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Trump Tightens Grip On GOP As Haley Exits, McConnell Endorses Him; Biden Preps For State Of The Union As Rematch With Trump Now Clear; Ukraine Says, Russian Strike Near Zelenskyy's Convoy Kills Five; Sources: Arizona Prosecutors Issuing Grand Jury Subpoenas As 2020 Election Investigation Intensifies; Biden Faces Dissatisfaction Among Dems In Critical Battleground of Arizona; U.S. Pushes For Political Transition In Haiti As Gangs Seize Capital. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired March 06, 2024 - 18:00   ET




WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, Donald Trump tightens his grip on the Republican Party as his last remaining GOP rival, Nikki Haley, exits the presidential race and his on again off again ally Senator Mitch McConnell endorses him despite years of clashes and tension between them.

Also tonight, with the stage now set for a bitter Biden-Trump rematch, the president is preparing to address the nation and the many challenges he's facing right now. I'll ask a key member of the Biden camp what the president needs to accomplish in his State of the Union Address tomorrow night.

And a terrifying close call for the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, a Russian missile striking not far from his convoy and killing five people.

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

Tonight, the path is clear for President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump to do battle again, an unprecedented and likely very divisive rematch that both of them have been expecting, and many Americans have made it clear they don't want.

Here is CNN's Jeff Zeleny.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Tonight, the curtain finally goes up on a historic presidential rematch, Joe Biden and Donald Trump, emerging from Super Tuesday primaries as the effective nominees of their parties. But there are warning signs in winning, with both men facing distinct challenges of rebuilding their coalitions.

Nikki Haley, the last standing Republican rival, suspended her campaign without offering an endorsement.

NIKKI HALEY, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is now up to Donald Trump to earn the votes of those in our party and beyond it who did not support him, and I hope he does that.

ZELENY: After months of warning Republicans about Trump's vulnerabilities, she bluntly said the burden is on the former president to win over her supporters and unify the party.

HALEY: At its best, politics is about bringing people into your cause, not turning them away. And our conservative cause badly needs more people. This is now his time for choosing.

ZELENY: Any fence-mending got off to a rocky start, with Trump saying on social media, Nikki Haley got trounced last night in record-setting fashion. President Biden struck a different note and extended his hand, saying, Donald Trump made it clear he doesn't want Nikki Haley's supporters. I want to be clear. There is a place for them in my campaign.

It's far from certain where Haley voters ultimately will go, but an analysis of CNN exit polls from five states found only 19 percent said they would be satisfied with Trump as the nominee, and 79 percent dissatisfied.

In the closing days of the primary, voters expressed the challenges of unity.

MARTIN GREEN, REPUBLICAN VOTER: Trump can't win without her supporters. And calling her names isn't going to help him win.

ZELENY: Do you worry that some of her supporters may go to Biden?


ZELENY: Eight months before the general election, the Republican Party is rallying around Trump.

DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT, 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: November 5th is going to go down as the single most important day in the history of our country.

ZELENY: Senator Mitch McConnell, who hasn't spoken to Trump in more than three years, offered his endorsement, saying, it should come as no surprise that as the nominee, he will have my support.

Tonight, after a string of Democratic primary victories, President Biden is preparing to make his case at the State of the Union Address on Thursday, a primetime opportunity to tackle myriad challenges he faces to win re-election.

Biden easily swept away long-shot rivals like Dean Phillips, but a series of protest votes made clear he faces the task of uniting Democrats too, like in Minnesota on Tuesday, where uncommitted received 19 percent of the vote. With a general election contest finally taking shape, history will be tested anew, as Trump seeks to become the first president since Grover Cleveland was voted out of office to be sent back for a second term.


ZELENY (on camera): Now, the sequel between Biden and Trump is cemented, but it will play out in a vastly different political climate. The race is filled with so many wild cards, Trump's criminal cases, Biden's foreign policy challenges, and, of course, the fitness for office of both candidates.

But there is no modern day historical guide for the eight-month campaign to come, the stark contrast of which will come into sharper view in the State of the Union Address and response tomorrow night. Wolf?

BLITZER: Yes, lots of tension going on right now. Jeff Zeleny, thank you very, very much.


Let's get some more on all of this, on the fight to win over Nikki Haley supporters, in particular. CNN Anchor Kaitlan Collins is joining us right now.

Kaitlan, after telling Haley donors they were banned from joining MAGA. Now, the former president seems to be reaching out to them for support.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: But not with any olive branches or anything if you looked at his post earlier today right after Nikki Hailey announced that she was exiting this race, he talked about how he believed most of her supporters was the term he used were far left radical Democrats. It wasn't exactly what someone maybe who's politically savvy and looking at the numbers would necessarily say and compare that as the Haley campaign as to what Joe Biden said in his statement, where he was making this appeal to them saying, yes, we disagree on the issues themselves sometimes but we agree on the principle of democracy itself. It was a very different tone from the two of them.

And I can tell you that's what the candidate is doing. But the campaign itself and what they're looking on Trump's side, Wolf, here are the number. And, yes, Nikki Haley only one two of these nominating contests, but out of that, she got over half a million votes, close to 600,000 in some of the battleground states. Look at North Carolina alone. She got 250, 000 votes there. Trump lost, the margin in 2020 in North Carolina was only about 75,000 votes.

So, Trump's campaign is certainly looking at these numbers. That doesn't mean all of the Haley voters obviously are going to go to President Biden's side and vote for him come November, but the campaign itself is looking at those numbers.

And I think what you can tell in that by the evidence of that, Trump's speech last night. He did not attack Nikki Haley the way he has been so horribly online and he instead focused on the issues that could appeal to her voters.

BLITZER: Yes, very significant development.

Kaitlan, stay with us. I also want to bring in more of our political team and our Political Director David Chalian is with us.

Walk us through -- and you've been looking very closely at those exit poll results that that we got last night, walk us through a potential warning sign for Trump right now based on what you saw.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes, I just want to pick up on something Kaitlan is saying here. The Trump campaign, by clearly being aware they want to appeal to some of those Haley voters, shows that they are on a dual strategy. Yes, they want to expand the electorate and the MAGA base, but they also understand, because it's not just Haley voters, it is a mythical thing, what she represents, independent voters, Trump-resistant Republicans. They need those as part of the full tier as a game of addition.

If you look in the Virginia exit poll last night, we asked folks, are you going to vote Republican in November regardless of the nominee? Now, this is among Haley's voters in Virginia. 69 percent say no, it's not an automatic vote for the Republican. In North Carolina, even more so, Haley supporters said, 79 percent said no, I am not going vote Republican in November regardless who the nominees.

BLITZER: Now, there may be folks that are saying, no, that are still going to vote for Donald Trump. In fact, I'm sure that there are, but there is a sizable enough bloc that we see in each one of these contests of the Haley voters that present a challenge to the Trump campaign, if they are going rebuild the kind of coalition that proved victorious for them in 2016.

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think we're seeing a lot of that also on the left. We're seeing a lot Democrats who aren't really enthusiastic about President Biden. And we are seeing many voters who are saying whose policies have personally helped you, they say Donald Trump, and whose policies have personally hurt you they, say Joe Biden.

So, I think the Democrats are also going to have trouble getting their own Democrats out. And so that the key is who has the most enthusiasm, and we're seeing many polls showing that Donald Trump has the enthusiasm to get voters out, and Joe Biden is going, to be struggling with that.

And on top of that, Biden has had the luxury of being the incumbent president and has a tremendous war chest. Now, Donald Trump, with being the presumptive nominee, he has the tools of the RNC to help with joint fundraising agreement, election integrity units and the communication shop from the RNC. And so now we're going to see them shape up and really go full court press against President Biden.

ASHLEY ALLISON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: So, I don't -- I think it's a losing strategy if you're going to try and make the electorate enthusiastic about this rematch. They are saying they are not. And so I don't think that's the strategy to win. You have to talk about facts in this moment and talk what it means to have a Donald Trump presidency.

And then we had this thing called COVID, right, that like sent our economy into the tanks and that Joe Biden came and got it back on the rails, got us out of our house, got us not go into a recession, and he is trying to bring the country back together. He is trying to make sure that the numbers on inflation and jobs are improving.

And so the Biden campaign -- this is why we have campaigns, right? We have campaign so you can go out and you talk to the voters. It's why the administration is doing the policy and then the campaign sells it. But if the campaigners want people to run in the streets jubilant about this rematch, they're telling them they're not. And I don't think that's what you need to do this election cycle. You need tell them how you're going to continue to work to them and improve the quality of their life.


BLITZER: You know, it's interesting, Kaitlan, because Trump has already announced that when the president delivers a State of the Union Address tomorrow night, he will counter-program on social media and go after President Biden on specific points during the course of the president's speech. And he's also challenging President Biden down to a series of debates, even though he refused to debate his Republican opponents during the primaries.

COLLINS: Yes. I don't think it's a surprise for Trump to say he'll be live tweeting something. I think he pretty much does that every single day of his life, even if it's not on Twitter necessarily now. With the debates themselves, not a surprise if you've been talking to sources in Trump world. They have said all along, even when he was against the Republican primary debates and refused to go against any of his challengers, that the general would likely change that if he was the Republican nominee.

The one thing is he cannot stand the non-partisan committee that puts on those presidential debates. So, that's the big question here. The group that I should note has been doing this since 1976.

I think part of what's driving Trump is that he feels incredibly bullish about how he would perform against President Biden in a debate. But I'll remind everyone that back in 2020, when they had -- you know, it was supposed to be a series of three debates, they only did two, we heard the exact same thing from all of our Trump sources that they felt very confident going into that debate. Essentially, none of them said that afterwards. They thought that first debate went terribly for them, and they thought they improved by the second one.

So, I think --

CHALIAN: One of them had COVID.

ALLISON: He's off the rails all the time. You never know what you're going to get from Donald Trump.

CHALIAN: But I do think, though, there is risk for both of these guys in a debate. I think a debate between them is going to be the whole country on edge of like just seeing, you know, is Joe Biden going to be able to perform in a way that is effective and can communicate or does his age and his fragility at times get the best of him? Does Donald Trump go off the rails in some way that completely just blockades a whole segment of the electorate that his team would be trying to woo?

I just think while I do anticipate there probably will be a debate, I think it is one that is a high stakes, probably higher stakes than we've ever seen before for both of those guys.

ALLISON: That's why tomorrow is so important for Joe Biden.

BLITZER: The State of the Union Address.

ALLISON: The State of the Union Address. It is all eyes will be on the current president and wants to know, tell me what you've done and tell me what you're going to do and make me feel compelled to support you again.

It is the restart of the campaign. We now know, after Super Tuesday yesterday, it is most likely that Donald Trump is going to be the nominee. It is the rematch that most Americans don't want to have, but we are having it. And so Joe Biden has an opportunity to almost reintroduce himself to the country.

STEWART: Well, here's the challenge he's also facing. He is going to go out there. And if he wants to talk about policies, he's going to have an uphill battle really convincing American people that the economic numbers are positive for them.

You might say the numbers are good, a lot of Democrats say they are, but the American people don't feel that and perception is reality. And you can also -- he's going to talk about the border. The border crisis has gotten tremendously worse since he's been in office and he is going to have to show what is he going to do in order to secure the border.

And we're seeing all of these foreign policy crises, whether we're talking about in Gaza, Ukraine, Israel. He is going to have to convince the American people that the money we're donating or contributing to these areas is being well spent and it's in furtherance of democracy.

But even more, aside from policy, he needs to demonstrate he has the vigor and the vitality and the energy and enthusiasm to do the job because that is one of the most important things people will be looking for.

COLLINS: And I think the White House is well aware of that. We've been talking to them. They understand that, obviously, the State of the Union is always about substance. Everyone is trying to get their goals, and we've been talking to lawmakers all day who were saying, I hope he mentions this, I hope he mentions this. That happens every time for any State of the Union for any president.

But I think with President Biden, the White House knows that the style over the substance is what is going to be really what stands out to voters. What we've heard from people inside Biden's world is that, last year, they believe he surpassed expectations where he was responding to people like Marjorie Taylor Greene and the Republicans on protecting Social Security and Medicare.

BLITZER: Or interrupting him.

COLLINS: So, they feel like the stakes are actually higher because he did they believed so well last year.

And so that's what you've been hearing from his allies is that, you know, he could be an enemy of his own making and the performance that he had last year.

CHALIAN: Yes. And, listen, it is a big moment. This is the earnest start of the general election. We've got an eight-month general election. These are the two nominees. He's not going to go give a campaign rally speech, but the president is going to leave with voters tomorrow the contrast that he plans to run on for the next eight months. And that will be a really important piece for him. It is a general election that the American people are not really eager to participate in, but it's the one that they've got.

BLITZER: Let's see how tough he gets going after Trump tomorrow night. It's always very sensitive. The State of the Union Address is supposed to be an official address before a joint session of Congress, an invitation, and it's supposed to be about policy and substance, not necessarily politics, but we shall see.


Kaitlan, thank you very much. Everybody, thank you very, very much.

Important note, Kaitlan will be back later tonight, 9:00 P.M. Eastern to anchor her show, The Source. We will be watching.

Coming up, we have breaking news in the trial of the Rust movie armorer. A verdict just came in. We'll share it with you when we come back.


BLITZER: All right. We're following breaking news right now. A jury has just announced a verdict in the trial of Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the armorer in the set on the set of the ill-fated Alec Baldwin film, Rust.

Let's bring in CNN's Josh Campbell and Defense Attorney Misty Maris.

So, Josh, what did the jury decide?

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, if this verdict came very quickly, the juror deliberating for only about two and a half hours today after closing arguments ultimately rendering a verdict just moments ago, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who was the armorer on set the movie when Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was killed is now guilty of involuntary manslaughter.


Now, she was originally charged by prosecutors with a second charge of tampering with evidence, this jury deciding that this is not guilty of tampering with evidence. But, again, the breaking news here, the armorer has been charged with involuntary manslaughter. She faces up to 18 months in prison once she is eventually sentenced, as well as a $5,000 fine.

Hannah Gutierrez-Reed not expressing any outward sign of emotion as this was being read in court. She was led away by Santa Fe County sheriff's deputies just a short time ago, remanded into the custody of the state.

Now, this trial had gone on for about ten days, the jury hearing from 37 different witnesses. Neither the prosecutor nor the defense had any qualms with the fact that negligence was at play. In fact, both sides agreed that there was negligence. They disagreed about who was to blame, prosecutors saying that Hannah Gutierrez-Reed as the person who was responsible for firearm safety. They determined that she was the single sole person who had the authority to ensure that this was a safe set, that she was negligent in her duties. Her defense attorney, of course she had pleaded not guilty. Her defense attorney indicated that it was actually the production company of this movie, as well as Alec Baldwin himself, who was actually to blame.

But the jury, after deliberating again for only two and a half hours and rendering this verdict, the armorer on the set of that movie now guilty of involuntary manslaughter.

BLITZER: A very fast verdict indeed. Misty, what do you make of this verdict? Let me repeat. The Rust armorer found guilty for involuntary manslaughter but acquitted on charges of evidence tampering?

MISTY MARRIS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes, this really makes sense, especially given the jury instructions. So, lawyers will tell you, opening arguments, really important, closing arguments, very important. Jury instructions may be the most critical.

So, the jury instructions said that the jury could find her guilty if they found that she either, A, did not accidentally loaded the real bullets into the gun instead of the dummy bullets, or that she failed to adequately check those bullets, failed to adequately inspect those bullets.

And so under the circumstances, not surprised to see the jury come back with a guilty, because, clearly, had she inspected the bullets, they would not have been in the gun. They would have been removed.

Now, on the tampering charge, that relates to her handing a baggie of white powder to someone on set during the investigation. However, that powder was never tested. So, the defense said it's impossible to prove whether or not that was drugs, as the prosecutors had alleged.

So, given all of the circumstances of this case, and given those jury instructions, new off the critical factor, the bullets were not inspected prior to handing that gun over to Alec Baldwin, and the rest of it really wasn't relevant.

BLITZER: Let me follow up with you, Misty. Mr. Alec Baldwin's trial is now set for July 9th. What does this mean, verdict today, for his case?

MARRIS: So, this verdict is very positive for his case. This means that somebody has been held legally, criminally, culpable for the death of Halyna Hutchins. He's going to say that, in his particular case, it's not foreseeable.

Forseeability is the critical element here. It wasn't foreseeable that the armorer, the person who is responsible for the safety, maintenance and care of the firearm and the ammunition, it was not foreseeable that there would be a real bullet in that gun.

And, Wolf, his defense team had been in the courtroom. And, today, during closing arguments, the prosecutors made a statement during their rebuttal argument where they said, it's expected that the actor is going to go off-book. It's expected that the actor might mishandle a firearm. That's all for the purposes of convicting Hannah Gutierrez- Reed, but they had a fine line to tow.

And I think some of those statements during closing arguments will be very, very difficult to overcome for the prosecution during the trial of Alec Baldwin, so very, very relevant to his case moving forward.

BLITZER: Indeed, very interesting indeed.

Missy Marris, Josh Campbell, to both of you. Thank you very much.

Coming up, a key Biden campaign insider joins us to weigh in on the president's goals for a State of the Union Address to Congress tomorrow night and how it figures into his rematch with Donald Trump.



BLITZER: We're getting more insight right now into this consequential moment in the race for the White House with the Biden-Trump rematch now pretty much set and the president a little over 24 hours away from delivering a very, very important speech to the nation.

Joining us now, Mitch Landrieu, national co-chair of the Biden campaign. Mitch, thanks very much for joining us.

The president, as you know, will likely make the contrast with Donald Trump tomorrow night during the State of the Union Address, but will he address issues like immigration and the economy that voters say are at the top of mind for them? MITCH LANDRIEU, NATIONAL CO-CHAIR, BIDEN CAMPAIGN: Well, first of all, we now have a really clear choice, and many of us have known this has been coming for a long time between Joe Biden, who gets up every day and fights for average folks and thinks about other people, and a guy like Donald Trump who lives his life in chaos and thinks about retribution and revenge.

The president tomorrow night is going to give the fourth State of the Union address. Hopefully, Donald Trump will watch. If he wants some good advice, he ought to kick back with a burger and watch the president give the address, and he'll learn something about being presidential.

I expect President Biden to talk about his incredible accomplishments, about bringing the country together in a bipartisan way that makes a lot of sense, that's built an economy that really is second to none, with 15 million jobs, lowest unemployment rate, gone after pharmaceutical companies to reduce the cost of health care costs that are relieving the burden.


He's going to talk about what the future looks like, and he's going to talk about an inclusive future and a bright future, not a dark past that never was.

And I think he'll make the contrast very well. And my expectation is that he's going to do great. He did great last year, and I'm expecting big things from him tomorrow night.

BLITZER: We will be watching tomorrow, to be sure.

In the Super Tuesday contest yesterday, as you know, Mitch, many Democrats voted uncommitted to oppose President Biden's handling of Israel's war against Hamas. In Minnesota, for example, a 19 percent of Democratic voters marked their ballots that way. How big of a warning sign is this for the president coming as he approaches November in the general election?

LANDRIEU: Well, I'll address that, but the thing that I paid attention to more last night was how many people voted for Nikki Haley and not Donald Trump. 79 percent of whom said they would not consider voting for Donald Trump.

Now, Nikki Haley left the race today. She ran a very courageous race. The president, my president, our president, President Biden reached out to her because he believes that we are better together than apart.

And there are a lot of things that the folks that voted for Nikki Haley share with Joe Biden. Even though we may disagree on some issues, we believe in saving democracy, which was pretty much what her campaign was about.

And I just want to point out, in case people have forgotten, Donald Trump has now had 17 cabinet secretaries that worked for him, two secretaries of defense, a chief of staff, and now his secretary of the United Nations that has warned the people about how unfit Donald Trump is for office. So, that's what really kind of stood out to me last night.

Now, we're not unmindful of the fact of what happened in Michigan and in Minnesota. As you know, the war between Israel and Gaza right now is very difficult and very complicated. Hamas has just been unbelievable in their attacks on Israel. I think the president has demonstrated through word and deed that he's unhappy right now about the way that Israel is prosecuting the war. The vice president has spoken to this issue. But what is most critical is that we have a ceasefire so that we can bring humanitarian aid into Gaza and make sure that we get the hostages out as that thing is getting resolved.

We are very mindful of the pain that folks in the country are going to. The president has listened, he's heard, he's understood, and he is doing the best he can to protect the interests of the United States of America in this regard, and will continue to do so as we go forward.

BLITZER: What does it say to you, Mitch, that the Biden campaign despite -- about the Biden campaign, that despite all of Trump's liabilities that there are many, including multiple criminal indictments, hundreds of millions of dollars and civil penalties, that Biden is losing to Trump in so many of these most recent polls that have emerged?

LANDRIEU: Well, Wolf, I don't want to out you, but you've been around a while, as have I, and you've seen these polls ebb and flow. This is really just the beginning of the race. We have eight months to go, which is, as you know, in politics, a lifetime. The president has a great record.

Sometimes people seem like they have amnesia about what Trump's administration was like, mostly him, based on what you heard him say last night, when he tried to cast a spell on America and talk about a past that never was, as though the time that he served in office was moonbeam and fairy tales, when it was nothing but chaos, and it was really complicated. We're going to remind the country of that. And then the president's going to remind the country of the successes that we've had. I believe in the American people.

I think now that the choice is going to be as clear as it is, the American people are going to choose Joe Biden to be their president once again.

BLITZER: And I've covered a lot of these State of the Union Addresses, as you correctly point out.

The New York Times/Siena poll last weekend showed key parts of President Biden's 2020 coalition seemingly falling apart. He is losing support with young voters, women, black voters, and losing some of that support to Donald Trump. Why do you think Trump has gained support among some of these key voting blocs?

LANDRIEU: Well, first of all, I'm not sure that that's accurate, but assuming that some of those things are occurring, it's not really a big surprise, as you know, because you're an expert in political science, there are tectonic shifts going on amongst the electorates.

One of the things that's also happening is that women in this country understand that Trump has declared war on them by appointing three Supreme Court justices that have reversed Roe versus Wade that has resulted in Alabama outlawing in vitro fertilization, or in Ohio, police officers being gone into a woman's house to look in her toilet because they've now criminalized miscarriages. And so now you see a huge swing, as should be expected, of women basically saying, why is the government in the business of my reproductive health?

We are going to fight for every vote, Wolf. We're going to go back to every constituency. We're going to earn every vote. The president's going to talk about his record, how when he came into office, what he had to deal with, what it is that he put together in a bipartisan way. Really, that has been second to none. And then he's going to talk about the future.

But the bigger point that Joe Biden wants to tell America is that America is worth fighting for, that democracy at risk, and that when we do things together, we can do big things. Donald Trump's sending the message, especially to Nikki Haley's supporters, says, hey, babe, it's my way or the highway.


And I'm not really interested in anybody that doesn't think like me. And I'm interested in governing in chaos because tearing things down is what he thinks works.

He could not be more wrong. And Joe Biden is going to stand between him and him trying to tear down democracy, and it is not going to work. Joe Biden beat Donald Trump before, and he is going to beat him again.

BLITZER: Mitch Landrieu, thanks so much for joining us. It will be lively, I'm sure, tomorrow night.

Coming up, a Russian attack comes dangerously close to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

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


BLITZER: More now in a very close call in Ukraine, a deadly Russian strike coming within just 500 meters of a convoy carrying President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Just a short while ago, right here in The Situation Room, a key Zelenskyy diplomatic adviser who was traveling with President Zelenskyy in Odessa, told me he believes the attack might have been deliberately targeted.


Let's get some more from our Senior International Correspondent Fred Pleitgen. He's joining us right now. What more can you tell us, Fred, about this deadly strike? FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it seems to have been extremely close, Wolf. I mean, one of the things that we heard from that senior official that you were talking about, that it was about 500 yards away from the convoy, with not only Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the president of Ukraine, but, of course, also the prime minister of Greece as well, which is a key NATO ally of the United States.

And, in fact, the Ukrainian president, Wolf, then later said that he could not only hear the impact of that missile but that he could also see the missile as it came down. That's how close it was to Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

All this happened in Odessa, in the port town of Odessa. The Greek prime minister later said that there had been a tour of the port that Volodymyr Zelenskyy gave to the prime minister, where he underscored the importance of that port.

And as they were about to leave, that's when that strike took place. The Ukrainians are saying that five people were killed in that.

The Russians have now actually come out, and they've said that they targeted in the port area of Odessa, a warehouse with what they say were unmanned sea drones that were there. Of course, Wolf, all of this comes only one day after the Ukrainians say that they actually sank a Russian warship in the Black Sea using such sea drones. So, it is possible that this could have been in retaliation for that.

In any case, this appears to have been an extremely close call. And one of the things I can say from being on the ground in Ukraine quite frequently, the Russians actually have some missiles where the margin of error is about 500 yards. So, certainly, having very senior officials from two countries in that area, definitely a very dangerous and close call, Wolf.

BLITZER: Very dangerous, indeed. How much does this underscore the problems Ukraine is facing right now? They want more air defense systems, for example, with U.S. military aid to Ukraine still being held up.

PLEITGEN: I think all of that, I think that air defense is definitely a key point, and some of the Ukrainians have been saying they need more air defense systems, especially in places where there is critical infrastructure, like that Port of Odessa.

That's been hammered over the past couple of days, especially by the Russians. There was a big attack on March 2nd that killed a lot of people. But the other thing, of course, Wolf, is on the frontlines, shortage of artillery that they're dealing with. Every day, that's getting worse, and that's why the officials, like the Ukrainian president, are saying they need that U.S. military aid badly, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, they desperately need it.

Fred Pleitgen reporting for us, thank you very much, Fred. Coming up, there's more breaking news just into The Situation Room. We're learning new information right now about the probe into Donald Trump's efforts to overturn his 2020 election defeat in Arizona.



BLITZER: We're following more breaking news. The probe into the 2020 fake electors plot in Arizona appears to be intensifying big time right now.

CNN'S Katelyn Polantz is joining us right now.

What are you learning, Katelyn?

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, Wolf, this state level investigation, it is active and the attorney general in Arizona may be nearing some charging decisions related to the world around Donald Trump after the 2020 election. We know this because we now have confirmed that there are several grand jury subpoenas that have gone out in recent weeks and that they are asking about things from the face take elector plot used by the Trump campaign, even expanding into more national questions about what the Trump campaign was doing, and interests that the prosecutors have had into lawyers around Donald Trump after the 2020 election.

Wolf, it's important because we've heard about a lot of investigations, including in Georgia. There have been charges there against Donald Trump and many others, as well as against fake electors in Georgia, Michigan, and Nevada.

Now, Arizona, we could be seeing something come into the court system in very due time.

BLITZER: If the Arizona attorney general, Katelyn, pursues charges, who could be targeted?

POLANTZ: Well, Wolf, that is going to be a question of how the prosecutors put together the evidence, but something that's notable in what we're learning about these subpoenas now, in Arizona, is that not only are they asking about the fake electors, they're also asking about the moves that these attorneys around Donald Trump were making an even about their discussions in media things with Donald Trump.

One of the people that the Arizona prosecutors have talked to is a lawyer named Ken Chesebro, who was working at the national level with Trump and others and he's previously spoke to prosecutors in Michigan. Here's what he told those prosecutors.


KENNETH CHESEBRO, FORMER ATTORNEY FOR DONALD TRUMP: So I ended up explaining that Arizona was still hypothetically possible because the alternate electors have voted. And I explained the whole logic. Because the alternate electors have voted, we had more time with litigation. So, it was, I think, clear in a way that maybe hadn't been before, that we had until January 6 to win.


POLANTZ: So that's Ken Chesebro speaking to prosecutors in Michigan about Arizona. Now, we're waiting to see what the prosecutors may do with that, what he actually told them when he got in front of them as well. And if that may become part of a case against people around Donald Trump, potentially other attorneys or even potentially against Donald Trump himself.

BLITZER: Yeah, lot's going on. Katelyn Polantz, thank you very much.

And there's more news from Arizona, which is also, of course, a key battleground in the 2024 elections.

CNN's Miguel Marquez traveled to Pima County where a lot of Democrats aren't as eager to support President Biden a second time.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Southern Arizona's Pima County, one of the bluest parts of this all important battleground state.

What is this place?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: An island of blue and a sea of red.

CITIALI MONTOYA, TUCSON DEMOCRATIC VOTER: We were a red state when I was growing up. And recently, we've changed to blue state.

MARQUEZ: If Democrats want to keep it that way, running up the margin here, crucial.

If Democrats don't perform well in Pima County in Arizona, what happens?


MIKE BRYAN, PIMA COUNTY DEMOCRATIC ACTIVIST: We lose. Yeah, that's how it goes.

MARQUEZ: We spoke to lots of Pima Democrats, younger and older, progressive and centrist. One thing clear as the desert air, President Joe Biden has a problem with his own voters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, I wish we had a different candidate.

BECKY RICHARDS, TUCSON DEMOCRATIC VOTER: If there were a younger candidate that can connect with younger people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do not think I'll be voting for Joe Biden in the primary.

JENNA MAJCHRZAK, TUCSON DEMOCRATIC VOTER: On the national level, I'm not really impressed with anyone. MARQUEZ: More than 3 million Arizonans cast votes for president in 2020. Biden won by 10,457 votes. Nowhere was the margin bigger than pima county where he bested Trump by nearly 100,000 votes.

One issue driving Democratic dissatisfaction, the president's handling of the conflict in Gaza.

During a weekend event in Tucson, First Lady Jill Biden interrupted several times by pro-Palestinian protesters

MAJCHRZAK: He needs to call a ceasefire.

MARQUEZ: Jenna Majchrzak owns a bicycle shop. She wants to see Joe Biden take a much tougher line with Israel.

MAJCHRZAK: And he has several months to do the right thing.

MARQUEZ: Nineteen-year-old Grady Campbell is excited to vote in his first presidential election. His enthusiasm dampened by the Israeli offensive in Gaza, and the U.S. response.

GRADY CAMPBELL, TUCSON DEMOCRATIC VOTER: I think that -- obviously Hamas did commit a terrible terrorist attack, but I don't think that the response from Israel is appropriate, and I think that to see that our tax dollars are going to fund that.

MARQUEZ: Democrats here say other concerns will help drive voter turnout in November.

CORINNE COOPER, ABORTION RIGHTS ACTIVIST: Have you sign the petition to protect the right to choose in Arizona?

MARQUEZ: Including an expected measure on the ballot in enshrining abortion rights in the state's constitution.

COOPER: And people are certainly concerned about this issue. A lot of people have been extremely shocked to see women's rights reversed after all of these years.

MARQUEZ: Arizona, a battleground not just the presidential level this November. It's home to a competitive us Senate contest and a pair of House races. Even the state legislature here is up for grabs. Democrats haven't controlled both state houses since 1966.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: John McLean is running for the Arizona Senate.

MARQUEZ: The strategy turn out voters by energizing them on local issues and Biden will benefit.

JOHN MCLEAN (D), ARIZONA STATE SENATE CANDIDATE: When people realize that voting rights, women's rights, public schools, all of these things are settled at the state legislature. The light bulb goes on. These are issues that are important, people's everyday lives.

MARQUEZ: Another factor motivating many Democratic voters we spoke to, their fear of a return to the White House of Donald Trump. There's no doubt in your mind if it's Joe Biden and Donald Trump in

November, you'll vote for Joe Biden?


MARQUEZ: With an eye roll, with a cough, with --

BRUNO: Yeah, with like a sigh, you know, but like it's him or the work that he is doing or trying to do. I just wish we had more energetic younger candidates.


MARQUEZ (on camera): So we spoke to a lot of voters out there, a lot of them, all of them expressed concern about Joe Biden, but all of them as well said that when push comes to shove and the polls open in November, despite their reservations, they will vote for Joe Biden -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Miguel Marquez, good report. Thank you very much.

Coming up, the chaos in Haiti reaching a boiling point with the country's prime minister now stranded in Puerto Rico.

We'll be right back.



BLITZER: With Heidi spiraling -- with Haiti, I should say, with Haiti spiraling into chaos amid a surge in gang violence, there's new political turmoil tonight for the Caribbean nation, the prime minister stranded in Puerto Rico right now, amid growing pressure to step aside.

CNN's David Culver is tracking the story for us after recently returning from Haiti.

David, has the prime minister essentially lost control?

DAVID CULVER, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, Wolf, it really starts to feel that way, especially when you consider people don't know where he is. It's unclear if he is even still in Puerto Rico, that's at least where he was as of yesterday.

And it's coming as his country is it falling into a bit of chaos. It's spiraled out of control in recent days. And the time that he's been away, he was actually in Kenya signing an agreement to get Kenyan police officers to Haiti to deploy so as to help stay stabilize the country.

Meantime, in the period that he's been gone, we've seen gangs attacking airports. They've gone after prison. They've gone after police stations. And you even have one gang leader who's gaining more and more

popularity in Haiti, who's calling for a civil war, should Henry return?


JIMMY CHERIZIER, GANG LEADER (through translator): If Ariel Henry doesn't step down, if the international community continues to support Ariel Henry, they will lead us directly into a civil war that will end in genocide.


CULVER: At this hour, we know the U.N. Security Council right here in New York is meeting to discuss this situation, trying to figure out where they go from here.

As of now, the U.N. says they're still dealing with Prime Minister Ariel Henry as prime minister, or they consider him to be in that position still. The U.S. says it too considers him to be prime minister. However, they're pushing towards a transitional process. It comes as "The Miami Herald," Wolf, has been reporting, that while Henry was on that flight headed back to Haiti, which has obviously been diverted, U.S. officials reportedly told him to resign.

Again, the White House pushing back on that, but it shows you just how unstable things are right now, as this country is essentially without a leader and folks look at this as even being a gang controlled coup that's in place.

BLITZER: Very dangerous indeed.

David Culver, thank you very much. And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. I'll see you tomorrow, 11:00 a.m. Eastern for "CNN NEWSROOM" and then, of course, 6:00 p.m. Eastern right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

The news continues next on CNN.