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Trump Leaves New York Court As Day One Of Civil Fraud Trial Ends; Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) Pushes Threat To Oust Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Stay Tuned; California Governor Appoints Democratic Activist To Fill Fmr. Sen. Dianne Feinstein's (D-CA) Senate Seat; Biden: "I Fully Expect" McCarthy And GOP To Approve New Funding for Ukraine But Won't Say If He's Received Assurances; Missing 9-Year-Old Girl Found. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired October 02, 2023 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: But do not panic. Federal government says it plans to test its emergency alert system at 2:20 P.M. Eastern. That's 11.20 A.M. Pacific. The noise will come with a message that reads, quote, this is a test of the national wireless emergency alert system. No action is needed. So, just relax, okay? It's going to be okay.
Our coverage continues now with Wolf Blitzer in The Situation Room. I'll see you tomorrow.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, the first day of Donald Trump's civil fraud trial wraps up with the former president in the courtroom to fight charges that could potentially decimate his family business. Trump attempting to turn the trial into a platform for personal and political attacks.
Also tonight, Republican hardliner Matt Gaetz takes his threat to oust Speaker Kevin McCarthy to the House floor, but stops short of any action yet, telling Americans to, quote, stay tuned. We're tracking the intense GOP in fighting right now after McCarthy worked with Democrats to avert a government shutdown.
And California's governor appoints a Democratic activist to temporarily fill the Senate seat of the late Dianne Feinstein. We'll take a closer look at Laphonza Butler's potential impact on D.C. politics and on California's high-profile Senate race in 2024.
Welcome to our viewers here in the United States at around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in The Situation Room.
All right, let's get right to the opening day of Donald Trump's civil fraud trial in New York, the former president in the United States appearing in court with the future of his business empire on the line right now.
CNN's Kara Scannell is outside the courthouse of Manhattan. Kara, so what happened today?
KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the attorney general's office laid out their case, saying that year after year, loan after loan, Donald Trump and his adult sons had inflated the value of their assets in order to obtain favorable interest rates on loans. They played snippets of deposition testimony from Eric Trump, Donald Trump Jr. and Donald Trump himself, all three expected to be witnesses in this case.
Here's what Donald Trump said as he sought to distance himself from the financial statements at the heart of this case. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To meet your obligation here of presenting the information in accordance with GAAP, was Allen Weisselberg responsible for that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Object to the forum.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I would say yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCANNELL: Now they also showed a letter that Trump himself had signed that was sent to Deutsche Bank, one of the banks that loaned them money. This was part of the A.G.'s office attempt to link Trump from those financial statements to the loans at issue in this case, part of the elements of this case that they're looking to prove now.
Now, Trump's attorneys have taken issue with the allegations in this case, saying that no banks lost money. Banks, in fact, made hundreds million dollars in money. There was no conspiracy. There were no victims. They say any differences in the valuations of some of these properties, such as Mar-a-Lago, or the family home known as Seven Springs in New York, was just real estate, not fraud, so really pushing back on that.
Now, the state called their first witness to case Trump's longtime accountant, Donald Bender. He was on the stand for several hours this afternoon. You know, and inside the courtroom, Trump was very attentive. He was fully engaged. He was flipping through papers at times. He was watching the witnesses and his attorneys as they gave their testimony and their opening statements. But he did not engage with the New York attorney general at all. In fact, he passed by her three times without even looking at her. It was only one time that he -- as he walked past, he glanced down to look at her, but they had no involvement, no engagement.
Eric Trump, who was there also in the courtroom today, did stop and see the attorney general. He shook hands with her. And then when he left for the end of the day, he spoke with her again for a second time. But that was quite a contrast from outside of court, where Donald Trump took every opportunity to speak to the cameras and criticize the attorney general, calling this a witch hunt and politically motivated. Wolf?
BLITZER: Kara, so what happens next in this trial? SCANNELL: Well, so tomorrow Donald Bennett will be back on the stand, but then the attorney general will begin to present their case. We'll get into witness testimony. They say they're going to call 27 other witnesses, including the three oldest Trump children and Donald Trump himself. Then Trump's side will have an opportunity to put on their case.
Another important witness here that came up today will be Michael Cohen. The attorney general's office said they will call him and Trump's attorneys have called him a convicted felon, a serial liar. So, we can expect a pretty aggressive cross-examination when he takes the stand, possibly later this week or next week. Wolf?
BLITZER: We'll be watching it very, very closely. Kara Scannell in New York for us, thank you.
Let's break all of this down with our legal and political experts, and Carrie Cordero, let me start with you.
Prosecutors are asking the judge to bar Trump and his family for all practical purposes from being allowed to do business in New York. What are the ramifications of that?
CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, that's what this whole case is about. I mean, it's about the fact that a judge has already found them liable for having conducted fraud in their business. And now we've got this whole second part of it where he will consider additional things, like insurance fraud and conspiracy and falsifying documents.
But at heart, it's whether or not they will, A, have to provide fines into the hundreds of millions of dollars, and, B, whether they'll be able to continue to do their work in the state of New York.
BLITZER: Yes, the stakes for the Trump family and for Trump specifically are enormous. Trump's legal claims -- legal team claims, as I should point out, Norm Eisen with us, that the banks were repaid that there really weren't any victims of any of this. What do you make of that argument?
NORM EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, if I were to shoot at you and miss, I would still get prosecuted. If you create false financial documents, if you exaggerate your properties, if you allegedly commit insurance fraud, bank fraud, it doesn't matter if you happen to injure the banks or the insurance companies that time. There are many different ways that those materials are relied upon. And just like that shot that misses, you can still be prosecuted.
The judge made this point in his very severe partial summary judgment. You keep making this argument, he said to the lawyers, but I've already said it doesn't matter under New York law and it doesn't. We don't want people lying in their business records.
BLITZER: Yes, good point, Gloria Borger is with us. Trump appeared several times today making public statements before and after he was in the courtroom during the course of this. Listen to what he had to say. Here's some of it. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: This is a continuation of the trial of the single greatest witch hunt of all time. We have a rogue judge who rules that properties are worth a tiny fraction, in 1 to 100, a tiny fraction of what they actually are. We have a racist attorney general, who's a horror show, who ran on the basis that she was going to get Trump before she even knew anything about me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: In effect, the Trump seemed to be turning this into a campaign stop for himself.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. We've all heard of Rose Garden campaigns that presidents have when they don't want to leave the White House. Well, this is a courthouse campaign, and we're going to continue to see the courthouse campaign for months and months and months.
I mean, he clearly was not speaking to the judge, whom he dissed completely. He was talking to the American public. He was talking to his base. He was talking to people he wants to think, to convince that he's the victim here, and that all of these put together are just a protracted way of getting him because he's running against Joe Biden. And that is -- you know, that's this -- it's very simple.
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: But, Wolf, could I just add, you know, in addition to what Gloria is saying, we just saw these pictures of him inside the courtroom. And I do think it has an impact. This is not normal. And this case is a charge of fraud, that word. This undermines his brand as a successful businessman. It goes to the heart of who Donald Trump is.
Look, this may not change the minds of the base. He may raise some more money off of it. But I think the question is, at the end of the day, at the end of this trial, you know, if he is the nominee, does it undermine his standing with Republican -- some Republican voters, moderates and independents who think enough already?
BLITZER: Because he seems to think it helps him in the Republican primary contest, but it's clear it's almost certainly not going to help him in the general election, if he is the nominee.
GANGEL: Correct, correct. He's already leading by far in the primary, but what does this do to independents who lean Republican? Maybe they won't vote for Joe Biden. Assume that that's the matchup. But maybe they won't turn out for Donald Trump either.
BORGER: You can also tell how personally important this is to him. He ran in 2016 telling everybody he was rich. And that was one of the reasons they should vote for him, because he wasn't dependent on anybody else and he knew how to get around the tax system, et cetera, et cetera, and his business is everything to him. The Trump Organization is everything to him. And you cannot underestimate how important personally this particular trial is to him.
And I think he's going to let the American public know that he thinks it's all a fraud.
BLITZER: We heard, Carrie, the former president, attack the judge and the attorney general both before and after he was in the courtroom today. How will the judges react to this?
CORDERO: Well, first of all, as far as a legal strategy goes, it's the worst possible thing that he could do because this is not a jury trial. It is this judge that he is lobbing his verbal attacks against who is going to make the decision and who has already, in his decision last week, ruled against the former president and the Trump Organization, and who has, in his opinion last week, made very clear that he doesn't think much of the arguments that are being made by the former president's team. He called them a fantasy world, not the real world, when it comes to the arguments that the Trump Organization has been making.
EISEN: Well, to Carrie's point, what Gloria and Jamie are saying, this may be the single most personally devastating set of events to Donald Trump, both because the judge has already ordered that he loses his certificate to do business for his New York businesses. He's already found that there was substantial fraud, that train is speeding down on Donald Trump. This is going to be a very tough case for him to reverse on appeal, and so it's both his emotional investment, but a very real liability.
BLITZER: Let me get Jamie to react what the former Trump White House chief is to have, John Kelly, is now publicly on the record saying about Trump, his former boss, warning of a potential, potential second Trump term in the White House.
This is Kelly. Listen to this. A person that has nothing but contempt for our democratic institutions, our Constitution, and the rule of law, there is nothing more that can be said, God help us. That's how he's describing Trump.
GANGEL: So, let's just remember, General John Kelly was his longest serving, chief of staff. This is a well respected person who was in the room, in the Oval Office, day in and day out with Donald Trump.
General Kelly has spoken out before, but he picks his moments. He doesn't do this all the time. And the fact that he is confirming these quotes now is devastating, I think, and it also speaks of the fact he's clearly worried that Donald Trump could be president again.
BLITZER: He certainly is. And these are on the record statements from Kelly. Guys, thank you very, very much.
Just ahead, what Congressman Matt Gaetz -- what's he waiting for right now as he renews his threat to try to oust Speaker Kevin McCarthy, but fails to make it official, at least not yet.
And a new subpoena for Trump ally Bernard Kerik in the Georgia election case, what would it mean for him to testify? We have new CNN reporting. That's just ahead.
BLITZER: House Republican hardliner Matt Gaetz is ratcheting up the drama right now as he vows to push forward with his threat to boot Kevin McCarthy from the speaker's job. Gaetz urging everyone to stay tuned, his words, for his next move.
CNN's Chief Congressional Correspondent Manu Raju is up on Capitol Hill. Manu, how serious is the threat to McCarthy's job tonight after he worked with Democrats to prevent a government shutdown?
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Very serious, Wolf. In fact, there are three Republicans right now who are saying that they will vote to oust Kevin McCarthy. Matt Gaetz will only need five total, assuming all Democrats also vote to kick out Kevin McCarthy from the speakership.
So, tonight, there are major questions about what Democrats will do, right now, huddling behind closed doors with the Democratic leader, Hakeem Jeffries. And, Wolf just moments ago, one Republican congressman, Don Bacon, told me preliminary discussions have begun with Democrats to cut a deal.
RAJU (voice over): Kevin McCarthy's speakership in peril as he tries to stave off a right wing revolt. Congressman Matt Gaetz, vowing to do something never successfully executed, ousting the sitting speaker through a vote in the House and promising not to back down until McCarthy is no longer in charge.
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): We got to understand why we are here.
RAJU: The main reason, McCarthy relied on Democrats to help keep the government open until next month.
Are you worried about throwing this institution into chaos, paralyzing an institution that your party runs?
REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): You talk about chaos as if it's me forcing a few votes and filing a few motions. You don't know chaos until you've seen where this Congress and this uniparty is bringing us.
RAJU: For Gaetz to succeed, he would need the support of at least five House Republicans, all Democrats voted to eject McCarthy. Then the House would be paralyzed until a new speaker could be elected.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that members should be looking for stronger leadership. RAJU: House Democratic leaders have not yet decided how to vote and what concessions to seek from McCarthy.
REP. ADAM SMITH (D-WA): I am not happy with Kevin McCarthy as a speaker, but as a friend of mine says, it can always be worse.
RAJU: Others, not eager to give McCarthy a lifeline.
TAPPER: Would you vote to vacate?
REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): Would I cast that vote? Absolutely.
RAJU: Once Gaetz files a motion, the House would vote within two days. Today, the speaker would not say whether he would have to cut a deal with Democrats to keep his job.
MCCARTHY: You always count me out, right?
RAJU: I'm just asking you the possibility.
MCCARTHY: I'm just telling you the same thing I tell you every time. I never give up. I think that's destructive to the institution. I think it's destructive to the country. And my focus is surely only on getting our work done.
RAJU: The last time a similar vote happened was in 1910, but Joseph Cannon remained a speaker as his powers were weakened. And just the threat in 2015 of ousting John Boehner led to his abrupt resignation as speaker.
McCarthy plans to fight it, even as he is facing more pressure from the right wing to abandon billions of dollars in aid to Ukraine.
REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): He can't do it. It would be a violation of the House's rule, which is a long-held rule by Republican majorities that the speaker cannot bring a bill to the floor if the majority of the majority doesn't support it.
RAJU: All this frustration builds among McCarthy's allies.
REP. RICK ALLEN (R-GA): I just pray for wisdom, for Matt, and clarity on this because I think that would be terrible for America.
BLITZER: I think we've lost your mic. Manu, stand by. We'll get back to you, Manu Raju reporting from Capitol Hill.
I want to get some more on all of these important developments. Joining us now, a key Republican, we're joined by Congressman Tony Gonzales. He's the co-chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. Congressman, thank you so much for joining us. As you heard and as you well know, Republican Matt Gaetz, your colleague says he will likely seek to remove Speaker Kevin McCarthy later this week. Do you have confidence in McCarthy's leadership, Congressman, and how will you vote on a motion to remove him?
REP. TONY GONZALES (R-TX): Hey, Wolf, thanks for having me. I'm actually the co-chair of the Hispanic Conference. There's no doubt that tensions are high here. There's a lot of animosity. It's like watching a novella, a Spanish soap opera, and you can't look away.
But like many other Americans, we're worried about inflation. We're worried about security, the border, certainly. I think it's a little early to tell how this week is going to turn out, but I think most Americans, while it's fun to watch the politics and the knife fighting and the back and forth, people have real problems at home. How do we secure the southern border?
This is not only a United States issue. This is a central and South American issue. These are the real type of discussions I wish we were having, not playing these political games.
BLITZER: So, do you have confidence in McCarthy's leadership? And, once again, Congressman, how will you vote on a motion to remove him?
GONZALES: You know, there's no doubt that McCarthy's speakership hasn't been ideal to say the least, right? But this is the route that we've gone. We'll have to see. We have to see what the vote brings. We have to see if that even comes up. And I'll make a determination when that happens.
But I wake up not thinking about McCarthy, not thinking about Gaetz. I wake up thinking about how we secure the southern border, how we get this border crisis under control. It's my number one issue that not only impacts my district in Texas, but all of America.
And I think, Wolf, I believe there's a bipartisan solution to this if we can just stop with the blame game and get to real work.
BLITZER: I know you voted against the bill to keep the government open for another 45 days. Congressman, you say you didn't support it because it didn't include more border funding along the Texas-Mexico border. But border agents wouldn't have been paid if there had been a shutdown. So, how do you square that?
GONZALES: Yes, Wolf, that vote killed my soul because we should have been able to solve all of it. We absolutely should have some border security measures that were sensible in there and we had nothing. And yet we kicked the can 45 days down the road. That's the reason I voted no on that C.R. And it's the reason why I'll vote no again. If there are no what I'm talking about is reasonable, sensible measures.
HR--2, which passed in the House, is something that I support, but it's something that's not going to get passed into law. I'm looking at things that can get passed into law, like increasing the level of credible fear, adding repatriation plights, deporting people that do not qualify for asylum, and surge immigration judges to the border. That's the reason -- those are the secret sauce that I'm looking for us to get this border crisis under control.
BLITZER: On the issue of the U.S. aid to Ukraine, Speaker McCarthy today, he denied there's any deal to pass more funding. Is that your understanding as well and do you believe further Ukraine will eventually be passed?
GONZALES: You know, Wolf, it's hard to tell up here who's lying and who's not lying, right? Everybody's lips are moving, so that's a good indication. But what I suspect is going to happen is this, in 43 days, we're going to come up against another government shutdown. And during that time, there will be a deal that includes Ukraine -- aide for Ukraine as well as sensible border security measures.
I hope that's where we get to. I hope the Senate can pass it. I hope the House can pass it and the president can sign it into law. In the meantime, let's get some of these appropriation bills over the finish line so we can continue to keep this government going forward.
BLITZER: Before we go, Congressman, I want to give you one more opportunity to give us a definitive answer, yes or no. Will you vote to remove Speaker McCarthy if that motion comes up in the coming days?
GONZALES: That's not fair. That's a what-if. I mean, if it comes up, yes, I would vote, yes or no, but it hasn't come up. I mean, we're counting on Matt Gaetz to figure out what he's going to do today, tomorrow, the next day. I don't think about Matt Gaetz. I think about the people in my district. When and if that happens, we will make that decision. But right now, today, I am focused on securing the southern border.
BLITZER: Congressman Tony Gonzales, thank you so much for joining us.
GONZALES: Thank you.
BLITZER: Coming up, I'm going to tell you about California Governor Gavin Newsom's choice to fill the Senate seat that was held by the late Dianne Feinstein for more than three decades.
Stay with us. You're in The Situation Room.
BLITZER: The California governor, Gavin Newsom, has appointed Emily's List President Laphonza Butler to fill the state's vacant Senate seat days after the death of longtime Senator Dianne Feinstein.
CNN's Senior National Correspondent Kyung Lah has the story.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because our story is the story of how when women win, we all win.
[18:30:00] KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Seated next to her young daughter and wife, California's future senator Laphonza Butler speaking then as the head of Emily's List.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Young women, older women, all women, this is where our power lies.
LAH: Butler, who has roots in California's most powerful unions, moves from the advocacy world to the U.S. Senate, as California's Governor Gavin Newsom appoints his longtime Democratic ally to fill the late Dianne Feinstein's seat.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our bodies belong to us. Our freedoms are not up for debate.
LAH: In appointing Butler to the Senate, Newsom fulfills a promise to select a black woman. Since Kamala Harris left in 2021 to serve as vice president, there have been no black women serving in the chamber.
Newsom also avoids a political pickle with three congressional Democrats already running for the Senate seat, Adam Schiff, Katie Porter and Barbara Lee, who had lobbied publicly to be Newsom's choice.
REP. BARBARA LEE (D-CA): Of course, it would have been great if I -- because I did want to fill to vacancy, if in fact that occurred. But, listen, we all have to just focus on what we're doing. And I'm running very seriously.
LAH: Newsom's office says Butler's appointment comes without any strings attached, so she can run or not run for the Senate seat in 2024. Before she's even been sworn in, some Democrats say she should not.
REP. JOHN GARAMENDI (D-CA): I just think it's terribly unfair that she would do so. And the word around here is that whomever he appointed would not run. And to be airdropped into this is simply not fair. And, by the way, I don't think many people know her.
LAH: Butler has four months before California's primary to change that as the sitting senator, only the third black woman in U.S. history and the first black lesbian to openly serve in the U.S. Senate.
AIMEE ALLISON, FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT, SHE THE PEOPLE: I like to think of it as an embarrassment of riches. There are so many talented black women who've never had a shot at being in the Senate. And we hope that behind the scenes, as the dust settles that we will, as a movement, figure out who to get behind and get a path to victory here in California so that black women are representing in the long-term.
LAH (on camera): Soon to be Senator Butler moved to Maryland in 2021 to lead Emily's List. And she registered to vote in the state of Maryland in 2022. Governor Newsom, in speaking with reporters, says that Butler remains a longtime California homeowner and she's already re-registered to vote here in the state of California. Wolf?
BLITZER: All right. Kyung Lah reporting, thank you.
For more on this story, I'm joined now by CNN Political Commentators Alice Stewart and Karen Finney.
And, Karen, you know Laphonza Butler, you know her well.
KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes.
BLITZER: How do you think, how do you see her taking on this historic role?
FINNEY: I think she's going to be excellent and I'm so proud of her. I mean, she is someone who is very steeped both in policy and politics. She's a brilliant political strategist on the policy side. You know, as you heard Kyung Lah say, I mean, she is someone who, you know, leading SEIU, has, I mean, worked on behalf of home health care workers, janitors, window cleaners. So, she understands issues like raising the minimum wage, which she helped to make happen in California.
She was also critically important in 2022, not only in her role at Emily's List, electing again a record number of women, but she was one of the people who first was seeing in the data and feeling on the ground that reproductive rights was going to be a key issue. And she helped make that case to others in our party.
BLITZER: If she does decide to throw her hat into the ring and run for a full Senate term, and that's going to have to be made in the next few months, couldn't Governor Newsom be accused of putting his thumb on the scale as far as that contest is concerned?
FINNEY: Well, the governor had said at one point he wasn't going to put his thumb on the scale. And so it was not surprising to me that he did not select someone who was already in the race. I love Barbara Lee. I think she would do a great job. I think, you know, let's let Laphonza have a couple of days to catch her breath and see what she does.
I mean, you know, I just want to also point out, obviously, this is historic. I always think better decisions get made when women are at the table. I'm thrilled to see a black woman in the Senate. And this is the work that Emily's List does, electing pro-choice women to the Senate. So, I think it's wonderful for the country.
BLITZER: Let me get Alice into this conversation. Governor Newsom, as we know, he responded to the criticism that Butler is registered to vote in the state of Maryland. She moved to Maryland to head Emily's List. Listen to how Governor Newsom responded.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: How do you respond to criticism over residency?
GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): Well, she literally took that job at Emily's List, still has a house out here, and we registered, and we were transparent about that and put that forward.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: She lives in Maryland. She lives closer to us than she lives -- than she lives to the people in California. And so welcome to having Maryland's third senator is what we're going to have. But, obviously, she's going to go through the paperwork and get everything cleared there in California.
Look, I think to Karen's point, she is the perfect person to continue to carry the mantle that Feinstein did, fighting for women, fighting for choice, fighting for workers, fighting for the people that -- the underserved in California.
She's the perfect person to fill that spot.
The question is, to your point, will she run for re-election? And I think it's up to the voters of California. Gavin Newsom says there were no strings on this. You can run or you cannot run. But it's a real slap in the face to the three people that are currently running, Schiff, Porter and Lee. They're working, they have ground game, they have teams out there. I think it would be poor form for her to run for re-election if she were to get this spot. But then, again, it's really up to the people of California, let them decide and not make it about just because she's an incumbent senator.
BLITZER: She wouldn't run for re-election, she'd run for election, because she's being appointed right now. Do you think she'll run?
FINNEY: I have no idea. I'm just thrilled that she is in there and I agree she's going to represent California well. She is someone who is steeped in California politics. So, I have grown up in California myself. I have every confidence. My mother was thrilled and can't wait to see her sworn in tomorrow.
BLITZER: Let me get your thoughts, Alice, while I have you, on Congressman Matt Gaetz's threats to try to remove Speaker McCarthy from his position. How much does Speaker McCarthy be worried right now?
STEWART: Somewhat, because Gaetz is jumping out there, getting in front of every microphone and every television camera that he can and saying, just watch, just watch and wait.
But I can tell you, Wolf, Republicans in Congress are sick of Gaetz's antics. They're ready to focus on what the will of the people is in Washington, D.C. They're ready to focus on turning this continuing resolution into a long-term spending plan. They're ready to work on securing the border. They do want to provide aid to Ukraine and they also want to make sure that we have long-term solutions that address what the American people want.
What Gaetz is doing is all about personal grievances and this is what he's doing. He has it out for McCarthy, and people know that. They're sick and tired of fighting his personal grievances and they want to get to work and that's exactly what they do.
BLITZER: How sure do Democrats play this?
FINNEY: I think Democrats should step back and do as they did over the weekend when they came in to help ensure that we had a budget deal, and then, of course, McCarthy went out and attacked Democrats on Sunday, which was also poor form, I would say.
Look, I think Democrats -- I do not see Democrats making a deal with Matt Gaetz or anything like that. And, again, if there are other ways that the speaker is willing to come farther towards the Democratic agenda, sure, we would consider, you know, making more deals with him. But I don't think you're going to see Democrats coming to his aid anytime soon.
STEWART: The irony and the frustration amongst Republicans is Matt Gaetz is claiming he's doing this because McCarthy is working with the Democrats. Well, he's not going to be able to put forth the motion of vacate and pass that without the help of the Democrats. So, we can't have it both ways.
BLITZER: Alice and Karen, guys, thank you very, very much.
Just ahead, a key Trump ally wants immunity in the Georgia election subversion case after being subpoenaed to testify. Is former New York City police commissioner Bernard Kerik prepared to turn on Trump?
BLITZER: Tonight, former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik wants immunity in the George election subversion case after the district attorney issued a subpoena for the Trump ally to testify.
CNN's Senior Legal Affairs Correspondent Paula Reid is working the story for us, reported first right here on CNN. Paula, how significant would it be for Kerik to gain immunity and to actually testify?
PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: This would be a big win for prosecutors. Clearly, they're trying to secure a pretty key witness. He is not named in the indictment, but we have identified him as unindicted co-conspirator number 5.
And the indictment lays out how he attended meetings with lawmakers from Arizona and Pennsylvania to states that Trump was trying to overturn. He was also present for a key meeting at the White House in late November with Mark Meadows, Rudy Giuliani, Jenna Ellis. So, he could potentially provide a lot of really critical testimony for prosecutors.
But his lawyer, Tim Parlatore, says today two things. One, in a letter to the prosecutors, he says, look, my client is not going to testify unless you give this grant of immunity. If you don't do that, he's going to take the stand and invoke his Fifth Amendment right. But Parlatore also suggests that his client is not so much going to be a helpful witness against the former president or Rudy Giuliani but might be helpful against another defendant.
Let's take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TIM PARLATORE, KERIK'S ATTORNEY: From my understanding, he does not have anything that would indicate criminality by the president, by Rudy Giuliani or any member of the Giuliani team. Would he potentially be helpful in a case against Sidney Powell? I think he would.
But if you're not willing to give him the basic protections that any normal prosecutor in any other prosecuting office in the country would do, then you're just not going to be able to force him to testify.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Now, Kerik previously sat for an interview in the special counsel's January 6th and election interference investigation. We are told that before he sat for that interview, he got the standard proffer letter, the standard assurances that he wouldn't be prosecuted. He's also not an unindicted co-conspirator in that investigation. But Parlatore has told prosecutors down in Georgia that they should really align with the special counsel on any potential immunity grants.
BLITZER: What does this tell us now, this development, about the district attorney's case, how it's coming together?
REID: Well, they have a lot of challenges because they listed so many defendants and unindicted co-conspirators. There are a lot of people who are likely, if they have good lawyers, going to make this same request for immunity.
At the end of this month, 2 of the 19 defendants who are charged in this case will go to trial, Kenneth Chesebro and Sidney Powell. These are both Trump-aligned lawyers.
And Kerik could be a witness, as his lawyer indicated, potentially a valuable witness against Powell.
What's going to be so interesting about this trial is it will be a preview of the district attorney's case. It's a trial for her but it's also going to signal to the other 16 defendants exactly what she has on her case.
BLITZER: Yeah, we'll be watching that closely as well.
Paula Reid, excellent reporting as usual, thank you.
Coming up, new comments from President Biden in support for Ukraine after House Republicans blocked funding to Kyiv, and Ukrainian officials expressed concern.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: President Biden tonight is not saying if he's gotten assurances from the House Speaker Kevin McCarthy that Congress will pass more Ukraine funding. This after U.S. lawmakers excluded that aid from a bill to avert a government shutdown.
In Ukraine, the move is raising questions about whether he can rely on American support for its war against Russia.
CNN international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson is joining us from London right now.
Nic, how is Kyiv reacting to these latest developments?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Wolf, they really rely on the United States hugely not just to their support but to give backbone to all those other countries that are contributing to Ukraine's military structures in the battlefield and the ammunition and the hardware. The foreign minister is saying, is this systemic issue or is it just a singular incident.
I think most Ukrainian politicians would hope and the soldiers would hope that this is just an isolated incident, not the writing on the wall of what may be coming. But the national security adviser in Ukraine had pretty tough words for the United States, not sure how they'll resonate. But he said, is the United States still a leader?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OLEKSIY DANILOV, UKRAINIAN NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR (through translator): We need to see whether the United States is responsible for democracy in the world, whether it remains a country that supports democracy, or whether it is a country that will stand by and watch as authoritarian states seize more and more territory.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTSON: And I think that gets to, you know, how hard this hits home. It's a huge issue for the Ukrainians. And they're not happy as looking as it is right now, Wolf.
BLITZER: Yeah, very strong words indeed.
Are there other signs, Nic, that support for Ukraine may be eroding?
ROBERTSON: Yeah. Look at what happened in the recent elections over the weekend in Slovakia, for example, one of the first nations to put up military hardware fighter jets for Ukraine. They elected they're a pro-Putin populist, Robert Fico. And he said he'll stop giving weapons to Ukraine. That would be a major u-turn for Slovakia.
You have the Polish prime minister recently in his own elections, again populist party, saying they wouldn't supply weapons to Ukraine, they've backed away from that position, perhaps partly because they're getting a lot of support from the United States, $2 billion worth to sort of reform their military, help modernize their military. And then, of course, Viktor Orban in Hungary himself, very pro-Putin, close to Putin, kind of kept in line by the European Union basically for financial incentive.
So, yes, if you're Ukraine looking at your close allies, you've got to worry about some of those leaders and the policies of the positions they're taking because they resonate with populations in those countries, too.
BLITZER: Nic Robertson, reporting from London, thanks for that update.
Just ahead, an update from police on the search for a missing 9-year- old girl last seen riding her bike. Why they fear she may be in imminent danger.
BLITZER: Authorities are expanding the search for a 9-year-old girl who went missing after going on a bike ride in a New York state park. Police fear she may be in imminent danger.
Brian Todd is covering the story for us.
Brian, what's the latest?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, tonight, we've learned that about 400 law enforcement personnel are now taking part in this search. And we are at this moment just past a critical time marker, just over 48 hours since Charlotte Sena was reported missing.
TODD (voice-over): Tonight, an intense search and an AMBER alert for 9-year-old Charlotte Sena, who's been missing since Saturday evening when she disappeared in Moreau Lake State Park in Upstate New York.
GOV. KATHY HOCHUL (D), NEW YORK: We are leaving no stone, no branch, no table, no cabin unturned.
TODD: Charlotte Sena and her family were camping in the state park about 190 miles north of New York City when she vanished. She'd gone on a bike ride with friends in one of the park's loops. Authorities say she decided to do one last loop by herself.
They say it was only about a 15-minute window between the time she was last seen at about 6:15 p.m. Saturday evening and the time her family noticed her missing.
HOCHUL: And that's really when the nightmare begins. Her parents knew immediately something was up. They called her name. People started searching. People from other campgrounds joined.
TODD: They then found her bicycle at 6:45 p.m., and two minutes later reported her missing. Following what police say was an exhaustive search of the park, they
issued the AMBER alert Sunday morning.
LT. COL. REICHARD MAZZONE, NEW YORK STATE POLICE: We felt after that exhaustive search when we couldn't find her here, it was quite possible that an abduction had taken place.
TODD: According to the AMBER alert, police believe charlotte could be in, quote, imminent danger.
CNN analyst John Miller points out the loop she was riding in is close to a main road.
JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: Their search of the park which turned up no sign of her, is a pretty strong indicator that someone took her out of that park likely in a vehicle. And that, of course, spells imminent danger in any number of ways.
TODD: Charlotte Sena was last seen wearing an orange tie-dyed Pokemon T-shirt, dark blue pants, black crocs and gray bike helmet.
Her aunt gave a physical description.
JENE SENA, CHARLOTTE SENA'S AUNT: She is a blonde adorable little 9- year-old girl with bangs. She has green eyes, just under 5'0" tall. And she is just a sweet, adorable girl.
TODD: The FBI has now joined in the search with law enforcement using bloodhounds, drones, aviation assets, underwater rescue teams. Police have closed the 6,000 acre park. But they say it's possible the young girl could be outside of it.
Who will they likely be questioning?
CHARLES RAMSEY, FORMER PHILADELPHIA POLICE COMMISSIONER: Well, I'd want to talk to the young people that were actually on the bike ride with her prior to her going off by herself. Did they see anything at all suspicious? Did anybody approach them, try to talk to them?
TODD (on camera): When asked if there were cameras in the areas of the park where Charlotte Sena vanished, Lieutenant Colonel Richard Mazzone of the New York state police say they don't want to discuss cameras or any technology. Our analyst John Miller says that's likely because they don't want to give someone who might have taken her an edge, maybe allowing them to switch cars or license plates if they took her in a vehicle.
BLITZER: Let's hope they find her. Brian Todd, thank you very much.
We are just getting some breaking news right now. New York state police have located her. They have found her. And we are told she's in good health right now. And a suspect is in custody.
That's important breaking news right now. TODD: Very important. That's great. They were searching for upwards
around two days now for her. And the fact that they found a suspect, found her in good health.
BLITZER: Police say she's okay, thank God for that.
All right. Brian, thanks very much.
And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.