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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT

Trump Threatening To Declare A National Emergency To Fund Wall; Trump: You Can't Impeach Somebody That's Doing A Great Job"; Warren Visits Iowa Amid (Sexist?) Comparisons to Hillary Clinton; Source: American Detained in Russia for Spying Does Not Appear to Have Connection to Any Intel Operation. Aired 7-8pm ET

Aired January 4, 2019 - 19:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[19:00:00] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, OUTFRONT HOST: Out front next, Trump threatening to declare a national emergency and go it alone on the wall. Whatever happened to Mexico paying for it?

Plus, the President says he can't be impeached, why? Because he's doing such a good job. You'll hear his case. And Elizabeth Warren constantly compared to Hillary Clinton. Fair or sexist? Let's go out front.

Good evening, I'm Erin Burnett. Out front tonight, Trump threatening to declare a national emergency just to get his wall. The President says he can go it alone and start building without Congressional approval. He just has to, you know, declare this national emergency. The President making the threat during a nearly 40-minute question and answer session with reporters this afternoon in the Rose Garden.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you considered using emergency powers to grant yourself authorities to build this wall without Congressional approval? And second on Mexico --

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes, I have.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have?

TRUMP: Yes, I have, and I can do it if I want.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you don't need Congressional approval to build the wall?

TRUMP: No, we can use them. Absolutely, we can call a national emergency because of the security of our country. Absolutely.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: So, if it's so obvious, absolutely, so sure that he can do this, why is Trump letting hundreds of thousands of federal workers twist in the wind without pay? Something that he is willing to keep doing for, as he said today, months or even years. You'll hear him say that.

And let's be direct. If the President declares a national emergency to build the wall, he would be using taxpayer dollars to build it. And frankly, even though he is twisting and turning to say Mexico will pay for it, he knows that is not true. Watch these exchanges today from the Rose Garden.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Earlier this week, you repeated your claim that through the USMCA, Mexico will be paying for the wall.

TRUMP: That's right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you describe in detail the specific mechanisms in the trade deal?

TRUMP: You're going to be seeing it very soon. We made a new trade deal. We will be making billions and billions of dollars a year more money.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So why not use that for the wall?

TRUMP: And that is paying -- excuse me. Because I didn't have to. That is paying for the wall. Many, many times over -- let me just say, excuse me. Excuse me. Excuse me. Are you ready? I just told you that we just made a trade deal and we will take in billions and billions of dollars, far more than the cost of the wall.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: He can say billions and billions as many times as he wants but that does not change the facts because as we've been saying, American taxpayers are paying for the wall. If the trade deal passes Congress, and if it saves billions and billions of dollars, those billions and billions of dollars are yours to do with as you please. Not his to double count as Mexico paying for the wall.

If Trump uses that money to pay for the wall, he is taking it away from you. That means you are paying for it, not Mexico. So even if he gets his wall, Trump has broken a signature campaign promise.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will have Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words.

Mexico will pay for the wall. No, Mexico will pay for the wall. They're going to pay for the wall.

I said Mexico will pay for the wall. Who's going to pay for the wall? In the end, Mexico's going to pay for the wall. I'm just telling you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Promise broken. And the President today made another curious turn, saying that his wall may be made of steel, not concrete. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Now, the steel is actually more expensive than the concrete, but I think we're probably talking about steel. Steel is stronger than concrete.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: So, steel is more expensive, but he is flipping to steel. Why the change? Well, our Kaitlan Collins asked him.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You ran your campaign promising supporters that Mexico is going to pay for the wall.

TRUMP: Here we go again.

COLLINS: That the wall was going to be made of concrete. You just said earlier that the wall could be made of steel and right now our government is shut down over a demand from your administration that the American taxpayer pay for the wall. So how can you say you're not failing on that promise to your supporters?

TRUMP: As far as concrete, I said I was going to build a wall, I never said, I'm going to build a concrete -- I said I'm going to build a wall.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BURNETT: Now, Kaitlan was right. The President did say it was going to be concrete. Here he is in 2016.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: They said, Donald, you know you're not going to build a wall. I said, why not? You can't build a wall. Really? Why not? Tell me why we can't. And they said, I don't know. Do you know how easy that is? Beautiful precast concrete going up.

No windows, no nothing, precast concrete going very high. Let's see about a little higher than that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: OK. The change of concrete to steel may not just be cosmetic, something that Democrats will vote for instead of concrete as the President implied today. It's going to cost more taxpayer money so let's be clear, more of your money, not Mexico's, and Trump knows that. But Trump wants to help steel companies.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[19:05:09] TRUMP: We need steel for defense. We need steel for a lot of things. Steel and aluminum. But those industries were in deep trouble. The steel industry was almost dead, and now it's a very vibrant, vibrant industry.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Trump crediting his own tariffs with steel's comeback, and adding a wall to American steel's bottom line will help Trump's bottom line, right, if he gets his $5.6 billion and gives it to the steel companies. According to the Department of Energy, the highest concentration of steel mills in the United States is in states including Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan, states crucial to Trump's victory. He needs them to win reelection and that $5.6 billion taxpayer injection to steel companies would help Donald Trump.

Abby Phillip is out front live outside the White House tonight. And Abby, what about this national emergency that the President brought up today? Can he do it? Will he actually do it to get the wall?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, he can or he could, but the question really is why hasn't he? That's partly because it would require the President to use money from the Department of Defense in order to build the wall. Three administration officials have told CNN that in December, Defense Department officials actually came to the White House to talk to them about this possibility, where this money would come from and how it would be done legally. He would have to declare some kind of national emergency and then dedicate about $1 billion to $2 billion from the Pentagon's budget toward building the wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

But Erin, I think the fact that the President hasn't done this yet is a sign of how he probably understands the politics of this. Taking money from the Department of Defense to dedicate to a border wall that was supposed to have been paid for by Mexico is not something that would have worked for him politically. And the President has, in the past, talked about this issue of declaring a national emergency before. He's been talking about it since October, and he's never done it. He's never made any moves as far as we know to actually declare a national emergency, despite saying that he believes that there are even terrorists coming across the southern border. And by the way, there is still no evidence that that claim is substantiated, at least not to the degree that the President has made it seem.

In the meantime, the government is shut down over this border wall. He's chosen to pick this fight with Democrats, and so far, he's not budged from his demand for $5.6 billion for this wall. It's been 14 days and counting. This meeting today at the White House did not seem to really clear up central issue of which side is going to budge. Are the Democrats going to either give him money for the wall or is the President going to relent?

That being said, the White House has said that tomorrow, there will be another meeting in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building with staff and with a committee of White House officials, the Vice President, Mike Pence, his Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney, and Jared Kushner over this border wall. It's not clear whether or not that will produce any progress, in part because it doesn't seem that at least on the Democratic side or on the Congressional side, that principles are going to be a part of this meeting. And that Democrats have made it very clear, they don't think that any progress can be made unless President Trump is sitting across from them in a room, really making it clear where he stands on this issue.

BURNETT: All right, Abby, thank you very much. And obviously, need the President involved, right? When the Vice President went and offered $2.5 billion, the President undercut him and said he wouldn't do it. So if Pence can't speak for Trump, nobody can.

Out front now, Democratic Congressman John Sarbanes. This standstill over the wall and the government shutdown obviously massively affecting your district, Congressman. You've got one of the highest concentrations of federal workers in the country, in Maryland 3. The President says, Congressman, he can declare a national emergency and build the wall without you. What would you do about it?

REP. JOHN SARBANES (D), MARYLAND: Well, it's a mistake for the President to declare this a national emergency. He ought to be collaborating with Members of Congress to focus on smart border security measures. He's obsessed with the wall.

Members of Congress, Democrats and Republicans alike, are very focused on border security, and what we can do to ensure that our borders are sound, that they're protected, and so forth. But this obsession with the wall isn't helping anybody, and frankly, holding 800,000 federal employees hostage to this idea of a wall is not really smart leadership on the part of the President. That's why Democrats have asked that we settle the shutdown issue, then let's have a focused conversation on how to improve border security.

BURNETT: Right. Thirty days to debate border security.

SARBANES: And we're willing to put money behind that.

BURNETT: All right. So, on that willing to put money behind it, right, this is what it's all going to come down to. And the President today was talking about all sorts of things that, you know, people can laugh at but actually are highly substantive. For example, he said he wants a see-through wall made of steel, which sounds like a steel fence, right?

Here's what he is talking about, what he says border patrol told him. Here he is today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[19:10:00] TRUMP: They want to be able to see through the wall. A see through wall made out of steel is far stronger than a concrete wall, so I'm very happy with it. I think, I think, I'm not sure, but I think that's what the Democrats prefer. And if it can get them there, I'm OK.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Congressman, let me be clear. Will you vote for something see-through, something that is called a fence or a barrier, something that is steel instead of concrete? Is there some way that there is a wall that is not a wall that you will vote for?

SARBANES: I and other Democrats and a lot of Republicans will vote for smart border security. Now, you can have border security that's a combination of physical barriers, whatever they may be.

BURNETT: So, a fence is on the table for you, some kind of fencing? You would pay for that. You would put money behind that.

SARBANES: Well there's fencing -- there's fencing now at the border.

BURNETT: Yes.

SARBANES: There's always been fencing at the border. So, some kind of fencing is always part of the equation. The question is whether it's part of a larger common sense approach that is putting border security first.

BURNETT: But, I mean, you know, it's like we make jokes about this. Are you -- are you -- I mean, I understand there is a lot down there, right. There's more than 700 miles of fence and wall and whatever down there, but it sounds like what you're saying is that if I call a wall a fence, you might vote for some.

SARBANES: Well, you have to see what you're talking about here. Does it contribute in a smart way to our security? Certain physical barriers can make sense along the border, and in a lot of places, you already have that. But don't get stuck on this idea that you need $5.6 billion for the President's wall. That doesn't make any sense.

Now, he's, I guess, detailed some of his staff to sit down and maybe begin a constructive discussion. We welcome that. We'll see where that lands. But if he's going to continue to focus singularly on this idea of a wall without having a broader, smarter discussion about border security, then that's not leadership. That's not getting us to the point we need to be as a country, and it's unfair to the federal employees to hold them hostage to that kind of a framework.

BURNETT: But if we end up in a situation here where you get some border security, right, technology and things that Democrats want and he gets a wall that Democrats get away with calling a fence because it's see through, he's going to win, isn't he?

SARBANES: Democrats don't need or want to get away with anything other than making sure that we have a smart policy at the border. That can be the product of discussions that we have with the White House. I think it's the reason Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi go to the White House, to try to have a constructive discussion with the President. If the President can put aside this obsession with the wall, then we can get down to some conversation that can produce results and get us out of this government shutdown, which has gone on way too long for the families that are affected, not just the workers, by the way, but all of the citizens of this country that depend upon the people in those federal agencies to deliver their services to them.

BURNETT: And you have, as I mentioned, one of the highest concentrations of federal workers in the country in your district in Maryland. The President was asked about those workers today, and here's some of the exchange.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Many of those people, maybe even most of those people, that really have not been and will not be getting their money in at this moment, those people, in many cases, are the biggest fan of what we're doing. This really does have a higher purpose than next week's pay, and the people that won't get next week's pay or the following week's pay, I think if you ever really looked at those people, I think they would say, Mr. President, keep going, this is far more important.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Congressman Sarbanes, is that how your constituents see it, there's a higher purpose than their pay?

SARBANES: No. I think that's an incredibly cynical view and assertion for the President to make. He is sacrificing the livelihood of these federal employees to this obsession with building a wall. That's not fair. It's not respectful of them.

We need to move past this government shutdown. Let's get the government reopened. Let's make sure that those workers are being treated fairly, and let's get back to where they can deliver the services that the American public expects. Let's get that done, let's have a conversation about smart border security, and let's keep moving forward. But the posture that the President is right now -- is in right now is irresponsible and in my view it's a failure of leadership.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Congressman Sarbanes, I appreciate your time tonight.

SARBANES: Thank you.

BURNETT: And next, why President Trump says he can't be impeached.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Well, you can't impeach somebody that's doing a great job.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: is that what it's about?

Plus Elizabeth Warren speaking to voters in Iowa live this hour, battling headlines that she is not likable. Fair or just sexist?

[19:15:01] And Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez taking on her critics who went after her for this dancing video.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: New tonight, President Trump says he can not be impeached and here's why.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Well, you can't impeach somebody that's doing a great job. That's the way I view it. Nancy said, we're not looking to impeach you. I said, that's good, Nancy. That's good. But you know what? You don't impeach people when they're doing a good job and you don't impeach people when there was no collusion, because there was no collusion.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Trump referring to what he says Nancy Pelosi told him in the White House today. Those comments coming after freshman Democratic Congressman Rashida Tlaib, hours after being sworn into Congress, said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. RASHIDA TLAIB (D), MICHIGAN: And when your son looks at you and says, mama, look, you won. Bullies don't win. And I said, baby, they don't because we're going to go in there and we're going to impeach the mother --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Out front now, Frank Bruni, Columnist for the New York Times, Keith Boykin, Democratic Strategist, and Rick Santorum, Former Republican Senator from Pennsylvania. OK, I want to just take this apart, Keith. You can't impeach someone who's doing a great job.

KEITH BOYKIN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE AIDE UNDER PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: Yes. The constitutional clause that says a great job exemption for anything you've done wrong. You haven't heard that before? Why is this a question, Erin?

BURNETT: Doesn't add up to you.

BOYKIN: It's ridiculous Trump nonsense again. Of course you can impeach someone who's doing a great job. Look at Bill Clinton. He was impeached. The economy was doing really well when he was impeached in 1998. It didn't stop the Republicans on doing it.

Impeachment is a political matter and if the House of Representatives decides to impeach, they can do it. The Senate chooses to convict, they can do so. And the constitution says nothing about the performance you're doing. It has everything to do with your lack of performance, the fact that you're violating the Constitution, you're violating the emoluments clause, that you are constantly overriding the will of the people.

[19:20:09] BURNETT: Now, even if that's true, though, as you point out, it's political. I mean, Rick, right, you hear the Dow, look, it has been having a horrible time, OK. So today is not the trend, but it had a very good day today, right, 747 points up, jobs report, 312,000 jobs added in December, like, way more than anyone expected. Does that make it harder for Democrats to impeach since actually impeaching is tinged by the broader political climate?

RICK SANTORUM (R), 2016 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: As you know, Erin, I was there in the Senate during the impeachment of Bill Clinton.

BURNETT: Yes.

SANTORUM: And one of the reasons the Democrats stood by Bill Clinton was that he was popular and he was popular among the public for the job he was doing. I mean, if -- let me assure you, if we were in the throes of a recession and there were a whole bunch of problems on the international scene and the President looked ineffective, there would have been a lot less support for standing up for Bill Clinton for doing the behavior that he was doing. So, with all due respect, Keith, it's not in the Constitution but it's very much the argument that the President needs to make. It's the argument that Bill Clinton made, which is you have to look at other things. Just don't look at this.

He obviously said don't look at collusion because there isn't any. But you also have to look at the job I'm doing and you don't want to disrupt that and the American public at least in the 1990s went along with that with Bill Clinton.

BURNETT: And Frank, we're talking here not about indictment of which is that is -- as Nancy Pelosi said.

FRANK BRUNI, COLUMNIST, NEW YORK TIMES: That's a criminal charge.

BURNETT: That's a criminal charge. That's separate, if that were to happen and go down that path. Impeaching is political. So the President could be playing a very smart card here, right?

BRUNI: Well, yes. And Nancy Pelosi has said, I think we shouldn't talk about impeachment yet because of what Senator Santorum is observing, which is that on the Republican side of things. There's still enough support for President Trump that if Democrats went in and impeached him, it doesn't mean -- in fact, there's no sign that he would get convicted in the Senate. And so it would end up being this incredibly divisive process that got nowhere in terms of removing him from office.

But wait, one other thing, though.

BURNETT: Yes.

BRUNI: This idea that he's doing such a great job. This is a President who when asked to grade himself I think said, is there a grade higher than an A-plus? He may have just had a good jobs report but he's hemorrhaging Cabinet members, right?

BURNETT: Stocks essentially entered a bear market.

BRUNI: We're about to go into the third week of a government shutdown. The idea that he's doing a great job is very much up for dispute. BOYKIN: And even if he were doing a great job, that still is not an excuse -- does not excuse his behavior, his extra constitutional behavior. Bill Clinton lied about having an extramarital affair. He didn't lie about whether he was engaged in a plot to steal an election with the Russian government. He didn't lie about --

SANTORUM: There's no evidence of that, Keith. What are you talking about?

BOYKIN: I'm just saying --

SANTORUM: This is just ridiculous.

BOYKIN: Listen before you speak, Rick, OK? I'm saying that in this instance, we don't have an example of Bill Clinton that we have with Donald Trump where there are serious questions about whether he is violating the Constitution.

SANTORUM: But there's no serious evidence, Keith.

BOYKIN: And those questions are being investigated by Robert Mueller so don't say will they have been resolved or not. They are under investigation and those are serious issues. Unlike whether or not you got a blow job from an intern.

BURNETT: OK. All right.

SANTORUM: OK.

BURNETT: OK.

SANTORUM: Good.

BURNETT: All right. Let's -- speaking of things that we don't usually say on this show.

BOYKIN: I'm sorry, I didn't mean to say that.

BURNETT: Keith, I want to talk about Representative Tlaib, Rashida Tlaib, right. That was obviously speaking to her supporters and I'm not going to replay it even though we bleeped it, but she is getting criticized by some very senior Democrats. Let me just play some, including Nancy Pelosi.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), CALIFORNIA: I don't like that language. I wouldn't use that language. I don't, again, establish any language standards for my colleagues, but I don't think it's anything worse than the President has -- what the President has said.

REP. JERRY NADLER (D), NEW YORK: I don't really like that kind of language. But more to the point, I disagree with what she said. It is too early to talk about that intelligently.

REP. AL GREEN (D), TEXAS: I'm absolutely convinced that impeachment is not dead.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: All right. Do you have an issue with what Tlaib said? When she said we're going to impeach that --

BOYKIN: No. I mean, first of all, I agree with what everybody just said there, sort of. I agree with the fact that impeachment is not a dead issue. It is something that can be talked about. I don't have a problem with somebody using the mf word if you're an adult. That's fine to use that word.

BURNETT: Even about the President of the United States.

BOYKIN: Well, I mean, it's not desirable language, it's not language I would use but it's -- but considering everything Donald Trump has said, I think it's hard for the Trump people to use that as an argument against him. I can understand if Frank has an objection too because he's not in that camp but other people in the Trump camp have no credibility when they talk about that.

The problem I have with what Rashida Tlaib said is I think there's an orderly process for impeachment. You don't just go and impeach. You have to have hearings and investigations. You have to have subpoenas. You have to have oversight. You have to have accountability. After you've gone through that process and maybe even after you've had the Mueller report or have some indictments, then you can go forward with the possible impeachment but you don't just do it right out the box.

[19:25:00] BURNETT: All right. Now the President had no -- was asked about this today, right, as I said, 40 minutes of question and answer in the Rose Garden. He was asked about what Tlaib said, and you know, of course, obviously, he has said some pretty bad things, but here is how he felt about her.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I thought her comments were disgraceful. This is a person that I don't know. I assume she is new. I think she dishonored herself and I think she dishonored her family. Using language like that in front of her son and whoever else was there, I thought that was a great dishonor to her and to her family.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Hypocritical, Rick?

SANTORUM: Yes, I wish the President would take that advice on some of the language that he uses that I criticize him, you know, quite frequently on. I don't think the President's used quite that kind of language. I think, you know, there are degrees of --

BOYKIN: He's used the exact same words, Rick.

SANTORUM: -- of profanity and I think that sort of it is at the top wrong of that. Look, I understand how someone like -- look, I was a young member and., you know, you get into a -- get all whipped up in a crowd and you say something and you think, oh, gosh, I wish I hadn't said that. I've done it on the air like Keith just did, but the problem I have with her is she didn't walk it back. I mean, she just said, I stand by it. I'm going to use that kind of language. That's not --

BURNETT: That is what she's doing, yes. Tonight she's saying that's speaking truth to power, that's what she did.

SANTORUM: That's not speaking truth -- it's being crude and it's rough -- and it's coarsing a discourse that doesn't need to be coarsened more than it is.

BOYKIN: OK. I agree it is crude. But I also think, Rick, you know, first of all, Donald Trump did use that exact same language. He used the exact same word that Rashida Tlaib did. Not only that, but other people around Donald Trump like Ted Nugent have said even worse things about Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and they get invited to the White House for a Donald Trump audience.

SANTORUM: They're not members of Congress.

BURNETT: Kanye West dropped one of those words in the Oval Office.

BOYKIN: In the Oval Office.

SANTORUM: I mean, look, they're not members of Congress. She has an obligation in front of the family, in front of the country to uphold some standard. I've been very critical of President Trump and will continue to be when he doesn't uphold that standard. And I think I'm glad that Nancy and Jerry and others in the Democratic side, you know, said the same thing about her.

BURNETT: And Frank, quickly before we go, she though is standing by it --

BRUNI: Yes.

BURNETT: -- unapologetic.

BRUNI: And she shouldn't be.

BURNETT: Taking a page out of Trump's playbook, don't ever apologize, don't ever back down.

BRUNI: How many times did your parents said two wrongs don't make a right, right? Donald Trump may talk this way but Democrats do no service to themselves to talk this way and they do no service to the country. The goal here isn't to drag all of us down to Donald Trump's level. The goal is to be better than him and move quickly beyond him.

BURNETT: All right, thank you all very much.

And next, Elizabeth Warren live in Iowa tonight, comparisons to Hillary Clinton dogging her. Is it sexist?

And Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez with a new response to her critics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:30:27] BURNETT: That's Elizabeth Warren live on your screen. She is in Iowa kicking off her bid for the White House. This is her first trip to Iowa after announcing an exploratory bid for president just three days ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: If we're continue with government working for the rich and the powerful, keep voting Republican. But if you believe that government ought to work for all of us, then I think that's what the Democratic Party should be all about and that's what 2020 should be all about.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: This as "The Washington Post" runs a headline today saying, quote, Before you run against Trump, you have to run against Hillary if you're a woman, and "Politico" ran this headline, Warren battles the ghosts of Hillary.

OUTFRONT now, national affairs correspondent for "The Nation", Joan Walsh, former senior economic adviser to the Trump campaign, Steve Moore, and White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks, April Ryan, also the author of "Under Fire: Reporting from the Front Lines of the Trump White House."

Joan, is this all about Hillary?

JOAN WALSH, NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT, THE NATION: You know, people are trying to make it all about Hillary, and that's the sad thing, Erin, about only having had one female party nominee for president. I hope for the sake of our daughters that in 10 years, 15 years, there will have been so many, there will be a range of people to choose from. But I think what bothers people about some of this comparison is using the term, over and over, likability and I recognize that likability matters in politics, that it affects men too, but the range of what gets a woman considered unlikable is really damaging.

So, that it -- we have research that shows that as a woman becomes more ambitious or shows that she wants something, wants power, that makes her less likable when likability matters so much. So, you know, I think she's fighting this -- she's fighting this battle and I think a lot of us, I'm not supporting her, I'm glad she's out there, I'm not supporting anyone, a lot of us are in her corner trying to push back on this kind of narrative.

BURNETT: Steve, is it sexist to compare Elizabeth Warren to Hillary Clinton, to use the word likability with Elizabeth Warren in this way?

STEPHEN MOORE, INFORMAL WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: Well, I remember about six months ago I was on CNN and we were talking about Elizabeth Warren and I described her as Hillary Clinton without the charm, and I was accused of being a sexist for making that comment, but no, I don't think it's sexist. But I do think that -- look, I'm donating money to her campaign. I think as a Republican, I think she'd be the very best candidate for Democrats -- for Republicans to run against because I do -- I just think likability is a big factor, and especially in presidential campaigns and she's not likable.

But I'll say this, Erin. You know, we just had the best day for the economy probably in five years with the rocketing stock market and this blockbuster jobs report, and if the economy continues to perform like this for the next two years, the Democrats could put up Wonder Woman or Mother Teresa and they wouldn't beat Donald Trump.

BURNETT: As I said, it was a great day, but you're down 660 yesterday. I mean, it's hard to take one day and extrapolate --

MOORE: No, I'm talking about the two-year record. It's been really pretty spectacular on the economy.

BURNETT: When it comes to Elizabeth Warren, April, this whole issue of likability, right, it is front and center. Everyone's talking about it. She's not likable.

OK. But as Joan acknowledged, right, likability is important for a politician, right, and when you're a guy and you don't have it, you fail. Here's former VP Al Gore and Mitt Romney, people talking about both of them, obviously, need I say, they are men.

APRIL RYAN, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, AMERICAN URBAN RADIO NETWORKS: Yes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DOUGLAS SCHOEN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: The vice president really faces the challenge of communicating to people of the United States that he's a likable, affable, effective personality.

KEN WARREN, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think what we want to see is whether or not al gore can take that coat hanger out of his jacket, hang loose, appear very warm and credible and be more likable than George W.

BRIAN SCHWEITZER, FORMER MONTANA GOVERNOR: Romney, he just can't be so stiff. He has to be more likable.

ARI FLEISCHER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: He's got to be more likable, connect with people.

ANA NAVARRO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: He needs to also smile, be likable, he's got a likability gap.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: April, likability is gender neutral in some senses.

RYAN: Well, there's a couple things here. First of all, you know, when we look at polls, that is something, and I hate that word as it relates right now to this subject. Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren are two totally separate people.

BURNETT: Yes.

RYAN: Yes, Elizabeth Warren and Hillary Clinton both lawyers, yes they've both been in the Senate but they're two totally different people and we should judge them on their merits. I was there when Al Gore was running against George W. Bush and Al Gore, behind the scenes, he was this guy who was a fun guy. But when he got in front of that camera, he just did not connect.

And what it is, it's what people are looking for, the connection. Make me want to like you. Make me like you. Make me believe in you. And that's what a lot of people are saying about likability. You know, we saw her break open this beer.

I mean, she didn't have to do that, but she wants to show the average person that, hey, I'm like you. I might be looking at this lofty office but I'm like you, and that's where likability comes in.

(CROSSTALK)

MOORE: Can I make a point about this issue about the Democrats? Look, I would say this about most of the Democrats that are talking about running for president. It's not a likability -- likability is important. But if you listen to the message of what Democrats are talking about, especially Elizabeth Warren, they're very angry and they're dire and they're dower.

You know, the reason that Bill Clinton won, Ronald Reagan won, Donald Trump won, they were optimistic and I think the optimism about the potential for the United States is missing --

(CROSSTALK)

BURNETT: Steve, I will say one thing, there is no one angrier than Donald Trump on a daily basis.

MOORE: He was angry but he was optimistic. What was the theme? Make America great again.

(CROSSTALK)

WALSH: You never listen -- I bet you've never listened to a single Elizabeth Warren speech, Steve. I've listened to multiple of her speeches. She projects an optimism about what the country can be once we start restoring the rules that --

(CROSSTALK)

BURNETT: Trump said everything's going in the toilet but I'm going to make it great again. In order to have an optimistic message, you have to say things are bad now.

This issue of getting in front of the camera, though, and connecting, this is a woman who is a professor at Harvard Law School and she gets on camera in the past week and goes, I'm going to get me a beer. Let me just say, that, to me, is completely inauthentic because that's not the way a Harvard Law professor speaks.

Let me play it for you so you can see it for yourself.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WARREN: Hold on a sec, I'm going to get me a beer. Hey. My husband, Bruce, is now in here.

You want a beer?

BRUCE MANN, SEN. WARREN'S HUSBAND: No, I'll pass on the beer for now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: OK. Joan --

MOORE: Authenticity. It's all about authenticity, that's a big deal to voters.

(CROSSTALK)

BURNETT: Was that completely inauthentic.

WALSH: I didn't find it inauthentic, no. And, Erin, you know, the woman is from Oklahoma. People -- we in the media, pundits, lots of people like to depict her as though she was born in a test tube in Harvard. She is a scrappy working class woman from Oklahoma with a little bit of a twang in her voice.

I don't know if that's how she talks at home. I don't know her at all. But I think, again, we are being really shallow when we dive in and take one little clip of one little thing she did for social media and use it to define her.

BURNETT: That is what she's put out herself. That's what she wanted us to see this week, Joan.

WALSH: Sure. So you don't think it was authentic. I think it could be. But you know, so many more things -- so many things matter more than this clip and whether she had a beer or liked her beer or how she asked for her beer or not.

BURNETT: April, my question to you is, do so many things matter more? Ultimately, when this comes down to it, when people vote, does it or does it really matter if someone feels like they feel a connection with somebody?

RYAN: You know, a connection is a big piece but we are in this whole new realm, Erin, where it's not just about what you know, it's not about just your looks and it's not about, you know, your political prowess. It's now about your rock star status.

And we are now into that rock star realm with Barack Obama and now -- and Hillary Clinton was a rock star of sorts. And now you have Donald Trump. People are looking for someone who has that charisma to grab them and

it's unfortunate, we're not looking at the person's pedigree, looking at the fact that this person fought for the average consumer. She was working in the Obama administration. We're talking about likability and not about what she's made of and the fact that she's drinking a beer.

Let's talk about what she's about versus, oh, she looks cute or she can chug a lug. I don't drink beer, I don't care, but she can chug a lug a beer. Who cares? The issue is the American public and the people.

If she works for the people -- I know Steve doesn't like it. So what?

But, anyway, but the bottom line is we're looking at the wrong thing. We should be looking at what is right. We've gone into a whole different sphere with reality TV now instead of looking at what matters and what affects --

BURNETT: Interestingly enough, that's something she's fed into by getting her DNA test, which could end up being a big part of her --

(CROSSTALK)

MOORE: Big problem for her.

BURNETT: I'll give you a word of the day, though, April. Chug a lug. Thank you all very much. It's a Friday. Go do so.

(CROSSTALK)

BURNETT: And OUTFRONT next, watch this video of Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez supposed to embarrass her? If so, it didn't work and she's responding tonight. That's ahead.

And the American detained in Russia, accused of being a spy, not the first time. Let me speak to a man who was arrested there on spy charges, served time in the same prison Paul Whelan is in tonight.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:43:45] BURNETT: Tonight, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez trolling her haters, fighting back after this video of her dancing in college went viral. One of her critics tweeting it, thinking it would embarrass her and hurt her, but it backfired.

Athena Jones is OUTFRONT.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A 30-second video clip, widely shared on Twitter, showing New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez dancing on a rooftop. Shot while she was a student at Boston University, it's part of a several-minute homage to '80s movies like "The Breakfast Club." The clip was posted the day before the new Congress was sworn in, in an apparent bid to embarrass the 29-year-old Bronx-born Latina, the youngest woman ever elected to Congress.

The since-deleted anonymous post called the self-described Democratic socialist a commie and a clueless nitwit and inspired a backlash from those who saw nothing wrong with a college student having fun.

Ocasio-Cortez responded by tweeting a new video of herself dancing into her office. The dancing post was just the latest example of an ongoing effort by critics of Ocasio-Cortez to diminish her.

[19:45:02] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A socialist.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Proud socialist.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Democratic socialist.

JONES: She's become a lightning rod for conservatives.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's proposing that we take -- that we bring socialism to our country right now in Venezuela there are people who can't afford shoes.

JONES: In November, a columnist for the right-leaning "Washington Examiner" tweeted this photo of Ocasio-Cortez walking down a hallway in a blazer, apparently seeking to raise doubts about whether she struggles economically.

Ocasio-Cortez wasn't shy about fighting back, posting in response, dark hates light. That's why you tune it out.

She parries attacks from conservatives, including ongoing questions about her working class roots by calling out corny Republicans and telling one poster: You didn't even know who I was seven months ago, you're not going to birther me now -- a reference to the long-time effort once championed by now President Trump to paint President Obama to as un-American.

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D), NEW YORK: We made it here to Washington, D.C., for what I am lovingly calling Congress camp day zero.

People are going to have to start paying their fair share in taxes.

JONES: Ocasio-Cortez also supports liberal policies that some, even within her own party, see as pie in the sky, and that it made her a favorite target of Republicans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, she's constantly wrong but never in doubt.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JONES: Now the GOP attacks on Ocasio-Cortez don't appear to be letting up. Some of her new Republican colleagues jeered her on the House floor yesterday when she cast her vote for Nancy Pelosi for speaker. She retweeted a video of that moment, writing, over 200 members voted for Nancy Pelosi today, yet the GOP only booed one. Me. Don't hate me because you ain't me, fellas.

BURNETT: I mean, well, it's interesting the whole new style that we're seeing with all these young people, just youth on its own, never mind all the diversity, gender diversity.

JONES: They're comfortable.

BURNETT: This is a whole new world we're going to see on Congress.

JONES: Using social media, responding. I think this is going to go on. The back and forth is going to go on.

BURNETT: Right. Right. Thank you very much, Athena.

Next, an American detained in Russia charged with spying. It's happened before. We're going to talk to a man who says he was framed, held at the same prison as Paul Whelan is tonight.

Plus, the man who's skeptical of e-mails, the Internet and the whole age of the computer says this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think nobody knows much more about technology, this type of technology, certainly, than I do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: Tonight, new details about Paul Whelan, the American being held in Russia on espionage charges. A source telling CNN tonight that Whelan doesn't appear to have a connection to national intelligence operations, which furthers the suspicion that it's a framing.

[19:50:03] Russia is detaining him to pay back the United States for the Russian spy Maria Butina who, of course, is cooperating now, pleading guilty.

One man who knows the story all too well is Nick Daniloff. He was working as a journalist for "U.S. News and World Report" in Moscow when he was arrested on espionage charges, held in the same prison as Whelan. And Daniloff's crime came days after a Russian man was arrested in an NBI sting in New York. So, there's a lot of parallels.

And Nick is OUTFRONT tonight.

Nick, you know, Whelan's family, of course, is saying he is not a spy. You heard our reporting tonight that the U.S. government is saying we don't know anything about this guy being a spy. It seems to match with his background, which would not fit that of someone in espionage.

This could be framing, a setup. You yourself were framed. You were a reporter for "U.S. News and World Report" in Moscow. NICK DANILOFF, ACCUSED OF SYPING BY KGB IN 1986: That's correct. Let

me say quickly that the Russians are very good at framing people, for all sorts of things, for drugs, now for espionage. When they announced that they observed him committing an act of espionage, that made my ears go up immediately.

BURNETT: That's -- in a sense, that's what happened to you. You were a reporter. You have a source who calls you. Then what happens?

DANILOFF: What happens in these cases, that the Russians get you to accept unwittingly some material which turns out to have secret value to it. That seems to be what happened to our friend in Moscow today.

He was visited by somebody in his hotel room, passed him a flash drive. He walked out of his room, got arrested. Then the flash drive seemed to have secret stuff on it. It's a typical Russian counterintelligence trick.

BURNETT: All right. So, if he was framed -- this happens to you, right? In your case, you were handed maps. Then all of a sudden you are arrested. You get brought to the same prison.

You spend three weeks -- this is a notorious prison. What were conditions like there, Nick?

DANILOFF: Well, I would say that as a prisoner, I was treated with reasonable respect. I was not humiliated. I was not physically tortured.

I've got to tell you when you are grabbed off a street, brought into a prison, subjected to interrogation, you are told you are going to be spending the nights here for the future, it's terrifying. Poor Whelan was put into solitary containment. It was five, six days before he got a visit from the American embassy. That's frightening.

BURNETT: It's very frightening. What do you make of the fact that the Ambassador Jon Huntsman went and visited him? It's a complete break in protocol to escalate it to that level. What does that say to you?

DANILOFF: Well, it's interesting. I also wondered about why he did that. And my understanding is that the ambassador took that decision on his own, without instruction from the State Department. Maybe it was that he felt that there had to be a strong signal that the American embassy, the United States had not forgotten Whelan and was going to be looking after him so far as it could.

BURNETT: Now, obviously, this comes in the context not just of the Maria Butina situation in the United States, but of the entire Mueller investigation and the questions about Donald Trump and Russia and U.S. election.

You know, when you were released, you actually went to the Rose Garden, right? You were with Ronald Reagan who worked hard for your release. Let me play a moment from that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DANILOFF: It's a complex situation. If it hadn't been for president Reagan taking a deep and personal interest in my case, it would probably be some years before I could stand in front of you and say thank you, Mr. President.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: That was you in the Rose Garden with the president of the United States, an emotional moment. What do you make of the fact that you have the U.S. ambassador going, you are saying on his own, without the State Department overseeing it, the president of the United States has not said anything publically. What do you make of that?

DANILOFF: Well, I think it is very sad that the president has not spoken out. What helped in my case was that Ronald Reagan, who had his differences with the Russians, spoke out very strongly and I think very accurately in stating that I had been taken hostage. And I would like to see our high authorities in the United States say the same thing about Mr. Whelan.

He has been taken hostage. It's a shame we don't have -- don't hear loud voices from Washington asserting that.

BURNETT: All right, Nick. Thank you very much.

[19:55:01] DANILOFF: You are welcome.

BURNETT: And next, Jeanne Moos on Donald Trump, because now, he is an expert on something new.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: And now it's drones. Is there a subject that Donald Trump does not know more about than anybody else?

Here is Jeanne.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Remember how Mohammed Ali used to call himself the greatest of all time? Well, now, it's President Trump calling himself the greatest at all times.

TRUMP: I think nobody knows more about campaign finance than I do.

Nobody knows more about trade than me.

Nobody knows more about construction than I do.

MOOS: The New Year has barely downed and the president is extolling his prowess from the briefing room --

TRUMP: And I think nobody knows much more about technology, this type of technology certainly, than I do.

MOOS: To the cabinet.

TRUMP: I know more about drones than anybody.

MOOS: Some of the best drone pilots in the world must be surprised to hear the president droning on about his expertise.

But what field doesn't he excel in?

TRUMP: I know more about ISIS than the generals do. Believe me.

Nobody knows more about environmental impact statement than me.

There's nobody that understands the horror of nuclear better than me.

MOOS: It's enough to make your head explode.

TRUMP: Nobody knows the politicians better than I do. Believe me.

Nobody knows that better than me.

MOOS: President Trump knows how to spew superlatives.

TRUMP: I know words. I have the best words.

I have the best temperament.

Look, nobody has better toys than I do.

MOOS: And from a guy who doesn't like to read, this.

TRUMP: Nobody loves the Bible more than I do.

MOOS: Occasionally, President Trump has demonstrated a flash of humility, a moment of modesty.

TRUMP: I understand the tax laws better than almost anyone.

MOOS: Almost anyone. You mean someone understands tax laws better than he does?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Anything you can do --

MOOS: He can do better.

TRUMP: More elite than me? I have better everything than they have, including this.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, you can't.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I can. Yes, I can.

MOOS: New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE) TRUMP: Drones. That's a new one.

Thanks for joining us. Have a wonderful weekend. Don't forget, you can watch OUTFRONT anytime, anywhere. You just have to go to CNN Go.

We'll see you on Monday.

"AC360" with Anderson begins right now.