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Erin Burnett Outfront

Trump Rants About Conviction, Critics, Even Taylor Swift In Meeting; Trump VP Hopeful Once Agreed With Tweet Calling Trump A "Monster"; Biden, For First Time, Says He Won't Commute Son's Sentence; Putin Flexes Navy Muscle Despite His Fleet Being Decimated. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired June 13, 2024 - 19:00   ET




Trump rants behind closed doors as the GOP gets in line behind him. The Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is my exclusive guest here in our studio tonight.

And J.D. Vance now on Trump's VP shortlist. New KFILE reporting tonight shows he liked tweets calling Trump a monster and a, quote, douchey celeb. And that's just the beginning.

Plus, President Biden breaking his silence on his son's conviction, saying for the first time he will not commute a prison sentence.

Let's go OUTFRONT.


BURNETT: And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, Trump behind closed doors, ranting today, we are told about Taylor Swift and Nancy Pelosi.

Now, this was what he chose to do on his first trip to Capitol Hill since the insurrection.

Here's what he said.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT & 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This was a great meeting. This tremendous unity in the Republican Party, this is an outstanding group of people. I'm with them a 1,000 percent. They're with me 1,000 percent. We agreed just about on everything. And if there isn't, we'll work it out.


BURNETT: Those are his comments after. And, you know, when he talks about this thousand percent, you know, think about this, the Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, who had said Trump was responsible for January 6, today shook the hand of the former president and called the meeting, quote, entirely positive. A lot of weight on that adjective.

And he was far from alone in supporting Trump's grievances.


SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-TX): He expressed frustration over the recent trial, you can imagine and justifiably in my view.

SEN. MIKE LEE (R-UT): Pointed out that this is a -- it's a terrible thing and I agree it's a terrible thing.


BURNETT: Now, according to a source in the room, in addition to complaining about the legal situation, Trump also took on other enemies. At one point, he called former Speaker Nancy Pelosi's daughter a wacko, saying she wants told him that he and Nancy Pelosi would have had a, quote, great romance in another life. Pelosi's daughter denies the interaction.

But there were a couple of new things that happened in this room for Trump. First, he actually tried to calm down tension with his own party. He tried to connect Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene and House Speaker Mike Johnson. Here's how she put it.


REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): He saw me in there and he was like, hello, Marjorie. He's always so sweet and recognizes me. And he said, are you being nice? He was joking. Are you being nice to Speaker Johnson? And I said -- and he said, okay, be nice to him, and I nodded my head.


BURNETT: All right. So that was the first thing, trying to, you know, instead of sowing discord, actually create some sort of peace.

But second, Trump talked policy and front and center on that was abortion, blocking his own party, urging Republicans not to, quote, be too radical when it comes to abortion.


REP. NANCY MACE (R-SC): He said that abortion is left now into the hands of the people and that we need to talk about it correctly. Then he pushed for exceptions for rape, incest, and life of the mother.


BURNETT: Republicans have paid a steep price in elections since the Supreme Court overturned Roe versus Wade, and they have paid that steep price even in deeply red states. And Democrats now want to insure it costs Republicans again in

November. Today, they forced to vote in the Senate on a bill that would guarantee access to in vitro fertilization nationwide.

Now, Republicans blocked that bill and the Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, is here with me for an exclusive interview in just a moment.

First, though, I want to begin with Manu Raju because he's OUTFRONT on Capitol Hill tonight.

And Trump, you know where -- I'm sorry, Manu, where Trump went for the first time since the insurrection, big show of pomp and circumstance and unity within the GOP. Was there though, Manu, dissent behind the scenes?

MANU RJAU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There really was not. In fact, I ask many Republican members in the House and the Senate, including some of the critics of Donald Trump about whether they had any concerns, whether they raised any concerns. And the answer uniformly was no.

And in the Senate meeting, some of the Donald Trump's critics did not show up. Senator Susan Collins of Maine, someone who voted to convict Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial, said she had a conflict. That was the same reason that Senator Lisa Murkowski gave in her reason not to show.

But some other critics did. Senator Mitt Romney didn't raise any concerns or didn't speak out. We are told, at add that meeting Senator Bill Cassidy, another one who voted to convict, also said it was not awkward to be there. So he believes Trump's going to win. So that's why he showed up.

And I put that question also, to a number of senators about January 6, as well as whether or not their concerns about how Trump acted in January 6 was part of the discussion.


And they said no.


MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Did he talk about January 6 at all? January 6 come up?


RAJU: In the House Republican, was there any dissension?

GREENE: Oh, no. I saw nothing but overwhelming support for President Trump.

REP. BRANDON WILLIAMS (R-NY): No, I didn't sense any dissension, but, you know, I didn't catch everybody's response either. REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): There was a pep rally environment for

President Trump.

REP. MARIA ELVIRA SALAZAR (R-FL): He is the leader of the party and he happens to be the guy who was chosen by the overwhelming majority of Republicans to be the nominee. Who are we to say no?


RAJU: And one of the key moments, too, was his interaction with Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell after years of feuding, after McConnell blamed Trump very pointedly for what happened on January 6. They have not spoken since December 2020, but were told that Donald Trump actually credited Mitch McConnell for his work in trying to move ahead and elect more Republican senators. That happened according to a source in the room.

And McConnell, I asked him about it afterwards. He said it was a very entirely positive meeting. It shook each others hands but didn't raise any concerns.

BURNETT: All right. Manu Raju, thank you very much, on Capitol Hill.

And now as promised, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is here for an exclusive conversation.

So, Senator, I just want to start there you heard that the congresswoman, who are we to say no, but Mitch McConnell, you know him incredibly well, hasn't -- hasn't met with Trump. We understand since December of 2020 goes today, it comes out, says its entirely positive, shakes hand.

Does that surprise you knowing McConnell the way you do?

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): Well, let me just say this. I think there are good number of Republicans, McConnell included who know deepen their hearts and deepen their minds what a danger he is to democracy, and what a disaster he'd be as president. But none of them seem or very few, a couple didn't show up, as you said, but very few including McConnell.

McConnell should have had the courage not to show up. He knows I think he knows deepen his heart. What Trump is like and what Trump would do.

BURNETT: No, he said those things before. So he -- I guess who are we to say no in some sense by his actions.

I want to ask you about the bill today, though. This was on IVF, it failed. IVF, in vitro fertilization. After the vote, Republicans released a statement and they accused you, Senator, and Democrats of a summer of scare tactics.

And it was Senator Bill Cassidy, who said this about the bill today. Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. BILL CASSIDY (R-LA): Today's vote is disingenuous, pushing a bill haphazardly drafted and destined to fail does a disservice to all who may pursue IVF treatments.


BURNETT: Senator Katie Britt, Senator Ted Cruz, they've got their own bill. They're putting out to protect IVF. So they're saying, well, look, we're on the same side of this. We want it, too. So Democrats block that. So is this a stunt?

SCHUMER: Not at all. They are calling it a show vote. It's no. It's a show who you are vote. Every one of them except the two courageous people who voted the other way, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, showed who they were, that there against IVF.

Look, this should have been the easiest vote in the world. IVF is so important to so many millions of people to be able to have a child. Personally, it's important to me. I have a grandson who came about through IVF and it's a beautiful thing.

But they have the hard right pushing them. And so, they are afraid to say what the right thing to do is and they say they tried to say -- well, we had a better idea. Well, we gave them a chance. We said, just vote to get on the bill and we'll discuss it.

They all voted no because things like people like their heritage foundation, Susan B. Anthony League, even the Southern Baptist Convention, they've come out against IVF, who would have thought that would be against -- so many people would be pushed against IVF.

The Republican should have had the courage to do the right thing here. They knew what it was, and that's why they're signing these letters and all of that. But it's not what they say, Erin, it's what they do. All but two voted no, pushed by the MAGA hard right.

BURNETT: So, but what I want to understand here, because Trump has made it clear he supports IVF. So have a lot of the ultra right MAGA type Republicans. I mean, here are just a few of them after the Alabama Supreme Court ruling, of course, which puts this whole issue front and center. Here they are starting with Trump.


TRUMP: I strongly support the availability of IVF for couples who are trying to have a precious little beautiful baby.

SEN. KATIE BRITT (R-AL): We strongly support continued nationwide access to in vitro fertilization.

SEN. RICK SCOTT (R-FL): It needs to be legal all across the country? And I support IVF.

GAETZ: Pro-life means being pro-IVF.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SCHUMER: If they were for it, they should have voted for it. Donald Trump should have urged them to vote for it.

This was a simple bill that said the right to an IVF procedure should be available to every American.


We saw what the Alabama Supreme Court did. We've seen these right-wing groups all come against it, and these are the very same people who pushed to get rid of Roe in the Dobbs decision.

We know what they're up to. They want to get rid of IVF. They're afraid to say it, but --

BURNETT: So, they say they're literally lying when they say that.

SCHUMER: I say they are deceiving the American people because they're afraid the hard right wing of the MAGA Republicans will come down on them if they vote.

And believe me, if they get power they have said they want a national abortion ban. They have said they will follow the MAGA hard-right. No one anymore can believe that they defend any women's reproductive rights after what they've done and today's vote proved it.

BURNETT: So on this, going away from IVF, the issue actually of abortion, right? This is an issue where voters, as I pointed out, in deeply red states, have, again and again voted against abortion restrictions.


BURNETT: Okay, so Trump has taken his party on this issue. We understand that meeting today that he was telling them to back off, that this is not a winning issue, if you go too far right on it.

Are you worried, leader that he might connect with voters on this, that this could be a breakthrough issue for him if he wants again, becomes the Donald Trump who said things like, I don't care what bathroom you use? There used to be a Trump like that.

SCHUMER: Trump just a few months ago, brag that he put the three justices on the Supreme Court who got rid of Dobbs. It depends -- who got rid of Roe and put in Dobbs.

Donald Trump cannot be believed. He says one thing one day, one thing, the next. Everything they have done as a party including the Dobbs decision through the MAGA right Republican justices, they all voted for right-wing MAGA justices has been against women's rights. No one believes them.

If you ask the average American, where does the Republican Party stand on abortion? They'll say they're against it because that's the way they vote all the time. Somebody saying something today, whether it's Trump or another

congressman or senator doesn't matter if they're going to vote to get rid of IVF, which is what they will do should they get in power.


SCHUMER: And today, if they had a better bill, Erin, we gave them the opportunity to amend it and they said, no, they don't even want to discuss it.

BURNETT: So, if they come with a bill, it does the same thing, will you support it?

SCHUMER: It doesn't do the same thing, their bill, which Ted Cruz tried to do because he's running for reelection and he knows where even the voters of Texas are, doesn't come close to protecting women.

BURNETT: All right. So you mentioned Supreme Court justices. I want to ask you about Justice Alito and the flag issue. And obviously, the two flags, as you know, what that is vacation home, one does home was the upside down flag both were carried by insurrectionist on January 6. He said his wife did it and, yeah, they were -- she was upset because a neighbor had insulted her about the Trump victory.

So I actually spoke to that neighbor Leader Schumer and I asked her about what happened. Her name is Emily Baden. Here's what she said.


EMILY BADEN, FORMER ALITO NEIGHBOR: I just want to emphasize that the interaction that happened on February 15 is the one that they're using as an excuse for why they flew the flag. And I really want to hammer home the fact that that happened on February 15th and their flag went up two or three weeks before that. At best, he's mistaken, but at worst he's just outright lying.


SCHUMER: This Supreme Court is so, so mired in ethical scandals. The bottom line is very simple -- justice, Chief Justice Roberts has a responsibility to put ethics rules in place and not let them take trips, to not let them get gifts, to not let them deal with the appearance of bias. And he's done virtually nothing.

He should be a guardian of this court, so that Americans believe it's equal justice under law. And he has disregarded all of this, this what you heard here today, it just one of many, many examples where the Supreme Court has lost its moorings in terms of ethics and in terms of projecting being fair.

Roberts has not done any of this. He's supposed to be a guardian of the courts. He's not doing it.

BURNETT: Let me ask you about Alito though on this issue when she refers to there was this incident and there were slurs --


BURNETT: -- that get thrown around. There was actually a police report filed that "The New York Times" obtained that shows it was on February 15th, the flag was flying weeks before --

SCHUMER: Yeah, yeah.

BURNETT: -- because they got the picture, and it was weeks before.


BURNETT: So, but this is a very serious question about a Supreme Court justice, even separate from the ethical issues you're talking about. Is he mistaken or is that just an outright lie? And he wrote this letter laying this out to Congress. You're not allowed to lie to Congress.

SCHUMER: Look, the bottom line is, as I said, the Supreme Court has so many ethical issues and it really -- we will -- I am working with the speaker or Leader Durbin of the Judiciary Committee with Sheldon Whitehouse to see because can Congress has the right to do things were blocked by Republicans, most of the time.

But Roberts has the ability on his own to deal with recusal if there's bias, to deal with ethical issues. He hasn't done any of this.

BURNETT: I want to ask you one other thing about what Trump said today.


I mentioned at the top of the program and -- so he was talking about Nancy Pelosi, likes to talk about her. He called her daughter a wacko. And he said, she wants told him that he and Nancy Pelosi would have had a great romance in another life.

All right. You know Trump. You've been -- you can imagine something like this being said.

SCHUMER: Look --

BURNETT: But what's your reaction to sort of thing even now being said?

SCHUMER: Let's talk about the serious things that happen. The contrast today between the Democrats helping protect women's rights and the Republicans helping protect what they talked about in there, helping protect very wealthy people to get more tax breaks. That's the real contrast to this party, not Trump's gibberish.

But what he and they have stood for -- now, 80 percent of the American people want to see the tax system made fair, want to see the wealthy pay their fair share. They're protecting them --

BURNETT: He did, he did --

SCHUMER: -- while we are protecting women with the IVF.

BURNETT: Senator, but as fellow New Yorker, you know he got rid of SALT and did the largest tax increase on wealthy New Yorkers that they've perhaps ever had.

SCHUMER: Oh, please, assault --

BURNETT: That's Trump.

SCHUMER: The overwhelming majority of it this tax cuts went to the wealthiest people, very little went to anyone else when you look at them as a whole.

And they went against the blue states because we actually do something to help poor people, working people, et cetera. That was not a fair thing to do.

Overall, the tax rates plummeted down for the wealthy. If you made lots of money, you did much more. And then they stopped the auditing of all these very wealthy people who were using loopholes.

So they're -- make no mistake about it: they are for helping the wealthy pay fewer taxes. And again, I just want to say it once again, far more important than Trump's gibberish, and that is the contrast the Democrats protecting women's rights, the Republicans protecting the right of the wealthy to more tax breaks. Who are the American people going to side with? I'll bet in November, they're going to side with us.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Senator, I appreciate your time and thank you very much. Great to see, Leader Schumer.

SCHUMER: Great to see you, Erin. Pleasure.

BURNETT: All right. And next, J.D. Vance, the senator vying to be Trump's VP. Back in 2016, though, it was a totally different person. He didn't want to vote for him.


SEN. J.D. VANCE (R-OH): I might have to hold my nose and vote for Hillary Clinton.


BURNETT: That is new reporting from our KFILE.

And President Biden says for the first its time, he will not commute his son Hunter's sentence, taking it further than not pardoning him.

And Jill Biden tonight fighting back.


JILL BIDEN, U.S. FIRST LADY: Joe and that other guy are essentially the same age. Let's not be fooled. (END VIDEO CLIP)



BURNETT: Tonight, quote, monster, nemesis of the GOP. Ohio Senator J.D. Vance, a top candidate to be Trump's VP, publicly agreeing with scathing comments about Trump on Twitter. Vance also calling Trump loathsome and an idiot.

KFILE tonight uncovering incredibly damaging texts, tweets, and audio of Vance trashing Trump over and over again in 2016 and 2017.

But you know what? If you did not hear what you're going to hear from KFILE, you might not know any of this because the J.D. Vance you see now is totally different.


VANCE: The Trump record of peace at home and prosperity, that is an incredible thing to run on.


BURNETT: KFILE senior editor Andrew Kaczynski is with me now to walk through all of this new reporting.

And, Andrew, I mean, this is, you know, people -- some people may remember the J.D. Vance felt a different way, but you have uncovered a trove of information of Vance's criticism on Trump?

ANDREW KACZYNSKI, CNN KFILE SENIOR EDITOR: Yeah, that's right. And we've reported on J.D. Vance's past anti-Trump comments before. This is somebody who suggested that Trump could be America's Hitler. He compared him to opium and heroin for the white working class. But -- before he apologize for those comments, when he ran for Senate in 2022 with Trump's backing.

But I think what's really interesting about these, these Twitter likes. It shows a side of a J.D. Vance that we really didn't even necessarily see publicly when he was such a big Trump critic because he was this Trump whisperer. He's a public intellectual and people flock to them to sort of explain why Trump was doing so well with the white working class.

But when we see these likes, we see the sort of things that he'd agreed with that he wasn't even going to say publicly and I want to walk our viewers through a few of them. So take a look at this one, and this is from October 2016 and this is the Access Hollywood tape, when public and he liked this tweet that said maybe the Central Park Five could take out a full-page ad to condemn the coddling of thug real estate barons who commit serial sexual assault.

BURNETT: And he liked that tweet.

KACZYNSKI: He liked that tweet.

BURNETT: Uh-huh.

KACZYNSKI: Then there's this other one from February of 2016, where he liked this picture and it's Trump and O.J. Simpson with two women. It says, here is a picture of one of the USA's most hated, villainous, douchey celebs. Also in the picture, O.J. Simpson.

And then we also have this one again, which is right after the Access Hollywood tape, where he liked a tweet that says does any dad or future dad want to look his daughter in the eye and explain why he voted for Trump, instead of the first woman president. So there's even indicating some support for Clinton there.

And in our story, there's actually a tweet that he likes suggesting he would might even serve in a Clinton administration.

BURNETT: Which is incredible. And, by the way, it was around that time he was having -- had his first child. It's sort of incredible to realize that this is truly what he felt at its core, but it is far from the only thing that he said about Trump over the years, right?

KACZYNSKI: Right. It's far from the only negative Trump comment that he made.

I did reference a couple of them in that intro there, and its really the big hit on J.D. Vance because he does check a lot of boxes for Trump as a potential vice president.


But I want to play some of these comments where people and then show how he's explaining them today.

Take a listen to a few of them.


VANCE: I'm a never Trump guy.

I think there's a chance if I feel like Trump has a really good chance of winning, that I might have to hold my nose and vote for Hillary Clinton.

It's not just that Donald Trump doesn't speak to issues of special concern to minority voters or Black voters, is that he seems to like actively antagonizing a lot of the Black vote.


KACZYNSKI: Now, I want people to read what he said to "The New York Times" in an interview that published just actually this morning with Ross Douthat, one of their columnist.

BURNETT: Yeah. KACZYNSKI: He said like a lot of other elite conservatives and elite

liberals, I allowed myself to focus so much on the stylistic elements of Trump that I completely ignored the way in which he substantively was offering, something very different on foreign policy, on trade, on immigration.

And we should probably note, he did actually criticized Trump at times on policy on trade and immigration. But I think what's interesting here too is that some of those tweets liked that one about committing serial sexual assault, it's not really -- that's not a policy. That's a moral judgment and I don't think we've realized --

BURNETT: And that's not stylistic.

KACZYNSKI: Right, it's not stylistic.

BURNETT: That's serial rape.

KACZYNSKI: He's implying the man is a sexual predator and, you know, or indicating -- or liking the tweet that implied that.


KACZYNSKI: And I don't think we've really seen them explain that.

BURNETT: No. No, not at all. I don't -- he couldn't say that was stylistic.

All right. Andrew, thank you very much. The latest reporting from Andrew and KFILE.

I want to go OUTFRONT now to the former Republican Congressman Fred Upton on the back of Andrew's reporting.

Congressman Upton, this KFILE report comes the reason this is so important, right? Is Vance is under serious consideration to possibly be the VP for Trump? A person who said he would serve perhaps in Clinton administration. How likely do you think it is that he'll be Trump's pick?

FRED UPTON, FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE (R-MI): Well, he's on the tap lift, the short five, I guess you could call it. I don't think the things that he said back in 2016, maybe 2017 really matter much. He's a MAGA Republican. He's been as loyal as can be to Donald Trump and all that is in the past and forgiven.

I don't think he's going to be the vice president. I've been wrong before. I think Marco Rubio. I think Elise Stefanik. I think Tim Scott are all ahead of him.

But he's on the shortlist. There's no question about it, but I don't think those comments from 2016 have any bearing in terms of the vetting that Trump is doing now?

He is okay. He's an A plus in the Trump book right now. BURNETT: You know, it's interesting, I guess you could look at it from

two sides, Congressman. You could look at it if the fact that what it says about Trump, that he can get past this if he does with people. And then on the other side of it, someone like J.D. Vance, who is an incredibly intelligent person, right? "Hillbilly Elegy", right? This it -- thoughtful and nuanced person is able to go from where he was to where he is now, that how one person can do that is truly stunning.

It has been a short time where he's made this transformation and, you know, his criticism of Trump, Congressman, did range from harsh, some of the stuff Andrew was sharing to frankly, much more thoughtful nuance things like he told me once when he was criticizing Trump's exaggerating and his shortcomings as president, he put it this way.


VANCE: Well, I think it may have worked as a TV show personality. I don't necessarily think that it works for him politically.

When people see the president really going after a major health care reform effort and then failing, and when people are still obviously frustrated about the way the health care system is working right now, that leads to this sense that the president just isn't able to deliver.


BURNETT: Congressman, do you think that there are voters -- voters -- serious voters who will look at that and say that you cant go from that to this and hold it against the J.D. Vance or that ticket if he's on it.

UPTON: Yeah. Well, a couple of things. First of all, and I don't know J.D. Vance said, I've not met him before. I've watched him on TV, on -- watched him on CNN. He does connect with people. He's a populist.

People like -- he has good language, communicating with people. One of the things that really I think echoed with the Trump campaign was when he took the same standard is Trump did going to the Munich conference month or two ago or earlier this spring and talk about why we should not arm Ukraine.


UPTON: He took the Trump playbook and hit a home run as it related to the Trump view. And I don't think he took any questions, but he was out there on the front lines willing to take the shots across the bow and that got a lot of credit in Trump's book.

But they're close. They traveled together. Iowa is a big state, big Republicans state in one of the things that probably hurts J.D. in terms of getting on the ticket is Trump doesn't need Ohio. He's already won it.


UPTON: He's gotten win with the suburban women. He's got to win the swing states like my state here at Michigan.



UPTON: Those are the states where he has to really connect. J.D. can help there I think, but his home-state, you know, when you think about a traditional vice president and bringing, delivering the state, it's already there for Trump.

BURNETT: It's a red state.

UPTON: Trump likes him, but he is a MAGA Republican, no question about it.

BURNETT: All right. Congressman Upton, I appreciate your time and thank you.

And next, Trump weighing in on Hunter Biden's struggles with addiction and you actually may be surprised by what he's saying on that tonight and Putin showing off the Russian warships just miles from the United States coast, even as his navy suffers major losses at the hands of Ukraine. We have a special report.



BURNETT: Breaking news, for the first time, President Biden ruling out commuting his son's sentence.


REPORTER: Would you commute Hunter's sentence?



BURNETT: No, he shouts as he is turning, of course, to meet the Ukrainian president.

Biden's comments at the G7 coming two days after a jury found his son, Hunter Biden, guilty of lying about his drug use to buy a gun, and moments after he praised his son again and about and vowed to not pardon him.


BIDEN: I'm extremely proud of my son, Hunter. He is overcoming addiction. He is -- he's one of the brightest, most decent men I know. And I am satisfied that I'm not going to do anything. I said I said I bide by the jury decision I will do that. And I will not pardon him.


BURNETT: MJ Lee is OUTFRONT. She is with the president in Italy in Apulia.

And, MJ, you just talked to a senior White House official. So what else do you know? You know, Biden was in a moment where this was shouted question. He didn't need to answer, right? He was turning to meet President Zelenskyy. Instead, he chose to know with an exclamation I should point he would not commute his son's sentence.

What did that senior official tell you about his decision to say that now?

MJ LEE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, what I'm told is that White House officials expected and suspected that the president could get questions tonight at that press conference about his son Hunter's conviction. It only happened two days ago and he had yet to publicly weigh in on the issue and they knew that there was a good chance that he would be asked us specifically about the question of whether he would commute Hunter's sentence.

You might recall that yesterday, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was asked by a reporter whether she would rule that possibility and she wouldn't say yes or no. And the White House knew that that answer and that exchange had sort of taken on a life of its own when in reality the issue was that some aides actually hadn't discussed that matter with the president directly.

We heard Jean-Pierre telling reporters on Air Force One: I haven't talked to him about it. I'm just not going to have anything to say on this.

But it was nonetheless a really remarkable moment. Aaron seeing the president on the global stage with the eyes of the world on him having to address in such a manner what has been such a painful issue for his family to deal with. And I was checking in with some White House and campaign aides after the press conference, just asking how they thought at all went.

And a couple of them said, look, I think he accomplished what he sought to accomplish, the press conference accomplished what it needed to accomplish, basically that they wanted the focus to be on Ukraine and that was interesting to me because there was a moment in a press conference where the president it seems to bristle when a reporter asked him a question about the ongoing ceasefire negotiations and the Israel war. He said something to the effect of, I wish you all would stick to the rules. And of course, there are no rules when it comes to a press conference like this.

BURNETT: No, absolutely none.

All right. Thank you very much, MJ.

And I want to go now to a man who knows President Biden as well as anyone, Evan Osnos, the journalist, the author of "Joe Biden: The Life, The Run, and What Matters Now", among your extensive work.

So, Evan, when this happened today, you know, first, you saw the president say that he would not pardon his son. Now this issue of commuting a sentence and he said he wouldn't do that. I mean, just to give everyone the context here, right, of course, Hunter Biden could be facing 25 years in prison. There are many say you won't be sentenced to any prison in this case, but he's got a case in California, with tax violations that definitely could carry prison time.

Did it surprise you that he would come out and so aggressive say he wouldn't commute a sentence?

EVAN OSNOS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You know, honestly, Erin, I was struck by the moment, the fact that he said it in passing, but it was very clear that he was ready to say this, and had the question posed to him directly during the press conference, he would have answered the same way.

He's now been pretty emphatic over the last few days that he does not plan to pardon or commute his son. But that really is him saying is I don't plan to use the powers of the office, the powers of the presidency to provide private relief for my family. And it sends he's staking out a pretty bright line between being, as he says, a president and a dad.

And that's not just an emotional expression. He's in effect saying, I don't think that I should, I don't have a right, even if it's legal, and God knows, it must be tempting to use this power in a way that is not available to so many other Americans facing similar kinds of struggles.

BURNETT: No, to any to anyone else. I mean, pretty incredible to say that.

Now, he does, of course, as you know, initially when his first comment came out about this, right, the statement, Evan, it was really just about I'm not going to comment on the system. I'm just going to comment as a father and he never has shied away from talking about his children, his love for Hunter, and frankly, how the tragedy that Hunter Biden has gone through, has brought them together.


And you heard what he said today. You know, here's something he said back at a town hall. I was with him in Iowa in 2019 right before the election. Here's what he said.


BIDEN: My mother used to use an expression which I thought the first time she used was so cruel. She said out of everything bad, something good will happen if you look hard enough for it. And I watched the relationship that I had with my two boys was like a steel belt running through our chest after they lost their mom, and I watched the relationship my sons and a daughter, surviving son and daughter have with one another.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: I mean, do you think he sees this the same way, Evan? I mean, it is -- it is almost impossible, I think for anyone to imagine if you have that power especially given this gun trial as it was, right. First-time offender, almost certainly a charge that wouldn't have been brought against somebody else. It wouldn't have bothered.

But because he is the presidents son, they bring it for him to come out and say that he won't commute the sentence. Do you think he really is prepared to see a sun behind bars and see that as -- as he did here, as for something good, if you look hard enough for it.

OSNOS: Look, I think -- there's no question, you know, Erin, you and I are both parents. I think we look at this, anybody looks at this and thinks my god faced with that decision, how do you say no? And it can seem cold except that there is as you heard a moment ago, in that quote from him, there's a kind of old school sort of flinty core to his conception of how you are to be in the system, how you are to be as a person of -- a moral person, and ultimately how to contend with questions of power.

One of the things that anybody who spends time around Joe Biden comes to know is that he's had this long running focus on how much he is bothered by abuses of power. You see it come up over and over again over the course of his career when he fixates on somebody abusing their power.

Now look, you can always find moments would a senator might enjoy the privileges of the office. But this would be a moment in which using the power of the presidency would be I think too many Americans, it would feel like it claims against the person that he wants to project.

BURNETT: Evan, thank you very much. Great to see you.

OSNOS: My pleasure. Thanks, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. And next, the age old question. How do older voters really feel about Biden's age?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do they say that 80 is the new 60?


BURNETT: Plus shockwaves sent through Putin's economy. United States slapping new sanctions on Russia, major banks, even the ones used by oligarchs, reportedly preventing people from withdrawing cash. What is happening in Moscow?



BURNETT: Tonight, Jill Biden fighting back. The first lady forcefully swatting down concerns about her husband's age.


JILL BIDEN, U.S. FIRST LADY: This election is most certainly not about age. Joe and that other guy are essentially the same age. Let's not be fooled. Joe is one of the most effective presidents of our lives, in spite of his age, but because of it.


BURNETT: Those words coming as President Biden is gaining with voters his own age who are the best able to judge.

Jeff Zeleny has the latest tonight in our Voters OUTFRONT series.


GUSSIE FARRIS, BIDEN SUPPORTER: I think because Trump is big and loud, he doesn't come off as old as maybe Biden does.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At 86, Gussie Farris spends no time worrying about the ages of the oldest American presidential candidates. For those who do, this loyal President Biden supporter has this to say about Donald Trump.

FARRIS: He's way less capable in the brain area.

ZELENY: In the brain area? Delicate way to put it.


ZELENY: As Trump turns 78 on Friday, just three years younger than Biden's at one age is an unmistakable part of the race. But the Biden campaign is suddenly embracing it in a different way.

FARRIS: I'm a senior and I vote.

ZELENY: Turning to Farris and other seniors to build a critical piece of this coalition.

LINDA VANWERDEN, BIDEN SUPPORTER: I never thought I'd be one of those people holding a political sign or being involved but I can't sit back.

Thank you.

ZELENY: Linda VanWerden, a retired real estate agent, is now training Democratic volunteers.

VANWERDEN: Get out the vote.

ZELENY: Becoming politically active for the first time after Trump won in 2016.

VANWERDEN: We could determine who sits in the White House.

ZELENY: Grand Rapids and surrounding Kent County is a bellwether within battleground, Michigan. Biden won here and statewide in 2020, after Trump narrowly carried

both four years earlier.

Biden is working to become the first Democrat in nearly a quarter century to win those 65 and older, in an election where baby boomers now comprise a wide majority of the senior vote.

KIM GATES, CHAIR, KENT COUNTY DEMOCRATIC PARTY: They're at a point in their life where they've seen how politics has changed and recognize that it's a priority for them.

ZELENY: As other parts of the Biden coalition are fraying, the campaign is putting seniors front and center.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Energize your neighbors, invite them out to pickleball and to vote at the same time.

ZELENY: Yet deep disappointment ways heavy on other seniors here like Barbara Howard, who voted for Biden four years ago, but won't this time.

BARBARA HOWARD, MICHIGAN VOTER: I feel betrayed. Right now, I'm not going to vote for president. The Palestine thing is a red line and he's not -- he's not there.

ZELENY: Judy and Nick Herrick, both 80 and retired, say Biden steady hand inspires them to volunteer.

JUDY HERRICK, BIDEN SUPPORTER: What do they say that 80 is the new 60?

ZELENY: Often canvassing and registering younger voters in Grand Rapids.

J. HERRICK: What's exciting for me is the opportunity for seniors to talk with young folks and say, can we really look at this? What does this mean to you?

ZELENY: And defending the president's age.

NICK HERRICK, BIDEN SUPPORTER: I look at his thinking in his approach to things looks pretty good to me, especially when you view it in contrast to what the alternative is.


ZELENY: That contrast with Trump is what the Biden campaign is investing millions on ads like this --

AD NARRATOR: Drinking bleach to tear gassing citizens and staging a photo-op.

ZELENY: -- that delight voters like Farris.

FARRIS: I love the one where he talked about how he drank or drink bleach, that would cure COVID, holding up the bible, how dumb was that. The senior generation, values and character are important to us. (END VIDEOTAPE)

ZELENY (on camera): Now, older voters are always one of the most prized slices of the electorate. They're reliable, they turn out to vote. And, Erin, the ones we spoke to here at least are the least concerned about his age. For all the questions about the pieces of Biden's coalition, the young voters, the voters of color, there's the silver lining in the poll, at least for senior voters, the president's own age -- Erin.

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

And, you know, very significant because -- Harry Enten is with me. I mean, people who are his age are best able to judge what it is like.


BURNETT: And they understand. So it's significant that Jeff is seeing this and that they're saying that, but he also mentioned, of course, the other parts of the coalition, the flip side of the older voter is the younger voter. And there is a flip side.

ENTEN: There is absolutely a flip side. I mean, you could just take a look at the polling data comparing where we are now versus where we were at this four years ago. And this is Joe Biden versus Donald Trump. Joe Biden letting the pulse at this point among 18 to 29 year olds by 29 points at this particular point.

Look at where we are right now. It's just a five-point advantage among voters under the age of 30 at this point. So, you've seen a 24-point drop in Joe Biden's lead among voters under the age of 30. And so, he may be doing better with senior orders, but the reversal of that is he's doing significantly poorer with younger voters.

BURNETT: All right, so what's behind this and does that necessarily mean they're going -- you know, not being into Biden may not necessarily mean the -- into Trump?

ENTEN: Yeah. Essentially, what were looking at here is, what's the big difference between senior voters and younger voters? And that is, do you want to bring normalcy back to this country or in fact, you want to change things up and fundamentally change this country.

Look at this, among voters under the age of 30, 65 percent of them say they want to fundamentally change America. Just 29 percent said they want to bring politics back to normal. Compare that to senior voters. You see the exact opposite. Look at that 72 percent.

BURNETT: That's amazing.

ENTEN: Isn't that amazing? Seventy-two percent say they want to bring politics back to normal pair to 70 percent who say they want to fundamentally change America.

Of course, the big question, Erin --

BURNETT: Okay, is?

ENTEN: The big question is, who do they see as the change agent --

BURNETT: Right, what fundamental changes do they want, right?

ENTEN: Right, that's the other thing.

BURNETT: Oh, well, here's your answer.

ENTEN: Here's your big answer would bring major change 58 percent of voters under the age of 30 say that Trump would bring major change compared to just 11 in percent for Joe Biden. I think that's one of the big reason why younger voters have been shifting away from Donald Trump or -- away from Joe Biden to Donald Trump.

BURNETT: That's incredible, 58 percent and someone who's already been an office, but they see big change.

All right. Thank you very much, Harry.

ENTEN: Thank you.

BURNETT: And next, Putin's show of force off the coast of Florida, even as the Russian navy has suffered incredible loss. We're going to show you.



BURNETT: Inflict maximum harm, that's what former Russian President Dmitri Medvedev is urging his country to do to the United States to avenge the U.S. Treasury Department's new sanctions on Russia.

Now, these sanctions have sent fear and anxiety through Russia's financial system. State media has reported that major banks were blocking customers from withdrawing cash and that was coming from state media. So consider that.

It comes as Putin is sending a nuclear-powered sub and other warships to Havana, just 90 miles off the Florida coast.

But what is so striking about Russia's massive so forth. So we can all see right now off the U.S. coast is the truth, the reality of Putin's navy, a fleet that's been decimated since the beginning of the war with Ukraine.

Fred Pleitgen is OUTFRONT.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Ukrainian sea drones racing to attack a Russian warship near Crimea in the Black Sea. The cheap unmanned vessels have allowed Ukraine to decimate Vladimir Putin's Black Sea fleet.

Their weapons are not designed to deal with such small sea drones. The soldier says, in most cases they use anti-ship guns.

It's a far cry from the power Moscow was trying to project, not far from the us is shores sending some of their most advanced warships to Cuba.

Russia's ministry of defense saying that the frigate and a nuclear powered sub, quote, practice the use of high precision missile weapons by computer-based maritime simulation at the ship based groupings of a mock enemy.

Vladimir Putin has invested heavily in Russia's navy, which now has a permanent base in Syria, and boasts hypersonic missiles. It's no paper tiger, but also not an invincible force as Ukraine has shown.

Ukraine's sea drones as well as sabotage and air launched missiles have destroyed about one one-third of Russia's Black Sea fleet since the spring of 2022, Ukraine says, including large landing ships like this one, blown up in Crimea at the end of last year, and submarines destroyed in a dock.

The Russians have even lost the flagship of the Black Sea fleet, the Moskva, to what Kyiv says was an attack by Ukrainian made missiles.

And the fleet's headquarters in Sebastopol was struck by missiles last year, the repeated humiliations pushing Russian ships further and further away from Ukraine and eventually leading to the dismissal of Russia's navy chief in March.

Not so long ago, Russian state media would celebrate the navy's single aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, the jewel in the crown. But the ship has long been plagued by mechanical problems and has been in dock for years and more months. Some Western analysts predict it will never set sail again.

Despite Putin's glorification of Russia's naval prowess, many of its warships appear vulnerable to both air and sea attacks and lack the technology to compete with western navies, or even cheap maritime drones made in Ukraine.


PLEITGEN (on camera): And, Erin, the Ukrainians say that while the Russians might be gaining -ground in other areas, they feel that they've really hurt Moscow's Black Sea fleet and essentially rendered it ineffective and the Ukrainian say they will continue to develop those sea drones to hurt Vladimir Putin's naval forces even more -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Fred, thank you very much tonight.

And thanks so much to all of you.

It's time now for "AC360".