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Sources Say, Trump Praised Election Security In February 2020 Meeting; Ukraine Takes Credit For Drone Attacks On Moscow And Crimea; Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) Seeks Campaign Reboot Amid Donor Concerns; Over 35 Million People Under Heat Alerts Across The U.S.; Unarmed Black Man With Hands Up Attacked By Police Dog. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired July 24, 2023 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, new reaction to CNN's exclusive new reporting at an Oval Office meeting where former President Trump praised 2020 election security only months before his bogus claims of voter fraud. The special counsel Jack Smith's team is asking questions about the meeting as the new grand jury indictment of Trump could be coming soon.


Also this hour, Ukraine is now taking credit for new drone attacks on Moscow and Crimea, this as Ukraine's defense minister is making a new admission about the counteroffensive against Russia in a new interview with CNN.

And new moves by Republican Presidential Candidate Ron DeSantis to ease anxiety among his donors, his campaign trying to portrayed the former Florida governor as insurgent, as new polls in key battlegrounds show all the GOP hopefuls are badly trailing Donald Trump.

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

Tonight, as the January 6th federal grand jury is preparing to reconvene tomorrow, we're learning more about the special counsel's investigation of 2020 election interference.

CNN's Senior Justice Correspondent Evan Perez is part of the team that broke this exclusive story for us. Evan, you're learning new details about a Trump Oval Office meeting earlier in 2020 now being scrutinized big time by the special counsel, Jack Smith. Tell us more.

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. This is a meeting in February 2020, and Trump was convening a meeting in the Oval Office with some of his top security officials, and the subject is really the security of the upcoming election. And all of the great work that parts of the administration had done to try to secure those election, which they believe was absolutely prepared to be one of the most secure election in history.

And the former president at the time, he was still president, he suggested that all of the good work really needed to be out there. He suggested that the FBI, that the Homeland Security Department actually have a press conference to talk about all the work they had done to secure the election. Of course, only a few weeks later, the former president started talking about how he had fears about mail-in ballots, had fears about fraud in the election.

Of course, we saw, Wolf, once the former president did not like the election results later that year, he turned completely and started disregarding the work of all of his experts, his administration's own experts, and started listening to people who were non-experts, people who were telling him that the election was the result of fraud, obviously from Venezuela, from Italian satellites and Chinese hacking.

All of this, of course, is something that jack smith and his team are looking into. We know that they have asked questions about this meeting to at least one witness, who described really the mindset of the former president. He was listening to his experts at a certain point during that year and then later on disregarded those very experts.

Again, we don't know whether this will play a role in any potential charges that the former president might be facing, but certainly it's something that Jack Smith and his team have been digging in on.

BLITZER: Yes, big time, indeed. All right, Evan, thank you very much, Evan Perez reporting.

I want to bring in CNN's Kristen Holmes right now. She's in New Jersey covering Donald Trump. Also with us, CNN Senior Law Enforcement Analyst Andrew McCabe and CNN Senior Legal Analyst Elie Honig.

Elie, I'll start with you. How does this February 2020 meeting help prosecutors potentially piece together Trump's mindset when he claimed election fraud only months later?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, Wolf. It is all about intent. It's all about showing what was inside Donald Trump's mind. And if prosecutors intend to charge this case as a broad-ranging conspiracy, as a fraud, they have to show that he knew or reasonably should have known that he lost that election and that there was no fraud.

And I think what's really important about this meeting, it's the earliest point in time where we have proof that Donald Trump knew, acknowledged, even celebrated the fact that this election was safe and secure. And you combine that with testimony that we know is coming from certain White House aides and staffers who said either Donald Trump, at times, acknowledged that he lost the election, at other times was advised by reliable sources that there was no fraud. And I think that's going to be the heart of the government's case on intent.

BLITZER: Yes, good point. Andrew, investigators also asked witnesses about whether Trump possibly retaliated against top officials who contradicted his election lies. We know one top Department of Homeland Security official, Chris Krebs, was fired. How do you read that?

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I think it goes to the same comments Elie was just making, like intent will be a key element of at least of the three statutes that we know from the target letter that the Justice Department or the special counsel are looking at right now. And so that team is going to assemble as many different pieces of evidence that point at the same idea, which is that Trump knew the election was not stolen from him, and he knew that these claims of fraud were fraudulent.

So, retaliating against people from his own administration, his own people who were out publicly extolling the accuracy and security of the election goes directly to his desire to eliminate those sort of statements and to eliminate people in his administration who were counteracting or contradicting his claims of fraud.


BLITZER: Kristen, I know you're near Trump's Bedminster, New Jersey, property right now. What's the outlook there, at least right now with the former president and his team?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they do believe that an indictment is coming. But when it comes to timing, it's really unclear what exactly that's going to look like. They are reading the same tea leaves that we are reading. They are looking at the same reports that we are looking at. But what they tell me now is that they are going for business as usual when it comes to running Trump's third presidential campaign.

He is at Bedminster. Several of his top campaign advisers are at Bedminster. They were meeting all day long, having conversations about what you would in a normal presidential campaign, budgeting, scheduling. We know that he's hosting the Ohio lawmakers or Ohio lawmakers who are supporters of his at his Bedminster club tonight and then going to a fundraiser in Louisiana tomorrow.

And a lot of why they are able to do this is because they believe that they already have a playbook for what this indictment process looks like, given that we've already gone through two of these.

BLITZER: Interesting. Elie, the special counsel now has what are being described as a trove of documents from Giuliani-ally Bernie Kerik. What's the significance of that in terms of efforts to find fraud?

HONIG: So, I think this is sort of the flipside of the intent issue at, Wolf, which is showing or disproving this argument that Donald Trump may make that, well, some of my advisers brought me compelling evidence that there was fraud, and that's why I went out trying to reverse this election.

And I think prosecutors need to get that because they need to know what's in those documents and I think they need to be prepared to counteract those, to say this is nothing, this is a pile of useless garbage. A lot of courts found that, and I think prosecutors have to be ready for that defense. And those documents, I think, prosecutors believe, will help them argue that the, quote/unquote, evidence that Donald Trump was given a fraud was really nothing and unsubstantiated. BLITZER: Andrew, do you believe we could actually see Kerik, Giuliani or any of the other election fraud foot soldiers eventually be criminally charged?

MCCABE: Well, I think it's entirely possible, Wolf. We know that some of the charges that the special counsel team is looking at are conspiracy charges. They would be well advised to have an actual, live, identified, prosecuted conspirator, co-conspirator on the indictment with Mr. Trump in the event that one comes down. I mean, it's possible to indict him for a conspiracy with an unindicted co- conspirator, but that would be really tactically, a very challenging thing to do, and I think people would not accept it.

So, someone from his inner circle is going to end up playing that role, most likely as an indicted co-conspirator. And it could be anyone from that circle, from Rudy Giuliani to John Eastman, to Ken Cheseboro or several other people. I would expect they are talking to their lawyers frequently and wanting to see how this all plays out for them.

BLITZER: Yes, we will find out. Elie, grand jury activity will go on now, we're told, for weeks. Well, walk us through why a Trump indictment could still come at any time.

HONIG: Yes. So a prosecutor can indict and then continue investigating in the grand jury. The only restriction on that is, once you get an indictment, you can only use grand jury as it relates to other witnesses or other potential crimes. And as Andy just laid out, it's clear that this investigation is broad-ranging. It's clear that this investigation will go beyond Donald Trump. I absolutely agree with Andy. I expect to see other people indicted.

And so it can still be the case that we have witnesses like Bernie Kerik scheduled to go in, in two weeks, according to his lawyer. That doesn't mean we have to wait two weeks or more to see a potential indictment of Donald Trump.

BLITZER: Yes, it could come at any time. Guys, thank you very, very much.

Just ahead, CNN is live in Odessa as Russia's bombardment of the city damages a slew of truly beautiful and historic buildings, this as we're getting new insight into Ukraine's counteroffensive from the country's defense minister.



BLITZER: Right now, Ukraine and Russia are trading very damaging new attacks. Kyiv's forces unleashing drone strikes on both Moscow and Crimea, as Vladimir Putin's fighters target historic sites in the battered city of Odessa.

CNN's Alex Marquardt has more from the warzone for us. He spoke at length with Ukraine's defense minister. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice over): As Russia has pounded Odessa, so too has Ukraine, stepped-up strikes on Russian-occupied Crimea. At least five attacks in the past week, including a drone strike today on a Russian ammunition depot.

Are you escalating your attacks against the peninsula?

OLEKSII REZNIKOV, UKRAINIAN DEFENSE MINISTER: I would not say that we're escalating something. We're fighting for our freedom.

MARQUARDT: This weekend we sat down for a wide ranging exclusive T.V. interview with Ukraine's defense minister, Oleksii Reznikov, who admitted that while Ukraine's counteroffensive is behind schedule, Ukrainian strikes deep into Crimea and beyond will become the norm.

REZNIKOV: It means that we will use every option to hit their fuel depot, ammunition depot, their artillery systems.

MARQUARDT: It was rare to see Ukraine claim responsibility for the attack on the Kerch Bridge. Is it your goal to permanently disable the bridge?

REZNIKOV: It's normal tactics to ruin logistic lines of your enemy, to stop the options to get more ammunition, to get more food, to get more food, et cetera. That's why we will use these tactics against them.

MARQUARDT: Russia's latest attack in the Odessa region early on Monday morning was the closest they had struck to NATO territory, drones destroying a grain hangar right near the border with Romania, the latest in a series of Russian attacks on food storage.

REZNIKOV: So, this approach is absurd, but it's real.


And that's why it's new evidence that they are really country who are real terrorists. They are a terrorist state.

MARQUARDT: Have you been surprised at how ferocious these attacks have been?

REZNIKOV: Honestly not, because after the February of last year, it's very difficult to surprise me.

MARQUARDT: After almost two months, Ukraine's highly anticipated counteroffensive has produced few gains. Russian troops are on the offensive in the east, while Ukrainian progress is modest at best in the south.

REZNIKOV: I think that it's a misperception that every counteroffensive should be quick. We had a time to prepare our armed forces with our partners, but they also had a time to make security zone with the tranches, with their mines. MARQUARDT: You knew you were going to face these tough Russian defenses. So, is this a question of needing more equipment or is it a question of Ukrainian forces not necessarily fighting in the way that they should be?

REZNIKOV: It's a question of the ammunition, of the artillery shells, of the more artillery systems. It's a question that we have a very long battlefield line also and we have against us big quantity of enemies.

MARQUARDT: Do you acknowledge, though, that the plan is behind schedule?


MARQUARDT: This week, Reznikov says Ukraine owes the Pentagon a report on how the highly controversial American cluster munitions that were sent to Ukraine have been used against Russian troops.

Are you able to say where the cluster munitions have been most effective?

REZNIKOV: They will be most effective, especially against their artillery systems and also they will be efficient against their armed personnel carriers or infantry fighting vehicles. They will be good against their infantry in the fields.


MARQUARDT (on camera): And, Wolf, Reznikov told me that he believes that those cluster munitions are going to be four times as effective or as lethal as normal rounds against Russian troops.

I also asked him whether there was any progress at getting those American long range missiles that have a 200 miles range, 300 kilometers. They're called ATACMS. He says there hasn't really been any movement on that. He thinks the U.S. is waiting to see how Ukraine uses the he recently acquired British and French long range cruise missiles. But he does say that he wants those ATACMS, those American long range weapons soon because he says that there are many Russian targets in those occupied areas in Ukraine, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, there are. Alex Marquardt, stay safe over there. Thank you very much.

Let's get some more on the war right now. Joining us, CNN Military Analyst, retired Major General James Spider Marls. General, thanks for joining us.

What do you think is behind this incredible Russian barrage on Southern Ukraine right now disturbingly along the border with NATO territory? We're talking about the NATO ally, Romania.

MAJ. GEN. JAMES SPIDER MARKS, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Yes, getting danger close to NATO. We shouldn't be surprised at Russia's adventurism that we've seen over the course of a year-and-a-half. This is very precisely planned on the part of Russia. It's part of their game plan. Look, they're going after infrastructure. We've seen that over the course of this war.

The fact that they are creeping these weapon systems and these targets closer and closer to NATO gets it very, very dangerous to bringing the rest of the NATO into this fight. Russia is foolish if they go beyond this, certainly. And it's absolutely fair to say this is dangerous. This is an escalation that could get this thing completely to a point that Putin doesn't want it, which is NATO raising a hand, saying, no more, we are now engaged.

BLITZER: Yes. Because Article Five of the NATO charter says if any NATO ally is attacked, all NATO allies are attacked. This would draw the U.S. into the war directly. How effective, General, are these Ukrainian drone attacks on both Moscow and Russian-occupied Crimea?

MARKS: Wolf, these are a nuisance. They're effective in terms of the very narrowly defined objective that they are trying to achieve, which keeps those parts of Russia, those that are involved in decision- making, moving logistics, it keeps their head on a swivel, which means they're uncertain about what their next steps must be.

But these attacks must be synchronized with efforts on the ground. Single strikes like this can cause some damage, but won't necessarily alter the outcome of this fight.

BLITZER: Retired General Spider Marks, as usual, thank you very much for your analysis.

Coming up, the U.S. Justice Department has filed suit against Texas over the state's refusal to move floating barriers at the southern border that federal officials now call a threat to public safety.

Plus, why Republican Senator Mitt Romney is urging GOP mega donors to pull funding from some White House hopefuls.



BLITZER: The breaking news we're following right now, the U.S. Justice Department just filed a lawsuit against Texas and its governor, Greg Abbott, after the Republican defied a request to remove floating border barriers designed to keep migrants out.

CNN's Rosa Flores is joining us live from the border area. Rosa, you're there in Eagle Pass, Texas, near the U.S.-Mexican border, which has become the focal point of this huge battle between Governor Abbott and the U.S. Justice Department. Give us the latest.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, let me show you the buoys that are at the center of this international incident and at the center of this legal battle.

[18:25:04] Beyond these two strands of concertina wire, you'll see the border buoys. They're about 4 feet in diameter, and they are anchored to the bottom of this waterway, and they have nets underneath as well. Right now, you can see that there's some construction equipment that is doing some sort of maintenance. It's unclear to us what are doing, but they've been out here all day long.

Now, this federal lawsuit was filed after the top diplomat in Mexico complained to Washington, saying that these border buoys and other structures were violating two international treaties. As you know, the Rio Grande is an international boundary between the U.S. and Mexico, and there are treaties that govern the flow of this water. Well, Mexico complained. And also, more than 80 U.S. Democratic lawmakers also urged President Joe Biden to investigate this issue and to file suit against the state of Texas.

Well, the U.S. DOJ first threatened that they would sue, gave Texas a deadline, and then, in fact, sued the state of Texas.

Now, Governor Greg Abbott digging in his heels, saying that Texas has sovereign authority based on both the U.S. and Texas Constitutions. And as of late, what we just learned from the Texas Office of the Attorney General is that the attorney general says that that office is ready to fight in court. They are ready for this legal battle, and they're ready to fight for the rights of the state of Texas. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right. Rosa, thank you, Rosa Flores near the U.S.-Mexico border.

Also tonight, Republican Presidential Candidate Ron DeSantis hits the reset button, promising donors a leaner and meaner campaign as his bid for the White House struggles and his messaging and cost overruns continue with serious problems.

I want to bring in CNN's Nia-Malika Henderson, along with the Republican strategist, CNN Political Commentator Alice Stewart. I also want to welcome here to The Situation Room our brand new CNN commentator. Kate Bedingfield. She served as communications director in the Biden White House. Guys, thanks to all of you for joining us.

Kate, what do you make of DeSantis' plan now to run this new insurgent campaign, if you will? What do you make of this pivot from the Florida governor?

KATE BEDINGFIELD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think that campaigns can make logistical changes. They can run leaner operations. They can scale down their spending. But I think the problem for Ron DeSantis is his positions are so far outside of the mainstream.

I mean, this is an election that is going to be decided by an incredibly narrow band of essentially independent voters across the country. And what we see from Ron DeSantis over and over again and what we saw just Friday of this week was a doubling down, a tripling down on some of the most extreme social issues, some of the most hardcore right wing positions that aren't appealing to that audience. So, I think for his campaign, there may be questions about tactical changes, but unless he is overhauling an entirely different message, I don't think that he's going to be able to get traction with the mainstream voters that he needs to ultimately win a general election.

And here's the other thing I would say. Even if his campaign is able to do that, even if he's able to become the nominee, he's going to be dealing with an aggrieved Donald Trump who is going to be angry, who's going to be -- I mean, can we imagine a world where Donald Trump says Ron DeSantis rightfully won the nomination? I'm not sure we can imagine that world.

So, he's going to be up against a Democratic opposition in President Biden and someone in Donald Trump who I think is probably not going to let him have a clear shot at the nomination.

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: As Kate would know, just like many of us, if there's ever a time to hit the reset button, right now is the time do so. We're so early on in the campaign and there's a lot of time between now and the debates and certainly the Iowa caucus.

And, look, it's one thing if you hit the reset button and you don't have any money and you don't have any momentum. He has $150,000,000 between his campaign and the PAC, so that's a great thing. And his campaign has said not only are they hitting the reset button, but he is going to do the full Grassley.

He's going to go to all 99 counties in Iowa. And, you know, that's extremely important and getting out there and doing more small retail politics types events, talking with people, connecting with them one- on-one. And we also saw him expanding his media footprint, doing the interview with Jake Tapper last week, and also doing more local media in Iowa and others outside of just the right wing-type of media.

So, I think this is a good time. But you also have to keep in mind he's getting a lot of attention as well as Donald Trump. There's candidates out there that are really making headway out there in Iowa. Tim Scott really lighting up rooms, and I'm hearing this from GOP officials in the state of Iowa. He's under the radar, but he's certainly on the hearts and minds of a lot of people in Iowa. So, there's a lot of people still need to keep an eye on.

BLITZER: It's interesting. I want to look at Iowa right now. Nia, DeSantis has pushed the argument that in the general presidential election, he's more likely to beat Biden than Donald Trump is. But that's not necessarily how Iowa caucus goers see it.


Take a look at these numbers in this new Fox Business poll that just came out. You see 45 percent say Trump is the most likely to beat Biden, nearly double the number who picked DeSantis.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. And, listen, a lot of those Iowa caucus goers who Republicans truly believe that Trump already beat Biden, right, they're essentially election deniers, so I think this kind of logical argument that you see DeSantis and his campaign-making, that he is more electable than Donald Trump, it just doesn't really fly.

People want to feel something from their candidates, they want to feel something for their candidates and Donald Trump has that in spades. Even though you look at the Iowa electorate among the GOP, it's essentially evangelical voters, right? And Donald Trump didn't win Iowa in 2016. He narrowly lost it to Ted Cruz. But evangelical voters still like a lot of what Donald Trump is offering.

They like what he did with the Supreme Court. They like now the sort of things that he's talking about in terms of abortion. He doesn't have as conservative a position as Ron DeSantis.

But, listen, this sort of logical argument doesn't really make a difference, I think, with a lot of voters. They really want to be moved by personality, and Donald Trump is their guy.

BLITZER: Good point. You know, it's interesting, Nia, DeSantis is also defending, doubling down on the state's new standards for black history, which teach -- which insist this new standard that at least some slaves benefited from their enslavement.

Republican Presidential Candidate Will Hurd tweeted this about the changes. Let me put it up on the screen. There you see it right there. Unfortunately, it has to be said, slavery wasn't the jobs program that taught beneficial skills. It was literally dehumanizing and subjugated people as property because they lacked any rights or freedoms. What do you make of this conversation?

HENDERSON: Yes. Listen, it's jarring to hear a presidential candidate in 2023 make similar arguments that slave owners made, slave masters made about slavery, this argument that somehow it was good for African-Americans. I think to Kate's point, this is why Ron DeSantis is having such a hard time. He really is sort of doubling down on these issues, really, I think making a campaign about issues that are broad electorate doesn't really care about.

You know, Will Hurd, obviously, speaking the truth about slavery, it was dehumanizing millions of enslaved Africans and enslaved black people died as a result of slavery. They were property. And so this idea that there was some sort of upside for African Americans is just ridiculous.

BEDINGFIELD: I think that's exactly right. And I think that the more that Ron DeSantis is out and his campaign is sort of flailing. You know, a flailing campaign can also bring down the whole party because it's reminding people as he's making this play, this more and more aggressive play, saying things like slavery was actually good in some cases for African-Americans, he's reminding people what the Republican Party broadly stands for.

If your choice is Donald Trump, who has said all sorts of appalling things, now Ron DeSantis, who is parroting a lot of that in an attempt to win those same voters, that is not a winning strategy for a party who is trying to appeal to a broad swath of the country. And so for President Biden and the re-election campaign, for him, their challenge is to really make this election a choice, draw that contrast, and every time a Republican steps forward and says something like that, they're reminding the American people what they stand for.

STEWART: I think it's important to keep in mind the majority of Americans, Donald Trump has a choke hold on his base, one -third of the Republicans. But rational Republicans realize we don't need these culture issues, we don't need these woke wars. What we need is an optimistic vision for the future. We need someone that's going to focus on kitchen table issues.

We all say and we all hear economy is the big issue. And those kind of ideas are top of mind for voters. That's where President Biden is going to have a difficult time. The economy is not his friend. Despite what you and a lot of Democrats say, Americans don't feel good about their economic situation, and poll after poll shows that. And if they don't feel good about the economic situation, they're not likely to support someone who's running on the economy.

BLITZER: Well, let me get Kate to respond to that, because, as we know, the president has struggled to convince Americans that the economy is in good shape, that he's doing a good job as far as the economy is concerned.

I want you to listen to what the former House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, told our Dana Bash yesterday. Listen to this.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): It has to be messaged. It is a legitimate question. I ask myself all the time, too. This president did such a remarkable job.

It's a busy job being president. I can say that as being speaker. You're doing your work, but he's just going to have to make sure the American people know at that kitchen table what this means to them.


BLITZER: Why is the president having such a hard time convincing the American public that he's doing a good job as far as the economy is concerned?

BEDINGFIELD: Well, I think you have to remember we're coming out of a once in a generation pandemic, a few years where our economy was essentially shut down to zero. People felt a level of uncertainty and fear and concern that they hadn't felt on that scale in a very long time.

And so I think we are continuing to see the economy get better.


We see encouraging signs. We see historic numbers of jobs created. We see for the first time wages outstripping inflation, which is a really important metric.

So, I think the former speaker is right. The president's going to have to continue to really bang that drum. And I know that he's very focused on that and that's something that he's going to continue to do for the duration.

BLITZER: James Carville used to say it's the economy, stupid, going into a presidential election. And he was right. Still is right probably as well. Kate, welcome to CNN. Thanks very much for joining us.

BEDINGFIELD: Thank you so much.

BLITZER: Alex and Nia, you've both been to CNN for a long time, good to have you as well.

Just ahead, thousands of Israelis taking to the streets to protest the passage of a controversial judicial overhaul. We're going to tell you what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is now saying about this very divisive vote and what happens next.



BLITZER: Right now, we're monitoring a very tense situation in Israel amid a new round of heated protests. The nation deeply divided over a just passed law to severely limit Israel's highest court of its ability to check the government's powers.

CNN's Hadas Gold is joining us live from Jerusalem right now. Hadas, this is truly a very historic and charged day for Israel. Tell us more about how Israelis are reacting.

HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf. This is historic because this is the first part of the legislation of this massive judicial overhaul legislation that Benjamin Netanyahu's government has been trying to push through that has passed those three votes in the Israeli parliament.

Now, this would take away the Supreme Court's ability to stop government actions that it declares as unreasonable.

Now, protesters reacted angrily in the streets here in Jerusalem and across Tel Aviv. They're actually still out on the streets of Tel Aviv. They've been blocking highways. They've been forcibly removed by police, in some instances with force, and also using things like water cannons as well. We've seen mounted police used as well. We have seen at least 19 arrests. We're also hearing from police that at least a dozen of their officers have been injured.

Further reactions have been immediate. Legal challenges actually being filed in the Supreme Court to try and get an injunction on this legislation to stop it from being enacted. That will lead to some very interesting legal challenges, where the Supreme Court will likely hear legal challenges on its own ability to rule against the government. And there also has been a general strike announced by the Israeli Medical Association.

Now, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressing the nation in a primetime address, saying that they were carrying out the will of the people. And he's saying that this legislation will only strengthen democracy. Take a listen.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Today, we carried out a necessary Democratic step, one designed to restore a measure of balance between the authorities, what we had here for 50 years. We passed the amendment to the reasonableness standard so that the elected government will be able to lead policy according to the will of the majority of the citizens of the state.

In no way is carrying out the will of the voter the end of democracy. It is the essence of democracy.


GOLD: Now, Netanyahu also blamed the opposition for, he's saying, failing to come to a compromise over the past few months on this legislation, but also saying, as they push forward with the rest of this overhaul package, he has an open arm to them.

Meanwhile, the White House is saying in a statement that it is unfortunate that the vote took place today with the slimmest possible majority. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right, Hadas, thank you very much, Hadas Gold reporting from Jerusalem.

Let's discuss what's going on in Israel. Joining us now, Tzipi Livni, a prominent Israeli politician who served as both foreign minister and justice minister, as well as a past member of the Knesset and a leader of the center left political wing. Tzipi Livni, thanks so much for joining us.

You just heard Prime Minister Netanyahu defend what happened today as restoring balance, and I know you're outspokenly opposed to what's going on right now, this overhaul. How do you respond to the prime minister?

TZIPI LIVNI, FORMER ISRAELI MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS: There is nothing to do with democracy what's happening now in Israel. It's a government which is based on three different pillars, one, ultra orthodox, very religious, maybe they want majority to rule, but they do not accept the essence of democracy. We call rights to women, LGTB, they don't want to serve in the army. And the exemption is the next for them is the next bill.

The other settlers, very ideological, they don't want to give a report to the Supreme Court about what's going on in the West Bank. And all together, you have a prime minister who has trial. So, it's his own political, personal interest to delegitimize the Supreme Court. So, they are acting against the nature of Israel as a democracy. And democracy is much more than just majority rules. It's about values, it's about equality. And they are not willing to accept it. And therefore they want to rule without any supervision of the gatekeepers, watchdogs in the government, Supreme Court, general attorney and so on.

BLITZER: Because this is very personal for the prime minister. As you know, he's facing corruption charges. Practically speaking, Tzipi Livni, how do you think this will play out.

LIVNI: For six months since they put this plan, what they call the judicial reforms, on the table, and we, the demonstrators took the streets and Netanyahu needs to change this plan. And we succeeded in postponing for now part of this plan that is built on different bills, not just one. He decided to push forward for one. The parliament is going to (INAUDIBLE) this is now.


LIVNI: I think that he hopes that now we'll forget it and he will continue in moving on with these reforms, but no way. You could see the demonstrators on the streets. On my way back, I was there in Jerusalem, and later on my way, young, really wonderful people, young people fighting for Israel's future, for democracy, for values.

So, the good news -- and maybe Netanyahu, it was not his intention, but a new camp is being born in Israel, liberal Democrats fighting for values, for substance, and I think that the situation in the parliament, the government, and this will (INAUDIBLE) but yet the good news is that Netanyahu (INAUDIBLE) very strong and that is going to continue fighting.

BLITZER: These are historic moments in Israel. Tzipi Livni, thank you so much for joining us.

LIVNI: Thank you.

BLITZER: We will continue this conversation.

Coming up, temperature records are being broke across the United States, as doctors and hospitals right now are reporting a dramatic spike in heat-related patients.



BLITZER: Right now, tens of millions of people across the United States are under heat alerts, with some cities reporting temperatures of more than 100 degrees.

For more on this story, I'm joined by CNN's Brian Todd.

Give us the latest, Brian. Wolf, there are heat records being shattered all across the U.S., and the southwestern part of the country is getting hit especially hard, with people running serious health risks just by stepping outside.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Phoenix, first responders are dealing with more calls for heat-related distress. They put this man in a harness filled with ice and cool water to get his body temperature down. Phoenix is at the epicenter of a string of heat alerts across the southwestern U.S., the Plains, and Florida, that covered more than 35 million people today.

Phoenix has seen 25 consecutive days with a high temperature above 110 degrees.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's miserable actually. I don't get out that much, I stay inside.

TODD: It's so hot in the Phoenix area that people have been burned just by falling on the ground. One doctor saying the temperature of asphalt can reach 180 degrees in the afternoon.

DR. KEVIN FOSTER, ARIZONA BURN CENTER DIRECTOR, VALLEYWISE HEALTH: The pavement is so hot that it only takes a fraction of a second to get a pretty deep burn.

TODD: Record heat was expected to continue in El Paso and San Angelo, Texas. South Florida, under an excessive heat warning over the weekend, with temperatures that experts said could feel like 112. Hikers at national and state parks in Arizona and California have been warned for weeks that it's dangerous to hike in those remote areas when it's so hot.

One expert says it's almost certain that July will be the warmest month the entire planet has seen in recorded history.

MICHAEL E. MANN, UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA: As long as we continue to burn fossil fuels and generate carbon pollution and the planet continues to heat up, we're going to see more of these unprecedented extreme weather events.

TODD: Unprecedented, extreme, and lethal. According to the CDC, more than 700 people die from extreme heat each year in the U.S.

What's the most common mistake people make in weather like this?

DR. JAMES PHILLIPS, EMERGENCY PHYSICIAN, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL: The most common mistake people make is trying to tough it out, trying to think that it's just going to cool off, trying to think, hey, this is a little bit of sweatiness, a little bit of nausea, this is no big deal.

You can get to a point where you start to become confused and lethargic and tired. And at that point it might be too late for you to even the wherewithal to call for help. The second common mistake is not checking on your loved ones and your neighbors.


TODD (on camera): And some important advice, experts say if you have to go out, go in the morning before about 11:00 a.m. take cool showers as often as you can. Wear light clothing, and of course drink more water. Wolf, it is outright dangerous out there, especially in the southwest.

BLITZER: Yeah, good point, good advice. Brian, thank you very, very much.

Coming up on "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT " right after THE SITUATION ROOM, General David Petraeus joins Erin for a look at the war in Ukraine right now.

Plus, a CNN exclusive with prisoners Russia has turned into soldiers. That's coming up right at the top of the hour.

And we'll be right back.



BLITZER: Tonight, an Ohio police officer is on administrative leave with pay after he released a K-9 on an unarmed Black truck driver who was actually surrendering to other officers.

CNN's Isabel Rosales is digging into the story for us, and we want to warn our viewers, some of the video in her report is disturbing.


JADARRIUS ROSE, UNARMED BLACK MAN: I was about to comply with them, but they all had they guns drawn out for whatever reason.

ISABEL ROSALES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A newly released 911 call made by a semi-truck driver during a lengthy police chase reveals why he wouldn't exit the vehicle.

ROSE: I don't know why they trying to kill me.

DISPATCHER: They're not trying to kill you.

ROSE: Yes, they are. They're throwing stuff on the ground trying to explode the tires.

ROSALES: Officers attempted to stop 23-year-old Jadarrius Rose in a commercial semi-truck on July 4th because of a missing mud flap, according to a case report by the Ohio state highway patrol.

ROSE: It's like 20 police cars behind me and I don't feel safe.

ROSALES: The video shows Rose did initially pull over but didn't get out of the truck, and instead continued back onto the highway, with multiple law enforcement cars seen joining the chase. Eventually, Rose pulls over and exits the truck, surrounded by multiple officers. And a Circleville police K-9 unit that stops to assist. You can hear contradictory verbal commands from the officers.


POLICE OFFICER: On the ground. You're going to get bit.

ROSALES: A trooper can also be heard instructing the k-9 officer.

POLICE OFFICER: Do not release the dog with his hands up. Do not release the dog with his hands up.

ROSALES: Despite repeated warnings from the state trooper, the dog is released, and runs toward the officers before turning to rose and attacking him. It's not clear if the K-9 officer could hear the warning.

POLICE OFFICER: Get the dog off of him!

ROSE: Get it off!

ROSALES: Rose cries out as officers are yelling for a first aid kit. And he's later seen being treated by the officers. Rose was taken to the hospital and then released back to police. The Circleville Police Department and mayor confirmed in a statement that a use of force review board was convened immediately and is reviewing the incident. Rose's attorney declined to comment to CNN.

But Nana Watson, president of the NAACP's Columbus branch, calls the Circleville K-9 officer's behavior, quote, barbaric.

NANA WATSON, PRESIDENT OF COLUMBUS, OHIO NAACP BRANCH: Those young people that, perhaps, don't understand the meaning of a dog being unleashed on a Black person, it is history. This country watched as Bull Connor unleashed dogs and hoses on Black people because they were marching for their rights in this country.


ROSALES: The Ross County prosecutor's office tells CNN that Rose was released from custody July 7th, three days after his arrest. That office is still working to collect all of the evidence and determine whether to move forward on a charge against Rose -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Isabel Rosales, thank you very, very much.

And to our viewers, thanks for watching.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.