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Trump Arrives In New York Ahead Of Historic Arraignment; Urgent Security Preparations Under Way For Trump Arraignment; Trump Facing Multiple Criminal Probes As He Prepares For New York Case; Video Shows Moments Leading Up To Explosion In Russian Cafe; Violent Storms, Tornadoes Kill At Least 32 In Midwest & South. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired April 03, 2023 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, history is unfolding tonight in New York City, former President Trump arriving just hours ago in Manhattan ahead of his unprecedented arrangement on criminal charges tomorrow afternoon. We're standing by for a decision from the judge on whether cameras will be allowed to broadcast the hearing and whether Trump's indictment will be unsealed before it begins.
We're also tracking the massive security operation underway right now, as officials prepare for the former president's movements through the city and the courthouse.
Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Our top story tonight, we're less than 24 hours away from the arrangement of former President Donald Trump at a New York City courthouse. CNN correspondents are on the ground in Manhattan with new information about the case. We also have a team of experts ready to break down this truly historic moment from every angle.
First, let's go to our Senior Legal Affairs Correspondent Paula Reid. She is just outside the courthouse for us. Give us the latest, Paula.
PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we've learned that Trump's lawyers are opposing having cameras in the courtroom for tomorrow's historic arraignment. Media organizations, including CNN, have been pushing to have cameras in their noting the historic nature of this, saying, look, these are enormous public interest in having access to this hearing, letting people watch.
But Trump's lawyers say they do not want cameras in there. They say they're worried it will contribute to a, quote, circus-like atmosphere. And they also worry it would interfere with the presumption of innocence of their client.
REID (voice over): Tonight former President Trump is back in New York ahead of his historic court appearance. As they prepare for the first ever arraignment of a former president, Trump's lawyers have been on the attack.
JOE TACOPINA, ATTORNEY FOR DONALD TRUMP: The team will look at every potential issue that we will be able to challenge them, and we will challenge. Of course, I very much anticipate a motion to dismiss coming because there's no law that fits this.
REID: But those legal challenges will have to wait for the charges to be unsealed, which may not be until Trump's arraignment.
As Trump faces criminal charges for the first time, he just added another white collar attorney Todd Blanche to his defense team. He previously represented former Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort.
A grand jury returned an indictment Thursday after a years' long probe into a hush money payments made to adult film star Stormy Daniels in the days leading up to the 2016 election. CNN has learned the charges include more than 30 counts related to business fraud.
Trump is expected to be fingerprinted, just like any other defendant, but it's not clear if he will have a mug shot, according to sources, who say there are concerns about whether it could leak in violation of state law.
ALINA HABBA, ATTORNEY FOR DONALD TRUMP: Mug shots are for people so that you recognize who they are. He is the most recognized face in the world, let alone the country right now. So, there's no need for that. There's no need for the theatrics.
REID: On social media, Trump has attacked Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, calling him corrupt. He even went so far as to attack Judge Juan Merchan, who will oversee the case, alleging the judge treated Trump's companies viciously when they went to trial last year.
The judge presided over the prosecution of Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg, as well as the tax fraud trial in which the family's company was found guilty of conspiracy and falsifying business records unrelated to the hush money scheme.
Trump's lawyers tried to clean up his attacks against the judge.
TACOPINA: I have no reason to believe this judge is biased. I have not been before him on this matter.
JAMES TRUSTY, ATTORNEY FOR DONALD TRUMP: I think a fair minded judge is likely to recognize there's something fundamentally wrong that we're crossing the Rubicon with this political persecution.
REID (on camera): And, Wolf, we've just learned a moment ago that tomorrow, following this arrangement, the district attorney, Alvin Bragg, will hold a press conference and this will be his first public remarks since the grand jury returned that indictment. Wolf?
BLITZER: Yes, very interesting indeed. Paula Reid, thank you very much.
Now to an update from our Chief National Affairs Correspondent Jeff Zeleny, he is standing by just outside Trump Tower in New York, where the former president is huddling with key advisers tonight. So, what's the latest there, Jeff?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we do know that former President Donald Trump has been here at Trump Tower for about 90 minutes or so.
He arrived through a side entrance. There were just a couple of dozen or so supporters chanting his name. Unclear if he could hear their messages of support or not, but I am told that he has huddling with political advisers as well as talking to legal advisers this evening on the eve of that court appearance in -- here in New York tomorrow morning.
And, Wolf, former president has, of course, spent so many -- so much time in Trump Tower. It is so symbolic of his presidential candidacy. Of course, this is where he launched his campaign. He arrives here now as the front runner in the Republican presidential race. He raised some $7 million just in the last few days alone because of this indictment.
But tomorrow morning, this is an entirely different picture. He has never been indicted. He's never been arraigned like this. So, this is something that is outside of his control. I am told that his advisers are sort of talking with him and counseling him how to act tomorrow. He's not expecting to speak on the courthouse steps or anything like that. He is going to wait until he gets to Mar-a-Lago tomorrow evening to sort of lay out his defense and his argument here. But this is a historic nature and this is a serious matter. And I'm told that he, of course, is very well aware of that.
But for now, at least meeting with his advisers, politically speaking in the short-term, this has been good for him, his advisers believe. He has essentially frozen the 2024 presidential race in time. His rivals who had been sort of trying to draw distinctions against him now effectively are rallying behind him, or at least against the indictment. But tomorrow morning at least here, everything changes when he stands before the judge, and, really, all bets are off in terms of what this means for him long-term.
But for tonight, at least, he's huddling with his advisers, I'm told, spending a rare night here at Trump Tower. By tomorrow at this time, Wolf, he will be back in Florida preparing to address the nation. Wolf?
BLITZER: Right. Jeff Zeleny reporting for us, Jeff, thank you very much.
Right now, I want to bring in our legal, political and security experts for more analysis. And, Kaitlan Collins, you've covered former President Trump for a long time. How do he and his team view this truly historic moment, returning to his native New York City to turn himself in tomorrow?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I think, publicly, you're obviously seeing a lot of bravado coming from Trump shortly before he took off from Palm Beach to fly here to New York. He was tweeting that this -- or he was posting on Truth Social that this was a witch hunt, proof that the country was, quote, going to hell, the once great country, that's what he wrote on Truth Social.
He's using this also to energize his base, Wolf, because his political advisers, as they were flying up here, were tweeting that they have raised some $7 million, according to their claims. I should note not some FEC report that we have seen, some $7 million, though, since Thursday night when word of this indictment came down, so certainly using it to try to energize his base to try to rile round them up and essentially make this argument that he believes he is being targeted, and this is a political prosecution that is happening. And that is why he is going to be appearing before that judge tomorrow.
And while he is -- yes. And while he is continuing with that, Wolf, I should know that this comes as what we're hearing from them internally is that, obviously, he does not want to be indicted, that this is something that is bothering him, that he does not want this, especially when it's a set of case as sensitive, as politically and personally sensitive as this one when it comes to allegations of an affair and whatnot. And so that is all playing a factor into this.
Of course, the question of how they are going to use the images that you saw today of him getting off of his plane, making his way through the streets of New York, going into the courthouse tomorrow, they plan to use all of that for campaign purposes as well as they're watching it very closely. But, obviously, that's not something that they ultimately wanted to happen, even if it is beneficial to them in the short-term, they believe.
BLITZER: Yes, good point. John Miller, walk us through -- and I know you're doing a lot of reporting on this. Walk us through how this arraignment tomorrow will unfold.
JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: While the arrangement will unfold that it begins with the arrest. Wolf, think of the weirdness here, though. You are district attorney's investigator, so you're a law enforcement officer. You've worked on this case, you know, gathering documents and witnesses. And how do you say it? Do you say, Mr. President, I'm Detective Jones, you're under arrest? Do you call him, Mr. Trump?
You then have to do the electronic fingerprint scans and his prints to Albany, wait for them to come back, and then you're escorting a former president of the United States. At the arraignment, the indictment will be on sealed. If it is not unsealed before that, presumably, they will waive the reading of the indictment, having scanned it. They want to get their not guilty plea in there. They want to reserve all their rights to have motions to dismiss the case once they study that indictment and tell the judge that they're going to be back and that they need a hearing date. But, really, what they want to do is get out of that courtroom and get back to the airport and back to Mar-a-Lago, where Trump can do two things. One, actually go through those charges with his lawyer and see what it is they're facing, and, two, determine, strategy-wise, how they're going to face off against that with the public appearance that's scheduled for Mar-a-Lago that night with a friendly crowd and what's going to be a strong fight back message.
BLITZER: Yes, it certainly will be. You know, Norm Eisen, as you know, this is truly uncharted territory, the first former president of the United States about to be arraigned. How much more will we actually learn about this case when the indictment is unsealed tomorrow?
NORM EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I suspect we will receive answers to some of the most pressing questions that will determine the fate of those motions to dismiss that Trump lawyers have been talking about, the effort to throw the case out before it ever gets before a jury. We will be looking, for example, at what are these 34 counts that we have reported are in the indictment. Is the misdemeanor charge of falsifying books and records, here you have that because they booked Trump and others booked hush money payments as legal fees. They weren't. How is Bragg going to elevate that to a felony? Is he going to use state law campaign finance charges? Is he going to use federal campaign finance charges or both? We will be looking for those kinds of answers.
BLITZER: Yes, we will be looking for a lot more as well. Elliot Williams, how do you see the Trump legal strategy shaping up?
ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it will be interesting to see, picking up on Norm's point here, how they handle trying to dismiss the charges against them. Now, we know from decades of watching the former president as a litigant, sort of the strategy of delay being a tactic that he's pursued.
You have to weigh that against the fact that as a criminal defendant here, he has the right to move to dismiss the case if he thinks there's a legal basis for doing so. And some of the reasons that they may try to get the case thrown out are, number one, making an argument that perhaps the trial should be moved somewhere else, as opposed to Manhattan, or, number two, like Norm was saying a moment ago, trying to dismiss the case on the basis of it was a federal charge or something like that. We'll just have to see how they do here. It's their right, but their work is cut out for them.
BLITZER: And, you know, Gloria Borger is with us as well. Gloria, what do you make of the Trump team's arguing against broadcasting Trump's arraignment tomorrow?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think that, and what they said, Wolf, was that it would turn the events into a circus. And, of course, there's a touch of irony there, wouldn't you say?
I think the real reason is that they know their client and they know what could happen if Trump is in front of television cameras. And I think they're probably a little bit afraid of that because, A, they don't know what's going to go on in the courtroom, and, B, they don't know how their client is going to behave or what their client is going to say. So, I think they want to keep the adlibbing in front of a camera down to a minimum.
BLITZER: All right. Everybody stand by, we have a lot more to discuss. Just ahead, we'll take a closer look at the truly unprecedented security operation being assembled for the former president's arraignment.
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: More now on our top story, urgent security preparations are underway for tomorrow's historic arrangement of the former president, Donald Trump, in Manhattan.
CNN's Shimon Prokupecz is on the scene for us in New York. Shimon, what's the security situation like just outside the courthouse where Trump will be arraigned?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, for tomorrow, this area will certainly see some of the roads and the streets closed down. Up the street here, as we've been talking about, is exactly where the former president will be surrendering. His motorcade will drive up this street. We will see him walk into the building, here at 1 Hogan Place, which is the entrance to the Manhattan D.A.'s office.
But here outside the courthouse here at 100 Center Street, you could see, Wolf, the barricades are now up. We are certainly seeing more officers. Those are court officers from the courts here in New York State who protect the courtrooms, who protect the courthouse and they've been out here all day. We've seen some of the numbers of officers grow here, and we expect obviously tomorrow from the NYPD officers, from the NYPD and then more court officers as they get ready for the arraignment and the arrest of Donald Trump.
And certainly for tonight, you know, we expect to see this increase in security. The roads will remain open for tonight. But tomorrow morning, we'll start seeing some of the roads shut down, more barricades will be out and this street here, at some point, will get closed while the former president is inside the courthouse. The concern here is obviously supporters and protesters who may come here. Some are expected to gather here in this park tomorrow, Wolf. And so a lot of these barricades will be used sort of just as a safety measure, just in case if anyone tries to get inside the courthouse.
And so we await now, and certainly tomorrow, there will be a bigger police presence here, Wolf.
BLITZER: There certainly will be. All right, Shimon Prokupecz, thank you very much.
Let's get back to our experts for more analysis right now. John Miller, what more can you tell us about how long enforcement and various intelligence agencies are monitoring this the risks surrounding tomorrow's arraignment?
MILLER: Well, they're looking at social media. They're talking about human sources that they have used before and have supplied reliable information in the past and they're scanning the area with, you know, counter-surveillance to look out and see, is anybody looking at them. So, that's kind of standard for any big event.
But in this case, what they have uncovered is numerous threats in social media, talking about threats to the district attorney, threats to the courthouse, threats to do things if Trump is actually arrested. These are threats that they've kind of collected over a couple of weeks. The assessment process is, is it a credible threat, is it a specific threat, does the person have the capability to carry out what they're claiming to do.
Most of it has been assessed as a lot of hot air. But there are people who are being contacted and questioned about direct threats that they've made online.
In the meantime, you know, there's that that Trojan horse, which is a mobile field for us is 40 cops, 5 sergeants, 2 lieutenants, so these large groups of police officers in these mobile field forces are out and about ready to respond if called up. And there are numerous layers of them in case they're needed.
BLITZER: Yes. You got to err on the side of caution right now.
Kaitlan Collins is with us. So, Kaitlan, Trump, as you well know, certainly has a track record of riling up his supporters, doesn't he?
COLLINS: Yes. That's why his allies are worried that doing so here would cause another scene that looked like what happened on January 6th. Obviously, no indications of that, you know, credible threats, as John was noting there, but the former president often has this mindset that if there was a significant public reaction to something that's happening to him, like this indictment here, that it proves that he is right. And he argues that something like this is a witch hunt, and he can point to that as proof.
We saw that as he was trying to pressure the district attorney here when it came to saying that, you know, he was going to be arrested and saying that people needed to come out and protest, as he did over two weeks ago, which has given the city quite amount of time to prepare for this.
But one thing I am told is that Trump has been calling Republican lawmakers you wanted to see a significant showing here in New York. We know Marjorie Taylor Greene is a congresswoman who is leading those efforts. We will see if maybe a George Santos or others who have mold showing up actually come tomorrow, but he wanted to have that significant public showing of support here in New York.
I do think it may be more muted, especially given the fact that he's going back to Mar-a-Lago tomorrow night to speak while to see what it looks like, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. I want to bring in Katelyn Polantz right now. Katelyn, you have some new reporting important new reporting on another investigation facing former President Trump into his handling of those classified documents down at Mar-a-Lago. Tell our viewers what you're learning.
KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, that investigation may be one that many people believe gives Donald Trump even more legal jeopardy than even the indictment he's facing in New York, and that's because there are signs that the steps Justice Department investigators are taking right now in a federal court in D.C. with their grand jury, they're trying to nail down things that could signal the end of that investigation into the handling of classified documents.
Specifically, they're calling back witnesses to the grand jury that the FBI already got information from, already interviewed at Mar-a- Lago. They're trying to nail down through those witnesses how Donald Trump himself was handling classified documents at Mar-a-Lago after the presidency and specifically after the Justice Department was seeking to get back all of those records that he may have had and that he did have until the FBI searched the premises.
We also know that they are collecting emails, text, notes, photographs. Kaitlan Collins was able to confirm yesterday that Molly Michael, an assistant to Donald Trump, she also provided notes showing what Donald Trump was doing, who he was meeting with on a regular basis. So, all of this put together is quite a significant move by the Justice Department and I keep hearing there is going to be ample grand jury activity in the coming weeks. And so that really is a case still to watch, even while all eyes are on New York. Wolf?
BLITZER: Yes, and maybe even for Trump even potentially more threatening than the New York case that's unfolding right now.
Norm, how does the case in New York, based on what we know at least so far, compare in terms of severity potentially to what the special counsel, Jack Smith, is investigating down in Mar-a-Lago, for example, or January 6th?
EISEN: Wolf, the Manhattan case is severe. Out of all of these investigations, this may be the only time that Donald Trump actually changed an election result. Because 2016 was so close, and there had already been the Access Hollywood scandal, a second sex scandal, if not extinguished by these hush money payments, could have swung the result in 2016.
That being said, the penalties are much more profound for the mishandling of over 100 classified documents. Wolf, if you or I mishandled leaving a single classified document, we'd be looking at a long-term jail time here. There were over 100. And, of course, the Georgia democracy investigation, many problems.
BLITZER: Gloria, how challenging you think it will be for former President Trump to juggle all these growing legal threats?
BORGER: Well, it's going to be a challenge, but I guarantee you that Donald Trump will turn his grievance into everyone's grievances, whether it's against what he calls the weaponization of the Justice Department or the judges or the district attorney's. I mean, that is what he will do.
He will also, probably, like we saw that he did today, hired another attorney.
He's going to have to have lawyers on different legal teams. I mean, he already has that to a degree, but these things are going to get more and more complicated for him. He's a presidential candidate, and he's going to use it, but we'll have to see how it wears if there are other indictments coming down the road.
BLITZER: Yes, let's see. Guys, thank you very, very much.
Coming up, our first CNN poll since former President Trump's indictment revealing how the American public is reacting to this unprecedented moved. Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: As New York prepares for tomorrow's historic arraignment of Donald Trump, we're getting new CNN polling revealing how the American public is reacting to the former president's indictment.
CNN Political Director David Chalian is breaking it all down for us. David, it looks like the majority of Americans, based on this poll, actually support the move.
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: That's right, Wolf. We went into the field and did this new exclusive CNN poll conducted by SSRS just after the indictment. And look at the results here. 60 percent of Americans approve of the indictment of Donald Trump, 40 percent disapprove.
Look at this broken down by party, Wolf. As you might suspect 94 percent of Democrats, nearly universal on the Democratic side, approve but 62 percent of independents, that's a big number for the critical voting block in the middle there, and even one in five Republicans approve of the indictment.
We asked folks, is Donald Trump's behavior in this Stormy Daniels matter illegal, unethical, but not illegal or not wrong at all. Take a look. 37 percent of Americans say it's illegal what Donald Trump has done here, 33 percent say it's unethical but not illegal. So, if you add those up the big majority say Donald Trump has done something wrong here, illegal or not. Only 10 percent of Americans, Wolf, say Donald Trump has done nothing wrong at all in this case.
And then sort of along the lines of Donald Trump has been arguing to his supporters, do Americans see this as a political matter? Overwhelmingly, they do. 76 percent of Americans say politics played a role in Bragg's decision in the grand jury's decision to indict Donald Trump. And, in fact, that includes 52 percent, a slim majority, of independents, Wolf. So, two thoughts are being held by the American people at the same time. They see politics at play but they also believe that the indictment is the right thing to do.
BLITZER: David, I want you to stay with us. I also want to bring in our Chief Political Correspondent Dana Bash and our Senior Political Commentator David Axelrod.
Dana, you just heard David note that a majority of independents, possible swing voters, as we say, are in favor of Trump's indictment. Should that be a warning sign for the former president?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, it should be a warning sign for him when it comes to the ball game, which is the notion of being president of the United States again. There are two political calculations that he's playing here at the same time, and the first is the most urgent for him. And, again, I'm talking about the raw politics of him as a candidate for president again in 2024.
In the short-term, he wants to win and needs to win the Republican nomination even to get there and he believes, and I have not talked to really any Republican, either strategist or member of Congress or potential candidate, potential rival to him, who disagrees with the notion that this is helpful to him in the Republican primary process, because he plays the victim, he says, I'm going to fight for you, he says that the Democrats are coming after me, all the things that we've heard.
But the pallbearer is out to challenge for not just him but for the Republicans when they think about winning the White House if he is the nominee in 2024. And that is we already saw that he appeals to, you know, the base and maybe then some, but this shows that people who are beyond the base and even some Republicans are turned off by what we're seeing here.
BLITZER: You're right. You know, David Axelrod, Trump's team has seized on the indictment to rile up his supporters and fundraise more than $7 million since last Thursday. Will this energy have staying power as the former president's legal troubles continue to mound?
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, that remains to be seen. Listen, Wolf, my view is that Trump, you know, Dana was talking about the ultimate goal of getting elected president, I think as much as getting elected president, Trump's motivation and running was to use the campaign as a shield and his supporters as a sword. He wants to -- he wanted to set up a situation where if he was indicted, that he could portray it as a political prosecution, and he's doing that pretty successfully.
We'll see if he can continue to do it when these indictments, if these indictments pile up. But, you know, this is one of the things that keeps the Republican -- the dilemma for the Republicans, as Trump has a 73 percent approval rating here in this particular poll after the indictment was announced among Republicans and a 26 percent approval rating among independents. And that's the dilemma of the Republican Party, and it has been for years. Trump is popular with Republicans, popular with the base and very unpopular outside of it.
But right now, he's acting on his own behalf trying to stave off these legal problems by using the campaign as a shield.
BLITZER: We get back to David Chalian. David, what is our polling suggests to you about whether Trump's support is it any risk of running out of steam?
CHALIAN: Well, as David just noted, his favorability number, three quarters of Republicans roughly are still very much on board with him, think favorably of him. So, I don't think we see anything that really suggests he's running out of steam. And, by the way, it's been pretty constant pre-indictment, post-indictment, Wolf.
But I will say, digging into the numbers, went to go look at one of his most supportive demographic groups, white men without a college degree. And even among that group in this poll, 43 percent of them approve of the indictment. So, I'm not suggesting anyway that he's running out of steam, but I do think there is room here for the facts to play out and perhaps something with Trump's support to shift.
BLITZER: As you know, Dana, we're expecting to hear from Trump after his arraignment in a primetime address. He will be back down in Florida at Mar-a-Lago. What's the former president's goal for that speech?
BASH: To keep that public support on his side among the people who support him, not just in and around this indictment, but most importantly for him, again, politically speaking, for his presidential run in this primary process.
And so the challenge, of course, is going to be the rub between the politics and his political goals and the legal situation that he's in. We've already seen the things that he has said not in a primetime address, but even on his social media network, making the lawyers and his team uncomfortable, like going after the judge, for example.
So, it's going to be tricky even though he's going to very much have his political hat on his lawyers, no doubt, are going to be holding their breath.
BLITZER: And, David Axelrod, what do you think?
AXELROD: I agree with Dana. I think that's a terrible position to be in a lawyer watching Donald Trump at a rally because bad things can happen there. So, it will be interesting to watch what he does tomorrow night and how closely he sticks to a script.
BLITZER: All right. Guys, thank you very, very much.
Just ahead, New York's hush money case is one of many criminal probes plugging the former president. We will have more on the complicated web of criminal investigations now underway. That's next.
BLITZER: Right now, all eyes are on New York as Donald Trump prepares to turn himself in for tomorrow's historic arraignment in Manhattan, but it's not the only criminal case the former president is trying to fend off.
Our Brian Todd has more on the other Trump investigations right now underway. Brian, he is clearly facing legal trouble right now on multiple fronts.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENNT: Wolf, Donald Trump is facing no fewer than four criminal investigations right now, not to mention lawsuits and other cases he's dealing with. Tonight, we look at the cases that could be his toughest legal challenges and which one could be the weakest.
TODD (voice over): From the Stormy Daniels hush money case to the Mar-a-Lago documents probe, to the election interference grand jury in Georgia and the federal January 6th inquiry, Donald Trump is entangled in a web of investigations targeting him from many directions.
WILLIAMS: It's pretty remarkable that you have multiple different states, the federal government, all investigating the same person at once, but that person is the former president of the United States.
TODD: Trump now faces no fewer than four separate criminal probes. There's the history-making indictment in the Daniels case in New York, where Trump reportedly faces 30-plus counts related to business fraud. In Washington, a special counsel was appointed by the Justice Department to oversee a criminal investigation into whether Trump tried to interfere with the results of the 2020 election and whether he incited the January 6th attack.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: We're going to walk down to the Capitol.
TODD: There's the Justice Department's Mar-a-Lago investigation into whether Trump illegally mishandled classified documents when he brought them to his Florida estate after leaving the White House. CNN now reporting federal prosecutors have obtained new evidence in the obstruction probe in that case, evidence like texts, emails and photographs.
And in Georgia, Fulton County D.A. Fani Willis is overseeing a special grand jury looking into whether Trump and his allies tried to overturn Joe Biden's 2020 election victory in Georgia by allegedly setting up fake electors and pressuring the secretary of state to, quote, find more votes for Trump.
Which of these cases might be the most likely to bring convictions against the former president?
JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think the case that poses the greatest threat of the former president actually serving prison time is the Mar-a-Lago documents case that's being investigated by the special counsel. And the evidence, at least from what we've seen publicly, seems quite strong.
TODD: Conversely, which case against Trump could be the weakest?
RODGERS: I think the one that maybe isn't going to get across the finish line is the federal January 6th case. I don't think they will be able to charge the former president with seditious conspiracy and I don't know whether they're going to charge him with anything on the January 6th side of things.
TODD (on camera): Donald Trump has repeatedly rejected the accusations in each of these investigations, characterizing them as facets of a witch hunt designed to take him down. He's called the Mar- a-Lago investigation the weaponization of the justice system, and he slammed the Georgia and New York probes as being politically motivated. Wolf?
BLITZER: Brian Todd reporting, thank you, Brian, very much.
This note to our viewers, coming up on Erin Burnett Outfront right after THE SITUATION ROOM, Erin takes a closer look at the judge presiding over the case against the former president, Donald Trump, right now.
And coming up here in THE SITUATION ROOM, a new look at the moments before an explosion ripped through a Russian cafe in an apparent attack on a pro-Kremlin figure.
Our live report from Moscow, that's next.
BLITZER: Tonight, we're getting new video from the scene of an explosion that killed a prominent Russian military blogger and injured dozens more at a cafe in St. Petersburg, Russia. Authorities in Russia have detained a suspect in the case and suggested Ukraine might be responsible for planning the attack.
Our senior international correspondent Matthew Chance has our report from Moscow.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These are the extraordinary last moments of one of Russia's most controversial military bloggers, a pro-war event in a St. Petersburg's cafe, receiving an unexpected gift.
It's a small figurine painted gold wearing a combat helmet in his likeness. Investigators believe it may have been the bomb that killed him just seconds later.
This was the devastation caused by the explosion, in which more 30 other people were also injured. Security cameras caught the powerful blast tearing through the building in central St. Petersburg. Russia's calling it terrorism, accusing Ukraine of orchestrating the attack, something Kyiv denies.
This is Vladlen Tatarsky, the outspoken military blogger targeted and killed. With more than half a million subscribers to his Telegram channel, he was notorious for extremist views in his support of the war and for criticism of how it was being fought.
This is him at the Kremlin last year, celebrating Russia's annexation of Ukrainian land with trademark vitriol.
We will defeat everyone, he declared, will kill everyone and rob what we need. For him, Russia was not being hard enough in its campaign.
Already, Russian police have arrested a suspect, a woman who Russian investigators named as Daria Trepova, spotted arriving at the cafe carrying a large box shortly before the explosion. Investigators say the same woman was recorded inside the cafe after Tatarsky received the figurine, interacting with the blogger moments before the blast is also on camera outside the cafe is the injured evacuated the bomb site.
Russian officials say Trepova was once arrested at an anti war-protest last year, and they say she is an active supporter of the poisoned and jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny, whose organization the Russian authorities, also accused of involvement in the bomb attack. Navalny's supporters deny having anything to do with it.
But this is not the first time Russia has been shaken by the killing of a war advocate. This was the Moscow car bomb that killed Daria Dugina last August, the outspoken daughter of a prominent Russian nationalist. The Kremlin accused Ukrainian saboteurs of this, too, which Kyiv denied.
But now, a second killing, this time in Putin's home city of St. Petersburg, shows how Russia's special military operation in Ukraine is reverberating at home.
CHANCE: Well, tonight, Wolf, the woman who delivered that bomb to the cafe in St. Petersburg has been brought to Moscow where she's going to appear in court and be detained. Meanwhile, President Putin has awarded a posthumous medal of bravery to that controversial military blogger for what the Kremlin says it is courage as a Russian war correspondent back to you.
BLITZER: Our Matthew Chance in Moscow, thank you very much.
We're also learning new information about American journalist Evan Gershkovich, "The Wall Street Journal" reporter detained in Russia. According to the Russian state news agency, Gershkovich has just filed an appeal against his arrest. He's being held on espionage charges which carry up to 20 years in prison. No date for an appeal hearing has been set.
Up next, parts of the Midwest and South here in the United States, already battered by deadly tornadoes now bracing for a new wave of severe storms.
BLITZER: The National Weather Service is warning of tornadoes beginning tomorrow afternoon for much of the Central United States as communities in the Midwest and South dig out from devastating storms that killed dozens on Friday and Saturday.
CNN meteorologist Derek Van Dam reports.
DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST (voice-over): More severe weather forecast areas already hammered by deadly storms.
Over the weekend, more than 50 tornadoes ripped through the South, Midwest and Northeast, leaving at least 32 dead.
JESSIE WILSON, WYNNE, ARKANSAS, TORNADO SURVIVOR: We have had tornadoes in Wynne, Arkansas, before, but it was never, nothing like this.
VAN DAM: According to the Storm Prediction Center, another widespread severe weather outbreak is expected Tuesday afternoon into the overnight in the Mississippi Valley and parts of the Midwest, threatening to bring more strong tornadoes, large hail and damaging winds.
Many of the tornadoes are expected after dark, making this even more dangerous.
GOV. SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS (R), ARKANSAS: Pay attention to the notices and the weather alerts that are coming and listen to your city and local officials that are giving you guidance.
VAN DAM: Residents in Sullivan, Indiana, salvaging precious belongings after narrowly escaping death.
MADISON COLLINS, SULLIVAN, INDIANA, TORNADO SURVIVOR: I just had her a week ago. So, it was really scary.
VAN DAM: Madison Collins hid in the bathroom with her newborn. COLLINS: This is where we were at right here in this bathtub. She was in her car seat, and we're all kind of just hunkered over her, you know? And we could feel our neighbor's house live like crashing against ours. It was terrifying.
VAN DAM: New satellite images show tornado damage is in the town of Wynne, Arkansas, essentially splitting it in half.
COLLINS: And the damages to this high school football field.
JANE SMITH, WYNNE, ARKANSAS, TORNADO SURVIVOR: But you didn't realize you had no idea it was doing this much damage out here. It was so fast.
Residents in Tennessee picking up the pieces.
COLLINS: This is surreal.
TERESA BLANKENSHIP, COVINGTON, TENNESSEE, TORNADO SURVIVOR: You know, you just we've lived in this house 44 years. And you know everything we worked for and paid for, it's gone.
VAN DAM (on camera): There have been over two times the tornado related fatalities so far this year, compared to the entire year last year. And with the threat of more severe weather and violent tornadoes on the horizon, it is time to take the peak of tornado season seriously -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Derek Van Dam, thanks very much.
And to our viewers, thanks for watching.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.