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One World with Zain Asher

Misconduct Hearing Underway For Allegations Against Georgia D.A. Fani Willis; NATO Defense Ministers Meet In Brussels To Discuss Spending And Support For Ukraine; House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Turner Says Only His Panel Had Information Concerning A Serious National Security Threat; Odysseus Lunar Lander Embarks On A Historic Journey To The Moon. Aired 12-1p ET

Aired February 15, 2024 - 12:00   ET




NATHAN WADE, SPECIAL PROSECUTOR IN TRUMP'S GA ELECTION CASE: Now -- but, let me make this distinction, though, because the number that you're

looking at reflects the three people on the cruise ship. There were things that my mother and I did, just the two of us, that D.A. Willis didn't do.

ASHLEIGH MERCHANT, DEFENSE LAWYER: And I'm not attributing that. I did not -- my math is not good but I did not include anything with your mother.


BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN ANCHOR: All right, you've been watching CNN's continuing coverage of the court hearing in Georgia, where Trump and 14 co-

defendants are seeking to disqualify the district attorney who brought the election racketeering case against them. Hello everyone, live from New

York, I'm Bianna Golodryga.

ZAIN ASHER, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Zain Asher. You are indeed watching ONE WORLD. We'll have much more on the developments there happening in that

courtroom throughout this hour.

GOLODRYGA: Meantime, it's a scenario that almost defies reality. A former U.S. President and current Republican front-runner facing not one but two

separate court hearings in two separate states on the very same day at the very same time. But that's what happened earlier today.

ASHER: Yeah, during the hearing in New York, a judge denied Donald Trump's bid to dismiss charges related to hush money payments made to adult film

star Stormy Daniels. The former President's first criminal trial is now set. That date is now set. It is going to begin on March 25th.

Before arriving at the courthouse, Trump complained that his very busy legal calendar is making it much harder for him to campaign. Take a listen.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT, CURRENT REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We want delays. Obviously, I'm running for election. I can't,

how can you run for election if you're sitting in a courthouse in Manhattan all day long? I'm supposed to be in South Carolina right now where other

people are and where, again, this is where I should be.

I shouldn't be in a courthouse with something that virtually every legal scholar says they don't understand that there's no crime. Even if he was

guilty of something, there's no crime.


GOLODRYGA: While all of this was going on, yet another hearing was taking place in Atlanta. Trump's lawyers are trying to disqualify District

Attorney Fani Willis and her top prosecutor over what they're calling an improper relationship. Trump is being charged there with election

interference. That hearing is still on-going.

CNN's Nick Valencia is live outside the Fulton County Courthouse in Atlanta. Katelyn Polantz joins us live from New York. Katelyn, let us begin

with you. The date is confirmed, March 25th. Katelyn, this is extraordinary, right?

This is huge. It's so impossible to overstate the significance of this. Walk us through what's next in terms of jury selection. Also, what was

Donald Trump's reaction as that date was set?

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Zain, a trial date for a former President of the United States to be put on criminal trial,

that is the first time that's ever happened in this country. And now we have a date.

It's supposed to begin March 25 with jury selection here in New York. This is the case where the Manhattan district attorney has charged Donald Trump

with 34 counts of falsifying business records as a way to pay off his personal attorney to reimburse him to keep Stormy Daniels quiet so that she

wouldn't hurt his 2016 presidential campaign prospects.

Quite a significant case. Trump's lawyer says that this case will take two months and it is election interference for Trump to be on trial and not on

the campaign trail between March and May. Now, the judge says back to him, is that your legal argument? That is not a legal argument. That's the words

of the judge today to Donald Trump's lawyers.

It's not a legal argument that you have politics to deal with and a campaign to deal with. Donald Trump will be in the courtroom for these, we

would very much expect as a criminal defendant. The judge says he also expects this case and this trial to last six weeks.

Once the jury is seated, that they won't be in trial much past the end of May or even the middle of May of this year before the Republican nomination

is solidified with its conventions over the summer. But the way this will work, Donald Trump as a criminal defendant has a right and is very much

expected to be before the jury of peers on this case.

That would be 12 people and six alternates in that courtroom in Manhattan beginning in March. And they will be sitting four days a week, basically

for the entirety of a business day. So, quite a significant task ahead for prosecutors in that case, as well as for criminal defendant Donald Trump.

ASHER: I mean, it's monumental, you know, and I'm glad you really sort of highlighted that to the audience. I mean, there's never been anything like

this in this country. Katelyn Polantz, live for us there, thank you so much.

GOLODRYGA: Now, let's turn to Nick Valencia, where we saw quite the bombshell in the courtroom today in Georgia, Nick, where the District

Attorney Fani Willis, it appears, through testimony, through a witness, is accused of not being truthful as to when a relationship with a prosecutor

she appointed to this racketeering case began.


She had said this relationship began in 2022. She had been contradicted by a witness and a close associate that it actually began in 2019. Talk about

the significance of this time discrepancy.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Bianna, what a day it has been. It was anticipated to be a major day and a defining day in this case, and it

has lived up to that hype.

What the judge here presiding over this case, Scott McAfee, is most concerned with is he wants to see evidence of a financial benefit, a

personal benefit from this personal relationship that Fani Willis has had with the man she tapped to be the lead prosecutor and take on the former

President, Donald Trump, and 18 other co-defendants, and they appear as the day got on that we weren't going to hear from anybody.

It didn't seem that any of those that had been subpoenaed wanted to be here to testify. In fact, one of those that was called initially was a no-show.

She ended up appearing via Zoom, Robin Yeartie, a former employee of the district attorney's office, a roommate of Fani Willis, somebody who was a

long-time friend of Fani Willis.

And she testified under oath that she observed and was told by Ms. Willis that a relationship began with Nathan Wade as early as 2019. That is

important because in a written legal response by Fani Willis, she said that this relationship began in 2022 after she had already hired Nathan Wade.

Now, I mentioned the financial issue here that the judge wants to see right now. Nathan Wade is on the stand and it appears to be all about his

credibility. Did he mislead the public when he swore under an affidavit? Did he mislead or mischaracterize things in divorce proceeding documents?

That is what Ashley Merchant, the defense attorney who initially leveled these claims and brought them to light about this personal relationship,

this affair as she called it between Willis and Wade, that is what she's drilling down on right now.

And as this hearing continues, it goes without saying that this has been a mortifying experience for the District Attorney's Office. You see Nathan

Wade up there on the stand. He appears, he comes across, you know, smirking, uncomfortable.

And he is repeatedly being questioned about whether or not he told the full truth about his relationship and whether or not this was a financial profit

for Ms. Willis. We expect more questioning to happen as these hours tick away. But again, this has just been a very, very bad day so far for the

D.A.'s office. Bianna.

GOLODRYGA: Yeah, potentially jeopardizing the whole case. Nick Valencia, thank you.

ASHER: All right. So, how are these cases playing out in the public eye, just in terms of what people think of them? CNN's Harry Enten has a look at

polling on the Georgia election case against Trump and his New York hush money case. Take a look.


HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: The public views these cases very, very seriously. Let's start here. Charges against Trump are very serious.

The Georgia election case, look at this, 53 percent of Americans, the majority believe that the charges in that case are very serious. So if

those charges perhaps got dismissed, that would be very, very bad news for perhaps those who want Donald Trump to be in trouble.

In the New York hush money case on the other hand, even if he's more legal trouble there, in terms of the charges against him being very serious, just

31 percent of Americans believe that they are very serious.

Now, if you look on a slightly different question, did Trump do something illegal? Again, look here, the majority of Americans believe, in fact, he

did do something illegal on the Georgia election case, while in the New York hush money case, just 34 percent, just a third believe he did

something illegal there. So, very different cases when we're looking at this from the public point of view.

GOLODRYGA: Let's bring our legal panel now. Elie Honig is our Senior Legal Analyst and a former U.S. attorney, and Maria Cardona, CNN Political

Commentator and Democratic Strategist.

Ellie, let me start with you because something that you clarified this morning on air for our viewers, I think is important to reiterate once

again. Going into the courtroom in New York City, Donald Trump addressed the crowds there and the cameras once again with his no fact-based

accusations against the U.S. government and the Biden administration in particular for bringing this hush money case along.

You noted that there is a legitimate reason and case here presented, but also the fact that it is a state case. Talk about that and debunk some of

the constant lines we keep hearing from the former President about this case.

ELIE HONIG, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY: So, Bianna, there are two tried and true Donald Trump statements that you can always count on him

making outside of all of these courtrooms. The first one is he claims over and over again that all of these prosecutions are coordinated by and coming

through the White House and Joe Biden. That is patently false.

First of all, two of the cases are federal cases brought by the attorney general. Zero evidence of any coordination with the White House. Second of

all, two of the cases, including the two we're talking about today in New York and in Georgia -- those are both state level cases. They are brought

by elected county level district attorneys, no connection to Joe Biden or DOJ even for that matter.


Then you have the constant claim Donald Trump echoed again today in the New York hush money case he said, this is not a crime. There's a fair debate

about whether this crime is serious enough to merit charges, but if the D.A. makes out the allegations and the indictment, it absolutely is a


It's not a very high level crime. It's called falsification of business records, which is either very low-level felony or high-level misdemeanor in

New York state court, not the most serious crimes, but if proven, absolutely this is a crime. So, those are two standard talking points by

Donald Trump. You repeated them today and they're both false.

ASHER: Maria, let me bring you in and let's talk about the sort of political aspect of all of this because, you know, this should be an easy

one for Democrats to be able to capitalize on. You've got a former President on trial in an election year from March 25th onwards.

I mean, obviously by that time, Super Tuesday would have happened and he would have obviously gotten enough delegates to be the presumptive nominee.

He is technically already the presumptive nominee.

But this should be a simple one for Democrats to really run with. But it's a bit more complicated than that because let's be honest, Joe Biden himself

is certainly a flawed candidate. What is the right way for Democrats to sort of make the most of this, I guess, politically?

MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: So, I think politically moving forward, the way that Democrats should use these legal woes that Trump is

facing literally on a daily basis is to point out to the American people what an existential threat Donald Trump would be if he is allowed anywhere

near the Oval Office again. And we just have to point to what happened on January 6th. We just have to point to, frankly, what Donald Trump has done


ASHER: But hasn't Biden already done that? Hasn't Biden already done that? Is that working?

CARDONA: I think it is working and he needs to continue to do that every single day because here's the problem. We don't really know what's going to

happen in these cases, right? That is out of the control both of the president, his campaign, Democrats, anyone who's running on the Democratic

side this year. That is not something that we can control.

So, we shouldn't use that as the sort of silver lining or silver bullet, if you will, in a democratic strategy running against somebody as dangerous

and as much of an existential threat to our democracy as Donald Trump is when we can already use what people have seen images in their own TVs of

January 6th.

When we can already use what Donald Trump has said himself, not only about what he would do on day one, which would be acting like a dictator, but

implementing the kinds of draconian, horrific policies that would take away our rights and freedoms, that would, you know, continue to destroy our

democracy, that would hand over our allies in Europe to Putin, right?

There are plenty of things that Democrats can underline, will underline from now until the election that we've already seen resonate with the

American people. And look, in terms of these cases, we've already seen polling that if there is a conviction, Donald Trump's numbers go way down.

But even if there isn't, all of these cases might work for him.

Like you said, he will lock up this nomination probably in March. It has worked for him for his base, but it is not a popular thing with

independents and with Republican suburban voters that he needs to get in order to win in November.

They don't want the chaos. They don't want the crazy. They don't want the criminality that Donald Trump will be a repeat of if he is allowed to go

into the White House again.

GOLODRYGA: Elie, let me take you down to Fulton County and the racketeering case there where we heard quite a damning discrepancy from an

eyewitness and one that's close to the district attorney Fani Willis about when her relationship began exactly with the prosecutor who she brought on

to the case.

Fani Willis had legally sworn an affidavit that began in 2022 and her eyewitness said that actually began in 2019. Caroline Polisi, who's a CNN

Contributor, Criminal Defense Attorney, tweeted that in response to that, Fani Willis' case is over. She lied to the court. Case closed. Would you

agree with that?

HONIG: Yes, if the judge, who's the finder of fact here, agrees, if the judge finds the witness that we're talking about here, the friend, the

former friend of the D.A. to be credible, then yes, then that would mean that both Fani Willis and Nathan Wade lied to the court. But the big

question is, will the judge in fact find that?

Let me explain why the timing of the relationship is so important here. Because the defendants, the people who are challenging the D.A. say that

Fani Willis and Nathan Wade were already in a romantic relationship.

Then she installed him as the head of the Trump case, even though he's underqualified by any objective measure. Then he made a bunch of money, and

then he used a bunch of that money to pay for her. The D.A. Fani Willis and Nathan Wade say, no, he was appointed to lead this case because of his

merit, and only after that did they start dating.


Now, we've heard from one witness, the witness we were talking about, who used to be a very close friend of Fani Willis, who said they were dating

for years before the appointment. And now Nathan Wade, as we're seeing here, is on the stand, and in my view, he's really struggling. He's given

various pieces of implausible testimony.

As one example, in his divorce case, he was asked, do you have any receipts of any restaurants or trips that you took with any other person of the

opposite sex? And Nathan Wade, in that case, said no. And just now, he said, well, I have statements, but I don't have receipts. I mean, what's

the difference?

So, he's trying to draw some very fine distinctions here. I don't think it's going well for Nathan Wade. Ultimately, it's going to be up to the

judge. Does he believe the DA's story or does he believe the story coming out from the other witnesses?

ASHER: Maria, let me bring you in again just in terms of talking about this particular case with Fani Willis, the District Attorney in Fulton

County. You know, obviously, it benefits Democrats to have multiple indictments against Donald Trump at any given time.

But obviously, there is a little bit of mess that has been created when it comes to what's happening in Fulton County. And of course, it feeds into

Donald Trump's long time narrative of corruption, of unfairness, et cetera.

I mean how, obviously it's a distraction what's happening, but how do Democrats bring the American people back to the main focus here, which is

obviously Donald Trump being accused of a huge amount of wrongdoing and not to sort of focus on this particular side show?

CARDONA: That's exactly right. It does muddy the waters and that is such a shame because I do think that this was one of those cases that was very

clear in terms of what Donald Trump has alleged that he tried to do in terms of the election. What I think Democrats will continue to focus on are

the facts of the case, right?

That hasn't changed, regardless of what's going on with Fani Willis and even if she gets kicked off of this case. The facts of this case have not

changed and they are still a very, very strong set of facts that go against a former President who tried to do everything that he can to overturn a

fair and free election.

And that right there is the underlying, incredibly powerful message that Democrats will continue to take to the American people because if anything

is true in all of this, is that Donald Trump continues to prove with everything that he says and does, that he will want to cling to power and

has tried to cling to power no matter what it takes.

There was a quote that I just heard him say in one of the sound bites that you all rolled that was just kind of, I mean it really took me aback. He

said, look, even if I'm guilty, there's no crime.

And to me, that just says that this man has a mindset that he can do no wrong, that he is above the law, that out of everything that is happening

to him, he is pissed off not because he got caught, but because he doesn't think that the law should apply to him.

And so another really, I think, important message for Democrats is to underscore the fact that no one is above the law, not even a former

President of the United States, and that is what each and every one of these single -- of every one of these cases is going to prove. Even if it

doesn't come out that he's guilty, it's going to prove that our system of justice holds everyone to the exact same standard.

GOLODRYGA: We should know that Georgia case just adjourned -- that hearing just adjourned for lunch break. Quickly, Elie before we go, let's say the

judge does dismiss Fani Willis for that discrepancy -- the timing discrepancy and not being truthful there. Does the case itself just go


HONIG: So, not necessarily, but it's a major problem for the case. So, if the district attorney herself is disqualified, then her whole office is

disqualified because she is essentially the office, which will mean, under Georgia law, the case then goes to this independent body of prosecutors who

have to reassign it to another county.

Now, that's a huge setback if that happens, and that also will take a long, long time. Fani Willis actually got herself disqualified off a piece of

this case two years ago when it was still in the investigative phase, and that piece of the case has still not be reassigned. So, if the D.A. gets

disqualified here, it's a big setback for the case. It could spell, as an effective measure, the end of the case.

ASHER: Wow. All right, Eli Honig, always good to see you. Maria Cardona, thank you both so much. All right, still to come, Israel -- Israel troops,

Israeli troops raid a hospital in Gaza. One of the few facilities still operating in the Palestinian territory. We'll have a live report for you on

the latest in the war when we come back.

Also ahead, new information about yesterday's shooting at the Super Bowl victory parade in Kansas City. More on the motive and the victims after a

short break.




ASHER: All right, Doctors Without Borders is calling on Israeli forces to immediately stop a raid on Gaza's largest medical facility.

GOLODRYGA: The Israeli Defense Force says it is conducting a precise and limited operation and has apprehended a number of suspects. The IDF says

Hamas terrorists are likely hiding behind injured civilians inside Nasser Hospital, a charge that Hamas denies.

ASHER: Video from inside the hospital shows chaos, smoke, dust, debris and people walking around with flashlights. The move comes after the IDF

ordered hundreds of displaced Palestinians who are using the facility as a shelter to leave.

GOLODRYGA Doctors and medical officials say Israeli snipers shot at some people trying to flee. CNN's Nic Robertson is following all the

developments and joins us now live from Tel Aviv.

Nic, ahead of this operation, Daniel Hagari, the IDF spokesperson, released a statement where he said that this had been highly coordinated and very

precise, and there had been communications with hospital staff in Arabic making clear that they're not targeting patients.

I'm just curious if you look at that and then the video that has been released, what is the response? Because you do see that there is a lot of

disarray and chaos and there are some casualties to report, as well.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: There are. Medicine Sans Frontieres, Doctors Without Borders, an independent international NGO

had doctors working in the hospital. They have doctors in many of the hospitals inside Gaza.

But they have put out their own information today, as well. And they're saying they're also courting for this immediate ceasefire at the hospital.

And they're saying that the doctors and patients at the hospital were given assurances by the IDF that they would be safe inside the hospital.

However, they say that even their medical staff have had to flee the hospital. And all those who have been forced out are going through a sort

of a checkpoint, if you will, that the IDF's got in place to screen people leaving the hospital.

This is something the IDF does in many places, where it gives civilians free passage to get out of an area, it will screen them looking for people

to arrest, for people they suspect being members of Hamas.


And indeed, the IDF says that they have arrested a number of people here.

MSF are saying actually one of their medical workers has been arrested and detained by the IDF. And they, of course, are calling for this person's

immediate release.

I think when you look at the chaos of what has happened in the building, that speaks to the level of destruction that's happened. Hospital officials

say that a oxygen supply pipe was ruptured, that one person died in that incident this morning. And they also say that they're now concerned about

their ICU unit, where there are many patients depending on these supplies of oxygen. And that's not getting through now.

The hospital staff also describing how they have 200 patients, perhaps as many staff and dependents, remaining in the hospital but without adequate

food, without adequate water.

So, the situation there sounds quite desperate and the disparate views between how the IDF sees this operation and how the hospital staff feel the

operation is going. Again, this is something we've seen multiple times in Gaza so far, but the situation, the video, I think appears to give an

indication of what's happening inside the hospital.

We're not getting free independent access to Gaza at all, we can't go to Gaza to cover it. The IDF doesn't allow journalists to go into Gaza

independently and free to see what's happening. So, this is the best window we have at the moment.

GOLODRYGA: And the IDF says that they launched this mission because they have intelligence that there may be hostages or bodies of hostages located

at this hospital. Nic Robertson, we'll continue to follow this story for us. Thank you.

ASHER: All right, we have just heard from law enforcement officials in Kansas City, less than a day after shots rang out at a huge victory rally

for the Kansas City Chiefs. The police chief says the shooting may have stemmed from a personal dispute and not so much from an attack on the

celebration itself or terrorism.

GOLODRYGA: Not downplaying the horror of it all, though. More than 20 people were injured, mostly young people, and a local radio DJ was killed.

The Chief spoke about her earlier.


STACEY GRAVES, KANSAS CITY CHIEF, MISSOURI POLICE DEPARTMENT: During the overnight hours, we learned there are 23 victims of yesterday's shooting.

One of our victims, Elizabeth Galvin, 43 years old, died. We are still learning about her, but know that she is beloved by many. To her friends

and family, we are with you.


ASHER: And other details have emerged from eyewitnesses at the scene, as well.

GOLODRYGA: Take a look at the sea of red Chiefs shirts on fans as they ran from the gunshots. One survivor told CBS what he saw right before the

shooting began.


JACOB GOOCH, SR., MASS SHOOTING SURVIVOR: I heard the altercation of the girl who said like, don't do it, not here, this is stupid or something like


UNKNOWN: Oh wow.

GOOCH, SR.: And then the gunshots, right before it ended up happening, there was this group dressed in all black, about four or five, six kids,

looked like kids with black on, black masks, and they disappeared into the crowd and then the show ended. And as soon as we started walking out, it



ASHER: All right, let's get some more perspective on what happened yesterday. We're joined live now by John Miller, CNN's Chief Law

Enforcement and Intelligence Analyst. So, John, you've got a million people crammed into Kansas City, into the downtown area. It's supposed to be a day

of celebration.

I can't imagine the terror of just hearing shots ring out, not knowing where they're coming from, not knowing if the people next to you or your

loved ones are safe, people running in all different directions.

But now, we're hearing that there are three people who are still in custody. Two of them are extremely young, but this was the result of a

personal dispute. It wasn't necessarily an attack on the parade itself.

JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT & INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: Well, in this case, Kansas City was, as you point out, having a joyous day. But they

were also reminded at the same time that they are a city that has been beset by gun violence. And that is not a new factor there.

So, three in custody, two of them are teenagers, and it appears that this is going to end up being some dispute, either between rival gangs, rival

crews, or people who were involved in some kind of beef or dispute earlier in the day that met up at that time and place.


MILLER: You heard the witness, Mr. Gooch, saying, you know, he overheard a female saying to them, not here and not now. But as we've learned from

these things involving young people with guns in America, these things can be very spontaneous and not very well thought out.

ASHER: All right, John Miller, live for us there. Thank you so much. Appreciate it.

GOLODRYGA: And according to the Gun Violence Archive, the United States has seen 49 mass shootings so far this year alone. This is a uniquely American

crisis. The agency defines a mass shooting as one in which at least four people are shot or killed in a single event. We'll be right back.


ASHER: All right, welcome back to ONE WORLD. I'm Zain Asher.

GOLODRYGA: And I'm Bianna Golodryga. Turning back to our top story now, the first criminal trial of any former President in U.S. history is set to

begin late next month. A judge in New York has denied Donald Trump's bid to dismiss charges related to hush money payments made to adult film star

Stormy Daniels. Trump is charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records.

ASHER: A second hearing meanwhile in Georgia will resume in about half an hour. Also from now, this one is related to Trump's election interference

case. The former President's lawyers are trying to disqualify District Attorney Fani Willis and her top prosecutor over what they're calling an

improper relationship.


Earlier, here's what Nathan Wade had to say when he took the stand.


WADE: My marriage was irretrievably broken in 2015, ma'am, by agreement. My wife and I agreed that once she had the affair in 2015 that we'd get a

divorce. We didn't get a divorce immediately because my children were still in school and I refused to allow them to grow up without their father at

the time, so, we waited.


ASHER: All right, time now for The Exchange. CNN Anchor and Chief Legal Analyst Laura Coates joins us live now. Laura, so good to see you. So, I

just want to break down this case for our audience. Fani Willis has said yes, she did have a personal relationship with Nathan Wade, but she says

that there is no grounds here for her to be disqualified based on that. Just give us your take on that, Laura.

LAURA COATES, CNN ANCHOR: So, here's why we're actually here. It's a question of whether or not she financially benefited from that

relationship. Did she hire this person with an attempt to have a financial benefit and allow her to somehow get some money or otherwise have a benefit

from having somebody that she was romantically involved with as a part of this case?

If the judge were to find that was the case, she could be disqualified. But it's not just her who could be disqualified. It's the entire team. If the

entire team is disqualified, it would go to an outside agency to appoint a new special prosecution team.

They are not required to follow what she has done. They're not required to continue with the actual indictment. They're not required to even continue

with all the defendants in the action. It is hugely consequential.

And why you played that particular clip is so important because that man, Nathan Wade, who is one of the lead counsel in this case, had filed

affidavits to suggest that he did not have any relationship, that he was not engaged with her in some respect, that he did not have receipts of

different restaurants or bars or anything else with respect to finding Willis.

Him making the statement of, well, hold on a second, when I said I was not married, I meant in 2015, I was technically married, but no longer really a

part of it after that. That's a really important part here because it goes to credibility of all that is before us. And the last thing you want as a

prosecutor is to have your case judged by whether people view you as credible as opposed to the evidence.

GOLODRYGA: Laura, from what we've heard this morning and obviously that the case is set to resume at any time now after a lunch break. How do you

view this judge? Where do you see this judge going? Do you think this judge will ultimately dismiss Fani Willis?

COATES: By virtue of the fact that we're even having this hearing, which they tried very hard not to have, Fani Willis does not want to be here. The

witnesses do not want to be here. They would like to be focusing on the underlying facts and the more than a dozen defendants who are still in this


We're not talking about any of that. We're talking about whether there was, in fact, this relationship. This judge is holding this hearing with the

express purpose of figuring out whether there was a financial benefit, whether there is credibility for the people who were testifying -- Nathan

Wade, and possibly even Fani Willis. She is on the witness list.

There have been others testified today, including a former friend who says they were involved in a romantic relationship even before he was appointed

counsel. That's important because they have said that they were not involved in any relationship.

You've heard from a former law partner and associate and counsel for Nathan Wade, who was very aggressive in his decision not to want to give any

information. He does not want to be seen as having disclosed any attorney, client, this judge wants this hearing, wants to get to the bottom of it,

because remember, everything is at stake as to whether this trial goes forward, this team prosecutes, or it is in a slow walk for another agency

to appoint special counsel.

ASHER: When you think about it though, if we all take a step back, I mean this case shouldn't really be about Fani Willis' personal relationship with

Nathan Wade and whether they benefited financially from it.

But it should really be about Donald Trump's attempt to fraudulently reverse Georgia's presidential election. Based on that, given that this

case is sort of bigger than Fani Willis, would it not be better for her to excuse herself and to step aside, Laura?

COATES: Well, you're absolutely right that this case is much bigger than this romantic or non-romantic relationship. And remember, nothing we have

talked about today, nothing you've heard in this court, nothing you will hear in the court today, goes to the underlying facts of what has been

alleged against these many co-defendants, including many that have already pled guilty at least four people.


So, it does not change those facts. The distinction here, though, is, and the problem, is that it would not necessarily cure the issue by having one

or more persons step aside. So, that it would actually have the effect of going to a new special prosecution team who, again, is not required to

follow the indictment.

So, we're in quite the pickle right now for this very reason. And I keep thinking to myself, can you imagine if we were sitting here today and we

were watching special counsel Jack Smith on the witness stand talk about trips to Aruba, talk about his marriage, talk about whether he had a

romantic relationship, it would fatally undermine a great number of things.

There's a jury pool out there right now who will be chosen if this trial goes forward. And can you imagine being in the courtroom and not focusing

on what you're talking about, the actual factual allegations and the evidence before them, but instead turning a face, raising an eyebrow, and

wondering about the relationship between counsel? That's not where you want to be as a prosecution.

GOLODRYGA: No doubt. At least when it comes to this case, it's hard not to see it as a victory for Donald Trump regardless what the outcome is

because, of course, from his perspective, it's all about delay, delay, though in New York as expected we did get a trial start date of March 25th,

something that he'd been wanting to avoid. CNN's Laura Coates, thank you so much for breaking it all down for us.

ASHER: Thank you, Laura.

GOLODRYGA: Well, just ahead on ONE WORLD. Look if they're not going to pay we're not going to protect, okay?

GOLODRYGA: Donald Trump is doubling down on his threat to abandon NATO allies who are not meeting defense spending guidelines.

ASHER: Also, was he serious or just making mischief? The Russian president weighs in on the U.S. presidential elections and Vladimir Putin's

preference for the leader who works best for Moscow may indeed surprise you.


ASHER: NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says it's in the interests of the U.S. to have a strong military alliance. NATO Defense Ministers are

meeting in Brussels to discuss spending and support for Ukraine. It follows comments by former U.S. President Donald Trump suggesting he would abandon

NATO allies who don't spend enough on defense.



JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: It is in the national security interest of the United States to have a strong NATO. Second, there is

actually broad bipartisan support for NATO in the United States. And thirdly, the criticism in the United States is not primarily against NATO.

It's against NATO allies not spending enough money on NATO.


GOLODRYGA: Well, last night, Donald Trump doubled down again. Let's go straight to Melissa Bell, who's been following all of this. Melissa, it's

clearly something that has rattled a lot of European leaders, defense ministers, these comments from former President Trump and what they could

possibly anticipate if he indeed is re-elected. What are you hearing?

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. So many of the comments, statements being made by NATO Defense Ministers, by the NATO Secretary

General that you just heard there, going in and coming out of this meeting have been about not just, of course, re-pledging the unified support to

Ukraine, but also really trying to counter that criticism and the impact that it might have.

Because, I think, Bianna, you're right, it did rattle European allies earlier this week. Last night's doubling down didn't go quite as far as

Saturday's comments from the former president who said at the time not just that every NATO ally had to pay, but that he would encourage Moscow to


And I think the reason it rattled everyone so much is because this concern here in the European continent that the latest security assessment is that

Moscow could well try and test a NATO ally and this within the next few years.

So that solidity of the support that there is for that fundamental pledge, the Article Five of NATO, the common defense promise, is so important right

now for Europeans, especially where we are with the war with Ukraine.

So, it did dominate a great deal of the sentiment going into this. And we heard it also, by the way, from the American defense secretary, although

he's not been here in person. Lloyd Austin did address his counterparts as the day kicked off, saying that this was about NATO.

It was about Ukraine and that the United States would stand unwavering, that they would not surrender any more than Ukraine would. So, a strong

social support there for an alliance that is really looking to go much further than it has already to funding the war effort.

Now, we have been hearing a lot this last day also about the American money now held up in Congress. Lloyd Austin saying that he believed it would make

its way to where it needed to go.

But clearly a lot of concern now that beyond the words of the former American President, the divisions within the Republican Party clearly on

display with regard to getting this bill onto the floor of the House could lead to further delays.

And I think that's been given fresh momentum, the pressure there is to get the money to where it needs to go. By what we've seen on the ground in

Ukraine only yesterday, that successful taking down of a Russian warship really suggests that the U.K. Defense Minister as he arrived here in

Brussels, that Ukraine has a chance of winning. And I think that message here is a hopeful one for the first time in a very long time with regard to

Kyiv's hopes should the support continue.

GOLODRYGA: Yeah, Ukraine's chance of winning increases exponentially, obviously with that much needed support from the U.S. in particular.

Melissa Bell, thank you.

GOLODRYGA: Well, Russian President Vladimir Putin has weighed in on the 2024 U.S. elections for the first time. And his remarks on the two leading

candidates may indeed surprise you. He was asked a question by the program and interviewer on which leader would be better for Russia, current

President Biden or former President Donald Trump, the likely Republican nominee. And I want you to listen to his answer.


UNKNOWN: For us, who's better, Biden or Trump?

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESSIDENT: Biden, because he is a more experienced person, he is predictable, he is a politician of an old



GOLODRYGA: Meanwhile, the Kremlin is lashing out after reports alleging a potential new threat from Russia.

ASHER: U.S. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Turner first sounded the alarm saying only that his panel had information concerning a

serious national security threat. Multiple sources later said, the new U.S. Intel concerns Russian efforts to deploy a nuclear anti-satellite system in


GOLODRYGA: Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov couldn't comment or wouldn't comment on the specific claims but did accuse the White House of what he

called tricks. Here's what Congressman Seth Moulton told CNN's Erin Burnett Wednesday.



SETH MOULTON, U.S. HOUSE DEMOCRATIC: It's important to understand that what the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee has done here, Mike

Turner, is fundamentally leak information. He is an intelligence leaker, because what he did is he decided to take highly sensitive, compartmented


That means that even if you have a very, you know, like a top secret clearance or something, you only have access to the intelligence if you

have a need to know. And he shared it with every member of Congress.


ASHER: All right, Pentagon Correspondent, Oren Liebermann joins us live now. So Oren, just in terms of this idea of a space-based, nuclear weapon,

obviously causing a lot of concern, just walk us through what more we know about the nature of this weapon and also, most importantly, whether it

actually exists.

OREN LIBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: So, first, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan is set to brief House Republicans on this in just a

couple of hours later this afternoon. And he even said this yesterday, it's unclear why Congressman Mike Turner chose to come out with this in such a

public way.

Here's what we've been able to learn to this point about this system or about this capability. According to multiple sources familiar with the

intelligence, this relates to a nuclear anti-satellite capability that the Russians are developing. Keyword there, developing. It is not operational

yet. It is not a threat to U.S. satellites yet, and it's certainly not a threat to the U.S. at this point.

It's also unclear, according to sources, whether it's nuclear-powered and uses some sort of electro-magnetic pulse or electronic warfare to try to

disable satellites, or whether it has a legitimate nuclear warhead and tries to use a nuclear explosion to disable satellites.

Crucially though, again, this system is in development and it's not an operational system, so some have accused Turner of over-blowing the threat

here. But clearly, it is a significant capability even as the Russians are working on it. The question, of course, why is that?

And that's because, first, the U.S. has the greater concern of the militarization of space. But second, the U.S. also has its nuclear

commanding control satellites in space, as well as its early warning and early detection satellites in space, and any threat to these, the U.S.

views as a major threat, nuclear command and control is obviously something the U.S. views very seriously and any threat to that would be and the U.S.

has suggested it would respond forcefully to a threat to those.

And then, of course, early warning satellites or what the U.S. government uses to see what's happening and figure out the best way to respond and

essentially to have good situational awareness of what's happening.

So, any threat to all of this and this is a threat even if it's one down the road is something the U.S. will take seriously. Lastly, Secretary of

State Anthony Blinken said they'd have more to say on this soon. We are very much waiting.

ASHER: Yeah, as you point out, though, they may be developing it, but it's certainly not operational yet. Oren Liebermann, live for us there. Thank

you so much. We'll be right back with more after this short break.




GOLODRYGA: All right, this is very cool. The Odysseus Lunar Lander has embarked on a historic journey to the moon.


UNKNOWN: And lift-off. Go SpaceX, go IM-1 and the Odysseus Lunar Lander.

GOLODRYGA: Nicknamed Odie, it's aiming to make the first -- that' a cute name.

ASHER: I know.

GOLODRYGA: It's aiming to make the first touchdown of a U.S.-made spacecraft on the lunar surface in five decades.

ASHER: Yeah, after burning through its fuel, the rocket will detach from Odie, leaving the lunar lander to fly solo through space. Odie is slated to

make its touchdown attempt on February 22nd near the moon's south pole.

GOLODRYGA: I love these stories, space innovation is fascinating. Well, that does it for this hour of ONE WORLD. Thanks so much for watching. I'm

Bianna Golodryga. And I'm Zain Asher. "AMANPOUR" is up next. You're watching CNN.