Return to Transcripts main page

Erin Burnett Outfront

Pres. Biden: We Must Fulfill MLK Jr's "Unfinished Work"; Senate Expected To Take Up Voting Rights Tomorrow; Biden Pushes Voting Rights Legislation That Is Likely To Fail As Trump Fuels Unhinged Election Lies At Rally; Report: Russian Forces Arrive In Belarus For Joint Military Drills As Tensions Escalate With The West Over Ukraine; NYT: Trump Frustrated With One-Time Ally DeSantis; FBI Investigating Synagogue Hostage Ordeal As "Terrorism-Related"; France Makes Clear Djokovic Will Have To Be Vaccinated To Compete. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired January 17, 2022 - 19:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: "Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that."

Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, Biden's dire warning. The President making his case that the right to vote is under attack just hours before Washington prepares to take up voting rights, but are his warnings falling on deaf ears?

Plus, Russian troops arriving in Belarus ahead of a massive training exercise. This as Putin now has 120,000 troops along the Ukraine border, is he about to invade?

And troubling new detail tonight about the hostage-taker at a Texas synagogue. Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. Welcome to a special edition of OUTFRONT.

Tonight, putting it all on the table. President Biden and Vice President Harris using Martin Luther King Day to pressure their own party, hours before the Senate likely takes up voting rights legislation. They are making the case that the end of saving democracy justifies the means of blowing up the filibuster.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The attack on our democracy is real from the January 6th insurrection to the onslaught of Republicans' anti-voting laws.

KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today, our freedom to vote is under assault.


BURNETT: Despite those warnings, voting rights legislation is most likely destined to fail. The bills are nowhere close to the 60 votes needed in the Senate. And Martin Luther King III shaming Democrats today, saying opposing these voting rights bills means opposing his father, tweeting, "I will not accept empty promises in pursuit of my father's dream. I do not want to see photo ops of elected officials if they are not willing to put voting rights over the filibuster."

Okay. Clearly calling out a few senators specifically on that in a speech calling out the President as well, as well as senators for inaction.


MARTIN LUTHER KING III, CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD, DRUM MAJOR INSTITUTE: If you can deliver an infrastructure bill for bridges, you can deliver voting rights for Americans. If you do not, there's no bridge in this nation that can hold the weight of that failure.


BURNETT: But at this 11th hour, moral shaming is not going to get voting rights over the finish line. Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin aren't budging on their opposition to killing the filibuster. And I should say here that while Sinema specifically is being frankly really personally and totally inappropriately castigated by some, Democratic Majority Whip James Clyburn today says he thinks she's not alone that other Democrats support her position on the filibuster.

He said, "I think there are more than two." And by the way, there are two. For all the hate being thrown at Sinema, Manchin, obviously, openly shares her point of view and they're not alone according to Clyburn. Now, the freedom to vote conversation shouldn't be the same conversation as Trump's big lie. The lie about the election is after all a lie, and conversations about voting rights and reforms address real issues.

But the two have, unfortunately, become linked. Here's Trump this weekend continuing to fire up his base with unhinged conspiracy theories.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Last year, we had a rigged election and the proof is all over the place. We have a lot of proof and they know it's proof. And there is massive evidence that shows exactly what I'm talking about and it's coming out rapidly. And it's come out and is coming out very big in the great State of Arizona also.


BURNETT: That's false. The sham audit, by the way, that President Trump backed by the Cyber Ninjas actually, despite all their effort and months and months of hunting, they actually came out with the conclusion that Biden won Arizona with an even wider margin than originally reported.

And the Associated Press reporting that other more than 3.3 million votes cast there, they were only 198 cases of potential voter fraud, just to do the math, that's 0.006 percent of the votes cast in Arizona. Now, that doesn't stop President Trump from coming out and saying what he just said, completely manufactured lies.

And unfortunately, it doesn't stop people from believing them, because it may be easy to write Trump off as an unhinged election denier, but his words do matter. You saw the crowds and he continues to draw those crowds. This is the rally over the weekend, people waiting to get in.

And among those in attendance, his accolades, the My Pillow guy was there, and the January 6th Stop The Seal organizer, Ali Alexander was there. Because the dark reality here is that 71 percent of Republicans still believe the former president when he says the things he said on that podium even though they are just blatantly, factually, black and white untrue.

Right now, Trump is positioning himself to become the Republican presidential nominee and he holds a commanding lead over other potential Republican candidates, 54 percent right now pick Trump. Phil Mattingly is OUTFRONT live in Washington tonight to begin our coverage.


And Phil, this is in the context of Biden having a stalled agenda and it is pretty clear to everyone that Biden does not have the votes to pass anything on voting rights this week. So what is the thinking inside the White House right now on what comes next?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Erin, White House officials were pretty clear eyed about how heavy a lift it would be to try and get Democrats all in line in the U.S. Senate to support a change to Senate rules in order to move this voting bill forward. It had been made abundantly clear long before these last couple of weeks that Senator Sinema and Manchin weren't there and they were also aware that as Congressman Clyburn said, there may have been other Democratic senator who were also uncomfortable with it.

The interesting thing is if you read the President's or listen to the President's words over the course of the last couple of weeks, starting with that January 6th speech in the Capitol building, continuing on to his speech in Georgia, his words after he came out of a closed door Senate Democratic Caucus meeting last week where he's trying to rally support for the bill.

His focus on the idea of subversion of the vote, not just suppression, which Democrats had made clear, they believe, state legislatures led by Republicans have been doing now over the course of the last several months, but subversion as well.

And while the White House has been careful not to separate the two because they don't want to take any momentum or any possibility of moving the broader voting bill forward, there are efforts underway, including a bipartisan effort inside the Senate to address some of those subversive tactics, reforming the Electoral Count Act the center of what was happening on January 6th, how Congress counts the votes as well as protecting election officials.

White House officials will have to decide in the next couple of days after this vote goes down, and it will, if they want to get behind that effort, it's likely that they will. They haven't said that publicly yet, but that's the big choice they will have to make when it comes to the issue of subversion, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Phil.

And I want to go now to Michigan Secretary of State Democrat, Jocelyn Benson. She stood up to Trump again and again as he has continued to falsely claim that the results of the election in Michigan were fraudulent. And I appreciate your time, Secretary Benson.

So you hear Phil, the White House knows the Voting Rights bill, the federal bill will fail but there'll be a vote anyway. This weekend, Sen. Mitt Romney defended his opposition to the bill and he said, and I quote him, "Democrats feel that instead of elections being run at the state level, they should really be managed and run at the federal level. Recognize that the founders didn't have that vision in mind."

Now, when you look at this from your position as a Secretary of State, do you see some merit in that? Do you believe that reforms such that they are needed should be left to the states?

JOCELYN BENSON, (D) MICHIGAN SECRETARY OF STATE: I do think states are the laboratories of democracy and so many of what Michigan does and other states do are in line exactly a part of the federal floor that's being talked about. I don't think it's accurate for Sen. Romney to say that those supporting the Freedom to Vote Act, like myself, think that elections should be run at the federal level, we don't.

It's about having federal protections against what is happening in some states to make it more difficult for citizens to vote and take away some of the protections that have been in place for many years. We do need the federal government to be a partner in running elections and we do need a federal floor to protect all voters across the country to ensure that we can maintain equal access to the vote.

It's exactly the same reason why the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which so many Republicans supported the reauthorization of just a few years ago was so important and why we need protections today.

BURNETT: So you heard Trump this weekend repeating his lies and, if anything, getting more unhinged about them. He said, again, the real insurrection took place on Election Day, November 3rd. How do you feel when you still see him repeating those lies and not doing so in an empty room or a vacuum, but to a large crowd of people who believe him?

BENSON: I mean, it's what we've been seeing now for several years and it's what citizens outright rejected in 2020, when they voted in record numbers and they elected someone else as president through the Electoral College.

So in my view, the continuing misinformation that's being an evidence less attacks on our democracy is also being designed at this point, not just to propel someone to run again, perhaps in the future, but to cause citizens across the country to lose faith in our democracy, disengage and perhaps not vote at all, which is a move towards autocracy that has several elements that both foreign leaders and others in our country have as an interest.

And again, it circling back to why those federal protections right now are so key.

BURNETT: Obviously, the most important thing is that people be able to vote and that vote not be suppressed or depressed for any reason. And when a lot of people think that their votes aren't going to count because they wrongly think that there's some kind of fraud, they don't turn out, the whole thing starts to break down.

And to that point, 71 percent of Republicans still believe Trump's big lie. We saw that depress turnout, for example, in the Georgia senatorial runoffs. For many Republicans, Trump is still the leader of the party. He wins by far in the most recent polling for a Republican presidential nominee. Have you lost any hope that you can change people's minds with just basic facts?


BENSON: No. For a number of reasons, one; the truth is on our side and that's a very strong thing to have on your side. And I believe that as we get more leaders on both sides of the aisle, hopefully, setting political agendas aside, and simply just repeating the truth it will continue to rule the day.

And I think it's also helpful to note that part of the strategy isn't necessarily truth versus lies or that certainly a piece of it, it's also meant to anger people that think something's been stolen from them so that perhaps they act accordingly or support the individual who's saying things that's creating this anger.

And so there's a lot of, I think, other factors at play, even outside the political arena that are coming to fruition. But the bottom line is, I do have hope, because at the same time, we're seeing states like in New Mexico and others bring forward policies to protect the vote. And we're seeing a lot of people, including here in Michigan, become more aware of the ongoing urgency of protecting our democracy and getting involved, volunteering to serve as election workers, but committing to spread the truthful information about our elections.

And so I'm I believe that democracy, as it always has, throughout history will rule the day, but it's going to take all of us working together building a national bipartisan coalition to get there.

BURNETT: Secretary Benson, thank you. I appreciate your time tonight.

BENSON: Thanks for having me, Erin.

BURNETT: Thank you.

And I want to go now to David Gregory, our political analyst. So David, Trump was on stage for 95 minutes over the weekend and he had a crowd. He had a lot of oxygen in that room. He repeated and he escalated many lies about the 2020 election. He called the January 6 Committee Stalinist, even in Arizona where he was, saying these things that were just - I mean, he may be a lot of things, but he's not stupid and he's not completely insane. He knows right that all of those things about Arizona were untrue. It doesn't seem any sign that any of this is going to change.

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, and it's disturbing. I mean, I questioned how much President Trump actually knows about Stalin or the legacy of Stalin, for one. For a second, it's very important to remember the tactical and strategic blunder that Donald Trump made, that he couldn't make up for.

He told his voters not to use early voting, Democrats said avail yourself of that. He made a bad decision, early voting, which Republicans have always used an absentee voting, the military, et cetera. He said, don't do that. Vote on Election Day.

Third, Mitch McConnell, the leader of the Senate, a Republican, made very clear to the entire country there was no evidence of any voter fraud. This is a lie and it's such an injurious lie and it does continue. And there's plenty of oxygen for it and it's a real problem for everybody in the electoral system.

I was very interested hearing Secretary Benson. There's Democrats and Republicans who are doing a great job as secretary of state throughout our country in the States.


GREGORY: Here's my concern, I think we ought to take the partisan label of the secretaries of state. Why don't we somehow, I mean, this would be a job for states in election reform, try to make these non- partisan positions or make them ...

BURNETT: It's a great idea.

GREGORY: ... the terms long enough to be outside of the political spectrum.

BURNETT: It's a fantastic idea, because it is an awful thing to have to say that in front of someone as if somehow that - makes a comment about where they're coming from. So let me ask you one other point, because that the Majority Whip James Clyburn today said that there are more than two Democratic senators who would oppose changing the filibuster.


BURNETT: The others oppose it, but haven't been - had to take the heat for it. And then but the two that oppose it, it's Manchin and Sinema and the one who takes the heat for it, and the anger, and the ire and the personal diatribes is Sinema. Why do you think that is?

GREGORY: Oh, I don't know. I mean, misogyny for one. She's a woman, sexism. But I think there's - I mean, I think any Democrat who's getting in the way of this is focusing. Men and women are getting the ire of progressive Democrats.


GREGORY: I don't think that they were prepared for the fact that they just didn't have the momentum behind this to bring this forward. Look, I think the - first of all, the President overdid this speech. It was way over cook, basically saying you either are for this or you're a racist, which I don't think was a bridge building effort.

I think the President the White House made a decision. They knew they didn't have the votes. They're going to go for the argument. They're going to whip up the base and I think that's what they felt that they could do at this point.

But the reality is Democrats are taking a hard look at this, there's not enough support there to do it. I think it's very long odds.

BURNETT: Yes. All right. Well, thank you very much, David. I appreciate it, as always.

GREGORY: Thanks.

BURNETT: And next, Putin digs in, his standoff with Biden escalating the dangers to new heights. Tonight, we have learned Russian Troops are arriving in Belarus to prepare for massive training exercises, joint ones.


Plus, Ron DeSantis and President Trump, it's no longer friendly. How the Florida Governor has gotten under Trump's skin? We'll see the report.

And the rabbi held captive in a Texas synagogue detailing the harrowing final moments of the standoff.


RABBI CHARLIE CYTRON-WALKER: I threw a chair at the gun and I headed for the door. And all three of us were able to get out without even a shot being fired.




BURNETT: Tonight, Russian troops arriving in Belarus for joint military drills. This is according to Reuters. That means even more Russian soldiers are moving closer to Ukraine from various directions. Right now, we understand there are at least 100,000 troops already near Russia's border with Ukraine and obviously an invasion is very clearly possible and on the table, because that's the math. It comes as a bipartisan group of U.S. senators arrived in Kiev meeting with President Zelensky about this threat. Matthew Chance is OUTFRONT live from Ukraine tonight. And Matthew, you're there, you see what's happening. You're talking to people. You've spoken to sources in the government about these meetings, what have you learned?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, these meetings were predominantly about showing bipartisan U.S. support to Ukraine and the current situation it's in with 10s of thousands of Russian troops gathered across the other side of the border potentially poised to invade.


The seven senators were speaking to President Zelensky of Ukraine apparently about the possibility of ratcheting up sanctions, even more so on Russian if it chooses to invade. And of course, looking at other ways of deterring Russian aggression, potentially by supplying more lethal weapons to Ukraine.

The Ukrainian officials that I spoke to say that they expect those senators to return to Washington with strong recommendations to enact those measures or at least to debate them. And so that's what the Ukrainians are hoping for.

It's not the only show of support the Ukrainians have had today, NATO says that it is deepening its support for Ukraine by offering a technological training on how to fight against cyber attacks of the kind that the Ukrainian government suffered, suspected from a Russian source last week.

There's also been an announcement from the British government that they're going to be supplying Ukraine with sophisticated anti-tank weaponry as it confronts this growing threat from across the border in Russia, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much. Matthew live, as you can see, on the streets of Kiev in Ukraine tonight.

OUTFRONT now Seth Jones, he is the Director of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He's been briefing lawmakers about Russia's movements. Pretty fantastic brief that you put out today, Seth.

So in your latest analysis, I want to get straight to that, you provide a lot of images of what we're seeing with Russian troops. So let me just put two of them up that you include. These are satellite images. They show Russia's military buildup near Ukraine. So you identify this hundreds of tanks, artillery, howitzers, all of the weaponry. You say that in this, you see about 120,000 Russian soldiers mobilized and 10s of thousands more ready to go and to join them.

So, Seth, how big is the threat right now? And if Russia were to choose to invade, how quickly could that action happen?

SETH JONES, DIRECTOR, INTL. SECURITY PROGRAM AT CENTER FOR STRATEGIC & INTL. STUDIES: Well, Erin, I think the satellite imagery and we're also watching areas like Crimea, Sevastopol where Russian amphibious ships are and then air bases where the Russians could launch airstrikes against Ukraine's missile defense system, but the threat is significant.

And the threat is significant because the proximity of Russian ground forces is so close to Ukrainian territory. And then having Russian forces in Belarus that can conduct a flanking maneuver into Kiev, that just means that if the Russians decide to move, they can move very quickly against a much weaker conventional military and that means this a serious threat.

I mean, we've seen Vladimir Putin, ask his own military to give his July letter on how Ukraine is really a part of Russia to his own military forces to indoctrinate them about the importance of this event.

BURNETT: And I want to ask you about that in a moment. At first, though, as you point out, this would be if Putin were to move forward, the biggest military action for Russia since World War II. So it's not a small thing. It's not Crimea in 2014. This is big and we did learn today that Russia will be holding those joint military exercises in Belarus, to which you just referred, and you actually put Belarus as one of Russia's possible invasion routes.

So on this screen, this is how you look at it, if Russia were to invade, the Belarusian, part of that, would be the dotted green line in this map. So what does this news mean to you that they're now doing these exercises?

JONES: Well, Erin, I think it means that they're really seriously ratcheting up the threat of an invasion of Ukraine. And I know having talked to military analysts in the U.S. government, they are watching a possible flanking maneuver from Belarus. This gives Russian forces the ability to then do that, because they'll have forces positioned on the Ukrainian Belarusian border, that they can move if they needed to, so it ratchets up the threat.

BURNETT: And now to the troops that have been ordered to read that letter by Putin, as you point out, which asserts that Russians and Ukrainians are the same people. They're all told that - they've all been given this to read it. And yet a third of Russia's troops are one year conscripts. That's the way their military is structured. They serve alongside professional soldiers.

Does this show any kind of weakness for Putin when you combine a lot of people who are green, who are not there for a long time, combined with the need that he seemingly felt for them all to have to read this letter, because they obviously - he didn't think they had just so deeply internalized it on their own?

JONES: Well, Erin, I do think it means that Russian ground forces do have potential weaknesses and vulnerabilities. They have not fought a major ground war. The war that the Russian fought in Syria was largely air with some maritime caliber cruise missiles that were shot from Russian vessels. I think the issue here is if the Russians start facing and attrition warfare, they start losing soldiers like they did in Afghanistan in the 1980s, that's when those conscripts become a problem.


They're not as well-trained and they can't fight with the same morale that general Russian soldiers can. So I think that's where this becomes a potential problem for the Russians. If it's not a really quick military advance and seizure of territory, if they start getting ground out in Ukraine, it'll be a problem.

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

JONES: Thank you.

BURNETT: All these details are nuance now, unfortunately, it matter so much.

All right. Next, GOP heavyweights; Trump and DeSantis appear to be on a collision course. So what's causing this big breakup? And new details about how the terrifying synagogue ordeal in Texas unfolded?


CYTRON-WALKER: I heard a click and it could have been anything and it turned out that it was his gun.




BURNETT: Tonight, collision course. The New York Times reporting that former President Trump is going increasingly frustrated with Florida governor and one time ally, Ron DeSantis, both eyeing potential bids for 2024.


And the reason apparently is that Trump is livid that DeSantis is refusing to rule out running for president if Trump runs, which according to the Times Trump calls quote the magic words.

The latest jab in this not subtle war of words -- I'm sorry -- DeSantis now says he regrets not opposing Trump's stay-at-home order at the beginning of a pandemic.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: I never thought, in February, early March, that it would lead to locking down the country. I think knowing now what I know then, if I -- if that was a threat earlier, I would have been much louder.

(END AUDIO CLIP) BURNETT: Those comments coming just two days after Trump said this.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: I watched a couple politicians be interviewed and one of the questions was did you get the booster? Because they had the vaccine. And they all -- they are answering it like answer is yes but they don't want to say it because they are gutless. Got to say it. Whether you had it or not, say it.


BURNETT: Of course, Ron DeSantis is not a "they." And even though Trump wouldn't say his name, we do know who he is talking about.


MARIA BARTIROMO, FOX NEWS HOST: Have you gotten the booster?

DESANTIS: So, I have done whatever I did -- the normal shot and, you know, that, at the end of the day, is people's individual decisions about what they want to do.


BURNETT: Let's be clear. It is a major turn of events for these two people, specifically, to be at each other's throats like this, with "Axios" also reporting Trump is now trashing DeSantis as having a, quote, dull personality, because Trump and DeSantis were side by side. They showered each other with glowing praise.

Here is Trump over the years.


TRUMP: Ron DeSantis is a winner, and I have been with him all the way.

Ron DeSantis, you have done a fantastic job with Florida.

Our great governor from the state of Florida, incredible state, incredible guy, Governor Ron DeSantis.


BURNETT: Winner, fantastic, incredible. And the feeling was mutual for DeSantis.


DESANTIS: Is this Trump country or what?

We have a president who not only understands Florida, he supports what we're doing here.

We've never had a president who's done more for the state of Florida than president Donald Trump.


BURNETT: And that was just the tip of the iceberg of a great love affair. This 2018 campaign ad, you may remember this, it showed how willing DeSantis was to go all in with his embrace of Trump.


CASEY DESANTIS, WIFE OF GOVERNOR DESANTIS: Everyone knows my husband Ron DeSantis is endorsed by President Trump but he's also an amazing dad. Ron loves playing with the kids.

R. DESANTIS: Build the wall.

C. DESANTIS: He reads stories.

R. DESANTIS: Then, Mr. Trump said you're fired. I love that part.

C. DESANTIS: He is teaching Madison to talk.

R. DESANTIS: Make America great again.


BURNETT: And now, it's falling apart.

In the end, you only need to listen to Trump himself to understand why he initially jumped on the DeSantis bandwagon, and is jumping off now.


TRUMP: Ron's been great to me on the witch hunt. He's been a defender of me against these phony charges of Russia. But Ron DeSantis -- I like people that defend me. You know, when people defend me, I defend them.


BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, one of the reporters who broke the story for "The New York Times," national political correspondent, Jonathan Martin, is back with me.

Jon, that campaign ad is one -- one of the most memorable of all time. Did anybody see this coming? This -- this sudden schism between two men who had so much in common?

JONATHAN MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yeah. I think the last five years of political history of Donald Trump would suggest this was probably inevitable, given that both of them harbor political ambitions. Look, Trump clearly has designs on being president, again. I think DeSantis is widely assumed to have White House hopes, himself.

So, you know, as big as the state of Florida is, it's not big enough to contain both men, politically at least. So not -- not terribly surprising. But those clips were fantastic that you played, Erin, because they really get to the key issue here which is I think Trump feels a level of betrayal. He feels like he made Ron DeSantis.

You know, folks don't follow Florida politics super close don't realize this. He -- Ron DeSantis was basically a back-bench House member, not terribly well known, running against a very prominent statewide official in Adam Putnam. And he was -- he was not going to win that primary unless and until Trump endorsed him. And Trump did do just that, and the rest is history.

So I think Trump feels a sense of political ownership over the governor and -- and the fact that he is not feeling that reciprocity right now in terms of, you know, the governor not being willing to say I won't run for president in '24 if you run the race I think has stung Trump.


BUIRNETT: So, you know, it's interesting. DeSantis's state of the state speech just a few days ago in Florida, you know, did check all the boxes as you know, Jonathan, if you are running for president in 2024 as a Republican. Here is a few clips.


DESANTIS: Florida is a free state. Florida is a law-and-order state. We will not allow law enforcement to be defunded. I propose an election integrity unit, whose sole focus will be the enforcement of Florida's election laws.


BURNETT: So, major GOP donor Dan Eberhart, he's on this show frequently and I know he told you, quote, he is Trump but a little smarter, more disciplined and brusque without being too brusque.

MARTIN: Right.

BURNETT: The thing is, though, which is an interesting thing. But here we are, recent "Reuters" poll shows that if Trump and DeSantis but ran, 54 percent of Republicans back Trump, 11 percent for DeSantis.

Sure, it's early. How does DeSantis change that?

MARTIN: I don't know if he does, Erin. I mean, that's the thing. I think DeSantis is kind of like -- to borrow a sort of seasonal metaphor here, kind of like one of those NFL teams that need some luck to get to the playoffs. He needs other things to happen to get a playoff berth and I think that probably includes Trump either not running or being, you know, seriously weakened politically a year from now.

And I take it that that's, right now, not likely to happen. I think that's the scenario for DeSantis is he needs some help. He needs sort of Trump as the obstacle to get out of the way.

But this gets to the heart of the frustration that people, like the governor and other folks in his generation politically in the GOP, feel. Which is, you know, they -- they believe 2024 is eminently winnable and that Joe Biden is politically weakened but there is real frustration -- they won't say it publicly at least right now but there is real frustration among that crowd, in the GOP that, you know, Trump is still in the way. That he is not ceding the state.

Now, maybe he will. But for now, he obviously is not and that is causing tensions here.

BURNETT: All right. Jonathan, thank you very much. Hope everyone reads your story cover today. It was great.

And next, the FBI investigating the attack on a Texas synagogue as terror-related. So we'll tell you the very latest we are learning tonight about the suspect.

And Novak Djokovic defense of his French open title could also be in jeopardy if he continues to refuse COVID vaccination.



BURNETT: Tonight, new details about how the deadly hostage standoff at a Texas synagogue unfolded. The FBI calling it terrorism related and the rabbi breaking his silence about he and other hostages and how they were able to escape.


CHARLIE CYTRON-WALKER, CONGREGATION BETH ISRAEL RABBI: They were ready to go. The exit wasn't too far away. I told them to go. I threw a chair at the gunman, and I headed for the door. And all three of us were able to get out without even a shot being fired.


BURNETT: The dramatic escape was captured by affiliate WFAA as an elite FBI team later stormed the building, and the suspect died during that encounter.

Josh Campbell is OUTFRONT. He is outside the synagogue tonight for us.

And, josh, so what is the very latest that we know about this investigation? The twists and turns in, the links to the U.K., it is all very strange.

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Erin. Tonight, we are learning new details about this hostage taker, this 44-year-old British national and the big development today is the FBI saying that this incident is now terror related. That's because law enforcement sources tell us that as this hostage-taking was going on, the suspect was making demands to the FBI requesting that an extremist, who was actually in jail here in the United States for an 86-year sentence for attempting to kill U.S. personnel in Afghanistan -- he wanted her released. At one point, telling the FBI negotiator he wanted her brought to the synagogue so they could die together.

Now, we are told that this suspect came to the United States legally. There was no information indicating that he would be on a watch list, that according to reporting from myself and our colleague Geneva Sands (ph).

But many questions tonight, British and U.S. authorities continue to look into his background to look to get to that motive. Here at the synagogue, we are only minutes away from the start of what is being described as a special service. This congregation coming together to reflect upon this tragedy that occurred here over the weekend.

This will not be taking place inside the synagogue. That's because their house of worship remains a crime scene at this hour. Evidence technicians continue to pour through the scene looking for evidence. Their investigation continues -- Erin.

BURNETT: Unbelievable story.

All right. Thank you very much, Josh.

And OUTFRONT next, Novak Djokovic's troubles mounting. French officials now have a message for him. If you want to compete in the next grand slam French Open, you need to be vaccinated. That's it.

Plus, a group of fake pro-Trump electors -- they sent their votes to Congress trying to overturn the election. And now, they are actually running for elected office.



BURNETT: Tonight, officials in France making clear that tennis star Novak Djokovic will have to be vaccinated if he is going to compete in the next grand slam. The French parliament passing a new law over the weekend, which requires a vaccine certificate to enter public places, which includes sports arenas.

Djokovic is back in Serbia tonight after being deported by Australia after a court fight for his failure to meet the country's vaccine requirements.

OUTFRONT now, Tennis Hall of Famer Pam Shriver, seven-time Australian doubles champion who played on the WTA tour for 19 years.

So, Pam, we have been talking about this and now, here we are, Djokovic the reigning men's singles champion, he is on the verge of a record 21 grand slam titles, now denied one in Australia.

How, you know -- and now, France has put that rule in. Obviously, the U.S. has one for athletes. You have got the U.S. open.

I mean, he's got a really big decision to make here, right? He -- he is -- his career will be over if he doesn't get vaccinated. PAM SHRIVER, ANALYST, ESPN AND TENNIS CHANNEL: That's right and we

are talking about not only one of our greatest players, but one of our greatest tacticians who's used data to help his game in recent years because the use of data to improve your tennis game is out there to show the pattern and science of tennis.

So I think it is time when Novak kind of recovers and rests, he has got to look at the science and data of how the vaccine is helping the world fight this pandemic. And also, I think he has an opportunity, Erin, to really be one of the vaccine skeptics to lead their way out, to see that it is the right thing to do not only for you, for your family, for your community whether it's in home in Serbia or the tennis community.

And the tennis world does not want to see one of the all-time great careers interrupted by this pandemic because the athlete will not get vaccinated.


BURNETT: No, I mean, it's an incredible story now it's become such a human story, right?

I mean, obviously, he has been clear that he is against vaccines. He has a history of saying controversial things, anti-scientific. The last time you and I talked, we played him saying positive energy can purify food and water and take out any toxins, right?

But now, it's just on a human level, right, his back is up against a wall and it's psychology, right? He has to decide if he wants to -- to -- to -- to do it without caving, and to your point, to -- to be a leader in doing it.

PAM SHRIVER, ANALYST, ESPN AND TENNIS CHANNEL: I think if he can just have a pause, and he can really talk to some trusted people in Serbia that have great science and medical background, maybe he can find his way out of this because I don't feel like countries like France, like great Britain, like the United States, are going to back down.

I mean, we're not yet -- we are about two years into this pandemic. We don't know if it's going to last three years or four years and countries and systems are really buckling down and getting these vaccine mandates more definite. So I mean, what an unfortunate situation for athletes but he has to be able to find his way just to let his left arm, not his right arm, his playing arm, just be sore for a couple days. Get the jab or the shot a couple times and this would all go away so quickly. And he can be a leader.

BURNETT: Yeah. Well, he could -- it -- in a sense, lot of people would be rooting for him. It would be a pretty incredible moment, if he sees it that way.

I want to ask you about one other thing, Pam, because I know you just had a really important conversation about Peng Shuai, the Chinese tennis star who accused a senior-communist leader of rape, and then retracted the allegation in a series of orchestrated videos. I know that you have been talking to the WTA's CEO Steve Simon. He has

spoken out in support of Peng Shuai several times on this show. Obviously, we have now seen these videos.

What is he telling you?

SHRIVER: Well, what Steve communicated with me today is that the communication lines to Peng Shuai in China continue. They are trying to figure out the best route to get to her. It is obviously taking much longer than Steve Simon ever would have imagined but he is not backing down, the tour is not backing down. They are not going to go back to China until Peng Shuai is free to speak about what happened to her and it's investigated properly.

BURNETT: It's incredible, they have taken a stand and he has done so at great cost and bravely standing by it until he gets answers.

All right. Thank you so much, Pam, I appreciate it always.

SHRIVER: Thank you, Erin.

BURNETT: And next, some Republicans are now plotting their next moves after trying to overturn the election by signing fake election documents. Wait until you see what they are doing now.



BURNETT: Tonight, they appeared on fake election documents claiming Donald Trump won the election. And now, some of those Republicans are running for elected office.

Tom Foreman is OUTFRONT with tonight's "Inside Look".


JIM LAMON (R), ARIZONA U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE: You ought to keep corrupt politicians from rigging elections, let's go.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Jim Lamon running for the U.S. Senate from Arizona. Burt Jones running for lieutenant governor in Georgia, and Lou Barletta running for governor in Pennsylvania.

LOU BARLETTA (R), PENNSYLVANIA GOVERNOR'S CANDIDATE: We need to take back our elections.

FOREMAN: What do they have in common? They are all Republican and all their names appear on these papers, which were presented as authentic election documents for the 2020 presidential race. Barletta's office says this was done in case it was later determined that different electors were needed but others see the documents as misleading in every way.

DANA NESSEL (D), MICHIGAN ATTORNEY GENERAL: I think you are talking about a conspiracy to overthrow the United States government. I mean, at the end of the day, that's what we're talking about.

FOREMAN: At issue is a scheme involving seven states where Joe Biden beat Donald Trump in the 2020 vote. What happened? After the election, as they should, those states sent certificates to Washington signed by the official electors, making it clear their electoral votes would go to Biden and Kamala Harris.

But small groups of self-proclaimed Republican electors in all those states went rogue. Sending their own documents to D.C., saying Trump won. Take a look. That's a real certificate on the left. A fake one, on the right.

State election officials did not approve this maneuver and the fake documents served no legitimate purpose.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We the undersigned being the duly elected and qualified electors.

FOREMAN: Yet, in Arizona, the state's Republican Party posted a video acknowledging the efforts.

State Representative Jake Hoffman signed.

STATE REP. JAKE HOFFMAN (R-AZ): I am simply -- I was one of the electors.


HOFFMAN: I'm not in charge of the electors.

REPORTER: How did you hear?

HOFFMAN: You would need to ask --

FOREMAN: The party chair signed it, too. That's her.

DR. KELLI WARD, ARIZONA REPUBLICAN PARTY CHAIRWOMAN: We aren't going to stop. We are going to continue until we get to the bottom of the problems in 2020.

FOREMAN: Many on team Trump never tried to hide the scheme.

STEVEN MILLER, TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISOR: As we speak today, ultimate slate of electors in the contested states is going to vote and we are going to send those results up to Congress.

FOREMAN: It all fits neatly in Trump's efforts to stop certification of Biden's win. From the outset, many on team Trump wanted to kick the results back to Republican-controlled state legislatures, so they could cast aside the will of the people and award their electoral votes to Trump.


BURNETT: Tom, it is pretty stunning to see that. You know, just when you put those two documents up, right? That they actually went around the vote, went around the law, went around their party, went around the election system and sent it to Washington.

It just seems -- it -- it's clearly directly aimed at subverting the law. What happens from here? Explain this.

FOREMAN: Well, the way they explain it to their followers when they are speaking on right-wing media or in close meetings with Republicans, particularly Trump supporters, they say we are yet going to overturn what happened and prove that Donald Trump was a winner. What they say more broadly, those who responded to us would say, well, we just wanted to make sure we had the right people in place while we argued this out. In case we could prove our case, we wanted to make sure that we didn't interfere with democracy with this false claim of fraud -- Erin.

BURNETT: Interesting. Separate slate of electors is not interfering.

All right. Tom, thank you very much.

And thanks to all of you.

"AC360" starts now.