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Erin Burnett Outfront

New Details On Trump Defense Team's Strategy Tomorrow; Slovakian PM, A Putin Ally, Shot 5 Times In Assassination Attempt; Russian Forces Closing In On Ukraine's Second Biggest City; U.S. Stocks Hit Record High As Data Shows Inflation Cooling; Nikki Haley Still Strong Despite Ending Campaign Months Ago. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired May 15, 2024 - 19:00   ET




Breaking news new reporting just into OUTFRONT about the Trump team's strategy in court tomorrow in what is the most important day of the entire hush money trial. We now know what team Trump plans to zero in on with Michael Cohen.

Plus, more breaking news this hour, a brazen assassination attempt. A world leader, close Putin ally, shot five times in broad daylight, still in the hospital, as I speak. We'll tell you what we know.

And Nikki Haley doing it again, primary after primary, double-digit support, even though she dropped out of the race months ago. So where are these supporters going to go?

Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

And we begin OUTFRONT tonight with the breaking news: the Trump is too cheap defense. So Paula Reid has this incredible new reporting tonight about team Trump's strategy heading into what they say will be the most important day of Trump's criminal trial.

So, in just hours, Michael Cohen is going to return to the stand and CNN is learning that Trump's lead attorney Todd Blanche, right, who's doing the cross, plans to zero in on just how cheap Trump is, using that cheapness to say that Trump would never have agreed to, quote, gross up the Stormy Daniels hush money payment to Michael Cohen.

And this is what goes right to the heart of the entire criminal case, which is the alleged fraud of business documents. Remember, not illegal to pay the hush money payment. It is how and when the payment happens that matters. Trump's basically going to say he was way too cheap to gross up that $130,000 payment.

Now, this would be a very clear shift from what we saw on Tuesday, Blanche and Cohen went back and forth, talking about Cohen's profanity-laden posts about Trump, how much money Cohen made from his books and podcasts, and anti-Trump coffee mugs and T-shirts. And the cross Tuesday was confusing for any of us who were in the

room. Harry Litman, a former deputy assistant attorney general, said, and I quote harry: My basic assessment, cross is not crisp, clean, or quick enough.

The managing editor of Lawfare said, most of it boring and seemingly aimless.

And even this piece from Fox News, cross-examination throws Michael Cohen off balance, but belabors point that he hates Trump.

Belabors and boring, not glowing reviews, and it may be not Trump lawyer's fault, not Blanche's fault. I mean, Trump, of course, is the client. And in this case, not a client who takes direction, a client who gives direction, a client who calls the shots, his legal team has managed to stay on Trump's good side by doing what Trump wants them to do, tap, tap on the shoulder, hand the note and an immediate reaction from Blanche or Bove or Necheles.

So will that change tomorrow? Remember that Blanche here is a well- regarded former federal prosecutor. He has a very good reputation. He's taken on people accused of murder, and he does know what he's doing in a courtroom.

And as were closing in on this crucial day of testimony, questions are now growing as to whether Trump himself will actually testify. Of course, he has said he would. His lawyers haven't fully shut down the idea that Trump will do this. And that is going to be the crucial question so much at stake with how this cross goes tomorrow.

And Paula Reid is OUTFRONT to begin our coverage live in New York tonight.

And, Paula, it is your incredible new reporting here at the center of what Trump's team is planning tomorrow.

Tell us everything you're learning.

PAULA REID, CNN CHIEF LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Once you just said, this is the game. The cross-examination of Michael Cohen tomorrow will likely decide this case.

And I've learned that they are going to now start focusing on what he said during his a direct examination and his previous statements about this case, they're going to zero in on some new things that he revealed while he was on the stand. And also look at some statements that they believe have been inconsistent, in addition to try to challenge his memory, of conversations he had with then candidate Trump back in 2016.

They're also going to challenge this idea that Cohen wasn't doing any legal services for Trump or that this gross up money was not meant to be payment for legal services. They point to the fact that Michael Cohen has never had a retainer and the entire time that he worked for Trump, so that should not be something that is of significance now. The goal here, Erin, is not to destroy Michael Cohen on the stand. The goal of the rest of this cross-examination is to sow doubt in the minds of at least one juror that they should make such a significant decision based on the testimony of this man.


Now, this cross-examination of Michael Cohen could go until Monday and then it's unclear if the defense is going to call any witnesses, but they may call just one expert witness to the stand, which means the jury could have this case by Thursday.

BURNETT: Wow. All right. Paula, thank you very much. And our experts are all with me.

So, Paul Martin, hours away from Michael Cohen coming back on to the stand. And interesting, they're going to go right to the heart of it, to basically say, this -- the fraud here. It's not something Trump would have done because he wouldn't have grossed it up.

PAUL MARTIN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, it's about time because enough of beating him up that he lied. The issue is not whether he lied to Congress. It's not whether he lied to another court. If the issue was is he lying to this jury? And I think Blanche is going to have to really cross-examine him and bring out the fact that what he said in his previous testimony is untrue, and then force him to admit that he's a liar to them.

BURNETT: To them, in this specific case.

MARTIN: That's correct.

BURNETT: Now, Sarah, you know Todd Blanche well. You know, when I was sitting in the room the other day and he started out and he was livid, right? Calling out a post that Michael Cohen had posted with profanities about Todd Blanche. That got struck -- stricken from the record and then there was this, you know, for such a strong start at then there were moments it was boring. I'll be honest, so they in the room.

You know, Todd Blanche worked for him for many years. Do you think he felt that and he's going to bring it tomorrow?

SARAH KRISSOFF, FORMER U.S. PROSECUTOR, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEEW YORK: I think that was an unusual place for Todd to start. And it didn't go well for him. It was objected to, .the judge sort of slapped him down and he had to pivot. He started and then he went into sort of a lot of questions about motive here. What is Michael Cohen's motive to testify --

BURNETT: That he wanted to make money or he hated Trump?

KRISSOFF: That's right. And I think he made those points and really needed to move on. I mean cross-examination doesn't always produce those aha moments, those TV moments, some of it is just plotting and boring and it's a way to, you know, poke little holes, little paper cuts in the witness's story that ultimately the defense is going to stand up but the end of the day and say, all of these little thing show that Michael Cohen is incredible.

BURNETT: So, Daniel, as a foreign Manhattan assistant district attorney, you know, having been in these rooms before, what is at stake for Blanche tomorrow?

DANIEL HORWITZ, FORMER MANHATTAN ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY: So I think what's at stake for him is he is really, as Paul said, he's really got to cut to the days. He cannot waste time. I know that there's been some reporting that the cross examination may go until Monday. He really needs to bring it home and get to the point.

And if the defense, as Paula suggested, is Trump is too cheap, he's got to be very careful that the prosecution has spent weeks building evidence to show how engaged Donald Trump is in the minutiae of the finance of his organization. And that's a very, very fine line for him to walk.

BURNETT: Stephanie, what do you think of the Trump is too cheap to actually have agreed to gross up that money defense?

STEPHANIE GRISHAM, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: So when I was listening to you, I was actually smiling, Erin, because it's true. He's known for not paying people and that that he can be quite cheap. But I think to me, that just shows how much he wanted to cover this up and how important it was that story not get out there before the Election Day. So I don't -- it makes no sense to me, that seems kind of random. I don't -- I feel like it will backfire.

BURNETT: Yeah, it is. I mean, it's new in terms of what Paul, were hearing. I mean, but I guess the question is if it doesn't go well tomorrow, or as well as they think it needs to go, then you've got the question of Trump himself.

MARTIN: Yes, and that's interesting question because I wouldn't put him on the stand if my last dollar or $130,000 of it depended upon it. But listen, this man controls his attorneys and he doesn't listen to his attorneys. His attorneys want him to stay away from that witness stand. The prosecutor wants him to take the stand.

BURNETT: So, you were saying he will have to deal with questions literally along the lines of what color were you were --

MARTIN: What color were your box --

BURNETT: Okay. I was going to go with pajamas, but you're right box or yes.

MARTIN: So he's got to answer those questions. Those are questions that he's uncomfortable with and he's also in a position where he's not going to be able to pivot and walk away. The prosecution is going to keep him on that witness stand, and they're going to get the answers that they want to hear. He's not going to have the question -- the answers that he needs the answer to get them acquitted. BURNETT: I'm just curious, Sarah, when you look at this. Like do you -- do you understand why Todd Blanche is in this position to begin with? I mean, we've talked about -- I mean, obviously, he has a great reputation for many years. I know you think very highly of him. He's chosen to go out on his own, have one client, work at a 40 Wall Street, buy a home near Mar-a-Lago. Does any of that surprise you?

KRISSOFF: It's a decision that I think other defense attorneys wouldn't have made. Trump has a long history of falling out with his lawyers, a long history of not paying his lawyers. This was, you know, I'm sure Todd weighed a lot of factors before making this decision.


He gave up what was prestigious job and partnership at a prestigious firm to do this.

So, you know, he had his reasons. I don't know what they were, but definitely some others would have made a different decision.

BURNETT: Right. All the eggs in one basket as they may say, Daniel. So, obviously, Trump -- we've got back question of whether he will go on the stand and there were a couple of witnesses that the defense was talking about, maybe an expert witness.

Do you think it's worth it for them to put anyone on the stand?

HORWITZ: I just don't know how an expert jives with this defense, right? They have tried to impeach desperately the credibility of the two key witnesses, right? Stormy Daniels, or actually three, Keith Davidson and now Michael Cohen.

So what is an expert going to add to this? I mean, they've essentially said these witnesses made this up for all of their various reasons. So how does an -- what is an expert going to add to this? I'm not really sure I understand what the strategy would be for that.

BURNETT: So, Stephanie, you know, Trump keeps saying he wants to testify, then he said, oh, well, my lawyers told me not to, right? He's opening -- you know, giving -- giving the crack in the door open to not actually doing it.

Do you think he really wants to?

GRISHAM: I think his ego, of course, wants to. He wants to go in there and fight. He doesn't like again, that he's been sitting at a table and he hasn't been able to say anything. You know, he talks about this gag order all the time.

But I don't think there's a chance he'll do it and he will continue to blame -- he'll blame his lawyer. He'll blame the judge. He'll say it's because of the gag order which we know is not true.

So, he knows the stakes and so he won't do it. But I'm sure there's a part of him that's itching to. BURNETT: All right. So, Paul, can I just -- from where we are right now, how far is the process -- where are we on reasonable doubt, right? You need one juror to have a reasonable doubt. That's all you need. Where are we right now on that? Have -- have they proved it beyond a reasonable doubt with what we have seen thus far with texts or text to Allen Weisselberg, with gross up on the sheet of paper?

MARTIN: Well, you -- you've been in the courtroom. I think they brought -- made out of prima facie case, but who knows what's going on in the minds of these jurors? Someone may not like the way Stormy Daniels turned one way or they didn't like the way Cohen made an answer to this question or that answer.

The real issue is going to be the -- I think in this case, the summations, and if Trump doesn't take the stand. If Trump doesn't take the stand, this is going to be in a summations case that will win --

BURNETT: In that -- in that closing statement?

MARTIN: Correct.

BURNETT: So, Sarah, when you look at it, what I find, you know, so far has been so much emphasis to Stormy Daniels and Michael Cohen, did you hate Trump? Well, yeah, obviously, they did, and they've both said that, right? I mean, not at the time, right. But that they do now.

But there's been an extraordinary amount of time spent proving that they hate Donald Trump when they both posted such on social media again and again, and again. It's not a secret.

What's the purpose of that?

KRISSOFF: The defense team is really trying to undermine their credibility and they're doing it any way they can.

At the end of the day here, in order to convict, the jury has to believe Michael Cohen.

Michael Cohen gave the crucial evidence in the last few days regarding these meetings with Trump, one with Trump and Weisselberg, one with Trump at the White House. The jury has to believe Michael Cohen's version of those events, I think, to convict here.

And so, whatever the defense team can do to undermine Michael Cohen's recollection of those events, his credibility generally is going to help them -- help bring them to the finish.

BURNETT: Is there a piece of evidence thus far, Daniel, that you think is most crucial to proving beyond a reasonable doubt that Trump directed this?

HORWITZ: I think it's just the whole melange of small pieces and big pieces. In some ways, I think that's some of the most compelling evidence came from the people from Trump world -- the assistants, the secretaries, the controllers, who talked about like Hope Hicks did. It's a small family business and it's run very tightly, very carefully. In some ways, that to me is the most damaging evidence because it just completely eviscerate any defense that Trump didn't know about this or wasn't engaged with it.

BURNETT: And, Stephanie, I guess it does boil down to the bottom line. You know, if you take the gross sap number and you add in the extra legal fees, whatever they're saying, about $400,000. Is there any way that you can see from everything you know of Trump that at any such amount would have left without his knowledge?

GRISHAM: Absolutely not, you know, I think Madeleine, when Madeleine Westerhout talked about how he looked at everything, he was very thorough, that is how he was with everything, whether it was communications or finances.

I remember for a convention, the RNC Convention that we're going to have on the White House lawn for the 2020 election, we -- we had to fight with him about the small dollar amount to cater food for people on the White House lawn. So that was the president United States, arguing with easing (ph) about food, and it was like $5,000. So, absolutely, that is who he is. He looks at everything.


BURNETT: All right. Thank you all very much. I appreciate it. Powerful anecdote there.

And next, the breaking news, we do have new video of a world leader gunned down in broad daylight today, officials are giving more details about what motivated this attempted assassination or live outside the hospital is in surgery we understand right now.

Plus, Russia making gains, eyeing the major Ukrainian city of Kharkiv. We're live on the ground there. Our Nick Paton Walsh is there.

And stocks at all time highs tonight, after new inflation report. The president the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago is OUTFRONT.


BURNETT: Breaking news, assassination attempt on a world leader, a cross -- a close Putin ally, the prime minister of Slovakia, shot five times at close range. Now, he is, quote, fighting for his life, undergoing hours of surgery because were just getting new video showing the moment the prime minister was actually attacked today.

Fred Pleitgen is OUTFRONT live outside the hospital where the prime minister is right now in surgery.


And, Fred, what is the latest you're learning about this entire attack?


Well, the latest that we have that the prime minister of Slovakia was actually in surgery for several hours as the surgeons here were fighting for his life, obviously shot almost point blank, five times the authority saying. All this happened at an offsite government meeting Central Slovakia that he was supposed to chair.

And before that meeting, apparently, he was going to greet some people in the crowd and that is when a gunman opened fire.

Now, the government of this country says that all of this was politically motivated and it's certainly happened in broad daylight. And I do want to warn our viewers, some of the images you're about to see are very disturbing. Here's what we're learning.



PLEITGEN (voice-over): An assassination attempt in broad daylight, Slovakia's Prime Minister Robert Fico shot and unable to walk, bodyguards are rushing him into a car.

The alleged shooter still just feet away, tackled by police.

Fico was shot multiple times and immediately rushed to the hospital, then airlifted to a major trauma center. His condition is life threatening according to the Slovakian government. Robert Fico is still fighting for his life, Slovakia's defense minister says.

One eyewitness said the scene felt like, quote, a nightmare and described hearing quick shots ring out in the crowded area.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): It was quick one by one, like if you throw a firecracker on the ground, I saw a scratch on his head and then he fell next to the barrier.

PLEITGEN: No one else was injured in the shooting, which happened in the central Slovak town of Handlova, just after an offsite government meeting. This was Fico, right before the attack, speaking calmly at a press conference, like any other day.

Fico who served two previous terms as prime minister, a divisive figure in Slovakia and across Europe. He won a third term last year by running on a campaign to end military support for Ukraine, making no secret of his sympathies for Russia.

Fico is known for being anti-immigration, anti-LGBTQ rights, and very critical of the European Union.

But in the immediate aftermath of this assassination attempt, politics has been set aside.

One of Slovakia's opposition parties also calling it an attack on the nation's security. MARIA KOLIKOVA, SLOVAK MP, FREEDOM AND SOLIDARITY PARTY (through

translator): An attack on the prime minister is clearly an attack on the internal security of Slovakia.

PLEITGEN: Many in this country of about 5.5 million people, deeply shaken and shocked by the violence.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I think it's a nightmare. That this is not possible to happen in Slovakia.


PLEITGEN (on camera): So there you can see very little known at this point in time, Erin, about the actual alleged gunman. Certainly, of course, there is a big investigation that's going on here in this country. One of the things that we did mentioned in our report is that Fico is obviously very close to Vladimir Putin and therefore very controversial figure, not just in Europe but in this country here as well. Vladimir Putin also one of the people who spoke out today, calling what happened here today, a monstrous crime and also saying he hopes that Robert Fico will pull through, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Fred, thank you very much, in Slovakia.

And also tonight, Russian forces pushing closer to Kharkiv in northeast Ukraine, a major city, home to more than 1 million people. OUTFRONT obtaining a video update from the city's mayor tonight, who tells us that constant battles, those are his words are underway there, as the Russians are striking residential areas from the air. Here he is.


IHOR TEREKHOV, KHARKIV CITY MAYOR (through translator): The Russians have become more active and the tactics they are using now are tactics to intimidate people, to destroy housing, to destroy communications. This is a tactic to intimidate people, to force them to leave the city.


BURNETT: Nick Paton Walsh is OUTFRONT live from Kharkiv, Ukraine.

And, Nick, obviously you have been there many times throughout this war, seeing it liberated, now seeing again these attacks. How fast are Russian troops moving toward the city?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. Look, it is frankly horrifying how we've seen a completely new front opened by Russia, a front that you say, which we've seen kicked out of in 2022, I was near Staryi Saltiv, up towards Vovchansk, a key border town today, and just reminding myself, standing there, how we'd seen the Russians pushed out of their late 2022.

This is probably the worst moment for Ukraine on the front lines since the early months of the war itself. And behind me, you can barely see Kharkiv, a reflection of the light discipline they have here. We've had missiles landing in the past hours, other booms.

It's Vovchansk on the border where Russia appears to be seen the most progress. Ukraine admitting to that their troops had put themselves and more favorable positions. That's basically a euphemism for a tactical withdrawal there and a police chief said there was gunfire in the city.


I spoke to one woman who'd been just been evacuated this afternoon. She said shed been in a basement hearing the town on fire for days and knew that Russian troops were in the neighboring street. So it appears things have very grave in that particular town. Also, Russia seems it has its hands on about double-digits worth of villages along that border area.

Their goal, it seems, to keep pushing south towards this, Ukraine's second city, potentially putting their artillery and range. That may be one in goal. Another goal potentially is to force Ukraine to rush forces north from already very heavily stretched front lines in the east and in the south. That's something President Volodymyr Zelenskyy today warned he was cognizant of as he canceled all foreign travel.

Remember part of his job is going on allies, trying to get more arms faster. The real fear, Erin, is the last week or months, we've seen Russia make extensive progress in the east, tiny villages, people barely ever spoke of, but essentially lining themselves up for a summer where they can really pressure key Ukrainian military hubs in the east and really make a huge difference on that front line.

This isn't just one new unexpected front in the north there pushing all along the front lines in the east and the south. And that is seeing some kind of gain.

Remember, the arms that secretary of state Antony Blinken talks about in Kyiv being on their way that would delayed by a Republican congressional dysfunctionality since December, they're not here, they won't be here for at least a month. They may trickle in, but they aren't changing the battlefield at all yet.

Vladimir Putin sees a window. He knows that potentially in a month or two, things will be a lot harder because Ukraine will have the ammunition it needs to stop advancing Russian forces.

So, he's got the ammunition now. He's got the manpower. He's got the time. He's got the resources, and he's throwing them all at here. We can hear out towards Vovchansk ourselves, many airstrikes landing nearby.

They are really moving pretty fast as I say, probably the darkest days for Ukraine's front lines since the early days of the war, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Nick Paton Walsh. Thank you very much.

And next, the number one issue for Americans in poll after poll after poll, that President Biden told me on this issue that is it is administration has already turned the economy around. Is that the case? I'm going to ask the Fed president of the Chicago Federal Reserve.

Plus, a top Republican who voted to impeach President Trump over January 6 tonight saying he would immediately pardon Trump.



BURNETT: Tonight, the stock market surging, closing at a new record high. Investors exuberant after a new report showing year over year inflation ticking down -- tick down from 3.5 percent to 3.4 percent.

You might say -- well, that is just really almost nothing, and okay, but it comes after several months of increases in the inflation rate.

OUTFRONT now, Austan Goolsbee, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, also, of course, was a top economic advisor in the Obama White House and a professor and a lot of other things that.

But President Goolsbee, I really appreciate your taking the time here. So, core inflation goes from 3.5 to 3.4, and I know that's, as I said, almost it's not very much, but it had been going up. So people obviously are relieved by any sort of a sign that may be inflation is abating.

Do you think that this one report is a sign of where things are going or not?

AUSTAN GOOLSBEE, PRESIDENT, FEDERAL RESERVE BANK OF CHICAGO: I hope so. I mean, does seem like the day trading crowd gets themselves worked up, up, down in an every other way faster than the timetable that the data come out, faster than the -- than the, let's call it the monetary timetable.

If you take a step back over the last one year, one-and-a-half years, inflation is way down from its peaks and we were able to get inflation down pretty substantially without a recession. So that in itself is extremely unusual, and to be applauded, but let's not make too much -- yes, there was improvement. I'm glad we saw improvement.

But we hit a pretty tough bump at the start of this year. We had seven months of decent inflation numbers at the end of last year. We had a couple of months of poor inflation numbers to start this were seeing some improvement, but one month is no months. I mean, let's get several months before we start getting real happy.

BURNETT: So, you know, after -- you know, in March, you had said you were open to interest rate cuts this year. I believe you said you open to three of them and then in April, pointing to the inflation numbers, right, which had started to look more grim. You said we have to wait with the wait and see on cuts so where are you now on this? Do you think the Fed will cut interest rates this year or not?

GOOLSBEE: I mean, I really don't like tying in our hands even partially when were going to get a whole bunch of information. I mean, I said that on the continuum of doves, the hawks, I don't want to be a bird where the data dogs and the data dogs thing is know the difference of when is it time to walk and when is it time to stop and sniff. And when you're getting numbers that are crosscurrents and some of the numbers are strong and some of the numbers are weak, the thing to do is just keep sniffing around and try to figure out, is that a sign of overheating or are we on this longer trajectory of inflation coming down?

I'm optimistic that were continuing on this downward trajectory, but I just think it's too early to be -- to be moving right.

BURNETT: Right. And, of course, the context, obviously, okay, as you point out, the market goes up. The market though is very detached from the way Americans perceive things right now, because we see it, you know, everyone sees it.

People are worried. People are worried about the economy. It's the number one issue and they are, you see it in consumer sentiment numbers and a lot of the concern does come from inflation.


And when I interviewed President Biden, I asked him about that and I asked him about some of the real challenges people face and how he sees it. And I wanted to play the exchange for you.


BURNETT: The cost of buying a home in the United States is double what it was when you look at your monthly costs from before the pandemic, real income, when you account for inflation is actually down since you took office, economic growth last week, far short of expectations, consumer confidence, maybe no surprise, is near a two-year low. With less than six months to go to election day, are you worried that you're running out of time to turn that around?

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We've already turned it around. Look -- look at the Michigan survey. Over 65 percent American people think they're in good shape economically. They think the nation's not in good shape, but they're personally good shape. The polling data has been wrong all along.

When I started this administration, people were saying there's going to be a collapse to the economy. We have the strongest economy in the world -- let me say it again -- in the world.


BURNETT: All right, so I just want to ask you about the way he began his answer. We have already turned it around. Do you think that's fair?

GOOLSBEE: I hesitate only because once I joined the Fed, I kind of got out of the elections business and the argument of who takes credit and is it already fixed? I kind of resist. I don't -- I don't want to get drawn into that.

I think the long arc of inflation, as you know, Erin, the Fed by law, has a dual mandate: maximize employment and stabilize prices.

The strongest thing in the economy has been the job market and the weakest thing by far has been inflation and prices.

And you see that in the vibes, the vibes are definitely worse than the -- than the actual data conditions. And as the Fed is confronting trying to get the inflation rate down with that question of, is it already on a path back to our target of 2 percent? We don't know yet. I mean, that's the thing we're trying to get more confidence on.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Austan Goolsbee, thank you very much, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, and I appreciate your time tonight.

GOOLSBEE: It's great to see again, Erin.

All right. You, too.

And next, the Nikki Haley factor.

She has been out of the race now for months and yet a lot of people are still voting for her, nearly 20 percent in Maryland's closed primary last night, 20 percent of Republicans. So what does this mean for Trump?

Plus, a massive international manhunt after masked gunmen rammed their car into a prison van. Two guards killed, a notorious criminal now missing.



BURNETT: New tonight, face off. President Biden and former President Trump agreeing to go head to head in a debate on CNN.

This as Nikki Haley remains a major thorn in Trump's side, despite dropping out of the race more than two months ago. Haley scoring 20 percent of the vote in Maryland's Republican primary last night. Haley also getting 18 percent of the vote in Nebraska, both states closed primaries, which means only Republicans can vote. Haley now has hit double digits in 15 states after she ended her campaign, including crucial swing states that had had infinitesimal margins last time around, including Arizona and Georgia, also important states like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

OUTFRONT now, the former Republican Congressman Ken Buck.

And, Congressman, I appreciate your time. And, you know, as I mentioned, those primaries last night, Maryland and Nebraska were open only to registered Republican voters. You can't say this was Democrats or independents going in and voting for Haley.

But do you read anything into this? Is this a warning sign for Trump or not?

KEN BUCK (R-CO), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: I think it's clearly a warning sign. These are protest votes. These are people who are not happy with how he has presented himself and the positions he's taken on certain issues, and they are expressing themselves and the only way they know how, the primary system we have in America is flawed. But one of the flaws is that we cant get more people to anticipate in primaries, but in this case, these voters have said, given what I've -- given the opportunities that I have, I'm going to make sure that my vote is heard loud and clear by voting for candidate who's not even in the election.

BURNETT: I mean, it is -- when you look at this, I mean, it's just state after state after state. Now, this is coming ahead of debates because President Biden, former President Trump have now agreed to two debates, which is very significant, right? The first is going to be here in June on CNN.

Both sides tonight, though, are now casting doubt on their rival and whether they will actually follow through. Here they are today.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump says a lot of things. We'll see if he actually shows up.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT & 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I wonder whether or not he shows up sort of like a game of chicken here. How bad will it look for either one of them if they literally don't show up?

BUCK: Well, I think these are the two least popular presidential candidates in a long time, so I don't know if they're numbers can go any lower. But certainly, not showing up after you've given your word and your campaign has given its word, that you'll be there is pretty embarrassing and speaks volumes.

It's still pretty far out from the election. So, yeah, I suppose they can make up some room as they get closer to the election, but, you know, if you're going to agree to something, this significant, this noteworthy to the American people. I would expect both of them to follow up and I expect both of them to be there.

BURNETT: Well, now, I want to ask you about a couple of other important things, right now. One of them is what's going to happen tomorrow where you've got two of the most powerful Republican committee chairman, Jim Jordan, James Comer.

They are pushing with a resolution to hold Merrick Garland, the attorney general, in contempt of Congress. Now, obviously, you know them both well. You served on those committees. Do you agree with Jordan and Comer on this move to hold Garland in contempt?


BUCK: No, I think it's a political stunt, Erin. This is a -- the transcript from President Biden's testimony in front of special counsel Hur has been turned over. They have the material in front of them, what they're looking for is President Biden's voice, so that it can be used by the Trump campaign in an election cycle. That's just unnecessary.

Attorney General Garland, give them a huge amount of credit here. He took a lot of grief from the left for not redacting the report and withholding certain information that he released so that he would be fully transparent. The American people would have all the information.

And now, he's getting attacked by the right for not releasing an audio or an audio tape that can be used in a campaign. He is in a -- Attorney General Garland is a no-win situation.

BURNETT: Right, when they released the transcript.

BUCK: Right. They released the transcript. They have the information. They're just looking for something for political purposes.

BURNETT: Right. And it's significant, right? There's not what they don't know what he said. They do, of course. They have a full transcript just like we do every day in that courtroom.

And speaking of Trump and court, I want to ask you about something that Senator Mitt Romney just said actually a little bit ago. So I don't know congressmen if you even a chance to hear because it happened right before we came to air. Romney, of course, voted to convict Trump in both of his impeachment trials.

He told NBC in part, quote, had I been President Biden, and I think it's important because at that moment, as you know, Congressman, when he talked about a voting to impeach because of January 6, he was moved to tears about the importance of that decision in that vote, which is why would he saying tonight to NBC is significant.

He says, Congressman, had I been President Biden, when the Justice Department brought on indictment? I would have immediately pardoned him. I'd have pardoned President Trump. Why? Well, because it makes me, President Biden, the big guy and the person I pardoned a little guy.

And, you know, again, the context here, a man who was moved to tears with his vote to impeach, right? We know where he stands. He thinks these are real and important cases -- talking, of course, about January 6.

Do you agree with Senator Romney?

BUCK: I don't. I actually think that you go through the trial process. If President Biden wins the presidency again and President Trump is convicted, there's a lot of ifs in that sentence, I think that President Biden then should consider pardoning President Trump.

But I think at this point in time, President Trump has -- should have the ability to defend himself in court and when an innocent verdict or not guilty verdict rather than having a pardon right at the beginning where a cloud remains over his head.

BURNETT: Hmm, all right. Interesting that you do not -- don't support that preemptive pardon.

All right. Congressman Buck, I always appreciate talking to you. Thank you.

BUCK: Thank you.

BURNETT: And next, he was a top aide, but eventually turned and took down the president. But no, I'm not talking about Michael Cohen tonight.

And breaking news, a massive international manhunt for a notorious fugitive on the loose tonight after daring and bloody the escape that all happen to be caught on camera.



BURNETT: Tonight, he took down Richard Nixon and now, he has advice for Michael Cohen. John Dean, whose testimony during the Watergate hearings was the nail in the coffin for Nixon, has been in Cohen shoes as a key witness against one of the most powerful men on the planet, and the similarities don't end there.

Tom Foreman is OUTFRONT.


TRUMP: There's no crime. There is no crime.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Two presidents denying they did anything wrong.

RICHARD NIXON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: People have got to know whether or not their president is a crook. Well, I'm not a crook.

FOREMAN: And two close aides saying that's not true, Michael Cohen, a key witness for the prosecution of Donald Trump, and John Dean, who helped take down Richard Nixon.

JOHN DEAN, FORMER NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: I've had conversations with Michael. I think we came to our courses through very different backgrounds and experiences. Richard Nixon was an establishmentarian. He believed in the institutions of government. Donald Trump has no real knowledge or understanding the institutions of government and he has no conscience either.

FOREMAN: Both Dean, who was a White House counsel during Watergate in the early 1970s, and Cohen who is Trump's lawyer during the alleged events of the hush money scandal, initially stood firmly by their presidents, only when things started going south and Cohen admitted to crimes and went to jail did he turn on Trump?

MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: He is a conman and he is a cheat.

FOREMAN: Now, Cohen is testifying to how hush money payments were made, how records were falsified, and how he says Trump told him to just do it.

Cohen told OUTFRONT from the get-go, it would be tough facing his old boss.

COHEN: Nobody wants to do this. This isn't fun.

FOREMAN: Dean understands. He also admitted to a felony and he told the U.S. Senate of discussions with Nixon about hush money for Watergate conspirators, amid fierce pushback by the president's defenders.

DEAN: Probably around here are not pros at this sort of thing. This is the sort of thing mafia people can do -- washing, money, getting clean money, and things like that.

CROWD: Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence!

FOREMAN: Now, Dean watches the fury around Trump and wonders what will come after Cohen's testimony is done and the verdict derives.

DEAN: The fact that somebody would turn around and go to extremes way beyond Richard Nixon it's a little bit startling and a little bit troubling to me.

FOREMAN: Still, court and history watchers say both men represents a key figure in so many such cases, the fixer, the insider, the loyalist, who is not loyal anymore.

TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: When one of them flips, that threatens directly the power, and perhaps the freedom of the president involved.


That's why Michael Cohen or a John Dean represents such an important part of the story of a corrupt president.


FOREMAN: It is important to remember Nixon was never impeached, never charged with a crime, but he did resign and was pardoned. Later, admitting he lied about the Watergate affair and adding, quote, I let the American people down -- Erin.

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

And next, the law enforcement the thing that law enforcement agencies around the world are on alert about tonight, a dangerous inmate freed by gunman.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BURNETT: And tonight, manhunt. The escaped of a notorious French inmate nicknamed "The Fly" caught on video. This is the unbelievable moment on your screen when masked and hooded gunmen rammed a stolen car into the prison van and then -- I mean, as you see this all happened in broad daylight.

The gunmen are out in the open two prison guards were murdered in this incident. The fly, the inmate, has an extensive rap sheet. He's a suspected international drug boss under investigation and homicide and kidnapping cases and he was sentenced just last week to 18 months in prison for burglary, which is the least of the issues it seems. He tried to escape two days before the armed holdup and tonight, he and the gunmen remain at large.

Thanks so much for joining us. We'll see you back here tomorrow.

"AC360" starts right now.