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Sources: No Guidance Was Given To Trump Team On Timing Of Possible Indictment During DOJ Meeting; Grand Jury Meets As Trump Lawyers Meet With Special Counsel; Netanyahu On Whether He'll Fire Israel's Atty. General; Sources: McConnell Fell Multiple Times This Year; Third Defendant, Carlos De Oliveira, Added In Trump Mar-A-Lago Classified Documents Case. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired July 27, 2023 - 17:00   ET


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Today, the Justice Department announcing it will focus on the department's use of force searches and arrests and whether or not it engages in discriminatory policing. This announcement of course comes after the tragic killing of Tyre Nichols back in January. Memphis police officers repeatedly punched and kicked him after a traffic stop. Those officers were fired and are now facing murder charges.

Thank you so much for joining me in this hour. Our coverage continues up next, with Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, there's heightened anticipation about the special counsel's next moves after Jack Smith met with Donald Trump's legal team while a federal grand jury was at work right here in Washington. The former President's lawyers apparently remain in the dark about the timing of the potential Trump indictment.

Also tonight, tough questions for the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Is he willing to accept the fallout from his controversial judicial overall that has unleashed widespread protests, military opposition and tensions with the United States? Standby for my one on one interview with Netanyahu, that's coming up this hour.

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

We begin with the federal grand jury investigation of Donald Trump and 2020 election interference. A D.C. district court official says indictments are not, repeat, not expected today. But there's been a flurry of activity over at the courthouse here in Washington, including that meeting between the Special Counsel Jack Smith and Trump's lawyers. CNN Senior Justice Correspondent Evan Perez is with me here in THE SITUATION ROOM following all of this.

You've been keeping a very close eye on what's going on? Where do things stand right now?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, it's been a day of high drama, both political and legal, obviously, and a lot of it driven because -- driven by the former president and his own legal team, they requested a meeting with Jack Smith and the prosecutors in his office, and they got that meeting, they were able to sit for an hour. We're told by sources that they -- that they made the case, that an indictment of the former president, which is what everyone expects, including they -- including them, that that would be disruptive, and that would be bad for the country. It was sort of a last gasp, so to speak for the former president and his legal team to make that case, again, anticipating because they received a target letter in the last couple of weeks, and that the grand jury was sitting today. We saw the grand jury there all day today, Wolf, they just a few minutes ago started leaving the courthouse. As you pointed out, the court official told or Katelyn Polantz and the group of the reporters there today that there was no grand jury, there was no indictment that was handed up by the grand jury today.

And so we don't know what this means. We don't know whether that one is coming in the coming days. There is no clarification on that. We do know, Wolf, that during this meeting today with the special counsel team, Trump's team did not get any indication that an indictment was coming today or when it would be coming. They also don't believe at the result -- as a result of this -- of this interaction, that they changed any minds.

So, the issue is now that we're basically just waiting to see when Jack Smith decides to take the action that everyone anticipates he will be taking.

BLITZER: Standby, Evan, I want to get back to you.

Kaitlan Collins, I know you've been doing a lot of reporting on this. What are you hearing from the Trump team?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, of course, there was a big question here for even Trump's team. They didn't really have an indication as of this morning of whether or not they were going to see this either today, Wolf. And of course, that meeting happened and that is something critical. It's not likely to change the minds of where prosecutors were going. And I was actually told Trump wasn't interested in having his legal team go and meet with the special counsel's team initially.

You know, it was 11 days ago, he got that target letter, and he just didn't seem to think that there would be much benefit in it believing, you know, this third indictment was inevitable in his view. But despite that, they still did go and meet, it was Todd Blanche, John Lauro, those are Trump's two latest attorneys meeting with them for about an hour and Jack Smith was in the room. But I was told, Wolf, they weren't going in there to argue the facts of the case or say, you know, you're wrong on this, you're wrong on this measure, but instead to broadly make the argument that an indictment, a federal indictment, another one of the former president, they believe would cause more turmoil in the country. Of course, the idea of whether or not Jack Smith was receptive to that message, we don't know that and we don't believe that -- we don't have any reason to believe, I should say, that it changes the nature of this investigation in the direction of it.

BLITZER: All right, Kaitlan, stand by. Norm Eisen is with us as well.

Norm, what do you make of the arguments Trump's legal team is now making to the Special Counsel Jack Smith? Do you think the council will buy it?


NORM EISEN, FMR. HOUSE JUDICIARY SPECIAL COUNSEL IN TRUMP'S FIRST INDICTMENT: Wolf, I don't think he'll buy it. As you know I practice law for years criminal defense law with John Lauro, who was in that meeting. He -- I'm sure he made a forceful presentation. He picked a novel approach according to Kaitlan's reporting of talking about the effect this would have not arguing the facts of the case. I suspect he articulated some of Trumps defenses.

We saw Trump's social media today talking about, I relied on lawyers. And that is a substantial defense, John, Todd Blanche, these are real lawyers, they're going to put up a real fight, but they did not persuade Jack Smith today almost certainly.

BLITZER: Yes, interesting. You know, David Chalian, you're political director, the Trump legal strategies clearly is combined with the Trump political strategy to delay all of this as much as possible into the election year.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes, I mean, they've been wondering the same since Donald Trump launched his third bid for the presidency when last November he got in. All these legal cases were swirling around him, part of why he got in when he got in was to intersect the two and to start using the political campaign trail to lay groundwork and support for him for the legal troubles ahead. These are inextricably linked. And you note the calendar now, I mean, we are -- we have Trump legal cases scheduled for in the middle of the nomination season as primaries and caucuses are taking place. So he is constantly navigating between the two.

BLITZER: Interesting, you know, Gloria, how much you think Trump will seize on the optics of President Biden's Justice Department prosecuting him right in the middle of an election primary.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: That's what he's going to do. That's going to be his campaign. I mean, the campaign now for the presidency has changed dramatically. If the president gets indicted this this next time, the campaign will be about the president's -- the former president's indictments, no matter how much his opponents try and avoid it and no matter how much they want to talk about issues, which I'm sure they do want to talk about, this is going to be the elephant in the room that they will not be able to avoid, and they will have to take sides, and they will have to say at some point what they think ought to happen. And so I think, you know, we're just entering a new phase of this presidential campaign.

BLITZER: Evan, what do we know about the grand jury's next steps and when an indictment actually could come forward? PEREZ: Well, Wolf, the next date that we know the -- that we anticipate the grand jury to come is next Tuesday, they tend to -- they tend to sit on Tuesdays and Thursdays. And so, today being Thursday was one of the reasons why we were anticipating them, they did show up, they try to show up early, there was a lot of activity, there was a lot of prosecutors there today, it was very unusual amount of activity. Katelyn Polantz or Casey Gannon who were there at the courthouse, saw a lot of this. And so, that part of the reason why there was such -- so much anticipation.

Again, some of it driven by the former president, you know, he was out on his Truth Social talking about the meeting and talking about some of his legal defenses. But you know, there was reason to believe that something was about to happen at Courthouse today. So now, we are waiting for the next sitting of the grand jury. Look, it is possible that prosecutors could ask for the grand jury to come in on a day that they normally don't sit.

BLITZER: Normally they come in Tuesdays and Thursdays.

PEREZ: Correct. They could -- they could be asked to come in tomorrow, they could be asked to come in on Monday. It's unusual, but it could happen. Again, the prosecutors, you know, rely on the grand jurors, they have a lot of respect for their time, they spent months and months taking testimony, getting a lot of the evidence as part of this investigation.

So, they know this case best. And so, it's going to be upon them when they're available for them to come in and hear whatever next steps the prosecutors want to take.

BLITZER: And, Norm, before there's a grand jury indictment, the members of the grand jury have to do a formal vote, right?

EISEN: They do. And, Wolf, with a major historic case of this kind, we have never seen a federal indictment of a former president for attacking allegedly the very foundation of our democracy, the vote of people. You don't just slap the indictment in front of the grand jury.


EISEN: One of the reasons that we may have seen this extraordinary amount of activity of the grand jury is that prosecutors are starting to lay the foundation for the final presentation to the grand jury to get this indictment. So, well you know, we've talked about on the show before, when the Trump's lawyers go in, that is the time for the final countdown. There was a four day period in the Mar-a-Lago case between the lawyer meeting and the indictment, I think now we are in that end game.

BORGER: But -- and what's different about this case, not -- not that all the cases aren't important, what's different about this case it is going back to the 2020 election is going back to the question of the so called rigged election and who was trying to rig it. And I think that is a discussion that the American people don't necessarily want to have anymore. I think they've asked -- [17:10:17]


BORGER: -- and answered it in their own minds, one way or another. But at this point, it's going to become a legal issue.

PEREZ: One of the things, though, that I think is important for people to talk about is, you know, something that I think you guys were just raising, which is, you know, again, the voters are soon going to start having their say, the primary voters, the Republican Party voters. And, you know, I think there are questions that will be raised about the -- you know, this is an investigation that began, right, right after January 6. This is an investigation that's been going on for a couple of years now.

This investigation, right, the amount of evidence that they've collected. The question is, you know, how quickly can you do this and try to get this in before it becomes kind of a very tough pickle for the Justice Department. Because, you know, the idea that -- I mean, it's not a small thing, right? Donald Trump is already raising this idea that there's interference with the election.

BORGER: Returning on election is not all --

PEREZ: Right. And so, the issue is there for the Justice Department. This has been a ticking clock, and they've been aware of it for some time. So the question is, you know, how quickly can you do this to try to make sure that you're not in a position where people can say, well, you're, you know, you're prosecuting the sitting president's chief rival at a time then voters already having their say.

BORGER: Exactly.

BLITZER: Yes. I think Jack -- I think the special counsel wants to do it as quickly as possible. The Trump lawyers want to delay it as much as possible.

Everybody stand by. We have a lot more to assess. We'll take a quick break. Much more coming up right after this.



BLITZER: We're back with our legal and political experts. We're breaking down all the new developments today in the federal grand jury investigation of the January 6, 2020 election interference. Donald Trump's lawyers meeting with the Special Counsel Jack Smith earlier today. CNN's Kristen Holmes is just outside Bedminster where the former president is right now.

Kristen, I know you're getting more information. What are you learning?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I've been talking to Trump's advisors who say it's been eerily quiet since that meeting earlier this morning. They are not sure what it means they are still unclear whether or not an indictment is coming down. Of course, Evan reported earlier lawyers were not given any indication, any notification of an indictment. However, his team has long thought that he will be indicted, particularly of course, after getting that target letter. But I'm told that the campaign team just stayed at Bedminster today, they were working on getting him ready for Iowa tomorrow, as well as Pennsylvania on Saturday.

But when I'm talking to these advisors, they're asking me the same questions. They do not know exactly what this means and they have been told to stay on their toes, that they're just not sure what's going on. They're trying to put the pieces together to see if this indictment is in fact coming anytime soon.

BLITZER: All right, standby. Kaitlan is still with us as well.

Kaitlan, where are you hearing from Trump's camp?

COLLINS: Yes. Wolf, we've also obviously been talking to a lot of these figures all day trying to figure out. They're also reading the tea leaves here. I mean, yes, that meeting happened, it was a very small meeting, though, from the Trump's team side as far as to who went into the room with Jack Smith to have them sit in there. They had a similar meeting around the time to the last time that Trump was indicted by Jack Smith's team. Obviously, they are in the documents investigation, Wolf.

And essentially they're waiting to see what this is going to look like. But for Trump himself, it's kind of this foregone conclusion that he does believe an indictment is going to happen here. I mean, he is believed that since he got that target letter, not this past Sunday, but the one before that. And of course, the question here is what this defense is going to look like and what he was hinting at today saying he was being advised by many lawyers, obviously, that could be potentially pointing at those figures who had his ear in those weeks before the election, but certainly obviously after it, people who not only had his ear, but they were inside the Oval Office, they were invited into the White House, and he was connecting them with state officials, Republican state officials who we know have also spoken to Jack Smith's team. So I think that has really been the focus there.

The question, of course, is what the defense here is going to look like. And I should note, one of those attorneys who is in the room today is John Lauro. He is a very recent addition to the legal team. He was just added last week, Wolf, and I'm told he's going to be the one taking the lead when it comes to this January 6 indictment if there is a January 6 indictment.

BLITZER: If there is. Let's see what happens. We should be hearing some more information fairly soon.

David Chalian, how does this looming indictment affect the Trump campaign at least right now? CHALIAN: Well, in the short term, Donald Trump sucks all the oxygen out of the room, right? So, this is the focus. There's no place for a candidate not named Donald Trump to break through in some way here. That's what it does in this immediate moment.

Also, shouldn't indictment come, and I don't have to speculate about this, we actually have two recent data points of Manhattan indictment and a federal indictment in the Mar-a-Lago case, it tends to galvanize his supporters, juice his grassroots donations to his campaign, which is -- which is no small advantage for him to have as well. So in the -- in the very short term, this has not been a politically damaging to him in any way. In fact, he remains the dominant force in the Republican nomination race.

BLITZER: What do you think, Gloria?

BORGER: Well, I agree with that. The question is the long term. I mean, let's say Donald Trump becomes the nominee. And if he becomes a nominee, how does all of this affect him in a general election?

BLITZER: And that's Biden.

BORGER: And we've -- Biden, and we all seen all the polls about independent voters and how they feel about these cases. We've also seen polls, and David is the expert on this, which show us that there is a softening among some Trump supporters, not the hardcore supporters, but among some Trump supporters who are sick of talking about what we were just talking about, which is the January election, the 2020 election. And so, you may -- you know, it's kind of affect that. And lots of folks are saying, well, you know, it'd be -- it'd be a shoo in for Joe Biden if Trump were elected. I happen not to believe that to be the case, because I think Donald Trump would go out of his way to destroy anybody else's candidacy.


CHALIAN: A brand new poll out today, national poll, actually, from Marquette out of Wisconsin just showed it would be a tight election --

BORGER: Right.

CHALIAN: -- between Donald Trump and Joe Biden in November. Same with Ron DeSantis.

Here's the reality, this election is going to come down to, you know, some 70,000 people across four states. We are very closely divided nation. And yes, I agree, those independent voters that Donald Trump would need to actually win back the White House that he repelled in his first term, none of this is going to help him do that.

BORGER: And who knows what he would give. Who knows.

PEREZ: This is an area -- this is -- you guys, this is your expertise, but I do think, you know, certainly from where I was sitting today, I find it remarkable. It was a remarkable day, just because a lot of what was the attention that was driven to this today was driven by the former president and his own team, right?

BORGER: Right.

PEREZ: They're the ones that asked for this meeting at the last minute. They were given a date, they could -- they were told that the former president had the opportunity to go to the grand jury last Thursday, did not avail themselves of this. At the last minute, you know, they knew that the grand jury was coming in today. And then they said this meeting, they, you know, obviously we see them. It's sort of a lot of the crescendo of attention was driven by Donald Trump --

BORGER: The drama.

EISEN: And --

PEREZ: -- which is -- which has been sort of the script since 2017.

EISEN: Yes. But today was just the tip of the iceberg. And it was an intense day of coverage.


EISEN: But imagine when we saw those 50-50 numbers today, Trump and Biden, by the time we get to the general election, if Trump is the nominee, you very likely will have had four major criminal cases. The federal case that is now looming from Jack Smith and expected state equivalent from Fani Willis in Atlanta, Georgia, the 2016 election interference case that Alvin Bragg, he had a very big recent win with a federal judge refusing to remove the case. Alvin Bragg says Donald Trump fabricated covered up documents in order to conceal 2016 election interference hush money and the interference with the federal government's possession of its documents, which also voters are not going to love the Mar-a-Lago documents case. Can Donald Trump if he's the nominee, however he may succeed among Republican primary voters, can he sustain four of those cases and possibly two or more trials during that period?

CHALIAN: Of course, the answer is we don't know.

BORGER: We don't know.

CHALIAN: But that is going to be put to the test if he is indeed the nominee.

BORGER: And what he'll do is sustain the drama, that we can be sure of, because he will portray himself as the victim of all victims, period, ever in the history of the United States of America. This is what he will continue to say.

And by the way, I think in many ways, when you talk to voters out there, and you look at the polling, you know, the cake is baked. People aren't going to look at these indictments against Donald Trump's, oh, you know what, yes, I like him more now, I like him more now because what may be coming down the road. We will have to see the people who love him will continue to love him. EISEN: Gloria, look at the paradox, it seems all the data is, and I saw this when we litigated the impeachment trial against him for high crimes and misdemeanors, every time we did something against Donald Trump, his poll numbers went up. So the paradox is, the --


EISEN: -- cases seem to be driving him to more popularity to win in the party, and then worsening his chances in the general election.

PEREZ: The question I wonder about is the calendar, right? I mean, we know we have some of -- at least some idea of some of his other legal troubles. I think we have it on screen now. You have the obviously the political calendar right there with Super Tuesday. You have the Manhattan DA trial in March of 2020 -- March 25 there.

You have the classified documents trial sometime in late May. We also have -- you know, he also has a civil trial in New York, beginning in October and another one in January, all in the middle of when you have some of the voters in some of the early primary states. It is unreal that, you know, that this is the calendar we're talking about, the calendar that is presenting itself there, not only from the voters but also the very busy legal --

BLITZER: Legal calendar and the political calendar. Everybody stand by. We're going to stay on top of all of this. This is an important story we're following but there's another major story we're following as well.

Ongoing protests in Israel right now over a newly passed law that would put strict new limits on the nation's highest court weakening its ability to check the government's power. The plan promoted by the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, despite all the backlash in Israel.


Here's my interview with the prime minister from just a little while ago.


BLITZER: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, thanks very much for joining us. As you know, Israel is reeling right now after the first part of your plan to weaken Israel Supreme Court passed into law. We're already seeing very negative impacts on the Israeli military relations with the United States, the economy, startup companies are leaving Israel, the far right is emboldened, Palestinians are afraid, protests certainly continue as well. Is that the price, Mr. Prime Minister, you're willing to pay for this overall?

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAEL PRIME MINISTER: Well, first of all, we're not trying to weaken the Supreme Court, we're trying to bring balance between the three branches of government, which is the essence of democracy. In Israel over the last 20, 30 years the Supreme Court arrogated a lot of the powers of the judiciary and the executive that can basically nullify any decision made, that doesn't happen anywhere on the planet. And so we're trying to bring it back in line.

And we don't want a subservient court. We want an independent court, but not an all-powerful court. And that's what the corrections that we're doing. I think a lot of the things that you described are, you know, are in the choir, people are saying that they're giving indications, but I've been there before. When I made these huge changes in our economy, they said, oh, we'll bring down the economy as well as become a juggernaut since. When I did the -- when I spoke out against Iran against the entire world, it was before the Iran deal, people say differently now.

BLITZER: Mr. Prime Minister, let me -- let me interrupt with all due respect. Now, Mr. Prime minute, let me interrupt with all due respect, you of course, control the executive in Israel, your coalition controls the Knesset, the parliament, you're weakening the Supreme Court. Where are the checks and balances?

NETANYAHU: Well, they're in Israel we have -- the Supreme Court has a lot of checks but there are no balances. For example, on the court, on the decision that we passed on reasonableness, understand what that is, it's like, the court can nullify a decision, any decision by the government, by the executive, by saying it's unreasonable, not because it's illegal, not because they're using other checks that they have, plenty of things that they could do, they can nullify. And appointments like the Supreme Court would be able to nullify an appointment by President Biden, not by saying that there's a conflict of interest that exists today in Israel, that it's undo process that exists today in Israel that it's not proportional that exists in Israel, but just by saying, we don't think this appointment is reasonable. That doesn't exist in America. It doesn't exist in most democracies, not to the scope.

And that's the minor correction --

BLITZER: All right.

NETANYAHU: -- that we made that is now called the end of democracy. If that's the end of democracy, there are no democracies, because none of them have this. So I think there's a lot --

BLITZER: Let me just point out, Mr. Prime Minister, let me point out --

NETANYAHU: -- there's a lot of concern. A lot of it is concern.

BLITZER: The U.S. has a lot more checks and balances --

NETANYAHU: Wolf, please, you asked me to come here --

BLITZER: Yes. Let me just point out the U.S. has a lot more checks and balances. And as you know, what's so disturbing is that 1000s of Israeli military reservists are protesting including pilots, they're refusing to serve right now. That's emboldening Israel's adversaries like Iran, they're watching. Is Israel less safe today because of what you're doing? NETANYAHU: Well, I'll answer it if you let me answer your questions. If you just want to hear yourself, go ahead. But you want to hear my answer, let me answer properly.

BLITZER: Go ahead.

NETANYAHU: Israel has a very strong military, it has a very strong military. It is able to deal with all the challenges that we have, and we have many. But I want to tell you one thing, you speak of a few 1000 who've expressed their reservations, their opposition, Israel has an army of 100s of 1000s with reservists. We had close to 100,000, 100,000 people who signed a petition to say that we support the current actions of the government. You didn't hear a word about it.

We had a quarter of a million people the other day in Tel Aviv supporting the government. You didn't hear a word about it. Yes, there is a big debate, but -- and some of the former generals are leading an effort against this reform. That's OK, it's a legitimate thing.

But in a democracy, the day that Israel's -- that former generals can force an elected -- the elected officials, democratically elected officials, to stop legislation on this or that matter, I would say that's the day that Israel really stopped being a democracy. Yes, we have now -- we have now a big debate, I don't want to minimize it. I also don't want to minimize the concerns that people have because many of them have been caught in this spiral of fear. That's not going to happen. Israel is going to remain a democracy.

There are checks and balances. We have to bring some of the Israeli judiciary, some of it back to a center where it will be like most democracies. That's not going to end democracy, it's not going to weaken democracy, it's going to strengthen democracy. You're going to see that very soon.

BLITZER: Let me get your sense on some specifics, Mr. Prime Minister. Can you promise this new law won't be used to fire Israel's Attorney General, who of course, is overseeing your corruption trial?

NETANYAHU: Well, first of all, there is no connection between my trial. And this reform, that is the product of millions of Israelis fear, saying that they've basically that people have taken away their democratic decisions, and that they don't decide anything. But 59 elected officials, judges, respectable judges, they decide everything. That's not what they want.

As far as my trial is concerned, it's been going on for three years. It's unraveling two, three weeks ago, the judge has called in the prosecution and said, listen, drop the corruption, not to corruption, drop the bribery charge, which is really the lead charge, and haven't even heard a single, a single witness for the defense. That's, you know, the only thing I want for my trial is live coverage of T.V. That's enough, because I've always said --

BLITZER: Well, let me get your --

(CROSSTALK) NETANYAHU: As far as the Attorney General is concerned, and you ask that, I can't even deal with that. I've got it able to deal with it. But I can tell you that this is not going to happen because it needs the heads of all the coalition to agree to it, and they're not going to agree to it. That's not happening.

BLITZER: Do you expect to face any serious consequences from the United States, Mr. Prime Minister, for ignoring President Biden's repeated warnings against pushing through this overall?

NETANYAHU: I respect President Biden. I know he's been a great friend of Israel and a friend of mine for 40 years, we can have our disagreements. And look, Wolf, I've been serving as prime minister for 16 years. That's a long time. During those 16 years, I've watched other democracies in France, the U.S. and elsewhere, they have the same debates about the power of the Supreme Court, the power of the executive, they have riots, they have demonstrations and protests.

I've declined to comment on that. I've never commented ever, on what happens in the internal processes of democracies, elected leaders and other democracies can comment on Israel. Everybody wants to comment on Israel. That's fine. They can do it. But ultimately, the decisions are made in our democratic institutions. And I think they'll be made in a measured way, just as we've done now.

We've trimmed this reformed, let's tell the truth. We've trimmed it. We've listened to the concerns of the opposition and broad spectrum of the public. I think they're wrong in a lot of things. But I think they have points, important points. So we trimmed it down to a minor thing unreasonableness, we're trying now to achieve a gable push the pause button on the legislation in which I had a majority, for three months, tried to negotiate with the opposition. They wouldn't agree to anything, even a minor change.

But I'm not giving up. And I think the fact that we that we won this particular round, I think maybe gives us the opportunity when they see that we have a majority to legislate without them. Maybe it will be about legislate with them. I'm hopeful that we can reach this compromise.

BLITZER: As a result of what you're doing, Mr. Prime Minister, the Biden administration has said, and this was very blunt, you're not invited to come to the White House, they say you'll meet President Biden in the fall somewhere else in the United States. Isn't that a very significant sign that U.S.-Israel relations right now are suffering big time because of your policies?

NETANYAHU: Well, first of all, President Biden spoke to me the other day, and he said specifically that he's inviting me to the White House.


BLITZER: We're going to have much more of my interview with the Prime Minister that's coming up ahead. But right now, I want to bring in our White House correspondent Jeremy Diamond to follow up on what we just heard from Prime Minister Netanyahu. Jeremy, you were there at the White House briefing earlier today, this afternoon? Did they confirm what the Prime Minister just said that President Biden actually invited him to come to the White House?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, listen, Wolf, for over a week now, the White House has said that President Biden and Prime Minister Netanyahu will meet in the United States, but they have declined to say exactly where and whether or not it will be at the White House. And today, that line of that line from the White House continued. I asked the White House press secretary to confirm what Netanyahu said here was her response.


KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: What I can say is they both agreed to meet in the United States later this year. Both teams are working through what that's going to look like, the timing. I don't have anything else to share beyond that. John, what we have said last week, and continue to say after that conversation is that they both agreed to meet in the United States later this year.

DIAMOND: Mr. President did not invite Netanyahu specifically to the White House.

JEAN-PIERRE: I just want to be very clear. It was a conversation that they both agreed that it would be in the United States. I don't have anything further.


DIAMOND: And look, Wolf, determining the location of a meeting and disclosing the location of a meeting of a foreign ally in particular a close ally like Israel with the President of the United States usually isn't such a complicated matter and also what's atypical here's the fact that seven months in now to the Prime Minister Netanyahu's latest stint as Prime Minister, the fact that he still has not come to the White House, but all of this uncertainty speaks to just how fraught the U.S.-Israel relationship is at the moment.


As you mentioned, in that interview, Wolf, President Biden has repeatedly urged Prime Minister Netanyahu to find consensus to find compromise in this judicial reform. And yet last week, that is not what the Israeli Prime Minister did here.

Now, one thing that is important to note is that despite those tensions, the Biden administration is still very much pursuing something that has been a priority for Israel as well as for the United States. And that is normalization between Israel and its Arab neighbors, in particular, Saudi Arabia, which is viewed in a way as the crown jewel of normalization between Israel and other Arab countries, Jake Sullivan, the President's National Security Adviser, he was in Saudi Arabia today, meeting with the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, to discuss the possibility of normalization what the White House calls a more peaceful, secure, prosperous and stable Middle East.

Saudi Arabia, we know is seeking certain security guarantees from the U.S. in exchange. But clearly Wolf, those discussions are continuing. We don't yet know where they are. But just the fact that they're continuing is significant.

BLITZER: Yes. And we'll see if it moves the Saudis to actually establish relations, direct relations with Israel. That's what the U.S. wants. Jeremy Diamond, thanks very, very much. We'll be back. More news coming up in a moment.



BLITZER: We're following all the new developments in the grand jury investigation of Donald Trump and 2020 election interference. But right now more of my interview with the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. We discussed the criticism of his judicial overhaul and the stunning remarks by his predecessor suggesting the U.S. should rethink its relationship with Israel as a result. Listen to this.


BLITZER: I want you to listen to what the former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had to say, during an interview here on CNN, listen to this.

EHUD OLMERT, FORMER ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: If one wants to help Israel, then the President of the United States has to say publicly, explicitly, officially, that America is reassessing its relations with the State of Israel, on all matters, on economic matters, on foreign aid on everything.

BLITZER: That's pretty incredible when you think about a former Israeli prime minister, and I've covered Israel for many years, saying something like that, what's your reaction to what Prime Minister Olmert said?

NETANYAHU: Well, it may explain why Prime Minister Olmert was booted out by the electorate, why you had 6 percent support. That's why, because you're quite right. A prime minister of Israel does not say that. He doesn't call on other nations to, and especially our great friend, the United States to turn his back to Israel. Israel is a democratic country. It has an internal debate. You have an internal debate in the United States right now, about the powers of the Supreme Court about whether it's abusing its power or whether you should curtail it.

I'm not going to enter into that debate. Does that make the American democracy not a democracy? Does that make that debate unworthy? Does that make that that issue, a symbol of the fact that you're moving to some dictatorship? Of course not. So this is, you know, this is a bitter, a bitter politician who failed, and was rejected by the voters coming back and saying, oh, well, I'm going to get mine back. Sorry. That's not the right way to act. You're quite right. It is an amazing spectacle. And I think it just tells you who these people are.

BLITZER: Let me get your reaction to what's going on here in the United States on one specific issue. How are you watching, Mr. Prime Minister, the former President Donald Trump's ongoing legal troubles here in the U.S.?

NETANYAHU: You know, we have enough in our politics, I'm not going to enter yours.

BLITZER: So no comment from you on that?

NETANYAHU: I told you that I have declined commentary on American internal politics, as long as I can remember, and I don't intend to change that now.

BLITZER: Looking at to September, when Israel Supreme Court will hear appeals to this new law. If the court does strike this down, will you abide by that ruling?

NETANYAHU: Well, look, we'll go into unchartered territory. And I really would like to believe that they won't do that. And the reason is that, first of all, we're all subject to the rule of law, the Prime Minister is subject to the rule of law, the Knesset or parliament is subject to the rule of law, the judges are subject to the law, everybody is subject to the law.

Now the closest thing we have to constitution, our basic laws, that's what we're dealing with, and what you're talking about a situation or potential situation, where in American terms, the United States Supreme Court would take a constitutional amendment and say that it's unconstitutional. That's the kind of the kind of spiral that you're talking about. And I hope we don't get to that.

BLITZER: We have a lot to discuss, and we're going to continue this conversation. But let me get your thoughts on what happened on Sunday, you had surgery, Mr. Prime Minister, to implant a pacemaker to address a transient heart block, a condition doctors have known about for years. First of all, how are you feeling?

NETANYAHU: Well, I feel fine. I can tell you that. And more eager to advance things to advance the cause of security, stability and peace than ever before. One of my aides said, well, you're now having done the Abraham accords. You're now the peacemaker with a pacemaker. Well, if that induces me to accelerate the pace of pursuing the broad peace in the Middle East, all for the better. But thank you for your question and for your concern.


BLITZER: Mr. Prime Minister, in your visit to the White House will ask the administration about your conversation with President Biden and we look forward to hearing details of that meeting. Israeli Prime Minister thanks again for joining us.

NETANYAHU: Thank you, Wolf.


BLITZER: And just ahead, a day after Senator Mitch McConnell froze in mid-sentence at a news conference, we're learning more about his health and previously unknown incidents where he actually fell down.


BLITZER: Tonight, sources tell CNN the Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has fallen to the ground multiple times this year. The news comes after the 81-year-old Republican froze during a news conference yesterday. CNN's chief congressional correspondent Manu Raju has our report.



MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was a moment that shook the Senate. It has Republicans unwilling to answer what used to be a simple question. Will they continue to back Mitch McConnell to serve as their leader?

SEN. CYNTHIA LUMMIS (R-WY): He has a tremendous amount of support.

RAJU (on camera): If he ran for leader, he would get the job?

LUMMIS: Well, I think that that's speculation that's not necessary right now.

RAJU: Would you support him running for leader again in the new Congress?

SEN. KEVIN CRAMER (R-ND): Well, you know, again, it depends on what we -- it depends on what the situation is, and what his condition is at that time. Right now, I think he's a great leader.

RAJU (voice-over): The 81-year-old who led the Senate GOP for the past 16 years, and is the longest serving Senate party leader ever has faced scrutiny over his health this year, starting in March when he suffered a concussion and broken ribs after falling in a Washington Hotel. CNN has learned that McConnell survivor of polio who walks with a limp has fallen multiple times this year, including while deplaning at Reagan National Airport in Washington this month and slipping in Helsinki during the February meeting with the President of Finland. One senator who witnessed that fall said.

SEN. TED BUDD (R-ND): It was also very icy at the time, so it could happen to any of us.

RAJU (on camera): Were you concerned about his health at that moment?

BUDD: I mean, look, were any of us take a fall. I'm older than 50, so all of us are concerned.

RAJU (voice-over): And aging Senate is not a new issue, 89-year-old Chuck Grassley needed surgery this year after fracturing his hip. And questions persists over 90-year-old Dianne Feinstein and her fitness to serve. Just today, apparently confused about how to vote during a committee meeting.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA): Say aye -- yes, just say aye.

RAJU (voice-over): Feinstein though plans to retire at the end of next year. McConnell is up for reelection in 2026. And recently declined to say to CNN, if you would finish his current term or run for leader in 2025.

SEN. ROGER MARSHALL (R-KS): I was concerned yesterday he said that he got a little overheated, a little dehydrated. That's what it looks like to me.

RAJU (on camera): Can tell us for McConnell what happened?

CRAMER: I -- well, he should tell us if something else -- something bigger is going on.

RAJU (voice-over): If he does step aside, three top Republicans could vie to succeed him even as they to sidestep question.


BLITZER: And we got some breaking news, we're interrupting that report. We'll get back to Manu later. Paula Reid is standing by. Paula, you're getting some new information, very significant information. What are you learning?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: That's right Wolf. According to the court document, it appears that a third defendant has been added to the criminal case against former President Trump filed down in Florida. Now former President Trump has previously been charged with 37 counts related to obstruction, unlawful retention of defense secrets and storing classified information down at Mar-a-Lago and refusing to hand back to the archives.

And he has pleaded not guilty to those charges. But he was charged alongside one of his longtime aide, Walt Nauta. But according to the court docket, they have added another defendant, his name is Carlos. He is a worker down at Mar-a-Lago. And according to our reporting, he was previously seen on surveillance footage, moving boxes that are believed to contain classified materials alongside Walt Nauta.

Now at this point, Wolf, we don't know what charges may have been filed against Carlos. We're waiting for that to be populated here in the live court system. But we know down in Mar-a-Lago even after they charged the former president and Walt Nauta, that the Special Counsel continued its investigation. We know that they have continued to gather evidence. They've even sent out one additional target letter to someone who was not Carlos. So we expected that there could potentially be additional charges and possibly additional defendants. So we're continuing to watch to see what exactly Carlos will be charged with.

BLITZER: Very significant development indeed, Paula stand by. Evan, what's your reaction to this?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, again, this is something as Paula was pointing out, Carlos De Oliveira is one of the people who worked at Mar-a-Lago, who absolutely was under scrutiny. Part of the issue was this focus on surveillance video. The question that prosecutors had for witnesses during this investigation was whether there was any attempt to delete, to tamper with, to obstruct the efforts to get that that surveillance tape we do not know and there's no allegation that's been made so far in any in any of the court documents, that the surveillance tape was actually in the end tampered with, that they was deleted or anything like that.

But that was the suspicion that the prosecutors had based on the questions that they were asking of witnesses. Carlos De Oliveira, again, was a maintenance, head of maintenance at the Mar-a-Lago property, the former president's property in Palm Beach. And he was again someone who was part of the conversation, according to prosecutors, of whether there should be some tampering of the surveillance tapes, or at least that's what the based on the questions they were asking of witnesses. That's what their suspicion was.


Now, we still haven't seen the actual indictment. We only see the docket listing that there is now a case against Carlos De Oliveira. And he is listed as a third third person who is now under indictment as part of the Mar-a-Lago case. We're waiting now to get more details of what prosecutors have found. But Wolf, there's been a lot of pressure for different witnesses to provide information as to what happened with this surveillance state. Again, we're waiting to see more information from prosecutors when they actually unseal this indictment.

BLITZER: When we say the Mar-a-Lago case, we're talking about the classified documents that were discovered over there?

PEREZ: The classified documents. Right, and this is -- this would be, again, one of the with the suspicion that prosecutors had was that there was some kind of obstruction that happened. And that of course, as you know, the former president is you know, accused of obstructing this investigation.

BLITZER: Yes. Certainly significant. Elie Honig, our legal analyst is joining us right now. Elie, talk a little bit about the legal implications of this new development.

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Wolf, as we wait to see what the specific charges are, we can know this. This individual would only be added to the indictment if Jack Smith and his team believed that they could prove that he acted knowingly and intentionally, meaning he wasn't simply following orders with no concept that what he was doing was against the law. So presumably, Jack Smith believes he has proof beyond a reasonable doubt that this person acted intending to break the law, whether it's obstruction of justice, or some sort of documents related charge. The other thing to keep in mind looking at the bigger tactical picture here, the more defendants in this case, and this would be a third defendant along with Donald Trump and Walt Nauta, that's now one more person with an even more powerful incentive potentially, to cooperate because before this person was charged, there was really nothing to threaten him with no particular downside. And now, if and when this charge comes through, this person is going to have to make a decision, do I fight this charge and risk potential jail time? Or do I try to help my own bottom line by cooperating?

So this gives Jack Smith and his team potentially some more leverage and Donald Trump potentially one more thing to worry about.

BLITZER: Good point, Andrew McCabe is with us the former Deputy Director of the FBI, what's your analysis, Andrew?

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I think Elie's got it, spot on, as usual. But the one additional thing I would raise is it does go back to the specter of timing and delay. So as you continue to add people to this indictment, those and the -- our theory is that Carlos De Oliveira has been added. He has the opportunity, yes, it goes through the same process that everyone else has, right. So he needs to be arraigned, he needs to have an attorney, those attorneys will likely have to go through the same process of submitting background forms to get access to classified material, because we know that's at the heart of this case.

So those are all opportunities to add time to the process that we've already seen stretched out from an attempted trial date of December, and now we're looking at May. So it could play to the disadvantage of the prosecutors and in terms of adding a person that now has another opportunity to slow things down.

BLITZER: Yes. Katelyn Polantz is working her sources as well. What are you learning, Katelyn?

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, we are looking now at something that is emerging after that initial indictment against Donald Trump and Walt Nauta, adding this third defendant to this case. And if you back up a little bit, this isn't that much of a surprise in that the prosecutors have been taking steps to continue their investigation. They had sent out a target letter to a person. We don't know if it was Carlos, in fact, but it does sound like it may have been Carlos De Oliveira. Now that he has been charged additionally in this case, or at least we're waiting to see those charges materialize in the court record.

But there had been a lot of discussion about what had happened at Mar- a-Lago over the summer as the Justice Department was trying to get all of their classified records back into their possession, and they were having a hard time doing so. And not all of those things that they had asked questions about with the grand jury. And then even after Donald Trump's indictment was made public, those issues had not all materialized as part of this case.

So we really are waiting to see exactly what might be here, but one area has been -- that has always been a question of will it become part of this case is what happened to the people who were working at Mar-a-Lago or working around Trump and Walt Nauta, what were they doing? What were they saying to investigators and also what was happening to surveillance tapes, specifically, tapes that had captured people moving boxes or at least captured Walt Nauta moving boxes?