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North Korea Says, Kim Jong-un Headed to Russia for Putin Meeting; Trump Asks Judge to Recuse Herself from Federal Election Case; Manhunt for Escaped Killer Enters 12th Day; New Video Shows Rescue of American Man from Turkish Cave. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired September 11, 2023 - 18:00   ET




WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, a meeting between two very dangerous U.S. adversaries now appears imminent, the North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-un, currently on the way to meet with Vladimir Putin in Russia. American officials are warning both men against striking a weapons deal to shore up Putin's floundering war in Ukraine.

Also tonight, Donald Trump is now asking the federal judge overseeing the 2020 election subversion case to recuse yourself. We're going to tell you why the former president says her past comments about January 6th defendants would, quote, unavoidably taint the trial.

And we're also learning new information right now about the frustrating manhunt for an elusive killer in Pennsylvania. What authorities are revealing about the search as the escapee avoids capture for a 12th straight day.

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

First up tonight, the beating U.S. national security officials have been warning against for days. Kim Jong-un and Vladimir Putin now apparently on the verge of coming face to face in Russia.

Let's get an update from CNN's Paula Hancocks. She's standing by for us in Seoul, South Korea. Paula, officials, where you are, you believe the North Korean strongman is already en route. What's the latest?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, North Korea has now just confirmed what we already knew. They have said through state-run media that Kim Jong-un is on his way to North Korea, saying that he is on his private special train and that he's accompanied by leading officials of the party, the government and the armed forces.

Now, Russia today had a vision earlier of a train that looked very much like the one that Kim Jong-un could be on on the border between Russia and North Korea. We cannot confirm the authenticity, but it certainly looks very similar. This is a train that Kim Jong-un has used in the past, going to different meetings, including the one with the former president, U.S. President Donald Trump. It is an armored train, meaning that Kim Jong- un wants to travel not only in luxury, but also in safety.


HANCOCKS (voice over): This was four years ago, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un traveled to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin. Friendship was pledged and closer ties promised, but little changed. Fast forward to today, Russia's war in Ukraine is faltering, and the dynamics between the two leaders are different.

ALEXANDER VINDMAN, FORMER EUROPEAN AFFAIRS DIRECTOR, NSC: Certainly, it means that Putin is in a somewhat of a desperate situation, trying to acquire munitions that are severely depleted during this war effort. A lot of this would be -- have been coordinated ahead of time, so he had some promises in that regard.

HANCOCKS: Putin's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu visited Pyongyang in July, the first such visit since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. Kim Jong-un gave him the red carpet treatment, showing off the full range of his weapons capability in a military parade and an arms expo.

South Korean intelligence says a second Russian delegation visited at the start of August, and a Russian plane believed to be carrying unknown military supplies left Pyongyang on August 8th. Both Moscow and Pyongyang deny any arms deal.

CARL SCHUSTER, FORMER DIRECTOR, U.S. PACIFIC COMMAND'S JOINT INTELLIGENCE CENTER: North Korea makes good what I call heavy industrial weapons. Artillery in the ammunition is very good. It's very similar to Russian designs, but it uses the same calibers as the Russians.

HANCOCKS: Meaning, certain North Korean ammunition could be used in Russian weapons immediately.

The Biden administration believes North Korea already delivered infantry rockets and missiles for use in Ukraine by Russian mercenary group Wagner late last year. As for North Korea, U.S. officials believe it could gain satellite technology or nuclear-powered submarine technology in return.


HANCOCKS (on camera): Now both Russia and North Korea stand to benefit not only militarily, but also politically. They are both isolated by the West. They're both heavily sanctioned by the West, and they are united by a common enemy in the United States.

Now, Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesperson, has said that there will be an official dinner in honor of Kim Jong-un. Wolf?


BLITZER: Paula Hancocks live in Seoul, South Korea for us, thank you, Paula.

For more on this important story, let's get an update from CNN's Kayla Tausche. She's joining us from the White House right now. Kayla, how is the Biden administration watching all of this?

KAYLA TAUSCHE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, has said that the U.S. has been prepared for quite some time that these two leaders could meet and that discussions between them have been actively advancing.

But the administration believes that any decision by Russia to seek assistance from North Korea is simply proof that U.S. sanctions against Russia are working. Here's the State Department earlier today.


MATTHEW MILLER, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: Not only has he failed to achieve his goals on the battlefield but you see him traveling across his own country, hat in hand, to beg Kim Jong-un for military assistance.

We're going to monitor very closely the outcome of this meeting.


TAUSCHE: The meeting comes as G-20 leaders sign off on a joint declaration that fails to condemn Russia by name for the invasion of Ukraine. That joint declaration says this. It says all states must refrain from the threat or use of force to seek territorial acquisition.

CNN reports that that text went through 200 hours of negotiation and 15 drafts, and that the alternative was simply no mention, whatsoever. The White House had been trying to manage expectations that it would be hard, if not impossible, to reach consensus on any language regarding Ukraine, if not only because Russia would not be changing its position on Ukraine, at least for this G-20 meeting.

Of course, with Putin and China's President Xi not present at the G- 20, President Biden sought to fill that leadership vacuum, appearing in photos with the leaders of emerging market countries that are partners of both Russia and China, signing global infrastructure deals and more.

Certainly, it remains to be seen how that will pan out going forward. But President Biden said the goal of countering China's ambitions in the region, Wolf, are not meant to contain China.

BLITZER: Kayla Tausche reporting from the White House, thank you.

Let's get some analysis right now from our experts on Russia and North Korea, Victor Cha is joining us. Victor, just how significant is this expected meeting between Putin and Kim Jong-un over a potential arms deal?

VICTOR CHA, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT FOR ASIA, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: Well, Wolf, I think it's pretty significant, not just because it's a transaction of arms for perhaps food and fuel, but as your package noted that this could be a boost to North Korea's military satellite program, their submarine program and their ICBM program.

In the last month, North Korea has failed in terms of its military satellite launches. They just rolled out a diesel-powered submarine, but not a nuclear-powered one, and they are advancing a long-range ICBM program.

All of these could benefit significantly from Russian help. And I imagine Kim is going there not just for food and fuel, but for these other things.

BLITZER: I suspect you're right. Sue Mi Terry is with us as well. Sue Mi, Kim's trip comes exactly, what, two months after North Korea successfully test-launched a nuclear intercontinental ballistic missile. How much would a potential deal with Russia right now boost their potential nuclear program?

SUE MI TERRY, FORMER WHITE HOUSE OFFICIAL: Well, as Victor said, I'm very concerned about this technology transfer because this will be a win-win for Putin. Putin not only gets the barely needed munitions for his war effort, but North Korea will get the technology it needs for military satellites, for nuclear power submarines, for long ICBMs.

So, this is -- you know, it's a sign of desperation for Putin, this unholy alliance, that he has to rely on prior regimes, like Iran and North Korea, North Korea 198th ranked economy in the world, that cannot feed its own population.

Russia used to be a patron, a sponsor of North Korea, but still this is a win-win for Putin and Kim Jong-un and it's a loss for us. So, I'm very concerned.

BLITZER: Very important point. Let me follow up with Jill Daugherty, who's an expert on Russia. How desperate is Putin right now that he's turning to North Korea for weapons for his war in Ukraine?

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR, RUSSIAN AFFAIRS: Well, Wolf, you know, he's blowing through ammunition as if there's no tomorrow, and that's the dilemma. So, he can get these artillery shells, you know, anti-tank missiles, etc. They may not be sophisticated. North Korea is not producing sophisticated weaponry or ammunition, but since they're just, you know, using so much, anything will help and that's why Putin is there.

I think, you know, it is a desperation play, but it's also, you know, shoring up this weird relationship that he has now with the two countries, Iran and North Korea.


For us, it looks like he is in desperate straits, and he probably is, but for him, he, again, is pushing out into areas where he's looking for friends anywhere he can get them. BLITZER: Important note to our viewers, Victor Cha, is the author of the new book, Korea, A New History of South and North. To all of you guys, thank you very much for joining us, important analysis, indeed.

Just ahead, we're digging into two new court filings from Donald Trump just filed this afternoon. Stand by for details.

And the hunt for an escaped killer in Pennsylvania gets larger after he managed to change his appearance and escape the initial search perimeter.

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


BLITZER: All right, this is just in to CNN. Donald Trump is now asking Judge Tanya Chutkan to recuse herself from the federal election subversion case against him.

Let's get straight to our Senior Legal Affairs Correspondent Paula Reid. She's got details.


So, what is Trump saying in this filing today?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Judge Tanya Chutkan is an Obama appointee who was randomly assigned to oversee the Trump election subversion case. But she's been outspoken about the Capitol attack.

She has overseen several cases related to this, different prosecutions where she oversaw a case against a rioter as well as sentencing. And she has said things that the Trump team believes should disqualify her in this case.

For example, they point to a quote from an October 2022 sentencing in which she said, quote, the people who mobbed that Capitol were there in fealty, in loyalty to one man, not to the Constitution. It's a blind loyalty to one person who, by the way, remains free to this day.

Now, the Trump lawyers argue in this filing that the fact that she said that means she does not want him to be free and that she has bias.

They also point to another quote from December 2021 where she said, quote, the people who exhorted you and encouraged you and rallied you to go and take action and to fight have not been charged. Adding, the issue of who has or has not been charged is not before me. I don't have any influence on that. I have my opinions, but they are not relevant.

And the Trump lawyers argue that there would be little doubt in the minds of the public that she has some sort of bias against their client, but, Wolf, they face an uphill battle here, especially because they're filing this before Judge Chutkan. BLITZER: Interesting indeed. All right, stay with us. Don't go too far away. I also want to bring in CNN Legal Analyst Carrie Cordero and Norm Eisen.

Norm, Trump attorneys are pointing to Judge Chutkan's comments, as we just heard, made in various cases involving other January 6th rioters. What do you make of that argument?

NORM EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Wolf, there needs to be a reasonable appearance of bias or partiality. And I don't think that these statements that Judge Chutkan made in those other cases amount to that. She's had to assess the larger context of who's responsible here as part of sentencing, including because those defendants have at times raised it.

So, if you look at the case law on what amounts to bias, this is not it. This motion is overwhelmingly likely to fail.

BLITZER: Carrie, what do you think?

CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think that's right. It is a fairly high standard for a judge to make the recusal decision.

Her statement was strong in terms of the fact that it was directed directly against the former president, who now is the defendant in the case before her. But the context is also important. And the context of it is that she was in consideration of the sentencing of other January 6th-related defendants. So, it's not as if she was just making these comments extraneously or without any prompting. It was in the context of prosecutions for the events of January 6th.

BLITZER: Let me go back to Paula. There's a new Trump filing in the Georgia case. Walk us through that.

REID: That's right. He just signed on two filings that other people have made over the past several weeks, including a filing that Rudy Giuliani made late Friday, where he issues a broad challenge to this indictment.

This is really the first time we've seen the former president, in a broad and comprehensive way, really try to push back on these state level charges.

Now, he has said he also wants to try to remove his case to federal court. We haven't seen that formal challenge yet.

BLITZER: Interesting. And, Norm, the same judge who denied the move is the one who will rule on whether to place the decision on hold. How likely is that?

EISEN: Extremely unlikely, Wolf. The problem that Mark Meadows faced in losing removal is the same problem that Trump and the others will face.

The conduct that Fani Willis has charged in attempting to overthrow a political outcome, an election, is not official conduct. There's no role for the president, the White House, the chief of staff under the Constitution or laws of the United States, it's not in their job description when it comes to counting votes in Georgia.

That's intentional. The founders and the framers didn't want to have a president or chief of staff have this role because of the very mischief we, saw here. So, Trump is not going to succeed, very, very likely will fail.

BLITZER: You know, it's interesting, Carrie. Donald Trump has also notified the judge overseeing the Georgia case. He may try to move it to federal court. How does the Meadows decision impact Trump and the other co-defendants who want to make a similar move?

CORDERO: Well, the fact that the Meadows motion was declined, I think, speaks to the fact that it's unlikely anyone else would succeed on it.


I tend to think that Mark Meadows actually had the strongest amongst all the defendants, the strongest case to be made, at least as far as an argument goes, that his case should be removed. And that's because he was in the chief of staff role, which is really unique. His job is to staff the president and everything that he does.

Now, I do appreciate the argument that the conduct that's alleged is outside the scope of what a federal official would be doing in their proper job. But I think he had the strongest argument, and so the fact that his was declined doesn't speak well for the other defendants.

BLITZER: Yes, good point. Carrie Cordero, Norm Eisen, Paula Reid, guys, thank you very, very much.

Coming up, there are new developments in the manhunt for an escaped killer who tried reaching out to former acquaintances while on the run. We'll have a live report from Pennsylvania.

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



BLITZER: An escape killer managed to give pursuing authorities the slip and now police are saying there's no defined search area for him and there have been no confirmed sightings of him since Saturday.

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

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, right, now we're in front of a barn where local residents say Danelo Cavalcante ditched a stolen van overnight Saturday. Tonight, this manhunt is as open ended as it's ever been.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) TODD (voice over): Tonight, law enforcement officials say they still believe convicted killer Danelo Cavalcante is in Pennsylvania, but now they're suggesting this intense manhunt may not end quickly.

ROBERT CLARK, SUPERVISORY DEPUTY, U.S. MARSHALS SERVICE: Now, we're going to prepare for the long game. This is a manhunt and all that means to us is that it's a longer future investigation with more resources.

TODD: Police again saying there is no longer a defined search area.

LT. COL. GEORGE BIVENS, PENNSYLVANIA STATE POLICE: I have not formed a similar border, a physical presence to contain an area. We are however still conducting searches without identifying and securing a very specific area.

TODD: The search for Cavalcante moved further north over the weekend after he was spotted more than 20 miles from the Chester County Prison. Police saying he somehow slipped through a tightly guarded perimeter due to possible weaknesses.

BIVENS: I am aware of some of the weaknesses. Longwood Gardens presented some very unique challenges.

CLARK: There's a massive tunnel system. There's a lot of ravines. It's very, very thick vegetation there.

TODD: Cavalcante got away after stealing a white Ford van from a dairy farm Saturday evening, which he later ditched behind a barn. Police saying it ran out of gas.

BILL BEDRICK, LIVES NEAR BARN WHERE FUGITIVE DITCHED VAN: Well, we just have to be aware of it. And I know that the authorities are in the area. And we just have to be on our toes.

He has to know that, for his actions, there's always a consequence. And he needs to face his consequences.

TODD: Police also confirming the dairy farms where he stole the bright green hoodie, which he was seen wearing in this doorbell camera image along with a clean shaven face. These images of the 34-year-old fugitive provided to police by a former work associate who had not spoken to Cavalcante in years.

BIVENS: The fact that he has reached out to people with a very distant past connection tells me he doesn't have a great network of support.

TODD: Police say Cavalcante attempted to meet with two former work associates on Saturday night, one in the East Pikeland area of Chester County at around 9.52 P.M., and another in the area of Phoenixville at 10.07 P.M.

Cavalcante's former roommate spoke to CNN-affiliate WPVI, saying he has been trying to assist authorities since Cavalcante's crab walking escape from prison on August 31st. FRANCO, FORMER ROOMMATE: I'm here to see if they need my help to speak Portuguese, if he's found and I can talk in Portuguese with him, you know, so he can surrender.

TODD: Franco did not give his last name to WPVI but did release this security camera footage saying it shows the day Cavalcante moved out of their apartment in the area in 2021. Franco saying it was the day before Cavalcante killed his former girlfriend, Deborah Brandao.

FRANCO: I just want him to be caught so I can sleep, I can go live my normal life, everybody can feel safe again, and, yes, he has to pay for what he did.


TODD (on camera): Police say they have now detained Cavalcante's sister, Eleni Cavalcante, and are getting ready to deport her. Police say she has chosen not to assist them in their investigation. And because she has overstayed her visa, there's no longer any reason for law enforcement to keep her in the country. Wolf?

BLITZER: Interesting indeed, Brian Todd. Thanks for that update.

For more on this story, I'm joined by CNN Chief Law Enforcement and Intelligence Analyst John Miller. John, how is it that 12 days later, state police haven't apprehended this fugitive and are now planning for what they call the long game?

JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: It's not unusual, Wolf. If you look at the last three big fugitive hunts in Pennsylvania, Burham, who escaped in July, was on the run for ten days. This is 12 days. Eric Frayne, who was a domestic terrorist, who was on the run a couple of years before that, was out for 48 days.

So, these can be -- most people who escaped in jail are recovered within 24 hours. It's because they don't have a plan and they don't get far.


You've got a very determined actor here. So, this could stretch out another week, another two, or it could wrap up tomorrow, or it could be longer.

BLITZER: Criminologist and Behavioral Analyst Casey Jordan is with us as well. Casey, what does it reveal to you about Cavalcante that he changed his appearance and then showed up at an old acquaintance's door?

CASEY JORDAN, CRIMINOLOGIST: Well, he has been looking for a way to change his appearance since the very day that he escaped. He's been breaking into houses, looking for the right clothes, perhaps. He needed a razor. And he has changed. I mean, getting that photo out is everything. He looks a lot younger. He's got a baby face. Please don't forget he's only five feet tall and weighs 120 pounds. So he can pass us as a kid, a teenager almost. But I think the biggest mistake he's made is that he is in contact with former friends, co-workers, getting caught on the doorbell camera. He did not think that they would turn that over to police. And, of course, they have. There's a $25,000 reward. So, you know, his friends aren't going to be too loyal to him knowing that this manhunt is going on.

But I think the most important thing is that they are deporting his sister and that sends a message to his family and everyone else that he knows, if you don't cooperate or, God forbid, you try to help him, we will prosecute you, we will deport you. Do not aid and abet this man.

BLITZER: Yes, it sends an important message, indeed.

John, police are apparently betting that they'll have the upper hand now that Cavalcante is out of the woods and in a more urban environment. Do you agree?

J. MILLER: Well, Cavalcante may be out of the woods, but police aren't out of the woods until they get him.

But if you look at the difference in terrain from where he was with a lot of tree canopies and land that he could hide in by day and then sneak around at night versus a very suburban environment, a lot of houses, a lot of streets, a lot of people walking around, driving around, it's going to be harder to conceal there.

Why is he there? Because as Casey just pointed out, he's trying to make contact with that one person, whoever that might be in his life, who he thinks is going to help him. That ups his risk factor, but if he finds that person, it could get him mobile again.

BLITZER: Yes, good point. Casey, how desperate do you think Cavalcante is right now? And does that make him a bigger danger, potentially, to the community?

JORDAN: He is a danger because he has already stolen a car. And I don't think he counted on it running out of gas after 25 miles. But he needs transportation. I predict he's going to try to get another car. If he can't steal one with the keys in it, don't be surprised if he tries to take one by force.

But the fact that he is reaching out to friends and co-workers shows how desperate he is. We don't know if he's heading north because that's where his friends are, if he's trying to get to Canada, get across a border. But he's very confident. And when people get confident, they start screwing up.

The best thing we can do is keep putting that image out there. Don't get tired of the story and somebody will see him, call 911 and he will be captured. I'm guessing within the next week or two.

BLITZER: All right. Casey Jordan and John Miller, guys, thank you very much. Just ahead, we'll go live to Morocco, where thousands of people are dead after the country was rocked by a powerful earthquake. We'll take you to a village that was destroyed by the disaster.



BLITZER: At least 2,800 people are dead after a magnitude 6.8 earthquake devastated parts of Morocco.

CNN Senior International Correspondent Sam Kiley is on the ground in Morocco for us. He's covering this story. What's the latest, Sam?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, as you say, a similar number, about 2,500 people have been very seriously injured, Wolf. But this earthquake is very problematic for the authorities. And I'm talking to you from Asni, where they've just established just down the road here, the military have established a field hospital to get help to people.

But the people are beyond help in some respects because they are in remote areas and cut off in terms of communication from other locations by the fact that the earthquake has shattered the road structure in so much of these Atlas mountains.

This is what it looks like when we reached one of those remote villages.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every house in here is destroyed. There is 21 died here.

KILEY: 21?


KILEY (voice over): Mohammed (ph) is a law student and he grew up in Tiznit.

So, you know you know the people who died?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. You know, everyone here is funny, you know, because it's small. It's not the big village but everyone know each other here.

KILEY: It must break your heart.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, it's so bad you see these people here dead. In this house, two, three person here is dead. And this house in the second house tree, we have one house here, one house there, all the family is dead. So, it's -- I don't know. I don't know what I will say. It's a bad night.

KILEY: A very bad night, yes. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was a bad night, yes.

KILEY: This is what remains of 120 homes. Mohammed (ph) knows every house that was and who died in them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In this house destroyed, all the family dead.

KILEY: In this?


KILEY: This one in front here?


KILEY: How many people in that family?


KILEY: Four.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And left behind one person, one child.

KILEY: Last Friday's quake took more than 2,800 lives and the numbers climb. Isolated villages like this giving up their grim tolls slowly.


Do you think there are many villages like this in these mountains in the same condition?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And more than this.

KILEY: You think more even?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. The village behind this mountain is more than this.

KILEY: More remote hamlets in the Atlas Mountains are likely to have been cascaded into rubble like this. Shops, small businesses, houses hundreds of years old slide into one another smashed.

Mohammed (ph) explained that his neighbors fought for every penny that they earned as farmers in a harsh landscape. They fought for food. They fought to educate young people like him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The people not ready for this, you know, just normal people here.

KILEY: Aid and rescue is getting to places like this, but many others have yet to be discovered. Mohammed (ph) fears that many more dead and injured are lying under villages like this, cut off from help.

But the community is staying on. Village life reduced to a shared tent for 24 families. This is the community kitchen.

Mothers of this village, what do you want from your government?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everyone here asking just for houses.

KILEY: Houses?


KILEY: We need homes. That's a cry that's only going to get louder here.


KILEY (on camera): Now, Wolf, that cry is going to get louder because there are going to be more of these villages discovered we've heard tell. In fact, we're trying to track down and trace our own efforts to try and reach some of these villages that have been devastated, as Mohammed (ph) said there from the network that he's part of, even more catastrophically than his home hamlet.

These hamlets have just cascaded down the sides of hills. They've turned into kind of -- they look like glaciers of rubble and they were homes of human beings, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, such a horrible situation. Sam Kiley, thanks very much for that report.

And to our viewers, for more information about how you can help victims of the Morocco earthquake, go to or text Morocco to 707070 to donate.

Another disaster we're following right now in Northern Africa, severe flooding in Libya. Authorities fear more than 2,000 people could be dead after a major storm swept through the eastern part of the country. The Libyan government says entire neighborhoods were washed out to sea by the floods and that up to 6,000 people right now are still missing.

Coming up, I'll speak with GOP Presidential Candidate Will Hurd on recent events and the current state of the race for the Republican presidential nomination.

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



BLITZER: Republican presidential front-runner, Donald Trump, is offering a rather stark preview of what a second White House term might look like, saying he would direct his attorney general to charge his political opponents.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: Remember, it's a -- it's a Democrat charging his opponent. Nobody's ever seen anything like it. That means that if I win and somebody wants to run against me, I call my attorney general, I say listen, indict him.

Well, he hasn't done anything wrong. I don't know. Indict him on income tax evasion. You'll figure it out.


BLITZER: All right, for more on this and other subjects I'm joined by Republican presidential candidate, Will Hurd, who's in the key state of Iowa right now.

Well, thanks very much for joining us.

Trump is explicitly saying at least apparently, he'll use the U.S. Justice Department to target his political opponents. What do you make of that?

WILL HURD (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, first off, Wolf, thanks for having me on. I apologize for not being in a suit and tie. I'm on the last two miles of a 21-mile walk in remembrance of 9/11. I'm coming to you from a fire house in Des Moines.

But that kind of rhetoric is unacceptable by Donald Trump. It shows that he's not taking the decisions he's made seriously. And let's be real frank. Donald Trump would not be in this situation if he would have just complied with the law. Let's take the case of the classified documents. We know he had classified documents. All he had to do was turn them in.

So all of these problems he's dealing with are self-inflicted wounds and to me, especially on a day like 9/11 when we're remembering the men and women that died, you know, the 3,000 deaths, the men and women for the last 22 years who have prevented another attack on our homeland from happening, who have collected a national security intelligence, who has put their lives on the line in order to protect this country for someone like Donald Trump to not care and be oblivious of protecting the secrets that those people put their lives on the line to do is just unacceptable to me.

BLITZER: While I have you, let's turn to some U.S. foreign policy issues. I want you to watch and listen to what your 2024 rival, Nikki Haley, told our Jake Tapper about the threat from China. Listen to this.


NIKKI HALEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: China's been practically preparing for war with us for years. Yes, I view China as an enemy. How much more has to happen for Biden to realize you don't send cabinet members over to China to appease them. You start getting serious with China and say we're not going to put up with it. They keep sending different cabinet officials over, Jake, and it's embarrassing. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: How do you see it, Will? Is China an enemy?

HURD: China is a (AUDIO GAP) no question. The Chinese government is trying to surpass the United States as the sole global superpower. That's not my opinion. It's what they've said about themselves in English since at least 2015.


But I also think that China and America can coexist. We can cooperate on some things and compete on others. But that requires us to have a foreign policy that based on a simple principle that I've learned being connected to national security for the last 22 years, your friends should love you and your enemies should fear you.

And right now, the Chinese government doesn't fear us. A place like North Korea doesn't fear us. That's why Kim Jong Un is on a train going to Russia to sell the Russians munitions to continue fighting our ally in a place like Ukraine. And, so, we have to make sure to win this war with the Chinese government, it's going to require the United States of America to be the global leader on a number of advanced technologies, technologies like artificial intelligence, quantum computing, synthetic biology.

We need somebody in the White House who understand these issues and who's also seen our enemies up close and personal and know how to take them on. That's one of the reasons why I'm running in this race, and because I had that technology experience, that foreign policy experience. And if people watching want someone like that, go to tonight and help -- and give at least $1 to help have the resources promote our message.

BLITZER: Will Hurd, as usual, thanks very much for joining us.

HURD: Always a pleasure, Wolf.

BLITZER: Just ahead, there's breaking news we're following. An American man trapped in a Turkish cave since last week is free. We have video of the rescue. It's just coming in. We'll share it with you, when we come back.



BLITZER: There's breaking news we are watching right now. Take a look at this.

New video just in of an American man who had been trapped for days in one of Turkey's deepest caves. Mark Dickey now free and on his way to the hospital.

Let's get an update from CNN's Jomana Karadsheh.

Jomana, tell us more about this very dramatic rescue operation.

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, just over an hour ago, we heard the news coming from the Turkish Caving Federation, from Turkish rescue officials, saying that the cave rescue has come to an end, and that the ordeal of Mark Dickey has also come to an end as you see in those images. He was pulled out in that final stretch in the last hour or so.

He seems fine, according to Turkish officials. You see him in that video giving a thumbs up and smiling. But we understand that they are going to get him on a chopper and get him to a hospital in southern Turkey as soon as they can for medical checks.

Now, as you recall, Mark Dickey was part of this expedition, a research group, an international group that had been in this cave, Turkey's third deepest cave, when he fell ill just about ten days ago or so. He was suffering from gastrointestinal bleeding. He lost a lot of blood.

And, so, the past ten days, you've had all these different rescue teams that have been involved in trying to ensure that he gets the medical help. He got a blood transfusion. This is such a deep cave and therefore makes it a complex operation because this is such a deep cave, because of the narrow passageways in there, they really had to move very slowly after they stabilize, and I know it's something that began on Saturday, more than 180 rescuers from different countries, and a mission that has come to an end right now as Mark Dickey is going to soon head to the hospital where he will be getting the medical attention he very much needs right now.

BLITZER: Such good news that he's been rescued.

Jomana Karadsheh, thank you very much for that update.

Before we leave you tonight, we want to take a moment to mark a very somber anniversary here in the United States, 22 years since the 9/11 terror attacks. Here's President Biden and others honoring the victims today.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Two thousand nine hundred and seventy-seven souls, ruining the future of so many families and the story of our nation. But those terrorists could not touch what no force, no enemy, no day ever could, and that is the soul of America.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Darren Christopher Bohan.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lawrence Francis Boisseau.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Uncle, I'm so proud to be named after you. I love hearing stories about you, and I try to follow your example of showing kindness to everyone -- we ask you to please continue watching over us. You'll never be forgotten.



BLITZER: May the nearly 3,000 souls who perished on that day rest in peace, and may their memories be a blessing.

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

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.