putin has not been, he's not wiser or stronger. He's humiliated and there's no way to un-humiliate him from this complete fiasco that happened on the 24th of June.

BURNETT: So, one way that Russia is continuing to fight this war is they still have the money to do it, right? The ruble has tanked but they still -- they're getting the money, right? We looked at German exports to Russia have plunged but have more than doubled to other countries like Kazakhstan.

They're getting what they need somehow and a new report about Switzerland says Russia is funneling a lot of money through there right now, Bill. We know of Putin's long-term girlfriend and their children took there along with many oligarchs and others in Putin's inner circle.

How instrumental is Switzerland to Putin right now?

BROWDER: Well, Switzerland is really a terrible place as far as the Western alliance is concerned. We've put sanctions on Russia. We've frozen Russian assets. We've gone after oligarchs. We've done everything we possibly can to starve Putin of his financial resources.

Switzerland tries -- pretends to play along. But in fact, what Switzerland is doing is continuing to allow Russia to keep all their dirty money there. Out of the $200 billion of Russian money that's in Switzerland, only $7.8 billion has been frozen. More than 95 percent of it is still there and available to the Russians.

And so, Switzerland really has to you know, kind of get serious about this. Otherwise, it's a major sort of loophole in the whole sanctions program where we're trying to starve Putin of his financial resources.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Bill, thank you very much. I appreciate it.

BROWDER: Thank you.

BURNETT: So next, razor wire lining the Texas border with Mexico. It is all part of the immigration crackdown by the state's governor. But now, some of his own supporters are calling for change and we're tracking a major hurricane getting stronger. Right now, heading straight for the U.S.



BURNETT: Tonight, a bus filled with 40 migrants including a dozen children, the youngest just 9 months old, has arrived in Los Angeles, the latest in a wave of asylum seekers sent to blue states by the Texas Governor Greg Abbott.

It comes, though, as Abbott is coming under fire for cracking down at the border which even some of his supporters say may go too far.

Rosa Flores is OUTFRONT.


MAGALI URBINA, EAGLE PASS RESIDENT: No one's backyard should look like this.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Magali Urbina is a Republican small business owner who has riverfront property in Eagle Pass, Texas.

URBINA: Who got cut?

FLORES: Where scenes like these of migrants screaming that they've been cut by razor wire in the water, this time a 6-year-old girl --

URBINA: Oh, my god.

FLORES: -- have poked holes in her support for Governor Greg Abbott's border security initiative known as Operation Lone Star.

Is that part of your frustration with Operation Lone Star?

URBINA: It is. I just hate to see someone screaming, saying that they're cut.

FLORES: Urbina says that while she has always supported Texas securing the border --

URBINA: We need Operation Lone Star in our community. There are cartel members taking advantage. There's human smuggling. There is trafficking. There is death.

FLORES: She is against the state deploying razor wire, barricading her gates, blocking access to her own property, and refusing multiple times to remove the barriers. Texas officials said the purpose of the wire is to deter smuggling between the ports of entry and not to injure migrants.

Do you think all of this is political?


FLORES: Does it bother you?

URBINA: It does. It does bother me. Like I said, where is the truth? You just put the he C-wire here and make people believe you've stopped what is happening at the border. It hasn't stopped.

FLORES: Urbina's property is in Border Patrol's Del Rio sector, the busiest area on the U.S. southern border in June with more than 24,600 migrant apprehensions.

Even one of Operation Lone Star's staunchest supporters, Democratic Eagle Pass Mayor Rolando Salinas has dialed back his support.

MAYOR ROLANDO SALINAS (D), EAGLE PASS, TEXAS: Things have changed. Things that obviously I don't like.

FLORES: Salinas went from signing an affidavit giving Texas full access and authority to arrest migrants at this public park to rescinding the measure with unanimous support from city council. SALINAS: All those in favor? Unanimous.

The concern that I had is allegations of -- that there might have been excessive force or anything that -- done to intentionally hurt people I am against.

FLORES: The Texas Office of Inspector General is investigating allegations made by a Texas state trooper working under Operation Lone Star that he was ordered to push migrants into the river and deny them water.

Texas officials have denied that any troopers were given such orders.

Other members of this border community with Mexican American roots have this message for the governor about Operation Lone Star's continued presence in their public park.

JUANITA V. MARTINEZ, MAVERICK COUNTY RESIDENT: Get the hell out of our park. Plain and simple. Get the hell out of our park.


KARYME FLORES, EAGLE PASS RESIDENT: We can have border security without cruelty.

JESSIE FUENTES, EAGLE PASS RESIDENT: I would like to see Operation Lone Star out of the park and everything out of the river.

FLORES: Urbina drove us along her river front property.

URBINA: Here they are.

FLORES: To catch up with the little girl hurt by the razor wire while trying to cross illegally. But as she approached --

URBINA: I'm the land owner, Mrs. Urbina, from Heavenly Farms.

FLORES: A Texas state trooper questioned her before letting her through.

URBINA: You want to tell him I am out here on my property?

FLORES: There she was, the 6-year-old walking along the banks of the river grand.

Her mother saying her daughter's feet got cut in the razor wire but appeared okay.

What gets you every time?

URBINA: Just hearing a human being crying that they're hurt. It's not easy.


FLORES (on camera): We reached out to the governor's office regarding this story and we have not heard back.

Now, about those controversial border buoys, there is a set of buoys staged on land. Here in this public park, this is in the same park we showed you in our story, and what's shocking about seeing these border buoys up close is the sheet of metal in between the buoys. You will see it looks like a saw blade. It even has teeth.

And, Erin, the latest regarding the legal battle over the border buoys is the majority according to a federal court filing were actually installed in Mexico -- Erin.

BURNETT: Yeah. All right. Rosa, thank you very much.

And next, the U.S. in the path of a dangerous hurricane which just gained strength to a category three. We have the latest track next.


BURNETT: Tonight, Hurricane Hilary just becoming a major category 3 hurricane with the storm whipping up sustained winds now of 120 miles an hour moving toward the United States. Twenty-six million people in the U.S. under flash flood watches tonight. Southern California is expected to be hit by heavy rainfall. Some areas potentially seeing a year's worth of rain over the course of the weekend.

The storm's path along the coast making it difficult to predict its exact landfall. Forecasts believe it will happen in Mexico. If it does make landfall in California, it would be the first hurricane to do so in 165 years.

Thanks for joining us.

"AC360" starts now.