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Ex-U.S. Marine Freed by Russia Hurt Fighting in Ukraine; Interview with Former Defense Secretary Mark Esper about Trevor Reed; No Sighting of Trump Grand Jury That was Due to Meet Today; Hunter Biden Expected to Plead Guilty Tomorrow to Federal Tax Charges; Kevin McCarthy Makes Most Direct Impeachment Threat Against Biden; Rep. Kevin McCarthy Makes Most Direct Impeachment Threat Against Biden; LeBron James' Son Stable After Cardiac Arrest During Practice; Police Finish Search of Suspected Serial Killer's Home. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired July 25, 2023 - 17:00   ET



BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN SENIOR GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Seasons including an appearance at the NBA Finals in 2022.

I'm a huge fan of his. He's incredibly talent and kudos to him for landing that incredible deal.

Well, if you ever miss an episode of THE LEAD, you can listen to the show wherever you get your podcast. Our coverage continue now with Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM."

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, a surprising fate for a former U.S. Marine who was wrongfully detained by Russia. Trevor Reed injured while fighting in Ukraine. I'll ask former Defense Secretary Mark Esper for his take on why Reed was in Ukraine more than a year after his hard-won release from Kremlin custody.

Also tonight, new questions about Special Counsel Jack Smith's grand jury schedule as a potential third indictment of Donald Trump looms. We'll explore why there are indications the panel did not meet today as had been widely expected.

And a fresh sign of the struggles for Ron DeSantis and his presidential bid. The Republican drastically cutting his campaign staff as he aims for a reset and some traction against Trump.

Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Our top story tonight, a former American prisoner of Russia wounded on the battlefield in Ukraine.

Let's go right to CNN's Alex Marquardt. He is in the Ukraine war zone for us. He's got more on the revelations about Marine veteran Trevor Reed.


Wolf, let's start with what we do know because there's lots that we're still trying to figure out. Now what we do know is that former Marine Trevor Reed was fighting here in Ukraine. He was injured while he was fighting. We're told that he was then taken to the capital Kyiv for his first medical treatment before he was sent then to Germany.

We understand that an NGO which has not yet been identified helped Trevor Reed get to Germany where he is now being treated at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. That is a U.S. medical military facility near Ramstein Air Base. He is still there currently being treated. But big questions still remain, Wolf, where he was when he got injured, how he got injured specifically, how long he had been fighting in Ukraine, and who he was fighting with.

So those questions still remain, Wolf. We have to remind our viewers that Trevor Reed was held in Russia for some three years before being exchanged for a Russian prisoner. According to the Biden administration, he was being wrongfully detained. He was then returned to the U.S. last year, 2022. We are now told the Biden administration is aware that Reed was fighting in Ukraine, and that he was injured -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Alex Marquardt in Odessa, Ukraine for us. Alex, thank you.

Let's go to CNN national security reporter Natasha Bertrand. She is over at the Pentagon monitoring all these developments.

What are administration officials, Natasha, saying about Trevor Reed?

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, administration officials are really emphasizing here that Trevor Reed was a private citizen acting in his private capacity when he was injured fighting in Ukraine. And they are reiterating that no U.S. citizen should travel to Ukraine at all, let alone to participate in the fighting.

Now this is of course kind of an awkward situation for the Biden administration because, as Alex mentioned, Trevor Reed was secured, his release was secured by the U.S. in a prisoner swap back in April of 2022 where the U.S. traded a convicted drug smuggler, Russian drug smuggler for Trevor Reed's release. And they are still negotiating the release of multiple Americans who have been detained in Russia, including the "Wall Street Journal" reporter Evan Gershkovich as Paul Whelan, who is also a former Marine.

Now the State Department today in a briefing, a spokesperson reiterated that Trevor Reed was acting in his private capacity. He is a former Marine, but he was not doing anything on behalf of the United States, and of course reemphasized that no U.S. citizen should travel there at all. Here's what he said.


VEDANT PATEL, STATE DEPARTMENT DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON: Since the beginning of this war, we have warned that U.S. citizens who travel to Ukraine, especially with the purpose of participating in fighting there, that they face significant risks, including the risk of capture or death or physical harm as well. And so I want to be explicitly clear about something. Mr. Reed was not engaged in any activities on behalf of the U.S. government.


BERTRAND: Now a U.S. official did tell us that they are of course concerned about the impact this could have on hostage negotiations or negotiations to get those wrongfully detained Americans out of Russia because Trevor Reed is such a sensitive subject for the Russians.


But the official emphasized to us that these issues should be treated wholly separately from the ongoing negotiations to get Gershkovich as well as Whelan out of Russian custody -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Natasha, thank you very much. Natasha Bertrand reporting from the Pentagon.

Let's get some more on all these developments. Joining us now the former U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper.

Mr. Secretary, thanks so much for joining us. The top priority of course right now is for Trevor Reed's well-being. But is there a sense do you believe of disappointment that he would go fight in Ukraine against the Russians after all the U.S. did to try to secure his freedom?

MARK ESPER, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY: Sure, Wolf, I'm sure it's somewhat of a surprise that he wound up in Ukraine. Of course, you know, there are estimates of several thousand Americans fighting in Ukraine on behalf of that government's behalf. But this is surprising. Clearly it complicates the negotiations with regard to Paul Whelan and Evan Gershkovich, and why is that? Because it raises the value, right?

It gives Putin leverage to do -- to swap for some other type of Russian of greater value. It also could put pressure on Moscow from the far right in that country who might say, look, we swapped an American. And clearly, you know, he is an agent of the United States government. That's why I think Washington is trying so hard to make clear that he was over there on his own accord, as a private citizen, and not in any type of relationship with the United States government in doing so.

BLITZER: Mr. Secretary, I want you to watch and listen to what Trevor Reed told me last year about how he was doing after his release. Listen to this.


BLITZER: Trevor, how are you doing personally? What have these last few months been like for you?

TREVOR REED, AMERICAN FORMERLY WRONGFULLY DETAINED IN RUSSIA: To be honest with you, it's been the best few months of my life. I can't ever remember, you know, having as much fun and feeling as good as I do now. It's been incredible.

BLITZER: Well, we are all grateful that you are free right now.


BLITZER: So, Mr. Secretary, what do you think motivates these Americans to go fight the Russians on behalf of Ukraine? And as the former Defense secretary, what is your message to any American thinking of doing that?

ESPER: Well, I think for the folks that we know have gone over there, in many cases, they feel strongly about Russia's illegal unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. They want to help the Ukrainians regain their freedom, and they feel very strongly about that. And so, you know, it's admirable in many ways.

Obviously in Trevor Reed's case, it's likely complicated by the fact that, you know, he has sore feelings about Moscow for good reason, and maybe wants a little payback there. Who knows? I think it's one of the things we'll try and find out. Why did he go back? Why did he put himself in such personal harm? What was his motivation? And did he appreciate the fact that this could complicate, again, the release of other unlawfully detained Americans?

BLITZER: Let me also while I have you, Mr. Secretary, get your reaction to this dramatic video. The Pentagon says a Russian fighter jet flew dangerously close to a U.S. drone over Syria. Does this risk a more serious confrontation?

ESPER: You know, I can't see the video, Wolf, but I have seen stories about this. Look, I am concerned that Russian activity over the past 30 days has clearly picked up with regard to Russian fighter aircraft harassing our drones in Syria. And they forced one down a few weeks ago. They damaged this one. It was able to make it back to the airfield. But I think this is a routine, a pattern that's going to continue, if not escalate. And I think it requires a response.

I mean, we recall what happened earlier this year I think in March when Russian aircraft forced away the Reaper drone in the Black Sea. It caused some harm. It went down. And what didn't get attention after the fact was that the Pentagon put out orders to pour our surveillance flights I think 50 miles away from where they were flying which I imagine probably hurt our ability to conduct surveillance and reconnaissance in those things.

And, look, I suppose Moscow saw that there was benefit from doing that and we backed off and maybe they're trying to do the same here, which is why again I think we need to push back on this. I argued at the time that maybe we have to put fighter caps up there as well to protect these aircraft to signal to the Russians that we're not going to be pushed around in Syria or anywhere else. But clearly this is a result of that escalation.

BLITZER: Yes. All right. I want to turn to Israel while I have you. There's been an increase as you know in military reservists in Israel refusing to serve in protest of that controversial law passed to weaken the Israeli Supreme Court. Do you fear this impacts Israel's military readiness right now and potentially harms regional security?

ESPER: You know, Wolf, I haven't really dug into the issue that much. I mean, clearly you can sustain military readiness for some period of time. I don't know the numbers of reservists who have declined to participate. Israel is a very capable military, the most capable in the region.


And I think I suspect they will manage it well. I'm confident all Israelis are committed to their security. But it's hard to tell where this will go over time if it continues to be unresolved.

BLITZER: Yes, what worries me is if Israel's adversaries in the region whether Iran or any of the terrorist groups see this as an opportunity to attack Israel. Potentially they see Israel potentially right now weakened a bit. That concerns me.

Former Defense Secretary Mark Esper, thanks very much for joining us.

Coming up, what's going on with the January 6th grand jury and its potential indictment of Donald Trump? CNN just reviewed new evidence in the special counsel's investigation.

Also ahead, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy now ramping up Republican threats to impeach President Biden.


BLITZER: We're keeping a very close watch right now on the January 6th federal grand jury as Donald Trump faces a potential third criminal indictment.

CNN senior legal affairs correspondent Paula Reid is with me here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Paula, this federal grand jury was expected to meet today, but they apparently didn't meet, right?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: That's right. We expected them to meet today because they traditionally meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays.


There was no sign of them today at court. Special counsel, though, still, Wolf, has plenty of work to do. We know in the last 48 hours, they've received thousands of documents related to lawyers connected to former President Trump, who were trying to find some evidence of fraud. They're also preparing for multiple witness interviews over the next several weeks.

Now even if they were ready to indict former President Trump this week, and we believe they are close because he has of course received a target letter, he's had a deadline to go before the grand jury, he's declined to do that, tomorrow there is another high-profile case going to court, and that is the plea deal for the president's son Hunter Biden. That has been a very sensitive case for the Justice Department.

So even if they were ready to indict the former president, it is unlikely that they would want to do that at a time that could overshadow that hearing or make it seem like they're trying to distract. So that could be a consideration here. And look, we'll be looking for the grand jury again on Thursday.

BLITZER: See what happens on Thursday. All right, thank you very much, Paula, for that.

Stand by, we're going to get back to you in a moment. I also want to bring in CNN's Sara Murray right now with more on Hunter Biden's upcoming court appearance.

What are we expecting to see tomorrow? And what kind of punishment will the judge be considering?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, it's certainly not the kind of history a first family hopes to make, but we are going to see Joe Biden's son Hunter Biden appear in federal court tomorrow where he is expected to plead guilty to two misdemeanor tax charges and strike a deal to avoid this felony gun charge. It will be up to the judge to decide whether to accept this plea.

But it will be essentially Hunter Biden walking into court in Delaware and admitting that he broke the law. And as part of that, we expect the judge to set a date for when the sentencing will move ahead. Prosecutors as part of this deal are going to be asking for probation. But again it's ultimately up to the judge to decide what the sentence should be in this case.

And as you may imagine, there is plenty of political fanfare around this. Republicans in the House of Representatives have been very interested in Hunter Biden, the Biden family's business dealings, as well as this investigation. And the chairman, the Republican chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee even wrote to the judge in this case today saying as part of this plea deal, you should consider what we've heard from IRS whistleblowers, these allegations that there was some political interference as part of this case.

Of course, we've heard many denials about this from the White House as well as from David Weiss, the U.S. attorney who has debunked a number of the claims from the whistleblowers and even said he's willing to come to Congress and testify in the next couple of months to set the record straight. But of course we're looking ahead to see how this all plays out tomorrow -- Wolf.

BLITZER: We shall see. All right, Sara, thank you very much.

I want to pick up these new legal threads and discuss. Paula Reid still with me, and defense attorney Shan Wu is with us as well.

Shan, what do you make of the fact that the Trump grand jury here in Washington apparently went dark today?

SHAN WU, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, I think we have to remember that we don't actually know what DOJ's schedule was. It's certainly true a target letter often is going to be pretty close in time to indictment. So for all we know they're going dark wasn't really going dark. It might have been part of their schedule.

BLITZER: Because normally the grand jury in Washington meets Tuesdays and Thursdays.

WU: Yes. This one apparently does meet Tuesdays and Thursdays. And given that they were having a lot of activity it's a little bit inexplicable as to why they're not seeing anyone today. But again I don't know if that necessarily means that there is an issue with the schedule of the indictment because we just don't know what that schedule was or is.

BLITZER: Because there was some suggestion, as you heard, that maybe the optics of the Hunter Biden case tomorrow, that they didn't want to do something at the same time involving the grand jury and Trump in some sort of indictment.

WU: Yes, that's an interesting perspective. I mean, the attorney general seems very sensitive to optics. I can't speak to what he would say, but I can tell you that my old boss Janet Reno would have said to Jack Smith, if you're ready, go ahead.

BLITZER: You know, it's interesting, Paula, that these documents that Giuliani's team have apparently handed over, I know you've had an opportunity to review some of them as well.

REID: Yes. So after the election, Giuliani was tasked by then President Trump with trying to find some evidence of this alleged fraud. So he put together a team of people. One of the folks on that team was former New York police commissioner Bernie Kerik. And this team tried unsuccessfully to find evidence of fraud, and they created a long paper trail. They have witness statements. They have research.

And this is something that the special counsel was interested in so we know they've received thousands of documents from Bernie Kerik's lawyer. Last night we obtained many of them. We had a chance to read over them. And Wolf, I can say there isn't a lot of there-there. There's absolutely no evidence of fraud. It looks like they had just started their investigation. It hadn't really yielded much.

But there also didn't seem to be a lot that would be especially relevant to any potential charges against the former president. So it does not appear that they have to wait until they go through all of this to make a charging decision. But we know Bernie Kerik is also going to sit for an interview, speak to the special counsel, and we expect that will happen the first or second week of August.

BLITZER: And Giuliani already did, right? Eight hours.

REID: He did. Yes, he talked to them for over two days. They went up to New York to talk to him, and his attorney tells me they do not expect him to be charged.


BLITZER: Yes. He spent eight hours answering questions. What do you make of these new revelations?

WU: Well, I think that the question about that investigation that they began could be very interesting to find out what kind of instructions they were being given. Is any communication from Trump's inner circle or from Giuliani that you have to go find something here that could be very telling? The Giuliani reporting I think is really intriguing, that he is not going to be a target, and I give him kudos if he's able to talk himself out of that situation.


BLITZER: Paula, let me get your thoughts on the grand jury going forward right now. There is still some other witnesses they want to talk to.

REID: So we know that the special counsel prosecutors want to talk to at least three more witnesses. But those are not at this point grand jury appearances. That's going to be an interview with the special counsel either at their office or they'll come to your office. It's unclear if any additional witnesses will go before the grand jury. They could of course call some witnesses back, call some additional witnesses we don't even know about.

But at this point, we don't have any names of people expected to come back before the grand jury. They can come in any time. They can be called whenever prosecutors need them. But we next expect them to be back on Thursday.

BLITZER: Let me get your thoughts, Shan, while I have you. Hunter Biden in court tomorrow. What do you anticipate?

WU: But for the fact he's Hunter Biden, it would be a very straight forward proceeding. The judge is going to go through a colloquy with him to make sure that he understands the charges, potential punishment, no one is pressuring him to take the plea and he is satisfied with his lawyer's service.

Usually where a plea can go wrong in the hearing is if there is a dispute over the factual proffer. That's not going to happen here. They've gone over it very carefully with a fine-tooth comb. That's going to go very smoothly. It's also highly unlikely that while the judge has the discretion to turn down the plea offer, that they're going to do so. So I think it'll go pretty simply.

REID: Yes. It's a big day for the attorney general. Because as you noted, past attorneys general would have said, hey, you ready with your evidence, go ahead. But Attorney General Merrick Garland, I mean, he's is operating in a reality where he is trying very hard to restore trust in the Justice Department. And the Hunter Biden case is one of several where he is trying to convince the American public that he has had a hands-off approach, that there has been no political interference.

Again, why I think that concern may loom larger than it would have in the past. So it's a really big day for the rule of law. Again, this is the son of the president of the United States. And for Merrick Garland, for people to be able to see more details. We don't know much about this deal, what happened here, and the fact that he is at the end of the day is pleading guilty to some serious crimes.

BLITZER: Yes. We shall see what happens tomorrow, guys.

WU: I think a smart move by the DOJ to say any testimony by the U.S. attorney Weiss has to be public. That's smart.

REID: Yes.

BLITZER: Yes. They want to be transparent in all of this. Thank you to both of you very, very much.

Up next, there's brand-new CNN reporting about why House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has warmed up to the idea of trying to impeach President Biden.

Plus, the son of basketball superstar LeBron James goes into cardiac arrest during practice. An update on his condition. That's coming up as well.

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.



BLITZER: Today, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy made his most explicit impeachment threat to date against President Joe Biden.

Our chief congressional correspondent Manu Raju is up on Capitol Hill.

Manu, what's prompting this threat and how serious is the House speaker about it?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this had simply been in the fringes of the House Republican conference for some time. But now it is being embraced, the idea of opening up an impeachment inquiry to President Biden, now being embraced by the speaker of the House.

This as the House Republican leaders recognize that time is running out in this year. There is precious little -- they have to make a decision about whether they want to move forward with any impeachment proceeding as the speaker himself has threatened to impeach the Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas as well as Merrick Garland, the attorney general.

But the recognition is that simply it will not be enough time politically and otherwise to try to move on multiple impeachments. So they're increasingly setting their sights on Joe Biden himself. This after allegations that Joe Biden was involved with Hunter Biden's business dealings, and allegations from an FBI informant that have been unverified but such that Joe Biden was involved in some sort of bribery scheme with a foreign national back at a time when Biden was vice president.

Now the White House has denied those unfair allegations. And I asked the speaker himself whether or not Republicans have corroborated Joe Biden's ties to Hunter Biden's business dealings. And he indicated that it would be up to an impeachment inquiry to determine whether or not they can get this information, which is why he believes that may be the right course of action.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): More of this continues to unravel. It rises to the level of an impeachment inquiry. What that simply provides is that American public has a right to know, and this allows Congress to get the information to be able to know the truth.

REP. BOB GOOD (R-VA): Well, I'm just glad to hear that the speaker is recognizing that that we need to follow the evidence and the truth wherever it might lead us. I don't think there is any question that him speaking to that has caused a paradigm shift.

REP. ANDY BIGGS (R-AZ): I think we probably should have moved to an impeachment inquiry probably sooner than this. But I understand. I mean, he's -- he was reticent at first.


RAJU: So those last two comments coming from critics of McCarthy's in the House GOP, now embracing what he was doing. Another sign of the power of the right flank of the House Republican conference. But even if the House were to open up a formal inquiry sometime in the fall, Wolf, it would have to actually have a vote in the full House then they move forward to the actual impeachment, charging the president with high crimes and misdemeanors, making him only the fourth president in history to be impeached.


He would need the votes in the House to get that impeachment resolution through in a narrowly divided House heading into an election year, very difficult with a number of vulnerable Republicans nervous about going that route.

And even as the White House today declined to comment about this effort, saying it's up to Republicans to decide what to do, Senate GOP leaders are slow to embrace that effort, Wolf. I just talked to Senate Republican Whip John Thune, the number two Senate Republican. He told me that it's better for elections to be -- the best way to change the government, he said, is by elections. He said, I don't know what the Republicans have in the House, but he'd like to see what they have. But he believes that it's up to voters to decide to remove the president, not Congress. WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Manu Raju up on Capitol Hill, thank you very much.

Let's discuss this and more. Joining us, Republican strategist Alice Stewart and CNN's Nia-Malika Henderson and former Obama Senior Adviser David Axelrod is with us as well.

Nia, why do you think McCarthy is threatening this impeachment inquiry right now? And what's the appetite that other Republicans have for it?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, listen, I think if you are a moderate Republican who's up for re-election in 2024, there's not a lot of appetite for this. There is a fear among some Republicans that this would actually gin up the Democratic base to sort of rally around Biden.

The reason McCarthy is doing this now is because he sort of failed in terms of getting impeachment inquiries in terms of the A.G. or even the Homeland Security secretary. And so now they want a bigger fish.

The question is, is this just sort of messaging and it's not really going to go anywhere, it's sort of to please the far right of his base, to please Donald Trump as well. That seems to be what it is. Because you look at sort of the timeline that they're working with, they don't have a lot of time.

Ideally, if they were to get this done, it would have to be done by the end of the year. The calendar is pretty packed. They're about to go on, I think, a six-week recess. So, there's not a lot of time.

This comes as McCarthy was also floating the idea of sort of wiping away Donald Trump's impeachments in the House, which is not really a thing that seems to have gone nowhere. So, we'll see if this sort of has the same fate.

BLITZER: We certainly will. All right, stand by.

David Axelrod, the White House says it's for Republicans to decide whether to go ahead and try to impeach President Biden. What do you make of that strategy to deflect away from this escalation by House Republicans?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. Well, I suspect that they recognize what Nia just said, which is this is no big winner for the Republican Party, at least in districts in which Republicans have competitive races. It's no great winner for the Republican Party in a national election. What it is is a way for the speaker who has his head in a vise with the Freedom Caucus on one end and Donald Trump on the other to assuage them.

And, Wolf, I'm not here honestly as a spokesperson for a party or a president. I'm here as a senior political commentator for CNN. And I just have to say, I take this very seriously. Whether it's a Republican president, Democratic president, if there's wrongdoing, it should be pursued, it should be dealt with. But that's not what this is. We've had the Republicans stumbling around like so many Inspector Clouseaus for a year-and-a-half looking for something, anything, to impugn the president. They haven't found it. And now it's like we'll impeach, details to be determined.

To quote the great Logan Roy, these are not serious people. But it is serious what they're doing and it is seriously damaging to our democracy.

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think it's also important to point out, look, it's easy for Democrats and on those on the left to try and dismiss this and say there's nothing to see here. But what McCarthy and Republicans are doing is they're following the evidence and the information. And what they're seeing is the story has changed.

For years, President Biden and his administration has said he has absolutely no knowledge of Hunter's foreign business dealings. Well, yesterday, the story is that he was not in business with Hunter. That's a different story. That's singing from a different playbook.

And this comes on the heels of we're going to get information next week from one of Hunter's business partners, Devin Archer, who has, from what I understand from people in the House, information that completely contradicts the president's denials of involvement with Hunter's business. And this is going to paint a new picture and this is certainly going to put the president in a different light. And I think they're waiting, they're being very cautious and they're following the information as this comes forward.

BLITZER: What do you think?

HENDERSON: Well, listen, I mean, we'll see if there is the appetite, I think, in the House GOP caucus. You have had investigations go on so far, this idea that there's a sort of Biden crime family, trying to tie Hunter to the president, but so far, it hasn't come up with anything.


So, now you have McCarthy saying, well, we need this inquiry to get information nation that so far they haven't been able to get.

BLITZER: Nia, David, Alice, guys, thank you very, very much.

Just ahead, a top basketball recruit and the son of NBA legend LeBron James is hospitalized after suffering a cardiac arrest. We have details right after this.


BLITZER: Bronny James, the son of NBA superstar LeBron James, is in stable condition tonight after going into cardiac arrest during a college basketball practice yesterday. A statement from his family says that medical staff were able to treat Bronny on the scene and to take him to a hospital.

For more on this, I'm joined now by CNN Sports Analyst Christine Brennan. Christine, what more can you tell us, first of all, about this very scary incident and about Bronny James?



It was yesterday morning at USC. He is an incoming freshman at the University of Southern in California, one of the highest regarded and highest ranked of the young incoming freshman class, McDonald's All American. And he was apparently practicing and had this episode of cardiac arrest.

It is believed -- although I've not been able to confirm, but it's believed that because of the incredible medical staff that was on site, they were able to work on him very quickly, transport him to the hospital. He was in ICU for a while, according to the family statement. They say he's now out of ICU and in stable condition, as you said.

So, incredibly scary situation, and we know LeBron James, obviously, we know him so well as a national icon and hero and role model. And we know how much he loves his son and, in fact, has said he wants to keep playing so that maybe he could play with his son. If his son plays for, say, a year in college, then moves on to the NBA, obviously, all that now is put aside as everyone is so concerned about the health and the human side of this young man.

BLITZER: Yes, absolutely. We wish Bronny a very, very speedy.

Christine, we've seen other rather high profile cardiac arrests at USC, for example, just last year, and in the NFL with the Buffalo Bills, Damar Hamlin. What lessons are teams taking from all of this?

BRENNAN: And, Wolf, I think back and you remember, I'm sure, the incident, that tragedy very well. Hank Gathers, back in March of 1990, dying on the basketball court at Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles. He played his freshman year at USC as well. And that one was so tragic now, 33 years ago, but still very much front and center. The difference there is no one was able to revive Hank Gathers.

And in this case, as we know from Damar Hamlin, which was just six and a half months ago, as, of course, the NFL, the Buffalo Bills, a very scary and awful scene that so many people saw on national television. He not only was revived, he was out of the hospital within a few weeks. And he is back and is apparently okay and able to play football again.

And so the advances in medicine and I think also, Wolf, the advances in the general public understanding defibrillators, the fact that you have to be able to learn CPR to be able to revive someone, especially in youth sports, it's not just about the professionals or even college players like Bronny, but it's also about kids playing all kinds of sports.

And that conversation, as you know, well, has only enhanced over the last, well, several years, but certainly in the last six months since Damar Hamlin. And we don't know, but it may well be that that intensity of knowledge and concern may have helped in this case. Again, we don't know that but it's certainly possible that that is the case as well.

BLITZER: It certainly is. Christine Brennan, thank you very much.

There's other news we're following tonight here in The Situation Room in New York. Police have finished gathering evidence at the home of suspected serial killer Rex Heuermann. We're also hearing chilling new details from a woman who went on a date with him few years ago. CNN's Jean Casarez has the story.


JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Tonight, a new look at the house that accused serial killer Rex Heuermann shared with his wife and children as police wrap up their search of the home after 12 days.

RAYMOND A. TIERNEY, SUFFOLK COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: We won't know exactly what we have for quite some time because just given the sheer volume of evidence that was taken.

CASAREZ: The Suffolk County district attorney saying that the house was very cluttered and the work ahead is going to be an enormous undertaking.

TIERNEY: A 13-year old cold case doesn't get solved in a matter of weeks or days.

CASAREZ: The district attorney says investigators collected a massive amount of items. Now, they have to be cataloged and analyzed. And among other things, they're looking for DNA, trace evidence and hair.

The focus seems to be on evidence taken from inside the home despite sonar technology leading to an excavation behind the house.

TIERNEY: There was nothing of note taken from the backyard, as far as remains.

CASAREZ: All this as new revelations about Heuermann, a New York architect, continue to come out. He is accused of killing three women and officials are looking into other victims as well.

Heuermann has pleaded not guilty to the charges, but hair and makeup artist Nikkie Brass said she went on a date with the suspect in 2015 and is positive he committed the crimes.

NIKKIE BRASS, WENT ON A DATE WITH GILGO BEACH SUSPECT IN 2015: I am convinced. I am a thousand percent sure.

CASAREZ: She said the date was unremarkable at first.

BRASS: He seemed like your typical guy who was bored with his life and wanted some kind of excitement, you know what I mean?

[17:45:03] It didn't get weird until he asked me if I was a true crime fan.

CASAREZ: When Brass told him she was, she says he outright asked her if she was familiar with the Gilgo Beach murders.

BRASS: When he brought it up, his whole demeanor changed. He set up Schrader (ph). He had like a smirk on his face. He seemed almost like too excited to talk about it. And then once he did start talking about it, it didn't seem like a true crime fan who just knows information they've seen on T.V. or read, it seemed like somebody who was reliving it.


CASAREZ (on camera): We learned from the district attorney today that the grand jury is still convened in this case. Now, the next court here in for Rex Heuermann is going to be on August 1st.

And as for this residential area, Massapequa Park, it is now returned to the community as, once again, peaceful, police are gone, except for the 24-hour surveillance from the police department on that home.

And they also say if people just want to come and look and take pictures, watch out. You're going to get a summons.

BLITZER: All right. Jean, thank you. Jean Casarez on the scene for us, thank you.

Coming up, we'll discuss the fallout in Israel right now after parliament there, the Knesset, approved the first part of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's judicial overall plan.

And we're also getting new White House reaction to a federal judge's ruling blocking the Biden administration's asylum policy.



BLITZER: Just into CNN, the Biden administration says it plans to file an appeal after a federal judge blocked President Biden's controversial asylum policy earlier today.

CNN's Jeremy Diamond is over at the White House for us. Jeremy, so what is the White House saying about this ruling and what's next?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the White House obviously disagrees with the ruling by this judge and the White House press secretary says that the Department of Justice will indeed appeal this decision and seek to extend the stay on this ruling, a 14- day stay that this judge already approved.

The White House also says that they have seen that this asylum rule is working at the border, that it is keeping border crossing numbers down and that they are confident in the legality of this plan. Now, this rule that is in question here, it disqualifies most people from applying for asylum if they didn't cross the border legally and with an appointment. So, anyone who crosses illegally or anyone who presents at a port of entry without an appointment would be disqualified from applying for asylum or if they are unable to prove that they sought legal protections in another country before arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border.

And this policy, Wolf, has indeed seen border crossing numbers plummet in the last several months it has been in effect. And this was the Biden administration's response to the end of that COVID-era Title 42, which we know was a crucial authority that the Biden administration was using at the border.

Now, this judge said that had previously ruled against a similar Trump administration-era policy. He said last week in oral arguments that he saw these two policies as very similar. The Biden administration, of course, disagrees.

But the question is, if this stay is not extended, what that will mean for border crossing numbers, because, again, this policy has been central to keeping those numbers down so far. But, again, many more challenges facing this law both on the right and the left. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right. Jeremy Diamond at the White House, thank you.

We're also following massive backlash right now in Israel after parliament there, the Knesset, passed the first part of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's extremely controversial judicial overhaul plan with thousands marching in the streets and medical doctors now going on strike.

CNN's Hadas Gold has the story from Jerusalem.

HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Israel still feeling the fallout and reverberations from that legislation passing yesterday, stripping the Supreme Court of some of its powers over the government. Protests continued overnight. Dozens of protesters were injured as were more than a dozen police officers as protesters took to the streets in both Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. They were met with police water cannons and skunk water and the like.

And meanwhile, in front of the Supreme Court, multiple petitions have been filed seeking an injunction to stop this legislation from being enforced. And that could set up a really fascinating legal battle where the Supreme Court will potentially be eventually asked to rule on its own powers.

Now, Ron Dermer, one of the most senior Israeli ministers, was asked earlier on CNN about whether this government would even heed a Supreme Court ruling striking this legislation down. Take a listen.


RON DERMER, MINISTER OF STRATEGIC AFFAIRS OF ISRAEL: I have no idea whether or not the Supreme Court would make such a decision. It would seem to me a very strange decision for the Supreme Court to make. To put it in American terms, imagine that Congress has passed the constitutional amendment.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: So, would the government heed that ruling? Yes or no?

DERMER: The government will always obey and abide by the rule of law in Israel because we have in Israel the rule of law. What we don't have is the rule of judges.


GOLD: So, as you can see, Wolf, Dermer not quite answering that question. He was repeating the phrase that Netanyahu has used that this legislation, this overhaul, is not weakening democracy, it is strengthening democracy.

But one thing we are seeing this legislation weakening, that is Israel's credit rating. Morgan Stanley coming out saying that Israel's sovereign credit rating is now at a dislike stance. Moody's is coming out saying the controversial overhaul of Israel's judicial system risks plunging the country into further turmoil that will hurt its economy and security.

Also at risk is Israel's military readiness. As we know, thousands of military reservists have said they will not heed the call to serve if they are called up because this legislation has passed.


We now have heard from the Israel Defense Forces who have said that there was an increase in requests to stop service. They say, if reservists do not show up for a long time, there will be damage to the army's competence. They its gradual process will be affected according to the presence of those reservists.

Meanwhile, the protesters, they say that they will continue taking to the streets. They say this Saturday evening, they plan another major protest across Israel. Wolf?

BLITZER: Hadas Gold in Jerusalem, thank you.

Coming up, our legal and political experts, they're standing by as we break down what's happening and not happening with the federal grand jury investigating Donald Trump and 2020 election interference.


BLITZER: Happening now, new questions about the schedule of the federal grand jury that may be weighing a third criminal indictment of Donald Trump. Did the secret panel meet as expected, and if not, why not?


Also this hour, an update on former U.S. Marine Trevor Reed injured while fighting in Ukraine.