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Georgia Appeals Court Pauses Trump Election Subversion Case; Trump Renews Threat To Prosecute, Jail Opponents If Re-Elected; Biden Back On World Stage Aiming To Draw Contrasts With Trump; Firsthand Look At Search For Remains Of U.S. Service Members 80 Years After D- Day; Sources: Accused Gilgo Beach Serial Killer To Face Two New Charges. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired June 05, 2024 - 18:00   ET



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WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news. The election subversion case against Donald Trump in Georgia was just put on hold indefinitely. The state appeals court ordering the pause until it rules on the latest effort to get District Attorney Fani Willis disqualified from the case.

Also tonight, Trump is renewing his threat to seek revenge for his criminal conviction in New York. The former president turned felon, suggesting he may prosecute and even jail his political opponents if he returns to the White House.

Plus, President Biden lands in France just ahead of the D-Day anniversary, aiming to show global leadership and draw stark contrasts with Trump. Will the President's message get through as the White House is rushing to dispute a new report about his mental fitness?

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

First up tonight, the breaking news, Donald Trump scores two desperately needed wins in court. His Georgia trial now indefinitely on pause as the judge overseeing his classified documents case in Florida puts off key decisions and agrees to hold a highly unusual hearing on Special Counsel Jack Smith's appointment. CNN's Katelyn Polantz and CNN's Zachary Cohen are working both of these stories from every angle. First to you, Zachary. Does this ensure that the Fulton County, Georgia case will not happen before the election in November?

ZACHARY COHEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Yes, Wolf. Today's order makes it official that there is effectively zero chance that Donald Trump stands trial in Georgia before the 2024 election. And, look, the chances of that happening were already slim. But now this order today from the Georgia Court of Appeals puts all work in. in the trial court overseen by Judge Scott McAfee on hold until this issue of whether or not Fani Willis should be disqualified is resolved by the appeals court. And we do expect a decision on that won't be made until potentially March 2025. That's when potentially work could pick back up if Fani Willis is allowed to remain on this case.

Now the D.A.'s office in Georgia, in Fulton County, can appeal this decision by the appeals court. But the fact that they went explicitly issued this order today when Judge Scott McAfee had allowed work to continue already pretty much makes the chances of them accepting an appeal from Fani Willis very unlikely.

And what this does is it underscores how Donald Trump has really been successful recently in putting prosecutors on their back heels. And he did so in Georgia by really raising issues about Fani Willis' personal life. Remember that this whole disqualification issue rose out of allegations that she and her lead prosecutor, Nathan Wade, had an improper romantic relationship and that she benefited financially from that relationship.

Scott McAfee said that there was not enough evidence to show an actual conflict of interest, but did really criticize Fani Willis and his order to allowing Donald Trump and some of his co-defendants to appeal the decision saying that there was the appearance of a conflict. So, now the appeals court in Georgia will take this issue up.

And I want to read what Trump's lead attorney in the Georgia case, Steve Sadow, wrote in reaction to today's order. He said, quote, the Georgia court of appeals has properly stayed all proceedings against President Trump in the trial court pending his decision on our interlocutory appeal, which argues the case should be dismissed and Fulton County D.A. Fani Willis should be disqualified for her misconduct.

Now, the D.A.'s office is not commenting on the order at this time, but we'll have to see how this does ultimately affect the future of the case.

BLITZER: Zachary Cohen, thank you very much. I want to get to new developments right now in another Trump case, the judge overseeing the former president's classified documents trial is once again pushing off key decisions as she reshuffles the court schedule.

Let's get details from our Senior Crime and Justice Reporter Katelyn Polantz. Katelyn, what's behind these changes? KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, Judge Aileen Cannon, she is reconfiguring that schedule for the late June hearings that she had set. She was going to have four days of hearings, now she's going to have three, and they're going to be different than what she wanted to do before.

Part of this is because there's a lot to do, and Judge Cannon seems very wanting to have everything argued in person before her in that courtroom in Fort Pierce, Florida.


Well, that doesn't happen in every case. A lot of judges just make decisions based on legal arguments on the papers, but not Judge Cannon. What she's going to be doing at that three-day hearing stretching at the end of June, she's going to be hearing about a gag order the prosecutors want to place on Donald Trump, limiting his ability to speak about law enforcement while he awaits trial.

She's also going to be hearing a day-and-a-half of arguments around the constitutionality of the special counsel's office, the office of the Justice Department that is prosecuting Donald Trump in this case. Other judges across the country have looked at those sorts of challenges in other special counsel criminal cases, and they've waved them away very quickly. Again, not Judge Cannon, she wants to have a day and a half hearing and she also wants to hear from third parties, another really unusual thing.

There is just so much to work through. Not just with that, as Zach Cohen was just noting about Georgia, no trial date on the schedule there. And there is also not a trial date at this time on the calendar and it is looking every week, more and more unlikely, even impossible for the Florida classified documents case against Donald Trump to go to trial in any months soon, definitely not before the election because there is just so much that Judge Cannon still has to do.

BLITZER: Yes, lots of legal wins for the Trump legal defense team right now. Katelyn Polantz, thank you very much.

Our legal and political experts are joining me now with some analysis, and, Michael Moore, let's talk to you first. Trump's case in Georgia now effectively frozen, as you know. How significant is this?

MICHAEL MOORE, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, well, I'm glad to be with all of you. It's significant, but I will say that I don't think it is completely unexpected. I mean, frankly, the court of appeals looked at several things and they could have been thinking, well, you know, we've got an issue challenging her qualification to stay on. So we've got to decide that, so there's no more damage done to the case. This could also be the result of the cross appeal that the D.A. filed, where she appealed the judge's ruling where he had dismissed certain counts of the indictment. The court of appeals may very well be thinking, look, you know, let's know what the actual trial is going to look like so that, you know, if we decide that that needs to be addressed, and, you know, we don't waste time in the trial court having motions that end up being irrelevant if some of these counts don't remain.

The other thing is this is sort of following Georgia Supreme Court precedent. There's a case out of the Supreme Court that essentially talks about staying these cases when there are challenges to the counsel, the qualifications of counsel, the choice of counsel. So, this is not the first time it's not that unusual. But I do think it makes it very clear. And, you know, it's sort of like waiting around me thinking that the captain of the cheerleaders asked me to your prom. Somebody just -- a friend needs to tell you this is not going to happen. Well, let me just say this case is not going to happen before the election.

And I think at this point, we just sort of accept that, but also not read a lot into the order from the court because it is not the first time, and this is this is typically how you would expect an appeals court to handle the case, that is to stay the case so that no harm comes to it. There are no more complications as a result of things moving forward that might have to be redone should they decide that in fact there was some impropriety or that the court order should have been reversed and that the D.A. should have been disqualified.

BLITZER: Yes, Michael Moore, he knows the law in Georgia well. Kristen Holmes, let me bring you into this conversation. I know you're in Phoenix, where Trump is heading tomorrow to campaign. Just how big of a win is this for Trump? What are you hearing from his team about this?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I've heard from one senior adviser who said they were, quote/unquote, celebrating, another said they were thrilled. As Michael just stated, this wasn't that much of a surprise even to Trump's team. They had long believed that this case was not going to happen or go to trial before that November election, but this really solidified that.

Now, remember, part of their tactics have been delayed, delayed, delayed. They have tried to do that with all four of the cases that he was indicted on, obviously unsuccessfully in New York. But now, with that Georgia case being pushed, they are also believing that that Florida case, as Katelyn said, will also be pushed beyond the election, the only one that could potentially happen before the November election now is that January 6th case in D.C. Now, they are hopeful, they are optimistic that given the Supreme Court timing and their announcement on whether or not he has presidential immunity, that that will be late enough to push that again beyond the election.

Just a reminder here, part of the reason for those delays tactics are if he is tried, or if that trial is supposed to happen after he is elected, and, of course, all of these are only wins if Donald Trump becomes the president, it would be hard to put a sitting president on trial in Georgia. We also know that, federally, he could essentially get rid of those cases. So, that's why they had to put those tactics in place in the first place.

BLITZER: Important. Alyse Adamson is with us as well, former federal prosecutor. Alyse, do you think finally Willis will ultimately get disqualified from this case? ALYSE ADAMSON, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Yes. Look I don't think she will.


I think it's important to note that the court of appeals is going to be bound by the trial level record. And remember, Judge McAfee did a very good job allowing the defense to develop a very strong record. And, ultimately, the defense failed to meet their burden to demonstrate that D.A. Willis was either had a conflict of interest, or had benefited from the appointment of Nathan Wade. So, ultimately, I think in evaluating that transcript, the court of appeals will come to the same conclusion. I don't think there were any errors in Judge McAfee's ruling.

That said, I also think it's important to note that this is a huge blow to Fani Willis. Very early on, this is Seem like the strongest case. They got some very early pleas, Kenneth Chesboro, Sidney Powell, to name two. And this case had a lot of momentum and now it has been stopped in its track. So, disqualified, no, off the track, yes.

BLITZER: And that's an important point as well. You know, Jim Trusty, you're a former Trump lawyer. Let's talk a little bit about these two wins. These are major legal wins. How big of a win is this for Trump?

JIM TRUSTY, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: Well, I don't think either is all that shocking. You know, I keep hearing people talking about delay tactics, delay tactics. Really, the reaction I have is the ability of Jack Smith or Fani Willis or anybody else to accelerate these cases on an artificial schedule that's dictated by election is being denied. I think Fani Willis is in trouble. Most of the time in a conflict case, you don't say pick one and the conflict is solved. You have both people that were a party to the conflict removed.

Now, I think the judge on the lower court made some very genteel findings, and those factual findings get a lot of respect on appeal. So, it is a crapshoot in terms of what happens on appeal. But I think there's a chance she gets recused, and then there's Georgia case law that says the office is recused. That effectively kills that case.

BLITZER: Yes. Let's see if that happens. Michael Moore, on the classified documents case in Florida, does Judge Cannon's handling of this case raise any questions for you?

MOORE: She has delayed some rulings that I think could have been fairly simple. And I think you would have seen judges maybe who had a little more experience on the bench rule more quickly or rule from the pleadings at the same time, you know, I never reject the chance to get in front of a judge for a hearing. And so she's given the parties a chance to come in and argue the cases, argue their points.

And I think, frankly, that's a good thing. I also think this is not an ordinary case and we want to say that's being treated the same. But the reality, this is not the same thing. This is a former president and these kind of charges are out here. So, the fact that she's having an evidentiary hearing, she's allowing significant time for arguments, I think that's good.

I do think some of the delay, I don't think there's anything necessarily nefarious about it. I don't think she's holding back to do anybody any favors. I think it's just a complicated issue and she's got some learning on the bench maybe to do as she goes on. But, you know, even the 11th Circuit have said, you know, they're not going to disqualify her off of the case.

And so, you know, I think having the hearings is probably a good thing. It does drag it out and make it seem very unlike that that case moves forward before the election too.

BLITZER: And as we've reported many times, Trump's team wanted to delay, delay, delay. They're getting these delays, very important decisions so far today. Everyone, thank you very much.

Still ahead, what Donald Trump is saying now about the possibility of jailing his political opponents if he were to win the White House again, his allies also sending signals they want revenge.



BLITZER: Donald Trump is pouring fuel on fears that he wants payback for his historic criminal conviction. He's renewing, renewing his threats to prosecute and even jail his political opponents if he's elected president again.

Let's bring in CNN's Brian Todd. Brian, Trump and his allies are increasingly talking about the possibility of potential ways to seek revenge.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They are, Wolf. And some of Trump's allies weighed in again today. Just a short time ago, the former president and his acolytes seem to be coalescing in an effort to seek retribution for that guilty verdict.


DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT, 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This was a rigged, disgraceful trial.

TODD (voice over): The former president and his allies, fuming over his felony conviction in the New York hush money trial, are vowing legal revenge against his political opponents. In an interview with Newsmax, Donald Trump suggested that if he's re-elected, he'd go after President Biden and other Democrats, who he has falsely blamed for a nonexistent conspiracy against him that Trump believes resulted in his indictments in four criminal cases.

TRUMP: It's a terrible, terrible path that they're leading us to. And it's very possible that it's going to have to happen to them.

TODD: A year ago, Trump was more forceful, explicitly laying out his plan to go after Joe Biden. TRUMP: I will appoint a real special prosecutor to go after the most corrupt president in the history of the United States of America, Joe Biden.

TODD: Within hours of Trump's conviction last week, his Republican allies clamored for retaliation, including Trump's former White House doctor and current Congressman Ronny Jackson on Newsmax.

REP. RONNY JACKSON (R-TX): I am going to encourage all of my colleagues and everybody that I have any influence over as a member of Congress to aggressively go after the president and his entire family.

TODD: Senator Marco Rubio, a potential Trump running mate, said this today.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL): I'm calling for a strong response at every level. Once you cross these lines, it's going to be hard to put this genie back in the bottle.

TODD: But another Trump ally, House Speaker Mike Johnson, frames it this way.

SEN. MIKE JOHNSON (R-LA): This is not retribution. This is about trying to reset the parameters and to make the people trust our system again.

TODD: How much power would Trump have to actually do this if he's re- elected?

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: An aggressive president could pick up the phone and call the attorney general and direct him to prosecute people.

TODD: And, as president, Trump did repeatedly call on the Justice Department to indict his political enemies. He and his followers have also called for his former presidential opponent, Hillary Clinton, to be jailed, even though she was never charged with a crime.


Still, in the interview with Newsmax, Trump said this.

TRUMP: Wouldn't it be terrible to throw the president's wife and the former secretary of state -- think of it, the former secretary of state, but the president's wife into jail, wouldn't that be a terrible thing?

TODD: Analysts worry about the serious ramifications of a Trump payback campaign in the White House.

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: One big impact of this could be the potential for political violence, which is that they've put a target on judges' backs, they've put a target on jurors' backs.

(END VIDEOTAPE) TODD (on camera): How would Justice Department prosecutors realistically respond if Trump gets back in the White House and tries to prosecute his political opponents? Analyst Elliot Williams says they would have two choices, follow Trump's orders or resign, which he points out, some of them did during Trump's administration. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right, Brian Todd reporting. Brian, thank you very much.

Let's break all of this down with our political experts. Ana Navarro, welcome to the Situation Room. What's your reaction to this revenge tour that Trump and his allies are now talking about?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think it's really worrisome. And I think it's really worrisome because we already saw what the effect of Trump's words, the words of Trump and his acolytes and his minions have had on America. We saw it when we saw a guy drive thousands of miles to a Walmart in El Paso and shoot down Latinos. We saw it on January 6th.

So, we already know that Trump's words have the effect of igniting political violence. And I think it's incredibly reckless and irresponsible to put a target on the backs of juries, on the backs of the judge. We've seen violence against judges in America. It is very reckless and irresponsible. I'm incredibly disappointed.

I don't expect much different from Trump. I did expect different from some of these Republicans that have become part and parcel to this insanity.

BLITZER: And Shermichael Singleton's with us as well. How much does it worry you, Shermichael, to hear Republicans now talking about potentially making up cases to go after their political opponents?

SHERMICHAEL SINGLETON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I mean, I'm worried, Wolf, but I get the politics. I'm more worried about the actual voters themselves, as some of the examples that Ana just raised. I think that we're seeing a huge disconnectedness with many Trump supporters who just don't feel that they're a part of this process at all. They look at some of these trials, and from their perspective, not my perspective, they do believe it's somehow a witch hunt or lawfare. And I don't believe we're sort of resetting the conversation for those individuals because politicians are motivated by the people who vote for them. And so if Republican voters are saying, hey, we want to move on, then Republicans would say, yes, let's move on.

So, my concern, it's the people, and it's that one or two rogue actors out there who may follow some of this rhetoric and do something very dangerous.

BLITZER: Yes, it's interesting. David Chalian, you're our CNN political director. It's really fascinating. All of this is happening as there is a massive fundraising success story happening for Trump and his PAC and his allies. What, his super PAC just raised, what, another $70 million just in May on top of the campaigns. $140 million, that was raised in May. DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes. We saw some of this last year with the indictments, this fortification of the Republican base and a surge of donations to Trump entities, some of which he uses to pay his legal bills for, not his political efforts. We're seeing it on steroids after the conviction on 34 counts. $141 million with the RNC and the campaign combined last month. That's just unheard of. And over a third of that was raised in the 24 hours after the conviction, same thing from the super PAC.

What I thought was most interesting about the super PAC announcement of the $70 million was their narrowing of the map of where they're going to target those resources, Wolf. While there are seven states across the country that will see the bulk of activity, they circled Pennsylvania as the state that they believe will be determinative in this election.

BLITZER: How should Democrats actually prepare to defend against this?

ASHLEY ALLISON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, there's a couple of things. One, I know the campaign is ramping up. They have staff and hundreds of staff in the battleground states that David -- including Pennsylvania, because that was the deciding state last in 2020.

This is why Democrats continue to talk about democracy. For a lot of voters, democracy feels like this opaque experience. It might not always work for voters of color or voters -- younger voters and their interaction with it feels distant. But Democrats should continue to talk about this, break it down in Trump's words. Democracy is when somebody who is against you uses their First Amendment right and then you prosecute them. That's what we're talking about when we say democracy is at risk.

So, I think they need to continue to talk about that they need to continue to fundraise their democracy like they have been. Biden has had some historical fundraising, but not matching what Trump is. But they're going to have to target their voters in every single way, not do a one-size-fits-all for the constituencies to build that coalition, but really paint the stakes of Joe Biden and Donald Trump are not the lesser of two evils. They are very distinct.


People have different views on how the future of our country should go.

NAVARRO: You talk about recalibrating the narrative. And I have a hard time coming up with a narrative that more proves the point that this is not a Joe Biden conspiracy than the fact that his son is being tried right now by a federal court, right? Not by a state court that tried Trump.

So, I think that when you look, if you turn on TV and you see the Democrat senator from New Jersey, Bob Menendez, in court being tried in a federal court, he could have easily won re-election. If you turn on T.V. and you see the first lady of the United States sitting there supporting her son, as he is tried in federal court, how then do you argue in the same breath that Joe Biden directed this trial against Donald Trump? That was a state trial. I mean, it just -- you have to really bend logic into pretzel shapes.

BLITZER: It's the Manhattan district attorney. Go ahead, Shermichael.

SINGLETON: Yes. I mean, look, I think that's a fair point. But with that point in mind, politically, this race is incredibly close. And whatever criticisms one may want to throw at the former president, he's still neck and neck. Some stats rather say that he's a point or two ahead within the margin of error. I do believe that there are a lot of voters out there who do not feel that the past four years have worked for them, particularly on issues of the economy.

And I think a lot of people in D.C., on the East Coast have a level of hubris about what the average person is experiencing. I think that's why President Biden is struggling despite what a lot of Democrats will laud as these are a plethora of successes that have done well for African-Americans or Latino voters or younger voters, and all of those voters are still saying, yet we don't feel it. We don't see it. And that's a problem.

ALLISON: But that's not what Republicans are doing though. If they want to have an argument about the issues, let's have it. What they're doing is saying that if you and go against me, I'm going to seek retribution. And if the senators and the Congressmen that were in the piece before were to say, no, we don't think that you should do that, but they're not saying that. They're not talking about the economy. They're talking about falling in line, kissing the ring, and seeking the retribution that their leader, Donald Trump, whom they have nominated to be the presumptive Republican nominee. That's the issue.

CHALIAN: And it's having the desired effect. Because if you look at the polling on the issue of democracy, it does rank high as an important issue, but it actually splits kind of evenly between Republicans and Democrats who both see it as an important issue from their perspective, which couldn't be more divergent.

BLITZER: To even think that the President of the United States has to deliver a speech supporting democracy, who would have thought?

ALLISON: In America.

BLITZER: Yes, who would have thought that was even possible? All right, guys, thank you very, very much.

When we return, President Biden is facing a new test on the world stage as a new report is spotlighting questions about his age and mental fitness. Stand by.



BLITZER: Right now, President Biden is in France preparing to join U.S. allies in marking the 80th anniversary of the D-Day invasion that laid the groundwork for defeating the Nazis in World War II, the president back on the world stage in the midst of his rematch with Donald Trump and aiming to draw sharp contrast with his rival. The president is expected to deliver a very high profile speech on democracy and freedom and Democrats warning that Trump is, Trump simply represents a threat to freedoms at home and indeed overseas as well.

Let's turn back to our political experts. David, he's beginning, the president, at this major moment on the world stage now, the 80th anniversary of D-Day, while he's facing yet more new questions, indeed, about his age and his mental fitness.

CHALIAN: Or at least new data points. I don't know that there are new questions. It's not breaking 81 years old, right? And the president clearly moves slower and has perhaps some more verbal slipups than he did as vice president, you know, 15 years ago, that's certainly true. But what The Wall Street Journal was reporting based on 45 conversations were some specific meetings where they talked to and as they include in their reporting, mostly Republicans.

So, the political opponents of the president saying that they saw some slippage in him. Democrats came out in force. Many of them said they talked to The Wall Street Journal. The Wall Street Journal didn't include their quotes to say that was not their impression at all.

Again, I think the core here is the overall tenor of the piece is Kind of what you see in public about Joe Biden. There are some days where he's like really strong and on his game and very forceful, and some days where he doesn't seem that way. And it seems that that is basically the account here as well.

We should note the White House spokesman, Andrew Bates, put out a statement in response to The Wall Street Journal story, quote, congressional Republicans, foreign leaders, and nonpartisan national security experts have made clear in their own words that President Biden is a savvy and effective leader who has a deep record of legislative accomplishment. Now, in 2024, House Republicans are making false claims as a political tactic that flatly contradict previous statements made by themselves and their colleagues, notably pointing to some of Kevin McCarthy statements. He's really the only on the record person in the story where previously he had sort of commended the president's acuity in some of these meetings that now is saying something different.

BLITZER: Ashley, how much will President Biden's message on the world stage this week, and he's going to be delivering a major speech in Normandy, how much will that actually break through when he's dogged by all of these international crises that are underway right now, whether Ukraine, Israel, the Middle East, Gaza, and all of that? And there are also now these other questions about his mental fitness.

ALLISON: I don't know how much it will breakthrough, honestly.


We will have to wait and see. I do think, though, it's still important to do it because of who we are in the world stage, America, the greatest democracy that is yet was so close to falling on January 6th.

I also think the irony is that he's going to commemorate D-Day, the fall of dictators, the fall of a dictator. And yet his opponent, on day one, claims he wants to be a dictator. So, that contrast is really important. Will it break through this weekend? No. But then should people take that information who are running campaigns and put that out and draw that comparison for the American people over and over and over again? I think that's important.

NAVARRO: Can I say something to you? So, I was actually at one of the events with Joe Biden, one of the fundraisers in New York that is referenced in the story. It was in front of a group of Latino doctors at a hotel in Manhattan. And he must have spoken for 30, 35 minutes. Within those 35 minutes, he confused the name of the German chancellor. He said the wrong name. I'm not -- you know, I think that if you start nitpicking and taking out of context and looking for errors, I'm not sure any of us would pass that test. And so that's the one instance I can attest to the guy spoke fine for 30 minutes. He made one slipup and they're focusing on that. If that's the kind of thing that they're basing this entire article on, then, frankly, it's very misleading. And I'd like to say that we probably could get the same number of slipups for Donald Trump, and practically for anybody else, including us.

CHALIAN: But we shouldn't negate -- sorry, we just shouldn't negate, though, that it is a real concern for voters. Time and again --

NAVARRO: Oh, absolutely.

CHALIAN: -- we see that voters have, and they have a greater concern about Joe Biden's age than they do about Donald Trump's, even though they're three and a half years apart. So, I don't want to like undercut what is actually one of the biggest vulnerabilities for Joe Biden, even as we discuss what this story --

NAVARRO: Well, listen, David, even if Joe Biden spent an hour every morning getting his hair together and putting makeup on, he'd look a little less old.

SINGLETON: I mean, Wolf, it's a serious issue for the president. He had a great moment at the State of the Union. It gave him a temporary bump in the polls where Democrats were reinvigorated and felt this is still our guy. And here we are, what, 90, 100-plus days later and people are looking at the president again and they're thinking, well, can he continue to do this job for another four years because of his age? You also throw in what his son is going through, and I'm not trying to mix that with the politics, but he is a father. And I don't think there's a parent out there who wouldn't be worried about their child if they were going through with the Delaware case. You also have the pending case in California with not paying federal taxes. So, these are some serious things that people are going to keep in mind and say, well, is the president capable of leading with all of these issues domestically, internationally?

And that doesn't mean that they're going to necessarily vote for Donald Trump, but it does mean for Democrats that you could have a lot of voters that they need that could stay home. And that's a problem.

ALLISON: What I thought it was interesting, he does have a son that is in going through a trial right now. And I think anyone who has ever interacted with a friend or a family member who is an addict, you can have a real level of empathy because it is a disease. And I think what was so unique about Joe Biden yesterday or Monday when the trial started was the sentence that he put -- or the statement he put out, is that I'm a president, but I'm also a dad. And that's not what you get from Donald Trump. The week before, you have the former president who is a porn star, hush money you name it. And then you have someone saying, yes, my son's not perfect, but I'm a dad and I love him and I'm going to stick by him. That's the contrast.

SINGLETON: That empathy and compassion certainly matters, Ashley. But the point that I'm trying to make is when you put in -- when you think in terms of people being worried about the former or the current president and his mental acuity, then you throw in an 81-year-old worried about his son, which he should be, he is a father, everyone understands that, can he continue to do the job when he's going to be, what, close to 86 by the end of the second term? I do think some voters beg that question.

ALLISON: I don't think so.

NAVARRO: Shermichael, if every parent who's worried about an addicted child right now had to give up their job, there'd be a lot of unfilled jobs in America.

SINGLETON: I think you're right. I'm just simply saying from the voter's perspective, we see it in the data, what people are saying and what they think.

NAVARRO: I think this age thing is a double-edged sword in a way, or it's a double-sided coin maybe is the better way to do it, because what happens is that it lowers the expectations vis-a-vis Joe Biden so much, that when he shows up to a State of the Union and doesn't die behind the podium, it's a good night because they've lowered the expectation.

And so I think this actually, in some ways, works for him if he can show up to at the debate.

SINGLETON: But Trump did say the age shouldn't matter. The former president did say that.

NAVARRO: Listen, I'll tell you what, let's give them both an acuity test. Let's put them both on a treadmill. The one that dies first --

CHALIAN: Oh my God.


BLITZER: All right. I'm going to say thanks to you for that interesting discussion.

Just ahead, Hunter Biden's ex-wife and his former girlfriend take the stand in his gun trial, offering graphic testimony about his history of drug abuse.



BLITZER: Tonight, a day of graphic testimony in Hunter Biden's gun trial, with his former wife and ex-girlfriend taking the stand.

CNN's Paula Reid has details.


PAULA REID, CNN CHIEF LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Hunter Biden's trial continued in federal court in Delaware for a third day marked by salacious testimony about his past drug use. His stepmother, First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, again attending for moral support. In court, the jury listened attentively as two of Hunter's former romantic partners described what they witnessed of his addiction.

His ex-wife testified briefly that she first learned of his drug use in 2015, saying, I found a crack pipe on an ashtray on the side porch of our home. She also described searching his car for drugs. When my daughters would use his car, I would check to make sure there were no drugs in it.


But when asked if she ever saw Hunter used drugs, she said she had not. Next up was an ex-girlfriend who he first met at a gentleman's club in Manhattan where she worked in late 2017, and the two spent long stretches together in hotels in 2018 where she observed his drug use. He would smoke every 20 minutes or so, and he would want to smoke as soon as he woke up.

She also testified that Hunters demeanor never changed even after he smoked crack. He was super charming. Everybody loved him. She testified that she saw Hunter doing drugs as late as mid-September 2018, several weeks before he bought the gun the heart of the case.

But under cross-examination, she said she had no idea what Hunter was doing between September and November, which covers the month Hunter bought the firearm.

Gordon Cleveland, the gunshot employee who sold Hunter Biden the gun, took the stand next and testified how Hunter came into the store looking for firearm. He testified he told Hunter to read the ATF background form carefully and saw him check "no" next to the question about whether he was an addict or used illegal drugs, the alleged lie at the center of the case.


REID (on camera): On cross-examination, defense attorney Abbe Lowell got that employee to admit that he was a, quote, whale hunter, someone who tried to upsell customers to buy more expensive guns. And this contradicts his grand jury testimony, so, definitely a point scored, thereby, the defense and they will continue their cross-examination tomorrow, prosecutors. Say they have about six more witnesses, but at this point, well, if we still expect this trial to go into early next week.

BLITZER: Paula Reid outside the courthouse in Wilmington, Delaware, thank you very much.

Coming up, an exclusive look at the effort to recover the remains of American servicemembers in France 80 years after D-Day.

We'll be right back.



BLITZER: Right now, we want to share a CNN exclusive just ahead of tomorrow's 80th D-Day anniversary, a first-hand look at the painstaking search for the remains of American servicemen eight decades after allied forces invaded northern France and began liberating Europe from fascism.

CNN's Isabel Rosales has our report.


ISABEL ROSALES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Under the scorching sun in Normandy, France, the work is grueling. An excavator carefully digs through the dry form land soil. Some shovel by hand.

CNN has been granted exclusive access to this government dig site as team members collect buckets of earth to be screened and washed. What they search for can be tiny, but precious.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Aircraft seat buckles, possible headset fragments from an air crew member.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are about to embark on --

ROSALES: Eighty years since the Allied invasion of Normandy marked the beginning of the end of World War II.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The eyes of the world are upon you.

ROSALES: More than 72,000 American service members are still unaccounted for.

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency sole mission is to recover and return missing service members.

Buried beneath this French farm, they've made an incredible discovery.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We believe this to be a C47 crashed.

ROSALES: And in looking for any sign of the three airmen who went down with the plane and remain unaccounted for today, Captain Brian Foxworth says his team found what could be possible human remains.

CAPTAIN BRIAN FOXWORTH, TEAM LEADER, DPAA EXCAVATION SITE: It can be quite labor intensive, but it's easy to find the intrinsic motivation knowing that there are three members that gave their life for our country's freedom.

ROSALES: On D-Day, more than 800 C47s sevens carry 13,000 soldiers across the English channel the very aircraft, the DPAA is digging up successfully dropped 14 paratroopers before it was hit by German anti- aircraft fire, killing all five airmen who were still on board.

Copilot Second Lieutenant William Donohue, navigator, Second Lieutenant Albert Brooks, and radio operator, Staff Sergeant David Madson, were never accounted for, but never forgotten.

Paul Stouffer knows what it's like to search for answers.

PAUL STOUFFER, NEPHEW OF RECOVERED WWII FIGHTER PILOT: He was a pretty amazing guy. I mean, he was intelligent. He was inquisitive.

ROSALES: Anti-aircraft fire brought down Second Lieutenant William McGowan's (ph) P47 Thunderbolt on D-Day.

STOUFFER: They believe that the pilots' last conscious move was to bring the plane down in the field because it was heading directly into the town.

ROSALES: That 23-year-old hero pilot is Stouffer's uncle, unaccounted for until the DPAA recovered his remains.

Stouffer remembers the call.

STOUFFER: I was happy. I was -- I was a bit emotional.

ROSALES: McGowan was laid to rest at Normandy American cemetery in 2022, where Stouffer said these final words.

STOUFFER: As I look across the headstones mostly belonging to young men in their early 20s, justice like Bill, I think of all of the stories associated with these amazing persons. And I think of their families.

ROSALES: A closure so many families hope they too will one day experience.

Back in Normandy, this recovery mission is personal for Captain Foxworth, an airman himself. The cautious hope is to ultimately return the remains of all three to their families for burial with full military honors.

FOXWORTH: It's a promise that our country has made to every service member, no matter how long it takes.

ROSALES: But the possible remains must first undergo forensic testing at a DPAA laboratory back in the U.S., before making any positive identification. [18:55:02]

Regardless of that outcome --

FOXWORTH: We won't stop. We'll keep -- we'll keep searching.


ROSALES (on camera): Ultimately, there will be a dignified transfer of these possible remains. Over to that U.S. lab we mentioned, according to the lab manager, they could make an identification and under a year-and-a-half after extensive forensic testing. The families of these three unaccounted for airmen have been notified that the government is working to recover them.

Until then, it's a waiting game.

Isabel Rosales, CNN, Atlanta.

BLITZER: And a special thanks to CNN's Isabel Rosales for that report.

This important note to our viewers. Be sure to watch THE SITUATION ROOM tomorrow evening, 6:00 p.m. Eastern for my special interview with the U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

And we'll be right back.


BLITZER: Tonight, sources are telling CNN the accused Gilgo Beach serial killer is expected to be indicted on two additional murder charges tomorrow. Rex Heuermann was taken into custody last July and charge in the deaths of four women. Law enforcement officials say the new charges come from an expansion of the investigation after Heuermann's arrest.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now