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Federal Judge Rejects Trump Request To Recuse Herself; Seven GOP Presidential Candidates To Debate Tonight Without Trump; Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) Pleads Not Guilty as Democratic Pressure To Resign Builds; Police Searching For Suspect In Murder Of Baltimore Tech CEO. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired September 27, 2023 - 18:00   ET



EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: This is something that the former president and his legal team had said was the reason why the public needs to have confidence that this case was going to be handled impartially. Jake?

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Evan Perez, thank you so much.

Our coverage continues now with Pamela Brown in for Wolf Blitzer but still in The Situation Room. I'll see you tomorrow.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news, the judge overseeing the special counsel federal election meddling case has issued a ruling she will not recuse herself despite Donald Trump's request. What this means for the case going forward.

Also tonight, seven of Trump's Republican primary rivals are preparing to debate without him once again. The GOP frontrunner skipping the race off to focus on the battleground state of Michigan and his potential rematch with President Biden.

And Senator Bob Menendez pleads not guilty to bribery charges as more and more of his fellow Democrats are clamoring for him to resign. We are tracking the growing legal and political pressure on Menendez right now.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Pamela Brown and you're in The Situation Room.

And we start with the breaking news. Federal Judge Tanya Chutkan, who is overseeing Donald Trump's federal 2020 election subversion criminal case, will not disqualify herself from the matter, rejecting a long shot bid from the former president's legal team.

CNN's Evan Perez is digging into this. So tell us, Evan, what are you learning?

PEREZ: Well, Pamela, this was always a very, very long shot chance for the former president to try to get this judge off of this case, and she rejected it handily. She said that the statement that she has made from the bench, which was one of the reasons why the Trump lawyers were citing that she today said that -- called into question whether she could be impartial in overseeing this case, she says that that really doesn't hold water.

She cited a number of cases where, you know, she has been -- according to the Trump team, she's been harsh, she made comments about the fact the former president had not yet been held accountable and she points out that those were in response to motions, to things that were being done inside, in those court cases, again, not reaching the level where you could say that she was not being impartial or where she could not carry out her duties to oversee this case.

Look, this is something that the Trump team was using, really, for -- to try to make a marker for when they get to a point where they may want to appeal whatever verdict comes out of this, right? The former president's legal team is trying to build a number of things that they can use whenever they go up on appeal, and so this is one of them.

This was always, like I pointed out, very long shot effort because judges almost never recuse themselves from these cases.

Now, one of the things still outstanding is for the judge overseeing this case, Pamela, to rule on the prosecution's motion to silence Trump, to try to make sure that the former president is at least restricted in some of the things that he can say on social media about this case. And so that's also part of the picture that's happening here is the former president was making this effort to recuse herself, to recuse the judge, as part of a larger strategy in this case. Pamela?

BROWN: All right. Evan Perez, thanks so much. A lot legal news surrounding Donald Trump tonight. In New York, Donald Trump's business empire is in jeopardy after a judge ruled he committed fraud by inflating the value of his assets. Now, Trump's lawyers are pushing for answers in court about whether the former president could lose some of his most prized properties, including the famous Trump Tower.

CNN's Brynn Gingras is following the story for us. So, walk us through these new developments, Brynn.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Pam. So, there was a ruling today -- yesterday, and then there was a court appearance or a pretrial matter, rather, that happened today. But yesterday's ruling really wasn't that surprising. Actually, it was surprising, and it's really fair to say that no one expected at this juncture for the judge to order that some of Trump's New York entities be dissolved.

So, right now, at today in court, there's really a lot of questions about what is going to happen. Trump's attorneys especially want to know what this is going to look at. And they said that they want more time to figure that all out, and that's as the judge said, that the civil trial, which is expected to get started next week, is going to discuss more of Trump's financials and could end with him losing his fortune, that will begin on time.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) GINGRAS (voice over): The Trump empire --


GINGRAS: -- which Americans binged in the hit show, The Apprentice --

TRUM: I've been successful in every business I've been in.


GINGRAS: -- helped catapult Donald Trump to political stardom.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congratulations, Mr. President.

GINGRAS: -- and the presidency may not be all it seemed. According to a ruling by a New York judge Tuesday, Donald Trump committed fraud for years. The ruling largely siding with the New York Attorney General Letitia James.

LETITIA JAMES, NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL: Donald Trump falsely inflated his net worth by billions of dollars to unjustly enrich himself and to cheat the system, thereby cheating all of us.

GINGRAS: She brought a civil lawsuit against Trump, his sons and the Trump organization in 2022. The judge finding they inflated the value of Trump properties, golf courses, hotels, and homes to secure loans, ultimately building their fortune.

Take the Trump triplex apartment in New York City. The former president noted in financial statements that it's three times bigger in size than it actually is, creating an overvaluation up to $207 million, according to the judge. Mar-a-Lago found to be inflated by more than half a billion dollars. A discrepancy of this order magnified by a real estate developer sizing up his own living space of decades can only be considered fraud, the judge wrote, adding the Trumps are living in a fantasy world, not the real world.

HARRY LITMAN, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: It is a sledgehammer to Trump and the entire organization in New York.

GINGRAS: And now, Trump's New York empire will likely shrink. The judge canceling the Trump Organization's business certification and assigning an independent party to dissolve entities, like the tower at 40 Wall Street in New York City and a family compound in Westchester County. How that process will play out is still being determined by the court and could take some time.

LITMAN: He is in a world of hurt on the business side, stronger so far than anything that's happened on the criminal side.

GINGRAS: Trump lashed out on Truth Social saying, it is a great company that is been slandered and maligned by this politically- motivated witch hunt. He's appealing the ruling. For James, it's a win on one claim of several filed in the suit, paving the way for the Trumps to possibly owe the state big bucks.


GINGRAS (on camera): Now, Pam, there could be a slight hiccup in the start of that civil trial next week, and that is an appeal that is currently in front of the court. And we are actually expecting a ruling sometime this week. Pam?

BROWN: All right. Brynn Gingras, thank you so much.

Let's get into the serious implications for Trump with our legal and our political experts. Norm Eisen, I want to start with you on this breaking news just coming into The Situation Room. What do you make of Judge Chutkan's ruling, not recusing herself? You also know her very well, we should note.

NORM EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It's the correct ruling as a matter of law, Pam. A judge only has to step aside if a reasonable person would question her impartiality. Here, the comments that Donald Trump and his lawyers pointed to that supposedly gave rise to the conflict were routine responses to sentencing issues in January 6th cases mentioning Trump. There was no basis to recuse. Her ruling is right on.

BROWN: We heard Evan laid this out, Joey. It was a long shot attempt by Trump in the first place, but why would a judge even recuse herself?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Good evening, Pamela. I think the basis of this issue, as Norm cited, is whether or not, right, there's an impartiality and whether that could be called into question such that it would impair your judgment to evaluate the case. And based upon what this judge did, Pamela, with respect to sentencing, January 6th defendants, she was making comments that were germane and appropriate to those particular defendants, not so much indicating that she had a bias towards Mr. Trump.

So, predicated upon the legal standard of that impartiality, this did not meet the mark, this being the arguments that Trump lawyers made. And I think it was an appropriate decision based upon the law and the standard which would require recusal. That was not met here.

BROWN: All right. There's a lot going on in the legal realm with Donald Trump. Let's go back to the New York case. I want to bring in Jamie Gangel. The New York case is where we find Trump's business empire in jeopardy based on this judge's ruling yesterday. How personal is this for Trump, whose brand, as we know, is everything to him?

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Pamela, it couldn't get any more personal. This is exactly the kind of thing that triggers Donald Trump. I was talking to Michael Cohen, once Trump's longtime lawyer, and he told me, and this was actually months ago, that the way to get to, as he calls him, Donald, would not be all of these criminal cases, not the 91 counts. He said it's a civil case. When you go after Donald Trump on money, on property, on business, and this is also his image, his brand, this is the kind of thing that Michael Cohen says this hurts him where it counts, Pamela.


BROWN: And, Norm, on that note, let's talk about where it could hurt him, where it counts in the future of Trump's business and his properties, when even the judge seems unsure about the full impact of his ruling. Help us understand that.

EISEN: Well, the fundamental idea here in New York law is if you are a business owner or a business and you persistently engage in fraud, you lose your right to do business. It's tantamount to, it's not exactly the same as, but it's close to what we call the corporate death penalty.

In that case, when you have a fraudulent business, and the judge found that there were a series of Trump businesses that qualified this way and Trump and his families qualified for this pattern of fraud, then a receiver is appointed and the businesses are dissolved. They're managed and then eventually sold. That's what's happening here. And it is a very unusual, and that's why the judge is trying to feel his way forward.

BROWN: Yes. There's still the looming question, right, what will this mean for his most famous properties, Mar-a-lago, Trump Tower, remains to be seen.

But, Jamie, on the politics of all of this, you know, Trump support has only gone up since his criminal indictments. Do you think the political fallout of this civil case will be the same?

GANGEL: Look, we don't know yet, but as you said, all of these other indictments, he's actually been going up in the polls. And his supporters, his base, when you ask them why they continue to support him in the face of all these indictments, there is a phrase you hear over and over again. They're just out to get him.

I think this may be, and I'm going to stress may be, slightly different because this goes to the brand. The judge used the word, fraud. So, does this chip away at his image so that some of those supporters are not so enthusiastic?

BROWN: It's a worthy question. Jamie Gangel, Norm Eisen, Joey Jackson, thank you.

And just ahead on The Situation Room, what's next for U.S. Soldier Travis King as he returns home from North Korea and why did Kim Jong- un's regime let him go?

And later, Senator Menendez pleads not guilty to bribery charges as the number of fellow Democrats calling for his resignation soars with the exception of one prominent Senate Democrat.



BROWN: Tonight, the U.S. soldier who fled into North Korea two months ago is on his way back home after the communist regime decided to, quote, expel him.

CNN's Alex Marquardt has more on the release of Private Travis King.


ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice over): U.S. Army Private Travis King now on his way home after bolting across the heavily guarded border into North Korea back in July, which U.S. officials say he did willfully and without authorization. On Wednesday, North Korean state media suddenly announced that 23-year- old king would be expelled following what they called an investigation, which King supposedly admitted that he crossed into North Korea illegally.

MATTHEW MILLER, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: The United States has secured the return from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

MARQUARDT: Now, the U.S. expects to learn what drove Private King's dramatic escapade, as well as details on his more than two months in North Korean custody. U.S. officials say multiple countries had undertaken intense diplomacy to free King and that Sweden, which represents U.S. interests in North Korea, played a pivotal role.

MILLER: We thank Sweden and the People's Republic of China for their assistant in facilitating that transfer.

MARQUARDT: King was taken from North Korea to the Friendship Bridge with China in Dandong, where he was met by the American ambassador and the defense attache. From there, he flew to Shenyang, in China, and then on to the U.S. air base, Osan, in South Korea, before flying back to the United States.

MILLER: We expect him to arrive in the coming hours.

MARQUARDT: The U.S. providing no clues as to why the North Koreans decided to expel King now.

Was there anything that North Koreans asked for or received in exchange? Was there a trade at all?

MILLER: We did not give them anything. We've made no concessions as part of securing his return.

MARQUARDT: King is said to be in good health, very happy to be free and eager to see his family. A spokesman for his mother saying in a statement she, quote, will be forever grateful to the United States Army and all its interagency partners for a job well done.

King's family had previously said they didn't understand why King had done what he did.

JAQUEDA GATES, SISTER OF TRAVIS KING: This is really, really hard on my mom, you know? That's her baby boy. His room is still in her house.

MARQUARDT: When King fled from the airport in Seoul, South Korea, to the DMZ, he had been ordered back to Texas to face discipline after pleading guilty in South Korea to assault, for which he was sentenced to 50 days of labor in South Korea.


MARQUARDT (on camera): And, Pam, there's still a big question as to whether King will face more discipline and punishment for going AWOL. We are told by a senior administration official that those questions will be addressed after King is back on what this official called solid footing after the reintegration process. Pamela?

BROWN: All right. Thank you so much, Alex. I appreciate it.

For more on this story, I'm joined by Jean Lee, former Pyongyang Bureau Chief for the Associated Press, and Sue Mi Terry, a former White House official and former North Korea analyst for the CIA.

Sue, to start with you, how unusual is it for North Korea to release an American detainee like this without really any gain for them?

SUE MI TERRY, FORMER WHITE HOUSE OFFICIAL: Well, you're right, because, normally, there's high level engagement, like we would have to send a high level U.S. government official to get an American out. So, it is unusual, but I think I have to say, you know, probably because North Koreans thought there is not much value in keeping him after having debriefed him, having extensively spent a few months, and probably figured out that he doesn't really have high intelligence value or any more propaganda value.


But it is noteworthy that they have decided to release him at this point.

BROWN: Jean, what do you think is behind North Korea's moves here? Why didn't it have any interest in continuing to detain Travis King, in your view?

JEAN LEE, FORMER PYONGYANG BUREAU CHIEF, ASSOCIATED PRESS: Well, we should remember that it is also a burden on North Koreans to hold on to Americans. And I would like to think that the North Koreans may have learned a thing or two from the detention of Otto Warmbier, who was a University of Virginia student who was sentenced to many years of hard labor for taking down a poster, what the North Koreans called an anti-state crime. And, of course, he fell into a coma, died not long after his release was negotiated.

So, I'd like to think that the North Koreans also find it a burden to have an American in their custody and perhaps, as Sue Mi Terry mentioned, realized that this was not going to be to anyone's benefit and certainly not perhaps to the young man who is somewhat -- appears to be somewhat troubled.

BROWN: And he is now getting medical treatment or he will get medical treatment and start to re-acclimate.

Once he gets that, what will U.S. officials be looking for to learn from him, do you think? How valuable is information he could share, Sue?

TERRY: Well, it will be valuable because he did spend a number of months in North Korea, so he would be extensively debriefed and we'll be asking a lot of questions. Every little detail matters, what happened to him, what kinds of questions North Koreans asked him, how he was treated. Because, as Jean said, we have this experience with Otto Warmbier. So, we'll be interested in knowing how he was treated. Was he tortured? Was he treated well? I mean, every detail matters.

North Korea is one of the countries, we still say it's one of the most unknowable countries. By the way, North Korea has been on lockdown for the last several years. So, any information that he can provide would be still helpful for us.

BROWN: All right, thanks to you both. I appreciate you offering your perspectives.

And coming up, while seven Republican presidential hopefuls take the debate stage in just a few hours, frontrunner Donald Trump is in a key battleground state trying to appeal to a certain group of voters.

You're watching The Situation Room.



BROWN: Tonight, Republican presidential candidates hit the debate stage at the Ronald Reagan Library, but the event will take place without dominant frontrunner Donald Trump, who is instead traveling to Michigan to give a speech to auto workers amid the UAW strike.

CNN's Kristen Holmes joins us live from Clinton Township, Michigan, where Trump will speak a short while from now. Kristen, what will his message be tonight and what is his strategy?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Pamela, the strategy here is that this is the clearest sign or indication that we've seen from the Trump campaign that they are now looking ahead towards this general election. We knew he was going to skip the debate. He has said he was going to because of his big, comfortable lead in national polls as well as his early state polls, but now coming to a swing state to speak to working class voters. That is a whole different message.

And when I talked to Trump advisers, they say that this is critical for Trump in 2024. Of course, this group of voters, working class voters, and the state of Michigan helped deliver the White House to Trump in 2016 and then helped deliver the White House to Biden in 2020. Trump wants to get those voters back.

So, he is coming here tonight. There are signs across the rooms that say Union Members for Trump. They have stressed the fact that there will be union members here. I'm waiting to talk to some of them later so I can see what exactly brought them here, because we know that those union leaders, they believe that Trump is pro-business, not pro- labor and not pro-union. Pamela? BROWN: All right. Kristen Holmes in Clinton Township, Michigan, thank you so much for that.

So, let's discuss all of this with our political experts and our analysts. David Chalian, let's start with you here. Trump, again, skipping the debate tonight. In our CNN poll of polls, he is dominating the Republican field by more than 40 points with 58 percent to just 15 percent for his closest rival. Given that, what is the significance of tonight?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes. His lead even increased after not showing up at the first debate, Pam. So, I think from that, the Trump team said, hey, maybe it's okay that we can skip out on these debates. But I don't think it diminishes the significance of what will happen here in California, which is this battle for second place, yes, now, but the quest to consolidate support from those in the party, giving consideration to candidates not named Trump.

And so I would look for two things. We've seen on the trail in recent dates, these candidates have been stepping up their direct frontal attacks and contrast with the former president, but also look carefully about how they handle each other. I think it will be really curious to see does Ron DeSantis perform in such a way to suggest he perceives a real threat from Nikki Haley for this second place slot. Will we see Governor Christie, as he has foreshadowed, continue to sort of deliver each answer in an attempt to hammer away at the former president?

The goal here for these folks is to take this unique opportunity where Trump is not dominant for these couple of hours, not on the stage, and have a conversation with Republican primary voters to get their message to them directly.

BROWN: And so they have this opportunity without Trump physically there. Gloria, which of the candidates is most desperately in need of a breakthrough moment tonight?


GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think it's easy to say that DeSantis is somebody who really needs to breakthrough. And I don't mean that he just has to have an okay appearance tonight and not make any mistakes, he really has to break through. He's lost, you know, more than half of his support in Iowa and New Hampshire since the last debate. So, you know, he's got a lot to prove to his donors, are growing a lot more skeptical about him.

I also think if Nikki Haley really wants to be the other, the second place person that David was talking about, she really has to continue doing what she did in the last debate. She was terrific in the last debate. She differentiated herself from Donald Trump, from Ramaswamy, from a lot of the other candidates seeming to be pragmatic while also conservative. And so I think this is going to be kind of a big moment for her.

You know, I don't think this primary season is over because over half of the voters in recent polls in the early states say, you know, they're open to somebody else. So, it's not over until it's over.

BROWN: That's a key reminder for everyone.

Dana, when it comes to Chris Christie, he is the only one of the seven candidates who will debate tonight who consistently challenged Donald Trump at the last debate. Since then, as David noticed, Trump's numbers have only gone up. Do you expect other candidates to challenge Trump more tonight than the last debate?

DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, no question. And David mentioned this earlier, there isn't anybody else on the stage who will likely challenge Donald Trump when it comes to the core issues of democracy and attempted coup, fitness for service, as commander-in-chief again, as Chris Christie has and will likely continue to do tonight.

Having said that, we did see a bit of Nikki Haley pushing back on Donald Trump in the first debate on substance, issues like the deficit and spending. And since then, we have seen people like Ron DeSantis step up, not just on that, but on the border and on other issues that have to do with what Donald Trump did and more importantly from their perspective did not do when he was in the White House, when he had the chance for four years to govern.

You know, what's interesting is the last time I was here in Simi Valley, it was actually a CNN debate in the 2016 cycle, there was no record. There was no record at all for Donald Trump. He was a first- time politician. Now there is one, a very big one. And that is clearly what Republicans who are trying to vie for a chance at challenging him to get the nomination are bringing up time and time again.

BROWN: Trump, as we've noted, is not there. He is in Michigan today amid the auto workers' strike. I want to get your reaction, Nia, to something that the president of the UAW told Wolf Blitzer about Trump's visit. Let's watch.


SHAWN FAIN, PRESIDENT, UNITED AUTO WORKERS: When he was the president of the United States, where was he then? G.M. -- our workers at G.M. were on strike for 60 days, for two months, they were out throwing the picket lines. I didn't see him hold a rally. I didn't see him stand up at the picket line, and I sure as hell didn't hear him comment about it.


BROWN: So, what do you think? Can Trump's populist appeal win over the blue collar union voters that Biden is also targeting?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, sure. I mean, he won those voters. If you look back to 2016, that was a big reason he won, because he was able to take some of those white working class voters that Obama won in those blue wall states and win them in 2016. Biden did just the opposite in 2020, grabbing some of those white working class voters, and that's why he was so successful in winning those blue states, like Michigan.

So, Donald Trump is doing something he's done before and something we haven't seen typically from Republican candidates of any level, really. And that is to try to appeal to union voters by saying, listen, he sort of stands with the union voters and the union sort of protesters, but is trying to sort of draw a wedge with the union leaders. So, that was something that was successful, I think, for him in 2016, he's trying to do it again.

BROWN: And let's talk about what he's trying to do when it comes to abortion here, Gloria.

BORGER: What is he trying to do?

BROWN: Well, that's what I'm asking you about, because he seems to be sticking out this more moderate position on abortion than many of his 2024 rivals. Now, he's suggesting that the anti-abortion movement is all about the money. Here's what he said.


TRUMP: This is an issue that's been going on for 52 years. I was able to end it.

We have these groups fighting this thing for so many decades, but it's exactly 52 years as a date in the not too distant future. And that's a long time. Everybody is raising money all the time, everybody. I don't know, maybe it's some kind of a business. I don't know what's going on.


BROWN: So much of his support comes from Evangelical Christians. What is his play here?

BORGER: He doesn't know what to say. I mean, he kind of treats it like a real estate negotiation. You know, this has been going on for 52 years. We could sit down and cut a deal at some point.

BROWN: I'm impressed. I'm so impressed.


BORGER: We can cut a deal at some point. And I don't know what's going on. Maybe it's about money.

For the first time in a long time, we see Donald Trump really confused about what to do about this because he wants to claim credit on the Dobbs decision. Of course, he's appointed these justices. But on the other hand, he has said to people, like DeSantis, this is a mistake, the six-week ban. And then he's alienated evangelicals and a lot of the right to life movement.

So, what does he do? He says, oh, we'll cut a deal. Really? I'm not so sure.

BROWN: All right, very interesting. Thanks to you all.

Be sure to tune in to CNN Tonight for all of your post-debate coverage with Dana Bash and Anderson Cooper. It is 11:00 Eastern on CNN.

And just ahead, Democratic Senator Bob Menendez is not saying much as he makes his first appearance at federal court on corruption charges, this as he starts to lose support among more prominent Democrats.



BROWN: Embattled Democratic Senator Bob Menendez and his wife make their first appearance in a New York court and plead not guilty to federal bribery charges.

CNN's Kara Scannell is right outside the courthouse in New York. So, what happened today, Kara?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Pam, the senator and his wife arrived at court hand in hand as co-defendants in this alleged bribery scheme. Now, this arraignment lasted only about 30 minutes. It was inside of a packed courtroom, and both Menendez and his wife entered pleas of not guilty.

So, Menendez was released on a $100,000 bond. He had to surrender his personal passport, but he could keep his official passport, and he can still travel internationally as long as it's for official business.

Now, the senator is restricted from talking to any of the co- defendants except his wife, and he also is not allowed to contact any members of his staff, any staff members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and any political aides with personal knowledge of this investigation, so, essentially, any potential witnesses in this case without an attorney present.

Now, his wife was also released on bond, $250,000 secured by their home in New Jersey. Her travel is also restricted to certain parts of the U.S. She's also not permitted to talk to any of these co- defendants.

Now, of those co-defendants, two of them also appeared in court today. These are the two New Jersey businessmen, Fred Daibes and Jose Uribe. They entered pleas of not guilty. And yesterday, the fifth defendant in this case, Wael Hana, he entered a plea of not guilty in this case. He was arrested at JFK Airport when he returned from Egypt, where he had been at the time that this indictment was unsealed on Friday.

Now, all five of the defendants are due back in court on Monday. Pam?

BROWN: All right. Kara Scannell, thank you so much for that.

And meanwhile, at least 30 Senate Democrats, including some members of Senate leadership, are calling on Menendez to resign.

CNN's Melanie Zanona is live for us on Capitol Hill. Melanie, Senator Menendez is expected to address his colleagues tomorrow, right?

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Yes, that is exactly right. Fresh off of his court appearance, Bob Menendez will return to the Capitol tomorrow and we are told that he's going to address his fellow Democrats during a special caucus meeting.

Now, a number of senators have called on him to resign, so this is a pivotal moment for him, but there are still a number of senators who have not yet called on him to resign, and some of them have said they want to hear from him directly.

So, we'll see whether Bob Menendez changes any minds in that meeting tomorrow and we'll also see whether some of these more outspoken Democrats who have called on him to step down will also go after him pretty hard tomorrow. John Fetterman, for example, has been very outspoken about Bob Menendez and needing to step down.

But aside from the resignation question, there is also a question and some fears in the Democratic Party about whether Bob Menendez is going to run for re-election. He still has not said what he plans to do. He is up in 2024, but I suspect that some of his Democratic colleagues are going to press him on that very question behind closed doors tomorrow. Pam?

BROWN: All right. Let's talk about -- well, it looks like we're losing you. Melanie Zanona, thanks so much. I appreciate it.

And coming up, Cassidy Hutchinson talks about what happened inside the White House when it got word rioters were chanting, hang my Pence. Up next, Pence's former chief of staff weighs in.



BROWN: Seven Republican presidential candidates will face off for the second time tonight, hoping to blunt the Donald Trump who is again skipping the event.

Joining us now is Marc Short, a key adviser to Mike Pence, who also served as a chief of staff in the White House.

So, Marc, Donald Trump, as we know, won't be at the debate tonight, but he is dominating in the field. In a new CBS News poll, he is ahead by 30 points in Iowa. Pence is at 5 percent and he's winning by 37 percent in New Hampshire with his former VP at just 2 percent.

How does Pence breakthrough and change the dynamic of this race and when does it become too late?

MARC SHORT, ADVISER TO MIKE PENCE: Well, Pam, I don't think it's anywhere near being too late. I think most voters are focused on the cost of inflation. They're focused on raising their families and I think attention really turns later this fall.

So I think you've seen that in Iowa. Whether or not that was Barack Obama coming from behind the last minute to defeat Hillary or on the Republican side with Santorum, so -- or Huckabee. So, I think that's been the trajectory.

I think that people in Iowa want to know you. They want to see you. They want to meet with you. I think there's a question as to whether or not Donald Trump's going to spend the time getting to know Iowa voters.

So, I think there's a long pathway, but for your question about the chorus, I think for the vice president, this is a perfect setting to remind Americans that he's always been the full spectrum conservative and perhaps the only one on the stage tonight who's represented the classic conservative viewpoint of limited government, strong national defense and strong family values throughout his career and it's a great setting for him to do that tonight.

BROWN: But is that where the Republican Party is right now? When you think of Donald Trump being the front-runner? I mean, many say this is the party of Donald Trump. Is that what you just listed really where the party is?

SHORT: Well, I think you know the former vice president gave a speech a couple of weeks ago defining conservatism versus populism. They think it's important to break that down and to showcase that Donald Trump governed as a conservative president when the vice president was by his side.

But since they separated, you've seen Donald Trump now propose I think the largest tax increase possible on middle class Americans with a 10 percent across the board tariff. You've seen him advocate and walk away from his commitment to life. You've seen his positions change on fiscal sanity and basically embrace the position of Joe Biden to say we don't need to address entitlements even though we're at $33 trillion in debt.

And so, I think there's been a diversion and I think it's important voters recognize that and understand the choices they're facing.

BROWN: Well, we should also note, when Donald Trump was president, he also added trillions in debt.


You know, I know that Pence is steadfast in his convictions that he did the right thing on January 6th. But the bottom line is a large portion of the Trump base, Pence needs to win for the -- you know, needs to win for the nomination believes that the 2020 election was stolen and blames Pence.

Do you really believe that he can win their support?

SHORT: I think that more and more Americans are informed of what the vice president's role was, they accept the vice president doesn't have the authority overturning the election, Pamela, and I think most conservatives wouldn't want Kamala Harris have that authority in 2024. So I think that most elections though are also about the future and I

think they want to hear what's the vision for how we're going to get this country back on track. And so, I think that's what debate is more about.

BROWN: All right. I want to get your reaction to something former Trump White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson said about Trump's action on January 6th in her book.

Quote, the president is yelling, what's he saying? I can't make it out. I hear him say hang repeatedly. Hang, hang? What's that about?

Suddenly, everything makes sense. They are calling for the vice president to be hanged. The president is okay with it. He doesn't want to do anything. He thinks Mike is a traitor.

Your reaction, Marc.

SHORT: Pamela, I think you know that on the day and night of January 6th, that I was with the vice president at the Capitol. I'm not aware of what was happening at the White House. I know the vice president had a job to do and even though they attempted to evacuate him three times, he said I'm going to stay at my post and do my job to make sure the votes of the American people are counted.

And so, I don't know what was happening at the White House. I can't really comment on Cassidy's recollection of those events.

BROWN: Cassidy also said in her book that she remained loyal to Trump even after January 6th. Mike Pence even wrote in his book, quote, I've always been loyal to President Trump.

Marc, you worked in the Trump administration twice. And I'm wondering as you reflect, did you also grapple with your loyalty to Trump and what drives that?

SHORT: I think that Donald Trump had a great record as president. I think he accomplished some great things for conservatives but I think the events of January 6th, Pamela, are a demarcation line. I think that we all, his public officials swear an oath to uphold the Constitution. And his decision that day was to violate the Constitution, ask his vice president to disregard his oath for the Constitution.

And I think that's a -- that's a pretty significant gray area --


BROWN: But he was also doing that leading up to January 6th. I mean, he was -- as you know, there were all kinds of discussions with the vice president and he was saying the election -- you know, the election was going to be rigged and so forth. I mean, he had been saying that all along.

SHORT: And, Pamela, I think that issue one day a lot of conversations the vice president and the president had over four years which fortunately, he listened to Mike Pence's advice. Unfortunately, on that particular day, he didn't.

And so, no, I'm proud of the record of those four years but I think the events of January 6th were a significant breach in one's oath to the Constitution. And as I've said, I think since those times, you've seen Donald Trump continue to veer off course and no longer promise conservatives what he did in 2016 when he promised he would govern as a conservative. Today, he asks his voters to basically fight his grievances.

BROWN: All right. Marc Short, nice to have you on. Thank you.

SHORT: Pamela, thanks for having me.

BROWN: And just ahead, police warn that he will quote, kill, will rape, will cause harm. The latest on the massive manhunt for the suspect in a tech CEO's murder.



BROWN: Baltimore police are searching for a suspect wanted in connection with the murder of a 26-year-old tech CEO.

Brian Todd is at a vigil for the victim.

Brian, what are we learning?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Pamela, as hundreds of people here gather to mourn this victim, Pava LaPere, we do have new information tonight on her murder and on the very dangerous suspect who is still at large.


MAYOR BRANDON SCOTT, BALTIMORE: This person is extremely dangerous.

TODD (voice-over): Tonight, a growing man hunt underway for convicted felon, Jason Billingsley, suspected of murdering a tech CEO inside a Baltimore apartment building.

RICHARD WORLEY, ACTING POLICE COMMISSIONER, BALTIMORE POLICE: This individual will kill and he will rape. He will do anything he can to cause harm.

TODD: Police say they found 26-year-old Pava LaPere inside a secure apartment building Monday, dead with blunt force trauma to the head. Her sudden, violent death has stunned loved ones and members of the Baltimore tech community.

KORY BAILEY, PAVA LAPERE'S FRIEND, BUSINESS ASSOCIATE: It's devastating. As young as she was, she was so intelligent, so charismatic.

TODD: Police did not give details on how they connected Billingsley to LaPere's death. And a woman who identified herself as Billingsley's mother told NBC

she did not know if her son knew LaPere. Scarlett Billingsley told NBC she texted her son, urging him to turn himself in, fearing the police are going to kill him.

SCOTT: There is no way in hell that he should have been on the street.

TODD: Records show Billingsley pleaded guilty to first degree assault in 2009, second degree assault in 2011. And he pleaded guilty to a first degree sex offense in 2015 and was sentenced to 30 years in prison, with 16 months already served. He was released from prison in October of 2022.

Billingsley had not been paroled but was released, quote, on mandatory supervision as required by statute, a spokesperson for Maryland's Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services told "The New York Times".

LaPere was cofounder and CEO of the company EcoMap Technologies, which sells tools for artificial intelligence, including a customizable chatbot. Her work landed her on the 30 under 30 Forbes list among other recognitions.

DELALI DZIRASA, PAVA LAPERE'S MENTOR, FRIEND: She was ambitious. She was hard driving. But it wasn't for the sake of like Pava needs to see her name in lights. It was always about, how do I lift up other people? How do I support other people? She saw the best in absolutely everybody.


TODD (on camera): Baltimore police now say that the suspect Jason Billingsley is also wanted in connection with attempted murder, rape and arson related to an incident that occurred last week. The reward for his capture now stands at $6,000 -- Pamela.

BROWN: All right. Thanks, Brian.

And before we go, we want to congratulate the anchor of this program, Wolf Blitzer, who will be honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Annual News and Documentary Emmys.

We're so proud of you, Wolf, for this well-deserved honor.