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Trump's Criminal Charges Pile Up With New Counts In Docs Case, Potential Indictment In Jan. 6 Probe; Sources: D.C. Law Enforcement Prepping For Possible Trump Indictment In The Next Week; Sources: "Trump Employee 4" Cited In New Charges Identified As Into Technology Worker Yuscil Taveras; Barricades Placed Outside Atlanta Courthouse Ahead OF Possible Trump Charges In G.A. 2020 Election Probe; Trump Charged With Retaining Iran Attack Plan; Tonight: 13 Republican Candidates To Speak At Key Iowa Dinner; At Least Two Buildings In Dnipro Hit By Russian Missiles, Pres. Zelenskyy Confirms Security Service Building Hit; Netanyahu Responds To Fallout Over His Comments To Wolf. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired July 28, 2023 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN SENIOR GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: An official tells CNN President Biden believes the situation is steady but want to watch. They also note the strength of the economy drives up travel and energy use.
Well, coming up Sunday on State of the Union, Democratic Senator Chris Murphy and 2024 GOP candidates Chris Christie and Vivek Ramaswamy. That is Sunday morning at 9:00 and again at noon right here on CNN.
That does it for us this hour. Our coverage continues now with Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, the criminal charges against Donald Trump are clearly piling up after serious new counts against him in the classified documents case. At the same time, law enforcement officials in Atlanta, as well as here in Washington D.C., they are ramping up security as grand juries in both cities may be on the brink of indicting the former president.
Also tonight, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is attempting to clarify what he said in our one-on-one interview here in THE SITUATION ROOM yesterday. Critics alarm that he would not commit to abide by the Israeli Supreme Court if it were to knock down his controversial judicial overall. We're going to tell you what Netanyahu is now saying.
And a Russian missile strike, it's a base for Ukraine security services as keys forces are ramping up their counter offensive and claiming new games.
Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM. Our top story this hour, the avalanche of charges against Donald J. Trump, the former president of the United States hit with an expanded indictment in the classified documents case that accuses him of trying to destroy potentially critical evidence. CNN Senior Justice Correspondent Evan Perez is here with me in THE SITUATION ROOM.
You helped break the news last night, Evan, right here on our program, walk us through the additional charges. What we're learning now?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, this superseding indictment reads like a scene from a mob movie. And really what the foreign president is described as doing essentially by prosecutors orchestrating a scheme with his employees from Mar-a-Lago to try to delete surveillance footage after prosecutors had sent a subpoena asking for him to turn over for the Trump Organization to turn over surveillance that showed, you know, the key room, the storage room where these boxes, including classified documents that the government says were being illegally stored there would show all of that, the movement of that, the obstruction that was going on.
I'll read you just a part of what prosecutors describe. Again, they describe this one employee who is maintenance -- oversaw the maintenance at Mar-a-Lago, Carlos De Oliveira, they say that they say De Oliveira told Trump employee 4, who we know is identified as Yuscil Taveras, that the boss wanted to delete -- wanted the server deleted. This is the server that contain all the surveillance footage. Trump employee 4 responded that he would not know how to do that, that he did not believe that he would have the right to do that. Again, trying to push back it appears according to prosecutors.
De Oliveira then insisted that Trump employee 4 -- to intern for employee 4 that the boss wanted the server deleted and asked, what are we going to do?
Wolf, the prosecutor was also described an effort by members of the former presidents circle there -- down there in Mar-a-Lago discussing whether they could trust that De Oliveira would stay on board and whether he was loyal or not. And after they were -- they also share some text messages, some encrypted text messages where they're trying to reassure each other that he is in fact loyal. According to prosecutors, the former president then calls De Oliveira and offers to pay for his legal fees. Again, an effort to try to make sure that he stays on board.
BLITZER: How is Trump responding to this?
PEREZ: Well, the former president has already lashed out, accused of -- the prosecutors here of railroading him. He says that they should go to jail. And that's part of what, of course, we've heard from him repeatedly. He says that the -- this is an indictment that is going to break apart the country obviously, given the fact that there is an ongoing campaign.
BLITZER: And we know that law enforcement authorities right here in Washington, D.C. are preparing for the possibility of yet another criminal indictment against Trump maybe as early as next week. Tell us what they're doing right.
PEREZ: Right. We expect that the grand jury will be meeting on its regular days. They typically meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Wolf. And we know that federal law enforcement, the marshals, the Department of Public Safety, the Homeland Security Department, also the Metropolitan Police Department, everybody has already made plans for the possibility that if there's an indictment how to secure that courthouse. Of course it's a courthouse that's used to a lot of high profile trials, including terrorism trials. So they've done a lot of this before.
They have a plan and they can activate it as soon as they are told that there is an indictment. We also know, Wolf, that the prosecutors and the Trump team have discussed even if the, you know, the possibility of an indictment how he would be brought to court for presentment. They could do it over Zoom. This is a courthouse that does allow that. So it's possible that the former president may not actually have to come to that courthouse.
BLITZER: We shall see. All right, a lot of dramatic developments unfolding. Evan, stick around. Don't go too far away.
We're also joined by our legal and political experts who are following all these dramatic developments. And Elliot Williams, how does this superseding indictment as it's called, the one that was released yesterday, read to you?
ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think, Wolf, obstruction of justice is far clearer here. If you look at the timeline of events, as it's laid out in the indictment. It's quite compelling, starting with the folks at Mar-a-Lago receiving a draft grand jury subpoena. So they're on notice that they're being investigated. It's after they are on notice that they're being investigated that they start taking these affirmative steps toward having the video footage of Mar-a-Lago deleted.
What you have there is knowledge of an investigation, criminal intent in the form of knowing that they have to cover up some tracks in some way, possible inducement from the part of the president, that means trying to persuade people to commit the crime and a conspiracy to do it where they're all in agreement. So you have multiple crimes happening at once. Certainly, the evidence as laid out and presented the first time around was quite compelling and evocative. But here you have probably the easiest crime to prove of the -- of the ones laid out in the indictment.
BLITZER: That's an important point. Shan Wu, you're legal analyst, these charges seem to be backed up by what is obviously being called airtight evidence, surveillance video, audio tapes, it's going to -- how does the Trump legal team respond to this?
SHAN WU, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: They're going to have a hard time responding to it. Certainly, when they have the testimony of the employees saying that Trump supposedly was directing this, you know, obviously, they can challenge the credibility of that employee claimed that, you know, he's got other motives, he's not being prosecuted.
I think the biggest advantage of this new evidence on the obstruction, as Elliot was saying, is that it really overcomes a evidentiary fight for them, which is they might have had a fight, could they bring in that famous audio tape from Bedminster, but they've done what prosecutors called charging the bad conduct. And doing that, that tape comes in. I think, even Judge Aileen Cannon might have a hard time keeping it out.
BLITZER: Yes, I think you're right.
Tia, the political fallout from all of this, how do you see it?
TIA MITCHELL, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, ATLANTA JOURNAL CONSTITUTION: Well, quite frankly, I see it's more of the same. We're not -- again, all these new indictments, new charges don't seem to be affecting the Republican base much other than solidifying Trump's support, quite frankly, politically.
Now, for Democrats, I think it continues to reinforce their concerns about his conduct, they feel pretty -- they feel confident that he did break a law and that he will face repercussions. They hope he faces repercussions. So if anything else, people are going to probably be further entrenched by what they saw. I think the question for blitz that you're getting at is, as this goes to trial, as the facts continue to come out, as there's testimony, will this change minds, particularly on the right and we'll see.
BLITZER: We shall see.
Evan, we've learned today the identity, and I know you were involved in learning this, the identity of the employee, that one of the other codefendants, De Oliveira, was talking about who was apparently being told to delete surveillance video. This is evidence tampering, which is a crime.
PEREZ: Right. And it appears that he at least is has some misgivings about this. He is saying, look, I don't know if I can do this. I don't know how to do this. I'm going to need to talk to my supervisor.
So he clearly has the sense that something is awry here. And, you know, his name is Yuscil Taveras. And, you know, we certainly have spent a lot of time doing reporting on him and De Oliveira and trying to figure out what exactly was the -- was the dynamic here. We knew that they were both under a great deal of pressure from prosecutors, because prosecutors clearly knew what had happened here. And they had been asking everybody who was familiar with this episode, there were plenty of people who seem to know about this.
And there had been a great deal of behind the scenes effort to try to get De Oliveira to provide evidence, to provide -- to perhaps be a cooperator against the former president. Clearly he ended up not doing that. And so that's one of the interesting.
One thing I think that really stands out to me now from the new reporting that we got from Jamie Gangel is, you know, the fact that this new document that is being charged, the 32nd document, the idea that that document was returned to the National Archives in the initial batch, you know, more than a year ago, it's the only document we know, Wolf, that was not involved with -- was not part of the raid, right, it was not part of the things that were returned when the Justice Department went there in the summer.
And so, the question is, you know, how the prosecutors stand up this charge, this accusation that he willfully retain the document, if he did return it in that initial batch, batch of documents to the National Archives. It may well be that, you know, this recording, the fact that the former president has now claimed that he never had the document, maybe that's the reason why they have now added it. We don't know why it is. It wasn't in the first indictment, but it was added in the second.
BLITZER: In the superseding indictment.
Tia, you write for the Atlanta Journal Constitution, and there's some dramatic pictures coming up of the barricades being built right now outside the courthouse in Atlanta where there's a lot of suspicion, there could be formal charges that are released in the coming days. Again, more formal charges for election tampering in Georgia, and that Trump might be charged yet again. What are you hearing?
MITCHELL: So, we're hearing that the courthouse in Fulton County is making preparations for what could be some high profile activity in the coming weeks. We think that there could be decisions about whether Trump or any of his allies are going to be indicted, maybe not in days, but maybe in a couple of weeks, mid-August, so to speak, is what we're thinking could be -- that's the window that the district attorney outlined. But they're already making those type of provisions to prepare.
There are other of course, high profile trials going on in Fulton County. So, they're not saying these barriers are just for the Trump trial or the Trump indictments for the grand jury, but it's in that scheme of what could be coming in the coming week.
BLITZER: And protective barricades being built in Atlanta, as well as here in Washington, D.C. Hopefully they won't be needed, but we'll see what happens.
Guys, thank you very, very much.
Coming up, former Pentagon Chief Leon Panetta on his concerns about national security as he hears the newest charges against Trump. And Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell is making it clear he has no immediate plans to step down amid growing questions about his health.
BLITZER: Right now, we're getting more reaction to the very alarming new charges against Donald Trump, even as he's running to be commander in chief once again. We're joined by the former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who also served as director of the CIA.
Mr. Secretary, thanks for joining us. The former president united states allegedly requested security footage deleted in this investigation into mishandling of highly classified documents. What goes through your mind, Mr. Secretary, hearing that?
LEON PANETTA, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY: My first reaction is that this is Richard Nixon all over again. The biggest problem with Richard Nixon when it came to Watergate was the cover up. And what we have here is an obvious cover up with regards to trying to prevent law enforcement from access to potential evidence in a crime. And that mistake of trying to prevent material from being presented to law enforcement is ultimately what brought Nixon down. And I think it's what is ultimately going to bring Trump down as well.
BLITZER: How important is it that the government has its hands on that classified document on Iran attack plans, the one Trump was heard discussing on audio tape?
PANETTA: Well, obviously, the concern that I think everybody needs to keep their eye on here is the fact that this involves classified material. And the reason it's classified is because it deals with national security. And it also is information that involves individuals in the intelligence arena who put their lives on the line in order to get very sensitive information. When the President of the United States takes that kind of information and starts revealing it to people who have no security clearance and have no right to that information, what it does is his jeopardizes our national security. And that's the reason we classify that material.
That's the reason we want to make sure it is not revealed to others. It's the reason that we have intelligence is to basically protect our national security, not jeopardize it.
BLITZER: On that note, Mr. Secretary, I want you and our viewers to listen to what Dan Coates, the former director of National Intelligence in the Trump administration told CNN's Kaitlan Collins on her program, "The Source," last night. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANIEL COATS, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: If you walk into the lobby of the CIA, and look to the right wall, you see as much as stars, their names aren't there because they're recovered, but they're dead because somebody got their names out, maybe on a classified document. So it's more than just a bunch of papers and what big deal is this and so forth, lives can be lost.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: So with lives at stake, Mr. Secretary, do you understand why some in the Republican Party, some in the Republican Party seem to be turning a blind eye to Trump's behavior? PANETTA: It's difficult to understand why both Republicans and Democrats are not denouncing what has happened here because Dan Coates said it better than anybody, there are stars on the wall at the CIA that represent lost lives of intelligence officers who put their lives on the line in order to gather sensitive information for this country, information that is critical to protecting our national security.
I think everybody needs to understand why it is extremely important that we protect, protect that kind of confidential and classified material. Not because it's just something nice to do, but because it relates to our national security, and it's for that reason, that it needs to be protected.
BLITZER: Absolutely. Leon Panetta as usual, thank you very much for joining us.
PANETTA: Thank you very much, Wolf.
BLITZER: Up next, cameras were rolling as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has suffered a health scare earlier this week. What McConnell's office is now saying about his political future. Plus, tonight, as former President Donald Trump faces more legal trouble, he's now set to make a rare appearance with the rest of the GOP field. Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Tonight, the office of Senator Mitch McConnell is addressing speculation about whether he'll finish out this Congress as the minority leader. The 81-year-old froze for some 30 seconds during a news conference on Wednesday raising serious questions about his health. CNN's Melanie Zanona is up on Capitol Hill for us.
Melanie, first of all, what are you learning about McConnell's future in the U.S. Senate?
MELANIE ZANONA, CNN REPORTER: Well, questions about Mitch McConnell's future and his health have been percolating for some time now. But they really intensified in the wake of this latest health scare, the one you mentioned at the press conference, in addition to two previously undisclosed falls that Mitch McConnell had this year that CNN has learned about.
Now, his office is working to tamp down that speculation, they put out a statement today, saying that Mitch McConnell plans to serve as GOP leader through the rest of the 118th Congress. I want to read you their statement. They said, "Leader McConnell appreciates the continued support of his colleagues and plans to serve his full term in the job they overwhelmingly elected him to do."
However, notable here that they did not address what Mitch McConnell plans to do in the next Congress. As a reminder, he is 81 years old, he is not up for reelection until 2026. And the Republicans would elect their new leadership after the 2024 elections for the next Congress.
Now, so far all the Republican senators we talked to said they support keeping Mitch McConnell in this role for this Congress. They said they have no concerns about his ability to fulfill his duties. There's no secret ouster or plans to oust him or to try to challenge him. But notably, they would not say whether they plan to continue supporting him in the next Congress.
And in addition to some of these health challenges that Mitch McConnell has had, he's also drawn the wrath of Trump world for cutting ties with the former president after January 6. But for now, Wolf, Mitch McConnell not going anywhere.
BLITZER: All right, Melanie, thank you. Melanie Zanona up on Capitol Hill.
Let's turn now to the 2024 presidential campaign trail out in Iowa where former President Trump joins the rest of the GOP field for a key event. It's his first campaign appearance since the new charges against him in the classified documents case. CNN's Jessica Dean is in Des Moines for us.
Jessica, you're out there on the campaign trail, watching what's going on Ron DeSantis is starting to go after Trump a bit more directly now. What is he saying? And what can we expect tonight?
JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're inside the ballroom where we're going to see all of these candidates along with former President Donald Trump. And it's the first time he's really appeared on one of these major cattle calls at the same time as his rivals in the 2024 primary. And it comes as we're really seeing all of his legal issues just running right and colliding with this 2024 primary as it has so often done over the last several months.
So in the last couple of days, Wolf, I've been out on the trail with Governor Ron DeSantis, who's fresh off a campaign reboot. We saw him shut about a third of his staff citing budget concerns, campaign officials pledging a leaner more insurgent type campaign. And we heard him talking more and more about his electability argument.
Now he's still not going after former President Trump on this stuff, but he is going after him when asked by the media. So yesterday, when we talked to him, he said, look, I won Florida by 20, Trump won it by three, I was able to get Independent voters, really making the case that he's the person that can win in 2024 in a general election. And then today, just a little bit ago and one of his stops on his bus tour he was asked again, why not just take Trump directly on? Here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have engaged, you know, what -- when appropriate, me litigating -- you know, I'm not I'm not a legal commentator litigating that, but there have been issues where, you know, he attacked me for voting against an amnesty that he was proposing when he was president. I oppose the amnesty, he tried to do it to 2 million person amnesty. We've been very clear on that. He promised to eliminate the national debt when he ran for president, he added almost $8 trillion to the national debt.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DEAN: And, Wolf, he went on to list some other issues where he feels like he is contrasting with Donald Trump. And again as we take a snapshot here in Iowa, this critical early first state, we have new polling over the weekend that showed us just how far ahead the former president is. Everyone else is really struggling to break through and what they hope to use events like tonight to do just that to really pitch themselves to voters here in Iowa as the most viable alternative to President Trump and the person who can best take on President Joe Biden.
BLITZER: All right, Jessica, stay with us. I want to bring in CNN's Eva McKend as well. Eva, what are you watching for tonight from Trump and the other Republican candidates?
EVA MCKEND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, this is Iowa's biggest night. I am curious to see how these candidates in just the 10 minutes allotted are able to distinguish themselves to say something that resonates beyond the evening. Will they go after Trump directly? I was texting with a state lawmaker earlier tonight, Eddie Andrews. And he was telling me that might not be well received that ultimately they are listening to hear what these candidates vision is for America not to go after one another.
But ultimately the Lincoln dinner really, Wolf, is the price of admission. If you are a serious Republican contender, you should be in that room tonight making your case to Iowa voters. But beyond this evening, what's going to be I would argue even more important is the ground game. And the ability to which you are able to make personal connections out on the trail with these voters.
BLITZER: Yeah. Good point. And you know, Jessica, you're out there in Iowa. DeSantis is clearly trying to reset his campaign and former Vice President Mike Pence has it even qualified for next month's Republican presidential debate. These candidates can afford to attack the former president as they believe. But they also can't afford not to. How tricky of a position is that for the 2024 GOP field?
DEAN: It isn't such a fine line that these candidates are having to walk, right? Because aside from Chris Christie and Asa Hutchinson, we're really not seeing any of these candidates going directly at Trump. And the question becomes, when is it going to pack most punch to do so? When is it worth it to do so? Remember, a lot of these voters I'm talking to supported President Trump in the last two elections.
So they're trying not to offend them in any way, but more make the case that they are the next generation. What's interesting to kind of see develop on the campaign trail with Governor DeSantis, who is his top -- is Trump's top challenger at this moment here in Iowa, is him. We're hearing him talk more and more about his youth, about his age, really drawing that contrast with both Trump but also Joe Biden is kind of the next generation of leadership.
So they're trying to figure out where to do that. But Wolf if we look back at history, we look back at 2016, all of those GOP candidates, everyone waiting for Trump for the other person to take Trump out, it never happened and wondering this time, if that's a similar situation.
BLITZER: Yes, Eva, what can you tell us about the scrutiny, it's pretty intense right now that DeSantis is under on another sensitive issue, the state's new guidelines on teaching the history of slavery in schools?
MCKEND: Well, Wolf, this seems to be the issue that just won't go away for the governor. Even Senator Scott weighing in on the trail. Let's take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There is no silver lining and freedom in slavery. The truth is that anything you can learn, that any benefits that people suggest you had during slavery, you would have had a free person. I would hope that every person in our country and certainly running for president would appreciate that. And listen, people have bad days. Sometimes they regret what they say. And we should ask them again to clarify their positions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MCKEND: So true to form, Governor DeSantis biting back at Senator Scott saying that he is falling into the narrative of the left. But it is unusual for Senator Scott to critique I think another lawmaker, especially when it comes to a matter of race. You also saw another black conservative Congressman Byron Donalds, also pushed back against this and they are typically pretty reticent to make this type of criticism. They actually often argue that America is greatly improving on matters of race.
And so that I think should be a signal to the governor to really take a listen to folks in his own party. But true to form, you know, his whole ethos is to never back down. And he is continuing to stand by the curriculum.
BLITZER: Yes, Jessica, the latest poll out of Iowa. Senator Scott isn't trailing too far behind DeSantis, are social issues like this one, landing with voters?
DEAN: You know, I talked to a handful of voters yesterday on the road, and what I didn't hear a lot about was indictment, legal troubles, the things that, you know, we've been talking a lot about as it pertains to President Trump, who is the front runner in this race. You asked about social issues, I think they're certainly looking more than anything, Wolf, for someone who can beat Joe Biden in 2024. And they are just trying to figure out who that person is. If they think it's Trump, and make no mistake, the people I'm talking to do have Trump fatigue, even the ones that still want to support him, they will say to me, well, we do recognize that he has, you know, I don't like his demeanor. I don't like the way -- I don't like his mouth, things like that is kind of how they'll talk about it.
But they really want someone who can win and have a Republican in the White House. And so as they are going through and evaluating all of these candidates here on the ground, they're trying to make up in their own minds, what issues both connect with them, but also our winning issues. And I think that's what a lot of people are watching for tonight. And make no mistake, look, Trump's going to be in this room. I've already seen Trump purses and paraphernalia outside. He's got a ton of support in here. But these voters are certainly listening and they're paying attention.
BLITZER: I certainly are. Jessica Dean, Eva McKend. Ladies, thank you very, very much.
Just ahead, Russia and Ukraine are pointing fingers at each other and threatening retaliation after missile strikes damaged cities in both countries. And Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is responding to fall out. He was very dramatic from his comments he made during an interview right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: At least two buildings in the Ukrainian city of Dnipro were hit by a Russian missile strike today, one of them belonging to Ukraine's security services. This as Moscow blames Ukraine for an attack on a Russian city near the border and vows to retaliate. CNN's Alex Marquardt is joining us. He's got the story. Alex, what can you tell us about this latest Russian strike?
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, a terrifying strike right in the center of Ukraine's fourth biggest city, Dnipro in the middle of a Friday night. So we understand from President Zelenskyy and other officials that missiles hit a high rise residential building as well as the headquarters for the security services, the SBU. The mayor says that this is the third time that Russia has tried to hit that building. We understand from eyewitnesses, there were two missiles. Thankfully, those buildings were both empty.
And so there are nine people with injuries but thankfully no one was killed. One of the eyewitnesses we spoke with said it was absolutely terrifying, that people were screaming, that they were running to basements. She herself said that she was going to go back to work tonight and sleep there because there's the basement as a shelter in case more rockets come in tonight.
But Wolf, this is -- this comes just hours after Russia accused Ukraine of firing missiles into southern Russia. They say their air defenses managed to shoot those missiles down but debris fell on the city of Taganrog wounding some 14 people. So each side, Wolf, tonight accusing the other of raining down terror on its citizens. Wolf?
BLITZER: Alex, I also understand you're getting exclusive access to a new weapon the Ukrainians are using apparently with success. Tell us more.
MARQUARDT: Yes, Wolf, this war in Ukraine is unlike any other we've seen in terms of drones, each side using drones quite aggressively. We got a rare look at the latest sea drone that Ukraine is using against Russia in the Black Sea. We have been talking a lot about sea drones lately because there was that attack against the Kerch Bridge by Ukraine. That bridge connects Russia with Crimea. And it was carried out by sea drones.
Ukrainian naval drones have also attacked the Sevastopol port in Crimea. That's where Russia's Black Sea Fleet is based. So this is the drone that we saw very advanced. It's very fast. It's very nimble. It's about the size of a small boat. It carries hundreds of pounds of explosives. Now, Ukraine doesn't have much of a navy to speak up, doesn't have much of a fleet to speak up. But the people we spoke with who are developing this drone say that they are managing with technology like this to limit the movement of those Russian ships and keep them at bay. Keep them away from Ukraine. Wolf?
BLITZER: Alex Marquardt on the scene for us in Ukraine, stay safe. Thank you very much. Now to Israel where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to ease the fallout he's facing following my interview with him yesterday. Critics are raising serious concerns over Netanyahu's refusal to commit to abide by the Israeli Supreme Court if it were to overturn his controversial judicial overall. Listen to that key exchange I had with the Israeli Prime Minister here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: 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?
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Well, 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.
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, our 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 is a situation, a 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 spiral that you're talking about and I hope we don't get to that.
BLITZER: All right, let's discuss what the Prime Minister told me and what he's saying now, the Israeli journalist and commentator Barak Ravid is joining us from Tel Aviv. Barak, thanks very much for joining us. A one Israeli opposition figure, Benny Gantz, reacted to those comments today and then warning -- with a warning. He said this, if Netanyahu, like any elected official does not follow the court's ruling, he will carry out a regime coup d'etat that will change the nature of the regime in Israel, something that will negate his legitimacy to hold office. Barak, is Prime Minister Netanyahu now attempting some damage control, following what he said in the interview with me?
BARAK RAVID, DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT, WALLA NEWS: Hey, Wolf, first, I got to tell you that your interview got a lot of attention here in Israel. And that's an understatement. People were quite shocked as much as we can still be shocked by things that Netanyahu says or does. And I think that, you know, people looked at this interview and said, what we're watching here is exactly what we feared for, you know, so many months since Netanyahu was sworn in, because the fact that the Prime Minister is asked whether he will abide by Supreme Court ruling, and his answer is not a straight yes, is just shocking.
And you know, Netanyahu, when he commented about this, after he got criticized, he said that his comments were misrepresented by the Israeli opposition. But as I think, as everybody just saw a minute ago, it's very clear what happened in the interview.
BLITZER: Yes. When he was asked, will you honor the Supreme Court's decision? It's usually a simple answer, yes, of course I will. Yes, he didn't say that. How uncertain, Barak, is the path forward in Israel right now? Is it clear, for example, whether Israel Supreme Court could potentially strike down a law related to its own powers?
RAVID: First, it could. And you know, Netanyahu, one of the biggest lies that he said that he gave you in this interview, was this preposterous comparison between the -- a U.S. Constitution and the basic law in Israel. If you want to amend the Constitution in the U.S., as you and all of our people watching us now, no, you need to get two-thirds of the Senate and two-thirds of the house and then ratify it in three quarters of all the states, in the United States. OK.
In Israel, this is not the case. And he just, you know, created an amendment in what he calls our constitution with a majority of only 64 out of 120 lawmakers. So I think that, you know, this comparison was really silly. And I think when people look ahead at what's in front of us, that I don't think that there's a lot of people here in this country that really believe Netanyahu when he says that he wants a consensus, and that he's willing to negotiate with the opposition.
He said the same things few months ago, and we see where it got us. Another interesting point, Wolf, you know, Netanyahu is in a media blitz in the U.S. not in Israel. He gave several interviews in the American media in the last few days. And this is because he's very nervous about the image of what's -- what he's doing in Israel, how it's going to influence his image in America, and how it's going to influence, how the White House sees what's going on. So he's doing some damage control.
And you and all of the people watching us need to know that for months and for years, Netanyahu hasn't given any interviews to Israeli media.
BLITZER: Yes, that's a very significant point indeed. Barak Ravid, thank you very much as usual for joining us. We'll continue to stay on top of the story for sure.
Coming up, it's the hottest month on record in our planet's history. And this heatwave across the United States right now is far from over. We're going to show you where temperatures could reach peak intensity this weekend.
BLITZER: Scorching temperatures will reach peak intensity this weekend from the Midwest to the Northeast. Our meteorologist Chad Myers is in the CNN weather center for us. Chad, this heat is not only unprecedented, but it's so dangerous as well.
CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It is. It's oppressive. Many people going outside and going well, what did I do this for? Why don't I just go back inside? The problem is many people have to work outside so you have to think about that. Temperatures are already hot, of course across the westwards just warming up but Phoenix another day above 110, right now, 112. If I add in the humidity, it feels like temperature in Omaha is 112, even in D.C. 107.
But there are storms on the way to get rid of this oppressive heat. Now it's still going to be hot this weekend in some spots, 85 more record highs across mainly the eastern half of the United States. But there's severe weather today, tonight into Chicago, this will fire up this evening. Roll through Chicago and clear out your heat. It'll eventually by 3 o'clock in the morning getting to Detroit, about lightning, thunder with that you may wake up from that.
Cleveland same story. But this is the relief that we've all been waiting for as the cold air comes in. Chicago 93 today, look at 61 by Sunday morning. That's the dramatic drop off, getting rid of the humidity, getting rid of the temperatures. And then look closer where you are right now, Wolf, there's some severe weather to your west. We're watching this.
The storms are popping very, very quickly and putting down lightning quickly as well. So if you're out on a ballgame, or out at a picnic, whatever you're doing this evening, these things could get nasty real, real quickly. But even for you, New York, D.C., temperatures are dropping quickly and nicely. This is the worst. Two more days to go. It's better from here.
BLITZER: All right, that's encouraging. Chad, thank you very much.
Coming up, Donald Trump is facing very serious new charges in the classified documents case. We'll discuss with Trump's former national security adviser John Bolton. That's coming up.