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Ex-Trump Adviser Peter Navarro Guilty Of Contempt Of Congress; New CNN Poll Raises Red Flags For Biden's 2024 Hopes; Police Say, Every Reason To Believe Escaped Killer Still In Area; Ukrainian Drone Attack Causes Explosion Near Russian Military HQ. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired September 07, 2023 - 18:00   ET




WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news. Former Trump adviser Peter Navarro was found guilty of contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena in the House investigation of the January 6th attack. Will it send a message to potential witnesses in the multiple criminal trials Trump is now facing?

Also tonight, CNN's exclusive new poll is raising red flags for President Biden's re-election campaign as it's now being held. His approval rating sinks and Democrats' concerns about his age, his priorities, and his policies are on the rise.

And a full week after a murderer's brazen escape from a Pennsylvania prison, police believe he's still in the area and may have been cited once again today. How has he been able to elude a massive manhunt for so long?

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

And let's get right to the breaking news. The second Trump senior ally convicted of contempt of Congress for stonewalling the January 6th select committee investigation.

CNN's Senior Justice Correspondent Evan Perez is joining us right now. He's got details on this important verdict. Evan?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. The jury deliberated just a few hours today before rendering this verdict guilty on two counts of contempt of Congress. Peter Navarro received a subpoena from the committee that was investigating the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol.

This subpoena was from 2022, and he declined to cooperate. He didn't show up for their request for testimony. He also declined to provide documents that the committee was requesting. And as a result, the Justice Department said that you can't do that. You can't just ignore a lawful subpoena from a Congressional committee, and that's the reason why they brought this case. Now, one of the things that Navarro was arguing was that the testimony and the documents that were in question were actually subject to executive privilege from the former president. Of course, the former president never actually asserted that in this case, Wolf, and that's one reason why the judge did not allow for Peter Navarro to actually present that as part of his argument, as part of his defense in court.

Now, Navarro faces a lot of different issues. He also -- these same documents that he refused to turn over to the committee are also being sought by Jack Smith and the Justice Department as part of their efforts to get a hold of documents that he took after he left the White House. And so you can see he has a lot of legal problems on his hands.

He addressed at reporters at the end of today's proceeding and spoke about his relationship with the former president.


PETER NAVARRO, FORMER AIDE TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: President Trump has been a rock in terms of assistance. We talk when we need to talk. He will win the president's race in 2024 in November. You know why? Because the people are tired of Joe Biden weaponizing courts like this and the Department of Justice.


PEREZ: And we expect from what Mr. Navarro said after court, we expect that he will appeal this ruling or this verdict today.

Wolf, we should note that you mentioned this is the second former aide of the former president to be convicted on these same charges. Steve Bannon was all similarly convicted here in Washington and he's appealing that conviction.

BLITZER: Evan, there are also some new and important developments from the Fulton County district attorney, Fani Willis. What can you tell us?

PEREZ: Well, that's right. She is pushing back against efforts from Jim Jordan, who is running a committee here in Congress, the Judiciary Committee. He wants to investigate the fact that Fani Willis is, of course, indicted the former president and has asked for a series of documents and a lot of questions about her investigation.

And she pushed back very strongly today in a letter to Jordan. I'll read you just a part of what she says. She says, your job description as a legislator does not include criminal law enforcement nor does it include supervising a specific a criminal trial, because you believe that doing so will promote your partisan political objectives.


We should note, Wolf, that this is the second time that the Congressional Republicans have launched investigations of prosecutions that they say they believe are political. One of the things that Fani Willis does in her letter today pushing back against Jim Jordan's request for information is she cites some of the threats that her office is getting, including one that is highly racist. I'll read you just a part of it. It says, we are coming for you, Fani. We are going to -- again, very, very explicit language in that one.

And you can see, Wolf, that what she's saying here is that, as a result of some of the attacks that she's getting, not only from political opponents but also from allies of the former president, she's getting attacks like this anonymously, in some cases, from people who are threatening her, her staff. And that's the reason why we have all this security there.

One last thing I will mention is that we also heard from the former president's legal team. They raised the issue that they've said they're going to try to move the case against the former president to federal court, something that we always anticipated, Wolf.

BLITZER: Evan Perez with the latest on that, thank you very much.

Let's get some more on the breaking news right now. Joining us, Representative Zoe Lofgren, who served on the January 6th House select committee, Congresswoman, thanks so much for joining us.

As you now know, as all of us know, Peter Navarro, he now joins Steve Bannon in being convicted by a jury for refusing to cooperate with your committee. What's your reaction to this verdict?

REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): Well, relief, frankly. It's a just verdict, and it's important. Mr. Navarro was the trade adviser, but his role in the Trump administration was far wider than that. He authored a so- called report that the president carried around undercutting the election. He was connected with Steve Bannon, talking about the green- based sweep. He and Bannon were in cahoots, and, of course, Bannon also refused to come in and testify.

And I'm sure you'll recall Steve Bannon's presentation the day before January 6th, that this is going to be very different than you think.

We had a lot of questions for Navarro and for Bannon they illegally refused to answer. And I'm glad that they're being held to account. It's about upholding the rule of law.

BLITZER: And they've both been convicted now. What kind of message, Congresswoman, do you think this sends to others who may be tempted to defy a Congressional subpoena?

LOFGREN: Well, obviously, the subpoena needs to be well-grounded, as ours was. It needs to be within the confines of the jurisdiction of the committee. But once you're on firm ground and you issue a subpoena, it's not a suggestion. It's a requirement.

BLITZER: Do you expect Peter Navarro and Steve Bannon, for that matter, to ultimately serve time in jail? LOFGREN: Yes, I do. The statute provides for up to a year in custody for each count. Both Mr. Bannon and Mr. Navarro have been convicted of two counts. So, I would guess they will spend some significant time in custody. And, frankly, I think they should, not only because of their illegal activity, but also as a message to others who might think that it's okay to violate the law.

BLITZER: Representatives Zoe Lofgren, thanks so much for joining us.

LOFGREN: You bet. Good to hear you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Let's bring in our correspondents and analysts covering the Trump investigations. Let me start with Laura Coates. Laura of the January 6th committee, it doesn't exist anymore. So, what's the significance of this conviction?

LAURA COATES, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, many of us might remember that for a long time in the recent years, it seemed that a Congressional subpoena meant nothing, right? People were thumbing their nose at it all the time. They assumed they'd be never having any enforcement since the 70s. There hadn't been a lot of enforcement from the DOJ in terms of actually prosecuting. Now, we have not one but two recent advisers of a former president who are being held to account.

And this was not a presentation of evidence by the prosecution to think that it was inadvertent, that somehow, oh, it slipped his mind that you wanted me to appear on one date and I came to the very next date. No, this was somebody who said, I'm not going to appear. I'm not going to explain why. The president of the United States told me that I should not comply with you. And guess what? He was left out to hang dry, right, because you never heard from Trump to support that notion.

The presidential attorney or the executive privilege that you're talking about really belongs to the president of the United States, the current President of the United States. That was always an issue. And he, even as a former, did not assert it for this person.

And so it sends a very clear signal that maybe Congress is back in business, that their subpoena and compliance and contempt referrals will be taken seriously.


It's not without an appeal, but it does send a very strong message.

BLITZER: Andrew McCabe, how do you see it?

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Absolutely the same. And I think the chances that he'll do prison time are pretty good, unless he has the conviction reversed on appeal.

The statute actually carries a mandatory minimum of at least one month in jail for each conviction, and it's of course capped out at a year, so convictions on two counts. He could do anywhere from one month to a year. We know that Steve Bannon has already been sentenced to four months in prison. He hasn't served those yet because his appeal is pending as well, so we'll see how that goes. But, yes, I think prison time is certainly in the cards.

BLITZER: And, Jamie, as you know, he could have avoided all of this had he simply complied with that subpoena and gone ahead and testified.

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Look, other people came in, they took the fifth. He could have done that. You know, as Laura said, you have to show up. No one is above the law. And what this case shows, what this Steve Bannon case shows is, as Laura said, someone is enforcing that now.

BLITZER: Let me turn the corner to the Georgia election subversion case. And, Elliot, let me get your thoughts. Fani Willis, the D.A., she's dismissing Congressman Jordan's request for documents arguing he lacks jurisdiction. Is she on solid ground?

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think she is on solid ground, Wolf. Congress has the ability to investigate matters that touch federal law. Now, Congress can investigate a state and local prosecutor in an instance if they're taking federal funds as to how they're spending federal tax money, but just merely going in and attempting to investigate whether a prosecutor's office, a local prosecutor's office is politicized if they don't like an investigation. That's the role of the Georgia state legislature, not Congress.

Now, they attempted to do this. Congress attempted to do this in the context of the New York prosecution. And it was sort of the same questions there that they did not like the nature of the investigation and tried to open a Congressional investigation.

I worked for Congress. Congress doesn't have limitless power. We might think they do, but they don't. And I think she really is on solid ground here.

COATES: And, by the way, I mean, just think about the racial animus that's involved here. We were talking about these things similar with Alvin Bragg as well, who also had to answer to Congress to tell them to stay in their lane. I mean, the attacks that she is now fending off, the security that has to be increased.

Her role, of course, is to enforce the law on behalf of the people of Fulton County and, of course, Georgia. And what she is confronted with will likely be a part of the underlying conversations at trial. Ultimately, remember, there was a racial undertone in terms of Ruby Freeman and her daughter. There was a racial undertone in terms of targeting particular areas to talk about why those should not be actually valid or fair and free jurisdictions.

So, I think it's going to -- ultimately, a lot of the attacks against her might actually fuel a jury to see this through a particular lens, which would not a nerve the benefit of anyone who is promoting a similar animus.

BLITZER: What do you think of these awful, racist, horrible threats she's getting these emails and she's now asking the judge to make sure to protect the jurors?

MCCABE: She's doing the right thing. It's absolutely horrible. It's also somewhat expected under these circumstances. And the time is now for Fani Willis to take all the steps she thinks are necessary to make sure that her people and her grand jurors, who we know that were identified through the system of the grand jury, are protected.

We know from the past that there is a small number, but a very serious number of supporters of the former president who might be compelled to lead to violence and to express their support of him and their outrage over the way he's being treated. It's not a huge number of people. It's certainly not everybody who ever voted for the president, but those people are out there.

And it is law enforcement's job to make sure that this system can go through to its lawful conclusion and that the people who are charged with presenting cases in court as prosecutors or grand jurors are not victimized as a result of their participation.

BLITZER: It's so important. You've got to protect those jurors and the district attorney and everyone else involved in these cases. Thanks very much, guys.

Important note to our viewers, be sure to join Laura Coates later tonight as she anchors CNN Tonight, 11:00 P.M. Eastern. We'll be watching.

Just ahead, the bad news for President Biden and CNN's exclusive new poll of voters, their views of his time in office and his bid for a second term. Stay with us.



BLITZER: Tonight, President Biden is heading overseas with a bleak new assessment of his political standing just ahead of the 2024 election. CNN's exclusive new poll reveals the scope of voter concerns and discontent with the 46th president of the United States, including within his own Democratic Party.

CNN's Chief National Affairs Correspondent Jeff Zeleny is here with us to break it all down first. Take us inside these numbers, Jeff.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, if we look at the president's approval rating, first and foremost, look at this, 39 percent of Americans approve of the president. That means six in ten Americans, 61 percent disapprove of the president's performance. Not a good sign as he's heading into his re-election.

But if you look inside this a little bit more, this is perhaps one of the most shocking findings in this poll. Democrats only here, these are only Democrats being surveyed, 67 percent say they would like to see a different candidate. Only 33 percent say President Biden. This is certainly a sign of discontent with him. It's not necessarily that they are looking for someone else more specifically, but this is a referendum on him.

One of the biggest advantages, though, certainly going into this re- election for the president, he does not have a serious primary challenge. If he would, that, of course, would be an issue, as history has shown. But this is something that he clearly needs in his own party.


One of the biggest concerns, we asked an open ended question here, again, among Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters, what are your concerns about the president? Age, 49 percent of respondents. Again, an open-ended question said age.

Onto mental sharpness, health, the ability to do your job in popularity, 6 percent. But that age question really sums up a lot of his challenges going into his re-election.

BLITZER: So, what do these numbers mean, bottom line right now, for Biden's efforts to get himself re-elected?

ZELENY: Bottom line, these numbers mean that he has a lot of work to do. These are alarm bells.

The White House, of course, is very well aware of the challenges. They do their own polling. They've seen other surveys. But if we look at the economic conditions, this is something that the White House thinks will actually help him in the long-term, all of the legislation he's done, from the infrastructure bill, to the Inflation Reduction Act, to lowering prescription drugs.

But still, how have Biden's policies affected U.S. economic conditions? 58 percent of Americans believe that they have worsened them.

So, talking to White House advisers today, they believe that they have a messaging challenge of trying to tell Americans that the economic policies have actually benefited them, but that is the challenge here. If Americans don't feel it, it is hard to tell them that. But inflation numbers are still high. It's leveled off, no doubt, but exact prices are high.

But when you look at the choice for president, this is a stark reminder, 47 percent for Donald Trump, 46 percent for Joe Biden. Of course, he has to get through a Republican primary contest. He has many, many challenges on his own. No clear leader here, of course. This is within the margin of error.

But, Wolf, if this is a reminder, a deeply divided country, a pessimistic mood hanging over this. So, for all that the president has done to try and brand Republicans as MAGA and extremists, we are effectively where we left off the last time, a deeply divided electorate.

Again, though, many challenges facing President Biden, and he is trying to -- President Biden is trying to make this a choice selection, certainly not a referendum on him. But all of these findings certainly show the challenges are steep, facing him 14 months from now, the general election. Wolf?

BLITZER: Very steep challenges indeed, Jeff Zeleny, thank you very much.

Let's dive deeper into Biden's numbers with our political team standing by. And, Kayla, Let me start with you. How does the White House address the very significant issues facing President Biden that are outlined in this poll?

KAYLA TAUSCHE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, if the White House believes that the president's record is the best offset to public opinion. They point to his record on legislation in the last two years. And on foreign policy, that's going to be center stage at the G-20.

And they believe that actions speak louder than polls, and that that messaging just needs time to sink in, and that it's going to take several months, not just the one or two months that they've been talking about, so-called Bidenomics.

But the problem, that concern about age is very real, and it's getting more deeply entrenched in voters' psyche. When you think about the question that was asked in the poll about whether Joe Biden is a candidate who has the sharpness and stamina to serve as president effectively, 74 percent of respondents in this poll say that Biden does not. And that's actually up seven points just since March, and that's up by more than 20 points since the last election cycle. So, that's going in the wrong direction for the administration.

And just today, we saw Vice President Kamala Harris on the defensive about the president's mental acuity.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you prepared to be commander-in-chief?

KAMALA HARRIS, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: Yes, I am, if necessary, but Joe Biden is going to be fine. And let me tell you something, I work with Joe Biden every day. The work that under Joe Biden's leadership, our administration has accomplished, is transformative.


TAUSCHE: expect to see a lot more of Vice President Harris stumping and responding to questions on that very topic, Wolf.

BLITZER: Let me get the thoughts from David Axelrod right now. He knows politics. How alarmed, David, should Democrats be right now about these new CNN poll numbers as the president runs for re- election? Should he step aside? DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No. Well, I don't think he will, Wolf, which is -- so I think it's kind of an academic discussion. He's made clear that he's going to run and these polls, this poll is consonant with other polls that we've seen. In fact, since the summer of 2021, he's been hovering around that 40 percent mark in terms of approval rating.

So, you know, what you see in this poll is the country's mood is sour. He's not getting credit for some really substantial accomplishments as president because of it. And there are real and growing concerns about his age. And if, Wolf, a year from now, these numbers are the same, and this were a referendum, he would be in deep, deep trouble. He would not win that.

But it's not a referendum. It's a choice. He's running even with the runaway frontrunner for the Republican nomination. And it hasn't been said yet, but we should, that he has a few problems of his own in the form of 91 felony indictments.


So, you know, I think that's ultimately where this race is going. I think it's going to be a very negative race, a very comparative race.

But in terms of whether he should run, that's -- only Joe Biden can determine that. I've said before, I think this age issue is a difficult one for him. But he, no Democrat is going to challenge Biden because there is a great fear of Trump. And people do not want to weaken the president in a battle with Trump, which many Democrats consider an existential fight for democracy.

So, you know, I think the question is, how will this race form? What kind of strategy should they apply? I don't think that it's likely that this president is going to step aside.

BLITZER: Yes, good point. Bakari Sellers in this new poll, two thirds of Democrats want the party to nominate someone else in 2024. Do you think President Biden should face a primary challenger?

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, definitely not. And the fact is we're here now. You know, we're at this point in time and President Biden is our horse. And we need to all just do everything we can to ensure his success.

I mean, we know the day after King Day, the day after the Iowa caucus, Donald Trump will be anointed the GOP nominee. I mean, if you can't win in Iowa, you're not going to win anywhere else. Donald Trump is going to dominate in Iowa. It's going to be Trump versus Biden part two.

There are a couple of things about this poll, though, I want to point out. There are a couple of just simple facts. This is Joe Biden's floor. In the poll you see, in many polls you see, you see kind of Donald Trump's ceiling. But this is Joe Biden's floor.

This is also Joe Biden's floor. Before you put a billion dollars, and I think Axe is probably more well suited to talk about this than I am, but before you put a billion dollars, with a B, on markets throughout the country, uplifting and talking about the substantive policies and legislation that Joe Biden has passed.

And so Democrats are proverbial bedwetters. We've talked about that for a long period of time. We're going to cry, we're going to pout. We do have an age problem in our party. We have an age problem in American politics. Although our House leadership is extremely young, the names that people rattle off when they talk about leaders of the Democratic Party are old.

But what just evens that out is the fact that Donald Trump is old too. And so that's a moot point. It's not Joe Biden versus DeSantis or Haley. It's Joe Biden versus Trump. Biden wins that match up.

BLITZER: Alyssa Farah Griffin is with us as well. Alyssa, given how voters feel about President Biden right now, is the fact that he's running for re-election giving Trump the opportunity to potentially win the White House once again despite his multiple criminal indictments?

ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think we have to be very clear eyed with the public that these numbers show that Donald Trump could be president again. We just need to kind of accept that reality.

Joe Biden's strongest message, I think, and you saw it in the midterms, was kind of the message about democracy and I'm the person who can defeat Donald Trump. These numbers and many other polls that have been out suggest otherwise.

As much as I would like to agree with my friends on the left here, I have to imagine that a Governor Gretchen Whitmer, a Gavin Newsom, would be polling head-to-head significantly higher than Donald Trump.

And I think it undercuts Democrats' core message, which this is about democracy and the future of the American Republic and keeping a lawless man out of office if you're putting up a candidate who is actually quite weak head-to-head.

But I'd say on the flip side, on the Republican, what I think stood out to me is Nikki Haley, Mike Pence, and Chris Christie all performed stronger head-to-head against Joe Biden than Donald Trump. So, there's some weakness on both sides of the top tier candidates.

And I would just go back to this number we saw earlier this year. Seven in ten Americans did not want to see this rematch that we're careening into and I think our political leaders should really consider that.

BLITZER: Yes, Nikki Haley did really well in this new poll.

AXELROD: Wolf, can I just --

BLITZER: Go ahead. AXELROD: let me just respond to my friend on the right. I never said that -- I never made any suggestion that I didn't think Governor Whitmer or some other candidate might be polling better right now. The question was should he drop out and I said, I don't think he's going to. So, it's an academic discussion.

But I also would say this. One of the things the poll doesn't test is the impact of third parties, and that could be very, very important in a marginal race. And, you know, we have Cornell West running on the Green Party line. We're talking of a No Labels party. This is not advantageous to President Biden.

And if I were sitting in the White House, one of the things I'd be thinking about is how do I defuse that? Because what's clear is there's a lot of discontent. And if it's a choice between two candidates are unhappy with, then there is going to be a lure to either stay home or go to one of these third party candidates.


BLITZER: Yes, that's a good point as well. All right guys, thank you very, very much.

Coming up, we'll go to Pennsylvania, where there's been another sighting of an escaped killer as law enforcement officials are racing to get him back into custody. Lots going on.

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: There has been another apparent sighting today of the Pennsylvania fugitive killer, this time within the search area near a local botanical garden. The convicted murder still elusive one week since his dramatic escape from prison.


CNN's Brian Todd has our report from Pennsylvania.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Tonight, another reported sighting as the manhunt for convicted murderer, Danelo Cavalcante enters its second week.

LT. COL. GEORGE BIVENS, DEPUTY COMMISSIONER OF OPERATIONS, PENNSYLVANIA STATE POLICE: We had a possible sighting of Cavalcante by a person in the vicinity of Longwood Gardens.

TODD: This sighting, officials say, was not far from where he was seen on a trail camera Monday night. A law enforcement official tells CNN someone walked up to police and reported seeing Cavalcante around noon today. Police searched the area inside their perimeter of eight to ten square miles, asked why they couldn't squeeze in the area to grab him. BIVENS: It's not just a perfect open piece of land that you can just march through. You've got businesses, residences, highways, hills, valleys, wooded areas that can't be pushed through.

TODD: Cavalcante has been on the run since August 31st, the week after he was sentenced to life in prison for murdering his girlfriend, the victim's family in fear for their lives.

DEB RYAN, CHESTER COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: They do have protection and they are terrified. They haven't left their home. They're barricaded inside and very concerned about their safety. We do have police detail around them 24 hours a day, but I know they're very, very worried.

TODD: This stunning surveillance video shows the escape, the 34-year- old crab walking up the side of a wall in an outdoor exercise area of the prison. Investigators say he pushed through razor wire, ran across a roof, scaled another fence and got through more razor wire. Now on the run, he's been seen several times in the surrounding area and police have found his footprints.

NINA LYMAN, HOME SEARCHED TWICE IN PENNSYLVANIA MANHUNT: Saturday evening, we heard some very strange things in the woods, saw some things on our cameras and we did alert police.

TODD: Nina and Charlie Lyman live less than two miles from the prison on a 65-acre farm. They believe Cavalcante may have been on their property, which police have searched twice.

LYMAN: We do have several nooks and crannies. We have three barns, (INAUDIBLE), horse trailer. There are three houses on the property. So, we're little -- we're taking precautions.

TODD: Cavalcante has also been recorded at least twice on surveillance video.

The more days that go by without them catching him, does he get more dangerous?

J.J. KLAVER, FORMER FBI SUPERVISORY SPECIAL AGENT, PHILADELPHIA FIELD OFFICE: Well, he does. He gets more dangerous because he gets more desperate and he's probably looking to obtain a weapon. He's going to need to get water and food and more clothes and, you know, he's looking for a vehicle. And all of those things potentially put him in contact with the public, with citizens in their homes, cars outside, and that's where the real danger comes in.


TODD (on camera): Just moments ago, no fewer than a dozen squad cars came speeding past here with lights flashing going that way. But tonight, police are holding this perimeter behind me right here. You can see the squad cars positioned up the hill because this spot is not far from where Cavalcante was spotted just a few hours ago. Wolf?

BLITZER: Brian Todd of Pennsylvania, thank you for that report, Brian.

For more on this, I'm joined now by Criminologist and Behavioral Analyst Casey Jordan. Casey, thanks very much for joining us.

What does it say to you that Cavalcante may have actually been spotted today so close to the same area he was caught on camera Monday?

CASEY JORDAN, CRIMINOLOGIST: Exactly. That's a little bit interesting because it means that he is becoming very familiar with the area and comfortable there. And that will make his future movements more predictable, especially if he's becoming a creature of habit.

The police are very confident that they've contained him within a three to five-mile radius. But the idea that he was seen near Longwood Gardens, when he was seen a little bit east two days ago, now he's back. Longwood Gardens is a thousand acres. But the idea that he thinks he can hide there successfully does give them pause.

If they can get the dogs there, the helicopters, the horses, I mean, they're going full court press, very likely that they could find him in the next few days. He seems to still be in the area, and that's crucial if we're going to catch him.

BLITZER: How do you see, Casey, the factors, like the dense terrain there, the weather, for example, affecting Cavalcante's ability to evade capture?

JORDAN: Well, first of all, the heat has not been very good for this search because they want to use aerial surveillance with heat-seeking technology, where even in the dark, when it's cool out, you could see the warmth, the heat of a body hiding in thick brush to see if they could figure out where he is. But when the ground is hotter than the human body, then you're not going to be able to use that technology.

And also, we've now seen that video hundreds of times in crab walking. They have to consider he could be in the trees. He should be auditioning for Ninja Warrior. He could be in a culvert. He is a small guy who could push aside razor wire twice, which means he could be in those brambles. It's just really challenging because of the heat and just the density of that foliage.

BLITZER: And the search continues. Casey Jordan, thank you very much for joining us.

And to our viewers, we'll be right back.



BLITZER: We're getting new reaction to President Biden's very bleak ratings in CNN's exclusive new poll. Joining us now, co-chair of the Biden re-election campaign, Democratic Senator Chris Coons of Delaware. Senator, thanks so much for joining us.

As you know, these are pretty brutal poll results for President Biden. A majority of Democrats don't want him to be your party's nominee. Tell us why you disagree.

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): Well, I disagree because Joe Biden has an incredible record to run on.

I'll note that this poll has a margin of error of 6 percent, when you're talking about Democrats, 3.5 percent. That's a pretty high margin of error. And it does show a dead heat between President Biden and former President Trump for the re-election campaign.

But over the next 14 months, Wolf, President Biden will be continuing to share with the American people the remarkable accomplishments we had in the last Congress.


Former President Trump promised that he would rebuild our infrastructure. He didn't deliver. Joe Biden did.

Former President Trump promised he'd cap prescription drug prices. He didn't. Joe Biden worked across the aisle and he did.

We're already seeing a cap in the price of insulin, the restoring of American manufacturing jobs. He delivered on background check reforms and huge investment in community mental health. All of those policies, Wolf, are supported by 70 percent, or 80 percent of the American people.

So if your poll had asked, do you support infrastructure, advanced manufacturing, reducing prescription drug prices, cutting the price on insulin and many other things, you would have had overwhelming positives. If you then asked, given that Joe Biden delivered these things, will you support him for re-election, I think you would have got an different result. And that's the question that's going to be in front of the American people 14 months from now when they go to the polls next November.

BLITZER: Still a lot of time before the election. When we asked Democrats in our new poll, Senator, about their biggest concern about President Biden, the result was his age. His age clearly dominated the answers.

Nearly half of his fellow Democrats list that as their biggest concern, with everything else in single digits. His age is something he clearly can't change. But given that, Senator, is there any reason to think his approval numbers will get better?

COONS: There is. There's a new campaign ad out today. I hope you have seen it. It shows how President Biden made an unannounced visit to a war zone, one not controlled by the United States, when he went to Kyiv a number of months ago. The first time a president in the modern era has gone to a war zone.

And it does, in the background, describe that he left Washington at 4:00 a.m. he traveled 40 hours to get to Kyiv. It shows him striding forcefully, having a pointed conversation with President Zelenskyy, of fearlessly engaging in Kyiv. And it reminds folks that he's the sort of national leader who has

pulled together 47 other countries to stand up to Russian aggression in Ukraine. That has strong bipartisan support in the Senate. Senator McConnell, Senator Schumer have both been leading our efforts to provide more support for Ukraine.

But if you look at that example, and the other examples of his success in bipartisan domestic policies that I just pointed to, I don't think his age matters as much as his seasoning, his experience, his leadership, and his ability.

BLITZER: He clearly has a messaging problem right now, trying to get those words out there to his supporters out there.

Senator Chris Coons, thanks very much for joining us.

Coming up, a Ukrainian drone attack comes very close to a Russian military installation. We'll discuss that and more with a former U.S. national security official.


BLITZER: A Ukrainian drone caused an explosion less than a mile from a Russian military facility in a key city not very far from the Ukrainian border.

I'm joined now by retired Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, he served as director for European affairs over at the National Security Council.

Alexander, thanks so much for joining us.

To what extent are drone attacks like this one on Rostov disrupting the Russian military's logistics and supply routes?

LT. COL. ALEXANDER VINDMAN (RET.), FORMER DIRECTOR OF EUROPEAN AFFAIRS, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL: So this one looks like it was an attack on a Russian command and control. Some of the footage I've seen seems to indicate it landed either on or close to the southern military district headquarters. Your viewers would be familiar with that because that's the building that Prigozhin's forces seized a couple of months back. It's the hub for the execution of this war against Ukraine. That's where the operational headquarters is.

This one is relatively close to Ukrainian territory. It's only a couple hundred kilometers away. The Ukrainians have managed to launch and execute much more sophisticated attacks at far flung targets, hundreds and hundreds of kilometers away, 600, 700 kilometers away to strategic bases.

What you're seeing is an expansion of Ukraine's pretty potent strike capabilities with regard to drones. They're going after strategic targets, strategic bombers, command and control, logistics hubs, and they're also adapting their tactical drones to greater effect, not just small hand grenades on troops but antitank mines that could do some damage to armor capability. So, it's a continued expansion of Ukraine's capabilities to wage this war.

BLITZER: The Biden administration, Alexander, just announced another billion dollars in Ukraine aid, but the House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is considering stripping more Ukraine funding out of a bill to keep the government funded.

How worrying is that to you?

VINDMAN: It is very worrying. So this billion dollars, just to be clear, the vast majority of it is budgetary support, humanitarian aid. It is not military assistance that we've been talking about repeatedly. It's a small sliver out of this billion dollars that was announced for military assistance.

But the fact is that the Ukrainians need support in order to have their government provide services. The -- what Kevin McCarthy is threatening is, frankly, preventing future aid from being allocated by Congress to support both the budget, the humanitarian aid, and the military assistance that Ukraine gets.

It is deeply concerning. One of the biggest reasons that Ukraine has been successful is because of the provision of Western munitions, Western military capabilities, and really, Kevin McCarthy is serving Putin's interests.


He is helping Putin potentially score points, snatch a victory from the jaws of defeat if he's successful in blocking additional military assistance.

I think that by and large the vast majority of Congress continues to have overwhelming bipartisan support for Ukraine, but I think Kevin McCarthy represents a fringe faction beholden to the MAGA wing, beholden to Marjorie Taylor Greene and those types that look to cut support to Ukraine. It's dangerous.

BLITZER: Retired Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, thanks so much for joining us.

VINDMAN: Thank you.

BLITZER: Still ahead, we have the latest developments in the efforts to rescue an American man who fell ill inside a cave in Turkey.

Stay with us.


BLITZER: A team of approximately 150 rescuers in Turkey is working right now to reach an American man who fell ill while exploring one of the deepest caves in the country. He's more than 3,000 feet below the ground where temperatures are close to freezing and suffering from gastrointestinal bleeding. The man's condition is described as stable, and he is able to walk on his own. The Turkish Caving Federation estimates the rescue operation could take days. Thanks very much for watching.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.