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Sources Say, Trump Aides Believe Indictment Coming Soon; Toxic Smoke on the Move Putting D.C. in Danger Zone; New Shelling in Area Flooded by Dam Collapse; Newt Gingrich Testified Before January 6 Grand Jury. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired June 08, 2023 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, the Trump team is bracing for a potential indictment in the classified documents investigation believing it could happen soon. This after the U.S. Justice Department informed the former president he's a target, a target of the probe.
Also tonight, Washington, D.C. monuments are shrouded in haze as wildfire smoke from Canada drifts to the nation's capital. We're tracking this air quality emergency as it moves into the Mid-Atlantic and threatens the health of tens of millions of Americans.
And the flood disaster in Ukraine grows even more dangerous as the region is rocked by shelling and the Kyiv government accuses Russia of shooting at rescue workers. I'll ask key White House Official John Kirby about that devastating dam collapse and the broader state of the war right now.
Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in The Situation Room. We begin with Donald Trump apparently in imminent legal peril. Once again, the U.S. Justice Department moving toward a final decision on indicting Trump in the classified documents probe after alerting the former president of the United States that he is, indeed, a target of this criminal investigation.
Our Senior Legal Affairs Correspondent Paula Reid working the story for us. Paula, Trump is huddling with aides right now as a potential indictment apparently looms.
PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly right, Wolf. We have learned that the former president is currently at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club with a small group of aides, and sources tell CNN the Trump team has long been bracing for the possibility that he could be indicted. And at this point, while they have not been given any explicit warning that he will be charged, they believe it will likely happen sooner rather than later.
REPORTER: Mr. Harbach, were you with a witness in front of the grand jury.
REID (voice over): Special Counsel Prosecutor David Harbach refusing to answer questions about a possible Trump indictment outside the federal courthouse in Miami today. The Justice Department recently informed the former president he is a target of a federal investigation into the possible mishandling of classified documents. Multiple sources tell CNN.
The news comes just days after his lawyers met with Special Counsel Jack Smith and other officials at the main Justice building in Washington, D.C. A source tells CNN that beyond initial greetings, Smith did not say a word during the meeting. But the target letter is a clear sign that prosecutors are looking at Trump, not just those around him, and gives him the option to give his side to the grand jury if he chooses.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It does suggest an indictment is kind of coming down the pike.
REID: Trump is hunkered down at his Bedminster Golf Club with close aides where they're both bracing for possible indictments and reaching out to political allies to help defend the former president in public. Reacting on social media, he said, I have assumed for years that I am a target of the weaponized DOJ and FBI.
CNN reporting exclusively that a former White House official in charge of advising the Trump administration on declassification told federal prosecutors Trump knew the proper process and followed it while in office, a claim supported by one of his own lawyers.
JIM TRUSTY, TRUMP LAWYER: He is aware of a bureaucratic process that can be used. He used that bureaucratic process in the middle of his presidency.
REID: But out of step with Trump's public comments.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And, by the way, they become automatically declassified, when I took them.
REID: Trump's former lawyer, Tim Parlatore, who recently left the Trump Team amid infighting, revealed Wednesday that he has heard the bombshell audio recording of Trump discussing what he says is a classified document.
TIM PARLATORE, FORMER TRUMP LAWYER: I was aware of the audio tape.
REID: But downplayed its significance.
PARLATORE: It's certainly not even clear what he's specifically talking about.
REID: Special counsel prosecutors are also still calling witnesses in the January 6th probe, including Steve Bannon, who was recently subpoenaed to testify about the events in and around the insurrection.
STEVE BANNON, FORMER TRUMP ADVISER: All hell is going to break loose tomorrow. Just understand this. All hell is going to break loose tomorrow.
REID (on camera): That Bannon subpoena is yet another sign that Jack Smith's two investigations are on two different timelines.
The January 6th probe is still calling key witnesses and appears to have a ways to go, while the classified documents probe appears to be in its final stages while we await possible charges. Wolf, as you know, some people thought he might try to wrap up both investigations, but it appears, based on our latest reporting, that's unlikely to be the case.
BLITZER: Yes, the classified document is apparently going to go first, that investigation. All right, thanks very much. Paula, don't go too far away, we're going to come back to you in just a few moments.
I want to go to Miami right now where a federal grand jury has been hearing testimony about Trump's handling of those classified documents.
CNN's Kara Scannell is just outside the courthouse there in Miami. Kara, what are you learning about the activity you're seeing there and how the Miami grand jury fits into the special counsel's investigation?
KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we've seen a flurry of activity today. We identified a number of prosecutors from the special counsel's team, including David Harbach, who is the lead prosecutor on the documents case of this investigation. We saw him leaving to grab lunch. He declined to comment on what he was up to today, and whether they were bringing witnesses in before the grand jury. We also saw another prosecutor on the team getting snacks, getting bags of chips and getting cookies, and going back behind the closed doors where the grand jury meets.
Now, that is an entirely secretive process. So, it is unclear to us today if they had any witnesses, if the grand jury was hearing any testimony, but we do know this is the second day in a row that we have seen prosecutors from the special counsel's team working here. Yesterday, a former Trump aide, Taylor Budowich, that testified before the grand jury for just under two hours, that after we've learned from sources that the grand jury here has heard from a number of witnesses in recent weeks. So, we're definitely seeing a lot of activity here.
Now, the reason why we're seeing activity here when we have had a lot of activity take place at the grand jury in Washington, D.C. could be for a number of reasons. Sometimes they do it to accommodate certain witnesses, but also it could be that prosecutors are looking to bring a case in the venue in the area where the alleged crime could have taken place.
Now, Mar-a-Lago is just about 70 miles north of where I'm standing. You know, also this grand jury activity is happening after sources have told our team that Trump has been notified that he is a target of this investigation. That is another signal that prosecutors are getting close to making a charging decision in this case. Wolf?
BLITZER: It could be pretty much imminent. Kara Scannell in Miami for us, thank you very much.
Let's break all of this down with our political and legal experts. And, Andrew McCabe, you're the former deputy director of the FBI. Now that Trump is officially a target of this investigation, that's a big deal, isn't it?
ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: It is a very big deal. It's a bit of something we have assumed for quite some time with the revelations of the evidence that have been revealed over the course of the investigation. But for the Department of Justice to officially contact him with that target letter, it tells us -- confirms for us that he is absolutely the focus of this investigation and they are probably at the end of it.
BLITZER: Being a target is a lot different than just being a subject of an investigation.
MCCABE: That's right. It means, according to the DOJ manual, that there is significant evidence that ties him to the commission of a crime, and that he is the principle subject or target focus of that investigation.
BLITZER: So, how likely do you think it is that he's going to be criminally charged?
MCCABE: I think it's overwhelmingly likely that he will be indicted. Every signal that we have seen so far points in that direction from the early days of the search warrant to the piercing of the attorney/client privilege, to the mountain of evidence that we've seen so far, and then this is the latest signal, consistent signal.
BLITZER: It looks like it could happen very, very soon. Kaitlan, what are you hearing from your sources?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF CORRESPONDENT: Well, it certainly seems imminent from Trump's world point of view. And Trump keeps saying publicly, I haven't been told that I'm being indicted but he has gotten the target letter. And it wouldn't say that you're being indicted. It says that you are the target of this investigation, and his team is bracing for that. He is in New Jersey right now, as Paula was noting earlier. But, of course, they are preparing, where would his appearance potentially be. Could it be in Florida? Could it be here in Washington? They don't yet know the answers to that, of course, but they are bracing for the fact that this is going to happen, and he's kind of come around to that.
He is calling Republicans and asking them, you know, why is the tone not the same here about Jack Smith toward this special counsel. He wants more people attacking him now that he's realized that it is imminent that this is likely going to happen. Obviously, we have to wait to see for it to happen.
But what I am struck by, as we have been reporting on this for so long, is how we went from a period in this investigation where they were shocked when the search warrant was executed at Mar-a-Lago last August, but when the documents situation happened with the former vice president and with President Biden, they thought they were in the clear. Obviously very different situations, they no longer think that. And it's just remarkable how much that has changed, and I think a lot of it has to do with what we reported about that audiotape of Trump talking about classified information.
BLITZER: Yes. They're moving I think pretty quickly at this final stage of this.
Elaborate a little bit, Paula, on why there are now two federal grand juries looking into Trump on these various issues, one in Washington, that's been going on for quite a while, a new one in Miami.
REID: That's right. The bulk of this investigation has been conducted in Washington. Dozens of witnesses have traveled here to testify before the grand jury. This is where the special counsel is located. But when you choose where to file charges, that location has to have some connection to the alleged criminal activity.
Now, when it comes to the Trump case, based on what we know from our reporting, from the public record, there are some ties here to D.C. Of course, the records belong to the government, which is based here. We know that these documents were removed allegedly from the White House. But it gets a little tricky because former President Trump was still President Trump when he left Washington.
And it's not clear if the fact that the government was located here would be enough to bring the case, which is part of why we're seeing all of this sudden grand jury activity down in Florida because that's where the bulk of the alleged criminal conduct appears to have occurred. But you can move a case, but it takes a while. You have to read the grand jury in. They have to hear all the evidence, and that can take quite some time.
MCCABE: In addition to that, there is currently a case before the Supreme Court. It's been argued but not decided yet, that really raises the stakes for prosecutors on this decision. So, as Paula indicated, there's a much stronger argument for venue in Florida than there is here in D.C., and that case will determine what happens if the prosecutors make the wrong decision.
The case will essentially decide whether or not prosecutors can bring -- re-indict the case in the correct venue. So, not knowing how that issue is going to be resolved, it may be that the prosecutors have made an end-of-game decision to shift the indictment from D.C. to Miami.
COLLINS: And the other part of that is -- the way the Trump Team is looking at it is, is it that better venue for them if it's in Florida than it is here in Washington. So, obviously, as they're trying -- they have come to reality, they believe this is happening. They're trying to suss out, is it better for them if it's in Florida than if it was here in Washington.
I think the other thing that this is going to raise and something they'll be talking about, which we're still reporting out, is does this mean there're in the January 6th case. Because that's been the one that Trump that has been paying a lot of attention to as well. We don't ultimately know right now. That seems to be very much still progressing in a way that we haven't seen go as quickly as the documents case, I should note, but that will be something that the Trump team is wondering about, I bet.
BLITZER: Yes, I'm sure they are. All right, guys, everybody stand by. There's a lot more to discuss about the potential indictment, potential indictment of Trump, its impact on the country and the 2024 presidential race.
And we're also getting an up to the minute read on the very unhealthy air being breathed by millions and millions of Americans, including right here in the nation's capital.
BLITZER: We're back with our legal and political experts as we're told the Trump team is bracing for a possible indictment in the classified documents probe.
And, Shan Wu, you're a former federal prosecutor. How momentous is it for the special counsel and U.S. Justice Department here in Washington to be considering an indictment, criminal charges against the former president of the United States?
SHAN WU, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, I think certainly historically momentous, and think they have been trying to just follow the normal protocol, and one of those was the meeting that was requested by the lawyers with Garland, who delegated downwards. And that's pretty common, Wolf, because when you're in the leadership offices, when I was an aide to Reno, the big question is who takes the meeting. And so in this case, they pushed it down, so to speak, to Smith.
But I wouldn't be surprised with this type of activity, with the target letter being issued, if the lawyers don't take another shot at saying, A.G. Garland, you really need to meet with us. And if he then refuses on the record, they can make a little bit of a stink about that.
BLITZER: Interesting, very interesting. Andrew McCabe, once again, you're the former deputy director of the FBI. Walk us through the logistics of what's going on inside the grand jury room right now as they weigh this incredibly sensitive decision.
MCCABE: Well, it's a little bit chaotic, based on the question of where the case will actually be indicted, right? So, if it's going to go in Miami, then all of the evidence that's come before the grand jury here in D.C. needs to be essentially put in front of that new grand jury. And the same is true if they're going to go in D.C., the witnesses we have seen testify in Miami, their transcripts would have to come up here. They'll also be given a presentation by the prosecutors, sort of a closing argument, if you will, and then the indictment itself must be read to the grand jurors before they're given the opportunity to vote on it.
All of those things typically take a few days. But in this case, we've learned not to place any bets too early. So, really, anything could happen.
REID: And this is the one hole in our reporting right now. I mean, we just learned earlier this week that there was a grand jury in Miami. And the one thing we don't know is how long it's been meeting and how red into the case they are.
BLITZER: Shan, what kind of charges are we talking about right now, criminal charges against Trump?
WU: Well, we know about the espionage action there because that's particularly important since the declassification issue wouldn't apply. There's the mishandling of the sensitive information, classified documents, and really importantly is the obstruction charge. And that might be a clue as to why there's been the activity in Florida since that's where a lot of the obstruction interaction communications could have taken place. But I think you're looking at those three types of charges.
COLLINS: And that's what the Trump team has been predicting, definitely the Espionage Act. They have been talking about this themselves. They don't know what's coming down. And I should note, Trump is not actually in Florida right now. He's in his second club that is in Bedminster, New Jersey, closer to here than it is obviously to Florida. And so he would have to go there, they believe, for an appearance, potentially, if that is where the charges come from.
And so they're kind of looking through that right now. They have basically accepted that this is something that is likely -- I have talked to people who have spoken to him in the last several days. They say he's pretty angry. I mean, it's not surprising given that he is on the verge of a potential indictment, we believe, and that his attorneys just got this letter saying that he is indeed a target. But it does raise a lot of questions of what this looks like going forward.
And also just how critical that audiotape is. [18:20:00]
I mean, that's what we keep going back to, how that's changed here. Because Paula was saying we just learned a few days ago, we as in reporters, about this second grand jury. It was only about two months ago that the Trump team learned of the audiotape. They did not know about it until someone got asked about it when they were in the grand jury here in Washington. That's part of the evidence being read in, in Florida.
BLITZER: And remind us, Paula, about this audio tape because the prosecutors believe that is strong evidence against Trump.
REID: It is a key piece of evidence. So, let's go all the way back to the summer, July 2021. And in this audio recording, Trump is speaking to a group of people at his Bedminster Golf Club in the room, a couple of his aides who were in the habit of recording any conversations with writers, people working on books, journalists, and in the room were Mark Meadows', his former chief of staff, autobiographers.
And during this conversation, he starts to become upset talking about General Milley, and we're told that he references being in possession of a classified document. And on this tape, you can hear him sort of waving a piece of paper. It was unclear if he has the document in his possession. And he expresses a desire to be able to share the classified documents but acknowledges the limits of his own ability to do so now that he's out of the White House.
That's significant for so many reasons. First of all, he's acknowledging having a classified document, but he's also undercutting the defense that he and his attorneys have given in the court of public opinion, which is that he, of course, had the authority to declassify these things.
So, we just broke this bomb shell last week, and it really changes the way you see this investigation and our understanding of the kind of evidence that prosecutors possess here.
BLITZER: So many of these documents weren't simply classified, they were highly classified, top secret, SCI, sensitive compartmented information, that's the highest level of classification. They were plenty of those documents lying around, presumably. They suspect he was sharing that information with people who weren't qualified to get that kind of information. Guys, thank you very, very much.
Coming up, delays and cancelations from airports to sports events as toxic smoke from Canada drifts deeper and deeper here into the United States. Dr. Sanjay Gupta will tell us about health risks of breathing bad air and what you can do to stay safe.
BLITZER: Tonight, the toxic smoke from Canadian wildfires is drifting farther and farther south, putting more Americans at risk, including right here where we are in Washington, D.C.
Our Brian Todd is joining us from just outside Washington in Arlington, Virginia, monitoring the air quality. Brian, this region is in danger. It's in a danger zone we're now being told by authorities, and that's happening right now. What's the latest?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it's been just a brutal day here in the D.C. area. We're going to show you a visual of that. Right where we are, the Iwo Jima memorial in Arlington, Virginia, usually on a clear day, in a straight line, across the Potomac River, you can see the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington monument, and the Capitol behind it. But, look, you can barely see them. You can see the Lincoln in shadow, and barely see the Washington monument.
This kind of pollution in this area has caused delays, cancelations, and basically headaches all the way around.
TODD (voice over): Thick haze rolling into the Mid-Atlantic today causing more health warnings and scattered cancelations. Around 75 million Americans under air quality alerts as the smoke from Canada's wildfires continues to move south.
This was Monday, and this was today in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Philadelphia, Baltimore, and D.C., showing readings today that ranged from very unhealthy in purple to hazardous in maroon.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Getting off the metro, I felt like I couldn't really breathe, catch my breath.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is much thicker than I was expecting. I was very surprised by how hazy it is. I'm a little worried, I'm not going to lie.
TODD: The Washington Nationals' baseball game postponed, horse racing at New York's Belmont Park canceled, zoos closed in D.C., and New York, D.C. and Baltimore parks suspending outdoor recreation.
MAYOR BRANDON SCOTT (D-MD), BALTIMORE: There will be no track practice, no outdoor sporting events, any of that through Friday.
TODD: Schools in D.C. and some suburbs canceling outdoors recess and sports, a few school districts in the northeast closing schools entirely. Flight declares at Newark and Philadelphia today, and even a brief ground stop at New York's LaGuardia this morning. The advice from local authorities, wear a mask if you have to go out.
MAYOR MURIEL BOWSER (D-WA): If you don't have to be outside, then don't be outside.
TODD: At greatest risk, those with respiratory problems, as well as senior citizens, children and those who are pregnant, but even if you're healthy.
DR. KORIN HUDSON, EMERGENCY PHYSICIAN, MEDSTAR HEALTH: This is like smoking. And so its cumulative exposure is going to put people at risk even if they're healthy at baseline. The more we breathe in, the more junk is in our lungs, and the more it's going to affect us over time.
TODD: Over the next 48 hours, the smoke is forecast to continue spreading south. But compared to yesterday, New York City today seeing some signs of progress.
MAYOR ERIC ADAMS (D-NY), NEW YORK CITY: We may see continued improvements later tonight, and overnight.
TODD: But could this happen more often?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With increasing climate change, and increasing warming, we can expect more and more of these kind of wildfires to continue.
TODD (on camera): Atmospheric Chemist Mark Zondlo of Princeton University says what's unique about this situation is that the polluted air is staying close to the ground, instead of wafting up and dispersing into the atmosphere, he says. It's practically hugging the ground and hardly dispersing at all. As far as this region is concerned, forecasters say, serious relief isn't expected to come until maybe the end of the weekend or even later. Wolf?
BLITZER: Very dangerous situation, indeed. Brian Todd, thank you very much.
Right now, I want to bring in Dr. Sanjay Gupta to break down the health concerns that are at play right now. Sanjay, what should people be doing to stay safe based on the severity of their air quality?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think basic rules obviously apply, Wolf. You want to think about the fact that you breathe in air, and now you got a bunch of particles in that air. So, if it was a liquid, it would be like a chewy liquid. There's a bunch of stuff that you're inhaling into your lungs, can obviously irritating to the eyes. As we talked about before, it can get into the bloodstream as well. So, the bottom line is you want to avoid it as much as possible.
When you hear from Brian's reporting, you do see that the conditions are improving, so whereas yesterday, everybody was certainly at risk, now they're saying it's more people who are sensitive at risk, people with underlying heart conditions, lung conditions, things like that. Those people are the ones who have to take the most precaution. But, you know, again, for everybody, the basics do apply here.
BLITZER: So, as the situation drags on and we're watching it drag on right now, Sanjay, how much could the impact to people's health build up over time?
GUPTA: Well, that's a really interesting question. Because if you look at long-term studies of severe, you know, amounts of particulate in the air for long periods of time, I'm talking years, if not decades, there are all sorts of different long-term health consequences, more likely to have cardiac disease, respiratory disease, and also things like autoimmune disease. Because what seems to happen is that these particles, once they get in the blood, they can cause clotting, they can cause inflammation, so they can sort of flare up preexisting diseases or, you know, cause things like autoimmune diseases. That's a problem.
But to be fair, Wolf, I mean, if it's a short-term sort of exposure, I think some of those long-term risks are far mitigated. They're going to be a lot less. Some have said if you get levels of 400 or more, it's like smoking one cigarette every hour. That's a problem, clearly, but most of the damage from cigarette smoking is something that's measured in many, many months or years of smoking cigarettes. Hopefully, the air continues to improve.
BLITZER: Yes. We're told right now about 75 million Americans are potentially at risk right now. We'll watch it closely with you, Sanjay. Thank you very, very much.
Just ahead, new accounts of gains and losses by Ukrainian forces out there on the battlefield. Key White House Official John Kirby is standing by live to join us. He'll share what the United States is now learning about the war and the military counteroffensive against Russia.
BLITZER: Tonight, Ukraine is reporting new Russian shelling in a region that's reeling from a life threatening flood disaster. This comes as a Ukrainian commander is claiming new progress against Moscow's forces on a separate front.
CNN's Senior International Correspondent Sam Kiley is joining us live from Kyiv right now. Sam, what more do we know about these Ukrainian advances in the eastern part of the country and how that potentially fits in with a strategy for a wider Ukrainian military counteroffensive against the Russians?
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this latest advance from the Ukrainians, which extends to about three-plus kilometers, about two miles, is significant. It's to the south of the city of Bakhmut. It's retaking a channel, a sort of drainage channel area, and it's been conducted by the Third Assault Brigade of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
You will recall, Wolf, about two weeks ago, they were successfully part of that southern thrust to try to flank the city that had fallen to the Wagner mercenaries. But this, Wolf, is part of an ongoing battle, not necessarily directly connected to the wider counteroffensive that I think we're seeing the shaping or early stages of. There have been a significant number of probing attacks that sort of company level strength from Ukrainians, trying to punch through, feeling for weaknesses around the front line from Zaporizhzhia towards the Russian-held city of Donetsk, there's very strong Russian held offensive there. The Ukrainians know that. I think they're clearly feeling their way there. And, of course, we have seen the destabilizing campaign, using Russian militants to attack and raid inside Russia itself across the northern border between Ukraine and Russia.
This all combined with the drone attacks, the long range artillery attacks and missile attacks against Russian logistics hubs, particularly in Russian-held areas of Ukraine, but also beyond that into Russia itself. I think they all add up to the early stages of this counteroffensive, which the government here says won't necessarily start with a fanfare, Wolf.
BLITZER: Sam Kiley, as I always say to you, stay safe over there. Thank you very much.
Joining us now from the White House, the National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications, John Kirby. John, thanks very much for joining us. I know you're very busy on this day.
President Zelenskyy, as you know, has said he's shocked by the slow international response to this devastating flooding that's going on right now. What more can the United States do to help?
JOHN KIRBY, COORDINATOR FOR STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL: We are helping quite a bit. In fact, within hours of the breach of the dam, Wolf, we were working with our USAID, our humanitarian partners on the ground to get buses available so that people could move. Thousands of them were left homeless and without power and water. We were able to get water purification equipment on the ground, as well as boats and rescue gear. So, we have been at this really since just a couple of hours after the breach, and we are going to stay committed to that.
We've got good eyes and good partners on the ground there, and so we're going to keep doing that. There will be more support coming from the United States as needed.
BLITZER: As you know, video now shows Ukrainian rescuers are facing shelling. Would it be plausible for Ukraine and Russia to establish a military exclusion zone, as it's called?
KIRBY: It is incorrigible, these reports. No, I'm not in a position to confirm them, but if true, just absolutely incorrigible that rescuers or people trying to be rescued would come under fire from Russian forces from whatever firing positions across the river that they're using. This is a life and death situation here, and it's a situation caused by this devastating flood that we want to make sure we get humanitarian assistance in there. So, I can't speak to whether a zone can be created. But what I can say is that the United States condemns any violence being perpetrated against people that are either trying to rescue their neighbors and friends and family or people who are seeking rescue, absolutely unacceptable.
BLITZER: Absolutely, indeed. Ukraine, as you know, is advancing around Bakhmut, but sources tell CNN that Ukraine has suffered heavy losses of troops and U.S. supplied equipment, at least in recent days. Are setbacks right now to be expected?
KIRBY: I don't want to get into the specifics of casualties or military operations, Wolf. That's really to the Ukrainians to speak to. This is war, though, and, you know, there is -- as Sam rightly just reported, there is some heavy fighting around Bakhmut, and there's fighting elsewhere along that front that arches all the way from the Donbas down towards Zaporizhzhia. And, certainly, it's to be expected that there could be casualties in this increased fighting.
What we're going to be focused on is making sure that if and when and how President Zelenskyy wants to fight along that line or any other line, that he's got the support he needs not just from the United States but from 50 other partners. And you saw Prime Minister Sunak here at the White House meet with President Biden. They both spend a lot of time talking today about Ukraine and what we can do to continue to make sure that they're ready for the weeks and months ahead.
BLITZER: Yes. That support is so impressive. As you know, President Biden also today vowed U.S. support to Ukraine will continue, but as you know, the House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman acknowledged it will be, in his words, extremely difficult to pass supplemental funding if Ukraine isn't making gains out there on the battlefield. Is he right?
KIRBY: Well, look, we've had terrific support from both chambers of Congress and both parties over the last 15 months, and the president has said he expects that support will continue because members of Congress, they understand what's at stake here, certainly inside Ukraine, but also on the European continent.
So, we're not at a point now, Wolf, where we feel like we've got to go back for supplemental funding. We've got enough funds to get us through this fiscal year and we're going to keep at it. And you're going to see incoming days additional support coming from the United States alone for Ukraine and their battlefield needs. If and when we get to the point where we feel like we've got to go back to Congress, then we'll have that conversation, but we're just not there yet.
BLITZER: John Kirby, thanks so much for joining us.
KIRBY: My pleasure.
BLITZER: Coming up, we're just getting new reporting right now first on CNN about a new witness who testified today before the U.S. Justice Department special counsel's grand jury investigating the January 6th investigation. We're going to bring you details right after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BLITZER: We have new reporting just coming into CNN right now, and the grand jury investigation of the January 6th insurrection. CNN's Sara Murray is joining us. She's got details.
Sara, tell our viewers what you're learning.
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, a source tells me that former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich was testifying today before the federal grand jury investigating January 6th and the attack on the Capitol. He spent roughly half a day in front of that grand jury.
And, of course, those proceedings are behind closed doors. We don't know exactly what prosecutors asked him but we know from the House Select Committee that investigated January 6th a little bit about why prosecutors might be interested in him.
According to documents the committee was able to uncover, they say Gingrich was allegedly in communication with senior advisers to Donald Trump about the television strategy around the 2020 election, including, you know, ads that would push some of these false allegations of election fraud, the January 6th committee also alleged that Gingrich may have played some sort of role in coordinating some of these slates of fake electors that we saw in a number of battleground states that Donald Trump lost, but of course wanted to continue to try to contest.
One of the people that Gingrich was in touch with was Mark Meadows, which of course we reported also has testified recently before these grand juries as part of the ongoing special counsel probe, and I think, you know, one of the things that's striking, Wolf, is of course we're waiting for a potential indictment in the classified documents case. It looks like that could be looming kind of at any point, and it seems clear that these two probes could be moving on different time lines.
You know, it's relatively late in the game to see a big name like Newt Gingrich going in before a grand jury. We also learned in recent weeks, prosecutors have been interviewing new witnesses, and of course we reported yesterday that just a couple of weeks ago, Steve Bannon got a subpoena for testimony and documents.
BLITZER: Very interesting. Excellent reporting, Sara, thanks very much.
Also tonight, Republican presidential candidate and former Vice President Mike Pence is doubling down on his concerns over a possible indictment of his former boss, Donald Trump, that he shared in last night's CNN town hall.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let me be clear that no one's above the law.
DANA BASH, CNN MODERATOR: Okay.
PENCE: But I would just hope that there would be a way for them to move forward without the dramatic and drastic and divisive step of indicting a former president of the United States. We've got to find a way to move our country forward and restore confidence in equal treatment under the law in this country. We really do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Let's discuss this and more with the moderator of that town hall, CNN anchor and chief political correspondent, Dana Bash.
She's here with me in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Dana, thanks so much.
So he says no one is above the law, but there has to be a very high threshold to go ahead and indict Trump.
BASH: And the high threshold was the shift today. It was a slight shift, but an important shift. He was out on the campaign trail after that town hall. It was actually our colleague Kyung Lah who asked the former vice president about his comments last night and the shift was to instead of say effectively, I don't think he should be indicted which was the gist of what I got from last night to today saying there should be a high threshold.
It's a distinction and it is a distinction within an important difference particularly given the wait that he made clear that he's going to run his campaign. His announcement speech yesterday, the video what he said largely in the town hall last night, it was all about positioning himself as a defender of the Constitution, a defender of the rule of law as opposed to what Donald Trump did, in his case, with him trying to get to, from his perspective and from the perspective of what it says in the Constitution, break the law and then to call him out afterwards multiple times and is still doing so today.
BLITZER: Yeah, it's really interesting because the Trump team is clear clearly preparing for a criminal charge and a criminal indictment. What are you hearing?
BASH: You know, the tea leaves are being read in every corner of Washington and also of the way down, of course, to Mar-a-Lago. We don't know. All we know is the fantastic reporting about our colleagues about the target letter that he got and also just the feeling among Trump himself and those around him, his lawyers that it could be imminent, and this, of course, is on, we believe the classified documents and the question of be obstruction, which is different from what Sara was just reporting on which is the January 6 question. It's the same special counsel but lots of different things, two different topics, I should say.
BLITZER: Good point. I'm very excited and I'm sure our viewers are excited you will start anchoring your brand-new show "INSIDE POLITICS", Monday through Friday, noon Eastern. Tell us a little bit how excited you are?
BASH: Very excited. I mean, "INSIDE POLITICS", Wolf, do you remember there was a show called "INSIDE POLITICS WEEKEND" a few years ago.
BLITZER: Do you remember who was the anchor?
BASH: You were the anchor. Do you remember who was the producer?
BLITZER: You were one of the producers.
BASH: I was one of the producers and so, this is just a reminder that this a story, brand "INSIDE POLITICS", and I am very grateful that I get to take over especially given where we are right now in the election cycle, and, you know, I've -- I've always been a fan of the show, whether working behind the scenes with you and recently when John King revived it I think about a decade ago.
So it's going to be great. We're going to go really inside and lean into the inside in "INSIDE POLITICS."
BLITZER: Talk about "INSIDE POLITICS" --
BLITZER: -- this is going to be an exciting time, so proud of you, so happy for you.
BASH: Thank you.
BLITZER: But more important, I'm happy for our viewers who love watching you Monday through Friday, 12:00 noon Eastern.
BASH: You're the best.
BLITZER: Thanks very much.
BASH: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: "INSIDE POLITICS" weekend, remember how I used to start that show?
BASH: The events, the issues --
BLITZER: The battles, the bites.
BASH: OK, maybe we'll bring that back, Wolf.
BLITZER: That was the first show I ever anchor at CNN.
BASH: I know, I remember.
BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much.
To our viewers, coming up right at the top of the hour on "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT", the head of the NAACP, Derrick Johnson, reacts to today's U.S. Supreme Court ruling ordering Alabama to re-draw its congressional map, saying the current one is unfair to Black voters. That's coming up right at 7:00 p.m. Eastern, right after THE SITUATION ROOM.
And we'll have more news just ahead right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: The British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak visited the White House today for the first time since taking office. He and President Biden reaffirmed the partnership between the two countries and their continued support for Ukraine. After the talks, Prime Minister Sunak spoke with CNN anchor and chief correspondent Kaitlan Collins sitting down for an exclusive interview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF CORRESPONDENT: And you just met with President Biden, the two of you were standing side by side. President Biden was talking about how important Ukraine is and funding Ukraine.
The Republican front-runner here, of course, we're in the middle of an election season in the U.S., has not even said if he believes Ukraine should win this war. Does that make you as a world leader who may be working with him potentially uncomfortable?
RISHI SUNAK, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I would say, it wouldn't be right for me to comment on domestic politics here, but I did spend a good amount of time in Congress yesterday talking to leaders from both parties, and I think there is strong support for the efforts that America is putting to support Ukraine.
I think there's an acknowledgement, as I said, that the values that we're fighting for are universal, the values that America has always stood up for which is democracy, freedom and the rule of law. But I think it's entirely reasonable for people to ask is everyone doing their bit, and I'm proud to say the U.K. is.
You know, behind the U.S., we're the next largest contributor to the effort to support Ukraine and more broadly when it comes to defense spending, we're one of the countries that invests 2 percent of our GDP in defense. That is a NATO commitment that we've made, that we did, too, and I think it's reasonable and right that we expect other countries in the NATO alliance to increase defense spending up to those levels and that's something I'll speak to other leaders to about, as well.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: You can see all of Kaitlan's exclusive interview with Prime Minister Sunak on "CNN PRIMETIME" tonight at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.
Finally, tonight, the televangelist Pat Robertson has died. Robertson was a trail blazing figure in the conservative evangelical movement and played a key role in transforming the religious right into the key voting bloc into the Republican Party. Robertson founded the Christian Broadcasting Network and popularized the 700 Club back in 1988.
Robertson ran an unsuccessful bid for president. He was 93 years old.
And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.