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Navalny's Body Held For Analysis, Russia Accused Of Cover Up; Russia Captures Avdiivka, U.S. Aid Still Uncertain; Trump Finally Comments On Navalny's Death; Trump Launches Own Shoes; Speaker Mike Johnson Under Pressure To Foreign Aid Bill; Biden: Considering More Russia Sanctions After Navalny Death; Judge Orders Trump To Pay Nearly $355M In Civil Fraud Trial; American Doctor Speaks Out On Horrors Of War In Gaza. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired February 19, 2024 - 17:00   ET



KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST: Million dollars in damages which he could potentially need to keep up with his legal bills since he is not drawing his congressional salary anymore and instead making money from those videos on cameo. We'll follow that.

Also, a reminder here about what's next on "The Lead" tomorrow as Jake is going to interview Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley. That's on "The Lead" tomorrow starting at 4:00 Eastern.

In the meantime, you can join me in just a few hours here tonight on "The Source." I'll be joined by Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, his first interview on CNN after announcing that he will not run for president. That's tonight 9:00 Eastern. I'll see you there but in the meantime our coverage continues right now with Wolf Blitzer in "The Situation Room."

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, Russians risk arrest to mourn the death of opposition leader Alexey Navalny. His widow is now publicly accusing the Kremlin of hiding Navalny's body to cover up his killing. We'll have a live report from Moscow.

Also tonight, Donald Trump's refusal to criticize Vladimir Putin over Navalny's death is giving Nikki Haley new ammunition against the GOP frontrunner portraying Trump and I'm quoting her now as being "weak in the knees" when it comes to the Russian leader. The attacks intensifying just ahead of the Trump-Haley showdown in South Carolina.

And Russia advances in Ukraine after capturing an eastern town at a vulnerable moment with U.S. aid in limbo. We're getting new indications of where Russian forces may be planning to strike next. Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer and you're in "The Situation Room."

We begin with grief, anger and unanswered questions surrounding the death of jailed Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny. Three days after Navalny's death was announced his family says authorities won't release his body for another two weeks. CNN's chief global affairs correspondent Matthew Chance is joining us live from Moscow right now. Matthew tell us more about the investigation and the reaction to Navalny's death.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CHIEF GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, that investigation, Wolf, according to the Kremlin is underway and it is continuing but it hasn't reached any conclusions yet about the cause of Alexey Navalny's death. Meanwhile many ordinary Russians are defying the sort of crackdown on dissent here. They're so shocked about the death of this most prominent Kremlin critic that they're defying that crackdown and turning out to pay their last respects.


CHANCE (voice-over): Despite the risks, Russians are publicly grieving at Alexey Navalny's death. In Moscow, a steady stream of mourners laying flowers for the late opposition leader.


Across Russia rights activists say hundreds have been detained for just this.

My hero has died this man told us. I grew up watching and learning from him so it feels like a personal loss he says.

This woman tells us she desperately wants Russia to change, but now we're at a dead end she says, with sorrow grief and pain.

Few feel that pain more than Navalny's own family and his widow Yulia here meeting outraged European leaders is vowing to expose what she says are her husband's killers and to assume his opposition mantle.

YULIA NAVALNAYA, ALEXEY NAVALNY'S WIDOW (through translation): I will continue Alexey Navalny's work. I will keep fighting for our country and I encourage you to stand by my side. To share not only grief and the endless pain that has enveloped us and does not let go. I'm asking you to share my rage, anger, hatred for those who dared to kill our future.

CHANCE (voice-over): Meanwhile, the Russian president expected to be reelected next month has yet to mention the unexplained death of his fiercest critic. The Kremlin refusing to comment while it says investigations are underway.

Even recovering Navalny's remains in Russia is proving painstaking. His elderly mother Lyudmila who's traveled nearly 2,000 miles to the remote Arctic region where he died in prison has been told according to Navalny's spokeswoman that post-mortem tests mean the body won't be released for at least another two weeks.


Plenty of time say Navalny's supporters deeply suspicious of the Kremlin for the real cause of this sudden tragic death to be hidden.


CHANCE (on camera): Well, Wolf, in yet another sign of defiance, tens of thousands of Russians have now signed a very public petition calling on the authorities to immediately hand back the body or hand over the body of Alexey Navalny to his family so that he can be buried. But at the moment, the Kremlin seems unmoved by this this kind of pressure coming from the Russian public. Back to you.

BLITZER: Matthew Chance in Moscow for us, thank you Matthew. Now to Russia's war against Ukraine. Kremlin forces making their first major advance in months capturing a key eastern town that had become one of the most fiercely contested battlegrounds.

CNN senior international correspondent Fred Pleitgen is following all these developments. He's joining us live from Berlin right now. Fred how big of a blow is this to Ukraine?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's a huge blow to the Ukrainians because this town that you're talking about, Avdiivka, in the east of the country was actually held by the Ukrainians since 2014. It was one of the best fortified towns that the Ukrainians had and now the Russians have managed to take that town. And the Ukrainians, Wolf, also fear that this could indicate that the Russians are going to press in other areas as well.

The Ukrainians say that there are certain other areas in the front lines where the Russians are already gaining the upper hand because they simply have overwhelming firepower and the Ukrainians don't have enough ammunition.

Now, the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, he visited one of those areas where the Ukrainians believe the Russians could start another major push soon and certainly there as well the Ukrainians voiced their concern about a lack of military aid that's making it difficult for them on the front lines.

Certainly, as far as Avdiivka is concerned, I was actually in that area about two to three weeks ago and the Ukrainians are already there telling us they were holding up a lot of the Russian assaults. They said the Russians had massive casualties in that area as they were trying to move forward but it was the lack of manpower and especially the lack of firepower that made it so difficult for the Ukrainians to stay in the game and now obviously, they've had to leave that area, Wolf.

BLITZER: Is this the result of the stalled U.S. aid to Ukraine, Fred?

PLEITGEN: Well, it certainly looks like in part it very well could be. It was quite interesting because I did have the chance to communicate with one of the soldiers who was fighting there on the front line in Avdiivka and then had to leave that area and that soldier said that a lack of firepower, a lack of artillery shells was definitely one of the main causes why the Ukrainians were not able to hold the Russians up.

They said, look, even if we had an okay amount as he put it, they would have been able to stop the Russians but they simply didn't have that. Now of course that's in part due to lack of aid from the United States but also some European countries that have pledged artillery shells to the Ukrainians have not come through so far to the extent that the Ukrainians would have liked.

At the same time, the Ukrainians say in the long run if U.S. aid does not come through, it will have devastating effects for them on the battlefield. The artillery ammunition, of course, one thing, but all sorts of other ammunitions also a big problem for the Ukrainians as well as gear of course.

One of the things that we've highlighted is that for instance, the Bradley infantry fighting vehicle for the Ukrainians is one of the main weapons that's helping them on the ground. If spare parts for that dry up, ammunition for that as well, it's going to be a big problem for the Ukrainians not just on the eastern front but on the southern front as well.

BLITZER: It certainly will be. Fred Pleitgen reporting for us, so thank you very much, Fred. President Biden, meanwhile, is watching all these events unfold in Russia and Ukraine and drawing a direct connection to the standoff over new U.S. aid to Ukraine.

Let's go to CNN senior White House correspondent Arlette Saenz. Arlette, how are the president and his administration responding to these important developments?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, President Biden once again today expressed disbelief that Republicans have yet to pass additional aid for Ukraine at a critical time in their battle against Russia. This really took on heightened significance over the weekend after the death of Alexey Navalny in that Russian prison.

President Biden directly blaming Putin and his thugs and said that they would be considering additional actions they could take. He told reporters today that they could implement some new sanctions against Russia, but the big question is even as the president had previously warned of devastating consequences if Navalny were to die in prison, it's unclear what kind of bite any further actions would have -- sanctions would have after there had already been rounds and rounds of sanctions after Russia had invaded Ukraine.

But the president is also using this moment to really to ramp up the pressure on House Republicans to get on board with additional aid for Ukraine.


Today, he told reporters that he was simply shocked that they haven't done so, so far. Take a listen.

UNKNOWN: Mr. President, would you go as far as to say about Alexey Navalny's blood is on the hands of House Republicans right now?

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I wouldn't use that term. They're making a big mistake in not responding. Look, the way they're walking away from the threat of Russia, the way they're walking away from NATO, the way they're walking from meeting our obligations -- it's shocking.


SAENZ: This comes on the heels of President Biden blasting House Republicans and lawmakers for leaving for a two-week break. Now this all comes as the administration has really spent months warning of the potential impacts of not passing aid for Ukraine saying that those soldiers on the battlefield would be significantly debilitated if they did not have that further military assistance.

Now over the weekend, President Biden jumped on the phone with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and the White House said that in that phone call, he directly tied the -- with Ukrainian withdrawal from that key town that Fred talked about, he directly tied that to Congress's inability to pass this military assistance. The president also said he could not rule out the possibility that other towns could potentially fall as well as these soldiers are facing ammunition shortages.

But the president, even as he is pressing lawmakers to act, he's running up against the political reality right now that the House Republicans and House Speaker Mike Johnson so far have shown no signs of budging when it comes to bringing this aid for Ukraine up for a vote.

BLITZER: Arlette Saenz reporting from the White House for us. Arlette, thank you very much. Up next, Donald Trump finally breaks his silence on Navalny's death but he's not condemning Vladimir Putin. We're gonna tell you who he's attacking instead. That's coming up right after a quick break.



BLITZER: Tonight, Donald Trump is finally speaking out about Alexey Navalny writing the Russian opposition leader's death has made him more aware of what he calls the path of destruction in the United States citing his dozens of criminal charges. His remaining rival of the GOP primary race and Nikki Haley now weighing in. CNN's Kristen Holmes is following all these developments for us. Kristen takes us through what Trump is saying and how Nikki Haley is responding.

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, I'm not sure we can even call it speaking out because instead of condemning Putin or condemning the death of Putin's top critic Alexey Navalny, he is implying that the situation with his various legal cases is somehow similar to the death of Alexey Navalny. And this is what he posted on Truth Social he said, "The sudden death of Alexey Navalny has made me more and more aware of what is happening in our country. We are a nation in decline, a failing nation."

Now, of course, as we have reported multiple times, Donald Trump has sought to link all of his various cases even if they are not linked at all. That means criminal, civil and various jurisdictions, some are state, some are federal, to say that they are all because Joe Biden, Democrat president, does not want him to be the next president. Again, there's no evidence that any of these cases are linked, but he seeks to call himself a political prisoner essentially that he is being politically persecuted in this case. Now, his lone GOP rival, Nikki Haley, is seizing on these comments. Take a listen.


NIKKI HALEY, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I don't know why he keeps getting weak in the knees when it comes to Russia, but I'll tell you what. Russia's not getting weak in the knees because what we're seeing is now, they're starting to put soldiers around the Baltic countries.


HOLMES: Wolf, it's unclear if these kind of jabs at Donald Trump are going to work at all. Keep in mind the next primary up is this weekend. It is South Carolina and Donald Trump by all polling that we've seen is leading by double digits. He's actually only been in the state one time since New Hampshire. His team is that confident that he's going to take that primary and they are that confident that he's going to eventually be the Republican nominee. Wolf?

BLITZER: Kristen Holmes reporting for us. Thank you very much. Joining us now Republican strategist Shermichael Singleton and Democratic strategist Maria Cardona. She's a CNN political commentator as well. Shermichael let me start with you. Trump is baselessly claiming he's being politically persecuted like Navalny, won't condemn Putin for his death. What's your reaction?

SHERMICHAEL SINGLETOIN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: You know, Wolf, I reached out to some Republican activists at the base level in South Carolina with the primary coming up and I wanted to get their opinions on what they're hearing from likely GOP voters and what one of the individuals told me is that they view Donald Trump's legal issues as being persecuted politically.

The reality is that they see a 77-year-old former president likely to spend the rest of his life in prison if he's found guilty on any number of these particular charges. And so, the message from Trump that I am a Navalny here just like he was to Putin I am to Biden that has resonance with many of his voters. They see him through that lens. But I will add politically speaking, Wolf, the U.S.'s resolved as being tested geopolitically on a number of fronts right now.

And regardless of the politics here, I think most Americans, 77 percent want to support Ukraine. Many Americans want to continue to support Israel. We need to figure out the best approach and strategy moving forward to secure our standing in the world. You look at China and their brick system attempting to push away the dollar internationally speaking.

And so, I think Americans want a leader that will best position the country moving forward for generations to come and I think the president should speak -- former president should speak to those things versus purely politics. BLITZER: Important point. To Maria, what is the lack of a direct response to Navalny's death from Trump and his comments on NATO for that matter tell you about how he would approach Russia down the road?

MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, it's interesting that Nikki Haley says that Donald Trump is weak in the knees. He's not just weak in the knees, Wolf. He admires Putin which is one of the reasons why he has not been able to denounce Putin for his murderous act. And in fact, let's remember when there was the court hearing about presidential immunity.

Trump's legal team was asked by a judge whether the president would have immunity if he had SEAL Team Six go out and have his political opponent murdered essentially.


And his team said yes that, he would have immunity. So, that's exactly what Vladimir Putin has done with immunity. And so, I think that Donald Trump looks at that and says I'm not only not gonna say anything, I kind of admire the guy for what he's able to do.

Let's remember that Donald Trump himself has said he's gonna be a dictator on day one. We know he has dictator-like not just desires, but he actually tried to overturn a fair and free election on January 6. So, to me it is bone-chilling, it is jaw-dropping, it should not be surprising, but it should be yet another warning that Donald Trump in the White House will be an existential threat to the democracy and to the future of this country.

BLITZER: Shermichael, what's your reaction to the increasing intensity of Nikki Haley's condemnation of Trump on all these positions right now and why aren't we hearing more along those lines from other Republicans?

SHERMICHAEL SINGLETON, REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: I mean, to answer the first part of the question, Wolf, I think she recognizes that South Carolina is a make it or break it for her. In my personal opinion as a strategist, I think the Republican primary was over after New Hampshire. At this point, Nikki Haley in the eyes of many Republicans who support back the former president, she's become a nuisance candidate.

There is a serious percent of dislike among many voters when you ask them what do you think about her in the past or so, she's bright, she's the future, she will have an opportunity in 2028. I'm not certain that those appeals, that sentimentality still remains for her and I would caution the former governor to be very careful if she is looking four years into the future.

Now, to answer the latter part, Wolf, I think that many Republican voters for the most part look at Donald Trump as being the individual who brings what they believe is their truth to mainstream politics. He's brought -- he's been a wrecking ball if you will to the political establishment. Whether we agree with the veracity of his claims or not, those of us in Washington, there are many Americans, 74 million of them who voted for him do believe that to be the case.

They view those of us on the East Coast as individuals who look down upon them. They view themselves as being a part of the losers in this game of winners and losers that continues to expand. And so, I think that's what Donald Trump speaks to and I think that's why we're seeing his prominence remain.

BLITZER: You know, Maria, what did you make of Trump unveiling a new pair of sneakers, Trump-related sneaker -- gold sneakers, $400 a pair that he's going to use obviously to pay legal bills or whatever?

CARDONA: Well, he certainly needs it because we know that he is in a hole by like hundreds of millions of dollars and the RNC is not really in a position to continue to pay his legal bills, but to me it shows both desperation as well as the gaudy nature of what he represents. Now, as kind of a shoe diva myself, when I looked at this, I said this is yet another lawsuit in the making, Wolf.

Christian Louboutin, who is a hugely famous top-line designer of women's shoes, has a very -- his shoes famously have a red sole and he has been in some lawsuits before where the court at the European Union, the court in India have said this red sole is a trademark of this shoe designer, Christian Louboutin. So, it would be really ironic for this thing that Donald Trump did in order to make money to pay his lawsuits to accrue yet another additional lawsuit that he's gonna have to make money on.

BLITZER: Yeah. His website says they're already sold out.

SINGLETON: Too much gold for me.

BLITZER: Let's see what happens. All right guys, thank you very, very much, Maria Cardona, Shermichael Singleton.

Coming up, President Biden slams Congress for leaving town without approving a multi-million-dollar foreign aid package. We'll discuss the prospects of new aid ever being passed with a key member of the House Intelligence Committee. Standby, you're in "The Situation Room."



BLITZER: Tonight, House Speaker Mike Johnson is facing growing criticism over his lack of action on new U.S. aid to Ukraine. The pressure clearly intensifying after the death of leading Putin critic Alexey Navalny and a significant new Ukrainian loss on the battlefield. Let's get an update right now from CNN's Melanie Zanona. She's joining us from Capitol Hill. So, Melanie, where you are, where do things stand?

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the fate of Ukraine aid is really in the hands of Speaker Mike Johnson right now, but he has yet to reveal what he plans to do as his party remains fiercely divided over this issue. Remember, Speaker Mike Johnson is still very new to this job, he has very little experience on the international stage. We're told that he's never even visited Ukraine as part of a

congressional delegation or a formal member trip. And he's also dealing with this right flank who is deeply opposed to additional Ukraine aid and have even threatened his speakership over the issue. But at the same time, there is a healthy contingent of House Republicans who do support additional money for Ukraine.

And in private meetings were told that Speaker Mike Johnson has said that he understands the gravity of the situation and that he does want to address the issue in some way. But in the meantime, the pressure and criticism are really intensifying for Johnson especially after the developments this weekend that you mentioned, Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader put out a statement just yesterday.

I want to read you part of what he said. He said, "Navalny's tragic death now makes it even more urgent for House Speaker Johnson to pass the national security supplemental. This bipartisan bill currently sits at the feet of Speaker Johnson and Putin is watching." That is a reference to the $95 billion aid package that the Senate passed earlier this month, but so far Johnson has refused to put that bill to a floor vote.


Now there is some discussion amongst the House GOP leadership about potentially changing the package to maybe pare back some of the Ukraine aid to either offset it or restructure it as a loan as former Speaker Donald Trump has called for. But as of right now, Wolf, no decisions have been made. And Congress is actually on recess, not returning until next week. And before they left, Johnson told members that there's no rush to address this issue, a sentiment that is clearly not shared by the international community, Wolf.

BLITZER: Certainly is. And Melanie Zanona up on Capitol Hill, thank you.

Let's get some more on all these developments, joining us now a key House Democrat Congressman Raja Krishna Murthy. He's a member of the House Intelligence Committee. Congressman, thanks so much for joining us. With this U.S. aid clearly stalled right now, at a critical moment, Ukraine just suffered its biggest battlefield defeat in nearly a year. Are Trump and far right House Republicans to blame?

REP. RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI (D-IL), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Yes. I think that right now, what we're seeing is Trump railing against this Ukraine bill the same way that he did with the border security bill that was about to be passed out of the Senate. And I think that what we're seeing is that on the battlefield, Ukrainians are starting to have to ration ammunition to the point where got on any given day, the Russians are firing upwards of 10,000 shells at the Ukrainians per day, while the Ukrainians can only fire about 2,000 per day. So that's a five to one advantage, which means very serious consequences on the battlefield.

BLITZER: Given just how critical this U.S. military aid to Ukraine is, Congressman, are there compromises that Democrats can now make with House Republicans to get to an agreement?

KRISHNAMOORTHI: Sure. I think a bipartisan approach is always favorable. And I think that Speaker Johnson should reach back out to Hakeem Jeffries, if he wishes in order to create this bipartisan approach. I know that Hakeem Jeffries very much wants that, but not doing anything, which is what's happening right now is not an option. And one of the people that's watching this very closely is Xi Jinping in China. He's watching this legislative process just as closely as Vladimir Putin.

And as Secretary Mike Pompeo testified before our Committee the other day, the China -- the Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, we can't be tough on China and then weak in support of Ukraine. And if we are, it makes war over Taiwan, more likely. And so we have to show strength. We got to get this bill passed right now.

BLITZER: As you know, several foreign leaders voiced concerns, serious concerns to several of your colleagues at that Munich Security Conference, POLITICO reported that Ukrainian officials told U.S. senators about a soldier actually scrolling on his phone in the battlefield for signs the House would approve this U.S. military aid. How does the U.S. look on the world stage right now?

KRISHNAMOORTHI: We don't look good right now, Wolf. And I think that at this point, we need to look strong. Are we capable of doing this correctly in the House? Absolutely. But now we've got to hustle. And we've got to do it as soon as we come back. Because remember, it's one thing to get the aid past, it's another to then get the aid onto the battlefield where it will make a difference. And so our Pentagon planners need some time to do that. But we've got a hustle in the House.

BLITZER: Yes, you certainly do. President Biden says he's weighing more sanctions on Russia right now for the death of Alexei Navalny. What consequences, Congressman, do you think the Biden administration should impose on Putin for Navalny's death?

KRISHNAMOORTHI: Well, at this point, I think that we have to look at all options on the table. One thing that we haven't seriously looked at is, of course, the reserves that the Russians have in the West roughly $300 billion of frozen reserves. And I understand that there are concerns about going after those reserves. But at this point, I think we have to open the door because what is happening with regard to Putin's brutality in Ukraine, along with the impunity with which he is assassinating opponents like Navalny and others can't be countenanced. We have to take more actions to make it even more costly for Putin to engage in this type of activity.

BLITZER: What does it say, Congressman, that former President Trump has not condemned Russia for Navalny's death.

KRISHNAMOORTHI: It doesn't speak well about the former president and I think that that is all you need to know about why he's just a unfit to be the president again. I think Nikki Haley said that he has been weak in the knees every time that he's with Vladimir Putin. And we need somebody who's strong, someone like Joe Biden, obviously, who has been handling this situation as well as I think we can. But obviously in Congress, we need to step up to the plate as well.


BLITZER: Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi thanks as usual for joining us.

KRISHNAMOORTHI: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Coming up, the Ukrainian ambassador to the United States joins me with the reaction to Russia's major new victory out there on the battlefield that's coming up in the next hour of the Situation Room.

But first, Donald Trump vowing to appeal the $355 million civil fraud verdict against him, a live report on what the former president needs to do to put that ruling on hold. Stay with us.



BLITZER: Another appeal looms for former President Trump and his legal team after a New York judge on Friday ordered Trump to pay $355 million for fraudulently inflating the values of his properties. CNN senior justice correspondent Evan Perez is joining us right now. He's got an update. He's got the latest. Evan, what are you learning?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we don't know when the foreign president is planning to file an appeal. He's got 30 days to notify the court that he is filing that appeal. But the problem here is that he's going to have to come up with some money, or some property or something to have a bond to secure that fund -- those funds.

We're talking obviously $355 million in this judgment. There's also another recent civil case that he lost in the E. Jean Carroll case, similarly he hasn't appealed that one. So we don't know. He's about 20 days into that case where he's supposed to appeal. So the question remains, you know, when are we going to see these appeals? And really, does the former president have the kind of assets the money, he said in a deposition last year that he had about $400 million in cash or that was liquid that he could have access to. It's unclear if that is accurate, Wolf, but he's going to have to start showing up showing either some cash or some of his assets to be able to secure a bond, again, to cover the costs of these legal losses that he keeps incurring. Wolf?

BLITZER: Evan Perez, thanks very much for that update. I want to bring in CNN senior law enforcement analyst Andrew McCabe and CNN legal analyst Norm Eisen. Norm, let me start with you. How do you think Trump is likely to fare on this appeal?

NORM EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Poorly, Wolf. The judge backed up his legal findings of fraud by the Trump Organization, Mr. Trump and others, with a mountain of evidence and very sound legal reasoning. Wolf, you can't say your home is about 30,000 square feet when it's about 10,000 square feet. And the same kind of disparities are found on Trump's Seven Springs estate, Mar-a-Lago, 40 Wall Street and on and on. The judge dropped the most controversial and problematic finding on his final order, and that was the corporate death penalty, yanking the certificates of doing business in New York. What's left is bulletproof. Trump is going to lose this appeal very likely.

BLITZER: We will find out very, very soon. Andrew McCabe, Trump is attacking the judge and the Attorney General on social media. And he's writing this, let me put it up on the screen. My financial statements were understated, not overstated. This all fit the fake narrative of the corrupt and many times overturned judge, in quotes, and the radical left. Soros-backed slob have an attorney general. What do you think, is it a Good Idea to launch these sorts of attacks when you're asking the court to review the decision?

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, Wolf, I think for any normal litigant, the answer is a resounding no. It's a terrible idea to attack the judge personally. It's a terrible idea to attack the Attorney General personally. You should keep your statements limited, if any at all, and keep them directed in, you know, consistent with your legal arguments. But this is not a normal litigant. And we have to remember that what you're seeing on social media, that's the political side of Donald Trump's strategy.

He knows how to use these opportunities, even staggering losses and massive financial liability. He knows how to use those things as an advantage in his political campaign to rally his supporters to maybe, you know, convince people to make donations to the campaign. So he's absolutely going to market these things in a way that is completely divorced from reality. The comments you made, and you reiterated in that posting are absolutely contradicted by the evidence of this trial, but most people won't look that far.

BLITZER: Norm, while I have you, I want to turn to the Georgia election subversion case that we're all following obviously, as well. A judge is now deciding whether to remove District Attorney Fani Willis from the case after two remarkable days of testimony about her relationship with Special Prosecutor Nathan Wade, what do you expect to happen here?

EISEN: Well, under the law of Georgia disqualification, it's extremely unlikely that the DA will be removed. You only get disqualification in Georgia if you have some kind of a conflict for example if the DA were having a relationship with one of the witnesses in the case, so the evidence is distorted, or some kind of forensic misconduct making up evidence. We don't have either one of those here. And the judge's one concern, which is the financial issues was powerfully answered by Willis, when she said we went Dutch. So I don't expect disqualification.


BLITZER: Andrew, if Fani Willis is allowed to remain on the case, how much potential damage with the jury pool could that public testimony have had? MCCABE: I think that's a really tough thing to estimate at this point, Wolf. While I agree with Norm's legal analysis, I do think that there's a legitimate question hanging over Fani Willis now. And that question is, even if she is allowed to continue with this case, would it be a good idea for her to recuse herself from the case and put it in the hands of someone who hasn't had to testify about their personal relationship, about the cash they keep in their house, the act of having to defend herself through this process, has created a bit of a spectacle around she and Mr. Wade, and it's certainly one that potential jurors could have come in contact with, and which could create negative impressions in their mind of Fani Willis and to a larger extent her prosecutorial team. So she's got a tough decision to make, I think, even if she's allowed to remain on the case.

BLITZER: Andrew McCabe and Norm Eisen, to both of you, thank you very, very much.

Coming up, my interview with an American doctor who recently returned from treating patients in Gaza. We'll be right back.



BLITZER: As Israel vows to push forward with military operations in southern Gaza, we're getting new insight into the suffering of Palestinian civilians and the terrible toll the war is taking on hospitals in the region. Dr. Irfan Galaria writes a new op-ed for the "Los Angeles Times" and he says this, I have worked in other war zones. But what I witnessed during the next 10 days in Gaza was not war, it was annihilation, end quote. Dr. Galaria is joining us right now. He recently returned from volunteering at the European Gaza Hospital in Khan Yunis. Dr. Galaria, thanks for all your important work. Thanks very much for joining us. Tell us what you saw when you were there. I know you were treating patients including children.

DR. IRFAN GALARIA, PLASTIC & RECONSTRUCTIVE SURGEON: Yes. Thank you, Wolf. Thank you for having me on your show. What I saw I don't think it ever could have prepared to be seen. What -- it was absolutely horrific and shocking. You know, it took me just a few minutes once I entered Rafah, Gaza to recognize that what I had just passed through were -- what I felt were the gates of hell. What I saw was an unbelievable humanitarian crisis.

I saw over 1 million people struggling to survive, trying to find shelter, food, drinking water, and what was haunting them throughout that evening and 24/7. were these drones. It sounds like a lawnmower or weed whacker constantly hovering over them. And in the far distance, because we were in Rafah, most of the bombings where in Khan Yunis in the fire distance, you could hear bombs dropping, and that was my introduction in Gaza.

BLITZER: I know you have four children, but you treated a lot of children at that European hospitals. It's run by the European Union, very important Hospital in Gaza. What was it like? Talk a little bit about that because we see those pictures and you shared with us some pictures as well, we'll show our viewers.

GALARIA: Sure. Yes, I actually worked at the European Gaza hospital for about eight or nine days. And I literally lived in it. And I slept on the floor of the holding area in my sleeping bag, because there was no other place for me to stay.

BLITZER: There wasn't even a little bed you can sleep in?

GALARIA: No, there was not it. To understand the hud -- let me explain the hospitals for you to -- you will understand the situation. As you approach the hospital, it is surrounded by tents, maybe 10,000 people. They're clustering around it, hoping that it will serve as sort of a safe zone for them. And this humanity is literally spilling into the halls and corridors of the hospital.

So anywhere you walk, the hallways are limited to a narrow single file passageway. And either side, you see blankets hanging from the ceiling to corner off and create little secluded private areas for families. This is a hospital designed to host maybe 300 patients and they estimate there's over 1,000 patients and the staff themselves live in the hospital. They too are homeless. Many of them actually are living without their families because they -- while they were working in their hospital, their homes were bombed. And they're now living alone.

BLITZER: It's interesting because in your article you write about how you stopped keeping track of how many orphans you were operating on. Talk a little bit about that.

GALARIA: Yes, it was very difficult. And the story that I saw, the story that I heard over and over again, were that homes were being bombed, families were being destroyed. And as a father of four, it was very difficult to see these children being brought back to the operating room. In particular, they had no one by their side to provide them with any comfort. Oftentimes when we took care of these children, there was no pain medication to provide for them to even give them comfort in that circumstance. So it's very difficult to witness that.

BLITZER: So what do they need most right now the -- at these hospitals, and you were there, you spent some quality time there, very painful, very dangerous situation. I'm sure your family back here in Virginia must have been so nervous where worried about you. But what are the most important requirements that these people at the hospital need to save lives?


GALARIA: I think the most immediate or pressing need is a ceasefire. There needs to be a stop in assaults on health care facilities and health care providers. But specifically, that constant bombardment and attacks need to end, that's creating a massive humanitarian crisis. You know, Wolf, to really understand this, you have to see what we saw, as we were driving to Rafah, there were rows of trucks with humanitarian aids, sitting parked on the sides of the roads waiting to get in, you know, a very interesting telling stat was, before this war even happened, there were about 500 to 600 trucks and -- of aid trucks that would enter the country. That's how dependent they were on aid following this war, less than 100 trucks now and on a daily basis.

BLITZER: Dr. Irfan Galaria, thanks for all your important work. Thanks very much for joining us. We'll stay in close touch with you.

GALARIA: Thank you. I appreciate this opportunity. Thank you.

BLITZER: Thank you. Thank you very much.

And coming up, we'll have more on our top story. New fallout across the world right now, including right here in the United States to the death of the Russian opposition leader, Alexei Navalny. Stay with us. You're in the Situation Room.