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Erin Burnett Outfront

NYT: Judge In Trump Docs Case Rejected Judges' Push To Step Aside; Biden Team Hopes Muted Debate Mics Will Prevent 2020 Debate Chaos; House Intel Chair: Biden "Sleepwalking" On Russian Space Nukes. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired June 20, 2024 - 19:00   ET




Trump's favorite judge about to put Jack Smith in the hot seat as a judge in the classified documents case faces new questions tonight about whether she should step aside.

Plus, the final word goes to Trump. New reporting tonight on why Biden is letting the former president have the last say in next week's debate. What is Biden strategy?

And sounding the alarm tonight. The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee accusing the Biden administration of sleepwalking as Putin threatens to put a nuclear weapon in space. Congressman Mike Turner is my guest tonight.

Let's go OUTFRONT.


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

OUTFRONT tonight, Trump's Cannon ball. Trump's favorite judge, Aileen Cannon, could be hours away from deciding if Jack Smith gets fired and at this hour tonight, Cannon is facing new questions as to whether or not she should be even overseeing this classified documents trial, the Mar-a-Lago case.

According to "The New York Times" and new reporting tonight, two senior Florida federal judges reportedly told Cannon to step aside after she was assigned to this get case. And in the world we live in, it's important to just say some of the facts here. One of the judges who recommended this to Cannon is named Cecilia Altonaga, Republican appointee. She is the district's chief judge with decades of experience. Keep in mind, Aileen Cannon wasn't even a judge until Trump made her four years ago.

And according to "The New York Times", Cannon rebuffed any suggestion from these judges that you should give up the Trump's case completely, rejected it, a case in which she has done thus far everything that she possibly could in her power as a judge to slow roll the proceedings. That includes appointing a special master to review the sensitive documents taken at Mar-a-Lago to now taking up Trump's request to challenge Jack Smith's appointment, he's even being involved on the case, an issue that other courts have resoundingly rejected.

But not Cannon. She has given Trump exactly what he hoped for.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT & 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I did nothing wrong. It's Presidential Records Act. I did nothing. We have a deranged individual named Jack Smith. He's a deranged, dumb guy. He's a dumb son of a (EXPLETIVE DELETED).


BURNETT: Well, that's his feelings about Jack Smith and Cannon is entertaining Trump's requests to have evidence seized at Mar-a-Lago thrown out as well. That hearing coming up in days.

The bottom line is this: Cannon's actions have now essentially ensured that Trump's case does not go to trial before the election. In fact, she hasn't even decided on at least eight major issues, six motions to dismiss, a gag order request, and I guess on top of all of it, important to note, she has even set a trial date.

It is no wonder that Judge Cannon, thus far, is Trump's favorite judge.


TRUMP: I know it's a very highly respected judge, a very smart, judge, and a very strong judge.

INTERVIEWER: You appointed her.

TRUMP: I did, and I'm very proud to have appointed her, but she very smart and very strong, and the loves our country.


BURNETT: Online, he posted this about Jack Smith, saying he should be sanctioned or censured for the way he is attacking a highly respected Judge Aileen Cannon.

And Trump calling her smart, strong, highly respected. Of course, she became a judge when he appointed her to be a judge. She was a prosecutor before that.

It's night and day from how he treats other judges.


TRUMP: I was recently informed that another corrupt New York judge, Juan Merchan, gagged me.

This judge should be recused. And the case should be thrown out. He's totally conflicted. Engoron is a whack job. What he did was a disgrace.

And then I add Judge Kaplan who's horrible, the most bias people.

I've been treated very unfairly by this judge. Now, this judges of Mexican heritage, I'm building a wall.


BURNETT: Evan Perez is OUTFRONT live in Fort Pierce, Florida, ahead of that hearing tomorrow.

And, Evan, that is important and a lot of hearings coming up here for Cannon that could be extremely significant. What's going on?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Erin. We have three days of hearings beginning tomorrow. Judge Cannon has scheduled to listen to a number of issues, including one that's very unusual tomorrow where she's actually entertaining requests from several outside groups, basically ask -- calling into question the legality of Jack Smith's appointment as a special counsel.


The argument that Trump has been making and is now being supported by these outside groups is that because he wasn't a person who was approved by the Senate, that the attorney general, Merrick Garland, made a mistake and it's essentially exceeding his authority by appointing Jack Smith as special counsel.

Now, this is an argument that has been made by others, including by Hunter Biden. A similar argument was made before two of the judges that are hearing different cases for Hunter Biden and those judges have cast aside those arguments. But Judge Cannon has decided that this is worth hearing.

And so, tomorrow, we'll have several hours of arguments from groups that are both in support of Jack Smith's position and also against his appointment.

We're also going to hear in the next few days, on Monday, we're going to have a hearing on a request by the special counsel to have a gag order placed on the former president and to have it enforce essentially as a part of his release conditions. And, of course, as you mentioned, Erin, there's also his effort to toss the case and evidence that was seized in the search of Mar-a-Lago.

All of these things obviously are eating up the calendar, which is what, of course, is the goal for the former president and his legal team.

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

And, you know, in all of this is the crucial question, right? It was four years ago that Judge Cannon became a judge. She became a judge when then President Donald Trump appointed her and gave her the title judge.

So if she qualified to be handling this case?

Jessica Schneider is OUTFRONT.


AILEEN CANNON, FLORIDA JUDGE: My sincerest thanks to the president for honor of his nomination.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over0: Judge Aileen Cannon owes her nomination to the federal bench to Donald Trump. And in the two years she's overseeing the classified documents case against Trump in Florida, her handling of the criminal case has raised eyebrows, especially her slow walking crucial decisions that make a trial before the November election, extremely unlikely.

DAVE ARONBERG, STATA ATTORNEY, PALM BEACH COUNTY: It's taking forever because Judge Cannon continues to indulge the defendant in just about every request, granting hearings where other judges would have either rejected them or ruled based on the paperwork.

SCHNEIDER: And now, "The New York Times" reporting, two senior federal judges in Florida privately urged judge Cannon to pass off the case to another judge when it was randomly assigned to her in June 2023. She had been on the bench just three years at that point after being confirmed by the Senate in 2020, when she was asked if she had any loyalty to President Trump, she unequivocally responded, no.

Then, one of her first decisions related to the classified docs case favored Trump by granting his request to have a special master oversee the review of classified documents first seized by the FBI at Mar-a- Lago. It was a decision that halted the ability of DOJ's prosecutors to review the documents.

And a conservative appeals court, including two Trump appointees, rebuked her by reversing her ruling, that they described as untenable, and allowing the DOJ to resume its investigation that led to Trump's indictment.

Attorneys who have practiced before Judge Cannon tell CNN her drawn- out decision-making process isn't unique to Trump's case. Attorneys saying "she is not efficient", calling her "indecisive" and noting "she just seems overwhelmed by the process".

Some of the defense attorneys who asked CNN not to use their names also say she is typically tough on criminal defendants and she is a very harsh sentencer.

But they questioned her decisions on Trump. One of them saying, "She's certainly playing a different game with the current defendant before her".

Trump's former attorney, though, argues her decision so far are about what he would expect in a criminal case at the beginning stages. JIM TRUSTY, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: There's a lot of people that are already kind of preemptively throwing stones at her saying she's overmatched, she doesn't know what she's doing. The reality is, she's doing stuff that's actually pretty typical to federal practice for a non-incarcerated defendant.

SCHNEIDER: Judge Cannon also has been tough on the special counsel's team. She is reprimanded them for failing to follow local court rules. Another attorney describing Cannon style this way, she doesn't like the government to come in and play bully, steamroller.

Some don't see Judge Cannon as playing favorites though, and contend it just comes down to a lack of time on the federal bench.

ARONBERG: I think it's a matter of inexperience. She is sitting in a satellite courthouse by herself in Fort Pierce. There is no senior judge to help her along.


SCHNEIDER (on camera): And just before Aileen Cannon became a federal judge, she was a federal prosecutor in Florida for seven years. But in that time, she only participated on trial teams in four criminal trials. And since she's been on the bench as a federal judge, she's actually only presided, Erin, over a handful of criminal trials, and that includes one that a fellow judge in Florida actually took over for her.

So her experience is slim and, Erin, it's proving to be somewhat of a major liability.


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

I want to go straight now to Ty Cobb, the former Trump White House lawyer.

So, Ty, we're learning that two federal judges advised Cannon to step aside. She rejected them. You hear others, though, Dave Aronberg, saying that this was -- maybe all of this is more a matter of inexperience than anything else.

What do you take away from this?

TY COBB, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE LAWYER: So I don't even think Dave believes that, but I think with regard to Judge Cannon's behavior and her consistent rulings and Trump's favor. We're way beyond point of characterizing are merely as an experienced. I think it's like having a race between the tortoise and the hare and saying the tortoise is not a favorite.

The reality is, she is slow and she is slow on purpose. She has already delayed this case far beyond where it needs to be.

Keep in mind as late as March, both sides, Trump's lawyers and the prosecution said this case could be tried this summer.


COBB: She's made that impossible and pushed it all back on her by herself.

BURNETT: Is there anyone, Ty, at this point who could make her step aside?

COBB: So the 11th Circuit can make her step aside. I think, you'll recall, you and I discussed long ago when this case was first assigned, you know, how irregular that was in light of the 11th Circuit reprimand of her, for her huge judicial interference and criminal justice process in connection with the search warrant and her appointment of a special master, and some other things she made up out of whole cloth. You know, I think I raised this time I wonder why the chief justice or chief judge of the district didn't impose her will and make this -- make this go to another judge.

Well, I'm relieved today to see that she actually did that and I think very highly over for that, she's a very highly regarded judge, very experienced and thoughtful and I'm glad she attempted to do that.

And it's shocking the level of disrespect that young, inexperienced judge of Cannon's sort would disrespect or chief judge in connection with that or and another elder, particularly when as we know, that there was a -- there's a specialty compartmentalize information facility in the Miami -- accessible to the Miami courthouse that's not accessible in Fort Pierce.

So at taxpayers' expense, her refusal to have the case assigned to a more experienced judge in Miami now resulted in the taxpayers footing the bill to build such a facility, just protect just for her in Fort Pierce were this will be the only case it's ever use for.

BURNETT: It's sort of incredible thing and I'm glad -- I'm glad you make that point because I don't think a lot of us realized that.

Tomorrow, Ty, Cannon's going to hear arguments as Evan said, three hearings over the next few days, but tomorrow, it's arguments for an evidentiary hearing, is this all comes down to a request by Trump's team. They want to get Jack Smith fired, get rid of special counsel, say it's invalid in the Mar-a-Lago case.

So what's really at stake here?

COBB: So, nothing really in the sense that the law requires that she validate Jack Smith's appointment and, you know, not disqualify him. You know, the jurisprudence on this goes back to 1988 when the Independent Counsel Statute, which proceeded special counsel appointments, when the Independent Counsel Statute was fully vetted in the Supreme Court and upheld.

You know, the D.C. Circuit has upheld the special counsel appointments. As Evan pointed out, other district court judges have done it. This has been routinely litigated. It's not going to be routinely litigated. I mean, the mere fact she's having a hearing rather than just denying the motion --


COBB: -- as Judge Scheindlin (ph) pointed out previously on CNN, is silly. The fact she doesn't deny most of these motions without a hearing is silly. The fact that Trump can get a hearing on the flimsiest arguments is shocking. But the other thing is more fascinated about tomorrow is, you know, she's -- she's not just listening to the parties tomorrow. She's opened this hearing, you know, to outsiders, people not even participating in the litigation are going to have a chance to say what -- say their piece.

You know, the worst thing that could happen to her is that she actually does rule for Trump on this because that would go to the 11th Circuit and then I think this petty partisan primadonna would be put in her place and they would remove her.

BURNETT: All right. Petty parmesan -- petty partisan primadonna alliteration at its best. Ty, thank you.

COBB: Thank you, Erin. Great to be with you.

BURNETT: All right.


You, too.

And next, CNN learning brand new details tonight on how both Biden and Trump are pairing behind the scenes for the most important event of the 2024 race, next week's debate here on CNN.

Plus, the Los Angeles ballerina who's facing 20 years in prison after being accused of donating $51 to a Ukrainian charity she is now on trial. Tonight, we hear from her family.

And Biden painting Trump as a threat to democracy. And I'm going to talk to a Democrat running for office right now who says that may not be a winning message based on his campaign and the people he talks to every day.



BURNETT: New tonight, the Biden campaign, hoping that muted mics will be a significant factor during CNN's debate. That historic face off with Donald Trump is now just having seven days away and we are also learning tonight that Trump will get the last word in the debate.

Now, this is because Biden won a coin toss. So then he had the choice when you want it, you want to pick your podium position or do you want to pick whether you get to go closing statements first or second?

He chose podiums and he chose the right side podium, not sure why but that's what he chose. And then Trump got the decision on who goes last and guess what? He is going to go last.

So let's go straight to MJ Lee, who broke this reporting.

MJ, tell me more why -- I guess let's start with why the Biden campaign thinks the muted mics could be so significant.

MJ LEE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Erin, it's interesting. The Biden team has been pretty tight lipped about debate preparations. You know, they don't want to give away too many details about their strategy on how they want to take gone Donald Trump next week.

But there is one thing about the debate next week that the Biden team is glad about, and that is the two campaigns agreeing that the mic is going to be muted whenever it is the candidate's -- it isn't the candidate's turn to speak. I was speaking to one senior adviser tonight who was pointing back to the 2020 debates between Biden and Trump, especially the first one where I think we all remember there was a lot of yelling and shouting by the former president, a lot of interruptions, some long-winded rambling answers, some name-calling at times, a moderator couldn't even get their questions in.

I mean, it was widely viewed as having been utterly chaotic. And this adviser was saying, look, there's no question that voters' interests were not served during that particular debate. And the muted mics could mean that the audience, this time around has a better informed view after the debate about exactly what President Biden and former President Trump stands for.

And we know from all of our reporting that showcasing that contrast is probably the top priority for Biden and his team. They want the audience members to see Donald Trump as this divisive chaotic figure and President Trump is being the steady and wiser alternative that's how one campaign official put it. And so I think there hoping that the muted mics could ultimately help them a little bit in getting to that goal.

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

So let's go now to Harry Enten here with me, numbers wiz.

Okay, so year from MJ, they're feeling optimistic about this muted mic, which is unclear actually how that'll play out, right? But they are positive what about it? Does history justify this optimism?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: I'd still like to know why he chose the podium he did, but either way, the podium over going last, I agree. But whatever, I'm sure he has his reasons.

Look, I was thinking back through history. I was wondering, okay, when was the last time an incumbent actually, won the first debate and I couldn't remember one, so I went so the polling archives to try and find one. They've only been two since 1976. The last one was Bill Clinton in 1996. Before that was Gerald Ford in 1976.

Normally challengers when the first debate in the minds of voters, I think that's because oftentimes incumbents aren't really challenged when they're in office, and now they have to actually --

BURNETT: Remember former President Obama, right? He did not do well in his first debate.

ENTEN: No, he did not.

BURNETT: And then he went back and was like, all right, I'm going to prep, I'm going to spend some time on this. Clearly, he realized --


BURNETT: -- he didn't do well, in that time.

Okay. So, you know, the thing about the mics was when they were open last time, it was chaotic, you know, as MJ saying.

However, Biden got some punches in at Trump because of that. You know, the mikes constantly being open. So let's just play a little bit of what we saw in that debate.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm not here to call out his lies. Everybody knows he's a liar.

TRUMP: But you agree --

BIDEN: I just want to make sure --


TRUMP: You're the liar.

BIDEN: I want to make sure --

TRUMP: You graduated last in your class --


BIDEN: I want to make sure.

MODERATOR: Mr. President, can you let him finish, sir?

BIDEN: No, he doesn't know how to do that.


BIDEN: Your senator --

TRUMP: He doesn't want to answer the question.

BIDEN: I'm not going to answer the question because --

TRUMP: Why wouldn't you answer the question.

BIDEN: The question is -- the question is -- (CROSSTALK)

BIDEN: Would you shut up, man?

TRUMP: Listen, who is on your list? Who's on your list?



BURNETT: That moment, will you shut up, man?

ENTEN: Oh, yeah.

BURNETT: You know that played well for President Biden. We're not going to see it this time because the mic gets cut. I guess it could come through the other my -- I don't know, but the whole point is to avoid that sort of chaos that we just saw there.

So who is seen as a favorite going into this debate?

ENTEN: This to me as most fascinating part of it, because normally incumbents are seen as the favorite going into the first debate, it was true in 2004 with George W. Bush, was true with Barack Obama, as you mentioned, 2012, it was true with Donald Trump by a small margin last time around 2020.

But this time around, it's actually the challenger Donald Trump, who is seen as the favorite going into this first debate. And so that in my mind, we were talking about that first slide where normally challengers over-performed and incumbents underperformed. Maybe this time the bar is so low for Biden that he can't help but over- performed.


BURNETT: He can't help it. Okay. And it comes as polls are often, some are dead heat, some show Biden actually lagging coming into this. So hard to judge but what does it debate at this point in the cycle mean?

ENTEN: Yet every single incumbent who was trailing going into the first debate before Joe Biden went on to lose Donald Trump last time around, for example, this time around though Biden is tied going that debate. But if he looks like Ford, Carter, H.W. Bush, or Trump, bad news. But of course, this debate is so really, we're just going to have to wait and see.

BURNETT: It is so early, right? And normally, these all happen a little bit later.

ENTEN: Later.

BURNETT: All right. Harry, thank you.

ENTEN: Thank you. BURNETT: And next, the trial of the California ballerina who is

accused of donating $50 to a Ukrainian charity, it is now underway in Russia. We are live in Moscow with new details tonight.

And the Texas Democrat, who's taken on Ted Cruz, He claims he's been standing up to Biden on the border.

But is that what our KFILE found?



BURNETT: Tonight, Americans on trial in Russia.

Ksenia Karelina in a Russian court today behind closed doors you see her there behind glass. The dual U.S.-Russian citizen and former ballerina facing up to 20 years in prison. And the charges are treason.

I spoke with her boyfriend in February after he saw her on-court video for the first time since she was detained.


CHRIS VAN HEERDEN, BOYFRIEND OF U.S.-RUSSIAN CITIZEN ARRESTED IN RUSSIA: I see someone that's just crying for help, hopeless, someone that's afraid.


BURNETT: Matthew Chance is OUTFRONT.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CHIEF GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Yet another U.S. citizen on trial in Russia. This is Ksenia Karelina from Los Angeles, now in a glass cage near Ekaterinburg. The dual Russian citizen, the 33-year-old was arrested on treason charges earlier this year, while visiting family.

In the U.S., she's a beautification and amateur ballerina accused of donating just over $50 to a Ukrainian charity.

Her boyfriend, Chris Van Heerden, issuing a new statement obtained by OUTFRONT calling for her immediate release. It's hard to believe Ksenia that's been in Russia on unable to return to the U.S. for over six months, he wrote. She is an innocent young woman with our whole life ahead of her. Her friends and supporters are hopeful that the Russian courts we'll see that prosecuting her is a mistake, and send her home to Los Angeles.

Hi. Matthew from CNN. Are you holding up, all right?

No, no questions. But Russia is now holding a growing number of U.S. citizens in jail,

like "Wall Street Journal" reporter Evan Gershkovich, whose trial for espionage is set to start next week.

The 32-year-old journalist denies allegations he was gathering information on a Russian tank factory for the CIA.

Paul Whelan, a 54-year-old former U.S. marine, serving 16 years in a Russian prison.

PAUL WHELAN, IMPRISONED IN RUSSIA: I am innocent of any charges. A political kidnapping.

CHANCE: What U.S. officials say they were trumped up spying charges.

And Alsu Kurmasheva, a dual U.S. citizen working for Radio Free Europe, accused of failing to register as a foreign agent.

Critics accused the Kremlin of collecting Americans as bargaining chips to trade.

Not every detained American is accused of spying. School teacher Marc Fogel was sentenced in 2022 to 14 years hard labor for bringing medical marijuana into the country.

STAFF SGT. GORDON BLACK, U.S. ARMY: Just like to say hi to my mom and dad back home in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Love you. Have a happy new year.

CHANCE: And Gordon Black, 34 year-olds staff sergeant in the U.S. Army, was recently sentenced to nearly four years here for stealing money and assaulting a woman believed to be his Russian girlfriend.

There have been prisoner swaps before, like the U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner convicted for carrying cannabis oil into Russia, in exchange for a convicted Russian arms dealer in the U.S. jail.

But the prisoner Kremlin most wants now is this man, Vadim Krasikov, an FSB agent convicted of killing a Chechen dissident in a public park in Berlin. But Germany is reluctant to bargain a convicted Russian assassin for the American prisoners the Kremlin maybe willing to trade.


CHANCE: Well, Erin, the United States and Russia are tight lipped about the negotiations on the way behind closed doors for a prisoner swap. But earlier this week, a senior Russian official, deputy foreign minister, in fact said that the ball is now in the U.S. court. We're waiting for their response to ideas presented to them. The official continued: That I understand the Americans are probably not happy with some of these ideas. But that's their problem, he added.

BURNETT: All right. And not sounding that optimistic there.

Matthew Chance, thank you very much, live in Moscow tonight. And as Putin has been jailing and targeting American citizens, Ksenia's case is incredible, $50 donation to Ukrainian charity, goes to Russia to visit her family and now gets 20 years in prison for treason?

Well, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee in Washington now has a stark warning, saying that the Biden administration is, quote, sleepwalking as fears grow that Putin may launch a space-based nuclear weapon which could unleash devastating consequences around the world.


REP. MIKE TURNER (R-OH), CHAIRMAN, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: This threat would mean that our economic, international security, and social systems come to a grinding halt. This would be a catastrophic and devastating attack upon Western economic and democratic systems.


Vladimir Putin knows this, checkmate.


BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, the Republican Congressman Mike Turner of Ohio, chairman of the House Intel Committee.

And, Chairman Turner, I appreciate your time.

TURNER: Thanks for having me.

BURNETT: So why is it so important for you, as you see it, to sound the alarm on this right now?

TURNER: Well, the Biden administration has acknowledged that Russia is developing an anti-satellite nuclear weapon, which General Saltzman, the head of Space Forces, said, that the moment that this is in space, it would be day zero, that we could no longer count on space.

We have to assume that even the basic infrastructures that you and I today are utilizing space, financial systems, we'd all be at risk. We'd have to look for alternative sources and uses to be able to accomplish what we do through space, which will be trillions and trillions of dollars and time that we don't have.

The administration in saying that they were -- that Russia is developing this weapon, they don't go further into to say what, this is the status? This could be on the drawing board or this could be on its way to the launch pad? That really -- distinction does make a difference.

And I think the administration by disclosing the status can rally our allies, rally NATO. And at the same time then work to enforce what the outer space treaty, which bans these types of weapons to be used because space is suppose to be used for the betterment of mankind. And this places that at risk. BURNETT: So you talk about the distinction making a difference in

terms of where it is in development and certainly it does. The White House national security spokesman John Kirby has said directly that Putin does not have the active capability -- that was Kirby's words -- to do this now, and the assistant secretary of defense for space policy told Congress last month, as you're well aware, that the threat is not imminent.

Do you have reason to believe that they are not being forthright? Or that that is not the case? Because as you say, the drawing board, the idea of this is very different from something that might actually be close to happening.

TURNER: Erin, they are totally wordsmithing. The reality is that if Russia has such a weapon and has the ability to put it into space as the General Saltzman of Space Force said, that's day zero. That is the threat.

When they talk of imminent, it's almost as if the administration may be willing to tolerate this to be in space and just try to trust Russia that it not be detonated. But really, the moment that it's there, we lose that very next day, the ability to have confidence that our infrastructure or economic or social systems like communication systems --


TURNER: -- will work.

BURNETT: Have you received any briefings, Chairman, that would indicate that that they're wordsmithing and that this is a lot further along in the process? Are you -- are you getting any kind of classified info on it?

TURNER: Guess what, Erin, I can't say what I do know and what the briefings that we have received, but I certainly can work in identifying what they're saying. You can see that there are distinctions in there words and clearly by the fact that I'm out there saying the administration needs to address this.

You know, imagine, this is the -- Jim Himes is my Democratic counterpart has said this is the Cuban missile crisis in space. Imagine if President Kennedy didn't take the action that he did, Europe would not be free today. If the administration doesn't take action and this satellite is in space, Putin will be holding hostage, all of this space assets of the really the western world.

BURNETT: So I want to give you a chance now, you've talked about your frustrations at the Biden White House and how they're handling it. In terms of downplaying the threat from Putin, though, some of the loudest voices come from your party, of course -- those who most often minimize as the threat or even echo Russia's talking points.

Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: Here's a guy who's very savvy.

He's taking over a country for $2 worth of sanctions. I'd say that's pretty smart.

REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): We're actually helping China weakening ourselves all to figure out which guy in a sweat suit gets to run Crimea.

REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): This is a war on Christianity. The Ukrainian government is attacking Christians. The Ukrainian government is executing priests. Russia is not doing that.


BURNETT: Do -- do those words from all of them, including the former president, trouble you deeply?

TURNER: Well, you know, when you look at what the former president did, I certainly don't have concern about his words because he actually was the first to give lethal weapons to Ukraine and certainly increased the European reassurance initiative working with NATO to actually increase NATO spending.

And certainly, the others are reckless and don't have a representation of reality.

In this instance, though, the fact that the administration is acknowledging that Russia is developing this weapon, but providing no additional information -- you know, the Kennedy administration when they were dealing with the Cuban missile crisis, that imagine how that would have -- the outcome would have been if it had changed history if they'd not stepped up to the plate --


TURNER: -- was done very publicly. People understood the risks. They understood what the administration is doing.

In this instance, I believe the secrecy benefits Vladimir Putin and benefits the administration's inaction.

BURNETT: Chairman, I appreciate your time.


Thank you very much.

TURNER: Thank you.

BURNETT: And next, Biden has been hammering Trump calling him a threat to democracy. But next, I'm going to speak to a Democrat running for office right now who says that is not a winning message.

Plus, the Texas Democrat taking on Ted Cruz says he's going to fix the border, which is quite different from what he was saying just two years ago. So what's changed?


BURNETT: Tonight, President Biden hammering Donald Trump as a threat to democracy, writing on social media quote, we're approaching the first presidential election since the January 6 insurrection. We know who Donald Trump is. The question we have to answer is, who are we?

But is that message a winning strategy?

My next guest says no, not with voters he's talking to.

Dante Pittman is a Democrat running for the North Carolina state house. The 28-year-old says President Biden is off message and that his attacks on Donald Trump are not resonating and Dante is OUTFRONT now.


So, Dante, I really appreciate your taking the time because it's important for people to hear. You're there. You're running for office right now. You've been not working on doors almost every afternoon. You visit churches on Sundays. You are talking to potential voters. Are they talking to you about Trump and are they talking about him as a threat to democracy?

DANTE PITTMAN (D), NORTH CAROLINA HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES CANDIDATE: Well, Ms. Burnett, it's such a pleasure to be here with you tonight. I'll tell you what I hear is folks are often wanted to talk about what's affecting them at their kitchen table. They want to talk about how their children are going to be educated. Do we have good, strong public schools?

They want to talk about whether small businesses can thrive, whether there are good jobs available. So one of the points that I'm trying to make is that I absolutely believed that we have got to talk about how extreme the Republicans are that are running for office because that doesn't match their voters all the time. But I also believe we got to talk about what are we for, what are we for? What is the positive agenda that we are presenting? And I have faith that we're going to continue to do that.

BURNETT: So, when -- when you talk about that agenda, the president -- president Biden has centered, Dante, as you know, a lot of his reelection campaign on sort of presenting it as an existential moment for democracy, that he represents democracy and that Trump represents the deterioration of institutions and the end of democracy.

Here is Biden.


BIDEN: Trump's assault and democracy isn't just part of his past. That's what he's promising for the future.

Not since President Lincoln and the Civil War have freedom and democracy been under assault at home, as they are today.


BURNETT: And, you know, he's given speeches on this, Dante. He clearly believes in it and he has made it a core of his campaign. He tweeted about it again, just today.

So, from what you see, Dante, is there enough time in the five months from now for him to make take a shift and to start talking really extensively and spend his time on the issues you're referring to?

PITTMAN: Yes, I think so. And I understand why they're doing what they're doing at the White House to try to set up a contrast because I can't even believe that we have someone that is so corrupt and that is bad for the economy such as Donald Trump, that is even competing for the White House.

But what I think we need to continue to do is we need to continue to focus on what voters want to hear about. And when I go knocking on doors, they're worried about seeing rising costs when you talk to him, what are we doing about it? What are we doing about it? How are we making sure that our small businesses can thrive? How are we making sure that we get gas prices lowered? How we're making ensure that their children can be properly educated?

There is enough time. I'll tell you when I go knocking on doors and when I'm at churches on Sundays, one of the things people tell me is we still have hope. We still have hope. We just got to talk to that hope.

BURNETT: And, Dante, do they -- when you talk to them -- do they -- are they -- are they the voters who you're talking to? And obviously, you're running as a Democrat. But are they focused on Trump? Are they listening to his messages as well at this point or now?

PITTMAN: Well, what I hear is that voters are very turned off by what they're hearing from the former president. It's not as if they're excited about the message that's being presented by the other side. And here in North Carolina, we see extreme is just the same when you look at Mark Robinson and even my opponent back home in Wilson County. They understand that extremists are on the other side.

They're just craving -- they're craving that we talk about what were for and how we can make their lives better. At the end of the day, this is not about President Biden, Donald Trump, myself, or any other candidate. It's about our people and our communities.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Dante, thank you very much. I appreciate your time as we said, of course, running as a Democrat in state of North Carolina.

And we also tonight have KFILE here with a new report exposing Texas Democrat Colin Allred's about-face on immigration, and his misleading claim that he, quote, stood up to Joe Biden on the border. Allred is now trying to unseat Senator Ted Cruz, the border crucial where he is, of course. He's previously said that building a border wall is racist. But now, it seems he feels differently.


REP. COLIN ALLRED (D-TX): To fix it, you got to go after the cartels.

And fix the border.

I stood up to Joe Biden on the border and to extremists like Ted Cruz who referred chaos to real solutions.


BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, Andrew Kaczynski, senior editor of KFILE, of course.

So, Andrew, Colin Allred is, you know, you hear him now saying he's going to fix the border but you have found that two years ago, he was saying something different.

ANDREW KACZYNSKI, CNN KFILE SENIOR EDITOR: Yeah, that's right. And immigration has become such an important issue for voters, oftentimes times polling ahead of even inflation as the number one issue in this races, obviously taking place in Texas, which has borne the brunt of the border crisis.

Now, Allred has a pretty long history of dismissing the border and border security both when he was running in 2018 and when he was in office.


And interestingly, didn't even announce that ad that we just played, that they spent several hundred thousand dollars so far to run on online. But I want people to listen to what he said in February 2022 about the border.


ALLRED: I don't hear a lot about the border here in Dallas and I'm in a border state, you know, and obviously, we want to have coverage that immigration reform. We want to try and, you know, address some of these things, but it's not -- I don't think its a top of mind issue.


KACZYNSKI: And, Erin, what's interesting about that is when he made those comments in 2022, the U.S. was seeing a record number of migrants at the southern border, and that was smashing records from 2021, which had already broken records for migrants coming to the U.S. at the border, which was again and even way beyond the numbers we saw during the Trump years.

BURNETT: Right. So it says if you could say the situation was low at the time, obviously, the facts show that that's not the case.

So, why the change? I mean, obviously, the border across the country, you point out is now a top issue. Is that the reason?

KACZYSNKI: Yeah. I think this is obviously -- you know, he's playing politics and I want people to look at this poll from the University of Texas, which showed that in -- from April, and it showed that a significant majority of voters in Texas who described migrants crossing the border as a crisis, 48 percent and then 23 percent describe it as very serious problem, but not a crisis.

So he's running -- he's not running in suburban Dallas anymore. He's running statewide and he's got to adjust his rhetoric to what people in Texas think is a very serious issue.

BURNETT: Well, 71 percent saying a crisis or a very serious problem. That is a resounding number, one you cannot ignore.

All right, KFILE, thank you very much, Andrew Kaczynski.

And next, we look back at the amazing career of Donald Sutherland, who passed away at the age of 88.



BURNETT: Tonight, tributes pouring in for legendary actor Donald Sutherland, who passed away at the age of 88. He started nearly 200 movies and television shows in a career that spanned more than 60 years, including memorable roles in films like "MASH" and "The Hunger Games". His son Kiefer Sutherland, calling him one of the most important actors in the history of film, saying that he loved what he did and did what he loved.

Stephanie Elam has more.


DONALD SUTHERLAND, ACTOR: Now I'm waiting for reports from some of you.


SUTHERLAND: Look, I'm not joking. This is my job.

ELAM: Heartbreaking.

SUTHERLAND: I don't know if I love you anymore.

ELAM: And casually cruel.

SUTHERLAND: Contain it.

ELAM: With his distinct voice and appearance Donald Sutherland played scene stealing characters throughout a career that spanned more than half a century.

SUTHERLAND: I think of myself as an artist and I take it very seriously.

ELAM: Sutherland's artistic pursuits started while attending college in his native Canada. He moved to London in the 1950s to continue studying drama and began landing small roles in British TV and films.

The success of 1967's "The Dirty Dozen" launched the actor to Hollywood.

More military movies followed, including "Kelly's Heroes".

SUTHERLAND: Well, the tank is broken and I'm trying to fix it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then what happen to them?

SUTHERLAND: Oh, man. I only ride them. I don't know what makes them work.

ELAM: And a starring role as Hawkeye in the 1970s film classic "MASH".

Next, Sutherland teamed up with Jane Fonda onscreen in "Klute".

SUTHERLAND: What else do you remember about the (INAUDIBLE)?


I happened to have a dream.

SUTHERLAND: I have a dream.

ELAM: And off-screen to produce a documentary protesting the Vietnam War.

SUTHERLAND: With 20 millimeter cannons, they're called (ph) the rocket pods. They're called (ph) the personnel fragmentation bombs. And I count 12 water buffalo down and kicking.

ELAM: Sutherland, versatile talent kept him busy and roles ranging from a pot smoking professor in "Animal House" --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I won't go schizo, will I?

SUTHERLAND: It's a distinct possibility.

ELAM: -- to a man desperately trying to hold his family together in the Oscar-winning "Ordinary People".

SUTHERLAND: I want a really good picture of the two of you, okay.

ELAM: In recent years, Sutherland's audience of fans became multi- generational when he starred as President Snow in "The Hunger Games".

SUTHERLAND: Hope, it is the only thing stronger than fear.

ELAM: The actor liked the message of a successful franchise.

SUTHERLAND: It's an opportunity to catalyze revolutionary potential in young people and given the mess this world is in, that's really important.

ELAM: Sutherland passed on his love of creating entertainment to a son, Kiefer, as well as four other children who all work in front or behind the camera.

When he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2011, Sutherland reflected on his extensive career.

SUTHERLAND: What you're doing at my age is you're looking for your marker and why I am so filled with happiness and joy is because you guys have given me my marker.


BURNETT: So inspiring to see someone who spent more than half a century doing what they loved, and also giving you hope to overcome fears. He -- this -- he said that he wants was always so nervous when a movie began shooting that he actually threw up the night before. And yet to think of what he accomplished, incredible. You'd never know that that fear was there, hope overcame.

Thanks so much for joining us.

"AC360" begins now.