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Erin Burnett Outfront

Garland: "Repeated" GOP Attacks On DOJ Are "Unfounded"; Biden Closes Border; Jury Hears Hunter's Own Words. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired June 04, 2024 - 19:00   ET




Attorney General Merrick Garland and the Republicans go head to head, clashing over Trump's conspiracy theories, including the former president's baseless claim that the FBI was trying to assassinate him.

Plus, breaking news, we are now just hours away from the U.S.-Mexico border closing after Biden issued strict new border rules. But why now? We're live at the border.

And Hunter Biden's laptop and his own words taking center stage in court today.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, I will not be intimidated. Those are the exact words of Attorney General Merrick Garland, who came under withering fire from Republicans today.


MERRICK GARLAND, ATTORNEY GENERAL: These repeated attacks on the Justice Department are unprecedented and they are unfounded. I will not be intimidated and the Justice Department will not be intimidated. We will continue to work, do our jobs free from political influence and we will not back down from defending democracy.


BURNETT: The usually mild-mannered Garland standing firm for five hours as he was confronted with one conspiracy theory after the next, everyone designed to show Garland and President Biden trying to use the DOJ to take down Trump.

Conspiracy theory one, Trump's claims that Garland and Biden were in cahoots with the Manhattan D.A.'s office in the hush money trial for Trump. Garland, of course, would have none of that.


GARLAND: We do not control the Manhattan -- Manhattan district attorney.


BURNETT: And the fact of the matter is that in 2018, federal prosecutors with the DOJ declined to file charges against Trump. That decision in part because of the lingering concerns about Michael Cohen's credibility as a witness.

And then came conspiracy theory number two. Trump's claims that the department of justice was trying to assassinate him during the FBI rate at Mar-a-Lago. Again, Garland would have none of that.


GARLAND: I'm just saying that the allegation is not true.


BURNETT: Firm, but calm words.

And the allegation is not true. In fact, the language in the documents related to the 2022 search of Mar-a-Lago is standard and directly from the department manual. It's just -- with just every single case.

Former FBI deputy operations chief Rob D'Amico told us that the language included is, quote, standard language for every single operation, bar none. What Trump saying is just a disinformation campaign highlighting it for people who don't know.

But tonight, Trump and his allies are turning up the volume on a disinformation campaign to disparage the Attorney General Merrick Garland, and to disparage the investigations into the former president.

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

And, Katelyn, I mean, this was a five-hour intense hearing. Garland standing firm, but one of the key reasons he was there is because Republicans want him to release audio of Biden's interview with special counsel in the classified documents case.

And so far, we've got the transcript from the DOJ. That's it. No audio, and I know to begin, you've got some new reporting on this tonight.

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Erin. Right now, there is a fight on Capitol Hill today between Merrick Garland, the attorney general, and the Republicans who want this audio tape of Joe Biden sitting down for this interview over two days with special counsel Robert Hur, about the classified documents. He had in his possession ended up not being charged, but that's not where that fight is on its own. It also exists in court.

There are more than a dozen media organizations as well as to right leaning groups, the Heritage Foundation and Judicial Watch, who are suing for that tape as well. And the Justice Department has had to explain in court just like Merrick Garland was explaining today, their reasons for not wanting to hand over this tape.

They say that there are privacy reasons. Some of those things include that it's very stressful for someone to sit for an interview. And if they want White House officials to Cooperate with them in the future, for future Justice Department investigations, they need to offer them some level of privacy protection, also, executive privilege, which Merrick Garland and the president apparently discussed.


Garland advised, yes, you could assert privilege and the president did over this tape.

Here's a little bit more about how America, explained to Congress today something he has also echoing in court.


REP. SCOTT FITZGERALD (R-WI): Is it your testimony that a White House official would voluntarily cooperate and a criminal investigation only if the Justice Department promises not to release the audio recordings? It doesn't make any sense.

GARLAND: The longtime experience of the Justice Department is also reflected in the declaration that was filed under oath is that witnesses want to protect the confidentiality of their communications with the prosecutors during these sensitive interviews.


POLANTZ: So, Erin, that audio tape recording of Biden sitting for the interview with special counsel Robert Hur, it is still classified, according to the Justice Department. It's still in a secured facility, protected, and it's ultimately going to be up to very likely the courts on whether it will be released publicly in some way -- Erin.

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

And obviously, that recording central to this hearing today. OUTFRONT now, Democratic Congressman Dan Goldman, former assistant U.S. attorney in the southern district of New York, which, of course, is part of the DOJ.

So, Dan, I really appreciate your time and, Congressman, I want to get to Katelyn's reporting in just a moment about the tape, but first, just what we saw today, the Attorney General Garland was defiant. He said, I will not be intimidated.

Do you think that's what this hearing was about, Republicans trying to intimidate him?

REP. DAN GOLDMAN (D-NY): Republicans have been trying to intimidate Merrick Garland and the Department of Justice for this entire Congress. They created an entire subcommittee called the weaponization of the federal government so they could weaponize Congress in order to undermine the rule of law, undermine democracy, and undermine most importantly, every single investigation now prosecution against Donald Trump. That's all this is about.

This is the Republicans doing the bidding and the dirty work for Donald Trump. They don't like the prosecutions against Donald Trump, but they have no problem about prosecutions against anyone else, including Democrats, including Hunter Biden.

It is hypocrisy at its zenith, and this was all that its about and has been all that it's about this entire Congress.

BURNETT: And, of course, just to put an emphasis on one thing you said there. It is, of course, President Biden's DOJ, which is currently bringing a case against Hunter Biden. So, important to note in that context.

I want to play something today, Congressman, that happened between Attorney General Garland, and the chairman of the judiciary committee, Jim Jordan.

And so, in this exchange, they're talking about Jack Smith, who obviously is the special counsel prosecuting the two federal cases against Trump. And here's part of their exchange.


REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): Did he ask for the job?

GARLAND: This is not a job I don't think anybody asks for. I'm sorry.

JORDAN: That's not -- but that's not the question I asked you. I said did Jack Smith ask for the job?

GARLAND: He did ask me for the job, no.

JORDAN: Did he convey through someone else that he wanted the job?

GARLAND: I would be surprised if that were the case, but --

JORDAN: Well, you don't know?

GARLAND: No, I don't know.

JORDAN: So he may have?

GARLAND: I can only tell you what I know. I chose him because he had a record of impartial career experience as a prosecutor. That's why he was chosen.


BURNETT: So that entire line of questioning was obviously to make it look like Jack Smith had lobbied for the job and was given it as some part of some conspiracy to take down Trump.

Congressman, what was the real purpose of this hearing?

GOLDMAN: Well, look, ostensibly, the purpose is that the judiciary committee is supposed to do oversight of the Department of Justice and the Department of Justice makes its budgetary requests through the Judiciary Committee.

But, of course, that's not what Jim Jordan and Republicans want to use it for. The purpose of this hearing, as it is with just about everything related to the Department of Justice is to undermine the confidence in the Department of Justice in the FBI, to undermine the rule of law because Donald Trump has been charged with multiple different crimes in multiple different courts. That's the only reason that the Republicans object to anything going on in Merrick Garland's Department of Justice or in the Manhattan D.A.'s office, or in the Atlanta, Georgia D.A.'s office.

And don't forget, Erin, this -- the arguments you start hearing about the Manhattan D.A. trial, that this is somehow how politicized, that Michael Cohen is a terrible witness, that Michael Cohen was the reason the Southern District of New York didn't charge Donald Trump --


GOLDMAN: -- the fact of the matter is, like our Constitution requires and allows for, Donald Trump's lawyer had three days to cross-examine Michael Cohen. He had ample opportunity to show that he was a non credible witness.


The jury heard it. The jury heard all the other evidence, consider all the other evidence and decided unanimously that he was guilty.

This is how our criminal justice system works. And Merrick Garland is operating the Department of Justice in the true, true, timeless fashion that our democratic values have been founded upon.

BURNETT: And also, to add to that, of course, the DOJ did not bring that case, that they had nothing to do with that case was, of course, brought by the Manhattan D.A.

I want to ask you what Katelyn -- about Katelyn's reporting, Congressman, though, and that is about this audio tape. Republicans are focused on the audio tape of Biden's interview with the special counsel in his classified documents case. Media organizations want this audio as well, including my own.

Here is one exchange where the Republican Congressman Dan Bishop tells Garland that he thinks the audio is important because it will let people hear Biden's presentation, his demeanor and evaluate his mental capacity. Here's the exchange.


REP. DAN BISHOP (R-NC): Yu know what demeanor evidence is, don't you, sir? GARLAND: I'm sorry.

BISHOP: Demeanor evidence, you know what that is. You sat on the bench for decades.

GARLAND: I know what demeanor evidence is.


GARLAND: I know what demeanor evidence is and I've not been shown any reason why audio evidence of demeanor would make a difference in any legislative purposes.

BISHOP: And that's exactly what demeanor evidence is, witnessing -- observing a witness as they testify. And what can be done by this committee is to observe the audio recording of the president testifying to see whether it comports with the transcript or whether it reveals things about his capacity or his veracity or anything else that comes from his demeanor as he -- as he is interviewed.


BURNETT: Congressman, do you think the audio should be released?

GOLDMAN: Absolutely not. It is a preposterous proposition to say that Congress has some legitimate legislative purpose to obtain the audio when it has the substance of the interview in transcript form.

They cannot enumerate any reason for Congress, not necessarily the media, which is a separate issue, or the special counsel who obviously had the audio, and was the one who was evaluating his demeanor to make the decision the prosecutorial --


BURNETT: Well, he had concerned about -- he had concerned about the president's mental capacity. So that's why people want to see. I mean, your Democratic colleague in the Senate, Mark Warner, just told "The Associated Press", I quote him, you've got to release the audio.

GOLDMAN: No, there's no legal basis to release the audio. The Department of Justice is absolutely correct.

Now, remember, Erin, Joe Biden voluntarily sat for five hours of an interview. That is in direct contrast to Donald Trump, who refuse to sit for an interview with special counsel Mueller, and then he submitted written answers to questions and was known -- was asserted to be false and obstructed justice because he lied in his written answers.

So when the attorney general says we want to encourage people to voluntarily cooperate, if Congress is going to get a whole hold of these videotapes, so that Donald Trump can use them as part of his campaign because that's really the only reason they want it, because they cannot establish a legitimate basis, then no one would go in. BURNETT: Just one final point, though, Congressman, the reason everyone's asking for it I think from the media perspective of the American public is because special counsel Hur concluded that there were issues with Biden's memory, right? I mean, that's the reason is that actually --

GOLDMAN: Well, special counsel Hur -- well, special counsel Hur said that. He also said in the course of the interview that President Biden has a photographic memory and ultimately you have the transcript.

So if you have issues with his memory or with what he said, you have the transcript, have you have the substance of it? The only reason for the audio is for political partisan purposes to help Donald Trump.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Congressman Goldman, I appreciate your time and thank you for the conversation.

GOLDMAN: Thank you.

BURNETT: And next, we have breaking news. President Biden's new immigration crackdown is about to take effect. So shutting down the southern U.S. border at midnight but why now?

Plus, the jury in Hunter Biden's case hearing, the president's son in his own words, speak out about the grip the drugs had on him.


HUNTER BIDEN, SON OF PRESIDENT BIDEN: I was a bloodhound on the scent. Like everywhere else I'd bought crack.


BURNETT: What was the jury looking as they heard that?

And a chilling warning tonight for the head of the FBI about the number of threats facing America tonight.



BURNETT: Breaking news, in just a few hours, much of America's nearly 2,000-mile border with Mexico will close. Close. It is a dramatic move by President Biden, who has just rolled out a new border policy.

Already, there is bipartisan backlash.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): Why didn't you do this in 2021? Why didn't you do this in 2022? Why didn't you do this in 2023? Why don't you do this last month or the month before?

REP. AYANNA PRESSLEY (D-MA): It is extremely disappointing that this White House would choose to double down on the previous administration's harmful and flawed immigration policies.


BUIRNETT: From both sides.

Now, Biden says that he is taking action because the Republican Party refused to act.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm moving past Republican obstruction and using the executive authorities available to me as president to do what I can on my own to address the border.



BURNETT: Now, it has been 118 days since the Senate kill the bipartisan border bill. That's what he's referring to, a bill that would have been the strictest border legislation in decades. And it was a deal made by one of the most conservative members of Congress and Democrats.

That bill, of course, though, never made it out of the Senate, blocked because Donald Trump and Republicans thought it was bad for them politically. But there's been a cost to waiting to close the border from then. There have been at least 406,000 crossings at the U.S. border since that bill failed, stretching resources and cities across this nation. And it is why this has become a major concern among voters.

Now, they're just five months to go until the election, so Biden is now taking action despite previously saying that his hands were tied, that he could who do anything via executive order and that he needed Congress to do it.


BIDEN: I've done all I can do. Just give me the power. I've asked from the very day I got into office.


BURNETT: Well, tonight, Biden says he has the power and he's giving himself the power to shut the border.

Let's begin our coverage with Rosa Flores. She has OUTFRONT tonight at the southern border.


ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Joe Biden announcing his toughest immigration policy, an executive order barring asylum when daily migrant apprehensions at the U.S. southern border hit a seven-day average of 2,500, a move that could result in the deportation of some migrants in a matter of days, even hours.

BIDEN: They choose to come without permission against the law. There'll be restricted from receiving asylum and staying in the United States.

FLORES: The measure clamps down on unlawful crossings between ports of entry, and will take effect at midnight since migrant apprehensions at the U.S. southern border are now about 4,000 per day.

Biden appearing to take a page from former President Donald Trump's hard line immigration playbook. Trump tried implementing a similar policy in 2018. The ACLU led the challenge that caused courts to strike it down and says it plans to sue the Biden administration, too.

LEE GELERNT, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, ACLU IMMIGRANTS' RIGHTS PROJECT: We do not believe that any provision, whether its 212F for any other provision, allows an administration to shut down the asylum system.

FLORES: Biden administration officials defended the executive order, saying it includes humanitarian exceptions for unaccompanied migrant children, for some medical emergencies and for victims of severe human trafficking.

The timing of the announcement --

The number of migrant apprehensions right now is very low.


FLORES: Raising eyebrows among advocates like Sister Norma Pimentel, because migrant apprehensions on the us southern border have plummeted, from nearly 250,000 in December to about 120,000 in May, a source familiar with the data told CNN.

So why do this?

PIMENTEL: I would think is because of the fact that we're having an election very soon, and if he doesn't show a different uptick picture, then they have -- they're losing.

FLORES: The appearance strategy by the Biden administration, pointing the finger back at Republicans who failed to support the Senate's bipartisan border bill.

Republicans fired right back saying it's too little too late.

REP. STEVE SCALISE (R-LA), HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: Joe Biden with a pen could fix the problems that he created and he chooses not to. He doesn't want to fix the problem.

FLORES: Caught in the middle of this political battle playing out on the border --


FLORES: He says that during his journey, he saw all cycles of life, from newborns to the elderly two people who died along the way.

Migrants like Rafael from Venezuela who wants to go only by his first name for fear, it could impact his case.

Do you think migrants are going to go back to their country?


FLORES (on camera): And, Erin, what that migrant is saying in essence is that he believes that Biden's border policies going to work, that migrants are going to return back to their home countries. But I can tell you from the years that I've spent covering the border and talking to migrants, I usually hear that they've been persecuted, that they've lost everything, and that's why they come to the United States, that their country is in shambles. Take Venezuela.

So it's very difficult to believe that that would be the case, but you know what history will tell us, Erin, and what I can tell you based on my experience is that usually when law enforcement is enhanced on the border, migrants use riskier measures to cross which usually means more deaths -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Rosa, thank you very much, on the border tonight.

And OUTFRONT now, the mayor of Laredo, Texas, Victor Trevino. He met with the president earlier. He was at the White House for Biden's immigration announcement.

And Mayor Trevino, I'm so glad to be speaking with you again and obviously a very significant day.

Biden signing this order that would immediately cut southern border crossings by a third. Is this a game changer as you see it, Mayor?

MAYOR VICTOR TREVINO, LAREDO, TEXAS: Yes, it is, and thank you very much for having us.

As a matter of fact, Diaz, we weren't invited to the White House by the president so he could discuss the executive order that he did regarding asylum seekers, basically saying that asylum seekers that cross illegally into our country will not be eligible.


And asylum seekers can actually get on the app thing, get their asylum appointments do.

But the other thing is that if that number of asylum seekers gets to 2,500, that'll put a pause and to asylum seekers. The other thing is that once it gets down to 1,500, then he will reactivate the application for asylum seekers.

BURNETT: Do you think as Laredo is the largest port of entry into the United States, do you think that this announcement is actually backed up by what it needs to be backed up by, border patrol, law enforcement, whatever is needed to actually hold these numbers down? TREVINO: Yes, it is because once immigrants or migrants know that if they cross illegally, there will not be eligible for asylum, that would put a decrease in these people coming in.

And the other thing is that word gets around and the people transfer them to the border. We also find out, and that'll be one of the things that I think will cut the amount of people coming in to our country.

BURNETT: So, U.S. Border Patrol, Mayor Trevino, says there had been nearly 7 million encounters at the southern border since President Biden took office, nearly 7 million. Are you worried about the long- term impact on the country at large because you see it from the very starting point, but for the country at large of nearly 7 million border encounters since Biden took office? Does the country even know the magnitude of what's really happened?

TREVINO: Well, we that live in work at the border do see that impact and we know that there has to be steps to improve immigration reform. And I think this is a first step to do so.

There's a lot of other things that have to go into doing immigration reform. And that is because the laws are so antiquated, they'd been antiquated forward 20 years. So we need to focus on reform and that I think would be more impactful situation.

BURNETT: So what happens tomorrow in Laredo?

TREVINO: Well, what happens tomorrow in Laredo, if people that are coming in illegally apply for asylum, there will be returned back to Mexico with a denial for asylum.

And this will give the message to other people that if they really is seeking asylum, they have to apply through the app, the CBP app, or go directly to the offices of CBP on crossing, on the ports of entry.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Mayor Trevino, I appreciate your time. Thanks so much. I'm glad to talk to you again.

TREVINO: Thank you. Thank you for having me.

BURNETT: So as of midnight, you come in, turned away, sent back to Mexico, denied asylum.

I want to bring in Ron Brownstein, our senior political analyst, and Van Jones, political commentator and, of course, the former special advisor to President Obama.

All right, so glad to have you here to talk about this.

And, Ron, this is consistently one of the top -- if not the top issues as Americans rank them of what they care about for the election, Biden consistently polls far below Trump on the issue of immigration.

But you just heard Ayanna Presley, even from the left of his own party, he's being slammed for this.

Is this going to help him?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it will actually some immigration public opinion tends to move in the opposite direction from immigration policy. That's my experience writing about this since the early 1990s when Republicans are in, when Trump was in, there was pretty broad resistance to a lot of the hard-line measures that he pursued, separation, obviously, of kids and their parents at the border, remain in Mexico.

Under Biden, there's a broad sense that it's too tolerant. And there is now much more support from any of the harsher things that Trump wanted to do. I don't think Biden can close that gap --


BROWNSTEIN: -- entirely in -- given all its happened in the last few years, but I do think that adopting this, which was the sharpest tool in the armory of that bipartisan Senate bill gives him more ground to stand on to say, look, I'm taking reasonable steps to secure the border, and this allows him I think also a stronger position to criticize some of the things that Trump wants to do in a second term, particularly mass deportations.

BURNETT: Yeah. And we'll see what it does, especially with -- I mean, this is obviously not targeted as the base of his party. It's targeted at moderates that he needs to win.

But, Van, you know, while Biden says he's doing this because Republicans wouldn't, as I pointed out, there's been more than 400,000 people cross the border since that bipartisan bill failed, 200,000 migrants have come into New York City since the spring of 2020 -- of 2022, 200,000, Van.

I mean, I've just curious and as I said, nearly seven millions since he's taken office, do you think, Van, that people are going to see this the way Biden wants them to, or are they going to say, look, all these people come in and -- came in under Biden's leadership and he owns that 7 million.


VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, it's hard to know how the public is going to see it. But I think now he's being accused of playing politics with immigration when the problem is that the Republicans have been playing politics with immigration. The last thing Biden wanted to do was to move on his own and to use executive authority that the courts have raised an eyebrow.

Biden is not somebody who likes to do executive orders that he thinks the courts aren't going to approve. That's why he waited so long.


JONES: The reality is, Republican to have a strategy here. They scream fire at the border, they spread the fire around by shipping migrants all over to blue cities, and then when somebody tries to bring a fire hose, like Biden, they step on the fire hose. They don't let Congress act.

And so, he's got a little pail of water on his desk. He's trying to throw it on the fire because all that's left to him. But this Republicans who should own this last chunk because Republicans had a chance to do something, they had a chance to solve the problem. They wouldn't even support their own bilk. They would rather hurt Biden and help the country.

And that's the real problem here. That's real politics there.

BURNETT: Ron, when you look at Democrats, I mean, you've got some that are happy to Biden's doing this, you know? But you have some who are slamming it. In fact, for what you say, because they're saying, oh, it's like Trump did and they actually aren't okay with that.

I mean, here's just two today.


REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): I'm disappointed that the president has sort of gone into the same frame as Donald Trump at a very time when we need to make a distinction between Donald Trump and Joe Biden.

SEN. ALEX PADILLA (D-CA): It's disappointing to see an attempt to return to the same policies that were proven to fail in the Trump administration.


BROWNSTEIN: You know --

BURNETT: Are they not going to vote for him though?

BROWNSTEIN: Right. Listen, from the point of the Biden administration, the fact that Ruben Gallego, who is running, starts from the left, but is running for Senate in Arizona, supported this, Mark Kelly supported this --

BURNETT: Yeah, Mark Kelly loudly supported it.

BROWNSTEIN: -- it's probably more telling.

And, look, what Biden has tried to do on immigration without a lot of success is basically say, we are going to expand legal pathways and we are going to try to shut off the illegal pathways to try to steer people that direction.

In fact, even in this -- even in this plan, 1,500 people a day can still come in under that CBP One app that the mayor was talking about. The best thing Biden has going for him and holding the left on immigration is that Trump is serious about pursuing a larger scale deportation than we have ever seen in American history.

And the question of whether moving to the center at the border will drive away people if they know the alternative is deporting up to 1 million or more people a year. I think Biden has more room on the left than it might seem.

BURNETT: And, Van, when are we going to know what people think?

JONES: Well, I mean, we'll see you in the polling data, but I also want to point out that you have mayors like the mayor of Denver, Democratic mayor of Denver, Democratic mayor of Chicago, Democratic mayor of New York, saying we just can't handle it.


JONES: It's just too much. And so it's -- you have -- you ever revolt inside the Democratic Party, that's mainly revolt of the center saying, we'd literally cannot -- 15 House Democrats saying, we can't take anymore.

Everybody has got a number that's too many crossing the border. Some, it's one, some it's a billion. But that number has been crossed in the Democratic Party.

BURNETT: It's certainly has. And as I said again, maybe biggest at home, 200,000 migrants to New York City, just in these past two years.

Thank you both very much.

And next, incredible new details from inside the Hunter Biden courtroom today. We're learning -- this is very different than the Manhattan case. Jurors were struggling to stay awake while prosecutors went through Biden's text messages, videos, and photos. So, is this a problem for the government's case?

And the Middle East on edge tonight after Iran accuses Israel of a massive strike that killed a top member of Tehran's elite Revolutionary Guard Corps.



BURNETT: And breaking news, the first day of testimony, just wrapping up in Hunter Biden's trial. Prosecutors tonight showing his infamous laptop to the jury. There it was the laptop, the key piece of evidence was in court today, and it was included Hunter Biden's own words. Prosecutors playing the jury more than an hour of Hunter Biden's audio book, where he talks and brutally honest terms about his struggles with drug use and addiction.


HUNTER BIDEN: No honor among us crackheads, In Nashville, I was a bloodhound on the scent. Like everywhere else I'd bought crack. I knew I could go there cold and in no time assess what highway to get on, what exit to get off at, what gas station to pull into, and what unsavory looking character to choose my newest most trusted associate.


BURNETT: I want to go straight to Evan Perez, our senior justice correspondent.

And, Evan, you were there in court today. So you heard all of this, you saw Hunter Biden react, you saw the jury how did they react to hearing Hunter Biden's own words?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, to have Hunter Biden's voice fill that courtroom, you could see the jurors were playing -- playing, paying very close attention. They were taking notes they were observing every single thing that was coming from that audiobook, but prosecutors also spent hours going through a text messages photos, video from his iCloud.

An FBI agent was on the stand trying to explain their efforts to try to try to verify that these were indeed text messages from Hunter Biden where he's talking to his drug dealers, talking to people who were around him. And, you saw some of the raw emotion from at least one juror who was wiping away tears and seemed overcome with emotion at some of the explanations from some of the -- some of the explanations from Abbe Lowell, defense attorney for Hunter Biden.

His point here is that people who are struggling with it, with addiction have periods where they're not using drugs and you could see during a period where he was trying to get the FBI agent to acknowledge that despite all those text messages they -- the prosecutors do not have any evidence to show that Hunter Biden was using drugs on October 12, 2018 when he bought this gun, which is what were here for.

And you can see this one juror in particular, she paged through her notes she shook her head as Abbe Lowell was trying to make that point.


So, Erin, look, it's clear that the prosecutors have a lot of evidence. It is clearly -- they have a strong hand to work with here, but it does happen that prosecutors overplay their hands. Juries -- juries have their own way of dealing with things, and we'll see how this works for them.

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

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

So you hear Evan, you know, he was in the courtroom today, so we heard that audio. We saw the jury's reaction to that. So you also heard that him talking about the one juror who was tearing up, right?

Obviously, people have personal connections to issues like addiction. So how do you think that plays with the jury, hearing his own words, reading a book which they could read excerpts or show excerpts, but hearing him?

RYAN GOODMAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think it can be very powerful. So just to take an example of the recent case in Manhattan what the prosecutors they were able to do is actually play an audio of the defendant, Donald Trump. That's very powerful. And to also speak about or have somebody read from Donald Trump's prior books.

This is even better than that because the prosecutors actually have the defendant his own voice and it sounds like therefore, an audio recording of the defendants. So its one step below having the defendant take the stand, which prosecutors like, but they're presenting the defendant and therefore, the jury hearing him actually talk about his own addiction, which is an element of the crime.

BURNETT: Which, of course, in the book is also where he admits to buy it, that's what the whole case is hearing. Mr. Biden buying the gun and the book. So I guess they're now trying to use that to show their side of the story as well.

Evan also said, he didn't mention it there, but it did say during some of the presentations, a technical presentations of text messages, videos, photos from the iCloud, from that laptop that some of the jurors did seem to struggle to stay awake.

GOODMAN: Uh-huh.

BURNETT: Obviously, we didn't -- I didn't see that ever in the courtroom here in Manhattan. So this there's a little bit different in terms of what we're seeing here.

What does that say to you?

GOODMAN: Not good for the prosecutors. I mean, they want their jurors to be paying attention to the evidence, especially in the very first day that they're presenting evidence to the jurors.


GOODMAN: You would want them to be paying attention. If they're not -- if they're struggling to stay awake means they're basically not fully awake.

So they're not absorbing the information. It's more of a weight is carried by the prosecutors in summation, but this is not what they want to hear, but I guess they'll have a -- better run at it when they have live witnesses on the stand.

BURNETT: Right, right. I mean, no doubt they noticed that today, too.

All right. Ryan, thank you very much.

And Harry Enten joins me now to go beyond the numbers because Harry, you know, Ryan's talking about the reaction of that one juror that Evan referred to, who grew emotional as Abbe Lowell, Hunter Biden's attorney, was talking about addiction.

We know that there are jurors who said that they have -- have dealt without or a family members who have and they are far from alone.

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: They are far from alone. Two- thirds of Americans either personally or have had a familial connection to someone who has suffered from addiction, from drugs or alcohol. And this is something that goes across party lines, right? Basically just as many Republicans, 68 percent as Democrats, 66 percent of any personal or family experience with drug or alcohol addiction.

So whether or not that helps Hunter Biden, wait and see, but that juror I think speaks for a lot of Americans.

BURNETT: It does and incredibly bipartisan, but where do you see a number that -- I mean, every single group in the same.

Obviously, this trial puts President Biden under the microscope. He has spoken out and saying, of course, he's not going to comment on it, except for his father, Jill Biden was in the courtroom yesterday.

How to voters feel about President Biden's role in all this? You obviously have five months to Election Day here.

ENTEN: Yeah. You know, look, I think that they recognize Joe Biden try -- has been trying to fence-set, right, where he's saying, look, I'm not necessarily defending my son's actions but I defend my son, right? I want to be a good father.

And many Americans see it that way when it comes to Joe Biden and Hunter Biden. Look at this, is Joe Biden being a good father by supporting Hunter? The clear majority of Americans say yes, 54 percent, no at 25 percent, and I think therefore this is a sign that Joe Biden's probably playing this as about as best as he can politically speaking.

BURNETT: Will the outcome of the trial affect the race from the numbers you see?

ENTEN: No, not really. You know, essentially, voters were asked, you know, okay. Does this make you any less likely to vote for Joe Biden? A clear runaway answer here is no impact at 58 percent. Yeah, 23 percent say less likely to vote for Joe Biden.

But you know who those voters are? Those are voters who weren't going to vote for Joe Biden anyway. They're overwhelmingly Republicans.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Harry.

ENTEN: Thank you.

BURNETT: Important context, especially as you look at these back-to- back historical -- historically precedent trials in back-to-back weeks.

Well, next, the head of the FBI with an alarming new warning tonight about an unprecedented number of threats facing the United States of America right now.

And we're going to take you to a key battleground state tonight where there are new warning signs for both Biden and Trump tonight.


BURNETT: Tonight, the head of the FBI warning that threats against the U.S. are in an unprecedented all time high since the October 7th attack in Israel.


CHRIS WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: I would be hard-pressed to think of a time when so many different threats to our public safety and national security were so elevated, all at the same time.


BURNETT: Stunning statement from the head of the FBI and the heightened danger he refers to coming as Iran says, Israeli airstrikes have killed an Iranian military, senior Iranian military official, once again escalating tensions.

The strikes happened in the Aleppo in northern Syria. The IDF so far is not acknowledging the strikes, but it comes less than two months since Iran and Israel came dangerously close to igniting a much bigger war.

Fred Pleitgen is OUTFRONT.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Massive fires after what Syrian state news says were several Israeli strikes on Monday near Aleppo in northern Syria, killing an advisor of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard Corps, Iranian media says.

Identified as Saeed Abiyar, photos of his funeral already posted online.

The strikes come just over two months after Israel and Iran came to the brink of a full-on war, after Iran's embassy compound in Damascus was bombed, killing several top Revolutionary Guard commanders.


Israel's prime minister then vowing to remain tough against Tehran.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): We will know how to defend ourselves and we will act according to the simple principle of whoever harms us or plans to harm us, we will harm them.

PLEITGEN: But Iran struck back, for the first time, from its own territory, launching a hundreds of drones and missiles towards Israel, even though most were intercepted by Israel air defense as well as the U.S. and allied air forces.

But Tehran vowing to hit Israel again, should the Israeli strike Iranian assets inside or outside around Iran. ALI KHAMENEI, IRAN'S SUPREME LEADER (through translator): Today, the Zionist regime is melting and ending in front of the eyes of the people of the world. It's ending, and the people of the world is seeing this.

PLEITGEN: Iran is currently in a transition period after both their president and foreign minister were killed in a chopper crash last month.

In one of his final interviews on CNN's OUTFRONT, the foreign minister had called on the U.S. to rein Israel in.

HOSSEIN AMIR-ABDOLLAHIAN, FORMER IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: And I do think that America must pay closer attention and focus on the adventure-seeking regime in Israel so that such a crisis will not happen in Gaza.


PLEITGEN (on camera): And, Erin, Israel has not confirmed or denied whether they were behind the strikes, but of course, they come as the tensions between the Israelis and the Iranians remain extremely high -- Erin.

BURNETT: Fred, thank you.

And next, we traveled to a key state Biden won by just 20,000 votes. So he has to win it this time. How competent or his supporters that he will.



BURNETT: Tonight, three Trump allies charged in Wisconsin for allegedly participating in the fake elector scheme. Wisconsin now the fifth state to bring charges against Trump allies for trying to overturn the 2020 election. It comes as both campaigns see Wisconsin is vital to win the White House.

I interviewed Biden their last month during his most recent visit to the crucial state. And Jeff Zeleny has the latest tonight and our Voters OUTFRONT series.



JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Caroline Quinlan has little appetite for re-litigating the past, a warning for both sides as the rematch Joe Biden and Donald Trump sets in for a summer of uncertainty.

QUINLAN: Both parties have their extreme side and no one's in the middle. ZELENY: It's a new moment in a campaign that often feels like an old


Trump's trial is over. The first debate is three weeks away and here in Wisconsin, the Republican convention is looming.

When we spoke to Quinlan last summer, she longed for a fresh start, but braced for drama.

QUINLAN: I think the next 15 months is going to be like a lifetime movie. It's - there's going to be so much can happen on both sides.

ZELENY: So much has happened, but it's an open question whether those history-making moments have shifted any ground or changed many minds?

Will that conviction weigh in on your choice at all in November?

QUINLAN: No, no. No. It won't, unless he's brought to jail, I guess, but if he's on the ticket. He's on the ticket.

ZELENY: Wisconsin is once again an essential stop on the road to the White House, a bellwether that went for Biden in 2020 and Trump in 2016.

TONY DUCKERT, TRUMP SUPPORTER: I think at the end of the day, that that conviction last week helps President Trump.

ZELENY: Tony Duckert believes that felony convictions may rally Republicans, but he doesn't believe that alone is a path to victory.

DUCKERT: I think economy, which would include inflation. I think it's the border situation. I think it's the crime situation. All of the things that historically a president that was judged by in an election year.

ZELENY: Here in suburban Cedar Berg, where Biden became the first Democrat in a quarter century to win, Duckert proudly planted a Trump sign in his front yard.

DUCKERT: I won't be intimidated in my support for President Trump.

ZELENY: A few blocks away, the opposing view from a Republican against Trump. No one was home where a flag bearing the name of Jack Smith, special prosecutor in the federal probe against Trump, waived in the breeze.

How much Democrats should dwell on those cases is the subject of considerable hand-wringing after Biden mocked Trump this week as a convicted felon.

TIM EICHINGER, BIDEN SUPPORTER: I would probably say you should really get more emphasis on policy, than you should on trashing the opponent. But there are other people that would disagree with that.

ZELENY: Tim Eichinger is a loyal Biden supporter, but believes inflation and economic challenges threaten his reelection. Do you believe he'll win or do you worry he could lose?

EICHINGER: I worry he could lose.

ZELENY: Democrats, he said, don't have the luxury of being too critical of Biden.

EICHINGER: And you still have to think about what would happen if we have another term of Donald Trump because it's going to be worse this time.

ZELENY: Wisconsin voters will have a closer seat than most Americans with Trump set to accept the Republican nomination next month in Milwaukee.

Quinlan, an independent, said she will probably vote for Trump, again, unless something changes.

QUINLAN: I did tell myself probably a year ago and I'm like, I'm not voting for anyone over 70. Well, I don't have that option anymore.


ZELENY: And this Republican convention here in Milwaukee will take place only one week after Trump's sentencing. Of course, he does intend to as announce his running mate right here.

As for Quinlan, she's holding out hope, she knows it's a long shot, that Nikki Haley will be on the ticket with the former president. Erin, she believes that she could help reach out to some of those suburban voters like herself -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Jeff Zeleny, thank you very much, from Milwaukee tonight.

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

Anderson starts now.