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The Situation Room

White House Defends Biden-Putin Summit As Vital For Protecting U.S. Interests; Justice Department Announces Recovery Of Millions In Ransom Paid To Colonial Pipeline Hackers; FDA Approves First New Alzheimer's Disease Drug In Nearly 20 Years; Trump Returns To Political Arena With Same 2020 Elections Lies; Netanyahu Borrows Trump's Playbook, Accuses Rivals Of "Fraud Of The Century"; Survivor Of Parkland School Shooting Speaks Out About Graduation, Activism & Worsening U.S. Epidemic Of Gun Violence. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired June 07, 2021 - 18:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: You can tweet the show @theleadcnn as well.

Our coverage continues now with one Mr. Wolf Blitzer by next door in a little place we like to call "THE SITUATION ROOM." Thanks for watching. I'll see you tomorrow.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, CNN obtains audio never heard publicly that reveals how longtime Trump Lawyer Rudy Giuliani pressured Ukraine to investigate baseless Biden conspiracies. Stand by for our exclusive report.

The U.S. recovers millions of dollars in ransom pay to hackers who shut down one of the nation's largest fuel pipeline as the threat of cyberattacks is growing.

And the FDA approves the first Alzheimer's treatment in nearly 20 years despite questions about whether it works.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in The Situation Room.

Ukraine and cyberattacks are two of the critical issues on the table for the Biden/Putin summit next week in Geneva. Let's begin our special coverage.

Our Chief White House Correspondent Kaitlan Collins is with us. Kaitlan, the White House has been working today to defend the summit.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes they have, Wolf, highlighting that President Biden is going to be meeting with allies first before he then sits down with the other world leader that he has describes as a killer. Of course, ransomware at tacks and election interference are just two of the many topics that they have on the table in front of them to discuss when they do sit down face- to-face in Geneva.

But, Wolf, the White House is also working to reassure Ukraine today given that he is going to be meeting with Russia's leader before theirs.


COLLINS (voice over): President Joe Biden preparing tonight for his first summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

JAKE SULLIVAN, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: There's no substitute for face-to-face engagement in any dynamic.

COLLINS: The two leaders will meet in person in Geneva next week, which Biden's top aides say is because of their differences not in spite of them.

SULLIVAN: Being able to look President Putin in the eye and say this is what America expectations are, this is what America stands for, this is what America is all about. This we believe is an essential aspect of U.S./Russia diplomacy.

COLLINS: Biden is planning to confront Putin on several fronts, including chilling ransomware attacks on critical U.S. infrastructure by criminal groups based in Russia.

TAPPER: Do you think that adversaries of the United States have the capability right now to shut down the power grid?


COLLINS: Ahead of the summit, Biden called Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky who is on the frontline of Russia's aggression.

SULLIVAN: President Biden was able to tell President Zelensky that he will stand up firmly for Ukraine sovereignty.

COLLINS: Biden and Zelensky talked Russian military buildup in Ukraine, but Biden rebuffed Zelensky's request to meet with him before he sat down with Putin.

SULLIVAN: He told President Zelensky that he looks forward to welcoming him to the White House here in Washington this summer after he returns from Europe.

COLLINS: Biden is preparing to leave town for his first foreign trip as infrastructure talks are on the verge of collapse.

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president, I expect, to speak was Senator Capito before he leaves on his trip.

COLLINS: Biden scheduling another call with the top GOP negotiator after rejecting her latest offer of $300 billion in new spending, billions less than the $1 trillion he has proposed.

PSAKI: He's come down quite a bit. We're looking to see more.

COLLINS: All of this as Biden's legislative hopes were just dealt a major blow by a fellow Democrat.

PSAKI: Clearly, Senator Manchin has stated his point of view in his opinion piece.

COLLINS: Senator Joe Manchin writing in an op-ed that he won't vote for Democrats' far-reaching voting rights bill while vowing to keep the filibuster in place, which requires any bill that Biden signs to have Republican support.

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): I think it's the wrong piece of legislation to bring our country together and unite our country. And I'm not supporting that, because I think it would divide us further. I don't want to be in a country's divide any further I'm in right now.

COLLINS: Progressive Democrats are furious and comparing Manchin to a top Republican.

REP. JAMAAL BOWMAN (D-NY): Joe Manchin has become the new Mitch McConnell. Mitch McConnell during Obama's presidency said he would do everything in his power to stop Obama. He is doing the work of the Republican Party by being an obstructionist just like they've been since the beginning of Biden's presidency.


COLLINS (on camera): So, Wolf, strong words there. But back to this summit that's coming up with Putin, we should note that the White House is also lowering expectations for the outcome of that, saying don't expect there any concrete deliverables after the two of them sit down.

They're also not offering details yet of what the format of that is going to look like, Wolf. They haven't said whether they're going to be meeting one-on-one, whether staff will be in the room as you've seen in past meetings or if they will be holding a press conference together with reporters, of course, as you saw former President Trump do in Helsinki with President Putin. The White House says they are still working out those details before the summit.


BLITZER: Lots of details need to be worked out. Thanks very much, Kaitlan, for that report. Now to a CNN exclusive, a never before heard audio of Rudy Giuliani's 2019 phone conversation, a phone call in Ukraine in which he relentlessly pushed the government to investigate baseless conspiracies against then-candidate Joe Biden.

Our Senior International Correspondent Matthew Chance is in London. He has the details for us. Matthew, so what does Giuliani actually say to pressure the Ukrainians?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, he says quite a lot and he says it in a repeated fashion. We've already seen transcripts and heard testimony about what Giuliani said, Trump's personal lawyer, to Ukrainian officials back on this phone call in July 2019 when he sort of kicked off the campaign to try and encourage the Ukrainians to dig up dirt on Joe Biden, who by that time had already emerged as the sort of frontrunner in the Democratic Party, as a Democratic Party's challenger for the presidency from President Trump.

So he wanted the Ukrainians to investigate allegations which are essentially baseless of Joe Biden's corrupt activity when he was vice president in Ukraine and also allegations that in 2016 there was Ukrainian interference in the U.S. presidential election, not Russian interference.

And so he did this in a way which -- you can hear it now. He was pressuring, cajoling, manipulating, even intimidating the Ukrainians. Take a listen to how Rudy Giuliani framed this demand.


RUDY GIULIANI (R), FORMER MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY: And all we need, all we need from the president is to say put an honest prosecutor in charge, he's going to investigate and dig up the evidence that presently exists and if there's any other evidence about involvement of the 2016 election. And then the Biden thing has to be run out.

I don't know if it's true or not. I mean, I see -- I see him bragging about it on television. And to me, as a lawyer, to me as a lawyer, it sounds like a bribe. Somebody in Ukraine has got to take that seriously.


CHANCE: Of course, in Ukraine, when they were listening to this, they took it very seriously, because Ukraine then as now is fighting a war with Russia. He knows very well it needs support from the United States to keep hold of its ground, and it wanted to maintain good relationships with Washington, especially worried when it emerged that Rudy Giuliani was making the point that if you want to stay on the good side of Trump, basically, you have to do these things that I'm asking you to do.

Take a listen to Rudy Giuliani again.


GIULIANI: If he could make some statement at the right time that he supports a fair, honest law enforcement system, and that these investigations go wherever they have to go, they're going to be run by honest people, that would clear the air really well. And I think it would make it possible for me to come and make it possible, I think, for me to talk to the president and see what I can do about making sure that whatever misunderstandings are put aside.

And maybe even I kind of think this could be a good thing for having a much better relationship where we really understand each other.


CHANCE: While the Ukrainians, the ones I've spoken to, certainly did understand what was going on, they didn't appreciate being sucked in this way into American domestic politics. They didn't, by the way, announce those investigations or carry them out into the election meddling or into Joe Biden and they paid a price for it. Because even though the White House unfroze eventually millions of dollars' worth of military aid for Ukraine, President Zelensky of Ukraine, until today, didn't get an invite, which he needed very much, to the White House.

BLITZER: That an invitation today that we heard about. All right, Matthew, thank you very, very much, excellent reporting.

Let's get some more in all of this. The former U.S. Attorney and CNN Senior Legal Analyst Preet Bharara is with us, and the former FBI Special Agent, CNN Legal and National Security Analyst Asha Rangappa is with us as well.

Preet, it's one thing to know Giuliani said this but it's another thing to actually hear him say it and say it so brazenly. It's pretty shocking what he was putting forward, this quid pro quo.

PREET BHARARA, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. Look, I agree. So some of the information is not new, but as we've seen in other contexts in courtrooms around the country, if you have video or you have audio, if you're lucky enough to have both, then that crystallizes and it's brings to life the conduct of the person who's being examined.


And that's true here.

Rudy Giuliani, in a pressing tone, asking for things that only make sense in the political context that he was in, in that year, and that is that President Trump and the people around him were very concerned about a political rival, not about corruption in Ukraine or the United States, but a political rival by the name of Joe Biden.

And he says very clearly, this was a feature of discussion around the first impeachment trial that what's incredibly telling, and you hear it in the voice of Rudy Giuliani, is he's not necessarily even asking for an investigation. He emphasizes the importance of an announcement of an investigation, because that would have the political effect of hurting a rival, Joe Biden.

And Joe Biden turned out to be the most significant rival to Donald Trump and ended up winning the election, so their fears were well- founded. How Giuliani and others reacted and dealt with that fear, that political fear, is awful, as I think any reasonable person would say.

BLITZER: You know, and, Asha, you clearly here Giuliani dangle the possibility in his words of a much better relationship with then- President Trump if the Ukrainians were to deliver the dirt on Biden. That sounds like a pretty clear, once again, as I say, quid pro quo, doesn't it?

ASHA RANGAPPA, CNN LEGAL & NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes. Wolf, let's remember that President Zelensky had just been elected. And so this was conditioned what the White House was suggesting is that they would condition a visit to the White House on Ukraine announcing this investigation.

You know, the president of the United States has the recognition power, offering a state visit to another foreign leader, particularly after they had just been elected is highly symbolic. That is an article to function. It's an official act. And so what is really happening here is a quid pro quo using an official function of the office of the presidency as leverage in order to get a personal election benefit.

And this goes exactly to the abuse of power. I'd argue that it's actually bribery, both of which are impeachable offenses. And this is just more of a smoking gun if you needed one after the perfect phone call transcript that we had during that trial.

BLITZER: So based on what we're hearing from Asha, Preet, what, if anything, could this potentially mean for Giuliani's already rather substantial legal troubles?

BHARARA: So, you know, I would say that the term quid pro quo applies. The irony here is that Rudy Giuliani, in his conversation that we just heard played, refers to something that Joe Biden was doing as bribery. What he's actually doing in the phone call referring to that conduct by Joe Biden seems more like bribery to me.

The problem legally if the question is does he have criminal exposure, there are challenges to such a thing. One is whether or not the thing being requested is a thing of value. There might be some debate about that, you know, the announcement of an investigation in connection with a political campaign.

Secondly, Giuliani himself is not someone who is capable in his own right, because he's a private citizen at the time, in his own right of engaging in an official action. And then he was not very explicit about what might happen and what favors might be able to be benefitting Ukraine. And so it's a question of concreteness there.

You could make the argument that he was in a conspiracy with other people, including Donald Trump. But I think that the greater liability that Rudy Giuliani faces is from my prior office, the Southern District of New York, in connection with the different criminal investigation.

BLITZER: All right, Preet, thank you very much. Asha thank you to you as well.

Just ahead, how did the United States recover millions of dollars in ransom paid to hackers and will it help prevent future cyberattacks? Stay with us.



BLITZER: Breaking news tonight, the United States government has seized millions paid to hackers behind a crippling cyberattack last month that forced a major east coast fuel pipeline to shut down. Our Senior National Security Correspondent Alex Marquardt is following the story for us. Alex, a big blow to the hackers potentially. How did the Justice Department get the money back?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Big blow to hackers big win for the Justice Department and the FBI essentially what happened, Wolf, is when the Colonial Pipeline was attacked, they quickly alerted the FBI but they also paid the ransom attackers $4.4 million in Bitcoin.

That allowed the investigator that early alert to then start tracking the money. And that's what the Department of Justice today said they did. They followed the money. They followed that Bitcoin into a cryptocurrency wallet. And there, they were able to recover over 60 Bitcoin, which today is valued at approximately $2.3 million, that's more than half of the ransom that was paid.

And, Wolf, this really highlights the tactic that the administration wants to use to go after these ransomware networks to disrupt them, because it is the money that really incentivizes these attackers to continue carrying out these attacks. This is a rare occurrence and this is a big win for the Department of Justice's new ransomware task force.

But in announcing this, the Department of Justice also called on companies to do whatever they can now to fortify their cyber defenses. Take a listen to what the deputy attorney general, Lisa Monaco, had to say today.


LISA MONACO, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: No organization is immune. So today, I want to emphasize to leaders of corporations and communities alike the threat of severe ransomware attacks pose a clear and present danger to your organization, to your company, to your customers, to your shareholders and to your long-term success. So pay attention now, invest resources now. Failure to do so could be the difference between being secure now or a victim later.


MARQUARDT: The Department of Justice also praised Colonial for giving them that early alert, which allowed the FBI and its investigators to get started working quickly to track down that money, Wolf.

BLITZER: Pretty impressive indeed. All right, Alex, thank you very much.

So let's break all this down with the former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.


He's a CNN Senior Law Enforcement Analyst, also the author of the book The Threat, How the FBI protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump. Thanks, Andrew, very for joining us. How big of a deal do you think this potentially could be?

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: It's a very big deal, right? It's a great win for the folks at the Justice Department, and the FBI. I'm very happy from my former colleagues today on that ground. It's a good thing any time we can take the profit out of these scams, but it's also important, I think, Wolf that we put this in perspective.

According to the FBI deputy director, Paul Bay, he announced today at the press conference that they've been working over 90 incidences of the DarkSide ransomware. So now, what we know anyway is one of those maybe 90-plus attacks we've managed to recover some of the money from.

BLITZER: Well, they recovered a little bit more than half of the $4.4 million butt they didn't get it all. Is that a problem?

MCCABE: No, it would be better if they had, right? The idea again is to remove the incentive from these sort of attacks by making them no longer profitable. But we have a long way to go before we get there.

The bureau also stated today that they have been -- they have seen I think 100 different types of ransomware variants that they're currently working. So it is a huge problem and it's having a massive effect on our economy.

BLITZER: It comes as the Biden administration, the Justice Department and the FBI, they keep warning these private companies that these attacks, these cyberattacks, the ransomware is a huge problem for them and they've got to do more. What more can these companies do?

MCCABE: Well, the first thing they have to do is start reporting it. The more our law enforcement and intelligence folks know about the scope of the problem and the earlier they get involved, as we saw from today's announcement, the better chances we have of thwarting some of the attacks.

And the second thing they have to do is put the right defenses in place. It's a very tricky thing to do as cyber threats are changing every day, so you've really got to engage in a day-to-day part of your business as thinking about these threats.

BLITZER: But the big problem is, these companies pay ransom and that encourages more.

MCCABE: They do, it encourages more. And I think it ultimately leads to more of these ransomwares as service organizations, like the DarkSide. But at the same time, it's understandable that some companies, when face with the lost of their business, the down -- you know, turning off of their operations are desperate to get the information they need to keep functioning back.

BLITZER: You can't blame them. Otherwise the companies, you know, their dead.

MCCABE: That's right.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Andrew McCabe --


BLITZER: -- helping us appreciate the enormity of this situation. Coming up, will a drug just approved by the FDA give new hope to Alzheimer's patients? We're going to discuss the science, the controversy when we come back.



BLITZER: Tonight, for the first time in almost 20 years, there's a new drug just approved to treat people in the early phases of Alzheimer's disease.

CNN's Brian Todd is working the story for us. Brian, there's still some controversy behind this decision. Update our viewers.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There is controversy, Wolf, but a lot of people are excited, nonetheless. You know Alzheimer's affects about 6 million Americans, about 30 million people around the globe, figures are expected to double in about 30 years. It kills more Americans a year by far than both breast cancer and prostate cancer combined. But now, finally, there could be some hope for patients in the early stages of the disease.


TODD (voice over): Tonight, a new drug to treat the early stages of Alzheimer's disease is being touted as a great hope by some experts and is met with skepticism by others. it's called Aducanumab. It will also go by the brand name Aduhelm. It's the first new medication approved for Alzheimer's in almost two decades.

DR. RICHARD ISAACSON, ALZHEIMER'S PREVENTION CLINIC, WEILL CORNELL: The drug is an infusion. It's not a pill. The drug has to be infused in a vein. They go in once a month and take the treatment. And the goal of the drug is to slow down disease progression.

Does it help with memory function? Maybe. But does it cure the disease? No. The goal of this drug is to slow progression towards dementia.

TODD: Alzheimer's experts Dr. Richard Isaacson, stresses that for people who already have moderate or severe Alzheimer's or dementia, this new drug may not work. The FDA-approved Aducanumab, under its accelerated approval program, which allows some drugs for serious life-threatening illnesses to be used even if more research is needed, the approval is controversial because some in the medical community believe there wasn't enough evidence that Aducanumab really works.

As for the side effects --

ISAACSON: The biggest risk of this drug is problems with swelling in the brain or even some small bleeding in the brain. One reassuring aspect is that when used carefully and when used with surveillance MRIs, brain scans to make sure the side effects aren't happening, most people that do develop the side effects actually end up being okay.


TODD (on camera): Now while this new drug will be available to patients soon, it's not a done deal that it's going to be available on a long-term basis. The FDA approved this on the ground that the manufacturer, Biogen, conduct a new trial. And if that new trial fails to show that the drug is effective, the FDA could still hold this drug off the market. Wolf?

BLITZER: Brian Todd reporting for us. Thanks very much. Let's get some more on all of this.

Dr. Leana Wen is joining us, our Medical Analyst, and Emergency Room Physician, former Baltimore City Health Commissioner. Dr. Wen, thanks for joining us. So what do you think? Is this drug potentially a game changer?

DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Potentially, yes. In the U.S., there are 6 million people living with Alzheimer's disease. And right now, the only treatments that we have for Alzheimer's is treating the symptoms.


But we know this is a progressive disease that results in worsening memory, worsening cognitive function. And so if there is something that could slow the decline, the progression of this disease, that would be a real game changer.

Although we should keep in mind that first of all this is to treat early onset disease, not laid on set, not advanced disease. There are these side effects, so potentially brain swelling, brain bleeding even, and also that the effectiveness is something that we don't fully understand just yet.

Also, even if it is effective, it's not going to reverse the cognitive decline, but it could slow it down. That would be the game changing part.

BLITZER: Yes, slowing it down would be so, so important. Some experts have criticized the FDA, as you know, for pushing this drug through its accelerated approval program, meaning more research into its potential benefits might be needed even after consumers begin actually taking it. What other questions about this drug still need to be answered?

WEN: The number one, two and three question that's still need to be answered are about effectiveness. Because right now, what we know is that this drug does reduce the amount of amyloid plaque that Alzheimer's patients have, which is really important, because that amyloid plaque is the hallmark of Alzheimer's disease.

But there are two studies done so far that look at whether it slows down the progression of the disease. One shows it does and one shows that it does not. So, typically, what's done is a third study is done before the drug is actually approved.

But the FDA has said, look, there is no other treatment available for these patients with early onset Alzheimer's disease. And so let's -- in the meantime while we're doing this study, let's also give patients the opportunity to try out this drug. So it's controversial, but I could also understand from the perspective of the patient or the family member, if there's no other option, maybe having this and understanding the risks and benefits is important too.

BLITZER: And as you say, Alzheimer's right now affects, what, around 6 million Americans. That's a number likely to grow and double over the next several years.

The disease also, as we know, takes a terrible toll on their families. Kids are worried about their parents and their grandparents. It's a huge, huge problem. Are there right now cheaper and potentially more effective treatments on the horizon?

WEN: That's a great question. Right now, the only treatments that are already approved are ones that target the symptoms of Alzheimer's. There are. There's a lot of research now being done on other types of treatments that could also slow down the progression of the disease, but those are not available just yet. And that's again why this drug could be a game changer if, in fact, it's effective.

BLITZER: Yes. I know there's a lot of work going on, a lot of research going, and let's hope they come up with that. Dr. Wen, thanks so much for joining us.

Just ahead, former President Trump launching a new skirmish in his assault on democracy as he takes his big lie on the road.



BLITZER: Former President Trump taking his big lie on the road and obsessed with uncovering evidence of election fraud that no one has been able to produce.

Our Political Correspondent Sara Murray has the latest.


SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Donald Trump taking his efforts to undermine U.S. elections on the road.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: That election will go down as the crime of the century.

MURRAY: The former president making a campaign-style appearance this weekend in North Carolina, too obsessed over his election loss, peddle baseless claims of fraud and applaud GOP-led efforts to restrict voting. TRUMP: I love what they have done in Texas. I love what they are doing in Florida and done in Florida. I would like to see Georgia be much tougher.

MURRAY: This is more details emerge about the former Trump administration's efforts to overturn the 2020 election results. Emails obtained by CNN which were uncovered in the Senate judiciary investigation show former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows emailing Trump's then Acting Attorney General Jeff Rosen repeatedly, asking him to look into election fraud claims in Georgia and New Mexico.

Among Meadows' request that Rosen look into Italy gate, a conspiracy theory that people in Italy used military technology and satellites to switch Trump votes to Biden votes in U.S. voting machines. There is no evidence of that.

This is a five-alarm fire for our democracy, Senator Dick Durbin, the Democrat Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, tells CNN. Meantime Trump is still cheering on partisan ballot reviews hunting for fraud.

TRUMP: I want to congratulate, by the way, Republican state senators in Arizona and other places for their great work that they are doing in exposing this fraud.

MURRAY: One of those Republicans, Arizona Senate President Karen Fann, who spearheaded Maricopa's shadowy ballot audit.

STATE SEN. KAREN FANN (R-AZ): I don't know what's legit, what isn't legit.

MURRAY: She repeatedly told constituents Trump and Rudy Giuliani were encouraging her efforts. I have been in numerous conversations with Rudy Giuliani over the past weeks trying to get this done. I have the full support of him and a personal call from President Trump thanking us for pushing to prove any fraud, Fann says in a December email to a constituent release by watchdog group American Oversight.

All of this as Republicans who stood up to Trump's attempts to overturn the election, like Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, get pummeled by their own party. Kemp getting booed at the Georgia GOP convention while the Atlanta Journal- Constitution reports Raffensperger was censured for dereliction of his constitutional duty.


MURRAY (on camera): Now, both Kemp and Raffensperger are planning to run for reelection in 2022. That could give us an early sense, Wolf, of just how strong this Trump wing of the party is at least in Georgia.


BLITZER: Well, it seems to pretty strong, at least right now. Sara Murray, thank you very, very much. Let's get some more on all of this. Our Chief Domestic Correspondent Jim Acosta is with us right now. Jim, thanks for coming in.

Based on what we just heard, June of 2021, it sounds very different -- very similar, I should say, not different at all from what Trump was saying in November of 2020. He hasn't changed at all. It's the same old same old.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF DOMESTIC CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, this is not really the Rolling Stones' greatest hits, this is more like spinal tap. Donald Trump is not just peddling the big lie and recycling the same lines over and over again, he's attacked -- attacking Dr. Anthony Fauci and so on.

Wolf, at one point during this event on Saturday night, he referred to the 2020 election as the crime of the century. It would have been the crime of the century had he been successful in overturning the election results. And so, you know, at every turn, he is just pulling the wool over the eyes of the folks on the stage there with him in North Carolina and in the audience. And as long as Donald Trump stays on the road, Trumpism stays alive. And it's dangerous for the country.

BLITZER: It's very dangerous for the country because there are a lot of people who actually believe this stuff.

ACOSTA: They believe it, Wolf. And I will remind you, because you and I have been through this journey together. You know when Donald Trump referred to the press as the enemy of the people, he did it over and over and over again, it got to the point where a deranged Trump supporter was sending pipe bombs to CNN and to other people around the country.

When he was referring to immigrants as being part of an invasion, there were mass shooters whose manifestos referred to immigrants as being part of the invasion. We had the January 6th insurrection. And now you have Trump out on the road once again, because he hasn't been push to the side by his party, again, repeating these same dangerous lies.

And, Wolf, I think there's a very strong chance that we may see more political violence in this country stoked and incited by this president. He's done it before. It looks like he may do it again.

BLITZER: And it looks like base on what we're hearing from, him and his supporters, it's only just beginning these rallies, these statements, these speeches, it's going to continue to go on.

ACOSTA: It is going to continue to go on. And I will tell you, I talked to a former Trump adviser about this earlier today who said one of the reasons why Trump is able to do this and get out on the road and spread these lies and hostility and hatred is because there have been no consequences for him, Wolf.

Why have there been no consequences for Donald Trump, you know, calling the state of Georgia and trying to get 11,000 votes out of the state of Georgia? Why has he been able to get away with strong arming his own vice president and inciting an insurrection up on Capitol Hill that resulted in the deaths of a handful of good Americans?

As long as he remains out on the road and remains in a position where he can spread these big lies, I think there's the potential for more violence in this country.

And it just goes against I should note, Wolf, everything that this country stands for. We pride ourselves on not having this kind of political violence in this country. As long as Trump remains on the state, it remains a strong possibility.

BLITZER: Do you think some people close to him would tell him, stop doing this.

ACOSTA: They're not.

BLITZER: This is really, really dangerous.

ACOSTA: Because I think they're making a buck on this, Wolf. And I think that just a sad commentary where things stand right now.

BLITZER: Yes. It's very sad indeed. Jim Acosta, thank you very, very much.

Coming up Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu now borrowing from the Trump playbook as he tries to cling to power. We go on live to Jerusalem.



BLITZER: As he now faces the end of 12 years in office, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is borrowing from former President Trump's playbook and accusing rivals of, quote, the fraud of the century.

CNN's Oren Liebermann is in Jerusalem for us tonight.


OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, dueling protests trying to change the balance of power in Israel. One pressuring a member of the Knesset to scuttle the coalition set to replace Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, another urging him to support the government and unity.

Monday evening, the speaker of the Knesset, a Netanyahu ally, announced the new coalition but refused to set a date for its swearing in.

YOHANAN PLESNER, ISRAEL DEMOCRACY INSTITUTE: This is something that is in contradiction to Israeli tradition that once a government is ready to be sworn in, it is done as soon as possible. And I hope that we will return to those democratic traditions.

LIEBERMANN: On Sunday, Naftali Bennett, a man set to be Israeli's next leader, called for an orderly transition of power, asking Netanyahu not to leave scorched-earth behind him.

NAFTALI BENNETT, YAMINA (through translator): This is not a catastrophe, this is not a disaster, it is a change of government, an ordinary and usual event in any democratic country. The system in the state of Israel is not a monarchy. No one has a monopoly on power.

LIEBERMANN: But Netanyahu is not going quietly, promising to topple this government quickly in language that echoes former President Donald Trump.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): We are witnessing the biggest election fraud in the history of the country. That is why people feel cheated and rightly so.

LIEBERMANN: The head of the country's internal security agency warned over the weekend of incitement that could lead to violence. Just one days later a member of Netanyahu's party comparing the mission of Bennett and his partners to suicide bombers.

MAY GOLAN LIKUD (through translator): There is a world of difference, but they're like terrorists who no longer believe in anything, who go out on their suicide mission and even if they know it's a death sentence, it doesn't matter to them.


LIEBERMANN (on camera): In this charged environment, police have denied permission for the provocative flag march to go through the Muslim quarter of the old city. In response, a number of right wing members of Knesset have said they'll do the march anyway, including the woman you just saw there, accusing her political rivals of being terrorists -- Wolf.


BLITZER: Wow. Oren Liebermann, reporting from Jerusalem, Oren, thank you very, very much.

Still ahead, a deadly weekend amid America's worsening gun violence epidemic. Ten mass shootings across the United States leave eight people dead and dozens injured.


BLITZER: Now a CNN exclusive.


Survivors of the Parkland high school shooting speaking out about their graduation, their activism in the wake of a massacre and the worsening epidemic of gun violence facing the United States right now.

They spoke to CNN's Kate Bolduan.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where are my shoes?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The senior prom is a rite of passage for every high school student. And that's not different for Brooke Harrison. But for this graduating senior, everything else about high school has been different.

CALLER: Shooting call, it's Stoneman Douglas, 72 CR (ph) sector, active shooter--

BROOKE HARRISON, GRADUATING SENIOR: I was in the 1200 building, which is where the shooting happened. And I was on the first floor in room 1216.

BOLDUAN: Brooke was a 14-year-old freshman at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, when a former student carried out one of the worst school shootings in American history.

B. HARRISON: And Elena, Alyssa and Alex all died in my classroom. And eight people total were shot in my classroom. And so everyone that was around me, like where I decided to try to hide was either shot or killed.

BOLDUAN: There is no way can't change you.


BOLDUAN: How do you reflect on the last 4 years?

B. HARRISON: I really only had the first semester of my freshman year that was normal. And then the rest is kind of what it was. Sophomore year was probably the worst for me, mental health wise because I was still recovering from whence in everything I witnessed, like being in the building.

BOLDUAN: That was the year Brooke's classmate, Lauren Hogg and her family decided they had to leave Parkland and move to D.C.

LAUREN HOGG, GRADUATING SENIOR: So much has happened and it feels like I've been living in dog years.

BOLDUAN: Really?

HOGG: Like it feels like I've been in high school for 20 years.

BOLDUAN: And in those years, they've turned their pain into action.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm 14. I shouldn't have to think about being shot in high school.

BOLDUAN: Starting a movement against gun violence that has gone global with March For Our Lives. And a crisis that's only gotten worse.

There have been more than 150 mass shootings since the beginning of this year. And I'm sure my numbers are low and outdated.

HOGG: Yeah, it is. BOLDUAN: People are always saying, if Sandy Hook didn't change

anything, you already know what I'm going to say.

HOGG: Yeah, I know what you are going to say. And for 2 years after the shooting, I thought that the reason why these things kept happening is because they just needed to hear one more story, politicians just needed to hear one more voice. So, as a child, I try to do that. And then I got older and I worked more and I realized, it's not that they don't know what to do, they choose not to.

BOLDUAN: And it isn't just a horrific mass shooting that scarred their high school years. Since then, they've been hit by another trauma -- coronavirus, shutting down school and their lives.

HOGG: It's been awful. And also with everything else going on in the world, it's compounded our trauma and the fact that we were isolated makes it even worse.

BOLDUAN: What does this moment signify for you?

DENISE HARRISON, BROOKE'S MOTHER: And you beginning. Really, you've grown to be such an amazing person.

I wish you didn't have to go through all of this. I wish it could've been different. That these other families -- that their kids weren't taken from them. They don't get to see their kids grow up. They all should've been able to graduate and go to college. It's hard.

BOLDUAN: Like so many moments already in these young girls lives, forced to go up so fast, forced to miss out on so much, so hard but still, they look forward.

Does college feel like a do-over?

B. HARRISON: Kind of, yeah. It kind of feels like a chance that can I can have a high school experience.

BOLDUAN: Do you allow yourself to reflect or is it at this point, it's just, you are ready to go. Ready to move on.

HOGG: I think reflection is necessary for me moving forward, because I think if I moved forward without reflecting on all of the work that I've done, all the things that I have been through, it would just be putting all of those experiences to waste. And I cannot stand for that happen.


BOLDUAN: And tomorrow is graduation day for the seniors at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Brooke tells me that she wants is that he journalism when she gets off the college in the fall. Lauren says she's undecided, though, she wants to focus on her art and her writing. But both agree, Wolf, no matter what they do in the future, they will never leave their activism far behind. They will never stop pushing to stop gun violence because they simply, they can't, Wolf.

BLITZER: It was so powerful. Kate, thank you so much for that report.

This programming to our viewers, be sure to tune in at 8:00 p.m. Eastern for an "ANDERSON COOPER 360" special report, "Former President Barack Obama talks Fatherhood, Leadership and Legacy", only here on CNN.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.