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Erin Burnett Outfront

Navalny Aides Accuse Kremlin Of Killing Navalny To Prevent Swap; Biden Campaign Bracing For Dem Protest Vote Against Him In Michigan; Trump Appeals $454M Fraud Ruling As He Races To Pay Up; Suspect Charged In Killing Of Georgia Nursing Student Is Undocumented Immigrant. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired February 26, 2024 - 19:00   ET




Did Putin kill Alexei Navalny to thwart a prisoner swap? Navalny's aides making that bold accusation tonight. A Russian investigative journalist and longtime Navalny friend is OUTFRONT with more.

Plus, an exclusive KFILE investigation revealing an alleged architect of Trump's fake elector scheme ran a secret Twitter account directly contradicting what he was telling investigators.

And a race against time for Donald Trump. Can he get the half a billion dollars he now owes the state of New York and 30 the days or less?

Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, speaking out on the verge of a prisoner swap.

Alexei Navalny's closest ally tonight is claiming that a deal to swap Navalny and two Americans for one of Putin's most wanted assassins was ready to go when Navalny suddenly died in a Russian penal colony.


MARIA PEVCHIKH, HEAD OF INVESTIGATIONS, NAVALNY'S ANTI-CORRUPTION FOUNDATION (through translator): Navalny was everything Putin could never be and Putin hated him for it. But why did he kill him now? Why February 16? I know the answer to that question, and I have neither the slightest reason nor desire to hide it.


BURNETT: Well, Navalny's team says that this was all at the final stage. The final stage of a deal to swap Navalny on the night of February 15, the night of February 15, of course, is the night before Navalny mysteriously died in prison.

Navalny's team says that Russian oligarch and billionaire Roman Abramovich delivered Putin's proposal to swap Navalny and the news is coming as Navalny's wife is now speaking out against Putin.


YULIA NAVALNAYA, ALEXEI NAVALNY'S WIDOW: Murder was not enough for Putin. Now, he holds his body hostage, mocks his mother, forces her to agree to a secret funeral.


BURNETT: And now, she is facing threats from one of the biggest names on Russian state television, one of Putin's propaganda mouthpieces.


VLADIMIR SOLOVIEV, RUSSIAN STATE TV HOST: She's already said and done enough to go to prison. Our laws will be the same for everyone. The same fate awaits Navalnaya. If she comes to Russia, she will go to prison.


BURNETT: If she comes to Russia, she will go to prison. Well, the threats coming from Russia are not stopping there because Putin himself is now making it clear, saying he shouldn't be crossed by anyone because that Russia has been building up, perfecting and getting its most lethal forces ready.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Today, the share of modern weapons and equipment in the strategic nuclear forces has already reached 95 percent, while the naval component of the nuclear triad is almost at 100 percent.


BURNETT: Ninety-five to 100 percent on the nuclear arms front.

Matthew Chance is OUTFRONT in Moscow tonight with all the details, these new details that we are learning about a proposed massive prisoner exchange.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CHIEF GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Mourners still paying their respects at makeshift memorials across Russia. But now, another unexpected twist in Alexei Navalny's tragic saga. According to his close aide, negotiations for the release of the Russian opposition leader were reaching a conclusion. He was poised to be swapped, say his team, before he suddenly died.

MARIA PEVCHIKH, HEAD OF INVESTIGATORS AT NAVALNY'S ANTI-CORRUPTION FOUNDATION: Navalny should have been free in the coming days because we achieved a decision on his exchange.

I received confirmation that negotiations were underway and we're at the final stage on the evening of February 15th. On February 16th, Alexei was killed.

CHANCE: The Kremlin tells CNN it has no knowledge of any deal and had nothing to do with his death.

But Navalny's team insists the Russian opposition figure was killed to prevent him from being swapped.

You can see Evan Gershkovich in there. Hi. Matthew from CNN.

Swapped along with U.S. citizens in Russian jails like "Wall Street Journal" reporter Evan Gershkovich, accused of espionage.

Former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan, serving 16 years for spying.

PAUL WHELAN, FORMER U.S. MARINE: I am innocent of any charge.

CHANCE: The U.S. says both are unlawfully detained and has been negotiating for their release, including early talks on Navalny, one Western official tells CNN.


But the Kremlin has regularly hinted it wants back this man, a former FSB agent, Vadim Krasikov, serving a life sentence in Germany for killing a Chechen dissident.

Navalny's team accuses the Kremlin of simply taking the opposition leader off the negotiating team table by killing him, allegations the Kremlin denies.

PEVCHIKH: He was clearly communicated to Putin are the only way to get Krasikov is to exchange him for Navalny. Hold on, thought Putin. I can't tolerate Navalny being free. And since they're willing to exchange Krasikov in principle, then I just need to get rid of the bargaining chip.

CHANCE: No person, in other words, no problem. The kind of ruthlessness that saw Alexei Navalny poisoned with nerve agent Novichok in 2020, recovering only to be arrested and imprisoned on his return to Russia the following year.

After news of his unexplained death, hundreds of mourners were detained while laying flowers. Now, Navalny's team says a public farewell, potential flashpoints will be held at the end of this week in death as in life, it seems Alexei Navalny continues to challenge the Kremlin's power.

In death, as in life, it seems, Alexei Navalny continues to challenge the Kremlin's power.


BURNETT: Matthew, you know, just watching that. I mean, it is amazing to see what this deal was and why perhaps he may have been killed when he was killed talking about Navalny. And you know, initially, there were protests, people protested, and then there were arrests of Navalny supporters in the wake of his death.

You're in Moscow now. What are regular people there now saying about Navalny?

CHANCE: Well, Erin, look, I mean, Navalny is always divided opinion inside Russia, but we've seen from the thousands of people that have come out and pay their last respects at great risk to their own liberty, that he has a lot of supporters and hundreds of people across the country have been detained simply for laying flowers at the makeshift memorials that have sprung up in towns and cities across the country.

Look, the big test is going to come at the end of this week when the valleys team say they're going to hold a public memorial service of public funeral for Alexei Navalny right here in the Russian capital Moscow.

And look, I mean if you look at all that risk about coming out to pay your respects or to protest, it's going to be really interesting to see how many people come out and attend that funeral, given that there is that risk attached to it?

BURNETT: Yeah. It's going to be incredible to watch.

All right. Matthew Chance, thank you so much. Matthew is in Moscow tonight.

And one of Navalny's closest friends is the Russian investigative journalist Yevgenia Albats. And Yevgenia is with me now.

And I so much appreciate your time.

And I know that in the wake of this horrible loss and death, you've been doing a lot of your own reporting Yevgenia. Why didn't this deal for Navalny happen?

YEVGENIA ALBATS, LONGTIME NAVALNY FRIEND: Thank you very much for inviting me for this program and for talking about Alexei Navalny.

So, there are, you know, several hypothesis and we yet to get conformation for anyone. But there is one hypothesis that it is German side, they didn't want to release Vadim Krasikov. So, first of all, I could say to that Vladimir Putin speaks tons about the kind of a man Putin is and the kind of president regime that exists in Russia.

Vladimir Putin was ready to exchange his prisoners for the Russian hitman, Vadim Krasikov, the guy who murder one of the Chechen commanders in Germany, on (INAUDIBLE).


ALBATS: He was arrested. He was trialed. He went to trial and he will sentence to many years in jail. So it's true that as far as we know, Kremlin refused to talk about anybody else but Vadim Krasikov.

Then one hypothesis was that German authorities were pretty much against that. Then we got the information that Germans were ready to go for that. However, the White House was against this one because obviously Krasikov is a guy with blood on his hands, because he didn't serve even half of his sentence in jail.


ALBATS: And probably most importantly, because it could be wrong message to push him that he can grab hostages like Evan Gershkovich and Paul Whelan.



ALBATS: Keep them in Russian jails and keep killing people outside Russia.

BURNETT: So then another reporting, Maria Pevchikh, obviously a close ally running the investigations unit for Navalny's foundation, said that the U.S. wanted -- the U.S. -- those two prisoners were included, Paul Whelan and Evan Gershkovich.

But, Yevgenia, why do you think Navalny died when he did and I know you heard again Maria Pevchikh saying, well, he died the day that this was supposed to be announced today, that it was supposed to be happen. We don't -- we don't know the details on this. And what actually was about to happen or not.

But why do you think Navalny died that day?

ALBATS: I think not one that died that day because he presented a clear cut alternative to Putin. Putin wanted to break him, to crash him and to fail.

Putin realized that Navalny was going to challenge him, as long as he's alive. So, he, Putin, decided that it's better to kill Navalny and just to get rid of this problem by the name Navalny. As you know, Joseph Stalin used to say and Putin basically getting into Stalin's shoes right now, that if there is no person, there is not -- there is no problem. That's it.

BURNETT: If there's no person, there is no problem.

I know you've exchanged letters with Navalny throughout his time in prison. And, of course, I know you're friends with his wife as well, but you received hundreds of letters from him during his time and he was fascinated by American politics. What did he tell you?

ALBATS: He wants very interested in American politics. In fact, you know, when he went to start at Yale University and the law or year long program, he was interested in the American political machine first and foremost, and he was interested because he was trying to figure out what it means in ways to win -- to be winning elections. That's why time and again, he was watching all kinds of American TV series like "House of Cards" or like "The Wire", where, you know, elections out tomorrow or homeless, he was picking up to there. He also was reading a lot of memoirs. He was reading memoirs of -- you

know, he was fascinated by RFK, by Robert Fitzgerald Kennedy, and he communicated with Karen Kennedy, Kennedy's daughter. He also read a memoirs by Axelrod who was instrumental in Obama's victory.

But at the same time, he read memoirs of Republicans because he wanted to understand the nature of American conservatives. And he read a book by George W. Bush, younger, and even by Karl Rove and some others. He also read books by Nelson Mandela and Churchill, et cetera.

He was -- he was the guy who was a -- he decided to use his years in jail in some sort of another university for he himself. He was reading two books a week.

BURNETT: That's fascinating.

Yevgenia, thank you so much. I appreciate you sharing all of that with me.

And I want to go to Seth Jones now, the senior vice president for the center for strategic and international studies.

And, Seth, I want to get your reaction to these new threats that we're just hearing from Putin, right? He's talking about 95 percent readiness on some of the nuclear stockpile, 100 percent on others. What can you tell us right now from all of your work about the state of Putin's weapons manufacturing and his stockpiles right now?

SETH JONES, VICE PRESIDENT, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC & INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: Well, Erin, I think there is no question right now that Vladimir Putin feels emboldened right now on the battlefield in Ukraine. His forces took Avdiivka over the past week, not a huge area but certainly they are on the offensive right now.

We're seeing them pushing in areas like Bakhmut and other areas along the front lines. They're assassinating individuals. We saw that in Spain recently, a Russian pilot that defected.

What's interesting is on the munitions. This is an area where the Russians have lost upwards of 3,600 tanks since the war began, 5,000 other armored vehicles.


JONES: They've struggled a little bit along these lines. But of concern is they're getting help from the Chinese, the North Koreans, and the Iranians on their industrial base. So, they're getting some help from allies.

BURNETT: And obviously, that's hugely significant at a time when Ukraine, you know, we understand at some points is firing smoke because of their literally firing smoke. Our Fred Pleitgen's reported because they don't have ammo. I know you mentioned the word emboldened and I know you believe Putin is feeling significantly emboldened right now, but actually, you've been saying for multiple reasons.

JONES: Yes, for multiple reasons. There's battlefield activity.


I mean, you know, it's a little bit of an odd decision on his part. Sweden -- Sweden has just been now let into NATO. So his strategic picture isn't great the number of casualties were hearing from Avdiivka, Russian casualties is upwards of 15,000 to 17,000. So it's emboldened.

But there is a propaganda element to this. I think the reality is that his forces have suffered in a strategic position is more problematic than it was several months ago.

BURNETT: Seth Jones, thank you very much.

JONES: Thank you.

BURNETT: And next, our KFILE has an exclusive investigation and what it reveals as a secret Twitter account belonging to Kenneth Chesebro, an alleged architect of the Trump fake electors plot. But here's the thing. here's what Chesebro told investigators.


INVESTIGATOR: Do you have any social media presence? Facebook, Instagram, Twitter?



BURNETT: And don't vote for Biden. Democrats in Michigan, furious that the president over his handling of the war in Gaza, are telling other Democrats do just that and take a stand, as Biden in for a rude awakening in what will be a must-win state in the general.

Plus, Donald Trump's race against time to find a half a billion dollar bond. Can you do it?

The president of a New York bond company is OUTFRONT with the answer.



BURNETT: Tonight, a secret Twitter account. Exclusive reporting from CNN's KFILE team revealing that Kenneth Chesebro, an alleged architect of team Trump's fake elector plot in 2020, conceal the Twitter account. And it wasn't just concealing it, it was what was in it. It was filled with damning posts that directly undercut his testimony to prosecutors.

Here's just one example.


INVESTIGATOR: Do you have any social media presence? Facebook, Instagram, Twitter?

CHESEBRO: No, I mean -- no. I, for whatever, I mean, before the --

INVESTIGATOR: Any -- alternate IDs that you're using for that kind of stuff?

CHESEBRO: No. I mean, I don't -- I don't do any tweeting.


BURNETTT: Any alternate IDs? Nope. Not even a pause.

Andrew Kaczynski broke the story for KFILE and he's with me.

So, I mean, that's not even -- there's no -- there's no ambiguity in that. The questioning even went to alternate identities and he said, no.

So he said, I don't do any tweeting. You found a lot -- a lot of tweeting?

ANDREW KACZYNSKI, CNN KFILE SNEIOR EDITOR: Yeah. That's right, Erin. So Chesebro had an anonymous Twitter account called Badger Pundit that he used to promote a very aggressive strategy, far more aggressive than he shared with investigators.

Now, he is cooperating in multiple different state investigations. He claims that he was misled by these more radical elements within the Trump campaign about how they planned on using these fake electors. But those secret tweets really reveal an entirely different story. Chesebro, you know, basically told investigators that he wanted those electors just as a contingency in case they won court cases though there would be Trump elected there is available on January 6 when Congress certifies the vote.

Take a listen to this.


CHESEBRO: I wanted conditional language in all the states that I suggested three times to Trump campaign on December 12th, that they make it conditional on winning litigation.


KACZYNSKI: But on his secret Twitter account, he said the courts didn't matter.

Look at this tweet from November 5th, 2020, he says Trump doesn't have to get the courts to declare him the winner of the vote. He just needs to convince Republican legislatures that the election was systematically rigged but it's impossible to run again. So they should appoint electors instead. BURNETT: So, I mean, it's all there. Now, how did you connect the dots that this pundit was actually Chesebro?

KACZYNSKI: So it's kind of interesting. Me and my colleague Ali Gordan (ph), first off, Chesebro references this Twitter account in an email exchange with the Trump campaign on January 5. So me and my colleague, Ali Gordan, we started going through the account to see.

Badger Pundit said he was with Alex Jones on January 6. Chesebro was with Alex Jones on January 6.

Badger Pundit said he worked on Bush v. Gore, and Chesebro worked on Bush v. Gore.

So eventually his lawyers did confirm to CNN that he was behind the account. They did say there was clearly a conflict between the tweets and what Chesebro told investigators and they did give us this statement where they said when he was doing volunteer work for the campaign, he gave specific kinds of legal advice based on things that he thought were legitimate legal challenges, versus Badger Pundit, who is this guy over there, just being a goof.

BURNETT: Just being a goof.

KACZYNSKI: Just being a goof.

BURNETT: All right. But, of course, you know, he lied. That's what happened. At least they say there's clearly a conflict where they put it.

All right. Andrew, thank you very much.

And OUTFRONT, legal analyst Ryan Goodman is with me now.

I mean, it's pretty amazing. So, Andrew connects all these dots. KFILE goes to the team for Chesebro and they say, clearly there's a conflict, right, I mean, there's no denying this.

At this point though, it's important to remember, Chesebro was so central in the fake elector scheme. That's why Andrew's reporting matters so much. Seven key states, including Georgia, where were, of course, he's already pleaded guilty in the Fulton County investigation.


So how bad is this Twitter account, the KFILE's breaking, that it exists for Chesebro and ultimately Trump

RYAN GOODMAN, FORMER SPECIAL COUNSEL AT DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE: So it's very bad. Chesebro really is identified in the January 6 indictment by the federal government as a chief architect. He's the main legal architect of the entire scheme to overturn the election and using the false electors.

And here we have him not just pot and a bold-faced lie that he didn't use Twitter. But what he's also not -- what he's hiding I should say from the prosecutors is that the Twitter accounts very incriminating. Just as was outlined, it's incriminating because in fact, he tells the prosecutors that he thought the scheme was ridiculous, but the Twitter account is promoting the very scheme.

He's also trying to maintain this persona that he was just providing legal advice. But this twitter account is obviously showing that he is a very much of an activist and an ideologue and then he does combine the two because he's actually sending the tweet its to the Trump campaign, so he can separate them as though there are two distinct personalities -- of a certain sort --

BURNETT: Right, I mean, kind of bipolar we're talking about here.

I mean, look, this is clearly what he was -- what he was thinking, what he was doing, and that's the point. I mean, he is technically cooperating though in several of the states that I mentioned, I believe four of them, but the word cooperating may be very misleading, right?

GOODMAN: Yeah. And we've talked about it before and here I think is now bombshell evidence. Bombshell evidence that he's actually for lack of a better word and an empty cooperator because he's going in there telling the prosecutors that he's cooperating and giving them information about others, but in fact, he is totally misleading them. That's what this demonstrates.

And he is, in fact, leading, misleading them about the timing of the scheme and his direct involvement in it and he's trying to place the blame on others. That's the worst thing for the prosecutors. I think that now they have a choice in Michigan actually, whether or not to indict him for these false -- intentional false statements to them.

BURNETT: All right, so the other thing that happened today was the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg comes out as the judge. I know it was narrow, but a gag order on the former President Trump in the Stormy Daniels hush money case, which is set to go to trial shortly here in New York.

So, do you think they'll get the gag order? And is there any significance in this particular one for Trump?

GOODMAN: So I do think that they'll get the gag order. There's something really smart in D.A. Bragg's petition to the court, what he does is he actually tracks the exact same language that the D.C. Circuit upheld and its gag order of President Trumps.

So the D.C. Circuit said that Trump cannot, quote, engage any making are directing others to make public statements about counsel in the case other than special counsel, members of the court staff, district attorney staff or the family members of any counsel of staff member. It tracks it verbatim.

And there's another provision as well where it also tracks verbatim the D.C. Circuit opinion saying you have to protect witnesses and thinks the exact same rule. So I do think that the judge in this case is going to say, well, if its good enough for the D.C. circuit, it's probably good enough to me.

BURNETT: Right, when to appeals and everything and -- but upheld.

GOODMAN: Exactly.

BURNETT: All right. I hope everyone will read your full blog on "Just Security" that you wrote about this issue today.

Ryan, thank you very much.

And next warning shot, Democrats in Michigan pledging not to back Biden in tomorrow's primary.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They need to hear our calls and heed our demands and respond to what it is that were asking for, which is an immediate and permanent ceasefire.


BURNETT: Could it set off a major embarrassment for him tomorrow?

Plus, former President Trump appealing the nearly half a billion- dollar judgment he's ordered to pay in his New York fraud case. The clock is ticking. Will he get the cash in time?



BURNETT: New tonight, President Biden saying he's hopeful there will be a ceasefire in Gaza by this time next week.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My national security adviser tells me that we're close. We're close. Not done yet, but my hope is by next Monday, we'll have a ceasefire.


BURNETT: Well, the timing of his comments today coming ahead of the Michigan primary tomorrow could be telling. A group of Michigan Democrats, in fact, are urging members of their own party to not vote for Biden in the state's primary on Tuesday, and that push is because of deepening anger over Biden's handling of the ongoing war in Gaza, which is now raising concerns about a potential serious embarrassment for Biden in what is a crucial must-win swing state in the general.

So, Dianne Gallagher is there in Michigan to begin our coverage with the latest in our Voters OUTFRONT series tonight.


DEMONSTRATORS: Free, free, free Palestine! DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A pivotal November battleground.

LAVORA BARNES, CHAIR, MICHIGAN DEMOCRATIC PARTY: The road to the White House runs through Michigan. You don't win without Michigan.

GALLAGHER: But some Democrats are using Tuesday's primary to put President Joe Biden on notice.

LEXI ZEIDAN, PALESTINIAN-AMERICAN ACTIVIST: A warning to Biden and his administration that they need to hear our calls and heed our demands and respond to what it is that were asking for, which is an immediate and permanent ceasefire.

GALLAGHER: Using their ballots to protest the president's handling the war in Gaza by voting uncommitted in the Democratic primary.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a humanitarian vote. It's a protest vote.

GALLAGHER: The grassroots Listen to Michigan campaign --

AD ANNOUNCER: Vote uncommitted.

GALLAGHER: -- launched by members of the state's large Arab community, just three weeks ago, has expanded to count progressive and young voters among its supporters, like Pontiac City Councilman Mikal Goodman.

MIKAL GOODMAN, PONTIAC CITY COUNCIL MEMBER: Because we are often told many times that the power that we have, the system in the U.S., is through the power of the ballot. And this is us using that power. No one who is voting uncommitted wants Trump.


They want what's happening in Gaza to stop.

GALLAGHER: More than 30 state and local elected officials endorsed the campaign, as did Rashida Tlaib, the first Palestinian American woman to serve in Congress.

REP. RASHIDA TLAIB (D-MI): If you want us to be louder, then come here and vote uncommitted.

GALLAGHER: Organizers say for most, today's message is about the primary, but there's a lingering warning.

ABBAS ALAWIEH, SPOKESPERSON, LISTEN TO MICHIGAN: You need to call for a ceasefire because it will save lives and because its the necessary thing to do politically. Otherwise, you, President Biden will be handing the White House to Donald Trump.

GALLAGHER: The Biden campaign has acknowledged Michigan's importance in this election. But allies of the president aren't quite sounding alarms over the uncommitted primary strategy yet. LAVORA BARNES, CHAIR, MICHIGAN DEMOCRATIC PARTY: I'm hoping and

expecting that these folks will come vote for Joe Biden in November. But right now, they have an issue they want to -- brought attention to and it's working. That's why we have an early presidential primary.

GALLAGHER: The uncommitted campaign's goal is modest.

LAYLA ELABED, CAMPAIGN MANAGER, LISTEN TO MICHIGAN: Our threshold is 10,000 uncommitted votes because that strategy is based off of the numbers that Trump won in 2016 against Hillary Clinton.

GALLAGHER: In 2020, Biden won Michigan getting by more than 150,000 votes. But some Biden supporters like former Congressman Andy Levin say the president's prospects this November are uncertain.

ANDY LEVIN (D), FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: I mean, I'm going to do everything I can to get him elected in November. All I'm saying is I don't know if we can succeed unless we change course, and by the way, it's the right thing to do.

GALLAGHER: He says he voted uncommitted in the primary, not because his support for the president is wavering.

LEVIN: Well, I think the great danger for Joe Biden here in the Michigan primary is that he would win with no indication that he has a problem, with no visibility of how angry people are.


GALLAGHER (on camera): And organizers of this campaign say that the broader concern for Democrats as a whole in November for is rooted in that, noting that this is not political, this is personal for many people here in this community. They have friends and family members who have been killed in Gaza. And there were he is not that they'll just leave the top of the ticket blank in November if something does not change, but that they may not turn out in November.

Now, Erin, it's also important to note that Michiganders vote uncommitted all time. So not everyone who votes this way on Tuesday is supporting this campaign.

BURNETT: It's an important point.

All right. Dianne, thank you so much, in Michigan tonight.

David Axelrod is here with me now OUTFRONT.

So, how big of a problem for Biden is the protest vote in Michigan?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, look, we'll see the size of it. I saw Governor Whitmer on with Dana yesterday saying, no one really knows how big it will be. It's not going to impact sort of -- it's not going to overwhelm him I don't think in that state. But look, it underscores the fact that were talking about it suggests that they've already succeeded in bringing attention to the issue. And this is a real issue, not just with the Arab American voters in

Michigan, and they -- there's a sizable number of them, but also with young people, with -- as some in the African-American community. I mean, this is a real thing for him, which I think maybe why tonight when he was standing there in the ice cream parlor, he said, hey, we're close, we're going to get this done.

BURNETT: Right, right. I mean, as I said, the timing is important.

I mean, look, when it comes to reelection as you point out, it's not as if he's going to expect it to lose it tomorrow. It's what kind of an embarrassment it could be when it happens? But when we talk about the margin, she was saying 150,000 votes in the scheme of some states, that's a big margin compared to last time.


BURNETT: But people might not show up. Arab American community there is obviously significant. Anger is real. Some of the headlines in Detroit, in Michigan, I'm sorry, Michigan overall

AXELROD: Uh-huh.

BURNETT: One, if Arab Americans will deliver Biden's first blow, another, Democrats, quote, threatened to turn away from him over the war. How significant could this be in the general in Michigan, which is must-win?

AXELROD: It is -- Michigan is going to be close. Closer, I think in the last time polling suggests that he's been behind in a number of polls in Michigan. It's going to be a marginal race. So even if it's a marginal difference in the turnout of Arab American voters, of young voters, a marginal difference can make the difference in these battleground states, and certainly in Michigan.

So it is a concern, but I should point out -- I mean, as horrific as this whole nightmare has been for starting with this massacre of Hamas on October 7th, we're eight months away from the election. We don't know what is going to ensue between now and then.

And, you know, Whitmer yesterday was reminding people that the choice will be another referendum on the president, but between him and Donald Trump and the Arab, Arab American community, there's going to have to consider if they think that the policy is going to be better with Donald Trump.


BURNETT: Before you go, at the top of the program, Yevgenia was saying, close friend of Alexei Navalny's, that he read your book --


BURNETT: -- while in a penal colony.

AXELROD: Yeah. BURNETT: And I know you really only found this out very recently after he died.

AXELROD: Yes, after he died.

BURNETT: What did it mean to you to hear it?

AXELROD: Oh, God, it blew me away. The part of the book that he cited was to Kerry Kennedy, Robert Kennedy's daughter, and the Kennedys inspired me to politics and that's what he was talking about. Imagine that people who he will inspire fire to continue the fight, he is one of those inspirational figures like the Kennedys, like Martin Luther King. And I'm just so pleased that he read my book.

BURNETT: Yeah, it's pretty incredible to imagine that. And I know is, as you say, you never know who you influence and impact and wow.

All right. David, thank you so much.

AXELROD: Great to be with you.

BURNETT: And next, President Trump on deadline to pay half $1 billion. He owes in the New York fraud case. So can you get the money and time and exactly how. Someone who knows who's done it many times before is here.

And Sylvester Stallone, the latest in a long list of big names to leave California for good. I'll ask Congresswoman Katie Porter, who's running for Senate there, what she's doing to stop more money from fleeing the state of California.



BURNETT: Tonight, Donald Trump officially appealing that massive 454 judgment that he's been ordered to pay in the New York fraud case. Trump has fewer than 30 days to secure a bond or come up with the money himself to prevent New York attorney general, Letitia James from collecting anything during the appeal.

And while the clock is ticking, Trump is out attacking the judge in the case


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT & 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He comes out with a verdict and you supposed to put up a bond. It's a sham, its a horrible thing.

We did nothing wrong. He knows we did nothing wrong. He practically said we did nothing wrong.


BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, Neil Pederson. He is owner of the surety bond company, Pederson and Sons in New York, where he's issued thousands of bonds.

As an expert on this process, I do note, Neil, you're not involved in this specific case, obviously. But when you add up the penalty in the fraud case along the New York business fraud case, along with the money Trump has been ordered to pay in the E. Jean Carroll defamation case, you're well over half a billion dollars. I mean, it's an extraordinary amount of money for an individual in New York.

According to Forbes, Trump does not have enough cash on hand to pay it. Now that's Forbes, but that's their estimate. He does not -- they say he has got about $426 million in liquid assets and cash, and that is, of course, less than he owes.

So, what do you think Trump needs to do to secure a bond?

NEIL PEDERSON, OWNER OF PEDERSON & SONS: I think he's going to need to come up with additional capital. I think at the end of the day, he's going to be required to put up liquid assets, either equal to or just under the amount of the bond. And without that, I don't think he's going to be able to obtain it.

BURNETT: I mean, I understand that there's seems to be a 30 day grace period here. That's been put into place by the court. Do you -- but just to be clear, that would not be normal, right? I mean, normally do people get 30 days to figure this out?

PEDERSON: No. Well, in federal court, you got 30 days. In state court, there were no safe days in the New York state courts, so that the judgment can be executed once it's entered.

BURNETT: All right. So him getting any time what it would be different than anybody else would get. I mean, could he be in danger of not securing the money? I mean, obviously, it doesn't have the liquid assets or even if he does up to the point, you say up to or close to, then he would have nothing else left. So he might need to do something to secure this.

PEDERSON: Correct. He may have to either further encumber assets, possibly sell something, or raise the money from either family, other entities or related parties.

BURNETT: And the New York Attorney General Letitia James has made it clear that she will take Trumps buildings the Manhattan if it comes to it. She has said that. Here she is.


LETITIA JAMES (D), NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL: We are prepared to make sure that the judgment is paid to New Yorkers. And yes, I look at 40 Wall Street each and every day.


BURNETT: Forty Wall Street, of course, was at the heart, one of the buildings at the heart of the case that was ruled on.

What do you think could happen if Trump is not able to secure the bond?

PEDERSON: Well, that's a little bit for posters and execution specialist. That's not what I do. But I think its going to be difficult for Letitia James to actually seize his assets. It's going to be interested in see how this unfolds.

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

PEDERSON: Thank you.

BURNETT: Neil Pederson, as I said, an expert on this.

And next, Republican seizing on the death of a college student to call for a crackdown at the southern border.

Plus, Monica Lewinsky in a totally new way that we've never seen her before.



BURNETT: Tonight, at least five times. That's how many times the man charged with murdering a University of Georgia student had been arrested and released without penalty. Twenty-two-year-old Laken Hope Riley was going for a run when she was murdered by blunt force trauma to the head.

The suspect is in the United States illegally. He came from Venezuela and was arrested in 2022 for crossing into the U.S. illegally, but then released. He was arrested in April of last year, then released.

In September, he was arrested twice and charged with quote, acting in a manner to injure a child less than 17, then released. In October, arrested again, then released. Arrested again in December. This is according to U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.

OUTFRONT now, the Democratic Congresswoman Katie Porter. She sits on the Oversight Committee. And in her state of California, the number of illegal border crossings is up 60 percent in one city versus a year ago.

Congresswoman, so much to talk to you about today, but I wanted to start with this. I mean, we can all agree this is a horrible, horrible thing that happened. It shouldn't have happened, but it did.

Former President Donald Trump today called out. He writes on social media: The monster who took her life illegally entered our country in 2022 and then was released again by radical Democrats in New York after injuring a child.

I know that you may not choose the same words, but do you share his outrage?

[19:55:01] REP. KATIE PORTER (D-CA): Well, I think what a horrible tragedy like this happens, I think whenever were dealing with violent crime, there is a sense of outrage, of sadness and loss. But I think the important thing to focus on is any one instance shouldn't shape our overall immigration policy, which has so many different facets, including economic choices about what workers to allow and how to create prosperity in America.

So the situation is tragic and it's a loss and it's important to acknowledge that, but also to recognize all the other how all the other parts of immigration policy fit together.

BURNETT: So the number of migrants crossing into your state illegally as app as I referenced a moment ago. "The L.A. Times" says in San Diego, there were nearly 25,000 migrant border arrests in January, which is a 60 percent increase over the same exact time period, just a year ago.

Now, President Biden has announced he's going to go to the southern border in Texas this week and obviously, he's not been at the border now and in over a year. Do you think he should be going to your state as well?

PORTER: Well, I'm really heartened that President Biden is going to the border. Of course, we would love to have him come visit the border here in California. One of the things I've heard over and over again in oversight committee hearings is that our southern border isn't a monolith.

The challenges that our border personnel and communities face are different in areas where it's more rural, where there are different cities depending on geography and depending on where migrants are going. So I think it's really important if President Biden is going to continue to lead on immigration policy and on solving our challenges at the border, which he must do. I think being there and listening to folks on the ground is an incredibly important step to boostering -- bolstering his credibility and giving him the authority to create consensus.

BURNETT: Would you support if he had an executive action, if whether it was challenging the courts or not, but support him taking an executive action to close the border?

PORTER: Well, I think executive action is really important. It's the only way that we've been able to make any progress at addressing immigration at all. But I think we've seen under Title 42 and some other policies that efforts to simply, quote, close the border is not really solving the longer-term problem, which is that we have not put the resources or the policies at the border.

So we have all different kinds of chaos and challenges from not having enough immigration judges to not investing in technology that can help a screen for fentanyl, which I voted for, but we need to do more on recognizing that we haven't kept our promise to dreamers.

All of these things come together to create the kinds of chaotic immigration policies we see.

BURNETT: I want to ask you about a couple of other things. First, the IVF issue going on in the state of Alabama when the Supreme Court ruled that frozen embryos are actually people. There have been backlash to that even in the GOP, including Trump.

Here he is.


TRUMP: Like the overwhelming majority of Americans, including the vast majority of Republican conservatives, Christians, and pro-life Americans, I strongly support the availability of IVF for couples who are trying to have a precious little beautiful baby. I support it.

GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R), TEXAS: We want to make it easier for people to be able to have babies, not make it harder. And the IVF process is a way of giving life to even more babies.


BURNETT: All right, they're clear they don't support their ruling. Could they nip this in the bud as an election issue?

PORTER: Well, this is absolutely an election issue. Look, reproductive freedom is an issue about people being able to choose when and if to start a family and Republicans, extremist Republicans shouldn't get to define what that freedom looks like. It's not just the freedom to use IVF to start your family. It's also the freedom not to become a parent and to have an abortion. I think what were seeing here is hypocrisy.

A number of my colleagues, as you may know, were on bills that would limit IVF even at the same time that they are saying they're support it.

Even in a state like California, which protects abortion rights. We are seeing this play out in the Senate race with MAGA extremist Eric Early, doubling down on an abortion ban, even as this IVF controversy is raging.

BURNETT: I want to ask you because you are running for Senate in California. And about one crucial thing, some people have been leaving California. The numbers show a net-net people leaving and some wealthy people.

Yesterday, Sylvester Stallone announced that he is leaving. He's moving to Florida and he's not alone. Mark Walberg, Nevada better life. Joe Rogan, Texas. Elon Musk, Texas maybe tax refugees. Its real money though, leaving your state.

What are you going to do about it?

PORTER: Well, look, Washington has not focused on California's biggest challenge, which is housing affordability. We have had basically the same federal housing policy for five decades as long as they've been alive. And as a result, we are seeing housing prices and continued to be a problem and an aging housing stock in California, that's the big challenge we face is housing affordability. Washington needs to focus on it. It's California's biggest problem.

BURNETT: All right. Congresswoman Porter, thank you so much. I really appreciate your time.

And finally, tonight before we go, Monica Lewinsky wants Americans to vote. Lewinsky teaming up with the clothing brand Reformation, not just to sell clothes, but to get out to vote. The brand partnering with to encourage voter registration and turnout at the polls come November. And as Lewinsky herself says, if you want to complain for the next four years, you got to go out and vote.

I guess we strategically placed the lines there. You can go look at the words on the -- on the advertising campaign for yourself. We hope we do.

Thanks for joining us.

"AC360" starts now.