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Erin Burnett Outfront
Giuliani Declares Bankruptcy After $150M Court Loss; DOJ Tries To Sway SCOTUS: Trump Charges Of "Utmost Gravity"; Detroit News; Audio Recordings Reveal Trump Personally Pressured 2 GOP Canvassers In Michigan Not To Certify 2020 Vote; Video: Migrant With Child Apparently Ignored As She Begs For Help; Top Putin Critic Navalny, Jailed In Russia, Missing For 16 Days. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired December 21, 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:
Giuliani bankrupt. Trump's longtime attorney says he's broke. His legal bills are piling up.
While special counsel Jack Smith is pressing the Supreme Court to rule quickly on Trump's case. Will the court act? Professor Laurence Tribe is my guest tonight.
And new video on CNN this hour of the Texas National Guard appearing to ignore a mother and her baby as they plea for help in the Rio Grande River. This powerful video is a disturbing video but it shows the reality of what is happening right now in the U.S. southern border.
And it has been 16 days since top critic Alexey Navalny went missing. His daughter Dasha is my guest tonight.
Let's go OUTFRONT.
And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.
OUTFRONT tonight, bankrupt. Trump's longtime attorney Rudy Giuliani filing for bankruptcy today. The move just one day after a federal judge ruled Giuliani has to start paying the nearly $150 million that a court, majority ruled, that he owes to two Georgia women, he falsely accused of trying to overturn the election.
But, Giuliani, of course, is Trump's right-hand man, the person who made himself indispensable to the former president by doing his dirty work so he could stay in power. By the way, Trump could have paid Giuliani's bills incurred for doing Trump's work. But, he is not helping.
So, here we are. This is Giuliani's filing for bankruptcy. It's 24 pages, voluntary petition for individuals filing. It says 24 pages, and it actually goes to the depths. It's pretty incredible. The details half a billion dollars in debt. I mean, just remember, Rudy Giuliani and all of this talking about
America's mayor and to greatness that he once had, was worth $52 million at one point, $52 million. He told "Time Magazine" years ago that he was raking in lucrative consulting fees after he had been mayor of New York from all over the world because he had, quote, done some remarkable things.
Well, perhaps not the humility there, but it was true. Now, Giuliani owes nearly $150 million to just two people, two Georgia election workers that he defamed. The bankruptcy filing as I said nearly half a billion, $1.7 in legal fees -- $1.7 million, I'm sorry, nearly a million dollars in back taxes due to the IRS and New York state, $30,000 in phone bills. It's all outlined here. Again, it's 24 pages of a voluntary filing.
And it comes as there are developments as well in Trump's January 6th case tonight because the special counsel, Jack Smith, again filing with the Supreme Court, demanding that the court quickly make a decision, a ruling, on Trump's claim that he is immune from charges in connection with January 6th. This has to be decided before the case can move forward.
So, Smith is making the argument today that, quote, the public interested in a prompt resolution of this case favors an immediate definitive decision by this court, the charges here are of the utmost gravity, this case involves for the first time in our nation's history criminal charges against the former president based on his actions while in office.
So, Jack Smith wants this to move quickly, to adjudicate it, to get it to trial, to get an answer to voters before the election. Trump's lawyers are trying to do the opposite. They're asking the court not to intervene, a move that can delay the start of Trump's trial which is currently slated for March 4th, the day before the crucial Super Tuesday in the GOP primary.
And as Trump tries to delay that, he is now facing a disgraced, bankrupt former attorney, who knows more about where skeletons are than almost anyone else. And, by the way, Giuliani's dire straits and aspirations are not just limited to this bankruptcy filing. And we take a look at the lawsuits Giuliani still faces. That includes three defamation cases, a lawsuit from Hunter Biden, by the way, he includes possibly having to pay that in his bankruptcy filing, and a lawsuit over unpaid legal bills. So, all of this is still out there.
There's a lot to break down here tonight, several moving cases this hour.
I want to start with Kara Scannell, though. She's OUTFRONT in New York.
And, Kara, you've been going to these 24 pages, and there's a lot of information in here. It really fascinating, what stands out to you?
KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, it has been a mystery what the current state of Giuliani's finances are. So, this document now shed some light on this. What Giuliani is saying here is that he has debts up to as much $500 million, but he says his assets are up to $10 million. What we know about his assets is that he owns a condo in Palm Beach and an apartment he has for sales here in New York about $6 million.
So, a lot of assets could be tied up in these properties.
But, you know, his biggest debt that he's disclosing in this bankruptcy filing is that nearly $150 million award that the jury gave to those two Georgia election workers just last week. We learned some other details that he owes nearly $1 million in taxes, that is for two tax years he has not paid, but he also owns about one $1.7 million in legal fees, $30,000 in phone bills and about $10,000 for financial services work that he had done by a consultant.
So, he has a lot of outstanding depth here. The real unknown is just how much more might add to that, because this $500 million is an estimate because he has all of these outstanding lawsuits, including those three defamation lawsuits related to the election and including ones brought by Dominion and Symantec (ph), those voting machine companies, a two million dollar lawsuit brought by a grocery store worker who says that Giuliani had him falsely arrested, that Hunter Biden lawsuit alleging that Giuliani hacked into his laptop, and, some others that are still outstanding.
So, you know, this is kind of the current state of Giuliani's finances, but he could potentially have more. His lawyers say this should come as no surprise to anyone that he was filing for bankruptcy, you know, saying that it would be unreasonable for anyone to believe he could make this nearly $150 million payment, but a lawyer for those two election workers said that this, quote, maneuver by Giuliani is not going to stop him from getting paid, and if you remember on Monday, those election workers filed a new defamation lawsuit against Giuliani for continuing to spread those lies. So his legal and financial problems continue to mount -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Kara, thank you very much with all of those details.
And I want to go now to Laurence Tribe, as promised, the constitutional law professor at Harvard Law.
Professor Tribe, I appreciate your time.
I want to start with you with the move here in light of this bankruptcy filing from Rudy Giuliani, right, who knows, you know, did Trump's dirty work for him. Trump now is trying to delay this case with a special counsel, Jack Smith. And Jack Smith today asked the Supreme Court again, move quickly, he says, bypass the appeals process, give a ruling on whether Trump is immune from the alleged crime he committed in office regarding efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
The question is, Professor, will Jack Smith prevail? Will the Supreme Court move on this?
LAURENCE TRIBE, HARVARD LAW PROFESSOR: I think he will, whether the Supreme Court actually leap frogs the court of appeals, or besides the court of appeals is now moving on the fastest imaginable track, that it can wait a few days. It's really beside the point. The question is, will Jack Smith get a final ruling from the United States Supreme Court rejecting the quite extreme claims of absolute immunity for essentially everything he did while president.
And I think the answer is it will get that ruling, because the Supreme Court, whatever it's ideological leanings, recognizes that the people of the United States are entitled to get an answer before the election to the question, are we voting for someone who committed grave crimes while in office, crimes that involve attempting to overturn an election, not just any old crime but the highest crime of all, essentially awfully close for treason. And the Supreme Court is undoubtedly going to recognize that the strategy of delay, delay, delay, which is inconsistent with the very fact that Donald Trump asked for an appeal on this issue before the trial on the ground that every day that the threat of a trial hangs over him, his rights are violated.
He's trying to have it both ways. He's saying, I'm entitled to a quick ruling, but not so quick as to --
TRIBE: -- inform the public whether I'm guilty. That's -- you can't have it both ways.
BURNETT: And I know, obviously, bankruptcy laws is not your area of expertise. So, without asking the technicals on that, about the reality that you have a Rudy Giuliani out there now, know, a dire strait, a dire straits, a desperate man, in this sort of situation who knows all the thing he knows about Trump? Does that -- does that play a role here? Is there -- is there more that can come out of Rudy Giuliani?
TRIBE: I don't think it pays much of a role. Nobody is going to believe Rudy Giuliani. He's lost all credibility.
Jack Smith has an overwhelming case without calling a liar to the stand. But, maybe Giuliani will make some kind of deal and that will add to the pressure on Trump, but I think that's a sideshow. In fact, however, enjoyable or interesting it is from a schadenfreude point of view to watch America's mayor go down in flames, that's a sideshow.
That's not what's critical. What's critical is whether someone who tried to overturn an election so he could stay in power is going to come to power again without anyone ultimately knowing whether he is going to be accountable for crimes.
BURNETT: Professor Tribe, stay with me --
BURNETT: Stay with me if you will. I -- I just -- I know -- please stay with me, I want to just interrupt you because we do have some more breaking news right now that I know the professor is going to want to respond to, but anyone watching here is going to want to hear this.
The Detroit News has a significant report just crossing tonight, but I want to share with you, just coming out, saying that then President Trump has actually recorded on tape, and he is recorded on tape pressuring two Republican members of the Wayne County canvassers, most populous county in Michigan, not to certify the 2020 presidential election.
Now, this is a phone call. According to a phone call on November 17th, 2020, Trump is on the phone call, right? So, Trump is on the phone call with just people certifying an election in a state, and he is telling the two Republicans that they look, quote, terrible that they signed the certification adding, quote, we got the fight for our country. We can't let these people take our country away from us, later saying he'd take care of lawyers for them.
According to this report, which is just breaking, the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, Ronna McDaniel, was also on the call and then told the two canvassers, quote, if you can go home tonight, do not sign it, we will get you attorneys. And that's when Trump replied, quote, we'll take care of that.
Craig Mauger who broke the story is -- from "Detroit News" joins me on the phone.
Craig, I just have a chance here to read this as you -- as this is crossing, your breaking news. I just want to emphasize, this is at best time the president of United States on tape recorded for four minutes of a longer exchange talking, pressuring these individuals. You've heard much of this tape. Can you tell us what you hear Trump say?
CRAIG MAUGER, REPORTER, THE DETROIT NEWS (via telephone): What I heard listening to the audio of this conversation was the then president of the United States encouraging, pressuring, contending, arguing in favor of these two Republican county canvassers not signing the certification of the 2020 election for Wayne County. Wayne County is a Democratic stronghold in Michigan and the state's largest county as well.
BURNETT: So, is there anything else that could have happened in the other minutes of the call, or how -- are you aware of exactly how long the call was or anything else that you may not have heard that could, you know, change the context here or add context?
MAUGER: You know, we heard four minutes of what could be an up to 11- minute call according to Verizon phone records that were previously obtained by the January 6 committee. We do not know what was said during the entirety of the calls. We do know that the Wayne County canvassers had previously, the two Republican Wayne County canvassers have previously said that the call was potentially just Donald Trump thanking them for their service on the canvassers, and nothing -- they did not remember anything specifically being stated about the 2020 election. They do not remember that.
The recordings that I have reviewed show that the call was heavily about the 2020 election --
MAUGER: -- and very much about the certification vote that had just taken place.
BURNETT: Right, and telling them not to certify. I mean, it is pretty stunning. And again, the president of United States is on the call.
How did the canvassers respond to Trump? I know you are saying that they say retrospectively that they didn't remember 2020 being a big part of the call, clearly in the form that you heard. It was -- it was what the call was about.
How did they respond to him?
MAUGER: They did not say a lot on the call, on the recordings I was able to review. They did not say a lot. I think what they did say was trying to argue in favor of what they had just done. If you go back to November 2020, what happened during this very contentious canvassers meeting where the Wayne County results were certified, is the two Republican canvassers initially voted against certifying. There was immense pressure put on them, there were a lot of arguments made to members of the public and public comment, encouraging them to certify and eventually deal with brokers.
The Republicans agreed to both certify the elections, both to certify, if they could also demand an audit be done on the election. So, with that deal, they voted to certify the election. However, after casting that pivotal vote, they left the meeting without signing the statement of votes, you know, confirming what the vote tallies were in Wayne County.
After they left the meeting, that is when the phone call with then president and Ronna McDaniel, the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, took place.
BURNETT: Obviously, which would appear that the former president is intimately involved, right? It's when they make the phone call exactly at the moment when this is happening, right? It's not a random happenstance, I mean, just to state the very obvious here. It needs to be stated.
Craig, from your reporting, and you just mentioned it, Ronna McDaniel, the RNC chair woman, was also on the call. So, there were the two canvassers the president of the United States and Ronna McDaniel. What role did she play that you heard?
MAUGER: The call came from Ronna McDaniel. I mean, Ronna McDaniel is from Michigan. She has a lot of connection to the Michigan politics. That's previously been reported, two calls that night that came from Ronna McDaniel to Monica Palmer, who is one of the two Republican canvassers. It appears that the RNC chairwoman kind of facilitated this call, has the president on the call, they were both making arguments against signing the certification.
There was a comment made on the call by Ronna McDaniel, where she told them, if you sign the certification and don't get this audit, she said something to the effect of, we will never ever know what happened in the 2020 election. That was the pressure that was put on them. If you sign this, and don't get the audit, we're not going to know what actually happened.
BURNETT: I should note, of course, the margin of victory for Biden in the state of Michigan was 154,000 votes, 154,000 votes.
Craig, do you know why the call came out now? Like why you're getting this information now? And whether Jack Smith's team had this recording as well?
MAUGER: I can't answer that. I really can't answer either of those questions. I know that it took some significant time for us to be able to get our hands on this recording.
MAUGER: There was a lot that went into it. I can't really say much more than that.
BURNETT: I can only imagine, I want to ask you -- I want to ask you one other thing, Craig, before you go, that is just listening to it. What was -- what was Trump's tone like when he's talking to them in pressuring them in this moment? How would you interpret the tone in his voice, his emotion in it?
MAUGER: I would say it was an appeal to these canvassers. It was a direct appeal to them. He made a lot of comments that were similar to other comments that he had made, unproven claims of fraud in the election, arguing that there was something extremely improper that happened in Detroit, Michigan, the largest city.
He was making a lot of the same arguments he had unleashed on social media, in the situation he was making them directly to the canvassers. Basically, and directly asking them, how could you sign this knowing what I'm telling you? How could you sign it? And the comment that you mentioned earlier, really struck me, where he -- the president of the United States told these two county canvassers that they would look terrible if they sign this according to their reporting.
BURNETT: Yeah, I mean, it is important to think about. They're getting a call, to canvassers in Wayne County, Michigan, from the president of the United States, just the power disparity, the way they would've felt getting such a call, the pressure in that in and of itself.
Craig, thank you so much I really appreciate it. Thank you for sharing all this reporting, and I hope everyone will go see Craig's reporting in "The Detroit News".
Professor Laurence Tribe is back with me now.
So, Professor, what do you take away from all of this? Two GOP Wayne county canvassers, they get a call. Ronna McDaniel from the GOP -- RNC hooks them into the president of the United States.
Now, Craig's had an opportunity to hear this call, and very clear, direct appeal from the president to two county level employees telling them not to certify the election.
TRIBE: Assuming it's all accurate, and I just heard this for the first time, so I'm not going to make a final judgment about anything, but assuming it is what it appears to be, it makes you think of all the pressure and defamation directed at Shaye and Ruby Moss, that makes you think of the Raffensperger call, where he's trying to twist arms and say that you're going to get in trouble unless you find me the votes I need. This is all part and parcel, it appears, of an extended plot going back way before January 6th, and extending right up until the violent insurrection, an attempt to interfere with the central process of democracy, the process of making a peaceful transition to the newly elected president.
I can imagine, whether special counsel Jack Smith already has this evidence or is in the process of developing it, that the trial we're going to see, is supposed to begin on March 4th, is going to be dynamite. No wonder the president wants absolute immunity. No wonder he wants to delay the trial. No wonder he wants to prevent the American people from learning the details of how he tried to steal an election that he had lost in the name of what he calls the big steal.
You couldn't make this stuff up.
BURNETT: And, Professor, I understand, you know, he'll say that these are things he had said another settings publicly. But when you think back to Nixon, and then it's caught on tape of him -- of him directing, right?
And now, here, you're actually going to hear his voice that he is on tape, the former president of United States. You can't say someone else was doing it. You can't say I didn't know what was happening, right? He did it. He got on the phone with two county level election canvassers in a state that he lost by 154,000 votes, and said it would be terrible if they sign the document to approve certification of the election.
Is there something significant in that moment of -- you know, he's -- there is no separation that these tapes are there, that's very clear.
TRIBE: Well, it suggests that the trial is going to be truly extraordinary. The power imbalance, as you point out, is going to be vivid. You know, when people say, golly, I wonder if there are tapes, there are tapes it appears. And hearing the voice of a desperate man who just refuses to take no for an answer, refuses to admit his loss in tries to stay in power no matter what, ask yourself, is that somebody that you can trust in the next election?
That's why the disqualification clause is so important. Because the whole theory of the Constitution is, that when someone takes an oath to the Constitution, and tries to overturn it, you can't trust that person to run again if that person manages to win, then that person is going to hold power and may never let it go. If he doesn't manage to win, he might figure out a way to make it look like he's one. It's very dangerous.
And that's what we face. It's the prospect of losing our democracy. That's -- that's really a major thing. That's not a small matter.
You can talk about Rudy Giuliani's bankruptcy or gasoline prices, but this is the ball game. If we have dictatorial guy who's willing to use the pressure of the presidency on ordinary people, what's going to do to you and me? What's going to do to people who want to exercise their freedom when whether it's the reproductive freedom, that freedom of speech.
Democracy is not an abstraction. We're dealing with the limitless power of somebody who has no scruples, knows no limits, and is willing to do anything to seize and remain in power for his own benefit. That's what we're hearing. And I think we really need to take that into account between now and November.
BURNETT: Professor, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much.
Professor Tribe there weighing in on this breaking news out of "The Detroit News".
Karen Agnifilo Friedman and Marshall Cohen join the conversation now. Marshall has done an extent of reporting on these canvassers. Ryan Goodman is on the phone as well.
But, Marshall, these canvassers, you have reported extensively on this. You knew that there was a recording, we're not finding out what was on it. You hear the president of the United States on it. You hear at least Craig Mauger is saying, he heard four minutes, which included the president of the United States speaking.
Can you put this in context for us?
MARSHALL COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, we knew that there was a phone call, this is the first time we're actually hearing what was exactly uttered on the call, thanks to this great reporting from "The Detroit News".
Put yourself in these people's shoes. They are local, county canvassers, local folks in Detroit getting a phone call from the president of the United States, the highest office in the land. This is unprecedented, and it was at a moment in time when Donald Trump was trying to do everything in his power to stop the certification of the results in Michigan.
He lost by over hundred thousand votes in that state, but he was trying to find any lever of power that he could find to stop it. He had invited the top state officials to Washington, met with them in the Oval Office. The head of the state house and state Senate both Republicans, to try to twist their arms. They ended up putting out a statement saying there was not massive fraud.
And then he went lower on the totem pole and went to these local officials, got them on the phone, convince them -- look at these, quotes convince them to rescind. He said, we'll take care of that. Ronna McDaniel from the RNC, do not sign it, we'll find you attorneys. Don't do it.
They ended up trying to take back their votes. It was too late. They voted to certify the results. But it just shows how Trump tried to find anybody, anywhere, who could gum up the works and overturn a lawful election.
BURNETT: And, Karen, did it himself directly and personally. He was aware of it, was aware of what was happening, was aware that at this moment of what was happening, was looped in on the phone call to do it himself, to put that, to exert that pressure on those county level employees. And he said, from Craig's reporting, that it would be, quote, terrible of these two canvassers signed the documents.
He continued to say, according to Craig's reporting with the call, we've got to fight for our country. We can't let these people take our country away from us.
How big of a deal is this recording now that we know some of what's on it, Karen?
KAREN FRIEDMAN AGNIFILO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: As a prosecutor, there's nothing better than a defendant's own words on tape, doing and saying the exact thing you accuse them of doing. For Jack Smith, this is extremely powerful evidence of Donald Trump's intention and his corrupt intention in his pressure campaign on the local level, which is part and parcel of what he's charged with in the sweeping Jack Smith indictment, the Jan 6 indictment.
There's a whole section on there on the pressure campaign to the states, including Michigan. And so, this is just direct evidence for Jack Smith, and will be front and center at the trial, I also think that the fact that he's saying, we'll get you lawyers, will pay for you lawyers, in some ways, I would argue that that's evidence that he knows what he's asking them to do is illegal. And so --
BURNETT: Right, because you're going to need a lawyer.
AGNIFILO: Exactly. So, this is extremely powerful evidence for a former prosecutor.
BURNETT: Ryan, what's your takeaway from what you've heard?
RYAN GOODMAN, FORMER SPECIAL COUNSEL AT DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE (via telephone): Similarly, I think that this is very damaging information against Donald Trump. The one line that also stuck out to me is Ronna McDaniel on that call says, quote, do not sign it. We will get you attorneys, end quote.
So, who's the "we"? It's her it is on the call with somebody else, president Trump at the time, we'll get you attorneys means they're all aware that their minimum skating the line of illegality, if not going right over it. It fits in with the pattern of conduct that is the theory of the case with Jack Smith. It's not only the pattern of conduct that's in the indictment in which Donald Trump is pressuring the Secretary of State Raffensperger in Georgia, pressuring Arizona House Rusty Bowers but also Mike Pence, which is a key part of the case.
And here is the same kind of pattern of conduct, what is the president himself doing? He's pressuring the individual to do something that is completely outside the bounds of their legal authority to throw the election. I think that's the way in which jack smith will present it to the jury. And it's as Karen said, the fact that it's the defendant himself on audio makes it incredibly credible for the jury.
BURNETT: And I will -- I will say, as one of general says, if you can go home tonight, do not sign it, we will get you attorneys. As Craig reports, to which Trumpet added, we'll take care of that, making it clear.
Ryan, Karen, Marshall, thank you all very much, as we are just getting this breaking news in.
And next, more breaking news -- we have some new video tonight. It is from the southern border. You'll see what it, is a woman and a child struggling to stay afloat in the Rio Grande. Soldier from the Texas National Guard are there, we'll show you exactly what they do and do not do. We'll show that to you.
And more on the breaking news out of Michigan, a special investigation into the state's Republican Party. The leader of the party been called a dumpster fire, fears that the situation could cost them the election. With all this breaking news out of Michigan tonight, that special mastication is later this hour.
BURNETT: Breaking news, new video into CNN appearing to show the Texas National Guard ignoring the pleas of a woman holding a child and begging for help in the Rio Grande River, both appearing danger of drowning, as soldiers watch from a boat. The Texas National Guard denies this allegation.
Here is some of the video.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (translated): Hey, help me! Don't abandon me here! Help me, help me!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Priscilla Alvarez is OUTFRONT at the White House.
And, Priscilla, what were you learning about this video?
PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Erin, these are the types of incidents that have caused alarm here at the White House as there has been a surge of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border. And as you showed there in this video, obtained by CNN, the woman is seen calling for help with a crying baby in her arms in the Rio Grande, as those members of the Texas National Guard watch but do not intervene.
Now we know that eventually the woman with the child was able to get to the Mexican side of the border. It's an incident that was filmed by an immigration activist who is in the area working on a project about public safety. And this happened on December 12th.
Now, the Texas military department denies that the members didn't help when asked. Saying, quote, Texas National Guard soldiers approached by boat and determined that there were no signs of medical distress, injury, or incapacitation. They had the ability to return the short distance back to the Mexican shore. The soldiers remained on site to monitor the situation.
But, Erin, it is situations like this that underscore how untenable the U.S.-Mexico border has become as more migrants cross on a daily basis. And just today, President Biden speaking with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador about replacing pressure on the Mexican counterpart, to supply more assistance to stem the flow of migrants.
Now, the two agreed that urgently, enforcement is needed. And senior U.S. officials are heading down to Mexico in the coming days to continuing those discussions -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Priscilla, thank you very much, with all of your reporting from the White House.
And I want to go now to Basil Smikle, the Democratic strategist.
So, Basil, look, this issue is clearly hurting Biden. I mean, it's the reality from the polls at least that we see. So, when you look at polling, who better handles border security basic question right now. Trump, Biden, they were about tied in 2020. That is not the case now. Trump beats Biden by 23 points.
I mean, that's a stunning move by anyone's measurement, even as the former president is out saying things like this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: They're poisoning the blood of our country. They come from prisons, they come from mental institutions, and insane
asylums. Many are terrorists.
What they're doing is destroying our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And he's up by 23 points.
BASIL SMIKLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: That's right, it's actually if you remember 2016 when he first ran he used rhetoric that was bad, you would imagine that it could get worse. It's actually gotten worse.
Part of, I think, the lead on this issue over Biden is the strongman talk. The sort of "us versus them". That for a number of Republican voters is a winning strategy. I think, in my view, it embodies the politics of pain. When you listen to that baby crying, there's no way that you could say that something is not -- is wrong here. Something is clearly wrong.
These individuals are going and making this tremendous treacherous trip, leaving some extraordinarily treacherous circumstances. And instead of trying to help solve the problem on the border, these governors, including Governor Abbott, are exacerbating the problem by just putting them on a plane or a bus and sending them north.
BURNETT: So, the reality of it, though, as Trump has gained so significantly, in terms of public views of his handling of this, Democrats have also attacked Biden on this.
BURNETT: You have border Democrats, right? Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs. Big Biden backer, quote, I'm taking action to fix the migrant crisis, with the federal government will not. Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema wrote a letter to Biden, they say Arizona communities have paid the price for Washington's failure on the border.
BURNETT: I mean, those are -- that's not mincing words.
SMIKLE: It's not. In fact, I would even add the mayor of the city of New York, a Democrat, who is taken the Biden administration to task. In fact, Republican have used his language in ads --
BURNETT: He's telling people to go to D.C. to protest.
SMIKLE: And -- yeah, he's telling -- he's telling average parents, average families, who are concerned about the budget cuts he has to make to go and help him complain to D.C. for this crisis.
So, yes, there are Democrats that are upset. There are Republicans that are upset. If I'm Joe Biden, I -- what I have to do, A, solve the problem. However, we know this is a vexing issue, it's not going to get solved in one campaign cycle. But what he can do is find a way to assuage the concerns of these
mayors and governors. You have the mayor of Chicago talking today and complaining about this. Find a way to assuage concerns of these leaders so that at least you don't have these folks in your party attacking you.
You can't talk about what Greg Abbott and -- what Governor Abbott and others are going to do because they are just going to do what they have been doing. Politics of pain. But at least for those that want to try and solve the problem, you can find a way to sort of work with him.
BURNETT: A friendly -- to stop the friendly fire.
All right. Well, thank you very much, Basil. I appreciate it.
And next, top Putin critic Alexei Navalny now missing for 16 days. His family sounding the alarm. His daughter is OUTFRONT. She'll share with you what she knows about her father.
Plus, we're staying on the breaking news out of Michigan. "The Detroit News" just moments ago, reporting that days until the 2020 election, then President Trump was caught on tape pressuring to county level Republican workers to not certify the state's presidential election, a state he lost by 154,000 votes.
BURNETT: Sixteen days, that is a long Alexey Navalny has been missing. Allies of the top Putin critic posting this photo of an empty courtroom, because he failed to appear, they say, again, for yet another hearing. He's had hearing dates, you know, as ridiculous as that term may seem in the Russian justice system, he's had hearing dates, but he's not even showing up for them.
They write, quote, that the court has no information about where he is. Navalny's team was told that Navalny left the penal colony where he was being held just about two weeks ago.
Now, they have contacted more than 200 other detention centers across Russia to try to find out, is he registered anywhere else? Has he been transferred? They have not yet found him anywhere.
And Alexey Navalny's daughters Dasha is with me tonight.
So, Dasha, I mean, you know, you deal with the uncertainty in the fear that your family deals with every day and then your father supposed to show up in a court date and he doesn't. And now, 16 days are past, and you're trying to figure out where he is, if he's in another penal colony.
Have you heard anything at all, any more details that would give you and your family in indication of where he is? DASHA NAVALNAYA, DAUGHTER OF ALEXEY NAVALNY: Nothing. We've -- we
haven't heard any new information for the past 16 days, which is very concerning and, we have been we started a global campaign of where is Navalny? There's multiple cities around the world, in Russia and in New York as well today, I attended a rally in front of the Russian embassy with a group of people who were asking the same question, where's Alexey Navalny?
We all know where he is. Our team, the Anti-Corruption Foundation team, has appealed to the United Nations Human Rights Court. And they've granted our appeal to ask the Russian government where he is. Officially governments around the world have asked where he is. And the Russian government is refusing to say Putin is just hiding my father from us.
BURNETT: I mean, what I find incredible, Dasha, is that the Kremlin just dismisses all of this.
The Putin's spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, he told reporters, we have neither the opportunity nor the right nor the desire to track the fate of prisoners who are serving sentences by court decision.
So, sort of acting like your father's some unknown name, not --
BURNETT: -- the lead opposition figure in Russia. Someone they aren't involved with.
BURNETT: I mean, can you even believe a statement like that?
NAVALNAYA: It's ridiculous. And they are certainly just wasting time. When my father was poisoned with Novichok two years ago, their main objection was to waste time, was to not let people into his hospital room. And it's the same thing they're doing right now.
And what they're trying to do is they want us to get scared. They want to stop working. They want the Anti-Corruption Foundation to fall apart without one of its main leaders, my father.
And it's not going to happen. We're going to continue doing our work. We're going to continue releasing investigations. And I am going to continue coming on CNN and talking about these issues.
BURNETT: So, you know, when you talk about what -- how they're trying to make you afraid. He was scheduled to be transferred to another penal colony, even a technically he was already in one of the worst, technically the worst level I guess on the gradation of the system.
But the transfer process --
NAVALNAYA: Yes. BURNETT: -- is when, can be a long time, people go out of contact.
BURNETT: Things can happen.
You know Vladimir Kara-Murza and his wife --
BURNETT: -- Evgenia. So, she recently was talking to me about this time when someone is transferred from one to another.
And here's how she described it, Dasha.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EVGENIA KARA-MURZA, WIFE OF JAILED PUTIN CRITIC VLADIMIR KARA-MURZA: This is a very dangerous period in the life of any prisoner, especially political prisoners in Russia because the Russian government is now using a new tactic, a new method of silencing these opposition activists. They tend to lose prisoners during transfer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: These are the figures that I know that you and your family have. I mean, how worried are you about where he might be facing right now in this essentially void that you're in?
NAVALNAYA: Well, when it comes to political prisoners in Russia and especially my father, there's no rules that the Russian government obeys. So, we knew for very long time that it's going to be difficult. And I think he's going to be arrested when he goes back ultimately. And whatever the consequences of that I've accepted those a long time ago.
However, my father is an incredibly brave man. And I like to think that I've gotten that gene from him as well, and the courage that he has demonstrated to me my entire life. I am hopeful that he is just being transferred to another prison, like you've mentioned.
We've reached out to over 250 different colonies around the country. And so far, most of them have responded. It's quite funny -- most of them have responded with caps lock with a light of exclamation points that he's not here, because we keep asking and asking and asking because we want to know where he is, we won't stop until they do.
BURNETT: All right. Dasha, thank you very much, as you say.
Your father's bravery and his fierceness, I know a word I know that you embrace as well. It's good to see you.
NAVALNAYA: Thank you.
BURNETT: And next, more on our breaking news out of Michigan, "The Detroit News" reporting that then-President Trump was caught on tape pressuring canvassers from the states biggest county, Wayne County, and not to certify the 2020 election, got on the phone and did it himself.
Plus, CNN is on board as a helicopter flies over the Iceland volcano.
BURNETT: We're following the breaking news, "The Detroit News" obtaining audio of President Trump pressuring to Republican county level canvassers in Michigan, pressuring them not to certify the presidential election of 2020.
Trump saying, quote, on this call, according to the report in "The Detroit News", that quote, we can't let these people take our country away from us.
It comes as the new CNN investigation reveals the state's Republican Party is in turmoil. Members describing Kristina Karamo, an election denier and conspiracy theorist who chairs the state party, as a, quote, dumpster fire.
Jason Carroll is OUTFRONT with this OUTFRONT investigation.
KRISTINA KARAMO, MICHIGAN REPUBLICAN CHAIR: Michigan is ground zero for the globalist take down of the United States of America.
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the person some are accusing of being behind the trouble plaguing Michigan's Republican Party.
KARAMO: I saw firsthand the corruption the systemic election corruption.
CARROLL: She's Kristina Karamo, former community college professor, former poll watcher, election denier, and conspiracy theorist, and the current chairperson of the Michigan Republican Party.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She's very charismatic. When you hear her speak, she can get a crowd going.
BREE MOEGGENBERG, MICHIGAN GOP STATE COMMITTEE MEMBER: She was grassroots. We're grassroots.
CARROLL: For a time, Bree Moeggenberg and Andy Seabolt (ph) were among Karamo's biggest supporters. Now, they are some of her strongest critics, calling for her to be removed from office.
MOEGGENBERG: I'm sorry, because I voted for her.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She is losing supporters. I mean, literally hemorrhaging supporters.
CARROLL: Another state committee member referred her in an email as a tyrannically incompetent dumpster fire.
Karamo lacked much political experience, but rose quickly within the state GOP, promoting her steadfast support of Donald Trump, and strong Christian beliefs.
In 2022, she lost the race to be Michigan secretary of state, but in February was elected chair of the state's Republican Party.
Since then, her critics say the state party has been bogged down with infighting, dysfunction, and, according to documents, dismal fundraising.
WARREN CARPENTER, FORMER MICHIGAN GOP DISTRICT CHAIR: We're bankrupt. It's prove-able.
CARROLL: You're broke?
CARPENTER: Yeah, correct. She ran it into the ground.
CARROLL: Warren Carpenter is a former party district chair and former Karamo supporter, who shares her election denying views and conservative values, her disdain for the establishment, and lack of political or business experience was also part of her appeal to her supporters.
You understand what some of your critics will say. They'll say, you've got what you asked for. This was the person --
CARPENTER: I was wrong. Yeah, full stop, I was wrong. I was on her team, until I saw the financial situation.
CARROLL: Warren shared document with CNN that appeared to show the party had a net income of about $71,000 between March and November of 2023. Compare that to how much Karamo said she hoped to raise.
KARAMO: It will require I believe at least $50 million, and I'm very confident that I will be able to raise that.
CARROLL: Millions needed and little to show for it. Couple that with what critics call questionable spending decisions, like taking out a $110,000 loan to pay actor Jim Caviezel, who has pushed false QAnon conspiracy theories, to speak at a major event the party hosted in September.
This situation so dire, some members of the party's budget committee have resigned. A member warned, the party faced imminent default on the line of credit. And now worries the dysfunction in Michigan could have broader implications in a state where Trump won in 2016, and flipped, and Biden won in 2020. Both by narrow margins.
DOUG HEYE, FORMER RNC COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: When a state party is falling short of its fundraising, it could have an impact on anybody who's on that ballot, president, senator, mayor, member of Congress.
CARROLL: Karamo wouldn't speak to CNN.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We come to him with almost no political experience. And we don't view that as a bad thing.
CARROLL: But her deputy chief of staff, Joel Studebaker (ph), and Ken Beyer (ph), a district chairman, say Karamo's critics have not given her a chance.
How much have you raised this year?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Follow us, it's been a challenge. It's been a challenge.
CARROLL: How much? Can you put --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know the exact all around but it's -- you know, I don't know that it's over a million.
KEN BEYER, MICHIGAN GOP DISTRICT CHAIR: She's not a business person. We knew that when we elected her.
CARROLL: Is that now starting to come back to sort of -- to bite you? Because the business of this is not working, it's failing.
BEYER: What she's doing, she's motivating a bunch of people within the community to get active inside their own neighborhood.
CARROLL: Beyer says the Republican establishment set Karamo up to fail, by sending their donations to other GOP state organizations.
BEYER: These folks are pulling the rug off from Kristina, and then blaming her for falling.
CARROLL: But Karamo's critics say she's not making enough effort to reach traditional Republicans, arguing she has gone out of her way to alienate them with statements like this.
KARAMO: The Michigan Republican Party operates like a political mafia.
CARROLL: A conference volunteer list leaked to the press also has not helped. It ranked potential volunteers 1 to 4. One being patriots, for being me first, or RINO.
State committee member Bree Moeggenberg was ranked a 4.
MOEGGENBERG: She's disenfranchising the voters. She's disenfranchised us. That is not how you build up a team, that is not how you unite the Republican Party.
CARROLL: Karamo's did tractors took steps to try to remove her from office in this meeting.
BEYER: If they would stand down and take the energy that they're using to try to destroy us, and try to help us with the experience that they have, we'd be unstoppable.
CARROLL: Too late for former supporters such as Warren Carpenter.
CARPENTER: Ii don't want to do anything except for resign. And I tell you what, if she doesn't, then we'll remove her.
CARROLL: Jason Carroll, CNN, Dearborn, Michigan.
BURNETT: And next, CNN gets rare access to that Iceland volcano, you'll see it from the air.
BURNETT: CNN getting a rare look at the Iceland volcano from above. Our Fred Pleitgen got a ride on a helicopter to see the extensive lava field. Look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is an amazing thing to be witnessing. From up here, we can see just how active the volcano zone still is. We can see the lava, we can smell the magma. We can feel the power that our planet is unleashing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: It's incredible for Fred to have seen that and shared with us, officials warning any tourist to do that, obviously, to stay away. But thank goodness for Fred and incredible reporting.
Thanks so much to all of you for being with us.
"AC360" starts now.