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Al Qaeda Attacks Hotel, Americans Warned to Avoid Area; U.S. Troops Arrive Outside Deadly Hostage Situation; Trump-Cruz "Bromance" is Over, Gets Ugly; Trump Refuses to Back Down on Cruz's Citizenship; Reagan's Shadow Looms Large Over GOP Field; Penn: Mexican Gov't Wanted to Put Me in Cartel's Crosshairs. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired January 15, 2016 - 19:00   ET


[19:00:10] ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: Next, breaking news, a hotel under attack by al Qaeda militants. Gunmen firing, taking hostages. We're learning it has turned deadly. Dead bodies. The situation ongoing at this moment. The latest on this breaking story this hour.

And the fight getting uglier in the race for the White House. Ted Cruz issuing a so-called apology for his attacks on Donald Trump but isn't an apology at all.

Plus, Sean Penn speaking out for the first time since the capture of drug lord El Chapo. Has the controversial interview put Penn's life at risk?

Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening, I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, we begin with the breaking news. Al Qaeda gunmen storming a hotel after a firefight with security forces. The terrorist have taken an unknown number of hostages and we are now learning there are several dead bodies seen outside the hotel. The situation still ongoing. It is in the capital of Burkina Faso in West Africa. It is frequented by western tourists including Americans and U.N. staffers. A journalist at the scene telling CNN a number of American and French soldiers are at the hotel. These are pictures of what is happening at this moment in Ouagadougou which is the capital of Burkina Faso, urging Americans to now avoid the areas.

CNN's Robyn Kriel is OUTFRONT tonight in Nairobi in Kenya. And Robin, what can you tell us about what exactly is happening, who is responsible at this moment?

ROBYN KRIEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Erin what we know is that al Qaeda and Islamic Maghreb according to some intelligence groups has claimed responsibility. The affiliate group al-Mourabitoun is the same group Erin you remember who stormed the Radisson Hotel in neighboring Mali, in the capital Bamako, killing 22 people in late November. Also on a Friday, very similar modus operandi, going in with gunmen and killing a number of people while they simply sat, in that case had breakfast. Tonight we understand it happened just after 8:30 p.m. Local Time, so they would have been having dinner. We can also tell you according to eyewitnesses, Erin, that these attackers were light-skinned, they were wearing covers over their faces, and they were speaking a language not native to Burkina Faso.

BURNETT: So, this adding to who was responsible. And now, al Qaeda claiming responsibility. Was there any warning, Robyn?

KRIEL: From what we understand, there was a warning from several western countries. France issuing a warning to their citizens. The United States, Britain, having travel warnings in various parts of Burkina Faso. It really is located in a concerning place in West Africa. It's right next door to Mali where of course AQIM, al Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb, operates very porous borders, also in Mauritania close to Libya. So, a number of those groups being able to really filter through quite easily. Also moving their weapons across easily as well and kidnappings as well to raise funds for that group.

BURNETT: All right. Robyn, thank you very much. And as we get more information we're going to be going back to Robyn. I want to go now to our former FBI counterterrorism agent Tim Clemente and former CIA operative Bob Baer. Thanks to both of you.

Bob, you know, I've been in Ouagadougou hotels there, zero security would be the way I would describe it. This is a Muslim country. You just heard Robyn Kriel describing the terrorists who have now been identified as al Qaeda. That they are wearing turbans, light-skinned, and speaking a foreign language not native to Burkina Faso. What does that say to you?

BOB BAER, FORMER CIA OPERATIVE: I'd imagine they're speaking Arabic. Maybe North Africans. That whole part of West Africa is very vulnerable to al Qaeda, al-Mourabitoun. Even to the Islamic State. But what concerns me about these hotels as you know, Erin, as well as I do, is there's no security. And the security services there don't have a good hostage rescue force. There's nothing like the French of course, nothing like the FBI. And so, I mean, how do you take a hotel like this back? I mean, how many casualties will there be before they do? You know, unless they fly in Delta Force or something. I don't, you know, I fear the worst in this.

BURNETT: And Tim, what is your view? I mean, as we said, this is still ongoing. We now know there are dead bodies, there could be many more. I mean, this is a Friday night.

TIM CLEMENTE, FORMER FBI COUNTERTERRORISM AGENT: Yes, according to the report there are American personnel, military personnel that are in the hotel. We have a situation here that could end up being like Benghazi. As Bob just said, what assets are available to do a rescue there? Because by morning we could see those piles of bodies stacking up several stories with the way, you know, groups like al Qaeda and ISIS like to operate in this situation, the mass bloodshed is what they're looking for. So, I mean, do we have a Benghazi situation on our hand where these Americans are left wondering if there will be support?

Hopefully there are assets. We certainly have assets in that region that can get there. Hopefully they're being launched. Whether or not they're needed is a second-guess. But I think we need to launch assets. If there are American personnel on the ground, and we need to do everything we can to show that we do not leave people behind, like you know, people will see in the movie "13 Hours" this weekend.

[19:05:20] BURNETT: Bob Baer, what do you say when you hear Tim say that this could be a Benghazi situation? I think a lot of people at home probably stop, did a double-take when they heard that.

BAER: Well, I mean, the only -- Tim has it right, the only security in that part of Africa that I would rely on to do what's called a dynamic entry into a hotel like that is American or French. Whether they can get there fast enough is the question. I mean, you need a lot of assets. And as Tim knows you have a lot of backup on this. But, you know, as we're saying, you know, this part of Africa is very vulnerable. And as we've been talking about, Erin, for a couple of days now, al Qaeda, Mourabitoun again, Islamic State, are on the offensive, all over the world. And Americans should beware. And especially if they're going to places like these hotels. They are just very, very vulnerable.

BURNETT: And in terms of -- as I said, the situation is still ongoing, Tim. We just don't know. But the understanding you have is that there are Americans inside that hotel?

CLEMENTE: That's what I've heard. I can't confirm 100 percent. But I've heard that there were American personnel there. And if there are, they could be the target of an attack like this. I would imagine that western interests are being targeted in this hotel. So it would not be unusual for there to be Americans in a place like this in that city at this time of year. So, I would hope that there aren't. But regardless, there are innocent civilians that are there that are being held captive or being killed. And as Bob said, American western forces are the only ones that can equitably deal with a situation like this.

BURNETT: And Bob, I know it's been reported Special Forces, CIA, drones could be operating out of Ouagadougou. You know, when I was there a couple of years ago we were not able to actually confirm that. But that is what the reports are, that there are those sorts of operations happening out of Ouagadougou. Do you think that Americans were the target here that it's possible that's exactly what this was about, that they would have known they were Americans at the hotel or something like that?

BAER: Well, when they bring in Erin TDY personnel they put them in hotels like this. Western-style hotels. You know, there's just no other lodging. You can't live in the embassy. And yes, there are CIA people there. Yes, there are JSOC people there. And they're doing counterterrorism operations but they're not operating off bases. And this is why it makes it so dangerous. And of course Americans would be the number one target for al Qaeda.

BURNETT: Does this, Tim, change things? I mean, you know, when you looked at the issue, for example, Arab Spring, you have a country like Burkina Faso, a lot of Americans haven't heard of it, it is a Muslim country, it just had a coup, it is in part of a region of the world where you have weapons from Libya coming. You now have al Qaeda and other groups operating. I mean, are you now seeing groups like ISIS, al Qaeda, I mean, get stronger? Are we going to see a lot more of this? And we just saw an attack at a hotel in neighboring Mali in which 22 people were killed.

CLEMENTE: Unfortunately, Erin, I think we are going to see a lot more of this. West Africa isn't as much of a problem, although Nigeria is. But North Africa certainly is. There's a lot of instability in the region. ISIS with its control of a good part of Libya and all the arms that had been under the control of Muammar Gaddafi from more than four decades are now spread out throughout that region. And so al Qaeda and ISIS are very much on the run with the capability to do things that no terror group had had in the past. This is a very daunting task for any civilization to deal with. And, you know, you look at the situation in this hotel, hopefully there are assets that can be responding there quickly. Again, I don't mean to belabor the subject of Benghazi, but I happened to see the movie the other night and just seeing the heroism of the American men and women, CIA assets that were there, and the military, we have the capability, we have the know-how.


CLEMENTE: And unfortunately most of the local countries do not.

BURNETT: Well, I do want to just give an update here. As we are talking, we are now hearing reports, we have not confirmed here at CNN, but reports of at least 20 are dead already. And Tim, I know this is what you said you very much feared that those numbers could go significantly higher.

CLEMENTE: Yes. It's exactly what I worry about. And I don't know how many people are inside the hotel now, I don't know how many were able to escape at the onset of the attack. I hope many had. But unfortunately I think we're going do see that number rise.

BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you both very much. As I said the situation going on right now, as we get more information, we're going to bring to it you. But as we say, reports of at least 20 dead. We have not yet confirmed that number here at CNN.

OUTFRONT next, Ted Cruz apologizing for his attack on Donald Trump, or so he says. You'll hear it. Is it an apology or not? And could his Canadian birth really force Ted Cruz out of the race? Well, tonight Cruz's Harvard law professor is OUTFRONT.

And Sean Penn speaking out saying his life is in danger. We'll be back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:13:49] BURNETT: Tonight, Trump versus Cruz, the battle getting ugly, the two frontrunners not letting up on attacks tonight just a day after that bruising debate. After announcing he was breaking off his, quote, "bromance" with Cruz, Trump slammed him in an interview with CNN just moments ago for attempting to attack his New York values.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think he came across badly. I mean, some people gave him pretty good reviews on the debate, I think he came across very strident and not a nice person. And people don't like that.


BURNETT: Cruz who has been fund-raising today off this New York Daily news front cover, "Drop Dead Ted," and we blurred the middle finger, issued what Cruz is calling an apology.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, you're right. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton and Andrew Cuomo and Bill de Blasio have all demanded an apology and I'm happy to apologize. I apologize to the millions of New Yorkers who have been let down by Liberal politicians in that state.


BURNETT: A very nasty battle is brewing. Jim Acosta is OUTFRONT tonight in Des Moines, Iowa, with the Trump campaign.



JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Looking to close the deal in Iowa, Donald Trump is now doing the kind of person to person retail campaigning that Iowans crave. The ultimate outsider, Trump pulled an inside move, making the traditional stop at an Iowa pizza ranch.

TRUMP: I'm going to be here so much in the next two weeks you're going to be sick of me. You're going to say, oh, I can't stand him.

ACOSTA: No big arena event on this trip. Instead, Trump took questions from a small crowd and warned them of the conventional wisdom that his supporters won't show up on caucus night.

TRUMP: I want to win Iowa. I've really -- we have a great relationship with the evangelicals. Like fantastic.

ACOSTA: Referring to the positive reviews of his debate performance, Trump made no mention of Ted Cruz and their clash over the Texas Senator's eligibility to be president. When Cruz slammed the billionaire tycoon's New York values, Trump was ready for it.

CRUZ: Not a lot of conservatives come out of Manhattan. I'm just saying.

TRUMP: When the World Trade Center came down, I saw something that no place on earth could have handled more beautifully, more humanely, than New York.

ACOSTA: Trump suddenly had some unlikely defenders from the New York Daily News telling Cruz to drop dead ted, to Hillary Clinton who tweeted, just this once, Trump's right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is Cruz going to beat you here?


ACOSTA: Back at the pizza ranch, Trump seemed finished with his fight with Cruz.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you going to counterpunch Ted Cruz?

TRUMP: I think I've already done that.

ACOSTA: With Trump confidently riding high in the polls so close to the first contest, some in the Republican establishment are getting nervous. In South Carolina, one RNC committee man was caught on camera warning his loyalty to the GOP only goes so far.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're almost terrorized as members of our party. Shut up. Toe the line.


ACOSTA: Now, as for that pizza ranch we should point out Donald Trump did not actually sit down and eat any pizza there. His campaign was quick to note though that he had his slices waiting for him Erin, on his plane, and even though Trump is gone for the day, tonight he is running at a movie theater here in Iowa for supporters to watch the showing of that new Benghazi film "13 Hours." The GOP front-runner is expected to be back in Iowa. From the looks of it today, he was on Cruz control here in Iowa, he is feeling very confident about his chances here -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right, thank you very much Jim Acosta from a very cold Des Moines.

OUTFRONT now, Donald Trump supporter Jeff Lord who is the author of the upcoming book, "What America Needs: The Case for Trump." And the co-chair for Ted Cruz's campaign, Bob Vander Plaats.

All right. So, you guys don't agree. So, let me start with you, Jeff. You heard Cruz say, he is apologizing for his comments about New York values. You know, you heard him, I'm happy to apologize, I apologize for the New Yorkers who have been let down by liberal politicians.


What do you say, that apology fly for you?

JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think he's got a bit of a damage control problem here. You know, just as a rule of thumb, Erin, I mean, and I should say I love New York pizza and Iowa corn. When you're running for president of the United States, it's one thing to go after Washington. Everybody has a problem with Washington. It's never a good idea to single out one state or another and go after them. Because inevitably, if you do get nominated, Ted Cruz is going to want to carry New York in the fall. Ronald Reagan managed to carry New York twice. And sort of break the Republican habit of losing New York State. So it's very doable but you can't put yourself out there and, you know, whack them over the head.

[19:18:33] BURNETT: Certainly, Bob, Ted Cruz acted as if he didn't have a chance of winning New York.

BOB VANDER PLAATS, NATIONAL CO-CHAIR FOR TED CRUZ CAMPAIGN: Well, I don't know if he's so concerned about winning New York. But he is concerned about winning Iowa, winning this nomination. And when you take a look at Donald Trump's remarks in the Tim Russert interview, that's clearly what Ted Cruz is referencing. Donald Trump even in the interview said, you know, hey, listen, I'm from New York City, I'm from Manhattan. That shaped the way I think. I'm not from Iowa. And so Ted Cruz is just drawing that distinction. It was not meant to be disparaging at all the New Yorkers. Especially those who fought so bravely with the 9/11 and showed that great American spirit. But he did want to show there's a contrast between the 212 area code and the rest of the country.

BURNETT: All right. So, let me play a little bit more of Cruz attacking Trump on the New York values. You refer to the Tim Russert interview. So, let me just play exactly what Cruz said New York values are. Here he is last night.


CRUZ: Everyone understands that the values in New York City are socially liberal, or pro-abortion, or pro-gay marriage, focus around money and the media.


BURNETT: Spots from Donald Trump was actually not to respond to those particular issues but to talk about something the entire country supported New York on, 9/11. Here he is.


TRUMP: We saw more death and even the smell of death. Nobody understood it. And it was with us for months. The smell. The air. And we rebuilt downtown Manhattan. And everybody in the world watched. And everybody in the world loved New York and loved New Yorkers. And I have to tell you, that was a very insulting statement that Ted made.


BURNETT: So Bob, your fellow national co-chair, co-chair of the Ted Cruz campaign, Congressman Steve King, has already talked about this and said it wasn't a good thing for Cruz to bring up. Now, you're trying to explain why he did it. But do you think the attack was off the mark?

VANDER PLAATS: Well, I would have said New York politics versus New York values. I mean, everybody celebrates the American spirit that was demonstrated on 9/11. I thought Donald Trump articulated that very well last night in the debate. But when people have a chance, especially people Iowa, have a chance to watch that Tim Russert interview, which they will have a chance to do here I'm sure in the upcoming days, they're now going to start making a decision on what Donald Trump was actually talking about and what Ted Cruz was referencing.


VANDER PLAATS: And I think this will still end up being a positive for Ted Cruz.

BURNETT: And he's trying to make that it that way, Jeff. He's raising money. His wife sent an e-mail to supporters today showing "The Daily News" cover saying, Ted and I expect an all-out assault from the media elites, I'm asking you personally to stand with Ted and me in defense of our conservative values. Do you think he's actually going to use this as a smart way to raise money? I mean, you know, look, Donald Trump taking a page from the Donald Trump playbook, offend people and it pays off.

LORD: Yes, he may try. I mean, I have to say I love Senator Cruz. I think he's terrific. I think he just made a bit of a mistake here. And as far as that 1999 interview with Donald Trump, Ronald Reagan himself gave plenty of interviews and was a full-on supporter of single-payer health care and Harry Truman and all of this. And eventually saw the light, as did Donald Trump. So you can play all the old interviews you want. You can go on YouTube and find old Ronald Reagan tapes where he's endorsing every bit of -- sounds like Barack Obama. So I really don't think that's going to fly.

BURNETT: All right. Well, the two of you are arguing tonight but I will say, I don't have time to run the full soundbite. But last night Donald Trump was talking about the citizenship issue. And he said, here's the problem. I win and I choose Ted Cruz as my vice presidential candidate, and then the Democrats sue, to which Ted Cruz replied, I'm happy to consider naming you as my VP, which of course Donald Trump swatted away. But I guess the bottom-line is, you two could work together, you'd do it?

LORD: I think there's great --

VANDER PLAATS: I have enormous great respect between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. And so, therefore, you know, how this ends up, we're going to be on the same team. Jeffrey and I are going to be on the same team, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are going to be on the same team.

LORD: That's right.

VANDER PLAATS: We're 17 days away from that Iowa caucus, everybody is going to push hard to that finish line, and it's going to be one heck of a race to see who comes out of this. But I believe whoever wins Iowa will end up being the nominee. Whether that be Cruz or Trump.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you both very much. LORD: Erin, you never get nominated for president by saying, I'm a

great candidate but the other guy's better. This is what candidates do.

BURNETT: Yes. All right. Thanks.

And next, the first lawsuit challenging Ted Cruz's eligibility for president filed today. Cruz's Harvard law professor OUTFRONT next.

[19:23:06] And every Republican candidate comparing himself to Ronald Reagan. I mean, it's sort of like, you don't even hear it anymore. So, they keep saying, I'm Reagan, I'm Reagan, I'm Reagan. Well, how do they stack up against the President who said, he wanted to appeal to Americans' hopes, the President who ran up the deficit?


[19:27:18] BURNETT: Tonight, Ted Cruz facing a federal lawsuit that could derail his bid for the White House. A Houston attorney who supports Bernie Sanders says, Cruz's Canadian birth may make him ineligible to serve as president. Moments ago Donald Trump said, I told you so.


TRUMP: You can't pick a candidate that may have a five percent, ten percent, 25 percent chance. By the way, since that happened, there have been lawsuits filed. You know that. It's been filed. And I said, lawsuits are going to be filed, the Democrats are going to file lawsuits. They filed lawsuits. Now, he's got a problem. He was born in Canada. He was a Canadian citizen until 15 months ago. I mean, if you can believe that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dual citizenship, yes.

TRUMP: But he was a Canadian citizen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He says he didn't know.

TRUMP: He didn't know? Well, he didn't know about his financial papers either.


BURNETT: Sunlen Serfaty is live with the Cruz campaign in Columbia, South Carolina, tonight. And Sunlen, is the Cruz campaign considering changing its strategy to respond differently to the growing question about his citizenship?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, at this time they say they are not. At this point I should underscore of campaign adviser telling me that they believe that they put this issue to bed last night up there on the debate stage when they say, they felt that their candidate Ted Cruz really gave a more forceful and fiery defense when challenged on this issue. But at the same time, as you've just heard from Donald Trump really doubling down on this today, it's very clear that he and his campaign really think this line of attack is working for them. And resonates among his base in some part.

So, I have to believe, of course there is some concern within the Cruz campaign that now at this stage two weeks after this really first became part of that political ether now that Donald Trump was pushing, you have to believe that they believe has really knocked him off his message, really cast a shadow over the message that he's trying to push here in the early states.

BURNETT: All right. Sunlen, thank you very much.

And OUTFRONT now, constitutional law professor at Widener University Delaware Law School, Mary Brigid McManamon and Alan Dershowitz, professor of Harvard Law Emeritus and Ted Cruz's former professor. Also the author of "Abraham: The World's First (But Certainly Not Last) Jewish Lawyer."

All right. Mary Brigid, let me start with you. You saw Ted Cruz at the debate last night making the case saying, there is zero chance that this is going to be a problem. Did he say anything to change your mind that he is not eligible to be president of the United States?


BURNETT: So why do you think he is not eligible? In a nutshell, what's the reason?

MCMANAMON: He needs to be a natural-born citizen. That term is defined by the common law. The common law says a natural-born citizen is one born in the territory of the sovereign.

[19:30:03] As Canada is not part of our territory, he is not eligible.

BURNETT: Alan, what do you say? She says it's pretty clear, Ted Cruz not eligible.

ALAN DERSHOWITZ, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL PROFESSOR, EMERITUS: It's not clear. First, as a proud representative of New York values, let me say that I support Ted Cruz on this one. It is unsettled law, I agree. But it's unsettleable.

No court is ever going to decide that a person is not qualified to be president. It's just not a judicial issue. It's a political. It's an issue on which people don't have standing. A lawyer filed a lawsuit today, it's going to be thrown out of court so fast.

The issue is unsettled. But the better argument is in favor of saying that a person who is born to an American parent is a natural-born citizen.

Otherwise, if you take Mary's argument to the logical conclusion, somebody serving in the Army abroad in Germany, say, not on an army base but in the military training, and his wife or her husband, and they have a baby together, and the baby's an American and he can't become president of the United States or a diplomat serving abroad can't become president --

BURNETT: Mary Brigid?

MCMANAMON: Oh, gosh. There's so many things I can respond to on that.

First of all, not being settleable by a court is not the same thing as not settled. I agree a court may not take this.

Number two, the federal courts have indicated while this guy in Texas as a voter does not have standing, they have indicated that a political rival or a political party may, in fact, have standing.

BURNETT: Like Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders?


DERSHOWITZ: But they're not going to bring it, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are not going to sue.

MCMANAMON: Of course, they're not going to bring a lawsuit but that doesn't mean the law isn't settled.

The other thing is that Al was talking about the difference between a military base and diplomats. Diplomats are an exception. Anyone over on a diplomatic mission is eligible. Their children are eligible. Unfair as it may seem --

DERSHOWITZ: Why, why, they're not born in the country, why are they eligible under your article? I read it carefully. They're not born in the United States.

MCMANAMON: Because it's common law.

It doesn't matter, the diplomats are eligible based on the common law. That goes back a thousand years, practically.

DERSHOWITZ: We're talking about the Constitution --

BURNETT: Why would it be okay for them but not for Ted Cruz? Can you explain that distinction?

MCMANAMON: Absolutely. Let's go back to, first of all, the 14th Amendment. That may be a little closer in time and Al may have a better chance in understanding it.

The 14th Amendment refers to people born here or naturalized here as citizens, as long as they're underneath the jurisdiction of the United States. That means that you have to be able to be prosecuted if you don't follow our laws. There's something called diplomatic immunity. That's because diplomats are not under our jurisdiction. And that comes from the common law. It goes back to the 1300s at least.

BURNETT: So, Al, what I don't understand --

(CROSSTALK) DERSHOWITZ: If my wife, if my wife and I were traveling abroad and my wife were pregnant, we expected to come back, but in her seventh month, she suddenly has the baby, we rush back to the United States, the baby spends his life in the United States, but accidentally was born in London. That person is not qualified to be president? The framers never intended that.

MCMANAMON: That is correct, that is correct. Yes, they did.

DERSHOWITZ: It's not right.

MCMANAMON: OK, and you've read all the framers' writings, you've read the congressional debates, you've read the common law? Doesn't sound like it because you're speaking nonsense when it comes to what the common law says.

DERSHOWITZ: I'm not talking about the common law. I'm talking about the constitutional law. I'm talking about how you interpret the natural born and I think the term natural born is that you don't have legislation that makes you a citizen --

MCMANAMON: I don't care what you think, it doesn't matter what you think --


DERSHOWITZ: By virtue of your birth --

MCMANAMON: No, no, no --

DERSHOWITZ: It only matters what you think?

MCMANAMON: You have citizenship by the nature of Article 1 power and naturalized from Congress. It's not automatic. It has to be acted on by Congress. As you well know Article 1 Section 8 only provides the power to naturalize --

DERSHOWITZ: No, if you're born here --

MCMANAMON: If you're born here you're a citizen --

DERSHOWITZ: You're automatically a citizen and nobody can take that away from you.

MCMANAMON: Yes, if you're born here. Why are we talking about that?


BURNETT: What I don't understand, let me ask the question, you're Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders. You win the nomination. Ted Cruz wins the Republican nomination then wins the White House.

Wouldn't you sue if it meant that you could win and you would become president of the United States? Why wouldn't they sue?

DERSHOWITZ: First of all, you wouldn't become president of the United States. If you won, it would throw the country into a turmoil, because the loser doesn't become president if the winner is disqualified. That was decided after the Burr/Jefferson fiasco in 1800 --

BURNETT: People do bring these things to the Supreme Court.

DERSHOWITZ: Well, first of all, they do because there was a dispute about how to count votes, that's a traditional judiciable issue. But I think we do agree that there's a zero chance, so let's stop debating this issue. Let the people decide if they think Ted Cruz is qualified to be president.

[19:35:01] Let them count the fact that he was born in Canada but raised as an American in this country. And not -- I think we both agree, Mary and I, not all constitutional issues are subject to being decided by the courts.

BURNETT: So, Mary Brigid, you also agree when push comes to shove, if you're Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton, and you lose in the final moment to Ted Cruz that you wouldn't take this through the courts? I guess, I do find that hard to believe. I mean, if that's what is holding you back from being president of the United States, I would think one would sue. And force the Supreme Court --


DERSHOWITZ: -- in order to become president of the United States --

MCMANAMON: Al, she asked me. Hey, Al --



I don't think they would sue after the election, because as Al tells us, it is just impracticable. I don't see the Supreme Court taking it. I mean, Bush v. Gore to the contrary. But I think he sue would come before the election. As he pointed out, if the winner is disqualified, the vice president becomes the president.

BURNETT: Thanks to both of you. I appreciate your time on this Friday. Thank you.

All right. OUTFRONT next, GOP candidates tripping over each other to identify with President Reagan. Should they be the truth about the Reagan claims, next.

And new details how investigators tracked El Chapo's lovesick messages to a Mexican actress, once texting here, quote, "I will take care of you more than my own eyes."


[19:40:25] BURNETT: Tonight, the shadow of Ronald Reagan looming large over the Republican race for president. The 2016 hopefuls, they just -- I've been noticing this, they never miss an opportunity to praise the nation's 40th president, to say that they would be like him. But is the Ronald Reagan they think they know the real Ronald Reagan?

Tom Foreman is OUTFRONT.



TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It has been 32 years since the late Ronald Reagan last ran for office but he is all over the campaign trail.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I would say during the administration of Ronald Reagan, you felt proud to be an American.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The growth of Reagan's Republican Party has led to a robust debate over what alternatives the Republicans should offer.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That's what Ronald Reagan said.

JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Peace is what Ronald Reagan left behind.

FOREMAN: In stump speeches, in interviews, Reagan's name comes up again and again. During the CNN debate at his presidential library, candidates mention Reagan more than 30 times.


GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: His goals and mine, pretty much the same.

RUBIO: Ronald Reagan.

BUSH: Ronald Reagan.


CHRISTIE: Ronald Reagan.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Ronald Reagan believed in America.

FOREMAN: Reagan did not have the highest approval rating for his time in office. Indeed, the next two presidents -- George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton -- each ranked higher.

REAGAN: There you go again.

FOREMAN: And Reagan's record is complicated. He was a critic of government who made it bigger, a foe of taxes who raised them, a conservative capitalist who busted the air traffic controllers union, but at other times defended labor rights. So, sometimes, even Democrats invoke his name to justify their plans.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That wild-eyed socialist tax-hiking class warrior was Ronald Reagan.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: What people remember about Ronald Reagan was not that he was a solid conservative but that he was cheerful, optimistic, and upbeat about the future of America.

REAGAN: I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent's youth and inexperience.


FOREMAN: And what Republicans remember is that Reagan knew how to take on the Democrats. And win.


FOREMAN: Reagan's record is complicated enough when you really look at all the details of it. For example, on the national debt, Democrats will always say, we tripled the debt. Republicans will say, but you're not looking at the whole picture of the economy.

So, the thing is these candidates are not trying to recapture the policies of Ronald Reagan what they want is the enthusiasm and the unity that he brought to their party. Because they're convinced, Erin, that if they get that, they might win one more for the Gipper.

BURNETT: Right. And as you say, Ronald Reagan won. That's something that they all desperately want to do.

Tom Foreman, thanks so much.

Now, CNN presidential historian and editor of "The Reagan Diaries", Douglas Brinkley, joins me.

What's amazing in one debate, 30 times. And I was watching last night, I kept hearing it and I kept hearing it. And, you know, yes, Ronald Reagan, famous for, right, the shining city on a hill, right, the aspirational and inspirational vision of America that he put forth.

Yet, he tripled the national debt. Yet he grew government. Yet he raised taxes. These guys would hate that guy.

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, there are two Ronald Reagans. There's St. Reagan that the Republicans love. There's the historic Ronald Reagan where you can look at his record.

But bottom line is I think Republicans like the strength of Reagan and the cause and effect. Reagan went in 1987 to Berlin and said, tear down the wall. Then the Berlin wall came down in '89, a little bit later. Then he called Russians the evil empire. Then the Soviet Union broke down.

So, it's sort of the martial language of Reagan they like. The real point is, he won two presidential elections.

BURNETT: He could win.

BRINKLEY: He could win. He'd probably win today if he put his name on a ballot in primaries and caucus.

BURNETT: Which is amazing. As you and I were talking just before Tom's piece ran, you were noting that Ronald Reagan would be more liberal than Jeb Bush, who is basically getting kicked out of the party because people like Donald Trump say that he's just a weak liberal.

BRINKLEY: That's right, because it used to be in the '80s people thought Ronald Reagan represented the right wing or the conservative wing of the party. No. It's kept getting more right and more right and more right. So today Reagan would be kind of a centrist, a centrist Republican. He'd be more like Jeb Bush. Maybe even more liberal than jeb bush on some issues.

BURNETT: More like Hillary Clinton? Dare I say?

BRINKLEY: More like Hillary Clinton on issues like immigration, for example. So, you know, it's understandable, though, that as Reagan mania's going on, he's the patron saint of the conservative movement.

[19:45:02] BURNETT: I like that the patron saint, and 30 mentions in one debate. Just worthy to look at what the real record was.

All right. Thank you so much, Douglas Brinkley.

BRINKLEY: Thanks, Erin.

BURNETT: And OUTFRONT next, Sean Penn. He says his life could be in danger after interviewing El Chapo. Hear him in his own words.

Vice President Biden's personal mission, leading the president's, quote-unquote, "moonshot" to cure cancer. We have a special report on some of the cures on the way.


BURNETT: Sean Penn breaking his silence. The actor speaking out about his secret meeting with notorious Mexican drug lord Joaquin otherwise known as El Chapo Guzman. Penn telling CBS he has regrets about the meeting and suggesting that the Mexican government is now intentionally putting his life at risk.

Martin Savidge has our report.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sean Penn confesses regrets about his meeting with the notorious drug lord El Chapo but not for the reasons you might think. In his CBS interview, Penn regrets, he says, the article that came from that meeting fail to trigger the response he wanted. SEAN PENN, ACTOR: I have terrible regret.

INTERVIEWER: What are the regrets?

PENN: I have a regret that the entire discussion about this article ignores its purpose, which was to try to contribute to this discussion about the policy in the war on drugs.

SAVIDGE: Penn goes on to say that the Mexican government deliberately marked him as a target when saying his interview was "essential" to El Chapo's capture.

[19:50:05] INTERVIEWER: Do you believe that the Mexican government released this in part because they wanted to see you blamed and to put and to put you at risk?

PENN: Yes.

INTERVIEWER: They wanted to encourage the cartel to put you in their crosshairs?

PENN: Yes.

INTERVIEWER: Are you fearful for your life?


SAVIDGE: But newly revealed text messages reveal the drug kingpin didn't know what the academy award winning actor was and instead had the hots for the woman who helped broker the meeting. Mexican actress Kate del Castillo, she was traveling with Penn, and it appears it was her, not Penn, who Mexican authorities were following in these surveillance photos.

Del Castillo once openly stated her support for the cartel leader. Intercepted texts seem to show the drug lord and actress openly flirting. Here is a sample after the two had met and discussed a movie about "El Chapo's" life. "I haven't been able to sleep much since I saw you," she says. "I'm very excited about our story. It's true. It's the only thing I can think of."

"Let me tell you I am more excited about you than the story, my friend, "El Chapo" replies. "Ha, ha, knowing that makes me really glad. You make me blush," Del Castillo responds.

Penn says all of the blow back he's received for his interview with "El Chapo" can be chalked up to journalist jealousy.

PENN: When you get the story that every journalist in the world wants it, there's a lot of green-eyed monsters who's going to come and give you a kiss.


BURNETT: And, Martin, now you are learning more about what "El Chapo" was doing while he was on the run including getting surgery in Mexico? SAVIDGE: Right, elected surgery. This was for an erectile

dysfunction problem apparently.

BURNETT: That's what he was doing on the run.

SAVIDGE: That's not the point here, I'm not trying to be salacious. What I'm trying to point out is apparently while on the run, he feels comfortable enough two months after he's escaped to go to Tijuana and have this surgery.

This shows you that maybe in some ways he was being either confident or careless because the careless part comes forward with the text messages. If you're supposed to be hiding, you shouldn't be texting with a Mexican ex.

BURNETT: Right. But certainly, there were a lot of people knew who he was and said nothing. I mean, he was going for elective surgery for E.D. --

SAVIDGE: Money buys you a lot of silence. However, your movements could be possibly tracked. He wasn't intercepted in any way and apparently got away with that part of it. He didn't get away with it all and it's the communication that seems to have led authorities to where he's hiding.

BURNETT: All right. Martin Savidge, thank you very much.

And OUTFRONT next, Joe Biden saying the science is ready to cure cancer. Our special report. We're going to show you some of the revolutionary treatments that are already working.


[19:56:57] BURNETT: A rock icon, beloved actor, beloved husband, three famous faces, also coming to cancer this week. Add Vice President Joe Biden today. He's kicking off a moon shot cancer challenge. It's this generation's version of putting a man on the moon, he says. He's curing cancer, which really, frankly, many people just think is impossible. Actually anything but.

That's tonight's "I.D.E.A."


JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We can fundamentally change the life circumstances of millions of people around the world.

BURNETT (voice-over): Vice President Joe Biden kicked off his fight against cancer in Philadelphia today, days after the president tests him with a national moon shot to make America the country that cures cancer once and for all.

OBAMA: I'm putting Joe in charge of mission control. Let's make America the country that cures cancer once and for all. BURNETT: The announcement coinciding this week with the cancer deaths

of David Bowie, Alan Rickman, and the husband of Celine Dion, Rene Angelil, and just seven months after the vice president's son Beau lost his own battle with cancer.

BIDEN: It's personal. But I know we can do this.

If I can be anything, I would have wanted to be the president that ended cancer because it's possible.

BURNETT: But presidents have waged war on cancer before and lost. And already, prominent cancer experts are lowering the optimistic rhetoric.

DR. OTIS BRAWLEY, CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER, AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY: Well, I think it is somewhat realistic. Curing cancer perhaps not in the near future.

DR. PATRICK SOON-SHIONG, NANTWORKSS: I think the word cure is sort of a dangerous statement. The word I'd prefer to use until we get closer to the cure is ability to put a patient into remission with a high quality of life.

BURNETT: An approach that's already working for some cancers. When 14-year-old Nick Wilson's leukemia resisted chemotherapy, radiation and a bone marrow transplant. His doctors turned to the real pros, Nick's own immune cells using an experimental treatment in 2013, doctors taught Nick's immune system to attack his cancer in much the same way he would fight off the common cold. Two months later, Nick went into complete remission and today here he is healthy.

Also in development so-called smart bomb drugs that glom on to cancer cells and once inside release toxic chemicals. And there's personalized whole genome DNA sequencing, first realized by Dr. Craig Venter.

J. CRAIG VENTER, BIOLOGIST: In fact, if you have cancer there is nothing more important you can know than the genetic code of yourself and your tumor and knowing a good oncologist is important, as well. But only about 3 percent of cancer patients in the U.S. have this information right now.

BURNETT: Biden is hoping to make a decade worth of advances in just five years and says America can do better and do more by increasing both private and public resources to fight cancer and by getting scientists to work together.

BIDEN: I plan on doing this the rest of my life.


BURNETT: Well, thank you so much for joining us. Be sure to set your DVR to record OUTFRONT, so you can watch us anytime. And don't miss our special show this weekend on CNN International as it is every weekend.

"AC360" begins right now.