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Biden Says, We Will Not Waver in Support for Ukraine; Zelenskyy Leaves Summit Without Timeline on NATO Entry; FBI Director Wray Grilled by GOP Critics in House Hearing; NATO Presents United Front on Ukraine After Tense Summit; Manhunt Intensifies for Escaped Pennsylvania Fugitive. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired July 12, 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, President Biden vows the United States and the NATO allies will not waver in their support of Ukraine. Their critical summit here in Lithuania ending with a strong show of unity, despite unanswered questions about when Ukraine will be invited to join the NATO alliance.
Also tonight, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, he returns to Ukraine with new assurances from western allies and face to face commitment from President Biden, but Zelenskyy leaves the summit without concrete security guarantees or a timeline for NATO membership.
We're watching all of this unfold right now here in The Situation Room, what does it all mean for Ukraine's defense against Russia's brutal war. I'll ask the Ukrainian ambassador to the United States who's joining us live this hour.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Vilnius, Lithuania, and you're in The Situation Room.
We're live here in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, and the backdrop for a truly momentous summit for President Biden and the NATO alliance, NATO leaders offering the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, just enough to ease his frustrations and to soften his very public criticism. But tonight, Zelenskyy still doesn't have a definite roadmap to reach his goal of NATO membership for Ukraine.
Let's begin with our White House Correspondent Arlette Saenz, she's already in Helsinki, Finland, where President Biden landed just a little while ago. Arlette, what's the final readout from the summit and the talks between presidents Biden and Zelenskyy?
ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, President Biden says he feels his hour-long meeting with Ukrainian president Zelenskyy went very well. After the start of the summit, it got off to a bit of a tense start. Zelenskyy is returning to Ukraine without that clear roadmap towards membership in NATO, but he is leaving with some long-term security commitments from some of the world's biggest western democracies.
President Biden, for his part, says that he accomplished the main goals he set out to accomplish in this summit, including rallying those allies to provide more support for Ukraine and showing a strengthened NATO alliance.
SAENZ (voice over): Tonight President Biden basking in another show of unity for Ukraine.
JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: We will not waver. Our commitment to Ukraine will not weaken. We will stand for liberty and freedom today, tomorrow and for as long as it takes.
SAENZ: Ukrainian President Zelenskyy at Biden's side as he tried to ease some of the NATO summit's tension.
BIDEN: Your resilience and your resolve has been a model for the whole world to see. And the frustration I can only imagine.
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: Thank you, Mr. President, that you, like we say, shoulder to shoulder with us.
SAENZ: The U.S. and G7 allies making historic security commitments prepare to help Ukraine for the long haul.
BIDEN: We're going to provide security to Ukraine for its needs against any aggression that may occur.
Our support will last long into the future.
SAENZ: A declaration from the U.S. and G7 pledging unwavering support for Ukraine with the allies working towards bilateral, long-term security commitments to Ukraine, but falling short of establishing concrete security measures even as Ukraine remains out of the NATO alliance.
BIDEN: All our allies agree that Ukraine's future lies in NATO.
SAENZ: Zelenskyy initially rebuked NATO leaders for not setting a timeline for Ukraine's entry, but NATO has removed one significant barrier in the country's path and is ready to work with Kyiv as it makes reforms.
BIDEN: I hope we finally have put to bed the notion about whether or not Ukraine is welcome in NATO. It's going to happen.
SAENZ: And as the NATO gathering wrapped, a shift in tone from Zelenskyy.
ZELENSKYY: The outcome of the NATO summit in Vilnius were much needed and meaningful, successf for Ukraine.
SAENZ: The summit another test for Biden's push to reinvigorate the NATO alliance, highlighting America's role on the world stage. BIDEN: We face a choice, a choice between a world defined by coercion and exploitation where might makes right or a world where we recognize that our own success is bound to the success of others.
SAENZ: And sending a direct message to Vladimir Putin.
BIDEN: When Putin is and his craven lust for land and power unleashed his brutal war on Ukraine, he was betting NATO would break apart. He thought democratic leaders would be weak, but he thought wrong.
SAENZ (on camera): President Biden is now here in Helsinki, Finland, the latest and newest member of the NATO alliance. Tomorrow, he will meet with Nordic leaders within a summit here including Sweden's prime minister. Sweden, of course, is expected to soon join NATO now that Turkey has blocked its objections into entering the alliance.
Both Finland and Sweden had been long-time non-allied partners, but due to Russia's war in Ukraine, they did seek entrance into the NATO alliance. Wolf?
BLITZER: Arlette Saenz in Helsinki for us, Arlette, thank you very much.
Presidents Biden and Zelenskyy, they certainly did heap praise on one another after their face-to-face talks here in Vilnius. But do tensions, serious tensions really remain?
Let's go live to Ukraine right now. CNN's Senior National Security Correspondent Alex Marquardt is joining us right now. We saw some moments of tension, but what's the latest? What are you picking up, Alex?
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we certainly did, Wolf. Since the beginning of this war, Ukraine has often pushed for more weapons and faster, faster than NATO would like to give them, and that has often spilled into frustration on both sides. So, we did see some real tension on display over the course of the past two days that started even before Zelenskyy got to the summit in Vilnius when he said that Ukraine not getting a concrete path to joining NATO was both unprecedented and absurd.
Now, that tone from Zelenskyy did soften as it became clear to him that he would be getting short and long-term security assurances as well as these new military aid packages, but, Wolf, we did hear clear signs of frustration from two of the most senior officials from two of the biggest allied nations. The first was British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace, who said that people want to feel gratitude for what they're giving to Ukraine. He told a story about going to Kyiv last summer when he was presented with a list of weapons that Ukraine wanted, and he says that he responded that the U.K. is not Amazon.
And then we heard from the national security adviser from the U.S., Jake Sullivan, who responded to an angry Ukrainian activist complaining that NATO would not allow Ukraine into the alliance and this is how he responded.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAKE SULLIVAN, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: And I think the American people do deserve a degree of gratitude for -- from us, from the United States, from our government deserve gratitude for their willingness to step up and from the rest of the world as well, as do every ally and partner that's supporting it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARQUARDT: So, Wolf, Ukraine does try to balance its asks with thank yous, but oftentimes that balance is off and tensions can arise from that. Wolf?
BLITZER: Alex, I want you to stay with us. I also want to bring in our Russia expert, Jill Dougherty, into this conversation, along with CNN National Security Reporter Natasha Bertrand, who's here with me in Vilnius right now.
And, Natasha, the president, President Biden, touting these security commitments, but it seems still pretty much unclear what exactly they are.
NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Yes, Wolf. So, we got this big declaration from the G7 today formalizing their long-term commitments to Ukraine, including enhanced security cooperation. And as part of that, there was an agreement that, bilaterally, the countries in the G7 would be working with Ukraine to figure out what the best security arrangement is for each country.
But there was actually an interesting footnote in there, which is that they are going to prioritize new modern weapons to Ukraine as part of this long-term security arrangement, including artillery, ammunition, and long-range fires. And that long-range fires element of this, those long range missiles ask and equipment that Ukraine has been wanting, that is going to be really key, because the Brits, they already are providing, of course, long-range missiles.
Will the United States do the same as part of this new formalized long-term security arrangement with the Ukrainians given that this is not just an arrangement that is going to be in the short-term? Will the United States finally come afternoon and provide Ukraine with that long-range equipment?
President Biden told reporters today that he is actually considering sending those to ATACMS to Ukraine, but he has not made a final decision. But this really lays out, even if not in great detail, the commitment by the G7 and western Democrats to seeing that Ukraine has the right equipment and training that it needs for the long haul.
BLITZER: Yes, good point, indeed. And, Jill, you're our Russia expert. What's the takeaway from this summit for Vladimir Putin?
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR, RUSSIAN AFFAIR: I think it's a disaster for Vladimir Putin. I mean, let's start, you know, Finland and Sweden in NATO, Ukraine, a promise, the indication that it's inevitable, even if you don't have a timeline, the G7 is giving security assurances to Ukraine, and the irony, Wolf, that, you know, Russia used to be in the G8 until it was kicked out for illegally annexing Crimea.
And then, finally, I think one thing that will really bother Putin is the decision by President Erdogan of Turkey to change his mind and support Sweden's entry into NATO. That is a real problem, and also his decision to have Turkey or asking to get into the E.U. that ties Turkey closer to Europe, and that is a real problem for Putin.
BLITZER: It certainly is. Alex, you're there in Ukraine for us. Is Ukraine bracing for Russian retaliation after this NATO summit?
MARQUARDT: Well, Wolf, that is certainly something that President Zelenskyy says is a real possibility. Oftentimes there is no rhyme or reason for when Russia decides to strike, beyond sowing terror. But one thing that President Zelenskyy says could be done now is threatening the humanitarian front, threatening humanitarian corridors, threatening that very fragile grain deal, of course. Ukraine sends grain all over the world from its port in Odessa through an agreement that was brokered through the U.N. and Turkey. And that deal is due to expire in just a couple of days' time. And Russia has shown signs that it may not want to re-up and resign that deal. So, that is certainly somewhere where Russia could exact its revenge, Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, good point. Natasha, there's quite a contrast between the unity that we saw among these NATO allies and what's going on in Russia right now.
BERTRAND: Wolf, the differences really could not be starker. I mean, we saw that Wagner really marched into Russia and the divisions, of course, that were sowed after that, the fact that the Russian military could not even respond in a proper way. And ever since that, we've seen, of course, a fracturing between Putin and some of his top allies in the Kremlin. Today was a show of unity, very different indeed.
BLITZER: Good point. All right, to our viewers stay with CNN for my exclusive interview with the U.S. defense secretary, Lloyd Austin. He's here also in Vilnius. We'll break down the NATO summit, what's next for Ukraine, the state of Vladimir Putin's war, all that coming up tomorrow, right here in the situation room 6:00 P.M. Eastern.
Coming up next here in The Situation Room, are Ukrainian officials entirely clear about the promises they're hearing from the NATO allies? The Ukrainian ambassador to the United States will join us live. That's coming up next.
We're here, we're live in Lithuania, and you're in The Situation Room.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [18:15:00]
BLITZER: It's after 1:00 A.M. Thursday here in Vilnius, Lithuania, where I am. We're continuing our live coverage of the NATO summit, a truly historic moment.
So, what did the alliance get and not get and what did they offer the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy?
Joining us now from Washington, the Ukrainian ambassador to the United States, Oksana Markarova. Ambassador, thank you so much for joining us. As you know, President Zelenskyy really wanted a formal invitation and a time line to join NATO after the war. He got other assurances. Do those go far enough?
OKSANA MARKAROVA, UKRAINIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED STATES: Thank you, Wolf, for having me, nice to see you in Vilnius. We would like to be members of NATO, as we repeatedly said. This is in our hearts and our constitution. That's what people of Ukraine wants, and, frankly, this is the only long-term solution for the region and for transatlantic community.
I think this forum, and this time it has been a very important milestone, and we have started the NATO-Ukraine council, we have a very powerful G7 declaration in support of Ukraine. We have great meeting between our presidents, where, again, they vote in a very friendly manner discussed, all the issues, all the prospects, and I think we are on track, and we are moving in the right direction.
Now, of course as we say with this war that Russia started against Ukraine, we will only be completely happy when we win the war and when Russians are out. Similar with NATO, of course, we all will be completely happy when we will be members of NATO. And today, we heard loud and clear from President Biden that he also looks forward to that day.
So, we know a lot needs to be done. We know reforms need to be done. We also know that with our battle-tested army, with our love to freedom and values that we defend, there is a lot we can offer to NATO. So, I think it was a great family-type of discussion between all the NATO members and hopefully that moment when the allies will agree and conditions are met, will be sooner rather than later.
BLITZER: The U.S. ambassador and the G7 nations for that matter, they are promising security commitments to Ukraine. Are you clear, ambassador, on what those commitments will look like?
MARKAROVA: Well, look, in the declaration, the countries, G7 countries put together what types of, you know, commitments are going to be there and the categories are very loud here. The declaration also has said very clearly at the end of that that it's not a replacement for anything. It's actually we are using this -- making this -- taking this effort while Ukraine is working towards its transatlantic aspirations.
It's a very important document. It's a great basis of all G7 agreeing on that together with Ukraine, and now we will work actively on a bilateral basis with our friends and colleagues on putting it into a bilateral format. So, we look forward to working with my counterparts, of course, on this.
But I think you also -- as President Zelenskyy said, you also see these commitments already on the battlefield. Their support, the security support, the budget support, the humanitarian support that American people, American president, Congress, on a strong bipartisan basis, provides to us, and for which we are very grateful is already there. This declaration once again proved that not only U.S. and other countries will stay the course with us, but actually that we are together until we win.
BLITZER: As you know, a top Biden official is here -- who's here with the president and the British defense secretary, for that matter, they both did suggested the allies want to what they called gratitude for their ongoing support for Ukraine. What's your hear specific reaction, Ambassador, to that?
MARKAROVA: Wolf, we are very grateful. You know, that, of course, we are fighting this fight because we have the brave president who's leading the nation. We have our defenders on the frontlines, which are paying with their lives for their freedom and independence of Ukraine but also for anyone who believes in these values, but we also know we wouldn't be able to do it without the U.S. or all of our friends and allies who have been standing shoulder to shoulder with us and providing all the support.
So, we are very grateful, very grateful for everything, but, of course, we say we need more because we need to win, because we need to liberate territory territories and save all the people who have been tortured, raped and killed. Of course, we need to restore international order. So, the fact that we are discussing frankly with our allies that we still need to stay the course and do a little bit more does not mean we are not grateful. We are very grateful to every American who's supporting us, for every dollar that we're using very responsibly and effectively.
BLITZER: I know you are. Ambassador Oksana Markarova, thank you so much for joining us. And as I say to you all the time, good luck to you, good luck indeed to all the people of Ukraine.
Coming up, there were fireworks up on Capitol Hill in Washington as House Republicans grilled the FBI director, Christopher Wray. We're going to have a live report, a recap of the hearing. That's coming up.
Stay with us. You're in The Situation Room. We're live from Vilnius, Lithuania.
BLITZER: We are live here in the Lithuanian capital city of Vilnius, where NATO leaders today gathered for a summit with the war in Ukraine front and center on the agenda. Back in Washington, the FBI director, Christopher Wray, testified before the house judiciary committee where he took very hostile questions from Republican members on a range of rather controversial issues.
CNN's Sara Murray has the story.
CHRISTOPHER WRAY, DIRECTOR, FBI: Thank you, good morning, Chairman Jordan, Ranking Member Nadler, members of the committee.
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): FBI Director Christopher Wray weighing in on some of the most hot button political investigations in testimony on Capitol Hill, critiquing former President Donald Trump's sloppy retention of classified documents.
WRAY: I don't want to be commenting on the pending case, but I will say that there are specific rules about where to store classified information and that those need to be stored in a SCIF, a secure compartmentalized information facility. And in my experience, ballrooms, bathrooms and bedrooms are not SCIFs.
MURRAY: Insisting in the wake of Hunter Biden's plea deal on tax charges, that the bureau is not protecting the Biden family.
REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): Are you protecting the Bidens?
WRAY: Absolutely not. The FBI does not, has no interest --
GAETZ: Hold on. You won't answer the question about whether or not that --
MURRAY: And disavowing some of the behavior outlined in Special Counsel John Durham's probe, which documented missteps by the FBI in its investigation into the 2016 Trump campaign's ties with Russia.
WRAY: I consider the conduct that was described in the Durham report as totally unacceptable and unrepresentative of what I see from the FBI every day and must never be allowed to happen again.
MURRAY: Wray, however stood by the search at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate.
WRAY: I would not call it a raid. I would call it the execution of a lawful search warrant.
MURRAY: And defended the FBI's rank and file amid a wave of threats in the wake of that search.
WRAY: We did stand up a whole dedicated unit to focus on threats to FBI individuals, FBI employees and FBI facilities because of the uptick that we saw over that time period.
MURRAY: Wray facing off against some of his toughest congressional critics on the House Judiciary Committee, where Republicans have threatened to slash the bureau's budget and accused FBI leadership of political bias.
GAETZ: People trusted the FBI more when Jay Edgar Hoover was running the place than when you are.
WRAY: Respectfully, Congressman, in your home state of Florida, the number of people applying to come work for us and devote their lives working for us is up over 100 percent.
GAETZ: We're deeply proud of them, and they deserve better than you.
MURRAY: All as Democrats took shots at their GOP colleagues.
REP. HANK JOHNSON (D-GA): We are here today because MAGA Republicans will do anything to protect Donald Trump, their savior, no matter how unfounded or dangerous it may be to do so.
MURRAY (on camera): Now, Republicans on this committee have repeatedly claimed that the leadership of the FBI is somehow biased against conservatives. Chris Wray in this hearing said it is insane to me that people would think he was biased against conservatives given his personal background. Wolf, he's, of course, a registered Republican and he was appointed to this position by former Republican President Donald Trump.
BLITZER: Yes, important point. Sara Murray in Washington for us, thank you very much for that report.
Let's discuss today's FBI hearing and the NATO summit in Lithuania. For that I'm joined by a key House Democrat, Jim Himes of Connecticut. He's the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee. Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.
First of all, how do you square the fact that these House Republicans are going on the attack against, as Sara said, a Trump-appointed FBI director who's actually a registered Republican himself?
REP. JIM HIMES (D-CT): Yes. Well, what you're treated to is exactly what we've seen in this Congress, which is showboating, conspiracy theories, you know, talking over the witness, it's performance art is what's happening. But the underlying dynamic, Wolf, just so you understand it is, and I think you alluded to it right there, which is that they need to do whatever they need to do, including defying reality, you know, labeling a Republican-appointed FBI director. It goes on and on and on. They need to label them as biased against Donald Trump, even though these are organizations that are simply pointing out the truth about Donald Trump.
11, fully 11 of Donald Trump's senior campaign managers, people from Paul Manafort to Steve Bannon to Michael Flynn, 11 of them convicted in federal court, by the way, prosecuted by prosecutors under Republican attorney generals. You see, those fact patterns are very, very hard for a group of people who have pledged undying loyalty and unconditional support of Donald Trump.
And so, as a result, what you need to do is put forward these conspiracy theories, unfounded attacks against people like Chris Wray, against the attorney general and just keep it up hoping that some people will buy it.
BLITZER: Congressman, we also learned today something very disturbing. The FBI had to actually create a new unit for actual threats to its personnel, the men and women of the FBI, after its search of Mar-a-Lago. How dangerous is this barrage of rhetoric attacking the FBI?
HIMES: Well, it's absurd, right? And it's just beyond absurd coming from a party which for generations has seen itself as the law and order party. And, again, in their hearts, an awful lot of my Republican colleagues here understand what is happening, and I suspect regret, exactly what you're talking about right now, which is that, you know -- and we saw this. Remember, after the Mar-a-Lago search, we saw somebody actually with a nail gun go after law enforcement.
And so the -- I called it performance art, the showboating. It's not free. It's not free because there's millions of people out there and some tiny percentage of those millions of people are going to believe the performance art that my Republican colleagues put forward here in the Congress, and they're going to choose to act on it. And that's where this gets very, very dangerous.
BLITZER: Potentially indeed, Congressman Jim Himes, as usual, thank you very much for joining us. We appreciate it very much.
And just ahead here in The Situation Room, the former New York mayor, Rudy Giuliani, is clearly in the hot seat after a new court filing alleges he and other 2020 election deniers did not verify their claims of voter fraud. We'll discuss it with our political expert. That's coming up next.
We're live here in Vilnius, Lithuania. We'll be right back.
BLITZER: You're looking at live pictures from Vilnius, Lithuania, where the NATO summit just wrapped up, a historic summit, indeed. We're folllowing that.
We're also following news out of Georgia right now, two election workers who are suing former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani are alleging he and other allies of former President Donald Trump never verified their allegations of voter fraud.
CNN's Senior Crime and Justice Reporter Katelyn Polantz is tracking the story for us. What more can you tell us?
KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, Wolf, this lawsuit has been going on for a bit of time where these election workers are accusing Rudy Giuliani of defamation, but what's happening now is that they have gone to court and said we've got some pretty interesting text messages from December of 2020.
At that time, top Trump lower Boris Epshteyn had written a text message to Giuliani and others saying that they didn't need to have proof of election fraud. They just needed some things that could help them make the case to voters to undermine the election. He wrote, urgent POTUS request, need best examples of election fraud that we've alleged that's super easy to explain, doesn't necessarily have to be proven, but does need to be easy to understand. Is there any sort of greatest hits clearinghouse that anyone has?
Rudy Giuliani then responded three minutes later to that text message saying, yes, look at the security footage in Atlanta of the votes being counted, something that he was really digging into at that time and falsely saying that there were votes being switched, and he was smearing these two women, these election workers, Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss.
The reason this is coming out in this lawsuit right now, Wolf, is because the information came from Boris Epshteyn or others, but they couldn't get this evidence from Rudy Giuliani. They believe it's lost. He can't find it. He's not turning it over to them in the course of this lawsuit. And at this point in time, Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss have gone to the judge and said he should be severely sanctioned. He should have preserved text messages like these and been able to hand them over to us. We should win this case.
We're going to have to wait and see what the judge is going to do. But he's already received a fine of $90,000 for not complying with evidence requests similar to this. And so now, another legal wrinkle for Rudy Giuliani he's going to have to face in this defamation lawsuit related to the 2020 election. Wolf?
BLITZER: Very interesting, indeed. Katelyn Polantz, thank you very much for that report.
Let's discuss this story with CNN's Senior Political Correspondent Abby Phillip and CNN's Chief Legal Analyst Laura Coates.
Laura, legally speaking how damaging are these new details for Giuliani and indeed for other election fraud promoters?
LAURA COATES, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: They are unbelievable to me. Remember, this is not a layman we're talking about. This is Rudy Giuliani who has been practicing law for decades. He has been a prosecutor. He is well aware of sanctions and the possibility of getting them if you fail to produce evidence. He's well aware of a duty of candor that is owed to the court, and also the notion of what are the legal risks of presenting information that might be false or you've taken no time whatsoever to confirm they are truth, putting them into the public sphere and having people be judged against, as the defamation case happened. And so this is very, very telling in terms of what a court will look at these things. They do not essentially give people the benefit of the doubt if somebody is in his position and any defendant or somebody guarding against these actions suggests, hey, I'm sorry, I lost something I should have actually retained.
And also, the defamation umbrella here is so important. We have seen cases before already involving statements made by Giuliani and others in the Dominion defamation suits and beyond about having to verify claims that you present. These election workers you recall in the January 6th hearing, there were actual consequences that they were dealing with and continue to do so in their lives. It's pretty shocking this is coming from a lawyer.
BLITZER: Very shocking, indeed. Abby, how does this impact former President Trump?
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, I think that this is more evidence of what was going on at that time, which is an effort to mislead not just the court, but also the public. There's a clear implication here of deception and the idea that Boris Epshteyn, who is currently still in former President Trump's orbit, was seeking information that was really easy to understand but not necessarily true, really tells you everything that you need to know about what the objective was at that time.
And at the end of the day, all of this led up to not only the deception that Giuliani is accused of here before the court, but also real harassment against these election workers. Ruby Freeman and her mother, they were both harassed basically, people coming to their homes. They weren't able to continue doing their jobs. They basically were at risk of losing their livelihoods all because of these lies, and then, of course, there's what happened on January 6th.
A real direct line between what's being alleged here and what transpired on January 6th, which ultimately ended in death and destruction at the United States Capitol and attempted insurrection on the United States.
BLITZER: Laura, what does this mean for Giuliani's other legal peril in Georgia, for example, and the special counsel election meddling probes that are going on? His potential for disbarment in Washington, D.C., there are already recommendations that he lose his law license, right?
COATES: Yes. And all of the data that's accumulated and the evidence that is gathered in support of one person's claim could also be used actually foundationally in another. There are things that could be looked at in the civil context in particular to determine whether or not this person has some kind of liability. Also, it becomes a blueprint of sorts, Wolf, for, hold on a second, what this person has failed to produce in one area, if they suddenly had it in another, it might be something that inures the benefit of those who are suing.
But keep in mind the greater context here. Abby articulately pointed out the notion of the impact on the election workers. We have an election coming up in about 400-plus days where election workers right now are grappling with the prospect of being treat instead this way, not having any evidence to support fraud and beyond. It's not enticing to be an election worker, and that's who we need at the core of our democracy to carry out our elections as well.
BLITZER: Important points, indeed. Laura and Abby. Thank you very much.
An important note to our viewers, Laura will be back at 10:00 P.M. Eastern later tonight for CNN Primetime. She'll have an exclusive interview with the former British prime minister, Boris Johnson. That's coming later tonight.
Just ahead here in The Situation Room, how Vladimir Putin may respond to NATO's assurances to Ukraine and promises of future membership in the alliance. I'll speak with a vocal critic of the Russian leader, the chess legend, Garry Kasparov. That's coming up.
You're in The Situation Room. We're live from Lithuania and we'll continue our coverage right after this quick break.
BLITZER:We're back live in beautiful Vilnius, Lithuania. We're getting more reaction to the outcome of this historic NATO summit and how it could impact Russia's war against Ukraine.
And joining me now, the legendary Russian chess grandmaster and vocal critique of Vladimir Putin, Garry Kasparov.
Garry, thanks very much for joining us.
GARRY KASPAROV, LEGENDARY RUSSIAN CHESS GRANDMASTER AND VOCAL CRITIQUE OF VLADIMIR PUTIN: Thank you for having me.
BLITZER: I know you've often called for explicit -- explicit security guarantees for Ukraine, and a clear path for Ukraine to eventually join the NATO alliance. Are the assurances that the Ukrainians got today enough?
KASPAROV: I don't know. I'm not an expert in wording and I don't know what's happened behind closed doors. I can tell you that the expectations are running very high. I was a part of the public forum, and most of allies, not just Eastern Europeans, they expected Americans to leave this taboo and to have a very strong wording.
The official NATO statement was quite weak because it was similar to even something weaker than the declaration adopted in 2008, 15 years ago in Bucharest.
But, it seems to me that something happened afterwards, and the declaration of G7 and especially the meeting between President Biden and President Zelenskyy provided -- produced some results that made Ukrainians happier.
BLITZER: How do you respond to President Biden's argument against Ukraine joining right now in the middle of this war? Because if Ukraine were to join NATO in the middle of a war, all the NATO allies would be in this war as well.
KASPAROV: Yeah, first of all, nobody talked about Ukraine immediately joining alliance. It was about for guarantees that the war is over, Ukraine is in.
Now, as for concerns of NATO being involved in a war against Russia, I can tell you that Russia is at war with NATO, 24/7 Russian propaganda, Putin himself always crunched, keep repeating that, we are not fighting Ukraine, we are fighting NATO. So, obviously, it's an unofficial declaration, but still we have to understand that NATO's engaged, like it or not.
BLITZER: How do you think Putin is assessing the results of this summit?
KASPAROV: I think political results, he might be happy. But it seems to me that there are military results that may not give him any reason for joy. And, again, it's the same split within that administration. You look on the political side run by Jake Sullivan, and there's always reservations I think dictated by irrational fear that if Ukraine wins too soon, Russia may collapse after Putin goes down.
But on the other side, you have Secretary Austin who proved to be a phenomenal leader and has been very strong in pushing more and more weapons and ammunition to Ukraine.
BLITZER: As you know, Russia in some of the public statements is warning of what they say would be extremely negative consequences for ramping up this security guarantees to Ukraine. Do you see Moscow retaliating after this summit?
KASPAROV: Come on. This is -- it's just bluff. Putin used to bluff. That's, unfortunately, what has worked for him for many years.
He always had a weak hand. But he bluffed, raised the stakes, and the opposition whether it was President Bush or President Obama, or European leaders, they always folded cards. It seems like now, his bluff was called and he's making the same statements. But I see no real power, real force behind his empty words.
BLITZER: Garry Kasparov, thanks so much for joining us.
KASPAROV: Thank you for inviting me.
BLITZER: Appreciate it.
And this note to our viewers, coming up at the top of the hour on "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT," an interview with a filmmaker who was one of the last international journalists inside Mariupol when it was attacked last year. That's coming up 7:00 p.m. Eastern right after THE SITUATION ROOM. And we're going to have more news just ahead here in THE SITUATION ROOM. We're learning new details about a dangerous prisoner who's been on the run in Pennsylvania for days now. We'll have a report from the scene. That's coming up next.
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM. We're live from Vilnius, Lithuania.
BLITZER: In the United States tonight, we're following the manhunt for a dangerous fugitive who's eluding authorities in Pennsylvania days after escaping from a prison.
Let's go to CNN's Brian Todd. He's in Warren, Pennsylvania, for us tonight.
What's the latest, Brian?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we have new details tonight on this inmate's escape route, which took him down this wall through here, over this wall and into this backyard right here. We also have new information tonight on why police believe he may have gotten some serious help on the outside.
TODD (voice-over): Tonight, a new clue in last Thursday's prison escape in northern Pennsylvania.
LT. COL. GEORGIA BIVENS, PENNSYLVANIA STATE POLICE: Just prior to the escape, there was a drone flying in that area. It could also be that it was somehow connected to his escape.
TODD: Officials also saying tonight they have found additional items in the last 24 hours believed to be associated with the fugitive, and they have had sightings that they believe to be accurate.
Michael Burham, aged 34, is considered armed and dangerous, and is wanted in cases involving murder, kidnapping, carjacking, and arson. Officials are convinced he is still in the area. They believe he is getting help and they are actively interviewing potential accomplices.
Police say he escaped last Thursday night through a hole in the prison's rooftop gym, rappelling down using bed sheets tied together.
JEFF EGGLESTON, COMMISSIONER, WARREN COUNTY: The time that he got down was quicker than anybody could respond to get inside the room.
MARY CONARRO, LIVES NEAR PRISON: They did do a big search.
TODD: Mary Conarro lives next to the prison.
CONARRO: He must have come up this grass. TODD: In the middle of the night, the police searched her home and
her property with spotlights and dogs. They told her Burham had jumped her back wall and ran through her backyard.
CONARRO: I thought he would have been in high security. How could they let him do this? So, there was a mistake.
TODD: Burham has been on the lam once before when it took two weeks to capture him. He allegedly carjacked an elderly couple, but was finally caught in South Carolina. His ex Nicole says before he pled, he came to her door at 4:00 a.m., then set her car on fire. She told CNN affiliate WICU, she is in protective custody while he is on the loose.
NICOLE, ESCAPED PRISONER'S EX-GIRLFRIEND: It's either going to end because he is exhausted, dehydrated and starving and he comes out because of that. Or it's going to end with a body bag.
TODD: Authorities describe Burham as a self-taught survivalist. How might he be caught?
JIM SCHIELD, FORMER HEAD OF FUGITIVES TASK FORCE, U.S. MARSHALS: Trying to communicate with someone he knows. Or if there is someone helping him or he's going to come upon a homeowner or someone who's going to take matters into their own hands if he tries to break into a residence.
TODD (on camera): County officials continue to say that the response from corrections officers to Burham's escape was as quick as it possibly could have been. But one county official says that while there was a corrections officer watching him on surveillance video at the moment of his escape, there were no corrections officers physically present with him at that rooftop gym when he went over the wall, roof -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Brian Todd reporting, thank you very much.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. Thanks very much for watching. I'll be back tomorrow live from here in Vilnius, Lithuania, 6:00 p.m. Eastern. We'll have an exclusive interview, by the way, tomorrow with the Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.