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Erin Burnett Outfront

Trump Attorney Whispers "This is Not Good" During Georgia Hearing; Kremlin Denies It Has Info On Top Putin Ally's Health; Report: Trump Trying To Put Nail In Coffin For DeSantis Campaign With Flurry Of Iowa Events In Coming Weeks; U.N.: Nearly 4,000 Killed In Libya Flooding, 9,000+ Missing; Newsom Defends Biden Against Concerns: "Seasoned Pro". Aired 7-8p ET

Aired September 18, 2023 - 19:00   ET




This is not good -- the words whispered by Trump's attorney in a courtroom today. Why? This as Trump is throwing his own attorneys under the bus again.

Plus, the mystery over a crucial Putin ally. Ukraine claiming he's gravely ill. What the Kremlin is saying tonight as they respond?

And Trump's plan for a TKO. The former president plotting to knock Ron DeSantis out of the race for good in the coming weeks. But will it work?

Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, this is not good. That's a quote. It's the whispered words from one of Trump's lawyers in a courtroom today.

Trump's lawyer was reacting to a judge's open disdain for the case made by one of Trump's codefendants today. That codefendant is Jeffrey Clark, a former Trump-era DOJ official trying to move his Fulton County case to federal court. Our reporter in the room telling us that Judge Steve Jones was visibly frustrated and annoyed with Clark's argument, used the word disdain to describe the judge's reaction.

And this led Trump's lawyer to lean into Clark's attorney and whisper those words, this is not good. And this hearing comes as another Trump codefendant today filed a claim in the Georgia court. Kenneth Chesebro's attorneys writing: the Republican presidential electors were qualified and elected by the Republican Party.

Well, Chesebro is the attorney accused of being the architect behind the fake elector scheme that. And that excuse just quite simply doesn't add up. I mean, it doesn't matter who the Republican Party wants as electors. When it comes to the electors are for a state, what matters was voters want. Only the electors of the winning candidate based on popular support are supposed to show up the certified election, those are the electors.

And Trump did not win the election in Georgia. He lost it by 11,779 votes in Georgia. And the fake electors then went and signed a document that falsely declared Trump. So, to quote Trump's lawyer today, that is not good.

And these are far from the only headaches Trump is dealing with tonight. In fact, the others are totally self-inflicted because he seemed torpedo part of his own defense in the DOJ's January 6th case. Just listen to Trump talking about his attorneys after the 2020 election with Kristen Welker.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: You hire them. You never met these people. You got a recommendation that turn out to be RINOs or they turned out to be not so good. In many cases, I didn't respect them. But I did respect others. I respected many others that said the election was rigged.

KRISTEN WELKER, NBC NEWS HOST: Were you calling the shots, though, Mr. President, ultimately?

TRUMP: As to whether or not I believe it was rigged, sure.


TRUMP: It was my decision.


BURNETT: It was my decision, that's what he said.

And Evan Perez is OUTFRONT live in Washington to begin our coverage tonight.

So, Evan, you know, a lot going on today, filings, a hearing, and let's start with Clark in that courtroom today. What does that tell us? You know, our reporter in the room describing the judge's reaction as, you know, disdain, frustration, visibly annoyed.

What does this say about how Trump and others might fair with this judge?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's hard to judge based on what the judge was saying in court, what this means for Donald Trump's case. They're all different. As a matter of fact, one of the things the judge has said is that all of these cases are differently situated, and they are going to make different arguments.

But one thing you certainly saw from the number of lawyers who were in that room today, Steve Sadow, one of Trump's attorneys was in the room, and, you know, he was there because you want to see what works and what doesn't work with this judge. And, so, from looking at what Clark was doing and his lawyers, it was clear that their case was very, very problematic. One of the things that happened today, Erin, was that there was

testimony from Jody Hunt, who was the former head of the civil division. He was a person who was very, very high up in the justice department under Donald Trump's administration. And one of the things he said in his testimony was that Jeffrey Clark's job had nothing really to do with the administration of elections or there wasn't a criminal investigation of fraud. That is not part of his position. So, that was very problematic probably for Jeffrey Clark and his case.

Now, as far as for the former president, he's going to -- we expect that he is going to try to make his own case. But certainly, I think, if you're his lawyers, you can see what didn't work today for Jeffrey Clark, and you can also see what didn't work for Mark Meadows before you make your own request which could be coming some time in the next couple of weeks.

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

And OUTFRONT now, Ryan Goodman, former special counsel at the Defense Department.


And Anthony Michael Kreis, a law professor at Georgia State University, and was in the federal courtroom today in Atlanta.

So, thanks very much to both of you.

So, you know, Ryan, I guess let's just start where Evan is reporting here. This is not good, Trump's lawyer today leans in to Jeffrey Clark's lawyer and says. What do you take away from what we understand happened in that room, or the judge had visible disdain for the arguments Clark was making?

RYAN GOODMAN, JUST SECURITY CO-EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: So I think that it's bad news for Clark. It looks like he's going nowhere. He's going to be tried in Fulton County, Georgia. It also is a sign for Donald Trump. If you're going to try the same idea of a bid to remove your case to federal court, you might have to testify. Part of the problem for Clark is he didn't testify. And the burden is on that individual to prove their case. Without that evidence or without that testimony, it looks like it's really going nowhere.

BURNETT: So, Trump, if he's going to do it, will have to most likely will have to testify.

I mean, Anthony, you were there in that courtroom, as Jeffrey Clark's lawyers tried to make the case today. What stood out to you the most? And what did you take away from it about the judge?

ANTHONY MICHAEL KREIS, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF LAW, GEORGIA STATE UNIVERSITY: Well, I think the judge was very frustrated over the fact that we were having an evidentiary hearing without much evidence. And, so, that was really not a particularly, I think, great dynamic for Clark and his team. I think that the testimony today by the former civil division chief was really very significant because it made it very clear that the prerogative that exists to enforce election law on a federal level would come from the civil rights division and not the division that Jeffrey Clark was part of or the criminal law division which, again, is not the division that Jeffrey Clark was part of.

I think the other thing that was really very important is that the letter that really centered here in the Fulton County indictment where Jeffrey Clark drafted a letter to urge the general assembly here in Georgia to convene and overturn the election, that he did not do that at the direction of former President Trump. In fact, at the time that he was concocting this letter and drafting it, Donald Trump probably didn't even know his name or barely knew who he was.


KREIS: So, he really couldn't claim that he was doing it at the president's direction either.

BURNETT: So, Ryan, you also had, also in Georgia, right, the fake elector plot and Kenneth Chesebro, the argument he made in the filing today, that they were elected by the Republican Party, which of course is not -- the but it's the voter who's decide. So the slate of electors moving forward was the Democratic slate.

Do you see any scenario where this flies in Fulton County?

GOODMAN: No. If anything, I think it's going to hurt him because there is a document in the record from the January 6th Committee. He sent an email to the head of the false electors, David Shafer. And it said, I drafted these documents, the false certificates based, in part, on the documents filed by Georgia in 2016.

So I would have asked the question, whoever drafted those is in deep legal trouble. If you look at the document, mimics 2016, and it says, we were assembled in accordance with Georgia law. What is Georgia law? That these people are elected by the popular vote in Georgia, which is obviously intuitive not by the Republican Party.

So --


GOODMAN: I think if it comes again, and the jury can say why are you lying or why are you misrepresenting what it was about, it was obviously what you were claiming.

BURNETT: So obviously significant. And then, Anthony, you heard Trump say in that interview with Kristen Welker, it was my decision when given the opportunity to say was it you or your lawyers.

Well, I mean, just to be clear, this contradicts the main defense that one of his current lawyers is making on his behalf, which is to say Trump, in all this, was just following the advice of his counsel. Here is Trump's -- one of Trump's current attorneys making that argument.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOHN LAURO, ATTORNEY FOR FORMER PRESIDENT TRUMP: You're entitled to believe and trust advice of counsel. You have one of the leading constitutional scholars in the United States, John Eastman, say to President Trump, this is a protocol that you can follow.


BURNETT: So, Anthony, saying, oh, well, he was a leading constitutional lawyer and Trump was just following his advice. You got Trump to Kristen Welker, I was -- it was my decision talking about calling the shots.

Did Trump do harm to his own defense?

KREIS: Well, I think that the biggest thing here in the advice of counsel defense is that if you're going to bring it, you should actually be following the advice of counsel. Rather, what has been shown by Donald Trump's statement here is that he was in fact driving the bus, and that there were legal theories and defenses and all sorts of different kind of attempts to basically shoehorn kind of legal argumentation in order to benefit Donald Trump and to fit Donald Trump's narrative and not the other way around.

So, I think that's a main part of the indictment, and the theory of the indictment in D.C., and it's the same here in Fulton County.


BURNETT: Right. And in D.C., of course, the election interference case, Ryan, Trump is trying to get the judge in that case, Tanya Chutkan recused, right? And the argument he's been making is that she's biased against him because of the things she's said in the past.

So his lawyer is now saying the public must have confidence that President Trump's constitutional rights are being protected by an unbiased judicial officer, right? That's the key argument that they are making. Trump has repeatedly been citing things that Judge Tanya Chutkan has said in the past, including when she was referring to other January 6th codefendants. And she said of these other -- not codefendants -- of these other people who have been tried, it's a blind loyalty to one person who remains free to this day, referring to Trump.

Trump says that shows bias. Does he have a valid concern?

GOODMAN: I think that's a valid concern and a good argument on his part, especially that particular quote. I think that's the strongest one because it does indicate or suggest that she's saying he remains free, which Trump's lawyers are saying that means she's saying that he should've been charged, right?

The problem for him is the bar is super high for getting a judge to recuse themself, especially if a their statement came in the court setting based on the evidence they saw in this courtroom which has all these other January 6th cases. That's very hard for him to cross that bar, but I do think it's a strong argument on his part to at least raise that publicly. Whether that will in a courtroom, I don't think so.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Ryan, Anthony. Appreciate both of you tonight.

And, next, the speculation running wild about the health of a loyal Putin ally, a warlord who's been crucial to the war volunteering many of his own men to fight in Ukraine. Ukraine says now this warlord is seriously ill. So, what does the newest video show?

Plus, Trump's hold on evangelicals. It has been ironclad for years. But tonight, he'll go to a swing state, a crucial one, and see recent comments by the former president are now giving some evangelicals pause. It could be a crucial harbinger.

And suffering turns to outrage. Protests building in Libya as the country struggles to cope with the aftermath of the deadly flooding that's taken thousands of lives. USAID administrator Samantha Power is my guest.



BURNETT: Tonight, the Kremlin saying it has no information on the health of staunch Putin ally Ramzan Kadyrov. This is after the head of Ukraine's defense intelligence agency alleged that Kadyrov, the Chechen leader who has been instrumental in Putin's war, is gravely ill due to kidney failure. Speculation about Kadyrov's condition has been swirling unsubstantiated reports point to a possible attempted poisoning.

And one Russian language telegram channel with more than 200,000 subscribers even reported over the weekend that he has died. Now, there isn't evidence to support that amidst all the speculation, Kadyrov has come out with a video of himself walking in a garden. Strangely, though, the Kremlin is not coming out with a public statement declaring health or anything like it for Kadyrov.

This is the same warlord who some experts say is a father/son like relationship with Putin and has been instrumental in the war. It's crucial because it comes as mystery as Ukraine says it is gaining even more territory on the battlefield.

And tonight, Fred Pleitgen is on the ground OUTFRONT.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Ground combat in a place reduced to a wasteland by months of relentless fighting. Ukrainian forces released this video saying it shows their troops advancing nearby Bakhmut on the eastern front.

They're coming, cover me, this soldier says, as machine gun fire rings out, and later mortars rain down. The Ukrainians say their gains here are small but important, firing heavy weapons at the Russians including rocket barrages from combat helicopters, Kyiv trying to show they have the upper hand, a presidential adviser tells me.

Let's not forget that we are talking about the army that everyone was afraid of only yesterday, he says. Today we're talking about a Ukrainian offensive in different directions.

The Russians eager to show they are holding on. Russian state media releasing this video of Putin's soldiers in the ruins of Bakhmut claiming they'll hold off Ukrainian assaults.

We can see them in the forest line, their trenches, we're working on those targets, he says. We shell them with our mortars.

As Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy embarks on his visit to the U.S. both for the U.N. general assembly but also to meet with President Biden and members of Congress, the Ukrainians are urging the U.S. to keep up its support, saying aside from the longer-range ATACMS tactical missiles to hit Russian supply lies, they urgently need a lot more artillery ammo as their forces are heavily outgunned even as they try to advance.

Speaking to "60 Minutes," Zelenskyy highlighting the sacrifices Ukraine is making. We're defending the values of the whole world, he says, and the Ukrainian people are paying the highest price. We are truly fighting for our freedom, we are dying.

A tough and slow grind on the ground as Kyiv's military tries to inch forward, vowing they won't stop until they've ousted the Russians from all of Ukraine's territory.


BURNETT: Fred, you know, your reporting showing the gains. I mean, Ukraine obviously making progress on the battlefield. Can you put it in context? I mean, obviously, all this started a lot slower than they had wanted, than the West had wanted. But now real gains.

How significant are they?

PLEITGEN: Erin, the place that the Ukrainians have gained over the past couple of days, they really are actually two very small villages, especially that place Andriivka is deployed. However, the Ukrainians say that those gains are very important.

In fact, tonight, the commander of Ukrainian land forces, Oleksandr Syrskyi, he came out and he said with those gains, the Ukrainians have managed to breach the defense line of the Russian forces for the town of Bakhmut. Now, they're going there. It's still very tough. They said the Russians launch encounter attacks but they also believe with gaining the territory that they have now, they will be able to hit Russian supply lines into Bakhmut.


So, on the battlefield potentially very important, but then also, of course, for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, also very important to show the U.S. and other partners supporting Ukraine that the Ukrainians right now have momentum on the battlefield and are continuing to move forward -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Certainly a message they want to send this week, Zelenskyy's on the world stage. Thanks so much, Fred Pleitgen, live tonight from Zaporizhzhia.

And, next, Trump's trouble with evangelicals. They are crucial to a win in Iowa, crucial to a primary win. He certainly had their support. But is that the case now?

And I'll talk to Republican Congressman Ken Buck who's telling his own party, don't impeach Biden.


BURNETT: Tonight, Trump trying to put the nail in Florida Governor Ron DeSantis' campaign coffin. "Politico" is reporting that the former president and his team are beefing up their efforts in Iowa, hoping to knock DeSantis out of the presidential race once and for all and early.

Trump announcing a series of events in Iowa starting Wednesday and then three more stops in the coming weeks. So he is going to be there a lot. It comes as he's been going after DeSantis over his six-week abortion ban that the Florida governor has championed.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: I think what he did is a terrible thing and a terrible mistake.


BURNETT: Jeff Zeleny is OUTFRONT with why this answer is not sitting well with some important Iowan voters.


PASTOR MIKE DEMASTUS, FORT DES MOINES CHURCH OF CHRIST: The fact that Trump is leading in polls, he is, but you can't take it for granted, there are so many unknowns with Trump right now.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For all of the unknowns in the Republican presidential race, Pastor Mike Demastus does know this. Donald Trump's grip on many evangelical voters in Iowa remains firm, for now at least.

DEMASTUS: There's a loyalty with Trump, and people that follow him that you can't just peel that away from some. But I think that many people in the evangelical community right now are willing to hear from other people.

ZELENY: Whether Iowa Republicans are willing to hear from or actually vote for one of Trump's many challengers is the question. The answer could rest inside Iowa churches where evangelical voters hold considerable sway, and candidates are going to great lengths to win them over. But the former president's latest comments on abortion calling a six-week ban a terrible mistake gives Demastus pause.

DEMASTUS: For evangelicals, there are probably four issues that matter, life is usually right at the top. I know most people, the way that they evaluate presidential elections is what the gas price is, that's it. But for an evangelical, no.

ZELENY: Four months before Iowa opens the Republican presidential contest, nuances on abortion policy will be at the center of the debate here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We ask all this in the precious name of Jesus, amen.

ZELENY: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis stood in the middle of a prayer circle during a weekend visit to the Fourth Des Moines Church of Christ where Demastus is pastor. It's part of the campaign's pressing appeal to Christian conservatives.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Our rights are endowed by God. They do not come from the government.

ZELENY: South Carolina Senator Tim Scott has long been highlighting his faith, often weaving in Bible verses on the campaign trail.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, by the way, thank you.

SCOTT: The truth will set you free, John 8:32.

ZELENY: As fall harvest season soon at hand, a fresh sense of urgency hangs over the race. While many Republicans are hoping for a fresh start --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think we need new leadership, so I'm eager to see that happen.

ZELENY: A deep Trump loyalty remains among evangelicals.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love everything he stands for.

ZELENY: Sally Hofman sees and hears both sides.

SALLY HOFMANN, EVANGELICAL VOTER: To me, it's huge to have three U.S. Supreme Court justices during his term. I'm a big pro-life proponent. I like a lot of what Trump has done in office. His personality concerns me a little bit.

But I like what Nikki Haley's doing, I like DeSantis too. So, kind of in that range.

ZELENY: In 2016, Iowa's evangelicals made up nearly two-thirds of Republican caucus attendees, and helped lift Ted Cruz to victory over Trump. While hardly a monolith, these are the voters who could slow or

solidify a Trump march to the nomination. For now, Demastus echoes the sentiment of some others, saying he's undecided waiting and watching.

DEMASTUS: Trump, with all the litigation that's going on, what's going to happen with that, what's the future, is he going to receive a felony conviction or not, it does wide open the race for everybody. And I think that's why a lot of these people are still in it.

ZELENY: Now, Senator Tim Scott is making faith a central part of his campaign. In fact, he will be beginning a faith in America town hall momentarily here.

Now, former president Donald Trump will also be arriving in Iowa on Wednesday beginning to test the resilience of those evangelical voters. But, Erin, for now at least, the race in Iowa is a furious one for second place.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Jeff Zeleny.

And now, Republican Congressman Ken Buck of Colorado. He is a member of the House Freedom Caucus, and just wrote a "Washington Post" op-ed titled: My fellow Republicans, one disgraceful impeachment doesn't deserve another.

A lot to ask you about Congressman, but let me just start with this reporting we just heard from Jeff Zeleny talking about evangelicals.

Do you think that this race really is wide open like the pastor in Jeff's piece just said?

REP. KEN BUCK (R-CO): I don't think that it's a foregone conclusion that Donald Trump is going to win this race. I think that Ron DeSantis needs to finish first or second and be the alternative to Donald Trump and see what happens down the road to see if the votes solidify in his favor. I also think that Nikki Haley is moving in the polls. If she's in the top three, I think that her chances are better down the road.

I really think once you get rid of some of the candidates who aren't doing well after Iowa, New Hampshire, then you're going to start to see really how much of a lead Donald Trump has.

BURNETT: All right. So, you think it could continue past those two states, which I think is significant in and of itself.

You know, Trump was asked yesterday on NBC about his conversations with Republicans about the Biden impeachment inquiry. And I just wanted to play a short part of that exchange for you. Here it is.


KRISTEN WELKER, NBC NEWS HOST: Did you talk to your Republican allies on Capitol Hill and say, you should support this inquiry?

TRUMP: No, I don't have to talk. They're more proactive than I am. They think it's terrible. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: And then, you know, he went on to say, as they think it's terrible, they think Iowa's treated very unfairly, right?


He was saying this is about him and what had happened to him.

Do you think that's what this inquiry is all about is about payback for Trump?

BUCK: I think for some members it's about payback, or at least part of it is about payback. I also think that Hunter Biden's actions are very suspicious, and I think people are really wondering whether they tie to vice president at the time, Vice President Biden. I think there is plenty of evidence that's there. There needs to be more, in my opinion. But I can see why some of my fellow members have decided that impeachment's appropriate at this point.

BURNETT: But you're very clear that you, at least at this point, don't think that it would be appropriate at this time. Why do you think they're doing it now? You know, our KFILE had uncovered a flip of Kevin McCarthy back when the shoe was on the other foot saying, and I quote him in 2019 when the Democrats were going ahead with impeachment, this is the day the nation is weaker because they're doing this. And he continues to say, they don't even have a budget.

Here we are facing a shutdown, no budget. And, yet, McCarthy is going ahead and doing this. You floated the motion to vacate his speakership in May. Now you hear things like this. Do you still stand by that?

BUCK: I'm sorry. I missed what you said. I floated --

BURNETT: You floated the motion for McCarthy to vacate in May. Do you still stand by that?

BUCK: I have not said that I think that there will be a motion to vacate or that I would vote for a motion to vacate at this point. I do think that Kevin McCarthy, the only way to get rid of the issue that he's facing, trying to make sure the government doesn't shut down, is to have Democrat votes. If he gets Democrat votes, that's going to really start the whole motion to vacate process.

BURNETT: So, let me ask you something about where you stand on the spending bill. There is a short-term spending bill on the table that McCarthy hopes to get by. You talk about Democrat votes. Also buy-in from across your party. He can only afford to lose, in fact, four Republican votes more than a dozen members of your party, though, have already publicly said that they are against the plan as it stands.

We're coming up quickly against this deadline to fund the government. Where do you stand on this right now? Are you in that 12 or 13, or do you support it?

BUCK: No. I am opposed to the spending bill, the continuing resolution as it exists right now. I think it, in essence, cuts 0.03 percent of the federal budget of the discretionary side of the federal budget. I am absolutely opposed to that. We need to get to pre-COVID numbers if we're going to right this ship. And those numbers are not large enough for my support.

BURNETT: All right. So you're with more than a dozen -- now you are publicly against. Are we looking at a shutdown, then, Congressman?

BUCK: No, I hope we actually sit down and do what we need to do, and that is work on this and get to the numbers that we need to get to. I think a shutdown wouldn't be a bad thing. But I think we will, ultimately, resolve this before September 30th.

BURNETT: All right. Well, hopefully that will be the case. And I appreciate your time, Congressman, thank you.

BUCK: Thank you, Erin.

BURNETT: And, next, there's no food, no way to get medical supplies into a city that has been washed away by the catastrophic flooding in Libya. So, can anything be done? The USAID administrator Samantha Power is my guest next.

Plus, Biden supporting big-time donors tonight as I speak as polls show concerns growing about his age. Should Democrats be concerned? Well, our Dana Bash talks to the California Governor Gavin Newsom.



BURNETT: Tonight, hundreds of angry protesters gathering in Libya to accuse authorities of neglect, following the catastrophic flooding that has ravaged parts of the country. This as the U.N. now says nearly 4,000 people have died. A significant revision from last week when they declared 11,000 dead.

Of course, that number is sadly still a possibility because they are now saying there are still more than 9,000 people still missing tonight. And this is more than a week after the devastating floods.

Jomana Karadsheh is OUTFRONT.


JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's all gone, they say. Derna is now a city of the dead. There was no time for final good-byes here. "Mom rest in peace" spray-painted where that mother once lived.

In 90 minutes, a city and its people were left shattered. Here, grief lingers in the air. They tell of the horror they survived and loss they have yet to comprehend. He lost his brother's entire family. He now sits where their house once stood. It's all he has left of them.

I lost my brother and his children. I lost my neighbors. I lost my whole world, he says. He searched for their bodies everywhere and hospitals and by the sea. He breaks down as he tries to remember his last call with his brother just two days before the catastrophe struck. He says this is God's will. It's a harsh one they've had to accept.

Everyone here has lost family one after the other, they share their gut-wrenching stories.

Still face numbed (ph), Abdullah recalls how he jumped from one rooftop to another to escape the ferocious flood. He helped save families but couldn't save his own.

Abdullah lost his mother, his wife and his two other boys, 25 family members in total, but he's only buried four.

Everyone here is on a mission to find the dead. There aren't enough search and rescue teams. It's mostly volunteers digging through the muddied rubble of these homes. They call passersby to join.


They believe there is one or more dead bodies underneath the rubble. They say they can smell it.

But most of the bodies are not here, officials say. Thousands were swept away with their homes and in their cars into the Mediterranean. Derna's idyllic seafront is now a staging area where they deliver the dead.

But Radia has not had time to process what she survived. She's been here since last Monday preparing the dead for burial. This is the hardest thing she's ever had to do, she says. He's recognized the lifeless faces of family, friends, and neighbors.

Is this Derna? It will forever be heartbroken, she says. We lost our finest, people used to come and look at our flowers, our jasmine. Now they come to a broken Derna.

At a cemetery outside the city where more than a thousand victims have been buried in mass graves, they prepare for more.

No family here, just strangers who pray for the dead. But there's no time to stop. The bodies just keep coming.


KARADSEH (on camera): I've lost IFB, I've lost IFB.

BURNETT: That's Jomana Karadsheh. You can see her standing there. She said she lost IFB. It's just the communication challenges that we're having, given the horrific situation there on the ground.

I want to come now to Samantha Power, the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development and the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations here with me in New York tonight. Administrator, so, catastrophic flooding. You've got two rival governments, a very dysfunctional situation. The U.N. is now saying 4,000 dead, which is a technical cut in the number that they had said but still 9,000 people are missing. It's been a week, the numbers could be astronomical.

How much -- do they really have a sense of how many people could be dead?

SAMANTHA POWER, USAID ADMINISTRATOR: I mean, it's not for us to speculate. You've seen the wild number ranges, but that number of missing is a searing one because they're saying more than 11,000 people are missing. It's a week later.

So, President Biden announced today an additional $11 million bringing what we're investing there in supporting them to $12 million. I'm sure those needs are going to go way up. The risk of diseases after something like this go up, the shelter needs, the food needs. I mean, these were communities that were very self-sufficient until this happened. It really was a beautiful patch of land. So -- and these communities just so tight. Those communities will come together, but it's going to be a brutal reckoning here these next days.

BURNETT: It's just horrific to watch the suffering. The money that you announced today obviously desperately needed. Derna's in a part of Libya controlled by one of these rival governments that the international community, at least most of it does not even recognize. So, how do you even ensure that that money goes to what you want it to go to?

POWER: Well, in places where we don't really in most places honestly, we work through trusted international partners, but particularly in a place like this where we haven't been operating on the ground for many years, nothing that would stop us from working with the World Food Programme to provide the food needs or UNICEF to look at the needs of children.

BURNETT: It's not as if you're giving it to the local government --

POWER: Randos.

BURNETT: Randos in Libya, right.

POWER: No. But I will say the Libya Red Cross -- Red Crescent Society is a partner that we expect to be able to work with because there's a lot of due diligence that comes through the international federation. So there will be partners like that. And we always want to try to find communities and actors who are really close to the populations in need.

The last thing you want to do is just come barreling in with all of your expertise from Rome or from Washington. So there's a lot of local knowledge on the ground that we're going to draw upon. But in terms of the taxpayer resources actually going where they're intended, we have vetted partners. BURNETT: All right. You're in New York, obviously, in part, for the

United Nations. President Zelenskyy is here. And it's an important moment for him. He's trying to make the funding case that the United States should still be behind this war.

There has been growing Republican resistance to war funding into Zelenskyy himself, public polling shows his unfavorable ratings have gone up 35 percent among Republicans. They've in fact even gone up among Democrats. It's still very low, but it's a five-fold increase.

He got rid of his defense minister in the middle of the offensive because of corruption claims, and obviously taking care of it, but it does show that weakness that they're fighting. How much harder does this make convincing the American public that this is worth continuing to back?

POWER: Well, I have as we've seen from the beginning of the war, in ways that few even those who knew Zelenskyy didn't anticipate, he is one hell of a communicator. He is a person who's able to communicate the stakes not only for the Ukrainian people but link the consequences in Ukraine to our lives, and to what it would mean if a bully armed in the way that Putin is armed was allowed to get away with what he's doing.


Starts with a neighbor, where does it end?


POWER: So we'll hear from Zelenskyy. I think it's excellent that he's addressing the U.N. General Assembly for the first time because part of also what he's seeking to do is shore up support in the global south where Russia has attempted to bill itself as a savior.

BURNETT: And has done so quite successfully even in places like India when you like the public opinion.

POWER: Yeah. I mean, a lot of -- I lived this at the U.N., a lot of countries like to duck things that they perceive to be about the United States and Russia or the United States or the PRC -- they just say leave me alone. But if you actually talk to leaders, even those who have abstained on resolutions on Ukraine, they know fully well what's going on.

And sometimes they're even intimidated or coerced into not voting against aggression. Because they all know that the norm against aggression, the norm that your neighbors shouldn't get to invade you and rape your women and create mass graves, that's a norm. It's actually in all of our interests to preserve. So, he'll get a chance to make that case.

I think his trip to Washington is important, but I have to sense -- I have to say that my sense of the bipartisan support for the Ukrainian cause, sure, compared to the high water mark, has it dipped a little bit here or there. But you saw resolutions from Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene on a defense bill not that long ago that were shut down by very lopsided margins.


POWER: And we feel really good about the dialogues we're having about new supplemental funding to support the military effort but also the work that USAID does, which is work strengthening anticorruption institutions, making sure that kids can go to school, first responders who react to attacks on energy infrastructure, the farmers are getting food out to the developing world. Those investments are incredibly important, too, to the global economy.

BURNETT: All right. Administrator power, thank you very much. I appreciate your time tonight, again, here for the U.N. meetings in New York.

And, next, a new poll shows a majority of Americans doubt Biden would serve a full second term. So what does the Democratic governor of California, Gavin Newsom, think, and will he jump into the race? He tells CNN's Dana Bash in an exclusive interview, next.

Plus, the five American prisoners released from Iran headed right now back to the United States. Inside the negotiations for their freedom ahead.



BURNETT: Tonight, President Biden attending two fund-raisers in New York City, including one at this hour that includes Broadway stars and tickets costing up to $7,500 a person. So, the money flowing in, even as a new CBS poll today shows a majority of Americans have doubts Biden would serve a full second term.

Dana Bash is OUTFRONT.

And, Dana, in this context, you have just interviewed the California Governor Gavin Newsom, right, who has been front and center in any Democratic conversation about, well, if not Biden, then possibly Governor Newsom and others. But he's been right at the forefront of that conversation. You -- you pushed him, pushed him about the 2024 race, whether Democrats should be worried. What did he say?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, he rejects the notion that he is interested in 2024. And what he is trying to do right now is to try to help frame the argument for the Biden/Harris re-election campaign in a way that a lot of Democrats who I talk to and I'm guessing he talks to as well, are concerned is not yet happening.

So, we talked about some of that, including that CBS news poll that you just talked about.


BASH: New CBS News poll shows only one-third of American voters think that Joe Biden will stay in office through a second term.

I know you are downplaying concerns about his age, but do you believe that voters don't have any reason to be concerned that he would be 86 years old by the end of his second term?

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D), CALIFORNIA: Voters have every right to be concerned. But I'm -- you made me (INAUDIBLE) -- I remember Bobby Kennedy said it best, that what the world needs are the qualities of youth, not a time of life, but a state of mind, a quality of imagination.

I mean this. I couldn't imagine three years ago that this president could accomplish so much in such a short period of time. I mean that.

If this political season is all about a celebrity, with all due respect, we had a celebrity for four years. It didn't go well.

And so, I want a seasoned pro that knows how to get things done. I'm a little old fashioned. I want a guy who produces results.

And the results are in. It's been a master class. There's simply no administration in my lifetime that's been more effective producing more substantive results.

BASH: You and Vice President Kamala Harris go way back.


BASH: You say that you came up together in San Francisco --

NEWSOM: Before we were in politics. Before.

BASH: Before you were in politics.


BASH: I'm sure you saw former speaker, speaker emerita --


BASH: -- Nancy Pelosi, she heaped praise on Kamala Harris, but she declined to say whether or not she thought that the vice president is the best person to be on the ticket with Joe Biden in 2024. Do you?

NEWSOM: Of course she is. Biden/Harris administration, master class in terms of performance -- bipartisan deals on infrastructure, bipartisan deals on guns and debt ceiling, on the CHIPS and Science Act.

BASH: So, she is the best choice?

NEWSOM: I mean, by definition. If I think this administration in the last two and year -- two and a half years has been one of the most outstanding administrations in the last few decades, and she's a member of that administration, she gets to lay and claim credit to a lot of that success. The answer is absolutely.


BURNETT: All right. Such unequivocal support. Let's just be real, we don't hear that even from a lot of Democrats.

BASH: And that's exactly why he's trying to be out there with such unequivocal support. In various ways, he says that the Democratic Party needs to top hemming and hawing, needs to stop, sort of, gnashing their teeth collectively --


BASH: -- and says -- I mean, he says point blank, this is the train that is leaving the station. So, we all need to get on board. And this train -- he's referring to the Biden/Harris re-election campaign.

And what he's been trying to do, just in -- really by example, Erin, is say, this is how you do it.


Stop whining. Stop worrying. Get out there and sell this ticket because this is the ticket that we have.

BURNETT: Well, he's selling master class, listing off all of the accomplishments as he sees them, right? I mean, and then -- and just, like, point blank, no pause, support for Kamala Harris. Again, I'm just saying it does contrast with what you hear from so many others.

And so, you did speak to him about his own ambitions, right? Because in an conversation about, well, you know, Biden decides to run, he has to anoint someone. You hear Gavin Newsom's name. How does he respond that?

BASH: He doesn't go there at all, at all.

BURNETT: At all?

BASH: At all. I'm not interested in 2024 even if Joe Biden, for some reason, doesn't run. He insists he's not interested. You know, basically, Kamala Harris is next. But he doesn't really even acknowledge the option, the notion, of Joe Biden not running right now.

I did ask him about whether or not he ever considered running for president ever in the future. He demurred. We can talk more about that conversation. We'll see it later.

BURNETT: Saying just not right now.

All right. Dana, thank you very much. And, of course, you can watch more of Dana's interview with Governor Newsom tonight at 9:00.

And next, five Americans detained in Iran now free and on their way to the United States. But there is one American who's been missing in Iran for 16 years. His family has a message tonight.


BURNETT: Tonight, I'm finally free. Those are the exact words of one of the five Americans released tonight from wrongful detention in Iran. It's part of a deal that includes the U.S. unfreezing $6 billion in Iranian funds.

Three of them have been in prison for more than five years, and the identity of the other two still not publicly known. But all five are now on the way to the United States on a Qatari government plane that will land in the middle of the night in Washington. Qatar acted as a key intermediary, as the United States has no diplomatic ties with Iran.

The Biden administration says that that is not going to change. The United States did impose even more sanctions today after the prisoners were released. The new sanctions target Tehran for a lack of answers around Bob Levinson, an American who disappeared in Iran in 2007 and is believed to have died in custody there.

We've covered his case closely here on OUTFRONT for over a decade, and Levinson's family said in a statement tonight about the released Americans, quote: Today's good news. And they did say it was good news, and they mean it. But they said it does not end our family's nightmare and ongoing pain, nor does it mask or excuse the shameful cruelty and unending lies day of the Iranian regime.

Thanks very much for joining us.

"AC360" starts now.