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Erin Burnett Outfront

Biden Pushes New COVID Strategy; Vows To Combat Omicron, Now Reported In 4 States, With "Science And Speed, Chaos"; Stricter Testing For U.S.-Bound Travelers Takes Effect Monday; Sheriff: 2 Teachers Reporting Teen Suspect's "Disturbing" Behavior Led To School Meeting With Parents Day Of Shooting; Sources: Meadows Pushed Officials To Pursue Baseless Election Claims Involving Thermostats In China And Satellites In Italy; WTA: New Email From Peng Shuai Not Enough To Ease Concerns; Washington Post: Trump Could Make $100M Off Sale Of DC Hotel. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired December 02, 2021 - 19:00   ET



DEAN CHENG, SENIOR RESEARCH FELLOW, THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION: I think this is absolutely going to increase the pressure to at least not have diplomatic presence at the Winter Olympics and Beijing is unhappy about that.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Chinese authorities have not acknowledged Peng Shuai's accusations against the former Vice Premier and they're pushing back against the WTA for that boycott, Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: All right. Brian, thank you very much.

Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, the race to stop a winter surge. President Biden kicking off a new plan to prevent a surge in COVID cases, includes booster shots, free at home testing. Is it enough?

Plus, a chilling picture emerging at this hour of the suspected high school shooter accused of killing for classmates. The Sheriff is revealing tonight about the suspect's behavior leading up to the very moments of the shooting.

And Trump's wealth, it may have taken a hit while he was president. But a jaw-dropping amount of money still flowed into his bank accounts. Wait until you see it. Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, pulling out all the stops. President Biden in a major address detailing a whole bunch of new actions that he is now going to take to prevent a winter COVID surge. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's the combined advice from all of you that we develop this plan. And it doesn't include shutdowns or lockdowns, but widespread vaccinations, and boosters, and testing and a lot more. We're going to fight this variant with science and speed, not chaos and confusion.


BURNETT: Okay. Well, among the specific measures, there's going to be a nationwide campaign for boosters, a bit unclear on what that would exactly be, but there's that. There's going to be new family vaccination clinics. That's a specific and the requirement for international travelers to the United States to get tested one day before their flight. They've had a window, three to five days. Now it's one day.

But what may be the biggest game changer is dramatically expanding testing. That, of course, is maybe the biggest key to safely reopening.


PRESIDENT BIDEN: We're going to make free at home tests more available to Americans than ever before. To better detect and control the Delta variant, health insurers must cover the cost of at home testing.


BURNETT: Now, that's actually a really significant thing, what he said there. Perhaps more than anything else that was said today, that was real. Because in recent months, the United States has dramatically fallen behind other countries where rapid COVID tests are cheap and readily available. Here a lot of times you go into the pharmacy and there aren't any there.

It's clear, Biden is trying to stay now in front of the virus and the new variant, which has been detected in at least four states already, including Minnesota, Colorado and New York and likely, obviously, there's a whole lot more places. The truth is President Biden has learned. His message today totally different from the one he gave this summer before the Delta wave. Remember when he made the mistake of declaring victory.


PRESIDENT BIDEN: America is headed into the summer dramatically different from last year's summer, a summer freedom, a summer of joy, a summer of get togethers and celebrations.


BURNETT: A summer of joy. He doesn't want to repeat that again. Okay. He is keenly aware, though, that the virus has become even more politicized since then. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT BIDEN: I know COVID-19 has been very divisive in this country. It's become a political issue, which is a sad, sad commentary. It shouldn't be but it has been.


BURNETT: And that is true no matter what your politics are, you got to agree with that. Republicans obviously have seen elected Republicans pushing back against vaccine mandates as a way to fire up their base. If you look at the Florida Governor, Ron DeSantis, he has been fighting Biden at every turn and now is upping the ante.

DeSantis saying his state may now actually, ready for this, very specific, pay the fines of businesses that choose to defy Biden's vaccine mandates and he's going to pay those fines to the federal government using Biden's COVID relief funds. And while DeSantis continues to fight vaccine mandates in every way, look at what's happening around the world, Germany, they're in the midst of a fourth spike and there they want a nationwide vaccine mandate. Seeing a fourth surge there in Europe closing down, they're going to lock down anybody who doesn't have the vaccine in Germany. It's just not what you want to see.

Kaitlan Collins is OUTFRONT at the White House. And Kaitlan, you are just finding out how soon some of President Biden's plans will go into effect. I mean, those that are specific. What have you found out?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: And this is a big one, Erin, because if you are an international traveler coming to the United States and before you had 72 hours to get a negative test result before your flight, now you've got 24 hours. And that is a new rule that goes into effect starting at midnight on Monday, December 6. And so that is going to be important for any travelers coming to the United States, including U.S. citizens and that's just one of the steps that the President announced today as this new strategy to combat COVID-19, going into the winter months dealing with this new variant.


They're also extending the mask mandate on planes. Of course, that is something that's been in effect for several months. It was set to expire next month and they're extending it through March.

But you are right that there was a big emphasis on testing today. And it seems to be an acknowledgement from the administration that vaccinations are not going to be enough. And so getting boosters is a big push of theirs right now, but also this at home testing and increasing that.

And so there are a few caveats to the President's announcement, which is that the White House doesn't think this is actually going to go into effect when it comes to private insurers covering the cost of those at home tests until mid January, so about six weeks from now and it's not going to retro actively cover any of the tests that you've paid for before and you will have to file an insurance claim to get that money back for that at home test, whether it's a $10 test, a $15 test, of course, those tests that we have now seen on the market, about eight of them so far.

But, of course, the President also noting the political divide here and the issues that are up against that. Notably, his new announcements today did not come with any more mandates, as of course, the current ones when it comes to vaccinations are tied up in courts, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Kaitlan, thank you very much. Yes. The testing is pretty incredible and I'm sure many people watching have walked into a store, they don't have any tests or if they do, you end up paying up to $27 for the test. And then you hoard the test, you'd be like, well, what have been actually the merits using the test because I can't get another test. That is absurd. It needs to stop.

OUTFRONT now, Dr. Richard Besser, he was an Acting Director of the CDC under President Obama. He is now the President and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. So Dr. Besser, how much of an impact do you think the strategy from President Biden will have on a winter surge that he warns is basically, definitively on the way, including the Omicron variant, which we know so little about still?

RICHARD BESSER, FORMER CDC ACTING DIRECTOR UNDER OBAMA: Yes. I mean, it's a great question, Erin. A lot is going to depend on whether he is able to pull the nation together. His comments about trying to take the politics out of this, about getting vaccinated and following public health guidance, being the patriotic thing to do.

If that can be the message, if that can be something we rally around, then I think that these measures he's laying out could have a big impact. But the measures aren't really new. It's what we've been told to do by public health all along, get vaccinated, wear masks, be careful when you're indoors and enclosed spaces. Use testing when you're going to be together with people.

All these things are part of the current guidance, ramping it up, getting people committed to doing it is going to be the big challenge. One of the things about the Omicron variant is that it's drawing more attention to this and people who I think were complacent are saying, wow, I think I need to continue to do these measures.

BURNETT: So let me just ask you about something that they're just constantly discussing about and that is flying. The President's requiring all international travelers entering the United States, whether American or not to test negative a day before flying. Now, I understand that some people want there to be testing right at the site of the airplane, all sorts of things are being discussed, so people aren't fully satisfied with that. But I actually want to ask you about the other part of it, which is domestically.

Domestically, there's no testing requirement. There's no vaccination requirement. Why do you think they don't do that? It would seem that domestically having a vaccine requirement to fly, yes, I'm sure would upset some people, but it actually could make a difference.

BESSER: Well, it would definitely increase the number of people who get vaccinated. In terms of whether it would decrease the amount of transmission, I think the impact there would be marginal. But in terms of people being able to do the things they want to do and flying is something that a lot of people want to be able to do, having that as a barrier or requirement for getting on a plane, I think would help.

One of the things Erin that I find extremely challenging is that there are so many people who are concerned about Omicron. But a week ago before we were even talking about Omicron and today, there are still a thousand people, roughly a thousand people who are dying every single day from the Delta variant. And we were accepting it as okay, that's just what we're going to see with this when most of those deaths are fully preventable.

BURNETT: Well, it is pretty incredible, a thousand people a day. Everyone can do the math, 30,000 a month, 365,000 people a year. I mean, it is pretty incredible. And you're right, it had been completely accepted and no longer even commented upon.

I want to ask you about what the former White House senior advisor for Biden's response to COVID-19 said today, Andy Slavitt. Here he is to our Jake Tapper.


ANDY SLAVITT, FMR. WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISER FOR COVID RESPONSE: What I think everybody didn't see was how rapidly and more aggressively Delta would come into the country. So look, we made that mistake. I made that mistake. I underestimated what would come from Delta. People can say today that they might have predicted Delta, but I can tell you all during 2020 very few people said we're going to see a worse variant in 2021.

Now, I think we see that case and I don't think we're going to make that mistake again.



BURNETT: It's interesting the way he said it. Look, he was in an interview, but when he said now we see that case, that's referring to a worst variant. But we don't know that about this variant, do you think that probably is the case?

BESSER: Well, I agree with Andy, that you really want to go out strong. When I was the Acting Director at CDC in 2009 with the H1N1 swine flu pandemic, we went at it really, really strong. And we were criticized by some later on that, wow, you really overplayed this. It turned out to not be such a big deal.

Well, you don't know that right now about the Omicron. I hope that's the case. I hope it turns out that it does not cause more severe illness, that it doesn't spread easier. That people who are vaccinated are actually well protected. But until we have the answers to those three critical questions, it is really important that we take it seriously. We'd much more careful in terms of our interactions, we're more careful on travel.

It's only a matter of a couple of weeks before some of the critical information is in on that. And you don't want to be in a situation where you're saying, wow, I wish we did more. I would much rather have people say they really did too much.

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

BESSER: Thanks, Erin.

BURNETT: And next, we have more on the investigation into that horrific Michigan school shooting, now focusing on the very specific moments leading up to the attack, including the concerns that two separate teachers had about the suspect.

Plus, incredible new details emerging about how far Trump's then-Chief of Staff went in pushing the former president's lies of voter fraud.

And the World Tennis Association announcing it has received another email from tennis star Peng Shuai, what she allegedly wrote after the WTA pulled all of its tournaments in China?



BURNETT: Tonight, we have new details in the Michigan high school shooting investigation. The Sheriff revealing that two separate teachers, two of them, reported, their words, disturbing and concerning behavior from the suspected shooter in the hours before the shooting. The attack on Tuesday left for students dead. He killed four people, injured seven more. And the news comes as prosecutors say that they could bring charges against Mr. Crumbley's parents in the next 24 hours. Shimon Prokupecz is OUTFRONT.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have an active shooter incident. So far we do have confirmed injuries.


SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME & JUSTICE REPORTER(voice over): New details including some of the emergency dispatch calls from Tuesday school shooting in Oxford, Michigan.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've got one with a neck wound. One with a head wound.


PROKUPECZ(voice over): Police saying today they are confident the suspect acted alone.


SHERIFF MICHAEL BOUCHARD, OAKLAND COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE: We have seen no evidence that there was anyone else involved in the situation with him or anything to follow on.


PROKUPECZ(voice over): The investigation now focuses on events leading up to the moment when 15-year-old, Ethan Crumbley allegedly started shooting that day.


BOUCHARD: On the day prior to the tragedy, a teacher in a classroom where he was a student saw and heard something that she felt was disturbing in terms of his behavior.


PROKUPECZ(voice over): In fact, two separate teachers had reported disturbing behavior before the deadly shootings began.


BOUCHARD: They had a counseling session about it with school officials and a phone call was left with the parents.


PROKUPECZ(voice over): Just hours before the shootings, the second teacher brought the suspects behavior to the attention of school authorities.


BOUCHARD: The day of the shooting, a different teacher in a different classroom saw some behavior that they felt was concerning. And they brought the child down to an office, had a meeting with school officials, called in the parents and ultimately was determined that he could go back into class.


PROKUPECZ(voice over): The prosecutor saying there is more evidence to come.


KAREN MCDONALD, OAKLAND COUNTY, MI PROSECUTOR: There's an additional piece of evidence that hasn't been released yet. But I can assure you, it was troubling, it was disturbing and, unfortunately, he was allowed to go back to class.


PROKUPECZ(voice over): Then just before 1 pm, emergency calls began.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Medical emergency, Oxford High School, is not secure, possible multiple injuries.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put it out as a mass casualty, please.


PROKUPECZ(voice over): Prosecutors say school surveillance video shows the suspect left the bathroom, gun in hand and began shooting from the hallway at a methodical pace. Firing at least 30 shots at fellow students in hallways and in classrooms. First responders called for advanced life support units, helicopters and hospital support for trauma patients.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two patients at door four, two patients door seven, one at door six with a head injury.


PROKUPECZ(voice over): Crumbley now in jail awaiting trial is charged as an adult with first-degree murder, terrorism causing death and assault charges in connection with shooting 11 people, killing four of them. He pleaded not guilty to the charges through his attorney at his arraignment, Wednesday.

Prosecutors are now saying an announcement may be coming soon about potential charges for the suspect's parents related to the gun allegedly used in the shooting.


MCDONALD: We're reviewing potential charges and hope to have an announcement about that in the next 24 hours.



PROKUPECZ(on camera): And Erin, an attorney for the alleged shooter would not comment on the possibility of charges against the parents, neither would the parents. And think about this, Erin, all of this really continuing to create fear in this community.

Police here a short time ago revealing that some 60 schools have been forced to close because of unverified threats, threats that they are investigating, prosecutors and police here saying they are going to go after those people and bring charges against them once they find them. BURNETT: Shimon, thank you.

I want to go now to David Coulter. He is the County Executive for Oakland County, Michigan. Dave, just horrible to talk to you in these circumstances, the thing that stood out to me, many things stand out to me in that report, but one of them is that the second teacher reports some behavior, disturbing enough on the very day of the shooting that she calls the main office and Ethan Crumbley is called in. And it's serious enough that his parents who are at work or wherever they are, are called into the school and they come in.


And yet, after that meeting, he is allowed to return to school. When you hear that, what goes through your mind?

DAVE COULTER, (D) OAKLAND COUNTY, MI EXECUTIVE: First of all, I want to say I'm not the prosecutor or the sheriff, but it just adds an additional level of pain to what has already been a really painful and traumatic experience for our community. And so, it makes a bad situation even that much worse, frankly.

BURNETT: Your community obviously has been crushed by this and you just heard Shimon talk about something I know you're well aware of, the alarming number of threats to schools that you're experiencing on the back of this horrific shooting. Sixty schools in the area of Detroit, is my understanding, have been closed in the past day or two because of this. I mean ...

COULTER: Yes. Our schools are getting slammed with tips and information. Unfortunately, what we knew before and is playing out is that after a tragedy like this, these sort of copycat threats are very common and we've been hit with them in a major way. And our schools were so concerned that, as you said, 60 of them today canceled classes, many of them doing the same again tomorrow.

So we've reached out to them, because one of the things we have been able to identify so far is that there have been no credible threat. Now, we take every threat seriously and so they have to be investigated. But it does look like these are just, I don't know, sick individuals, pranksters, people who are trying to draw attention. But it really is disrupting our education system as we speak.

BURNETT: A system that has been so incredibly challenged in recent months. What do you say to the young people, the students in your community who are terrified, that are scared to go back to school?

COULTER: They're very scared and so what we wanted to tell them today and what we've been trying to say is that we are going to do everything that we can to protect you. We have a wonderful Sheriff's department here. They responded in heroic fashion.

We have a strong prosecutor who is prosecuting these cases to the fullest extent and we're going to do everything we can to keep our kids safe at school and that we do believe it is safe at school. We haven't gotten any threat that would indicate that we have a widespread problem.

The problem we have as people who, for whatever reason, are posting things on social media or emails or the like and adding, frankly, a terror on top of what has already been a terrifying situation.

BURNETT: It's unbelievably sick. Dave, thank you very much.

And on that, I want to go straight to Juliette Kayyem. She is the former Homeland Security Assistant Secretary and our National Security Analyst.

So, Juliette, I want to talk here about the parents. Prosecutors are saying they could announce charges against Crumbley's parents within the next 24 hours. Now, just to set the stage here, the parents were called into that meeting. We know that they were aware of an issue. They were called into the school. We also know the father bought the handgun that was used here four days before the shooting.

The prosecutor has made it very clear from everything she has said that she thinks the parents knew a lot and should never put the gun in someone in this condition's hands, that they would have known the condition, all these implications are there and that she seems prepared to charge them. What do you think will happen?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, if she does charge them, which I think she should, if the evidence shows something beyond negligence, gross negligence, just not consideration of life, it will be historic, it will be the first time in which a criminal statute is used to go after the parents for their failure to control a child's access, a child - a killer's access to a gun.

There have been cases in the past in which victim's family sue the defendant's family in civil court and there have been a few other cases throughout the country in which parents are given citations or something if their kids threatened the use of gun. But this would be historic and it's about time, honestly, at this stage.

Michigan does not have a requirement that there be a law requirement on the gun itself. So this is really a parent's duty to ensure that the person in their custody is not a danger to society.

BURNETT: And so what we're learning is that two separate teachers reported deeply concerning behavior about Crumbley to the school, one the day before, one hours before the shooting. Again, it was disturbing enough that they brought him into the school office. They brought the parents in from work or wherever they were, bring them all in on the very day of the shooting.

And so the parents were aware that there's something deeply wrong and from what they're intimating what the shooter said that caused this was horrible and probably pretty specific to what ended up happening. So what do you think happens here? Is the school accountable?


KAYYEM: It's hard to know exactly what was said in the room and this is a really interesting case in a horrible way. These things are interesting in the sense that I've never seen a timeframe like this.

Here's a student who, at least from the Sheriff's report, hasn't had discipline issues, is not been bullied, nothing is really going on. His father buys a gun during the holiday weekend and then Monday is his first sort of interaction with the school in terms of their concerns. And then Tuesday, he's a mass killer. So something is going on there.

I think the school will have to look at what he did in that moment. But see, to me, this just shows that all of this preparation and all of this defense, the active shooter trainers and having armed guards and having guidance counselors who are bringing students in and having drills where law enforcement gets there in four minutes, none of it is enough. It's about the guns.

I mean, we just have to admit that we can't have these kids in these defensive postures anymore.

BURNETT: Right. Well, you don't want to be in a position where you say, oh, it could have been eight, it could have been 12.


BURNETT: I mean, that's just a sick logic of where we are, because you're right, that is where we are. And there are heroes for responding that quickly and that is all amazing. It's a result of their training. It shouldn't be there to begin with.

KAYYEM: Exactly. Yes.

BURNETT: All right.

KAYYEM: You can't drill your way out of this problem. I mean, you just can't.

BURNETT: Juliette, thank you.

KAYYEM: Thank you.

BURNETT: And next, startling new details emerging about Mark Meadows' efforts to investigate lies about election fraud, including the conspiracy theory. Do you remember this one that Italy was using satellites to break into our system and change vote totals?

And China firing back at the Women's Tennis Association over its decision to ban tournaments there. This as we have new reporting tonight on the remarkable lengths some in China are going to talk about Peng Shuai to get around the sensors.



BURNETT: Tonight, incredible new details about former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and his efforts to investigate completely insane election fraud claims. Multiple sources tell CNN that Meadows contacted top national security officials to talk about an alleged plot by China to use thermostats to change results inside U.S. voting machines. Just think about that for a moment. And then pressured the acting attorney general to investigate the baseless conspiracy that satellites in Italy were used to change vote totals.

Paula Reid is OUTFRONT.

Paula, most people couldn't even make this stuff up if they were trying to come up with the plot of a ridiculous novel. This is the reporting. This is real life, the reporting you have on the details. What more are you learning?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. Multiple sources have told us that Meadows reached out to some of the country's top national security officials in an effort to connect them with Trump allies who were pushing unfounded claims of foreign election interference and voter fraud.

We've learned that Meadows did this because he so very much wanted to please the former president, who was hyper-focused on injecting these baseless theories into official government channels. Now, Meadows' attempts to pressure officials at DOJ have been well documented, but we learned that Meadows also reached out to officials at FBI, Pentagon, the National Security Council and the office of the director of the national intelligence about various election fraud claims.

At one point, Erin, he reached out with what he said was potential evidence of a massive conspiracy by China to hack the U.S. election by using thermostats to change the results in voting machines.

Now, we also learned that Meadows attempted to set up a meeting between Mike Flynn and top intelligence officials to discuss this China thermostat hack theory. That meeting never occurred because according to multiple sources, even some Trump officials Meadows reached out to were wary of getting involved in these efforts.

BURNETT: Wow, okay. So all of this obviously, Paula, going to be of interest to the select committee when Meadows meets with them next week, although he seemed to dance a little bit. He's going to give some emails, but far from cooperate.

REID: Exactly. The question, what are those emails, why didn't the archives have them? What does he have that they don't have? A lot of questions.

But as of right now, Meadows is expected to appear for a deposition for the House Select Committee investigating the Capitol riot next week. And, of course, our reporting, what we've learned, will definitely be of significant interest because even an election security officials validated the election results, Meadows continued to show a willingness to undermine confidence in the election, passing on election information from advisers like Flynn and Sidney Powell, saying he was doing it at Trump's behest. Meadows' attorney did not respond to CNN's question for comment, on

our reporting. You can read all the other things that we learned, our full story by myself, our colleagues Zach Cohen and Sara Murray more on

BURNETT: All right. And I hope people will. Thanks very much to you, Paula.

I want to go now to Elie Honig, senior legal analyst, former U.S. assistant attorney to talk about this.

All right. Elie, you were here last night. We talked a little bit about Meadows. But here we are here. You hear Paula's new reporting that now we know Mark Meadows was calling the FBI, the CIA, the Pentagon and others, and among other things wanted to look into an alleged plot by China to change the thermostats in voting machines and change the vote totals.

These are like ostensibly serious people. Meadows, at one point, was an elected member of Congress and this stuff happened.

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Yeah, Erin. My first reaction is just wow. As a human being, a sane, rational human being, wow, how can this be?

When you step back, though, this is really why mark Meadows is the single most important witness to the January 6 investigation other than Trump himself, and he's never going to realistically testify. This is why Meadows is so key because he was running point. He was mission control for a whole of government effort to try to steal this election.

This wasn't some one-off or something he did once. He was reaching out to our most serious agencies, to the Pentagon, the FBI, DOJ, the national security advisers, to try to get them to put their stamp on this craziness. And the fact is it sounds like wild conspiracy wing nut stuff, but it was coming from the chief of staff of the White House.


That is incredibly dangerous. And I think it tells you exactly why Meadows is such a key focal point here.

BURNETT: I mean, you know, here's a picture of him, or a video of him in the Oval Office two days before the insurrection. He's there with Trump, Mike Pence and others. You can see him walking around. A meeting that was specifically, we understand, about how Pence was going to handle certifying the Electoral College vote on January 6th. So, he's in a meeting about that.

Now, Meadows has cooperated somewhat with the committee and that's what I want to talk to you about, somewhat, 6,000 emails. Now, I just want to be clear. We all know, and having dealt with Donald Trump over many years I certainly know the guy doesn't email, he never has emailed, so none of those emails are to Trump. So, Meadows is giving over those emails but making it clear he's going

to exert executive privilege over a lot of stuff. So is he really cooperating or not?

HONIG: Yeah, I'm a little bit skeptical here, Erin. When I was a prosecutor we used to say there are cooperators and then there are cooperators. I know on paper maybe it looks good and sounds good, Meadows is cooperating, but is he really?

Because when you get down to it, this is the crux of the matter. What did you do, Mark Meadows, in relation to the FBI, the DOJ? And what was Donald Trump's involvement? And if the way this plays out is Mark Meadows gets to say, no, guys, not answering that, that's out of bounds, that's privileged or whatever, then this is a bogus deal. Then the committee is not going to get anything out of it.

What are they going to talk about, what color were the drapes in the Oval Office? What did you eat for lunch on January 6? I mean, this is what they need to know.

So if this is out of bounds, the committee got played here. We'll see if they're able to get it out of Mark Meadows.

BURENTT: That's just going to be the crucial question.

All right. Elie, thank you very much.

And next, the Women's Tennis Association says it has received another email from tennis champion Peng Shuai. It comes as people in China are going to incredible lengths to speak the truth, to get around censors who are blocking any information about her story from getting out.

Plus, the number is stunning, $1.7 billion. That's how much money one reporter says made its way into Trump's bank accounts when he was president. Wait until you see the trail.



BURNETT: Tonight, the Women's Tennis Association calling an email it received from Peng Shuai, quote, 100 percent orchestrated. The Chinese tennis star wrote in the email, well, under what duress who knows, but she wrote she was shocked by the organization's decision to suspend tournaments in China.

Steve Simon, head of the WTA, told me last night they needed to act after demanding a full and transparent investigation into the rape allegations Peng made against a senior communist leader.

It comes as China is firing back at the WTA.

Will Ripley is OUTFRONT.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When the head of the Women's Tennis Association made this stunning announcement on OUTFRONT --

STEVE SIMON, HEAD, WTA: We are planning to suspend our events until such time as the Chinese authorities do the appropriate thing.

RIPLEY: -- Chinese state media began waging a propaganda war, blasting the WTA, in English, on Twitter, a platform banned in the mainland.

This tweet reveals Peng Shuai sent a third email to the WTA's Steve Simon expressing her shock for the WTA's unfair decision to suspend all tournaments in China.

Simon confirms to CNN he got the email and just like the first two, he's not convinced Peng is speaking freely.

SIMON: We just feel very strongly that this is certainly being orchestrated. This is something we can't walk away from.

RIPLEY: Even if it means losing a lucrative ten-year deal worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

CHRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN SPORTS ANALYST: The WTA and Steve Simon has been as strong as I have seen a leader in sports for a long time.

RIPLEY: The WTA's strong response in stark contrast to the International Olympic Committee's quiet diplomacy. The IOC now claiming on Wednesday it held a second video call with the three-time Olympian. No photos or videos released, offering her wide-ranging support, including a personal meeting in January.

The IOC handing out this single photo of its first video call with Peng last month. The IOC's longest serving board member telling OUTFRONT, despite no independently verified evidence, that call alone is enough proof for them that she's okay and not being held against her will.

DICK POUND, MEMBER, INTERNATIONAL OLYMPIC COMMITTEE: There are lots of countries where you can't easily leave the country. She's fine and not under any kind of coercion or confinement.

RIPLEY: China's "Global Times" citing the Chinese tennis association saying the WTA's decision was based on fictitious information. This state propaganda is tweeting: The WTA is coercing Peng Shuai to support the West's attack on the Chinese system. They are depriving Peng Shuai's freedom of expression.

That system censored Peng's painful post a month ago accusing a retired senior communists party leader of sexual assault.

TRANSLATOR: Why did you have to come back to me, take me to your home to force me to have sex with you. I couldn't describe how disgusted I was. RIPLEY: Her post erased in less than 30 minutes. Chinese social media

users appearing to use code words to evade the government's army of censors. Some using a line from Peng's post that going up against a powerful party official is like hitting a rock with an egg.

One comment says why don't we talk about the issue of you know whom?

The thread deleted 20 minutes later.

Chinese television never aired these videos of Peng, videos activists say are almost certainly staged, released about three weeks after Peng's post, aimed at a foreign audience to repair China's reputation ahead of the Beijing Winter Olympics.

RICK BURTON, PROFESSOR OF SPORT MANAGEMENT, SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY: The public face that they will show when the games actually happen in February, it will appear as if this never happened.

RIPLEY: Some of the world's most famous athletes voicing support for Peng and the WTA.


Olympic partner sponsors remain silent, much like the tennis star herself.


RIPLEY (on camera): And the Chinese government is attempting to silence CNN's coverage inside China once again. As soon as we start talking about this story, like every time we talk about the story, they cut off CNN's live feed inside China.

Why do they do this? Activists say it's because Chinese leaders are nervous. They're nervous because never before has a woman made this kind of allegation against somebody so high up in the communist party leadership. And the fear is, is that if these Chinese citizens who are using these code words talking about this online and starting to whisper about this, if this spreads, it could be destabilizing for that one-party state, Erin.

BURNETT: Pretty incredible. Will Ripley, thank you very much.

And next, Trump reportedly on the cusp of pocketing $100 million in profit by selling his D.C. hotel. A hotel that my next guest describes as, quote, ground zero for Trump's pay-to-play.

Plus, breaking news. The late-night scramble to preventing the government from shutting down. What Republicans and Democrats are saying about a possible deal tonight.



BURNETT: Tonight, $100 million in profits, that's how much Trump could be about to put in his pocket off the sale of his Washington, D.C. hotel, and that is according to a new report in "The Washington Post" tonight.

The former president reaching a deal with a Miami investment firm to sell the hotel's lease for $375 million, and so, he would make a huge profit if the deal closes. $100 million, as we said.

Now, while he was in office, he lost $70 million on the hotel, but still, this would be a net profit here on the sale of $100 million.

OUTFRONT now, David Cay Johnston, Pulitzer Prize winning investigative reporter and author of the new book, "How Donald Trump Fleeced America and Enriched Himself and His Family".

So, David, you're going through the numbers, you're looking at this. So, let's just talk about this report from "The Washington Post." Trump could make $100 million on this hotel, personally, himself, just to be clear here, you know?

And you describe the hotel as Ground Zero for pay-to-play, 32 countries, officials from 32 countries stayed at that hotel, paying top dollar for access to the president. And now, $100 million more in profits if this sale goes through. Pretty incredible.

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, AUTHOR, "THE BIG CHEAT": Well, Donald sometimes makes great deals with a lot of money. Does lots of bad deals but this looks to be one of his better deals if he makes all this money.

And in the big cheat, I go through other areas where he or his family were phenomenally successful in using the White House to get richer or in some cases, they didn't do very well at it.

BURNETT: So, let me talk about your book, because you do weave together some stunning numbers. I mean, I just want to emphasize, David, you know, a lot of people watching know how completely impossible it is to get real numbers about Trump's business, in part because he doesn't want anyone to know. He's always said he's richer than he is.

But you have done this forensic accounting in your book. You say you have tracked more than $1.7 billion flowing into Trump's bank accounts during his four years as president. Okay. So how much of that is because he was president? How much is that him profiting from the office?

JOHNSTON: Yeah, we don't know. And keep in mind that Donald keeps two sets of books, as we know from the indictment of the Trump organization that's pending in New York right now. The total amount the taxpayers put in is well north of $100 million.

Donald was so eager to charge taxpayers everything he could that when he and the prime minister of Japan had a meeting, he charged $3.15 for each glass of water that was put on the table as a photo prop. I have the invoice for it.

BURNETT: That is incredible. JOHNSTON: So it's -- yeah, well, what I try to do in this book is

take all these threads, a story in "The Washington Post," something that appeared in the "Wall Street Journal" that most people didn't see comprehensively and pick out the most revealing examples that will explain to you how they were trying to turn the White House into a family money machine, and in fact, did so. And at times did so by undercutting American national security interests.

BURNETT: I mean, it's pretty stunning, and Trump's former fixer, Michael Cohen, has said basically, Trump has a few hundred million dollars in debt, $400 million I believe we know, and he wants to pay that back essentially on the backs of small donors who are ponying up $5 to $15 to try to help him now with his, quote/unquote, legal defenses. And he says that Trump is out there floating another run for president and putting all this out there just so he can get the money.

Listen to this.


MICHAEL COHEN, TRUMP'S FORMER PERSONAL ATTORNEY: Donald Trump has made it very clear, right, that he is grifting off of the American people, the supporters. He makes a statement, right, that I'm thinking about it, I'm thinking about it. That's only to keep the grift growing.


BURNETT: You write in the book, David, in just eight weeks, after election day 2020, Trump hauled in $255 million in donations. That was the whole rigged business. And it paid for him. He spent less than $9 million on lawyers and legal costs, but only those who read the fine print, you write, knew that Trump could divert most of the contributions to maintain his lavish lifestyle, making him a wealthy beggar.

So he can live off some of this money?

JOHNSTON: Oh, yeah, he's probably going to spend a lot of that money on criminal defense lawyers once he's indicted. And one of the things that he did, Erin, that's really outrageous is a man who was dying sent half his monthly income, $500, to Trump, because Rush Limbaugh said Trump needed the money.

The Trump organization then went and tapped his bank account again and again and again until he had enough left and they did this to thousands of people. If you or I did that, I suspect we would have been indicted.


BURNETT: Wow, yeah. Just kind of the automatic people didn't realize they were signing up for it to be a recurring charge.

All right. David, thank you very much. Everyone, be sure to check out David's new book, "The Big Cheat: How Donald Trump Fleeced America and Enriched Himself and His Family". David Cay Johnston has been covering Trump for 30 years.

And OUTFRONT now, breaking news: lawmakers now racing to fund the government before a shutdown tomorrow, and we're getting word that there could actually be a vote tonight. Could it pass?


BURNETT: Breaking news: the pressure is on. Lawmakers scrambling to fund the government before tomorrow's deadline and a possible shutdown. Here we are at the last hour again. The House has passed a continuing resolution to fund the government into February and a vote in the Senate could happen tonight.

Now, in order for it to pass because of the rules on this, all 100 senators need to support it. This isn't bipartisan with the one vote. This is the whole thing. Biden is optimistic, though, that all will fall in line.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have everything in place to be able to make sure there is not a shutdown. There is a plan in place unless somebody decides to be totally erratic.


BURNETT: Well, this is Washington, so who knows? But at this point, it appears the plan may hold and you would have 100 senators in agreement. Wow.

Thanks for joining us.

Anderson starts now.