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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Sparks Flying On Capitol Hill Over The Russia Probe; Trump Defying Congress Flaunting A Deadline To Explain The Killing Of American Resident, Jamal Khashoggi; Interview with Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-PA); Federal Prosecutors Are Now Investigating The "National Enquirer" After Jeff Bezos Accused The Tabloid Of Extortion; Articles of Impeachment Being Drawn Up Against Virginia Lieutenant Governor Fairfax; A Gay Mayor and War Veteran is Running for President. Aired: 7-8p ET
Aired February 8, 2019 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, ANCHOR, CNN: Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer "In The Situation Room." "Erin Burnett OutFront" starts right now.
ERIN BURNETT, ANCHOR, CNN: "OutFront" next, a clash on Capitol Hill. Democrats sparring with the Acting Attorney General for President Trump over the Mueller probe. A congresswoman who led the charge against Matthew Whitaker is out front. Plus the White House blowing off a deadline to explain the horrific and brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi. What is the connection between President Trump, Saudi Arabia and the "National Enquirer"? And Federal prosecutors are now investigating the "National Enquirer" after Jeff Bezos accused the tabloid of extortion. Could it be bad news for Trump? Let's go out front.
Good evening. I am Erin Burnett, "OutFront" tonight, sparks flying on Capitol Hill over the Russia probe. President Trump's acting Attorney General grilled by Democrats and some Republicans on his role overseeing the Mueller investigation. Matt Whitaker refused to defend the Mueller probe, refused to stand up to Trump's ongoing attacks on the probe.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE COHEN, U.S. REPRESENTATIVE, TENNESSEE, DEMOCRAT: Are you overseeing a witch hunt?
MATTHEW WHITAKER, ACTING U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Congressman, as I've mentioned previously, the Special Counsel's investigation an ongoing investigation. And so I think it would be inappropriate for me to --
COHEN: But you wouldn't oversee a witch hunt, would you? You would stop a witch hunt, wouldn't you?
WHITAKER: Congressman, it would be inappropriate for me to talk about an ongoing investigation.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: Except no one was asking him for details about the
investigation. They were just asking him a really basic and important question, frankly, given these attacks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's a witch hunt and they know that.
This is a pure and simple witch hunt. It's a total witch hunt. I've been saying it for a long time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: There's about 50 more where those came from. To say it again, the acting Attorney General, the person in charge of the Mueller investigation, refused to say it isn't a witch hunt today. And that is extreme because most respectable Republicans in Washington have taken a clear stand against Trump's witch hunt attacks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARCO RUBIO, U.S. SENATOR, FLORIDA, REPUBLICAN: I wouldn't use the term witch hunt.
LINDSEY GRAHAM, U.S. SENATOR, NORTH CAROLINA, REPUBLICAN: I don't believe this is a witch hunt.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not a witch hunt.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Okay, well, Whitaker wouldn't defend Mueller's investigation, wouldn't say it isn't a witch hunt, which is a problem on the face of it, and even more of a concern when you consider his public comments on the investigation, made before he oversaw it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WHITAKER: Why don't these folks hurry up? I mean, there is - it is not helping this administration.
... an effort by Jim Comey to get this, you know, put in place and have somebody that he's very familiar with in Bob Mueller conduct the investigation, so I, you know, I think it smells a little fishy.
I still continue to wonder if there's any there, there. I have not seen a single fact.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Laura Jarrett is out front in Washington and Laura, what else stood out to you in this hearing where Whitaker wouldn't say whether Mueller's probe was a witch hunt or not?
LAURA JARRETT, JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT, CNN: It's really baffling there, Erin. Whitaker also really doubled down on his vacillating there. He really doubled down on his refusal to step aside from the Mueller probe saying notwithstanding all of his past criticisms that you just played, his criticisms of the Russia investigation, he's now been fully briefed on it and he claims he hasn't really taken any action or interfered in any way with Mueller's work, yet he repeatedly dodged questions about his conversation with the President except when he didn't.
Vowing that he never talked to President Trump about the Special Counsel's investigation, but admitted in the past, he actually wanted a job defending Trump in the White House. He also didn't shy away from feeding into unfounded conspiracy theories about CNN's own reporting on Roger Stone, President Trump's longtime confidante, his arrest, saying it was deeply concerning to him we were there to capture the arrest even though we did it through some old-fashioned reporting.
And when pressed about the other major investigation looming over this presidency, the one into President Trump's own lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, Whitaker refused to shed any light what the President may or may not have discussed on that front -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right, Laura, thank you very much. And I want to go now to a member of the House Judiciary Committee who was there today, grilling the acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker, the Democratic Congresswoman, Madeleine Dean, and I appreciate your time, Congresswoman Dean. What was your reaction? When Whitaker refused to say the Mueller investigation is not a witch hunt.
REP. MADELEINE DEAN, D-PENNSYLVANIA: Well, there were an awful lot of things that the acting Attorney General refused to speak about and deflected and delayed and stalled. I was really baffled by all of that.
I'm pleased that had we had the opportunity to have the acting Attorney General in front of us, but you saw in question after question the refusal to answer questions honestly and openly the attempt to answer question that was not asked. I tried to focus on the issue that you just mentioned which was recusal and we got very inconsistent answers.
BURNETT: Right, as to why he chose to remain overseeing it, when, obviously, there were ethical questions raised by the Ethics Committee. I mean, as Laura just was talking about, Congresswoman, Whitaker contradicted himself.
BURNETT: He talked about his conversations with the President, right? Sometimes he said, "Oh, they're privileged. I shouldn't have to answer questions about them." And other times, talking about them.
DEAN: And yet, you know, he never -- the Committee was very thoughtful in preparing for today. Sent the acting Attorney General a whole host of questions so that he would have the absolute opportunity to work the administration to make sure that he was in the clear to answer questions and he said today under oath, he never bothered to share those questions. So he cannot assume a possible privilege. He never talked to the administration, according to his own testimony.
BURNETT: So do you think he was forthcoming with Congress today?
DEAN: No. That was what was disappointing. He was not forthcoming. I focused in on the area of recusal. And so I asked him, I said, "You actually had information from the Ethics folks within the department to say should you recuse," and then he contrasted that with four folks, friends of his or teammates of his who said, "No, you'll be all right."
And he said to us, I set the tone for this important department. It is in the honor of my lifetime. And when given the choice, when he is given ethics advice, "Recuse yourself because of the past statements you have made as a private citizen," he chose to set the tone, of "I'll take the conflict of interest and move forward."
BURNETT: And that was a strange moment. And I am also curious what you made just about his -- whether he really was forthright and honest in this because one of the other exchanges, one of the most bizarre moments, frankly, I thought Congresswoman Dean, was another one with you when you asked him how he got the job of his life. He said, this is great honor of his life. This is the most important and impressive job he's ever had. You asked him, how did you find out about it? How did you find out you got the job? Did the President call you or did you find out another way? I want to play the exchange.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WHITAKER: I can't remember if it was - which preceded which, but I believe I received a phone call from the President of the United States asking me to be the acting Attorney General.
DEAN: A moment ago you said you learned by tweet. Did I misunderstand you?
WHITAKER: Yes, I think you did.
DEAN: Okay, so you learned first by a phone call from the President.
WHITAKER: I believe so, but they were very close in time. And so, actually, as I sit here right now, I can't remember which preceded which.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So this is the job of your life, you can't remember whether the President is the one who called you and told you, you got it. That's strange.
DEAN: I have to tell you, Erin, I have recently earned the job of a lifetime and I remember exactly how it took place. So it just stretches credulity that either he was hired by tweet, notified by tweet or he actually got a phone call from the President, I would remember a phone call from President hiring me for a job so that made no sense.
There was another area I had hoped to investigate if you don't mind and I had a chance to speak to the acting Attorney General after our conversation, after the time within the hearing, would it be all right if I talk about that?
BURNETT: Yes, of course.
DEAN: The other area -- and some of my colleagues very ably talked about the very pressing issue of the child separation policy. They called it zero tolerance as one of my colleagues calls it, zero humanity. I had the opportunity after the hearing to just walk back into the back offices of the Judiciary Committee and met with, I just spoke briefly with one of his counsel, but also then introduced myself. I wanted to introduce myself to the acting Attorney General show that respect.
And I talked to him and I said, "You know what, it is your predecessor who put in place the separation of families at the border. You have five or six days. You've said it over and over again. You have five or six days to go. Why not make your legacy ending this inhumane policy?"
BURNETT: What did he say?
DEAN: He thought it was interesting.
BURNETT: Well, we'll see what he does. I have one question before we go, I want to ask you, just to be clear here because he has been overseeing the Mueller investigation. He has all the facts. He knows everything he wants to know about it. Do you think the acting Attorney General has interfered in the Mueller investigation at all, Congresswoman Dean?
DEAN: I absolutely have no idea. What I find puzzling is the lack of forthrightness. That he was briefed on it. He had no clarity as to whether the information that he learned, and another one of his deputies, sitting in on that briefing was ever conveyed to the White House. That was so unclear. So I have no idea. That's why we're asking these questions.
BURNETT: Right, of course, that's exactly what you would have hoped to get the idea from in, in a hearing like this. But some really puzzling moments. Thank you so very much, Congresswoman Dean.
DEAN: Thank you, Erin for having me.
BURNETT: Appreciate it. And next, the White House ignoring a deadline. A really important deadline from Congress, right? The balance of powers. They were responsible today for handing over a report saying who killed Jamal Khashoggi? They wouldn't do it, why? There are some troubling possible answers.
Plus, Federal prosecutors now investigating the charges that the "National Enquirer" blackmailed Jeff Bezos and why it may be bad news for Trump. And breaking news out of Virginia this house, state law makers have drafted Articles of Impeachment against the Lieutenant Governor after another woman has come forward accusing him of sexual assault as Ralph Northam still sits on the Governor's seat.
BURNETT: New tonight, Trump defying Congress flaunting a deadline to explain the killing of American resident, Jamal Khashoggi. And Trump's own party leaders are livid. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham saying, quote, "I firmly believe there will be strong bipartisan support for serious sanctions against Saudi Arabia for this barbaric act which defied all civilized norms. When we lose our moral voice, we lose our strongest asset."
The President of the United States thumbing his nose again at Congress is that at his own Intelligence chiefs who have made it clear, they know horrific Khashoggi slaughter, and that is the right word was, personally directed by the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I hate the crime. I hate what's done. I hate the cover-up and I will tell you this, the Crown Prince hates it more than I do. They have vehemently denied it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Okay, well, in terms of not doing it, I mean, that's false. The President knows that it is false. His CIA concluded that the MBS, the Saudi Prince personally directed the murder. But the CIA does not put its conclusions out in the public eye, but the reporters at the "Washington Post" do.
Khashoggi worked for the "Washington Post" and the paper has been relentless in reporting on the Saudi Crown Prince's direction of the murder.
BURNETT: Enter Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon. The richest man in the world, the owner of the "Washington Post." Trump routinely slams him and demeans "The Post."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The "Washington Post" was purchased by the gentleman that runs and has a big stake in Amazon, right? You know his name. Correct. Bezos. You know his name. So now he uses that as a political weapon.
He uses the "Washington Post" as his power tool.
The "Washington Post," that's basically the lobbyist for Amazon. He uses that - Bezos has got bigger problems than anybody right now, but Bezos uses that as his lobbyist, okay, as far as I'm concerned.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So it may be no coincidence, right? That the "National Enquirer" published by Trump's longtime friend, breaks a sordid and salacious story about Jeff Bezos having an affair. A story that Trump quickly celebrates. Here is the tweet, quote, "So sorry to hear the news about Jeff Bozo being taken down by a competitor whose reporting I understand is far more accurate than reporting in his lobbyist newspaper, the Amazon "Washington Post."
Okay, here's where Saudi Arabia comes back in. Last night, Bezos posted for the world to see how the "National Enquirer" threatened to publish hacked graphic images of him and his girlfriend. In his now famous blogpost, Bezos writes, "It is unavoidable, but certain powerful people who experience "Washington Post" news coverage will wrongly conclude I am their enemy. President Trump is one of those people, obvious by his many tweets. Also, "The Post's" essential and unrelenting coverage of the murder of its columnist Jamal Khashoggi is undoubtedly unpopular in certain circles."
Certain circles like that one, the one occupied by President Trump, who has hosted the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia at the White House, who took his first overseas trip to Saudi Arabia. All this begging the question of who hacked those salacious pictures of Bezos with the intent of hurting him? Who got that and gave it to the "National Enquirer"? Could it have been Saudi Arabia?
CNN asked the Saudi Foreign Minister today and his answer was quote, "I doubt it."
Kaitlan Collins is out front at the White House. I mean, Kaitlan, this is a pretty stunning development that we are seeing here. What is the White House saying about why today? What's its excuse, for this deadline, they are supposed to put out what happened to Jamal Khashoggi? They didn't do it. What's their reason?
KAITLAN COLLINS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Yes, and this is a legal mandate from senators who gave the White House the deadline of today to submit their report telling them whether or not they feel that the Crown Prince, the Saudi Crown Prince who you just showed in that video in the Oval Office is responsible for the death of this columnist.
They didn't do so and they're refusing to do so and we asked the White House why. We got this statement from a senior administration official going on to say essentially quote, "The President maintains his discretion to decline to act on congressional committee requests when appropriate." Now, of course this is coming one day after that explosive "New York Times" report that said that the Saudi Crown Prince was quoted saying in 2017 to an aid that he had a bullet for Jamal Khashoggi and this comes as the White House is saying that they're going to continue on investigate this and that statement that they gave us when we asked, why they had failed to submit this report to Congress.
They said the State Department updates Congress regularly on the status of the actions related to the killing of Jamal Khashoggi. Now, Erin, I don't need to remind you, but it has been over four months since he was killed in the Saudi consulate in Turkey and the White House says they're continuing to investigate that. And we know that the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo did send a letter to James Risch and to Bob Menendez today, but not really offering a ton of information here.
Now what this is likely to do with the White House failing to meet this deadline that senators gave them today to do is to infuriate not just Democrats, but Republicans, too, who don't think the White House has done enough to hold the Saudis accountable for this reporter's death.
BURNETT: All right, thank you very much, Kaitlan. I want to go now to David Gergen and the former assistant secretary for the Department of Homeland Security under President Obama, Juliette Kayyem. Juliette, let me start with you. Do you have any doubt, as laid that out, that the Bezos story that appears in the "National Enquirer" and all of these threats, is this payback for the "Washington Post" and its coverage of Jamal Khashoggi?
JULIETTE KAYYEM, FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Oh, I think, absolutely. And I think Bezos left a bunch of hints in that letter. He has remarkable investigators who are looking into how his phone and his new girlfriend's phone were hacked. Howe those pictures were hacked.
And so there is no question in my mind that Bezos would have dropped those clues so to speak in the memo without having some sense of who was responsible for taking and getting that information from his phone.
So one way to think about it is that AMI and "National Enquirer" is basically repository and they get information from all sorts of sordid sources, the former porn star, the Saudis, whoever else, and they are working to support Donald Trump.
So that's essentially - so we've known that and that is essentially the sort of the world that the Saudis walked into, right?
KAYYEM: They have this information against Bezos. They hate him. Trump hates him and it is just a perfect alliance of really corrupt nations and a really corrupt White House going after a man who, I am not going to defend him, but who made a mistake. And that is exactly what we see happening right now.
BURNETT: I mean, David, it is pretty stunning when you think about it, right? You know, it's a sitting President who at least, according the Jeff Bezos, continued in that online post to say, "For reasons still to be better understood, the Saudi angle seems to hit a particularly sensitive nerve." As Juliette said, he is very clearly leading bread crumbs to Saudi Arabia. But it's pretty stunning now. You're talking about a foreign government. Not Russia this time, Saudi Arabia, actively trying to help the President of the United States. DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER TO FOUR U.S. PRESIDENTS:
Well, I think Juliette is absolutely right that Bezos was leaving some bread crumbs for us to follow and the other organizations in the press to figure out who did it and whether it is the Saudis.
I think it is also - I think she's that's right the Saudis had a strong interest in bringing down Bezos in order to protect themselves. But I also think we ought to be a little careful here. You know, this sounds very much like a conspiracy theory, too. We don't have all the facts. And we know what's tantalizing out there. We know what it looks like would be a good story, but we don't yet have the facts and so I think, we ought to be a little cautious about making assertions on it.
I also think by the way that one other payback was "The New York Times" story that came out yesterday that was leaked on the day before. The President had a deadline to explain what did happen, and it really brought the Khashoggi case right back front and center into our conversation.
BURNETT: You're talking about the Saudi Prince -- MBS saying that he wanted to put a bullet into Jamal Khashoggi.
GERGEN: Yes, exactly. They've known that for a while, right, but somehow it just magically appeared the day before this deadline. I think that was intentional. The Intelligence Community these days does not have a high regard for this President.
BURNETT: No. Certainly not. Juliette, but when you look at the bread crumbs, I mean, it is quite fascinating, right? Saudi Arabia is where the President took his first foreign trip, right? That was unusual. Got a lot of coverage. He chose Saudi Arabia. He has continued to publicly take the side of the Saudi Crown Prince against his own Intelligence Chiefs conclusion when it came to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, right? I mean, this is pretty blunt, right? He has refused to do that again and again.
KAYYEM: Yes, and this way, it does remind us of the Russia story. So you have an Intelligence Community consistently saying this is an enemy. In the Russia case, you have an Intelligence Community in the Saudi Arabia case saying they killed Khashoggi, a premeditated murder.
You have the President ignoring it in both instances, and the common theme is of course, the economic interests of not the United States. I mean, we can more easily live without Saudi Arabia than they can live without us. But of the Trump family and the Trump organization. And also what is interesting, and we just can't talk about these stories without mentioning Jared Kushner who always ends up being the sort of main player in both of these cases.
Either his alliances around the weird consortium of people around the Russia meetings or of course his relationship with the Crown Prince. One final thing, I get what David is saying about not putting the pieces together too soon. I think one of the problems though is that the President's failure to respond back to Republicans and Democrats in the Senate on Khashoggi, either suggests that he knows he is lying about the Intelligence Community or I'd put another wrinkle in here, that he cannot get anyone to sign that document. There is someone who has to validate what the White House is saying and you are not going to get the Director of the CIA to say, "Oh, we don't know anything more."
She has already made it clear how she feels. So I kind of wonder one of these press releases, and the Secretary of State writing a letter is because they cannot get anyone to validate the Trump's theory of the case, which is, you know, he wants to protect his own economic interests.
BURNETT: And of course, his -- go ahead, David.
GERGEN: I don't think there's any question. I think Juliette is absolutely right, there is no question that if the President does go ahead and if he does respond to this 120-day deadline and I think the administration has to respond under his name, that he is going to have a real problem because he is going to want to say things the CIA just simply does not believe.
The only way to send a true report up is to have the Intelligence Agency sign off on it and I think that's his problem in why he hasn't met the deadline.
BURNETT: All right, well, thank you both very much. Juliette raises a great point, right, why would you go against your own Intelligence Chiefs? Why would you? Why would you do it? It just doesn't make any sense at all as to why that would happen. All right, thank you both so very much and next, Federal prosecutors are now investigating the "National Enquirer's" reporting of Bezos. Could CEO David Pecker's immunity deal -- because he's got one right now at the Southern District in this whole Trump imbroglio, could it be in jeopardy tonight?
Plus a second woman coming forward accusing the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia of sexual assault. Now there's Articles of Impeachment being drafted for him. The Governor next to him on the screen still in place. That's ahead.
BURNETT: New tonight, one of the President's oldest friends in the crosshairs. Federal prosecutors are now looking at whether the "National Enquirer" which is owned by Trump's longtime friend, David Pecker violated its non-prosecution deal in the Michael Cohen probe, that's in the Southern District of New York. Michael Cohen, you know, we all know is going to jail for that.
The company agreed to cooperate with the Southern District, but they may have violated that deal because of this whole Jeff Bezos debacle.
[19:30:01] OUTFRONT now, former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, Harry Sandick, former Nixon White House counsel, John Dean, and the former L.A. bureau chief at "The National Enquirer", Jerry George.
Thanks to all of you.
John, you're usually out there in L.A. but you're here with me tonight. So, let me start with you. How bad is this for David Pecker?
JOHN DEAN, FORMER NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: I think it's bad potentially. It's not crystal clear that he's violated the federal law or state law but it's certainly prima facie that he has. And if he's done that, his immunity deal with the Southern District falls apart. That's serious violation because he's already admitted the necessary elements to make a crime there, and he could go to jail.
BURNETT: I mean, is that -- that's what we're possibly talking about here that he violated, going to jail?
HARRY SANDICK, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY: Yes, absolutely. There are two risks there. The first risk is that he is going to be prosecuted, conceivably, or be investigated for the blackmail crime. And then the second risk is that he and others at AMI have already admitted to the same campaign finance violations that Michael Cohen was convicted of and they were going to not be prosecuted under this agreement. The agreement can be torn up and now, they can be prosecuted.
BURNETT: You know, Jerry, it's pretty stunning here, because, you know, as we just laid out, right, the president has made it very clear his views of Jeff Bezos and the "Washington Post." And after the Bezos news broke, the president couldn't contain his excitement, right? I shared the tweet, so sorry to hear about Jeff Bozo been taking down by a competitor whose reporting I understand, I'm sorry. It's more accurate than the reporting in his lobbyist newspaper, the Amazon Washington Post.
And then happy to jump in on camera and talk about Jeff Bezos who, of course, is going through a divorce, partly as a result of all this coming out. Here's the president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Mr. President, do you have any reaction to news of Jeff Bezos' divorce and his affairs?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I wish him luck.
REPORTER: That's it.
TRUMP: I wish him luck. It's going to be a beauty.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: With a smile he could barely contain, Jerry. I mean, what do you make of that? At one point, you told us President Trump was a silent editor of the "National Enquirer." Do you think he knew anything about this in advance? JERRY GEORGE, FORMER L.A. BUREAU CHIEF, NATIONAL ENQUIRER: Well,
Erin, this whole bunch of guys brings to mind the old movie, the gang that couldn't shoot straight. The president can't keep his mouth shut, gloating over this Bezos story. The story that brought, you know, David Pecker and Dylan Howard back under the scrutiny of, you know, prosecutors.
And then they came out with this incredible salacious story on Bezos' divorce which was basically written for an audience of one. You know, Bezos isn't an "Enquirer" name.
So, I mean, everywhere they turn they make a misstep.
BURNETT: I mean, that's the thing, John Dean. You know, obviously, supposedly, David Pecker, right, has been cooperating. One would think as part of. Supposedly, one would think he would not be coordinating with the president of the United States of the United States on something like this. But he could have been doing it without him, quote-unquote, coordinating with him.
DEAN: He could. He was apparently in the out somewhat, because of his cooperation with the southern district. This could be a nice way to get back in the good graces of the president. He seems terribly attracted on this man, so that would explain it.
I must say, I don't think he anticipated Bezos doing what he had done, which was just lay it out.
BURNETT: Right. I mean, he put all the emails out there, and put all the list the embarrassing, humiliating disgusting facts that he put out, that what he says is extortion and certainly to a layperson looks that way, Harry, but I know, obviously, legally, we'll see.
But, look, the "Enquirer" has always done things for Trump, right? Not just this whole catch and kill, a story about a woman, whether it's Karen McDougal, Stormy, not just that sort of they know but also, taking on people Trump wants to crush. Bezos is being one.
What about Hillary Clinton? Remember when she had six months to live? That was during the campaign. Obviously, it's three years later now. Then, Hillary Clinton gained a hundred pounds, and wouldn't make it to election day. Well, guess what, she's still alive.
And May 2016, remember, Ted Cruz's father, you know, the JFK assassination.
These are just a few. There are all sorts of other things about various people. It is very clear -- these are all people Trump wants to take down.
SANDICK: Yes, absolutely. It's not -- people have said, maybe this is a First Amendment defense, because it's a newspaper, journalistic enterprise.
This is not journalism what they're doing. It's extortion potentially. It's political activity. It is weaponizing the First Amendment to use for the benefit of Trump and his circle, and that's not going to be protected in the same way that a real First Amendment news gathering would be protected.
[19:35:06] BURNETT: And, John, you have here a board, part of a board going to investigate this. OK. One of the people on the board investigating it is David pecker. The other one we understand is someone who also has ties, or works for Trump International, Trump Hotel and Casino.
DEAN: Yes, it does not look, typically, what a board does in a situation like this, they put together an independent unit. Or they bring this outside counsel and they do a legitimate investigation. This is not that. This is an examination that will ensure that it comes out all right.
So, this is not what I would say would clear them and it's not going to deter the Southern District from looking.
BURNETT: So, Jerry, how does all this end?
GEORGE: Well, I think it's, you know, it's looking less and less like yellow journalism and more like organized crime.
BURNETT: Well, that's a big thing to say. And you think Pecker will, what? Go as a result of this as "National Enquirer" as we know it or no?
GEORGE: I think there's a very strong chance that David Pecker may end up doing time.
Harry, what's your take on that? Possible?
SANDICK: I think it is possible. I think there is a real risk to the institution, the newspaper if it faces indictment. They may have debt covenants, they may have agreements with investors that would have issues that would be triggered by that. An indictment of a corporation is usually a death sentence.
BURNETT: Right. Well, that's pretty incredible. And, of course, never mind that you have Jeff Bezos' own investigators looking and dangling all those things out there. Thank you all.
And next, breaking news, the lieutenant governor from Virginia being told to step down or face impeachment. A second woman is accusing him with sexual assault.
And the Indiana mayor hoping to become the first gay president of the United States.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR PETE BUTTEGIEG, SOUTH BEND, INDIANA: I don't have to go on a tour to find out what's happening if Middle America. I can just go to Target. (END VIDEO CLIP)
[19:41:01] BURNETT: Breaking news, impeachment in Virginia. A Democratic state delegate telling CNN he's dropping articles of impeachment against the lieutenant governor, Justin Fairfax, after a second woman has come forward tonight accusing Fairfax of sexual assault.
Kaylee Hartung is live from Richmond tonight.
Kaylee, just stunning how this story is developing. What is the latest that you know?
KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Well, Erin, you know, first there were just calls for an investigation by many Democrats once the first accuser Dr. Vanessa Tyson accused Justin Fairfax of sexual assault. But following the revelations of a second woman tonight, Meredith Watson, a college classmate of Fairfax's, the calls for his resignation are becoming increasingly louder.
Watson released a statement by way of her attorney in which she called the attack premeditated and aggressive, saying that Fairfax attacked her when they were classmates at Duke University in 2000.
And we're just reviewing a 2016 e-mail exchange that Meredith Watson had with another classmate that mentions this assault. The e-mail was inviting her to a Duke alumni fund-raiser for Justin Fairfax in October 2016. Her response to the invitation was, quote, Justin raped me in college and I don't want to hear anything more about him. Please, please, please remove me from any future e-mails about him. Please and thank you.
And so, the number of Democrats lining up and calling for the lieutenant governor's resignation is long from 2020 contenders to members of the U.S. House of Representatives who issued a letter saying they believe Dr. Tyson and what Watson is saying gives further credence to it all.
You also mentioned, Erin, the drafted articles of impeachment by one member of the House of Delegates, that he says he will bring forth on Monday if Fairfax doesn't resign before then.
BURNETT: Kaylee, thank you very much.
I want to go now to Democratic strategist Keith Boykin, former Clinton White House aide, political commentator for us here.
OK, this is a debacle, an embarrassment. I want to go through this on a couple levels. First of all, Fairfax. It seems at this point he's a goner. Am I right or no?
KEITH BOYKIN, FORMER CLINTON WHITE HOUSE AIDE: It is looking very difficult to see how he gets out of this mess right now. The two credible witnesses have come out against him. BURNETT: Yes, the e-mail is incredibly damning.
BURNETT: He raped me. Yes.
BOYKIN: I always believe and I said this about Kavanaugh, I said this about other cases. I believe this should be a due process procedure. We have an investigation. It is looking harder and harder to justify waiting for investigation when there are more people coming out.
I still believe there should be an investigation to find out what happened. If did he this, he should resign. He's not helping himself or anybody in the Democratic Party by staying in office. If he knows he's guilty, he should step down.
BURNETT: All right. So, it seems like somebody who thinks they can benefit there this is Ralph Northam, still governor of Virginia. You called for his resignation, as have 2020 -- as has everybody else, OK?
He just told his cabinet he has no intention to resign. So, what I'm trying to understand here is how you could have a black lieutenant governor who leaves, rightfully so, while the white governor who has admitted doing these racist things as a full grown adult and handled it terribly could possibly keep his job?
BOYKIN: Yes, it is sending a message that we don't consider racial violence, which is what it is when you have a Klan's outfit or a blackface that you're proudly putting on your yearbook page. To have that out there, that racism is not as offensive as sexism or sexual assault or that racial violence is not as bad.
And these are all bad things that need to be taken seriously. Northam needs to step down. Herring needs to step down.
BURNETT: The attorney general.
BOYKIN: Yes. It doesn't seem like there is any justification as long as he has this standard out there as well. There is a possibility for the future, though, Democrats don't have to give the government to the Republicans. There could be staggered resignations.
I was just talking to Robby Perry (ph) in Virginia, a political scientist about that possibility, where one person resigns, another person appoints a lieutenant governor who is squeaky clean to fill that position, and then you go from there.
[19:45:09] BURNETT: Well, that would require these people stepping up to take responsibility. Fairfax leaves. Northam as a leader and says, I'm going to go, I'm going to appoint someone. But tonight, he is showing no signs of being that kind of leader, saying he has intention to resign.
All right. Thank you very much.
And next, the youngest 2020 candidate who could be the first openly gay candidate.
And an exclusive look inside Facebook.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is a bit of a "Game of Thrones" culture among executives.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: This weekend, two powerful female senators, Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar, are going to lay out their intentions for 2020. There are nearly a dozen Democrats in the race and we could be looking at 15 to 20. I mean, it's crazy.
And now, there's a mayor looking to make history on the list.
Kate Bolduan is OUTFRONT.
MAYOR BUTTIGIEG: When you run for office at my age, in many ways your face is your message.
Yes. Welcome to South Bend. Hopefully you find it's a good place.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg knows at 37 years old, he's a long shot for the White House, but he's been a long shot before.
MAYOR BUTTIGIEG: I think the Industrial Midwest is ground zero for that.
BOLDUAN: He ran for mayor at 29 in a place "Newsweek" labeled a dying city.
[19:50:02] He won and he's on a second term. But is America ready for a little known mayor who would be the youngest president yet?
MAYOR BUTTIGIEG: It's a fair question. I think we have a pretty good answer. The question of age was resolved by the founders in the Constitution. The question of experience I think is actually one of the most important questions that I want to answer.
The background of a mayor is the background of somebody who on one hand is an executive and on the other hand is very close to the ground. You know, I don't have to go on a tour to find out what's happening in Middle America, I just go to Target.
This thing, I was getting ready to blow that up. It was vacant, it was in receivership, it was in miserable condition.
BOLDUAN: South Bend, like much of the Industrial Midwest, saw a boom and bust around manufacturing. MAYOR BUTTIGIEG: There you go.
BOLDUAN: Here, the most powerful symbol of that is the Studebaker auto plant, shuttered and sitting vacant since the 1960s. And now --
MAYOR BUTTIGIEG: There's a code school here. They teach coding. Super cool. We were honest about the fact that nothing ever resembling, for example, the Studebaker Car Company was ever going to come back to this city. That wasn't coming back, but we were.
BOLDUAN: Buttigieg says that is exactly the message of change Democrats need for 2020.
MAYOR BUTTIGIEG: If we look like we're the protectors of the old order, if we look like we're here to restore normalcy, whatever that means, in a way we're committing the same sin of the Trump campaign, which is to tell people to look for greatness in the wrong places.
BOLDUAN: Another major change in the race for the White House that the mayor brings, he would be the first gay president if he won. We sat down for the first interview with his husband by his side, married just eight months ago.
(on camera): When did you realize that Pete was the one?
CHASTEN BUTTIGIEG, HUSBAND OF MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG: It was pretty early in our relationship. I'd say six, seven months in. I wanted to spend every day with Peter.
BOLDUAN: Is he Peter or is he Pete?
C. BUTTIGIEG: Mostly Peter to me. Depends on the situation we're in. Peter Paul if he hasn't done the dishes.
BOLDUAN: You represent a historic first in your candidacy. How much do you want it to define the campaign?
BUTTIGIEG: Being gay is part of who I am. I'm aware of what it represents to be that kind of first. First elected official to try to do this who's out. Ultimately, I want to be evaluated based on the ideas that I bring to the table.
It's kind of like being mayor. You know, if I'm plowing the snow and filling in potholes, I'm a good mayor. If I fail to do that, I'm not. It's got nothing to do with whether I come home it's to a husband or to a wife.
BOLDUAN: Now, I asked him how he'd handle any attacks coming from President Trump. When it comes to the president he was pretty blunt. He said, I'm a gay man from Indiana. I know how to deal with a bully.
How does he think he stacks up with the growing field of Democrats? He talks about it with me and we have much more on Monday on my show.
BURNETT: All right. We will look forward to that. Great to see you. Make sure you catch that on Kate's show at 11:00 on Monday.
And next, a rare and exclusive look inside Facebook.
[19:57:21] BURNETT: Facebook just turned 15. It's a company at the center of hundreds of millions of people's lives and central to American politics, including a big role in the Russia investigation.
Here's a clip from Laurie Segall's documentary.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is a bit of a "Game of Thrones" culture among the executives. One of the problems about having a really tight-knit set of people making all these decisions, If you keep the same people in the same places, it's just very difficult to admit you were wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And Laurie is with me.
And that's a big part of what they have been facing is admitting they were wrong and mistakes that were made.
I want to start, though, with Mark Zuckerberg. You have met with him, interviewed him many, many times. Is he worried that people are -- that Facebook could go the way of losing relevance, right, as younger people choose other platforms? Is that a fundamental fear for them?
LAURIE SEGALL, CNN SENIOR TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT: The fundamental fear of Silicon Valley, right, battle for time and relevance.
I think, you know, look, Facebook made some very wise decisions. Mark Zuckerberg went out and bought Instagram and bought WhatsApp years ago.
SEGALL: And now, Facebook, you know, these are the platforms of the future and Facebook owns them. I think that's a big deal. You know, despite all the controversy, all the issues of privacy, Facebook's numbers came in just in the last weeks and the company is doing incredibly well. They actually added daily users in Europe and North America.
I mean, so, you know, this narrative around Facebook is interesting and it's important. And there are a lot of these larger fundamental questions about the platform. But I do think we're going to look in the next couple of years and things could change if they do the right things and we see the right type of regulations.
BURNETT: "Game of Thrones" is what we just heard there. You think of Facebook and you think of Mark Zuckerberg and, of course, Sheryl Sandberg. But when you hear "Game of Thrones" what does that mean? Is something getting killed off?
I mean, obviously, I'm using the "Game of Thrones" parlance here. But what's happening?
SEGALL: Look, I think Mark Zuckerberg is the DNA of Facebook. And you talk to folks behind the scenes, he's so incredibly involved in the product. Now, there were reports that came out in November questioning Sheryl Sandberg's leadership. I sat down with Mark and he defended Sheryl Sandberg, said she hasn't going anywhere.
I don't think Mark Zuckerberg will be going anywhere. I think the one maybe to look out for in the next year is there have been rumors about Sheryl Sandberg having political aspirations. But, you know, the complaint from doing this documentary and listening to what people have had to say is that there is that very tight-knit group of people at the top. Can Facebook burst its own filter bubble to understand some of these larger issues?
BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you very much. And you've got to see it. No one knows this company, has had more access that Laurie and her "Facebook at 15" premieres Sunday at 9:00 Eastern.
And thank you all so much for joining us. Have a great weekend.
Don't forget. You can watch OUTFRONT anytime, anywhere. Just go to CNN Go.
Anderson starts now.