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Erin Burnett Outfront

Jury Selected In Hunter Biden Trial, Opening Statements Next; Georgia Hearing To Consider Fani Willis Set For October, Likely Pushing Trump Case Past Election; Ukraine Says It Used Western Weapons To Strike Inside Russia. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired June 03, 2024 - 19:00   ET




Breaking news: a jury has been selected for Hunter Biden's trial. So who are the people, the men and women, who will decide the fate of the president's son? And who are the witnesses that will be called?

Plus, breaking news, Trump's appeal to have Fulton County's D.A. removed from his case has a date and this date means everything for whether this case happens before the election.

And Ukraine claiming it used western weapons to strike inside Russia. So will Putin retaliate? Investigative journalist Christo Grozev, who's on Russia's wanted list, is my guest tonight.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, we begin with the breaking news. Biden has a jury, the 12 jurors who will decide Hunter Biden's fate have all been sworn in. They have been given their instructions, and we are now just hours away from opening statements and Biden's federal gun case, where he's accused of lying about being on drugs when he bought a gun.

The judge wasting no time saying her courtroom operates five days a week. Opening statements are scheduled for tomorrow morning, and tonight. We do have new details about the jury. It consists of six men and six women. And Evan Perez is going to give you a lot more details because who they are matters hugely.

Meanwhile, in the courtroom, Biden was engaged, leaning forward, looking at the jurors and the judge. First Lady Jill Biden sat one row behind her stepson and was there all day.

The significance of this moment actually can't be understated. Think about last week, right, days after a jury ruled that the first former president in American history is a convicted felon on 34 counts. A jury is now hearing the case of the child of a sitting president, and that is the first time that any presidents child has been on trial.

These, of course, are precedents nobody wants to see set, but yet here we are. And this case could have major implications for the election.

Biden's family personal laundry is about to be thrust into the spotlight. Prosecutors are expected to go into detail into the salacious side of Hunter Biden's past. Potential witnesses will include a number of Hunter Biden's exes. We are told among them, Beau Biden, his brother, his widow, Hallie, whom Hunter dated. Hunter Biden's own ex-wife, and multiple ex-girlfriends who will testify to his drug use.

It's important to emphasize that this case is being brought by President Biden's Department of Justice, which chose not to charge Trump and his Stormy Daniels hush money case.

But as for President Biden himself, he was silent today. Obviously, he was not there. He released a statement that reads in part: As a president, I don't and won't comment on pending federal cases. But as a dad, I have boundless love from my son, confidence in him, and respect for his strength.

So let's begin now with Evan Perez because he is OUTFRONT live outside that courthouse. He's in Wilmington, Delaware.

And, Evan, I mentioned that sorry, we know six men, six women, but you know, a lot more about them. Tell us.


The majority of the jury is African African-American. There's a woman who said that she had lost a number of friends to drug addiction. There were a number of gun owners, which is an important part of this case, obviously, including one who said that smoking weed should not disqualify you from being able to own a gun.

So this is a cross-section of the people of Delaware. There were dozens of citizens of Delaware who were in this courthouse today. And they went through a number of questions, really trying to figure out whether they could find people who could fairly judge this case given the fact that the Biden's loom so large in this state politically, of course, politics came up in the jury selection as well as the issue of recovery and addiction and gun ownership.

There was one person who was questioned who said that he believed there was a God right to own guns. Another person who said that she believed all guns should be should be bad.

So at the end, the jury was selected much quicker than any of it. Then some of the lawyers were anticipating. We expect the first arguments to begin in the morning and the first witness for the prosecution is an FBI agent, who worked on this case, Erin.

BURNETT: So, Evan, you know, as we're seeing pictures of Hunter Biden and his current wife who was there with him. I know that the first lady was there as well. A lot of family were there and you were there, too.

[19:05:01] So what did you observe about those interactions, Evan?

PEREZ: Well, really, look, one of the things that that happened today was we were quite surprised that Jill Biden arrived and she came in. She went into the courtroom. She hugged her son.

You could tell that that made it a huge difference, at least to have her there, Ashley Biden's, Hunter. Biden's sister was also there, as well as his son-in-law, big family presence, obviously, to show some support, given the fact that Hunter's father could not be here. He issued that statement as you pointed out, saying that he was going to make sure he didn't interfere in what the justice department was doing, but really showing the support of the family in that statement that was issued by the president of the United States, as you pointed out, a historic day here in Wilmington.

BURNETT: Yeah, history being made in both of the cases that we've been following in these recent weeks and not history that anybody really wants to see, but yet here we are.

Evan, thank you very much. And our panel is here.

Let me start with Mark O'Mara.

So, Mark, the jury that Evan's going through, right? This is crucial. This jury at the face of it, we know six men, six women, the majority of them are African American as Evan just laid out. You've got a woman who said she's lost many friends to drug addiction on the jury, gun owners on the jury, one who believes people who smoke pot should be allowed to own firearms and obviously, Hunter Biden purchasing on gun while under the influence of drugs is at the center of this case.

So when you look at this jury, Mark, what do you see?

MARK O'MARA, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Good jury for the defense.

One, they're mostly Democratic. We know that African-Americans or Blacks are generally Democratic, but they're also Delawarians, if that's a right term, which means they are from the state that know the Bidens, love the Bidens. The Bidens have done a lot for Delaware.

So in that sense, this is a good place for Biden to try a case. And this is a good juror to try on in front.

BURNETT: And, Ryan, that is true. I mean, I lived in Delaware for years and it is Biden country. I mean, there's no one there who doesn't have some sort of a link or a tie. It's an incredibly small state as well.

So, does that just mean in any jury here is by nature going to be in some sense pro-Biden?

RYAN GOODMAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think that's right. It has to tilt pro Biden in a certain way, especially because he looms large in the state and over there was many years that he served in Congress. He's bringing back public goods to that very states. So he's popular there. He didn't exactly face challengers when he is

running. So that's what looms over this and I do think that that means it's very difficult for the prosecutors. But if in fact they do get a guilty verdict, then that's super important because it shows that even a jury of that nature has in fact decided that beyond a reasonable doubt, he's guilty.

BURNETT: And I want to talk about that. The case itself, where it seems should go.

Terri, first of all, though, this issue of Delaware, one woman said, I think that sure (ph) did not get put on, but I'm not sure but I live in Delaware. You can't swing a cat without hearing something, the colloquialism of the -- of the area but just think about it, Texas is 134 times bigger. Manhattan which is where Trump's jury was selected from is 1.6 times bigger than the entire state of Delaware.

You know, how does this jury compare to the jury we just saw last week, give a verdict in the Trump trial?

TERRI AUSTIN, HOST AND LEGAL ANALYST, LAW & CRIME NETWORK: Well, you know, most criminal cases, the venue is where the county is for the state. So it's Wilmington. If it were just that little group that was pro-Biden, that's one thing. But the entire state is pro-Biden.

So you have to imagine that most of the people on that jury regardless of race, regardless of background, they are probably going to be people who are leaning towards Biden. So I agree with Ryan. If in fact back there is a conviction, it means they follow the facts of the case, the evidence that was put in, and they followed the law and they all said they could do that. And that's how come they were selected.

BURNETT: At this, the evidence that we have thus far though, the way it's been presented, and then maybe there's more complexity I'm missing, but that he bought a gun while under the influence while he was addicted to drugs. And the reason that this is sort of a fact is because he said so in his book, he wrote about it.

So it sort of seems in that sense that basic part here is already established?

GOODMAN: Very much so. And the other layer of evidence on top of it is the government has his text messages to his girlfriend at the time including on the day that he purchased the gun and then two days later in which she's actually talking to her about using drugs, meeting a drug dealer. And then around the same time this is October 2018, November 2018.

He's even saying I'm an addict. That's the charge. The charge is if you are addicted to drugs or using drugs and you purchased the weapon, you need to say it's shown and you can't get the weapon. But that's not what happened here.

So I think that's a mountain of evidence. He's stacked up against.

BURNETT: And so, Mark, that you're also going to hear from his ex- wife, his brothers ex-wife, who hunter Biden also dated after his brother passed away, other ex-girlfriends, what does all of this add? I mean, what Ryan's laying out here is pretty simple.


O'MARA: Yeah. it really is because the question is, and I think Biden's own words are going to convict him if he gets convicted, and that is were you addicted when you bought the gun?

And you know, the term addiction, which is what the defense is going to focus on, is okay, if you did not believe you're an addict at the time because you just finished an outpatient treatment, inpatient treatment program, you're living sober, you actually can say to yourself for the first time in a few years, I'm not an addict or not addicted, and I presume that's going to be the strength of their case because even though that ATF form is supposed to be very specific, and we all know what addiction is and know what it means.

But if the form doesn't tell you what it is, doesn't define addict, it leaves it open to your interpretation and unfortunately, that's a sliver of hope through which the defense is going to try and put their case to say he really didn't know.

The problem as, Erin, just mentioned, his own words are going to convict him if they do. The text messages --


O'MARA: -- the family members were going to say they know he was addicted, and he knew he was addicted.

BURNETT: Right. And so this case here, it could move very quickly and I wasn't being snarky at the top when I said the judge says she this is going to be five-day court, but there was a message in that, right? In other words, there's no Wednesdays off. There's no were giving off every Friday because a juror has a flight this is going to be beginning, middle end, possibly very quickly.

AUSTIN: It will go quickly. She does indicate at the beginning, as you said, that she's ready to work, you know, five days a week, nine to five, maybe even longer. And depending on what that jury will do. And I think that's good. I don't think the jury needs to sit there through a ton of evidence.

It's not that complicated a case. He filled out the form. They are not going to actually have evidenced from when that form might have been altered, which I think should be in the case because that's the case. Did he fill out the form correctly or did one of the employees alter it? We know that the judge that that's not coming in.

And we know that the judge did a lot of pretrial rulings as to what's going to come in and what's not. So she probably can do it very quickly.

BURNETT: Ryan, there was a lot of family around him, and his wife. His sister, Ashley, was their first lady, Jill Biden was there. So all these people who are there to support him tearing eye, were just going through for the show began right when did the day Trump came in?

The first day, Terri and I were both in the courtroom, that was the eighth day of testimony when Keith Davidson was there. And after days before that of jury selection, right?

So it took a long time for family to come in for Trump and for anyone really to come in and he was a lonely place for him. What's the significance of the family presence? To the jury?

GOODMAN: I think it sends a strong signal to the jury of sympathy for the defendant, and especially a defendant that went through drug addiction. And so to have the family around him, they're in support, I think is a strong sign because that's in some ways what they're doing, for they want the jury to look at the evidence in the light most favorable to him and that's what well get them. Some of that distance.

BURNETT: And, Mark, you've also got other cases though. At September, Los Angeles, another case for Hunter Biden, right? That's tax evasion, false tax returns, and that gets you even closer to the election on the potential impact if there is one of Hunter Biden verdicts on his father's case.

Which trial do you think is a bigger threat to Hunter Biden, though? The tax evasion one, false tax forms in California or this gun charge in Delaware?

O'MARA: I think the tax evasion case is much more significant for number of reasons. People do not like people who don't pay their taxes. I know always going to use in that case is addiction or the throes of addiction as is reason or excuse. But if I remember correctly, the outstanding balance with somewhere north of a million dollars in more taxes and most people pay maybe in your lifetime.

So my thought is in a call. And again, the sentencing on those cases is increased by the amount of loss. So I think that's much more significant if I was to defense team. It can do away with one over the other 200 California try this case because even if he's convicted probably not going to jail, but on the other case, zero on in.

BURNETT: Definitely going to jail, and the other one if convicted, Ryan?

GOODMAN: I think so. Yeah, I think he's in a very tough situation that most people think he should have pleaded.

BURNETT: And it's going to be fascinating to see because obviously the timing of that is going to put it right up against the election, the impact on the election itself, and, of course, also on his father.

Thank you all very much. I appreciate it.

And next breaking news, Trump's appeal to remove Fani Willis from the Georgia case gets a date. And this date is crucial because it will answer the question as to whether there's any chance that the Georgia case by Fani Willis against Trump goes to trial before election day?

Plus, Dr. Anthony Fauci on Capitol Hill, and it quickly got heated.


REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): Do the American people deserve to be abused like that? Mr. Fauci, because you're not doctor, you're Mr. Fauci.


BURNETT: Congressman Raul Ruiz, who was in the room asking questions is my guest.

Plus, China seeming to enjoy Trump's conviction. Images of the former president in an orange jumpsuit are now going viral there. We'll tell you why and where in a story that you'll see first here tonight OUTFRONT.



BURNETT: Breaking news, a date for Trump's trial in Georgia, a Georgia court just now setting the date of October 4, that is for oral arguments in Trump's the appeal to kick D.A. Fani Willis off the case.

Now, obviously, you look at that date, its almost exactly one month before the presidential election. And getting the state of October 4, just tonight is coming weeks after a judge allowed Willis to stay on the case. She was allowed to stay on as long as they'll then lead prosecutor Nathan Wade got off the case. Of course, the two admitted to having a romantic relationship.


Well, OUTFRONT now, Ty Cobb, the former Trump White House lawyer on this breaking news.

Ty, we're just finding out, a Georgia court is setting October 4th. This is for oral arguments and Trump's effort to kick her off the case, right? It's not the case itself. It's in this whole whether she is or isn't on it. What does this new date mean for Trump's Georgia trial?

TY COBB, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE LAWYER (via telephone): I think one thing it certainly means is again no possibility this case is going to trial before the election or likely before the end of the year, and I think the stakes are very high here. I think its a case where Fani Willis may easily be removed from the case and that will be a further setback to the case.

Also, keep in mind that she has cross appealed because she, A, she had that right. But also that several of the accounts were dismissed because of the failure to adhere to certain pleading technicalities and rather than simply we fix those in the grand jury, she elected to appeal that. I'm not sure if she has much likelihood of success on that, but its further complicates the appeal. BURNETT: You're saying that it is possible that she could indeed be

the Trump could be successful in getting her kicked off the case. Now, I know, Ty, you and have spoken a lot about this case. This is separate from your view of the case itself, but nonetheless, you think it is possible that Trump could win this part of it, and Fani Willis goes away.

COBB: Easily.

BURNETT: So then, I guess let's just play it out this way because this gets to the heart of the issue itself, which is the case itself and its strength. Let's just say, Ty, for fun, Fani Willis steps down tomorrow voluntarily. I know this isn't going to happen, but if it happened, what would that mean for the calendar? Could you actually get this case done or tried before Election Day?

COBB: I don't think -- so I think the claims on the appeal are so detailed and the relief they've sought and the reasons for the relief they've sought suggests that she's already damaged the case two degree that is improper through her misconduct. And that it still infects the case, that the case should be dismissed. I think that the likelihood is that the judge who's done an excellent job I think so far in this case would let the appellate court rules before taking any action, even if you did step down.

But assuming even if you did step down at that, he let it proceed or the Georgia court of appeals let it proceed because technically it has jurisdiction now, is this case isn't definitely not going to go to trial before the -- before the end of the year and quite likely will not -- would I go to trial until sometime in late 20 -- late 2025 or mid-2025, whether Trump wins the election or not.

If he does win, there will be an effort to prevent the case from going to trial at all. And I think the likelihood is that even though there's no precedent for it, that they would tend to follow the federal rule and the court may impose a ruling following the federal rule that a president cannot be distracted by criminal trial until after his term.

BURNETT: I mean, it is really incredible because people have talked about this case and that the strength of this particular case here we are. And that it may not get a day in court is certainly before Election Day, maybe ever. You have Trump wins the election tie. You've predicted that he will dismiss both special counsel Jack Smith's cases on day one. So, to literally be among the first thing because if he does.

So, when you just laid out what you laid out with Georgia, right. So some might say, well, but Georgia's a state case that can go ahead and you're talking about how they probably will follow the federal precedent and not do that. How -- how real is the chance that Trump avoids any trials from this point on for trying to overturn the 2020 election?

COBB: I'm sorry. It's very real if you win the election. It's not real at all if he loses because if he loses the sledgehammers out there that are the Jack Smith trial on Trump's failure to permit peaceful transfer of power and the related classified documents case for the use, abuse, and refusal to return those documents is out there.

Both of those will end up going. At some point, if Trump loses, at some point, early next year, early to mid next year. And the Georgia case would likely follow that along later.

And keep in mind that if he wins this case, not only will the Georgia case languish until the end of his term by any sentence that Judge Merchan might impose to the extended imposes a incarcerated sentence -- that would also linger until after Trump's term at which point it will be at three plus. So I think justice has been pretty elusive in these cases.


And sadly in the Georgia case, it's all of -- it's all Fani Willis's own making.

BURNETT: Yeah. Oh, absolutely. That is the reality.

Thank you very much. I appreciate it, Ty.

COBB: My pleasure. Thanks for having me, Erin.

All right. You, too. And on that breaking news, we're also getting some new reaction to Trump's historic criminal conviction from Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill, right? Some who had maybe been deciding which side to jump onto.

Well, they're jumping now and Manu Raju is OUTFRONT.

Manu, you've been talking to people all day. You're on steps with the Capitol right now. What are they telling you?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Speaking to a lot of members from both sides of the aisle, including Republicans who are in swing districts. The ones whose fate in November will determine whether Republicans can hang on to the majority. Those Republicans who are representing districts that Joe Biden himself carried in 2020, namely, places like New York and California and suburban districts and the like and asking them directly about Donald Trump's conviction on these 34 felony counts, if they will continue to stand behind, if they have any concerns, will they run away from the top of the ticket?

But through and through, a number of these embers say that they will continue to get behind Donald Trump no matter if there's backlash because of his felony convictions.


RAJU: Does having a convicted felon in a district like yours hurt Republicans?

REP. JOHN DUARTE (R-CA): My district is full of very smart people, with firm grasp reality. They can smell (EXPLETIVE DELETED). RAJU: No issues nominating a convicted felon.

REP. ANTHONY D'ESPOSITO (R-NY): I have no issues in supporting Donald Trump for president United States.

RAJU: I mean, you're running with a convicted felon at the top of your ticket.

REP. NICK LALOTA (R-NY): A tainted process, not the same. And a lot of my constituents were focusing on the fact of the trial not being fair, the process not being fair, and they're upset and they're angry.

RAJU: Does it concern you having a convicted felon at the top of the ticket?

REP. MIKE GARCIA (R-GA): No, I think -- I think the American people saw what happened in New York. They sought to what were typically misdemeanors, being elevated to 34 felonies.


RAJU: But there were still several other Republicans in swing districts who did not want to talk about this just moments ago when I tried to catch up with them, one of them, Congressman Mike Lawler of New York, also is one of a vulnerable Republican, someone who is actually not endorsed Donald Trump yet. He did come out criticize this verdict when it came as a reached it last week, but I got a paper statement, did not comment there.

Another one, Tom Kane, Jr., a New Jersey Republican, another swing digital Republican, not saying how he views this or whether he continued, we will continue to support Donald Trump.

So, those questions about for some of the members, but overall, many of those most vulnerable members, Erin, continuing to say, they'll stand with the former president.

BURNETT: Yeah. I mean, amazing. And you asking them so directly one after the other, there was no hesitation. They were very uncomfortable with what they were telling you.

So how are Democrats responding now that theyre seeing how this is really playing out across the aisle?

RAJU: Look, there's actually a real debate within the Democratic Party right now about exactly whether Joe Biden should bang the drum should really say day after day, he is running against a convicted felon.

Use that as a core part of his messaging. Some Democrats say absolutely he should and down Trump would do essentially the same thing if the shoe were on the other foot, but others say that that is not what the electorate is in these swing states, where the margins will make such a difference in hotly contested race and that Biden should instead talking about economic issues, other issues, Donald Trump's record in office, the concerns about Donald Trump post-January 6 and the like and the conviction itself will play itself out. Let surrogates do the attacking against Donald Trump over the fact that he is a convicted felon.

That's the bait that'll continue to play out, and it's clear that the Biden campaign is still trying to figure out its strategy and talking about the fact that Donald Trump is the first ever nominee here, convicted of a crime, convicted of a felony, but some Democrats say, embrace it, run on that because they believe that could win over some swing voters.

BURNETT: It's amazing that they're unsure, right? Just evening can see that that play out in the Democratic Party.

Manu, thank you so much.

And next, we're going to take you inside today's heated hearing with Dr. Anthony Fauci.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, FORMER NIAID DIRECTOR: You said about four or five things, Congressman, that would just not true.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, we have emails, just prove it.

FAUCI: Well, you don't.


BURNETT: Plus, the U.S. responds after North Korea has now sent roughly 1,000 balloons, filled with trash to South Korea.



BURNETT: Tonight, Dr. Anthony Fauci grilled on Capitol Hill for more than three hours, fending off Republican accusations of COVID cover up and defending the U.S. response to the pandemic.

Now Republicans focused much of their time hammering Fauci on the virus's origin.


REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): Why was it so important the virus not have started in a lab?

FAUCI: Wasn't so important that the virus not -- we don't know. We know --

JORDAN: Well, it's important to someone in the Biden administration is so much so that the top people at Meta, the top people at Facebook are asking, why are we getting all this pressure to downplay the lab-leak theory?

FAUCI: What does that got to do with me?

JORDAN: I'm asking you because you're the expert on coronavirus. I'm saying why did the administration --


FAUCI: Am I on those emails?

REP. DEBBIE LESKO (R-AZ): Did you cite this article at the White House because the NIH director asked you to suppress the lab-leak theory?

FAUCI: I did not do that in response to anybody suggestion to suppress anything, and I did not edit any paper as shown in my official testimony.

So you said about four or five things, Congressman, that would just not true.

LESKO: Well, we have emails, just prove it.

FAUCI: Well, you don't.


BURNETT: Well, the assault was, you know, relentless and at one point, the Republican chairman actually had to admonish one of his own members for totally inappropriate behavior. Marjorie Taylor Greene refused to address Dr. Fauci by his name?


REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): Do the American people deserve to be abused like that, Mr. Fauci? Because you're not a doctor. You're Mr. Fauci in my few minutes.

GOP CHAIRMAN: And I've instructed her to address him as doctor.

GREENE: I address him as a doctor.

We should be writing a criminal referral because you should be prosecuted for crimes against humanity.


BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, Congressman Raul Ruiz. He is the ranking Democrat on the subcommittee on the coronavirus pandemic. He questioned Dr. Fauci during today's hearing. Also, a former ER doctor.

So Dr. Ruiz, Congressman Ruiz, thank you very much for being with me.

So you just heard Marjorie Taylor Greene there that refusal to use the word doctor for Dr. Fauci. He is, of course, a doctor. What's it like to sit in the room and have that happen? Obviously, the Republican chairman of the committee admonished her.

REP. RAUL RUIZ (D-CA): Well, it was -- it was very difficult to experience, but it was in clear display that the Republicans had extreme behavior with extreme accusations that have been debunked over and over again, but it seems like it doesn't matter for them because they are still pursuing this very false narrative that somehow Dr. Fauci funded this research through EcoHealth that created the COVID-19 pandemic, and that he tried to cover it up and suppress the truth and bribe officials to change her mind.

All of that is absolute nonsense. And we've spent so much time and energy trying to address that narrative there, then trying to prove it, and not getting to the real business of preparing and preventing the next viral pandemic.

BURNETT: Which is crucial, and I want to ask you about, but on that lab-leak theory, I remember when Senator Tom Cotton first came out with an article commentary about that, it was very hastily squelch. Do you feel comfortable at this point that you know why that happened. Do you feel comfortable that that really was just because they felt they had other things to focus on at the time and it wasn't worth talking about at that moment or do you still have questions as to why that was really shunted aside and put as sort of a at the time, you know, you're really out there talking point?

RUIZ: Well, I think that the whole notion of the lab leak was bundled with the complete narrative that I had just mentioned about Dr. Fauci, Dr. Collins creating the coronavirus pandemic and that it leaked. Now, if you dissect the possibility that this could be a actual lab leak berth from the whole extreme accusations then one can say and we still say this based on the evidence that we have, that indeed it could be a lab leak or and it could also be an animal transmission origin.

But it was not the entire package of the narrative that they were trying to push that is manufactures distrust and puts a lot of public health's lives in jeopardy through these violent death threats that they've been getting.

BURNETT: He talked about those. He did also talk about some things that he conceded on, he conceded, for example, Congressman, that there's no scientific basis for the six feet distancing rules. He conceded there may have been negative have repercussions to vaccine mandates.

Do you still feel that he did the best that could have been done?

RUIZ: You know, I think that he did the best that he could have been done under the circumstances which he explained very early on, where we have thousands of people dying from this novel virus and we were figuring things out as we went. And with more data, we were able to adjust.

Now, let me back up for a second because the Republicans tried to put the attack on the no data for the six feet of social distancing as an attack on the basic public health principle of social distancing, when you have an aerosolized or dropped split transmittable virus from somebody's mouth.


Now, it doesn't take data to show you that if you jump off an airplane without a parachute, you're going to die. So we know that if you are far away from a person's ability to extract or cough or sneeze aerosolized droplets that you're going to be safer from receiving that droplet or aerosolized virus into your eyes, your nose, your mouth.

Now the question that was asked is, was -- was there any evidence to show whether it should have been six feet or ten feet, or 50 yards, or three feet? And that is no. So they had a pick, an arbitrary number to make it easy for people to understand the concept of social distancing.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Congressman, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much. Congressman. Dr. Ruiz, appreciate it.

RUIZ: Thank you, Erin.

BURNETT: And next Trump trending in China. Images of the former president in an orange jumpsuit are going viral and state media is going all in on Trump's guilty verdict. How come? Well, a special report is next on that crucial in this election season, which side with China be on.

And Ukraine claiming it's using Western weapons to strike inside Russia. I'm going to speak to investigative journalist Christo Grozev, his new reporting on those strikes tonight for you.



BURNETT: Tonight, former President Donald Trump now banned from 38 countries, 38 countries have banned him since he became a convicted felon on Thursday night. So take a look at this map. The UK, Canada, Australia, Israel, Ukraine, major U.S. allies, all refuse entry to convicted felons and unless an exception is made, that list also includes China where tonight social media users are mocking the United States and Trump. One user writing, quote: Put Trump in jail and wait for the fuming red necks to draw their guns.

Comments like these getting hundreds of millions of views, hundreds of millions of views. That's how influential a comment like that is in the world's most populous country.

Will Ripley has this report first OUTFRONT.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On China's tightly controlled Internet, AI-generated images of Donald Trump in an orange prison jumpsuit posts about the former presidents felony convictions trending on Chinese social media, racking up hundreds of millions of views, untouched by Beijing's heavy-handed sensors.

This user asks: Can he be put behind bars? Will this lead to civil war?

As the movie "Civil War" hits theaters in China this week, one of just 34 foreign films allowed all year. This comment says: Trump's supporters hurry up and mobilize, storm the Capitol. Another uses Trump's popular Chinese nickname, Comrade Nation Builder Trump should not be fighting alone.

Chinese social media users often called Trump, the Chinese nation builder, a play on his isolationist policies, dividing the U.S. and its allies, building up Beijing and weakening Washington on the world stage.

Trump's legal troubles fueling Chinese state media's ongoing narrative of American democracy he in decline, a stance summed up by this Chinese academic, the attitudes of both parties reflect the rottenness of American politics and the law now seems to be used as a political weapon.

Alex from Beijing says, in the United States, you can still run for president even if you have a felony or have committed get it a crime, this kind of thing is unimaginable in China.

Wen, a student, says, if Trump can still become president after being convicted, I think he may try to use this power to quash the charges.

It's politics, says Xiaoya (ph). The multiparty system will have such problems. China does not have such problems because of the one-party system.

The comment echoes China's larger narrative that the U.S. is a superpower in decline, a democracy marred by dysfunction, division, chaos that ultimately benefits Beijing.


BURNETT: I mean, Will, you know, it's amazing to watch all that commentary and hundreds of millions of views on some of these things. Obviously, Tuesday morning where you are and all of this I guess a welcome distraction for China given what happened on this day 35 years ago.

RIPLEY: 1989, June 4th, the Tiananmen Square massacre, which is being marked here in Taiwan. But any discussion of that is banned in China were probably being blocked -- our signal is probably being blocked in China right now, although I'm not looking at a live picture of our Beijing bureau to see that.

You know, China is basically not just watching what's happening in the U.S. from the sidelines. They are actively trying to influence American opinion ahead of the November election, Erin. And so even though inside their country, any discussion of anything controversial gets the color bars that you're seeing on screen there, they want to sow discord and amplified divisions inside the U.S. You heard that from the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and social media campaigns, and it's also trying to influence Chinese opinion about the U.S.

Interesting that they're allowing that movie "Civil War" to play in theaters this week. They just let a handful of foreign films in, but they want the Chinese audiences see that one.

BURNETT: All right. Will, thank you very much. Amazing bars and tones. It literally happened well, when you said the words Tiananmen Square, they went to bars and tone. Your entire report were still in bars and tone. This is a live picture from our Beijing bureau.

But, Will, when you were doing your entire report on a hundreds of millions of views and all these things that that air in full.


They obviously, as you point out, state media sanction that but the words Tiananmen Square, bars and tone.

All right. Will, thank you very much.

And also tonight, us condemning North Korea, which is now sent about 1,000 giant balloons across the border to South Korea. And they're full of garbage.


MATTHEW MILLER, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: It's obviously quite a disgusting tactic irresponsible, childish, and it should come to an end. I'll leave it at that.

REPORTER: Do you not condemn?

MILLER: Of course, I condemn it absolutely. Condemn any country that sends trash to its neighbor, floods trash over in a balloon to its neighbors.


BURNETT: This, they say that trash is all that's in them, that's all we understand right now.

Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un's sister, Kim Yo-jong, a senior official, called them sincere presents in response to South Korean activists who send illegal contraband, they send propaganda leaflets, food, medicine, and television show goes to the North. In exchange, they receive trash. The unwanted gifts leaving South Koreans disgusted daily life has been disrupted flight operations have been halted as a result of the thousand balloons.

And the incident is further inflaming tensions between the North and South. South Korea says it's continuing suspend considering suspending a landmark military agreement to ease tensions around the border.

All right, next, Russia tonight warning the United States that it will, quote, feel the consequences for allowing Ukraine to use American weapons to strike Russian targets. So what will Putin do?


[19:56:12] BURNETT: Tonight, Ukraine claiming to have used Western supplied weapons to strike Russia, hitting a long-range surface to air missile system that fires the type of missiles that Russia has been using to strike the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv.

This just days after President Biden gave Ukraine permission to carry out limited strikes inside Russia using American weapons. A top Russian official responding to the strike with a warning that the U.S. will feel the consequences for this.

OUTFRONT now, investigative journalist Christo Grozev. He's on Russia's wanted list and also, of course, you did the film "Navalny" and have a new film out now I'm going to talk about in a moment.

But is Ukraine right now in from your reporting using American weapons to strike Russia and I believe you've got to new reporting about this strike that happened against this surface to air missile system.

CHRISTO GROZEV, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: Correct, yes. There's no question that it is the first use of American weapons into Russian territory, into what the Russians called old Russian territories. We saw sufficient convincing videos today and even the Russian military reporters are conceding that this was American weaponry. This was a type of HIMARS. It was the MLRS, the vehicle driven HIMARS and we could identify at least two vectors from which it came. But what is interesting it came from here the border need near the actual front- line, not from somewhere very deep inside Ukrainian territory.

But yes, it is the first time that Belgorod was hit with American weapons.

BURNETT: And so, when the Russians warned of consequences to the U.S., you take that seriously?

GROZEV: Well, they will have to do something for domestic audience to show that they're avenging of that. But that will probably in the case -- will come up with something that they'll fabricate those say that they've just hit a sort location with a lot of American instructors or something. That's what they typically do for an immediate relief of the problem with them having been hit with American weapons.

I don't think they will at this point dare to attack non-Ukrainian targets.

BURNETT: Non-Ukraine target, as an American targets.

All right, now, I mentioned your other film, "Antidote". It premieres this week in New York, Christo, and that's why I mentioned Alexei Navalny. Your investigative work uncovered the FSB unit, what happened to Alexei Navalny, the Novichok poisoning.

This film goes through what happened to you now and how people are even now that you are on the Russia's wanted list, there are people that you've been tracking who had been trying to kill you.

I want to play a clip from it. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GROZEV: I may have to change the place of life for my family because local police is telling me the area (ph) is not an easy place for you to be protected. There are way too many Russians, way too many potential spies here that we are aware of.

I understand exactly how Putin operates and now, I know I'm part of the game.


BURNETT: People watch the film because you also talk about how, when there was a decision to be made about whether you wanted to turn back, it was too late. The decision already been made. You had done the investigative reporting.

How -- how close are you to ever feeling safe again?

GROZEV: Well, it depends on how long will have bad actors sort of running whole countries, and I don't think that's going to be anywhere in the near future. So I think that is in the past. The question is how much can we do as journalists to accelerate the demise of terrible regimes.

BURNETT: Well, one the thing that you have done in this also is in the film, you found one of the top scientists in Russia who had basically perfected Novichok, perfected it and made it, made it, made it the killing agent it is. But then he finds out that it's a killing agent, and you actually film his defection from Russia.

GROZEV: Yeah, that's what the film started as it was going to follow the story of a whistleblower, of somebody who is going to redemption, somebody who is part of the Novichok creation and upgrading and research and development system of Russia.

Then suddenly he gets a conscience and he realizes that these weapons, that is these chemical weapons, keys is helping design are not really used for terrorist that he was let to believe against terrorist. They're actually used against peace compatriots and people who are just speaking up. And he decided to speak up to us and we help him escape Russia. That was how the film started.

And as we followed his fate, his destiny --


GROZEV: -- then one of the victims of the poisoning with Novichok went back to Russia and was arrested. That was Vladimir Kara-Murza, who has been in jail since the war started, and we focused on him as well. And then suddenly in the middle of filming these destinies, something happened that showed us that I'm also a victim and then the director pivoted to me.

BURNETT: To you.

Well, it is an incredible film. I hope everyone will watch it. It premieres this week.

And thanks so much to all of you for joining us tonight.

"AC360" starts now.