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Trump Urges Oregon Supreme Court to Dismiss 14th Amendment Case; California Secretary of State Keeps Trump on Primary Ballot; Russia Strikes Ukraine with Estimated Largest Air Attack Since The Beginning Of The War; Zelenskyy Urges World To Respond To "Latest Act Of Terror" From Russia. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired December 29, 2023 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: Tonight on "360," the former president makes a late move in his battle with states to stay on the 2024 ballot. Details on that and what his next big court filings could come.
Also, Russia's worst airstrikes of the war on Ukraine, the civilians targeted, and what America's former top European commander makes of this latest brutal stage of the war.
Plus, we'll take you to the West Coast where surf's up is now an urgent warning and another round of waves, some more than two stories high, is now expected to hit.
Good morning, everyone -- good evening, I should say. John Berman here, in for Anderson. First up tonight, the flurry in soon to be blizzard of new legal developments in what is shaping up to be a history-making fight over kicking the former president off state ballots under the 14th Amendment. This has already divided states, legal scholars, and will almost certainly do the same with the Supreme Court justices.
The newest headline came late today in a Trump court filing in Oregon, and it is, by no means, the only news. CNN's Kristen Holmes starts us off tonight.
Kristen, good evening, not good morning. What's this latest filing and what does it signal for Trump's team and their next steps?
KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, Trump's team unsurprisingly here urging the Oregon Supreme Court to dismiss a 14th Amendment case that they are currently considering. And in the filing, they actually say that they agree with the Democratic secretary of state who had indicated that this case should be tossed out on procedural grounds based on the state's ballot access laws.
Now, because all the motions are in, the Oregon Supreme Court could weigh in at any moment. But in terms of next steps, I am told by a source who is familiar with the planning that Trump's team is going to file both of the appeals in Maine and Colorado on Tuesday. That is what they are expecting to do. Maine, just a reminder, that appeal will be filed to the state court, where the Colorado case, that will be filed to the Supreme Court.
And one thing to point out here, in all of Donald Trump's legal cases, these are the cases -- these ballot cases, that really his team is the most confident about, they always thought it was going to end up at the Supreme Court. And once it did, they believe, at the end of the day, Donald Trump would be on the ballot in all 50 states.
BERMAN: So, how are all these cases factoring into the Trump campaign?
HOLMES: So, as we know, Donald Trump is probably going to do the exact same thing that he has been doing, which is saying that all of these cases are politically motivated, that this is political persecution at the hands of Democrats. However, talking to some of his senior advisers, they believe really truly that these ballot cases could be more politically advantageous than any of his other legal cases. And that's because of what the map looks like.
They are pointing to states that have both Democratic and Republican secretaries of state, who have not wanted to touch this. They're looking at several courts across the country who have not wanted to touch this, saying it's not their role. And then they're looking at the places that have ruled against him, which is Colorado, where the judges are all Democrat appointees.
And also, in Maine, where you have a Democrat Secretary of State, they believe that based on the responses they're getting -- and we've seen them all over the Internet, Republicans saying that this is all political, that voters should be able to decide, and the fact that it's not just Republicans who like Donald Trump, it's people who don't like him.
It's even Democrats saying that they don't think this is a good idea for 2024, that they can use this to their advantage. And that's what you're likely going to see going into the Iowa caucuses.
And the other thing to point out, they like the fact that these ballot cases are putting him on television every single hour, that these battles are sucking away the oxygen from some of these other GOP candidates who are really trying to get their name out there right ahead of these caucuses.
BERMAN: It's what Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley are being asked about ...
BERMAN: ... today. Kristen Holmes, thank you very much.
More now on what happens when all this -- and there certainly could be a lot of it -- gets to the high court. CNN Chief Legal Correspondent Paula Reid is with us now. Paula, so how much more complicated does this make the 2024 election?
PAULA REID, CNN CHIEF LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: They have to weigh in. The justices must weigh in here, John, because, here, this issue could potentially just loom over the 2024 election. We've seen this litigated in over half a dozen states with varying outcomes, right? Maine, Colorado opted to take him off the ballot, while other states, including Minnesota, Michigan, New Hampshire, and Arizona -- even California today -- all opted to include him.
We're still waiting for Oregon. But here, you have to have the Supreme Court weigh in because -- I'll note in states like Michigan, like Minnesota -- the judges in that case did not really get to the merits of the issue, it was more of a procedural victory for Trump. But they left the door open to relitigate all of this in a general election. So if the Supreme Court does not weigh in here, this issue will continue to hang out there and likely spread to other states all the way likely through November.
BERMAN: Yes. Sometimes the Supreme Court likes to avoid controversy, they just can't avoid it completely here. But they can choose what and where to weigh in. And that's what's interesting because there's so many legal issues at play. What are some of them?
REID: You make a great point. They do sometimes like to avoid con controversy, especially controversies related to former President Trump, but this is why we have a Supreme Court. I mean, their whole job is to settle disputes among the states and answer constitutional questions.
And to your question, the Colorado GOP, they have already filed their appeal. And I think they did a nice job of outlining what they want the Supreme Court to weigh in on.
The first question that both former President Trump, when he files his appeals, which are expected next week, and the Republican Party want answered, is does Section 3 of the 14th Amendment apply to presidents? And we've had judges in the same state, specifically Colorado, look at that and come to different conclusions, because that word is not there.
Then if it does apply to presidents, is it the state that is supposed to enforce this or is there a role for Congress? That is another question out there, where intelligent minds disagree.
And lastly, when it comes to the political party itself, they're arguing that they have a First Amendment right to select the candidate of their choosing. So, then there's this other possibility that justices could also weigh in there, that perhaps there is one amendment that conflicts with another one. So, they have a whole menu from which to select. But here, in some way, shape, or form, they really do need to weigh in and give the states and the candidates some clarity here. Otherwise, I mean, this is not only going to be problematic for former President Trump, but for democracy.
BERMAN: You mentioned three major issues there, none of them are whether Donald Trump engaged in insurrection. The Supreme Court may not even rule on that specific question. It'll be interesting to see how they approach it all. Paula Reid, thank you so much. Right. Late last night, as Paula just mentioned, California Secretary
of State went in the opposite direction from Maine, declining to remove the former president from the ballot. This follows public calls from the state's Governor Gavin Newsom to defeat him at the polls, not in the courts. And Secretary of State Shirley Weber from California joins us now.
Madam Secretary, thank you so much for being with us. What did you base your decision on to keep Donald Trump on the primary ballot?
SHIRLEY WEBER (D), CALIFORNIA SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, we based our decision, as we try to always do in California, based on the law, that we don't have the authority to actually remove him from the ballot based on the information that's there. At least the Secretary of State does not.
And we've had a number of cases that have come forward to basically remove him from the ballot. All of them have been dismissed by the courts, some on procedural issues. And we still have some that are coming forward. So, we don't have -- so secretaries of state don't have the authority to actually remove him from the ballot; the courts can.
California is very unique in terms of the authority that it doesn't give to the Secretary of State with regards to who's on the ballot and who's not. We are ruled by California's election code and those laws that govern California's election.
So, we have looked and looked, and we have observed, and we've watched every case that's come out. I have 18 attorneys that are basically focused on this in my office, as well as our attorney-general has been involved with this particular issue over the last few months. And so, we are still looking. We haven't said, oh, it's -- you know, we're going to keep him, quote-unquote, on the ballot. He is listed on the ballot because we don't have the authority yet to take him off the ballot.
And many of those issues that were just discussed are issues that we're looking at. Every state is different. Every state has a different set of rules. We looked at how Maine made their decision based on the rules that were in Maine.
We looked at Colorado. We've been looking at Colorado for a while. Colorado had a different set of rules that they used earlier. But now that they've changed their laws, they were able to use the rules that they have now.
And so, that's the challenge with the secretaries of state is that every state has a set of rules that govern its elections, it governs who's on the ballot, the qualifications, all those kinds of things that are there. And often times, and particularly in California, those decisions are made in the courts and not necessarily in the Secretary of State's office.
BERMAN: Do you believe Donald Trump engaged in insurrection?
WEBER: So, we are in a quandary in California.
BERMAN: Do you believe ...
BERMAN: ... Donald Trump engaged in insurrection?
WEBER: Oh, it's no question in my mind that he engaged in it. He encouraged it. I mean, all the evidence is there. The problem is that we have not had a legislature that has been consistent enough in its statements and its positions to actually deal with that.
He's not been tried for insurrection. The others have, but he's not. And so that, in itself, gives us -- puts us in a position where the Supreme Court has to act.
BERMAN: Do you feel ...
WEBER: It has to take a stand.
BERMAN: I understand that California -- you think California's setup is different than Maine's and Colorado. Do you believe -- and you've looked at all the laws here -- do you believe that any state has the power to remove Donald Trump from the ballot?
WEBER: Well, Colorado believes it does, its Supreme Court did. And we'll see what this -- what the federal courts, I mean, the federal Supreme Court just says concerning it, but Colorado did and believed that it had the authority to do that.
Maine had a different process that it used, and it's had a hearing, and had the authority to basically have a hearing based on some complaints that were filed. And they came to the conclusion that he was engaged in insurrection and, therefore, had the authority to do it.
California doesn't have that process. And as a result, we're dependent on the courts. And we've had cases filed. Many of them have been tossed out on procedural issues much more than anything else.
We still have some that are there. We're still watching closely to see how Colorado will affect us. So we haven't said this is -- you know, that it's the end. We're saying that we are looking for ways in which we can, and we've been looking for the last couple of months.
People think California is this great liberal state that does everything that it wants to do, but it has some very strict guidelines in terms of how it operates in certain areas.
BERMAN: You mentioned this is going to the Supreme Court one way or the other. What specific questions would you like to see the Supreme Court answer?
WEBER: One, I'd like to see them answer whether or not this constitutional provision applies to all states, that when they come out that they come out with a decision that it affects all 50 states because, otherwise, we could have a tremendous amount of chaos with regards to being on certain ballots and not on other ballots and having people challenge the counts because certain states weren't included.
I think they have to decide if this is a federal issue, a national issue that has to be addressed at this point. They need to decide whether or not he has engaged in insurrection. I mean, this is extremely important. I mean, why would you want someone to be president of the United States who spent their time trying to destroy the United States? I mean, no other country would probably tolerate that unless they were engaged in a coup or some kind of revolution.
So, I think those things have to be answered, whether or not it affects all of us in terms of removing him from the ballot, whether or not this is the issue of insurrection and him can be addressed by them. I think there are just an awful lot of things that are left, even the whole issue of whether or not he's immune to any level of prosecution.
I mean, these things are sitting on the floor -- on the desk of the Supreme Court. And these are fundamental issues in democracy -- fundamental issues. These are not just things that pass through. These directly affect who's going to govern and how we're going to be governed. And they need to take a position on these issues.
BERMAN: Madam Secretary, thank you so much. As you say, a complicated set of issues of the most important level. Thank you so much for being with us.
WEBER: Well, thank you for having me on. I appreciate it.
BERMAN: So, so much to discuss tonight with Axios Senior Contributor Margaret Talev, CNN Political Commentator and former Trump Campaign Adviser David Urban, also joining us CNN Legal Analyst and former Deputy Assistant Attorney General Elliot Williams.
Margaret, I want to start with you. Colorado says, yes, they're keeping Trump off the ballot. Maine says, yes. California you just heard says, I would if I could, but I can't because I don't have the power. How does that clear things up heading into the 2024 election?
MARGARET TALEV, SENIOR CONTRIBUTOR, AXIOS: Well, John, first of all, that was an awesome interview. And it's just so interesting because, to your point, I heard her say a number of things, but one of them was that, at least in California, she feels she explicitly not empowered to take that kind of an action. But she also says we don't have that authority yet. And that tells me she's in a really different place than Governor Gavin Newsom, a fellow Democrat to her. But his position is, this is the kind of thing that voters should decide.
That's not necessarily what she's saying. She says, we haven't said it's the end. But maybe most important is her plea for the Supreme Court not only to weigh in, but to weigh in with something that could be applicable to all 50 states because, otherwise, in her words, it would be chaos. And I think that that's true. And that this fight that's -- or court test that's developing now is not only going to sort of set the stage for how involved the Supreme Court is going to be on the front end of this election, but it also gives us a glimpse at how states or actors in individual states may go to the court after the fact, regardless of who wins this election, to test all kinds of novel theories.
BERMAN: Elliot, I just want to go to you. First of all, that really was interesting to hear from the California Secretary of State to say, look, I just don't have the power to do this. My job, responsibilities don't include that, may not be the case in other states. And boy, it would be nice if the Supreme Court weighed in here. You heard Paula Reid also. Where will the Supreme Court weigh in, in your mind?
ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Oh, I'd be a much richer man if I could predict where they will weigh in. And this is sort of what Paula was laying out. There's a number of really big open questions here, starting with who decides some of these questions of eligibility for the ballot. Is it states, is it secretaries of states, is it State Supreme Courts? That's going to vary from state to state, and that's a complicated question.
More importantly, though, this question of insurrection, regardless of what people's views are, of what happened on January 6th, and what the former president's role was in that, somebody has to make the decision as to whether it's insurrection or not. Whether that is an unelected official in a state, whether that is a State Supreme Court, whether that's Congress, or whether that's a prosecutor, someone's got to make the call on that.
And, ultimately, that's going to fall to the Supreme Court. And before we can even answer any of these questions of, well, was Colorado right or was Maine -- and somebody's got to decide, and that's the Supreme Court, what the actual answer is on this insurrection question. And so, I truly don't know how the Supreme Court is going to rule because there's any number of ways they could go without actually reaching any of the substantive questions. They could just say make a ruling with respect to the 14th Amendment or something like that.
So, this is complicated. It's got to go there, and we'll just have to see what they deal with it.
BERMAN: You know, David Urban, California's Governor Gavin Newsom said this should be up to the voters to decide. That was a political argument. He wasn't laying in -- weighing in on the legality.
Chris Christie this morning told CNN that he thinks this makes Donald Trump a martyr. How do you see it?
DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, John. So, listen, I hear lots of feelings, right, lots of people's feelings. We feel that Trump is this. We feel that Trump is that. We're short on facts, right?
As Elliot points out correctly, lots of people -- lots of prosecutors have looked at this. And guess what they haven't done. They haven't charged Donald Trump with insurrection.
Jack Smith looked at this long and hard, and guess what he didn't do, he did not charge the former president with insurrection because he knew it wasn't the case. So, if somebody has a case to make against Donald Trump for insurrection, bring it. And then we will have a factual basis upon which to determine these things.
People just can't feel what they want to feel about the former president and go, you know, independently like the Maine Secretary of State and make a decision, and keep Maine voters from having the opportunity to vote for him. It is the most undemocratic thing you can do in this country is what's happening in some of these states.
So, for somebody to really be throwing these stones at Donald Trump saying he's this demagogue, he's a dictator, and for the secretaries of states to be doing this, toss him off the ballot just, you know, on their own volition is just abhorrent.
BERMAN: But, Elliot Williams ...
WILLIAMS: But wait, hold on.
BERMAN: ... yes, go ahead.
WILLIAMS: To be clear, though, blame James Madison for this. Blame George Washington for this -- for writing the constitution in a manner that gave the states the power to decide who could be on and who could be off the ballot.
And I'm -- and I want to be clear, the Supreme Court could rule that you don't have to be convicted of insurrection to be found an insurrectionist per the rules of the 14th Amendment to keep you off the ballot. You know, one way they could rule is to say, yes, certainly, he needs to have been charged with a crime, but I just want to disagree with David a little bit. This -- is he charged with a crime or is he not charged with a crime is not the end of the question with respect to whether someone should or shouldn't be on the ballot. It's an open question, and the Supreme Court's got to decide what the standard is.
URBAN: John, I would say this, it's bad for democracy unless it's clear cut here that Donald Trump should not be on the ballot.
BERMAN: I understand the argument you're making, but that's a political argument. And I'm not saying a political argument is a bad argument, I'm just saying it is a political argument, whereas the courts ultimately will decide whether it's a legal argument.
And there is nothing in the text of the 14th Amendment, Margaret, Section 3, that says anyone has to be convicted or even charged with insurrection.
Now, again, interpret that as you will. But there are people known as textualists who serve on the Supreme Court. And they're all conservative for the most part who say, we look at the text, each word in the constitution, and we base our decisions based on the words there. How much do you think textualism will actually play in here at the end of the day?
TALEV: The court may need to weigh in and this is going to become an unexpected new front in the states' rights argument that we've been having. A year ago, we thought that the big states will have to question on the 2024 ballot was going to be abortion rights. Now, it's also states' rights to keep candidates off the ballot or to make judgments about what's an insurrection.
Maine has four electoral votes. California has 54. And even four could matter if it were a tight race. So, this really matters and it raises the stakes on the court to weigh in with some basic ground rules or guardrails or interpretations.
BERMAN: Yes, it's really fascinating because. Whatever disagreements there are on this panel across the board or around the country, everyone agrees the Supreme Court has to get involved here and has to make things clear.
Margaret Talev, David Urban, Elliot Williams, thank you so much for being with us. Happy New Year to each and every one of you.
WILLIAMS: Happy New Year.
BERMAN: See you all next year.
URBAN: Thanks, John.
TALEV: Happy New Year.
BERMAN: All right. Late today, Angus King, Maine's independent senator and former governor, came out against last night's decision to keep the former president -- to keep Donald Trump off the Maine primary ballot. He posted on social media -- Senator King -- echoing Gavin Newsom and David Urban a moment ago, saying the right venue for all of this is at the ballot box.
That was the argument from Angus King, which again underscores the scrutiny that Maine's Secretary of State Shenna Bellows put herself under in making this call and not just the scrutiny. Here is what she told CNN's Kaitlan Collins just a few minutes ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHENNA BELLOWS, MAINE SECRETARY OF STATE: We have received threatening communications. Those threatening communications are truly unacceptable. And I certainly worry about the safety of people that I love, people around me, and people who are charged with protecting me and working alongside me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: We spoke to her last night about her decision, which catapulted her onto the national stage. Our Randi Kaye has more now on how she got there and how very far she has come. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
BELLOWS: We find yourselves in another perilous time, the first time in our nation's history, that a sitting president is actively seeking to overturn the will of the people and upend the results of free and fair election because they did not go his way.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): That's Shenna Bellows two days before the January 6th insurrection, being sworn in as the first female Secretary of State in Maine's history. And she's now the first such official in American history to disqualify a presidential candidate under the 14th Amendment.
Back in February of 2021, after former President Trump's second impeachment and the senate's acquittal vote that followed, she wrote, "The Jan. 6th insurrection was an unlawful attempt to overthrow the results of a free and fair election. Today, 57 senators, including King and Collins found Trump guilty. That's short of impeachment but nevertheless an indictment. The insurrectionists failed and democracy prevailed.
Just minutes later adding, "Not saying not disappointed. He should have been impeached. But history will not treat him or those who voted against impeachment kindly." Trump's legal team cited those social media posts to argue that Secretary Bellows should recuse herself from the ballot decision. She refused.
A longtime Democrat, bellows hails from Hancock, Maine, and says she started from humble beginnings.
BELLOWS: I grew up without electricity or running water until I was in the fifth grade.
KAYE (voice over): After college she served in the Peace Corps in Panama and then worked for AmeriCorps in Nashville, helping disadvantaged youth. Back in Maine, Bellows led the state's chapter of the ACLU.
In 2014, she challenged incumbent Republican Senator Susan Collins for her seat and lost. Bellows was later elected as a Democratic state senator, where she served until her appointment as secretary of state in 2020.
BELLOWS: Thank you (inaudible) the legislature for your confidence and trust.
KAYE (voice over): Now, with her latest decision to remove Trump from the Maine ballot, that confidence and trust is being tested. Her former rival, Collins, blasted Bellows' ballot decision, writing, "Maine voters should decide who wins the election, not a Secretary of State chosen by the legislature. The Secretary of State's decision would deny thousands of Mainers the opportunity to vote for the candidate of their choice, and it should be overturned."
If it is overturned, Bellows will take her queues from the high court. BELLOWS: Should the US Supreme Court rule that Mr. Trump be on the
ballot, I will, in fact, place him on the ballot if ...
KAYE (voice over): Randi Kaye, CNN.
BERMAN: And much more ahead tonight, next, after the worst Russian airstrikes yet on civilians in Ukraine, I will ask retired four-star general Wesley Clark what he sees ahead for Ukraine in a war and winter growing harder by the day.
And later, why Michael Cohen, the former president's old fixer and new adversary now finds himself in legal jeopardy for unwittingly making AI -- artificial intelligence -- his co-counsel.
BERMAN: People in Ukraine are waiting tonight, bracing for a possible repeat of Russia's widespread strikes, which happened in the overnight hours there and here. And given the horrific nature of the attack, which targeted just about any place civilians -- young and old -- might be, it's not just the armed forces and air defenses on alert right now, it's everyone.
CNN's Oren Liebermann has more now on this in this worst attempt on civilian lives in Ukraine.
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: The explosions across Ukraine quickly drown out the air raid sirens Friday morning, the largest Russian attack since the war began, according to the Ukrainian military, wreaking havoc on people who have been the target of Kremlin's barrages for nearly two years.
(SEHIY speaking in foreign language.)
SEHIY (through translator): Nothing changes. Russia's goal is the same -- to destroy Ukraine as a state and to destroy all rebellious Ukrainians as a nation.
LIEBERMANN: The attack killed dozens across Ukraine, a number that threatens to keep rising, as rescue workers dig through the rubble, pulling some out alive and some not.
In Dnipro, Russian missiles tore apart a hospital and its maternity ward. Ukrainian officials said only a frantic rush to air raid shelters spared 12 pregnant women and four newborn babies inside.
(UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE speaking in foreign language.)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): This is where the maternity rooms are. This is exactly the side of the building that was on fire. LIEBERMANN: Russia's array of deadly weapons hammering many of
Ukraine's major cities, hypersonic Kinzhal missiles, S-300s, anti-ship missiles, and Shahed drones fired on Kyiv, Dnipro, Lviv, and more. The attack coming just days after Ukraine sank a Russian landing ship in Crimea.
Russia's ministry of defense said the Novocherkassk was damaged. The UK defense intelligence said the ship was destroyed, another blow to the Kremlin's Black Sea fleet.
On Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made a surprise visit to the frontline city of Avdiivka in eastern Ukraine, wishing his troops what may seem impossible right now, a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
(VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY speaking in foreign language.)
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): It is hard. It's pain and losses, and these are the people who keep Ukraine alive. Life is being fought for here, and we are grateful to every warrior, every soldier, sailor, sergeant, and officer bearing this war on their soldiers.
LIEBERMANN: Ukraine calling for more help. Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba saying on social media that he wishes the explosions could be heard in all major capitals, headquarters and parliaments, which are currently debating further support for Ukraine.
This week, the U.S. announced an up to $250 million security package to Ukraine, but it's the last shipment unless Congress approves a White House request for $60 billion more to support Kyiv. President Joe Biden urged Congress to act Friday, saying the latest attack was proof that Putin seeks to obliterate Ukraine and subjugate its people. He must be stopped.
Oren Liebermann, CNN, in Washington, D.C.
BERMAN: All right. Our thanks to Oren for that.
With us now, CNN Military Analyst, Retired Army Four Star General and former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Wesley Clark. General, what do you think Russia is doing here?
GEN. WESLEY CLARK (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, it's certainly going after the morale of not only the people and government in Ukraine, but also the morale of governments in the West. It's portraying itself as an unstoppable force. And of course these are war crimes, going after hospitals and so forth.
But, you know, John, the outcry over that was strong when it first happened. Now people don't tolerate, OK, the Russians on their war criminals. So, we've got to build American leadership. We've got to have that leadership resonate through NATO. We've got to mobilize our industrial base.
We've got to give Ukraine what it needs because their fight is a fight for us, our freedom and our ideals. And, unfortunately, Russia spent the last several months stockpiling these missiles and preparing assaults just like this. This won't be the last. You can be sure of it.
BERMAN: Yes, talk to us more about that. President Zelenskyy said today that Russia used basically every weapon there is against Ukraine today. What does this tell us about Russia's stockpile?
CLARK: Well, every type of weapon is what they used. They've got lots more of these types almost all of them whether it's the S-300, S-400 missiles, the Shaheed drones, or whatever, they're producing lots of Shaheed drones themselves now. And these production lines are running 24/7, and we've discovered that despite the economic embargo put on by the United States and Western Europe, they've got a lot of American components and Western European components in some of these systems that are new, that have gone in despite the embargoes.
So what it says is Ukraine is going to suffer from this air attacks. We simply don't have enough air defense weapons and munitions in the West to fully insulate them without stripping everything out of our own systems. But what I'm most worried about, John, is the fact that on the eastern front, the Ukrainians are taking huge losses. And they're hanging as tough as they can, but we're not giving them the artillery support they need.
And our magic weapons that we put in a year ago, the Excalibur, the HIMARS with the GMLRS system, these are being blocked by Russian electronic warfare. They have the superiority in electronic warfare systems. Our weapons use global positioning systems, and the Russians have the means to block those right at the front lines.
Even our JDAM missiles that have been fitted to be dropped these bombs by the mid-29s in the Ukrainian Air Force, some of them are missing their targets because of the jamming. They're GPS reliant. So this war will take continuous turns. It's a technological battle. It's a struggle. It's competitive.
The Russians are not just big, dumb juggernauts. They are highly technical. They're learning from this. And one of the things they would have learned from last night's effort is exactly where the Ukrainian defense is, how it works, how it illuminates where the radars are, what the priorities for defense are, and you can be sure they're learning.
Now, you can also be sure that our Ukrainian friends are learning from this also, and doing the best they can. But, John, if we don't give them more support and give them more support now, we're going to be very, very deeply in trouble in the next few months.
BERMAN: General Wesley Clark, Happy New Year to you. It will be a difficult new year in Ukraine.
CLARK: It will. BERMAN: More insight now into what is driving Vladimir Putin and what that suggests in the days and weeks ahead. Yevgenia Albats is Editor- in-Chief and CEO of The New Times. She is a dissident Russian journalist who left the country last year. We spoke earlier.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
Yevgenia, what does this huge attack from Russia say to you about Vladimir Putin's plans for the war? What message is he trying to send?
YEVGENIA ALBATS, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF AND CEO, THE NEW TIMES: He -- I think that Vladimir Putin is trying to call a truce. He needs time to regroup, to rebuild his weapons supply chain. He needs time to deal with, you know, with lack -- with the problems with the local currency.
He has to deal with the rampant inflation. And for all that, he needs to satisfy. So by sending, you know, this barrage of cruise missiles and drones, he's trying to say to Ukraine and more so to the West and to President Biden that it's time to call a truce. That's exactly what he's trying to say.
In fact, he sends invoice to the West to Washington, D.C., to New York City, to the United Kingdom, and he's trying to convince people that it's time for Ukraine to call a truce on his terms, of course. I'm sorry?
BERMAN: A ceasefire -- I'm sorry -- ceasefire truce on his terms. Why now?
BERMAN: Why now? Not a month ago, two months ago?
ALBATS: This I don't know why now. I think because he announced that his central bank printed hell of a lot of so-called helicopter money. And so his financial authorities are capable to control inflation more or less until elections in March of 2024.
However, ruble most likely is going to collapse at the beginning of the summer. At least that's what authority, financial experts predict. So that, I think that's why he needs it now. And he's trying to tell Zelenskyy and Ukrainians that unless they go for the ceasefire now, the next, it will be worse.
What is going to be worse? Whether he will try to occupy Kharkiv or Odesa, it's hard to say. But definitely, you know, he's preparing for something.
BERMAN: So, Poland, Polish officials say that one of these Russian missiles, at least one, flew over Polish airspace. Do you think that this might be intentional by Putin to send a message to the West, sending, hey, we can send missiles over NATO airspace? ALBATS: I don't know. I don't think so. I don't think that he's going to play this game. He's too smart not to do this. Putin is seeking -- listen, you know, there are plenty of what we call Putin's enablers. Those people in the West and, you know, some people in the Washington D.C. who believe that it's time to tame the tiger. That it's a good idea to deal with this tiger.
And they're basically as far as I'm concerned, they're trying to recreate -- Putin is trying to recreate the situation of 1938, the Munich agreement when Western powers made a deal with Adolf Hitler in exchange of, you know, betraying Czechoslovakia and giving up on Southern land.
I believe that Putin is having these sort of, you know, this kind of scenario in his mind. And I think that West should be extremely careful about that.
BERMAN: Yevgenia Albats, thank you for your time. Thank you for your courage. We appreciate it.
ALBATS: Thank you.
BERMAN: Up next, Michael Cohen, one time personal lawyer and fixer to Donald Trump, made a humiliating mistake in an attempt to get an early end to his court supervised release. We have details next.
BERMAN: An embarrassing admission today by Donald Trump's one time fixer and attorney, Michael Cohen. Cohen says he unknowingly forwarded fake legal citations to his attorney, who then used them to argue for an early end to Cohen's supervised release. The judge in the case had demanded to know the source of these fake cases.
In the court filing unsealed today, Cohen claimed those citations came from Google's AI chatbot and says he didn't realize it could, quote, "show citations and descriptions that looked real but actually were not." He also said he assumed his attorney would vet the information.
With us now, CNN Legal Analyst Jennifer Rodgers, a former federal prosecutor. Jennifer, I think the legal term for this is oof. I mean, how does something like this happen?
JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, exactly right, John. Well, apparently, according to the reporting, Michael Cohen did some research on this unreliable chatbot and then passed the case names along to his lawyers. Now, the lawyers, of course, should have looked at those case citations to check and make sure not really that the case.
I mean, you can assume the case exists, but you have to make sure that it stands for the proposition that you're citing it to the court for. So they, of course, should have checked these citations. It's really on the lawyers who submit the papers to make sure that their citations are accurate, but it could, in theory, come back to haunt Michael Cohen himself because he's going to be a witness in an important upcoming trial with his credibility at issue.
BERMAN: Yes, talk to us more about that. The ramifications here for Michael Cohen and where they might be felt most.
RODGERS: So he's been disbarred. So there aren't any legal ramifications for him as far as his law license or him getting in trouble with the court. Again, that's on his lawyers who are the ones who submitted the papers. But because he's going to be a witness in the criminal trial of Donald Trump to take place in Manhattan criminal court, his credibility is an issue.
And judges give a lot of leeway to defense lawyers to question government witnesses about not only whatever it is that they're testifying about on cross examination, but also incidents that bear on their truthfulness and their credibility.
So I would expect that the defense lawyers for Donald Trump will be adding this incident to their relatively lengthy list of things to question Michael Cohen about when it comes to trying to establish that he is not trustworthy and that his word and his testimony should not be relied upon.
BERMAN: If you're in the Manhattan D.A.'s office today, Alvin Bragg's office, watching this unfold, what's your reaction? And what do you now think about putting Michael Cohen on the stand?
RODGERS: Yes, well, they can't be happy about it, right? I mean, Michael Cohen already has a lot of credibility challenges, first and foremost, that he admitted having lied to Congress. This is not up there. With that, I don't think it will cause them to think about not calling him, but listen, they can't be happy.
Here's another thing to add to the pile of things to question Michael Cohen about and say, you're not trustworthy. You provided your lawyers and ultimately the court with fake citations. That's just another thing for us to kind of try to hammer in closing arguments to the jury that you're not reliable and you shouldn't be listened to.
So I don't think Alvin Bragg's folks are too happy today, but I don't think it'll really change the course of what they're doing. They'll just have to prepare for it for the cross examination for Michael Cohen, which will be very, very eventful.
BERMAN: Yes, will be eventful. And how about the lawyer himself who actually submitted this to the judge? Any ramifications there?
RODGERS: Could be. It depends on the judge. Judge Furman in the Southern District of New York could impose sanctions. He could refer the matter to the bar grievance committee in New York state. I mean, I don't think it'll be a disbarment sort of situation, but he could get a fine or something like that or perhaps a censure. You know, it's just not good. Obviously, no lawyer wants to be in this situation. It's embarrassing and it could have some repercussions for the lawyer.
BERMAN: And look, there's the Michael Cohen story. There's a whole AI story here, which is fascinating in and of itself. But I think the lesson here is just be careful.
Jennifer Rodgers, thank you so much for being with us. Happy New Year.
RODGERS: Thanks, John. You too.
BERMAN: Ahead, mammoth waves in Ventura County, California. A scary moment for those briefly swept to sea. We have new details next.
BERMAN: Do not turn your back to the ocean. That is the warning to beach goers in Ventura County, California, who are being told to stay away from the beach after intense, huge waves battered the coastline. More than a dozen onlookers were briefly swept away.
Lucy Kafanov has the video and more on a threat that is expected to continue throughout the weekend.
LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The terrifying moment. A monster wave slammed into the Ventura, California coastline. Bystanders running for their lives.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everyone OK?
KAFANOV (voice-over): The surge sweeping people and vehicles down the street. At least eight people taken to the hospital.
JOHN FRIZZELL, WITNESSED LARGE WAVE: This wave just came seemingly out of nowhere. This is rush. I mean, you saw it, it was 68 feet deep. I'm kind of just shaking. Just -- I'm just trying to hold on to positive thoughts.
KAFANOV (voice-over): The waves so strong, this lifeguard had to be pulled to safety by Good Samaritans.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is insane. When I was up on the pier, I actually felt the pier shaking. It doesn't even seem real.
KAFANOV (voice-over): The massive waves pummeling the coastline, wreaking havoc, flooding streets and businesses. Like this beachfront restaurant in Santa Cruz.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just feel bad for the restaurants. I know they just went through renovations from the last time this happened.
KAFANOV (voice-over): While coastal residents have seen plenty of Mother Nature's wrath, they're still concerned.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a pure state of panic, to be honest, as far as the community goes because you know there's plenty out there that are not prepared.
KAFANOV (voice-over): Crews and residents now dealing with the aftermath.
JOHN HYLAND, VOLUNTEER, STINSON BEACH FIRE DEPT.: Right now, we're just trying to keep the houses from flooding.
KAFANOV (voice-over): While also preparing for what's to come.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are expecting higher waves coming in and it only takes one for you to be washed out.
KAFANOV (voice-over): Parts of the California coast could see towering waves through the weekend. Coastal flood and high surf alert stretching from the southern border to the Bay Area. Officials urging caution.
CHIEF JESSE PERI, STINSON BEACH FIRE DEPT.: The ocean is a very dynamic, dangerous place. Always -- as a kid, it was never turn your back on Grandmother Ocean, so make sure you know that.
KAFANOV: All Ventura County beaches will be closed through New Year's Eve as massive waves continue to pummel the California coastline. They are expecting waves as tall as 10 feet to 15 feet in Ventura Beach. Here in Manhattan Beach, the pier is supposed to be closed. Of course, people are not very much heeding those warnings, but authorities are urging folks to keep their distance.
Lucy Kafanov, CNN, Los Angeles.
BERMAN: Amazing pictures there.
Up next, we're already counting down to 2024 here on AC 360 and CNN's Harry Enten joins us next to get us prepared for New Year's Eve.
BERMAN: Only three more days until the new year. Two more to finish up your 2023 resolutions. As the globe prepares to welcome 2024, we welcome our favorite Senior Data Reporter Harry Enten to tell us some fun facts about New Year's Eve traditions. All right, Harry. How many people stay up until midnight?
HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: 70 percent of Americans stay up until midnight. I wish, though, I was part of the 30 percent -- I'm just exhausted. Why are we staying awake, John? What is this? What are we doing? Let's get a good night of rest, where most of us are off the next day. Let's just stay in, take a nice little nap, maybe watch a little Sunday night football.
BERMAN: Yes, go to sleep early.
BERMAN: Always, always the right decision.
BERMAN: All right. I am told that libations are sometimes part of the New Year's Eve tradition. What is the most popular?
ENTEN: Champania (ph) or champagne in the rest of the civilized world is number one. Interestingly enough, liquor is number two. And I will say that I'm a big fan of liquor. I'm thinking that maybe I want to have a Baileys mix with Coke Zero. Mix that up if I do in fact stay awake. That is my preference of choice.
Of course, perhaps you choose no booze at all if you decide to stay up. That's actually the plurality choice at 29 percent.
BERMAN: And 29 percent, that's fair. Whatever you drink, you should by the way watch New Year's Eve on CNN to be sure.
ENTEN: Yes, that's great.
BERMAN: Talk about New Year's resolutions.
ENTEN: Yes. So, you know, the big question, should you make a New Year's resolution, and what percentage of Americans do? About 40 percent, give or take, in a poll, I think we have a poll out that came from CBS News and YouGov, which said 37 percent make a resolution. Of course, making a resolution is just part of it, right? It's just part of it.
Can you actually hold the resolution for six months? There are a bunch of surveys that basically suggest that about 40 percent of Americans do in fact keep the resolutions they make. So if you take 40 percent, you times it by 40 percent, what you're essentially getting is less than 20 percent of the population actually makes a resolution and keeps it.
BERMAN: Do you have a resolution?
ENTEN: Yes. To spend more time with you, John.
BERMAN: Thank you. Mine too.
All right. I know you're a movie guy, so stick around for a second, Harry. Tom Foreman looks back at 2023 at the movies.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Let's go to the movies where no film was more in the pink than Barbie.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Barbie in the real world. That's impossible.
FOREMAN (voice-over): She elbowed aside a pack of "He-Man" heroes to become one of the best box office hits, with global ticket sales close to $1.5 billion. That's with a B, as in Barbie.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it is an absolute triumph. I've watched it many times.
BERMAN: Disclosure. I work for the same company that Barbie works for. But it was a wonderful movie.
BERMAN: Barbie is my favorite co-worker, by the way, other than you Harry Enten right now. Did you have a favorite, a 2023 film?
ENTEN: I'm a Barbie girl in a Barbie world, John, so I'm with you on that. And of course, we work for Warner Brothers Discovery. So I'm a company man.
BERMAN: You are a company man. Barbara Millicent Roberts, a company woman. We're happy to have her come on board.
Harry Enten, thank you very much for being with us. Happy New Year to you.
A reminder, you can catch "All The Best, All The Worst" tonight at 10:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific right here on CNN. Another reminder, do not miss CNN's extensive New Year's Eve coverage with Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen. That will be on New Year's Eve all night long, despite what Harry says, do not go to sleep.
And the next best decision you can make is to stick around because the news continues. The Source with Kaitlan Collins starts now.