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CNN Live Event/Special
Trump To Surrender In Fulton County Tomorrow; Judge Rules Meadows, Clark Can't Avoid Arrest In Georgia Election Subversion Case; Russia Confirms Failed Mutiny Leader In Deadly Plane Crash; Wagner Chief Potentially Killed In A Plane Crash; Rudy Giuliani And Co- Defendants Now Have Mugshots Taken And Recorded For Posterity. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired August 23, 2023 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST: And Scott Hall, a pro-Trump poll-watcher, who spent hours inside a restricted area of the Coffee County elections office, as voting systems were breached.
Ten more mug shots, though, to potentially come, and, of course, one big question is whether or not there will be one for the former president when he goes to Fulton County tomorrow.
Thank you so much for joining me tonight. CNN Primetime with Abby Phillip starts now.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: Kaitlan, thank you very much.
And a plane carrying one of Vladimir Putin's biggest foes just falls out of the sky.
Plus, mug shots are coming in fast and furious as more members of Donald Trump's inner circle surrender.
Good evening, everyone. I'm Abby Philip and welcome to CNN Primetime.
By this time the 45th president of the United States will likely have surrendered and he is expected to turn himself tomorrow evening after traveling from his New Jersey golf course in the afternoon. That is coming as three key Trump elections lawyers, Sidney Powell, Jenna Ellis and Rudy Giuliani, all surrendered today and are released on bond. Giuliani completing yet another leg in his journey from America's mayor to criminal defendant.
Now, all of this comes as a federal judge has rejected a last-minute legal maneuver by Mark Meadows and Jeffrey Clark who were both trying to avoid arrest if they failed to turn themselves in by Friday's deadline.
Plus, a plane flying over Russia just suddenly plummets to Earth in a blistering 8,000 feet per minute, a crashing and burning and killing everybody onboard, including, according to Russian authorities, the Wagner group chief and coup architect, Yevgeny Prigozhin. Now, many people have been wondering how he managed to survive this long, but, notably, that crash comes two months to the day after Prigozhin led a failed mutiny against Vladimir Putin's military leadership.
Now, today, President Joe Biden suggested Putin may have been behind it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: I don't know for a fact what happened but I am not surprised.
There is not much that happens in Russia with Putin not behind it. I don't know enough to know the answer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIP: I want to begin now with CNN's Chief Law Enforcement and Intelligence Analyst John Miller. So, John, it's a big day tomorrow for Donald Trump. Walk us through what we can expect to see at this Fulton County Jail.
JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: I think it's going to be minimalist, which is the Secret Service is going to get him on his plane in New Jersey. They are going to fly into the airport there. They are going to have a full motorcade, Abby. Now, that means the limo, the bulletproof car that's carrying Donald Trump with lead cars from the Secret Service and the local police. They will have intersection control, which means, as he passes by those roads, everything is going to be blocked. He will go into the sally port in the jail.
So, that's where you come in that back entrance. The gates close behind the car then the next set of gates open and you go the jail. So, the rest of the motorcade will turn around reform for the departure. But we will never actually see him until he gets back to the airport where he may make a statement.
PHILLIP: I mean, and that's going to be the key, the coming in and going out. But explain to us what --
MILLER: 20 minutes, I think, the whole process in the jail is going to be.
PHILLIP: Why is this happening? We are expecting it to happen in the evening. I mean, typically, we expect court business to be done during normal business hours. Why is that happening?
MILLER: Well, so there is one reason, which is the stated purpose, which is Atlanta, the beltway around Atlanta, going to the Fulton County Jail, that's a heavy traffic rush hour, both in the morning, in the afternoon.
PHILLIP: Fair enough.
MILLER: And bringing a presidential motorcade through, even if it's a former president, is going to have a real toll on traffic.
Now, we, in New York, know that happens from time to time at whatever time is convenient for the sitting president.
In this case, though, I think there is a subtext here, which is if you are just going through a primetime night where you have had all the other candidates on the air doing a debate on Wednesday, and you can surrender in the middle of the day or in primetime television hours where you are going to dominate that coverage and then say your piece on the way out, it may be a matter of programming as much as anything else.
PHILLIP: And jail officials also basically said, hey, come when you want, but you've got to show up at this jail to surrender yourself.
John miller, thank you very much for breaking that down for us.
And while all of that is happening tomorrow, a busy day today at that Fulton County Jail, Rudy Giuliani sounding a defiant tone during his appearance outside.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: So, (INAUDIBLE) the former president?
RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: I am very, very honored to be involved in this case, because this case is a fight for our way of life. This indictment is a travesty. It's an attack on not just me, not just President Trump, not just people in this indictment, some of whom I don't even know. This is an attack on the American people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIP: And joining me is former Assistant Special Watergate Prosecutor Nick Akerman, CNN Political Commentator and former Republican Lieutenant Governor of Georgia Geoff Duncan, and also with us, CNN Political Commentator Van Jones.
Gentlemen, thank you for being here.
Nick, I want to start with you. Because you, as a prosecutor, as a former prosecutor during the Watergate era, you have such a perspective on this. This parade of former officials from the highest levels to the lowest levels, you know, a bail bondsman, it really shows the breadth and scope here. Put it in context for us.
NICK AKERMAN, FORMER ASSISTANT SPECIAL WATERGATE PROSECUTOR: Well, you really kind of had the same thing in Watergate. Starting out with the burglary, we had people who were just people, folks who were taken up from Florida that came in to break into the Watergate complex that were brought into the D.C. courts. And then you had people as high as attorney generals, Attorney General Mitchell, who was Nixon's attorney general and campaign manager. You have another attorney general, Kleindienst, who also pled guilty. You had two of his top aides who wound up pleading guilty.
So, it was kind of the same parade of horribles in 1973 and '4 that we are seeing here today. It really is deja vu all over again.
PHILLIP: Yes. I mean, Geoff, you know, as a Republican, this has to kind of hit you a certain way seeing all of these people who call themselves -- there is the former Republican Party chair of Georgia who is a part of all of this.
But Trump today reacting to Giuliani's surrender on social media basically saying that Giuliani was the greatest mayor in New York history. It's a sad day for the country, what you would expect from Trump. But how do you feel seeing all this go on?
GEOFF DUNCAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I do know the former head of the Republican Party in Georgia, David Schafer. I actually beat him to become the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor a few years ago.
Yes, look, I think just in a matter of a few days, we are seeing the seriousness of this case differentiate itself from the other cases, right? You have so many folks that are indicted. You have co- conspirators unnamed. You have got 48 people fighting for freedom. And nobody has any sort of allegiance to Donald Trump.
And so I think watching this connection, this fundraising apparatus that Donald Trump is trying to wrap around some individuals is a futile attempt to try to keep them on his team.
But, look, this is -- I think there is also an interesting strategy going on. Everybody has kind of got their own lanes, their own defense mechanisms as to what they're going to try to play out. But nobody is doubling down on this is 100 percent true. Here is the folder of facts. I have a box of Sidney Powell's secrets.
PHILLIP: The only person doing that is Trump basically.
DUNCAN: Well, absolutely. But the other folks are fighting for their freedom. They are not running for president.
PHILLIP: Yes. You are starting to see the cracks there.
I mean, Van, you know, I am sure for you, it's a different take. You are seeing, unlike all of the other cases, this is not just about Trump. It's about Trump and everybody around him seeing some measure of perhaps some would say accountability.
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, that's a nice word. This prosecutor is different. She is not like the other -- you know, Jack, he is, hey, I am going after Trump. Everybody else is mentioned. Not going to get them in trouble. We're going to this keep this -- she threw the book at Trump. She threw the library at Trump. She threw everything.com at Trump and everybody else he knows, like I'm not messing around here. And, you know, she is being true to herself. She has done that to rappers. She has done to teachers. She is a no- nonsense, for-real prosecutor. Now, Republicans usually like that stuff. They like tough prosecutors. George Soros is making all these prosecutors be too soft on crime. Well, now, you have got a tough one. You should be happy. But they are not happy.
PHILLIP: No. I mean, they are calling it a partisan rigged endeavor.
JONES: I thought you guys like law and order prosecutors. Well, you got one now coming after Donald Trump.
PHILLIP: And if there's anything, that shows kind of how people look at the justice system suddenly differently when they are a part of the it.
Nick, look, the other thing that happened today is that a federal judge basically said to Jeffrey Clark and Mark Meadows, nice try.
AKERMAN: Yes, of course. This was nonsense, absolutely nonsense. The only way that they could ever get this transferred to federal court is to somehow show that this was in the scope of their duties as a federal employee. This has already been decided by Judge Hellerstein in the Southern District in the New York case. It's not in the scope of Donald Trump's duties to be phonying up documents to conceal that he was paying off a porn star. It's also not within his scope of duties to be trying to undermine an election and steal an election from Joe Biden. That's just not what the law provides for.
So, this is a nice try, but it's not going to work.
PHILLIP: I want to play a little bit more from Giuliani today speaking outside of the court -- or, actually, this was earlier in the day, talking about this case.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GIULIANI: I am being prosecuted for defending an American citizen who I do as a lawyer, and five other lawyers are indicted.
That should tell you right away that this is an assault on our Constitution.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIP: I mean, it is striking that so many lawyers are indicted.
DUNCAN: Well, I think it's because so many lawyers were involved, right? That was the whole scheme. It was to dream up these crazy, unfounded ideas and then get a couple of lawyers to splash a little bit of legalese on it, make some Twitter posts, go get some state legislators that want endorsements from the former president, or at the time, was the current president. And before you know it, 10 million people fall hook, line and sinker, and then on January 6th, we show up and watch the biggest disaster we have seen in a long, long time in this country. I mean, that was the play. These attorneys are being held accountable because they were accountable for parting for this disaster.
PHILLIP: Yes. I mean, being a lawyer is not a vindication for doing something that is wrong. I think if all the cases have shown us that, it is that one thing.
JONES: Yes. I am a lawyer, but I can't help people commit crimes.
DUNCAN: You are? I learned something new.
PHILLIP: Geoff and I are the only non-lawyers at this table here.
AKERMAN: This is the same thing that happened in Watergate. You had to attorneys general. You had John Dean, who was the counsel to the president. You had all of these various lawyers scattered throughout the -- all of the departments. This was like the outrage at the time. Why are so many lawyers involved? And it's just repeating itself again.
PHILLIP: I will let you finish your thought, Van.
JONES: I do think that two things are happening. One is unconventional, one is unlawful. In our Constitution, there are all these extra innings, you know, that you do have -- the states have to do stuff and let Electoral College (ph) to do stuff. Usually, by convention, whoever lost on election night just concedes. You don't have to concede. You could keep fighting if you want to. But you can't cheat in the extra innings. So, it is unconventional to continue your campaign but it's unlawful to do it by cheating, by lying, by deception.
And so, you know, this is going to be -- you are going to have people saying you are being -- you're wrong for stopping the president for fighting for his rights. That's not it. You can't cheat when you do it.
PHILLIP: I think that's the crux of Fani Willis' case. She has to show and prove that there was cheating involved.
Geoff, Van and Nick, thank you all very much for joining us.
And now I want to brining in retired Secret Service Agent Ray Moore. He was the special agent in charge of the Atlanta Field Office.
Ray, we saw Giuliani surrendering today but a former president is obviously a bigger security situation. But the scene for Giuliani was maybe the beginnings of some of the chaos that we might see tomorrow. How are authorities, do you think, coordinating all of this with only a few hours left before Trump shows up there?
REGINALD RAY MOORE, RETIRED SECRET SERVICE AGENT: Well, that plan has already been put in place by Patrick Labat and Steve Baisel from the Secret Service. They understand that Giuliani coming in is going to bring some activity. Not as much as former President Trump. So, they are planning for that. They are going to contact other law enforcement agencies around the city and ask for mutual aid, and those officers in those departments will share their personnel to assist them in making that jail more secure.
PHILLIP: And today, Giuliani and John Eastman, back on Tuesday, they were both surrounded by just a scrum of press as they came in, they answered questions. We were talking to John Miller a little bit about this. But is it fair to assume that that will not happen with Trump, he is going to not be allowed sort of be surrounded in that way?
MOORE: I think that may be the part of the agreement that they made, that he won't do that. But you can never say never with former President Trump.
PHILLIP: Fair enough.
MOORE: I agree with Mr. Miller that it may occur at the airport, where there are more restrictions in getting on to the tarmac or to the area where he is and he has more freedoms there. But at the jail, they are going to have some more restrictions put on by Sheriff Labat.
PHILLIP: And, of course, he can do what he wants once he leaves the jail, just as he did in Florida.
So, there have only been just a few protesters for and against Trump outside so far this week, though, but law enforcement, they are continuing to monitor to see if a larger crowd is expected to show up. Trump is encouraging people to rally. How are they going to plan for that?
MOORE: Well, the good thing, you have got the FBI and the GBI intelligence units looking and searching the internet to see if there is any chatter about those types of events. And they will communicate that to the local Secret Service field office and the local sheriff's department and, again, that goes back to the mutual aid. If they hear or see anything like that developing, they will allow people to come out, law enforcement to support them.
PHILLIP: Yes. All right, Ray Moore, thank you very much for all of those insights.
MOORE: Thank you.
PHILLIP: And coming up next for us, a plane that just happens to have the man who launched a coup against Vladimir Putin onboard suddenly crashes and burns. What we're learning at this hour and what it means for Russia, Ukraine, and the rest world.
PHILLIP: Putin foe and Wagner group head Yevgeny Prigozhin is believed to be dead now after a plane crash in Russia today, Russia's aviation agency confirming that Prigozhin was onboard a plane carrying him and nine other passengers. That crash comes just two months after Prigozhin launched a failed mutiny against Russia's military leadership.
For more on this, I want to bring in Senior CNN International Correspondent and Russia expert Ivan Watson along with CNN Safety Analyst and former FAA Inspector David Soucie.
Ivan, I want to start with you. there has been so much going on today. What is Russia saying now about Prigozhin and this crash?
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Russian state media is reporting this. This is a top story. It says that there is a private jet, an Embraer Legacy 600, that was flying from Moscow to St. Petersburg and it crashed sometime after 6:00 P.M. local time. That's a little bit less than 11 hours ago in the Tver region.
And the Russian authorities have since published a list of some of the ten passengers onboard. There were three crew, seven passengers, and they include the boss of the Wagner mercenary group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, and some of his top lieutenants, including Dmitry Utkin, who helped found the mercenary group, as well as Valeriy Chekaliv, who is one of his top lieutenants, also sanctioned by the U.S. government, by the Treasury Department.
Now, the Russian officials say that they have launched a criminal investigation into this crash trying to determine the cause of it. In the meantime, we are seeing that some of the telegram groups, the Russian social media groups that were affiliated with Wagner and supporters of Prigozhin, are claiming that he was actually killed and we've seen some supporters up in St. Petersburg, that's where his headquarters is, Wagner Center, already laying flowers there and candles.
It's important to note that while Prigozhin had many enemies in Ukraine where he fought, in the Kremlin, where he mounted a coup against Putin back in June, he also had many admirers in Russia.
PHILLIP: Yes, and we have seen that before in the past, during that coup, in fact.
David, on the aviation side of this, we have been playing this video of the plane basically falling out of the sky. When you look at that, is there anything that you can tell about what might have happened there, what might have caused this crash?
DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: There is very little to go by on that video. However, that airplane doesn't just fall out of the sky. There are thousands and thousands, tens of thousands of hours on those airplanes. That doesn't happen unless something came up on it, like an internal explosion or some kind of external explosion. But the way that it's falling down through the air there, it looks like it only has one wing left on it.
There is also some photos of the tail that came off of the aircraft. That could either have been during the fall or could have been at the point of impact, whatever it was that caused it to fall.
PHILLIP: And, I mean, obviously, Prigozhin, David, must have known that he was a target for assassination after that mutiny attempt. I mean, is there anything he could have done to protect his plane? I mean, people joke about having a food taster. What can you do when you know that you are flying around and you're a target?
SOUCIE: Well, when anyone that's critical to Wagner travels, it's not uncommon to have a misleading list of people on the airplane so that they have two airplanes. They did have two of these Legacy aircraft in the air. There was a Legacy 650 that belonged to Yevgeny and they also have the 600 flying. So, it's not uncommon. In fact, it's fairly common to have decoys, like you said. And that could be what this is. It's 50/50 chance.
But still, if he was on that list, it's just as probable he was on the 600 as if he was on the 650. But if he still is alive, I am sure that we will hear about that pretty quickly, unless he is using this as a way to go underground and stay of the limelight completely.
PHILLIP: A lot of mystery surrounding what happened here. Ivan Watson and David Soucie, thank you both very much.
And earlier today, President Biden weighed in on that deadly crash.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: I don't know for a fact what happened but I am not surprised. There is not much that happens in Russia with Putin not behind. I don't know enough to know the answer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIP: I want to bring now former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Ambassador William Taylor. Ambassador Taylor, what do you think of what President Biden says there? Is Putin behind Prigozhin's death?
WILLIAM TAYLOR, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: Mine, in all likelihood, yes. As he said, there is not a lot that goes on, certainly in the Kremlin, certainly having to do with the Russian government that the president doesn't lead and direct. So, yes, I believe President Putin was responsible for this downing.
We don't know entirely, we are not entirely sure that Prigozhin was on that plane. He was on the manifest. He is likely dead but it's not 100 percent certain at this point.
PHILLIP: Yes, that's exactly what David Soucie was just suggesting earlier. But I wonder, I mean, people are probably asking the obvious question. Prigozhin remained in Russia instead of staying in Belarus. He had to have known he was a target here. Why would he do that? TAYLOR: It's a great question, Abby. It's a great question. He had to
know that Putin came out right away on the morning of that mutiny, saying that Prigozhin was a traitor and that Putin was going to go after him, smash him. And then by the end of the day, Putin had pardoned him and he was -- Prigozhin was allowed to move around Russia, move to Belarus, spend some time there, spend some time apparently in Africa. So, he was moving around and apparently without threat.
He had to know, though, Abby, you're exactly right, Bill Burns said the same thing, don't give up the food taster because Putin has a long memory.
PHILLIP: Yes. What do you think happens to the Wagner group after all of this? I mean, first, there was the failed coup, and now Prigozhin himself is presumably dead.
TAYLOR: Presumably dead. Wagner, however, still exists, and it has some functions. Wagner has some role to play for the Russian government in Africa, for example. It props up dictators and coup plotters. And so the Russians would like to kind of maintain that.
And they could put somebody else in charge of Wagner. If Prigozhin is dead, they have other oligarchs that they could put in charge.
Wagner also provides food, rations for the Russian military. And, again, that's a useful function. It doesn't need to have Prigozhin at the top of Wagner to do that. So, they may maintain some form of Wagner to do these functions.
PHILLIP: And if you are Ukraine in this moment, what does this all signal for that war?
TAYLOR: This signals to the Ukrainians that the Russian chain of command, military chain of command, is inward-focused. That is President Putin doesn't know who is loyal to him and who is not. Just today at the same time Prigozhin likely died, the Russian military fired and demoted a Russian general who was associated with Prigozhin. And there are other Russian generals that have disappeared or have been fired or have been pulled out of command.
That is to say, the Russian military is not in good shape. The Ukrainians are in the midst of this long, steady, grinding, but making some progress counteroffensive. And if the Russians are distracted, then the Ukrainians can take advantage.
PHILLIP: The counterargument perhaps to that is that people question Putin's grip on power when Prigozhin launched this coup. Now, Prigozhin is presumptively dead. What lessons should the leaders of western capitals be taking away from all of this? I mean, is Putin strong or is he weak?
TAYLOR: Putin is weaker than he was before the mutiny. There is no doubt about that. He tried to gain back some credibility, some perception of strength by killing Prigozhin, if that's indeed what happened.
But President Putin has been -- has been seen now to have been making big mistakes. We know he made an enormous mistake when he invaded Ukraine. But then he allowed Prigozhin to get out of hand. Then he went after Prigozhin at the beginning of this episode and then gave him a free pass afterwards at the end of that day. So, Putin has been demonstrating, has been seen, has been proven to be inconclusive, indecisive, and weaker at that point and the head of a mafia government.
PHILLIP: All right. Ambassador William Taylor, thank you very much for all of that.
TAYLOR: Thank you, Abby
PHILLIP: And much more ahead on what Russia says is the death of the Wagner group chief. Two experts join me to discuss the new power dynamics inside of Russia, and if Putin's grip on power is even stronger now than it was before.
PHILLIP: A stunning turn of events in Russia tonight. The mercenary chief who led a mutiny against Vladimir Putin's military exactly two months ago potentially killed in a plane crash. Russian state media is reporting that Wagner chief, Yevgeny Prigozhin, was on that passenger list.
And joining me now is the Staff Writer for "The New Yorker", Susan Glasser. Susan is also a former Moscow Bureau Chief for "The Washington Post". And she's also joined by Senior Fellow for the Council on Foreign Relations, Max Boot. Max is also a "Washington Post" Columnist.
Max, I want to start with you here. I mean, in your latest "Washington Post" column, you write that what is striking about Prigozhin's demise is that it utterly lacked any of the ambiguity that normally encompasses the removal of those who run afoul of Putin. In other words, usually people just fall, trip and fall out of windows, and a plane crash seems like an assassination.
MAX BOOT, SENIOR FELLOW, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Yeah, it's pretty spectacular because Putin has to send a message in order to hold on to power because he was weakened, Abby, a couple of months ago by this Wagner rebellion. When you had these armed troops, mutinous troops, marching within 120 miles of Moscow and the fact that Putin was not able to stop Wagner by force, that made him look all of a sudden vulnerable.
And the fact that Prigozhin got away with this act of insurrection and managed to make it to Belarus further this image that Putin was all of a sudden somehow weak. And now I think this is his spectacular payback to show, no, this is a guy you cannot mess around with. This is how he keeps power in this gangster state that he has constructed in Russia.
PHILLIP: And maybe the very fact that it took a long time was part of the signal that Putin was trying to send, that eventually it's going to come around.
BOOT: Yeah, this is what the CIA Director Bill Burns said, is that Putin likes revenge as a dish served cold.
PHILLIP: That's a perfect segue. I'm going to play for you now, Susan. This is what several officials have said over the last couple of months about what is going on here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: If I were he, I'd be careful what I eat. I'd be keeping my eye on my menu.
ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: If I were Mr. Prigozhin, I would remain very concerned. NATO has an open-door policy. Russia has an open windows policy.
WILLIAM BURNS, CIA DIRECTOR: I think Putin is someone who generally thinks that revenge is a dish best served cold.
PHILLIP: Susan, I mean, this is really a stunning event, but not surprising. And it seems like U.S. officials, perhaps Western officials broadly understood that this was likely to come.
SUSAN GLASSER, STAFF WRITER, "THE NEW YORKER": Yeah, Abby. I think you're right to underscore the extent to which this was essentially previewed by the CIA Director, by the Secretary of State, really by the President himself. And the reason is because we have a lot of experience with Vladimir Putin.
And when you challenge the Kremlin in such a direct fashion, and really nobody has challenged the Kremlin in such a direct fashion in the more than 20 years that Putin has been his power, people have died for lesser sins than those of Yevgeny Prigozhin. And there is such a long trail of opponents of many different varieties who have ended up dead as a result of in some way coming afoul of Putin and his circle.
So, I think that the fact that this is happening basically exactly two months after the attempted mutiny by Prigozhin is very significant. The fact that one of his key allies, it appears, inside the Russian military hierarchy, General Surovikin was just relieved of his command of the Russian Air Force. These are not coincidences. Putin remains a believer in the idea that power politics demands almost the opposite of subtle actions in a situation like this.
You know, the goal is not for us to be guessing, really. It's for people to look at this and to see it as retaliation, retribution potentially by the Kremlin, the messages that Putin is strong, because of course he has been made, as Max pointed out, he's been made to look weak in a way that really hasn't happened in the 20 years. And it's all a result of his disastrous -- disastrous decision to invade Ukraine. I think that's really important.
You know, the tremors of the war in Ukraine have been shaking the foundations of the Russian government itself.
PHILLIP: Yeah. GLASSER: And that's what's caused Putin to have to respond in some way.
PHILLIP: It's a critically important point that Putin wouldn't be in this situation, Max, were it not for that decision. But should we be asking also whether this was Putin directly or could it have been someone else in the sort of bureaucracy of Russia and all these oligarchs who are beholden to him?
BOOT: I would guess it was certainly Putin himself. Russia is a very centralized state. I don't think there's anybody who's a Putin subordinate who would dare to do something like this without the sign- off from Putin. And clearly, this is Putin settling accounts and making sure that nobody can challenge him. So, I would certainly ascribe it to Putin. And it's unfortunate.
I mean, I think nobody's gonna mourn for the passing of the Yevgeny Prigozhin. He was a war criminal, he was a terrible person. But I am concerned about what this means because what it suggests is that Putin is very much in firm control of the Russian state. There was some hope a couple months ago this Wagner mutiny might set off reverberations that would kind of start to bring down Putin's power, that might lead to a change of regime.
Clearly, that's not happening. Putin appears to be as firm in control as ever and that means that he can continue fighting the war in Ukraine in the near term, which is very bad news because of course it's this horrible, evil, costly war of aggression.
PHILLIP: And Susan, I'll give you the last word here. I mean, we saw the flowers outside of, you know, outside for Prigozhin and those who were killed. What does that signal to you about the sentiments inside of Russia?
GLASSER: Well, look, I mean, you know, pick your metaphor, Abby, the cats fighting inside the bag. Power politics at the highest levels are very opaque in Putin's Russia, because there aren't really the kind of real politics that would, you know, give us a sense of, you know, how much Putin has undermined the strength and legitimacy of his regime with this war in Ukraine, with this enormous number of casualties.
What he has done, or whoever did this, has silenced a potential power center and rival power center. So, to the extent, there was real support for Prigozhin inside Russia, that made him all the more threatening to Putin, and I think it was very clear for two months that the writing was on the wall for Yevgeny Prigozhin. And it was on him that he chose to remain inside of Russia and to tempt the fates, as it were.
PHILLIP: All right. Susan Glasser and Max Boot, thank you both very much for joining us. And coming up next, a photo that most Americans likely thought that they would never see. Rudy Giuliani's mugshot from the Fulton County Jail. The former hard-charging federal prosecutor booked on charges including racketeering. We'll look at the evolution of the once famous crime fighter who is now a criminal defendant.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: This is an attack on the American people. If this can happen to me, who is probably the most prolific prosecutor maybe in American history and the most effective mayor for sure, it can happen to you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIP: A defiant, if not particularly modest display from former Mayor Rudy Giuliani at the Fulton County Jail today, where the former Trump attorney surrendered to authorities on charges in the Georgia election subversion case. Now, it marked another sad chapter in the legacy of a man who was once celebrated as the hero in the aftermath of 9-11 and as a crime fighter who brought down mafia bosses.
But Giuliani has since morphed into a prominent purveyor of lies, that the election was stolen from former President Donald Trump, and it all culminated today in that chaotic scene before a scrum of reporters outside of a county jail. Joining me now is former Georgia State Senator Jen Jordan. She testified in the Fulton County Grand Jury earlier this month and also with us is Former Chief Speechwriter for Mayor Giuliani and CNN's own Senior Political Analyst John Avlon.
So, John, Giuliani really teed it up well. He is known for all of these things. How could it come to this that he's turning himself into a county jail on RICO charges?
JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It's a surreal series of tragedies twists of fate that were utterly unimaginable. I mean, we look at the mugshot today. He's walked with Bernie Kerik who himself has done present time but you look at mugshot and it's really a gut punch for those of us who knew him and worked with them because this was somebody who was known primarily as a U.S. attorney, as a prosecutor, a law and order guy for better or worse. Someone who believed sincerely that the law was about a search for the truth. Someone who is not a hard partisan. And now, because he bought into hyper-partisan politics, and he has destroyed his reputation and his legacy, all in the service of Donald Trump.
PHILLIP: And he seems to not even know that that is what has happened. That's the other part of it. But Jen, I mean, take us into the Georgia state legislature. I mean, you had such a unique perspective. Giuliani came to your committee and gave this presentation. What was that like? And what was it like coming from someone like Rudy Giuliani?
JEN JORDAN (D), FORMER GEORGIA STATE SENATOR: Well, it was surreal because, A, it was in December, right? And what people don't realize is that in Georgia, the legislature is part-time. And so, we're not even in session in December. So, usually there's no one in the building. All of a sudden, you have press everywhere. You walk into the room and there is Giuliani, who I have known and as a lawyer have watched for a long time. Jenna Ellis, and we were talking about Kerik, he's there, too, wandering the halls of the Georgia State Capitol.
It was like some kind of weird political reality show. The problem was that there was a real intention in terms of the presentation that they were making, you know, to make sure that they could effectively steal the election. And that's what's led us here. And really, it's not about partisanship as much as it's about power. It's about raw power and winning.
AVLON: I think it's also about hyper-partisanship being a hell of a drug to the extent that people are willing to distort their worldview and ignore facts in the service of their ambition.
JORDAN: Or maybe a weapon, right? If you know that you can use it to your ends. I mean, they understood that by live streaming that presentation to just basically Trump supporters, they knew what they were doing.
PHILLIP: But you were saying earlier, as we were talking earlier, that he knew to some extent in a kind of quirk of the Georgia legislature, you don't swear people in.
JORDAN: No, we don't.
PHILLIP: He told those lies not sworn in for a reason.
JORDAN: And look, they chose Georgia very specifically. I look at kind of the federal indictment as the larger conspiracy, but Georgia really was the implementation on the ground. And part of that was them thinking that they were going to kind of be able to bob and weave with respect to legal issues because they wouldn't be sworn when they're making these statements.
PHILLIP: And John, when we talk about Giuliani, another thing comes up. This was back in 1992. He played a role in this police riot outside of City Hall protesting then the city's first black mayor. "The New York Times" reported that beer cans and broken beer bottles littered the streets as Mr. Giuliani led the crowd in chants using an obscenity to refer to Dinkins' administration policies. Some people say this is an antecedent for Giuliani of January 6th. You know him well. What do you say?
AVLON: Look, I think that incident was ugly, and it's an outlier in the context of Rudy's career, and certainly his mayorality, both as U.S. Attorney and as mayor. But in the wake of September -- of January 6th, excuse me, there is an inevitable echo to draw those comparisons. But I think it's important to understand, and I think one of the tragedies of what's occurred, it's a self-inflicted tragedy, I wanted to emphasize that, is that a lot of the great good that Rudy was able to do, not without controversy, but with regard to reducing crime, welfare, improving the quality of life, a lot of those initiatives that a lot of cities could learn from today, that is off limits because he has destroyed his legacy. He has made it toxic.
And so, incident like that look like it reveals the man's real character. Resilience is a facet of his character, but it did not define the way he acted, I would argue, as he was a mayor or certainly as mayor when I was there, though he was controversial.
PHILLIP: Yeah, I mean, he certainly was. And some of the kind of themes that later popped up with Donald Trump, Giuliani, you know, in his messaging, running for mayor back in the 90s, Giuliani was, that was part of his reputation, too.
AVLON: I'd push back on that. I mean, Rudy and Trump were not close when he was mayor. And some people thought, look, running against David Dickens, New York City's first African-American mayor, was always going to be loaded.
PHILLIP: But with race being part of the factors.
AVLON: But you know, one of the things that people say, his slogan, one city, one standard, was racist. I don't believe that's necessarily racist at all. But I think it's just incredibly loaded. And indeed, you know, the crime transformation that he helped enact, I think, was beneficial to all communities in the city. It was very transformative. But now, these things just are footnotes to the fact that he has lit his legacy on fire for Donald Trump.
PHILLIP: Yeah, that's a really important point. John Avlon, Jen Jordan, thank you both very much. And just ahead for us, Rudy Giuliani's booking photo is now added to the list of famous and notable people who've had their mug shots taken. Is Donald Trump next? We'll be back in just a moment.
PHILLIP: Rudy Giuliani and his co-defendants, who've surrendered so far in the Georgia election subversion case, now have had their mugshots taken and recorded for posterity. Former President Trump is set to be booked in the Fulton County jail tomorrow evening. And it's still unclear if he will actually have his mugshot taken. But the Georgia co-defendants, they all join this long list of famous people who've had their mugshots become iconic, including Frank Sinatra, Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Cash.
But in more recent years, too, some familiar names like Lindsay Lohan back in 2010 for probation violations. There's Paris Hilton there in 2010 for suspicion of cocaine possession and Khloe Kardashian also in 2008 for violating her probation following a DUI arrest.
So, there's another one for the history books here. And ahead here, we take the takeaways from the first Republican presidential debate. Which candidates borrowed a famous line from Democratic President Barack Obama? And how did this song factor into all of it?
(OLIVER ANTHONY SINGING "RICH MEN NORTH OF RICHMOND")
I've been selling my soul, working all day, overtime hours for bullshit (ph) pay so I can sit out here.
PHILLIP: Also, who was accused of sounding like ChatGPT? We'll have all of those moments and issues coming up.
PHILLIP: The first Republican primary debate is wrapping up in Milwaukee. Anderson Cooper and Dana Bash pick it up right now with special post-debate show. Anderson, a lot to unpack here in what just transpired on that stage. I'll join you in just a few moments for that