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Erin Burnett Outfront
In Surprise Move, Trump Won't Try To Push Georgia Case To Federal Court; Trump Trials Set For Monday, New York Heightens Courthouse Security; Republicans Melt Down As Government Is About To Shut Down; Russia Releases Video Of Putin With Warlord, Ally In Moscow Amid Claims Ally is Ill; Biden: "You Can't Love Your Country Only When You Win". Aired 7-8p ET
Aired September 28, 2023 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next:
Breaking news, Trump says he will no longer try to move his Georgia case to a federal court, meaning his trial will now be on national television, international television.
Also tonight, his delayed tactics denied. A court ruling in the New York case that could mean the end of his business, that it is now going to be days away from verdict.
Plus, as the nation barrels closer to a shutdown, the Republican Party is melting down, members hurling vulgar insults, and the GOP's own impeachment witness says there's no evidence Biden committed a crime.
And the war lord that Putin wants the world to see, why this proof of life video raises more questions about this absolutely crucial Putin ally.
Let's go OUTFRONT.
And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.
OUTFRONT tonight, the breaking news, we are following two major legal developments for Trump. First a surprising move, the former president saying he will no longer push to move his Fulton County election case to federal court. Now, Trump and his team said repeatedly they would try to move the case out of the Atlanta area.
A couple of possible reasons for that. One, if they had succeeded in moving it to federal court, there wouldn't be cameras.
A second reason, of course -- you know, to be clear, the cameras will be now nationally televised in Georgia. A second reason is that moving the trial out of Fulton County likely would have meant at least in the terms of politics of the jury, a more favorable jury pool, one that's more conservative. But he's giving that up completely, and there's big questions as to why.
In the meantime, there are also major developments out of New York tonight. An appeals court rejecting Trump's request to delay his New York fraud case, and that means with all of these cases out there and this whole complicated calendar we have talked about, the case that could spell the beginning of the end for Trump's business empire is actually starting on Monday. On Monday.
Security around the courthouse tightened ahead of that. The state attorney general has accused Trump and his sons of committing fraud by inflating their wealth again and again over the span of a decade. They're seeking a quarter billion dollars in damages, and possibly taking away Trump's entire ability to have a business in New York.
The Attorney General Letitia James also releasing her witness list which does include all three of Trump's children. Now, the only one who is included on that who is not charged due to the statute of limitations is Ivanka Trump, also a witness.
So, the question is since she escaped this by the statute of limitations, what will her testimony be? How damaging could it be for her father and brothers as Trump defends the thing that matters most to him and vaulted him to the White House, his supposed wealth?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: Part of the beauty of me is that I'm very rich.
I built a great company in a relatively short period of time, with billions of dollars of net worth.
I'm richer than they are.
I'm really rich. I'll show you that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Also on the witness list, Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen.
Now, remember, Cohen who served prison time knows a lot. He was Trump's one time fixer and provided this damming testimony -- specific, it's very specific. It was under oath in 2019. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. LACY CLAY (D-MO): To your knowledge, did the president or his company ever inflate assets or revenues?
MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: Yes.
CLAY: And was that done with the president's knowledge or direction?
COHEN: Everything was done with the knowledge and at the direction of Mr. Trump.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: A lot to get to tonight with these developments. Evan Perez is OUTFRONT live in Washington.
I want to begin, though, with Brynn Gingras. She is live outside Trump Tower at this hour.
And, Brynn, so, now, there was the possibility this could have been delayed like so many other cases that Trump is facing, but no. So, all the talk about Fulton County and the DOJ, the case that's slated to go to decision is now in New York. It's crucial for him, and it is days away.
BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, that's right. I mean, Trump tried to delay it with this appeal, and there was a slight possibility for that hiccup, Erin. But that's not the case, as you just said. The appellate case ruling the civil trial will start on Monday as scheduled. Letitia James, New York attorney general, saying she's ready to go forward with the rest of her case.
As you mentioned, Trump, his children, Ivanka Trump, Michael Cohen on the witness list for the state's attorneys, and also on the defense list.
So, it will be interesting to see if they take the stand, what they say if they are on the stand. If you look back in his deposition earlier this year, it might prove some indication of maybe what will be said. If you look back at those transcripts, you know, he talks about how he had little, if any preparation in financial statements. He says he's a rich man. He says he's an honest man, in some cases, Erin, he goes on a tirade that is so obvious to the attorneys that they're frustrated with how much he is saying, that deposition lasting seven hours.
So, we'll see exactly what happens, again, if he or any of his other siblings take the stand. Something else to look out for, Erin, is the fact that this is not a jury trial. This is a bench trial, and that means the judge will be calling the balls and strikes here, and also determining damages with the civil trial.
This is the same judge that made that huge ruling two days ago, finding Trump and his sons and organization liable for fraud over evaluating assets, and also stripping the business certifications for Trump Org, and for the Trump family. So it will be interesting to see how he, again, calls balls and strikes when the trial gets started.
But, listen, it's -- like you said, lots of security around the area -- around this course house that begins on Monday, that trial. And it could last, Erin, for three months.
BURNETT: Wow. All right. So, lasting a long time. But then, of course, maybe as some of the other things will be getting started in terms of litigation. Brynn, thank you.
I want to go now to Evan Perez. So, Evan, there's also the surprising news that happened a little
before we came to air OUTFRONT. Trump dropping plans to move his election appearance case in federal court, I'm sorry, in Georgia, in Fulton County to federal court. So, he's made a decision to drop that effort. What happened here?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, look, it was a big surprise. We had been anticipating, and as a matter of fact, the former president's lawyers had told the judge in Georgia, Scott McAfee, Judge Scott McAfee, that they were anticipating that they would be filing a request to remove their case to federal court, and just ahead of the deadline, the deadline was tomorrow, they've decided that they are going to leave the case in the state court in Fulton County. There's a couple of things that means.
Obviously as you pointed out, Erin, it means we're going to see the trial proceed. This is going to be on camera, which is not the case if it was in federal court. The other thing is the legal filing from the Trump team says that they believe that this judge, Scott McAfee will fully and completely protect the former president's right to a fair trial. So it appears that they feel more comfortable with the judge that they have in Georgia, the judge in federal court, Steve Jones, is an Obama appointee. He's the one that rejected the effort by mark meadows to have his case removed to federal court.
Of course, Erin, you know that this is still under appeal, and one of the things that's open to question is whether an appeals court, if the appeals court decides that they can remove Mark Meadows' case, whether the rest of the defendants get to move their cases as well.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Evan.
And Ryan Goodman is OUTFRONT now, as always, former special counsel at the Defense Department, along with David Cay Johnston, Pulitzer Prize- winning investigative journalist who has covered Trump for over 30 years.
And, David, I know you were instrumental in our documentary on the Trump family business, and now all of these things coming back up finally on a day in court.
Ryan, first, though, I do want to just start with the surprising news that just broke late that Trump will not seek to move his election interference case in Georgia to federal court. He, of course, had been widely expected to do so.
Were you surprised by this, and what do you think the reason is?
RYAN GOODMAN, FORMER SPECIAL COUNSEL AT DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE: So, I was a bit surprised by it, especially because he said to the court as Evan said, he may or was anticipating that he would.
BURNETT: Right. So I think it's a strategic question for him, and he has t decide one way or the other. It looked as though he could be in trouble as he moves to federal court because the burden is on him. And he would have to potentially, in all likelihood testify in the federal courthouse to make arguments why he was acting within his official authority that did not turn out very well for Mark Meadows when he testified. He may have perjured himself, implicated himself in a criminal case when it does get to trial. So, I think in some sense, maybe good to just avoid that scenario.
GOODMAN: And he did lay it on thick. I saw the language of trusting, you know, and the due process and the great, you know, exact words but, you know, honesty of the other judge, trying to lay it on thick, right to make sure it gets to Evan's point about which judge they would prefer to actually have.
David, the context here of course in the New York fraud trial is that he's got days until that happens now, right?
So they failed in their effort to get that delayed. So, now, you've got this trial that could jeopardize everything that defines Trump and gives him purpose in life, right, his money. All of it is at stake. And his attorneys have released a list of 127 potential witnesses for the trial. Trump's attorneys have that.
That includes his own sons, who, of course, are also -- the judge just said were guilty of it doing this. And so the state also wants to hear from them. Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump as witnesses. Also, Ivanka Trump.
And I do want to note she was initially a defendant. A lot of people asked, why wasn't she charged? But apparently a New York appeals court said that the claims brought against her were outside the statute of limitations, right? So, it's a technicality as opposed to some sort of substantive thing.
How do you think Donald Trump will react to Ivanka Trump testifying here?
DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, AUTHOR, "THE BIG CHEAT: HOW DONALD TRUMP FLEECED AMERICA": Well, I would expect Donald and his sons and likely Ivanka called to take the Fifth Amendment. If, however, Ivanka testifies in any way that's damaging to her father or her brothers' interests, then Donald's lawyers are going to rip her to shreds and do everything they can to go after her.
So, this creates quite a challenge inside the family, but, of course, Ivanka has largely removed herself from the family. You haven't seen her with her father. She has made a few perfunctory statements on his behalf. But that's about it.
BURNETT: Right. And, of course, you know, obviously again, statute of limitations issue as why she isn't a formal codefendant herself, Ryan.
There's been these operate -- certificates to operate a business, right, and the judge was going to take those away. So, that would really take away Trump as we know it in all -- in all ways. Obviously, you think Trump is going to move to have this not happen. You think he will succeed now that you have had time to think about it? GOODMAN: I think at the minimum he will succeed in getting the order from the judge, at least temporarily stayed. It does not go into effect, and he gets an opportunity to appeal the judge's decision. The reason he'll probably get it stayed and not go into effect, the argument is that he'll suffer an irreparable injury. Like if you take me out of business, it's hard to take me back into business.
GOODMAN: So, that's why they kind of just freeze the status quo. I think possibly the way I would look at it, he's essentially doomed, it's very likely that he's doomed. Doesn't delay the inevitable but delays the likely result, which is that inability to operate.
BURNETT: So, can you explain how this works? Because I think there's a lot of confusion. I certainly have some in New York. The judge is able to give a summary judgment and basically determining guilt and innocence without a jury, and then when it's going to basically figure out the damages part of it, right, like what's going to happen to him for this, the same judge is literally the jury.
It's not going to a group of Trump's peers. The judge who says you're guilty is doing the sentencing at his own discretion?
GOODMAN: Essentially so, so that at a certain point, Trump's lawyers took him out of the equation of having a jury trial. He should have a jury trial --
BURNETT: So, this is their -- part of their problem?
GOODMAN: That's right.
BURNETT: Their decision?
GOODMAN: That's right.
GOODMAN: So, it's also, in a certain sense, the judge took it not out of the hands of the jury, out of his own hands in a certain sentence. He said, I can issue a summary judgment now, the attorney general has given such a conclusive case, there is no real defense. We don't need to put this into a trial. That's decided. You committed pervasive fraud.
Now all we're going to determine essentially what it's narrowed down to is what were your ill-gotten gains? What did you profit from all of this fraud over this multiyear period and you need to give that back to the state, and that's the $250 million at least that is at stake.
BURNETT: Right, right, and of course in a sense, that's a drop in the bucket, if he were to lose his ability to operate a business, which, by the way, with this verdict may happen anyway, by virtue of how banks will treat him and business partners treat him.
David, do you think that Trump himself will take the stand in this case given that it goes to the heart and soul of how he defines himself?
GOODMAN: I would be extraordinarily surprised if he did that. His lawyers would tell him anything that could harm him in the four criminal cases that are pending. Donald has long proved to be a terrible witness, and there's no gain to him in this matter. From Donald's perspective, as of this moment, he is no longer a business person in New York state.
All of his businesses have to be ultimately sold and removed because he has no license to do business. Everything he owns is under the Trump Organization or the eyes wide open blind trust he created when he became presidential.
And he can delay. He can appeal, although in New York state he can only appeal on the law not the findings of fact by the judge. There's no federal appeal in this case.
So the biggest thing Donald is fixing is people who are in business with him may start taking action to separate themselves, to call loans, to cancel contracts.
This will be a full employment act for lawyers, Erin.
BURNETT: It will. But as you point out, regardless of what the outcome is, it may be in practice, right, that he is really no longer functionally be able to do business in New York, which raises so many questions.
I do like the eyes wide open blind trust concept. I think something everybody ought to consider the problem with blind trust in America.
Okay. Thank you both very much. I appreciate it.
And next, a meltdown as the United States is on the verge of a shutdown -- that is not the meltdown to which I'm referring. It is this one. It is Republicans, internecine warfare, calling each other, quote, scum bags, saying F off.
And as they're doing all that and screaming at each other, they're going ahead with the Biden impeachment hearing.
Plus, Putin wants to see the brutal war lord who's sending his own men to fight in Ukraine, wants to see him alive and well. It would be crucial for Putin, but is it the truth? The new video will show raises serious questions tonight.
And Texas Greg Abbott and the New York Mayor Eric Adams agree, and we'll tell you why.
BURNETT: Tonight, a Republican breakdown. Today, behind closed doors, the House Speaker Kevin McCarthy got into heated back-and-forths with Matt Gaetz. The Florida congressman accusing McCarthy of paying off conservative influencers to attack Gaetz online. And, McCarthy reportedly responding that he wouldn't waste either his time or his money on Matt Gaetz.
Another source telling CNN that at this time, one member was heard calling Gaetz a scum bag, another told him to, quote, F off. This is all going on. People have, you know, in the room, this is the meltdown going inside the United States Capitol.
Look, it's bad, it's unbecoming, it shouldn't be happening. I hope everyone can agree on that. But it has been escalating for weeks. Just listen to what's happened in the open air.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): He's been reckless, and unhinged and rattled and misogynist.
REP. MIKE LAWLER (R-NY): The clown show of colleagues that refuse to govern.
GAETZ: Kevin McCarthy lying like a dead dog.
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: If it takes a fight, we'll have a fight.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So this sort of behavior and name calling comes as Republicans are spending their time on an impeachment inquiry when they aren't, you know, calling people vulgar words behind closed doors -- an impeachment inquiry where today their own witness said that the evidence right now does not support impeachment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JONATHAN TURLEY, CONSERVATIVE LAW PROFESSOR, GOP WITNESS: I do not believe that the current evidence would support articles of impeachment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Well, there you have it from a famed constitutional law scholar, and yet, this is what Republicans were focused on. That's what they were doing today. Even as the United States is about two days and five hours from a shutdown. And frankly, when it comes to that, the reality of it is the very least they could do is deal with funding the government because Congress hasn't passed a single one of a dozen appropriations bills it's supposed to deal with every year.
And the shutdown itself is nothing compared to the crisis the United States is facing. The Congress fails again and again to address America's national debt, $33 trillion. It is growing very quickly. It has grown a trillion dollars in the past three months alone. A trillion dollars of extra spending, and yet, they're calling each other scum bags behind closed doors and going ahead with an impeachment inquiry where the star witness says there's not enough evidence for impeachment.
So, let's go straight to Melanie Zanona on Capitol Hill.
Melanie, a shutdown is looming. Republicans are fighting among themselves, focusing on the impeachment hearings instead.
MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Yeah, Erin, sometimes Congress feels like high school, and it's easy to see way on a day like today, you have a member confronting the speaker of the House about mean social media posts, right? But, yes, this morning, Republicans spent at their impeachment hearing which some Republicans even admitted to me fell flat for them.
And then later, tonight, the House is going to be voting on a package of spending bills that are not only dead on arrival in the Senate, but might not even have the support of their own House Republicans. That's because one of the bills to fund the Agriculture Department includes some antiabortion pill amendments and provisions that moderates are balking at. Leadership is pushing ahead with the vote anyway.
But if one or more of these bills fails tonight, it would race serious questions about McCarthy's ability to govern and avoid a shutdown, which is 48 hours away. And, also, Erin, it's probably going to raise pressure on him to work with Democrats. But the problem there is that Kevin McCarthy knows if he works with Democrats, it will trigger a vote to remove him as speaker, a feud and rebellion being led by Matt Gaetz, not only confronting him this morning but also was out with a tweet a few hours ago with a report card giving Kevin McCarthy some poor grades. So, tensions boiling over as the shut down looms closer and closer, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Melanie, thank you very much, live from the Hill.
I want to go to now to Democratic congressman, Gerry Connolly, who sits on the House Oversight Committee, was part of that hearing today, that impeachment hearing.
So I mentioned some of the insults flying between the factions of the GOP, what do you think is happening in the Republican Party right now, Congressman?
REP. GERRY CONNOLLY (D-VA): The issues that have been there for a long time are now widening and boiling over. This is a very unstable majority, and sometimes when you have a small majority, there's --you know, unity in adversity, as there was for us in the last Congress.
Here it's the opposite. They are adding each other's throats, and the freedom caucus, unlike the so-called moderate Republicans is more than willing to throw its weight around and insist on getting its way. As a result they have undue disproportionate influence, both over the speaker and on the agenda here in the House.
It's a very dangerous situation. And it is putting the entire Republican majority, I think, at profound risk in the next cycle of elections.
BURNETT: And I want to ask you about where you spent your day. They have those fights, and they continue with the impeachment hearings as the shutdown looms. They have the impeachment hearings.
There's been a lot of talk about GOP witnesses who seem to undercut the entire principle of why they were having an impeachment inquiry in the first place. Obviously, Congressman, I want to play a bit more of that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRUCE DUBINSKY, FORENSIC ACCOUNTANT: I'm not here to suggest there was corruption, fraud or any wrongdoing. In my opinion, more information needs to be gathered and assessed before I make such an assessment.
TURLEY: I do not believe the current evidence would support articles of impeachment.
That is something that an inquiry has to establish.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Of course, Congressman, to many these words suggest that Republicans' lead witnesses are saying there's no "there" there. But the chairman of the oversight committee, James Comer, says it's all going to plan. Here's his words.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JAMES COMER (R-KY): This hearing wasn't supposed to be about fireworks and bells and whistles. This isn't the January 6th committee. This isn't a stunt. This is a substantive investigation. We're doing everything the right way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Is he?
CONNOLLY: No. No. In fact, this is the very opposite of what a serious impeachment inquiry looks like. I was on two of the three committees of inquiry when we impeached Trump over the Ukraine telephone call.
You know, you don't start an impeachment inquiry and basically say to people, find something. There has to be a something that triggers an impeachment inquiry. So we're doing it completely backwards.
There's no justification for this, and let's remember the context. The context is deflection. They are desperate that people like you and me aren't focused on Trump's tremendous travails. You covered it earlier in this broadcast. His whole financial and corporate enterprise is about to collapse in New York because of fraudulent activity he's been found guilty of by a judge.
He's got four pending trials. He's been indicted by four different prosecutors.
BURNETT: I want to ask you one question, Congressman, before we go about alleged corruption in the Democratic Party. Obviously, former Democratic Senator Bob Menendez here. He told colleagues in the Senate, he gave a 15 minute speech, said he will not resign.
Now, 30 of his Democratic colleagues, 30 of them have called on him to step aside. He was forced to step down as chair of the Foreign Relations Committee. He was forced to do that.
He's refusing to leave the committee. He's refusing to resign. Now, you're on the House Affairs Committee. You understand classified information. You understand what's at stake.
Are you okay with Menendez who's accused of taking bribes from a foreign government because of his role as chairman of the committee in the Senate continuing to serve at this time?
CONNOLLY: No, I'm not. You know, the charges and the evidence put forth by the U.S. attorney is so overwhelming and so extraordinary, I mean, who keeps gold bars in their house, let alone 13 of them? And where did they come from? And how come one of the other indicted conspirators has his finger prints on envelopes in which cash was stuffed?
I think Bob Menendez does himself a disservice, and certainly brings discredit on the U.S. Senate by retaining his post. We want to preserve innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, but we can't -- we can't not separate that from the institution of the United States Congress, and this brings discredit and dishonor on the Senate.
BURNETT: And, Congressman, just to be clear, then, do you believe he should resign as this works its way through the court?
CONNOLLY: Yes, I think he should concentrate on his court case, and how he's going to present himself before a jury and a judge. But I don't think he should do that on the taxpayer dime, and I don't think he should continue his service here in the United States Congress.
BURNETT: All right. Well, Congressman, I very much appreciate your time. Thank you very much tonight.
CONNOLLY: Thank you, Erin.
BURNETT: Thank you, Congressman Connolly.
And, next, first it was a top Russian admiral, now it's a warlord, key to Putin's war in Ukraine. Men rumored to be in poor health or dead showing up in videos. What's going on?
And President Biden pounding the table today in a big speech against MAGA, calling it out tonight and calling it an extremist movement.
BURNETT: Tonight, new video into OUTFRONT showing a fierce battle unfolding on the eastern front of Ukraine , and this is the moment the Ukrainian soldier spots two Russians that are running just feet away from him. Then he opens fire.
And this new video that we are seeing today comes as Vladimir Putin appeared earlier with a top ally, the Chechen warlord Ramzan Kadyrov, amidst speculation that Kadyrov's health was deteriorating. Now, Ukraine claimed that Kadyrov was gravely ill from kidney failure. Unsubstantiated reports suggest that he'd been poisoned or even died.
But tonight, the Kremlin wants you to know that Kadyrov, the warlord who some experts say has a father/son relationship with Putin, and, of course, many say is instrumental in the war, is alive.
Matthew Chance is OUTFRONT.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CHIEF NTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Behind the daily strikes and information war is raging, fueling speculation about key Russian figures, forcing the Kremlin to dispel the ruse, like those swirling around hard line Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov now shown on state TV meeting President Putin, after rumors he was gravely ill.
Rumors spread by Ukrainian intelligence and that Kadyrov is denied on social media. I strongly advise all those who can't tell the difference between truth and lies on the Internet to go for a walk in the fresh air and put their thoughts in order, he wrote.
In recent weeks, Russia has been busy denying Ukrainian claims that a strike on its Black Sea fleet headquarters in Sevastopol killed dozens of Russian naval officers, including the overall commander. Admiral Viktor Sokolov soon appeared in an undated video call with Russian defense officials. His stiff appearance, though, only fueled speculation about his condition.
Finally, the admiral is shown handing out medals to the Russian navy soccer team, answering questions, apparently on the attack, although CNN can't verify when the event took place.
REPORTER (through translator): Could you please tell us in a few words what happened to reassure Sevastopol residents?
ADMIRAL VIKTOR SOKOLOV, COMMANDER, RUSSIA'S BLACK SEA FLEET (through translator): Nothing happened to us. Life goes on. The Black Sea fleet is carrying out the tasks assigned by the command.
CHANCE: But prominent Russians do have a tendency to occasionally drop from view.
[19:35:04] General Sergey Surovikin, a senior Russian commander linked with Wagner, disappeared, after recording a statement calling for the mercenary group to abandon its rebellion back in June.
Months later in September, this image was circulated, purporting to show Surovikin and his wife out and about in Moscow, in a bid to dispel rumors of his arrest. And even Russia's defense minister shortly after the full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year vanished from view for over a week, eventually popping back up on a video conference call with Putin, a sign, perhaps, he was back in favor.
CHANCE (on camera): And, Erin, you know, the Kremlin will criticize the reports that come out from Ukraine, from the west, about where people are and what happened to them. But the truth is it's such an opaque country now, even Russians don't know what's really going on, so the whole country is rife with exactly that kind of speculation.
BURNETT: Right. And even Prigozhin, right, then was he alive, was he not? I mean, anything for a conspiracy.
CHANCE: He disappeared for a while and then he emerged when his plane crashed.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Matthew Chance.
And a big question tonight around Russia is whether the United States can transfer $300 billion in Russian assets to Ukraine, all of this frozen money, right, just give it to Ukraine. Well, the renowned constitutional expert Laurence Tribe says yes, they can. It is completely legal, and it must be done immediately.
OUTFRONT now is the Harvard Law School professor, Laurence Tribe.
And, Professor, I appreciate your time.
So, you spent a lot of time thinking about this. We talked about this at beginning of the war, certainly, the images of the yachts and frozen assets, right now, we understand there are about $300 billion in known frozen Russian assets sitting in international banks. So, this is actual cash that you're referring to.
You say it is legal to give that money to Ukraine, and I believe now. Tell me why.
LAURENCE TRIBE, CONSTITUTIONAL LAW PROFESSOR, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL: Basically, the International Emergency Economic Powers Act that Congress enacted many years ago gave explicit power to the American president to seize and transfer, and the word used in the statute is transfer, frozen assets that have been frozen pursuant to sanctions when the president declares the relevant international economic emergency, and Biden has done that. So in my view, and I have studied it with the help of brilliant lawyers at the law firm of Kaplan Hecker & Fink at the request of the Renewed Democracy Initiative --
TRIBE: -- concluded after six months of careful study is that there is just no question about the president's power in the United States to transfer the $35 billion or so that are frozen here, rather than just letting that money stay idle. And once that's happened, the other $300 billion frozen in other countries from Canada to various countries in Europe that can be released as well, and transferred to Ukraine.
You showed in earlier video the devastation in Ukraine. It's the result of an aggressive, illegal war determined to be a war of genocide. Putin himself is under the threat of arrest should he go anywhere outside of Russia, basically. For all of this money to simply sit there and do nothing, while children are kidnapped and people are murdered and raped is an outrage. That's why I think it should be done now.
BURNETT: I do want to point out, by the way, when you talk about $335 billion, we know Swiss banks, a lot of other places, I'm just pointing out as a matter of record, there's a lot more money and a lot more that can be done in terms of freezing assets. It's a separate point from what you're making, but I think one worth making so people don't forget.
I do want to just give the side here that maybe this isn't a good idea, that some have put forth. Bloomberg editorial board said a move you suggest would, quote, set a warring legal precedent, and they say, and I quote them, respect for state and private properties is essentially for modern economies and the functioning global trading system, by confiscating Russian assets, the U.S. and Europe would risk undermining the hard won norm, while giving other governments an incentive to take punitive action against Western interests.
What do you think about that argument that it just invites sort of a pay back and a back and forth that ends up in a really bad place for everyone?
TRIBE: No, international law makes clear that when there is an illegal war of aggression that annexes a sovereign state, then countermeasures are entirely appropriate. And if what this does is create incentives for other countries not to commit the kind of illegal aggression that Russia has committed, that's just fine.
A lot of hard headed people, Bob Zoellick, the foreign president of the World Bank, Lawrence Summer, the former secretary of the treasury, have looked into this with us, and have concluded that there would not with be a destabilizing effect. There wouldn't be what some people call de-dollarization. In fact, the incentives would be entirely positive.
So all of the scare tactics about how this would be destabilizing, they're just not true. What is destabilizing is to have a country for the first time since World War II break the international agreements and simply invade a neighbor, a sovereign neighbor. And private property I'm advocating thinking, it's actually very complicated to take the private yachts of oligarchs, that's all tied up in litigation.
But a nation like Russia does not have private property rights. It's a sovereign, and because it's a sovereign nation, it's a matter of international diplomacy. Not a matter of law. That's why Canada, following the examples that we set in this report, is considering not involving the courts and the seizures so that the judicial obstacles to seizing these assets will not be in the way.
You know, I studied this for decades, and I think the answer is clear. The power of the executive branch to engage in foreign policy along these lines in order to discourage illegal aggression is very clear, both in the United States and in other G7 countries.
BURNETT: All right. Well, Professor Tribe, I appreciate your time. Thank you, sir.
TRIBE: Thank you.
BURNETT: And next, President Biden railing against Trump during an impassioned speech this afternoon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Democracy means rule of the people. That means respecting free and fair elections.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And we've got new video tonight. More migrants arriving in New York City, the number now topping 110,000 people since last spring.
BURNETT: Tonight, quote, there's something dangerous happening in America. That is the warning from President Biden, who delivered an impassioned speech today against what he called MAGA Republican extremists.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Trump says the Constitution gave him, quote, the right to do whatever he wants as president, end of quote. I've never heard a president say that in jest.
Democracy means rule of the people. That means respecting free and fair elections, accepting the outcome, win or lose. It means you can't love your country only when you win.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, former Republican Congressman Joe Walsh, who ran in the 2020 GOP primary against Trump, he's now the director of Mission Democracy, and Ashley Allison, former national coalitions director for Biden's 2020 campaign.
So, Congressman, you're here with me. This is the fourth major speech now that President Biden has given on the topic of democracy, right? He has picked this line. He's talked about the economy quite a bit but this appears to be what he keeps going back to. He thinks this is going to work.
Who is the audience for this? I know it resonates as someone who used to be one of those extremists, right, and now obviously, you're not. But who is the audience for this?
JOE WALSH (R), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: I -- maybe naively, every American. Look, this is the issue of our time, defending democracy. He has to speak to it.
Erin, this is scary stuff. One of our two major political parties, my former political party has become radicalized. They have given up on democracy.
They no longer accept election results. They don't respect the rule of law. They're embracing authoritarianism.
There's a lot at stake. We need every American to understand this. He's got the biggest bully pulpit in the country. He has to make this the issue.
BURNETT: So, Ashley, the reality of course on this issue tends to be people either agree with him or don't agree with him. It is the fourth speech he has given on this. Who do you think the audience is politically? Is this going to be the core of his reelection campaign message? Is that what we're seeing?
ASHLEY ALLISON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I agree with Joe that this message is for all Americans because what is America without a democracy? And so from a patriotic standpoint, this message is for everyone.
For a more political practical standpoint, I definitely think being in the state of Arizona, which is a battle ground state that was traditionally red but has become more purple and maybe even leaning blue in recent years, it's for independents. It's for Republicans like the former congressman who realized that this is not the Donald Trump MAGA path is not the way we preserve our democracy, and we stay the America that is truest to its ideals.
And I also think this message was for Democrats because there's a lot of talk about how the Democratic base is unenthused. Well, Democrats have to show up at this election too. You don't have to be super excited to know we have to vote to protect our democracy.
And so, I think it painted a broad picture of what is possible if we don't stand in the gap right now, and say enough is enough, we're done with this MAGA mentality, and that's why we went to Arizona to deliver that message.
WALSH: Erin, Ashley makes such a great point. I hear from Democrats all the time. Joe Biden is too old. He doesn't motivate me.
Enough of all of that. Our democracy is at stake. I think Biden has got to lean into that.
BURNETT: All right. So, you talk about age, okay, and that is a huge issue. Whether you're proud of him because of his age or think he's too old. We see it.
And, by the way, we see it in the group you mentioned Ashley. We see it in independents. You see in Democrats, okay? He actually brought it up today, and here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDOE CLIP)
BIDEN: I know I don't look it, but I have been doing this for a long time. I'm sure I haven't met the test all of you want me to meet. But try to do my very best to meet the highest standards, whether you voted for me or not because that's the job.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So, Ashley, he made a joke. I mean, it's sort of invoking that Reagan moment, I try not to use my opponent's youth and inexperience against him, I'm sorry, I'm getting it wrong, but I know I don't look it, but I have been doing it a long time, making a joke.
Seventy-four percent of people are worried about his age and his stamina, so is this how he's going to sort of start to address it, do you think, Ashley?
ALLISON: Well, you can't ignore the fact that Joe Biden is going to potentially be reelected as one of the oldest presidents of our United States.
BURNETT: The oldest.
ALLISON: The oldest, you can change your stance on policy. You can't change your age, right? So I think it's important he address it head on.
He had a moment in the speech earlier on, there was a heckler, he handled it like a pro.
And that is what he needs to continue to do when he faces that on the campaign trail. But to the point of where you showed part of his speech, I also found that to be very humble and what we need more in our leaders to say, I'm not perfect, but I am trying. I am fighting for you, the American public. And I am doing my best, whether you voted for me or not.
Because that is the essence of democracy, is that when you are elected to represent your constituency, at some point, it doesn't matter political party, it's doing what's best for the American people. I appreciated that sentiment because in Washington, D.C., it is few and far in between.
BURNETT: Quick final word, Joe.
WALSH: Absolutely. Look, this is the issue of our time. If he doesn't speak to this, Erin, the country is not going understand it. We have to defend the democracy.
BURNETT: Right, for speech and I think we will see more.
Thank you both very much.
And next, new video into OUTFRONT of more and more migrants arriving to New York City.
And Bruce Springsteen pulling the plug on his tour dates for the rest of the year. But today, he told us about a new song.
BURNETT: New tonight, we've got video just in of more asylum seekers being bused into New York City overnight. A lot of them children. You can see them there, joining a long line, bringing the number now to more than 110,000 people since last spring. And it has transformed New York City.
This comes as Republican Governor Greg Abbott and Democratic Mayor Eric Adams, both are singling out one person for the migrant crisis.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R), TEXAS: The lead importer of migrants to New York is not Texas, it's Joe Biden.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Polo Sandoval is OUTFRONT.
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): New cell phone video captures one of the latest buses to arrive in New York City carrying asylum seekers.
On this night, it's mostly women and children. They step off the coach and into a bitter partisan war of words, one that is yet to let up.
ABBOTT: Quite literally, we have a national crisis.
SANDOVAL: Texas Governor Greg Abbott brought his hard-line immigration message to New York as the city struggled to house nearly 60,000 asylum seekers.
[19:55:07] During the rare visit, the Republican took jabs at Democratic leaders from the White House to New York City hall.
ABBOTT: We've sent about 10 percent of the migrants that you have here.
SANDOVAL: As the governor spoke, migrants waited anxiously just a block away at the city's packed intake center, wondering what comes next in their exhausting journey.
ABBOTT: This is something that's unsustainable. I think those are the words of your mayor. Those are the words of the mayor of Chicago and L.A.
Those are the words of the governor of Texas. What's going on is unsustainable.
SANDOVAL: Governor Abbott has been the target of criticism from the administration of Mayor Eric Adams.
DEPUTY MAYOR ANNE WILLIAMS-ISON (D), NEW YORK: I hope that when he's here he can get a glimpse of what it really looks like to deal with a humanitarian crisis in a humane way.
SANDOVAL: And Abbott's New York counterpart, Governor Kathy Hochul, for chartering buses and offering asylum seekers rides to interior cities. For Abbott, over 15,000 migrants have been shuttled to New York City alone from Texas.
GOV. KATHY HOCHUL (D), NEW YORK: We have Republican Governor Greg Abbott here in New York tell us how to manage the crisis. I said go back to Texas, talk to your 25 Republican members of Congress, and tell them to get back to work and help us out here.
SANDOVAL: Future waves of migrants are sure to follow the governor's trip, citing a so-called breaking point situation with border shelters overwhelmed, the city of El Paso accepting charter bus help from Texas to offer migrants rides to locations of their choice, Denver, Chicago, and New York remain top of the list.
SANDOVAL (on camera): During Governor Abbott's visit to New York, he also resurfaced criticism directed at President Biden and Vice President Harris, Erin, saying that they are yet to see this migrant crisis up front with their own eyes. We should mention that Abbott's schedule did not include a stop at the main intake center during his visit, even if it was right across the street from one of his Manhattan stops -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Polo, thank you very much.
And next, Bruce Springsteen has pulled the plug on his concerts for the rest of the year. But he's got a new song.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BURNETT: Tonight, just a day after postponing his remaining tour
dates this year, Bruce Springsteen says he's got a new song. The boss releasing this snippet of his new song called addicted to romance.
BURNETT: And the song comes out tomorrow as part of a movie in which Anne Hathaway appears. It comes after Springsteen pulled the plug on his concerts as he is recovering from peptic ulcer disease, he said, sort of surprising everybody by doing this for the rest of the year. He did say he'll announce new tour dates for 2024 next week.
We wish him a very speedy recovery and look forward to the full new song, as I'm sure so many of his fans do, still putting out new songs at 74 that the whole world wants to hear.
Thanks so much for joining us.
"AC360" starts now.