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Erin Burnett Outfront

Judge Fines Trump Nearly $335M, Threatening Business Empire; Father Of District Attorney In Trump Case Takes The Stand; Russian Prison Officials: Top Putin Critic, Navalny Has Died. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired February 16, 2024 - 19:00   ET




The breaking news, Trump's business taking a major hit. The former president ordered to pay nearly $355 million and banned from doing business in the state of New York. Does Trump have the money to pay this?

Plus, Fani Willis's father on the witness stand. And the question got so out of hand today that the judge was forced to reprimand one of the lawyers.

Plus, what happened to Alexey Navalny?

His close friend, the investigative reporter Christo Grozev is OUTFRONT. He's been working his sources all day and he has new details to share tonight.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, the breaking news, $355 million. Former President Trump and his business empire taking a massive hit today, the judge in Trump's New York fraud trial, just deciding Trump must pay $354.86 million to be exact. And then there's interest on top of that that he's also now liable to pay. That could add another $100 million.

And Trump has just responded.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT & 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: These are corrupt people. These are people that shouldn't be allowed to do the things they do. And they using this as weaponization against a political opponent who's up a lot in the polls. A fine of $355 million for doing a perfect job, for having paid back a loan with no default, with no problems.


BURNETT: Of course, the trial was more than just taking a loan. It was about Trump manipulating his net worth and lying about it. And it's not just Trump who has to pay. Both of his sons, Don Jr., and Eric, had been ordered to pay $4 million each and the Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg has to pay $1 million. All in, it's a devastating punishment for Trump.

And it's not all this part in a sense for him, psychologically matters just as much. The judge yanking away Trump's right to do business in New York for three years.

Now, the New York attorney general, Letitia James, speaking just a short time ago.


LETITIA JAMES, NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL: The scale and the scope of Donald Trumps fraud is staggering and so too is his ego, and his belief that the rules do not apply to him.

Today, we are holding Donald Trump accountable.


BURNETT: This matters to Trump in an extraordinary way. The psychology of it, his entire persona, what he defines himself as, is being the most successful business person in New York.

I mean, just remember and listen to this, how he's defined himself since well before the White House days, the opening of "The Apprentice".


TRUMP: New York, my city.

My name is Donald Trump and I'm the largest real estate developer in New York. I own buildings all over the place.


BURNETT: Well, the part about the developers not true, but the buildings are some of his most treasured possessions. That part is true. And the ones that he owns.

Now, he's at risk of losing them. And Trump is facing now, one of the biggest financial crisis of his 77 years. According to "Forbes", Trump has about $640 million that he could use to pay this money, this fine. This decision would need at more than half of that.

But then think about it this way -- what about what he owes E. Jean Carroll? That's $88.3 million. So when you add that to this, that's $443 million. I'm not even counting the interest here. That'd be 543. So for 443 is nearly 70 percent of his cash and personal assets according to "Forbes".

And again, just emphasize 500 million, there's another hundred million dollars I'm not even counting because of the interest. It is a lot of money. And if Trump can't just pay it out of his cash, you may be forced to sell things like his Trump Tower penthouse, or as jet or his homes in Florida and St. Martin.

And by the way, I should say in a deposition with Letitia James in this last year, he said he only had $400 million. So this alone would be 90 percent of his own estimated cash.

This is a crippling blow to a man who promised that he would be successful if he just ran the United States like he runs his businesses.


TRUMP: Nobody's ever been more successful than me. I'm the most successful person ever to run.


I'm much richer than -- almost anybody.

I'm really rich. I'll show you that in a second.

I'm a great business. I made a fortune and I want to put that same thinking for the country.


BURNETT: Well, now, putting that thinking to the rest of the country takes on a whole new connotation.

Paula Reid is OUTFRONT live outside Trump Tower.

Paula, it's a massive penalty. Will it force Trump to make changes to his strategy and how he's fighting this at all?

PAULA REID, CNN CHIEF LEGAL AFFARIS CORRESPONDENT: Erin, speaking with sources and then just listening to the former president in a short time ago, there is no indication that he is going to change up his combative and remorseless strategy when it comes to these legal cases. Now, his approach of attacking process its accusers, attacking sex abuse survivors, attacking judges, has resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars in penalties and limited visibility to do business in the state of New York.

But that is where his interests he seems to think as a defendant and as a candidate diverge. No one in their right mind would attack a judge overseeing a case you're involved in, but he does so repeatedly and deliberately in this larger effort to try to convince his supporters and voters at large that he is the victim of election interference, and that there is an unfair system that is targeting him and them by extension.

I mean, just really quite stunning, Erin, and then he continues to do this, but he must see a political benefit. But the stakes are about to become a lot higher because in a few weeks, he is expected to face his first criminal case. And based on what we saw in court in that case yesterday no indication that he's going to take a different approach there. But while there, he might be scoring some political points to this

approach. A criminal conviction might hit differently but the general electorate, Erin.

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

And now, Erik Larson joins me now, legal reporter for "Bloomberg News". He was in the courtroom from the entire trial. Anyone who watches this show saw a lot of Eric.

Barbara Res is former executive vice president for the Trump Organization. She worked with Trump for over 15 years. She's the author of "Tower of Lies".

And, of course, Ryan Goodman, our legal analyst and the co-editor in chief of Just Security.

So, Eric, here we are. You were in the courtroom throughout this and I just went through the math so you get between the two cases, $543 million, $643 million, if you count the interest so that's -- that's more than what he says his estimated cash is. He says $400 million, it's actually more than the $600 million that that he's estimated by "Forbes".

I mean, does he have the cash to cover this?

ERIK LARSON, BLOOMBERG NEWS LEGAL REPORTER: Well, so far, we think that he might. The Bloomberg Billionaires Index puts him at about $600 million in liquid assets, including like you said, around $400 or more million dollars in cash.

But the question is if he eats all of that up, having to pay these damage awards he still is going to have some cash on hand. So he might have to sell awesome assets in order to replenish his cash. But a lot of this could be dragged out on appeal. He will have to put up some money, though, in order to do those appeals. So I think well learn a little bit more about it once those appeals starts, whether or not he has this money.

BURNETT: All right. And an appeals, what is this? Does have a good chance on appeal?

RYAN GOODMAN, FORMER SPECIAL COUNSEL AT DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE: Really not at all. I would not bet on him. And I'm not sure who would.

Part of the reason is that the trial judge gets so much deference from the appeals courts, especially on the facts and especially in this case, the judge has written his opinion time and again, referring to all these witnesses on Trump's side, and he says controller, Jeffrey McConney, he was incredibly was severely impaired. For Eric Trump, his credibility was severely damaged. For Donald Trump his refusal answer questions directly severely compromised his credibility.

And for one of their star witnesses, this particular expert at the end lost all credibility in the eyes of the court. That is something that the appeals court we will have a very hard time overturning because has to be a clear error and there's deference to this judge.

BURNETT: Right. And we should make always very clear. This is the way the court was handled in one judge having all this power seems odd to a lot of people. Both sides had agreed that this was the way it was going to be. They were going to accept this, so it's not as if anything funny or strange happened. This is the way it goes and both sides had agreed on that.

Barbara, how much is the money part matter to Trump personally? I mean, just take a step back and say, money matters to everybody. This is a lot of money over here, okay. So that it is what it is.

But when you look at the psychology of it, what do you see?

BARBARA RES, FORMER EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: Well, I mean, money (INAUDIBLE) I mean, I think of him (INAUDIBLE) contractors out of a thousand dollars. I mean, you know, money was almost a game to him. You had to have all the money.

But, you know, in this case, I mean, I don't know that he's still going to buy and believe this, that didn't really happen? You know, he's going to spin it, was already tried to spin it, and all those people are going to believe that, that it's a setup and he's being persecuted and everything.

So will we have to pay it? I don't know, some of it maybe. And will he have the money? He probably will. He's got still has a lot of assets that he can probably sell.


BURNETT: Right. But I mean, to imagine to be in a position. I mean, you talk about a fall, to have to sell those assets.

RES: Oh, sure.

BURNETT: Those assets that mattered deeply to him, entire persona is wrapped up. Well, absolutely. If you start having to sell assets, then it's going to be big.

RES: But until that point, he's still playing it like I'm the best businessman and the world. And this is all lies and I -- that's going to go on until the appeals.

BURNETT: So, Erik, how is this going to impact Trumps businesses? Because you've got not just the fine, but also this ban on doing business in the state of New York for three years.

LARSON: Right, so that's just what applies to him for three years and for his sons two years, which is significant. I mean, they can't be a director of any New York-based company. It remains to be seen how they'll try to spread around duties to try to get around that and make that work. And they'll also be able to try to get those put on hold during an appeal.

But one of the bigger problems might be the appointment of this independent compliance monitor that the judge ordered, who's going to be in the company with them looking at everything they're doing, even more than this independent monitor who's already been doing that during the case. So they're going to have two layers now of outsiders going over everything they're doing with banks, potentially looking at assets that are so tainted that they need to be sold.

I mean, this is all laid out in the decision that the judge said was all necessary because of the past problems that Trump has had even before this lawsuit with Trump University and Trump Foundation and things like that.

BURNETT: So, Ryan, how long does it take? And I know you get into the legal of all this, but it does matter for voters and it matters for Trump. How long does it take as this goes through, you talk about the appeals court. Much not likely to take this up on his side but when do we know -- when does this exhaust its appeals?

GOODMAN: It'll exhaust its appeals well after the election. So --

BURNETT: There were go, say, I knew you were going to say that.

GOODMAN: But on the other hand, right. I mean, I think that the American public will be sitting with this as the judgment in the case and a judgment that I think by all accounts is -- looks like it's insulated from reversal on appeal. So it looks as though this is the new status quo.

BURNETT: So, Barbara, in 90, some odd page --

RES: Yeah.

BURNETT: Okay. The judge wrote the opinion, and insignificant, the time was taken. The T's were crossed, the I's were dotted. The judge writes, Engoron, defendants submitted blatantly false financial data to the accountants resulting in fraudulent financial statements. And when confronted at trial with the statements, the fact and expert witnesses simply denied reality.

You worked for Trump for a long time. We just mentioned that he would care about $1,000 on a contractor negotiation. Does that -- does that make sense to you that -- when you see this blatantly false financial data?

RES: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, you know, he wasn't. It was a process. If you look at my book over time, he became Trump. He didn't start out that way, but I'm just assuming that it's continued in the same way and yeah, he is up to zillions of dollars lying about that.

Yeah, sure. He falsified it -- well, everything that he could get away with and basically he thinks she can get away with anything. So, you know, values of apartments, sizes of apartment, even the height of the building. He made 68 stories when it was really 58.

BURNETT: Sixty-eight versus 58.

RES: Uh-huh. BURNETT: Wow, even in -- even when he would talk about heights of buildings, one could even look at buildings and see.

RES: Oh, I know now it's the hundred, but that big deal the time.

BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you all very much. I appreciate it.

And next, Fani Willis's father coming to her defense, pushing back against Trump's legal team, who have been putting her love life on trial.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your Honor, I'm not trying to be racist. Okay, but it's a Black thing.



BURNETT: Plus, top Putin critic Alexey Navalny, dead in jail. It was in good spirits just two days ago. So what happened?

Investigative journalist Christo Grozev, who worked alongside Navalny and just left Navalny's wife side has new details about the circumstances around Navalny's reported death. Christo will be OUTFRONT.

And the video of Noa Argamani shouting for her life, as she's being taken away by Hamas fighters has now been seen around the world. And I'll speak to her father who has a message for her captors. She is still in Gaza.



BURNETT: Tonight, Fulton County prosecutors decided not to put district attorney Fani Willis back on the stand to testify. Sources telling CNN that prosecutors were convinced her heated testimony yesterday was effective enough to avoid being disqualified over her past relationship with Nathan Wade, who is the lead prosecutor in her case, versus Trump in the election interference case in the state of Georgia.

But they did put someone else in the hot seat. Her dad because, of course, why wouldn't you put someone's dad in the hot seat to talk about their loved life when they're in their 50s, right?

Well, Floyd lived in the same house as Willis. He was forced to answer detailed questions about his 53-year-old daughter's loved life to defend her against attacks and claims that she lied when she said her relationship with Wade began after she picked him to lead the probe. They asked him when he first made me met Wade and how often another ex-boyfriend would visit Willis. So relevant, right? But the questioning was so intense and wide-ranging from the defense

that the judge stepped into reprimand one of the lawyers who asked multiple questions about a home that he used to own in Washington.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You owned that property when you moved here in 2019?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you owned it in 2020, correct?

WILLIS: Well, that were you -- now, you talk about very complicated issue. I left the property. There was a dispute between me and id gotten a reverse mortgage company and there was a dispute between me and divert -- and I just I walked away from it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Okay. You walked away from it with almost $300,000.

JUDGE MCAFEE: Yeah. What is the relevance of that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where he lived and registered to vote? That's what they brought in. So that's --

JUDGE MCAFEE: Why is the money he got from the sale relevant at all?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's the only proof I have of that he owned that address, so I can move on now.


BURNETT: Michael Isikoff is OUTFRONT now. He spent extensive time with Willis and her team for his new book, "Find Me The Votes: A Hard Charging Georgia Prosecutor and Rogue President, and The Plot to Steal an American Election". And your name was brought up, of course, many times today, Michael.

And also with me, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, the former Democratic mayor of Baltimore and a former public defender.


So, Mayor Rawlings-Blake, you know, I know I said it with a bit of tone in my voice because I am a little perplexed, I don't know what 53-year-old woman would -- you know, her father would be the one that knows when she begins dating somebody or what she's doing while she's dating somebody? Makes no sense at all, but yet they bring her father to the stand and yesterday she had to go into extremely intimate details about her personal life or love life. And now her father was then asked about those things as well.

Is it -- does it seem incredible to you?

STEPHANIE RAWLINGS-BLAKE (D), FORMER BALTIMORE MAYOR: It seems heartbreaking, horrible. I mean, dating is hard, especially for women who choose public service I know that this -- hearing these questions, watching her being questioned, watching her father being questioned, is going to be a chilling effect for women who were considering public service.

It was heartbreaking to see her father have to answer those questions, especially if you know anything about conservative African-Americans in the South, relationships are -- you know, people keep them pretty close to their vest. I have family I didn't -- I didn't -- I never met any of their girlfriends until they pick someone that they wanted to marry. So the questions I think had a cultural bias as well.

BURNETT: No, it's just very interesting point important for everyone to hear, because in that courtroom, of course, people would know that, right? That's the culture of where they live.

Michael, do you think the testimony today moved the needle at all?

MICHAEL ISIKOFF, CHIEF INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT, YAHOO NEWS: Well, I actually thought the father's testimony was fairly effective and helped his daughters case here, by the way, the father is quite a fascinating character and we write about them quite a bit in "Find Me The Votes". He's a former civil rights activist who became for awhile a Black Panther. He founded the Black Panther Party of Los Angeles -- of California -- of Los Angeles. He lived for awhile with Angela Davis, shed his radical beliefs and became a lawyer, raised Fani.

But I thought he was quite effective on one of the points that did raise eyebrows yesterday. That is the reimbursements in cash.


ISIKOFF: There was no hard evidence of that there was some skepticism really Fani Willis was reimbursing Nathan Wade thousands of dollars in cash. She said that she was taught from an early age by her father to always carry cash around with you at all times, keep large amounts of cash in your home in case anything happens and he kind of supported that with some specificity today and talked at length about it. And so I think that that helped a bit.

Overall though, I don't think the needle moved a lot today the one witness that the Trump lawyers pushed hard, Terrance Bradley, the former law partner of Nathan Wade, said head no independent knowledge of the relationship between Wade and Willis. But apparently he has some knowledge as because he was Wade's lawyers, so that led to this extensive questioning about the extent of attorney-client privilege. The judge is going to listen to him in camera and then decide how much, if any, he can testify to at all.

BURNETT: So, Mayor Rawlings-Blake, Fani Willis did say yesterday that her father was the reason why she used cash, right? As Michael was just indicating to reimburse Nathan Wade when they took trips together. It did raise eyebrows.

So here's how she had explained it.


FANI WILLIS, FULTON COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: When you meet my father, he's going to tell you as a woman, you should always have -- which I don't have. So let's don't tell him that -- should have at least six months in cash at your house at all time? I don't know why this old Black man feels like that, but he does.


BURNETT: All right, so he did talk about that, Mayor, today. Here's what he said.


FLOYD WILLIS: Your Honor, I'm not trying to be racist. Okay. But it's a black thing. Okay?

You know, I was trained and most black folks, they hide cash so they keep cash. There was signed said, you know, with a credit card for whatever reasons the man would not take my American Express credit card. So I pulled up my Visa card, and he wouldn't take my Visa card.

So, then I pulled out my travelers checks. He said, we don't take checks. I've told my daughter, you keep six months worth of cash, always.


BURNETT: Mayor, do you think he helped put any controversy over Willis using cash to rest.


RAWLINGS-BLAKE: I definitely think he did. You know, I think he made a point when he said it's a Black thing. I think it's a Black thing. I think it's an immigrant thing, especially for older Black people in this country who've been discriminated did it, who could not depend on banks, who are skeptical of banks?

A lot of people keep cash. In my community, it was something that is, you know, was pretty normal. That people have stashes in their house, friends would talk about the grand moms gone under the bid under the mattress and helping them out with their tuition money. It is a thing.

So I think he came across as very credible. His testimony -- he's likable. He's credible. I think he hurt himself a little bit saying that he listened to the test testimony, but I really felt like he came across well and backed up Fani story.

BURNETT: Michael, obviously, which way do you think the judge is leaning and what are you hearing from people close to Fani Willis?

ISIKOFF: The judge has been pretty sphinx like on this. He's very fair, very judicious, has brushback both sides. But he really hasn't tipped his hand on which way he's going. I mean, I have to say, I was a bit surprised that he opened the door to this evidentiary hearing, which is devolved into this inquiry into the sex life of the D.A. and the special prosecutor in charge of the case, and, you know, its distracted a lot of people from the underlying core issues here, which are quite serious and quite momentous. And that is the efforts by Trump and his associates to overturn the results of the election in Georgia.

So, we'll see. You know, it's all up to the judge. It's really hard to know which way he's going right now.

BURNETT: All right. We could hear obviously early next week, we'll see. Thank you both very much.

And next, new video of Russia arresting people who are mourning the reported death of top Putin critic Alexey Navalny. Investigative journalist Christo Grozev, who worked alongside Navalny for years, has been digging into what happened, joins me exclusively next.

Plus, the haunting images of Noa Argamani's kidnapping shocking the world and her father now opening up about his wife's dying wish, which is to see their daughter one more time alive.



BURNETT: Tonight, more than 100 people detained throughout Russia for attending vigils and rallies following the reported death of Alexey Navalny, Putin's most powerful opponent, who just days ago urged prison workers to, quote, vote against Putin.

President Biden tonight laying the blame squarely at Vladimir Putin's feet.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Make no mistake, make no mistake: Putin is responsible for Navalny's death. Putin is responsible. What has happened to Navalny is yet more proof of Putin's brutality.


BURNETT: Matthew Chance begins our coverage tonight OUTFRONT.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CHIEF GLOBAL AFFAIR CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In his last appearance just a day before he died, Alexey Navalny seemed in good spirits, teasing the judge at the court hearing where he appeared by video conference.

Your Honor, I will give you my personal account number so that you can send me money from your huge salary, he said. I'm running out thanks to your decisions. Prison authorities say he collapsed on Friday after his daily walk. State media says emergency teams called to his penal colony, tried to revive him for more than half an hour.

Still, Navalny's family are waiting for confirmation of his death.

YULIA NAVALNAYA, ALEXEY NAVALNY'S WIFE (through translator): If it's true, I want Putin and all his staff, everybody around him, his government, his friends -- I want them to know that they will be punished for what they have done to our country, to my family and to my husband.

CHANCE: But Navalny's demise sends yet another chilling message to the Russian opposition, a few braving restrictions to lay flowers amid widespread shock, the country's most prominent opposition figure has been silenced.

What calms me is that if he really died, his death will make his supporters a bit stronger, says this woman, in St. Petersburg.

When I learned about it, I was horrified and cried, says another. Now, I just want to screamed, she adds.

But with Russian presidential elections just weeks away, Vladimir Putin seems unfazed by the death of another prominent critic. He's visiting an industrial facility in the city of Chelyabinsk, leaving his spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, to field the awkward questions.

According to the rules, all necessary investigations are underway, he told reporters, later suggesting that much international reaction to the death is unjustified.

But for many, blame is already being laid at the Kremlin's door. Pro- Navalny protests are banned in Russia, but in neighboring Georgia and elsewhere, mourners are turning out to pay their respects and to voice their anger.

Putin die, they're chanting.

But it is his critics, it seems, whose lives are snatched away.


CHANCE (on camera): Well, Erin, tonight across Russia, it appears that the police are cracking down on those well-wishers that are turning out to pay their respects and to attend vigils and to lay flowers in memorial to Alexey Navalny, OBN Info, which is a group that monitors repression in Russia, says more than 100 people across the country have been detained in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Murmansk in the north and elsewhere as well, just gives you a sense of how broad is the sympathy for Alexey Navalny across Russia tonight.

BURNETT: All right, to imagine the people who have the bravery to go out and take the risks they're taking. What that reflects underneath.

Matthew Chance, thank you very much. [19:35:02]

And Christo Grozev, the investigative journalist who all of you know, he's been here so many times. He exposed the plot to kill Navalny and he is on Putin's wanted list, speaking exclusively to OUTFRONT this evening.

And, Christo, I'm so sorry for your loss. This was a dear friend, somebody you had worked tirelessly alongside. You exposed Russian corruption together.

I know that you are doing everything you can to find out what happened here. What do you know at this time?

CHRISTO GROZEV, HELPED IDENTIFY RUSSIAN OPERATIVES BEHIND NAVALNY POISONING: Let's start with the obvious. I think President Biden said it correctly today, whatever the actual granular truth is of how exactly Navalny's death came about this morning, if it's true, but all the evidence points to the fact that it is true, then it is really Putin who caused the death because there are only two extreme hypothesis here.

The most innocent one is that his death came as a result of three years of torture, three years of slowly killing him because of the unlawful, anti-constitutional solitary confinement that he was put to, that is completely unprecedented in Russian -- in the Russian prison system. Just over the last two years, he spent more than 300 days in solitary confinement, whereas the regulations suggest that you will be illegal to hold the person even for two weeks in solitary confinement.

But the Putin's system found ways to keep him there more and more. He was deprived of medical care. He was deprived of any balanced nutrition even from the prison -- prison perspective, he was getting one loaf of bread per month and the rest of the time he was getting just snippets.

But that is the innocent hypothesis. The most likely one, unfortunately, is that he was poisoned the second time. Now, we don't have the evidence yet with -- what we have is circumstantial clues in that direction.

One of them is that if it were true that as the government has stated that he fell down and collapsed because of a blood clot this morning during his walk in the prison yard, then where's the evidence to that? Where is the visual evidence?

All of the prisons in Russia are equipped with surveillance cameras. It's been 18 hours since this happened, and we haven't seen a thing.

Again, this is just circumstantial but at this point, everything points to the fact that he was killed today on purpose. We're going to dig into that. We're going to -- I'm sure that we're going to find out what happened to him.

But again, the burden of proof that he was -- he died on his own is now on the Kremlin's hands because four years ago, we proved they tried to kill him with chemical weapons.

BURNETT: Right, with Novichok.

And do you have any sense, Christo, as to why now? If they -- if it was poison again this time, why now? Why Putin would want that now?

GROZEV: There are many, many reasons why now. The elections in Russia or the so-called elections in quotation marks are coming in about a month. And what we see is that even yesterday's jocular statement from jail, from the courtroom, essentially Navalny was making fun of Putin, and he continues to be able to send messages -- was continuing able to send messages that were demeaning to Putin even from jail.

But also what we did see in the last two months was an increasing anti-war protest movement, especially by women, wives, and mothers of soldiers. And as we know, one of the strongest, probably the strongest voice against the war in Ukraine, in Russia, was Navalny's.

So all of these are many reasons for the same outcome, Putin wanted him dead.

BURNETT: And, you know, one thing that always amazed me, speaking to his daughter, Dasha was his great love for his family, that despite this incredible commitment that he had, right. Despite that, he went back to Russia knowing that that meant he may never see his family again, he was incredibly devoted to them and they were devoted to him.

And I asked Dasha about the last time she hugged her father, and here's what she told me.


DASHA NAVALNAYA, DAUGHTER OF ALEXEY NAVALNY: I don't think I quite understood in the moment that it was the last time that I would hug him in the near future.

BURNETT: What would your message be for him? I know he won't see this, but if here were to see you now?

NAVALNAYA: That we're fighting and we're doing everything we can to get him out. And then I miss him and I want to -- I want to extend the message to everyone else who's watching that fighting for what's right is going to be hard. But it's never wrong.


BURNETT: It was felt -- it could only imagine the pride that a father would feel and his daughter doing that and taking those -- that courageousness that it took for his daughter to speak out.

And when you -- when you spend time with him and he was part of that documentary "NAVALNY" that aired here on CNN, Christo, he talked about going back, why he chose after being poisoned, going to Germany, why he chose to go back.

[19:40:12] He said this:


ALEXEY NAVALNY, RUSSIAN OPPOSITION LEADER: My message for the situation that I'm killed is very simple, not give up.

If they decide to kill me, it means that we are incredibly strong.


BURNETT: If they decide to kill me, it means we are incredibly strong.

What are those words mean to you now when you hear them from your friend tonight, Christo?

GROZEV: These are probably (ph) words and I took them at a time as almost a joke. And now, unfortunately, just saw his own death and he saw the situation in which his words will rip -- reverb and echo with exactly the meaning that you have to continue this work for me because we've made it. We've made it him scared. We've made the small man at the Kremlin's scared.

And I think what we saw today, his wife actually proved in real time that she take -- took those words seriously. She went hours after finding out that her husband was killed by the president (ph) of the country that she's a resident -- country a citizen of. She went to the stage of the Munich Security Conference and she made a powerful speech in which I think she spoke as a future politician.

I think she's focused, somebody who will disappoint the people who thought that by removing Navalny from the living, they're going to remove his legacy and what he stood for.

BURNETT: Christo, thank you very much. We all appreciate your time.

GROZEV: Thank you.

BURNETT: Again, I'm sorry for the loss.

And OUTFRONT next, I'm going to speak to Clarissa Ward. She's done extensive reporting on Alexey Navalny, and she tracked down his alleged poisoners and spoke to Navalny about the dangers of returning to Russia


CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You're aware of the risks of going back?

NAVALNY: Yes, but I'm a Russian politician.


BURNETT: Plus, she became the face of the music festival that was attacked by Hamas militants in a terror attack on October 7. And tonight, I'll speak to her father about how his faith is helping him keep hope alive.



BURNETT: Tonight, leaders from Germany to France, placing the blame for Alexey Navalny's reported deaths squarely on Vladimir Putin, as President Biden also did. Navalny making global headlines when he was poisoned with nerve agent in 2020, Novichok, our Clarissa Ward, and the investigative website Bellingcat tying that poisoning directly to Putin, uncovering the evidence that Russia's security service, the FSB, had been following Navalny for years.

And then Clarissa went to one of the FSB agent's homes to question him.


WARD: My name is Clarissa Ward. I work for CNN. Can I ask you a couple of questions?

Was it your team that poisoned Navalny, please? Do you have any comment?

He doesn't seem to want to talk to us.


BURNETT: And Clarissa is with me now.

Clarissa, you have interviewed Navalny, you know, been face-to-face, spent time together, done extensive reporting on him, connecting Putin to that poisoning, you've got relationships with Navalny and his wife, Yulia. And obviously, Navalny was in court yesterday. We can see him.

He -- I mean, obviously, he's been through over these past years, but he was laughing, he was making comments it was prison officials to vote against Putin and the upcoming election. When did you hear the news today? And was your reaction?

WARD: I heard the news really just as it broke, it was around noon here in London, early morning U.S. time and I think like so many people, it was this combination of shock and horror. But also at the same time, logically, not surprise. This is a man who the Russian state had tried to kill with a lethal nerve agent, Novichok, in the past. We know that many of Putin's critics have met a girl grisly end.

So it wasn't surprising and yet it felt so horrifying frankly, so grim and like such a dark moment in Russia's history and particularly, of course, for Russia's opposition and for the very brave men and women who have risked everything thing to really put to President Putin that they want a better future. They want a brighter future, and they want a freer future. And so it does feel like a very grim moment, although I know for a fact, based on having spent time with Alexey Navalny, that he would very watch, want people to view this as a moment for optimism as well. And that he would hope his example would be common legacy, and that it would galvanize people to recommit, to supporting efforts to continue the fight for freedom, Erin.

BURNETT: Which says everything about him in a way that people may admire or just be sort of amazed at. But it is hard to understand the fact that he would go back when he had gotten out of Russia, right?

You spoke to him after he was poisoned. He knew going back to Russia would be a risk. He knew that being killed again was a possibility. In fact, given what had happened to him, perhaps the likelihood. And when you talk to him about that, here's how that went.


WARD: You've said that you want to go back to Russia.

NAVALNY: And I will do.

WARD: You're aware of the risks of going back?

NAVALNY: Yes, but I'm a Russian politician and even when I was not just in hospital, I was in intense therapy. And I said publicly, I will go back and I will go back because I'm Russian politician, I belong to this country and definitely which I -- especially now when this actually crime has cracked open, revealed I understand the whole operation. I would never give Putin such a gift.


BURNETT: It's amazing to listen to those words right now, as they resonate as he is dead.

Do you think, Clarissa, that we'll ever know exactly what happened?

WARD: I think its unlikely Erin, when you look at the circumstances of his poisoning with Novichok in August of 2020, the minute he collapsed on that plane and his team in Siberia found out about it. They rushed to the hotel room where he had been staying. They collected evidence anything that the toothbrush that had left behind the towel that he had used.

And similarly, once he was medevaced out to Germany, a team of doctors saved his life, but also did extensive testing, were able to conclude that Novichok, that lethal nerve agent, had been used on him. In this day and age and this set of circumstances, it's hard to believe you will have that level of transparency or any kind of autopsy that would allow people to really know what happened.

BURNETT: Clarissa, thank you very much.

And next, I'm going to speak to the father of a young woman whose kidnapping at the Israeli music festival was seen across the globe. And he has a message tonight.



BURNETT: Tonight, President Biden with an order for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu telling him there must be a ceasefire before any more Israeli hostages can be released from Gaza. It has been 133 days in captivity for the hostages.

Among them, Noa Argamani her image now, one of the most recognized in the world.


BURNETT (voice-over): She is one of the most recognizable faces of the October 7 terror attacks, twenty-five-year-old Noa Argamani. And it's this video that haunts the world and her family, Noa on the back of a motorcycle, shouting, pleading for her life, saying give her captors, don't kill me.


Her father, Yaakov, more than four months later agonizing as he waits for word about his only daughter, calling her his sweet child.

How do you manage having to hear and see that all of the time?

YAAKOV ARGAMANI, FATHER OF NOA ARGAMANI, HELD HOSTAGE BY HAMAS (through translator): When I saw the video, I think that tore me. This is our only daughter, mine and Liora's (ph). When you see a video like this, it simply crushes you.

In this moment, in this hard moment, I didn't have the opportunity to protect her. It tore me to pieces.

BURNETT: Yaakov's faith is deep, yet it can't protect him from the torment of his missing daughter and the suffering of his wife, Noa's mother, who is dying from brain cancer. You're also dealing with the fact that your wife is very sick. How much more difficult does that make this?

Y. ARGAMANI: I have this dilemma when I pray, I don't know who to pray for first. Noa or Liora. What happened has called Liora's condition to unfortunately deteriorate. My wife asks about her. It's impossible to describe the situation we are in.

BURNETT: His wife's dying wish is to see Noa.

Y. ARGAMANI: The doctors in the hospital had told us the situation is very dire. I don't want to say it was such a direct way, but they told us clearly that there is not much left to do. That's why my wife has one wish and that's to see Noa even just one time.

LIORA ARGAMANI, NOA'S MOTHER: I want her go to home as fast as possible. BURNETT: Her pleas send in letters to President Biden. She writes,

Mr. President, we know that, you know, the pain of missing a child, the pain of brain cancer, the pain we are experiencing.

You haven't heard back yet, but what do you hope to hear from him?

Y. ARGAMANI: The same we want to hear from everyone, that they will do everything they can with all their abilities, from everyone in the world.

BURNETT: As he says this, tears fill his eyes.

Y. ARGAMANI: Look at this picture here and how much Noa is supporting Liora, this picture tears me up. It's hard for me to look at this picture. There were more than mother and daughter. They were friends.

BURNETT: For the Argamani family, there was a glimmer of hope followed by horror and more uncertainty when Hamas released a video on January 14th of Noa, along with two other hostages. They promised the world would know the hostages fate in 24 hours, Hamas leader said the two men in that video were killed they claimed by an Israeli airstrike. The IDF says that's not true, but still no word about Noa.

And for now, Yaakov waits and relies on his faith.

Y. ARGAMANI: I believe that with the help of God and prayers, Noa will come back with all of the hostages.


BURNETT: And we'll be right back.


BURNETT: Tonight, corruption, deception, bribery, prostitution, all the makings of a blockbuster movie. But this is not a movie. This is real life. The salacious political stories that Jake Tapper is diving into in his new original series, "UNITED STATES OF SCANDAL".

Remember the former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, who infamously tried to sell Obama Senate seat? Well, Jake talked to him now, he's still defending himself years after getting out of prison. Don't miss that and all so much more in this great new series from Jake, "UNITED STATES OF SCANDAL". It premieres this Sunday night at 9:00 Eastern..

And also earlier in the program, there was a headline on our screen incorrectly showing Putin's name instead of Navalny's. We do apologize for that error.

And we also thank you as always for being with us.

"AC360" begins now.