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The Situation Room

Talks On Trump's Georgia Arrest As D.A. Seeks March 4 Trial; Paul Whelan Spoke With Secretary Blinken From Russian Prison; Justice Department Taking Major Abortion Pill Case Back To U.S. Supreme Court After New Ruling; Maui Fires Death Toll Reaches 106; Travis King's Mother Asks North Korea To Treat Him "Humanely". Aired 6-7p ET

Aired August 16, 2023 - 18:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: I'm back on the TikTok @jaketapper. You can tweet the show @theleadcnn. If you ever miss an episode of the show, you can listen to The Lead whence you get your podcasts.

Our coverage continues with Wolf Blitzer right next door in The Situation Room. I'll see you tomorrow.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, negotiations are under way on the details of Donald Trump's arrest in Georgia as the district attorney there is now proposing a March 4th trial date for the former president and his 18 co-defendants.

Also tonight, CNN has learned that Secretary of State Antony Blinken just spoke by phone with Paul Whelan, an American wrongfully imprisoned in Russia. Stand by for our exclusive new reporting.

And as the death toll from the Maui wildfire climbs above 100, there are now growing questions about the cause of the disaster and the government response. The Hawaii governor, Josh Green, will join us live this hour.

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

Tonight, the wheels are in motion for Donald Trump's arrest, arraignment and trial in the Georgia election subversion case, the Fulton County district attorney proposing some key dates amid negotiations with Trump's lawyers about details of his surrender.

Let's go to CNN's Sara Murray, who is just back from Atlanta where she's covered the indictment and done an excellent job. Sara, tell us about the D.A.'s proposed trial date and how it fits into this already very busy legal and political calendar for the former president.

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. Well, as you pointed out, she is proposing this March 4th trial date in a new filing today. But let's look at the calendar. Because when you look at the calendar, it's really a mess for Donald Trump. In the beginning of January is when the Justice Department has proposed a potential trial in the federal election interference case. Again, that's the Justice Department's proposal. So, it's not clear that's actually going to be when it happens. As you move through January, there's the civil trial involving E. Jean Carroll that happens to be on the same day as the Iowa caucuses. When you get into March, you're looking at Super Tuesday falling just a day after this proposed trial date that Fani Willis has put forward in Georgia. As you move through the month of March, you get into the Stormy Daniels hush money trial. When you get into May or into the trial date that's been proposed for the classified documents case, where Donald Trump has, of course, been indicted and then into July for the Republican National Convention.

And, Wolf, as you know, there are going to be plenty of other Republican primary dates scattered on this calendar that we haven't even seen yet. So, it is a packed calendar in terms of Donald Trump's legal challenges and his political calendar as he's trying to run for the nomination.

BLITZER: A lot of people see this as a very, very tight timeline, and it is. How realistic is this calendar?

MURRAY: It is a tight timeline. I mean, this is a case that is involving 19 different defendants, and we've already seen one of them, former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows try to move this case to federal court. We expect Donald Trump's attorneys are going to try to do the same thing. And the judge is going to have to deal with these motions. They're going to have to litigate these issues. And they're frankly going to have to take into account the defense attorneys if they say that there's not enough time for them to prepare on this tight timeline.

We have not heard from Donald Trump's team on this yet but I can't imagine they're particularly thrilled by this proposal.

BLITZER: Yes, I'm sure you're right. Stand by. We have a lot to discuss. We're also joined by more legal and political experts who are here with us in The Situation Room. And, Elliot, let me start with you. This March 4th start of the trial down in Georgia, what's your thought? How realistic is that?

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It is not realistic, Wolf. It is not happening. This is not going to trial. You can quote me on it. It's not going to trial on March 4th. Look, you can get a case to trial whenever you want. As a prosecutor, as a court, anything could technically happen. But when you're talking about 19 defendants, many of whom are going to have substantive legal challenges, the president will file a challenge to move this into federal court, Mark Meadows already has. Those will take time.

Now, not all 19 defendants will probably, ultimately make it to trial. Someone is probably going to plead guilty. That's often the case, typically.

BLITZER: You mean they'll flip? WILLIAMS: Yes, either flip or not, or just simply accept responsibility, plead guilty and take a sentence. You don't have to testify against the other defendants. But you're still going to have a bunch of defendants. It's really hard to get a case to trial in six or seven or eight months.

BLITZER: Alayna, you've got some new reporting on what's going on. What are you learning?

ALAYNA TREENE, CNN REPORTER: Yes. Well, we do know that the former president's team and his lawyers have been talking with the Fulton County District Attorney's Office about what the details of his surrender will look like. I'm also told that the surrender is not going to happen this week. It will be happening next week. That's what they are planning for.

And there's a lot of details they need to work out.


As Sara mentioned, the sheriff in Fulton County wants to treat Donald Trump and the other 18 co-defendants like any other defendant, which means getting their mug shot taken, having them be fingerprinted. And these are all things that they're negotiating right now and they're trying to work out what will Donald Trump have to do when he appears in Georgia next week.

MURRAY: And, typically, defendants can sit around that jail for hours waiting to be processed. I'm sure that Donald Trump doesn't have any intention of doing that. So, you really want to iron out some of these details ahead of time.

BLITZER: I'm sure the Secret Service that protects aren't going to be anxious to have him sitting around a jail for a long time.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Particularly a mug shot for Donald Trump. Who in the world does not know who Donald Trump is? I mean, why would that be so necessary? It seems to me that that would be a real point of contention.

TREENE: And we do know as well that regardless of whether it's taken or not, Donald Trump has already been fundraising off of fake mug shots with his past indictments. And this would very well be something that I think his team would welcome, even if Donald Trump doesn't want that. I mean, we know that Donald Trump does not want to be indicted. He's so frustrated by his mounting legal troubles. But from a political standpoint, it's something that he can make money off of.

BLITZER: Gloria, this March 4th date, this proposed date for the start --

BORGER: You mean the fake date?

BLITZER: Well, let's say it does happen, March 4th, it's one day before Super Tuesday when there are, what, ten Republican primary elections. BORGER: Right. Look, the timing doesn't look great but I would argue it doesn't really matter whether it's the day before Super Tuesday or three days after Super Tuesday or a week before Super Tuesday. The fact that it's happening is what matters. It's not going to -- you know, nobody is going to change their mind just because, oh, oh, he got indicted yesterday. So, maybe I'll change my vote today. I don't think so. I think -- I mean, or the trial starts. I think that cake is baked, to tell you the truth.

So the particular date of it matters to the attorneys and the judges and every single attorney, and you guys tell me if I'm wrong, is in a rush in these cases. Jack Smith, the special counsel, included, Fani Willis, and just go down the list, they're all in a rush to get this done because of the election. But there's nothing you can do about it. There's an election and there are trials.

BLITZER: And a trial takes precedence over these elections.

BORGER: According to the judges.

BLITZER: Yes. We shall see what happens on that front.

The New York hush money case is also scheduled to begin in March. So, how does that fit in with this?

MURRAY: Right. I mean, what's interesting is in this motion we saw from the district attorney today. She says, I'm putting forward these dates because they don't conflict with any of the other proposed dates out there. So, she doesn't say how long she would expect a trial to last but that is a signal that she seems to believe that if they actually could go to trial on March 4th, that they could get this done before this hush money trial potentially starts on March 25th.

Again, this may be some overly optimistic timing from her perspective. I think you guys might agree with that?

WILLIAMS: Let me respond to that. I am all for trying to get speedy justice in the interest of deterring conduct and punishing people who have broken the law. I did it for part of my career. Picking a jury alone is going to take several days in a trial like this. You don't just bring the people in and get 14 jurors who can be fair on the first day. It will probably take several days if not weeks to pick a jury. So, the idea that you -- even if you started on March 4th then have the whole wrapped up with 19 defendants and hundreds of factual allegations by the end of the month is simply absurd. It's not going to happen.

BORGER: Finding people who have no particular opinion about Donald Trump --

WILLIAMS: Or they can have opinions about Donald Trump. They just have to be able to say that they could set them aside. Finding 14, 12 jurors and 2 alternates, can be exceptionally hard.

BLITZER: Very hard, indeed. Alayna, I'm curious, as you well know, the Republican debate is scheduled for, what, one week from today. Trump has not made it clear by any means whether or not he will show up. And he certainly has indicated he doesn't want to sign that so-called loyalty pledge promising that he will support whoever the Republican nominee is. What's the latest? What are you hearing?

TREENE: Well, I have some new reporting on this, Wolf. I'm hearing that most of all, when I talked to Donald Trump's team and his advisers, they say that it's very much unlikely that he is going to be attending the debate. Of course, they always have the caveat that it's Donald Trump. He can ultimately change his mind at the last minute. But as of now, he is not planning to go. Instead, he's been having conversations about counterprogramming.

And some of those conversations include potentially doing an interview with Tucker Carlson or doing another media interview at the same time. They're also talking about having some of his surrogates potentially go and try to go to the debate and represent him in the spin room.


But this is something that Donald Trump doesn't see. I mean, he's been saying now for weeks that he doesn't see why he needs to be on the debate stage and give his opponents an opportunity to attack him.

I'm also told that there was a meeting last month at Bedminster, fox news executives, the president, Jay Wallace, as well as the chief executive, Suzanne Scott, met with Donald Trump and encouraged him to participate in the debate. And Donald Trump has been telling people this week that he thinks because they were encouraging him, so pushing him on this, he thinks that shows that the ratings won't be good without him. And so that's kind of what his conversations with people --

BORGER: Ratings is what he cares about and retribution is also what he cares about. And since he's allegedly mad at Fox this week or whatever it is, don't you think that might have something to do with it, that he would do something that would think hurt their ratings?

TREENE: Completely. And also, like you said, Gloria, Donald Trump is in this feud with Fox News right now and he is not trying to do them any favors. And so he's feeling very strongly that this shows that why should I go to the debate, I don't need to go to the debate.

BLITZER: All right. Guys, everybody stand by. We have a lot more to discuss.

Just ahead, wrongfully detained American Paul Whelan gets a phone call from a top U.S. official. We have a CNN exclusive report coming up.

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



BLITZER: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke by phone with Paul Whelan, an American being wrongfully detained in Russia. CNN's Kylie Atwood is joining us live from the State Department right now with more on this exclusive reporting that we have. We're also joined by CNN's Matthew Chance. He is in Moscow.

First of all, Kylie, to you, what can you tell us about this phone call?

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, listen, this is the phone call that Paul Whelan had with the secretary of state while he is, of course, at a Russian prison today. And according to a source familiar with the call, Wolf, this is the second time that Whelan has had a conversation with the secretary of state. And the message today that Paul Whelan got was that he should keep the faith, that the U.S. government continues to do everything that they can to secure his quick release from prison.

Of course, we know, though, that he has been wrongfully detained in Russia for more than four years now. That has been incredibly challenging for him, incredibly challenging for his family. We don't know the logistics of how this phone call came to be but we do know that Whelan has been able to make phone calls from prison in the past. But, of course, you can imagine how complicated it might be to stay on a phone call with the secretary of state.

Now, David Whelan, who is Paul Whelan's brother, told CNN that this was a long and frank conversation and he said it sent a significant signal to the family, to Paul Whelan, about the U.S. government continuing to work on efforts to get him home. Listen to what he said to Jake Tapper earlier today.


DAVID WHELAN, BROTHER OF PAUL WHELAN, AMERICAN DETAINED IN RUSSIA: I think that Secretary Blinken has obviously sent a message. And that message is for Paul and for our family, that the U.S. government is continuing to advocate for Paul and his release. And I think it's also a message for the Kremlin that the U.S. government hasn't led up and, in fact, their lead foreign policy person is willing to call a prisoner, which is I think astounding.


ATWOOD: Now, earlier this year, Wolf, we know that the U.S. government put a substantial offer on the table to Russia to try and secure Paul Whelan's release, according to a senior official. That offer absolutely is still live.

But there's a lot that's happened since that offer was put on the table. You'll recall in late March, Evan Gershkovich, that Wall Street Journal reporter, was also detained in Russia. So, the U.S. government is also working now to secure the release of both of these men. Wolf?

BLITZER: Let's hope they both come home soon, very, very soon. Kylie, stand by. I want to bring in Matthew Chance. He's in Moscow.

Matthew, what are you learning? What is Russia saying about this? MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, actually, within the past few minutes, Wolf, the Russian ambassador to the United States has issued a statement basically playing down this conversation with Tony Blinken and Paul Whelan, saying to U.S. politicians, appealing to them, to politicians and the media, to basically allow the two countries to work calmly and to leave the search for solutions to professionals, so a non-committal statement but one that perhaps does tend to imply that conversations are continuing.

Look, I mean, the big hold-up, as far as my sources are concerned, in terms of finding a solution to this problem, and a deal that would allow Paul Whelan and Evan Gershkovich to be swapped out and returned back home to the United States, has been who to get the Russians in return.

First and foremost, they want this FSB operative. Vadim Krasikov is his name. He's serving a prison sentence in Germany at the moment for murdering a Chechen dissident. I think it was in 2019. The Germans have been very reluctant or outright refused, you might say, to swap Krasikov for American citizens. And so that's one of the reasons that I'm told a deal has not gone through yet.

What is also a possibility, and this may explain the Blinken conversation today with Paul Whelan, it may be a possibility that some other kind of route is now being discussed with the Russians that doesn't involve Krasikov and doesn't involve German involvement. That would obviously be something the United States would prefer to go for.

BLITZER: Matthew Chance and Kylie Atwood, thank you both for your really excellent reporting.

Coming up, a new court ruling on access to the abortion pill. We're going to tell you what it says and how the U.S. Justice Department is responding tonight.



BLITZER: Tonight, the legal battle over a widely used abortion pill appears headed back to the United States Supreme Court. The U.S. Justice Department says it will ask the justices to review a new federal appeals court ruling that the medication should stay on the market but with limits on access.

CNN Senior Supreme Court Analyst Joan Biksupic has got some details for us. Joan, walk us through this decision and what it means for the availability of the abortion pill.

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SENIOR SUPREME COURT ANALYST: Sure, Wolf. Good to see you. Today's development is part of the most important abortion- related litigation since last year when the Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Wade and constitutional abortion rights protections. And now, this case is headed right back to the Supreme Court. It involves FDA approval for the abortion medication drug, Mifepristone. [18:25:04]

The FDA's approval dates all the way back to the year 2000. The Food and Drug Administration has said that the drug is safe and effective for women. And, in fact, it is the most common way that women end pregnancies in America.

Now, just so you know, nothing changes today in terms of the availability of the drug but it could based on developments in lower courts. Last April, a judge in Texas completely suspended FDA approval of the drug and, frankly, just challenged in a very broad way FDA authority for any kind of approval of drugs.

And today, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which oversees Texas, reversed part of that ruling but importantly allowed a key part that would roll back availability to pre-2016 protocols. And the protocols involved relate to how quickly the woman would be able to obtain the drug, how late in the pregnancy they could get it, moving all the way up to ten weeks as opposed to pre-2016 seven weeks. The new protocols, again, dating back to 2016, permit non-physicians to prescribe the drug and they let the pills be dispensed by mail.

So, immediately, the Department of Justice said this kind of approach from the lower courts second guesses FDA's scientific expertise and they said that they are going to the Supreme Court to appeal this decision. And the Supreme Court in an earlier chapter of this litigation, Wolf, had said everything will remain in place until all appeals run out. So, even though the decision today certainly leaves in doubt women's availability and timing for when they can get Mifepristone and how they can get Mifepristone right now, nothing changes because it's yet to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

BLITZER: And, Joan, you are our expert on the Supreme Court. When do you think the Supreme Court will give its final say on this very important, very sensitive matter?

BISKUPIC: Sure. This case can be easily teed up for the term that begins this October, which runs from October to next June of 2024. So, I think, certainly, there's a sense of urgency on the part of the Department of Justice, the part of the Biden administration here, which immediately, after the ruling, said it was going to go to the Supreme Court.

So, I think we'll probably see a petition in just a matter of weeks to the court, and then likely, it would be accepted. I would believe that it would be accepted for Supreme Court consideration in this upcoming term with oral arguments held in a few months and ultimate resolution likely by the end of the session that would complete in June of 2024. But in the meantime, nothing would change until the Supreme Court's ultimate ruling.

BLITZER: We'll wait and see what happens. Joan Biskupic, thank you very much.

Joining us, CNN Political Director David Chalian and our Political Commentators Ashley Allison and Alice Stewart. And, Alice, this issue of abortion access for women here in the United States, has been a boost for Democrats in all these recent elections, including in several so-called red states. What do you make of that?

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I think this issue is much different than abortion across the board. The pro-life community I know agrees with what this decision said today, that the FDA failed to consider certain safety guidelines that are used with regard to mail order abortion pills. And, look, they do believe these are dangerous. When a woman goes and gets these three the mail, they're not seeing a doctor, they're not getting supervision and many of them, thousands of them, are seriously injured, some are gravely injured. And, look, there's OBGYNs across the country that don't perform elective abortions but they are treating these women who are seriously hurt from these abortion pills.

And as Joan said repeatedly, nothing will change immediately as a result of this. It will go to the Supreme Court. But this is a huge step in protecting women's lives and ultimately protecting the lives of unborn children.

BLITZER: Ashley, how do see it?

ASHLEY ALLISON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think this is just a continuation of the decision that happened overturning Roe. Mifepristone has been available for women since 2000. To put that in context, that's the year I graduated from high school and I'm in my 40s. So, the pill has been safe for women. The majority of women use Mifepristone to actually receive abortions. And the FDA is the governing body to say whether things are safe or not.

It's no surprise that this comes on the heel of overturning Roe and I do think it will have backlash because this is an issue that matters a lot to not just Democrats, to Republicans who side with most Democrats.


And if this decision comes down in the summer of 2024, I think it will have similar implications on the election that comes in November, just how it did when Roe was overturned for the 2022 election.

BLITZER: And the FDA says this pill is safe for women to take, as safe penicillin or some drugs, indeed.

All right, let's move on, David. As you know, Trump may or may not attend next week's Republican debate in Milwaukee. I want you to listen to what his rival, Ron DeSantis, had to say about this. Listen to this.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): You have to earn this nomination. Nobody is entitled to it. You've got to get up there and you've got to answer questions. So, he owes it to people to go up there and debate. He needs to tell people, first of all -- they're going to ask about a lot of his unfulfilled promises from when he ran in 2016.


BLITZER: So, what do you make of that?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, a new Quinnipiac University poll came out today showing 57 percent of Republican or Republican-leaning voters believe if you've qualified for the debate, you should show up and participate. So, I think that's what Ron DeSantis knows is that that number exists. And he sees this as an argument to make because there's a friendly audience for it.

It's just interesting, of course, like Ron DeSantis is willing to take Donald Trump on, whether or not he shows up on the debate stage, but undermining our democracy, not so much. He's going to hold back on that.

STEWART: I think what's even more disturbing about the fact that he's indicating that he probably won't got to this debate, that's one middle finger to Republican voters. The other middle finger is that he has said that he is not going to sign the loyalty pledge, which says he will support the eventual nominee, whether it is him or someone else. And that just, in my view, is an insult to Republicans that are standing in line looking for someone to represent their views and values.

And this is an opportunity. This debate stage is an opportunity to go out there and talk about what you're going to do to change the current trajectory of this country under the Biden administration, not talk about the legal issues that you're facing but what you're going to do for Republican voters improving the future. And if he's not willing to do that, then I think that gives really license and gives permission to Republicans to say, let's find someone else.

ALLISON: But will they? Because Donald Trump has done so many things, he's been indicted four times and his poll numbers just continue to grow. So, not showing up, if he still continues to be 43 percent to 43 percent against Joe Biden, he will just continue to behave like that. At some point, the voters have to say we don't want this type of behavior.

But I'm also not surprised. This is like typical Donald Trump. He doesn't follow the rules. He tries to break the rules. So, why would he now start to be loyal and say, I'm going to sign a loyalty pledge when it goes against me?

BLITZER: And he's made it clear that if he doesn't show up, there might even be some so-called counterprogramming. He'll try to reduce the ratings for the debate, which is not going to make the Republican National Committee very happy, to be sure.

The former vice president, Mike Pence, he is speaking out now about the latest Trump indictment. I want you to listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MIKE PENCE, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: With regard to the recent indictment, I think I'd been very clear. I'd hoped it hadn't come to that. I would have rather judgments about January 6th and his conduct on that day were left to the judgment of the American people.


BLITZER: What is Pence trying to accomplish here?

CHALIAN: Well, listen, Mike Pence also said very clearly today that the Georgia election was fairly accounted for. He was sort of in Brian Kemp's camp here. So, it's not that he's not willing to draw distinction with Trump on this stuff, but he is trying to navigate a primary electorate that is very much enthralled with Trump right now except on this issue. Mike Pence is making a distinction with Trump without trying to offend the Trump base. And it's a very tough line to walk.

BLITZER: It certainly is. All right, guys, thank you very, very much.

Just ahead, how Rudy Giuliani's efforts to keep Donald Trump in power are costing him big time right now as he faces criminal charges and huge legal bills he apparently can't pay.



BLITZER: Tonight, former Trump lawyer turned co-defendant Rudy Giuliani is claiming financial hardship as he struggles with mounting legal bills following his indictment in Georgia.

Brian Todd is taking a closer look for us. Brian, Giuliani's lawyer says his client has a lot of bills he simply can't pay.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He can't pay his legal fees or other bills, Wolf. That's according to Giuliani and his own lawyers in court, this from a man who was once worth tens of millions of dollars and wielded enormous political stature.


RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: I know crimes. I can smell them.

TODD (voice over): The man once known as America's Mayor, lauded for his integrity and leadership after 9/11, is tonight out of cash and under a mountain of legal bills and sanctions.

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: I don't think we're grasping how significant the bills are for Rudy Giuliani.

TODD: CNN's Katelyn Polantz and Jeremy Herb citing court report Rudy Giuliani faces fees of $15,000 or more for a search of his records, $20,000 a month to a company to host his electronic records, a $57,000 judgment against his company for unpaid phone bills and a fine of $89,000 from a judge in a defamation case. And all of that is separate from the legal fees Giuliani owes.

POLANTZ: The amount of money it costs to fight a lawsuit, let alone almost a dozen lawsuits over the last two years, couple of years, it is really mind boggling, those numbers.

TODD: Today in court, Giuliani's attorney said he's facing 11 lawsuits and investigations. He's also been criminally indicted in Georgia related to the efforts by him, Donald Trump and others to overturn the 2020 election results in that state. He could face criminal charges in the special counsel's federal election interference case. And he's facing disbarment in New York and Washington.

MICHAEL MOORE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: He's attacked both in his professional arena, he's attacked in the civil court and now in the criminal court as well, and that is a heavy load to carry.


TODD: And Giuliani admits he's not carrying it, at least not financially. His lawyer telling a judge today, quote, these are a lot of bills that he's not paying. I think this is very humbling for Mr. Giuliani.

To deal with the money crunch, Giuliani appears to be selling his three-bedroom Manhattan apartment for $6.5 million and he's offering to record video greetings for strangers $325 a pop on the website, Cameo.

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST AND ANCHOR: He's always loved opera but this is a tragic opera, make no mistake. And it's self- inflicted at this stage. It's heartbreaking to see.

TODD: The man who, as a prosecutor, took down the New York mafia, who turned around New York city's fortunes as mayor and who did at one time hold considerable personal wealth seems to have squandered it all for one man.

AVLON: He's destroyed his reputation and his independent financial foundation, all to help Donald Trump lie about an election. He threw it all away.


TODD (on camera): Following the statement from his attorneys in court about his finances, Rudy Giuliani's lawyers have not provided additional comment to CNN. Giuliani has called his criminal indictment in the Georgia case an affront to American democracy.

In the civil lawsuits against him, Giuliani has, and at least one of them, conceded in court that he made false and defamatory statements, but he is still involved in litigating those cases. Wolf, no seeming way out for him financially here.

BLITZER: What a story, indeed. All right, Brian Todd, thank you very much. And as Giuliani's legal cases unfold, a CNN original series digs into how he got here. It's called, Giuliani, What Happened to America's Mayor. And it's airing this Saturday night at 8 P.M. Eastern right here on CNN.

Up next, we'll get an update on the deadly Maui wildfires when Hawaii's governor joins us live. That's coming up right here in The Situation Room.



BLITZER: More than 100 people are now confirmed dead from last week's devastating Maui wildfires. Today, the Hawaii National Guard has doubled the number of troops responding to the wildfires to help with search and recovery efforts.

CNN's Bill Weir is live on Maui for us right now.

Bill, first of all, what are you seeing on the ground?

BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: Well, a much different picture today, wolf, thanks to the reopening of the bypass highway over there. So now anyone can drive into the area. They're still keeping folks out of the burn zone here. This is Lahaina behind me. You get a glimpse of the devastation.

We've seen helicopters taking sea water and dropping it on hot spots here. The fire here mostly con answered. They're still worried if the wind kicks up. We actually saw volunteers putting out hot spots in the Kula fire in upcountry using bottles of water yesterday. There was a Maui fire department chopper overhead making drops, but there were so many hot spots, these guys were bushwhacking into these canyons and gullies to try and hit these spots and knock it down. One actually burned his foot stepping into that.

I have seen so many examples of do it yourself first response out here, but we're hearing from authorities they're doubling the size of the National Guard presence here, both the help with the fires and humanitarian aid as well. And then so many people are going through this emotional turmoil.

I actually met with a family, they're missing their 83-year-old mother of this gentleman, his daughter-in-law, Norma. She told me yesterday her husband was one of the first people -- Brenda, forgive me, Brenda Keau one of the first people to give their DNA sample and now all they have to do is sit and wait. Take a listen.


WEIR: Has he accepted the idea that she's gone? Does he have to get confirmation before he can --

BRENDA KEAU, MOTHER-IN-LAW MISSING: I mean, the truth about it, we accepted it on the day that we saw that there's no house. But there -- you never give up hope.


WEIR: There's so much visible pain here. You can see it there but the hidden psychological toll of this will be playing out for months, Wolf. Counselors needed along with all the other essentials here -- Wolf.

BLITZER: So heartbreaking indeed. Bill Weir, thank you very much.

For more on this really important story, I'm joined by Hawaii's governor, Josh Green.

Governor, thank you for joining us.

First of all, what is the updated death toll tonight?

GOV. JOSH GREEN (D), HAWAII: It's 107 individuals, Wolf, and 38 percent of the territory has been covered by the rescue team. So, they're really accelerating now. As you mentioned earlier, we're adding 225 additional people to go and do search and rescue and another 20 dogs, taking up to 40 dogs. So, much more territory will be covered quickly.

BLITZER: More than a week after these horrendous fires, Governor, how many people are still missing or unaccounted for right now?

GREEN: It's still difficult to say. I think it's probably still over a thousand, although I can't tell you what's happened today. A lot of people are still isolating in other people's homes. Right now, we're focused pretty completely on the disaster area and getting people into housing, getting people into hotel rooms. Over a thousand hotel rooms now and houses that we've put people in, and that is everyone has been displaced, plus the first responders.

It is a tragedy beyond any expectation, but we are buoyed by the fact that the world has tried to lift us up and help us through this.

BLITZER: How much above 1,000 do you think it really is?

GREEN: It's difficult to say. The last number I had heard and we'll wait until our next meeting was 1300.


They were still waiting to confirm. And so, you know, I would actually rather just let our firefighters and police give us that update at the 1:30 press conference.

BLITZER: So, that will be in a few hours from now. Is that what you're saying?

GREEN: Yes, I think less than an hour we'll be hosting a press conference with all of the people that are right on the ground. They'll give us the most updated numbers.

BLITZER: All right. We'll be paying attention clearly.

You told my colleague Kaitlan Collins last night, Governor, that some of the island's sirens were broken during the wildfire, but emergency services now says the system was tested a week prior. Can you clarify what exactly happened to those sirens around these fires?

GREEN: Well, these sirens have been aging over decades. Some have received maintenance. We're waiting to see what others had available to them. But intermittently, some were broken and we're doing a full assessment.

The management review and the comprehensive review, I've asked the attorney general to do will include that, plus, we'll let a third party do it. Again, right now, most of our effort is dealing with the loss of loved ones as you heard from that sweet woman who may have lost one of her parents.

The response team has swelled enormously now, over 492 FEMA people, U.S. Army Reserves at 185, National Guard just under 400, Red Cross at 270. It's an enormous response now, and, of course, we're so honored that to the president coming on Monday to both mourn with us and also so that he can see, you know, see the damage, see what it's going to take to rebuild Maui.

It is a -- still a search and rescue mission but much of the other concerns do remain about why we were unable to do everything possible to protect people. We're just trying to be completely transparent because from my perspective, this is a lesson for the world. The world should be aware that the super storms, which include a dry planet, are going to be a threat. We've seen much of that in California, but here we are in the most isolated land mass in the world that took one of our towns from us.

So, please, everyone, begin for that -- begin to have that conversation with us. Let us share with you the consequences of not -- not addressing global warming in each and every one of your communities.

BLITZER: Governor Josh Green, thank you very much for updating our viewers. We really appreciate it.

And to our viewers, for more information on how you can actually help the Hawaii wildfire victims, go to or text Hawaii to 707070 to donate.

And we'll be right back.



BLITZER: U.S. Army Private Travis King's mother is calling on North Korea to treat her son humanely after a state media report confirmed the missing soldier crossed into the country last month. Meanwhile, the U.S. government is still trying to negotiate his release.

CNN's Will Ripley is covering the story for us.

What's the latest, Will?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Travis King's family as not had a phone call. They haven't had any word, Wolf, until yesterday, when North Korean state media reported for the first time that Travis King was in custody.


RIPLEY (voice-over): Tonight, the U.S. is trying to break down diplomatic barriers, struggling to open a direct line of communication with North Korea, the reclusive regime confirming an American soldier detained for the first time in four decades, claiming in state media, U.S. Army Private Travis King illegally intruded into North Korean territory, expressing willingness to seek refuge to escape inhumane maltreatment and racial discrimination within the U.S. Army.

The Pentagon cannot confirm King's comments. The Swedish diplomats and the U.N. Command acting as intermediaries, since the U.S. and North Korea have no formal diplomatic ties.

CLAUDINE GATES, TRAVIS KING'S MOTHER: I just want my son back, get my son home.

RIPLEY: In the days and weeks since he disappeared, desperate pleas from Private King's family in Wisconsin.

JAQUEDA GATES, TRAVIS KING'S SISTER: Reach out to my mom and let her hear his voice. You know, he's not the type that just disappeared.

RIPLEY: King did disappear. Last month, after 50 days and a South Korean jail for assault, he was supposed to fly home to face military discipline. Instead, King snuck out at the airport, joining a tour of the heavily armed Korean border, sprinting across the military demarcation line, vanishing into North Korean custody.

Other detained Americans have spent months, even years in North Korean prisons, some only released with the help of former U.S. presidents like Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter. Only a handful of U.S. soldiers have ever crossed into North Korea, the sons of James Dresnok, an American soldier facing court martial who defected in 1962, appeared in this propaganda video six years ago.

With relations at its lowest point in years, analysts say King's captivity is propaganda coup for Pyongyang, playing right into their anti-U.S. narrative, ahead of this week's crucial U.N. Security Council meeting on North Korean human rights, the first in more than five years. North Korea often cites racial discrimination and gun violence in the U.S. to distract from its own dismal human rights record, making Private King a valuable, political pawn, analysts say, an American soldier in North Korean custody with no end in sight.


RIPLEY (on camera): Wolf, a lot of people who follow the story bleed that it's possible that Travis King can appear and some point North Korean state media. I've interviewed a number of Americans held in North Korea over the years, going back nine years ago when I talked to Kenneth Bae, Jeffrey Fowle and Matthew Miller, and after months in total isolation, all three of them, for whatever the reasons going into North Korea, were glad to get out. We'll see if that is also true for this American soldier.

BLITZER: Let's hope he gets out soon.

Will Ripley, thank you very much.

To our viewers, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in the situation room. And this note, I'll be back at 10:00 p.m. Eastern Time for CNN "PRIMETIME". Among my guests, Republican presidential candidate Asa Hutchinson.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.