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Erin Burnett Outfront

Special Counsel: Trump Employee Changes Story In Docs Case; First Trump Co-Defendants In Georgia Case Surrender; 8 Candidates None Named Trump, To Do Battle At First GOP Debate; Ukraine: Russia Strikes Zaporizhzhia Region Nearly 100 Times; Maui Families Desperate For Answers As 800+ Remain Missing. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired August 22, 2023 - 19:00   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next -- Trump's inner circle starts to surrender. Trump lawyer John Eastman, who is one of the architects behind the former president's efforts to overturn the state's 2020 election, arrested in Georgia today. His attorney will join us live. As we are learning new details about Rudy Giuliani's legal troubles ahead of his arrest.

Plus, breaking news -- a Trump employee at Mar-a-Lago is changing his story about erasing videos now that his attorney is no longer being paid for by Trump's allies, according to a new court document. And now the special counsel is investigating.

And 100 strikes in 24 hours. Russia dramatically escalating its attacks as Ukraine fires back, hitting a building not far from Moscow.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening. I'm Brianna Keilar, in for Erin Burnett.

And OUTFRONT tonight, we have breaking news. Turning on Trump -- federal prosecutors claiming tonight that a Trump worker at Mar-a-Lago initially lied to prosecutors about Trump's efforts to erase videos at Mar-a-Lago. Then, he got a new attorney, one who was not being paid for by Trump allies, and he changed his testimony. We are going to have much more on this development coming up.

But also tonight, we're following just a flurry of activity out of Georgia as officials prepare for former President Donald Trump to turn himself in Thursday at the Fulton County jail.

Today, the first two Trump codefendants surrendered. One of them Trump lawyer John Eastman -- a key player in Trump's plan to overturn the 2020 election results. Eastman defiant after being processed at jail.


REPORTER: Do you regret attaching your name to the former president?

JOHN EASTMAN, FORMER TRUMP LAWYER: None whatsoever. The president called and asked for representation. I think every citizen in my position should be willing to stand up for representation.


KEILAR: Eastman was a key figure in the fake electors scheme in Georgia, and other states, and the alleged mastermind behind the six- step plan for having then Vice President Mike Pence overturn Joe Biden's election victory.

The indictment reads, in part, quote: During a telephone call, Trump and Eastman attempted to persuade Pence to reject slates of presidential electors overturned the slates of presidential electors to state legislatures. This was an overt attack in furtherance of the conspiracy.

And, as CNN has reported, John Eastman is also unindicted coconspirator number two in special counsel Jack Smith's federal election case against Donald Trump.

CNN's also learning exclusively tonight that Rudy Giuliani, Trump's one-time lawyer and one of his codefendants in Fulton County, still has not found a Georgia-based lawyer to negotiate his surrender.

We have Paula Reid OUTFRONT at the Fulton County courthouse.

Paula, let's start with your brand-new reporting here about Rudy Giuliani. Why is he having such a hard time securing a Georgia lawyer? And what happens if he doesn't by Friday? Will he just be arrested?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, he's currently facing seven-figure legal debt. He has had trouble paying many of his attorneys which, of course, it makes it hard to retain or even attract new council down here in Georgia, to help him through this prosecution. We have learned, though, that former New York Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik, one of his longtime closest friends, has agreed to sort of help him through this.

Now, Bernie Kerik is not an attorney. But he does have extensive experience in the criminal justice system, both as a police commissioner and also as a defendant. He was convicted and then pardoned by former President Trump. But he is helping Rudy through this, reaching out to lawyers here in Georgia, to try to get someone who will agree to represent them.

But, Brianna, as of now, all Rudy needs is someone with a Georgia law license who is willing to just sign a bond agreement so that Rudy can go and surrender.

Now, it doesn't have to be a long time relationship, right? This is not going to be permanent representation. Right now, all they need is one lawyer who will sign that bond agreement. And it does appear likely he will be able to find that. But then they need to continue to hunt for someone who will represent Rudy throughout the course of this case.

Now, if he was to not surrender by Friday, yes, he could potentially be detained. KEILAR: Which, I mean -- that would be something. So, we'll be

watching to see how that plays out. What are we finding out about what may await former President Trump on Thursday based on his codefendants is rendered today?

REID: So, Brianna, we saw two of his codefendants surrender today. The choreography down here in Fulton County is you negotiate a bond agreement and you go through that process of surrender.


Today, we saw bail bondsman Scott Hall and conservative attorney John Eastman, who you are talking about in the introduction -- they both went through this process.

And as part of this process, they were fingerprinted, and had to fill out a lot of forms. And then, each of them had a mugshot taking. We are actually waiting any minute. We could get those mugshots.

Now, the former president, his process will be similar, with a caveat that he has secret service protection. So, it's likely the facility, the Fulton County sheriff's office, will be restricted during the time he's in there. That could help him just a little bit quicker -- but the D.A. is adamant that he will be treated like any other defendant.

KEILAR: All right. Paula Reid, thank you so much, live for us from Atlanta.

OUTFRONT tonight, John Eastman's attorney Harvey Silverglate is with us.

Harvey, thank you so much for being with us. Can you give us a sense of how it went today as your client turned himself in?

HARVEY SILVERGLATE, ATTORNEY FOR JOHN EASTMAN: Well, completely as predicted. He turned himself in and put up a bond and was released. That was all that was supposed to happen and all that did happen.

KEILAR: He had a mud mugshot taken. And any other details you can share with us about the process?

SILVERGLATE: No, it was completely unremarkable.

KEILAR: Eastman made clear in his comments today that he still believes the election was stolen. He is very loyal, still, to President Trump. Why is he confident that Trump will not hang him out to dry and try to make him the scapegoat for these alleged crimes?

SILVERGLATE: Well, remember, that Eastman is unique among all these defendants. His role was 100 percent that have a lawyer, trying to come up with creative ideas that pushed the margin of the law in order to reverse the Electoral College count.

So, he's unique. He is on trial for being a lawyer who was coming up with creative ideas. He's unique. And he doesn't -- and of course Trump might say he relied on Eastman's advice, because he did. Eastman was his lawyer. So, I would not call that throwing anybody under the truck.

KEILAR: So, I mean, he certainly is making the case that he was unique. Today, your client said he was targeted for, quote, zealous advocacy on behalf of his client, something that attorneys are ethically bound to provide.

I'm sure that you are familiar with the federal indictment of former President Trump that says that, on December 31st, 2020, your client, John Eastman, submitted a filing on Trump's behalf, affirming false election fraud allegations in Georgia. And that before that Eastman -- before he filed that, according to the indictment -- he acknowledged in an email in writing that he had, quote, been made aware that some of the allegations and evidence proffered by the experts has been an accurate. And that signing a new affirmation with that knowledge -- and I'm quoting here -- an incorporation by reference would not be accurate.

Does Eastman think that he was ethically bound to make those knowingly inaccurate statements in court on behalf of Trump?

SILVERGLATE: First of all, you use the word knowingly inaccurate a little bit loosely. These were way out theories that could change the result.

And Eastman was throwing them out. And nobody was threatened. Nobody was bribed. Nobody was coerced. It is not a crime to try to -- without threats -- to try to convince somebody to change their mind about something.

And that is the difference between this case and traditional RICO cases, which are used against organized crime in order to try to get criminal enterprises that rely on murder and mayhem and blackmail and all kinds of things like that. Nobody was blackmailed. Nobody was threatened.

KEILAR: Well, I'm not the one using the term inaccurate. Your client is saying, would not be accurate, and that's a quote. That's his quote from an email.

SILVERGLATE: Right. But that is not a crime. He did not coerce or bribe or threaten anybody to take his word. He was throwing them out. The authorities judged whether or --

KEILAR: Well, no --

SILVERGLATE: -- not it was going to fly.

KEILAR: Harvey, just to back up a little bit here, I'm talking about the fact that he was submitting, in court, a filing that he had, prior to that, admitted would be inaccurate.

SILVERGLATE: So, if this was an inaccurate filing, a judge can hold a contempt hearing. This is not a pre -- this is not a case justifying a racketeering indictment. If there is -- was inaccurate, that could be taken up in contempt hearing.


It could be taken up in a bar proceeding.

But this is a gigantic RICO thing which is trying to put on Eastman's lap everything done by everybody else. And I'm not saying everybody else committed a crime. I am agnostic on that question. I'm only interested in Eastman.

KEILAR: Well, I mean, you are a lawyer. Do you knowingly make false statements in court on behalf of your clients? Because this will be up to the court to determine how significant those statements were and what the charges would be for that. That is what we have seen from the D.A.

Would you make false statements knowingly?

SILVERGLATE: No, I never have. I consider myself in a vulnerable position. I'm a civil liberties and criminal defense lawyer. And I dot my I's and crossed my T's very carefully.

But that doesn't mean that, if somebody is less careful, that they have committed a federal or state RICO offense.

KEILAR: So, I do want to ask you about the federal case in this. Because he is right now the unindicted coconspirator number two in that. We have the D.C. grand jury still meeting. I know you are watching that as well. Do you expect that Eastman is going to be indicted in the federal case? Do you have any reason to believe that he might be in the clear?

SILVERGLATE: Well, I'm sort of puzzled that he is an unindicted coconspirator. An unindicted coconspirator could be indicted at any time. My suspicion -- I've become a little bit of a cynic in my 50 something years of doing this work -- is that the feds are going to approach us, hoping to turn him into a witness and saying that they are going to indict him if he does not turn into a witness.

Now, if you and I engaged in this conduct, it would be a crime. It's called extortion. When prosecutors do it, it is par for the course.

The same is true of plea bargaining. They will say to you, if you go to trial, we are going to recommend to the judge a 20-year sentence. If you become a government witness, we will recommend that the sentence be suspended.

If you and I did that we would be indicted for extortion, for making threats in order to get the person to act as you want. The prosecutors do it all the time. The system is riven with this kind of -- misbehavior. But, because they are the prosecutors --

KEILAR: Well, what would he say -- so, you are saying, you anticipate that. So, I am assuming that you have not been approached -- you anticipate that --

SILVERGLATE: No -- not been approached -- I -- KEILAR: What would he do?

SILVERGLATE: What would he do? I will tell you one thing about John Eastman. He is a very religious man. He will not testify falsely. He will not take an oath to his God and to his government to testify truthfully and then testify falsely. He is not going to be a government witness.

KEILAR: Harvey, we appreciate your time this evening. Harvey Silverglate, attorney for John Eastman, thank you so much.

SILVERGLATE: You are welcome.

KEILAR: And OUTFRONT next, we have breaking news. Federal prosecutors claim a worker at Trump's Mar-a-Lago is now changing his story about efforts to erase videos at Mar-a-Lago, and now that his new attorney is now being paid for by Trump's allies.

Plus, throwing Trump under the bus -- a former top Republican in Georgia, who was indicted, now claims he was just following Trump's orders when he tried to overturn the states election.

And we take you inside the difficult process of finding and identifying the victims, as more than 800 people are still missing on Maui.



KEILAR: We have breaking news -- a Trump employee changing his testimony in the Mar-a-Lago classified documents federal case. This is according to a new filing from federal prosecutors tonight. An IT worker whose attorney was paid for by Trump's political action committee initially told prosecutors he did not remember any conversations about security footage at Mar-a-Lago.

Remember, the indictment charges that Trump and others tried to delete security camera footage at the club to prevent the footage from being provided to a federal grand jury. Then the filing says the employee, quote, immediately, after receiving new counsel, retracted his prior false testimony and provided information that implicated Trump coconspirators Walt Nauta, de Oliveira and Trump in efforts to delete security camera footage.

We have Jessica Schneider OUTFRONT breaking this reporting for us tonight.

Jessica, what more can you tell us?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Brianna, so they are revealing this in a brand new filing just a few minutes ago. So, they believe that these two employees in Mar-a-Lago gave this false testimony about these efforts to delete what were incriminating footage from security camera at Trump's Florida club. So, we learn from this filing the two employees are Carlos de Oliveira

and Yucel Tavares. Now, we know de Oliveira, because he has been charged in that superseding indictment in Florida. We've seen him in court. He was indicted along with the former president and the former president's aide, Walt Nauta. But Yucel Tavares has not been charged here. He's only been identified in court documents as Trump employee number four. But what this filing is all about is that it comes to light that after Tavares switched attorneys because he and Walt Nauta up until this point had the attorney Stan Woodward.

Well, Tavares is now that he's working with a public defender, he seems to be changing his story. He initially told prosecutors one account of efforts to delete the security footage, namely that he didn't remember any efforts to delete security footage, but now that he's working with a public defender, it appears that Tavares may be amending his story and the problem with that would be that it would potentially incriminate Walt Nauta.

So, Brianna, prosecutors are really looking closely at this new testimony. It implicates, you know, hearings, change in attorneys. But obviously, it also relates to the case against the former president, keeping hold of those classified documents, whether they were efforts to delete security footage, all of this unfolding in Florida in that federal indictment.


So, a big deal if Tavares changes his story -- and it could be very problematic for the former president -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Yeah, it certainly is a big deal, as you put it.

Jessica Schneider, thank you for that report.

And OUTFRONT now, we have Karen Friedman Agnifilo, who's a former chief assistant district attorney in the Manhattan D.A.'s office, and Clint Rucker, former executive assistant district attorney in Fulton County, who worked with D.A. Fani Willis.

Karen, just a reaction to the special counsel saying that this IT worker at Mar-a-Lago changed his testimony after switching lawyers to a lawyer who is not paid for by Trump interests.

Karen? Can you hear me?

All right. I think we are having maybe a technical issue with Karen. So, we are going to try to fix -- that


KEILAR: Oh, you can hear me.

Okay, what do you think about this development --

AGNIFILO: I can only hear you.

KEILAR: Oh, you can only hear -- you can hear me? Can you hear me, Karen?

Okay, she doesn't hear me. I'm going to go to you, Clint, while we try to fix Karen's issue there.

Clint, what do you think about this new development. This seems like it could really impact the former president about this case about the documents.

CLINT RUCKER, FORMER FULTON COUNTY PROSECUTOR: Right. And good evening, Brianna, and thank you for having me.

I think, from the prosecutors' perspective, this potentially could be, really, a blockbuster. Certainly when there is a conspiracy case, like has been alleged, having someone on the inside can give you a glimpse behind the curtain. Certainly, it's very advantageous for the prosecution.

And we know that the difference in stories will perhaps prove to be a little challenging because, of, course the witnesses credibility will be an issue because he changed their story. But nevertheless, the information, I think, is really, really valuable for the government.

KEILAR: Yeah, that's a very interesting point, Karen, about the credibility. I do wonder, though, because we saw something similar happen in the January 6th hearings, right? I think even in the case of Cassidy Hutchinson, someone who switched lawyers, from someone who is paid for by a Trump interest, and then she became a star witness.

So, there were certainly questions about her credibility. But, in the end, she didn't really seem to suffer from it. What do you think this could mean?

AGNIFILO: I think, look -- whenever you have somebody who, in the past, has told a different story, that will obviously come out in front of a jury. And so, typically, as a prosecutor, you have to corroborate what they have to say or at least give an explanation for why it is that their story has changed. And like Cassidy Hutchinson, her explanation made a lot of sense, and she came across as very credible.

So, that's what the prosecutors will have to do when making a decision about whether or not to put on somebody who had previously lied or told a different story.

KEILAR: Clint, of course, I want to ask you about what is happening in Fulton County, Georgia, where you were a prosecutor for decades. What do you think the Trump surrender is going to look like?

We hear authorities it is going to be the usual procedures. But I wonder if there are some that may maybe are not going to be used -- a physical search, a medical check, some things. What do you think?

RUCKER: Well, certainly, I think there is nothing unusual about this case. I think it is historically significant on a very, very high- level. And, while certainly, Fulton county and Atlanta has seen its share of really high-profile defendants and cases, I think this one has made its way to the top of that stack.

Certainly, through the Secret Service, and a coordination with the Fulton County sheriff's department, they will come up with a protocol that will safely ensure that the former president is able to get in and get out very smoothly, without any issues with respect to his safety. I think the normal processes with inside the Fulton County jail will take place. And so, I would expect that fingerprinting and general booking will take place.

And hopefully, on the part of the Secret Service at least, and the Fulton County sheriff, I am sure, they would want to get this situation over as quickly as possible.

KEILAR: Yes, and I think we do expect that we will see that.

Karen, a really interesting development -- one of the 18 codefendants of the former president in Georgia is now actually pointing a finger at the former president saying in a court filing that he, quote, acted at a direction of the incumbent president and other federal officials.


That's a filing coming from David Shafer. He's a former GOP chairman in Florida who led the states allegation of fake electors. He also says that he was told by Trump's lawyers, quote, verbally and in writing, that the Republican electors meeting was consistent with counsel's advice.

What is that going to mean, do you think for, the former president?

AGNIFILO: It potentially could mean, I think, a lot of trouble for him because it could be a witness used against him if he does decide to enter into a cooperation agreement or if he pleads guilty and then is called as a witness to testify, right? I mean -- but it's one thing -- the January 6th people who stormed the Capitol, they also thought they were acting at the direction of the president, but they -- they didn't necessarily have a conversation with him about it. So, it will defend on what Shafer actually says -- did he have a conversation with the president or someone who worked for the president and did he say to him, okay, this is what you should do?

Because, if that's the case, then I think that puts Donald Trump in legal -- in more serious legal jeopardy than he is already in. The reason Shafer is saying it, or one of the reasons, is because he wants to remove this case to federal court.

KEILAR: That's right. He wants to move this from Georgia to federal court, and it's something that we will be watching to see if he has any success there.

Karen Friedman Agnifilo, and Clint Rucker, thank you so much to both of you for being with us.

AGNIFILO: Thank you.

RUCKER: Thank you. KEILAR: OUTFRONT next -- a former Trump opponent says it is a mistake for the former president to skip the GOP's first presidential debate. But with Trump's more than 20 points ahead in the polls, would it actually be a mistake to debate?

And, dramatic new video tonight of Ukraine's troops on the move as they are racing to save civilian lives along the front lines.



KEILAR: We are now learning who will stand at center stage at the first Republican presidential debate on Wednesday in Milwaukee.

According to a lineup released by the Republican National Committee, Governor Ron DeSantis and Vivek Ramaswamy will be occupying those prime spots. This, as President Biden's campaign launched its first state specific television ad in Wisconsin.

The campaign and Democratic National Committee slamming the Republican presidential field as, quote, the most extreme, the most divisive, most chaotic set of candidates ever.

Jeff Zeleny is OUTFRONT.


CAROLINE QUINLAN, WISCONSIN VOTER: I think the next 15 months is going to be like a lifetime movie. There is going to be -- so much can happen on both sides.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: That is how Caroline Quinlan sees the 2024 presidential race, hopeful for the possibility of change, but bracing for a year of drama.

QUINLAN: I could go for a fresh starts on both sides, yeah, both for the Republicans and the Democrats. Is that going to happen? I don't know.

ZELENY: Quinlan has a ringside seat, here in this sprawling suburbs of Milwaukee. The Republicans will not only gather tomorrow night for their first primary debate, but also convene next summer in the same arena to crown the party's nominee at the GOP convention.


ZELENY: Wisconsin has long been a vital stop on the road to the White House, a battleground and bellwether that went for Joe Biden in 2020 and Donald Trump in 2016.

Eight candidates will be onstage for the debate, but not Trump.

Former Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, a onetime Trump rival, believe that's a mistake. SCOTT WALKER (R), FORMER WISCONSIN GOVERNOR: When I sit next to him at

that first debate eight years ago in Cleveland, this was a guy who was commanding. He took charge and took over the debate. And I think it's a missed opportunity for him not to come here to Milwaukee and try and take charge again.

ZELENY: As Walker sees it, Trump is not only competing in the primary. He also could start trying to win over some of the voters who once supported him.

WALKER: If they see him fighting -- not for the sake of fighting -- but fighting for them, fighting for their families, fighting for their schools, fighting for the economic survivability, then I think he starts to pull some of those voters back.

ZELENY: Quinlan, an independent, would be in that camp. When we first met during the final weeks of the 2020 campaign, she was torn.

QUINLAN: I get it, why people don't like Trump.

ZELENY: She ultimately voted for Trump. Now, she's intent on sizing up the field.

Is there anyone who stands out to you at this point? Or a few people?

QUINLAN: Well, I'm still learning about all of them. I am really interested in DeSantis, and Haley. I'm interested in her.

ZELENY: She wants to hear the candidates talk about education, the economy, and crime. She fears Biden is too old, and, for now, is withholding judgment on Trump.

QUINLAN: Yeah, he's not my first choice. But -- yeah, let's see what my choices are.

ZELENY: Democrats are also laser focused on Wisconsin.

BIDEN: Good to see you, dude.

ZELENY: With the Biden campaign on the air with a new TV ad --

BRIAN SCHIMMING, CHAIRMAN, WISCONSIN REPUBLICAN PARTY: What this debate is about is one of us versus Joe Biden.

ZELENY: Brian Schimming, chairman of the Wisconsin Republican Party, said the attention makes clear, his state will help settle a larger debate, whether it's a rematch between Biden and Trump, or not.

SCHIMMING: I don't think anything is inevitable. History is full of folks who were ahead early and end up the nominee in both parties.


ZELENY (on camera): So, we will see if history is a guide for the 2024 campaign. But, Brianna, there is no question, talking to voters here around the suburbs of Milwaukee, that they are just beginning to tune into this presidential campaign. So, many opportunities for those candidates to make a first impression.

Even though Donald Trump, of course, will not be here tomorrow night, though he is looming large over all of this. But one year from now, next summer, it is building right behind me here, the Republican nominee will be crowned. The question is, will it be Trump or one of these other candidates on the stage? Brianna?

KEILAR: What a year it will be.

Jeff Zeleny, thank you for that report.

And OUTFRONT now, David Axelrod, former senior advisor to President Obama and David Urban, Republican strategist and Trump 2020 senior campaign advisor.

David Urban, to you first. You heard Scott Walker, former governor of Wisconsin, and the latest Republican to say it's a mistake for Trump to skip the debate. Do you agree with him?

DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, no, Brianna. By the way, it's kind of scary we've got a year to go to --

KEILAR: I know.

URBAN: Oh, everybody -- everybody strap in, right?

So, listen, I think Scott Walker is wrong on this. Trump only has one way to go if he shows up. It's down.


You are ahead 30-plus points. He has a commanding lead. He sucking up all the oxygen in the room. He's not there.

By showing up -- you know, if somebody lands a glove on him during a debate, he goes down. And so, I think, at this point, he is smart for staying away. He will still -- he will do some counter programming tomorrow.

He is going to be in Georgia on Thursday. And I'm not so sure that anybody is going to be talking about the debate past tomorrow night. So, I think the former governor is wrong.

KEILAR: Maybe not with Trump reporting to the Fulton County jail on Thursday, for sure.

So, you know, David Axelrod, you are so familiar with primary debates. You prepared then Senator Obama for more than 20 of them in 2008. But it was a very different situation.

What would you say to your candidate if they were tens and tens of points ahead of their closest competitor and they are thinking of not going to a debate?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, this is so unlike any other circumstance. But listen, he's not just tens and tens ahead. On the average, he's almost 40 points ahead.

And no one has ever lost the nomination with that kind of lead. Now, no one has ever been under four separate indictments either. And that adds an era of uncertainty to it.

But I hear Scott Walker say this will give him a chance to win voters over and tell them that he is on their side and fighting for them and so on. They believe that now. I mean, he's 50 percent plus believe that now. If you pull who is on our side, who is fighting for us, they say it is Trump.

So, I think he is more to stay away. I always thought he should. I think it puts a lot of pressure on the other candidates, and particularly Governor DeSantis, who started off his whole strategy was based on the, I am the guy -- I am the alternative to Trump. Everybody else is superfluous. And he's done nothing but slide ever since he has entered the race. And now, he is under a lot of pressure to perform here, for his big donors and supporters are going to start looking elsewhere. And that would not necessarily be the case if Trump were on the stage.

KEILAR: Yeah, I mean really, to that point -- DeSantis is behind Trump behind 40 -- depending on the poll -- 40 to 50 points nationally.

But, David Urban, when you look at this week's "Des Moines Register" Iowa poll, it's a bit little tighter. DeSantis is only 23 points behind Trump. But that's huge, right? Sixty-six percent of Trump supporters say their mind is made up.

DeSantis has no doubt lost ground. Do you think that he can really turn it around with a debate?

URBAN: Yeah, I think it's going to be challenging. I think he is going to need to show a lot of humanity, some personality. And maybe have a good line or two -- and then, I think it's more important in Iowa, and Axe knows this -- it's to visit all 99 counties, get out and make the case personally.

This is a -- this is a retail game in Iowa. And people -- you know, the joke in Iowa is, you ask a voter whether you are going to -- you like Ron DeSantis? I don't know, I've only met him three or four times so far, right?

AXELROD: Yeah, exactly.

URBAN: People in Iowa want you -- they want you in their living room, sitting down having supper with them. So, there is a case to be made. You could come back. But it requires a lot of work. And it's pushing a big drop rock up a hill at this point.

KEILAR: So, Axe --

AXELROD: Brianna, we should say --

KEILAR: Yeah -- AXELROD: We should say, on Iowa, that DeSantis's numbers and his

unfavorability among Republicans there is still quite high. Still has an opportunity. But he has been stumbling over himself for several weeks, really, months here now, his message has shifted around.

He wanted to be Trump here than Trump. That did not work, as people like the original better. So, he has to find a winning message here. And it has to be on that stage tomorrow night.

KEILAR: Well, to that point, Axe, what would you advise these candidates -- many of them, all of them, I guess -- to do in order to stand out?

AXELROD: Well, look, debates are -- they are watched by millions. But what really lives are these viral moments. So, you want to land a line that's memorable, that gets in the mash-ups of the debate.

But you want that through line to say something about your candidacy and who you are. It can't just be a glib line. I think what a lot of these -- I mean, Tim Scott is a very appealing guy. And people like him. But right now, he is more biography than message. And he needs to display a message.

Nikki Haley needs to display an incisive message that says, this is why she is different, not just because she is a she, or because of her story, but this message makes her different. And then you have to get it, boil down to those one or two guidelines. It is really a hard task, especially with eight people on the stage.

KEILAR: Yeah, look, a lot of anticipation for this -- but we don't know what the moment is going to be. We know there will be one that we are going to see, but we will have to wait and see what it is.

David Axelrod, David Urban, thank you to you both.

AXELROD: Thank you.

URBAN: Thanks, Brianna.

KEILAR: OUTFRONT next, Russia striking one region in Ukraine nearly 100 times in just 24 hours. And this comes as the war moves increasingly into Putin's own backyard, with strikes inside Russia.

Plus, desperate for answers -- families in Hawaii are waiting for information, as more than 800 people remain missing at this hour. I'll be speaking to an expert who is involved in the effort to identify victims.



KEILAR: Tonight, fierce battles underway in the Zaporizhzhia region in southern Ukraine, with Russian reportedly launching nearly 100 missiles and shells and Ukrainian positions in just the past 24 hours. This comes as Vladimir Putin's top propagandist calls for a possible tactical nuclear strike on Ukraine.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): As soon as the F-16 makes its way into Ukrainian territory, a tactical nuclear strike will be launched.


KEILAR: Fred Pleitgen is OUTFRONT.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Ukraine's army on the move on the southern front. Kyiv's defense ministry released this video saying, it shows their troops moving to the village Robotyne and evacuating several civilians from the front line area.

We have waited so long that, today, we did not expect you. We couldn't even believe these are our soldiers, this woman says, as she tears up.

But Kyiv acknowledges progress remains slow as Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy toured Western Europe where he secured pledges by NATO allies to supply Ukraine with advanced U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets once crew training is completed.


Russian President Vladimir Putin on a diplomatic mission of his own, addressing a summit of the BRICS economic block via video link, an arrest warrant from the international criminal court preventing Putin from personally coming to South Africa while China's President Xi Jinping managed to attend.

The Russian leader ripping into Western sanctions.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT: Russia has been deliberately obstructed to supplying grain and fertilizers abroad, and at the same time we are hypocritically blame for the crisis situation on the world market.

PLEITGEN: Putin's war is increasingly reaching Russians even near the capital Moscow. The Ukrainian drone crashing into a building in this suburb in the early morning hours, leaving residents shaken.

Honestly, I am more worried, not about myself, but my family, this man says. I am thinking about taking them away somewhere for a while. Ukrainian drone attacks have become a near daily occurrence in Russia. Kyiv now saying it struck an airbase with strategic bombers are stationed, severely damaging a Tupolev TU-22M, although Moscow has not acknowledged the incident.

As Russia faces challenges, both on its territory and on the frontlines inside Ukraine, one of Putin's former top warriors, Yevgeny Prigozhin of the Wagner private military company, now saying his group has already moved on to new operations in Africa, allegedly fighting ISIS there.

YEVGENY PRIGOZHIN, WAGNER MERCENARY CHIEF (through translator): Wagner PMC conducts reconnaissance and search actions, makes Russia even greater on all continents. And Africa more free -- justice and happiness for the African people. We are making life a nightmare for ISIS.

PLEITGEN: Inside Ukraine, Kyiv's forces say they remain on the offensive, tough and slow going, but Ukraine's leadership says slowly making important territorial gains.


PLEITGEN (on camera): And, Brianna, despite the fact that they're going pretty tough for the Ukraine is both in the south and east, they are getting a bit of a boost as the President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says he is down back from his trip to Europe with new political support and agreements. Of course, most important of those are those pledges for F-16 fighter jets, which the Ukrainians hope will make a big difference on the battlefield -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Fred Pleitgen, thank you.

OUTFRONT next -- two weeks after the devastating wildfires in Hawaii, officials are only able to identify a fraction of the 115 who are confirmed dead. My next guest was involved in the effort to identify victims.

And hundreds of patients evacuated from a hospital during a power outage -- some had to just an hour of battery life left on their ventilators.



KEILAR: Tonight, searching for answers. Many families on Maui are still waiting to learn the fate of their loved ones, as today marks two weeks since the devastating wildfire began. The governor saying today 87 percent of the area scorched by the wildfire has now been searched for remains. And out of the 115 deaths reported at this hour, the families of only 13 victims have been notified so far, and there are fears about how many more victims could be out there with more than 800 people still listed as missing.

OUTFRONT now -- Robert Mann, forensic anthropologist who just returned from Oahu, after working with recovery crews on Maui.

Robert, thank you so much for being with us. I know the devastation must have just been horrible to witness and that the folks there on Maui are dealing with so much. Can you give us a sense of what forensic teams are going to try to identify people?

ROBERT MANN, FORENSIC ANTHROPOLOGIST: Hi, Brianna. Yes, well, they've got very large teams over there. They've got a very wide range of forensic specialist. So, we are right there with anything from 10 to 15 forensic anthropologists. We have numerous forensic pathologists, odontologist, forensic dentists, radiologist, DNA specialists.

And I think what they're continuing to do is we've got two ends of the spectrum here. We have the scene with we are the wildfire was. And so that's going to be the recovery area. And then we have the identification process. So, we have got teams that are outdoing the recoveries and searching and recovering as much as they can. Everything that they find will go back to the morgue to the forensic facility. And that is where the teams and the identification specialists, such as I, are working together to make the identifications.

It can seem like a slow process. But it's a very tedious process in that we have protocols and procedures that we have to follow. And those protocols and procedures and sure that we do everything accurately, we do everything thoroughly. But perhaps more than everything else we do everything correctly and right. We don't ever want to make a mistake. Our procedures are helping to prevent that.

KEILAR: Yeah, it's so important to do this correctly.

Robert, we hear this number -- more than 800 still missing. And I think one expectation is that, hopefully, that number is going to shrink dramatically, that there are family members who have found loved ones, maybe they haven't cleared them off the list. But is that what you are expecting?

MANN: It is. When it comes to the numbers of the unaccounted for or the lost or the missing, the numbers really, really difficult to try to narrow down and get an accurate number. We are dealing with this wildfire in kind of an open population versus a closed population, whereas in an airplane crash, for example, if there's 250 people that are manifest on the airplane, the plane crash is, you know you are looking for 250 people. So, that's a closed population.

An open population such as what we are dealing with on Maui now is, we have residents there, we have tourist, we have -- and so to really come up with a number, a precise number, is really, really difficult thing to do.


It's not in my wheelhouse. It's not something that I am doing, that I am a part of. But I can see how complex that would be.

KEILAR: Robert, I know you have worked many mass casualty events, including 9/11 Ground Zero. What is the impact on families and communities not knowing about their loved ones?

MANN: It is horrific. You know, I don't have the opportunity to meet with the Ohana, the families in what we are doing because I am spending all my time in the morgue just doing what we need to do.

But, you know, I can only imagine how terrible this is. I have family of my own. And I have said it before. If one of my family members was missing in an incident like this, I would want people to move heaven and earth to make sure they are doing everything they can to recover my loved one.

And I hope we are doing that for the Maui wildfire unaccounted for as well. I think we are doing the best we can. We are doing our best.

KEILAR: You certainly are, Robert. And thank you so much for the work you are doing. Robert Mann, we appreciate you being with us.

MANN: Thank you, Brianna.

KEILAR: Next, a hospital power outage leaving doctors and nurses to lose huge flash ice in the delivery room while a mother gave birth.


KEILAR: Tonight, more than 200 patients evacuated from a hospital in Los Angeles after a power outage, including the neonatal intensive care unit. The hospital lost its main power during Tropical Storm Hilary, and then it's back up generators failed. The outage forcing doctors and nurses to improvise, even using flashlights to light up delivery room while a mother gave birth.

And there are other high stakes situations -- some patients on ventilators that had just one hour of battery power left. Thankfully, everyone was evacuated safely, including that newborn, who is born during the incident.

And thank you so much for joining us.

"AC360" starts now.