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Erin Burnett Outfront
Putin Foe Prigozhin Said To Be Dead After Plane Crash In Russia; Trump To Surrender In Georgia Tomorrow, 9 Co-Defendant Booked; Giuliani Surrenders At Georgia Jail, Takes Mug Shot. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired August 23, 2023 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, we are following two breaking stories tonight.
First, the man who led the armed uprising on Moscow appears to have been killed. His plane crashed outside of Moscow. Video showing it falling out of the sky. Was Putin behind the crash?
Plus, Trump's arrest. The former president is expected to turn himself in tomorrow night. And we are now learning new details about what to expect.
Plus, Giuliani reports to jail. The former New York City mayor turning himself in on charges connected to Trump's efforts to overturn the state's election. His mugshot just released.
Let's go OUTFRONT.
Good evening. I'm Brianna Keilar, in for Erin Burnett.
OUTFRONT tonight, breaking news, Putin's biggest enemy appears to have been eliminated. Yevgeny Prigozhin who led the attempted coup back in June is now dead after the jet that he was flying in crashed, according to a group linked to the Wagner group.
This is video of Prigozhin's plane. You see it here, falling out of the sky minus one of its wings. A large trail of smoke billowing behind it. There were nine other people on board that jet which was in a cruise altitude of 28,000 feet before it disappeared from radar.
Video from the ground showing the jets debris burning. So far, no word on what caused the plane, which was traveling from Moscow to St. Petersburg to go down.
But U.S. intelligence is now most likely trying to determine if there was an explosion inside of the plane or if there was a flash on the ground which could suggest that it was hit by a missile. So far, Putin is not commenting on the crash.
We have a lot to get to tonight. I want to start with Fred Pleitgen.
Fred, what more are you learning about the crash that is said to have killed this leader of the Wagner Group? FREDRICKA PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi there,
Well, the Russians are saying the investigators are on the scene are actually still working and trying to gather evidence. They say they're looking at multiple scenarios as to what might have happened to the plane, including mechanical errors but of course also as they put it, tampering with the aircraft as well. And, of course, it's no secret that Yevgeny Prigozhin more than fell out of favor with Vladimir Putin. In fact, Vladimir Putin called some of the actions of Prigozhin treasonous.
Now, of course, right now, it's unclear what exactly happened to the plane, who was behind it, but there are very few who believe that it could've been an accident.
Here's what we're learning.
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Probably the last moments of Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin. This jet, an Embraer Legacy 600 seen falling from the sky, a wing appearing to be missing. Russian authorities confirming Prigozhin was on board of the aircraft.
CNN is unable to confirm the authenticity of this video but RIA Novosti claimed it was the moment that an Embraer jet fell from the sky in the Tver region north of Moscow. Flight data shows that the plane traveling from Moscow heading to St. Petersburg before it suddenly stopped transmitting.
Russian media say ten people were on board, all of them believed dead and that Prigozhin's name was also on the passenger manifest.
The Wagner mercenary group fought bitterly in Ukraine, notably in Bakhmut, gaining some territory but also incurring heavy losses. Prigozhin ripping into Russia's defense minister and his top general, accusing them of withholding ammo leading to further deaths of his fighters.
YEVGENY PRIGOZHIN, WAGNER CHIEF (through translator): You think you are the masters of this life. You think you can dispose of other lives. You think because you have warehouses full of ammunition that you have that right.
PLEITGEN: In late June, Prigozhin went a step further, launching a rebellion he said aimed to unseat the leadership of the defense ministry. Prigozhin finally relented and Wagner troops were ordered to Belarus but days later, Putin took aim at Prigozhin himself.
VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We will protect our people and our statehood from any threats, including treason from the inside. What we are facing now is treason, unreasonable ambitions and personal interests led to treachery, state treason and betrayal of our people. PLEITGEN: World reaction to the latest news has been swift and blunt.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There is not much that happens with the Russian when Putin not behind. I don't know enough to know that answer.
PLEITGEN: No comment from the Russian president tonight. He held a moment of silence but four Soviet soldiers killed in World War II in Kursk as a debris of that the plane carrying what was one of his most important fighters burns in a field north of Russia's capital.
PLEITGEN (on camera): And that continues to be the case, Brianna, absolutely nothing official from Vladimir Putin tonight. But I think one of the important things that we need to point out is that while Yevgeny Prigozhin was most probably killed on a plane, so it's pretty much the entire senior leadership of the Wagner private military company.
It's pretty much a complete decapitation of that organization, including their top military commander, Dmitry Utkin, who actually came up with the name Wagner, and who has played a huge role for that organization in Syria, in Africa and in Ukraine as well.
A lot of people I'm speaking to in Russia say if that company survives, it will be completely different organization, Brianna.
KEILAR: Yeah, such a good point. Fred Pleitgen, thank you for that report.
OUTFRONT now, Christo Grozev, lead Russia investigator of Bellingcat Productions. He was also on Russia's wanted list.
And Andrei Soldatov, a Russian investigative journalist whose site has been blocked in Russia.
Christo, to you first. I know that you have been talking to all of your sources. What do you think happened here?
CHRISTO GROZEV, LEAD RUSSIA INVESTIGATOR AT BELLINGCAT: Well, there's no doubt among any of the Wagnerites, who writes Wagnerites, who I'm talking to that this was an assassination, this was a decapitation of the whole Wagner leadership as Fred said. Nobody doubts that -- and even the Telegram channels that were always very well-informed and close to the management of Wagner are calling it, calling it an assassination.
What they're calling it as well is an act of treason. So, now, we see a reversal of accusations where Putin was calling what Prigozhin did two months ago exactly to the day two months ago treason. Now the ex- Wagnerites or the Wagnerites are calling what Putin did to Prigozhin treason. So we are poised to see some interesting developments in Russia in the next few days. KEILAR: Andrei, do you have any doubt that Putin was behind this?
ANDREI SOLDATOV, RUSSIAN INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: That is quite interesting that all of the people that I spoke with today immediately was Putin it was behind us attack, not say some rogue elements in the military or our independently took action against Prigozhin. For me, it is a sign that Putin was granted successful and very political control and sending his message to the military and specifically to the military. But there's no space, no room for any independent action.
KEILAR: Christo, it was just a couple of weeks ago that you were predicting that Prigozhin would either be dead or that there would be a second coup by the end of the year.
What do you think about the timing here if Putin was behind this?
GROZEV: Well, again, on the assumption that Putin was behind it and there seems to be no force in Russia that could've done this outside of Putin's authorization or purview, then the only question is why did it happen so fast? I mean, the reason why we on this program discussed a couple of weeks ago that Putin must avenge, must eliminate, neutralize Prigozhin once he called them a traitor, because otherwise, he will lose the ability to govern by ruthlessness.
The only problem with the timing is that it happened a bit too fast. It happened before Putin was able to essentially destroy the influence of Prigozhin in Africa, destroyed the influence of Prigozhin on the remaining Wagner troops. And I think that this has to do exactly with Africa.
I mean, in the last week, we saw a lot of escalation of deep fights between the Ministry of Defense and Putin and the Kremlin on one hand. And Prigozhin on the other hand who will reclaim control over some of the most lucrative market in Africa over Mali, over Central African Republic. In fact, Prigozhin wasn't Africa the last two days and he was on the way back from Africa trying to retain control over Mali and not to yield control to the Ministry of Defense. I think it is this escalation of the interest in Africa that precipitated the action against Prigozhin.
KEILAR: Andrei, many people were surprised that Putin didn't take action against Prigozhin after he lead that march towards Moscow exactly two months ago to the day here and it of course failed. He was even seen and public in St. Petersburg attending the very same summit in two weeks ago. If Putin is behind this, why wait two months?
SOLDATOV: I think it is a sign that Putin is still cold blooded and very calculating player who took his time to assess the situation, to assess what to do with Prigozhin's threat sources in the country and outside of the country, to try to figure out what to do if Prigozhin's people in Africa and the Middle East. And also, he needed to understand what to do with the military.
And I think it's not a surprise and not a coincidence that this week, we also got news about Surovikin. [19:10:05]
Finally, we've got some clearance about what -- some clarity about what actually happened to Surovikin. He was dismissed. He lost his position as head of our space forces, but still remains in the military.
KEILAR: Yeah. A key general, had been in the Ukraine war, and dismissed as the head of what is the equivalent of the air force. He hadn't been seen since the mutiny in June and we just found out that he was stood down here really in the last day.
Christo, Bellingcat was critical to proving that it was a Russian missile that had taken down MH-17, that commercial jetliner in eastern Ukraine in 2014, killing so many people. What should outside investigators be looking for in this case in Prigozhin's plane that does not require Russian cooperation?
GROZEV: Yeah, I think we are in a different stage now. We have so many leaks within Russia, within Russian security services, within Russian Ministry of Defense, people that are actively or tacitly fighting against one another that we are going to get the answers pretty soon I believe. We are not going to have to go through this laboriously looking for a shreds of shrapnel, evidence and looking for postings on social media, which is what Bellingcat had to do months and years in 2014 and '15.
I think we are going to see actual reports and witness statements and pictures of what happened, leak to social media and to Telegram channels in the next few days. Because if Prigozhin did one good thing, if this cold-blooded criminal and war criminal did one good thing, he actually created some sort of pluralism of media and Russia and in a worse and a very perverse sense.
And there's a lot of people have now taken cue from him and are speaking up. They're not the nice people, but they're going to leak and I think we're going to find out what happened to this in the next couple of days for the plane.
KEILAR: It's very interesting, and we will be looking to see what has revealed here in the next few days.
Christo Grozev and Andrei Soldatov, thank you so much to both of you.
OUTFRONT next, our breaking news continues. We will take you to the ground in Ukraine to see how Prigozhin's reported demise could affect Putin's war in Ukraine.
Plus, we'll take a closer look at what happened to Prigozhin's plane. We'll be going through the video frame by frame with an expert for all of the clues.
And more high-profile arrest in Georgia, including former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. His mugshot you see there just released as we are learning new details tonight about how former President Trump's historic arrest for trying to overturn Georgia's election will play out tomorrow night.
KEILAR: We're following our breaking news here. Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin reportedly dead. He was said to be on this plane that you see here crashing into the ground, northwest of Moscow, and some of Prigozhin's top lieutenants who helped found the brutal private military group were also onboard we have learned. All of this just two months after Prigozhin led his forces on that march towards Moscow.
Nick Paton Walsh is OUTFRONT. He is live from southern Ukraine.
Nick, you've been on the ground covering this war where Wagner fighters took part in some of the most brutal fighting.
What does this incident mean for Putin and for this war?
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. Look for the war, I think it's fair to say that since the failed army rebellion, the Wagner's presence here in Ukraine has been significantly diminished. They appear to have been brought back from many frontline positions. Western officials suggesting that actually some of the financing of Wagner as the organization by the Kremlin had been radically reduced and they've been even experiencing recruitment and salary issues.
So it's unlikely that we will see intermediate impacts from this likely death of Prigozhin on the front here. Russia appears to have replaced Wagner with some fairly serious Russian regulars but for Putin and the Kremlin situation at what is still an exceptionally delicate time for Russia, facing a pretty intense Ukrainian counteroffensive slow but very much looking for a Russian weakness. This still shows that Putin I think felt threatened.
We don't know the full story here but the predominant information may suggest that Prigozhin did not end up in an accident. That may suggest that Putin essentially still felt Prigozhin could have been a threat. That the sort of weird calm that we have seen over the past two months had really diminished in the Kremlin's heads, eyes, the idea that Prigozhin could potentially down the line challenge his authority. He was the greatest challenge Putin seen in his entire 23 years in power.
And so, clearly, the Kremlin had perhaps if indeed it turns out that this was some sort of sanction killing by Putin, the Kremlin had making the decision that he was willing to risk the possibility of the rough -- of the remnants of Wagner loyalists against the Kremlin. That was preferable to the idea of somebody who he publicly called a traitor, still circulating in public.
One other interesting element to this as well and now we are learning who was on that plane. I say we still don't have the full picture here, although it is pointing potentially towards something more of an act and claiming this number of key Wagner figures. All of these men, all of the Prigozhin's key lieutenants felt it was safe to travel on the same private jet flying through Russia.
I am not suggesting that they've given assurances, or they basically concluded then there is no further threat to them that there will be no sanction against them but after what happened two months ago during that failed armed rebellion. That potentially might say is naive, and might suggest they felt they were still in vulnerable because of the support behind them. Maybe in some military circles but to me, that was to some degree remarkable and it is now left the Wagner group with tentacles for Russia across the world decapitate it to some degree.
And that's another thing for Putin to potentially have to move upon, across Africa, Wagner was that deniable arm of Russian influence propping up favorable autocratic regimes. Looking for resources at times, brutally it was facing in Syria at times in Libya as well. So now I think those who exploited that for Russians geopolitical leverage around the world will have to move pretty fast and be sure they sustain that in the weeks or months ahead.
But I think above, if indeed it does turn out to be something Putin was behind, it does not show he is strong again. It shows that he felt this threat still persisted and there is still chaos really at the heart of Moscow's inner circles around the Kremlin -- Brianna.
KEILAR: Yeah, very interesting as we see him then lashing out here. Nick Paton Walsh, live for us from Ukraine, thank you.
OUTFRONT now, Lieutenant General Ben Hodges, former commanding general of U.S. Army Europe.
General, thanks for being with us.
What would it mean if Putin was behind this as so many experts and lay people believed to be?
LT. GEN. BEN HODGES, FORMER COMMANDING GENERAL OF U.S. ARMY EUROPE: Well, Brianna, how, interesting, I don't think a single person on the planet but we for one second that this was an accident. I mean, Russia's reputation now in the world is such that all of us immediately assumed that there was a murderer, assassination or something. Now it could be put in behind it of course, I think Nick just did a great job of explaining all that.
But we know that this is a mafia state. They hate each other. Prigozhin would've had a lot of other enemies who might have wanted to see them destroyed.
Lukashenko looks very weak now. I mean, he was the guy that, you know, guarantee that would help broker the deal. Now he looks totally weak and irrelevant. It'll be interesting to see what happens there.
I think that Ukraine, nobody there is going to be in mourning Prigozhin's death if in fact he actually is dead. I am not convinced of that yet. But it does reveal even further of the fraying of Russia's leadership structure. I think Ukraine will look to exploit that.
KEILAR: President Biden asked today whether he thinks Putin is behind this and here's what he said we.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't know for a fact what happened. I have not surprised.
REPORTER: Do you think --
BIDEN: There is not much that happens with Russia and Putin not behind. But I don't know enough to know the answer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: You know if Putin did orchestrate this plan to kill Prigozhin, how do you see the world responding and relating to this?
HODGES: Well, first of all, no serious person should think that Ukraine can negotiate with the Kremlin. I mean, this is who we are talking about negotiating with. You know, there's zero integrity. They will never live up to any agreement.
This is a guy who murders the people around him. How can we expect Ukraine to actually negotiate in good faith about any way that would bring about termination of the war, presumption of grain shipments, cease-fire and anything?
And so, I think that this should pour cold water on people who were thinking that maybe somehow we could bring about and forced negotiated settlement. I don't -- I don't think that's realistic.
KEILAR: This happened, of course, as we question whether Putin was behind it amid a broader purge of military leaders in general inside of Russia. We are seeing that including Surovikin just in the last several hours here. What does that mean for the war in Ukraine?
HODGES: Well, you did mention General Surovikin earlier. I was thinking about him today as well. I can't imagine that he will sleep very well tonight. I mean, this could be the beginning of people that were maybe thought they were just going to have to sit and confinement or in jail for a while.
Perhaps there will be other people that will be eliminated. That would not be as surprising development but Dr. Timothy Snyder, he highlighted today you know the only guy that kept in the city, Prigozhin, is apparently dead. The only guy who is able to show any success on the battlefield, General Surovikin, is in confinement somewhere.
And so, this has to have debilitating effect on the leadership inside the Russian military. Nobody can trust anybody and trust is an essential part of combat, of fighting. You have to trust who's with you, who's above you. I can imagine it's a very strong degree of trust anywhere in the Russian military today.
KEILAR: Certainly, you want the military leaders who are trustworthy to be your ones who are good on the battlefield.
And we don't know that is the case here.
General, appreciate your time tonight. Thank you so much.
HODGES: Thank you, Brianna.
OUTFRONT next, breaking news continues. We will break down the harrowing video that you see here of a Yevgeny Prigozhin's plane crashing to the ground frame by frame. What does it tell us about what happened to Putin's top enemy?
Plus, Trump allies turning themselves in as we await Trump's historic arrest which sources tell CNN will happen tomorrow night. So how will it play out? We'll have details next.
KEILAR: Our other major breaking story tonight, Trump's arrest. This historic moment according to multiple sources is now expected to take place tomorrow night. Trump is expected to leave his Bedminster golf club sometime tomorrow afternoon and arrive at the Fulton County jail in Georgia on Thursday evening.
Today, Trump posting online: I will proudly be arrested tomorrow.
And this comes as Trump's former attorney Rudy Giuliani was arrested today after surrounding at the same jail. You are looking here at his mugshot.
Giuliani like Trump was indicted for playing a pivotal role in trying to keep Trump in power. Remember, Giuliani is also coconspirator number one in the Justice Department's January 6 investigation.
I want to get straight to Katelyn Polantz who is at the courthouse in Atlanta.
Katelyn, it was a busy day in Fulton County ahead of Trump's surrender tomorrow.
KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Seven of these 19 defendants in this case against Donald Trump related to after the election, those people, seven people went to jail today to be arrested, to have their mug shots taken to be fingerprinted and to be put into the system as criminal defendants.
One of them, of course, was Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York and that prominent attorney after the election, and other lawyers, too, who were seen very closely working with Donald Trump, trying to advance his goals to sow disinformation about the election.
Sidney Powell was also booked at the jail today as was Jenna Ellis, another attorney, and they got steep bond amounts. Six figures for each of them, just like Donald Trump did. Trump's a bit more, $200,000, and Rudy Giuliani at $150,000. And so, that process has really put the emphasis on how the people at the top of the pyramid around Trump where quite significant here. We are seeing them all be arrested.
Trump is now set to be coming in tomorrow to do his part of this process, to respond to the indictment by being arrested as well and released from jail after he goes through that process. But there's still some tension here. Not all of the defendants have come in, including two people that were top officials in the Trump administration. One, his chief of staff Mark Meadows and the other, Jeffrey Clark, a top administrator at the Justice Department, whom Donald Trump wanted to install as attorney general.
Those two men, Mark Meadows and Jeffrey Clark, they were trying to hold off being arrested. But after a fight with the prosecutors office that spilled into open court, a judge in the federal court system has said no, we're not going to put the state proceedings on the hold. These two men need to show up and turn themselves into the chill by noon on Friday or else be arrested, have the district attorney send somebody out to make those arrest of those men by Friday afternoon or beginning Friday afternoon.
And so, we are waiting to see Trump showing up tomorrow in Georgia as well as what Mark Meadows and Jeffrey Clark do next. The district attorney's office has just put a filing into court as well arguing that this case should remain in state court. It should not be removed to federal court. People like Mark Meadows and Jeffrey Clark who are arguing that they were federal officials after the election, should not have that protection because everything that they were doing was political activity.
KEILAR: Katelyn Polantz with the very latest from the Fulton County courthouse, thank you.
And OUTFRONT now, Chris Timmons who is a trial attorney and former Georgia prosecutor who was an expert in this sort of case in the state. And John Avlon, CNN senior political analyst and former chief speech writer to former Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
Chris, to you first, Trump expected to be processed tomorrow night there at the Fulton County jail. Defendants in this case have been going through the booking process including fingerprinting. We see the mugshots, quickly it's been happening. Less than 90 minutes.
How do expect that this will all play out for the former president?
CHRIS TIMMONS, FORMER GEORGIA PROSECUTOR EXPERIENCED IN RICO CASES: I think it will be fast. When you are breaking a former president into the jail, it's a dangerous situation. And you can't book anybody in. You can't book anyone out. And so everybody is waiting for the former president to be booked in. So, I think it's going to move as speedy as possible. We'll have the fingerprints taken, I think it'll have the mugshot taken and I think it will be released quickly.
KEILAR: John, you worked closely with Rudy Giuliani back when he was mayor. Fast forward, now he is Trump's former lawyer, this drama today turning himself in for a rest at the Fulton County jail, getting as mugshot we see here taken. He said this before he travel to Georgia this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: People like to say I'm different. I'm the same Rudy Giuliani who took down the mafia, that made New York City the safest city in America, reduced crime more than any mayor in history of any city anywhere. And I'm fighting for justice. I have been for the first moment that I've represented Donald Trump.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: He says he's the same. What do you think?
JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: He's not the same, almost self-evidently. Those are his accomplishments and they should not be forgotten. But the Rudy Giuliani we've seen in the last few years has no filter, no judgment.
And the characteristics that made him such an effective U.S. attorney and mayor seem to have abandoned him. I mean, the very idea that laws and search for the truth has been made a mockery of it in service of Donald Trump. But when you look at that mugshot, Brie, it's just a gut punch. It's heartbreaking, almost unimaginable.
Twenty years ago, in the wake of his leadership in 9/11, to say that fast forward, that he'll be getting a mugshot of this -- this desolation. It's a self-inflicted tragedy to be sure. He is being held accountable for trying to overturn an election in the United States of America but it's a terrible twist of fate.
KEILAR: Yeah, rewind 20 years ago, this is unimaginable. But this is what we are looking at here.
KEILAR: Chris, Ken Chesebro, the indicted pro-Trump lawyer, the fake elector architect, filed this motion earlier demanding a speedy trial in this case.
You say this is a really significant development. Explain that to us.
TIMMONS: This is huge. When he filed a speedy trial demand, that means that he's got to be tried by November 6th or he is acquitted, which means that this case has got to go to trial within a few months. That's a huge development in this case. That's massive.
So we may see all of the defendants go to trial by November 6th deadline or we may see Mr. Chesebro, we may see a handful of them. But that is a massive turn in this case. We may see a trial in the first week of November based on that demand.
KEILAR: Yes, that would be extraordinary.
And, John you have this federal judge rejecting the emergency motion by Mark Meadows, Trump's former White House chief of staff, to block district attorney Fani Willis from arresting him if he fails to surrender before their Friday deadline. But his broader effort to move this case to federal court, that's going to continue.
What do you make of his role in all of this?
AVLON: It's a decisive Heisman from the judge, and his attempt to sort of delay justice, delay is often a denial and a classic Trump tactic. But it's being rejected in the case of Meadows and Clark. Not -- not definitively because their contestation can continue.
But as the judge now has pointed out, they weren't acting in a federal capacity. They were acting, meddling in state elections in a political capacity, in a hyperpartisan capacity.
So we'll see what the courts ultimately decide but this judge was not subtle. An attempt to sort of duck out from under this is a no go.
KEILAR: No, the judge was not.
John Avlon, Chris Timmons, thank you so much to both of you.
TIMMONS: Thank you very much.
KEILAR: OUTFRONT next, Trump coming to Rudy Giuliani's aid, now reportedly hosting a lavish fund-raiser to help pay for the former New York City mayor's legal bills, after Giuliani was forced to plead with Trump for help.
And new images of Prigozhin's plane show it appears to be missing a wing as it is falling to earth. So how big of a clue is that in determining what happened?
KEILAR: Tonight, Donald Trump to the rescue of Rudy Giuliani, well, sort of anyways. This invite obtain and tweeted by "The New York Times" revealing Trump will headline it $100,000 per person fund- raiser for his one-time lawyer. That is after Rudy Giuliani made a desperate face-to-face pleat attempt for financial aid in Mar-a-Lago. It's a plea that Trump did not seem interested and was reluctant to agree to.
OUTFRONT, now Michael Cohen, Donald Trump's former longtime lawyer and fixer. He's also the author of "Revenge: How Donald Trump Weaponized the U.S. Department of Justice Against His Critics", and he's the host of the "Mea Culpa" and "Political Beatdown" podcast.
Michael, it has been a while since we have last spoke. Thank you for coming on tonight.
MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: It sure has.
KEILAR: It sure has.
COHEN: How have you been?
KEILAR: I have been well and a lot has happened and I know that you are watching these events today very closely. I know you think that Rudy Giuliani could be a prime candidate for flipping on Trump. Of course, as you are aware he only has that option, right, if prosecutors think that he is credible, that they can trust him, prosecutors took that trust on you. They might not take that chance on Giuliani and he knows that.
So as long as Trump gets his legal bills paid, why do you think he would consider turning?
COHEN: Well, at the end of the day, one of the things that we know is it's not necessarily the individual. Because any individual whether you believe him to be credible or not is not the issue. It is a documentary or the information, testimony that you can provide to the prosecutors that they can use to create that conviction.
You know, as we all know, we've seen organized crime right? RICO Rudy in the past has these many people who would not be considered credible as witnesses to put away other members of organized crime. So that I don't buy, what I do find interesting is that Rudy went to Mar-a-Lago with Bob Costello in order to make a plea for money.
And interestingly enough, Donald is not putting up $1 of his own money for Rudy's benefit but rather he's going to host a fund-raiser and ask other people to fund Rudy's legal fees as opposed to again Donald doing it. Donald at least finally smart and up a little bit and he realized the danger that Rudy could potentially put him in and so, at least he is doing something. Maybe he's not as dumb as I said the other night on CNN with Kaitlan.
KEILAR: Certainly, getting these legal bills paid for is a strategy that is an approach of his. I do want to listen to something that Rudy Giuliani said today. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER TRUMP LAYWER: They are destroying my right to counsel, my right to be a lawyer. They're destroying his right to counsel. It's not accidental that they indicted all his lawyers, never heard of that before in America.
(END VIDEO CLIP) KEILAR: So, of course, you know what, Giuliani saying there, that's not true. There's lots of lawyers that had been arrested. I mean, you, Watergate, so on, there's lots of examples.
COHEN: How about me? Right.
KEILAR: Yeah, exactly.
Okay. But here is exactly my question to you because you knew Trump for years. What does he Trump think when he is watching someone like that when he is watching Giuliani defend himself so publicly?
COHEN: Look, the problem is, Rudy is not the same Rudy that he purports to be from years past, you know, when he was America's mayor. Now, he's America's fool.
And sadly, that's how Donald sees him. He doesn't see him as the former mayor who did so many good things, but rather as the dopey, you know, Rudy Giuliani with the, you know, hair dye running down the side of his face in the Four Seasons parking lot. That's what he's seeing right now.
And the comments that Rudy is making is not beneficial to Donald either.
You see, the problem with Donald is, all you need to do is to say one thing wrong and he forgets about everything else except for that one line.
So, the smartest thing Rudy can do is not invoke Donald's name, and in fact stop with the press conferences because each time that he does it, he makes a bigger fool out of himself.
KEILAR: I really wanted to ask you about this development that we've seen here, Michael, special counsel Jack Smith's team revealed yesterday that a Mar-a-Lago IT employee recanted false testimony that was given while represented by a Trump paid lawyer in the classified documents probe. He actually -- he got a public defender and now he seeing something different about being asked to erase security camera footage.
When Trump was paying your legal fees, how did that work? How did you interpret what was expected of you? And how bad do you think that this is for Trump?
COHEN: Well, when he was paying the legal fees directly resulting from my work at the Trump Organization, we were part of what's called a joint defense agreement. Once he decided to stop doing that, and really, put the pressure on, the joint defense agreement was now over, and, you know, it gave me every reason in the world to provide all the information, truthful information, to the prosecutors, which as we've seen, has been used by many different agencies.
This is a very bad issue for Donald that you have this gentleman, Mr. Tavares, the IT guy, finally, there's one smart guy out of the whole group, who happens to not be a lawyer. He understands that Donald is going to throw each and every one of these individuals under the bus in order to protect himself, starting with Rudy, going to Jenna Ellis, going to, you know, Sidney Powell. He's going to go through each and everyone under the bus to save himself.
And, finally, there's one person out of this entire group that understands that. This is really devastating, because it shows that there was a coordinated effort in order to alter, we'll call it alter, the truth. And it's very similar as to what happened to me.
KEILAR: You do speak from some experience. Michael Cohen, thank you so much for joining us. We do appreciate it.
COHEN: Good to see you, Brian
KEILAR: Good to see.
OUTFRONT next, just into CNN, new details about what Russian President Vladimir Putin was up to at the time the Prigozhin's plane crashed.
And new information tonight about the negotiations between Trump and officials in Fulton County ahead of Trump's historic arrest.
KEILAR: Breaking news, new details just into CNN about what Vladimir putting was doing as reports emerged that a plane reportedly carrying Yevgeny Prigozhin had crashed. Putin was leading a ceremony, marking a World War II battle between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany.
And we're also now seeing just released data from FlightRadar24, that reveals what happened in the plane's moments. The jet, according to the tracking site, leveled off at 28,000 feet. But it had erratic climbs and descents in its final minutes. And the plane dropped 8,000 feet per minute before data transmission stopped.
OUTFRONT now, Mary Schiavo, former inspector general for the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Mary, thank you so much for bringing your expertise tonight.
I want to play again that video of the plane that is falling out of the sky. You are an expert on plane crashes. What do you think happened, looking at this video?
MARY SCHIAVO, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Well, so many clues here in the video. First of, all as you mentioned, it was a 28,000 feet in cruise, that's the safest part of the flight, with the look -- seemingly missing the wing. This simply doesn't happen -- commercial airliners, commercial planes, modern aircraft, do not lose the wing. In my decades of working on plane crashes, I've only had one commercial plane that lost a wing. It was 54 years old.
And also, the rate of descent, a normal rate of descent is 1,000 to 3,000 feet per minute, not 8,000. It was clearly falling.
And if you look very closely at the video, you can see some other, not just the plane, you can see some flashes, you can see other smoke. You can see debris, separating from the plane. So, so many clues here that this was an explosion on the plane or a missile strike, and by the way, the descent is like other shoot downs we've, seen like MH-17, the jetliner that was shot down by a Russian missile, and the Ukrainian airlines that was shot down by Iran. So, we have a lot of clues in this video.
KEILAR: Let's take a look, a close-up look of the missile -- what appears to be the missing wing here. Tell us what you are seeing?
SCHIAVO: Well, that's what it appears to be. There have been some reports now, we don't know the reliable yet, that there were others reported seeing a missing wing. And perhaps even an engine that fell separate or part of the tail that fell separate from the plane.
But you just do not have a situation where a modern aircraft, and this airplane, I'm familiar with the Embraer, it's a modern plane. It just never happens. You do not lose a wing from your aircraft in this day and age.
KEILAR: I want to take a look at what is left of the plane after it crashed. It is completely engulfed in flames. We have learned there were ten people total on board. Russian media says, at this point, eight bodies were found at the crash site so far.
How hard, or easy, will it be to try to identify those bodies? And just to know for sure, to confirm for sure, that Prigozhin was on board.
SCHIAVO: Right. Well, you know, the world has a great amount of expertise in working crashes and there are companies that do precisely this. So, if there is a cooperating and investigative agency with DNA samples, it is actually -- I won't say easy, but in most cases, all of the human remains are identified, it's done through DNA and other methods.
Even in just a total explosion and burning situation like this, the human body has a lot of water content. It almost all cases we have the remains, you can identify them, if the investigators are inclined to work on it.
KEILAR: If -- and that is, obviously, very key.
Mary, it is great to have you and your expertise. Thank you so much for joining us tonight.
SCHIAVO: Thank you.
KEILAR: OUTFRONT next, we are learning new details tonight about what former President Trump's team is expecting when he turns himself into Fulton County authorities tomorrow. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
KEILAR: More on our breaking news. We are learning new details about what former President Trump's team is expecting when he surrenders at the Fulton County jail tomorrow. They say the trip to Georgia is going to be a quick one. Remember, the Fulton County sheriff told OUTFRONT, Trump will be treated just like any other defendant. That normally includes being thoroughly searched by a jail deputy, a medical screening, fingerprinting, and a mugshot.
Trump's team says he will then head back to his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey. But no events are expected there.
So far, nine of Trump's codefendants have surrendered to authorities in Fulton County. They have had their mugshot taken, and have since been released. We are now waiting for the remaining co-defendants, including Trump, to surrender.
Thank you so much for joining us tonight.
"AC360" starts right now.