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Trump Team Requests Special Master To Review Mar-a-Lago Evidence; Russia Accuses Ukraine Of Killing Daughter Of Major Putin Ally; Investigation Under Way In Arkansas As Arrest Video Spurs Outrage; McConnell Now Says Midterms Will Be "Very Close," Doesn't Repeat Warning GOP May Not Flip Senate; Russia Accuses Ukraine Of Killing Daughter Of Key Putin Ally. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired August 22, 2022 - 18:00   ET



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ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news, the Trump legal team just asked a federal judge to appoint a third party attorney known as a special master to go through evidence that the FBI seized from Mar-a-Lago. We'll break down the significance of the move and how it might slow down the federal criminal investigation of the former president.

Also tonight, a car bombing threatens to escalate Russia's war against Ukraine. The Kremlin is now accusing Ukrainians of killing the daughter of a prominent Putin ally. CNN is live in Moscow and in Kyiv where Ukrainian officials deny any involvement.

And we're following the investigation of a violent arrest in Arkansas. Three officers have been removed from duty as a disturbing video of the suspect being beaten is stirring outrage.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Alex Marquardt and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

And let's get straight to that breaking news, the latest twist in the FBI search of former President Donald Trump's Florida home.

CNN Senior Crime and Justice Reporter Katelyn Polantz has been working this story. Katelyn, Trump now wants a third party, a third party known as a special master to review the documents that were taken away by the FBI?

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: That's exactly right, Alex. And what is happening here is that Donald Trump really is going to court to try and slow down this criminal investigation following the seizure of all of those boxes at Mar-a- Lago. He's asking, yes, indeed, for a special master, so a third party lawyer who would typically be appointed by the court to come in and make sure the Justice Department didn't take any documents that they're not supposed to as they use them as evidence in their ongoing investigation.

But not just that appointment is what he's asking for. He's also asking to put a pause on everything until that appointment comes through. That's a very key thing here, a pause that would elongate the Justice Department's work if it were granted. And then he's also asking for a couple more things. He wants more information about exactly what was seized from his property. He wants anything returned that the government shouldn't have as the special master does their review if they get to do it.

And he's also making some legal arguments, of course, as you would in a filing like this. He's saying he had constitutional rights that may have been violated. He wants to also protect privileges he may have as a former president. And he says in this filing, his lawyers write, this matter has captured the attention of the American public. Merely adequate safeguards are not acceptable when the matter at hand involves not only the constitutional rights of President Trump but also the preservation of executive privilege. Trump, the movement submits that the appointment of a special master is the only appropriate action here. Alex?

MARQUARDT: And, Katelyn, we just got this motion. It's almost 30 pages long. I've got it right here. When you read through it, what narrative do you see jumping out at you that the Trump team is trying to present in this document, especially when it comes to the events that led up to that search at Mar-a-Lago exactly two weeks ago? POLANTZ: Well, Alex, one of the surprising things here is we do have

a narrative that Donald Trump's team is filling out about what was happening between his team and the Justice Department and what Trump himself was even doing, and the portrait that is being put forward by Donald Trump's lawyers is that he was being very conciliatory, personally conciliatory with the Justice Department, that he was authorizing them to search his storage rooms whenever agents came to Mar-a-Lago for a visit, sat down with his lawyers, he said hello to them, that he, himself, directed locking a storage room, that he also was the person directing compliance. What's important about that is the Justice Department, of course, is investigating obstruction of justice. So, any interactions and who had them are very, very important in looking at this.

Another thing that was quite surprising is that his lawyers described a phone call on August 11th between a lawyer for Donald Trump and the chief investigator from the Justice Department saying there was a message Trump wanted to give directly to Attorney General Merrick Garland. It went like this, President Trump wants the attorney general to know that he has been hearing from people all over the country about the raid. If there was one word to describe their mood, it is angry.


The heat is building up, the pressure is building up. Whatever I can do to take the heat down, to bring the pressure down, just let us know. That is a very unusual message for someone who could be a subject in a criminal investigation to be sending directly to the attorney general, whether he's the former president or not.

MARQUARDT: All right. CNN's Katelyn Polantz, there's a lot more to get to in this motion, so stay with us.

I want to bring in CNN Senior Political Correspondent and the anchor of Inside Politics Sunday, Abby Phillip, state attorney for Palm Beach County, Florida, Dave Aronberg, and CNN Senior Law Enforcement Analyst and the former FBI deputy director, Andrew McCabe. Thank you all for joining me.

Andrew, I want to start with you. This is the first lawsuit that Trump's legal team has filed, and now it's been two weeks since that search at Mar-a-Lago by the FBI. What are they trying to accomplish here, do you think, with this request for a special master? And do you think they're going to be successful?

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, Alex, I think there's a few things that they're trying to accomplish. On the surface, of course, they have asked for the appointment of a special master, somebody neutral, third party who would come in and review all the materials that were seized to make sure that there's not things in there that are privileged, either attorney-client privileged or potentially presidential privileged, things that should not be included in the investigation.

That's not a crazy thing to ask for. It's pretty reasonable in a high- profile case like this. I would expect that they have a pretty good chance of getting that granted if they made the motion in a timely fashion, which may not be the case. With two weeks having elapsed in the aftermath of the search, it's entirely possible that the justice department and the FBI folks investigating this case have already been through the materials.

If they had, I would strongly suspect they probably used a taint team, which is essentially an internal group of lawyers and agents who are not on the investigative team who do the same thing that a special master would do. They review the material for privilege. They take all that stuff out and then they pass the rest of the evidence on to the investigative team.

So, I think it may be out of time and that's, of course, the real goal here. The president is stalling for time and trying to throw up roadblocks to slow down the investigation.

MARQUARDT: Dave, do you think he's going to be successful at slowing down the investigation? And what do you make of that two-week delay that Katelyn was also just mentioning? DAVE ARONBERG, STATE ATTORNEY, PALM BEACH COUNTY, FLORIDA: Alex, I agree with Andrew. This is a day late and a dollar short, namely two weeks late. The documents have likely already been reviewed. And there's already, as Andrew said, a filter team in place. It's called a taint team. It's to ensure that no privileged documents are among the ones taken. If there are privileged documents, they are then put aside, they are segregated from the rest of it.

So, it's tough to argue at this point, the urgency. You need to justify such an extraordinary step as a special master when you've waited two weeks to file your motion. So, this looks like a delay tactic, and especially because they explicitly request a pause in the investigation in this motion, and I don't think they're going to get it. This is what happens when you have trouble finding experienced criminal defense lawyers who represent you. You end up litigating your case on right-wing media instead of the courtroom while the clock runs out.

MARQUARDT: And we should note this isn't the first time that we've heard about this taint team, this filtration team. We know that the FBI found three of President Trump's passports, two of them were expired, and gave them back to him.

Abby, I want to ask you about that message that was sent from the Trump team to the attorney general, Merrick Garland. It's on page eight of this motion. And it says that the pressure is building up. Whatever I can do to take the heat down, to bring the pressure down, just let us know. This is remarkable, Abby, because at the very same time that he is offering to try to bring the pressure down, he was really ramping things up on social media.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, look, that's an extraordinary message, as you and Katelyn have both noted, for so many reasons, in part because it seems incredibly veiled. And I recall during the 2016 campaign when there was like an airplane tarmac incident in which then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch was on this tarmac at the same time as former President Bill Clinton during a time when Hillary Clinton was apparently under investigation, and that became a huge scandal.

The idea that Trump would then turn around and send a message like that to Merrick Garland directly is really extraordinary. It also just is part of a pattern for Trump, that he goes directly to the people who are investigating him and tries to get them to do things to drop the investigation. I can't tell you exactly what he meant by that message. I don't know that anybody except for Trump could tell you that but I do think it raises a lot of questions.


And this whole filing, when you look at it, so much of it really is just a continuation of Trump's rhetoric on social media. And it really leads to a lot of questions about what kind of legal advice he's really getting and whether or not this is in the interest of protecting him legally or in the interest of really continuing this argument publicly that this is a political prosecution. MARQUARDT: A very interesting piece of backchanneling and major questions over what the intention was there with that message to the DOJ.

Everyone stay with me, stand by. We have a lot more to discuss on this breaking news. We'll be right back.


MARQUARDT: The breaking news this hour, the Trump legal team is asking a federal judge for a so-called special master, which is a third party attorney, to review evidence that the FBI seized from its search of the former president's Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.

We're back now with our panel. Andy, I want to get right back to you. This filing, this motion, almost 30 pages in length, describes a heated discussion when Trump's lawyers were told the morning of the search that they wanted to know why the government didn't make another voluntary request to search the premises.


So does this mean that they had exhausted that approach?

MCCABE: No. Alex, there's no independent requirement of a certain number of voluntary requests that the government has to make. The government is obligated to exhaust the least -- to pursue the least intrusive means to acquire the evidence along the course of its investigation, which, on the facts that we know here, they clearly did, right?

So, you had started with the National Archives requesting materials back. Months and months later, they got some of the materials back, not all of it. Then the department got involved, the Department of Justice. They eventually made contact with the Trump folks. They served subpoenas, traveled down to Florida, met with Trump and his team, looked at the documents in the room and still were not able to get back what they needed and eventually went to a search warrant.

There isn't really other steps that they should have pursued here. They clearly had the burden of proof met for the search warrant. The probable cause burden was met, according to the judge, and they were appropriate in moving forward.

MARQUARDT: And, Dave, it's the affidavit that could tell us so much more about that burden of proof and that probable cause. Just this morning, the judge who signed off on the search reiterated that the facts that were used to justify that search warrant are reliable. So, will this motion that came out today have an impact on what we ultimately see from the affidavit potentially later this week?

ARONBERG: It won't, Alex. The affidavit, I think, is going to be redacted so heavily, if it does come out, it will be worthless to the public. I don't think what Trump filed today will have any impact on that. It was interesting in Judge Reinhart's order today, that he not only mentioned the danger of exposing sources to threats and violence out there as well as witnesses to threats of intimidation, but also possible negative actions again the former president, that if this affidavit gets out there, that his safety could be jeopardized because the floor plans of Mar-a-Lago could be exposed and it could make the Secret Service job even tougher, and I thought that was interesting.

And it shows the danger in releasing this affidavit. I know that Trump world says they want it, but they know that if it's released, it's going to be bad for the former president. In fact, it's bad for everyone involved, which is why it's either not going to be released, or if it is released, it is going to be totally redacted and worthless.

MARQUARDT: And, Katelyn, that is the big question now, how much, if it is released, is indeed redacted. We could see page after page of just big blocks of black essentially. So, how do you believe what we're seeing today is going to influence that fight for more transparency?

POLANTZ: Yes. Well, Alex, I could never predict what's going to happen in court in a fight for transparency like that. But whenever you have something like this, you're playing a game with the Justice Department that isn't checkers, it's chess. And when you're playing chess with the Justice Department, there's a question of what does the Justice Department counter here.

I mean, is there the possibility that the Justice Department wants to counter some of the facts in the narrative that Donald Trump is setting forth here about what happened before that search? That is a possibility, if they would be invited by the judge in this particular situation to respond.

And there's also an argument that has been made by a lawyer representing all of the media organizations fighting for transparency over that affidavit, saying to the judge that if Trump's team describes in public what has happened in -- before this search, those meetings in June, the surveillance subpoena, then those things should be lifted. The redaction should be lifted. Those details should be made public on how the Justice Department describes them so you get both sides of the story.

We're going to have to wait and see what the judge does there. It may be something the judge may take into consideration a little bit more now that all of these details are in this court filing.

MARQUARDT: The former president's lawyers are arguing, Abby, that this filing -- sorry, arguing in this filing that Attorney General Merrick Garland's public statement on the search was deeply troubling. And it's suggesting that political calculations since Trump is the clear frontrunner for 2024, if he decides to run, that's a quote from the motion. So, what does this tell you?

PHILLIP: I mean, this is a very extensive political exercise for Trump and his allies right now. I mean, just as a factual matter, the reason that we know that this search of Mar-a-Lago happened is because Donald Trump revealed that information voluntarily.

And so if you take a listen to or read the transcript of what Attorney General Merrick Garland had to say on that day, it's pretty much word for word what was in the court filing that he was announcing was going to be filed shortly after he spoke. There's very little in it that is not in court documents.


And so that was intentional.

Garland was not going to go out there and say things that were outside the scope of the court case. And so that was part of the idea to try to prevent the sort of argument from being made. But, of course, former President Trump and his attorneys have found this to be an extremely lucrative and extremely beneficial political argument. So, that's why they're making it. They've raised a lot of money and it's helped him consolidate his support among Republicans.

MARQUARDT: And we have just gotten a response from the Justice Department to this filing by the Trump legal team. It reads, the August 8th search warrant at Mar-a-Lago was authorized by a federal court upon the required finding of probable cause. The department is aware of this evening's motion. The United States will file its response in court. That is from a spokesman for the Justice Department, Anthony Coley.

Abby Phillip, Katelyn Polantz, Dave Aronberg and Andrew McCabe, thank you so much for your time and expertise.

And coming up, a car bomb near Moscow threatens to escalate the war in Ukraine. We'll have a live report from Russia where the daughter of an influential Putin ally was killed in the explosion. We'll also get reaction from a key U.S. national security official, the White House's John Kirby. Stay with us.



MARQUARDT: Tonight, Russia is making a new accusation that could potentially lead to an escalation of the conflict in Ukraine. The Kremlin now blaming Ukraine for a car bombing that killed the daughter of a key Putin ally.

CNN's Frederik Pleitgen has more on what Moscow is saying about the attack as Ukraine denies the allegations.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Shortly after the explosion that caused Darya Dugina to crash on a Moscow highway, her car engulfed in flames. Darya Dugina was dead, police say. Her father, pro-Kremlin ideologue Alexander Dugin, looking on dismay. Tonight, Vladimir Putin with an angry response, quote, a vile, cruel crime cut short the live of Darya Dugina. She proved by deed what it means to be a patriot of Russia, the Russian leader said in a condolence letter.

After only a short investigation, the Russians now blaming Ukraine for the murder. The intelligence service releasing this video which CNN cannot independently verify claiming to show a Ukrainian special services operative who allegedly entered Russia together with her young daughter shadowed Dugina, carried out the car bombing and fled to neighboring Estonia.

Alexander Dugin, who some believe may have been the actual target of the plot, lashing out against Ukraine. Our hearts yearn for more than just revenge or retribution. It's too small, not the Russian way. We only need our victory. My daughter laid her maiden life on her altar. So win, please, Dugin wrote in a statement.

Dugin has long advocated Russian expansionism and some believe laid the ideological groundwork for Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine. The Ukrainians deny they had anything to do with his daughter's killing. Russian propaganda lives in a fictional world, an adviser to Ukraine's presidential administration said and hinted the Ukrainians believe it may have been an inside job, adding, quote, vipers in Russian special services started an intraspecies fight.

The incident comes as Russia's invasion of Ukraine nears the half-year mark and Moscow is keen to keep public opinion in favor of the operation, with a massive show of patriotism on Russia's national flag day, in a series of events around the country.

In these trying times, as Russia's military is fighting in Ukraine and the country is under heavy sanctions, it's become increasingly important to display patriotism. At this event, the organizers have brought together hundreds of people to create a giant Russian flags.

Flags in public spaces on Moscow's streets at this massive nighttime convoy, many of the drivers flashed the Z symbol of Russia's invasion forces fighting in Ukraine.

Our commander-in-chief and the army are doing everything right, this man says, as the pro-Putin convoy circles Moscow in a display of power trying to show that Russia won't be deterred from its current course.


PLEITGEN (on camera): And, Alex, a pretty charged-up atmosphere here in Moscow. We look at the top echelons of Kremlin-controlled media, there were some who were actually calling for strikes on Kyiv as a result of the murder of Darya Dugina.

The Ukrainians tonight, once again, doubling down, say they were not behind all of this. In fact, the head of the National Security Council of Ukraine reiterating that the Ukrainians say they weren't behind it, saying Ukraine's national security services have something different to do right now than something like this, Alex. MARQUARDT: All right. Fred Pleitgen in the Russian capital, thank you so much for that report.

So, let's get straight to Ukraine and CNN's David McKenzie in the capital, Kyiv.

David, as Fred was just mentioning there, we are hearing vigorous denials from top Ukrainian officials of any involvement in this attack.

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, both civilian and the defense leadership of this country, Alex, very quickly denying any kind of involvement, that was a forceful denial in the early hours after this happened from all kinds of leadership in Ukraine.


But this country was already on edge, more alert even than usual because of this upcoming six-month anniversary or six months of this conflict as well as, of course, the anniversary of the independence of Ukraine. This would normally be a time for crowds and celebrations. Of course, it's very different, Alex, with this war going on.

But even more different now because of this threat of missile attacks that even the leadership is talking about directly, they banned all gatherings, all large gatherings here in Kyiv, also in major cities across the country. In the northeast, they're even putting in a 36- hour curfew for this important anniversary. So, people are waiting, wondering if there will be some kind of strike back by Russia because of recent events, not just that car attack in Moscow.

In the meantime, there's still great concern about the nuclear power plant in the south of this country. The head of the IAEA speaking to CNN just a short time ago saying there has been some progress made in those very tense negotiations to try and get inspectors into that facility to make sure that nuclear facility is safe despite ongoing shelling inside and around that area and across the frontlines.

So far, no clear indication, Alex, whether they're going to get in there and make sure it's safe. But, yes, it's just another issue that people are worried about here in Ukraine and across the region. Alex?

MARQUARDT: Yes, lots of nervousness about that situation in Zaporizhzhia as well, as what may happen ahead of Ukraine's Independence Day. David McKenzie in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, thanks very much.

We're joined by John Kirby, the National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications. John, thank you so much for being with us.

I want to start with that car bombing over the weekend in Russia. Russia has accused a Ukrainian woman of being behind this attack, Ukraine denying it, calling it fictional. Has the U.S. intelligence community made an assessment yet of who was behind this attack and whether it was the daughter, Darya Dugina, or her father who was the intended target?

JOHN KIRBY, COORDINATOR FOR STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL: We actually don't know a whole lot, Alex, about this attack. We saw the press reporting of it, and we haven't certainly come to any independent conclusions about who might be behind it at this time.

MARQUARDT: We saw an acknowledgment from the State Department that Ukraine has denied the involvement in this attack. But at this point, can the U.S. rule out the possibility that Ukraine was involved?

KIRBY: Well, look, I think Ukraine has been very transparent about the fact that they had no role in this. I don't think we're going to be able to comment much beyond that right now.

MARQUARDT: What are you hearing from the Zelenskyy administration? Are they saying anything to the White House, giving any kind of explanation?

KIRBY: We haven't had direct communications with the Zelenskyy administration with respect to this attack. And, again, we just don't really know who was behind this and what the motive might have been.

MARQUARDT: President Putin had already been coming under some pressure from the right-wing in Russia and now even more so because of this attack against Darya Dugina. Do you expect Russia to use this car bombing to justify more aggression in their war in Ukraine?

KIRBY: It's difficult to know exactly what Mr. Putin is going to use to justify yet more provocations and more atrocities inside Ukraine. It's already a brutal war that he has visited upon Ukraine and the Ukrainian people. What we would like is for that war to stop, for him to pull his troops out, for him to sit down and negotiate in good faith with President Zelenskyy, and let's come to a peaceful end to this conflict.

Now, even just as recently as today, Mr. Putin has made clear that he is in no position, no intent, no desire to end the war diplomatically. Again, that's what we want to see happen. And in the meantime, until that happens, we're going to continue to support President Zelenskyy and the Ukrainian armed forces to the degree that we can.

MARQUARDT: As we hear this pressure on President Putin come from the right, do you believe he is susceptible to that kind of pressure?

KIRBY: It's difficult to be inside President Putin's head, Alex, and to know what's going to motivate him one way or the other. Again, he has shown no proclivity to end this war. He has shown no proclivity to stop the atrocities that his soldiers continue to perpetrate on the Ukrainian people. This war needs to end. We urge Russians to pull their troops out of Ukraine now and to sit down in good faith with President Zelenskyy.

MARQUARDT: And now we are hearing President Zelenskyy, warning that Russia could launch what he called a particularly vicious attack this week that would be timed to Ukraine's Independence Day. Of course, we should also note that this is six months this week since the war started back in February. So, what is the Biden administration expecting from Putin and his forces this week?

KIRBY: Well, again, we don't know specifically what things are going to look like two days from now.


Obviously, we don't want to see any more violence than we've already seen over the last six months. So, we're going to continue to provide Ukraine with the security assistance that they need to defend themselves and defend their territory and to answer the violence that, again, has been visited upon them by the Russian armed forces and by President Putin.

MARQUARDT: All right. The NSC's John Kirby at the White House, thank you very much for your time.

KIRBY: You bet, my pleasure.

MARQUARDT: And just ahead, three Arkansas officers taken off duty tonight after disturbing video revealed a brutal arrest. We'll be right back.



MARQUARDT: There are new developments tonight in a violent arrest that was recorded in a very disturbing video. The sheriff of Crawford County in Northwest Arkansas saying that the images of law enforcement officers punching and kneeing a suspect repeatedly are, quote, not indicative of his agency and that appropriate actions will be taken.

CNN National Correspondent Nadia Romero has this report.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've got to get out of here.

NADIA ROMERO, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Three Arkansas law enforcement officers have been removed from duty after this disturbing video was posted online, showing them beating a man outside a convenience store. Arkansas State Police have now opened an investigation into use of force by all three officers, and the FBI is also investigating.

The Crawford County Sheriff's Office has identified them as Deputy Zack King, Deputy Levi White and Mulberry Officer Thell Riddle. CNN has reached out to all three but so far hasn't heard back.

SHERIFF JIMMY DAMANTE, CRAWFORD COUNTY, ARKANSAS: They will be punished for what they did if they are found to be in violation of any rights, laws or anything like that. ROMERO: The incident happened Sunday in Mulberry, Arkansas, about 140 miles northwest of Little Rock. On the video, you can see at least two officers punching and hitting the man and kneeing him repeatedly as they tried to arrest him. That's when you can hear a woman off camera yelling at the officers, don't beat him. He needs his medicine, to which one of the officers tells her to, quote, back the F up and points, telling her to get back in her car.

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson said the officers' response was not consistent with the training they received.

GOV. ASA HUTCHINSON (R-AR): That is reprehensible conduct in which a suspect is beat in that fashion. We saw a glimpse of that. It is under investigation.

ROMERO: Police say the man in the video is 27-year-old Randal Worcester of Goose Creek, South Carolina. An attorney representing Worcester tells CNN that Worcester was wanted for allegedly threatening a gas station clerk at a nearby town. Though Crawford County sheriff's says when officers located him, he was cooperative at first, then got violent and tried to attack the officers. Police say Worcester refused medical treatment but was taken to the hospital as a precaution.

DAVID POWELL, ATTORNEY FOR RANDAL WORCESTER: There were multiple abrasions to his face, scratches, I believe it was his right here swollen.

ROMERO: He's facing numerous charges, including assault, battery and resisting arrest.


ROMERO (on camera): So, the sheriff says that none of the officers involved were wearing body cameras but there is dash cam video, Alex. The state police and the FBI now investigating.

MARQUARDT: All right. CNN's Nadia Romero in Crawford County, Arkansas, thank you so much.

And joining us now is CNN Senior Law Enforcement Analyst Charles Ramsey, the former Philadelphia police commissioner, as well as the former chief of Washington's Metropolitan Police Department here in Washington, D.C.

Chief Ramsey, you've devoted your entire career to responsible policing. When you see this video, very disturbing to watch, but, of course, very important to show, what goes through your mind?

CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I mean, first of all, it is disturbing. And when you look at the video, at least when I look at the video, I look at it from the standpoint of whether or not the use of force was excessive. In my opinion, it was.

When you're reviewing force cases, which I've reviewed hundreds, if not thousands, you look to see whether or not use of force was necessary. Well, some level of force may have been necessary. We don't know what led up to this particular part of the video, but then you also have to see whether or not it was proportional. I would argue it was not. And was it objectively reasonable? And, again, no.

I mean, the strikes of the head, lifting of the head, pushing it against the pavement, kneeing, I mean, none of that is appropriate for an officer to use.

MARQUARDT: All right. Chief Ramsey, thanks, as always, for your insight. We have to leave it there. I appreciate your time, sir.

RAMSEY: Okay, thank you.

MARQUARDT: All right. Well, coming up, voters in three states are about to head to the polls as a busy month of crucial primary races come to a close. What could the results tell us about the upcoming midterm elections? We'll have a closer look right after this quick break.

Stay with us.



MARQUARDT: We're following the shifting political landscape ahead of primaries in three states tomorrow including Florida and New York as well as the upcoming November midterms.

Listen to the latest evaluation by the Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Senate races are statewide. They're just different in nature from individual congressional districts, 20 of my members up and only 14 of the Democrats, so that's to their advantage. Many of these states are purple states, could go either way. I think it's just going to be a really close race.


MARQUARDT: Let's dig in deeper with CNN chief national affairs analyst Kasie Hunt and CNN national politics reporter Eva McKend.

Thank you both for being with me.

Kasie, to you first.


MARQUARDT: Some honesty from Mitch McConnell. What are your sources in both parties telling you about this shifting landscape as we head into the midterm?

HUNT: Sure. Well, it's interesting, McConnell dropped his comments about candidates which were in his last round, the last sound bite we were playing of Mitch McConnell suggested there were perhaps candidate troubles which there are for Republicans. And between that reality on the Senate side and the shifting kind of national mood including how excited some Democratic voters are to vote, registration numbers some Democrats are pointing to when I talked to them.


Basically Democrats are less -- I don't want to say more excited, but they're certainly less depressed about the potential midterm outcome for them.

MARQUARDT: Yeah, for all kinds of reasons.

Eva, when you look at this slate of midterms that are coming up, what does it tell us about potential changes in the future of the leadership of the Democratic Party?

EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: That's a key question, and there are so many races to look to in New York. But for the sake of argument just one that I'm looking at is Mondaire Jones could potentially not return to congress. And he is really a progressive all-star, and more importantly an effective ambassador for Democrats.

But because of redistricting and frankly Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chair Sean Patrick Maloney being shrewd and bullish in deciding to run in Mondaire's district, Congressman Jones's district, we -- you have now Congressman Jones in a crowded primary facing many other progressives in New York City.

And so, I think that this whole chaotic episode really illustrates that Democrats do not have a strategy to really groom the next generation of leadership.

MARQUARDT: But Democrats do have growing energy, as you were just saying, Kasie. And I want to throw up a new poll that shows Democrats are closing that enthusiasm gap. You can see the enthusiasm from Democrats climbing there while the Republican enthusiasm is kind of flat.

What does that tell us about where the energy is?

HUNT: Well, I mean, if you throw that graph up again you can look at where that line really started to change, May, June. What happened? Roe versus Wade. It fell. That's why Democrats are getting more and more excited. Really when you dig into the kind of cross tabs of that, I believe that's the new NBC poll. That's what you see. It's that Democrats, particularly young women, are really energized by that issue.

If you think about where Republicans were getting energy, it was some of those same voters that might be interested in this idea, right? It was suburban moms in the Chicago area who were concerned about their kids having to wear masks for too long. So they thought oh, maybe I'll vote Republican. That seems to have shifted with abortion.

MARQUARDT: Eva, how much do you think the legislative wins recently by Democrats are playing into this enthusiasm?

MCKEND: It will help, no doubt, and reproductive rights, of course. And then we're also seeing energy around preserving democracy. But I think also these polls ran indication that people are just waking up. We're getting closer and closer to November and people are paying attention. I think maybe that could also be the reason that we're seeing this burst of enthusiasm.

MARQUARDT: Yeah. And of course big question now, how will this FBI search play into the midterms? Certainly that could help energize some Republican voters as well. Fewer than 90 days until the midterm elections.

HUNT: But if it's about Trump, that's good for Democrats at the end of the day.

MARQUARDT: All right. Kasie Hunt, Eva McKend, thank you very much.

Coming up, we'll have a closer look at the ultranationalist Russian killed in a car bomb near Moscow over the weekend and what her death could mean for the war in Ukraine.



MARQUARDT: Tonight, one woman's death could have major implications for Russia's war in Ukraine.

Our Brian Todd is taking a closer look at the victim of that car bombing near Moscow that Russia is blaming on Ukraine.

Brian, we know that she is the daughter of a prominent Putin ally. What more can you tell us about it?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alex, it's still not clear whether Darya Dugina or her father was target of the attack. The young lady was known as a rising star among far right-wing factions in Russia to the point where she and her father had actually criticized Vladimir Putin for not being vicious enough in Ukraine.


TODD (voice-over): Darya Dugina was enough of a far right Russian ultra nationalist that shortly before her death, she claimed that the atrocities that occurred this spring in the Ukrainian town of Bucha where innocent civilians were randomly slaughtered were nothing more than American propaganda, despite the fact that camera footage and several eyewitnesses connected the killings to occupying Russian soldiers.

PAUL STRONSKI, CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL PEACE: The American allegation goes much farther than anything I've ever heard before. Usually they just lay it on to the Ukrainians. But she was clearly a key anti-American figure as her father was as well. TODD: Both Dugina and her father, Russian philosopher and fellow

ultra nationalist Alexander Dugin, have been sanctioned by the U.S. for promoting Russian propaganda and disinformation.

The U.S. Treasury Department says Darya Dugina was the chief editor for a disinformation website owned by Evgeny Prigozhin, the influential Russian oligarch known as Putin's chef.

STRONSKI: He's best known for the Wagner mercenary group. It's a very fierce and committed atrocities in various parts of Africa, but second best known for stoking anti-Western propaganda, for trying to intervene in Western political systems.

TODD: The 29-year-old and her father, analysts say, were so unapologetic in their promotion of Russian expansionism, such fervent backers of the Ukraine invasion, that they actually criticized the Kremlin for not being brutal enough in ukraine.

MASHA GESSEN, AUTHOR, "SURVIVING AUTOCRACY": It's a constant beat of you're not doing enough, you're not aggressive enough, you're not killing enough Ukrainians. That's a quote, right? Kill, kill, kill. Go further. Be more aggressive, be angrier.

TODD: A friend of Dugina's told the state outlet TASS that he believed her father was the target of the car bombing since it was his car. Dugina was not well known to the broader Russian be public --

GESSEN: To those who watch the media who watch the production of ideology she was a somewhat significant figure.

STRONSKI: I think her star was rising. She was pretty much stepping in to be the person who could take over her father's ideological empire.


TODD (on camera): Senior Ukrainian officials deny Russia's claim that Ukrainian security services murdered Darya Dugina. But in the wake of her death, several prominent Russian media personalities are demanding Russian military strikes against decision-making centers in Ukraine.

One well-known TV personality saying, quote, I don't understand why there are still buildings on Bankova Street in Kyiv, referring to the street that houses the presidential administration building and other official residences -- Alex.

MARQUARDT: Brian Todd, thank you so much for that report. Still so many questions about that attack just outside Moscow. Appreciate it, sir.

All right. Thanks very much for watching. I'm Alex Marquardt in THE SITUATION ROOM.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.