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Erin Burnett Outfront

Trump Brief Uses The Words Of A Justice He Appointed To Supreme Court To Support His Immunity Claim; Trump Attacks Judge, Running Out Of Time To Get $464 Bond; Ex-Trump White House Official Peter Navarro Now Inside Prison; Polls Close In Ohio, Race Could Decide U.S. Senate Control; Major U.S. Military Deal Falls Apart As Putin Influence Grows. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired March 19, 2024 - 19:00   ET




The breaking news, Trump zeroing in on Kavanaugh, using the words of a justice he appointed to try to get his January 6 case thrown out, arguing that if he is not granted immunity, it is the, quote, end of the presidency as we know it.

Plus, the CEO of a top luxury real estate firm says tonight the Trump can't sell his properties fast enough to pay half a billion dollars by Monday. She's my guest tonight.

And banned. He once served as the ambassador to Russia under Trump. And tonight Russia says he is no longer welcome there. Ambassador John Sullivan is with me tonight.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT this evening, the breaking news, Trump appealing to a man he placed on the Supreme Court in an effort to end the cases again him. And who is that? Well, that person is Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

And in this 67-page filing of filed by Trump's team today, the former president's legal team digging deep into Brett Kavanaugh's past to make their case as to why Trump should not be charged with trying to overturn the 2020 election. And as they go through this, they point to several statements made by Kavanaugh, including this one.

And they quote, a president who is concerned about an ongoing criminal investigation is almost inevitably going to do a worse job as president.

Trump's team also going way back in time, going to a Georgia law article that Kavanaugh wrote in which he says, and quoting again, prosecution or non-prosecution of a president is in short, inevitably, an unavoidably a political act.

Well, a political act. That, of course, echoes what Trump has been saying since the start of the investigation is that all of this is court cases are political and election interference in their own right. And Trumps filing today is his last ditch attempt to do two things. One, of course, is to delay the special counsel's election case altogether and two is actually to take a step back actually avoid being charged entirely for trying to overturn the 2020 election.

And on that point, Trump's legal team says, quote, if immunity is not recognized, every future president will be forced to grapple with the prospect of possibly being criminally prosecuted after leaving office every time he or she makes a politically controversial decision. That would be the end of the presidency as we know it.

Now, that argument was unanimously, of course, rejected by a federal appeals court. So just to be very clear here, what you're looking at in these 67 pages is Trumps last chance to make that case, and to end these cases.

Katelyn Polantz is OUTFRONT live in Washington to begin our coverage tonight.

And, Katelyn, what else stands out to you in this new filing by team Trump?

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, we've had a lot of court filings over the course of this investigation about presidential immunity. But the language here is really aimed at scaring justices on the Supreme Court who want to protect the presidency and executive power, executive authority.

Some of the language Trump uses, he talks about post-office trauma that presidents might experience if they could be prosecuted for committing crimes while they are in office. The he also talks about the de facto black mail and extortion that they could face while in office. He also writes, it could be the end of the presidency as we know it. That is a very stark phrasing of this threat that Trump's team perceives if there isn't some sort of immunity around the presidency.

The other thing that stood out to me is that in one of these arguments over this 60 some page brief filing to the Supreme Court, Trump's team says, motive shouldn't matter. And its unfair to Trump if there's immunity for the presidency, but it falls away in a case like this, where Trump or others, could be accused of trying to hold onto power because they were trying to break a lot to stay in power.

Here's the direct quote. The court should reject the D.C. circuit's alternative approach of denying a president criminal immunity when his conduct is allegedly motivated by the desire to remain in power lawfully. This approach risks creating the appearance of a gerrymandered ruling tailored to deprive only President Trump of immunity while leaving all other presidents untouched.

So they're saying that even if a president is breaking the law to keep hold of that office, that is not a reason why there should not be a protection around the presidency. And thus, Trumps should be protected here as well. [19:05:06]

BURNETT: All right. Katelyn, thank you very much.

So I want to go straight to our legal expert, Ryan Goodman, because what Katelyn just said is pretty extraordinary. I mean, okay. They're saying because it's tailored just to apply to him. Well, there's a reason that it applies only to him because he's the only one who actually tried to overturn an election.


BURNETT: So, it's just this continual circular reasoning. As you go through the 67 pages, do you find anything more compelling in these arguments than you've heard from them before?

GOODMAN: So the first half of the brief, there's nothing really compelling and I don't think any of the justices may be one, but I don't even think any of them was signed on to this idea that all presidents are absolutely immune for any conduct in office. That's just a bridge too far, right?

BURNETT: Right. You know, killing people -- I mean, there are things --

GOODMAN: Yeah, exactly.

BURNETT: Which, by the way, they've already said that if he had ordered someone to be killed, but that wouldn't count. But teams Trump has said that, but --

GOODMAN: Team Trump has said that, that's right.

But the second half is a smart legal argument which is to say to the court, look, when you decide that there's not absolute immunity, then give us a test in which you define what the boundaries are. Then send this whole thing back down to the trial court to apply your new test which is a delay strategy.

So the idea there being that then they hold hearings at the trial court and then the Trump side can appeal any adverse hearings all the way back up to the Supreme Court. That's the move that's being made there.

But it's a smart argument. It's the argument I think they should be making smart lawyer --

BURNETT: But it was just the way which is you need to put rules and you need to put a procedure in a test.


BURNETT: Understandable.

Okay. So do you think it's -- has a chance of success and in that context, what do you make of the fact that they repeatedly appeal to Justice Kavanaugh, who, of course, was appointed by Trump, but said all these things and wrote all these things which seem at least taken out of context to support the argument that they're making.

GOODMAN: It's a good move to try to quote the justices back at themselves, also then one of the paragraphs they have both Kevin and Scalia quoted together.

So, generally speaking, that can work. I imagine that Jack Smith might do the same thing if he thinks there's something in Kavanaugh's writings. The problem for Trump is that it's not really what Kavanaugh was saying. Kevin was talking about why an incumbent president should not be distracted by ongoing criminal prosecutions, investigations. That's the Kavanaugh argument.

Kavanaugh, I don't think wants to be associated with this absolute immunity argument, which they're making. So it actually might turn him off.

BURNETT: Right, and just to be clear, incumbent and Trump is not -- I mean, just so --

GOODMAN: Absolutely, and in fact, the argument --

BURNETT: It's not apples to apples.

GOODMAN: Right. And those folks who thinks that the incumbent president is immune make the argument that he's immune, or she's immune until they leave office. And that's the problem for Trump.

BURNETT: The situation we're in right now.


BURNETT: All right. All right. Ryan, thank you very much.

And as we are tracking this breaking news, we've got more breaking developments right now, which is Donald Trump is now slamming the judge who ruled against him and his company in the Trump Org fraud case because literally we are in a time click, time, ticking down situation. Trump running out of time to come up with $464 million. That is what is required to come up with to post bond by law by Monday on the deadline.


NIGEL FARAGE, BRITISH BROADCASTER AND FORMER POLITICIAN: Are you looking forward to this campaign, this election? And when you've got all this --

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT & 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'd been -- I'd been campaigning. I'd been campaigning.

FARAGE: How are you doing it with all these legal cases mounting up? They valued Mar-a-Lago --

TRUMP: Yeah. FARAGE: -- at $18 million. I mean --

TRUMP: Because the courts are rigged.

FARAGE: What's going on?

TRUMP: The courts are rigged. They did. They valued it, it had an appraisal, of $1.5 billion, $1 billion, $2 billion. Who knows what it's worth? It's worth -- because that was good for their narrative, so they valued at $18 million because it's a crooked legal system, very crooked. That's why people are leaving New York. Companies are fleeing New York because of even this decision.


BURNETT: As our own, Daniel Dale has pointed out, what Judge Engoron said was that a Palm Beach County tax assessment from the years the decade of 2011 to 2021, appraised the market value of Mar-a-Lago between $18 million and $28 million.

Now, this all comes as Trump's lawyers admitted so far that he does not have the $464 million which he is required to post by law by Monday. What that means is that if he is treated like every other defendant in a posting bond situation, you just have to do it. You have to sell assets. You have to do whatever you have to do to make that bond.

And for Trump, that would mean that he may have to sell some of his most prized properties. These are mega ticket items or risk watching the state of New York seize them as the state of New York has said it well.

OUTFRONT now, someone who knows all of this inside out, the real estate industry, inside out, Bess Freedman. She is the CEO of Brown Harris Stevens, which is a luxury real estate company that includes properties in New York, New Jersey, and Florida, all its locations we're talking about, and Bess is also a lawyer.

So, Bess, you know, if -- just taking a look at where we are, today is Tuesday. It's only Tuesday. Okay, but by Monday, he has to post this bond.

If he hasn't started the process of selling any of his properties, and by the way, I don't even started. I mean, if you aren't really, really far down on the path, these are big, big buildings, does he have time to sell any of them by Monday?


BESS FREEDMAN, CEO OF LUXURY REAL ESTATE FIRM: I mean, I think it's a little -- we don't have enough time. I mean, by Monday, that's really -- I think you need at least 30 days to get any of these properties sold. But the property that you alluded to, Mar-a-Lago potentially that could be something that could be sold quickly. I think the valuation is something in the hundreds of millions and I think there could be a buyer for something like that. BURNETT: And that would be literally if you're talking about doing

that between now and Monday, that's picking up the phone, calling someone and then literally writing a check.

FREEDMAN: Yeah. I mean, there could be plenty of international people who want to buy that property. I mean, there's properties that are priced at $150 million and $200 million that are nearby that. And Palm Beach is like the Nevada -- Nvidia, excuse me, of real estate. It's just shot up like a rocket and people do want to live there. They've moved there.

So I think that would be the best-case scenario as to proper if he's trying to sell quickly, I would encourage that.

BURNETT: So -- all right. Now, that's $240 million estimated. I mean, who knows? So we use a desperate seller in this case, so it picks up the phone and makes that call this week. So I'll know would it be.

That's still path --


BURNETT: -- of what it would be. So when you look at other properties -- I mean, you know, you've got his penthouse. Bloomberg values that at $40 million. I mean, that doesn't get you there either. But is that something you could even sell quickly?

FREEDMAN: I mean, the good news about that property is the location is incredible. It's a condominium which means it could sell quickly. You still have to get through a board process, a package, an application, but it's a building that was built in the early '80s, so I don't know if it's been renovated.

And remember, you know, not everybody wants that affiliation with that building with the name. You know, it does have a stigma for some and so that can be a bit of a challenge. And so, you know, the price doesn't determine the market. The market determines the price.

And so it will depend on if there's somebody who really wants to buy something like that and do a renovation and make it their own. And it's comfortable living in a building that has his name and for ever -- that's not everybody's tastes. So I think it could be a bit of a challenge.

BURNETT: And so, how do you -- how do you really even turn something like this, this quickly? I mean, how, what is the process to even do this? And when you talk about it, someone who -- they're going to want to get a deal.


BURNETT: This is the definition of a desperate seller. In this particular instance, you've got five days.

FREEDMAN: Yeah, I mean, I think he needs to look at all of his assets and real estate. He has a lot of them, great locations and he needs to figure out what those values are and get them on the market and get people looking at them. I'm sure there's interest.

I mean, look, Jeffrey Epstein's mansion sold in New York City. It took some time. They had cut the price, but there was somebody that was willing to buy that. Same with Bernie Madoff, we were able to sell his co-ops.

So people will buy the real estate, it just will take time, but the sooner the better and the sooner they evaluate what he has and gets it -- get it out there. It will be better for him.

BURNETT: All right. Bess, thank you very much. I mean, just an incredible situation, even believe what were even talking about such a thing. But this is the reality.

All right. Thank you so much.

FREEDMAN: Thanks, Erin.

BURNETT: And next, well, in the slammer for Trump. Former Trump aide Peter Navarro is inside this Miami prison on your screen tonight. That is where he is, as the former president resides comfortably not far away right now in Mar-a-Lago.

Michael Cohen, he also served time because of his ties to Trump, is OUTFRONT next.

Plus, breaking news. Polls are about to close in Ohio, and this is absolutely crucial. This is the fight for control of the Senate. Trump facing a major test of his power there night.

And then, another doctored royals photo taken by Kate Middleton. We're going to talk to a professional photographer who says she knows exactly what was altered in the photo, and you'll see bit by bit.




BURNETT: Tonight, in the slammer for Trump. Peter Navarro, Trump's former White House aide, is now sitting inside this Miami prison. It's one of the oldest prison camps in the United States. And it happens to be less than 100 miles from where Trump is living right now at Mar-a- Lago.

Navarro joins the growing list of Trump associates who have served time. Michael Cohen who will join me in a moment, sentenced to three years behind bars.

Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon sends to four months in prison. That sentence on hold as his pending an appeal.

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, Trump associate Roger Stone, the deputy chairman of Trump's campaign, Rick Gates, all were sentenced to time behind bars. Former Trump Org CFO Allen Weisselberg served time at Rikers and could be going back.

I mean, when you think about it, and you listed out like that, it's pretty incredible.

Sunlen Serfaty is OUTFRONT with more.


PETER NAVARRO, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: I'm pissed. That's what I'm feeling right now.

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Former Trump adviser Peter Navarro defiant as he reports to federal prison in Miami today.

NAVARRO: Every person who has taken me on this road to that prison is a frigging Democrat and at Trump hater.

SERFATY: Navarro is facing up for sentence for refusing to comply with a congressional subpoena from the committee that investigated the January 6 attacks on the U.S. Capitol.

NAVARRO: But as hard as it will be on me and it's hard as well be on anybody who is in there is harder on their families. And this is who those Democrats have hurt.

SERFATY: Navarro at age 74 will be serving his time and an air condition dormitory within the prison reserved for elderly inmates. He'll have access to TVs, the ability he to email and make phone calls.

NAVARRO: The Chinese protectionism.

SERFATY: At one time a respected economist, a voice on China and Harvard trained professor, Navarro regularly appeared on mainstream media.


SERFATY: And decades ago tried unsuccessfully to run for local office as an independent and Democrat, attracting the endorsement of Hillary Clinton and landing a prime speaking spot at the 1996 Democratic National Convention.

NAVARRO: Together with President Clinton, we will protect Medicare and Social Security and a woman's right to choose.

SERFATY: But some who have known him since back then say his shaky ideologies --

LARRY REMER, DEMOCRATIC POLITICAL CONSULTANT: He's a great chameleon. He clearly was able to adapt to who they are and what they're about.


SERFATY: -- were trumped easily by the spotlight. TRUMP: We have the great Peter Navarro.

SERFATY: Navarro morphing into a MAGA loyalist.

NAVARRO: This president has been the toughest president on China of any American president.

SERFATY: And Trump devotee.

NAVARRO: If you look statistically at what happened, clearly, the president won this election, and was leading on Election Day.

SERFATY: Promoting some of the former president's most controversial and baseless claims.

NAVARRO: And on, on things like, for example, the hydroxychloroquine, he has his strong point of view. There's many doctors on the other side.

BURNETT: So, Peter, first of all -- first of all, on the basic level, you're an economist, not a scientist.

SERFATY: And now like Trump --

NAVARRO: And so the little story here is Navarro is going to prison today.

SERFATY: -- attempting to turn his feet into a badge of honor.

NAVARRO: Men and women of America throughout our history, have shed blood, lost their lives for the defense of this country. It's a much smaller sacrifice to be willing to go to prison.


SERFATY (on camera): And this marks the first Trump official to go to prison for contempt charges of Congress. Steve Bannon, of course, has also been convicted of contempt charges for defying those subpoenas from the January 6th committee. But, of course, he has remained out of jail, Erin, so far because he is ruling and trying to appeal this ruling -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Sunlen, thank you very much.

And OUTFRONT now, former Trump attorney, who also went to prison, Michael Cohen, the author of "Revenge: How Donald Trump Weaponized the U.S. Department of Justice Against His Critics," also the host of the "Mea Culpa" and "Political Beatdown" podcasts.

So, Michael, you hear Navarro. He's saying -- he's defending the country by going to prison, standing by, you know, I'm standing by Trump, I'm going to prison for him.

You were once just to some extent in his shoes, right, for things that you did while with Trump, you served time. And we've got images of you going to prison in 2019, a day I'm sure you will never forget because of your loyalty to Trump. There you are in the car.

So as you see Navarro go to prison, what do you see?

MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: It makes me recall an old adage. Troubled people cause trouble. Donald is that troubled person and he's causing trouble.

Peter Navarro has no idea just how bad prison actually is. And I'm speaking from experience, not once but twice when I was unconstitutionally remanded the second time back. It's terrible.

But there's more implications that people aren't even aware of. All your bank accounts end up getting closed. You can't get credit cards and you can even open up a bank account at any -- at any bank because you name is on the list.

Your whole life changes and why is it changing? Because he's doing something for Donald Trump, a guy who's 100 miles away from him, enjoying a Mar-a-Lago burger and a bunch of ice scream at his -- you know, at his gilded club. I don't know what he's thinking.

BURNETT: So, let's talk about where it -- so you served about a year in prison and then you continue to serve your term during COVID, you are. Okay.

COHEN: But, Navarro, he sentenced to four months. Does that make a -- what are those first four months like? I mean, how does he manage that? And also, we had shown images, but he is in FCI Miami which is a prison you know a lot about.

COHEN: Well, I know something about it. I was in FCI Otisville, very different than FCI Miami. I knew a few people that actually came from FCI Miami to Otisville. It is not -- it's not a good place.

No different than Allen Weisselberg who spent 100 days at Rikers Island.

BURNETT: Rikers Island.

COHEN: Yeah. It is -- it is not a cake walk. Any of these FCIs are not.

First of all, you come in to the facility and you have nothing. It's a weird experience, especially for somebody who is of his age, you don't even own a toothbrush. You don't have a hair brush, you don't have soap, you don't have shampoo, or you have is what they give to you, which is a pillow or a blanket.

They give to you a pair -- of one pair of socks, a pair of underwear, a pair of pants that generally don't fit. They do that on purpose, and a T-shirt and a regular shirt. That's what you get. That's what you own.

So coming from the world that Peter Navarro came from, spending time at the gilded casa of Donald, right, Mar-a-Largo.

BURNETT: Harvard professor, known economist. I mean, I knew Peter Navarro all the way back when I worked with CNBC.

COHEN: Who didn't?

BURNETT: He was a guy who came on regularly. He was --

COHEN: This is not an experience.

BURNETT: This is a new world.

COHEN: This is not an experienced that he that he wanted to have in his memory.

BURNETT: He said it takes your soul.

COHEN: It does. Prison takes your soul. The time that you're away from your family, your friends, your life -- you never get it back.


You never get it back.

On top of that, I don't know what their rules are right now in terms of COVID, do they hold them the first five days, ten days, 14 days in solitary. That's another issue in and of itself. Remember I did 51 days of solitary confinement.

BURNETT: He gave a press conference today, Navarro did. Okay. Talking about it, obviously, before he walks on the inside of FCI Miami and I wanted to play one part of it for you.

COHEN: Sure.


REPORTER: Are you nervous and have you spoken to Donald Trump?

NAVARRO: I am not nervous. I'm not talking about -- I'm going to claim executive privilege on the Donald Trump conversations. I've had the greatest amount of support from Donald Trump and his team.


BURNETT: What do you say that? Greatest amount of support from Donald Trump and his team, as he's heading to prison. Of course, Trump is not.

COHEN: And look where you're going and trust me, it's easy to be a television tough-guy when you're on the outside. When you're on the inside, there rules, whether you're in a satellite camp, a low like I was in, or you're in a maximum security. The rules are still the rules.

He doesn't live by those rules. He's never had to live by those rules. This is an adjustment that he has no idea what he's in store for.

BURNETT: It is incredible when we think about it. All right. Thank you so much, Michael. I appreciate it.

COHEN: Let me also just say the food is terrible

BURNETT: Well, there's that. You don't control what you eat. You don't control when you sleep. I mean, all of it -- I mean, it did you say it is impossible to imagine it, but when you say it, perhaps gives everyone a glimpse into what could be.

All right. Well, next, we have breaking news. We are just moments away from polls closing in Ohio and this race matters. Hunger games basically playing out in the Republican primary four Senate, Senate seat that could decide the entire balance of power, and Trump is at the center of it tonight.

Plus, U.S. troops about to get kicked out of a country that was once a key U.S. ally. Is Putin behind this?



BURNETT: Breaking news. The first polls have just closed in tonight's elections. Five states are voting and were watching closely for signs of strengths or weaknesses for Biden and Trump. But there are other crucial racist tonight, and we are expecting results from Ohio at any moment, Republicans, there trying to take down Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown, locked in ugly primary fight.

And in that three-way race, the Trump-backed candidate is in a dead heat with a more moderate Republican. So can you bring them over the finish line tonight? It is a crucial test and Jeff Zeleny is OUTFRONT.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He's one of the last Democrats standing in Ohio.

SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D-OH): Thank you for the endorsement. Thank you all for being here.

ZELENY: Senator Sherrod Brown is one of the biggest Republican targets of the year, whose seat could determine control of the U.S. Senate. But that fall campaign may hinge on tonight's outcome of an acrimonious GOP primary, which in the closing days has revolved as much around Donald Trump as any of the rivals in the race.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT & 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Bernie, if these people all vote, which they will, you're going to win. Man!

ZELENY: The former president has taken sides and thrown elbows in a bruising three-way Republican contest. His candidate, Cleveland businessman Bernie Moreno --

BERNIE MORENO (R), OHIO SENATE CANDIDATE: How does Ohio feel about President Donald J. Trump?

ZELENY: -- is seen by some top Ohio Republicans as the party's weakest choice to win in November.

GOV. MIKE DEWINE (R), OHIO: The person clearly who has the best shot at winning in the fall, it's Matt Dolan. There's absolutely no doubt about it.

ZELENY: Republican Governor Mike DeWine is backing State Senator Matt Dolan, whose family owns the Cleveland Guardians baseball franchise and has repeatedly drawn Trump's ire.

TRUMP: My attitude is anybody that changes the name of the Cleveland Indians to the Cleveland Guardians should not be a senator.

ZELENY: The campaign has been caustic and costly, with more than $40 million spent on TV and digital ads alone.

AD ANNOUNCER: MAGA alert, President Trump wants you to vote for outsider businessman Bernie Moreno

AD ANNOUNCER: Matt Dolan, out for himself, not you.

AD ANNOUNCER: Can you trust Frank LaRose?

ZELENY: Including by Democratic super PAC, with ties to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, promoting Moreno, Trump's candidate.

AD ANNOUNCER: Moreno would do Donald Trump's bidding.

ZELENY: Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, that third candidate in the race, told us it was a clear sign Democrats wanted to run against Moreno.

FRANK LAROSE (R), OHIO SENATE CANDIDATE: Why would they spend over $3 million to try to boost Bernie Moreno? It was pretty clear -- Chuck Schumer believes that he's the weakest opponent to Sherrod Brown.

ZELENY: In an increasingly red Ohio, where Trump won by eight points in 2020, the race has become a test for this style and substance of the Republican Party, in the age of Trump.

MATT DOLAN (R), OHIO SENATE CANDIDATE: Fighting is about results, okay? And it doesn't mean you go and shout and scream, you can respect the other side, but you fight for what you believe in.

ZELENY: Tonight, it will become clear whether more voters responded Dolan's attempts to lower the temperature or follow Trump's lead.

SCOTT SILVER, OHIO VOTER: Everybody's bashing everybody. I believe the Moreno commercials that he will support the Trump agenda.

ZELENY: For Brown, as he seeks a fourth term in the Senate, he acknowledges the challenge ahead, not only from Republicans.

BROWN: Maybe my toughest race. ZELENY: How much of a weight is the Democratic Party and the Biden administration on you as a candidate?

BROWN: I always run my own race. I will continue to run my own race. I will try to analyze if Biden does well here, or Trump does well there. I've run ahead of our presidential candidates and I will now.


ZELENY (on camera): So, Erin, as the polls are closing here tonight, we are getting a snapshot of the electorate Republicans who voted today, the preliminary exit poll numbers are so instructive. Let's take a look at a couple of them.


ZELENY: An opinion of Trump when he was president, 57 percent of voters today said they strongly approved, 20 percent said they somewhat approved. So if you add those together, some three-quarters of Republicans approve, perhaps not surprising but the disapproved number also interesting, 14 percent strongly disapprove, 7 percent somewhat disapprove.


So, clearly, there's an opening, therefore, a non-Trump candidate. But, Erin, take a look at these numbers for President Biden. Republican primary voters were asked if they believed he legitimately won in 2020, six in ten Republicans say he did not, 32 percent say he did. So that, of course, sets the table for the conversation going on in the months ahead to November.

Erin, the reason this race is so important, the Senate majority hinges on two seats, on only one if the president's party is still in power here. So that's why this Rachel, we want to keep an eye on until November, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Jeff Zeleny.

Basil Smikle, former chief of the New York Democratic Party OUTFRONT, and Harry Enten, our data guru.

Harry, those numbers on these exit polls I suppose we should not -- we should no longer be surprised. What do you say? Shocked but not surprised?


BURNETT: About the GOP, 63 percent saying Biden is not the legitimate -- legitimately elected, but it is incredible.

ENTEN: Yeah, I don't think we can be surprised anymore, but we can still shake our heads that about two-thirds of the Republican electorate, depending on which primary state you're jumping to believe something that's a fugazi, that's fake. We all know that Biden legitimately won that election, yet two-thirds of Republicans believe otherwise, depending again on the state that you're looking at. And that just shows the stranglehold that Donald Trump has over the Republican Party.

There are still maybe about a quarter of that Republican Party that's willing to go the other way. That is that strongly or somewhat disapprove that Jeff was pointing out. But the fact that they are minority, the majority of the party is firmly in Trump's pocket.

BURNETT: All right. On that point though, I'm just going to take the strongly disapprove on this exit poll for the Republican voters, in an Ohio tonight, 14 percent.


BURNETT: Strongly disapprove.

SMIKLE: Right.

BURNETT: What does that mean? Does that mean that they are -- I mean, you could presume maybe those are people are going to have gone for Haley or but do they get back get on board, do they are they truly going to be the people who possibly decide this whole election?

SMIKLE: Yeah. I mean, I think in terms of the general election, this is the kind of -- that's the kind of voter that Joe Biden is going to go after, right? He's going to go after that sort of -- not Republican but not satisfied with Donald Trump would probably evoked before a Nikki Haley, but really just doesn't like the direction of the Republican Party.

But it is concerning, quite frankly, that 60 percent of the Republican -- remember when Ohio --

BURNETT: Sixty-three percent.

SMIKLE: Sixty three percent. Remember when Ohio was a swing-state. Remember those --

BURNETT: I remember standing in Ohio, so it must have been 2012.

ENTEN: Yeah.

BURNETT: And I was there air that night on election night because we needed someone there because as goes Ohio goes the nation.

SMIKLE: That's right.

BURNETT: That was the last time that was true.

SMIKLE: That's right. And that is -- so it's really concerning that with 63 percent in Ohio of Republicans, but we see that pan across the country, that there is this denialism of Joe Biden being the duly elected president of this country, that really does go to show you how Donald Trump has really changed the Republican Party to shift to his worldview. It also suggests that if, which is what's happening in Ohio now, this

might be the last stand for a sort of mainstream Republican to potentially meet Sherrod Brown in the general election. But where are mainstream Republicans across the country in terms of their ability to stand up against Trump endorsed Republicans?

BURNETT: I should refine what I said. I mean, it's the last time that Ohio went the way of the country, but its last time that Ohio was really up for grabs. Ohio's become a red state.

Okay, so in this context, Ohio being red state where is President Biden's money this time? Well, not in Ohio. He's going to Nevada and Arizona, these battlegrounds and certainly it's going to go to the Midwest as well. But he's going there largest panic and Latino populations in both crucial voting bloc this time around, especially in the context of the broader conversations.

But 1.8 million votes combined at stake between those two states. And these Hispanic and Black voters and Biden, this has been an area has been struggling. What some might consider to have been certainly among Black voters, his base, but even among some Hispanic voters? So you have been talking about this with me for a long time.

Where is Biden now versus where he was four years ago with those groups?

ENTEN: Yeah. You know, there's been a lot of folks who've been analyzing these numbers and show that Biden has been doing significantly worse among Black and Hispanic voters compared to the exit polls four years ago.

But there was some argument, okay, wait a minute, but what about this point in time? Well, I went back to this point in time four years ago and you still see Biden doing considerably worse than he was four years ago.

BURNETT: So, this is polls four years ago, at this time in the election.

ENTEN: Correct.

BURNETT: Got it.

ENTEN: Exactly right. And what we see is a Joe Biden still winning among Black voters, but only by 50 points. He was up 72 points at this point in 2020 cycle. And among Hispanic voters, Biden is barely ahead just by two points versus 21 points at this point in the 2020 cycle.

On those black voters, I have never ever seen a Democratic presidential candidate in my lifetime leading by such a small margin as Joe Biden is at this particular point in time.



BURNETT: Do those numbers leave your jaw on the floor?

SMIKLE: I'm concerned and I'm concerned for this particular point. This notion of the lesser of two evils has really started, has sunken in. And that is what's concerning me.

In 2016, there was a lot of conversation around the lesser of two evils, comparisons to -- from Hillary Clinton to Donald Trump, that sameness, it seems these --


SMIKLE: It wasn't the same. It's never been the same. And the concern is that that language and that narrative will get baked into this election. They are not the same.

When you have Donald Trump out there saluting the individuals who were engaged in an insurrection and went to jail, if you have -- if you have them out there saying that they are --

BURNETT: But these voters, are basically saying they don't care about that. They care about other things. So -- I mean, plus 21 --


BURNETT: -- to plus two.

SMIKLE: No, I honestly think that by the -- by the end of this election, they will care. They'll care about democracy. They'll care about the fact that Donald Trump is out there with his conservative colleagues restricting voter access as opposed to expanding it.

And let me tell you why that -- I am more concerned about that point than anything else. Because the Brennan Center for Justice just released a report saying that the gap between white and non-white voter turnout is widening and it's widening in states where the Supreme Court has actually gotten I did the voting rights act.

And what I would say in response to that is look at what conservatives, both voters and elected and judges have done. They've restricted your rights, not increase them. And that's the -- that's the message that I think needs to needs to hit at home with those voters.

BURNETT: And so, Harry, Biden -- Trump has also been going to those same states.

ENTEN: Yeah.

BURNETT: I mean, these are the states we all know. These are the great seven. Yeah that determined the whole thing last time and very well; may this time. I mean, you had, what, Arizona, Georgia, 10,000 votes between the two of them.

So, what are the states you're looking at now?

ENTEN: Yeah. I mean, look, you pointed out Georgia where there's a large African-American population. So that hits on this slide, we just spoke about.

Well, what about Arizona and Nevada? Those are the states where 20 plus percent of likely voters are Hispanic. And look here, its the same trend line among Hispanics at this point in 2020 versus at this point in 2024 right now, the Biden -- Biden still leads, but those leaves shrunk significantly by somewhere between 20 and 30 percentage points.

I have never seen anything like this, Erin, and unless asking -- asking the question, either one, we're on our way to a major realignment or, two, pollsters have gotten something very, very wrong.

SMIKLE: But we will get there, we will get there because I believe that African American voters who have stood up for the Democratic Party time and time again, recognize that they are probably the only voters that really stand between the future of democracy and further elections versus autocratic government, authoritarian government.

BURNETT: All right. Well, we will see, but those numbers certainly are stunning and we're going to be talking about.

ENTEN: I think so.

BURNETT: Where are we talking about that?

All right. Thank you both.

And OUTFRONT next, he was America's ambassador to Russia under Trump. Now though he has been banned. Ambassador John Sullivan is next.

And former President Trump now threatening to deport Prince Harry if he's reelected. How come?



BURNETT: Tonight, the U.S. losing to Putin. More than 1,000 U.S. military personnel getting kicked out of Niger, an essential military agreement falling apart. Niger, once a major American ally, turning instead to Putin. Russia has been fever actually working to expand its presence, not just in Niger, but across all of Africa, mineral rich and many, many countries, with one top U.S. military official warning that several African nations are, quote, at the tipping point of falling under Russia's influence.

OUTFRONT now, John Sullivan, the former U.S. ambassador to Russia.

And, Ambassador, you know, we have seen this in countries, Mali, Burkina Faso, across Africa. Now, you've got 1,000 Americans kicked out of Niger, a ten-year deal over. This was a crucial location for U.S. troops, counterterror efforts, Putin now gaining ground.

Can you explain why this matters so much?

JOHN SULLIVAN, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA: Sure. Thanks, Erin. It's great -- great to be with you.

Yeah. This has been a longstanding problem that the Russians, through their proxy organizations like the Wagner Group, have been working, do ingratiate themselves into these countries it undermines the United States counter-terrorism mission. It allows them to expropriate the natural resources of these countries, valuable natural resources, gold, including some that are essential for U.S. national security like uranium, in Niger for example.

So it's -- it's a national security problem for the United States, but it's even bigger problem for all the people who live in these countries whose autocratic governments are now associating with what amounts to a private military contractor/terrorist organization like the Wagner Group.

BURNETT: And you mentioned the Wagner Group. You know, before Prigozhin was killed in that plane crash after his attempted coup. You know, when he had marched of the way to Moscow, he -- he and his mercenary army --


BURNETT: -- were deeply involved in Africa, right? That was where he had actually gotten so much of his money, from all of the minerals and all the deals that he did and natural resources, weapons running.

And can you tell me how active they still are? The Wagner Group, and what -- and what are the mercenaries -- how are they getting mercenaries there?

SULLIVAN: Well, Erin, it's really like a franchise, the way to think of it. The Wagner Organization we call it Wagner, it was really a bunch of corporate shell companies that recruited Russian military, other military personnel to go in and provide security services to autocrats in these countries.


The franchise -- the franchise founder, has been eliminated by Vladimir Putin and now, they're recruiting more military personnel to go in and undermine security, undermine the counter-terrorism mission in these countries support autocrats, and undermine the West.

BURNETT: So, former President Trump has just done an interview with Nigel Farage of the U.K., and they talk about Vladimir Putin, specifically Trump's relationship with Putin, and how Trump says things would be very different if he were president right now.

I wanted to play the exchange for you, Ambassador.


FARAGE: Is Putin the kind of man we can negotiate with?

TRUMP: Yeah, I think he is.

FARAGE: Do you?

TRUMP: So we did very well with him. Look, you know, I'm the one that was the one -- I stop the pipeline, Nord Stream II, people don't realize that. You know, I'd say, I like, I like Putin, I got along with Putin great.

FARAGE: Putin responds to strength.

TRUMP: I don't know. I don't know what he responds to. He responded to me.


BURNETT: Ambassador, you are one of the few now who in these past years have seen Putin and Trump up close. So what -- what do you think about this right now? Is Vladimir Putin right now kind of person anyone can negotiate with?

SULLIVAN: Well, I think former President Trump's approach to Putin like his approach to other world leaders, was highly personal. He wanted to engage in personal diplomacy, develop a relationship with world theaters, including Putin. Even when it was inconsistent with longstanding U.S. foreign policy and national security policy.

His rationale was that he could develop a relationship and then do good things for the United States, but a leader like Putin can't be manipulated that way. And President Trump thought that he could develop this personal relationship and it just wouldn't work, didn't work then, won't work in the future.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Ambassador. I appreciate your time.

SULLIVAN: Thank you.

BURNETT: All right. And next, another photo taken by Kate Middleton doctored. A professional photographer who knows exactly what was changed will show you, next.



BURNETT: Tonight, another doctored photo taken by Kate Middleton. This after footage of the royal has emerged, leading to more speculation and wild conspiracy theories. And now, Getty images placing an editorial advisory on this second photo, which we've got up here on the screen that's the picture of Queen Elizabeth with ten of her grandchildren, or great grandchildren shot in 2022.

CNN analysis finding signs that it was altered in as many as 19 places, 19.

So, Nick Watt is OUTFRONT to show you exactly what changed.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Getty Images now says this pic taken by Kate, duchess of Cambridge, released last year of the queen and the grandkids and the great grandkids was, quote, digitally enhanced at source.

KIM FOX, FAMILY PHOTOGRAPHER: A hotspot here, and then another hotspot here. That lighting is weird to me.

To capture a photo of children this young, all looking at the camera and all smiling is very difficult. Sixty to 70 percent chance I would be switching a head here and there.

WATT: Kate earlier admitted to amateur editing of this recent smiley snap before it was released.

There's a sort of wrist cardigan situation over here.

FOX: If one of the folds was bulging out, then she would have liquefied it and it would have distorted her hand.

WATT: So what? It's just a little Photoshop.

Well, number one, we're told Kate is recovering from surgery, hadn't been seen since Christmas, fueling bright breathless bonkers, conspiracy theories, the fudged photo supersized, the breathlessness.

There is some suggestion that Kate is sort of indisposed, and its a complete fabrication, and it's super sinister.

FOX: I guess that's possible, but if somebody were this good as a retoucher, to make it look this natural, they would have perfected the imperfections. They wouldn't have done a bad job on the cloning of the jacket.

WATT: Number two, the royal press shop is usually pretty slick, imposing rules on how we commoners can use official royal photos, no cropping or photoshopping.

So why are they now engaged in such amateurish jiggery-pokery?

FOX: Let's just say this ones hysterically crying. You know, he's looking off and blinked. You would have to answer the question whether that's, you know, not photo journalistic integrity because if this was a photo that was 20 shots were taken in exactly the same place in a matter of a minute, and you switch two heads, for smiles, how unethical was that?

WATT: You're not changing the narrative.

FOX: History. You're not changing the narrative.

WATT: Journalistically, Jordan, ethical to do that?


WATT: You wouldn't do that? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not at all.

WATT: No, you wouldn't do that. Okay.

FOX: Okay.

WATT: Number three, public images, almost all the royals have left. They don't do a lot of actual ruling. It's mostly shaking hands, opening supermarkets and stuff and just looking great.

So an image dent, a collapse of trust is a big deal for what is essentially an anachronistic institution that's survives on goodwill.

FOX: Maybe she should have an in-house retoucher.

WATT: Some newspaper just published some of the first images of Kate in the wild this year, then "The Telegraph" ran a story alleging its not Kate, but a look alike. Is trust eroding? That's the -- so what of it all?


WATT: And, Erin, in that interview just mentioned, Donald Trump's weighing in. He's on team Kate. He also said the Prince Harry might get deported for lying on his visa application should Donald Trump return to the White House.

Anyway, listen, the royal family has been essentially retouching for centuries. Henry the VIII was undoubted uglier in real life than he was in those beautiful portraits. You just can't get away with it anymore.

Palace has said Kate's going to be out and about again in Easter, ten days from now. Let's see if she comes out, does a little dance. Maybe everyone will stop getting there bloomers and a bunch about all this, but I doubt it -- Erin.

BURNETT: Yeah. You never know. It's hard to -- it's hard to go back.

Thank you so much, Nick Watt.

And thanks so much to all of you for being with us.

"AC360" starts now.