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Judge Rules At Least Two Georgia Defendants To Go On Trial October 23; Special Counsel Intends To Indict Hunter Biden Within Weeks; Prison Releases Video Showing Fugitive Murderer's Escape; Blinken Visits Ukraine As Russia Launches Deadly Missile Strike; McConnell Addresses Freezing Incidents In Senate GOP Meeting. Aired 6- 7p ET

Aired September 06, 2023 - 18:00   ET




WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, two of Donald Trump's co- defendants in Georgia are set to stand trial next month, as the judge refuses to separate the cases of Sidney Powell and Kenneth Cheseboro. Stand by for all the big takeaways from the first televised hearing in the election subversion case and the critical decisions expected in the coming days.

Also tonight, breaking news, a new court filing reveals that the special counsel investigating Hunter Biden intends to indict the president's son on at least one gun charge within a matter of weeks.

And a Pennsylvania prison just released video showing a fugitive killer's brazen escape climbing up a wall before he fled from the roof. We're tracking the week-long manhunt for a very dangerous murderer.

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 an early and important new ruling by the judge presiding over the Georgia election subversion case, the hearing playing out on live television and offering clues, important clues about critical decisions ahead, including when Donald Trump might stand trial.

We have a team of legal and political experts ready to break it all down for us. First, let's go to CNN's Senior Legal Affairs Correspondent Paula Reid.

Paula, tell our viewers all that we learned from this very important and historic hearing today.

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, this was the first hearing before Judge Scott McAfee. He will oversee this trial or trials, as it may be. And prosecutors revealed that they intend to call around 150 witnesses and expect that a trial or trials could take around four months.

But, Wolf, it's clear that the judge still has some questions about exactly how prosecutors will be able to try 19 defendants all at once.


JUDGE SCOTT MCAFEE, FULTON COUNTY SUPERIOR COURT: So, based on what's been presented today, I'm not finding the severance from Mr. Cheseboro or Powell is necessary to achieve a fair determination of the guilt or innocence for either defendant in this case.

REID (voice over): Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee in court Wednesday, giving the first glimpse into how he plans to handle the sweeping election subversion case in Georgia, all in front of cameras allowed in the courtroom. McAfee ruling Wednesday that defendants Kenneth Cheseboro and Sidney Powell, who both filed for a speedy trial, cannot be separated and will stand trial together in a matter of weeks.

SCOTT GRUBMAN, ATTORNEY FOR KENNETH CHESEBORO: Obviously, we're a little disappointed. We filed a motion and it was denied. However, we respect the court's ruling.

REID: Now, the issue before the court will be whether it's realistic that all 19 defendants, including former President Donald Trump, be tried together.

GRUBMAN: To say that all 19 defendants should be tried together, including ones that don't want to avail themselves of the speedy trial demand, is really just nonsensical.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has said from the beginning she wants to do just that.

FANI WILLIS, FULTON COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Do I intend to try the 19 defendants in this indictment together? Yes.

REID: But the judge expressing skepticism in court Wednesday about that plan and whether they can put on a massive trial for all the defendants as soon as October 23rd, the date now on the calendar for Cheseboro and Powell.

MCAFEE: It just seems a bit unrealistic to think that we can handle all 19 in 40-something days. Are we even delaying the inevitable? If we say there's no severance, aren't we going to have 17 defense attorneys get up here and file motions for a continuum just saying they're not ready?

REID: This, as some defendants, like Trump's former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, are trying to get their cases moved to federal court.

MCAFEE: I think we've already had some counsel indicating they're on trial in other cases in federal court.


REID (on camera): And just a few moments ago, the district attorney, Fani Willis, began advocating for protections for any potential jurors who serve on this case, saying that their identities should be protected, arguing that the effect on jurors' ability to decide the issues before them, impartially and without influence, would undoubtedly be placed in jeopardy, both placing them in physical danger and materially affecting all of the defendants' constitutional right to affair and impartial jury.


And, Wolf, of course, this comes after the members of the grand jury that handed up this indictment, they have been doxxed and some of them have faced threats online.

BLITZER: Indeed, they have. Paula, stay with us as more experts join our conversation, including former top officials in Georgia. Sam Olens, you're the former Georgia Attorney General. Powell and Cheseboro will stand trial together next month, we're told, but we still don't know about the other 17 co-defendants. Could all of them, do you believe, still stand trial together?

SAM OLENS, FORMER GEORGIA ATTORNEY GENERAL: No, sir. You've got the Mark Meadows motion for removal that we're waiting for a decision from Judge Jones. Whoever wins or loses will then go to the 11th Circuit. You have at least four other defendants that similarly have filed or will file motions to remove to federal court too. None of those matters would be available for trial by the end of this year.

BLITZER: Interesting. Riah Greathouse, you used to work as an assistant Fulton County district attorney. Fulton County prosecutors, as you know, said the trial will take at least four months and include 150 witnesses. The judge even said the trial could last eight months. Were you surprised by that?

RIAH GREATHOUSE, FORMER FULTON COUNTY ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY: No, not at all. I think that if you look at the course of a normal trial and jury selection, you have to account for that. But something to this magnitude, when you look at the current YSL trial, the now infamous (INAUDIBLE) here in Atlanta, jury selection alone -- point.

So, it's going to be called to the point and qualify a jury, 12, non- biased able-bodied individuals who can sit and give a verdict on this trial. So, I think that that's something that you have to take into account as well as the pending motions, as we stated before.

So, I think that it's very optimistic. I think it's very reasonable for D.A. Willis to think that in four months that all that's going to be accomplished. So, I think that even eight months is optimistic.

BLITZER: Really? All right, interesting. Geoff Duncan, this, as you know, was the first televised hearing in a case involving the former president, Donald Trump. But what's your takeaway from what we saw today?

GEOFF DUNCAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, today was a small microcosm of what it's going to look like over the next 12-plus months for Donald Trump and for the country, quite honestly, to watch these facts and details be put on display. I did think it was it was somewhat amusing, maybe comical in some light at Cheseboro and Sidney Powell's attorneys were kind of quietly, professionally trying to distance themselves from each other, you know, basically saying the other party was more culpable than we are and they didn't want to be together. I can't imagine a worse person to have to sit by and testify and be able to protect my freedom than Sidney Powell just based upon the way she acted during the during the 2020 fallout.

BLITZER: It's interesting, Gloria, that this was truly an extraordinary and fascinating look at the American criminal justice system in action on live T.V. and it involved a former U.S. president. I think we've never seen anything like this before, have we?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: No, we haven't, and we're in store for more. I mean, what we are going to see at some point is the scope of this conspiracy that's been alleged, if you're going to have 150 witnesses called. And I think what just struck me was the fact that this is a very complex case and that what she's trying to do, Fani Willis, is spin a narrative for the American people about a conspiracy to overturn a fair election.

And my question is, how effective -- just let's say all of them are on trial together, how effective can you be if these defendants are fighting each other and saying, well, you know, I didn't really know her, she was somebody who spun these crazy stories, Cheseboro really wasn't involved. And I think a lot of these defendants are going to turn on each other.

So, Fani Willis, no matter how many defendants she has, is going to have a hard time spinning a narrative that's kind of easy to digest and understand and even agree with for the American people.

BLITZER: You know, it's interesting, Paula, that three more defendants in the Georgia election subversion case are now seeking to separate their cases as well. What is the significance you think of that?

REID: Well, it's clear why prosecutors want to pursue a RICO case. They can bring evidence from other states. There are steeper penalties. It allows them to tell a more comprehensive story and a narrative at trial. But it's also clear to see why some lawyers and some defendants would not want to be part of a 19-defendant RICO case.

They're going to argue that their client or clients don't need to sit there through all this other evidence to these various conspiracies that have all been joined in this massive case.


But they're going to have to make an argument that is more compelling than what attorneys for Powell and Cheseboro put forward today, because, obviously, the judge was not persuaded, but he did signal that he expected other people will try to sever as well.

BLITZER: Interesting. Sam, you mentioned the Meadows case earlier. What's your prediction for the ruling there? Will it move from a state court to a federal court?

OLENS: So, my educated opinion is that it will not be successful, but having said that, you'll still have an appeal to the 11th Circuit. It's hard for me to imagine that flying to Georgia to look at an audit or being on a phone call with the President when he asked to find votes is consistent with the position of chief of staff for the president of the United States.

BLITZER: Yes, that's an important point as well.

Geoff, how realistic is it for the Fulton County District Attorney's Office to try this case multiple times?

DUNCAN: Well, I'm certainly not a lawyer. Sam Olens or others might be more qualified. But, certainly, it seems like a herculean task, right? There're so many details and facts and figures.

I think what might simplify this case for Fani. Willis, and it was just mentioned a moment ago, is that you're going to start to see more and more of these indicted individuals and unnamed co-conspirators start to really want to cooperate.

Nobody cares about impressing Donald Trump anymore. Not a single person under indictment really cares anything about Donald Trump's future. And so I think you're going to start to see the case get simplified over time.

And, look, it's going to take text message, one email, one voicemail, something simple is going to be the tipping point. And I certainly had a front row seat for the sloppiness of this entire coordinated effort to overturn the election unlawfully.

BLITZER: Interesting, indeed. All right, everybody stand by. There's also a significant new development in another criminal case against Donald Trump, a new filing revealing a Mar-a-Lago worker is now cooperating with the special counsel's classified documents investigation.

Plus, how a convicted murderer crab walked his way up a wall and escaped from prison. The new video and an update of the manhunt, that's just ahead.



BLITZER: Tonight, the first public confirmation that the special counsel, Jack Smith, has won the cooperation of a key witness in his prosecution of Donald Trump. A new court filing revealing a Mar-a-Lago I.T. worker has now struck a deal with federal prosecutors in the Trump classified documents investigation and has now agreed to testify.

Let's go back to CNN's Paula Reid. Paula, what more can you tell us about this agreement to flip on Trump? It's pretty significant. REID: The special counsel has secured really this key cooperating witness. Yuscil Taveras oversees surveillance footage as part of his work as an I.T. professional at Mar-a-Lago. And we know surveillance. Footage is at the heart of this case, allegations that there were attempts to destroy or even conceal the surveillance footage at key points in the course of this investigation.

Now, we've learned that Mr. Taveras, he came to this conclusion that he was going to testify in the case and cooperate after being threatened with prosecution. And that's notable because Trump's co- defendant, Walt Nauta, also faced that same threat, but he did not flip. So, the fact that prosecutors have secured this witness is a significant victory for them.

One thing that could complicate this, though, is that both Walt Nauta and Yuscil Taveras were represented for a time by the same attorney, Stan Woodward, who is paid by a Trump-aligned PAC.

Now, before he flipped, Mr. Taveras changed attorneys, and that's when this deal was offered and made. But this could complicate a potential trial. This is something that right now the judge wants to hear briefings from both sides about whether this is a conflict of interest, because, possibly, Stan Woodward could have to cross-examine his own client at some point.

BLITZER: Interesting. Norm Eisen, how significant do you think it is this cooperation agreement between this Mar-a-Lago I.T. worker and the special counsel, Jack Smith?

NORM EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Wolf, it's significant, it's a break for the prosecution. Prosecutors always want to have cooperators from inside a conspiracy. And the allegation in the superseding indictment is that Mr. Taveras was told by one of the defendants, Mr. De Oliveira, that the boss, allegedly Donald Trump, wanted this security footage deleted. This was at a very active time after the government was seeking records during the pendency of this case.

So, big break for the prosecution, but it comes with complications.

BLITZER: It's a big break, indeed. Do you think it could spur some other of Trump's co-defendants, to flip, to cooperate with the prosecution, to cooperate in exchange for either a reduced sentence or no criminal charges at all?

EISEN: Wolf, having represented criminal defendants for more than three decades, I have been amazed that Mr. Nauta and Mr. De Oliveira, secondary participants in this conspiracy, who face potentially years and years in jail, haven't yet cooperated. It appears they've remained loyal to Donald Trump. But, yes, this could be the first domino that topples others.

The deals probably will not be as good for them as Mr. Taveras, who reportedly is not going to have to face any kind of a sanction. He's just a cooperator.

BLITZER: Interesting. Geoff Duncan, Donald Trump was asked during an interview today about whether he would testify in his own defense. I want you to listen to what he actually said. Listen to this.


HUGH HEWITT, HOST, THE HUGH HEWITT SHOW: If you have to go to trial, will you testify in your own defense?


HEWITT: You'll take the stand?


TRUMP: That I look forward to.


BLITZER: I'll note that Trump also said he wanted to testify in the Mueller investigation, as a lot of us remember, but never did. What's your reaction to this?

DUNCAN: Well, he may have to testify because he might be the only person to testify on his own behalf by the time this is over with. I mean, put yourself in the shoes of this entry level I.T. worker that simply just followed orders of his boss, and maybe his boss' boss, as it's been described. And he's being faced with either telling the truth or going to jail for an extended period of time and train- wrecking his life.

And think about what that message sends to all these other folks and all these other cases, that in their world, they probably felt like they were just falling in line with what the protocols took their job description toward.

And I think you're going to see this replicate itself over and over and over again. And it really shows to the political weight of these legal processes that are playing out and how they continue to swallow up Donald Trump. I mean, he's only, by my math, I think he's averaging less than one campaign event a week right now, and there's no way to win a presidency in that type of campaign activity. And we're just getting started. We're doing pre-trial motions right now for all.

BLITZER: Interesting. Paula, in a new filing, the special counsel, Jack Smith, is now accusing Trump of making daily statements that threaten to prejudice the jury pool in the election subversion case. How significant do you think this is?

REID: Yes, this was a reference in just one line of an entire proceeding that's under seal. So, we don't know the full context of exactly what they were talking about here, but we do know that even that portion of a line speaks to a larger issue, which is where the January 6th case is going to be held, where are they going to find a jury. Because we know the former president is going to argue that he cannot get a fair trial here in Washington, D.C. because the jury pool is quite tainted against him.

So, we know that that is going to be an argument that they intend to make going forward and here you can see prosecutors trying to get ahead of that and reminding the court that, look, if there is any prejudice, part of it comes from statements that you constantly make.

So, I think that's the primary thing we can glean and it's unclear if we're going to get more information about that larger dispute that's happening under seal. That's going to be up to a judge in the coming weeks.

BLITZER: Interesting, indeed. All right, guys, thank you very much.

Coming up, there's breaking news on the investigation of Hunter Biden. An indictment now appears likely before the end of the month.

And a Pennsylvania prison offers video and a detailed explanation of a murderer's escape up a wall, across a roof, and through barbed wires. Stay with us.



BLITZER: There's late breaking news in the special counsel investigation of Hunter Biden, a new court filing revealing plans to indict the president's son, and to do so soon.

CNN Senior Justice Correspondent Evan Perez is working the story. He's with me here in THE SITUATION ROOM. How soon could Hunter Biden actually be charged?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: By the end of the month, Wolf. The special counsel, David Weiss, is saying that under the Speedy Trial Act, the requirements are for the government to have to return an indictment by Friday, September 29th, at the earliest.

Now, the statute of limitations for this alleged crime is just within a couple of weeks after that in October. So, they do have to move quickly. This is a felony and what Hunter Biden is accused of is of lying on the form when he bought the firearm.

There's a form you fill out. And one of the things is that you say that you're not addicted to drugs. Of course, we know that from Hunter Biden's own statements, from a book that he wrote, from interviews he's given that he was struggling with drug abuse at the time that he bought this firearm.

We just got a response from Hunter Biden's attorney, and he says that they believe that the diversion agreement, this was an agreement that they had made with prosecutors under which this charge would go away, they believe that this remains valid and prevents any additional charges from being filed against Mr. Biden.

They say that he's been abiding by the conditions of the release under that agreement over the last several weeks, including regular visits at the probation office. And so they don't believe that there can be any additional charges.

What we don't know, Wolf, is what else the prosecutor, David, Weiss is looking to do with regard to Hunter Biden.

BLITZER: How much legal jeopardy do you think, Evan, Hunter Biden is facing beyond this one expected indictment?

PEREZ: Well, we know that he was being investigated for tax crimes. This is partly what was being resolved under that plea agreement that collapsed spectacularly in court just a few weeks ago.

So, we don't know whether those charges are still pending, whether they will be brought in the District of Columbia and/or Southern District of California or rather Central District of California, which is where those alleged crimes took place. That is still a possibility.

And, of course, the other thing that happens when you appoint a special counsel is you don't know where else the investigation could go. Again, there could be other things that he decides he could investigate, including foreign lobbying allegations.

BLITZER: Interesting, indeed. All right, Evan, thank you very much for that report.

Let's get some more on all of this. Joining us now, the defense attorney, Shan Wu, and CNN's Senior Political Analyst Gloria Borger.

Shan, Hunter Biden previously reached this deal to avoid prosecution, but now we see what's going on. What's your assessment of how serious this is?

SHAN WU, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, it's certainly a serious form, but it really reflects at a deeper level the breakdown of communications between the defense and the prosecution here.


The Speedy Trial Act is being put forth as the reason why they're indicting. That's something which they could have gone to the Biden team and asked for them to go before the judge to extend that. So, this to me indicates they're not really talking anymore.

I think Lowell's statement has some traction to it, which is they're probably --

BLITZER: Abbe Lowell, the lawyer for Hunter Biden.

WU: Exactly. His defense team is -- looks like they're going to argue that you can't retract a diversion agreement. He hasn't done anything to violate it at this point.

And an interesting footnote to that, you recall one of the judges' concerns that caused some of the breakdown in the plea agreement was whether the judge was agreeing that you could wrap the diversion agreement into the tax charges or whether the diversion agreement was something the judge had no say so over. That suggests that agreement continues to live.

BLITZER: Do you think, Gloria, that this potential upcoming indictment of Hunter Biden will tamp down Republican efforts to go after Hunter Biden and accuse everyone of suggesting he's receiving preferential treatment?

BORGER: No, absolutely not. I think Republicans, if there is an indictment on the gun charge, Republicans will applaud that and say, finally, but don't forget, they've got their own investigations going on, on his financial dealings with China, with Ukraine, and whether or not his father was involved. And I think they're going to go full steam ahead. They're very committed to it. And they'll say, good on this and move on.

BLITZER: Yes, there's more. What kind of complications do you think the prosecutors could face right now moving forward, Shan?

WU: Well, the first one's going to be the legal fight over whether they can move forward despite the fact that they had this diversion agreement.

The second problem is going to be that this has been a case which has gone on for five years. They should have resolved it by now. The fact that it's fallen apart and now they have to potentially go to trial, it's hard to reconstruct all this in the sense of getting ready for trial if you are ready to resolve it with these pleas. They kind of have to reinvent the wheel at this point.

BLITZER: Do you think, Gloria, as you know, some House Republicans, they want to move with an impeachment procedure against the president of the United States, do you think this indictment of the President's son will slow things down on that front?

BORGER: No. No. I think they are going to continue with some Republicans -- not all Republicans, by the way, in the House, but some Republicans in the House are very serious about this impeachment proceeding. They want to convince McCarthy that you've got to do it. He seems to be bending to their will to a certain degree. And I think they are going to continue to stir the pot on this.

And don't forget, the impeachment proceeding involves Afghanistan, for example, doesn't necessarily involve Hunter Biden. So, they are going to grab on to whatever they can and continue to do that.

I don't think this is the end at all for Hunter Biden in terms of Congress. And I don't think it's the end for Joe Biden, either, in terms of his relationship with his son and Republicans in Congress.

BLITZER: When you say Afghanistan, you mean the sloppy withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

Gloria and Shan, guys, thank you very much.

Just ahead, newly released video, very dramatic video, shows the moment of very dangerous killer climbed up the wall as he made a brazen escape from prison.

We'll go to Pennsylvania for a live report. That's coming up.



BLITZER: Pennsylvania officials released very dramatic video today showing the moment a dangerous convicted murderer made his escape from prison.

Brian Todd is on the ground in Pennsylvania covering the story for us. Brian, what's the latest?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, if we have new details tonight on that extraordinary video on the sequence of Danelo Cavalcante's escape and on this widening and intensifying manhunt. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice over): This is the moment convicted murderer Danelo Cavalcante escaped from Chester County Prison in Pennsylvania, prompting an intense manhunt that is now in its seventh day. From the exercise area, he crab walked up the wall and apparently dropped down the other side.

HOWARD HOLLAND, ACTING WARDEN, CHESTER COUNTY PRISON: Cavalcante escapes from the prison, having crab-walked up a wall, pushes way through a razor wire, run across the roof, scale another fence, and pushes way through more razor wire.

TODD: A tower guard in an observation post did not see the escape and has been put on administrative leave. It took an hour until the prison was locked down and an alarm was sounded. Furthermore, authorities admit in May, another inmate briefly escaped by the exact same route. Since then, the only step taken to address the weak point, additional razor wire was installed.

HOLLAND: While we believe the security measures we had in place were sufficient, they've proven otherwise.

TODD: Meanwhile, the search area again growing today after another sighting reported last night. Unlike Monday's sighting, this one in a creek bed by a resident was not caught on camera.

Any traces of him left anywhere?

LT. COL. GEORGE BIVENS, PENNSYLVANIA STATE POLICE: Yes, there have been footprints and there have been other indicators to us that he's passed through a certain area. We've had a number of dog scent trails that we have followed for quite some time.

TODD: Hundreds of officers, plus dogs and drones and helicopters, continue to search. At roadblocks and checkpoints, CNN observed police searching vehicles, opening trunks and checking back seats.

BIVENS: He'll make that mistake that we're pushing him hard so that he makes, or there will be some piece of other type of evidence that points us to him.

TODD: Two school districts again closed today. Reverse 911 calls, warning residents in the area.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you see this individual, do not approach him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Locking everything, locking the cars at night.


I've been checking out all the woods.

TODD: The risk --

BIVENS: He is a violent individual. If given the opportunity, I believe he would use as much violence as he needed to or could to avoid capture.

TODD: Cavalcante escaped prison last Thursday, just over a week after he was sentenced to life without parole for the 2021 murder of his former girlfriend, Deborah Brandao. Authorities say she discovered he was wanted on murder charges in Brazil. Her sister tells CNN he had become suspicious and jealous.

SARAH BRANDAO, SISTER WAS MURDERED BY ESCAPEE: There were threats, like if you ever cheat on me, I'll do the worst to you, these types of things.

TODD: Now that he escaped, she is scared.

BRANDAO: I haven't slept for many days since then. I nap and I wake up afraid.


TODD: Now, while law enforcement officials are concerned that this manhunt could come to a violent end, given Danelo Cavalcante's violent history, Lieutenant Colonel George Bivens of the Pennsylvania State Police told me right now they do not have any indication that he has a weapon on him. But, Wolf, they are concerned that he could obtain one. He has been seen near several homes.

TODD: It's a very serious, dangerous situation unfolding. Brian Todd, thank you very much.

For more on this important story, I'm joined by CNN Senior Law Enforcement Analyst Charles Ramsey. I'm also joined by Criminologist and Attorney Casey Jordan, Chief Ramsey.

What do you make of how easily Cavalcante crab-walked up the wall to escape from that prison?

CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I mean, obviously, it never should have happened. You have to even challenge the design at the facility to have walls that close together where a prisoner could actually do that. And, in fact, this was the second time a prisoner had done something similar to that.

Fortunately, the first guy was observed and he was captured pretty quickly. This individual obviously is still on the loose.

So, there's a lot of questions that have to be answered on this one, and I'm sure some heads will roll eventually. But right now, the focus has to be on capturing this individual as soon, as quickly as possible. He's a very dangerous individual. He is on the loose. He is desperate. And, you know, a person could really be in harm's way if they come across him.

TODD: Casey, what can authorities glean from this video, this very dramatic video, and what does it say about the suspect's overall profile?

CASEY JORDAN, CRIMINOLOGIST: He's a very intelligent man. And you have to remember that he's wanted in Brazil for murder. He was convicted of the murder of his girlfriend within 15 minutes. He did not want to go to prison for the rest of his life.

And from the moment he walked into that facility, he was, for lack of a better phrase, casing the joint. He had probably been down that hallway a number of times, had scoped out the roof, determined that he could survive pushing through the razor wire.

Again, he's only five feet tall, 120 pounds. He's a tiny guy. And he may have even heard about the escape that happened virtually the same way just a month or two ago.

So, his brain was working from the moment he walked into that facility. He planned to get out. And now he is out and it's been almost a week. He's evaded capture even though we've seen him six times.

So, don't underestimate how clever and conniving he is and also, again, how determined and desperate. I think if they close in on him, he won't go down without a fight. They have to consider that he could take a hostage, that he may have knives or weapons. He may have stolen from some of these burglaries he's suspected in. He is incredibly dangerous. But I think he will screw up or get very tired. And I think they will get him soon.

TODD: We shall see. Chief Ramsey, you're the police chief here in Washington, D.C., as well as in Philadelphia. This manhunt is now entering its seventh day and authorities have expanded the search area. Just how troubling is this?

RAMSEY: Well, these things are difficult. I mean, you had very difficult terrain, variety of different terrains from forests to open fields, corn fields and so forth. It's a very large area. So, it's been very, very difficult for them to be able to narrow in on this individual.

But the good news is that apparently he's still not that far from the prison. And so they're just going to continue to tighten the perimeter. They're using dogs. They're using helicopters that I'm sure have the capability of detecting body heat. They're doing everything they possibly can to try to catch this individual. But he is desperate and he's already broken into a couple of houses apparently. Not hard to get your hands on a knife at the very least. Hopefully, he's not able to get hold of a cell phone where he could call a friend and maybe that's why they're searching for person in trunks and so forth.

So, there's still a lot that has to be done. And the longer this goes, the more difficult it becomes.

TODD: You know, Casey, we all just heard the sister of Cavalcante's victim describe how she's been living in fear since his escape.


What does that tell you about how dangerous he is?

JORDAN: Well, again, he killed his girlfriend, stabbing her 34 times, because she threatened to call authorities on him and turn him in when she found out he was wanted in Brazil for a totally different murder. The overkill in that, the rampage, shows that he will not hesitate to use violence to get away with things. I mean, he's truly fearless.

So I think the people who know him do have reason to be afraid, especially if he might come to them seeking revenge or looking for shelter.

BLITZER: Yeah, he killed his girlfriend in front of her two children, which is really, really awful, obviously.

Charles Ramsey, Casey Jordan, thank you very much.

Just ahead, a deadly Russian missile strike at a crowded market in Ukraine, as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken makes a surprise visit.



BLITZER: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken makes an unannounced visit to Ukraine while a deadly Russian military strike kills at least 17 people.

CNN's Melissa Bell is covering the story for us. She's joining us from Kyiv right now.

Melissa, what's the latest?

MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this was one of the worst attacks on civilians in months and it came, of course, even as Secretary Blinken was here to announce a fresh aid package. It is a billion dollars that he's announced to help with the counteroffensive. Much of that military spending, some of it for humanitarian aid, but much of it made up of Pentagon stockpiles aimed at breaching those Russian defenses that Ukrainians have been having such trouble with, and if a reminder were needed even as he landed why he was coming here, the Russians more than delivered. Not just strikes here on Moscow overnight ahead of his arrival, but during his visit, that attack, one of the worst as I say that we've seen in months.


BELL (voice-over): The moment a peaceful market was flattened.

A CCTV footage posted by the Ukrainian president even as he prepared to meet with Washington's top diplomat. The Russian missile killed at least 17 people including a child, in an industrial town just 19 miles from Bakhmut.

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We know that area very well. We understand that they delivered a deliberate strike.

BELL: One of the deadliest attacks in months came just hours after the Kremlin warned that the United States was intent on keeping the war going until the last Ukrainian.

DMITRY PESKOV, KREMLIN SPOKESPERSON: They are essentially going to keep Ukraine in a state of war and wage and continue this war until the last Ukrainian without sparing any money for it.

BELL: Moscow's reaction as Secretary of State Blinken arrived in Kyiv, his third visit to the city since the war began.

ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: We are determined in the United States to continue to walk side by side with Kyiv.

BELL: The aim of Blinken's trip are, to align Washington and Kyiv's message ahead of the general assembly in New York next week, but also to announce fresh support that will include depleted u depleted uranium munitions, a controversial addition to Ukraine's arsenal that's expected this fall.

BLINKEN: In the ongoing counteroffensive, progress has accelerated in the past few weeks. This new assistance will help sustain it and build further momentum.

BELL: The boots on the ground meanwhile turning their focus to expanding their recent gains in the south after breaching Russian defenses in the Zaporizhzhia village over Robotyne, a tactical retreat claims Moscow to do with withdrawing to nearby hills for a height advantage.

In the east, the situation is more difficult for Ukrainian forces, a Ukrainian commander saying the enemies is not abandoning its plans and is stubbornly preparing to take revenge.

A warning president Zelenskyy is likely to take to New York as he calls on western allies to stand not only firm, but ever firmer.


BELL (on camera): One other takeaway, Wolf, from this visit from Secretary Blinken, that he's announced that money seized from oligarchs will be used to help military veterans here in Ukraine. Those who paid for this war and those who enabled this war, rather, he said, should be the ones to pay for it, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Melissa Bell, in Ukraine, thank you very much.

And we'll be right back.



BLITZER: Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell met with his GOP colleagues today for the first time since suffering another freezing episode.

CNN's Manu Raju is up on Capitol Hill.

Manu, take us inside this private meeting and what Senator McConnell is now saying publicly.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, he provided some more details privately but not a whole lot publicly. Talking for about five minutes to his Republican colleagues about those health episodes saying that it was only those two times he's ever frozen like that as he did before the cameras and he indicated he's still suffering some effects from the concussion that he suffered back in March.

Now, he also pointed repeatedly to a letter released yesterday from Brian Monahan, the Capitol Hill physician, ruling out some major issues such as a stroke, or seizure disorder or Parkinson's disease. That's what he pointed to again and again when asked about it today. Because I asked him directly about what the precise reason was for his freezing episode, something the letter did not address but he still indicated the letter should resolve all lingering questions.


RAJU: What have doctors said is the precise medical reason for those two freeze ups?

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): What Dr. Monahan's report addressed was concerns people might have if some things that happened to me, did happen -- they didn't. And really, I have nothing to add to that. I think you pretty well covered the subject.

I'm going to finish my term as leader and I'm going to finish my Senate term.


RAJU: So that last comment, one that prompted a lot of questions within the Capitol as well. How long will Senate Republican leader McConnell stay. He made clear there, Wolf, that he plans to stay in his current seat until it expires at the end of 2026 and stay as Republican leader until the end of 2024. But what will he do in 2025? That's still an open question -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Interesting.

All right. Manu, thank you very much. Manu Raju, up on Capitol Hill.

And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.