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No Sighting Of Trump Grand Jury That Was Due To Meet Today; Ex- U.S Marine Freed By Russia Hurt Fighting In Ukraine; Biden Establishes New National Monument Honoring Emmett Till, Black Teen Brutally Killed In 1955; LeBron James' Son Stable After Cardiac Arrest During Practice; 45 Million Americans Under Heat Alerts Today. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired July 25, 2023 - 18:00   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Also this hour, an update on former U.S. Marine Trevor Reed injured while fighting in Ukraine just 15 months after getting out of a Russian prison. His actions raising concerns about efforts to win the release of other Americans in Kremlin custody.

And the sports world is stunned as another athlete collapses, this time it's LeBron James' 18-year-old son, Bronny, who suffered cardiac arrest during a college basketball practice. Dr. Sanjay Gupta is reviewing the case.

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

We begin this hour with the intense scrutiny of the federal grand jury investigating Donald Trump and 2020 election interference. Anticipation about the panel's next move running high right now as Trump has acknowledged he may be indicted again, and he may be indicted soon.

CNN's Senior Justice Correspondent Evan Perez is working the story for us. Evan, the federal grand jury was expected to meet today. Where do things stand tonight?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: We did not see them. Our Casey Gannon, who spends a lot of time in the court and that courthouse, Wolf, was there today. And they typically show up on Tuesdays and Thursdays. And, today, we did not see them.

So, the question remains, when is this going to happen? The former president was notified, as you pointed out, just over a week ago that an indictment could be coming. And so everything indicates that that is still the case, that the former president is likely to be indicted by the special counsel. It's just a matter of when.

Now, we've been -- it's a bit of a guessing game, right? The last time, there was more than three weeks between the time, a target letter and the time of the indictment. We don't anticipate that that could happen this time. There's no indication the former president is asking to meet with the Justice Department to try to forestall this, to try to prevent this. And so now, it's just a matter of whether the grand jury will show up on Thursday.

Now, there's a lot of things that could explain a delay. One of the possibilities, Wolf, is the fact that the Justice Department has another very big case that is coming to court tomorrow in Delaware. That's the case of Hunter Biden. He's pleaded guilty to a couple of tax crimes. And so that's one of the things that we know the Justice Department is very sensitive to. Obviously, there's a lot of focus on that. And the idea of indicting the former president just right before this other case is probably something that might raise some concerns on Capitol Hill.

At this point, though, Wolf, the possibility or the expectation is that we're going to see this grand jury come into the courthouse and hand down an indictment, and then the former president will be notified, and then he'll tell the world about it.

BLITZER: We'll see what happens on Thursday. That's the next scheduled meeting in this grand jury. We shall see.

All right, Evan, stay with us. I want to bring in more of our legal and political experts into this conversation.

Elliot Williams, how do you read the grand jury not meeting today? Is Hunter Biden's case, do you think, a factor?

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Wolf, Hunter Biden's case could be a factor, but it's hard to know really how to read grand juries because so much -- virtually, everything they do is secret. There could have been personal conflicts on the part of some of the prosecutors or some of the grand jurors for any other number of reasons.

It's also important to note, Wolf, that though the target letter went out last -- news of it was released last Sunday, the former president had until Thursday to respond or come in, signify he was coming in to the grand jury. It's really only been four days since that happened. In prosecutor terms, in court terms, that's really not a long time and not an incredibly unreasonable delay.

And so I think backing up Evan's point, an indictment is probably imminent and imminent can mean a matter of days or weeks when you're talking in prosecutor speak.

BLITZER: Kaitlan Collins is with us as well. We're learning, Kaitlan, it's every interesting, Giuliani's team gave the special counsel a lot of documents about their outlandish and totally discredited election fraud claims, I should say. How much did they have Trump's ear in the process, and how significant potentially are all these documents that were made available?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF CORRESPONDENT: Well, Giuliani certainly was obviously a key player in those days. And so he has drawn a level of fascination here, especially when he went and voluntarily sat down with prosecutors for two days back-to-back.

When it comes to these documents, I think they really just speak to the level of unsubstantiated claims, false claims that were being passed around about claims of voter fraud, when they really had nothing to back it up, something that we've heard from top Republican officials in Arizona to obviously what we know now.

They're turning this over obviously very late in the game. A lot of these documents coming from the former New York City police commissioner, Bernie Kerik, who we also know is scheduled to sit down with Jack Smith's team in the coming weeks. And so I think that is a small part of this.


I don't think it's a significant part.

But an important thing to note here about the grand jury not meeting today, and as we're reading the tea leaves on all of this, Trump's team is doing the exact same thing. I mean, they also don't have an indication of when this is going to happen. They're bracing for it, though.

BLITZER: They certainly are. All right, stand by.

Dana bash, Trump is on the 2024 campaign trail today in Louisiana, as a new poll shows 72 percent of Republicans are not concerned that Trump's indictments weaken him in a general election. What do you make of that? We're showing viewers our pictures of Trump's arrival in New Orleans. You see the Trump plane there.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's consistent, Wolf, with what we have seen since the former president had his first indictment on a state level in New York, in the spring. And that sentiment among Republicans, who matter the most to him right now, because he wants to get the nomination when the voting starts early next year, they have rallied behind him. And there's no indication that that has changed.

If anything, the indications are that his lead is becoming more and more cemented and that as he gets closer to another indictment, if he's driving in the race for president, he's looking in the rear-view mirror and everybody else who is running, they're getting smaller and smaller and smaller as he gets in more legal trouble.

It is still something that -- it's something that we've almost come to accept with somebody like Donald Trump, but it is worth noting how incredibly unusual and upside-down the sentiment is and this phenomenon is for anybody else who is not named Donald Trump.

BLITZER: Yes. And, Kaitlan, what do you make of all these developments out there on the campaign trail and Trump's mindset right now as he potentially faces yet another criminal indictment?

COLLINS: One of thing that I've been talking to sources about in the last few days is how all of this is playing into his decision about that first debate. We're less than a month away from when they're going to be on stage in Milwaukee. We've seen the candidates who are qualifying. Obviously, Trump meets the threshold. But right now, based on the private conversations he's having, he's not planning on showing up.

And that's despite people like Ronna McDaniel, the Republican National Committee chairwoman, going to him personally and urging him, making their case for why he needs to show up. But I think as his legal troubles are piling up, but as what you just noted there, how well he's doing in the polls and whether or not Republican voters seem -- whether it registers and affects their support, it's factoring into his thinking but also what he is hearing from advisers whether or not it's worth it for him to show up.

That matters to people like a Ron DeSantis or these Tim Scott, a Nikki Haley, these candidates who are trying to find that moment of momentum. They may not get it being on the actual stage with Trump himself, potentially.

BLITZER: Yes, good point. Evan, I want to get back to these documents that were just made available to the special counsel by Giuliani and Bernie Kerik, his former police commissioner in New York.

PEREZ: Thousands of pages.

BLITZER: Thousands of pages. I was going to say hundreds. If you're talking about thousands of pages, what's so significant, potentially, about this?

PEREZ: What's fascinating to me, Wolf, that the special counsel is only now getting these documents at this late stage, again, just within the last 48 hours, and it has to do with witness interviews. There's research that Bernie Kerik and his team were putting together, again, to try to support these false fraud claims.

And we don't anticipate, Wolf, just from reviewing the documents -- Paula Reid obtained them last night and we spent time going through them, our team did. And they don't appear to be directly related to affect the timing of a Trump indictment.

And I think to Kaitlan's point, certainly, the Justice Department and Jack Smith's office, they're all very keenly aware of the calendar. They know that the first debate is just within a month. And so you have to believe that if they're going to do this, they know they have the clock ticking.

And so the former president, if they decide they're going to indict him and then perhaps come back and address some of the other people who were part of this, these efforts, these schemes to overturn the election, they could do that. But, certainly, I think it really tells you that, certainly, on those documents and ins some of the witnesses that we have coming up, they don't necessarily -- they don't need them for a Trump indictment.

BLITZER: Dana, it seems that the rest of the GOP field seems to be frozen in place right now, at least until this plays out. Where does all this go from here?

BASH: I don't even know if it's frozen in place. It's almost as if they are becoming less and less viable as Donald Trump becomes more and more potentially in the place of being indicted for a third time.


Again, these are based on polls. It is the summer of the full-year before they start voting. We're not going to see voting until just under six months. But given the way that this is playing and how he is playing it out, what Kaitlan noted about the first chance for Republican primary and caucus voters to see candidates on the stage, and the fact that as we see the former president feeling more solid in his frontrunner status, the less likely he is to be on the stage. It is a very, very big question whether or not things are going to change.

And we don't know. There are so many unknowns. But there are a lot of people looking at this saying, it could be almost done.

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

Important note, Kaitlan, of course, will be back at 9:00 P.M. Eastern later tonight with her show, The Source. We'll have a lot more -- she'll have a lot more on what's going on.

Just ahead, we'll go live to Ukraine for the latest on the fate of the former U.S. Marine and former captive of Russia, Trevor Reed, after learning he was injured on the battlefield in the warzone in Ukraine.

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



BLITZER: Tonight, former U.S. Marine Trevor Reed has been getting medical care in Germany after being wounded in the fighting in Ukraine. His actions coming as a surprise to many Americans after the U.S. government went to great lengths to win his release from a Russian prison.

CNN's Alex Marquardt is joining us live from Odessa, Ukraine, right now. Alex, first of all, what are you learning about Trevor Reed and his condition?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this is just a remarkable story, Trevor Reed coming here to Ukraine to fight against the country that held him for three years.

Now, what we do know is that Trevor Reed was fighting in Ukraine when he was injured. He was taken to Kyiv for medical treatment, firstly. And then he was evacuated to Germany. We understand that he's now being treated at a U.S. military medical facility, the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center that is near the Ramstein Airbase.

But, Wolf, there's still a lot of questions that we don't have the answers to. What are the extent of injuries? Where was he when he was injured? What unit was he fighting with? Let's remind our viewers that Reed was held in Russia in prison for three years, from 2019 until last year. The U.S. had determined that he was wrongfully detained. He was traded last year for a Russian pilot named Konstantin Yaroshenko, who had been convicted by the U.S. for drug smuggling.

The Biden administration is making clear they do not want to see Reed or others like him coming here to Ukraine, fighting here in Ukraine. We heard from U.S. officials today saying that Reed was not engaged in any activities on behalf of the U.S. government. And the big question now, Wolf, is to what extent this may complicate the administration's efforts to get other Americans back from Russia, notably Paul Whelan and the Wall Street Journal reporter, Evan Gershkovich. Wolf?

BLITZER: I know you spent a lot of time with foreign fighters in Ukraine. What draws them to the Ukrainian cause? What are you hearing?

MARQUARDT: We have, Wolf, and certainly when it comes to the veterans who come here to fight. They tell us, I know how to fight, I believe in this fight, this is a fight for democracy and freedom. They want to come here and fight for the little guy who is being bullied.

Wolf, on our last trip here in February, we spent time with an international legion unit. We met an American named Jason Mann who had served as a Marine in Iraq and Afghanistan. He said, when this war started, he had no choice but to come here. Take a listen to a bit more of what he had to say.


JASON MANN, AMERICAN FIGHTING IN UKRAINE: This is redefining the global order as we speak. This is democracy versus autocracy. Do we want to let autocracy control more people's lives in the future or prevent from doing that ever again?

Not everyone gets that choice. For me it was more a serendipitous, like one of those moments in your life that you don't really have a choice, actually.

MARQUARDT: No regrets?

MANN: No regrets.


MARQUARDT: And, Wolf, we also met Jason Mann's team leader, a New Zealander whose nickname was Turtle. He was very matter of fact about the possibility of dying here in Ukraine. But he said that if he had to, then no better way to go than to do so alongside friends fighting for what you believe in. And the, Wolf, just a few days later, we did find out that Turtle had died. Wolf?

BLITZER: Very sad, indeed. All right, thanks very much, Alex, for that report.

Let's get some more on all of these develops. Joining us now, CNN military analyst, retired Air Force Colonel Cedric Leighton. Colonel, thanks very much for joining us. I want you to watch and listen to what the former defense secretary, Mark Esper, told me here in The Situation Room in the last hour about who goes and fights in Ukraine, and specifically about Trevor Reed. Listen to this.


MARK ESPER, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY: 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 he has sore feelings about Moscow, for good reason and maybe wants a little payback there.


BLITZER: What's your reaction to this development?

COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, I think, Wolf, you know -- it's sad that Trevor Reed has been wounded in this particular situation, but it's very clear that the motivation that he had and so many others have had is something that has been shared by Americans for over 100 years. We went to France before. We declared war on Germany in World War I. We did the same thing in World War II.

And now with Ukraine, you have a situation where so many people believe what Jason Mann said in the previous piece from Alex that this is a fight for democracy. And if you do it in Ukraine, it's better to do it there than to do it here on our home turf or in a NATO country. And so I think that's the motivation that many of these people have and probably was very much Trevor Reed's motivation as well.

BLITZER: But do you think it will make it more difficult to get these other Americans still being held by the Russians home?

LEIGHTON: It could. And one of the big problems is, and the State Department is taking great pains to make sure that these events are seen as separate because those people have absolutely nothing to do with what's happening in Ukraine.


But when you look at Trevor Reed and his situation, he's a military man, he clearly went to -- go to Ukraine to fight that battle because he believed in it. And I think for people like the Wall Street Journal journalist and the other Marine, Paul Whelan, you have a situation where those are separate and distinct cases, and, hopefully, the Russians will see it that way. But the danger is certainly there that they won't.

BLITZER: Colonel Leighton, thanks very much for coming in.

LEIGHTON: You bet, Wolf.

BLITZER: Coming up, President Biden honors Emmett Till, a black teenager whose murder back in the 1950s helped galvanize the civil right movement here in the United States. We'll take a look at why this is happening now and how it figures into a heated political debate about race education in the United States.



BLITZER: Tonight, President Biden has bestowed a very high honor on an African-American teenager who was brutally murdered decades ago. That would be Emmett Till, whose death helped energize the fight for civil rights here in the United States.

CNN's Jeremy Diamond is joining us from the White House right now. Jeremy, this recognition of Emmett Till comes at a rather significant moment in the debate right now about race education in this country.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It certainly does, Wolf. And, Wolf, this moment is more than 60 years in the making. Today, President Biden establishing the Emmett Till and Mamie Till Mobley National Monument, but there is also, as you mentioned, a political backdrop. States across the country are increasingly restricting the teaching of issues related to race and black history.

The president, though, saying today's designation of this monument shows that it's important to teach all of history, the good and the bad.


diamond (voice over): Tonight, President Biden naming a new national monument honoring Emmett Till, the black teenager whose gruesome murder in 1955 helped galvanize the civil rights movement.

JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: At a time when there are those who seek to ban books, bury history, we're making it clear, crystal, crystal clear how darkness and denialism can hide much. They erase nothing.

DIAMOND: The national monument, which also pays tribute to Till's mother and her critical activism, will consist of three protected sites. The Roberts Temple Church in Chicago, where Till's open-casket funeral was killed, and two sites in Mississippi, Grabball Landing, where Till's body was pulled from the river, and the Tallahatchie County courthouse, where an all-white jury who acquitted the two white men who lynched Till.

Biden's proclamation came on what would have been Till's 82nd birthday and after decades of activism by his family.

REV. WHEELER PARKER JR. EMMETT TILL'S COUSIN: It has been quite a journey for me from the darkness to the light, back then in the darkness. I could never imagine a moment like this.

DIAMOND: It also comes amid national debate over how black history should be caught in classrooms.

BIDEN: We can't just choose to learn what we want to know. We have to learn what we should know. We should know about our country. We should know everything, the good, the bad, the truth. DIAMOND: Dozens of states have taken steps restricting how issues of race are taught in schools. In Florida, new state education guidelines now require among other lessons, the middle schoolers learn, quote, how slaves developed skills, which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit. High school students would learn about violence perpetrated against and by African-Americans.

The new rules emerge from the Stop Woke Act Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed last year, which bars teaching that anyone is privileged or oppressed based on their race.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): I didn't do it, I wasn't involved in it. But I think what they're doing is I think that they're probably going to show some of the folks that eventually parlayed being a blacksmith into doing things later in life.

DIAMOND: Vice President Harris flew to Florida last week to decry the new guidelines.

KAMALA HARRIS, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: This is unnecessary to debate whether enslaved people benefited from slavery. Are you kidding me?

DIAMOND: Harris is rapidly becoming the voice of the White House's rapid fire pushback to Republican action on guns, abortion and education. Today, she carried on that charge.

HARRIS: Let us not be seduced into believing that somehow we will be better if we forget. We will be better if we remember.


DIAMOND: And what you heard there, Wolf, from Vice President Harris both at the White House and last week in Florida, you're going to see a lot more of that from the vice president and from this administration showing a lot more willingness to go after some of these far-right Republican policies as they see them and also because they see it as an opportunity to challenge -- to energize young voters and voters of color ahead of the next presidential election. They used that playbook in the midterms in 2022, and they believe that they can use that again heading into this presidential election season. Wolf?

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

Let's dig deeper right now with our Political Commentators Scott Jennings and Karen Finney.

Finney, what do you make, first of all, of the split screen of President Biden memorializing Emmett Till while Florida under Governor DeSantis is trying to limit how black history is taught in our country?

KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it's a reminder, frankly, of the journey that America is still very much on, that while we could pause and take a moment to finally honor Emmett Till and his mother and the sacrifice that she made to keep his story in the fore, during the civil rights movement, that finally we could honor that and that moment in history.


And yet at the same time, we're still fighting to make sure these stories are told.

And it's not just -- remember in Florida, it's with the book bans, it's African-American history, it's women's studies, it's attacking LGBTQ people. I mean, this whole sort of portfolio of this anti-woke that the governor embarked on, frankly, as a way to try to win over Trump voters in this election. And I think as we're seeing, it's not working.

BLITZER: Scott, you just heard Florida's new education guidelines saying that slaves actually gained skills, and I'm quoting now, for their personal benefit. These are the Florida guidelines. Are these efforts really something Republicans should stand by?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, those guidelines were written by African-American scholars who have come out and strongly refuted everything that Kamala Harris has had to say about this. So, it has nothing really to do with Republicans or Ron DeSantis. She's really debating the African-American scholars who wrote the guidelines, which, taken in totality, the scholars who wrote them say show a complete and total picture of the African-American experience. And they say that to do what Kamala Harris wants to do would remove the agency of the people that they're describing in the guidelines.

So, I think the White House -- by the way, I should say, I strongly agree with President Biden's designation of the Emmett Till National Monument today. I think this is an underused presidential power. And I think these sites are vital. So, I'm glad he did that. But I thought using the occasion to demagogue on this issue, unfairly and dishonestly, in my opinion, sort of cheapened it, it was not necessary.

FINNEY: I'd like to point something out here because part of -- I read the standards myself. And part of what they neglect to acknowledge is African slaves came to this country, and they maybe already had certain skills. So, to suggest that somehow during slavery, enslaved, they may have learned some skills to personal benefit.

I mean, this is what we have seen over and over throughout our history. It is denigrating the culture and the skills and the humanity of the people who came here. What I would hope is that we can all agree that it should not be about indoctrinating. It should be about teaching our kids the truth so that they know the full story, so that they know the journey of our country that we're at a date today where Emmett Till is honored, as he should be.

BLITZER: Go ahead. I'll let you respond, Scott.

JENNINGS: Well, I think if you read the standards, you would see the massive amount of material that was put on paper to encapsulate the full gamut of the African-American experience in this country. I think Kamala Harris has tried to reduce this down to one guideline or one sentence. There were over 190 instances where the guidelines talk about the experience of slaves, how they came here, what happened to them, everything that went on from point A to point B and the journey.

So, I think what the White House is trying to do is make people believe that something exists here that is more limited in scope than it really is. The guidelines also cover other major topics, such as a fulsome and comprehensive look at the Holocaust.

So, I think these scholars who wrote this have had the best things to say about it. And what they have said is, their work is being lied about by the White House, and they're not too pleased about it.

FINNEY: Scott, it's just not true. I mean, you can read it yourself.

JENNINGS: What's not true?

FINNEY: You can read the sentence yourself.

JENNINGS: The scholars refuting Kamala Harris? They have strongly refuted what they've said about her. It's not Ron DeSantis. It's the scholars who wrote it.

FINNEY: And yet the words that they -- these words are true. They did talk about this issue of potential personal benefit. They did say that. And that is not a lie. That is an opinion to say, that's not what we want to -- that's not the conversation we want to be having with our kids. That's not the conversation we should be having in our country in 2023. We should not be afraid of our history.

BLITZER: All right, I'll leave it there. Karen Finney, Scott Jennings, guys, thank you very much.

Just ahead, the backlash to Israel's controversial judicial overhaul has extended to almost every part of the society in Israel, including the country's military. We'll have a report from Jerusalem. That's next.



BLITZER: In Israel tonight, thousands of military reservists are threatening to refuse to report for duty if the Netanyahu government's judicial overhaul plan is allowed to stand.

Our Senior International Correspondent Fred Pleitgen is covering the story for us from Jerusalem.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): As protests continue to grip Israel, among those taking to the streets many military reservists angry at the Netanyahu government's moves to weaken the country's Supreme Court. Even some who are just getting ready to serve saying they feel alienated.

What do you think this means for the Israeli army? Because there's so much division in society and unity is so important for the defense of Israel.

ETHAN LAZAL, PROTESTER: We want to serve the values of the country and not some prime minister who does whatever he wants. We need to have a democratic country if we want to serve in this army.

PLEITGEN: Both men and women perform mandatory military service in Israel, and many later continue as often highly skilled reservists, crucial for a small country under constant threat. But now, around 10,000 reservists have vowed to refuse service, saying they believe the judicial overhaul would undermine democracy and the balance of power.

RON SCHERF, ISRAELI RESERVIST: This is a very sad day for me. I'm volunteering for 23 years already in the reserve army, all my life, volunteering in fighting for Israel.


We feel we're doing the right thing and that we are fighting for the democracy of Israel.

YIFTACH GOLOV, ISRAELI RESERVIST: We stop the madness, stop the destruction of the army to make sure that Israel will remain a democracy.

PLEITGEN: The move led to backlash from both the military leadership and the government, the chief of staff pleading with the reservists.

LT. GEN. HERZI HALEVI, CHIEF OF GENERAL STAFF FOR THE ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES: Even those who have made a decision with a heavy heart not to report, the IDF needs you.

PLEITGEN: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu critical of the dissenters.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: We all know that the Israeli Defense Forces rely on dedicated reservists who love the country. The call for refusal harms the security of all the citizens of the country.

PLEITGEN: Concerns about the future of Israel's military are so grave, even opposition politicians fighting hard against Netanyahu's efforts to curtail the Supreme Court's powers are calling on the reservists to reconsider.

BENNY GANTZ, FORMER DEFENSE ISRAELI MINISTER: Even in this very difficult hour, I call upon my brothers who are serving and volunteering, continue to guard our safety, our security. Give us a strong country to be able to amend things.

PLEITGEN: But many Israelis are clearly not betting on politicians amending things, instead taking to the streets to voice their anger. (END VIDEOTAPE)

PLEITGEN (on camera): As you can imagine, Wolf, it's a huge topic here in Israel. In fact, the spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces came out later tonight and said, right now, the Israel Defense Forces are at full combat readiness.

And he also said that there have been an increased number of requests to stop reserve service and he says reservists don't show up for service for an extended period of time, that will hurt the combat readiness of the Israel Defense Forces. Wolf?

BLITZER: Fred Pleitgen in Jerusalem, thanks for that report.

Coming up, LeBron James' son is out of intensive care after suffering cardiac arrest at a basketball practice. Our experts are standing by to discuss.

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



BLITZER: Tonight, the eyes of the basketball world are on Bronny James, son of NBA superstar LeBron James, as he recovers from a cardiac arrest suffered during a basketball practice.

Brian Todd has more on the story for us -- Brian.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, that was a frightening moment yesterday during USC's basketball practice. Tonight, as Bronny James recovers, we have a broader look at the bond between father and son and their dream of playing together in the NBA.


TODD (voice-over): A Hall of Famer and his family rallying around their son tonight. Bronny James, the 18-year-old son of NBA superstar LeBron James, is in stable condition and out of the ICU after suffering cardiac arrest Monday during a practice at USC where he's been slated to play this coming season. The James family in a statement saying they send their deepest thanks and appreciation to the USC medical and athletic staff for their incredible work and dedication for the safety of their athletes.

DAVE ZIRIN, SPORTS EDITOR, THE NATION MAGAZINE: What happened to Bronny James is beyond shocking, partially because we've seen him grow up.

TODD: Bronny James has spent his entire life around his father and the NBA. Observers say LeBron James has been a devoted father, dedicated to torturing both his sons' basketball dreams.

CARI CHAMPION, HOST, "THE CARI CHAMPION SHOW": We see this GOAT of our time, this once-in-a-lifetime generation player coaching AAU basketball tournaments during his offseason. We've never seen it from the likes of a Michael Jordan or anyone else who has that same type of stature.

TODD: With only about a 20-year difference in age between them, LeBron James has talked openly, including to ESPN, about wanting to play on the same NBA team as Bronny if it can be arranged. Citing baseball stars Ken Griffey and Ken Griffey Jr. who briefly played together for the Seattle Mariners in the early 1990s.

LEBRON JAMES, ALL-STAR FORWARD, LOS ANGELES LAKERS: I would love to do the whole Ken Griffey Senior/Junior thing. That's -- that would be ideal for sure. Being with him, spending a full year with him in the same uniform, that would be -- that would be the icing on the cake.

TODD: Could Bronny James' health emergency derail those plans?

BEN GOLLIVER, NATIONAL NBA WRITER, WASHINGTON POST: I expect that he is going to be putting the family bonds and Bronny's health before anything else at this point. You know, that being said, this isn't necessarily, as far as we know from the publicly available information, a career-ending situation.

TODD: It was just this past January that Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin's heart stopped in the middle of a game after a collision. Hamlin was revived and is attempting to return to the NFL.

But similar cases have ended in tragedy. College basketball star Hank Gathers, who had a regular heartbeat, collapsed during a televised game in March 1990, stopped breathing on the court, and died. He was 23.

Boston Celtics star Reggie Lewis died at age 27 after suffering cardiac arrest during an offseason practice.

ZIRIN: Heart ailments reveal themselves in periods of physical stress. And the tragic odds are that this is going to be a part of sports in the future, just as it's been a part of sports in the past.


TODD (on camera): Analysts say the message to take from this is the importance of having trained medical staff with defibrillators and other equipment at the ready during practices as well as games. Those were critical factors in saving the lives of Bronny James, Damar Hamlin, and Danish soccer star Christian Eriksen, Wolf. He suffered cardiac arrest during a game two years ago, and he's still playing.

BLITZER: Yeah, and I remember that. Thanks very much, Brian, for that report.

Let's discuss what's going on with CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and college basketball Andy Katz.

Sanjay, how rare is it that someone around this age, just 18 years old, would experience cardiac arrest?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, thankfully, it's pretty rare, Wolf.


I mean, but still, when we say rare, it probably happens thousands of times a year that are counted. Maybe even more times that aren't always recognized, 6,000 to 7,000 times, according to the Cardiac Arrest Foundation.

A lot of times, as you may guess, it is involved in sports somehow. You see it in athletes more likely to be men if people under the age of 18, 39 percent of the time, it involves sports. As you get older, less and less related to sports, and as you get even older than that into your 30s and 40s, what typically causes the heart problem is more related to blockages in coronary blood vessels.

Wolf, let me just show you here. When someone as young as Bronny James, someone has a cardiac arrest, which means their heart just stops, it could be that there is an anatomical abnormality with the muscle of the heart. Or there could have been an electrical disturbance.

The heart has got electricity always pumping through it to make sure that the chambers pump in some fashion, regular fashion. If those don't work for some reason, that can lead to cardiac arrest. They're going to figure this out hopefully, Wolf, what happened to him.

BLITZER: Let's hope.

Andy Katz, are teams doing a better job right now to prepare for health risks like this?

ANDY KATZ, WBD SPORTS COLLEGE BASKETBALL ANALYST: Yeah. And, first of all, as Sanjay knows better than anyone on this network, every situation is different, every individual and situation that occurs.

I mean, already in the last year at USC, it's unbelievable. Vincent Iwuchukwu, a player for the Trojans last year at this time had a very similar incident. He was not allowed to play, played in January, played in 14 games this past season.

So the USC medical training staff at the Galen Center, obviously at games and certainly in practices are prepared. They have the right equipment and they are trained.

Go back to December 12 of 2020. Keyontae Johnson, then the SEC preseason player at the University of Florida collapsed during a game at Florida State in Tallahassee, had to be revived, spent a couple of years not allowed to play. Ultimately wasn't allowed to play at Florida, went to Kansas State, had a great year.

But then in May, I spoke with him at the NBA draft combine in Chicago. And the NBA has another level of clearance. He had to go through extensive medical testing before the NBA was allowed to draft him, which they did in the second round in the Oklahoma City Thunder.

So every case is different. But it stresses the importance of at the collegiate level, at the high school level and certainly the professional level of having trained professionals and the right equipment to deal with this at all practices, all sports, and certainly in all games.

BLITZER: And quickly, Sanjay, what does recovery look like?

GUPTA: Well, it'll depend on what actually caused this. But as Andy is talking about, there are certainly players who have come back from this. If this was an electrical abnormality and he can have that treated, I will tell you it's really good that he was taken out of the ICU as quickly as he was.

Again, we don't know exactly what the underlying problem is. But that bodes well, Wolf, because it says that he is stable, and they're going to figure out what actually happened here.

BLITZER: Yeah, we, of course, wish him a very speedy recovery.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Andy Katz, guys, thanks for joining us.

Coming up on "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" right at the top of the hour, new details about Vladimir Putin's reaction in the first hours of the attempted coup. That's coming up 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

And we'll be right back.



BLITZER: Cities across the United States set a number of new heat records today. That includes Phoenix, which hit 118 degrees today, the 26th day in a row with temperatures of at least 110 degrees.

Here's CNN's Stephanie Elam with more on this punishing heat wave.


STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Excessive heat warnings from Nevada's Valley of Fire state park, now heading toward the Midwest.

DR. NICHOLAS SIMPSON, HENNEPIN EMS: We're certainly more attuned to looking for those signs of heat illness.

ELAM: All across the country, people are looking for ways to beat the heat.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Really, really hot.

ELAM: Even more so in Phoenix, Arizona, where they were headed for a month straight of record-busting extreme 110-plus high temperatures, it never really cools off. Even nightly lows haven't fallen by 90 degrees here for more than two weeks. Shoes melting on sidewalks. The blistering heat sending people to cooling centers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With these high temps, it's just hard to breathe.

ELAM: Temperatures are also searing in El Paso, Texas, where it's been at least 100 degrees for more than a month. In Miami, it's 44 days and counting.

This July is well on its way to becoming the hottest month in recorded history. In all, more than 45 million people are facing heat alerts across the west, the plains, and south Florida.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: That heat is going to all the way to the eastern half of the U.S. where New York is going to be 92, Atlanta 97 on Friday. In fact, over the next seven days, 85 percent and even more than that percent of the population of the U.S. will see high temperatures over 90.

ELAM: Nearly all of the Lower 48 states are facing heat waves. And so far this summer, more people are suspected to have died from heat- related causes in national parks than in an average entire year. And August, the deadliest month, is just around the corner.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's hot. This south Florida weather is no joke.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some days it's too overwhelming.

ELAM: Eighteen people have died from the heat this season in Maricopa County, Arizona. In Clark County, Nevada, home to Las Vegas, there's been at least 16 heat-related deaths so far this year, and the temperature is still rising.

And the heat is extending beyond our coast lines. The Florida Keys are facing an unprecedented heat wave with ocean temperatures of 100 degrees, now threatening coral reefs.


ELAM (on camera): And according to the World Weather Attribution Initiative, this July heat wave would've been almost impossible without climate change. And, Wolf, you mentioned all of those records that have fallen -- well, we're not over. We're going to see more falls still to come -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Stephanie Elam, thank you very much. And to our viewers, thanks for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.