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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT

Uncertainty Over Senate Impeachment Trial As President Leaves DC For Mar-A-Lago; White House Counsel Meets With Sen. McConnell As Uncertainty Over Trump's Impeachment Trial Grows; Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) Discusses Of The Timing Of When The Articles Of Impeachment Will Go To The Senate; Trump Aides Worry About President's Two-Week Trip To Mar-A-Lago As Senate Trial Looms After Impeachment; Andrew Yang Says He Raised $750K Since The Debate; Andrew Yang is Interviewed About His Presidential Campaign; Trump Blasts Evangelical Magazine Founded by Billy Graham. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired December 20, 2019 - 19:00   ET

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


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @WOLFBLITZER. Tweet the show @CNNSITROOM.

Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, hanging in the balance. The President about to leave Washington as uncertainty grows over what happens next in his impeachment trial.

Plus, presidential candidate Andrew Yang is OUTFRONT. He says Americans are surprised he's still in the race. Should they be?

And a CNN exclusive this hour, a whistleblower coming forward with a major warning that the TSA is cutting corners raising concerns to safety of millions of Americans is on the line. Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, on edge. The President about to leave for Mar-A-Lago. As the fate of his presidency hangs in the balance, Washington tonight is facing deep uncertainty, an impeached president with an unknown future because tonight no one knows when the President will face the senate trial or what that trial will look like, who will testify, no one knows what's next in Washington, D.C.

At the Capitol, Senator Mitch McConnell meeting with Trump's legal team today, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and the Director of White House Legislative Affairs today, going to the Capitol, trying to see firsthand where Trump's impeachment trial will actually take place. And meanwhile, in the House, we are learning tonight that officials are going to work through the holiday to prepare for this trial and yet no one knows when this trial could start, what's going to happen, this unprecedented situation, impeach president and no next as Nancy Pelosi is holding back articles of impeachment from the Senate.

The Democrats want witnesses and so far there is zero chance of that, says the GOP. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says Pelosi is bluffing and that he does not even care about ever getting those articles.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Meanwhile other House Democrats seem to be suggesting they prefer never to transmit the articles. Fine with me. I'm not sure what leverage there is in refraining from sending us something we do not want.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: But is it Pelosi who is bluffing or McConnell? Because even if McConnell really doesn't want the articles, the person that he pledges fealty to desperately wants a senate trial now, thinking he could get off quickly.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We look forward to getting on to the Senate.

Frankly, I want a trial.

We will get a fair shake in the Senate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: And when? Well, on Twitter, he makes it very clear, "I want an immediate trial!" Exclamation point. So Trump is the one undermining McConnell's leverage.

Manu Raju is OUTFRONT live on Capitol Hill. And Manu, where do things stand tonight?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: At a standoff, Erin. But even so the Democrats in the House are actively preparing for that senate trial to begin as early as January.

Behind the scenes I am told that they are planning to work through the recess here on Capitol Hill, even though they're all gone, staff members from the key committees plan to work to try to prepare their case before the Senate and Nancy Pelosi while she has not named her managers who will prosecute that case before the Senate.

I'm told that expect Adam Schiff, the House Intelligence Committee Chairman and House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler to lead that case and lead that team. And there are speculation about others who could fulfill that team as well.

Now, on the White House side, the White House too is preparing for possible trial in January. Today, senior White House officials came to Capitol Hill, came to the Senate to scope out exactly how a trial could take place. But ultimately in order to move forward on a trial, they had to resolve some of those outstanding issues, namely how to deal with some of the witnesses at the White House that the Democrats are demanding.

Chuck Schumer, the Senate Minority Leader has asked for any agreement on the parameters of the trial to all spell out the witnesses who could come forward, including Mick Mulvaney, the Acting White House Chief of Staff, John Bolton, the former National Security Adviser but the Republicans have rejected that because they say that the House Democrats should have pursued those witnesses in court after the White House blocked them from coming forward before the impeachment inquiry.

So the question ultimately is can they resolve anything or can they come close to determining what the process will look like in the senate, because Nancy Pelosi is saying she will not transmit those articles of impeachment over to the Senate until she understands what that process will look like so she can name her own impeachment manager. So that's the big question here as we head into the recess, head into the holidays, people are working, they expect the trial to be in January. But will it happen then? We still don't know, Erin.

BURNETT: I mean, it is pretty incredible just to think that we are at this moment with such uncertainty in this country. Manu, thank you very much.

And OUTFRONT now, a key voice who has been calling for House Speaker Pelosi to withhold those articles of impeachment, Democratic Congressman Earl Blumenauer of Oregon. And I appreciate your time, Congressman.

[19:05:04]

So, look, you've been a vocal backer of not sending those articles of impeachment to the Senate until you know more about the trial there, including witnesses. Do you have any information tonight on the timing of when you think this will happen, those articles will go to the Senate?

REP. EARL BLUMENAUER (D-OR): Well, Speaker Pelosi is a master of this process. She keeps her cards close. She observes. She uses the leverage that she has. She has played Donald Trump like a fiddle. And I am pleased that we're in no rush to send them over to Mitch McConnell to have an unfair, biased process.

I don't even know how he could, in good conscience, take the oath that he's required to take if there's an impeachment action, pledging to be impartial. Time is not on their side. First of all, bear in mind that Donald Trump is slowly coming unhinged.

Look at that outrageous letter that he sent. Look at the performance that he did in Michigan this week. Clearly, this is festering with him. But we are under no obligation to move unless and until there are clear signals.

And it's interesting that the public, even those who don't favor impeachment, overwhelmingly support having a fair process. And I think the Speaker is right --

BURNETT: Now, I guess, the question is, Congressman, what does the word fair mean? Because I mean, obviously, it's a subjective term. But what does fair mean? Does fair mean that you get witnesses for sure and those include John Bolton and Mick Mulvaney?

BLUMENAUER: For starters, I mean, bear in mind one of the arguments that - the Republicans have no argument defending Trump on the merits. They have no defense for his outrageous behavior, but they talk about process and they claim that some of the testimony is based on hearsay and yet the Republicans would not allow the witnesses to be in person to testify. I think that's entirely appropriate to be able to have the appropriate witnesses be a part of it.

And bear in mind, each week that goes by, there's likelihood that there may be some court action. There may be tax returns that are revealed that show other problems. The process continues. There's information that gathers, while they're preparing for the case to be presented.

BURNETT: The two articles, of course, on the table both do though pertain to Ukraine. I guess I'm just wondering --

BLUMENAUER: Right.

BURNETT: -- do you all end up in a situation where, I mean, and maybe you would do this indefinitely, but eventually these articles go to the Senate. So if they go to the Senate without Bolton or Mulvaney testifying, is that just a huge black eye for you?

BLUMENAUER: Well, first of all, let me be clear, these articles are not self-executing. They do not expire. The articles are active next week, next month, next year, so they go to the Senate when the Speaker and the Democratic leadership is convinced that they move forward.

And, frankly, that's kind of an interesting process as well. Because when the articles are submitted, then all of a sudden, the options for the Senate to kind of put them in the background go away. They have to take them up immediately. That becomes the priority business for the Senate and that's another tool that the speaker has when she sends them over the Senate has to go and that is an interesting card to play.

BURNETT: So the President's attorney Rudy Giuliani has been talking about your decision, the Democrats' decision to impeach President Trump which, of course, it was a democratic decision and entirely along party lines. Here in what Rudy just said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDY GIULIANI, ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP: This is America. You know where that happens. That happens in countries where there are dictatorships and they're moving us in that direction. They want to put Barr in prison and they want to execute me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: You want to execute Rudy Giuliani, put Attorney General Bill Barr in prison and create a dictatorship. BLUMENAUER: I mean, that is an example, these people are absolutely

delusional. Nobody wants to execute anybody. If they look at our records, we know that we're actually opposed to capital punishment. But Rudy Giuliani is clearly skating on thin ice and he may well have violated U.S. laws. He may be in legal jeopardy. We'll watch what comes forward.

But I find it ironic that he talks about this being in America while he's out there doing the bidding of Russia. I mean, the President's line of attack is repeating Putin.

[19:10:01]

They've conjured up this whole Ukrainian delusional idea that has been debunked by their own officials in the Intelligence Community. So they're making things up. Frankly, this is an example of what's good about America.

We have a constitutional process dealing with an impeachment, which we are in fact following. And when somebody undermines America, consorts with foreign powers, undermines our elections, obstructs Congress, it is entirely appropriate that we move forward with these articles of impeachment, but I think we need to do it when it's right and I'm absolutely convinced that the Speaker is going to be careful and deliberate and make the right decision.

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

BLUMENAUER: You bet.

BURNETT: And next, Trump heading to his private golf club for the holiday, so he's now gone. Why that trip is making his staff very nervous this hour?

Plus, 2020 contender Andrew Yang making headlines after last night's debate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDREW YANG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you get too many men alone and leave us alone for a while we kind of become morons.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: He is my guest OUTFRONT tonight.

And Trump slams Billy Graham's evangelical magazine because it calls for him to be removed from office. Graham's granddaughter says Trump is wrong. She's OUTFRONT tonight.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:14:28]

BURNETT: New tonight, growing concern among multiple aides to President Trump about his Christmas vacation at Mar-A-Lago. He is about to head to the resort. He will be there for the next two weeks. A major focus will be the White House defense for a Senate trial after his impeachment, but several aides are not happy. In fact, they are the opposite. They're extremely worried about his trip.

Kaitlan Collins is OUTFRONT at the White House. So Kaitlan, obviously, worried to the point that you're hearing about it from sources, why? What's the concern?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, here's the thing with these trips, Erin. They're always a little bit freewheeling, unstructured and they always are pretty much a headache for aides who have been working with the President and then he gets down there. He has other ideas.

[19:15:05]

So it's already a concern, but even more so this time because it's coming, it's such a critical time in his presidency. These next few weeks as he's got crucial decisions to make about that Senate trial when and if it likely does happen, including who's going to be opening during those arguments, who's going to be closing those arguments, who will be presenting evidence.

A lot of decisions still to make as far as when it comes to the defense strategy for the President. And because he's got so much unstructured time while he's down there, that's what we've been hearing from aides so far.

Now, it's not just his schedule, it's also who he has access to. A lot of people have access to the President when he's at his private club in South Florida, whether he's in the buffet line golfing, dining, it's his old buddies. And when the President gets around them, it essentially reminds him of his time before he was in office.

And so that's what aides are worried about, that he's going to have this outside influence on him, when they've been trying to craft this carefully structured defense plan and that's essentially what we've been hearing that concern from aides as the President is down there for two weeks. Now, we do know he's going to be pretty well staffed at the end of the trip, his Acting Chief of Staff, the Press Secretary, Jared Kushner, the White House Counsel are all expected to be on property as the President is going over these decisions before he heads back to Washington.

But, of course, the question is what could happen between now and then. And as one person said, the longer he's down there, the longer there is for other people to influence his decisions on things like this.

BURNETT: All right. Kaitlan, thank you. And I want to go now to the former Director of the Nixon Library, Tim Naftali, Congressional Reporter for The Washington Post, Karoun Demirjian and Joe Lockhart, who was President Clinton's Press Secretary during his impeachment investigation. Tim, OK, two weeks and you could say his daily time is unstructured in

the sense of when he wants to watch TV or tweet, that's what he does. But in Mar-A-Lago, it's even more so. And that opens up the risk, he's chatting with somebody if something gets in his mind and it goes into his mind and out of his tweet.

TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, Speaker Pelosi's gambit of holding the articles is a high risk strategy. And one of the ways that it can come out well for her is if President Trump puts pressure on Mitch McConnell to get the trial going.

And so maybe the one reason the aides are worried is that during this down period, the President is going to lose discipline and start fuming about the fact that maybe there won't be a trial and maybe he won't be acquitted and maybe he'll start saying things that will compromise Mitch McConnell's strategy.

After all, Mitch McConnell is really good at saying, no, we saw it with the Merrick Garland story. He basically stood there while people were arguing they had a moral responsibility to at least have hearings for President Obama's nominee. He didn't care. In this case, Trump could put pressure on him.

BURNETT: Yes. Right. Well, I mean, and in a sense, you're seeing that McConnell's I don't care if I ever see those articles, so what do you have leverage if you're trying to send me something I don't want, whereas - and Trump's going, I want it now, I want an immediate trial, exclamation point.

I mean, Joe, you can see, obviously, the problem right there of two roads diverging. But I guess the big question is how much harm can he do?

JOE LOCKHART, FORMER CLINTON WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, what Pelosi's done is it's suppose the rift between and brought it out into the public. He can make life much more difficult for these six or seven vulnerable Republican senators who were up for re-election this year, which is what McConnell is most concerned about.

BURNETT: Right.

LOCKHART: He wants to remain majority leader. At the end of the day, he doesn't care if the President gets reelected.

BURNETT: And those are the senators --

LOCKHART: Yes.

BURNETT: -- by the way, who may vote to acquit him eventually, but may also vote for witnesses --

LOCKHART: On the rules.

BURNETT: -- yes.

LOCKHART: I was really struck though in Kaitlan's reporting about how central Trump seems to be according to his defense strategy. I mean I went through this with President Clinton. He was not very involved in the strategy.

In fact, Charles Ruff, his White House Counsel, refused to show him his opening statement. The President heard it the first time when he gave it and the President was sort of rooting around looking at people like --

BURNETT: No. That's not how it goes here.

LOCKHART: -- like have you seen it.

BURNETT: We'll send you letters that the President writes himself (inaudible) --

LOCKHART: He was on the floor at the Senate when he gave that, it's the first time the President heard them.

BURNETT: So Karoun, we know at Mar-A-Lago, Kaitlan is talking brunch line. We've even seen the pictures of him, whether it's at the brunch line or whatever it might be. We've seen pictures of him sharing things on his phone with people at his table. He once surveyed people at the club on whether John Kelly should stay chief of staff. He's talked about firing the Director of National Intelligence Dan coats while he's there.

He asked people, just people who happened to be there about strategy for the Mueller investigation. I mean, it isn't exaggerating to say that it's sort of the last person who gets his ear there can have undue influence.

[19:20:02]

KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": It definitely is the case. And as you pointed out, we've seen it time and time again. And I think in this case, it's especially high stakes of him being there because we already know that the President is not really in lockstep with Mitch McConnell on how the strategy for the trial should go.

McConnell is saying he's coordinating with them closely, but the President has already tweeted about wanting the whistleblower, wanting Hunter Biden, things that McConnell would much rather shut down, keep this short, keep it witness free and keep it as clean and as narrow as he possibly can. If the President starts talking openly on Twitter because somebody advised them, oh, make a deal with the Democrats so you can have your witnesses who cares if the Acting Chief of Staff goes and talks to, that strengthens Pelosi's hand as Tim was saying a moment ago.

And so the fact that he is going to be able to have more unstructured time, it's pretty much all executive time when he's down there, of course, and be able to translate these conversations fusing them with his already instincts that do not match up necessarily with the congressional GOP leaders. If those come out in tweets that undercut what McConnell's trying to do with this deal making, it could inadvertently strike with the hand of the Democrats who want to see this trial go ahead in a way where it's not as advantageous for him.

BURNETT: So Karoun, are you hearing anything about Mitch McConnell's true feelings about what Trump is saying as in directly contradicting McConnell?

DEMIRJIAN: I don't think Mitch McConnell is a - well, he's a very closed book and he doesn't necessarily speak openly ever about when the President is undercutting him. But generally speaking for months and months, if not years, you've heard Senate Republicans express frustration with the President's Twitter habits.

They think that he's his own worst enemy, when he tends to take to Twitter and either undercut his own line or undercut the defense that those around him are trying to make of him and they complicate generally their Republican efforts to rally around him and that's so vital right now going into this trial, which we all expect will eventually happen to be in lockstep.

The GOP is getting a lot of blowback from Democrats about saying those things, but they've said those things that they're going to try to arrange this to be as good for the President as possible. If the President screws that up by freewheeling while he's on vacation, then that complicates their effort.

BURNETT: Yes. Well, he just got on Air Force One, Joe, and all he said was Merry Christmas. So I suppose, he felt that was its own statement.

LOCKHART: That's a dig at Democrats somehow.

BURNETT: It's a separate statement, but he was able to keep it to that. OK. One of the press secretaries for George W. Bush, Ari Fleischer, we all know him, like him, have this to say about Democrats withholding the articles of impeachment from the Senate and he did not mince words. Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ARI FLEISCHER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE SECRETARY FOR PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: This is the dumbest thing the Democrats have ever done. Just send the documents over if this is a serious impeachment. If it's not, just admit this is all political gamesmanship and showmanship and knock off the talk of impartiality, fair trials. We know that it's all political.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Now, look, as long as Ari is admitting that Mitch McConnell is not impartial and Lindsey Graham has directly said that he's not impartial, so it goes both ways. Does he have a point?

LOCKHART: I don't think Democrats will spend a lot of time worrying about Fox News analyst's advice. I think, in fact, if they do they're crazy. I don't think he has a point. The point is that it is political and you need leverage to get what you want. Nancy Pelosi has created out of nowhere some leverage, by driving the

two Republican sides into opposite corners, because ultimately, she and the Democrats want one thing, they want Mick Mulvaney and John Bolton under oath. It doesn't matter whether it's on camera or off camera, they'll negotiate all of that, but those two people they've decided had the last two pieces of the puzzle to show just how corrupt this administration his.

BURNETT: And to be clear, if they waited, Tim, to do that on the congressional side, they could have waited many months.

NAFTALI: Yes.

BURNETT: Right? So people who say it wasn't important to get it then, that is disingenuous. But they could force it now.

NAFTALI: Well, and this is the first time ever in the history of impeachment, that one party doesn't control both houses. This has never happened before and every other impeachment case, either the Democrats or the Republicans control both houses, so it was a matter of just procedure to move the articles from one house to another.

So there is actually no playbook here and Speaker Pelosi has decided to try and see if she does indeed have leverage. We'll see.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you, both. And OUTFRONT next, 2020 contender Andrew Yang with new momentum tonight after his debate performance.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

YANG: It's both an honor and disappointment to be the lone candidate of color on the stage tonight.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Plus, a CNN exclusive, a TSA whistleblower with this alarming message during one of the busiest travel times of the year.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: TSA has made changes to the settings which really hamper the ability of the X-ray operator to detect explosives and carry-on baggage.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:29:17]

BURNETT: New tonight, a man many people are talking about tonight for serious and some not so serious moments in the last debate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) YANG: It's both an honor and disappointment to be the lone candidate

of color on the stage night. If you go to the factory in Michigan, it's not wall to wall immigrants, it's wall to wall robot arms and machines because if you get too many men alone and leave us alone for a while we kind of become morons.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is there someone else among these candidates that you would - you have two options one; a candidate from whom you would ask forgiveness or a candidate to whom you would like to give a gift? And I'm going to start with you, Mr. Yang.

YANG: Wow.

[19:30:09]

YANG: Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Andrew Yang's campaign says he raised $750,000 from 20,000 donations just since that debate ended about 24 hours ago.

Let's go OUTFRONT now with Andrew Yang, businessman and Democratic presidential candidate.

Of course, I laughed there at that moment. That was just indicative of the way you were able to handle yourself last night and everyone was laughing with you.

So, tell me, Andrew, about those donors -- $750,000 in, what, 20 -- 22 hours? Who are these donors?

YANG: Well, the best thing, Erin, is over a third of the donors are completely new to the campaign and our average donation on the campaign is only $30. We are a purely people-powered grassroots campaign. Many people tuned in last night and joined the Yang Gang, sent us $5, $10, $20, and that's exactly the kind of growth that we'll demonstrate right up until we peak when voting starts on February 3rd.

BURNETT: So I know you need -- obviously, you've got lots of donors and you need more than the hundreds of thousands of donors to make the debate. You need polls. So, the new criteria came out today. DNC says the candidates need four polls at 5 percent nationally, or two early state polls at 7 percent in order to make that January debate, and that will be the last debate before the Iowa caucuses.

Will you be on the debate stage next month?

YANG: We're very confident we will be on the debate stage next month, Erin. We just need some polls to be conducted in Iowa, New Hampshire and in particular, and our growth will be demonstrated and be very clear to anyone who is looking at the numbers.

I want to make this debate in large part because I think CNN's moderating this one and you all are my favorite moderators.

(LAUGHTER)

BURNETT: So a new CNN poll shows 76 percent of people think the economy is in good shape and obviously, Andrew, the economy has been the core of your proposition, right? When you're talking about the freedom dividend or talking about automation. Sixty-two percent of Democrats, though, think the economy is in good shape, right? And that's who you're talking to in the primaries.

When you were last asked about the primaries, you mentioned last night the rise in depression, you mentioned overdoses and suicides, people working multiple jobs.

How does that argument resonate when a majority of people, majority of Democrats, huge majority of Democrats say they think this economy is in good shape under President Trump?

YANG: I've been campaigning non-stop particularly in the early states of Iowa and New Hampshire and if you talk to people in those states about what they're seeing in their communities, they feel like the numbers that they're seeing on TV don't line up with what they're seeing every single day. So, if we talk about how our kids are doing, what the measurements of our life expectancy, how many of our senior citizens are in good shape to retire, the concerns are everywhere, and the headline unemployment number even when Donald Trump campaigned back in 2016, he said it was fake news because it doesn't measure all of the people dropping out or underemployment or people working multiple jobs.

He was right when he was running and now that he's the president, all of a sudden, the numbers are supposed to be fact. Unfortunately, our measurements don't line up to the reality of many Americans day to day.

BURNETT: So last night you had a lot of people talking also in part because of what you said about impeachment, and I want to just play that moment for the viewers in case people missed it. Here you are.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

YANG: We have to stop being obsessed over impeachment which unfortunately strikes many Americans like a ball game like when you know what the score is going to be.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: And, of course, you've been getting some criticism for that. You know, "The Washington Post's" Greg Sargent, I don't know if you saw this, but he calls that a, quote, bad answer. His quote is that you were trivializing the extraordinary gravity of Trump's wrongdoing.

What is your response to people who said it was critical of what you said last night?

YANG: I've had people contact me and say it was the most honest answer anyone gave on impeachment. I am pro-impeachment. I think that moving forward it's the right thing to do. But there's a critical number of zero Republicans that have crossed party lines and you need more than zero, you need 20 Republicans in the Senate. So, unfortunately, many Americans look up and say until Republicans are willing to put country before party, then this process is going to lead to Donald Trump crowing about how he was completely exonerated.

[19:35:01]

I will say, too, I've been campaigning in the early states and I've gotten literally zero questions on impeachment. Most Americans do not share the fixation on what's going on in D.C. that -- what they do is they ask me questions about health care, education, how we can do more for our families.

BURNETT: So when you entered this race, you know, let's just be honest. I mean, you know, from the business journalism world, I had known you before, others did, but around the country, you were pretty much unknown, it's fair to say, right? Now, not the case.

YANG: Yes. Very fair --

(CROSSTALK)

BURNETT: You're there. You've outlasted governors, you've outlasted senators and you outlasted, you know, Mayor Bill de Blasio. Look, and you brought that up last night this way, sort of humorous, but I wanted to play it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

YANG: I know what you're thinking, America. How am I still on this stage with them?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: How do you answer that question? Why do you think your candidacy has caught on with so many people when so many others who were well known coming into this have failed to do so?

YANG: Americans recognize the truth when they hear it, Erin, and when you talk about the fact that we're going through the most profound economic transformation in the country's history that blasted away millions of manufacturing jobs and is now set to do the same thing to millions of retail jobs and truck driving jobs and on and on throughout the economy, Americans hear that and say, yes, that's right.

And the fact is, unfortunately, many Americans have become despondent about Washington, D.C.'s ability to address these challenges. We all know that D.C. is decades behind the curb on technology and that's gone from inconvenient to disastrous because the rate of change keeps speeding up.

So, the fact that I've been more successful than many more established politicians is less surprising to me because I know many Americans have shared the same sense of foreboding that D.C. is not up to our current set of challenges.

BURNETT: All right. Andrew Yang, thank you very much. I appreciate your time this evening.

YANG: I appreciate the heck out of you, too. Erin. Thanks for all you do.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you and happy holiday.

And next, Trump blasting an editorial. It's from a top evangelical magazine calling for him to be removed. The granddaughter of the late Reverend Billy Graham who founded that very magazine responds OUTFRONT, next.

And a CNN exclusive this hour, a whistle-blower with a warning about air travel in the United States.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What they're doing is injecting danger into the system. They are making air travel less safe for people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:41:21]

BURNETT: Tonight, profoundly immoral -- that's the quote, and President Trump is responding to those exact words. They came in a scathing op e an evangelical magazine which called for his removal from office. The president tweeting in response, quote: No president has ever done what I have done for evangelicals and religion itself.

The editor-in-chief of "Christianity Today" writing in the editorial that it is time to call a spade a spade, to say that no matter how many hands we win in this political poker game, we are playing with a stacked deck of gross immorality and ethical incompetence, referring to the president of the United States.

OUTFRONT now, Jerushah Duford. She is the granddaughter of the late Reverend Billy Graham who founded that magazine.

And, Jerushah, I appreciate your time tonight. I want to give you a chance first to respond. The president of the United States is saying no president, he's quoting -- I'm quoting him, I'm sorry, has ever done what I have done for evangelicals or religion itself. What's your response to that?

JERUSHAH DUFORD, BILLY GRAHAM'S GRANDDAUGHTER: Hey, Erin. You know, I saw that tweet, and there's actually some truth to it. You know, there are some policies that he's pushed through. Supreme Court justices and, you know, his stance on pro-life that I agree with and think has taken the evangelicals a long way.

But my question is how much are we going to excuse and exchange for that? You know, the fear and the quote I hear all of the time is he's the lesser of two evils. My fear in the lesser of two evils is eventually one of those evils stops looking evil and I'm just not sure that the good he's done excuses or outweighs the rest.

BURNETT: Hmm, that's a very poignantly said.

You know, you're a Christian evangelical, and you're referring to yourself, Jerushah, but you say that this piece, the editorial in "Christianity Today" is long overdue. Obviously, it calls for president Trump's removal and it makes a case not just in terms of Ukraine which it clearly does and also in broader, moral terms.

DUFORD: Right.

BURNETT: You say it's long overdue. Why?

DUFORD: You know, it's courageous. My grandfather always said that courage is contagious and my hope is that an article like this will be a first step for people to step up and start saying, you know what? I'm actually not comfortable. It's a scary thing to do especially when there are things on the line.

So, I understand the fear, but it is also time that enough is enough, and at some point, like how he speaks about in the article, the moral balance starts to weigh heavier on the side of it being more dangerous to not say something than to say something.

BURNETT: And, look, you're coming out and speaking. It's not easy for anyone to do so and certainly not easy for you. Obviously, the magazine, your grandfather's name is part of that.

Your uncle, Franklin Graham, disagrees, though, with the editorial. He said, quote: For "Christianity Today" to side with the Democrat Party in a total partisan attack on the president of the United States is unfathomable.

Look, you know, it's your uncle and you can have disagreements in families, but nonetheless, yours is one that's aligned with the evangelical community and you do disagree with him, why?

DUFORD: You know, it's OK to disagree. That happens often. I'm sure your viewers are aware of that, but I think my -- my hesitation in saying how my grandfather would act or feel or what he would say or do when he's not here to agree or disagree with those statements is just kind of a dangerous place to be.

I would ask people to look at his ministry, to look at his character, to look at the things he didn't say during his ministry and ask themselves if those things align with the things the president is doing and saying.

[19:45:08]

BURNETT: All right. Well, I appreciate your time, Jerushah, and I thought it was pretty powerful what you said, when you say the lesser of two evils, you're worried that one of those things stop looking evil, and that's risk you're unwilling to take. I appreciate --

DUFORD: Becoming desensitized.

BURNETT: I appreciate your time so very much. Thank you.

DUFORD: Thanks.

BURNETT: And next, breaking news. Millions of people across the nation are at airports flying for the holidays. A whistle-blower speaks exclusively to CNN about a possible security issue.

And a history-making day in Congress and we are not talking about impeachment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: Breaking tonight, a TSA whistle-blower sounding the alarm about security as millions of Americans are going to airports for the holidays.

Rene Marsh is OUTFRONT with this CNN exclusive.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): More than 40 million U.S. airline passengers are expected to go through airport security checkpoints this holiday.

[19:50:06]

But this TSA security director says you may not be as safe as you think.

JAY BRAINARD, TSA WHISTLEBLOWER: What they're doing is injecting danger into the system.

MARSH: Jay Brainard is the top TSA official in his state, and he's been with the agency for 17 years.

He says TSA is cutting corners on the screening process to shorten wait times. One example, TSA reduced the sensitivity on all walk- through metal detectors at airports across America.

BRAINARD: They're reducing the concentration of metal that it would take to set off that alarm, so that you could speed up lines and have fewer pat downs.

MARSH (on camera): How do you know that's why they did it?

BRAINARD: Because there's a memo out that supports it.

MARSH (voice-over): This TSA memo shows the order came in 2013, quote, changing all walkthrough metal detectors setting in all lanes to the TSA pre-check setting, to normalize the passenger experience. Brainard says the practice continues today and he worried bomb making components could go undetected. BRAINARD: You could have a 30-minute wait time and they treat it like

it's a national emergency. It is such an unhealthy obsession of placing speed over security.

MARSH: Brainard says that obsession also led the TSA to disable technology on X-ray machines that screen carryon bags in pre-check lanes. This internal memo states as of last month, those X-ray machines should be operated without the auto detection algorithm enabled.

BRAINARD: Put simply, when the item comes through, a box will come around and surround the item that says, hey, stop and take a look at this, that box is no longer on the screen. TSA has made changes to the settings which really hamper the ability of the X-ray operator to detect explosives in carry-one baggage.

MARSH (on camera): But TSA will say this is precheck.

BRAINARD: They have been putting millions of passengers into TSA pre- check who aren't pre-checked. So, you do not have an entire population in pre-check that are vetted.

MARSH (voice-over): CNN put this to TSA Administrator David Pekoske. He said the agency is not prioritizing wait times over security.

DAVID PEKOSKE, TSA ADMINISTRATOR: No, I won't discuss any of our particular security procedures. But rest assured that we do provide the level of security that we think is appropriate based on the risk of the passenger.

MARSH: Brainard says the issues he's raised are especially problematic for an agency with 95 percent failure rate in detecting dangerous items at the check point. That's according to a government audit in 2015. Another audit two years later found there were still vulnerabilities.

BRAINARD: When you sit back and watch these things happen, it's the most frustrating thing you could imagine.

Last year, the special counsel ordered DHS to investigate Brainard's complaints, writing, there is a substantial likelihood the information provided to OSC discloses gross mismanagement and specific danger to public safety.

BRAINARD: My biggest fear is having something happen that costs that American lives and I didn't step up and put a stop to it, or at least try, because it's going to happen. It's not a question of if. It's a question of when. We are long over due for another attack.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MARSH: Erin, CNN reached out to both agencies investigating Brainard's complaint, but no comment from either one. They are investigating if Brainard, as he says, these procedures are putting the public in danger. Now, in response to the complaints raised by him in our story, TSA

head administrator, David Pekoske, told us that whistle-blowers provide a very valuable service and it's their responsibility to fully investigate those concerns to determine if there's a valid risk or not. TSA, at this point, has not completed their assessment.

BURNETT: Wow.

All right, Rene, thank you very much. Very important report and very sobering.

Next, we'll talk about Jim Jordan.

(COMRECIAL BREAK)

[19:58:01]

BURNETT: Something historic happened this week, and here is Jeanne.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You may know him as Republican Representative Jim Jordan.

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): And guess what.

MOOS: But we guess many know him as the congressman who never wears a jacket.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm so angry, I couldn't even wear a jacket today.

MOOS: He carries it but rarely wears it. Leading to jokes like found Jim Jordan's jacket. FLOTUS has it. Even when he goes on TV talk shows, no jacket. I'm going to start a telethon to get Representative Jim Jordan a blazer. He's usually ablaze about something.

JORDAN: We've got six people having four conversations in one sentence.

MOOS: But always in shirt sleeves.

This week, something truly historic happened. No, not impeachment, Jim Jordan dressed up.

JORDAN: Of course, the whistleblower.

MOOS: Yes, the Ohio congressman actually put his arms through the sleeves of a jacket. Jim Jordan is wearing a suit jacket and he looks almost as uncomfortable as he makes all of us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ooh, I'm about to pop off!

MOOS (on camera): So, what's the deal? Does Jim Jordan have hang up about wearing jackets?

JORDAN: I don't know. The only time I wear the jacket is when I have to. I wear it on the House floor because I have to.

MOOS: The rules required him to wear one for the impeachment vote on the House floor.

JORDAN: I wear it around the president, whenever I'm at the White House, I wear it there.

MOOS: There are multiple Twitter accounts reporting to be Jim Jordan's jacket. All I want is to be worn. When Jordan posed in the overly big jacket belonging to radio host, Jim Jordan's missing jacket posted, who the bleep rolls up a suit jacket sleeve.

Jordan has a theory.

JORDAN: You can't really get fired up and get into it if you have some jacket slowing you down. So --

Mr. Morrison told Ambassador Taylor that I told Mr. Morrison that I conveyed this message to Mr. Yermak on September 21st, 2019.

MOOS: Shirt sleeves for speed.

Jeanne Moos, CNN --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, what?

MOOS: -- New York.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chairman, I object.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll allow it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MOOS: Thanks for joining us.

"AC360" starts now.