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Garland Defends Special Counsel Amid Trump Attacks; Trump Camp Says, $6.6 Million Raised Since Indictment; Trump Allies In Congress Vow Retaliation Against DOJ; Source: Trump & Co-Defendant Walt Nauta To Keep Working And Traveling Together; Manhattan Grand Jury Votes To Indict Man Who Held Subway Rider In Fatal Chokehold; Storm And Tornado Threat Growing for Southeast. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired June 14, 2023 - 18:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: I'll see you tomorrow.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland defends the special counsel who indicted Donald Trump a day after the former president's historic arrest and arraignment. Garland praising Jack Smith's integrity as Trump and his allies ramp up their attacks.

Tonight, Trump's presidential campaign says it has raised well over $6 million since his indictment last week. His political advisers sounding confident as they settle on a playbook for the 2024 race.

And in New York, a grand jury has just indicted the former U.S. Marine who held a homeless man in a fatal chokehold on the subway. We're going to tell you what we're learning about the charges.

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

Tonight, as the federal prosecution of Donald Trump moves into the next phase, the nation's chief law enforcement officer is breaking his silence about the case.

CNN's Paula Reid is following all the new developments of Trump's indictment. Paula, as the former president is predictably lashing out, what is the attorney general of the United States, Merrick Garland, saying?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, as you know, Wolf, Attorney General Garland doesn't like to talk at all about ongoing cases, but this is the first time since former President Trump was formally charged that we've heard Garland speak. Now, of course, he appointed Special Counsel Jack Smith back in November, and today he talked just a little bit about his historic role in this case and what he thinks about Jack Smith.


MERRICK GARLAND, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I can now take a few questions. REID: Speaking for the first time since former President Trump was indicted --

GARLAND: Mr. Smith is a veteran career prosecutor.

REID: -- tonight, Attorney General Merrick Garland standing by Special Counsel Jack Smith, who is prosecuting former President Trump and addressing fears of a violent response from protesters.

GARLAND: We live in a democracy. These kind of matters are adjudicated through the judicial system. The Justice Department will be vigilant to ensure that there are no threats of violence or actual violence.

REID: Demonstrations Tuesday outside the Miami federal courthouse where Trump was arraigned were largely peaceful.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I did everything right and they indicted me.

REID: Trump gearing up for the legal and political fight of his life, as the first former U.S. president to face federal criminal charges, the result of a large scale Justice Department investigation into his handle go of national security secrets after leaving office.

TRUMP: Many people have asked me why I had these boxes. Why did you want them?

REID: Trump speaking to supporters at a fundraiser held at his New Jersey golf club the same day he made his first appearance in federal court, telling them how the FBI ended up recovering hundreds of classified documents from his Mar-a-Lago home last summer.

TRUMP: These boxes were containing all types of personal belongings, many, many things, shirts and shoes. I hadn't had a chance to go through all the boxes. It's a long, tedious job, which I was prepared to do but I have a very busy life.

TIM PARLATORE, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: Don't talk about the case in public. Let your lawyer do all the talking for you.

REID: Attorney Tim Parlatore, who, up until a few weeks ago, was representing Trump in this matter, says, ideally, Trump would stop talking about the case in public all together.

TRUMP: Thank you very much.

REID: In court Tuesday, Trump was silent. His attorney, Todd Blanche, entering a not guilty plea on his behalf. During his nearly hour long arraignment, Trump signed his bond agreement and then the judge telling him not to communicate with his co-defendant and personal assistant, Walt Nauta, about the case, though a source tells CNN that the two men would continue to travel together and work side by side.

TRUMP: That young man right there, he has answered more subpoenas than any human being in the history of the world. REID: Parlatore worked alongside Nauta when he represented Trump. Asked if he thinks the president's assistant might make a deal to flip on his boss --

PARLATORE: Every criminal defendant has to make their own decision as to what they are willing to do, how much they are willing to risk. It is the client that has to live with it the rest of their life.

REID: What is next in this case? The Justice Department will provide a full list of witnesses Trump would be barred from talking to except through counsel. The discovery process begins and with it likely disputes over evidence to be decided by Trump-appointed Judge Aileen Cannon and Walt Nauta's arraignment will be in two weeks.


REID (on camera): Trump's hearings will be held a little close in West Palm Beach, the location of his Mar-a-Lago resort. Now, as we just noted, the case will be heard before Judge Aileen Cannon.


She was appointed by Trump after he lost the election but before he left office.

Now, according to an analysis done by The New York Times, she has only overseen four trials, which amounted to a total of just 14 trial days. Wolf, the special counsel has estimated that the Trump case would likely last around 21 days.

BLITZER: Interesting. Excellent reporting, Paula. Thank you. Don't go too far away. We have got more to discuss.

Coming up tonight, the Trump campaign is touting its new fundraising haul in the days since the former president was indicted, the new numbers just in to CNN.

Let's go to CNN's Kristen Holmes. She's covering Trump over at his New Jersey golf resort. Kristen, break down the new numbers, the fundraising numbers for us.

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we were told by a Trump campaign release that $6.6 million have been raised since that Thursday indictment. And just moments ago, I got off with Stephen Chung (ph), who told me that number has actually reached $7 million, that last bunch coming in just in the last hour.

The breakdown here, that would be about $4.9 million in digital fundraising, that is email after email that you see saying that you need to support former President Trump, that he's -- you know, a political witch hunt, et cetera. And then 2.1 from the fundraiser last night, those were those high dollar donations, those bundlers.

This is significant because there had been some concern among allies that that big boost that we saw in fundraising after the Manhattan arraignment was not going to happen again, that people might get tired of donating, legal issue after legal issue. That is not the case. Clearly, they are saying that they have raised $7 million since that indictment, again, $2.1 million from last night's fundraiser.

I'm talking to a number of Trump sources who feel very good about this. They thought that this might happen but now they are convinced that they can continue to run their campaign essentially as though nothing is happening.

Their playbook is to continue to change the narrative and to play this out in the school of public opinion. They want to make sure that people believe that this is a Democratic witch hunt, that Trump is taking control of the narrative. And that is what we saw when he went to Versailles yesterday after his court appearance, he went to that Cuban cafe. And that was a planned stop by his campaign committee. They knew there were no cameras in the courtroom. They wanted the only images to be of Trump smiling and being greeted by supporters on this day.

And then we heard from Trump again last night delivering these remarks, calling this election interference, saying this was a hoax, saying that they were all out to get him. They are trying to clearly change the narrative here and paint him this way.

And the other thing I am told by advisers that part of the plan is to essentially run this campaign full throttle despite what is going on legally. That means a number of appearances that are already scheduled he is going to continue to do. He has been meeting with his advisers on which states to go to next, where to have the rally next, where to have an event next.

So, again, whether this actually works and if someone can actually be in this much legal trouble and be running for president, that remains to be seen but that is their plan right now.

BLITZER: Kristen Holmes reporting for us from New Jersey, Kristen, thanks very much.

Let's break all of this down with our team of legal and political experts. And, Kaitlan Collins, good to have you here in The Situation Room.

$6.6 million or $7 million raised since the indictment, that is what the Trump campaign is now saying. Does the Trump team believe its playbook is working?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is working when it comes to raising money. I mean, at this dinner last night Trump went back to is this candle-lit dinner with donors, we should note, it was about a thousand dollars at least to get in. These were major donors and campaign bundlers who were there.

That is notable because, typically, Trump has relied on those small dollar donors in the past. As of last Thursday, when news that he had become a target, he was being indicted, when the indictment was released and unsealed on Friday, that is when you started to see them fundraising and the emails where they typically get smaller donations from. They are definitely using it to their advantage in that perspective.

I still think the question of whether it puts him in legal peril is obviously a major one. We don't know exactly what that is going to look like. But what we are getting a clearer picture is of how they're going to use it to benefit the 2024 campaign to raise all this money. Of course, we should note part of this money is also going to paying his legal fees.

BLITZER: Yes, that is a good point as well. And I know you are doing a lot of reporting, you know, on all of this, all of the stuff going on, Jamie. Let's talk a little bit about how much Trump's legal defense strategy is actually intertwined with his political strategy.

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Good luck to those lawyers. Look, there is no question that his lawyers will have a legal strategy for what is going on inside the courtroom. That said, for Donald Trump, this is one game. It is going to be what we saw at the Versailles Cafe, it's going to be the fundraising, and it's going to be his coming out, as we heard him say, and say, you know, they were my papers, or I'm a victim.


Donald Trump is going to stick to the Donald Trump playbook no matter how much jeopardy he is in because he thinks that's what works.

BLITZER: Yes. Well, it is working financially, at least so far for his campaign.

Shan Wu, do you expect Jack Smith and the prosecutors to actually cease on Trump's public claims that he has made in that speech last night that he owns these documents, for example, that he was too busy to go through all of these boxes? What do you think?

SHAN WU, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, it is very helpful of Trump to give them this preview of what his defense is going to be. They don't really have to do too much with it at the moment because he would have to actually take the stand and make that statement or his lawyers can try to raise it in opening or in cross and by being prepared ahead of time, they will be able to counter it with some very simple facts, for example, the contents perhaps don't contain shoes.

BLITZER: Yes, anything you say can and will be used against you, the old expression.

Dave Aronberg is with us as well. You're down in Florida. What do you make, Dave, of Judge Aileen Cannon's more limited experience, we are now learning, about running actual criminal trials?

DAVE ARONBERG, STATE ATTORNEY, PALM BEACH COUNTY, FLORIDA: Good to be back with you, Wolf. I'm not as concerned with her limited experience as much as her rulings last year clearly in favor of Donald Trump. It was so bad and seemingly so biased that the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals repudiated her and took her off the case.

So, I am hoping she will be chastened this time around. We'll see a new and improved Aileen Cannon. Not as concerned with her lack of experience but there are ways she could put her thumb on the scale without getting reversed by the 11th Circuit. She could grant Trump's endless requests for delays. That's Trump's strategy. He wants to put this past the 2024 election. And with her at the helm, I think he is likely to do so.

BLITZER: Paula, what more can you tell us about Trump's co-defendant, Walt Nauta, and his sticking so closely by the former president's side even though they were told by the judge you can't discuss the trial or any of the issues together?

REID: Well, he is sticking close to his side because that is part of his job as one of his closest aides, and that is what makes this unique. Usually, you can't discuss a case with your co-defendant or really any witnesses in a criminal prosecution, but, here, the judge recognized that, look, we understand you work very closely together, so we can't say you can't communicate at all but you can't talk about the case. There is no way to police that, though. There is no way to know if that is actually happening.

And, look, at some point, Walt Nauta's interests and those of the former president are going to diverge. And Walt Nauta is going to have a difficult decision to make. He has been under enormous pressure in this case to flip. He has not done so. And I am also told by sources close to the former president that he has gotten a lot better about keeping anyone who poses a potential legal threat to him much closer, much more loyal. I'm told that he learned a lot from what happened with Michael Cohen.

BLITZER: Shan, if you were Walt Nauta's defense attorney, what would you advise him right now?

WU: I would advise him that we should have taken the plea deal a lot earlier. At this point, and it is kind of late because they have the evidence. And as time goes on, your value becomes less and less to the prosecution. But he needs to listen and we always tell the client, you know, you have to think about yourself at this point.

BLITZER: First and foremost, think about yourself, that's absolutely right.

Dave, the indictment lays out two separate times that Trump actually showed classified documents to staffers while he was at his Bedminster, New Jersey property. Could we see additional charges, do you believe, in New Jersey?

ARONBERG: We sure can, Wolf. The indictment you see in south Florida excludes many facts about Trump's actions in Bedminster. That leaves open the ability for Jack Smith to file another action in New Jersey. I mean, we don't know, like what about the boxes that were taken there? What is in them? Where were they stored at the club? So, perhaps there is more to come.

And I see this, Wolf, as an insurance policy for prosecutors in case Judge Cannon frustrates their case in the Southern District of Florida, in case she delays it so much past the 2024 election. You could see a sooner trial in New Jersey with perhaps a friendlier judge.

REID: We've done reporting on this. There is no indication that there's ever been any grand jury work in New Jersey. And as we know, Kaitlan and I were part of the team that broke the story about the recording where he says he claims to have a classified document. Based on our reporting, it is not clear that the government is even in possession of that.

So, at this point, if there was an issue with venue, if something went south in Florida, it appears it is more likely they bring it up to D.C. We have no reporting at this point to indicate that this case would head to New Jersey.

BLITZER: The grand jury in Washington, D.C. and in Florida. Go ahead.

COLLINS: I just was going to say I was rereading the indictment again the other day and it does detail just how much New Jersey played such a -- this is what I read. It does show -- we'll get into that later. But it does show just how much New Jersey, though, did play a role in this when it talks about how -- when the Justice Department officials, one of those who was actually in court yesterday, Jay Bratt, came to Mar-a-Lago to meet with Trump's representation, Christina Bobb and Evan Corcoran at the time, to talk about documents, Trump was supposed to go to Bedminster days before that.


But he delayed his summer vacation plans, waiting so he could be there when those attorneys did come by.

Of course, the indictment says that was also the same day before that when Evan Corcoran was going through the storage room that Walt Nauta, they say, he was moving boxes up to the residence, not bringing them all back to the storage room.

BLITZER: Hard to believe but this process is only just beginning right now. Guys, everybody stand by. We're going to continue to discuss what is going on.

Also just ahead, we'll talk more about the political impact of Trump's prosecution and whether his Republican primary opponents are now open to granting him a pardon. Stay with us.


BLITZER: Some of Donald Trump's GOP primary rivals are weighing in on the possibility of a pardon for the former president if one of them wins the White House.

Let's bring in our Political Commentators into this conversation. With us, former Clinton Campaign Senior Adviser Karen Finney and Republican Strategist Alice Stewart.

Alice, I want you to listen to what the former vice president, Mike Pence, just said. He spoke out about whether he would actually pardon his former boss if he became president of the United States. [18:20:03]

Listen to this.


MIKE PENCE, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: I take the pardon authority very seriously. It is an enormously important power of someone in an executive position. And I just think it is premature to have any conversation about that right now.

Look, we either believe in our judicial process in this country or we don't. We either stand by the rule of law or we don't.


BLITZER: Alice, how notable is it that Pence won't formally publicly commit to a pardon.

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Because he doesn't want to alienate Trump's base, pure and simple. And he knows that the base would be open to candidates that would offer a pardon to the president because that would certainly help the president and they feel it would be in the best interest of the country.

But you also have to remember what the vice president said yesterday speaking to The Wall Street Journal board. Initially he was rather supportive of the president. Now, he is pushing back, saying he cannot defend the actions of the former president.

And we're seeing that more and more with these candidates. Originally, they came right out of the gate saying this was weaponization of the DOJ and this was witch hunt and unequal balance of the legal scales. But now we are seeing others, Nikki Haley and Tim Scott also saying this is very serious and egregious behavior that needs to be taken much more seriously.

BLITZER: Let me get Kaitlan into this. You're doing a lot of reporting on this. What do you hear?

COLLINS: I mean, I think they are basically contorting themselves trying to decide how to talk about this. I think we've seen a shift, not maybe a huge one, but a subtle shift from the Nikki Haleys and the Tim Scotts and other candidates ever since the indictment was unsealed, also with Pence given what, of course, he told Dana in his town hall, saying no one is above the rule of law but also he did believe that Trump should be prosecuted here because of what it would do to the country.

I think it is going to be really difficult for Republicans. And you have got other candidates like Vivek Ramaswamy who is going around daring all the Republicans to say that they would pardon Donald Trump if they are elected. Obviously, I don't think a lot of them are going to wade into that territory but I do think it is a question people will be asking. BLITZER: It's interesting. Another Republican candidate, Nikki Haley, says she is inclined to pardon Trump. How do you see this unfolding? Is this a new fault line for these Republican candidates?

GANGEL: Everyone is playing this balancing act. And, actually, what I think is notable is that former Vice President Mike Pence didn't say, yes, I will pardon him. He said it is premature. These are Republicans who have been looking for the biggest desk they could find to hide under.

COLLINS: The resolute desk.


GANGEL: But I find it frankly interesting that they are inching toward this, that they're saying it is serious. That, not all of them, and there is a balancing act here, as Alice said, because of Trump's base, but someone like Mike Pence, I think that is pretty out there for him.

BLITZER: It is interesting that the president of the United States, Joe Biden, he is refusing to discuss, to say anything publicly about Trump's legal problems right now. As the campaign unfolds, is that going to be possible for him to stay silent on this?

FINNEY: Absolutely. I think, very wisely, Joe Biden and the White House and everyone, frankly, recognizes that this is a time to let the legal system play out. There is nothing that anyone can say that would be helpful. It would only be a deterrent. And stand back and watch the GOP candidates play this three-dimensional chess as they are trying to both navigate the Republican primary.

But, clearly, they're aware that in a general election context, saying that you will pardon Trump is not going to play the same way that it will, let's say, in an Iowa caucus. And so for the administration staying out of it and, again, not being seen to, in any way, shape, or form, influence the legal system is absolutely the right move.

STEWART: The discouraging thing with this is this right here paralyzes all the 2024 candidates. They want to be out there in Iowa talking about the economy and crime and education, yet they are constantly being asked about this. This is dominating the headlines. And as someone who has been out on the campaign trail and had Donald Trump steal the headlines, it is very discouraging.

But at the same time, they look at these numbers. CBS and Ipsos poll shows that between 76 and 80 percent of Republican voters believe this is politically motivated. And so they have to make sure that they don't overstep their bounds and do something to piss off the base.

BLITZER: All right. Everybody stand by. We have got more to discus. That's coming up.

Also tonight, a long shot Republican candidate has officially entered the 2024 race, the Miami mayor, Francis Suarez, has filed paperwork to run for president. He's promising to make what he calls a major announcement as he prepares to speak at the Reagan library in California on Thursday.

Coming up, how Trump's defenders in Congress are spinning his indictment and attacking the U.S. Justice Department.


We'll discuss that and more with Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff, who just survived a vote to censure him in the House of Representatives for his role in investigating Trump.

We'll be right back.


BLITZER: Some of Donald Trump's staunchest allies in Congress are borrowing from his playbook going on the attack after his arrest and arraignment on 37 federal criminal charges.

Our Chief Congressional Correspondent Manu Raju is up on Capitol Hill. Manu, what are you hearing from Republicans?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Republicans are divided in the aftermath of this indictment being unsealed and the arrest of former President Donald Trump on federal charges.


Some of his staunchest defenders are rushing to defend him, trying to use the leverage of power in Congress to go after the Justice Department, as J.D. Vance is doing on the Senate side to hold up nominees for the Justice Department, and in the House, some warning that they may call Jack Smith, the special counsel, to come testify and may even try to defund parts of the Justice Department.


REP. RALPH NORMAN (R-SC): FBI, whole Justice Department needs to be looked at.

RAJU: Defunding?


RAJU: Defunding FBI?

NORMAN: Parts of it. Jack Smith ought to come in. I think he will. And this is just the beginning of a long investigation.

RAJU: Do you think the records were secure in Mar-a-Lago?

SEN. TOMMY TUBERVILLE (R-AL): Yes, they were secure. I mean, he said they had to go in there and they had to bring a lock smith to open some of the locks.

RAJU: Some were in the bathroom, though.

TUBERVILLE: Well, I don't know about that. No, I don't know about that.


RAJU: And some other Republicans are not excusing Donald Trump's conduct, his alleged conduct, the way he handled classified records, the way he read out allegedly these records to people at Mar-a-Lago and allegedly tried to obstruct this investigation, even as they tried to equate what happened with Donald Trump with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton


SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-TX): I am worried about Joe Biden's misuse of classified information. I think we should treat all these cases exactly the same.

RAJU: You don't have any concerns with the former president's conduct?

CORNYN: I do have concerns. What they did was unacceptable.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): The conduct in question I think is not appropriate but it wasn't appropriate for Hillary Clinton to do what she did, Biden to have documents on the garage floor.


RAJU: And Republicans and Democrats are bracing for any other charges in other investigations that Donald Trump is facing. Graham telling me later there would be a, quote, major outrage among Republicans if Donald Trump is, in fact, indicted in a separate probe, the federal probe into January 6th. Uncertain what will come of that investigation but everybody watching that very closely, Wolf.

BLITZER: It is interesting, Manu, as you well know, Republicans tried and failed, failed to censure Congressman Adam Schiff today. What is behind this?

RAJU: Yes. This was an effort pushed by freshman conservative Anna Paulina Luna, who offered a resolution to force the House to vote to essentially censure Congressman Adam Schiff over his role in the Russia investigation, over his comments linking Russia to Donald Trump. The resolution would have called for a fine of $16 million for Mr. Schiff.

Republicans actually voted against it. In fact, 20 Republicans voted against this, voting with Democrats to essentially to kill this resolution on the House floor today. That was enough to essentially scuttle this and put it aside for now. Some of them concerned about the precedent it would set even as the freshman Republican is indicating that she, in fact, will try to revise the measure next week, change some of the language to try to court more Republican support. Though, Wolf, it is still unclear if it would have enough votes to pass.

BLITZER: All right. Manu, thank you very much, Manu Raju up on Capitol Hill. Let's stay up on Capitol Hill. Joining us now, Congressman Adam Schiff, he's the Democrat of California. Congressman, thank you so much for joining us.

We have a lot to discuss. But, first, what does it say to you that Republicans are gearing up for another attempt to censure you after this latest effort today failed?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Well, look. I am flattered they view me as such a threat to them that they view me as effective in holding Donald Trump accountable, and this is the way they want to lash out. But it is not going to deter me. They can introduce all the resolutions they want. It can be $16 million or $160 million, I am not going to stop defending our democracy.

But for the speaker, Speaker McCarthy, to bring this stuff to the floor is an embarrassment and it's also an abuse the House resources. It would be laughable if you had George Santos today saying we have got to pass this to restore integrity of the House. This stuff would be laughable if it wasn't the House of Representatives.

But it is clear the lunatics have taken over the asylum and they want to try to distract from Trump's legal woes, they want to and gratify his MAGA base by going after someone they consider his chief antagonist.

BLITZER: I know you've defended your previous comments alleging collusion between Trump and Russia. As Trump faces a historic indictment right now, have you learned any lessons on how to talk about his legal peril?

SCHIFF: Well, let's face it. Trump's campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, as you know was giving internal campaign polling data and their battleground strategy for key states to an agent of Russian intelligence, something that most Americans call collusion. So, my statements are accurate. I stand by them, as I think the American people do.

But, look, they are going to go after me no matter what. And I'm just going to keep on defending the truth and I'm going to keep on defending our democracy. And the only lesson I take from this recent attack is if you do your job and you stand up to the MAGA world, you have got to be prepared to take all the incoming, and I am prepared to do so.


BLITZER: What concerns do you have, Congressman, about these calls by some House Republicans to subpoena the special counsel, Jack Smith, and to try to defund his entire office?

SCHIFF: Well, I think this is another reason why they're going after me, Wolf. I serve now as a senior member of the judiciary committee. Kevin McCarthy may rue the day he took me off intel because I am in a position now to push back against Jim Jordan and the Republicans on the committee effort to interfere in the prosecution of Donald Trump. As I said last week, you know, Donald Trump has plenty of good criminal defense lawyers. That is not the job of members of Congress to be on his defense team but this is what they're trying to do and I am going to resist those efforts in every way I can.

It is absurd to me that you have so many Republicans attacking the Justice Department. They were doing it before they even read the indictment. Now, presidential candidates are saying they would pardon him. Clearly, in their view, it doesn't matter how many times he violates the law, it doesn't matter how serious his transgressions, they will stand by him because they think that is where the Republican base is at this moment and they are willing to essentially ignore their oath of office and their duty to the Constitution to devote themselves completely to this flawed human being.

BLITZER: You are a former federal prosecutor out in California. Should the U.S. Justice Department, Congressman, ask Judge Aileen Cannon to recuse herself from this case?

SCHIFF: I don't think there is a basis for the Justice Department to ask her to recuse herself based on her appointment by Trump or even the fact that her ruling, which was very beneficial to him, was overturned by a conservative circuit. I am concerned with her impartiality not because she was overturned and not because who she was appointed by but the ruling that she made earlier.

The appointment of a special master, is so unprecedented in a criminal proceeding like this that to me it does potentially portray a real bias here and would cause her judgments to be called into question. So, I do have serious concerns about her but I don't think there is a basis for the Justice Department to seek to remove her.

BLITZER: Congressman Adam Schiff, as usual, thanks so much for joining us.

SCHIFF: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: Just ahead a live report from Ukraine as Kyiv's forces claim partial success in their new counteroffensive against Russia.

Stay with us. You're in The Situation Room.



BLITZER: Right now, Russia is stepping up its attacks on the key Ukrainian port city of Odessa, launching a deadly barrage of cruise missiles that killed three people overnight, this as Ukraine claims partial success in its new counteroffensive against the Russian occupation.

Our Senior International Correspondent Sam Kiley is joining us live right now from Kyiv. Sam, where is Ukraine making these incremental gains. SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, it is striking, isn't it, that Odessa continues to be bombarded, a major port city, with cruise missiles hitting civilian areas that are, of course, being targeted by very high precision missiles, like cruise missiles. But on the ground, it is a much bloodier and more brutal conflict.

If we look at what is going on south of Bakhmut, there have been now for nearly a week, I'd say, incremental but significant gains by advancing Ukrainian troops as they punch through the salient south of that very, very bitterly contested area.

But more significantly, I think, Wolf, is what is going on on the southern front between Zaporizhzhia, which is Ukrainian-held, and the city of Donetsk, which is Russian-held and Russian-occupied since 2014-2015. And that is that the Ukrainians are making significant but small gains as they try to get through these very strong, very deep Russian defense lines.

And the reason for that, Wolf, is that they want to be able to push through, cut off the southern front from the eastern front, split the Russian forces, and, of course, drive down towards the Crimean Peninsula. And to help them with that, interestingly enough, the Americans have recognized already that the losses being taken on that front are significant enough that they need immediate replenishment.

So, we have seen America now coming forward with 15 Bradley fighting vehicles, 20 Strikers, HIMARS and other ammunition, 155 ammunition, very important resupply to maintain the momentum as this counteroffensive gets under way. Wolf?

BLITZER: It is a critical moment indeed. Sam Kiley on the scene for us in Kyiv, thank you very much.

Coming up, what is next for indicted Trump aide Walt Nauta? We'll have a closer look at the former president's co-defendant and the impact he could potentially have on the entire case.



BLITZER: One day after Donald Trump's arrest and arraignment on 37 federal criminal charges, questions are swirling around his close aide and co-defendant Walt Nauta who still has not entered a plea.

Brian Todd is taking a closer look at all of this for us.

Brian, what's next for Nauta, and how is the Trump team preparing?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Walt Nauta is scheduled to be arraigned in a little less than two weeks on June 27th. At the moment, Nauta does have his own attorney who CNN has learns has been paid by a pro- Trump super PAC organization. But how long Nauta stays under the Trump umbrella, that's a key question. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice-over): Still unwavering, he remained by Donald Trump's side when the former president stopped at Miami's popular Versailles restaurant after they appeared in court. A Trump adviser tells CNN, Trump's codefendant and body man Walt Nauta will continue to travel and work side by side with Trump even though they're both facing multiple serious charges in the Mar-a-Lago documents investigation.

The judge ordered the two men not to talk about the case.

MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, AUTHOR, "THE TRUTH ABOUT TRUMP": Donald Trump is keeping Nauta close to him so he can maintain his influence.

TODD: Walt Nauta faces six counts including some related to obstruction and concealment of the documents. Prosecutors say he lied to investigators about the location of documents at Mar-a-Lago.

Michael Cohen, Trump's former lawyer and fixer, who pleaded guilty and served jail time in relation to the Stormy Daniels hush money case has a warning for Nauta.



Donald will throw you under the bus as fast as he threw me under the bus. He doesn't care about anyone or anything.

TODD: And that's the key question tonight. Will Nauta flip on Trump and cooperate with prosecutors in exchange for leniency? Analysts are split on the odds of Nauta cutting a deal.

JEFFREY JACOBOVITZ, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: If I was his attorney, I would see if I could cooperate, but not have to plead guilty or get any jail time as a result.

TODD: But others point out that the 40-year-old former Navy enlisted man who served Trump in the White House mess hall, then as his White House valet, has so far demonstrated nothing but unflagging loyalty to the former president.

DANIEL J. HORWITZ, FORMER ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY, MANHATTAN DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S OFFICE: I think the die has been cast. He's clearly made a decision that he is not going to flip on the president. He's lied for the guy at least according to what the allegations are. He's lied for the president. And so I see him sticking it out until the very end.

TODD: But would Donald Trump be as loyal in return?

D'ANTONIO: I think there's little doubt that Donald Trump has disdain for most of the people who work for him. They understood that there was one top dog, and no one else really held any status at all. Every person was expendable. TODD: If Walt Nauta were to flip on Trump, how valuable could he be to

the prosecution?

HORWITZ: It could be incredibly valuable. He's going to talk about all the conversations that he had with President Trump about these documents. I know I'm not supposed to have these or what are we going to do with these or I have the stuff, I'm really not supposed to have it, but I'm not giving it to them because, you know, screw them.


TODD (on camera): If convicted on all or some of these charges, Walt Nauta faces significant prison time. His attorney has repeatedly declined to comment to CNN about this case -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Brian Todd reporting -- Brian, thank you.

This note to our viewers, coming up on "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" right after THE SITUATION ROOM, a Republican senator on the intelligence committee on Donald Trump's arrest and arraignment. That's coming up 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

Just ahead here in THE SITUATION ROOM, a grand jury in New York votes to indict the man who held a subway rider in a fatal chokehold. We have new details. We'll share them with you, right after a quick break.



BLITZER: CNN has learned that a grand jury in New York has just voted to indict the retired U.S. marine who held a fellow subway rider in a chokehold, eventually killing him.

Our chief law enforcement and intelligence analyst John Miller has been following this story for us.

I know you've confirmed this information through a source, John. What else are you learning?

JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: Well, we know that Daniel Penny was indicted on second-degree manslaughter. That is a charge that says you recklessly caused the death of another. The charge does not require that that has to be intentional. It just states that a reasonable person would have known that their actions could have led to the death of another.

So, what we have here is the case of Jordan Neely, a 30-year-old homeless man on the subway, who was acting in a threatening manner, according to multiple witnesses on the subway car. He was saying, I don't care if I go to jail, I don't care if I go to jail for life. He took off his jacket, he threw it down.

He said, I'm tired, I'm hungry, I'm thirsty. He balled his hands into fists, according to witnesses. And that is when the former marine took action by taking him in a headlock, taking him down. And there is video, disturbing video, of what occurred when he held him down.

He says he was not trying to kill Jordan Neely. Daniel penny has said through his attorneys that he was just holding him there as he struggled, waiting for help to arrive, and then when he let go, Mr. Jordan Neely was unresponsive.

So, it took two weeks for the arrest to happen. Authorities wanted to talk to the witnesses, listen to the 911 tapes and get the report from the medical examiner. But now, it has gone to an arrest. And as of today, a grand jury we expect an announcement from the Manhattan district attorney about this tomorrow.

BLITZER: We will see what they say.

John Miller, thank you very, very much.

Also tonight, we're keeping an eye on the severe weather threat here in the United States, especially in the southeast. More than 70 million Americans on alert tonight for tornados, very large hail, and damaging winds.

Let's get the very latest forecast from our meteorologist who's joining us from the CNN weather center.

Chad, what is the situation like right now?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: There's a lot of humidity in the Gulf of Mexico and it's bumping up against the front here across the deep south. That's where the focus of where this severe weather is tonight. And we've already had tornados on the ground, very large tornados on the ground in parts of Alabama and also even into Georgia.

The white boxes, the yellow boxes we are going to see severe thunderstorm watches but tornado watches down toward the south. That's the area we're really concerned about with tornados overnight. Those are the most deadly.

The warnings go out, but you don't hear them. You need to have a way to get those warnings tonight, something that will wake you up, whether it is your radio, whether it is your phone, something that will get you out of bed into a safe place.

Here where the tornado warnings are right now across the Deep South, just to the east there of I-75 in about Tifton, Georgia. But this is going on all night and move you ahead until morning hours. Storms are still going in the morning.

A bumpy overnight in Tallahassee. Big trees in Tallahassee, wind to 80 miles per hour. Those power lines are going to be coming down for you, Tallahassee, all the way down to Jacksonville by tomorrow afternoon.

And then by the time we wake up tomorrow afternoon into tomorrow night, we start to see the potential for more tornados in the plains. So, yes, big, big weather tonight, tomorrow and evening into the weekend. Six tornados on the ground already. And flash flooding is going to be a possibility. And if that's not enough for you, by the weekend, there will be some

smoke in the air for all of the Northeast, not as much as last time, but smoke in the air, nonetheless.

BLITZER: Not looking forward to that.

Chad Myers, thank you very much.

And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.