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Biden Says, U.S Will Support Ukraine As Long As It Can; Rifts Between Biden And Netanyahu Spill Into Public View; Trump Called Mar- A-Lago Witness Before Classified Documents Charges; New Hampshire Governor Sununu Endorses Nikki Haley In Critical Early Voting State; Arizona Supreme Court Considering Whether To Revert To Civil War-Era Law Banning Nearly All Abortions. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired December 12, 2023 - 18:00   ET




WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now breaking news. President Biden just wrapping up a press conference with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy after announcing an additional $200 million in new aid for Ukraine. But that's far short of the $60 billion in emergency funding Biden says Ukraine desperately needs right now to defeat Putin's forces, as Zelenskyy's visit to Washington fails to break the impasse over additional aid.

Also tonight, rifts between the U.S. and Israel spilling into public view. President Biden warning that Israel is losing international support for its war against Hamas, while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu openly rejects American plans for post-war Gaza.

And CNN has learned that Donald Trump contacted a former Mar-a-Lago employee who witnessed his alleged mishandling of classified documents, repeatedly calling him in the months before Trump's criminal indictment. We're going to get reaction to CNN's exclusive new reporting from the legendary journalists, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.

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

Let's get straight to the breaking news tonight, President Biden and President Zelenskyy trying to present a united front here in Washington as aid for Ukraine right now hangs in the balance.

Our correspondents are standing by over at the White House, up on Capitol Hill, and in Ukraine and in Russia.

First, let's go to CNN Senior White House Correspondent M.J. Lee. M.J., what stood out to you from what we just heard from Presidents Biden and Zelenskyy?

M.J. LEE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, in so many ways, we heard actually exactly the kinds of things that we would have expected to hear from President Biden and President Zelenskyy for starters. President Biden making very clear that the world is watching to see exactly what the U.S. will do in terms of continuing to support Ukraine. He said that Ukraine is going to prevail unless we walk away. And he said turning against Ukraine at this moment in time would be akin to turning against, quote, freedom's cause.

Now, President Zelenskyy, for his part, emphasizing too how important the U.S.'s support for Ukraine has been and repeatedly thanking his U.S. counterpart for the U.S.'s continued support for Ukraine over the last two years.

The president also, President Biden that is, alluding to the issue, of course, that is weighing so heavily over all of this, and that is the issue of the Ukraine funding that is stalled on Capitol Hill. President Biden making clear that he doesn't see this as just a matter of domestic politics, but that Russia is watching. Here's what he said.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: Putin is banking on the United States failing to deliver for Ukraine. We must, we must prove him wrong. This host of a Kremlin-run show said, well done, Republicans, that's good for us. That's a Russian speaking.

If you're being celebrated by a Russian propagandist, it might be time to rethink what you're doing. History will judge harshly those who turn their back on freedom's cause.


LEE: But as for the $60 billion that is currently stalled on Capitol Hill, President Biden calling on Congress to again act, again saying that this is of urgency, but that the Republicans also that are opposed to continuing to fund Ukraine in this way, the president tried to say that they don't represent the overall support that Ukraine still enjoys, Wolf.

BLITZER: It's interesting. And, M.J., President Zelenskyy at that news conference at the White House was just asked about possibly giving up Ukrainian territory to Russia in order to end the war. Tell our viewers what he said about that.

LEE: Yes. This is something that President Zelenskyy just completely batted away. He said actually that the idea, the suggestion that Ukraine would give up some of its territories was insane. You know, there's no question that this comes at such a crucial moment for President Zelenskyy, for Ukraine, and this moment that we are in, in the war. There have been so many questions raised about Ukraine's military operations and the fact that, at best, the war appears to be at a stalemate and that Ukraine hasn't made the kinds of military advancements and advancements in the war that it had hoped to at this moment in time.

This is why I think we saw President Zelenskyy at different points of the press conference trying to emphasize some of the military successes that Ukraine has had. But it was very notable that a number of the questions that he received and President Biden received at this press conference was about strategy, was about the path forward for Ukraine to actually be victorious in this war.


And for any of the skeptics that are watching, I'm not sure, Wolf, that they actually got the answers that they were looking for, the specifics they were looking for as to how actually Ukraine might be able to win this war.

BLITZER: M.J. Lee at the White House for us, M.J., thank you very much.

Now to CNN's Chief Congressional Correspondent Manu Raju up on Capitol Hill. Manu, some Republicans are now indicating it is unlikely any deal gets done before lawmakers go home for the holiday recess.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's the expectation, Wolf, that, in fact, the House will leave by the end of this week because of the fact that there is no progress on a larger national security package, which includes aid to Ukraine.

At the center of all this, a deal on the southern border, security on the southern border. Republicans are demanding changes to immigration policy to deal with the influx of migrants entering across the southern border. But that debate has stalled on Capitol Hill. There have been negotiations that have not led to an agreement even as at this moment, Wolf, there are still talks that are happening between the administration and key senators about whether there is any path forward despite the pessimism on Capitol Hill.

Now, I talked to a number of Republican senators in the aftermath of the meeting with President Zelenskyy, and they made clear that they were unwilling to move ahead with an aid to Ukraine unless there was a deal to move forward with a significant package dealing with immigration policy.


SEN. MARKWAYNE MULLIN (R-OK): There is zero chance that an aid package to Ukraine and to Israel will pass the House without real meaningful border security. And I will tell you, Republicans alike, we all stand in step with the House Republicans on doing so.

SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): The reality is that the House is not going to take up a Ukraine bill unless it includes securing the border to the level that existed under the three prior presidents.

When people elect a Republican majority in the House, you have to listen to what they have to say.

RAJU: Are you concerned that if there's no money, Ukraine could lose the war to Russia?

SEN. TOMMY TUBERVILLE (R-AL): Well, that's always been a big possibility the whole time. I mean, I've never thought they could win to begin with, especially the way we eased into it.


RAJU: But even if there's a late deal that is reached between senators and the administration, it is still unlikely that anything can get done by the end of this year, given the hoops that would have to be overcome and given the fact that the House Republicans are in a much different place when it comes to immigration policy as Democrats who lead the Senate, Wolf, which is why the expectation is that this will be punted into next year and what, if anything, can get done, and what does that mean for the future of Ukraine, all huge questions at this critical time as aid to Ukraine remain stalled despite this plea by the president of Ukraine.

BLITZER: Huge questions indeed. The stakes are enormous. Manu Raju up on Capitol Hill, thank you.

Let's go live to Ukraine right now. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is on the ground for us. He's joining us from Zaporizhzhia in Eastern Ukraine.

Nick, you've recently spoken to some soldiers who are there on the frontlines. What do they say they need the most right now?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: They need this funding to continue. They need the ammunition to continue arriving. They know they're running out of their own supplies and they know they're dependent on the U.S. to keep funding and supplying that weaponry.

Look, President Vladimir Zelenskyy is, unless we have meetings ahead of him we don't know about, likely on his way back here to probably quite a disappointed Ukraine. He's been the international advocate of funding, of supply of western unity behind Ukraine. This trip, frankly, so far to Washington has not yielded the result Ukraine so urgently needs.

And, frankly, it was unthinkable just a matter of months ago that a bipartisan dispute over something as long present as border funding and border security could derail western unity behind Ukraine, particularly at this critical, difficult time. The southern counteroffensive that didn't yield the results that many had hoped.

We heard from Zelenskyy talking with Biden about the possibility they might aim at air power during 2024. That's a very naked plea for the f 16s Ukraine so badly needs to arrive quickly. But he said his plan for next year is so far a secret. Frankly, they better have one and they better have one that's not entirely dependent on billions more of American money because it does look pretty difficult at this stage.

Some Ukrainian officials suggesting that unless they get the money, it seems this week they may have trouble paying key salaries for first responders or doctors at some point next year. This is all very good news, Vladimir Putin waiting for this moment and his forces trying to take town by town, often with great losses in the east. Wolf?

BLITZER: Yes, that's an important point indeed. Nick Paton Walsh in Eastern Ukraine for us, thank you.

Let's go to Russia right now. That's where officials say the Kremlin has been monitoring the meetings between Presidents Biden and Zelenskyy very, very closely.


CNN's Matthew Chance is joining us live from Moscow. Right now, Matthew, what is the Kremlin saying about today's meetings?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CHIEF GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Kremlin say they are watching it very closely, but, in general, you know, Russian media particularly is relishing the idea that U.S. resolve, when it comes to Ukraine, maybe crumbling, they've been, you know, absolutely kind of poking fun at this trip by President Zelenskyy to Washington, basically cap in hand begging for money, sort of ridiculing him for sort of needing American cash to continue to survive.

It very much plays into the image that we've seen a lot of in Russia about how, you know, Zelenskyy is a puppet whose strings are being pulled by sort of puppet masters in Washington. It's a sort of idea that they often use in this country to characterize the Ukrainian leader.

You heard President Biden talk about the praise for Republicans for not backing the support for Ukraine in D.C. Well, that was on Wadekar Rajesh (ph) Show yesterday. Today, that same show continued on that theme, basically saying, look, this is not going to happen anytime soon for Ukraine. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Earlier, the leader of the Republicans, Mitch McConnell, said it's too little time until the end of the week to reach a compromise with the Democrats on Ukraine. American legislators do not intend to give up their Christmas holidays, especially for no good reason. One Republican senator even called Zelenskyy's visit to Washington a shameful farce.


CHANCE: Well, I mean, the Kremlin are saying that they're watching this very closely. And, of course, they wouldn't be saying that if they didn't, you know, think it was important.

Now, obviously, they're playing down the significance of any aid that comes from the United States, saying it's not going to alter the situation on the battlefield, you know, but they know very well that the billions of dollars that have already been given to Ukraine have had a devastating impact on the battlefield and that if an aid package does come, more money does come to the Ukrainians. That will also continue to strike hard at Russian forces on the ground. And that's something that Putin is concerned may he may eventually have to pay a political price for. Wolf?

BLITZER: Matthew Chance in Moscow for us, Matthew, thank you very much.

Just ahead, disagreements between Joe Biden and Benjamin Netanyahu over the war against Hamas, those disagreements are spilling out into the open right now.

And you're going to hear from the legendary journalists, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, on special counsel Jack Smith's request for the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on Donald Trump's immunity from prosecution.



BLITZER: We're following breaking news, President Biden announcing that his national security adviser and his secretary of defense will be traveling to the Middle East this week for key meetings. Meanwhile, disagreements between President Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the war against Hamas are being aired out publicly right now.

CNN's Chief National Security Correspondent Alex Marquardt is joining us live from Tel Aviv. Alex, how notable is this public criticism?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, I think this really highlights the growing discomfort of the president and some of his top aides about how Israel has been carrying out this war in Gaza. We have heard some measured criticism, but, really, these comments that we saw today from President Biden in speaking to donors are really the most pointed that he has made against Netanyahu and the Netanyahu government since this war began.

He told these donors that Netanyahu needs to change, but that that is very difficult because of the far right government that he is in control of. He went on to say that Israel is very quickly losing global support because of what he called the indiscriminate bombing that is taking place in Gaza.

When talking about this most conservative government in Israel's history, as he called it, he said that they don't want to see anything remotely approaching a two-state solution. Instead, Wolf, he says that ministers within the Netanyahu government want to see retribution against all Palestinians.

So, of course, that is very, very strong language. The U.S. has repeatedly, throughout this war, continued to push for a two-state solution. But, Wolf, we should note that there's no indication that that is something that Netanyahu himself is interested in. Wolf?

BLITZER: Alex, when it comes to Israel's fight against Hamas right now, we're getting new information on a possible tactic to degrade those Hamas tunnel networks in Gaza. What can you tell us about that?

MARQUARDT: And this would include flooding tunnels with seawater. It's something that is being used, we're told, on a limited basis, where they do not believe that hostages are. A U.S. official told our colleague, Natasha Bertrand, that they are unsure whether it will work. It's something that President Biden just commented on. He said they he had heard that the hostages are not in these tunnels, but that he is not sure.

Wolf, we should note that Israel says there are still some 135 hostages still in Gaza, 116 of whom are still alive. Wolf?

BLITZER: Yes. Alex Marquardt in Tel Aviv, thank you very much for more on this important story and President Zelenskyy's visit here to Washington, I'm joined now by a key member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Democratic Senator Chris Coons of Delaware. Senator, thank you so much for joining us.

As you just heard, President Biden is accusing Israel of indiscriminately bombing Gaza. That's a pretty stunning allegation. Do these comments, do you believe, signal a major shift in how President Biden will approach Israel's war against Hamas?

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): Well, Wolf, let's be clear, right after the horrific Hamas attack of October 7th, no one has been stronger in supporting Israel and the right of self-defense than President Biden. But President Biden has also been clear that Israel needs to conduct their war against Hamas in Gaza in a way that follows international law.


We have sent military advisers to help Israel learn from our painful lessons from the conduct of our campaigns, in Mosul, Iraq, in Fallujah, and to help with targeting and with decisions about tactics on the ground.

President Biden has also taken strong steps, imposing sanctions on some of the extremist settlers who have been carrying out violence against Palestinians in the West Bank, and he has been pressing over and over for more humanitarian aid for innocent civilians in Gaza. Just today, a new opening into Gaza to screen many more trucks, Kerem Shalom, has been opened and is functioning for the first time since October 7th.

BLITZER: You're a very close ally of President Biden, Senator. Does he still have confidence? Do you believe, does he still have confidence in Prime Minister Netanyahu's ability to lead Israel?

COONS: Well, there are elements of President Netanyahu's cabinet who are to the far, far right. And that's what, according to the report you just aired, President Biden was commenting on was the fact that his governing coalition, which is barely a majority, depends on some folks whose views are quite extreme.

President Biden has been clear, as have I and as have many others here in the Senate, that a two-state solution is the only path forward that gives Palestinians a hope for peace, and that allows a positive future for the people of Israel.

So, to the extent that Prime Minister Netanyahu has opposed a two- state solution, there's obvious sources of tension between our government and the current prime minister in Israel.

BLITZER: Yes, Prime Minister Netanyahu strongly opposes what's called a two-state solution, a new state of Palestine living alongside the state of Israel.

Let's get to the Ukrainian issue while I have you, Senator. The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, met, as we all know, with President Biden and with congressional leaders today, but it's very unlikely anything will pass Congress before the end of the year. Are you concerned that this standoff over additional aid, military aid? It looks like America is beginning to abandon a key ally.

COONS: That is a critical concern of mine. Today, President Zelenskyy spoke to the Senate. A majority of the Senate came. He gave a very compelling speech reminding us of the costs, not just to Ukraine, but to the free world, if we are to fail in sustaining our support.

Wolf, 50 other nations are providing funding and material to help the Ukrainian war effort in combination. They're contributing more than we are. And the supplemental request President Biden sent up to the Hill weeks and weeks ago would actually invest in our military industrial base, creating jobs in dozens of states and spending billions of dollars on manufacturing diminutions that the Ukrainians need to win the war and that our military needs to be prepared in the event there is a future conflict.

So, there is a real dispute still here in the Senate about how to make progress on border security. I'll remind you, President Biden asked us to fund at the highest level ever an additional supplemental to hire thousands more Border Patrol agents and Customs and Border agents and to strengthen the inspections at our borders to interdict fentanyl.

There are active negotiations going on. I spoke with both Senators Lankford and Sinema earlier today who said today's negotiating session was positive, that members of leadership from both parties in the administration are engaging. I am hoping we can get this deal resolved and move this supplemental package forward before we break for the holidays.

BLITZER: Let's see if that happens. Senator Chris Coons, thanks, as usual for joining us.

COONS: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Coming up, the legendary journalists, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, both standing by live to join me. I'll get their thoughts on the U.S. Supreme Court responding to a historic request from the special counsel, Jack Smith.



BLITZER: CNN has obtained exclusive new information in the Trump classified documents case, the special counsel, Jack Smith, looking into outreach from Donald Trump and his associates to a longtime Mar- a-Lago employee who quit his job after the FBI seized records from the property.

Let's get some of the latest developments. Our Senior Justice Correspondent Evan Perez is joining us right now. Evan, how extensive was this outreach?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, this was a very extensive outreach, and this happened about three months after the FBI conducted that extraordinary search of Mar-a-Lago. And, again, this is all reporting based on reporting from our Katelyn Polantz.

What happened, according to information that Katelyn obtained, is that there was a lot of outreach that happened after this employee left Mar-a-Lago. They started getting outreach from Trump himself. They got outreach from others who were trying to offer lawyers to represent the employee, because this person was going to be a key witness, offers to come back and work for Donald Trump, as well as a visit from two of the, who are now co-defendants of the former president, Walt Nauta and Carlos de Oliveira. And they even got an offer to go to a golf tournament.

Wolf, all of this, prosecutors are interested in, because this is a person who was privy to some of the conversations of the former president. This person moved boxes, again, a key witness in this investigation.


And it fits a pattern that prosecutors have been very, very interested in. We've seen this now in the updated indictment that shows a pattern that they believe was obstruction of this investigation, Wolf.

BLITZER: Interesting. Evan Perez, thank you very much for that update.

I right now want to bring in the legendary journalists, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, to get their perspective on the impact of Trump's criminal cases. And, Bob, let me start with you.

The Supreme Court rule on whether or not Trump is immune from federal prosecution using Nixon's case as a precedent. You both, of course, broke Watergate, as all of us remember. Are the stakes even higher right now?

BOB WOODWARD, AUTHOR, THE TRUMP TAPES: Well, they are because it's so complicated, and I don't want to sound like a lawyer. But in the Nixon case, the subpoena for the tapes was a trial subpoena for Nixon's aides who were going to go on trial.

And in the case now, Jack Smith, it's not about Trump aides. It's about Trump himself. And the important ingredient is, I remember when I saw this yesterday, you know, why is he doing that? There, for 50 years, have been Office of Legal Counsel position papers that go to the White House about whether a president can be indicted. And the Justice Department, for 50 years, has said, no, the president cannot be indicted because it would undermine the functions that the executive branch is supposed to have, according to the Constitution. So, look -- pull back here and look at this. Jack Smith saying, okay, now it's very clear a sitting president cannot be indicted. Well, when can he be indicted? In the Mueller case, if you remember that, the Russian investigation, Mueller said, I can't indict the sitting president, who was then Trump, but he can be indicted afterwards. And so, essentially, Jack Smith is asking the court to say, hey, he doesn't have immunity because if he has immunity, can't be indicted while he's president, oh, can't be indicted afterwards, it would violate the central rule, no one is above the law.

BLITZER: Yes, he's no longer a sitting president either, obviously.

You know, Carl, the special counsel, Jack Smith, he's trying to keep Trump's election subversion trial on track for March 4th. How important is it that the American public gets a verdict on Trump's election charges before voting again in 2024?

CARL BERNSTEIN, JOURNALIST: Well, that's a huge part of what this case is about, is the opportunity for the people of the United States, when they reach a judgment about who should be the next president of the United States, would know what the former president on trial had done. And that is at the heart of this case.

And what we have in the majesty of the United States versus Nixon, that case from 50-something years ago established the precedent that no one in this country, including the president of the United States, is above the law.

Trump's strategy from the beginning in all of his trials is to delay, delay, delay. And what the special prosecutor has done here is say, we're going to take away your ability to delay, Mr. Former President. And it takes four of the nine justices and a vote on the court to accept the case and go ahead and hear the merits of the appeal.

And I would venture to say that given the precedent of United States versus Nixon, that there is a very, very good chance that four of those justices are going to say, we want to hear that case, decide it on the merits, and Donald Trump's fate may well be in the hands of the Supreme Court of the United States.

And let me add one other thing, and that is the presence of Justice Clarence Thomas on the court, because his wife was very much involved with some of the alleged conspirators in this case. And he ought to recuse himself, as did Justice Rehnquist in the Nixon tapes case.

Whether he will do this and do the right thing, pretty doubtful. But we are about to see something we've never seen, a former president of the United States, perhaps going before the Supreme Court of the United States, and then on trial while he seeks re-election.

BLITZER: Interesting, and it raises an important question, Bob. His legal fights are actually fueling his campaign. And if you look at these most recent polls nationally and in some key battleground states, he's doing really well against Biden.


WOODWARD: He is. This is the Trump theme, I'm the renegade. And what Jack Smith is doing here, he's seeking a kind of reckoning. Let's kind of get to what all of this is about. And there's a lot of tangled history there, and I hate to, because I looked it up just before coming over now.

On expedited hearing, it requires five votes, Carl. Not the -- Carl's right. Normally it's four, but expedited hearing, it's five votes. So, will he get those votes? I mean, it's possible the court says, oh, yes, we'll hear it. And then they do say, oh, this was granted too early and postpone it.

So, once again, the mystery of the Trump cases and who he was as president and who he might be is going to be before us. And, hopefully, there will be as much clarity as possible. We need a reckoning on Donald Trump.

BLITZER: Good point. Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein, guys, as usual, thank you very, very much.

Just ahead, we're going to share some of the profane and very disturbing voice mails left for Georgia election workers after Rudy Giuliani spread lies about them. How the recordings could impact Giuliani's defamation trial after a day of extremely emotional testimony.



BLITZER: We're getting truly horrific voicemails played at the defamation trial against Rudy Giuliani today. This as one of the two Georgia election workers suing him broke down in tears on the witness stand. Shaye moss growing visibly emotional while telling a jury how her life was changed forever by Giuliani's, quote, crazy lies about her.

CNN's Brian Todd is joining us now. Brian, give us the details on this truly powerful testimony.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, Wolf. Shaye Moss gave concerning detail today about the threats that she and her family have received, and the court heard voicemails illustrating that. We do have to warn viewers that the audio is disturbing.


TODD (voice over): Powerful evidence in the defamation case against former Trump Attorney Rudy Giuliani, the jury hearing threatening voicemails sent to two former Georgia election workers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Eat (BLEEP) and die, you (BLEEP) racist (BLEEP), you (BLEEP) whore. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to burn your store down.

TODD: Powerful testimony one former election worker, Shaye Moss, about how Giuliani's conspiracy theories devastated her life after the 2020 election. Moss telling a federal court Giuliani's, quote, crazy lies about her and her mother spread everywhere at the time and led to threats against her family. Quote, I am most scared of my son finding me and/or my mom hanging outside my house on a tree or having to get the news at school that his mama was killed.

Moss' testimony came hours after Giuliani inexplicably doubled down on the lies he spread about Moss and her mother, Ruby Freeman, who was also an election worker.

RUDY GIULIANI, DONALD TRUMP'S FORMER ATTORNEY: Everything I said about them is true.

REPORTER: Do you regret what you did to --

GIULIANI: Of course I don't regret, I told the truth. They were engaged in changing votes.

TODD: There is no proof of that. And today, the judge in the civil defamation case against Giuliani rebuked the former New York mayor, saying his, quote, negative, quite defamatory statements about the women could support another defamation claim.

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Rudy Giuliani should know this is not going to help his cause. It is going to deepen the hole he is in, and yet he keeps digging.

TODD: The judge has already ruled in this case that Giuliani spread false information about Moss and Freeman in the wake of the 2020 election. Giuliani has conceded that he did make defamatory statements about them, but he's argued the statements didn't cause them any damage, even statements like one he made to the Georgia state legislature telling them Moss and Freeman were corrupting the vote count.

GIULIANI: They're surreptitiously passing around USB ports as if they're vials of heroin or cocaine.

TODD: Moss and Freeman asking the jury to consider awarding them between $15.5 million and $43 million for the reputational harm they suffered from Giuliani's statements and more for the emotional distress they've endured, which they told the House January 6th committee about.

SHAYE MOSS, FORMER GEORGIA ELECTION WORKER: I don't want anyone knowing my name. I don't go to the grocery store at all. I haven't been anywhere at all.

RENATO MARIOTTI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: These are public servants and he's essentially put them out there and caused them to be targeted by hateful people, by people who are seeking to do them harm. And he's really upended their lives. (END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (on camera): Rudy Giuliani already owes Shaye Moss and Ruby Freeman more than $230,000 for failing to respond to parts of their lawsuit. A few months ago in a court filing, Giuliani said he's effectively broke because of all of his legal costs. So, a judgment against him in this case is going to put him even further into debt. Wolf?

BLITZER: Brian Todd reporting, Brian, thanks for that report.

Right now, I want to bring in our Chief Legal Analyst Laura Coates to discuss. What's going through your mind, Laura, hearing the amount of racist hate that these two women, these election workers, were receiving as a result of Rudy Giuliani's lies?

LAURA COATES, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: It's truly infuriating to think about what they've had to endure for simply raising their hand to say, we'd like to serve the community in a role that is so critical to our entire operations of our democracy. Without election workers, without poll workers, the idea of being able to cast one's ballot, have representation, would really be entirely -- we couldn't do it. To have them actually volunteer, have them be a part of this work is -- was public service.


COATES: What's been done to them over handing a ginger mint, the insinuation, the accusations, none of which have been based in reality or fact or any offer of evidence. It's unbelievable.

And this is not the average defendant here. This is somebody who used to be a federal prosecutor, the U.S. attorney in fact in New York. He knows well the burden of proof. He knows well the responsibilities. He knows well what happens if somebody makes accusations like this.

And then to hear her say that she was afraid to have her child at school maybe learn about her death, the idea of being hanged, all the different racial insinuations and the underlying aspects of this is really just so incredibly disheartening and cruel.

BLITZER: How do you think today's testimony, very dramatic and powerful testimony will impact the jury as to how much to award these two -- these two women?

COATES: Remember what is at stake here in a defamation case. You have to do something a false statement that lessens somebody's reputation or they're standing in the community. What was alleged against her was understandably defamatory. A judge is already found out that.

Now it's about the impact, the damages. What it would cost them to actually show how much they were damaged.

Here she gave testimony, Wolf, about being afraid back in January 6th and that committee meeting to even have her name be said in public, believing that she would be actually physically assaulted, or harmed or killed. Her place a business burned down.

This was something that was actually a direct through line from the conduct at issue, that was alleged and already decided by the judge to what's happened here. It was very compelling testimony on top of already compelling testimony in front of January 6. And to have Rudy Giuliani not even have an iota of contrition but to double down, that speaks volumes as well.

BLITZER: You think he would know better as you correctly pointed out. He was the U.S. attorney --

COATES: He should know better.

BLITZER: -- for the Southern District of New York. He should know better, clearly doesn't.


BLITZER: Laura, thank you very, very much.

Laura will be back later tonight, 11:00 p.m. Eastern for her special program "LAURA COATES LIVE". We'll be watching.

Coming up, presidential hopeful Nikki Haley scoring a coveted endorsement in a crucially early voting state. Will it enable her to slow down Donald Trump's march to the nomination?



BLITZER: There's breaking news, a key endorsement for one of the rising Republican presidential candidates, Nikki Haley, from Republican New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu. Listen.


GOV. CHRIS SUNUNU (R), NEW HAMPSHIRE: There was a sweet, older woman who has come to a lot of events and I saw her coming in here. And she said, so, are you going to finally endorse Nikki Haley for president?

You bet your ass I am! Let's get this thing done!


BLITZER: All right. CNN's Jessica Dean is joining us live in Des Moines, Iowa.

Jessica, so what impact will Sununu's endorsement have on the race for the Republican nomination? JESSICA DEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, this was an endorsement

that so many of the candidates wanted. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who will appear to CNN town hall in just a few hours, also sought this endorsement as did others.

So for Haley, this is certainly even more energy and more momentum as we continue to see her rise in the polls as we close out this part of the primary season and actually get to voting. And it's in a state, New Hampshire where she and her team have focused a lot.

And they feel like this could be a very good state for her based on the makeup of the voters there. Here in Iowa, worth noting, DeSantis getting the endorsement of Iowa Governor Republican Kim Reynolds several weeks ago. Again, she's very well-liked here.

So how much of that moves the needle in a race where the former President Donald Trump really continues to really have a chokehold on so much of the Republican Party, and really continues to lead in the polls. That's going to be the big question.

BLITZER: And as we know tonight, you're there at the site of the CNN town hall with the Governor Ron DeSantis.

What does he need to do tonight?

DEAN: Well, Wolf, when you talk to people around him, this is a great opportunity they say to really reach the voters of Iowa. He has a big all-in strategy here in Iowa. They feel like this is a great state for him. The evangelical voters that make up a big part of the Republican base here. They think his message plays very well with him. So, again, it's a chance to really interact and show his, you know, human side, his ability to connect with people, how could he do that, how will the audience respond to him? That's one of the things people are watching for, it's certainly what we'll be watching for.

And also, how sharply and forcefully will he go after the former president and also Nikki Haley who's nipping at his heels to kind of -- he's currently in second place in that "Des Moines Register" poll, but she's right behind him. He's at 19. She's at 16 percent. The former president, Wolf, remains at 51 percent. So, you can just see the spread here in Iowa.

BLITZER: Huge spread, indeed. Jessica, thank you very much. And Governor Ron DeSantis takes the stage at 9:00 p.m. Eastern tonight, only here on CNN. Don't miss it.

And then tomorrow night, CNN's -- tomorrow morning I should say, CNN's Dana Bash will interview both Dana Nikki Haley and Governor Sununu, on "INSIDE POLITICS" at 12:00 noon Eastern, only here on CNN.

Coming up, after a rather controversial abortion decision from the Texas Supreme Court, justices in Arizona are now considering a major shake up of their own states laws and reproductive rights. We'll be right back.



BLITZER: Tonight, after a controversial decision in Texas, the issue of abortion goes before Arizona's highest court as it considers whether the state should revert to a Civil War era law that bans almost nearly abortions.

CNN senior national correspondent Ed Lavandera is joining us live from Dallas right now.

Ed, what's the latest?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, these legal battles over abortion access will continue for quite some time. In Arizona today, arguments were made in front of the state Supreme Court. And essentially what is at issue here is that after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year, there are two different abortion laws on the books in Arizona. And a lower court said that some point this needs to be reconciled.

So, there is a case there before the Supreme Court essentially that is before the justices there, they have to decide which case will -- or which law will prevail. One, as you mentioned, dates back to the Civil War era, which is a near total ban on abortion. The other is a 15-week ban.

So, the justices heard those arguments today. They have to decide. It could take weeks if not several months for a decision to be made there.

And here in Texas, Wolf, there is another case, we talked about the Kate Cox case over the last week or so, there's another case involving 20 women and two doctors where they are seeking clarification from the state Supreme Court here in Texas as to what exactly would constitute the medical exemption to offer more clarity to the abortion law here in the state.

So, another clear example of how these legal battles will continue for weeks if not months -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Certainly will.

Ed Lavandera reporting for us, thank you.

And to our viewers, thank very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in the situation room.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.