Return to Transcripts main page

Erin Burnett Outfront

RFK Jr. Responds To Growing Attacks From Democrats & GOP; New Report Links "Havana Syndrome" Cases To Russia; Trump Net Worth Loses $1B. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired April 01, 2024 - 19:00   ET




Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is here with me in studio live as his campaign says he now has enough signatures to appear on the ballot in North Carolina, another battleground state that as both Biden and Trump nervous tonight.

Plus, another suspected case of the mysterious brain injury known as Havana syndrome. I'm going to speak to investigative journalists, Christo Grozev. He singles out a specific Russian intelligence unit as the possible culprit.

Also OUTFRONT, a retired us official based in Havana who is widely considered to be patient zero.

And, Trump's net worth plunging today by a billion dollars on paper. Why?

Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, don't call him a spoiler. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. saying he is in the race to win it in November as he reaches yet another milestone tonight. His campaign says Kennedy now how has enough signatures to get on the ballot in North Carolina, which is, of course, a crucial battleground state. And in just a moment, I'm going to speak to Kennedy live right here on set.

The Democrat-turned independent who has the money, the supporters, and the potential to upend the 2024 presidential election. And as of tonight, he is on the ballot in Utah. However, his campaign and allies claimed they have met the signature threshold to get them on the ballot and a whole slew of additional states, Hawaii, Michigan, Georgia, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, and Arizona. And of course, I've mentioned North Carolina as well.

Now, when I say those names to many of you may say, wow, those are obviously crucial states and they were. They're states that Biden and Trump many cases, one by just a few votes, and that has both campaigns nervous that Kennedy, with his famous family name and his charisma may siphon crucial votes away from them in 2024. And I just give you one example. Look at the state of Arizona. So the

2020 margin of victory there for Joe Biden was just over 10,000 votes so now, just compare it to the latest polling right now from the state of Arizona. And in that polling, Kennedy has the support of 26 percent of registered voters. Biden and Trump are only head by a few points, they're at 33 percent each.

So to put that in perspective, as of tonight, they're 4 million registered voters in Arizona, making the bottom line clear, that particular poll well indicates the Kennedy right now has the support of 1 million registered voters in the state of Arizona. Now, with those kinds of numbers, Kennedy can do a lot of damage, which is why both campaigns, Trump and Biden, are very concerned.

Trump posting online, RFK Jr. is the most radical left candidate in the race by far trying of course, to tie him to the left and siphon votes from Biden.

Meanwhile, Democrats posted this ad on billboards around a Kennedy campaign rally and you can see it reads: RFK Jr. powered by MAGA/Trump.

Well, all the while, Kennedy continues to say that he's not going to spoil the race for Biden or Trump. He insist that he's going to win.


ROBERT F. KENNEDY JR. (I), U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm way ahead of an independent candidate in history right now, and I intend to win the election.

I think I can win the White House.

I think we have a very good chance of winning in November.


BURNETT: I want to get straight to Jeff Zeleny to begin our coverage because he's live in Madison, Wisconsin, another key battleground state.

And, Jeff, where you are Democrats obviously are very focused on RFK Jr. as he tries to make inroads in that battleground state.

What are you hearing?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Erin, Wisconsin is one of those battlegrounds that has been a friendly and fruitful for third party candidates. And this year is no exception. Democrats are paying very close attention to this, conversations we've been having with a party activists and officials all day long certainly suggests that in fact one liberal talk radio host hold his audience today, don't waste your vote.

But, Erin, its not simply Democrats. As Donald Trump comes back to Wisconsin tomorrow for the first time since August of 2022, Republicans also are watching this very carefully. The state party Republican chairman told me today, yes, our base aligns with some of Robert Kennedy's issues.

So there's no question for the next several seven months, both sides will be watching this. Erin, here is why -- it's all about the math. Consider in 2016, Donald Trump, won Wisconsin by some 23,000 votes. Jill Stein was on the ballot, received about the same.

In 2020, Joe Biden won by about 21,000 votes. Jill Stein was not on the ballot here. So that is what concerns some Democrats, if there are third party candidates on the ballot, how does that split the vote? So, its one of the reasons going into Wisconsin primary tomorrow actually, some Democrats are keeping their eye on the uninstructed question on the ballot. That's the protest vote, if you will, for Gaza war.


So this is something that is going to be playing out for the next a seven months. But the ballot deadline here is not until August. It only takes 2,000 signatures statewide for him to qualify -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Jeff Zeleny, thank you very much in Wisconsin.

And OUTFRONT now, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who is running, of course, as an independent for president of the United States.

Mr. Kennedy, I appreciate your time.

So, you heard Jeff Zeleny going through the role that Jill Stein played when you just looked at the vote tallies in the state of Wisconsin. Only need 2,000 votes to get on the ballot in the state of Wisconsin. So what do you say to Democrats who point to Jill Stein and say, that's going to be you?

KENNEDY JR.: Well, right now, I don't know what I'm going to do -- who I pull more from in November.

Right now, I'm pulling pretty much equally, probably a little more from President Trump. Like I -- as you pointed out, I want to pull from both of them.

But do you want kind of a glib answer or a thoughtful answer?

BURNETT: I'd always prefer thoughtful.


I mean, what I would say is, you have both sides using scare tactics, that Republicans say that, if Joe Biden gets in, it's going to be the end of the republic. Democrats say, if Donald Trump gets in, it's going to be the end of democracy.

And I don't think either of them are actually going to destroy democracy. There's -- we have institutions in this country that are pretty enduring. And if you look at both those candidates, they're very different in their temperament. They're very different in their ideology, their -- and in their rhetoric.

But on the issues where they actually depart from each other, it's a very narrow band of issues. And it's the culture war issues, like abortion, guns, the border. And they're all important issues, but they're not existential issues.

On the existential issues, neither of them has the capacity to address them, the biggest one being the debt. We now have $34 trillion in debt. The service on that debt is more than the -- our military spending. So, and within five years, 50 cents out of every dollar collected in taxes are going to go to servicing the debt.


KENNEDY: And who ran up that debt? It was President Trump and President Biden.

Together, in just four years each, they ran up more spending than all the previous presidents going back to George Washington combined. The chronic disease epidemic, when my uncle was president, 6 percent of Americans had chronic disease. Today, 60 percent do.

It's the biggest issue we have, $4.3 trillion that we're spending on that. And it's four times, almost five times our military budget. And it's getting worse and worse. You have never heard President Trump talk about it, never heard President Biden.

The polarization in our country, again existential, all of these issues, A.I., and neither of them has the capacity to deal with these. And all of those issues are created by a system of corporate capture, this corrupt merger between state and corporate power that has absolutely subverted and undermined our democracy.

And neither President Trump nor President Biden has the capacity to address it, because they're part of that system. They're both being financed by BlackRock and State Street and Vanguard, the military contractors, the pharmaceutical industries, and that system just spits out bad policies and the illusion that, if you differ on culture war issues, it means you're radically different.

But the real issues -- things that we need to do to save our country, they can't do them. And if you vote for President Trump or President Biden, they both had their chance. You're going to get more of the same. If somebody needs -- if somebody actually wants change, wants to actually alter those issues, they're going to vote for me.

BURNETT: And yet, to be president of the United States, if you -- you have to be on the ballot in enough states to be able to win the Electoral College.


BURNETT: You're not right now.

KENNEDY: Yes, but I will be.

BURNETT: And you believe you will be? You believe -- I mean, because I know...

KENNEDY: Oh, I know I will be; 100 percent, I'm going to be on the ballot in every state and the District of Columbia.

We've -- yes -- we've -- and I have said this from the beginning, and we're already well on our way there. I think, within eight weeks, we're going to probably be on another 19 states. We were not allowed to get on the ballot before in most states because we didn't have a vice presidential candidate. You have to name a vice presidential candidate to get on the ballot in about 26 states.

So now we have that. And we have, we have about 200,000 volunteers. We're going to -- it's going to be easy for us to get on the ballot in every state.

BURNETT: So I know part of the reason that...


KENNEDY: In North Carolina, we had to get 13,000 signatures. We got 23,000.


In New Hampshire, they said it would take us months to get our signatures. We got them in one day. In Utah, we got them in one week during a blizzard. So we're not going to -- we have a very, very good volunteer army out there.

BURNETT: So when you talk about that you had to have a V.P. candidate to get on in some of these states, right?


BURNETT: So that's part of the reason I know you made this decision when you did.

The person you have chosen is Nicole Shanahan. She's a lawyer. She doesn't have government experience, obviously not a household name. And a lot of people have questioned why you picked her.

Lis Smith of the DNC just today says: "She was picked for one reason, and one reason only, the money." And, obviously she speaks for the DNC, but Mick Mulvaney, who was OMB director under President Trump, said this.


MICK MULVANEY, FORMER ACTING WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: There's one thing we need to know about her. It's the reason that Kennedy picked her for vice president. She's fabulously wealthy.

This is the woman whose single-handedly bank rolled his ad during the Super Bowl that cost $4 million. That's why he put her on the ticket, along with the fact that I think everybody else probably turned him down. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Would you have picked her if she didn't have the money?

KENNEDY: Yes, did you see her speech?

BURNETT: Part of it. But I'm just asking, did you pick...

KENNEDY: I don't think anybody who watched that speech would ever say that. She was impressive. She's eloquent. She's authentic.

Her life is the template for the American dream. She started out as a minority kid in Oakland at extraordinary poverty, on food stamps, on welfare. She grew up and attended Stanford. Well, she became a Stanford fellow. She became an entrepreneur. She's a very, very, uber successful businesswoman.

She has encyclopedic knowledge of A.I. She has an encyclopedic knowledge of the chronic disease epidemic and how to stop it. She is young and she's a mother. And I wanted -- in my candidate, I wanted three things, one, somebody who was not an insider, some -- because it was the insiders who created this problem.

They created the debt crisis. They created the addiction to war. They created the chronic disease epidemic. And they created the polarization. I wanted somebody outside who was thinking outside of the box. I wanted -- our campaign is for young people.

We are -- we're the only campaign that is looking at this assault on our children, on what is happening to the young generation. So I wanted somebody who was young, who is not an 80-year-old man. I wanted somebody who's a mother. I wanted somebody who's going to champion their issues.

And I don't think anybody who looked at Nicole Shanahan's speech, which I urge people to do, would ever say that the reason I picked her was for her money.

By the way, we don't need her money to get on the ballot in every state. We already have the biggest field operation of any campaign. We are going to have no problem getting on the ballot in every state. We did not need Nicole Shanahan's money, and we're getting plenty of money, because we're raising more money, our campaign is, than President Trump or President Biden.

BURNETT: Well, so when you talk about though, that you say that you're pulling equally from both -- and we will see what happens.

But in the polling that we have...


BURNETT: But hold on one second.

You -- I'm going to just take Georgia, because we all know Georgia margin of victory last time was 11,779 votes. KENNEDY: OK. Yes.

BURNETT: So, the latest polling from Georgia, you get 12 percent of the Democratic vote. You pull 5 percent of the Republican vote. Again, these are polls. This is where we are right now, but that's when they -- that's what they show.

So, when you look at it that way, how can you say that your campaign is not taking more from Biden?

KENNEDY: What I would say to you -- and I'm not -- this isn't something I want to argue with you about. It's just what I'm -- my observation is. And I don't care one way or the other.

What my observation is of the Quinnipiac poll, the Harvard/Harris poll, the Gallup poll, The New York Times/Siena poll, all the leading national polls, at this point in history as of today, show me polling, like maybe two more points from President Trump than I am from President Biden.

So, mainly, what they're showing -- and the -- Politico did a big article on this -- is my supporters are people who aren't going to vote at all, largely, and my donors are people who had given up on the American political process and are reengaging, because they feel that they don't want to choose between the lesser of two evils.

They want to choose a candidate who is going to inspire them, who's going to give them hope, who has a vision for the future, and who has the vigor and energy that actually changes this country. And that -- those -- I want to engage those people in the political process.


KENNEDY: The Democrats and Republicans, I'm going to take from the margins.

And I can't tell you -- even today, it's irrelevant, Erin, because it's really, what -- who am I going to take from in November?

BURNETT: So you -- in 2000, Ralph Nader obviously was running.

And you didn't interview with NBC News just a few months before the election. You said this.



KENNEDY: There's a political reality here, which is that his candidacy could draw enough votes in certain key states from Al Gore to give the entire election to George W. Bush.


BURNETT: And then you wrote an op-ed in "The New York Times." You wrote: "Ralph Nader is my friend and hero, but Mr. Nader's candidacy could siphon votes from Al Gore. Mr. Nader dismisses his spoiler role by arguing there is a little distinction between the major party candidates and that Mr. Gore is compromised on too many issues. While I admire his high-minded ideals, his suggestion that there is no difference between Mr. Gore and Mr. Bush is irresponsible."

A moment ago, you said you essentially see Trump and Biden as the same, different issues. But do you really believe that? When people talk about the threats of democracy that Trump poses, do you really think that is as equal -- equal to Biden?

KENNEDY: Listen, I can make the argument that President Biden is a much worse threat to democracy.

And the reason for that is President Biden is the first candidate in history, the first president in history that has used the federal agencies to censor political speech, so to censor his opponent. I can say that because I just won a case in the federal Court of Appeals and now before the Supreme Court that shows that he started censoring not just me -- 37 hours after he took the oath of office, he was censoring me.

No president in the country has ever done that. The greatest threat to democracy is not somebody who questions election returns, but a president of the United States who uses the power of his office to force the social media companies, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter to open a portal and give access to that portal to the FBI, to the CIA, to the IRS, to CISA, to NIH to censor his political critics.

President Biden, the first president in history, used the Secret -- his power over the Secret Service to deny Secret Service protection to one of his political opponents for political reasons. He's weaponizing the federal agencies.

Those are really critical threats to democracy.

BURNETT: Donald Trump, of course, tried to overturn a free and fair election. He tried to overturn one, right? He's still fighting in court.


BURNETT: How is that not a threat to democracy?

KENNEDY: Well, I think that is a threat to democracy if he -- him overthrowing -- trying to overthrow the election clearly is a threat to democracy.

But the question was, who is the worst threat to democracy? And what I would say is, I -- I'm not going to answer that question, but I can argue that President Biden is, because the First Amendment, Erin, is the most important. But Adams and Hamilton and Madison said, we put the guarantee of freedom of expression in the First Amendment because all of our other constitutional rights depend on it. BURNETT: So...

KENNEDY: If you have a government that can silence its opponent, it has license for any atrocity.

BURNETT: So, just to be clear, you're saying you could make an argument that President Biden is a worse threat to democracy than Donald Trump?

KENNEDY: Absolutely.

BURNETT: That's what you just said.

KENNEDY: But who else has ever tried to -- who else has ever tried to -- what president in history has ever tried to censor political opponents? What president has weaponized the federal agency?

When my father came into the Justice Department, the first week he was there, he got all of the branch and division attorneys together, and he said, whatever we do, we are not going to use the power of the Justice Department for political reasons.

BURNETT: But Trump, of course, has said that he would do that.


BURNETT: He has said that he would do that.

KENNEDY: Of course, and that is reprehensible.

BURNETT: And he is the only president who's tried to overthrow the results of an election.

KENNEDY: Well, you know what? Let me say something about that.

I'm not going to defend President Trump on that. That was appalling. And there's many things that President Trump has done that are appalling. But, in 2001, we had an election stolen in this country during the Bush/Gore election.

In 2004, I wrote an award-winning article for "Rolling Stone" that showed how that that election was stolen from John Kerry. So I don't think -- and most Americans agree with me about 2001, that it was a stolen election from our -- from the Democratic Party candidate.

So I don't think people who say that the election is stolen not -- that we shouldn't make pariahs of those people. We shouldn't demonize them. We shouldn't vilify them.

What we should be doing is saying, let's all get together, Republicans and Democrats, and fix the election system so that it cannot be fixed, so that we're the exemplary democracy of the world. We ought to...


BURNETT: But even saying that... KENNEDY: Let me tell you this.


KENNEDY: Las Vegas is built on machines that can count and never make mistakes.

Should -- can't we get -- can't we make an election machine and can't we have an electoral process that every American says, whatever happens...

BURNETT: But when you go through all the data -- OK, hold on, but when...

KENNEDY: ... it cannot be -- it can't be fixed?

BURNETT: I understand that we want elections to be as perfect as they possibly can be.


BURNETT: And one should not use the fact that the election was not stolen and was not cheated to not try to perfect it. I understand that distinction.


But when you do as you're doing, and you open the door to, well, we want every machine -- you're opening the door to people who can say, well, then that's exactly what I'm saying. The machines miscounted. The machines did this. But they didn't. Every single analysis has shown that that did not happen, right, as you know.

Do you worry that you're opening the door for people to believe this?


KENNEDY: Listen...

BURNETT: Look at the Republican primary voters and that they believe that Trump won.

KENNEDY: I'm not worried. I never -- I don't worry about how people might misinterpret my words.

I -- what I said, I mean, and I'm careful about how I use language. Oh, I'm not saying that election was -- that there was cheating. I have never said that. What I have said is that there are problems, particularly, Erin, if you don't have paper ballots.

The election machines can be fixed in various ways. And that's just a fact. What we ought to have is, we ought to have machines, and we ought to have paper ballots at the same time. And we ought to have a very low threshold to get a recount of the paper ballots. And that just makes sense. It's common sense. But we -- and if we implement that in every jurisdiction, you're not going to have problems where Americans are at each other's throats, accusing each other...


BURNETT: I mean, so you're talking about a technical thing. Like, instead of having one half of 1 percent be the trigger for a recount, you would put it even lower? I mean, that's the sort of reforms you're talking about here?

KENNEDY: Well, I -- whatever. I'm not choosing a particular threshold, but a threshold that makes sense that's a very low threshold where you get a recount if you -- if there's some question.

So, and that's a -- I don't think this is a -- I'm saying something that's controversial. I'm saying something that I think most Americans, virtually any American, would agree with. Let's have an election system that even 10 percent of the Americans who are crazy people, and even they won't question, because our election system is the best election system in the world.

And nobody -- I mean, Vermont, for example, has a very, very good election system. Nobody ever questions the Vermont election system. And we ought to be able to do the same thing in every state. We are supposed to be the template for democracy in every country in the world. Let's make sure -- we put a man on the moon.

We have had all these accomplishments. Let's make sure we have a system that nobody is questioning, even crazy people are questioning.

BURNETT: People are always going to question it, though.

KENNEDY: Well, again...

BURNETT: They're always going to question it. And that...

KENNEDY: You want to narrow the margin of people who are questioning it to as much as possible by giving nobody any kind of legitimate claim about it. That's all I'm saying.

And what I'm saying is not saying -- I'm not saying that President Trump won the election or that President Biden -- and I have never said anything or suggested anything like that. All I'm saying is, let's focus on the issues that bring people together, rather than constantly focusing on the polarization, on the issues that drive Americans apart and have us all at each other's throats, with this very, very toxic polarization and demonization of each other.

BURNETT: I want to ask you.

I mentioned at the top of the program how Trump was trying to tie you to the far left, right, with his recent post: "The most radical left candidate in the race. I guess this would mean he's going to be taking votes from crooked Joe Biden, which would be a great service to America. I love that he's running." Obviously, the Democrats were putting up billboards outside your rally tying you to MAGA and to Trump. But they're -- it's very interesting, over time, over the past six months, when you and Trump have spoken about each other.

I wanted to play some of those times and give you a chance to explain. Here it is.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will say RFK Jr., who I have known not very well, but I have known for a while, and I respect him. A lot of people respect him.

KENNEDY: The people who support Donald Trump feel that they're regarded by the elites as deplorable people and that they're not part of our country. And I think Donald Trump made them feel like they were part of our country.

TRUMP: That he's a very smart guy and a good guy.

KENNEDY: I'm proud that President Trump likes me.


BURNETT: I was most curious actually about your last statement there. What about President Trump liking you makes you proud?

KENNEDY: Well, here's the thing.

And, first of all, I'm definitely the only candidate running who has sued Donald Trump twice and won the lawsuits. And so if Donald Trump does -- Donald Trump a lot of things wrong, and I call him on it. But I try to be a candidate who's not running on rancor, who's not running on vitriol, who's not running on personal attacks, but is running based upon my record and based upon my ideas on the issues.

Now, here's how -- let me explain to you how I view this issue. I think there's a revolution happening in our country, and it's the same kind of thing that happened when my father was running in 1968. The polarization, the division of Americans is the most toxic it's been since the American Civil War.


That is going to -- there's a whole group of people in this country, the American middle class, 57 percent of Americans who can't put their hands on $1,000 if there's an emergency in their family. With those people, if the engine light comes on in their car, it's the apocalypse. You know, they're going to lose their car, lose their job.

They're feeling forgotten by the Democratic Party that used to represent the interests of the middle class. They're feeling forgotten by the entire political establishment. Donald Trump came in, in 2016, and said to those people, yes, the whole thing is fixed, and that's what they wanted to hear. Populist movements can either be harnessed by demagogues for dark reasons, and with -- using all the alchemies of demagoguery, or they can be captured by idealistic leaders and idealistic reason.

My father captured most of the white vote in Maryland, Delaware, and the Eastern states just before his death in 1968. Four years later, those same people voted for George Wallace. Why is that? They were populists. My father captured, that energy, with the powers of...


BURNETT: How would you describe yourself? Are you a populist? Are you a nationalist? How would you describe yourself?

KENNEDY: I would describe myself as a populist, but like my father was a populist, an populist for idealism, for America's greatest -- our signature values, for democracy, for free speech, for a Constitution, for a democracy that's not run and captured by corporate interests, anti-war, and for the middle class, for the cops, for the firefighters, for working people in this country, about rebuilding our middle class, about making sure our kids have -- are able to live the American dream.

There's -- the American dream when I was a kid said, if you worked hard, if you played by the rules, you could buy a house, you could finance it, you could take a summer vacation, you could raise a family, you could put something aside for retirement on one job.

My kid -- I have seven kids, Erin, and none of them believe that that promise appeals -- applies to them. And why -- and our -- they're sick.They're -- today -- when I was a kid, juvenile diabetes, a pediatrician typically would see one case in his entire lifetime.

Today, one out of every three kids who walks into his office is prediabetic or diabetic. Why isn't the political establishment -- we're spending more on diabetes than we are our defense budget. Why isn't the political establishment talking about this? We ought to be solving this problem.


KENNEDY: Why are our health agencies never even asking this question?

BURNETT: You just mentioned seven children.


BURNETT: And I'm wondering, as we sit here, and you're doing this interview, you're doing interviews, you're doing rallies, and you're running.

The candidacy that you're running has cost you a lot personally. It has cost you -- siblings, family members have spoken out against what you're doing. They are angry, they're upset, they're hurt. Your sister Rory was on our show recently, and she spoke about it. JFK's grandson also posted on social media overnight something I don't know if you saw.

I wanted to play both of them.


RORY KENNEDY, SISTER OF ROBERT F. KENNEDY: I feel strongly that this is the most important election of our lifetime.

And I do worry that Bobby just taking some percentage of votes from Biden could shift the election and lead to Trump's election.

JOHN SCHLOSSBERG, GRANDSON OF JOHN F. KENNEDY: He's trading in on Camelot, celebrity, conspiracy theories, and conflict for personal gain and fame.

I have listened to him. I know him. I have no idea why anyone thinks he should be president. What I do know is, his candidacy is an embarrassment.


BURNETT: That's your family. That's your family.


KENNEDY: Yes, I have a big family. There's about 105 cousins on the last time we counted.


BURNETT: But Rory is your sister.

KENNEDY: And I have siblings who are supporting me. I have cousins and nephews and nieces who are working in my campaign.

My campaign is being run by my daughter-in-law. My -- our -- the political party that we started is chaired by my cousin Anthony Shriver.

But, listen, I have a big family. I don't know anybody in America who's got a family who agrees with them on everything. I don't know if that's your situation, Erin, if you just have a family who believes everything you do is like unicorns and rainbows.

But I come from a family, from a milieu where we came home at night and ate dinner with my father, and he would orchestrate debates between us. And we would -- in the same way that his father did with him. And we could disagree on issues, and we could disagree with passion and information, but we still love each other.


And I love Rory. I love my family, I feel loved by them. Listen, I understand why they don't like me running. I understand. President Biden has been a 40-year friend to me and my family. He has a bust of my father behind him on the Oval Office. BURNETT: Yes.


KENNEDY: He talked about how my father inspired him to enter politics.

There's five members of my family who work for the Biden administration. So I understand why they're dismayed that I'm running against him. They're also worried that, what my sister said, that my candidacy may get Trump elected.

I get it. I understand it.

BURNETT: What happens if it does? What happens you wake up the day after the election, we have results, and that is what happened?

KENNEDY: Well, yes.

BURNETT: Will you regret it?

KENNEDY: What I -- what I said to you applies to that.

I don't think either President Trump or President Biden are going to solve the debt crisis in this country, which is existential. I don't think either of them are going to get us out of foreign wars, this addiction that we have to forever wars.

President Trump actually said he was going to do that, but then he appointed John Bolton. He said he was going to drain the swamp. He appointed John Bolton as head of NSA, and that's -- John Bolton is a swamp creature. He's the template for swamp creatures.

I don't think that either of them are capable of ending the corporate capture of all of our agencies, the capture of the CIA by the military industrial complex, the capture of NIH, CDC, and FDA by the pharmaceutical companies, the capture of USDA by processed food and big ag.

They're not going to do anything about that. So it's going to be more of the same, whoever gets elected. There's going to be changes around the margins, like attacks on abortion or whatever. But both of them only have four years. And I don't think they can dismantle democracy in four years. I think America's institutions are too great for that.

And the chance for me to actually change the nature of governance in this country, to restore democracy, to restore our nation's moral authority abroad, have a foreign -- give us a foreign policy that's not based on war or projecting military power abroad, but on projecting economic power and moral strength, the chances of that happening are too great and too important for me to give up this contest.

BURNETT: All right, Bobby Kennedy, thank you very much. I really appreciate your time.

KENNEDY: Erin, thanks for having me. BURNETT: All right.

And next, the DNC watching this interview closely, along with every move that RFK Jr. has been making, and we're back with live reaction.

Plus, the reporter who uncovered the Russian government operatives who poisoned Alexei Navalny now says Russia is tied to the mysterious of syndrome attacks on more than 100 American officials. I'm going to talk to the reporter Christo Grozev who broke this.

Also OUTFRONT tonight, the man known as Havana syndrome patient zero.

And more breaking news this hour, Trump just lost $1 billion today on paper. We'll tell you how.



BURNETT: Tonight, Democrats closely watching the conversation with Robert F. Kennedy Jr. The DNC zeroing in on how to stop Kennedy.

Kayla Tausche is OUTFRONT at the White House.

And, Kayla, what are you hearing from your sources about how they are viewing the Kennedy threat tonight?

KAYLA TAUSCHE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, the Biden campaign and the Democratic National Committee in particular are watching Bobby Kennedy very closely. The party standing up a team of five that are solely tasked with monitoring third-party candidates.

Of course, Bobby Kennedy, chief among them, and just tonight in response to your interview, one of those peoples tweeting, imagine launching a spoiler campaign for president because you weren't allowed to peddle conspiracy theories online.

A DNC source telling us that the strategy for that team has a few different elements. But the main part of it is seeking to define Bobby Kennedy early, before it's clear who he is siphoning votes from or how many votes, saying this to CNN, saying, the party is watching him like we would any opponent and not taking anything for granted.

Now, among the messaging that's resulted as the dynamic that you were talking about in your conversation with him, the fact that not only is the Biden campaign seeking to align him with Trump and with Trump's donors, but also so suggesting that Trump's team is trying to prop him up to look more liberal, to pick off votes from Biden, and the Biden campaign has not really engaged directly with the Kennedy campaign are mentioned it directly.

But not so subtly, they do talk often about how many members of the Kennedy family do support President Biden. But as he just told you, Erin, he knows that he and his family had been friends with the Bidens for several decades.

BURNETT: Yes, he obviously wanted to point that out.

Kayla, thank you very much, at the White House tonight.

And I want to go now to Daniel Dale.

And, Daniel, a lot of things that Kennedy said in that interview deserve a little bit more attention including his claim that he made that the 2004 election was, quote, stolen from John Kerry towards the end, he made that point. I'll just play it again


KENNEDY: In 2001, we had an election stolen in this country during the Bush Gore election.

In 2004, I wrote an award-winning article for "Rolling Stone" that showed how that that election was stolen from John Kerry. So I don't think -- and most Americans agree with me about 2001, that it was a stolen election from our -- from the Democratic Party candidate.


BURNETT: So, Daniel, that's not something that a lot of people have heard, the 2004 election, okay. And it stood out to you along with a few other key moments there.

DANIEL DALE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It did. So he did write an article about this in 2006 and rolling stone claiming that the election was stolen from John Kerry because of what happened in the state of Ohio, that an important swing state.


That article did not actually prove the election was stolen. It raised a litany of some very real problems that nonetheless did not show that carry would have won the state, if not for those problems. It also made like in many cases, with Mr. Kennedy, a whole bunch of speculative leaps assumptions about data that experts in these -- things like exit polling said just not true. So no, there was no proof the election was stolen 2004 from Mr. Kerry.

So, Mr. Kennedy also made some other claims there, and I think we need to look at. He asserted that President Biden deny -- has denied him Secret Service protection in this election. First of all, there is no evidence that President Biden has been at all personally involved in decisions about who should and should not get Secret Service protection.

Secondly, I think its important to note that there are federal criteria for who gets set protection, including such things as being the nominee of a major party, which Mr. Kennedy is not. Being at 15 percent or higher consistently for a month in the Real Clear Politics polling average, average with Mr. Kennedy currently is not.

Now there is some discretion. The secretary of homeland security, but yes, part of the Biden administration can decide to offer protection. But there's no evidence this has been a decision for Mr. Biden to put him at risk.

He also claimed that President Biden has been personally censoring him. We know there is a controversy about a White House communications with social media companies about what post should post an account should remain up or not. There is no evidence that Biden has been involved whatsoever.

And it's important to remember he was posting a frequent serial vaccine and other COVID-19 misinformation. That's what we're talking about here. Not political criticism.

BURNETT: All right, all right, which is obviously very significant to note that distinction.

All right. Our thanks to Daniel Dale.

Jeff Zeleny is back with me now.

And in addition, Ashley Allison joins, former national coalitions director for the Biden-Harris 2020 campaign. And, David Urban, former senior advisor to the Trump campaign.

So, Ashley, you know, you hear, Kayla, the DNC. You know, they're watching Kennedy. They -- you know, we saw they put the big billboard up, saying that he's MAGA, trying to tie him to Trump. You, just heard them described himself as a populist.

So what -- what do you make of the way he's dealing with this right now?

ASHLEY ALLISON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I think RFK's interview you just did was terrifying. Not only did he push lie after lie and some conspiracy theories, he actually didn't say one time what he you would do for the American people. He talked about them, but he didn't make a clear plan for what he wants to do for them.

He will be a spoiler, most likely. He is not on enough -- you asked him this. He is not on enough ballots right now to actually get 270 Electoral College votes, which you actually need to win the presidency of the United States.

And I just like, he talked about so many issues that are baffling to me, but he talked about chronic disease? Yes. Chronic disease is an issue, but he also said that abortion rights, half of the population has lost a constitutional right.

And that's not an existential crisis. He talked about guns, which because the leading cause of death for children. He talked about being the candidate for young people, but doesn't consider the gun crisis in our country at exited the existential crisis.

He talks about Joe Biden being a bigger threat to democracy and not Donald Trump when Donald Trump had people go and stormed the Capitol, try to kill not only an answer Pelosi, but his vice president Mike Pence, who is no longer supporting Donald Trump. So his candidacy is extremely problematic. The DNC needs to take it head-on. Robert F. Kennedy is a problem for America as a candidate.


BURNETT: Jeff Zeleny, what, what do you make of the argument that he made? And, how will that play from where you're hearing it that he was saying that you could make the argument he was making the argument that Joe Biden could be a greater threat to democracy than Donald Trump, even though he said that what Donald Trump did on January was wrong.

Look, his point there was because of social media as Daniel was saying, that he argues that he was blocked from social media. But listening to that, that is not something that certainly would resonate with most Democratic disaffected Democratic voters. So that certainly sounds like and gives credence to the idea that yes he is going to take supporters potentially from both sides. That's a very much more of a Republican or Trumpian message, if you will.

But, Erin, I think one of the things that struck me when you talk to Democrat who truly are upset and disgusted and disappointed at this administration. One of the reasons is the Gaza policy and there would be an opening, talking to many Democrats if there was a candidate, a third-party option who was really making that the core of their message. That could be a problem for young voters, that is not the core of RFK Jr.'s message at all.


BURNETT: No, in fact, he said most ceasefire even ten days ago.


ZELENY: So, I think in terms of young voters, it's hard to imagine that he would speak to that.

BURNETT: Yeah. I mean, even ten days ago, he was not even saying there was time for a ceasefire. But, Biden, of course, is much more ceasefire than RFK. More pro-Israel than Biden or Trump right now, it appears.

So, David, can I just show you the map again because you heard Kennedy made the argument --

URBAN: Yeah.

BURNETT: -- that he's going to get on the ballot in all -- in all states. Right now, he's only on the ballot formally in Utah, says he's got the signature threshold for eight other states and that does include key swing states, Michigan, Georgia, and Nevada, Arizona, North Carolina, all on that.

Do you -- do you believe that he will be successful in getting on the ballot in enough states where you would be competitive from an Electoral College perspective to 270? URBAN: Well, we'll have to wait and see on that. First of all, id like to yield my time to Daniel Dale to come fact check, Allison, but I don't -- I know we don't have enough time, so it's all good.

So, clearly, Democrats are concerned, very, very concerned because what I hear Ashley's saying is right here over and over again about RFK Jr., right? He's -- he's this -- he's a bigger threat to democracy than Donald Trump. So you can't vote for either of those two.

But your point is he going to be on the ballot in enough states? I think he's going to be on the ballot and plenty of states. I think he's going to -- he's got the money. He may be on the libertarian ticket to get -- and if that's the case, then he's on every state, you'll get Secret Service protection then.


URBAN: Yeah. And so, we've got a lot of road to run down here yet. I will say listening to him, you know, what he -- what he sounded like, I hear -- I feel your pain, America. I feel your pain about the check engine light going on.

He really has a pretty populist message I think is going to resonate. I think at the end of the day, the Democrats should be plenty scared of RFK because he's a relatable -- he's, you know, I've spent only a little bit of time with them, but he's an interesting character very relatable very, very likable, affable guy on the campaign trail. And it's going to be -- it's going to be a problem if he gets out there and gets on these ballots.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you all very much.

And next, we've got new reporting from investigative journalist Christo Grozev, who is revealing that a Russian intelligence unit is tied to the debilitating Havana syndrome attacks on American officials. He's my guest along with the man who's known as patients zero.

And Trump's network plunging by more than $1 billion on paper. And this may be just the beginning, and well explain.


BURENTT: Tonight, another suspected case of Havana syndrome, the Pentagon confirming today that a senior Defense Department official experienced symptoms similar to Havana syndrome at last year's NATO summit, a summit that was attended by President Biden, President Zelenskyy of Ukraine. And, of course, many other heads of state.

Havana syndrome is the mysterious medical condition that has been experienced this date. We know by at least or more than 100 U.S. officials in the United States and abroad. That includes debilitating brain injuries.

The effects cut short careers, with many in need of serious medical attention sometimes manifest as early dementia. It comes to CBS is "60 Minutes" is linking Havana syndrome cases to a specific Russian military group known as GRU unit 29155.


This report was led by the investigative reporter, Christo Grozev. He's even identified this person. He's very young man, son of the founding commander of that GRU unit as being present when incidents occurred in Georgia, in the state -- in the country of Georgia, in the capital Tbilisi. Yet, the U.S. today is standing by its assessment from a year ago that a foreign adversary is unlikely behind the attacks.

Christo Grozev joins me now to begin our coverage, the lead investigative journalists who is breaking so much of this reporting on the link between Russians and the Havana syndrome cases.

We should note, of course, you also were able to track down the FSB links to the Novichok poisoning of Alexei Navalny. So once again, via your sources, you are doing this incredible reporting.

So GRU unit 29155 -- you said you had tears in your eyes when you discovered this connection, this connection to this Russian military intelligence unit, because it became so clear to you that they were indeed behind these attacks. Tell me about that moment.

CHRISTO GROZEV, LEAD RUSSIA INVESTIGATOR, BELLINGCAT: We have been investigating this unit four years ever since 2018 when they were behind the poisoning with Novichok of Sergei Skripal in the UK. I had an understanding of what they do. I knew that they were going after people to debilitate them, to assassinate them, to blow up things.

But those just a hypothesis that maybe they're also behind this operation, which had one big question. A gap in the knowledge who could have done it, who could have been at so many places around the world where American diplomats were falling prey to this syndrome?

Then we discovered in the mailbox of one of these commanders from this unit which would leave by Russian hackers to us back in 2019, but only upon its review last year, I discovered this document which was essentially a receipt that it literally said, here's 100,000 rubles to you commander for having tested and developed a non-lethal acoustic weapon.

And this was the moment that I thought -- okay, well, this is the connection that makes it very, very obvious that this team wanted to do that. They had the capability.

BURNETT: So the young man that I just showed the picture of, the son of the GRU commanding officer, that was in Tbilisi, Georgia.

So you identified him? He was outside a home in Tbilisi. The spouse of an embassy official who was in Tbilisi, a U.S. embassy official experience of debilitating piercing since station is how you describe it that came in through the window in her ear?

GROZEV: Correct. So then she leaves the room. She goes to a bathroom. She projectile vomits. This is just the actual moment of the attack itself. She's now had two surgeries to put metal plates into her head. She may need further surgery.

I mean, this is completely transformed her life. What did you learn about the man who was nearby and what he might have done?

GROZEV: Well, first of all, he was the son of the commander, the founding commander of this unit, Andrey Averyanov. He's a scary person. He is currently in charge of Putin's operations in Africa. He took over from Prigozhin, somebody that your audience would be very well familiar with.

But since 2008, this person, the father, has been in charge of creating this unit of assassins and his son only when he was only 18 was brought into the midst of this assassination unit. And he was essentially trained on the job. He was brought to, let's watch what that is doing day and he was taken to many, many operations, including this one, but he was by this time he was already a regular member of this unit.

BURNETT: So, you know, looking at these over the years, there has always been speculation. We even in Havana, and I remember visiting that embassy there, the U.S. embassy is a real fortress like place, right? But then there were officials who experienced these horrible attacks. That's how it became known as Havana syndrome.

And there were always suspicions that it was tied to Russia. And yet it was never proven. And now the U.S. government doubles down on its conclusion. They say that it is not likely an adversary behind the attacks, which is an odd just use of words because obviously something adversarial is accusing is occurring, right? But they're saying not an adversary and not a state actor.

What's your response to that?

GROZEV: Well, I can understand why the us government may have a different threshold of being persuaded to been convinced that then as journalists and they may be a reason for them to withhold some information from the public for example, because they don't want to escalate relations with Russia.

This may be a legitimate reason, but if I have to confront the U.S. government on their statements, I have to pose the question this way these are people, these are assassins, total number of about 50 that we've discovered, who happened to arrive to places where Havana incidents do who happen. They arrived undercover. They arrived by making the utmost possible to hide their tracks.

They were there to do something at these places. We're talking about seven or eight different incidents, not just the three that we reported. Maybe the U.S. government has a better explanation that we have what they were doing there. But unless they do -- unless they do --

BURNETT: Seven or eight incidents you can tie directly to one of those 50 --

GROZEV: Unless they find and give us or give their colleagues a better explanation what these spies were doing there -- and again, these are not spies, they're assassin spies, what they were doing there, then I would stick to my hypothesis.


BURNETT: All right. Christo, thank you very much. And I know you'll have more to share with us as the week goes on and thank you so much.

Christo Grozev breaking this news and I want -- to go now to a former U.S. government official who is widely known as the patients zero of Havana syndrome, the first-person believed to report the debilitating symptoms when he was based there in Havana and embassy, we showed you.

Now I want to be clear that he is comfortable speaking to us on camera and you see him there. He doesn't want us to use his full name. He wants to be referred for too as Adam. And so that is exactly what I will do and appreciate very much you're taking the time and I know after what happened to you of the risk and speaking, Adam.

So when you hear Christo's reporting and you know, all of the details here now, do you believe that it is Russia that's behind the attacks of so severely impacted your health?

ADAM, FIRST PERSON TO REPORT HAVANA SYNDROME SYMPTOMS: You know, I think we all suspected Russia for a long time. There's always been a little trips have information that we've gotten through the building and other sources, but this is the first time that we've seen it. All aggregated together, and one big piece, one big undeniable piece of evidence.

And so frankly, if you yes like a weight has been lifted off from our shoulders because feels like we've been pointing this direction the entire time and Christo really went to bat and prove that.

BURNETT: So, Adam, you have suffered unbelievably from this and the brain injuries that you've been forced to medically retire, you're now blind in one eye. I know you struggled to maintain your balance at times. This has transformed your life.

Can you share with all of us what you now experience on a day-to-day basis, what this has done to your life?

ADAM: I mean, I am not the person that I was. I can't do a majority of the things that I used to love to do in your personal relationships have suffered family my family has suffered from. This impacts not just you as a person, but all the loved ones around you.

And so you fight every day you put on a strong face, but some days it's really hard and I just wish those a little more empathy from -- from our employer.

BURNETT: And can I talk about your employer because the State Department has responded to this report by reiterating the U.S. assessment that it's unlikely a foreign adversary is behind any of this. What do you think is going on here? I mean, do you think they're trying to cover this up? Do you think that there's simply trying to avoid liability? What do you think is happening?

ADAM: When you look at the aggregate of the information, right? So in the "60 Minutes'" reporting, you had the DIA lead that has seen all the evidence says the building and the IC has seen saying it's Russia. You have Christo solved the Skripal and the Navalny poisoning when the U.S. IC couldn't, saying it's Russia.

You have last September, you had Putin describing new physical property weapons they've developed. And one of his foreign ministers coming out and saying that they've neutralized hundreds of Western spies.

And then the agency's paying Havana act for brain injury, that's from hostile act on the backend. One of these things doesn't match and it's frankly what the agency is saying and public.

BURNETT: And let me just bring Christo back into this, Adam, while you're here.

Christo, what is -- what have you felt so far has been the response from the GRU unit? I mean, you've been working on this for two years. Are you afraid of retribution, revenge?

GROZEV: Well, the ship has sailed because of all of my proceeding investigations. But at this point, it was important for me to put the data with found out because I do believe that the silence behind it, the denial by the U.S. government is actually contributing to the Russian security services feeling of entitlement that they're better than the United --

BURNETT: And they're impervious, yeah.

GROZEV: Impervious, exactly. And I think this may have helped Putin become the person he is, he is, he may have helped him decide that he can wage a war on Ukraine and nobody will interfere because the West is so weak, they can't even get there act together to find out what's happening to their diplomats.

So I think it was important to push back and I hope that this report did some of that.

BURNETT: And, Adam, I'll give you the final word. What do you hope the U.S. government does now?

ADAM: You know, I think the U.S. government has a lot of tools in our arsenal. And frankly, I think they need to take this inside. They need to rebuild trust with those that were hurt with the staff that are currently working, and frankly with policymakers in the government. And they can deal with us insight and they can take care of this problem with external tools as well, I just don't see that this needs to be publicly debated issue anymore. They can solve this and they can fix it. BURNETT: Adam, thank you very much. Christo, thank you very much. I

appreciate both of you taking the time, and Adam for sharing your story.

And, finally tonight, Trump's suppose net worth, taking a massive tumble, as shares of his Truth Social are now publicly trading. Well, guess what? They came out. The company and they said that they lost $58 million and only had $4 million in revenue in 2023. Those are painful revelations and that immediately crushed the evaluation of the stock, costing Trump 1 billion on paper.

The losses in fact, so severe that the company's own accountants are sounding the alarm that it could implode, which is why experts think the company's multibillion-dollar valuation defies logic and heard that well, before it even started listing, to be honest, even with the cash infusion of 300 million after going public, company is not out of the woods. It is obviously hemorrhaging users as well.

Thanks so much for joining us.

It's time now for Anderson.