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Erin Burnett Outfront

Biden Confronts Putin, Warns Of "Consequences," But Russian President Sidesteps Questions On Cyber Attacks And Navalny; Biden: Historic Talks "Pure Business"; WAPO: Three Weeks Leading Up To Jan. 6 Show Extent Trump, Allies Pressured DOJ To Pursue Baseless Voter Fraud Claim; Senator Manchin Shows Openness To Elections Bill, Wants Changes; Taiwan Reports Largest Incursion Yet By Chinese Military Planes. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired June 16, 2021 - 19:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Geneva.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, Biden and Putin meet face-to- face. What if anything did the U.S. get out of it? And did Putin get a big boost on the world stage?

Plus, new details from The Washington Post tonight on just how desperate Donald Trump was to get the DOJ to investigate non-existent fraud, nonstop emails, phone calls YouTube links to conspiracy theories in his final days in office as he sought to overturn the election.

And the largest Protestant denomination in the United States facing a reckoning. We have the new president of the Southern Baptist Convention tonight. Is he to 'woke for his members'? I'll ask him. Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, Biden talks tough to Putin but it's unclear whether Putin cares. The two leaders meeting today for the first time since President Biden took office, Biden saying he laid down the law.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I did what I came to do. I made it clear to him that I believe the consequences of that would be devastating for Russia.


But when it came to key issues, it certainly didn't seem as though Putin was listening. Here's what Biden said about Russia's ongoing attacks on America, on the U.S. election and on America's energy and food supply where there have been four cyber attacks in the past month tied to Russian entities.


BIDEN: He knows I will take action like we did when this last time out. What happened was we in fact made it clear that we were not going to continue to allow this to go on. He knows there are consequences.


BURNETT: Consequences and there may be but today Putin won't even admit that the attacks happened.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA: The majority of cyber attacks in the world are, in fact, on the cyberspace in the U.S., and then the second place is Canada and the third is U.K. On that list of countries, the cyberspace which is most vulnerable is not ours.


BURNETT: Definitely not a mea culpa or any projection of fear. That would be called going on offense. Biden also brought up another crucial issue at the meeting today and that was Putin's treatment of dissidents and specifically the poisoning and imprisonment of his opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Biden again said that he made it clear to Putin in the meeting that Putin's actions won't be tolerated.


BIDEN: I pointed out to him that that's why we're going to raise our concerns about cases like Alexei Navalny. I made it clear to President Putin that we'll continue to raise issues of fundamental human rights, because that's what we are. That's who we are.


BURNETT: Putting though still won't say Navalny's name, let alone acknowledge any human rights abuses. Here's what happened when our Matthew Chance asked Putin about Navalny after his meeting with Biden.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Did you commit to stopping your crackdown against the opposition groups inside Russia led by Alexei Navalny?

PUTIN: Turning now to the opposition and the citizen that you mentioned, number one, this person knew if he was reaching the laws effective in Russia, he should have noted that as a person who has convicted two times. I'd like to underscore that he deliberately ignored the requirements of the laws.

This person went abroad for treatment and he didn't register with the authorities and he came out of the hospital and then he recorded a video posting it in the internet. And then that requirement arrived and he didn't appear. He ignored the law and he knew that he was then being investigated and he came back deliberately and he did what he wanted to do.


BURNETT: The gentleman in question, the citizen, never his name. All right. It's clear Biden and Putin aren't on the same page on some very crucial issues. And, of course, Putin isn't new to this game. He has been leading Russia for two decades. And even though Biden today said he did not trust Putin to do anything, his emphasis on some of the positives led our Kaitlan Collins to ask you this.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Why are you so confident he'll change his behavior, Mr. President?

BIDEN: I'm not confident in he'll change his behavior? What do you do all the time? When did I say I was confident? I said ...

COLLINS: You said in the next six months you'll be able to determine that.


BIDEN: ... what I said was, let's get this straight, I said what will change their behavior is if the rest of the world reacts to them and it diminishes their standing in the world. I am not confident of anything. I am just stating the facts.

COLLINS: But given his past behavior has not changed and in that press conference after sitting down with you for several hours, he denied any involvement in cyberattacks. He downplayed human rights abuses. He even refused to say Alexei Navalny's name. So how does that account to a constructive meeting, as President Putin put it?

BIDEN: If you don't understand that, you are in the wrong business.


BURNETT: Biden later apologized for lashing out at Kaitlan. And we have all the angles of the story covered tonight from Geneva. Kaitlan Collins as you saw was in the press conference with President Biden and Matthew Chance as you saw was questioning Vladimir Putin.

Kaitlan, let me begin with you. And, obviously, they didn't even use up all the time that they had in the meeting, not much was accomplished today. Does the White House think that this went well?

COLLINS: I think they think it went well from a perspective of there were no outcomes that were really surprising to them. That was why you saw such a tightly choreographed summit that happened today. They wanted to make sure everything was essentially by the book, there were no real surprises which, of course, is something that can definitely happen when the Russian President is involved.

But the other aspect of that is that they were not expecting any serious deliverables coming out of this and it doesn't appear that they got them. One thing that the White House did get, which we should note is important and would have been assigned of a pretty tense and bad summit if this had not happened was the ambassadors to each respective countries will be going back.


COLLINS: They had been back in their respective countries for the last several months since tensions had essentially reached a severe height in April. And now that they are going back that does show that they want to get some kind of diplomatic ball rolling. But when it comes to concrete deliverables coming out of there beyond that, there are a ton of those. And I think that is because the White House was realistic about this, they did not think there were going to be a lot of them.

But it also shows the nature of Vladimir Putin and what is at stake here when it comes to not just nuclear arms, which is something that President Biden has been dealing with since the 1970s, but also when it comes to cyber attacks and what that is going to look like. Because one thing you did hear President Biden say today is essentially they want to establish some guardrails of what is off limits when it comes to these cyber, these ransomware attacks that have been on critical U.S. infrastructure which The White House says is being carried out by criminal groups based in Russia, which means they believe they have the tacit approval of the Russian government because, of course, Putin could cause those to end if he wanted to.

But if you listen to President Putin in his press conference, he denied having any connection with them, and falsely claimed that the United States carries out the most cyber attacks. And so you can kind of see there is such a difference in the level of expectation of what's coming out of this meeting.

And really, what it seemed to amount to was an airing of grievances with President Biden pressing President Putin on human rights in several other fronts, something he says he will continue to do even if he doesn't think it's going to change his behavior, because he says he feels it's important for a U.S. president to do that.

But he did give the strategic marker which is what led to my question saying in three to six months that's when he'll be able to know he believes if they can have some productive dialogue with Russia. Of course, Putin is someone who has not changed his behavior for past presidents, whether or not that happens in the future, of course, is a massive, unanswered question.

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

And I want to go to Matthew Chance who you saw questioning Vladimir Putin today. So Matthew, does the Kremlin see this as a win?

CHANCE: Oh, Erin, yes, I think it sees it as a big winner and all Vladimir Putin had to do really was show up here in Geneva, Switzerland to get that victory. Symbolically, the fact that Vladimir Putin was meeting face-to-face with President Biden on the international stage, under the spotlight in that way, it was hugely respectful for him. It wasn't some meeting on the sidelines of another event. It was a proper full on presidential summit.

I mean, that will play enormously well for his domestic audience and, of course, everybody around the world watching this, Vladimir Putin's admirers, a potential autocrats around the world be watching this and he'll get enormous prestige from it. And he got that without giving up anything, really.

He didn't back down on any of the key disputes of the United States, whether it's cyber warfare, whether it's to crack down dissidents at home or whether it's the threat he poses to his neighbors. So I would say in total a big win for the Kremlin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Matthew, also from Geneva tonight.

I want to go to Bill Browder. You may know him. He's on this show a lot. He's a longtime Putin critic who's been called Putin's number one enemy. And Bianna Golodryga, our Senior Global Affairs Analyst. So thanks to both of you.

Let me start with you, Bill. You hear this analysis. You watched these press conferences yourself today and the readouts, the body language. Was this meeting worth it or did it elevate Putin without getting anything for that?


BILL BROWDER, PUTIN CRITIC: This meeting shouldn't have happened there. There is nothing that Putin has done to deserve the attention of the most important man in the free world, the U.S. President. Vladimir Putin has been on a tear of malign activity. He's been hacking our pipelines, our meat industry, the elections, he's been invading foreign countries shooting down passenger planes, cheating in international sports events.

He's like an international menace and to be invited to a civilized summit with Biden is just a true gift as Matthew Chance said. He's going to be basking in the glory back home and so this was a big mistake to have this summit. There's a lot of people who are suffering under Putin that didn't want to see this happen and the United States in the free world got nothing out of it.

BURNETT: I mean, Bianna, there weren't a lot of deliverables in this meeting. Biden is saying, all right, in three to six months or a year, let's talk about it, let's see if the specifics happen. But what we know is OK, the ambassadors are going back and that's something they probably agreed to beforehand, we're going to do that.

They did talk about next steps on arms control. But the meeting didn't even go as long as they expect it and they had said it would go three to four hours, but could go longer if it went well. Biden's team had set the expectation, this could go even longer. They were hopeful, obviously. Then Biden got asked about why it didn't go very long and here's that exchange.


there a particular reason why the summit lasted only about three hours? We know you had maybe allotted four to five hours. Was there any reason it ran shorter?

BIDEN: The reason it didn't go longer is when is the last time two heads of state have spent over two hours in direct conversation across a table, going into excruciating detail? You may know of a time, I don't. Kind of, after two hours there, we looked at each other like, "Okay, what next?"

What is going to happen next is we're going to be able to look back, look ahead in three to six months and say, "Did the things we agreed to sit down and try to work out, did it work?"


BURNETT: So Bianna, I mean, four to five hours is allotted. Again, they said they hoped it could go longer and then it only went three. I mean, how could two world leaders with so much to discuss not use up their time?

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN SENIOR GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, President Biden said they went into excruciating detail. I would imagine it wasn't on every single subject in particular the red lines that Vladimir Putin clearly drew and that was all domestic based issues in particular Alexei Navalny suppression there of the opposition within Russia.

And also the human rights abuses that as Bill said that we've continued to see time and time again, that takes up a lot of time if you want to go into detail that clearly President Putin did not want to go into detail there.

He was asked about whether or not they spoke of COVID. They didn't even go into detail about the coronavirus, which is running rampant through Russia once again, only 12 percent of the population there has been vaccinated. And they didn't spend much time talking about Belarus. Putin said that they agree to disagree on that area.

So clearly, they spent a few hours together, but they did not go in depth the way that President Biden, perhaps, wanted to go in depth. And to Bill's point, listen, there are many that would argue that this meeting should not have taken place and you could make the point that if President Biden was going to have a meeting with the G7, once the G8 after Russia, of course, was excluded, why then give Vladimir Putin the platform of having a one-on-one after that?

What kind of a punishment is that? Not to mention the fact that they are going to be meeting in October at the G20 in Italy. They could have had a bilat there as well and it would have come after the Russian parliamentary elections in September.

This, of course, giving Putin the opportunity today with this meeting to showcase to Russians at home that U.S. is once again the boogeyman here. BURNETT: It's such a great point you make, the use the G7, and they've

been taken out of it and now all of a sudden they get elevated to G one plus one.

I mean, Bill, Biden was asked about the consequences for Russia if Navalny dies in jail. This crucial issue of Alexei Navalny. Here's how he responded to that.


BIDEN: I made it clear to him that I believe the consequences of that would be devastating for Russia.

I'll go back to the same point. What do you think happens when he's saying, "It's not about hurting Navalny," all the stuff he says to rationalize the treatment of Navalny and then he dies in prison?

It's about trust. It's about their ability to influence other nations in a positive way.

BURNETT: So Bill, does Putin believe that Biden's words are real, that the consequences of Alexei Navalny dying in prison would be devastating for Russia?


BROWDER: I think Putin probably believes that, but what's the other message that Putin got from this is that it's OK for what he already did to Navalny. So let's not forget that Putin used a banned military grade nerve agent to try to kill Navalny, his main political opponent. He tried to kill him and he didn't succeed.

Navalny survived by the skin of his teeth. He was in coma. He finally came out and then he bravely came back to Russia and they arrested him and torture him in prison. Should there not be a consequence for that? I think there should be and I think anyone else who's following the Navalny situation thinks there should be. And so for them to say, well, it's OK to do that but just don't kill him. Well, so OK, so they're going to keep him in jail and torture him into perpetuity with that message.

BURNETT: Well, it's really a great point about how far the goalpost is moved when you explain it that way.

Bianna, Biden also threatened consequences for Putin if these cyber attacks continue. Cyber attacks that, of course, Putin want to acknowledge his response was to list other countries that do cyber attacks. And Biden said that not only did he say no more cyber attacks, that he was very specific to Putin about where cyber attacks, if they occur, would be technically off limits. I don't know what that means, but let me just play it for you.


BIDEN: I talked about the proposition that certain critical infrastructure should be off limits to attack, period, by cyber or any other means. I gave them a list. If I'm not mistaken, I don't have it in front of me, 16 specific entities, 16 defined as critical infrastructure under U.S. policy, from the energy sector to our water systems.


BURNETT: Bianna, obviously, a Russian entity just attacked the largest pipeline on the East Coast of the United States. Does Putin take that seriously?

GOLODRYGA: Well, it was interesting to hear President Biden say that he asked hypothetically of Putin how he would feel if one of Russia's pipelines was attacked as well. And Putin said something along the lines of, yes, that would be something really serious.

Look, President Biden made clear that he didn't issue any threats in these meetings, but I think comments like that send a message that Vladimir Putin can appreciate. And I'm not sure how one could interpret that as naive as much as that President Biden setting the parameters.

One thing I don't know if I agree with him on that much is when he said that he doesn't think that Vladimir Putin wants a cold war. I think what they've come to terms with is that they both don't want a hot war.

But I think it does benefit Putin to continue somewhat of a cold war and have this tension with the United States. His focus is on what's happening domestically in his own country, not necessarily what the west is doing. Would he like sanctions lifted? Sure. But that's not the end-all that he's looking for right now.

BURNETT: All right. Bianna, Bill, I appreciate you both. Thank you so much.

And next, new details about just how desperate Donald Trump was to get his DOJ to investigate conspiracy theories of voter fraud and overturn the election. The Washington Post tonight with the emails, the phone calls and the accounts from people involved.

Plus, Texas Governor Greg Abbott asking the public for donations to pay for Trump's border wall.

And the biggest Protestant denomination in the United States with 14 million members facing an identity crisis on everything from critical race theory to whether women should be ordained. A newly elected leader of the Southern Baptist Convention is OUTFRONT.



BURNETT: Tonight, President Trump was so desperate to get the Justice Department to overturn the election that he lost that he considered replacing the Acting Attorney General in the last days of his administration with someone else, with another DOJ official that he believed would do his bidding. The Washington Post reporting tonight that Trump came extremely close to making Jeffrey Bossert Clark, the then head of both the Environment and Natural Resources Division and the Civil Division, the Acting Attorney General.

Now, why would you do that when you literally have a few weeks left in your administration? Well, because Clark was urging DOJ leaders to issue a letter and that letter said Georgia's election results were affected by fraud and should be thrown out. So Trump wanted the guy who was behind the letter.

Now, Jeffrey Rosen was Acting Attorney General at the time. He was resisting pressure from team Trump to push the big lie which, of course, not just about Georgia there, included an email with bogus claims that Trump's White House assistant sent to Rosen an hour before Trump even announced he'd replace Bill Barr as Acting Attorney General.

OUTFRONT now, Karoun Demirjian from The Washington Post. And Karoun, I really appreciate your time. I mean, this is pretty stunning that this was all going down, that Trump would go to such lengths to try to get someone in place in the final days to overturn the election. How close did Trump come to getting rid of Rosen and to putting in Clark here?

KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: I mean, arguably hours, maybe days, I suppose, if you want to be generous about it. But this all kind of comes to a head, you can look at the timing. This is clearly ramping up through late December, early January when most people are on vacation, not necessarily meeting for a series of last minute White House meetings to buy more time, to try to convince the president not to fire the Acting Attorney General.

But between New Year's Eve and the Sunday January 3rd, this is what was going on at the White House. And it seems that the President was really hell bent on doing this until his whole DOJ team practically meets with him, says you can't do this. It'll cause mass resignations, do you understand what's happening, it's not going to do what you think it's going to do, which is buy you a win in the 2020 election, which had already been well established as Biden winning at that point.

So it really shows you how desperate the President was to try to claim a win any way he could, how he was willing to wreak havoc with the DOJ and how many people in that department had to take this urgency team measure to make him stop.

BURNETT: So Karoun, you talk about these days when people are away. I mean, the threat I know from your reporting became so serious, Rosen and his deputy rushed to the White House for meeting on New Year's Eve.

DEMIRJIAN: Right. Right.

BURNETT: New Year's Eve. OK. Tell me about that meeting.

DEMIRJIAN: New Year's Eve, exactly. Well, I mean, look, Rosen and his deputy are rushing to the White House because they are trying to buy more time basically to be able to pull the president back.

Look, the President was very focused on this handful of states that he thought that if you could bring up enough claims of fraud, if you could have the Justice Department behind them, it might make it people question the election results and he had a guy who was not his Acting Attorney General, but one step down, basically, who would have been ready to step into that breach.


And so Rosen is basically trying to hold him back at that point and manages to do that for two, two and a half days, basically, until Trump decides that he is going to go whole hog again. And the thing that's really interesting is that it's Clark, the person Trump want to replace Rosen with that tells Rosen, oh, I'm going to be the new Acting Attorney General, which tells you how far the president got in almost executing that decision.

And so for all the time they were buying it, clearly the president was still informing the next person in line that get ready, you're going to be on in five.

BURNETT: Amazing. Already had told the replacement that he was getting the job. All right. Karoun, thank you very much. I mean, it's incredible reporting.

Let's go to Elie Honig, our Senior Legal Analyst and former Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York. I mean, Elie, this is pretty stunning. I'm just looking here just to make sure I have all of this accurately. Clark who was going to replace Rosen who Trump said you're going to get the job because I want you to come in.

He was urging DOJ leaders to issue a letter that Georgia's election results were affected by fraud and should be thrown out. This is stunning. Georgia, which went through audit after audit after audit all of them showing the same result. And the President have found someone at the DOJ that would say that wasn't the case that might have tried to overturn the election.

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, Erin. This was scary close when you look at all the facts as laid out in Karoun's piece. I mean, this paints a stark portrait of a White House gone mad that has lost all sense of right and wrong, of truth and falsity that is mad with power and that is desperate in those final days to avoid losing it.

And the fact that they would try to use the Justice Department, the one bulwark of independence and to put in, forget about a loyalist, but someone who was off the rails in this Jeffrey Clark.

And credit is due here to Jeffrey Rosen, who stood his ground. He was not by any means a perfect Deputy Attorney General. He went along with a lot of Trump's worst instincts during his tenure. But here in those final days, Jeffrey Rosen and the Justice Department took a stand for their own independence and for truth really.

BURNETT: Elie, it also shows though that what Trump was saying publicly about overturning the election, he was actually trying to do in real time through official legitimate channels, which is he wasn't just out there spouting off in anger and spinning around. He was trying to take a path for action.

HONIG: Yes. Absolutely, Erin. When I looked at these emails, this was very real. They were not just sort of spitting into the wind here. They absolutely had a plan. In fact, the most chilling single piece of these emails that came out is they drafted up an actual brief that they wanted the United States Department of Justice to file in the Supreme Court looking to overturn the election.

Now, there was a brief eventually filed by the Texas Attorney General, but to see that brief that said United States of America as the plaintiff in this case was chilling as somebody who worked at the Department of Justice.

You're absolutely right, this was more than just angry banter. This was a real plan of action.

BURNETT: Now, look, there were at this time or a little bit after but right, obviously, after the insurrection you had some key resignations. But this was before that. She's reporting New Year's Eve.

This isn't the days before. And what Karoun's reporting is that there were some around the president who said, look, doing this, getting rid of your Acting Attorney General, putting in another one, issuing a letter saying Georgia's election results should be overturned is not going to play the way you think it's going to play. And she's also talking about that there was the possibility of mass resignations.

Do you think that would have happened, given that so many people who would have theoretically been a part of that had not done so despite everything else that the President had said and done even about this issue in the prior weeks?

HONIG: I absolutely do think there would have been mass resignations. I'm willing to give enough credit to Jeffrey Rosen and the other officials. You can see in the e-mails, they are disgusted by this. They understand just how dangerous this is I absolutely think, especially in these final days. Look, they were rational enough to know it was over. Donald Trump maybe hadn't accepted it, but by late December any person with half a brain could see it was over.

I do think they would have resigned. With that said, Trump still could have gone ahead with it. He still could have put in Jeffrey Clark. That would have taken us down a very dangerous path. So DOJ stood its ground here. Donald Trump was not willing to call the bluff and that really is what saved the day here.

BURNETT: NO. And you got to call it out, even as you point you point out about Rosen, right? OK, there are a lot of things one could criticize or not standing up, but when a moment matters and you're a person who stands up, it is important to note it. Thanks very much, Elie. I appreciate it.

HONIG: Thanks, Erin.

BURNETT: And next, Sen. Joe Manchin vehemently oppose the voting rights bill. Could he now change his mind and vote for it with some crucial changes?

And Southern Baptists just elected a new president. Among the challenges he and other spiritual leaders face is the influence of QAnon.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And then I started thinking am I putting even Trump above God?


BURNETT: The new head of the Southern Baptist Convention will be OUTFRONT.



BURNETT: Tonight, Democratic Senator Joe Manchin showing an openness to sweeping voting rights legislature, legislation that he recently described as overly partisan.

Manchin saying he could support the bill that's currently hold up in the Senate, in part because of him if certain changes are made.

Now that's the big thing, right? But it has left an opening, that Senate Democrats are seizing and they have been quietly wooing him.

Manu Raju is OUTFRONT on Capitol Hill.

So, Manu, look, they want this to pass desperately. Manchin standing in the way and now says, okay, maybe I'll vote for it if, okay. So what kind of changes is Manchin talking about? What is the if?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, he is laid out a changes that he wants, one of which is actually a nonstarter for number Democrats, they would actually require an idea to vote. That's a voter ID requirement that is long pushed by Republicans, that Democrats have said is off the table and push to try and reform voting laws.

But Joe Manchin I'm told, from Democrats who have engaged with him is open to some modifications to that proposal. He's also open to potentially even moving ahead with this legislation, even if it does not have Republican support.


I had asked him today, would you support a revised bill, even if Republicans don't get behind it? He did not go that far, even though that had been his red line for weeks. Now, this came out, it comes after a withering criticism that he has

gotten from the left, for being the lone Senate Democrats to not sign off on that bill because of his concern. He had said that such voting laws changed and be done on a big bipartisan basis, there should be a deal, Democrats want to make the argument the whole caucus is behind, that's the Republicans are the ones who are standing away, having come here and they plan to make going forward.

But, Erin, it's important to note here, there's still 60 votes will be needed to advance such legislation. They simply do not have 60 votes, even if they do get Joe Manchin on board. But nevertheless, the key test vote, the first test vote could occur next week.

Chuck Schumer in the Senate majority leader, just took the necessary procedural steps, Erin, to set up a vote that would happen sometimes next week. So, all moving towards that, as Democrats try to move one of their own to get behind the party's effort here -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Manu, thank you.

And Vice President Harris met with Texas Democrats have successfully blocked a Republican overhaul bill on the state last month, when they walked out of the state capital.


KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: All citizens have the right to vote, constitutionally. What we are seeing more examples of an attempt to interfere with that right.


BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, Democratic State Representative Nicole Collier of Texas who met with the vice president today.

And, Representative, I appreciate your time.

So you met with her. What was your message to Vice President Harris in your meeting?

STATE REP. NICOLE COLLIER (D-TX): Thank you so much, Erin.

Our message to the vice president included acumen to continue to keep voting rights a priority. President Biden and Vice President Harris have said that they are prioritizing the protection of voting rights for Americans. And so, we want them to make sure -- we want to make sure that they continue to do that and then provide any type of input for us to help us combat the assault that has been lodged against Texans when it comes to our voting rights.

BURNETT: So, Senator Manchin today said he could support as one, which is the sweeping elections overall bill in the Senate. It's passed in the House. But, obviously, as you know, it's been stalled in the Senate.

This can make a big difference, especially when you think about election laws that are being proposed in states across the country like yours.

But he wants changes and you know one of those is a new voter ID requirement. He wants a voter ID requirement. He wants to drop no excuse absentee voting.

So, would you support that legislation in the bill if those changes were a part of it, you get the bill but those changes happen?

COLLIER: Well, listen, there are about seven of us that had just met with Senator Manchin. There were five House member -- Texas legislative members and three from the Congress. We just spoke with him.

And what I am hopeful for and grateful for is that he's still at the table. The fact that he's still negotiating and willing to have discussions means that there is a potential for progress.

Now, he did reiterate the voter ID, you know, provision, but I don't think it looks like what we see in Texas. Texas already has one of the most strict -- we have the strictest voting laws in the nation. And when he's talking about voter ID, it may not be the same type of voter ID at that level that we have in Texas, that's so stringent.

So I think that the fact that we're continuing to talk, that these negotiations ongoing, it gives us hope and promise for the future.

BURNETT: So former President Trump is going to be in Texas in two weeks, he said, to tour the border wall with your Governor Greg Abbott. Ahead of that visit, Governor Abbott said the state has allocated a quarter billion dollars appropriated by the state legislature as a down payment to build the border wall, and he's encouraging regular citizens to chip in by donating.

Here's Governor Abbott.


GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R), TEXAS: Building the wall in Texas has officially begun. Now I know for a fact that many Texans and many Americans want to get involved in this process. Many have already sent checks to the state of Texas for this purpose, and many more have a desire to do so, and we want to give them an opportunity to donate.


BURNETT: Do you think that will resonate?

COLLIER: Well, that's very interesting because we passed the budget and I don't remember a line item that went to the wall. So, it's interesting what is going to use, what dollars is going to use and dedicate and what's going to take away from public safety in terms of addressing the law where there is no valid concern in terms of crimes and safety for people that would rise in level of picking dollars that even dedicated by the legislature and reallocating them on his own to the wall.


BURNETT: All right. Well, Representative Collier, I appreciate your time and I thank you.

COLLIER: Thank you.

BURNETT: Next, the Southern Baptist convention facing challenges like never before.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The church needs a day of reckoning, it needs to be a stripping down to the bases, the basics of everything that you say you stand for.


BURNETT: The group's new leader is OUTFRONT.

And as Biden is focused on Russia, China sent 28 military planes to fly over Taiwan. What's behind China's message? And why now


BURNETT: In tonight's "Inside Look", should the largest protestant denomination in the United States embrace critical race theory? Should they ordain female ministers?

These are some questions that are dividing more than 14 million members of the Southern Baptist Convention. Delegates just electing a new president from the moderate wing of the church, dealing a major blow to older conservatives who are pushing back on what they call, quote, woke ideology.

Nick Valencia is OUTFRONT.



NICK VALENCIA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Nashville, the morning began the same way it often does for the thousands in attendance, with worship and praise for Jesus. But for some first-time attendees like Debi Shatell, this year's Southern Baptist Convention is a reckoning for Christianity and the nation.

So, they have a place in politics?


VALENCIA: Shatell is part of the far-right and more fundamentalist contingent of Southern Baptist that was just handed a big loss last night when moderate Ed Litton was elected president.

Shatell fears Litton's win means woke ideology like teaching critical race theory will take hold in the church and society. The only way to stop it, the former teacher says, is for the Southern

Baptist to get more involved than ever in politics.

SHATELL: When you say separation of church and state, you are basically -- you are basically discriminating against a group of people.

VALENCIA: And in the spirit of talking about discrimination, does your stance against critical race theory not run the risk of pushing out people of color?


VALENCIA: Why not?

SHATELL: Because in Christ, there is no color.

VALENCIA: But looking around the convention grounds, the reality is very different. Thirty-five-year-old associate pastor Keelan Adams of Montgomery, Alabama, is one a few black people here. Adams voted as a messenger for the first time this year. He has hope for Litton who is politically conservative but it considered a moderate by some in the denomination, on issues like critical race theory and the Black Lives Matter movement.

KEELAN ADAMS, SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION ATTENDEE: There is a reason why younger people like him, and that has to do with him being flexible and understandable towards different, like some of the newer issues that have come up within the SBC.

VALENCIA: More progressive issues?

ADAMS: Exactly.

VALENCIA: Sex abuse survivors Hanna Kate Williams and Tiffany Thigpen say Litton should focus less on politics and instead on what they say is the church's real problem. It's mishandling of sexual abuse allegations.

A recent letter between two high-profile Southern Baptist leaders brought to light new allegations of alleged spiritual and psychological abuse of survivors as well as attempts to exonerate charges of abuse claims.

At a press conference after being elected, Litton called churches places for people to feel protected.

ED LITTON, INCOMING PRESIDENT, SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION: Like I just said, I think we have to find a mechanism and a way to help train our people, get more churches involved, and wanting to create a safe environment in their church and to be known as great commission people.

VALENCIA: But Tigpen says some in the denomination, even one of her best friends, have turned their back on her for speaking out. She says others have encouraged her point blank to be quiet about her abuse. TIFFANY THIGPEN, SEXUAL ABUSE SURVIVOR: The church needs a day of

reckoning. It needs to be a stripping down to the bases, basics of everything that you say you stand for. Everything that you claim to represent, your view, to the world, as great commission Baptist. Well, how does the world really see you? Do they see you as hypocrites?


VALENCIA (on camera): The path ahead for the SBC is clear for some. But that path may not be for all. The SBC is juggling how to handle more progressive issues like critical race theory, the Black Lives Matter movement, while not straying too far from its foundation. What is clear is a newly elected SBC president Ed Litton who we will hear from shortly will have to handle the issues that are at the center of the nation's political debate. Things like race, gender, and equality -- Erin.

BURNETT: Right. Certainly, evangelical faith and Baptist is the center of all of these issues. Thank you so much, Nick.

And I want to go out front to Pastor Ed Litton who won that election for president of the Southern Baptist Convention.

And, Pastor, I really appreciate your time. And thank you for speaking out.

LITTON: You're welcome.

BURNETT: You are facing a cultural divide. People are around this country, and in your church as well, and especially on the issue of critical race theory. The Southern Baptist Convention is adopting the theory which recognizes that systemic racism is part of American society, challenges laws that promote inequality.

But conservatives Southern Baptist Pastor Mike Stone says, our Lord isn't woke.

What do you say to those in your own -- in your own convention who believe the charges drifting too far to the left?

LITTON: Yeah, there's really no moderate wing of the Southern Baptist Convention. And I am certainly not a moderate by any theological definition. I'm very conservative in my faith, my theology, and as you mentioned in your piece, in my politics.

But the reality is, we're facing real cultural needs in the cities that we are pastoring and trying to administer people's desires, heart's desires and needs, and their especially -- especially their need for the gospel and to know the love of Jesus Christ.

And so, this is not a leftward drift at all.


And it's not a good characterization because there are no real moderates in Southern Baptist life. BURNETT: Which you know, I understand that, but the criticism

nonetheless comes to you, from another pastor. Our Lord isn't woke, you know, angry that you're recognizing as a group critical race theory.

What do you say to that? How do you explain it? Yeah.

LITTON: No, let me say -- yeah, I can explain simply. We've never condone critical race theory. As a matter of fact, that this convention, we've been very clear, repeatedly, that it is a philosophy, it's a world view, it's a way of seeing things in the culture we live, but we do not adopt it.

We may teach it in our seminaries only to help pastors understand that it's a mechanism used in our culture and we have to understand it because --

BURNETT: So, you're saying you do not recognize -- the Southern Baptist Convention is adopting the theory that recognizes systemic racism is a part of American society. You're saying that that's not true?

LITTON: No, I didn't say that's true. I didn't say there isn't systemic racism. That's obvious.

I'm saying that we do not prescribe to critical race theory, and that's what was part of what you said. We do not prescribe to it. That's a false narrative.

We believe in gospel. We believe in gospel reconciliation. One of the reasons I'm often called woke --


BURNETT: OK. I'm sorry, maybe we are just misunderstanding each other in words.


BURNETT: But I really -- I do want to try and understand this because I think it is so crucial. So, you're saying there is systemic racism, but there are some who say even in your own -- your own faith group, that, quote, our Lord isn't woke, that they're frustrated that you would even do that.

How do you have those conversations when you feel so differently about something that's so crucial and core right now to what this country is going through?

LITTON: It is crucial to what our country is going through. And the answer to that question is Jesus tells us to come -- the word of God tells us to come and reason together.

And so, what our desire is when we come to our convention, that we gather, we reaffirm our doctrinal statements, and nothing changed in any of our doctrinal statements in this convention, and they won't. That we reaffirm who we are, what our mission is as a convention of

almost 50,000 churches.


LITTON: So, we reaffirm those things.

But we need a better conversation about this because these allegations are false. We are not -- let me tell you why I think this is happening, because there are people who are afraid of dealing with this issue. And it's basically recognizing people of color in our communities are created in the image of God. They have value because God not only loves them, he redeems them, and God wants them in his family.

And so, it's our mission to help get that gospel message to everybody.

BURNETT: So, let me ask you another thing. And I know this, there's a recent poll, I'm sure you are aware of this, Pastor, that shows 25 percent of white evangelicals believe in the QAnon conspiracy theory. I spoke to Reverend Russell Moore recently. Obviously, you know him.


BURNETT: He said he was speaking to pastors from every denomination. He told me saying literally every single day, and they are talking about this problem.

Some pastors are promoting the sentiment behind this theory in their sermons. Others are trying to combat it. But I want to play some of the postures that are putting this to their flocks along with former Christian QAnon believers. So, that's what you're going to hear here.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is a demonic protection around Joe Biden.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Joe Biden is a fake president!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have many people in our government that are very compromised. And there's a plan that's trying to turn that over to get them and put these people behind bars. Okay?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Even the group that I was in, I was like, I'm going to these more than, you know, I go to church once a week. I'm up here for two hours every single night, like committed to these. And I was like, that's probably not right, and then I started thinking, am I putting even Trump above God?


BURNETT: CNN also spoke to a retired Southern Baptist Pastor Parker Neff in Mississippi. And he said he believed in QAnon. His comment was, quote, it seemed to be good, solid, conservative thought.

Pastor, have you encountered this? I mean, what can be done about this?

LITTON: First of all, I have not encountered it in my church. I've not -- I don't know many pastors who have.

I think it's a fringe problem. And so, almost 50,000 Southern churches, I think most pastors are doing this, they're faithfully teaching God's word every week. They open the Bible. They bring messages of life to people, hope to people.

And, you know, conspiracy theories are all across our culture. So, I don't think it's just some churches doing this. I think there's all kinds of fringe elements that will believe a lie rather than the truth.

BURNETT: That may be true. So, I guess you're taking issue the poll of 25 percent. Another pastor told me he thought it was 10 percent, most of the congregations he knew.


BURNETT: I guess the question I would ask you, Pastor, do you feel any burden, obligation, responsibility to try to stop this? Whether you'd find it as fringe or not?


LITTON: Well, no, it is fringe, but, yes, I have an obligation with my people, especially that I teach on regular basis, to not listen to fables and the Scripture is very clear about that. And so -- but to build your life on the word of God. That's the foundation of our lives.

And so, the Bible is very real, and it's very -- it deals with real life issues. And so, yeah, there are conspiracy theories, and there are people that follow those things. But our people, and I think our pastors throughout the Southern Baptist Convention, you will find are faithfully every week shepherding their flocks with the word of God.

BURNETT: All right. Pastor Litton, I appreciate your time. And I thank you.

LITTON: Well, thank you.

BURNETT: OUTFRONT next, China in a major shove aggression over Taiwan. What will Biden do?


BURNETT: Tonight, as President Biden is focused on Russia, China making a major show of aggression in Taiwan, flying 28 Chinese military planes over the island, which is the largest incursion since Taiwan began reporting these actions. And it comes a time when foreign policy experts warn China may be closer to military action in Taiwan than ever before.

Will Ripley is OUTFRONT on the ground there in Taiwan. And will, the U.S., the U.K. says China is part of a threat to global

democracy, but this is crucial, right? This is Taiwan, the whole issue of sovereignty and whether China is going to take over countries. What more can you tell us about Beijing's show of force?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is certainly a dramatic escalation here in this part of the world. This beats the previous record, Erin, of 25 planes back in April. And it comes at a time 48 hours after that G7 joint communique scolding China over issues including the suppression of democracy in Hong Kong, the accusations of genocide against Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang, and the intimidation, the military intimidation of Taiwan, an island of more than 43 million people that China claims as its own territory even though the Chinese civil war ended more than 70 years ago.

And here in Taipei, they've had their own government ever since. They elect their leaders here. It's the only Chinese speaking democracy in the world. But China refuses to acknowledge his government. Every time they think the United States or other western democracies are moving closer to Taiwan, they respond in kind with this kind of thing.

You had 28 planes, two kinds of fighter jets, nuclear capable bombers, anti-submarine and intelligence, early warning aircraft. So, this kind of a signal as one to intimidate Taiwan, although they did not violate Taiwanese airspace. They did not violate international law. They did enter Taiwan's air defense identification zone.

But by sending those capable bombers which frankly they wouldn't need if they were to attack Taiwan, that analysts say is a message to the United States which has troops stationed in Japan and Guam. And those bombers can certainly target those American troops in those locations.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much. I appreciate it, Will.

Pretty incredible stuff there from Will. Only Chinese speaking democracy in the world.

Thank you for joining us.

Anderson starts now.