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Erin Burnett Outfront
Trump Attends Fraud Trail For 9th Time, Prepares To Take Stand; First On CNN: Feds File New Criminal Case Against Hunter Biden; Israel Says It "Eliminated" Top Hams Officials, Releases Photo; VP Harris' Husband: University Presidents' Remarks "Unacceptable". Aired 7-8p ET
Aired December 07, 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:
Trump's courtroom campaign. The former president lashing out as he appeared at his fraud trial in New York. Now, he's preparing to take the stand in his own defense.
The former Trump White House counsel Ty Cobb is OUTFRONT tonight.
And the breaking news, CNN just learning that federal prosecutors have filed a new criminal case against Hunter Biden. We have the details ahead.
And Kamala Harris's husband Doug Emhoff lashing out, condemning Ivy League university presidents for their testimony about antisemitism and genocide.
Harvard grad Al Franken is OUTFRONT. Does he think Harvard's president should resign?
BURNETT: And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.
OUTFRONT tonight, Trump's court campaign. The former president was in New York to attend his New York fraud trial today. He's been at that one a lot, once again seizing the opportunity to make this about the election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: This is a political witch hunt. This is meant to influence an election. This is third world country stuff. This is banana republic stuff. I should be right now in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina. I shouldn't be sitting in a courthouse.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Trump claiming it's all a distraction, claiming it's preventing him from getting on a campaign trail with his Republican rivals, even though he did choose -- choose again to skip another debate last night, where the other candidates all appeared. He has chosen to skip the debates thus far.
The truth is this, though, this trial, along with the other four that Trump is facing, are central in his campaign for the White House. He has embraced them and made them the core of his campaign. His legal strategy and campaign strategy are one and the same.
And in the New York fraud case, in fact, I said he's been there a lot, he's actually been in that courtroom nine times, a lot, and as I mentioned, he's about to take the stand in his own defense again. But by calling the trial a witch hunt, by saying it's election interference, that, of course, plays into what many of Trump supporters believe, right? It's just it's a manna from heaven to his base.
They also back Trump in large part because he claims to be one of the most successful businessmen, well, in the country.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: Nobody's ever been more successful than me. I'm the most successful person to run.
I'm much richer than almost anybody.
I'm really rich. I'll show you that.
I'm a great business person. I've made a fortune. And I want to put that same thinking for the country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: The trial in New York threatens that image and that image more than anything else has always defined Trump to Trump, which is why this trial matters so much. It can cripple his ability to do any kind of business and to do business in his state of New York, his home state. And that is huge because for decades, New York was Trump's home turf. It's made him. It's where he inked those real estate deals.
Now I spoke to Andrea Bernstein, a top investigative reporter who covered Trump's finances for over a decade. And listen to what she told me in our documentary that we did about the Trump family business. We were talking about one of Trump's mega New York real estate deals Trump SoHo, which is a hotel condominium high rises. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: When buyers discovered the sales claims had been grossly exaggerated, they sued.
ANDREA BERNSTEIN, AWARD-WINNING INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST, PROPUBLICA, NPR: A lot of people asked me, isn't that just New York real estate? Isn't that just the way it works? And the answer is, there is ordinary real estate selling and then there's this, which is a persistent pattern of saying things that aren't true.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: A persistent pattern of saying things that aren't true. That's not new. It's gone back for decades, but that is at the very heart of this fraud trial.
And I want to start with Brynn Gingras. She's OUTFRONT outside of the courthouse here in New York.
So, Brynn, what more did Trump say today, his ninth day appearing in that court as he prepares to take that stand?
BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Erin, you heard some of that sound. He called this whole civil trial a witch hunt. That's something we certainly heard before. He attacked the judge in this case, the New York attorney general who brought the civil fraud trial against him.
And if we go back a month or so ago, if you remember, Trump was on the stand before, called as a state's witness in this case and he did some of the sort of same grievances airing them on the witness stand at that time, even lashing out at the judge as he was sitting right next to him at one point.
If you remember, the judge at that time asked his attorneys to control the witness. So it's very possible that's exactly what we will see again, sort of a campaign stop on the witness stand when he does take the stand again on Monday.
But, listen, today he was not on the witness stand. He was behind the defense table as a spectator of this witness who was quite honestly probably one of the best witnesses the defense has put forward to, you know, further their argument that the financial statements of condition that were prepared by the Trumps and the other co- defendants, that they weren't out of the ordinary. That they didn't violate any accounting principles and that there wasn't any fraud.
Even at one point, the judge chimed in and asked his own question, asking this expert witness, so in your expert opinion, the AG's claims have no merit? And he answered, that is absolutely my opinion, absolutely.
Now, listen, we know that the judge in this case has already ruled that there was fraud committed in this case. So it's very likely that this witness is just setting the stage for what we do expect an appeal to happen since we have certainly heard about that many times throughout this trial.
So this witness will be back on the stand tomorrow but, again, the big day is on Monday when the former president takes the stand in his own defense and this trial coming quickly to -- not quickly but coming to an end be, Erin.
BURNETT: Yeah, that, of course, is going to be his last opportunity in this trial.
Brynn, thank you.
So, Andrea Bernstein is with me now, of course, as I mentioned, the award winning investigative journalist, with ProPublica, and NPR and you just saw her in that clip from our documentary on the Trump family business.
Andrea, you've been in the courtroom throughout this trial. It's interesting how Brynn describes the former president today, that he was there, not on the stand, right? He was there as a spectator, behind the defense table as a spectator. You were there. How would you describe his demeanor, how he carried himself obviously in this couple of days before he's on the stand again?
BERNSTEIN: Well, it's so interesting because I've covered Trump for so long and I have never seen him the way he is in this courtroom. He's always in command of the room. He was a real estate developer. He was, obviously, in "The Apprentice", White House, campaign, post- campaign.
But now, he just has to sit there when the bailiff says "all rise", he has to stand and sit and sit at the defense table. No one can see him. It's all for those moments where he walks out of the courtroom.
He doesn't have to be standing behind that police barricade, but he does. It gives a look. He gets to say, I should be in Iowa.
He could be in Iowa. There is nothing keeping him here, and I suspect if he thought it was better for his campaign, his future, to be in Iowa, that's where he would be. But he chose to be in the New York courtroom, not --
BURNETT: For those moments, as you say.
BERNSTEIN: Right, very brief.
BURNETT: You can't see him. He's not participating. He's not doing anything. It's when he walks out, those brief moments in front of the camera. It's the campaign.
BERNSTEIN: Right. I mean, we had today a manual on generally accepted accounting procedures that the defense witness went through in detail. That's what the former president had to sit there and listen to for that moment of press coverage.
BURNETT: Literally a lecture on GAAP accounting. I mean, it is --
BERNSTEIN: Yes. Yes.
BURNETT: I mean, it is an accounting professor. Okay.
So, now, this is the point and you heard Brynn say this is the most compelling witness that the defense has had so far could lead the way to their case for an appeal. But this was an accounting professor and as the day went on, I understand kind of his personal points of view in favor of Trump became more and more clear in that courtroom. He, at one point, there was an objection.
He fires back. Shame on yourself, talking to me like that. You make up allegations. I'm here to tell the truth. You ought to be ashamed of yourself.
BERNSTEIN: Right, I've never seen that.
BURNETT: Sounds familiar.
BERNSTEIN: Looking right at the assistant attorney general when he said that. So, I mean, he's this, you know, long-time professor of New York University. He has a lot of credentials. He's won awards.
He's served on the editorial boards of accounting magazines, and he seemed like he was going to be a very sober witness. And he started out saying I don't find any accounting fraud, but by the end of the day, he began to say, well, you know, such and such is obvious. My 9- year-old granddaughter could understand it. A high school graduate could understand it, sort of impugning everybody who didn't see things his way.
And, you know, by the end of the day saying I've never seen as detailed and transparent a financial statement as this one.
BURNETT: Well, that's false.
BERNSTEIN: Who does he sound like when he says that?
BERNSTEIN: I mean, he sounds like the person --
BURNETT: And also that doesn't even pass the basic smell test.
All right. Andrea, thank you very much.
And Andrea, as I said, has been in that courtroom day in day out. And I do want to mention, Andrea's latest podcast is "We Don't Talk about Leonard". It is from ProPublica" as I said, and WNYC's "On the Media". So, please check that out.
And I want to go to Ty Cobb now, the former Trump White House lawyer.
So, Ty, you know, you hear what happened today and the way Andrea described it, that Trump as the spectator was sitting there, no one could look at him, he couldn't do anything.
He had to sit there all day and listen to a lecture on GAAP accounting, all to get in front of that camera for those few moments when he came out and say, well, I should be in Iowa.
Now he's going to take the stand on Monday, again, for the -- this is now going to be -- again, because he did testify last month. It was nearly four hours that he testified last time. At one point he said, it is a terrible, terrible thing you've done. You believe this political hack back there, and that's unfortunate.
So, now, he goes back on the stand on Monday. How do you think this is going to go, Ty?
TY COBB, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: Well, first of all, Erin, I would say nice to be with you. Thanks for having me on.
That I'm not sure he will testify. I'd say it's still 50-50 because as -- as the lawyer in me says, you know, why put him on? I mean, he's going to be subject to an eviscerating cross examination which won't focus on what Trump wants to talk about, it will focus on every lie that he has told, you know, in the ten years that are relevant under these financial statements, and as we know, I mean, he told several more whoppers on the steps of the court today. There's a lot of material to work with.
So I think a talented, skillful prosecutor could cross examine him in a way that would just eviscerate him. On the other hand, that's the legal. That's the legal side.
As you all were discussing correctly, this really isn't legal anymore because it's clear that his assets were inflated. It's clear that there are multiple misstatements, misrepresentations and lies on the -- on the numbers that were provided. And that's all the statute.
Statute doesn't talk about GAAP accounting. The statute doesn't talk about materiality. The statute says misrepresentations and omissions even without a materiality statement.
So, that's why the judge was able to rule in advance of trial that Trump was -- that Trump was guilty to fraud and subject to penalties. And this is really more about, you know, the disgorgement, the amount of money Trump will have to pay.
So, there is -- there is nothing that Trump said on the courthouse steps today, you know, that's true, other than, you know, I'm happy to be here because he had a free microphone, which he wouldn't have had in Iowa, or he wouldn't have had in New Hampshire.
BURNETT: Well, then, that makes him look like everybody else that's running, right, because he obviously doesn't want to do because he could have been at the debate. He could be in Iowa there. He purposely seems to avoid where they are.
When you talk about how this all comes down to the amount of disgorgement will be, how much money Trump will have to pay, and, of course, whether he would be able to do business and the way he defines it, how significant -- how big do you think that number could be given what you've seen thus far?
COBB: Well, she's asked for $250 million. I think the evidence -- you know, the most compelling evidence on damages so far is -- was the evidence that came in that suggested that the Trump Organization had saved $168 million or received the benefit of $168 million, it would not have otherwise been entitled to because of the documents provided. So I think that's -- I think $168 million is in evidence. I'm not sure
what additional arguments will be made to enhance that figure, and then, you know, the real risk is, of course, the possibility of losing the ability to do business in New York, which as we know the court of appeals today said, you know, they were going to reserve decision on that until -- until they considered the entire appeal, which is -- which is the ordinary process and, frankly, the way it should be done.
It's being treated by Trump, of course, as a giant victory, but really it's sort of the only way the case could have pursued.
BURNETT: All right. Ty, thank you.
COBB: My pleasure. Great to be with you.
BURNETT: All right. You, too.
And we do have some breaking news coming in here. First on CNN, our Evan Perez is learning that federal prosecutors have filed a new criminal case against Hunter Biden.
All right. We're just getting this news in now. I want to get straight to evan.
Evan, obviously, a significant development here from what you're learning. Can you tell us more?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, right now, we're waiting for the court documents to be unsealed. They're still under seal in federal court. But we know that prosecutors have now filed this new criminal case against the son of the president.
We know that David Weiss, the special counsel, had been using a grand jury in Los Angeles to gather evidence, to get testimony over the last several weeks and the anticipation certainly from the questions that those witnesses were getting when they did testify was that a case was imminent, that they were going to bring federal tax charges against Hunter Biden.
We, of course, know that prosecutors have been investigating the president's son for now more than five years and a lot of it has centered on his failure to file his taxes on time. We know that there was an effort to try to put this entire issue to bed with a plea deal which fell apart spectacularly just a few months ago.
PEREZ: And, of course, we know that the president now -- the former president's son is also facing gun charges in the state of Delaware, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. So, Evan, you know, you've got all that context around it and Hunter Biden obviously also under pressure on Capitol Hill from Republicans. He's got that subpoena from the House Oversight Committee. So, this all just seems to be ramping up now in a significant way.
Obviously now just weeks ahead of, you know, voting beginning in the primary process.
PEREZ: Right. Exactly. This puts the president's son really squarely in the political calendar, Erin, because now we're looking at a possible trial, a trial in Delaware on those gun charges in the next few months possibly. We also know, of course, once we see these charges that we expect to be unsealed in Los Angeles, that he might be facing a second trial on those tax charges as well.
So that's what we are -- he's now going to be dealing with. Of course, as you pointed out, Republicans have subpoenaed him and he's due to show up to be deposed in the investigation led by House Republicans next week, next Wednesday, as a matter of fact.
So we don't know whether he's going to show up because he's offered to show up but only if he testifies publicly. There's a bit of a standoff between the two sides on that, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Well, as we get more information, we're waiting for that to unseal, we'll bring that to everyone.
Evan, thank you very much, breaking that news here.
And next, tonight, Israel is claiming that it has taken out a number of Hamas leaders. We have terrifying new video of gunfire erupting, meantime, at a refugee camp and we are live in Israel.
Plus, former Democratic Senator Al Franken on Trump's dictator comments, and why the expelled former Congressman George Santos will not go away.
Plus, chilling details emerging tonight. We are learning more about the former professor behind the mass shooting in Las Vegas.
BURNETT: Tonight, Hamas leader's dead according to the IDF. They have released an image showing five Hamas officials, as they say, who were, quote, eliminated in the tunnel where they were hiding. That's according to the IDF today and they identify each of the individuals who they say were killed.
Israel also announcing two other senior Hamas officials were killed in another attack on an intelligence command center. The leader of Hamas in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, is still free tonight, though. His whereabouts right now, unknown.
It comes as violence gripped a refugee camp in northern Gaza. There's a chilling new video just in to CNN. So, you can take a look at this.
Just relentless gunfire, these are people in the refugee camp, everyone just running. Gunfire just continues again and again and again, looking for safety and shelter.
Alex Marquardt is on the ground OUTFRONT tonight with more.
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): This video of Hamas fighting against Israeli troops which was released by the militant group shows not only how intense the battles are, but is a propaganda message from Hamas that they are still fiercely resisting two months into this war.
Israel's stated goal of eradicating Hamas has driven Israeli troops straight into Khan Younis, where they believe the most senior leaders may be, including Hamas' top official in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, who remains on the battlefield.
Mohammed Deif, the shadowy head of Hamas's military wing, is also believed to still be alive.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claims Israeli forces surrounded Sinwar's Khan Younis home, though the IDF admits they believe he's hiding out underground.
Two months after Hamas carried out the deadliest attack in Israel's history, the response has led to a colossal humanitarian catastrophe.
Experts and officials say Hamas has been degraded, but Israel still has a long way to go to achieve his goals.
OFER SHELAH, FORMER MEMBER OF ISRAELI PARLIAMENT: What the IDF has been tasked with is disabling Hamas as a military threat to Israeli people by killing terrorists, by destroying infrastructure, and by eventually getting to the leadership of Hamas.
MARQUARDT: That effort is still very much underway. The IDF released this photo of leaders of Hamas's northern Gaza Brigade, circling five commanders that the IDF says it killed in a tunnel. CNN reached out to Hamas for comment. Israel claims to have killed other senior and mid- level commanders as well as several thousand rank-and-file militants, which is just a fraction of what the IDF estimates is 30,000 fighters.
LT. GEN. MARK SCHWARTZ (RET.), FORMER U.S. SECURITY COORDINATOR FOR ISRAEL AND THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY: I think there have been some successes. But my point is there is going to be a lot more ground combat to come. I think that you see over the coming weeks more precision targeting going after Hamas leaders as they, you know, show themselves.
MARQUARDT: In the next month or so, U.S. officials say Israel is expected to lower the intensity of its operations, which have killed thousands of civilians, so many of them children and displaced more than 80 percent of Gaza's population. Israel hears the international pressure and global calls for a cease-fire, but insists there is still much more of Hamas to root out before the diplomacy starts.
SHELAH: We are getting to a tipping point where the major question will no longer be how many people were killed. It will be, what happens the Gaza? So that situation there becomes different and nothing like Hamas can grow again to be a military threat against Israel.
MARQUARDT (on camera): And, Erin, also in Gaza, today we saw some pretty stark images on social media of dozens of Palestinian men who had been detained by Israeli forces. The images and video show them stripped to their underwear, sitting on the ground, sometimes kneeling, blindfolded, sometimes in the back of a truck.
It is unclear when these images were taken, or who exactly these men are, how many of them are militants, if any. CNN has geolocated some of the images to Beth Lahia, which is in to the northern part of the Gaza Strip.
But we are told by a number of different sources that at least several of these men have no ties to militant organizations, to Hamas. The editor in chief of a news organization called New Arab said that he spotted the director of their Gaza bureau in one of the images. We at CNN spoke with a man in the United States who recognized his brother and a cousin in the images saying they're just a shop keeper and work in construction.
Erin, we did ask the IDF for comment. They did not get back to us, but the main spokesman for the IDF, Daniel Hagari, said that, generally, they do check who has ties to Hamas and who does not. He said that we arrest them all and question them.
So, lots of questions still for the IDF -- Erin.
BURNETT: Absolutely. And those pictures, of course, are disturbing.
All right. Alex, thank you very much in Tel Aviv.
Well, next, the husband of Vice President Harris slamming the presidents of MIT, the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard over their comments on antisemitism. The former Democratic Senator Al Franken, he went to Harvard, he's next.
Plus, was the wife of Ukraine's spy chief poisoned through her food? Remember, we were talking to you about Budanova. This is one of the leading theories tonight. His fingers pointed directly at Russia. There's a special report ahead.
BURNETT: Okay. New just a little bit ago, the Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff slamming the presidents of Harvard, MIT and the University of Pennsylvania. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DOUG EMHOFF, SECOND GENTLEMAN: Seeing the presidents of some of our most elite universities literally unable to denounce calling for the genocide of Jews as antisemitic, that lack of moral clarity is simply unacceptable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: All right. His comments coming as those leaders have faced very loud calls for either resigning or being fired after their widely criticized testimony on Capitol Hill. In fact, the chair of the UPenn Board of Trustees is expected to talk to President Liz Magill as soon as tonight or tomorrow about stepping down, after she struggled repeatedly to say calls for genocide against Jews violated the school's code of conduct.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ELISE STEFANIK (R-NY): Specifically calling for the genocide of Jews, does that constitute bullying or harassment?
LIZ MAGILL, PRESIDENT, UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA: If it is directed and severe, pervasive, it is harassment.
STEFANIK: So the answer is yes?
MAGILL: It is a context dependent decision, Congresswoman.
STEFANIK: Does calling for the genocide of Jews violate Penn's code of conduct when it comes to bullying and harassment? Yes or no?
MAGILL: It can be harassment.
STEFANIK: The answer is yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Okay. The presidents of MIT and Harvard also under fire for exchanges like this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEFANIK: Yes or no? Calling for the genocide of Jews does not constitute bullying and harassment?
SALLY KOMBLUTH, PRESIDENT, MIT: I have not heard chance for genocide of Jews.
STEFANIK: You've heard chants for intifada?
KOMBLUTH: I've heard chants, which can be antisemitic defending on the context.
STEFANIK: Calling for the genocide of Jews violates Harvard code of conduct, correct?
CLAUDINE GAY, PRESIDENT, HARVARD: Again, it depends on the context.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: All right. OUTFRONT now, former Democratic Senator Al Franken.
So much I want to talk to you about. But obviously, this has become a storm. So, you're a Harvard graduate. You're also Jewish so you look at this from two different perspectives, very relevant to what they're talking about.
Do you think the presidents of Harvard, as well as the presidents of MIT and UPenn should resign or be fired over what we heard?
AL FRANKEN (D), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: I don't -- I don't know about that. I know that they didn't -- I believe in free speech because I'm a comedian, too, and that -- but, you know, if you're calling for the genocide of entire people, I think that requires disciplinary action. There are a lot of people in this country, Palestinians and Jews, who are afraid.
FRANKEN: And calling for genocide -- now intifada, maybe -- I think students at Harvard, MIT and UPenn know --
BURNETT: May see that differently?
FRANKEN: No. They -- I think they know what intifada is and that is the killing of civilians. They've had some intifadas. That's what they do. So, I think they know what that is, and that calls for disciplinary action.
BURNETT: Yes. So, you know, it's interesting the context here. And we'll see what happens in these cases.
Ross Stevens is a UPenn donor, $100 million donor.
BURNETT: He's come out and said, I'm going to pull all of the money if you don't fire the president of UPenn.
So, then, that adds another thing. And do you -- do you do something like that because you got someone with a lot of money saying do it or else? And, basically, you know, they've got the gun to your head?
FRANKEN: He puts her in a funny position.
BURNETT: I mean, it is a separate --
FRANKEN: And the board, too. I mean, the board members -- other board members, yeah. That puts him -- him saying that puts them in an odd position.
BURNETT: So, I mean, who knows. It is tough. It's almost like, okay, do you do what a big donor wants to do? Or do you say, that no, because we're not going to do -- we're not going to be at the bidding of big donors. We're going to do what we want and we try to chart your own course.
FRANKEN: The donor could have kept that -- could have told other people without announcing that.
BURNETT: Right. Kept it private.
FRANKEN: Yes, because then you put them in the position of oh, I see, big donors, you know?
FRANKEN: Call the shots there.
BURNETT: And you don't want that, right?
FRANKEN: Not -- not what's right or wrong, yeah.
BURNETT: Right. So, we're going to see how it plays out. All of these layers are so important.
OK. As I said, a lot I want to talk to you about. So, Trump comes out this week --
BURNETT: -- and, you know, he's vowed to seek retribution against his rivals.
BURNETT: Anybody who he believes has persecuted him on and on and on.
BURNETT: If he becomes president again.
So, he's on with Sean Hannity this week and they have this exchange during their town hall.
Let me play it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: Under no circumstances, you are promising America tonight, you would never abuse power as retribution against anybody?
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: Except for day one. HANNITY: Except for?
TRUMP: Look, he's going crazy. Except for day one.
TRUMP: I want to close the border, and I want to drill, drill, drill.
HANNITY: That's not -- that's not -- that's not retribution. I got it.
TRUMP: I'm going to be -- I'm going to be -- he keeps -- I love this guy. He says, you're not going to be a dictator, are you? No, no, no, other than day one. We're closing the border and we're drilling, drilling, drilling. After that I'm not a dictator.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OK. This was a -- this went on for five minutes.
All right. Sean repeatedly tries to get him to just answer the question and he refused to actually answer the question directly.
FRANKEN: Yeah. Well, he answered the question, he said on just day one. He was joking. He wasn't, I suppose, but he wasn't.
BURNETT: I mean, you're a comedian. So judge it by that. What do you -- I mean, yeah.
FRANKEN: Well, when he said I will seek revenge against my people who -- convicted -- already convicted, who charged me, that's the end of rule of law, right?
FRANKEN: What's democracy about if not the rule of law? So he's already said that he will be an autocrat. And he, you know, has said he go -- will go root out the vermin in our country. He -- there's no question that this guy -- and that is what this election in a large part is going to be about. Do we descend back in -- back into -- do we descend to an autocracy?
BURNETT: So, you know, you would bet with Senator Lindsey Graham 20 bucks, you said that Biden would win. He said Trump would win. He supported Trump.
FRANKEN: Yeah, I told --
FRANKEN: I told Lindsey then that the guy who actually wins the Electoral College is the winner, and that's why I couldn't understand why he still backs Trump.
BURNETT: Do you still have the -- have the confidence that Trump will win -- I'm sorry, that Biden will win when you look at Biden's approval polls? Which, I mean, look, I understand --
FRANKEN: It's a year out.
BURNETT: It's a year out. I mean, it's 37 percent. That's the lowest it's been but --
FRANKEN: People will look at his accomplishments. It's a year out. He passed the biggest infrastructure bill. Remember, Trump was, I'm a builder. And he -- every week was infrastructure week and we couldn't --
BURNETT: Got waylaid, yeah.
FRANKEN: Yeah. That never happened under him. He -- biggest investment in climate.
I think when we get close to the election this autocracy issue will be an enormous issue for Americans. It will look at the court that he appointed and threat of him appointing more people like that.
FRANKEN: I think this is going to be a very close election.
BURNETT: All right. So, I got to ask you about George Santos. So, he's been parodedly -- parodied, I'm sorry, repeatedly on your former home, "Saturday Night Live". There was a skit last weekend after he got expelled. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It seems to me that I lived my life like an evil Forrest Gump. I'm the god who lied even too much for Donald Trump. And you all got to laugh at me and I say, lucky you --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Okay. Guy's got a good voice.
OK. Now he's making -- he was charging 250 bucks for every one of his little cameos on Cameo. Now it's 350 bucks.
FRANKEN: That's true.
BURNETT: We understand six figures he's making.
FRANKEN: Well, he's going to have a lot of defense costs because he committed a lot of crimes. So, I guess while he's now -- now is the time to make some money, I guess, for him. But the main thing about this I like to say, they did the right thing obviously. But this is all they've accomplished. If you think about what the Republican House has done, they've got -- they took 15 ballots to elect the speaker, then they got rid of that speaker when he voted for cr.
BURNETT: Yup. FRANKEN: Now -- and that's it. That's it. Now they're threatening to
hold up aid to Israel and to Ukraine over a border -- over the bill that would allow separating children from their parents again, immigrant children.
FRANKEN: I mean, that's -- I think that's what this -- the Santos thing highlights is that they've done nothing, nothing.
BURNETT: That's an interesting way of putting it.
All right. Well, thank you very much, Senator. I appreciate your time.
FRANKEN: Thank you.
BURNETT: Senator Franken, good to see you.
And next, the lead Russia investigative journalist testifies that he is now wanted by Moscow.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTO GROZEV, RUSSIAN JOURNALIST: Law enforcement agencies advise me against my return from the United States to Austria where I live.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: The man you just heard, Christo Grozev, is next.
Plus, breaking news. Police just revealing the man responsible for the mass shooting at the University of Nevada Las Vegas had a target list. And we have the details on that breaking news coming up.
BURNETT: Tonight, poisoned by contaminated food. So that is now one of the theories being explored following the poisoning of the wife of the Ukrainian top spy chief, according to a Ukrainian news outlet.
Marianna Budanova is now in stable condition according to Ukraine after sources said she tested positive for very high levels of both arsenic and mercury. The investigation into her poisoning remains ongoing. Fingers, though, of course, are pointing at Putin and Russia which obviously has a very long history of poisoning its enemies at Russia and -- in Russia and abroad.
OUTFRONT now, Christo Grozev, the lead Russian investigator for Bellingcat. He's on Russia's wanted list for his work, including uncovering the men who poisoned top Putin critic Alexey Navalny, who, of course, is suffering in confinement now.
[19:45:02] So, you began your own investigation into Budanova, to what happened here. Where does this stand right now? And obviously when I talked to foreign minister last week of Ukraine, and he was saying, well, I'm into the going to give you an official blame on Russia but when you look at their patterns and how they behave, of course, it would seem that that is how it could happen.
GROZEV: Of course. Just want to make sure that this investigation is not a Bellingcat investigation. It's investigation by joint investigative team of journalists from "The Insider" and "Der Spiegel". But that said, we are looking at everything we can find out what happened to Ms. Budanova.
And we do see similarities between what happened to her and other victims of poisonings by Russian intelligence operatives. We see presence of arsenic. And strange as it may sound, we have seen before in incidents that we're currently investigating for another major investigation that will be published in a month or so, that Russia's military intelligence did use arsenic poisoning to intimidate, not to assassinate but to intimidate intelligence officers of another country.
So, this appears to fall in line with what Russia was doing. Again, whether this was an attempt to assassinate Marianna Budanova or just create confusion, make a psychological attack --
BURNETT: And, of course, her husband is the top spy chief, you send a message for sure.
GROZEV: It sends a message. What we have also seen in the last year alone, we have had at least four Russian people who have been poisoned, not of them lethally. All of them with the intent to intimidate them for their work. All of them are women, by the way.
And at least in one of the cases, the woman who was poisoned was involved, she had a romantic relationship with a leading Russian opposition figure. And it, again, strikes very similar to what we are seeing here, through poisoning a woman, they're trying to send the message to their boyfriend or husband.
BURNETT: To the man, yeah.
I mean, it is unbelievable, and as you point out, I mean, there are cases. I know, you know, former leader of Georgia. They'll talk about high levels of arsenic. Arsenic keeps coming up again and again.
So you testified in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee and on -- all of this, on these issues. And I want to play some more of what you said, Christo.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GROZEV: Last Christmas, I found myself on Russia's most wanted list, with the succinct explanation of my crime. Wanted for a crime without specifics, depriving me of any opportunity for a defense. Just a month later, law enforcement agencies advised me against my return from the United States to Austria, where I live, citing a clear and present danger posed by clandestine Russian intelligence operation, targeting both me and my colleague Roman. I discovered that Russian intelligence officers had surveilled and tailed Roman and me for nearly two years, monitoring all of our movements, and awaiting the opportune moment to strike.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Tailed you into buildings. I mean, just the incredible level of invasiveness and personal-ness on all of this.
You know that your life has been at risk. You've continued, of course, with your work, but it has upended your life, your entire life, your family.
What is the latest that you can tell us about this investigation?
GROZEV: Well, I can tell you that it's going to be made public in court very soon. I only know about 10 percent of what the investigators -- the official investigators have found.
GROZEV: Because I'm supposed to not know, I'm supposed to be an unbiased witness when I'm testifying in court. But even the 10 percent it's extremely scary. What it does include is evidence that law enforcement agents are cooperating with the Russians and selling them data. Airline agencies are selling data, and this is scary because it seems that it's so easy to buy the loyalty of Russian -- of Russian intelligence operatives, and they have a lot of money. So that is what the takeaway is from what I've seen so far.
BURNETT: Yeah, I know. It's a terrifying and, of course, you know, we look forward to hearing more of that 90 percent. I can only imagine, because as you point out, the 10 percent is frightening.
BURNETT: Christo, thank you very much, as he continues those investigations.
Breaking news next, police say the gunman behind the mass shooting at the University of Nevada Las Vegas also sent suspicious letters to university staff. There may have been a target list and we have more breaking details on that next.
BURNETT: Breaking news, disturbing new details about the former professor responsible for the mass shooting at UNLV, in which three people were killed. Police are just revealing that Anthony Polito had a target list, and he mailed to 22 letters to other university personnel, and at least one contained a white powdery substance.
Lucy Kafanov is OUTFRONT with the latest details.
DISPATCHER: We have three gunshot victims.
LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): UNLV reeling from a campus shooting Wednesday that claimed the lives of three people, all faculty members including 64-year-old professor Jerry Chang, and 39- year-old assistant professor Patricia Navarro Velez.
Another victim, a visiting professor now recovering from a gunshot wound. Law enforcement released video of the moments before police shot the gunman, 67-year-old Anthony Polito.
SHERIFF KEVIN MCMAHILL, LAS VEGAS METROPOLITAN POLICE: Officers from both UNLV, and LVMPD arrived, and heard shooting coming from inside the Beam Hall, and went in immediately, I stress without hesitation, to neutralize the threat.
KAFANOV: Police say the gunman was shot multiple times, just minutes after he began shooting on multiple floors of the UNLV campus building.
MCMAHILL: Polito was armed with a Taurus 9 millimeter handgun. He had brought 11 magazines to the scene with him.
KAFANOV: The gun, according to law enforcement, was legally purchased by Polito in 2020. He described himself online as of semi-retired university professor, who taught in Georgia and North Carolina until 2017. He also taught classes at Roseman University in Henderson, Nevada, until June 30th of 2022. Law enforcement is still trying to understand his motive for the shootings.
MCMAHILL: The subject had a list of people he was seeking on the university campus. We know he applied numerous times for a job with several Nevada higher education institutions, and was denied each time.
KAFANOV: His connection to Las Vegas and his online profile shows an unorthodox approach to teaching, including conspiracy theories he claimed to have solved, like the mystery of the zodiac killer, and the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, and multiple references to Las Vegas, including dozens of links on his personal website, with a reference to, quote, making more than two dozen trips to Vegas over the last 15 years.
Polito's Rate My Professor page for East Carolina University had mostly positive ratings before the shootings, but also multiple references to a, quote, unconventional teaching style, focusing largely on personal anecdotes, posts dating back to 2014 and 2009, saying he's great, we spend over two months just talking about Vegas and he loves to go to Las Vegas.
On his website, Polito brags about his education, what he says includes a masters from, Duke and a PhD. from the University of Georgia. He even claims he was a member of the high IQ society Mensa.
KAFANOV (on camera): Police also revealing tonight when they searched Anthony Polito's residence, they found a chair with an arrow pointing downwards towards some sort of last will and testament document. They also found several computers and hard drives, as well as ammunition matching the same kind of ammunition they found at the scene right here, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Lucy, thank you very much, from Las Vegas tonight.
And next, a look at CNN's heroes who are doing simply extraordinary things.
BURNETT: Finally, CNN shining a light on ten extraordinary people who give back to their communities. Anderson Cooper and Laura Coates will host "CNN HEROES: AN ALL-STAR TRIBUTE". They will be joined by celebrity guests to revel the hero of the year this Sunday at 8:00, only on CNN.
Thanks for much joining us. Anderson starts now.