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Erin Burnett Outfront

Jan 6 Panel Targets Trump Family For First Time, Obtains Eric Trump's Phone Records; 5 Others In Trump's Circle Subpoenaed; Senate Dems Hold Meeting Amid Attempt To Save Voting Rights; Schumer Moves To Force Vote To Break Filibuster; Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) Discusses About Last Ditch Effort To Save President Biden's Voting Rights Legislation; WH: "Russia Could At Any Point Launch An Attack In Ukraine;" Exclusive: Ukraine Intel Shows Russia Has Almost Completed Build-Up; AT&T, Verizon Delaying Some 5G After Airlines Warn of Turmoil; New Images Reveal Devastation Of Volcanic Eruption In Tonga. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired January 18, 2022 - 19:00   ET


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: We have 40 countries that have adopted this and it seems to work fine, so there are ways to do this.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Meanwhile, President Biden has just issued a statement thanking AT&T and Verizon for delaying the launch of 5G near airports and pledging that his team is working with the aviation industry and the wireless networks to figure out a solution. Wolf?

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

Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next the breaking news, the January 6 Select Committee closing in on President Trump, tonight subpoenaing his former lawyers and obtaining the phone records from one of his sons.

Also breaking this hour, Senate Democrats just wrapping up a meeting in a desperate attempt to save President Biden's voting rights legislation, are Democrats still hopeful that they could get this passed?

And troubling new details tonight about the effect pandemic school closures are having on children. Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight the breaking news, the January 6 Select Committee targeting one of Trumps children, along with five others in the former president's inner circle. It is the biggest day yet for the Committee. We are learning that the Committee has subpoenaed and obtained the phone records of Eric Trump and Kimberly Guilfoyle who is engaged to Trump's other son, Donald Trump, Jr. Also on the subpoena list, three of Trump's former attorneys, Rudy

Giuliani, Jenna Ellis and Sidney Powell. Rounding up the list today, Trump's former campaign advisor, Boris Epshteyn. These six individuals all fed the big lie for weeks leading up to the January 6th insurrection.


RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER ATTORNEY FOR DONALD TRUMP: We cannot allow these crooks, because that's what they are, to steal an election from the American people. They elected Donald Trump. They didn't elect Joe Biden.

JENNA ELLIS, FORMER ATTORNEY FOR DONALD TRUMP: If the United States caves to corruption or this type of election integrity disaster, then no election will be secure from here on out.

SIDNEY POWELL, FORMER ATTORNEY FOR DONALD TRUMP: So we have mathematical evidence in a number of states of massive quantities of Trump votes being trashed. Just simply put in the trash like you would on your computer with any file and Biden votes being injected.

BORIS EPSHTEYN, FORMER ATTORNEY FOR DONALD TRUMP: This was campaign has been in pointing out voter irregularities, voter fraud that's been perpetrated on the American people by the Democrats.

ERIC TRUMP, DONALD TRUMP'S SON: The Democrats know that the only way that they could win this election is to cheat in Pennsylvania and we've seen it from day one.

KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE: We will not allow the liberals and the Democrats to steal our dream or steal our elections.


BURNETT: And when it comes to January 6th itself, the actual day of the insurrection, these individuals fueled the fire, encouraging Trump supporters to fight, to take back the country despite their candidate losing the free and fair election.


GIULIANI: Let's have trial by combat.

ELLIS: You are the sole guardian to combat a corrupted election.

POWELL: We are not going to be intimidated. We are not going to back down. We are going to clean this mess up now. We are going to reclaim the United States of America for the people who vote for freedom.

E. TRUMP: One birthday present that I want from all the senators and all of the Congressmen, have some backbone, show some fight, learn from Donald Trump.

GUILFOYLE: Have the courage to do the right, fight.


BURNETT: And Boris Epshteyn, the only person you didn't hear there, two days before the deadly insurrection tweeted, "Georgia is all in to fight for Donald Trump." Along with a video of a crowd chanting fight for Trump.

So I just went through the six individuals and you saw their track record in the days, the weeks and the day of the interaction. And when you hear and see that, it is clear that these six could provide a lot of information about January 6th.

Paula Reid begins our coverage OUTFRONT. So Paula, six people, this is a very big day and the first of the president's family now involved. So what else do you know about the phone records that I understand they both subpoenaed and obtained involving Eric Trump and Kimberly Guilfoyle soon to be the former president's daughter-in-law?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Erin. This marks a significant escalation. This appears to be the first time they have subpoenaed records related to a member of the former president's family. Now here lawmakers have subpoenaed and they have obtained records of phone numbers related to Eric Trump and Kimberly Guilfoyle, who as you just noted is engaged to Eric's brother, Donald Trump, Jr.

Now, it's important to note that these records do not show the contents of conversations or the contents of calls. They show incoming and outgoing calls. They show the length of calls.


And CNN has previously reported that the Committee has subpoenaed similar records from over a hundred different people.

Now, this is significant because both Eric Trump and Kimberly Guilfoyle, they had a significant role in pushing the big lie. They both spoke at the rally that preceded the attack at the Capitol and even fundraised off the big lie. So the decision to subpoena these two, this is notable. Now in terms of reaction from both of them, an attorney for Guilfoyle says that she's not aware of any record, a subpoena for her records, but says it's 'of no consequence' to her because she has absolutely nothing to hide or be concerned about and a source familiar with Eric Trump's thinking says he's not losing any sleep over these subpoenas.

BURNETT: All right. Paula, so please stay with me. I want to bring into the conversation now Norm Eisen who was counsel to House Democrats during Trump's first impeachment trial and Elie Honig, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

So Elie, now you hear the reporting here that Paula is laying out, phone records of Kimberly Guilfoyle and Eric Trump's subpoenaed and obtained. How big of a move is this by the Committee?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Erin, I was taught from my very early days as a prosecutor, the first thing you do in any complex investigation, any conspiracy investigation, is you get those phone records because they provide you the connective tissue. They show you exactly who was talking to who and when.

And as an investigator, you can look at those calls. The thing about these calls in Texas, there's always two parties to these conversations. So you can look at these calls and see for example, okay, Eric Trump on January 5th at 3:23 pm had a one minute 45-second conversation with this phone number. And if you can figure out who that other phone number is, even if Eric Trump's not talking, you can go talk to that person and figure out what was said.

BURNETT: All right. So norm, Kimberly Guilfoyle, I showed her briefly there repeatedly pushed allegations of election fraud from just days after Election Day to hours before the deadly instruction. She became a huge fundraiser for this stop the steal. Here she is.


GUILFOYLE: This isn't something that's made up here, it's not fictitious. The bottom line is we will present compelling evidence that will be persuasive.

Look at all of us out here, God-loving, freedom-loving, liberty-loving patriots that will not let them steal this election.


BURNETT: Norm, how important is she?

NORM EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: She's important, Erin. What we've seen with the Committee's investigation is that they are building a pyramid. At the top of that pyramid is the former President Donald Trump. But with Kimberly Guilfoyle, who was a big part of stop the steal, raised money, spoke at the insurrection tailgate on January 6th, with Eric Trump, with the Trump lawyers who were brought into it today. All of the roads are pointing towards Donald Trump himself. She was in that inner circle. She's very important.

BURNETT: Yes, she certainly was. So Paula, let's talk about those lawyers, the other allies, as I said the biggest day thus far that we know of in terms of names coming out. So the lawyers, Rudy Giuliani, Jenna Ellis, Sidney Powell, the former campaign leader, Boris Epshteyn.

Paula, what is behind the strategy of so many names, so close to Trump coming out on one day like this?

REID: It makes a big splash, Erin. It makes headlines coming out of the holiday weekend and making big news. A short time ago, I spoke with an attorney for Rudy Giuliani and he dismissed this as political theater. Interestingly, Erin, he said that the Committee did not come to his client to even seek his voluntary cooperation, but he also notes that his client potentially Sidney Powell and Jenna Ellis as well have not only attorney-client privilege claims that they can make, but also potentially executive privilege claims depending on the materials and the situation. So look, it's unlikely that they're going to get any information out

of several of these witnesses. Again, some people representing many witnesses have also complained that these letters go to the media before they go to the targeted witnesses. But again, this makes a big splash, a lot of headlines, brings a lot of attention to the Committee's important work.

BURNETT: And Elie, Jenna Ellis and Sidney Powell obviously put out a lot of complete falsehoods. I mean, you heard Sidney Powell there saying that votes were literally plucked and things. I mean, they just didn't occur. It was false. It's false in every respect.

But nobody was a bigger supporter and known to more people of the big lie than Rudy Giuliani. And so he again and again would say, Trump won states, he didn't win, he held that press conference at the Four Seasons landscaping right after the election. You think that he may be the one with the most to lose, why and what might that mean, given that we know he's not going to voluntarily cooperate here?

HONIG: Right, Erin. Well, it's hard to think of really many people who've done more damage to this country over the last several years than Rudy Giuliani.


He was one of the main people fanning the flames of the lie of election fraud. He abused his law license and the accountability is starting to come for Rudy Giuliani in tangible ways. He's now had his law license suspended. He has been sued for big money by Dominion and some of the other voting companies. And most worrisome, he's under criminal investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice by the Southern District of New York, the same office he used to work at decades later, I worked at.

This is one more thing for Rudy Giuliani that he's going to have to contend with. Will he ultimately testify? I think it is highly, highly unlikely, but the Committee is absolutely right to put pressure on him because he was a central player behind this whole lie of election fraud.

BURNETT: So Norm, when people hear this, they say, okay, Kimberly Guilfoyle important and engaged to the former president's son, and the other son is also on this list. But when you see those names, the first thing many of us notice, Norm, is that those names are not Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner or Donald Trump, Jr. Is it not going to be them or is it not yet them?

EISEN: It's not yet them. Erin, the Committee very adeptly is building the case. They talked about some of the public record evidence today in the letters to the lawyers. But they have piles of evidence, approximately 400 interviews, thousands and thousands of documents. And we're not done with this. They're setting the stage and it's legitimate for them to be advocating to the American people.

A terrible thing happened here. They're setting the stage for hearings and for reports. And so we are in the final quarter now before those hearings start. But we still have a ways to go and I suspect we are going to be seeing additional Trump intimates and then the ultimate question the ex-President himself.

BURNETT: The ultimate question as you point out. Thank you all very much. And next, we're following more breaking news. Senate Democrats just meeting, trying one more last time to salvage President Biden's voting rights legislation. The vote is now coming and, well, it could be hours away here, we'll see. Were any minds changed?

And CNN exclusive tonight, sobering new details from Ukraine about exactly what Russia is building up along that border, including what could be evidence that Putin is planning to take Ukraine's capital and overthrow the government.

And the last minute moved today by Verizon and AT&T just hours before 5G was going to roll out. They're hitting pause, but only pause because the airlines warned that it could literally put planes at risk.



BURNETT: Breaking new, Senate Democrats have just wrapped up a caucus meeting in a last ditch effort to save President Biden's voting rights legislation.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): If the Senate cannot protect the right to vote, which is the cornerstone of our democracy, then the Senate rules must be reformed, must be reformed. If the Republicans block cloture on the legislation before us, I will put forward a proposal to change the rules to allow for a talking filibuster on this legislation.


BURNETT: That though isn't going to work. Schumer's plan would mean Democrats could pass voting rights legislation with a simple majority, this talking filibuster, but Sen. Joe Manchin who's long opposed any changes to the filibuster is not on board with this new plan.


SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): That's never happened in the history of our country. Basically, there's never been a simple majority vote to basically get off of the debate. I'm never changing my mind on the filibuster.


BURNETT: "I'm never changing my mind on the filibuster." He couldn't be more clear.

OUTFRONT tonight, Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley. And I appreciate your time, Senator. So you were with Sen. Manchin today at the caucus meeting, Sen. Sinema was on the phone joining that meeting. I understand that she didn't speak but Sen. Manchin did and obviously we just heard him there afterwards, "I'm never going to change my mind on the filibuster." Did you hear anything from him in that caucus meeting that indicates any kind of a path forward here?

SEN. JEFF MERKLEY (D-OR): Well, the key point he made and you just played it, is he doesn't want the 60 votes to close debate to go to 50 votes, plus the Vice President to close debate. But the talking filibuster doesn't do that. It leaves in place the 60-vote requirement.

It has the same rules of debate that you have at any point, what the talking filibuster changes is it says, okay, we've come to the point we need to focus on the question of final passage of the bill. It still takes 60 votes to close debate or a unanimous consent motion or breaking the debate and it's that breaking the debate that hasn't been enforced previously. But that's what forces those who want to keep debating to debate, if there's a break in the debate, the question gets called.

And so what we're proposing is exactly in line with what Joe Manchin said, keeping 60 votes if you vote on an issue of closing debate, same rules of debate applied to the question of final passage of the bill. So given it's the same thing he's arguing for, I hope we can get him to join us.

BURNETT: So let me just try to understand, I understand what you're laying out here, but the bottom line is when it comes to passing the Voting Rights Bill, how many votes you're going to need to do that with your change? Are you going to need 60? Are you going to need majority?

MERKLEY: Under current debate, you have four options. A vote to close debate with 60 votes, a unanimous consent agreement, a break in the debate or something that's never happened in the history of Senate exhaustion of two speeches under Rule 19. Those same four rules apply when you're debating final passage of a bill, same rules 60 votes are still in place as a vote to close debate.

BURNETT: Right. I understand but the only way that you're going to get this bill passed is if you can do it by a simple majority.

MERKLEY: No, not at all.

BURNETT: So you are fundamentally changing something. You're not going pass voting rights with any kind of bipartisan scenario here.

MERKLEY: No, that's right. But what Joe raised in your quote was thinking that we're changing the rules of debate.


We're not changing the rules of debate. It's the same rules that have been there throughout our history and that apply every day on the floor of the Senate. BURNETT: So I understand what you're saying and I think you

understand sort of what I'm trying to say here, which is that it does come down to how the Senate should function to pass legislation, whatever the rules may be, whatever the machinations may be, doesn't need to be bipartisan or not.

And I know that you recently said, I quote you Senator, the Senate is broken. So for you a way to solve that is to try to make some of these adjustments. Sen. Sinema agrees with you on the Senate being broken, but when it comes to these adjustments, she comes to the exact opposite conclusion despite seeing a dire problem in the Senate. Here she is on the floor.


SEN. KYRSTEN SINEMA (D-AZ): While I continue to support these bills, I will not support separate actions that worsen the underlying disease of division infecting our country. The debate over the Senate 60-vote threshold shines a light on our broader challenges. There is no need for me to restate my long standing support for the 60-vote threshold to pass legislation.


BURNETT: So she gets to the bottom line here, the 60 threshold pass the legislation.

MERKLEY: Except she also is under the same confusion. We're not changing the 60-vote rule. It's the same set of four options that exists in general debate, focus on the question of final passage.

Now, see, here's why, in the past, you had people exhaust amendments and you had a social contract. And the social contract said when we're done with the amendments, we debate final passage and those four mechanisms applied. But now, and I hate to get into this messiness, now there's always an amendment pending, because the Senate has changed how its operated in the last 20 years.

So you can never get to the question of debating final passage, all the talk and filibuster says keep the same four rules, but have a debate on final passage like the Senate used to have.

BURNETT: So let me ask you another question here, because I have now discussed the two individuals that have stood between you and this right and they are the face of it. However, Congressman James Clyburn says they are not alone. They've just taken the heat and that there are others who agree with them who are happy to not be in the spotlight right now, but then your problem is much bigger than two. Here's Mr. Clyburn.


REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC): He doesn't have a vote in the Senate and we've got two senators on the Democratic side. And I'm not too sure it's only two. There are two that everybody is focusing on, but I've been talking to some senators and I'm not too sure that we don't have some others who had behind these two.


BURNETT: Is he right? There are others hiding behind them who agree?

MERKLEY: I can provide assurances to Congressman Clyburn that, in fact, the entire caucus, my understanding has said, yes, we should have a purity debate dedicated to final passage with the same rules we currently use. That is a very minor change that allows us to get to where the Senate used to get.

And, by the way, it has these powerful advantages. The secret filibuster we have now, the secret silent filibuster, there's no public debate, it's invisible. The deals are being done in the back room. If you want backroom deals, keep the current version of the silent secret filibuster. But if you want the public involved, then let's return to enforcing that point that you sustained the 60 votes by keeping people talking on the floor.

The second thing is it does increases negotiation. Currently, the minority in our tribal partisan divisions says, hey, if we can keep 41 people from voting to close debate, we can just prevent the majority from ever enacting their agenda and testing it out. And that's great for us because then the voters will throw them out.

That temptation is so powerful that it's destroying the Senate. So the talking filibuster gives an incentive to the minority to negotiate as well as the majority, takes us, I think, to where my colleagues in West Virginia and Arizona really want to go.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Sen. Merkley, I appreciate your time. And thank you for making your case and laying it out. Thank you, sir.

MERKLEY: You're welcome.

BURNETT: And next, a CNN exclusive, more than 120,000 Russian troops, including infantry units currently practicing urban warfare. These are some of the details in a new intelligence assessment on Putin's military buildup along the Ukrainian border that we've obtained.

Plus Verizon and AT&T pause, pause not halt, a pause of 5G rollout near airports, because airlines say that that service could lead to serious safety concerns. We're talking about airplanes here. What are those words?




BURNETT: Tonight, the White House issuing a stark warning about the threat from Russia. As CNN learns the Biden administration is discussing sending more weapons to Ukraine.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Our view is this is an extremely dangerous situation. We're now at a stage where Russia could at any point launch an attack in Ukraine.


BURNETT: This comes as CNN exclusively has obtained a Ukrainian military assessment showing a stark increase in troop levels in recent days by the Russians. Matthew Chance is OUTFRONT with this exclusive report from Kiev.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): This is the actual video, complete with soundtrack put out by the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense. They fired to the beat Javelin anti tank missiles supplied by the U.S. as part of its growing military support. It's these kinds of weapons Ukraine hopes will help stop another Russian invasion, I think once more.

Cue a flurry of diplomatic fist bumps and grand promises of U.S. support. On Wednesday, Secretary of State Blinken visits Kiev but earlier this week the congressional delegation was here.



SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): I think Vladimir Putin has made the biggest mistake of his career.


CHANCE (voice over): Vowing more tough action in Washington against Russian aggression.

BLUMENTHAL: We will impose crippling economic sanctions but more important, we will give the people of Ukraine the arms -- lethal arms -- they need to defend their lives and livelihoods.

CHANCE: It certainly doesn't look deterred. These are the latest images of Russia's live-fire military exercises near its border. With the latest Ukrainian defense intelligence assessment obtained exclusively by CNN says Russia has almost completed its military buildup. The assessment says there are now more than 127,000 Russian troops poised to invade, including Russian infantry units seen here practicing urban warfare -- the kind that may play a major role if any potentially messy incursion into Ukraine is ever ordered.

Sources in rebel-controlled eastern areas of the country tell CNN training has also been ramped up there, with a significant increase of rebel fighters and heavy weaponry on the frontlines. The new Ukrainian intelligence assessment says Russia supports more than 35,000 rebels and has about 3,000 of its own military based in rebel territory.

Moscow denies having any forces there and continues to insist it has no plans, either, to invade.

SERGEY LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): We do not threaten anyone but we hear threats against us. I hope all this only reflects emotions within a camp of Western countries. We will be guided by concrete steps and deeds.

CHANCE: But those deeds and steps seem to point to escalation. These are new images showing troops from Russia and its ally, Belarus, preparing for joint exercises near Ukraine's northern border. It may be just a distraction but as Russia continues to mass forces, Ukrainian intelligence says it now sees this region as a full-fledged Russian theater of operation.

In other words, another dangerous potential frontline.


CHANCE (on camera): Well, Erin, that stark warning from Ukrainian intelligence comes as Secretary of State Blinken prepares to visit Kyiv tomorrow -- tomorrow morning, offering U.S. support, of course, more of it to the Ukrainian government.

But for the Ukrainian point of view, they want more than just words from the United States. They want weapons so that they can fight what they regard as an impending Russian threat.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: All right. Matthew, thank you very much. Reporting live, again, from Kyiv where he has continued to break so much of this story.

I want to go to Steve Hall now, former CIA chief of Russia operations.

So, Steve, you hear Matthew Chance lay out his exclusive new reporting. Obviously, this is from the Ukrainian said, right? This is their assessment, it's what they want the world to see but they say more than 127,000 Russian troops are poised to invade. They have a count of another 35,000 fighters training right now in eastern Ukraine, itself, to support Russia.

What are these troop levels mean when you think about Putin's intent?

STEVE HALL, FORMER CIA CHIEF OF RUSSIA OPERATIONS: Erin, there is only -- there is only two options here. One is is that the Russians are preparing for an invasion. And by the way, it's not -- it's not really that secret. These are -- certainly, the Ukrainians have been able to collect good intelligence on this but it's also observable through other means and the Russians are making no real attempt to hide it.

So, yeah, option A is an invasion of Ukraine or some sort of military incursion. And option B is there is a school of thought this is -- this is still a bluff. That the Russians are saying all the hard things, and making hard points on the ground by moving troops around and snipers and so forth but really, what they are doing is they are trying to push the West which they have judged to be weak at this particular point. Not perhaps weaker than they, but weaker than we've been recently thanks in large part to a lot of things Russia's been doing to try to divide our societies. But I think they are asking themselves or Putin is asking himself what better time?

So it is unclear. I don't know anybody knows exactly whether or not the Russians are actually going to take military action and invade Ukraine or whether they are doing some very strong saber rattling.

BURNETT: Right. And, you know, the intelligence that CNN obtained has, you know, evidence that Putin could be planning to take the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, and overthrow the government. Now, obviously, Kyiv is not by the border. I mean, I know everyone talks about coming down from Belarus but it's not you just go over the border and get the capital, right? You got to come way in, right?

So that's not just a simple quick thing to do possibly and certainly not with a lot of U.S. military weapons involved. "The New York Times," though, reports Russia is evacuating its embassy in Kyiv, pulling out dozens of family members of the Russian diplomats there.

Again, it could still be saber-rattling. And, you know, the Ukrainians have a point they want to make. But when you connect the dots as a former Moscow bureau chief, what do you see there?

HALL: Well, again, it's -- it's really, really hard and -- and you know the classic intelligence challenge is how do you get into Putin's brain? Because I can guarantee you, he is the only guy who knows. The people around him don't necessarily know.

Doing things like drawing down your embassy, which -- which we have in "New York Times" report that says that's happened. The Russians, of course, came back quickly and said, no, our operations in our embassy are normal.

They didn't say, though, it's possible operations are normal but withdrawn family members and gone to, you know, essential personnel. Again, hard to say. It's really like trying to read the tea leaves.

One thing that I think though is absolutely sure is that frankly the time for sanctions, the time for any of these other mechanisms that we have talked about literally for years to try to stop Russian bad behavior, it hasn't done so. And so we need -- we, the West, we, NATO, we, the United States, need to ask ourselves the question, are we prepared to go to war with Russia at this point? On the European continent, the first major conflict we've had there in a long time.

BURNETT: I mean, it is a pretty incredible thing and as you point out, you never know what he intends to do but it is hard to think of any other military that would be willing to put 160,000 troops around a border just, you know, just for nothing.

HALL: That's a great point.

BURNETT: All right. Thanks. Thanks very much, Steve. I appreciate your time.

And next, major wireless companies now delaying the rollout of 5G service near airports by again, I am emphasizing delaying, not stop. It is because airlines have said that, well, it could put planes at risk.

And new studies tonight detailing the concerning effects that school closures are having on children.



BURNETT: New tonight, President Biden praising Verizon and AT&T, which owns CNN's parent company, for their last-minute delay in launching 5G service near some airports. It is a temporary pause but it comes after U.S. airlines warned loudly and consistently that the rollout would lead to dire and catastrophic consequences. And there is still no long-term solution in sight.

Pete Muntean is OUTFRONT.


PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Major airlines call it the latest issue affecting your safety in the sky. They say new high-speed 5G cell service could cause errors in crucial information that pilots need to land. In a new letter to the Biden administration, ten airlines, including Delta, American, and United, insist that could lead to as many as a thousand flights diverted, delayed, or cancelled each day. A situation they call economic calamity.

Airlines say 5G signals can disrupt radar altimeters -- instruments that bounce a radio beam at the ground to give a hyper accurate reading of height.

Pilots like Dennis Tajer call the system essential when they need it most, in poor weather when it's hard to see the runway.

CAPTAIN DENNIS TAJER, ALLIED PILOTS ASSOCIATION: This one instrument if it gets bad data, sends it to a collection of other systems, flight controls, auto throttles, windshield protection, stick shake, I could go on and on, and there are 17 items. Each of those, if they get bad information in, they are going to do bad things.

MUNTEAN: In this simulator of a regional airliner, I saw what happened when a radar altimeter fails. Automatic warnings could stop and flight displays give confusing, mismatched readings.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right. Figure it out.

MUNTEAN: Verizon and AT&T have now agreed to delay their rollout near certain airports. AT&T, which owns CNN's parent company, says airlines and the FAA have not utilized the two years they have had to responsibly plan for this deployment.

Verizon says officials figured out how to make 5G safe and fully operational in more than 40 other countries. Even still, United Airlines fears interference would impact operations at some of its busiest destinations -- Houston, Newark, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Chicago.

EDUARDO ROJAS, EMBRY-RIDDLE AERONAUTICAL UNIVERSITY: Especially, to make sure that the airplane doesn't crash on the ground.

MUNTEAN: Professor Eduardo Rojas is researching 5G interference with radar altimeters at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida.

ROJAS: One of the most critical systems in -- in the aircraft in helicopters, especially because it helps to land.

MUNTEAN: Low visibility and a malfunctioning radar altimeter led to a fatal 2009 Turkish Airlines crash just short of an Amsterdam runway. The flight's auto-pilot acted like it was landing but in reality, it was more than 2,000 feet up.

Captain Tajer says there must be more time to review the data on 5G because when it comes to paying passengers, there is no deadline on safety.

TAJER: So get this right. Test it. Get it done. We want 5G to come but we are not going to do it while jeopardizing the margin of safety.


MUNTEAN (on camera): Even after AT&T and Verizon agreed to they this roll out, the FAA says there could still be flight cancellations tomorrow, just not as many as they once thought. Airline says they have not yet seen the details of this new delay and that means in some cases, airlines are already cancelling flights. International carriers like Emirates, Japan Airlines, ANA, Air India cancelled at least some flights tomorrow. They are all citing concerns over this 5G rollout -- Erin.

BURNETT: Pete, thank you very much, explaining all that. It is pretty unbelievable it's gotten this to point.

And next, increased anxiety and depression. These are just some of the effects closing schools has had on children. This isn't just any parent that can tell you this now. It's now a compilation of studies. It is the statistics.

And next, I am going to speak to a mother who spoke out about this early and says she faced backlash for wanting her two children in school.

And the death toll climbing as rescuers scramble to locate the missing after a massive volcanic eruption.



BURNETT: Tonight, new evidence showing just how important it is for children to be in school. Medical journal publishing a review of dozens of worldwide studies with the conclusion that school closures led to increased symptoms of depression, anxiety, decreased physical activity. It comes as more than 1,800 schools across the United States -- and I want to be clear, these are blue states and some red states too -- they are currently not offering in-person learning. This is according to the latest count from data company Burbio.

OUTFRONT now, Rebecca Bodenheimer. She is a journalist and a mother of two, recently wrote an article headlined "How school closures made me question my progressive politics."

Rebecca, I have to say, you know, I read your article last week and so did everyone I know and -- and, you know, everyone's been talking about it as I'm sure you know. It -- it has been something that people have within been talking about around this country.


So, now, you got this new research. It shows that school closures are having serious and troubling mental and physical impacts on children. This is something you knew very early on from the beginning. It's why you publicly advocated for schools to remain open. And you faced deeply personal attacks for this, for wanting your child in the classroom, some of those, from people that you considered friends.

Why do you think people attacked people like you who wanted kids in school? This became so personal and vitriolic.


You know, it is a little bit hard for me to answer the question of why. I -- I just know that, you know, I -- you know, it was quite a painful experience because there was, you know, a group of friends that, were the parents of some of my son's closest friends and they just stopped talking to me basically, you know, which -- which also has had the -- the effect of cutting off his access to some of his closest friends.

So, you know, it's -- it's been a pretty painful experience. Personally, it's -- you know, although there is -- there's been a lot of vitriol online, it has had, you know, an -- an -- an effect in my life, as well. And I think that's partly why it felt so painful.

BURNETT: Well, you know, you write as a journalist -- you write very openly about, you know, your politics and how you came into this and how you saw the world and how you felt about the world as someone who was deeply progressive. You know, when you look at in Virginia, right, Glenn Youngkin and -- and his victory, which was, you know, in no small part, driven by how parents felt about schools. You talk about how you are now experiencing a political identity crisis as -- as a progressive Democrat, due to your own party's response to school closures.

You know, does this -- does this change how you see yourself? Does this change how you possibly vote? BODENHEIMER: Well, I -- I think I -- I'm not sure if I would say that

it changes how I would vote, particularly, you know, in the national election.


BODENHEIMER: I still don't feel that I could, you know, ever support, you know, some of the enabling the -- that the Republicans did with the last president and the whole host of other things that have taken place, more recently. But I think that -- I -- I think that the larger point is that a lot of Democratic parents' trust have been eroded, and, you know, our -- our -- we felt that we were not able to rely on public schools anymore, which, you know, are very essential public good.

And so, I -- I think one of the things that we would like is for Democrats, you know, to acknowledge the harm that this has caused and not only to kids but to women and, you know, in the ways that gender equality has really been set back decades because of working moms having to stop working to help their kids with remote learning. So I think really, um, in order to, you know, get people like me really back onboard, you know, excited about supporting Democrats. We want, you know, them to really commit to never doing this again where schools -- you know, schools need to be the last to close and the first to open.

BURNETT: Well, yeah, and it's -- it's really powerful. I hope that anyone who hasn't read your entire article does. You know, I found it really powerful and everyone I know did, as well. And people had different perspectives coming into it. So I really appreciate your time. Thank you so much.

BODENHEIMER: Thank you so much, Erin.

BURNETT: All right.

And next, the before and after images as we are seeing new pictures of the aftermath of that deadly and massive volcanic eruption.



BURNETT: Tonight, new images of the aftermath of the world's biggest volcanic eruption in more than 30 years. Let me show you the Pacific island nation of Tonga. Entire villages now blanketed in gray ash. Three deaths are confirmed tonight.

But right now, we really have no idea. Phone lines are down, the internet is down. As ash in the sky, it's hard to see true extent of the damage and the human toll is unclear.

Paula Hancocks is OUTFRONT.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Before and after satellite images show the devastation in Tonga. Volcanic ash is covering entire communities, homes, trees, roads, blanketed. Neighborhoods unrecognizable.

The New Zealand defense force set a reconnaissance flight to assess the damage. The runway of the airport is partially covered, meaning humanitarian flights are currently impossible for a population of more than 100,000.

Saturday's eruption of an underwater volcano triggered a tsunami. The prime minster says waves up to 15 meters hit parts of the Tongan coastline. Tsunami waves also felt thousands of miles away in Hawaii, Peru, and Japan and the West Coast of the United States.

SHANE CRONIN, UNIVERSITY OF AUCKLAND: While the damage is horrifying, we were fearing much worse. It was so powerful, that eruption.

HANCOCKS: Believed to be the most powerful volcanic eruption in more than 30 years, the true extent of the damage is not yet known.

New Zealand and Australia had deployed ships laden with humanitarian goods to Tonga which would take at least three days to get there.

ALEXANDER MATHEOU, INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF RED CROSS & RED CRESCENT: Water will have been affected by the ash and by the tsunami waves. So, access to clean drinking water is number one. Number two is anybody who is living in coastal areas where houses have been damaged by the tsunami waves will be in need of shelter support.

HANCOCKS: Third, the need to restore communication. An underwater communications cable from Tonga to Fiji is damaged. Officials say repairs may not be able to begin until the start of next month.

Tongans living overseas can only wait helplessly to hear from family.

SEINI TAUMOEPEAU, TONGAN-AUSTRALIAN ARTIST AND ACTIVIST: The worst fear is always that you're not going to see the people that you love again. Yeah, that's the worst fear.

HANCOCKS: The first victim named Tuesday, British woman Angela Glover who moved to Tonga to set up an animal welfare charity. Her brother says she was swept away while trying to rescue her dogs.

NICK ELEINI, BROTHER: Angela was the heart of our family, the emotional heart of our family, and, you know, that heart is now -- is now gone.


HANCOCKS (on camera): And complicating an already desperate situation, the pandemic. A country which has largely protected itself from the worst of COVID now has to balance the risk of infection coming in alongside much needed humanitarian aid -- Erin.

BURNETT: Paula, thank you very much. And thanks so much to all of you for joining us around the world.

"AC360" starts now.