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Isa Soares Tonight

Biden Blames Putin For Navalny's Death; Moscow Officials Warn Against Protesting Navalny's Death; New York Judge to Rule on Donald Trump's Civil Fraud Trial; Vigils Taking Place In European Capitals For Alexey Navalny; Russian Prison Service: Putin Critic Alexey Navalny Dead At 47; Second Day Of Hearing On Notions To Disqualify Fani Willis. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired February 16, 2024 - 14:00   ET



LYNDA KINKADE, HOST, ISA SOARES TONIGHT: Hello and welcome, I'm Lynda Kinkade in for Isa Soares. Tonight, U.S. President Joe Biden says he's

outraged by the reported death of Alexei Navalny, and he's placing the blame squarely at the feet of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Russian Prison Service says 47-year-old Navalny died while behind bars. Navalny was the leader of the biggest opposition movement in Russia, and

for years, a thorn in the side of Putin. His mother says she visited her son in prison this week, and he was quote, "healthy and cheerful".

In a fulsome message given moments ago, President Biden was clear where the White House stood on Navalny's death.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Make no mistake, make no mistake. Putin is responsible for Navalny's death. Putin is responsible.

What has happened to Navalny is yet more proof of Putin's brutality. No one should be fooled. Not in Russia, not at home, not anywhere in the world.

Putin does not only target the citizens of other countries. As we've seen with what's going on in Ukraine right now. He also inflicts terrible crimes

on his own people, and its people across Russia and around the world are mourning Navalny today because he was so many things that Putin was not.

He was brave. He was principled, he was dedicated to building a Russia where the rule of law existed and would apply to everybody.


KINKADE: We got these pictures just coming into us from Munich, Germany, where people there are holding a vigil for Alexei Navalny. We are seeing

these vigils being held around the world. We will come back to those pictures and go to Munich in just a moment where many world leaders are

meeting for the Munich Security Conference.

But right now, I want to go to CNN chief international correspondent Clarissa Ward, who joins us live from London. Good to have you with us,

Clarissa. So, Alexei Navalny, of course, was known as Putin's number one critic. According to the prison where he was being held, he is now dead.

But the details surrounding his death are very vague. What are you hearing?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we only have what we have heard from Russian state media, from prison officials that he

had gone for a walk, that he collapsed, that ambulance arrived on the scene, medics tried to revive him for half an hour, and that some kind of

an investigation will now be carried out by medical personnel to try to determine the cause of death.

But of course, to his friends, his loved ones, his followers, to western leaders, ultimately, the responsibility for his death is seen as lying at

the feet of the Russian state because he died in Russian custody. There is of course, the question mark as to whether he was assassinated today or

whether possibly he died because of illnesses or complications that he was suffering as a result of the incredibly cruel and tremendously challenging

conditions that he is being held in.

We have heard repeatedly from his lawyers over the course of the last few years as he has been moved in two different penal colonies that he has

suffered, that he has had medical issues that have not been properly attended to, that he has been over-medicated with many different

antibiotics at different stages.

And so, of course, there is a real question mark hanging over as to what exactly happened? But very little question in the eyes of many as to who

was ultimately responsible, Lynda.

KINKADE: And Clarissa, we're just seeing some video now that we've got of Alexei Navalny taken the day before he died, this via video link. He seems

happy. He seems to be joking with the judge. You've spoken to him in the past. We've certainly have seen him look far worse than this, when he's

been on hunger strikes. How would you describe him and his vision?

WARD: He looks gaunt. Certainly, he looks thin, but he appears energetic. He appears jovial. He's cracking jokes. He is sharing laughs with the judge

and the guards, even we heard from his mother, Lyudmila, who told "Novaya Gazeta", the Russian publication that she doesn't want to hear any one's

condolences because she saw him in prison on February 14th, and he was in good health and he was happy.


We saw him put out a message on Telegram to his wife, Yulia, wishing her Happy Valentine's Day, talking about how much he loved her. And that's why

I think even though people are not surprised by this, in the sense that the Russian state had tried to kill Alexei Navalny before with Novichok in

August of 2020.

There is still a level of shock to go from seeing him just a day ago making jokes and smiling to suddenly and mysteriously being declared death --

declared dead rather, is deeply troubling and deeply disturbing, even if of course, it confirms the worst fears that many will have had.

KINKADE: Yes, exactly. Clarissa Ward, good to have you on this story for us today. Thanks so much for joining us. Well, Alexei Navalny's wife,

Yulia, is calling on the international community to fight what she calls Vladimir Putin's horrific regime. This is a part of what she had to say at

the Munich Security Conference earlier today.


YULIA NAVALNAYA, WIFE OF ALEXEI NAVALNY (through translator): I want them to know that they will be punished for what they have done with our

country, with my family and with my husband. They will be brought to justice and this day will come soon.


KINKADE: Well, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met privately with Navalny's wife in Munich today to express his condolences on behalf of the

United States. He says if reports of Navalny's death are true, it underscores the quote, "weakness and rot at the heart of the system that

Putin has built."

Blinken said the U.S. holds Russia responsible. A message echoed by Vice President Kamala Harris.


KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is, of course, terrible news, which we are working to confirm. My prayers are with his

family, including his wife, Yulia, who is with us today. And if confirmed, this would be a further sign of Putin's brutality. Whatever story they

tell, let us be clear, Russia is responsible and we will have more to say on this later.


KINKADE: Other western officials at the Munich Conference are also demanding accountability. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says

Russia has serious questions to answer. He called Navalny a strong voice for freedom.

Germany's chancellor also spoke out today in Berlin, saying Navalny paid for his courage with his life. Olaf Scholz slammed Putin's regime with

Ukraine's president standing by his side.


OLAF SCHOLZ, CHANCELLOR, GERMANY (through translator): We know if we didn't already know exactly what kind of regime this is. Anyone who voices

criticism, who stands up for democracy, must fear for their safety and their lives. This is no longer a democracy, and has not being for a long

time now.


KINKADE: Well, CNN's Alex Marquardt is live for us from Munich where he has been at that security conference. You've also been listening obviously

to tributes and statements from officials and government leaders there. But we also heard from the U.S. President a short time ago, speaking about


And just a few years ago, he warned about the devastating consequences for Russia, should Navalny die in prison. What else did Joe Biden have to say,

and what other repercussions could there be?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, though, the Biden administration has repeatedly called it -- called for the release

of Alexei Navalny. President Biden speaking out about his reported death earlier today, saying in no uncertain terms that Putin and his thugs did


That is the quote from the president. He said that he was not surprised, but that he is indeed outraged. And there have been -- you know, when we've

heard these reactions, people referring to the reports, there hasn't been independent confirmation, for example, by the United States, but President

Biden saying clearly that he has no reason not to believe these reports, and that this is more proof of Putin's brutality.

An interesting question about what could come next. There is a whole raft of U.S. sanctions that have been posed against Russia. Critics of the Biden

administration say that several have not been enacted upon. So there's a question of whether that could happen, whether more sanctions could be

imposed, whether the U.S. and Europe could take more action when it comes to seizing Russian assets around the world.

But Lynda, I think a big question for United States tonight is really about the funding for Ukraine. Of course, this has been stuck in the U.S.

Congress, approved by the Senate, but not yet passed by the House of Representatives. This question of $60 billion for Ukraine.

So, a question for Republicans who are blocking this tonight is with this reminder of the brutality of the Putin regime, President Putin, you know,

single-handedly responsible essentially for the imprisonment and now the death of Alexei Navalny.


Will Republicans act and give Ukraine that much-needed $60 billion as a bulwark against Russia. Certainly, as we approach the second anniversary of

Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Lynda?

KINKADE: Yes, exactly. And as you speak, Alex, we're just seeing some more vision of the vigils being held around the world, remembering the courage

of Alexei Navalny, both in Munich and in London there on our screens right now. Alex Marquardt for us in Munich, we appreciate your time, thanks so


Well, throughout the day, we have been hearing outrage from the international community. But how is Navalny's death being seen inside

Russia? Well, to answer that, I want to turn to our CNN contributor and our former Moscow Bureau chief Jill Dougherty, she joins us live from

Washington D.C., good to see you, Jill.


KINKADE: Russia, obviously is responsible. That's what the U.K. and the U.S. and many other leaders around the world are saying. What is being said

inside Russia because I understand that the Russian parliament speaker took to his Telegram channel after the death was announced. What did he have to


DOUGHERTY: Well, he's blaming it on the West. I have to think exactly how he would explain that. But you know, I think what you have here is, let's

look at the Kremlin. OK, the biggest opponent of Vladimir Putin now is dead. So, how does the Kremlin handle it? Well, people inside Russia

actually -- and I was very surprised to see this, have been coming on to the streets carrying flowers, not just in Moscow.

But in other cities around Russia, and outside of Russia in -- especially in Europe, where there are a lot of Russians who fled after the invasion of

Ukraine in 2022. And they're laying flowers. We see some of the pictures here, and initially, when that happened, the police in, you know, most of

the photographs we saw on the video, look like they were allowing that to happen.

Now, in various cities, they're beginning to haul people away. Now, they are taking the flowers away. So, it's not clear how they're going to deal

with this, but I think the whole meaning of that is that, there are people who identify with not only with Navalny, but his message, who do support

that and who are willing to come onto the streets when it's very dangerous to do that in Russia without being arrested.

So, what would the Kremlin do? I think they are very nervous about this upcoming presidential election -- we talk more about that, but that is a

re-election of Vladimir Putin coming in less than a month.


DOUGHERTY: And that is the most important thing for them right now for the Kremlin.

KINKADE: I want to get back to that. The fact that the elections coming up in just a moment, but I just want to play some sound from some people in

Russia today, mourning the death of Alexei Navalny.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Of course, Navalny is a symbol. First of all, a symbol of opposition. A symbol of hope for some brighter future for Russia.

And there's a feeling that with his death, this hope dies. If there had still been any hope left, it is even less now than it was before.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know. It's kind of a shock right now. It's even hard for me to speak now. We loved him.


KINKADE: Young, old men, women. It seems like Alexei Navalny's reach was extensive.

DOUGHERTY: It was, and, you know, Lynda, I have been on the streets of Moscow many times during protests in 2017, 2019, 2021 et cetera, most of

them were organized by the supporters of Alexei Navalny. And almost invariably, when I talk to young people, they wouldn't necessarily say,

yes, we want Alexei Navalny to become the president of Russia.

And really, some did. But the essential idea is what that first woman said which was another Russia, a better Russia, a better Russia, meaning a

Russia without corruption. And for those supporters, they would say, a Russia without Putin. So, I think there are a lot of people in Russia right

now who are shocked and who are wondering whether that hope is now extinguished or whether they have to live, you know, lives of quiet

desperation, waiting for a better Russia.


DOUGHERTY: But it's a dangerous moment, I think, an -- you know, unstable and unpredictable moment in Russia.

KINKADE: Yes, but interesting, those people were speaking so freely about that. And also, you mentioned the timing of this with an election in Russia

happening next month.


We already know that several, multiple candidates who wanted to run have been barred from running in the election. What does all these say and the

timing of Navalny's death say about the mindset of Vladimir Putin?

DOUGHERTY: Well, I think it's very clear that the Kremlin does not want any -- let's call it viable candidate. There will be other candidates

there. I think there will probably be about four on the ballot, including President Putin, but none of them make any difference other than Putin.

So, the one person who was against the war, who was quite obviously against Putin running the war was eliminated from the ballot. He's still trying to

fight it. There's no way he'll get on. And so, people now are being urged by Navalny's supporters and others to simply vote for whoever. You know,

but don't vote for Putin.

So, again, that election, the image of a democratic election is what the Kremlin wants to get across, not just to the international world. I think

quite honestly, Lynda, they've given up on the rest of the world. The east, the Western world, and they're more concerned about their own citizens,

whether they can get them out to vote, and whether they can get them to vote for Putin?

KINKADE: Yes, exactly, yes. He doesn't seem to care about what the rest of the world thinks right now, suddenly the West. Good to have you with us as

always, Jill Dougherty for us from D.C. Thank you. Well, two different legal cases. One huge day for Donald Trump.

Any moment now, a judge is expected to rule in Trump's civil fraud trial in a decision that could potentially take down the Trump family business in

New York. The state's district attorney accuses the former president of inflating his financial statements to lenders to get favorable terms.

Now, Trump could be fined hundreds of millions of dollars in penalties. And here in Atlanta, Trump's 2020 election interference case hangs in the

balance on the second day of a hearing that could disqualify the Fulton County District Attorney, Fani Willis, she didn't take to the stand today.

Well, I want to welcome CNN's chief legal affairs correspondent Paula Reid for more on this. Good to have you with us, Paula. So, let's focus on this

New York case right now, because the New York state attorney is seeking $370 million in fines from Trump after he was found guilty of over-

inflating his real estate value to get these favorable bank loans.

She also wants to bar him and two former executives from working in the New York real estate industry. And tell us about when we can expect this

decision. How do you see this playing out today, Paula?

PAULA REID, CNN CHIEF LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, any minute, we're going to get the verdict from this judge, and this case is so personal for

Trump that strikes at his family business, at the heart of his identity as a successful businessman. Remember that's how he became famous before he

went to the White House.

Now, let's go back and set up how we got here. Last Fall, the judge overseeing this case, Judge Arthur Engoron, he found Trump liable for

fraud, finding that he lied about the value of his assets to banks and insurance companies to get more favorable terms for either insurance

policies or loans.

And then, what followed was a months' long trial. And you may remember that Trump participated in much of that case. He showed up, he testified as did

all three of his adult children. But just very combative. He attacked the judge. He attacked the attorney general. He attacked the judge's clerk, he

even violated a gag order that just said, don't attack court staff.

So, he took a very aggressive, combative approach to this case. And right now, the New York attorney general, as you said, is asking for hundreds of

millions of dollars in penalties and to bar Trump from doing business in the state of New York. That's incredibly significant.

It's called the corporate death penalty, something that is rarely enacted here in the state of New York. So, we're watching this very closely today

because this judge has really, you know, the fate of Trump's business empire in his hands.

KINKADE: Yes, we'll be watching this very closely, and we'll be bringing it live to our viewers when it happens. Paula Reid, good to have you on the

story, thanks so much. Well, still to come tonight, international aid groups are voicing alarm about an Israeli raid on the largest functioning

hospital remaining in Gaza. A live report, next.



KINKADE: Welcome back. You're looking at the vigils, the flowers being laid to remember opposition figure Alexei Navalny from Russia. There's

certainly a lot of shock over his apparent death from London to Munich, even Moscow. And the vigils and tributes are cropping up.

They're expected to keep coming in honor of the Kremlin critic. Officials in Moscow meanwhile are warning that protests there will not be tolerated.

We will have much more on that in just a moment. But for now, I want to turn to the war in the Middle East.

The World Health Organization says it's trying to get access to the Nasser Hospital in Gaza, as it was being raided by Israeli forces. It says there

are still critically ill patients inside, who need life-saving assistance. The Hamas-run Health Ministry says five patients died after the hospital

lost power during that raid.

Israel is pressing ahead with the operation, saying it has seized weapons and apprehended dozens of terror suspects. Well, our Nic Robertson is

covering the developments, and joins us now live from Tel Aviv. Good to have you with us, Nic. So, the IDF is continuing to carry out this raid.

They claim that they have found suspects related to the Hamas terror attack. What are you learning?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, the World Health Organization is saying there's an urgent need to get fuel to the hospital

because without fuel they can't sustain the patients who are in the intensive critical care unit, and there are some there including some young

infants, according to the hospital staff.

W.H.O., World Health Organization also says that as the -- as the IDF militarizes this hospital -- that's the W.H.O.'s language, militarizes the

hospital that degrades the amount of medical care they can give. And this is one of the last major functioning large hospitals in Gaza, 27 of the 36

hospitals in Gaza are severely damaged, 84 percent of health facilities are severely damaged at this time in Gaza.

So, it's not just about this one hospital, but at the moment, this is where the focus is, and what the IDF is saying is that when they went in

yesterday, they have now -- they say discovered 20 people they say were members of Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad or other groups that they

define as terror groups.

They've named some of them, they've released photographs of some of them. We're not able to independently verify that these individuals are who the

IDF says they are. But according to hospital officials, the IDF has now taken and separated some of the male medical staff and moved them to the

maternity unit inside the hospital.

The hospital officials say it's being used as a sort of a military barracks by the IDF. Again, we don't have access to Gaza independently. We don't

have -- certainly, don't have access to this hospital, so we cannot independently see what is happening there.


But the chaos that was seen earlier on Thursday now seems to be a situation where the IDF controls the facilities, has taken into custody at least 20

people. They say have terror connections. And a number of hospital staff, perhaps in the region of a couple of hundred. We understand were dependence

and about the same number of patients remain in the hospital at this time. But its facilities severely degraded, and its ability to treat people

severely hampered as well.

KINKADE: Yes, just horrific scenes of that footage from the hospital. Nic Robertson for us in Tel Aviv, good to have you there. Thank you. Well,

still to come tonight, more on our breaking news coverage on the reported death of Alexei Navalny. We'll take a look back at his life and legacy



KINKADE: Welcome back. You're looking at pictures here of people paying their respects in Lithuania for Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny. We have seen

an outpouring of grief in various European capitals since Russian officials announced that he had died while in custody.

These were scenes in Berlin earlier, crowds showing their support and paying respects. The Russian Prison Service says the 47-year-old died

suddenly after taking a walk at the Arctic Penal Colony where he was being held. Well, in Moscow, the prosecutors' office has warned against anyone

taking part in protests, saying they are not authorized and would constitute an offence under Russia law.

Reaction has been pouring in from leaders all over the world. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy earlier said Vladimir Putin must be held

accountable. Take a listen.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Obviously, he was killed by Putin, like thousands of others who have been tormented,

tortured because of this one person. Putin doesn't care who dies as long as he retains his position. And that is why he must not keep anything. Putin

must lose everything. He must not retain anything and must be held accountable for what he has done.


KINKADE: Navalny dedicated much of his life to exposing corruption in high places and organizing anti-government protests in Russia.

CNN's Matthew Chance looks back at his life.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CHIEF GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A blogger and lawyer turned opposition politician and anti-corruption

campaigner, Alexey Navalny was a menace for the Kremlin. He was not afraid to call President Putin out directly.

ALEXEY NAVALNY, RUSSIAN LAWYER (through translator): Corruption is not just Putin. Yet his is the base. He's a man who governs openly with the help of


CHANCE (voice-over): Navalny rose to prominence in 2008, exposing corruption in state-owned corporations. Three years later, he emerged as

the leader of mass protests in the country after allegations of fraud in parliamentary elections.

Navalny was arrested several times during his life, including in 2013 after being convicted of embezzlement charges just as he was preparing to run for

mayor of Moscow. It was a campaign he would lose. Navalny denied all the charges and called them politically motivated.

A retrial in 2017 prevented him from running for office, this time for president against Vladimir Putin. That same year, he was attacked with a

green antiseptic fluid. It caused him damage in the vision of his right eye and temporarily dyed his skin green, bleeding. One year later, Navalny told

me what kept him going.

NAVALNY (through translator): The choice is very simple. You are either scared or you go on. I chose to go on a long time ago. I won't give up on

my country. I won't give up on my civil rights.

CHANCE (voice-over): He exercised those rights by calling on his millions of followers across social media to protest, putting in firmly in the

Kremlin's crosshairs.

In August 2020, on a flight from Tomsk to Moscow, Navalny fell seriously ill. An emergency diversion by the plane's pilot appears to have saved his


Amid an international outcry, he was allowed to fly for treatment to Germany, where it was discovered he'd been poisoned with Novichok, a

chemical nerve agent.

Later, the CNN-Bellingcat investigation revealed that for years, Navalny had been trailed by FSB agents. The Kremlin has repeatedly denied any

involvement. But an assassination attempt and a medically induced coma didn't deter Navalny from taking his fight to a higher level.

Whilst recovering in Germany, he conducted a sting operation against an FSB agent, convincing the operative to detail in a phone call how the Novichok

was used against him. That was then broadcast on his YouTube channel.

Shortly after, he released a video offering Russians a look at what his team called Putin's Palace, a mansion by the Black Sea, estimated to be

worth more than a billion dollars. President Putin denied the palace belongs to him or his family members.

January 2021, Navalny returned to Moscow after receiving life-saving treatment in Germany. He was immediately arrested for violating probation

terms, imposed from a 2014 case and sent to a penal colony where he went on hunger strike, protesting against prison official's refusal to grant him

access to proper medical care. He'll be remembered for his bravery in tackling corruption across Russia and as one of Vladimir Putin's biggest



KINKADE: Well, I want to get more from our Chief Global Affairs Correspondent, Matthew Chance. He joins us from London. Good to have you

with us, Matthew.

You have, of course, have covered so many of the people who have been either attempted assassinations on their life or assassinate nations blamed

on Putin.


I just want to bring up a graphic we've got of some of those people. You can see Nemtsov. He was shot four times in the back near the Kremlin. He

was an opposition leader. You saw businessman government official Berezovsky hanged in a locked bathroom. Then, of course, there was

Alexander Litvinenko, who he was a former Russian security agent who defected. He was poisoned and later died. And Anna Politkovskaya, who was

poisoned and then shot, she was a journalist and a former human rights activist. And, of course, more recently, Yevgeny Prigozhin who had a

falling out with Putin. He was known as Putin's chef. He had a falling out. Then, of course, he fell out of the sky in a plane.

You, Matthew, have covered so many of these cases. And now, it seems Navalny is the latest in a very long list. What was your reaction when you

first heard of his death today?

CHANCE: Yes, and you can add to that list of names all the people that fell in suspicious circumstances out of windows over the past couple of days as

well in Russia. Defenestration has become a, you know, a sort of prominent cause of death, it seems, when it comes to opponents of the Kremlin or

people who have fallen foul of it.

And, you know, when you look at that list, it sort of, you know, kind of, you know, reaffirms, doesn't it, that, you know, even though it's shocking,

this death of Alexey Navalny, everyone really expected it. He'd been locked away in a Siberian penal colony. He was not really that relevant, you know,

anymore when it comes to the day-to-day sort of politics of Russia, at least with inside Russia, he wasn't anyway.

But it shows you that, you know, actually, it fits into a pattern of behavior that we've been observing over the past 20 years or so in Russia,

where if you become a prominent critic of the Kremlin or Vladimir Putin in particular, then you meet these sticky ends. And that's the category,

unfortunately, that Alexey Navalny has now fallen into.

I think the big question is, what will the reaction be on the streets of Russia? In the past, Navalny has been able to call out tens of thousands of

people in towns and cities across the country. Will those numbers come out now in protest at his death, or will they send a chilling effect, a further

chilling effect, on opponents of the Kremlin, of critics, of Vladimir Putin in Russia, and, you know, encourage them to stay home or leave or just, you

know, be quiet with their criticism?

KINKADE: Yes, and of course, Matthew, despite the fact that he was in prison, and many times in solitary confinement, he was still able to, on

occasion, in your social media or get his team to campaign on his behalf and to oppose things that were happening at the hands of Vladimir Putin, is

there anyone that can take his place right now in that role?

CHANCE: Well, no one individual. I don't think -- I mean, Alexey Navalny was, you know, unique in the sense that he was this figure who was able to

put his finger on the pulse of Russian society so effectively. And he had a personality that was big enough to lead what is a very sort of dissipated,

you know, fractured sort of opposition.

I think that the strength, though, of his campaign was always the theme that he pursued, which was corruption. You know, if you live in Russia, if

you know Russia, you know that corruption is something that touches everybody's life. And Alexey Navalny seized on that public anger about

corruption that cuts through the sort of classified or the political divide or anything and talks to almost everybody in Russia. And he, you know, used

it to, you know, turn public anger against the Kremlin.

Look, if somebody else comes along and picks up that baton, I'm sure it will be equally as effective. He also leaves behind, of course, you know,

not just a legacy of protest, but an organization which remains, as you mentioned, still focused on exposing official corruption in Russia.

KINKADE: Matthew Chance, good to have you on this story for us today from London. Thank you.

Well, earlier, U.S. President Joe Biden told reporters at the White House that he wasn't surprised, but he was outraged by the reports of Navalny's

death. And he squarely laid the blame on Vladimir Putin, calling it, "yet more proof of Putin's brutality."

In his remarks, he paid tribute to Navalny, calling him brave and dedicated before employing Congress to step up in this moment.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: He was dedicated to building a Russia where the rule of law existed and of where it applied to everybody. Navalny believed

in that Russia, that Russia.


He knew it was the cause worth fighting for, and obviously even dying for. This tragedy reminds us of the stakes in this moment. We have to provide

the funding so Ukraine can keep defending itself against Putin's vicious onslaught and war crimes. You know, there was a bipartisan vote that passed

overwhelmingly in the United States Senate to fund Ukraine.

Now, as I've said before, and I mean this in a literal sense, history is watching. History is watching the House of Representatives.


KINKADE: Well, I want to bring you White House reporter Priscilla Alvarez. Good to have you with us, Priscilla.

So President Biden certainly didn't mince his words when he blamed Putin for the death of Navalny. But he also, again, urged Congress to push

through this military aid for Ukraine, saying why on earth are they taking a two-week vacation right now?

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: He did. He said that very forcefully and saying twice, why take those two weeks to leave the Hill and

therefore keep this package stalled?

And as a reminder to viewers, what he's referring to there is a White House National Security Supplemental Request that included $60 billion for

Ukraine in addition to other priorities. That was introduced last October. And since then, it has remained stalled in Congress.

And there has been a steady drumbeat from the White House about the necessity of these funds. So to help Ukraine and not seed any ground to

Russia, and that's what you were hearing from President Biden today, was taking this moment, this death of Alexey Navalny and underscoring the

stakes of the moment and reminding people why it's so important to make sure that those funds get to Ukraine.

So again, not to give any more ground to Russia. And so that was the message from President Biden to the American people in his remarks earlier

today. But in addition to that, it was making very clear that it is Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is responsible for Alexey Navalny's death

over the course of the morning, that had been the resounding message from his top U.S. officials, who had said that there was little room for error

here, that this was Putin who had been responsible for this.

And back in 2021, President Biden had said that if Alexey Navalny died in prison, there would be consequences for Russia. Now, he was asked about

that today, and he said that there have been consequences ever since Russia launched its war into Ukraine and that there have been sanctions. But the

president also said that there will be other options that are reviewed.

Now, we don't know exactly what consequence the U.S. will levy against Russia in response to this, but it is clear that White House officials are

pouring over that now and deciding how to proceed after today.

KINKADE: All right. We'll wait and see what sort of options they might consider. Priscilla Alvarez at the White House, thanks so much.

Still to come tonight, it could be a pivotal day for Donald Trump in multiple courtrooms. We'll have live reports from both Georgia and New York




KINKADE: Welcome back. I'm Lynda Kinkade. It's just after 2:30 p.m. now here in Atlanta and New York City, two cities with all eyes on them, as

Donald Trump's legal battles continue. In New York at any moment, we could find out how much the former president has to pay for fraudulently

inflating his business statements for a decade.

And here in Atlanta, Georgia, Fani Willis will not return to the stand today after a fiery testimony Thursday afternoon. Trump's attorney accuses

her of a conflict of interest, and they want her disqualified from the case.

We've got both angles covered. CNN's Kara Scannell is in New York. And Zach Cohen is here in Atlanta. Good to have you both with us.

So Zach, I'll start with you. So the hearing on this motion to disqualify the Fulton District Attorney and the lead prosecutor continues. She didn't

take the stand today, but her father did. What did he have to say in his testimony? And where's his case at right now?

ZACH COHEN, NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Yes, Lynda, we started today expecting to hear more from District Attorney Fani Willis. That ultimately

didn't happen. Her attorney informed the judge that they're effectively going to let her testimony from yesterday stand.

Remember, she told the court yesterday that she's not the one on trial. Donald Trump is and that the defense attorney is trying to get her to

qualify from this case have not provided evidence of a conflict of interest, which amounts to proving that she benefited financially from a

romantic relationship with her top prosecutor.

So as you mentioned, there have been other witnesses who we've seen testify today after Fani Willis did not take the stand. That includes her father,

John Floyd III. He's a civil rights icon effectively. And he's also, you know, an attorney himself. He faced a series of questions from defense

attorneys who are trying to establish some sort of a timeline that, you know, proves that Fani Willis' relationship with Nathan Wade, her top

prosecutor, started before they said it did and thus insinuating that, you know, he was hired because she wanted to financially enrich herself.

The defense attorneys have so far failed to establish that as a fact. We're waiting, you know, on Terrence Bradley, Wade's former law partner, to

finish his testimony. He has been very resistant to provide any information to defense attorneys. We're trying to draw out some sort of a fact that

they can hang on. But as the testimony continues in this case, the efforts to disqualify Fani Willis appears to be getting weaker and weaker. And her

stance appears to be getting stronger as Democrats here in Georgia are rallying around her.

Atlanta's mayor came out with some support for her today saying, look, this is all an effort to discredit Fani Willis for political reasons and to

distract from the trial, the blooming trial of former President Donald Trump.

KINKADE: OK, well, we don't expect a result on that today, so we will wait and see how that plays out, Zach. Good to have you on the story.

I want to go back to New York now, Kara Scannell. So the case in New York relates it to a civil fraud trial where Trump was found guilty of

overinflating his real estate properties to get more favorable bank loans. He was found guilty. He has to pay a fine. The judge has to decide just how

much it could be. And it sounds like it could be in the hundreds of millions of dollars, right?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's what we're waiting to see. And the New York Attorney General who brought the civil lawsuit is seeking

more than $370 million. She's saying that is how much that Donald Trump and the Trump organization benefited by issuing fraudulent financial statements

that had inflated values of some of his properties, including his triplex apartment at Trump Tower, and saying that those properties had inflated the

value of those properties in order on these financial statements, which were then given to banks to obtain favorable rates of loans.

So we're looking here now to see what the judge is going to say he needs to pay as a result of that. And also, the Attorney General's office is seeking

to ban Trump for life from doing business in New York and also seeking to ban his sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, who currently run the Trump

organization from doing business in New York for five years. So, there could be some big implications to the business as -- but we'll know once we

see this decision, exactly what the judge says.

You'll remember Donald Trump and his sons all testified at the Civil Fraud trial. So, the judge will be weighing in on whether he thought they were

credible witnesses, what he thought of their intent because he also is looking at some other civil claims as well, whether they intended to issue

false financial statements.


So, this will be all part of the mix. And this judge has already signaled, though, that he does not believe a lot of the defense that the Trumps have

put on, saying that, you know, this issue evaluations, the Trumps have said it's subjective. He has said that, you know, a lie is still a lie. He's

also, you know, the Trumps have argued that no banks, no one was hurt. And the judge has said you don't have to be hurt in order to lose this case.

So, we'll be looking to see exactly what he comes down with this verdict. We're expecting it today. We'll just keep refreshing the docket here,

Lynda, to see if it's going to hit. But we're still waiting for it now.

KINKADE: Yes, I have to keep refreshing the page to find out. When that ruling will come, we will check back in with you as the hours tick by. But

as we say, this decision could be made at any moment. Kara Scannell for us in New York, Zach Cohen in Atlanta. Good to have you both with us. Thank


Well, I need to bring you an update now on that deadly shooting that happened at the Kansas City Chief Super Bowl Parade. Court officials in

Missouri now say two teenagers are in custody and they've been charged in connection with that shooting. They're facing gun-related charges along

with resisting arrest. And they may face additional charges once police conclude their investigation. One woman was killed and more than 20 others

were wounded in that shooting Wednesday afternoon.

Well, many of the victims, we're now learning, were just children. And they've learned that Kansas City Quarterback Patrick Mahomes and his wife,

Brittany, visited two of those injured kids today. The couple went to see two sisters, ages eight and 10, who were shot at the rally. The girls were

struck in the legs. They have undergone surgery. The families say they will need physical therapy to regain strength and mobility to walk again.

We are going to take a quick break. We'll be right back.


KINKADE: Welcome back.


A recap now on our top story. The reported death of Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny, tributes to him are pouring in from all around the

world, including in Moscow, where a memorial was set up for the well-known critic of Vladimir Putin. You can see that people have laid red roses,

although the prosecutor in Russia in Moscow has said warned anyone against protesting there.

Here in Berlin, Navalny supporters gathered outside the Russian embassy. And in Georgia's capital outside the Russian embassy there, protesters

chanted Navalny's name, and held signs denouncing the Russian president, including one that read, Putin is a killer.

In Lithuania, people brought candles and flowers to mourn the loss. One woman summed it up by saying Navalny gave her hope. And we've got some live

pictures coming into us from Munich right now, where you can see people lighting candles, as they remember Alexey Navalny, a courageous critic of

Vladimir Putin, who spent his life trying to root out corruption in the Kremlin.

Alexey Navalny was reportedly found dead after going out for a walk in the prison where he was being held near the Arctic Circle. The prison officials

say that he was found unconscious. They claim that paramedics tried to revive him. He was 47 years old.

Thanks for watching tonight. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is next.