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Erin Burnett Outfront

Gaetz & Greene Team Up to Push Trump's Election Lie, About to Rally Supporters in AZ Amid "Sham" Audit; Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) Discusses About the Election Lies and Who to Trust on this Issue; Florida GOP Rep. Gaetz's Ex-Girlfriend Agrees to Cooperate with Feds in Sex Trafficking Investigation; Police to Release All Video in Death of Ronald Greene Tonight; Biden Tells CNN It's "Wrong" to Seize Reporters' Records After Trump Administration Targeted CNN's Barbara Starr. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired May 21, 2021 - 19:00   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: We certainly hope that. Miguel Marquez in New York City for us very disturbing information, indeed. To our viewers, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, the Gaetz and Greene road show rolls into Arizona where a sham election audit is underway. And tonight, even more states are looking to follow Arizona's lead.

Plus, breaking news, Louisiana State Police announcing they will release all the videos surrounding the death of Ronald Greene. This as new body cam video shows him pushed to the ground by police. The family says they were told he died after crashing his car into a tree. Was there a cover up?

And President Biden asked about the existence of UFOs. You'll see what happened. Let's go out front.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, on the road again. The Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene show rolls into Arizona, current ground zero for the big lie. Matt Gaetz who is under investigation by the FBI for among other things, allegedly having sex with underage girl and we've got new reporting on that investigation in a moment.

But Gaetz tonight is out on the road Joining Forces again with Marjorie Taylor Greene. And they're spreading Trump's word in Mesa, Arizona this evening. Mesa is, of course, in Maricopa County. The biggest county in the state and it's where the sham audit of 2020 election results is taking place.

We use the word sham specifically. There have already been two audits of this County's election results. And guess what? They each showed the exact same thing, Biden won. It's a sham that many Republicans in the state say is based on wild conspiracy theories. But that is not stopping Gaetz and Greene from showing up tonight to

voice their support. Because after all, they are two of the biggest and most visual, vocal leaders of Trump's big lie. I mean, just listen to them earlier this month in Florida, the first stop have their tour.


REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): Tell me who is your president?

CROWD: Donald Trump.

GREENE: That's my president too. OK. Did anybody in here vote for Joe Biden?


GREENE: Do you guys really think he won?


REP. MATT GAETZ (D-FL): Our elections must have integrity. We have never abandoned Trump and he has never abandoned America. He is still fighting for us. He will continue to fight for us and we're going to have his back when he does.

So we support the brave patriots in Georgia and in Florida and all across this country that want to protect the integrity of the vote and that is going to be a major part of this tour that Marjorie and I bring across the country demanding voter integrity.


BURNETT: It is a tour. It's like they're some sort of a band. And the people who are going to these crowded events are believing it and that's sad and wrong. I mean, listen to what one person told our Donie O'Sullivan right before she walked into that Florida rally you just saw.


DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You guys both genuinely believe the election was stolen.



O'SULLIVAN: I mean, that's - if you believe that that's true, that is ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Isn't that horrible?


WARD: Yes, that is horrible.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know it is. Is it horrible that we would even be in a situation to even think that?

O'SULLIVAN: But it's false.

WARD: No, it's not. Why would they have all those ballots hidden under the tables? Why did that man drive that truck all the way across state lines with ballots?

O'SULLIVAN: But it wasn't like the ballots under table thing with Giuliani in Georgia, that's all been proven to be false.

WARD: It has not.


WARD: I watched it on TV.


BURNETT: That woman repeating lies that she's been told that she's been told by Trump and his acolytes. Lies that have fueled this audit. And just to be very clear here, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors unanimously condemns this audit. Four of the five members of that board are Republican.

The Board writing, "It's time to end this. For the good of the Senate, for the good of the country and for the good of the Democratic institutions that define us as Americans."

And another top Republican election official in Arizona who called Trump's lies unhinged told me that now these lies must be called out.


STEPHEN RICHER, (R) MARICOPA COUNTY RECORDER: It has to stop. This has been a very rude awakening into what politics has become.


BURNETT: The dark truth right now, though, is that more states may be following Arizona's lead in Maricopa County. Just tonight a ballot audit is set to move ahead in Fulton County, Georgia, even though Georgia, you may recall, has also gone through several audits, hand audits and rescanned every ballot.

Those reviews upheld the original election result which is that Joe Biden won Georgia. That, of course, has not stopped Donald Trump from pushing for audits in Arizona and other states just the other day.



DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let's see what they find. That wouldn't be a surprise if they found thousands and thousands and thousands of votes, so we're going to watch that very closely and after that you watch Pennsylvania and you watch Georgia. And you're going to watch Michigan and Wisconsin and you're watching New Hampshire, they found a lot of votes up in New Hampshire, it's so bad because this was a rigged election.


BURNETT: It's like you're thinking was that from November. No. That was from April 28, still saying the same stuff that people still believe. Kyung Lah is OUTFRONT live in Phoenix, Arizona. And Kyung, you are in front of, I'm just looking behind you, a couple cones and a pretty nondescript green building. But that building is not nondescript in its function, ground zero right now for this battle for democracy in Arizona.

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR U.S. CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, it's just right over my shoulder and this is really where the Arizona audit battle is being fought over the ballots that are being stored inside there. They're on the move this weekend. And make no mistake about this, Erin, the battle may be here tonight but it is spreading across the country.


LAH (voice-over): You can connect the dots between this high school auditorium in Windham New Hampshire ...


CROWD: Stop the steal. Stop the steal.


LAH (voice-over): ... a right wing gubernatorial candidate in Georgia ...


VERMON JONES, (R) FORMER GA STATE REP. & GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: I found myself troubled by the recent findings coming out of Arizona.


LAH (voice-over): ... and Antrim County, Michigan says Michigan Secretary of State, Jocelyn Benson, talking to me in Phoenix.


LAH (on camera): Are you hearing the exact words Arizona style audit being thrown around in Michigan?

JOCELYN BENSON, MICHIGAN SECRETARY OF STATE: Yes, we're hearing that as well as forensic audit.

LAH: I'm talking to you about a parking lot and you're saying that what we're seeing here is also there.

BENSON: Well, what we're seeing in Arizona is really a high watermark of this sort of big lie.


LAH (voice-over): Benson says Arizona is where the next chapter of the big lie is being written. That lie that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump centers on what you're seeing on the silent unmoving overhead security video. These trailers hold nearly 2.1 million 2020 ballots from Arizona's Maricopa County. While in storage now, a so- called audit of these ballots run by the Republican-controlled Arizona Senate and its little-known contractor Cyber Ninjas will restart this weekend after ballots are moved back onto the floor.

Over the last three weeks, we've seen workers use UV lights on ballots. Chasing a QAnon conspiracy about a secret watermark. Cameras hunting for bamboo fibers and ballots supposedly proving that were flown in from Asia. Comical say Maricopa County Supervisor Bill Gates and County Recorder Stephen Richer, but it's also dangerous.


LAH (on camera): Are you guys the Petri dish for what's going to be the playbook?



GATES: Yes, absolutely. I mean, we now see the videos from other states where they're demanding an Arizona-style audit.

RICHER: I think it's a proxy word for this playing out on a national level, so I guess we are the experiment and democracy here in Arizona.


LAH (voice-over): Richer and Gates are both lifelong Republicans who are speaking out against their own state party leadership as they watch Trump loyalists like Corey Lewandowski last week question the vote in New Hampshire.


COREY LEWANDOWSKI: (Inaudible) every single vote that every vote matter, how come we're not (inaudible) presidential race in this election?


LAH (voice-over): They're urging Republicans both state and national to fight back with the truth.


LAH (on camera): You've seen the polls of what Republican voters believe. Have you already lost?

GATES: The answer is absolutely not. If we start to have voices of Republicans saying Joe Biden was elected president, he won.


GATES: We're not moving. We're not going to do this any longer. We're not going to have Arizona-style so-called audits in other states, you will see those numbers start to change.



LAH (on camera): And we are getting late notice tonight, Erin, that the Republican-led Maricopa County Board of Supervisors plan to go beyond words. They've issued a letter to the Republican-led Arizona Senate saying, save your documents. It is a warning shot, Erin, basically saying see you in court, Erin.

BURNETT: Wow. All right. Kyung, thank you very much.

And I want to go now to Congressman David Cicilline. A Democrat who served as impeachment manager and sits on the House Judiciary Committee. So Congressman, when you hear your colleagues, Congressman Matt Gaetz and Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, going out to Arizona where Kyung just filed that report, perpetuating those election lies, how do you convince fundamentally at this point, how do you convince people that you are telling the truth? Because you've got a Democrat in front of your name and we're talking about a lot of Republicans, how do you convince them that you are telling the truth that their leadership is lying to them?


REP. DAVID CICILLINE (D-RI): Yes. I mean, we continue to try to do that by, again, reminding them that Donald Trump's Chief Election Security Officer responsible for the security of all the elections in this country said this was the most secure election in American history. The states have certified the election results. They're led by Republicans. They've certified them on multiple occasions.

But what we really need is a Republican colleagues to speak up. It's time for them to acknowledge that this is a lie. This was promoted by the president even before the election happened and continues to be promoted by the President. It led to the bloody violent insurrection on January 6th, but we need Republicans to acknowledge that Joe Biden is the President of the United States. He won the election fair and square. They need to hear from people in the Republican Party.

And instead, we have people like Matt Gaetz and other Republicans that continue to give life to this preposterous lie that the sore loser Donald Trump continues to repeat.

BURNETT: So what do you think accounts, Congressman, for the fact that we're now seeing in Arizona, the Board, the Elections Board, they're standing up, it's five members, four of them Republican. I spoke to one of them. He's speaking out now saying I'm going to do what Trump is saying is unhinged and I'm now going to speak out. I hope this will go away. It's not, so I'm now going to do this. And they're doing it.

And we're seeing it in other states, some local Republican speaking out, whether it'd be in Georgia or in Pennsylvania. But we're not seeing it at the national level. I mean, with the exception of say, Liz Cheney and a few - Adam Kinzinger. We're just not seeing it. So why do you think that is that there is such a dearth of courage to tell the truth by people by who are in your seat with an R in front of their name?

CICILLINE: Yes. I mean, I think the sad reality is these are people who believe that in order to win a Republican primary, they need to have the support of Donald Trump and they're terrified to lose his support, because they think that they'll lose their primary. So they're basically willing to forsake their responsibility to protect our democracy, to speak the truth in order to hold on to their jobs. And it's shameful, and we need more Republicans to speak up and tell the truth.

And frankly, well, I'm grateful for the Republicans that are now doing it, it's a little late. I mean, I suppose it's better late than never. But their silence and their - supporting this claim led to five deaths, lots of destruction to a building, 140 Capitol Police officers injured and an attack on our democracy on January 6th. So this lie keeps keep being promoted not only by the former president, but by Republican colleagues in the Congress who give it legitimacy when they know is not true. It is a lie, but you repeat it often enough people that believe it.

BURNETT: So this week, I spoke to one of the Republicans who voted in favor of the commission for January 6th. Republican Congressman Carlos Gimenez, that's your colleague from Florida. So he voted for it. He was one of 35. OK. Trump is out to get him now.

But he also voted not to certify on January 6th and specifically because of two states, Arizona and Pennsylvania, which he said, well, I always said Biden was the legitimate winner. Those two states wouldn't have overturned it. But he stands by that vote on that day and here's how he explained it.


REP. CARLOS GIMENEZ (R-FL): I have no regrets of my votes on that day. I voted not to impeach the president, because I didn't think he incited the events that happen. I know for a fact that I saw people in my hotel room that were saying they were going to do something at two o'clock and that happened at nine o'clock in the morning.


BURNETT: So today his aide told our Jim Acosta that they did alert the Capitol Police as well as the FBI about that incident, an hour after it happened, 10 am on January 6th. Are you surprised by the Congressman's comments and by someone's ability to stand by not certifying the election at the same time they say they want a commission? They do support the Commission against McCarthy and Trump into that day? CICILLINE: Yes. I hope it's because they recognize that it's important

that the American people know all the facts that led up to the events of January 6th that that it's important that it'd be a bipartisan vote. We have 36 Republicans join us. The American people are entitled to know all of the circumstances surrounding the bloodiest attack on our democracy since the war of 1812 or on the Capitol.

And so I think it's good that he did. I think that's - Liz Cheney, of course, when she spoke the truth, she was removed from her leadership of the party. But I think she and Adam Kinzinger and others are causing some other Republicans to recognize that they need to speak up and put an end to this monstrous lie which is undermining our democracy.

By the way while there doing all this, we're busy passing the American Rescue Plan.


We're working on the American jobs plan. We're responding to the urgent needs of the American people, but they're a mess, the Republican Party, but they're doing real damage to our democracy by promoting and advancing the ongoing lies that Donald Trump began.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Congressman, I appreciate your time as always. Thank you.

CICILLINE: My pleasure.

BURNETT: And next breaking news, CNN learning Matt Gaetz's ex- girlfriend is now cooperating with investigators who are looking into allegations that he had sex with an underage girl.

Plus, breaking news, Louisiana State Police just announcing they plan to release all the videos surrounding the death of Ronald Greene. His family says police told them he died in a car crash, but there's new video that now shows something very different. Troopers pinning him to the ground.

And President Biden tonight responding to Trump's Justice Department secretly obtaining phone records of our Pentagon reporter Barbara Starr.



BURNETT: Breaking news, embattled Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz's ex-girlfriend is cooperating with investigators and this is according to source Sources familiar with the Gaetz sex trafficking investigation.


The woman is seen as crucial as a witness because she has been linked to Gaetz during a key period of time. And we are also learning that Joel Greenberg, a very close friend of Gaetz told investigators the Gaetz and at least two other men had sexual contact with a 17-year-old girl.

Paula Reid is OUTFRONT. And Paula, you are learning a lot of new details tonight about the Gaetz sex trafficking investigation, so what can you tell me about this ex-girlfriend?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, this woman, a former Capitol Hill staffer who did not work for the Congressman, she worked for a different lawmaker. She was linked to the Congressman in the summer of 2017 and that's a time period that's really critical in the investigation into whether he may have had sex with an underage girl.

Now, the fact that she's signaled she will now cooperate is also significant because investigators have records of hundreds and hundreds of transactions, including some that allegedly show payments for sex and they hope this ex-girlfriend might be able to help them make sense of some of those payments. The Congressman is being investigated for possibly violating federal sex trafficking, prostitution and public corruption laws and they're also looking into whether he had sex with a minor.

Now, Gaetz has not been charged and he has repeatedly denied ever paying for sex or having sex with a minor as an adult. Now, it's not clear whether this woman has a formal cooperation agreement, but at this point she has signaled she will cooperate with investigators. Her attorney declined to comment as (inaudible) a spokesman for the Justice Department.

BURNETT: All right. Paula, so I know you're also learning that as part of his plea agreement, which is so crucial in all of this, Mr. Greenberg's, that he is starting to tell them what he knows and he knows a lot. What is he saying?

REID: He does know a lot, Erin. Well, CNN has also learned that Joel Greenberg told investigators the lawmaker had sexual contact with that 17-year-old girl. Now earlier this week, Greenberg pleaded guilty to federal charges, including sex trafficking of a minor. He is cooperating with federal investigators in exchange for dozens of counts against him being dropped. And as part of that deal, he is required to cooperate fully in any other federal investigations, including the ongoing investigation into his former close friend, Congressman Gaetz.

Now, in his plea agreement, Greenberg admits that he had sex with a minor at least seven times and that he introduced her to other men who engaged in commercial sex acts with her. But those other men, they are not named in the plea agreement.

Now Gaetz and his representatives, they've attacked Greenberg's credibility in recent days. They rightly pointed to the fact that Greenberg admitted in the same plea agreement to falsely accusing a political rival of having sex with a minor. Now, the ultimate decision on whether the Congressman is charged that will fall to prosecutors at the Justice Department. It's a decision that will likely take some time as they are continuing to gather evidence. They'll have to look at everything they have, Erin, and decide that they have enough to proceed with an indictment.

BURNETT: All right. Paula, thank you very much.

And next, CNN obtaining more chilling body cam video of Ronald Greene's deadly encounter with police and it is fueling new allegations of stunning cover up.

Plus, Biden responds to a question about Obama's provocative comment about UFOs.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He says we don't know exactly what they are. What do you think that it is?





BURNETT: Breaking news, the Louisiana State Police moments ago saying all video evidence of Ronald Greene's fatal 2019 encounter with Louisiana State Police officers will be released tonight. Greene's family says the state police initially told them that Greene died after crashing into a tree. That's what they were told.

But then body camera footage showed he was tased, kicked, dragged face down while moaning in pain, no tree. It comes as CNN has obtained new footage of the encounter. And as we learned disturbing details about what increasingly seems to be a cover up about what happened to Greene. I will warn you some of this footage is difficult to watch. Ryan Young is OUTFRONT.


RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Newly obtained video by CNN shows haunting images of Ronald Greene's last moments while in custody of Louisiana State Police in May of 2019.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All you were doing was speeding a little bit and run a red light.


YOUNG (voice-over): The video shows what appears to be a supervising officer arriving on scene engaging with responding officers while Greene remains cuffed from the ground face down. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, it hurts, doesn't it?


YOUNG (voice-over): After early video shows of being beaten and tased, police claiming Greene had resisted arrest after attempting to pull him over.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't you turn over. You lay back - lay on your belly. Lay on your belly.

RONALD GREENE: Yes, sir. OK. OK, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) ...

R GREENE: OK. Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... you understand?

R GREENE: Yes, sir.


YOUNG (voice-over): In the video we hear Greene in distress as he continues to be restrained by officers.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was going to sit him up but I didn't want him spitting blood all over us.


YOUNG (voice-over): Minutes after the supervisor engages with the officers, medical aid is rendered by emergency personnel on site for the first time. Greene appears to be unresponsive.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It took three of us to take him down, so you can consider that if you want to take the cuffs off him.


YOUNG (voice-over): The car visible in the new body cam footage shows Greene's vehicle that sustained damage. Lee Merritt, Attorney for the Greene family says the state police response was outrageous.


LEE MERRITT, GREENE FAMILY ATTORNEY: This was a supervisor who showed up to the scene. He didn't even acknowledge Ronald on the ground. (END VIDEO CLIP)

YOUNG (voice-over): Greene's family says they were originally told the cause of death was a car crash following the high speed pursuit.


MONA HARDIN, MOTHER OF RONALD GREENE: There's been a cover up from the very moment it happened. My son wasn't meant to walk away from that. He was purposely killed. He was murdered.


YOUNG (voice-over): But state officials tell CNN that Louisiana State Police were investigating Ronald Greene's death as a criminal matter the same night of the incident. Two officers involved in the incident were reprimanded for their actions. A third officer died in a single car crash last year.

An autopsy report obtained by CNN listed cause of death as cocaine- induce agitated delirium, complicated by motor vehicle collision, physical struggle, inflicted head injury and restraint.


The written incident reports were provided to the medical examiner despite requests. No medical records were provided neither was detailed information about the car crash.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They were left in the dark. They were stonewalled by the state police, which again, is another policy to show how systemic this is.

YOUNG: The report also states that lacerations on Greene's head were inconsistent with the motor vehicle collision injury and most consistent with multiple impacts from a blunt object.


YOUNG (on camera): Erin, look, this video is tougher and tougher to watch, you understand why the family isn't so much pain. I will also tell you that it is because of these leaks that really has this whole country talking about this case, it's good to see the state authorities talking about releasing all the video.

I will tell you the stories who provided this video to me wanted to make sure it got out into the light. They wanted to make sure this investigation finally stopped beating on pause. They want to see it move forward, because obviously two years is a long time.

And like one argument was made to me today, it's not like new investigative files are going to be found. They want to see something happen with this case. They want to see officers held accountable. So, you can understand the press and the conversation to move forward.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Absolutely. All right. Ryan, thank you very much.

Earlier this month, before the police footage was leaked, my next guest led a town hall with the Greene family, where Ronald Greene's mother made a passionate plea for the body camera video to be released.


MONA HARDIN, RONALD GREENE'S MOTHER: Well, those high up in those political seats have seen this. They have seen the body and the dash cams, and they continue to turn their backs on it. They continue to let my family, other families go through hell and they know it's wrong and they just completely try to squash it. We need to get things moving here.


BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, Alanah Odoms, the executive director of the ACLU of Louisiana. You just saw her there with Ronald Greene's mother.

And Alanah, I appreciate you're being with me. I want to get to your role in this because it's important.

First, though, the Louisiana state police is now saying all video evidence of the encounter will be released tonight, right? So, everyone will get to see it. Obviously, this is two years after it happened, but they will put it all out tonight. This is something that you've been demanding. What's your reaction?


My reaction is justice delayed is justice denied. This video should have been released long ago and while I appreciate that law enforcement now under the pressure of "The Associated Press" and the free press, which we should all be incredibly grateful for in this country, under that pressure, that they are now interested in releasing the video. I have still many questions about the integrity behind that decision and I believe that we have further to go, and that this is merely the tip of the iceberg with regard to the behavior and conduct of the Louisiana state police.

BURNETT: So, when you talk about the motive for coming out now, look, Louisiana Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards says he supports the release of the video evidence, OK, but he admits he saw the entire video last fall. So he saw it all last fall, but he's only now saying anything about any of this now that has become public.

Are you disappointed that the governor only pushed for the release of the video after the whole thing became public?

ODOMS: I think every Louisianans heart breaks tonight. I think one every person with a conscience who is breathing and who can behold what was taking place and had taken place on that evening, their heart breaks tonight. I believe that our elected leaders have the first and foremost duty to

represent their constituency and to make certain that corruption and that disgraceful conduct that results in the taking of human life for no reason does not occur. I think when that happens, we have to believe that there must be federal oversight or other mechanisms of ensuring that this does not happen.

BURNETT: So we are learning state investigators confirmed that they were looking into was Greene death as a criminal matter from day one. They were investigating this from day one. Even though they told Greene's family that he died from crashing into a tree, they got the impression that it was all sort of done, sealed and delivered. But they're saying they were looking into it as a criminal issue on day one.

So, how do you square that circle of them saying that with the family being told something else? Do you think the words cover-up are accurate?

ODOMS: I think there was a lack of integrity in this case from start to finish.


I think there was dissembling and concealing of evidence and, obviously the video graphic evidence in this case from the beginning. I think the family was misled from the beginning. I think that police officers, in particular these officers violated Mr. Greens and his family constitutional rights and they are not able to police themselves.

And that is why we should not just be relying on any individual electorate role leader, because we have to remember that politics is always at play and if we want truth and we want equality and we want integrity in this case, we have to have an investigation from top to bottom that doesn't involve political actors. People who seek to solely learn what happened on that night and how do we adjudicate, in my opinion, the crimes that were committed.

And if we can do that, the Louisiana ACLU is in the process of prosecuting races policing with 11 federal suits that we filed and we certainly have our eyes on the Louisiana state police. That is the way that you get to the bottom of this, that you don't have fingers pointing at each other.

BURNETT: All right. Alanah, thank you very, much I appreciate it.

ODOMS: Thank you.

BURNETT: Next, Ted Cruz tweeting Russian propaganda to mock this ad about an Army corporal.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: After meeting with an Army recruiter, I found it. A way to prove my inner strength. I'm U.S. Army Corporal Emma Malonelord.


BURNETT: Tonight, that woman's family response.

And the chilling story out of Arkansas. A man executed for a murder he insisted he didn't commit. After his execution, his dead, an attorney says they found another person's DNA on the murder weapon.



BURNETT: Breaking news, President Biden telling our Kaitlan Collins it is, quote, simply wrong for the government to seize emails or phone records of reporters. It comes after CNN learned the Trump administration's Justice Department secretly obtained phone and email records of our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Should the government be seizing reporters' phone records and emails? And would you prevent your Justice Department be doing that?

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Only yours, but beyond yours (ph) --

COLLINS: But honestly --

BIDEN: Absolutely, positively, it's wrong. It's simply, simply wrong.

COLLINS: So you won't let your Justice Department do that?

BIDEN: I will not let that happen.


BURNETT: And Kaitlan Collins is now OUTFRONT at the White House.

So, Kaitlan, a clear message from President Biden that he does not believe this is okay, ever.

COLLINS: No. And, Erin, this is a huge break from not just his predecessor and former President Trump, but also the president he served under as vice president, former President Obama, whose administration also went after reporters' phone records. But it's notable because the White House had been asked about this at the briefing earlier today. They had not made this announcement that this is going to be a new policy, where they are not going to seize the records of reporters secretly, whether it's phone or email, which, of course, as we now know happened under the Trump administration's Justice Department to our colleague Barbara Starr, but also three reporters from "The Washington Post".

And that was related to records from 2017. We know it was approved we believe under Attorney General Bill Barr, the former attorney general in the later days of the Trump administration. But, Erin, this is notable because it is a huge break from how the distance department had been operating before. Often, you saw federal prosecutors and investigators say that that was a last step they took and trying to figure out the source of potentially classified information, depending on which circumstance it is, but to go after the records of reporters.

So far, the Justice Department has not commented on this. I think a lot of people will be waiting to see with the Attorney General Merrick Garland does say about this. But President Biden was pretty unequivocal there when I asked him as he was leaving the room earlier today, they are not going to be seizing the records of reporters. He said that he feels that it is wrong and they will not be doing that.

BURNETT: All right, once where that definitive, that is a word you must keep.

Kaitlan, thank you very much.

And tonight, there is growing outrage at Republican Senator Ted Cruz after he mocked an active member of the U.S. Army. It all started when Cruz tweeted this video that contrast this purported Russian military ad, showing a muscular man with a shaved head loading a gun and doing pushups, with clips of an American ad of the story of Corporal Emma Malonelord.


CPL. EMMA MALONELORD, U.S. ARMY: It begins in California with a little girl raised by 2 moms. With such powerful role models, I finished high school at the top of my class. After meeting with an Army recruiter, I found it. A way to prove my inner strength.

I am U.S. Army Corporal Emma Malonelord and I answered my calling.


BURNETT: Senator Cruz chose to answer her call by tweeting, quote, holy crap, perhaps it woke emasculated military is not the best idea.

The backlash was swift, including Democratic Senator Tammy Duckworth, Purple Heart recipient who lost her legs in Iraq who said, quote, holy crap, perhaps the U.S. senator should not suggest that the Russian military is better than the American military that projected him from an insurrection he helped foment?

OUTFRONT now, former Republican congressman from Virginia, Denver Riggleman, he's also veteran of the U.S. Air Force, and Abby Philip, the host of our "INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY".

So, Congressman, what do you say to Senator Cruz mocking this corporal? A young woman who right now is actively serving her country in the U.S. Army.

DENVER RIGGLEMAN, FORMER CONGRESSMAN: I guess my first question is what's emasculating? I'm not quite sure why that would bother anybody. The second thing is, why would you cast, make fun of, sort of say somebody your pansies, or things like that, or a woke military when you're talking about an individual who took an oath, not only by serving her country, learning a profession, learning a trade, but she's also taking a bullet for the flag.

And that's -- I think that's the thing that bothers a lot of veterans is that, until you take the oath and put it on the uniform, it's very difficult to know with that sacrifice means. And to make fun of something like that where she's actually narrating based on her life and she's serving this country, it's just ridiculous.

And, you know, everybody wants to use these words or come out and say things to get press, maybe Ted Cruz is running a national campaign where he wants to run for president, he's trying to appeal to a certain group of people I'm just not sure.


But that and showing Russian video, I just cannot get my arms around it. We had this report about this information and where it comes from, but why not show a video of the Chinese? How would that go over? Or North Korea? Or Iran?

So, those are some of the things about him. I am bothered by it.

BURNETT: Abby, you know, we obtained a statement tonight from Corporal Malonelords' mothers, and they say -- I just quote part of it: We're incredibly proud of our daughter, for her many accomplishments, including the courageous distribution to answer a higher calling as a soldier in the U.S. Army.

Abby, she's based in Texas now, has the third most active duty military members in any state of the country, I'm sorry, Ted Cruz, of course, is in Texas, also home to the second most veterans in any state, right? So, Senator Cruz knows the importance of the military, and is a shrewd politician. So, it would seem he's betting that many, in the military, agree with what he said, and how he said it.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: At least he's betting that enough people in the military agree with what he's saying. I mean, the reality of the U.S. military is that is increasingly diverse. They are also in dire need of recruitment, which is why videos like this exist. They're trying to recruit a broader spectrum of people, so that we can have a stronger military.

But, you know, I think that everything that former Congressman Riggleman said is correct. But, the cold, hard, political truth of the situation is that Ted Cruz is trying to appeal to the new Republican base, which is increasingly non-college educated white men, who are concerned that diversity is being imposed upon them.

They're also attracted to politicians, in the mold of Donald Trump, who they perceive as being willing to say things that are not PC, being willing to offend other people. That is what Ted Cruz is doing. He thinks that that is the path, to getting those voters attention, and that's why it's not so much about the military, it's more about trying to appeal to an increasingly powerful group of voters, who constitute the Republican base right now.

BURNETT: So, Abby, you know, some conservatives are also attacking a recent ad from the CIA, which highlights one of its diverse officers. Let me play it.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm a woman of color, I'm a mom, I'm a cisgender, millennial, diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder. I am intersectional, but my existence is not a box checking exercise. I am, unapologetically, me. I want you to be unapologetically you, whoever you are. Know your worth. Command your space.


BURNETT: So, Abby, clearly, this is criticism of that. Republicans think that they'd can earn points right now in attacking, what they, call the woke agenda.

PHILLIP: Yeah, it's about attacking what they claim to be a woke agenda, but it's also about pushing back against what that ad is about, which is about a person who is, herself, diverse. That plays well in Republican Party politics right now.


PHILLIP: That's why it's happening.

BURNETT: So, Congressman, I want to ask you one other thing here, because you said in Virginia, and you're 15-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force, I don't know what you saw in your time there, but they're so much time about what some of your colleagues saw flying around in the sky, every, day for two years. And, people are quite focus on the story. There was an exchange today.

President Biden had tonight about UFOs, and former President Obama's, you know, kind of opening of that door, about UFO videos. He was exchanged President Biden.


REPORTER: President Obama says that there is footage, and records, of objects in the skies, these unidentified aerial phenomena. He says, we don't know, exactly, what they are.

What do you think it is?

BIDEN: I would ask him again. Thank you.


BURNETT: I'm sure the look on his face, Congressman, said it all.

But, you know, what would you make of all of this? I asked this also in a serious sense, because we've seen this all in "60 Minutes", and these pilots talking. You're a 15-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force. But do you think?

RIGGLEMAN: You know, I wrote a book on this, Erin, right? On Bigfoot is complicated, and talked about you UFOs, and interstellar theories, because of how people get lost in these belief systems.

This is going to be shocking what I'm about to tell you with years in intelligence experience. I do believe there are UFOs, I just don't believe there's aliens driving them. So, I think -- let me tell you this. If there is aliens around since the pyramids, they're pretty fickle. They really don't want to be seen right now.

So, I can say -- you know, we've all seen some bizarre things in our lives, I just don't think that the first thing for me, when I hear weird noise in the woods, is not Bigfoot probably. The first thing when I see a UFO, it's probably not being driven by the Zeta Reticulans.


I think we're okay, I think we're going to be all right.

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

RIGGLEMAN: Thank you.

BURNETT: And OUTFRONT next, he swore he was innocent of murder up until his execution.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My dying words will be as it has been: I am an innocent man.


BURNETT: And tonight, new DNA testing may prove that he was right.


BURNETT: Tonight, was an innocent man put to death? Four years after 51-year-old Ledell Lee's execution, his attorney says, another man's DNA has been discovered on the murder weapon.

Martin Savidge is OUTFRONT.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the night of April 20th, 2017, Ledell Lee stepped into the death chamber of the commons unit in Lincoln County, Arkansas. He was strapped to a gurney, he said nothing.

His final words, heard earlier, in an interview with BBC.

LEDELL LEE, EXECUTED: My dying words will always be, as it has been, I am an innocent man. SAVIDGE: Lee spent 22 years on Arkansas death row, never changing his



LEE SHORT, ATTORNEY: To maintain innocence for over 20 years, I mean, that's something I'm not familiar with.

SAVIDGE: So, he never confessed to you he had committed the murder?

SHORT: Not once. Not even hinting about it.

SAVIDGE: Now, 4 years after his execution, new DNA testing raise serious questions about his case. Lee's got a call explaining the findings.

What do you think?

SHORT: I think if those results had been had before he was executed, he would still be alive.

SAVIDGE: Lee was sentenced to death for the 1993 murder of 26-year- old, Debra Reese, found strangled, and club to death, in her home outside of Little Rock. Prosecutors in the case, relying on eyewitnesses, who testified seemingly enter, and leave Reese's house the day of the crime.

Even after the execution, Lee's family continue to investigate, with the help of the ACLU, and Innocence Project. Recently, they were able to gain access to some crucial evidence, including the murder weapon. They did something that had never been done before. Tested it for DNA.

What they found confirmed their fears. There was DNA, but it belonged to someone else, and as yet an unidentified man. In a statement, Lee sisters simply said, we are glad there is new evidence in the national DNA database, and remain hopeful that there will be further information uncovered in the future. We asked for privacy for our family in this difficult time.

Lee's family, the Innocence Project and the ACLU turned down our interview request, citing their ongoing investigation.

Why didn't Lee's attorney, four years ago, get DNA testing to try to stop his client's execution?

Did you ask for DNA testing?

SHORT: We did. We asked for DNA testing, and with the assistance of the Innocence Project. It was denied.

SAVIDGE: Judge Herbert Wright was among those who denied the testing request, saying witnesses, and other evidence, tied Lee to the murder. So, in his mind, DNA, or the lack of, wasn't likely to make any difference.

HERBERT WRIGHT, JUDGE, 6TH JUDICIAL DISTRICT, ARKANSAS: The judicial standard review that we look at is whether or not it was likely to. My decision was that it was unlikely to change the verdict.

SAVIDGE: You know, by saying that, you are pretty much saying that the execution could go forward?

WRIGHT: I know that.

SAVIDGE: Why not allow testing of something is critical as DNA?

Lee's attorney says, because that would have taken more time. And, time is something that the state of Arkansas was, quickly, running out of.

The drug Arkansas used for lethal injection was set to expire 10 days after Lee's scheduled execution date. The state openly used that fact as one of their arguments against delay.

Death penalty critics were outraged.

SHORT: It seems problematic to you, to me, to the international community, certainly, with an outcry. Arkansas politicians, they didn't care.

SAVIDGE: And, it appears, they still don't. Arkansas's governor defended leaves execution, despite the new DNA discovery.

GOV. ASA HUTCHINSON (R), ARKANSAS: The evidence, obviously, that was uncovered, is inconclusive. The fact is, the jury found him guilty, based on the information they had.

SAVIDGE: Arkansas's attorney general who's now running for governor has no regrets.

Why wasn't there DNA testing done before his execution?

LESLIE RUTLEDGE, ARKANSAS ATTORNEY GENERAL: Again, the jury heard the evidence --


SAVIDGE: That's not what I'm talking about, in the appellate process after that.

RUTLEDGE: Well, the courts -- the courts --

SAVIDGE: Why couldn't the DNA be done?

RUTLEDGE: The courts determined there was no reason to hear that evidence. That he wasn't making a proper petition.

SAVIDGE: I asked Judge Wright if he had second thoughts after hearing about the new DNA test results.

WRIGHT: One of my worst fear is as missing a piece of evidence that goes the other way. But, in this case, based on what was in front of me, I feel like I made the right decision. I don't necessarily like the decision, but, it was the legally correct decision to make. SAVIDGE: Is that justice for Debra Reese?

RUTLEDGE: The wrong person was not put to death. The right person was put to death. Ledell Lee murdered Debra Reese.

SAVIDGE: You are 100 percent certain that the right person was put to death?

RUTLEDGE: I absolutely stand by the lawful conviction of the jury, and the decisions of the courts.

SAVIDGE: Lee's defense attorney also thinks about Debra Reese's family, and all they have been through. But --

SHORT: I don't think anyone wants the wrong person to be killed in your name.

SAVIDGE: That's not justice.

SHORT: It's not justice at all. It is a shame that they were told it would be.


SAVIDGE: Lee's family all hopes on to the DNA. It's been uploaded to the National DNA database, overseen by the FBI. So far, there has been no hits. But, that information will be kept, in the future, if someone is taken into custody, if there is a match, Lee's family hopes the investigation will go a long way to exonerating Ledell Lee.

As for Debra Reese's family, both families, have suffered a painful loss, and that is never going to change -- Erin.

BURNETT: No, but such an important, an incredible part.

Martin, thank you very much, Martin Savidge.

Thanks to all of you for joining us.

Anderson starts now.