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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Haley Returns To NH, Trying To Close Gap With Trump; Top US Officials Wrap Crisis Talks In Mexico On Migrant Surge; Colorado GOP Asks US Supreme Court To Overturn Ruling Disqualifying Trump From 2024 Ballot; Special Counsel Jack Smith Moves To Prevent Trump From Sowing Disinformation During Federal Election Subversion Trial; Michigan Supreme Court Rejects Insurrectionist Ban Case, Keeps Trump On 2024 Primary Ballot; Brutal Blood Sport Of Dog Fighting Thrives In The Shadows; Man Trapped In Mangled Truck After Accident Found And Rescued After Being Stuck For Nearly A Week; Detroit Pistons Set NBA Record For Longest Losing Streak In A Single Season. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired December 27, 2023 - 20:00   ET


ERICA HILL, CNN HOST: An update now on a story we brought you last night, if you're still in the market for that latest Apple Watch, you're in luck. A federal court has temporarily blocked the sweeping import ban on the Series 9 and the Ultra 2 models, which the International Trade Commission found violated another company's technology patent. Important to note, though, this isn't the end. So stay tuned for further updates.

Thanks so much for joining us tonight. "AC 360" starts right now.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: Tonight on "360," the former president's leading challenger in a state that likes challengers looking to set the stage for an upset. We are live in New Hampshire.

Also, tonight, a Trump court victory keeping him on Michigan's primary ballot, but will the same be true in November? And we have breaking news on a similar case, a Trump defeat in Colorado.

Later, the remarkable story of how two men's fishing day ended with them saving another man's life, a man trapped and lost to the world for nearly a week inside a wrecked truck with deadly weather closing in.

Good evening, everyone. John Berman here, in for Anderson.

What Christmas break? That's what the Republican presidential candidates must be asking tonight. There was virtually no time left before the first contest.

And happening now, live pictures of former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley. She is in the middle of an event in New Hampshire. She's armed with the governor's endorsement there, a fresh infusion of cash, and possibly, she hopes at least, one of the most precious commodities in politics, momentum. Now, it is a relative term with Donald Trump looming over everything, but momentum nonetheless, especially with "The New York Times" all but writing a campaign obituary for Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, including quotes from advisers making references to hospice care just wanting to make the patient comfortable. The question for Haley tonight in the next few weeks, can she make the momentum not just relative, but real?

CNN's Eva McKend joins us now from that Haley event in Berlin, New Hampshire. Eva, what is Governor Haley talking about tonight?

EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, first and foremost, she thanked folks for sticking around. She was a bit delayed tonight due to the foggy weather in this state. She emphasized to her supporters here that the north country in New Hampshire -- here in northern New Hampshire -- very important to her and her campaign.

She then launched into talking about her time as governor of South Carolina, talking about how she has the necessary executive leadership experience to be president. She talked about her time at the UN. But really central to her campaign is that she is part of this new generation of conservative leadership and that not only can she confront Trump in this primary, that she can go on to beat President Biden in a general election.

You mentioned that Chris Sununu endorsement. That is really pivotal here, the governor extremely popular. He is not with her this evening, but he is going to be with her during a slew of stops in the state tomorrow.

BERMAN: Yes. So, important for Nikki Haley is the New Hampshire primary. Important, too, if not central, not New Hampshire or bust for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, what's he been saying, Eva, about calls for him to drop out?

MCKEND: Yes, john. Out just this evening, a new ad from Chris Christie, where he is telling folks that he is not going to drop out of this race. I think it's really telling that he felt the need in a direct-to-camera ad to address these concerns. But that really speaks to the anxieties among some Republicans to coalesce around a single Trump alternative.

But in true Christie fashion -- you know his style well -- he's saying he's not going anywhere. He is going the distance here. I don't know if -- oh, okay, I think Haley is a little bit mad at us right now that we're being a little bit too loud. So, I'm going to wrap up here, John. But yes, Christie says he's not going to go anywhere. He's going to be campaigning aggressively in this state as well this week.

BERMAN: Eva McKend whispering at a Nikki Haley event in Berlin, New Hampshire. We'll let you get back to covering that event quietly. Thanks so much, Eva. We do appreciate it.

We'll get back to Republican politics in just a minute. In the meantime, president and Mrs. Biden left Washington today for the Virgin Islands, their last vacation before their campaign really gets going after New Year's.

And while they're gone, senators who are have also left town, will be meeting virtually, trying to hammer out new border legislation. I want you to take a look at this. We have pictures today from Eagle Pass, Texas, as part of a Border Patrol sector, where the number of migrants apprehended is down somewhat but still running in the thousands per day.

Both Secretary of State Antony Blinken and DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas travelled to Mexico City today to try to get more help from their Mexican counterparts, including try to move migrants south from border areas.


CNN's Kevin Liptak, following President Biden, is in St. Croix for us tonight. Kevin, why don't you give us a sense of what happened in the meetings in Mexico City today.

KEVIN LIPTAK, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes. We do know that these officials entered these talks with a set of very specific asks for the Mexican government, as they look to kind of pull every lever that they possibly can to curb the flow of migrants at the southern border. One of them was trying to move these migrants further south in an effort to kind of decongest the US southern border.

Another step that they were looking for is trying to have better control over the railways in Mexico. These are the lines that migrants take from Central and South America through Mexico to the US southern border. And then the third thing was trying to come up with incentives, like visas, that would allow some of these migrants to remain in Mexico before crossing into the United States.

And I think when you look at the make-up of this delegation, these are cabinet-level officials, Secretary of State Blinken, the homeland security secretary. It really does go to show just how urgently the Biden administration is looking for some solutions to this problem. They do feel that there is more and there can be more to be done on the diplomatic front. And certainly, President Biden is highly aware this will be a central issue in next year's presidential election -- John.

BERMAN: Kevin, what has the Mexican president been saying about all of this?

LIPTAK: Yes, and this is so interesting because when you talk to Biden administration officials, they do feel like they have a good partner in President Lopez Obrador. There have been some differences with Biden, but on this issue, they do feel like they have an understanding.

But it was interesting. Before Blinken arrived in Mexico City, the Mexican president came out and said that the real thing that could help is more American assistance to Latin America, instead of -- as he put it -- putting up barriers, barbed wire fences, or thinking about building walls. And the other interesting thing I thought that he said was he made a reference to next year's election. He said that the interest in this immigration issue will intensify. And I think that shows you, John, he understands he has some leverage here with President Biden, who is dealing with both the left and the right, as he is kind of in a squeeze on this most intractable issue in American politics.

I think when you talk to both sides, there is a general agreement that the only way that these scenes at the border are going to be resolved is if Congress actually changes the rules. What President Biden wants to do in the coming year is apply pressure on Republicans to get some of those rules changed. Of course, he is under pressure from progressives as well who are worry what he might agree to, whether some of those rule changes could amount to the most restrictive policies we saw under President Trump. But certainly, it's an issue that's not going away anytime soon -- John.

BERMAN: Kevin Liptak in St. Croix. Kevin, keep us posted. Thank you very much.

In a moment, more on the campaign that awaits the president, including the age factor. We're going to get to that in the most unusual way. First, though, more on the Republican primary, where the first votes are now less than three weeks away.

With us now, Axios Senior Contributor Margaret Talev, also from the right and left, respectively, CNN Senior Political Commentator Scott Jennings, and Democratic Strategist James Carville, cohost of the "Politics War Room" podcast.

And, Margaret, I want to start with you. We were looking at Nikki Haley at an event in Berlin, New Hampshire. And over the last few months, this has been a battle to be the Trump alternative. And that battle over the last weeks and months has been really a two-person race between Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley. To what extent is it still a two-person race to be the Trump alternative or has it turned into just Haley or bust?

MARGARET TALEV, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, right now it's a three-person race, and it's a race to see whether Nikki Haley can eclipse Ron DeSantis and move him out of the way, and then whether she can come close enough to Trump, perform above expectations in a way that makes a difference and changes the fundamental dynamics of what all the polling tells us this race is.

And, you know, John, when you look at Iowa, of course, that will be the first contest. Those are caucuses, so they're a little bit different. We can persuade right up until the end in a much more direct fashion. But even so, history certainly suggests that it's all but impossible to stop Trump in Iowa. He's been 30 points or more ahead in the polling, but Nikki Haley has been very close to catching Ron DeSantis. There's no history that shows that a candidate who's 30 points ahead can then go on to lose the Iowa caucuses.

New Hampshire is different. New Hampshire has been this, kind of, second chance state. Think about Bill Clinton. He wore that mantle of the comeback kid after actually coming in second in New Hampshire. But that second-place finish really surpassed expectations for him and gave him new life and, also, a weaker than expected showing in New Hampshire.

You got to go back some decades, but has really impacted perceived -- presumptive nominees or frontrunners, you know, in the case of Harry Truman and Lyndon Johnson. I know this seems like ancient history, but very poor showing. New Hampshire showed they were in trouble.


And Donald Trump did so well in New Hampshire in the last two primary contests, again, with GOP primary voters that a weaker showing in New Hampshire and a strong showing by Nikki Haley may be the only hope she has, but is a strategy her -- worth her pursuing right now. And that's what you see her doing.

BERMAN: James Carville, I have to ask you. I see the little smirk on your face right there. You might remember 1992 when Bill Clinton finished second to Paul Tsongas, favorite son of Lowell Massachusetts in the New Hampshire primary. And you said and others said it made Bill Clinton the comeback kid. Can New Hampshire do that for anyone in the Republican race this time?

JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: You know, first of all, think about (inaudible) 32 years later, the fatigue and freezing was the dominant emotion I went through.

You have to remember New Hampshire is not that relevant. Why do I say that? It's an open primary. Independents can vote. It produces an entirely different result than when only Republicans can vote. You need to look at the 2000 primaries with then-Governor Bush and Senator McCain.

So, Nikki Haley is going to have her best night in New Hampshire. Once she gets to South Carolina, it's close. Only Republicans can vote.

Scott would know this better than I do. I think Michigan is open. She'll do better in open primaries than closed primaries. But you can't win. I don't think you can win that nomination without doing really well in closed primaries, but I would defer to Scott's opinion on that.

BERMAN: Scott?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I think he's exactly right. I mean, at this point, Haley and Christie in New Hampshire are begging independents and Democrats to cross over into the Republican primary.

Obviously, you can't do that in Iowa. You can't do that in a lot of states. Some are open, but not very many.

And so, I think Mr. Carville is absolutely correct. And I think if you level set here, Trump sitting at 60% plus nationally in the polling averages, he looks like he's romping in Iowa. If he does -- and Ron DeSantis has a poor night in Iowa -- what does he do? He might drop out.

Well, if he does, those people, some of them are going to Donald Trump. So, even consolidation from the field coming out of Iowa might actually help Trump, even in New Hampshire, where he's facing down Nikki Haley.

And then, of course, when they head onto Nevada, Trump's very strong there. They go to South Carolina, you know, Nikki Haley will have some choices to make at that point about facing down Donald Trump in her home state, where he is dominant in the polling.

One thing I would say, if somebody totally beats expectations -- let's say Ron DeSantis gets within five points in Iowa -- he will jump over expectations, or if Haley beats DeSantis in Iowa, or if Haley gets close to Trump or beats Trump in New Hampshire, that can create almost immediate shifts in the polling moving forward. But if Trump were to win by significant margins in the first two states, I think this thing is academic at that point.

BERMAN: Scott, since you brought it up, let me ask you. You brought up Ron DeSantis, and I think a lot of jaws are still on the floor after "The New York Times" piece over the weekend, which had quotes from advisers talking about hospice care with Ron DeSantis, you know, keeping the patient comfortable in these last few days.

You talk about him beating expectations. But what number do you think, in Iowa, might force him from the race, might get him to quit even before New Hampshire?

JENNINGS: Well, given Trump's polling lead, I would think if someone got within single-digits of Trump, that would be a pretty big night. I mean, that would be beating expectations pretty significantly.

If Donald Trump wins by double-digits, that's a big night for him. And as was suggested by Margaret, he's so far ahead in Iowa. The history would tell us that nobody has ever lost, at this point, being this far ahead in the polling.

I mean, it's possible Donald Trump could score the biggest competitive Iowa caucus victory ever in the Republican Party's history coming up in January. That's going to be a huge news night for him and provide him with momentum coming out of it.

But for DeSantis, it's always been Iowa or bust. That's where the voters are most likely to buy into his kind of politics, at least in the early states. That's where they've invested a ton in the ground game. And they think they're well organized. So for him, keep the ball bouncing. Single digits is where I'm at on it.

BERMAN: And, Margaret, quickly, if Trump manages to win both Iowa and New Hampshire, is that it? Game over?

TALEV: I mean, it's hard to see how the momentum breaks for any other candidate where that's the case. And to Scott and James' points earlier, New Hampshire is the best chance to kind of break conventional wisdom for a breakthrough candidate. If someone like a Nikki Haley couldn't do it there, it's hard to see how it could happen.

BERMAN: And, James, Eva McKend was talking about Chris Christie, this new -- I guess, it's a seven-figure ad buy, which is hard to believe in New Hampshire, where he's basically just saying he's mad that people are asking him to drop out. Let's take a quick look at that.


CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), FORMER NEW JERSERY GOVERNOR: Some people say I should drop out of this race. Really? I'm the only one saying Donald Trump is a liar.



BERMAN: What do you think of that, James?

CARVILLE: Well, I know Governor Christie. You don't get elected republican governor of New Jersey two times without having some kind of street smarts. I think he just hates Trump. I think as long as he can get a microphone and attack him, I think this is a cathartic advice. I think he views this as some level of political hygiene as much as him running for president.

But I'm putting thoughts in another person's mind. But I think I'm pretty close to the bull's eye here. He's going to chase this guy around as long as he can, I think.

BERMAN: Since you're talking about street smarts, James, I want to shift gears to the Democratic side here. Pennsylvania Senator John Fetterman did an interview with "Politico," where he talked about you. He said that you need to shut the blank up. And what he's talking about is you've been warning Democrats about President Biden's chances for re-election.

Fetterman went on to say, "I don't know why he," you, "believes it's helpful to say these kinds of things about an incredibly difficult circumstance with an incredibly strong and decent and excellent president." I think he also went on to say -- question how relevant you've been since grunge. Those were his exact words there. So what's your reaction to Senator Fetterman?

CARVILLE: I think the guy is just trying to be relevant. I mean, Josh Shapiro drug him across the finish line. And I don't take much offense to it. I would remind him the law of the swamp is that gnats do not fool with cottonmouths. But if he wants to get on TV by saying something about me, you got to tell all of these Democrats have asked me to come in and campaign for them and send out fundraising appeals to -- I'll be glad if he has a staff call me. I will give them the names and he can send out to the fundraising appeals instead of me and see how well he does.

BERMAN: What about the substance of what he said?

CARVILLE: Well, I mean, I would say the polls are not very good for President Biden. It's like saying it's raining outside. If it's raining, it's raining. What does he expect me to do? To go on and to say we built an insurmountable lead?

Again, I don't -- I just think the guy is trying to get his name in the paper, and that's okay. I can deal with that, too. It's not a major thing, but I think that's what he's up to. But I don't know what he'd have me do, go on this program and lie to you and tell you that we're 10 points up when we're not? I don't quite understand what -- where he's coming from. But if he wants to explain himself further, let him go ahead and explain himself further.

BERMAN: Anything that President Biden and the Biden campaign has done recently that's made you change your mind about their prospects?

CARVILLE: Well, I mean, the economic numbers continue to get better, the Michigan consumer confidence numbers up. I don't -- but I don't know if President Biden's age has just has an opaque fact to that. People are not going to look beyond that.

But right now, the numbers are not very impressive. I'm sorry, they're just not. I don't know what else I can say about them.

I guess the hope is is that Trump gets an illegal morass and the economy takes the momentum and somehow, you know, that we pull this out. But as of right now, the polling has not been impressive for the last year at least. It's not though.

BERMAN: All right. James Carville, thank you very much. Margaret Talev, Scott Jennings, thanks to both of you as well.

You know, the point that James was making right there, some new polling that breaks down President Biden's job approval by age group is from NPR, PBS, and Marist College, and it shows that President Biden is weakest among gen-Xers. That's Americans born between 1965 and 1980, just 34% job approval with them.

He does best, 50% approval with baby boomers, and nearly as well with the oldest demographic, born prior to or just after the Second World War.

You know, our Gary Tuchman today spoke with members of that group. Some are as old as the president, some are older, some are way older. And the question he asked, Gary did, was about age.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): About 1,300 people live in Surf City, New Jersey, and the Jersey shore. And most everyone knows Francis Hodgson.


TUCHMAN (voice over): The 91-year-old mayor, who just won reelection, says he feels as sharp and confident as he ever has as Surf City's leader. But ...

TUCHMAN (on camera): Do you think Joe Biden is mentally competent enough to serve another term?


TUCHMAN (voice over): We spent time with the Republican mayor and six other residents who range in ages from 72 to 100. All are Republicans, except this one Democrat. But opinions do vary about Joe Biden.

HODGSON: I've seen him on TV where he's talking, and all of a sudden he just wanders off into something else or just skips it.

TUCHMAN (voice over): Bill Willem is 100 years old and agrees with his mayor.

BILL WILLEM, REPUBLICAN SURF CITY RESIDENT: He's done an awful lot of things in public, made an awful lot of mistakes. And it's been brought in the news often. No, I don't think the man is capable of doing the job.

TUCHMAN (voice over): But Suzanne Gilbert (ph) feels differently. She's the same age as the president.


TUCHMAN (on camera): Is he mentally capable of another term in the White House?


TUCHMAN (on camera): And why do you think that?

GILBERT: Because I am 81 and I think I am.

TUCHMAN (voice over): Democrat Stanley Lerman is 82 and is very comfortable with Joe Biden's competency.

STANLEY LERMAN, REPUBLICAN SURF CITY RESIDENT: I think he has a wealth of experience. He sat behind Obama. He's been around for a long time and he knows how to pick a staff.

TUCHMAN (voice over): Barbara Russell is 89 and feels Joe Biden is too old to be president again. But there's also this.

TUCHMAN (on camera): Do you think Donald Trump is too old to be president?


TUCHMAN (on camera): And tell me why.

RUSSELL: Because I think he has issues -- health issues and mental health issues that preclude him.

RUSSELL: Barbara's husband Jim is 92. Regarding President Biden.

TUCHMAN (voice over): Barbara's husband, Jim, is 92 and a Surf City councilman for about two decades. Regarding President Biden ... JIM RUSSELL, REPUBLICAN SURF CITY COUNCILMAN: He should realize the fact that he's -- you know, he's -- I'm going to stay "losing it," but I don't think he has the capabilities of doing the job that the president requires.

TUCHMAN (on camera): Do you feel the same way about Donald Trump?

RUSSELL: Very much so.

TUCHMAN (voice over): But the youngest senior in our group, 72-year- old John Franzoni, disagrees with those Trump sentiments.

JOHN FRANZONI, REPUBLICAN SURF CITY RESIDENT: I think the guy is near the top of his game, regardless of his age.

TUCHMAN (voice over): Republicans dominated in Surf City. But 100 miles north of New York City, that's certainly not the case. Pat Still is 78.

TUCHMAN (on camera): Do you think Joe Biden might be too old for a second term because of cognition issues?

PAT STILL, DEMOCRATIC NEW YORK CITY RESIDENT: I certainly don't think that cognition is a problem for Joe Biden. It's a problem for Donald Trump.

TUCHMAN (voice over): Evan Janovic is 89.

EVAN JANOVIC, DEMOCRATIC NEW YORK CITY RESIDENT: His experience surpasses anybody else that even is considering running for president.

TUCHMAN (voice over): But this Democrat 87-year-old Fran Lifson has a different take on Joe Biden.

FRAN LIFSON, DEMOCRATIC NEW YORK CITY RESIDENT: I think, at some point, you just -- you don't think as clearly and you don't speak as clearly, and you're not as sharp as you were. I know it with myself, although I'm older than him.

TUCHMAN (voice over): Back in Surf City, we asked about presidential candidate Nikki Haley's proposal to have mandatory mental competency tests for politicians over 75. 100-year-old Bill Willem's opinion was shared by many we talked with.

WILLEM: It wouldn't be a bad idea at any age really, honestly, I mean, judging from what we're getting anymore.


BERMAN: And very young Gary Tuchman is here with me now tonight. Gary, so the 91-year-old mayor, who thinks that President Biden is too old, the 91-year-old mayor, how long does he plan to stay in office?

TUCHMAN: Well, firstly, I will tell you he was just re-elected to another term -- another four-year term -- gets sworn in next week. He's been mayor, city councilman, and other jobs within the city government now for 60 years since 1963. So when I asked him what his plans are in the future, the next mayoral election four years from now, when he's 95 years old, he told me, if I feel good, no reason why I won't run again.

BERMAN: Okay. So seems to be a selective issue for him, the whole age thing.

Gary Tuchman (inaudible). Thank you so much.

Next, Michigan's top election official on today's court ruling that says, unlike in Colorado, the former president's name stays on the 2024 primary ballot. And speaking of Colorado, we have some breaking news just minutes ago on that.

And later, a CNN investigation investigates dogfighting, which may be forgotten, but is sadly very far from gone.



BERMAN: No holiday this week in the almost countless civil, criminal, and constitutional cases involving the former president. And breaking news to prove it, Colorado's Republican primary, just moments ago, asked the Supreme Court to overturn the State Supreme Court ruling that removed Trump from the ballot, caps the day, which also included Michigan Supreme Court keeping Trump on the ballot there, and a new filing by Special Counsel Jack Smith.

CNN's Jessica Schneider joins us with much more on all of this. First, tell us more about what the Colorado Republican Party just did, this appeal.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John. So the Colorado GOP, they're a party in this case, so they say they've just appealed to the US Supreme Court.

We do expect Donald Trump's legal team to follow suit soon, probably in the coming days. But what this filing guarantees in the short-term is it guarantees that Donald Trump's name will, in fact, be on the primary ballot in Colorado because, remember, the State Supreme Court here ruled that he should be taken off the ballot for engaging in insurrection, but they paused their decision -- their ruling to give time to the US Supreme Court to consider whether to hear this case.

The Supreme Court will likely hear this case. But since primary ballots have to be certified January 5th, next Friday, this appeal basically guarantees the ballots will have to be printed with Trump's name on it.

So now, John, the question becomes, you know, does the Supreme Court hear this case? They likely will because of this major constitutional question. But how quickly, also, will they hear the case?

And when they do hear the case, you know, will they end up dodging the ultimate issue here about how to interpret the 14th Amendment? You know, some are saying they might decide on really a procedural issue, something like the Michigan Supreme Court did, just saying that maybe this isn't for the courts to decide and is, instead, a political question. So a lot still hangs in the balance when it comes to the 14th Amendment and Trump on the ballot.

BERMAN: Yes, we'll get to that constitutional issue in just a second with the Michigan Secretary of State. In the meantime ...


BERMAN: ... Special Counsel Jack Smith has filed a motion seeking to block Donald Trump from making certain comments in court in his upcoming election subversion trial. What's in that filing?

SCHNEIDER: Yes, Jack Smith and his team really trying to get ahead of what seems to be Trump's penchant for making comments about any court case that he's involved with. So what they're asking the court to do is to prohibit Donald Trump from saying a number of things that they believe could prejudice the jury once they go to trial. That includes they want to bar Trump's, you know, repeated claims that the Biden administration somehow directed this case against him for political reasons.

Jack Smith and his team are putting this into the filing. They're saying, "The Court should not permit the defendant to turn the courtroom into a forum in which he propagates irrelevant disinformation, and should reject his attempt to inject politics into this proceeding."

And really, John, this filing from Jack Smith's team is also notable because all of the proceedings right now, they're on hold, they're on pause, while the DC Circuit Court of Appeals considers this immunity argument. They'll hear the case on January 9th.

But despite it being on pause, Smith's team is continuing to file with the lower court, the trial court because Jack Smith's team is trying to preserve that March 4th trial start date. It looks like they probably won't start on March 4th, but Jack Smith is doing all he can -- he and his team can to keep that on track.

BERMAN: And, Jessica, quickly, you did mention the Michigan can. The Supreme Court there made a decision to keep Donald Trump on the state's Republican primary ballot. What exactly did the court take into account, and how did it differ from the Colorado case?


SCHNEIDER: Yeah, the Michigan decision, it really wasn't as monumental as the Colorado Supreme Court case because, in Colorado, the justices there really weighed in on the meat of the issue. You know, the 14th Amendment, what it means, why it excludes Trump from the ballot in their view. Instead, what the Michigan Supreme Court did today, they wrote a really short order and they said that they stood by what the lower courts had done in dismissing the case. They concluded that this was really just a political question about whether the 14th Amendment applies to Trump. It should be decided by political bodies, by Congress. And you know, as I mentioned before, that's a lot of what legal scholars are saying, as what the U.S. Supreme Court actually might do. They might not rule on the ultimate issue here. They might just dismiss this, saying it isn't the job for the courts to decide if Trump violated this 14th Amendment. Instead it's a political decision.

So, that what we saw from the Michigan Supreme Court. But, we're seeing all these courts weigh in. So, the U.S. Supreme Court will likely have to weigh in before the general election here.

BERMAN: Jessica Schneider, no holiday for you, a very busy night. Thank you so much for all of that.

SCHNEIDER: Thanks, John.

BERMAN: With us now, Michigan's top election official, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. Secretary Benson, I want to ask your reaction to this decision by the Michigan Supreme Court today.

JOCELYN BENSON, (D) SECRETARY OF STATE OF MICHIGAN: Well, thanks for having me. I actually agree with the decision. It's what I've said for months now. The authority of my office is limited in this moment to ensuring that individuals who are generally advocated by the national news media to be potential presidential candidates are on the ballot. That's what our state law says.

And ultimately, this is coming down to not just a question on the merits of whether or not Donald Trump is qualified under the constitution to serve, but also who should decide and when should that decision be made. Is the primary too soon? Should it be if and when he's nominated in the general election? So, all of those are squarely in the purview of the court set aside and ultimately, I believe, will be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

BERMAN: OK. So, if the Supreme Court does weigh in here -- and you've written I think, basically, that you hope that they do -- what do you want them to answer? What questions do you want them to answer, specifically with regards to the 14th Amendment and the issue of insurrection?

BENSON: I want them to deliver a substantive decision on the merit, sooner rather than later, that clearly sets the expectation as to whether or not under the 14th Amendment Donald Trump is qualified to serve as president again. I don't want them to kick this to Congress. I don't want them to kick this down the line because voters need clarity. Election officials and administrators need clarity, and the Republican Party needs clarity as we move forward into this election year.

BERMAN: That will depend on if they do what you ask on whether or not the Supreme Court thinks that Donald Trump engaged in or aided those who engaged in insurrection. And you well know that some critics of the Colorado Supreme Court decision do note that Donald Trump has never been explicitly charged with insurrection as part of these criminal cases. How much does that matter?

BENSON: Yeah. You know, like I say this not as just as the Chief Election Officer of the State of Michigan, but as the former Dean of a law school and Election Law Professor and someone who was a witness in Michigan to the actual attempts to subvert the will of the voters in our state and in other battleground states. All of that said, I recognize that there are a lot of nuances and facts yet to be determined in how we define, legally define insurrection and aiding and abetting, and the facts of Trump's involvement in all those things.

When you have that much ambiguity, the U.S. Supreme Court's job is to resolve that for the country. So that's the direction we are headed in. That's where we should be headed. And what we need the U.S. Supreme Court to do is to answer those questions, to do their jobs in that regard, so that all of us can have appropriate clarity and forfeit (ph) appropriately.

BERMAN: So, in opinion, the Michigan case kind of left the door open, really dealt with the primary, right? It left the door open to future legal action. If he becomes the Republican nominee for the general election ballot, do you expect another suit in the general election, if Trump is the nominee?

BENSON: I do. Look, the U.S. Supreme Court does not make a decision on the merits prior to the general -- the nomination process in the summer. If they do not make a decision on the merits by then, then we do expect as Justice Welch's dissenting opinion suggests that litigants will bring forth another action if Donald Trump receives his party's nomination or runs as an independent candidate. And that's why, to me, it's all the more important that the Supreme Court settle this sooner rather than later, so that we don't see another round of this uncertainty, as we go into the fall's general election.

BERMAN: Are voters saying anything about this? Do you hear from them at all?

BENSON: Yes. Voters hold very strong opinions on both sides on this. In the months since this has been injected into our conversation and these legal theories have been weighed, our office has received threats on both sides, frankly, from people who feel very strongly either Donald Trump should be or should not be on the ballot.

All along, I've just tried to be clear that my job as the referee in this process is to say the proper determining body under this state law in Michigan is our Supreme Court.


BENSON: And that's what all the courts have also affirmed. So, well, as an elected official, you always want to be able to serve and provide clarity for citizens. Here our clarity comes from the law, and it does mean we move forward probably making everyone upset. But ultimately, I hope as voters, citizens take seriously their role in this 2024 election cycle to channel their opinions about this and other matters into the ballot box and how they vote. BERMAN: No one cheers for the referee, which as I'm sure you know at this point.


BERMAN: Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, thank you very much for being with us.

BENSON: Thanks for having me.

BERMAN: All right. Coming up, a CNN investigation into the underground world of dog fighting, how a vicious, disturbing practice thought to be in decline is now thriving.


BERMAN: We have a CNN investigation into the brutal, bloody practice of dog fighting. It was thought to have been on the ebb after it became a federal felony back in 2007. It's back now. In the shadows, but growing, thanks to the internet, where hundreds of thousands of dollars may change hands in a single match. Our Isabel Rosales rode along with officials as they made one of their biggest single-day busts ever. We do want to warn you, some of the images of the dogs you are about to see, they are disturbing.


ISABEL ROSALES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's pitch black outside a South Carolina church. At the ready are dozens of armed law enforcement officers.


ROSALES (voice-over): Today, they're seizing fighting dogs. Behind them...

JANE TAYLOR, CHIEF OF THE CRIMINAL DIVISION, and U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE: I'm definitely anxious. I'm always anxious to see the dogs.

ROSALES (voice-over): We ride along with the federal prosecutor overseeing the criminal case.

TAYLOR: It's heart breaking. I get very emotional.

ROSALES (voice-over): Emotional because of how vicious dog fighting is, made all the more clear in court documents. Dogs who have been fought may have scars, puncture wounds, swollen faces, or mangled ears. In one case, prosecutors say an owner killed his dog by hanging it and authorities found this contraption made from jumper cables, allegedly used to electrocute dogs inside the home of a Pentagon employee.

This CNN exclusive video, evidence from a closed case, shows two dogs getting ready to fight. The illegal sport has spiked federal interest. Last year, officials seized roughly 400 dogs from suspected fighting rings, more than in any other year since at least 2007, according to a CNN review of civil forfeitures. Jane Taylor tells me she was a life- long narcotics prosecutor until she first saw the injuries on fighting dogs.

TAYLOR: I had a case where we had a wiretap and we were listening to the calls of the individuals involved in drugs, and we started hearing a lot of conversations about dogs and dog fighting.

ROSALES (voice-over): We arrived at the first of five homes.

ROSALES: What sort of things are you on the lookout for when you enter a property?

ELLE KLEIN, ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY, DISTRICT OF SOUTH CAROLINA: I'm looking at the conditions of the dogs themselves. I'm looking for any sort of scarring, any fresh wounds. And then I'm also looking for what I'll call dog fighting paraphernalia.

ROSALES (voice-over): Like these treadmills to make the dogs stronger and faster. And...

TAYLOR: Something called spring poles where the dogs are used to jump up and they latch on. So it is to strengthen their jaws.

ROSALES (voice-over): Experts say dogs are often tied down with heavy chains and weighted collars to increase their strength.

Some dog fighters inject their animals with drugs or vitamins to increase aggression. And before a big fight, some fighting dogs are starved to keep them in their weight class, like a boxer. Tucked away in this wooded area, federal agents find the first of roughly 120 pit bulls that would be seized in what will turn out to be South Carolina's second largest single-day seizure of fighting dogs ever, say investigators. They're photographed and loaded into trailers to get medical care and shelter.

MAJOR FRANK O'NEAL, SOUTH CAROLINA LAW ENFORCEMENT DIVISION: When we go onto a property, they'll wag their tail because they haven't had any interaction, I mean friendly interaction.

ROSALES (voice-over): Major Frank O'Neal with the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division.

O'NEAL: They've been abused by the owner and a fighting dog. It just breaks your heart.

KLEIN: People are making a lot of money off of this. My opinion, even $1 is too much to be making money off of this.

ROSALES (voice-over): And there are plenty of ways to get paid. According to court documents, in South Carolina, participants paid $200,000 to have their animals fight against a top dog. Another fighting dog won over $50,000. The owner of a champion dog can make even more money on semen, stud fees and puppies. O'NEAL: Many of them are drug traffickers because they have to fund gambling of these dogs and these dogs are very expensive. They are going to have weapon and if we haven't already arrested them, the chances are we will arrest them in another arena.

ROSALES (voice-over): Inside this home, officers find several guns. The homeowner declined to speak with CNN. Federal agents pack up and head to the next house.

KLEIN: We're about 20 minutes out. They say it's about 12 dogs.

ROSALES (voice-over): Dog fighting became a felony at the federal level back in 2007. The maximum sentence a suspect can face is five years in federal prison. Meanwhile, for the animals, experts say that some dogs are too aggressive to rehabilitate, but others can be adopted and get a second chance at life.

Isabel Rosales, CNN, Atlanta.


BERMAN: Amazing story.

Just ahead, a story that can't be called anything else but a miracle, a man trapped in his car for almost a week unable to move or call for help, was rescued by sheer luck when two fishermen happened to randomly spot his car in a distance. The story of his incredible rescue next.



BERMAN: Tonight, a miraculous story of survival. A man was trapped in his truck for nearly a week, unable to move after an accident. He was on the brink of death, no one could see or hear him. Then a phenomenal thing happened. CNN's Athena Jones has the story.


SGT. GLEN FIFELD, INDIANA STATE POLICE: Quite frankly, it's a miracle that he's alive.

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A Christmas miracle in Porter County, Indiana. Matt Reum found alive in his mangled truck, six days after a crash that left him trapped. The wreckage under a bridge of Interstate 94 (inaudible), east of the town of Portage, was not visible from the road. Fortunately for Reum, Mario Garcia and his son-in-law Nivardo Delatorre were out scouting locations for fishing near a creek Tuesday, when they spotted something shiny.

MARIO GARCIA, FOUND MAN WHO WAS STUCK IN HIS CAR FOR SIX DAYS: It caught our curiosity. I looked inside and moved the white airbag, and he -- there was a body in there. And I went to touch it, and he turned around. And that just -- it almost killed me there because it was, kind of, shocking. But he was alive and he was very happy to see us.

JONES (voice-over): The badly injured man later telling authorities he had not been able to reach his cell phone to call for help.

GARCIA: He mentioned he had been there since last Wednesday. So, he's been there for awhile and he says he tried yelling and screaming, but nobody would hear him. It was just quiet, just the sound of the water.

JONES (voice-over): Authorities closed the westbound lanes of I-94 near the site Tuesday afternoon, while crews worked to free Reum. He was transported to the hospital by helicopter. It is not clear what caused the crash, but police say it appears Reum was driving westbound and ran off the road, traveling along the grass shoulder, before going airborne down into the creek, where authorities believe his car rolled over several times and landed under the bridge, where it was partially submerged.

GARCIA: I don't see any way somebody could have seen him. It was just very fortunate that we have seen through the cracks of the woods the shiny of the wreck and curiosity that took us over there.

FIFELD: This is a miracle that this gentleman is alive today, and that these two gentlemen just happened to be on that creek today.

JONES (voice-over): Another lucky break, relatively mild weather. Temperatures in Porter County since December 21st ran from a high of 59 degrees to a low of 29 degrees.

FIFELD: We've been lucky enough here this Christmas season that our temperatures have been, as y'all know, above normal. So, that was working in this individual's favor. It's cold tonight, and I don't believe that he would have made it through the night tonight.


JONES (voice-over): Reum has several broken bones and injuries to his legs that could require surgery, according to his Labor Union and a GoFundMe page set up to help with the cost of his recovery.


JONES (voice-over): A happy ending made possible by two men who were in the right place at the right time.

DELATORRE: For me, it was the first time going there. So, like, it was just -- we were put there for a reason.


BERMAN: Yeah, a miracle. And Athena Jones is with me now. So, how is the man doing tonight?

JONES: Well, he is in critical condition in the hospital. He is asking for privacy for himself, for his family, for his friends while he processes everything he went through since last Wednesday, nearly a week, as we pointed out. He says he knows he has a story to tell but he is not ready to tell it yet. When he is, he will. Until then, he wanted to share this message. The message is, "No matter how tough things are, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Sometimes, in the least expected way."

BERMAN: Wow! All right. Well, wishing the best of luck to him in his (ph) healing.

JONES: Remarkable.

BERMAN: All right. Athena, thank you so much.

Still ahead, the Detroit Pistons made NBA history last night, just not the way they hoped. Details next.



BERMAN: So, it's difficult for a two-win season to get much worse. But the NBA's Detroit Pistons are now owners of the longest single-season losing streak in league history. After their 118-to-112 defeat by the Brooklyn Nets last night, their losing streak is now a 27 straight games. And frankly, it could actually get worse. One more loss and they tie the NBA's overall record losing streak, which was over two seasons, 28 games.

That next game tomorrow night, against the Boston Celtics, the best team in history and the best team in the NBA right now.


BERMAN: And the game is in Boston. All right. Our favorite senior data reporter is with me now to talk about just how bad this all is. Harry Enten, I feel badly for the Pistons right now...


BERMAN: ...that they are having a season like this. But the fact of the matter is, Detroit has some experience with record losing.

ENTEN: They absolutely do. Beyond the Pistons, think about the Lions who a few years ago won exactly zero games in a season, or talk about the Detroit Tigers who about 20 years ago, lost in American League record amount of games. So this has been a century that has been awful for Detroit. As I said during that intro, bless their hearts.

BERMAN: One thing that's interesting is the Pistons historically are actually a pretty good team. They have got what, three NBA titles, which is -- ranks them like fifth or sixth in the all time list of titles. But it's gotten so bad for them in term of stream with team who never win. Where do they fall?

ENTEN: Yeah. I mean, look, if you were a Cardinal fan, if you have been following the Arizona Cardinals since they were the St. Louis Cardinals, since they were the Chicago Cardinals, they haven't won an NFL title since 1947. Charley Trippi returned to punt for a touchdown in that championship game, I believe he is the only player ever to return to punt for a touchdown in a Super Bowl or NFL champion game.

Or think about the Cleveland Guardians who haven't won a world series since 1948. Or how about the Sacramento Kings, who the last time they won an NBA title back in the early 1950s, they were the Rochester Royals. If I get to bring up the Rochester Royals during a segment, you know we are talking about a really long time ago.

BERMAN: Rochester Royals, some (ph) obscure stuff right there. All right. I am a Red Sox fan. They had an incredible drought, not lately.

ENTEN: Yeah.

BERMAN: They've won four World Series this century. And your Bills man, not doing well.

ENTEN: No, no. The Buffalo Bills have never won a Super Bowl. But I swear this is going to be the year, John. The Bills have never won a Super Bowl, but I have real faith. You mentioned your Boston Red Sox. When I was a kid, it was the Red Sox the curse of the bambino. They didn't win a World Series title between 1908 and 2003. They finally broke it in 2004, right? So, we are used to losing. Our heart goes out to those fine folks in Detroit and maybe they will win a game soon up, maybe even tomorrow night.

BERMAN: Maybe. Here is pulling for Detroit. All right. That is a tough story, Harry. One of the worst sports stories of the year. But we can't end the program like that. So here are some of the best sports stories of the year. Here is Tom Foreman.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In sports, the best NFL team was the Kansas City Chiefs who edged out the Philadelphia Eagles in a barn burner.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: This was just two points shy of tying the highest scoring Super Bowl ever.

CHARLOTTE WILDER, HOST, MEADOWLARK MEDIA: And the Rihanna Halftime Show, are you kidding me? She did it pregnant?

WIRE: I think this game, it represented a takeover. With Tom Brady retiring, this was now Patrick Mahomes league.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Breaking news right now, a serious injury on the field during the Buffalo Bills- Cincinnati Bengals game

FOREMAN (voice-over): The best comeback from the worst moment, give that to Buffalo's Damar Hamlin who suffered a terrifying cardiac arrest at the start of the year, but was back on the field this fall.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't think it was possible. FOREMAN (voice-over): In baseball, the Arizona Diamondbacks wriggled into the World Series only to be run over by the Texas Rangers in five games.

BERMAN: The Texas Rangers were really, really good.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When it's not a competitive world series, it's not as much fun.

FOREMAN (voice-over): In the NBA, Laker Lebron James made the best basket, the one that took him past Kareem, Karl, Kobe and Michael to grab the all-time scoring record.

WILDER: The oldest player in the league, he is in his 21st season. That's crazy.

FOREMAN (voice-over): But the best team was the Denver Nuggets, who cooled off the Miami heat to take home the Mile High City's first NBA trophy.

WIRE: Nikola Jokic, star of the show. He became the finals MVP.

FOREMAN (voice-over): And the (inaudible), the Vegas Golden Knights slayed the Florida Panthers to seize the holy grail of hockey, the Stanley Cup.

BERMAN: Makes you think about all the kids who grew up skating on the frozen ponds around Las Vegas and in Florida.

FOREMAN (voice-over): College sports saw the undefeated Georgia Bulldogs grab a second straight football championship.



BERMAN: I know (ph), the frozen ponds of Los Angeles and Florida...

ENTEN: How many times where you in that your segment, John? Was that your segment or Tom's?

BERMAN: Not nearly enough. They cut out some of my best stuff there. But, thankfully, Tom Foreman will have much more, Harry, and thank you very much.