Return to Transcripts main page
Erin Burnett Outfront
Awaiting Vote To End Filibuster On Voting Rights And Advance It; Biden Defends First Year Record In Nearly 2-Hour News Conf.; Soon: Vote To Break Filibuster On Voting Rights; Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D- TX) Discusses About President Biden And Sen. Manchin's Conference; Supreme Court Clears Way For January 6 Committee To Get Trump White House Documents; Manhattan D.A. Briefed On Criminal Probe Into Trump Organization; White House Clarifies Biden's Remarks On Potential Russia Invasion. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired January 19, 2022 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Jessica Dean, thank you very much.
And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM." You can always follow me on Twitter and Instagram @WOLFBLITZER. Tweet the show @CNNSITROOM.
Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next breaking news, President Biden just wrapping up his news conference for nearly two hours defending his past year in office, accusing Republicans of stalling his agenda and suggesting his sweeping spending bill may have to be broken up.
Plus, the Senate about to vote shortly on moving forward with voting rights. A vote destined to fail because of Biden's own party.
And also breaking tonight, the Supreme Court rejecting Trump's request to block the release of his White House records to the January 6 Select Committee. A member of that Committee is my guest. Let's go OUTFRONT.
And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.
OUTFRONT tonight the breaking news, we are standing by for a vote to break the filibuster that has been holding up President Biden's agenda. That vote is expected to take place tonight, this hour on the Senate floor that you are seeing live. And that vote is expected to fail.
This pivotal moment, like I said, expected to happen this hour live in primetime, coming as President Biden just wrapped up a news conference for about two hours to mark one year in office.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Tomorrow will mark one year since I took office. It's the year of challenges, but it's also been a year of enormous progress.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: His presidency depends on if the American people listen to what he said over two hours and believed what he said about enormous progress, because Biden today trying to reset his presidency with that live question and answer session. Because right now poll show almost two-thirds of Americans think the United States is on the wrong track. That is the second worst percentage since they started tracking it during Jimmy Carter's presidency.
And a recent Quinnipiac poll showed only 25 percent of Independents approve of Biden's job as president. That was 50 percent nearly a year ago cut in half. He's trying to reset with that press conference today. And this hour, we're going to talk a lot about what he said. He said a lot from Ukraine to the Build Back Better bill to whether Kamala Harris will be on his reelection ticket and, of course, voting rights. And that is what we are waiting for, as I speak live that vote, and tonight Biden acknowledging that that key priority of voting rights faces an uphill battle.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: It's going to be difficult. I make no bones about that. It's going to be difficult. But we're not there yet. We've not run out of options yet and we'll see how this moves.
And I'm confident that we can take the case to the American people that the people they should be voting for are going to oversee whether elections, in fact, are legit or not, should not be those who are being put up by the Republicans to determine that they're going to be able to change the outcome of the election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: All right. As Biden was making his case, as he was saying they haven't run out of options, I want to show you what was happening at the exact same moment. Democratic Senator Joe Manchin at the exact same moment on the other side of your screen was giving Biden's agenda a hard no. Look at the poster.
You didn't need to listen to what he said, "The United States has never been able to end debate with a simple majority." Manchin putting up a sign to be sure that we all know he is not on board with changing the rules to pass Biden's bill. But for Biden tonight, he wanted people to look away from Manchin from the blockade that he is facing from someone in his own party and to focus instead on the GOP.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: I did not anticipate that there would be such a stalwart effort to make sure that the most important thing was that President Biden didn't get anything done. Think about this. What did Republicans for? What are they for? Name me one thing they're for?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: He may have a point, but it is not just about what Republicans are for, it's also about what Joe Biden's own party is not for. And that's what we're about to see play out on the Senate floor live this hour. Jeff Zeleny is OUTFRONT live outside the White House to begin our coverage tonight.
Jeff, you were there inside that to our press conference, President Biden defending, making the argument that he has made progress and has accomplishments as he tries to turn around those poll numbers.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORREPONDENT: Erin, he did. And he certainly has made accomplishments. There's no question about it. The vaccine rollout is tremendously different than a year ago. There was that major infrastructure bill. There was the American Recovery Act, 6 million jobs have been created. Yes, accomplishments. But the question is there a string of setbacks that really have setback this White House, set back this administration.
So this was a chance for the President to offer a bit of a reset or turning the page. There was more of a sense of doubling down with a few exceptions. I asked him about the competence of this government. That, of course, is one of the underlying factors in why so many Americans believe the country is on the wrong track.
He defended the competence, but he did acknowledge that COVID testing should have been better. But then he said he intends to make some changes into the second year. He said he wants to get out of the White House more. He described himself as a president senator, that he wants to be - he knows he has all these years in Washington and been negotiating these deals. Now he knows that he has to be leading, so that has a very different role.
But Erin, for all this seasoning he had an experience coming into the White House, it struck me that he's still trying to get his footing as the leader of the country, commander-in-chief, as well, a few missteps on Ukraine and Russia. But overall, it's unclear going forward, what big changes he will make in terms of structural changes. He said, he stands by his team here at the White House.
And as you said, he talked much more about Republican opposition than democratic opposition. And in this hour, we are going to see why it's that democratic opposition and big expectations from Democrats that is actually his biggest barrier.
BURNETT: Yes. It certainly is. All right. Thank you very much. I appreciate it, Jeff.
So I want to go now to Abby Phillip, anchor of INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY and Van Jones, former special adviser to President Obama.
So Van, obviously, you've got the optics of Manchin and Biden speaking at the same moment about the same thing, one saying let's go the other saying no, never, no way in any way he possibly could. What do you think of what you saw from President Biden and the totality of that press conference that he kept extending, he kept taking extra questions. VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, look, you have to give
him credit for being willing to stand there for two hours. And he took every question but I think that there's nothing that he can say right now that's going to turn things around on a dime. The numbers are what they are when it comes to inflation, when it comes to COVID, et cetera.
I think what I came away with feeling was that the problems this country faces are bigger than one guy can deal with. You have a Democratic Party that can't find a way to compromise with itself to help this president. You have a Republican Party that won't cooperate to help this president and sometimes Biden can't communicate well enough to help himself.
And so you're at a low point right now, I think the way forward is what he says. He's got to get some wins on the board and he's got to get out there and make his case better. But listen, with the numbers being what they are, there's no way that one press conference was going to fix it anyway. You got to give him credit for being willing to stay in there and face the fire and keep pushing forward.
BURNETT: Right. Which is true that he take 92 hours of questions, right? It was, I mean, 90 minutes and 90 minutes, he's like, how long do you want me to stay here? All right, I'll do another 20 minutes.
Abby, but we're about to see this vote in primetime. Sen. Manchin today making it clear, as Joe Biden was speaking, where he stands, how this is going to go. And this is going to happen in primetime this hour, we're waiting it, the actual vote. This is not the optics, just to state the obvious that President Biden wanted on the day that he's giving his one year in office press conference.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think that perfectly encapsulates what has been so wrong with how this last week or two has gone for the Biden administration. President Biden is right in a lot of ways. He's accomplished quite a lot in his first year in office; a major COVID relief bill, a major bipartisan infrastructure bill, but that is overshadowed by a crisis of his own making, frankly.
The White House set up a situation in which they knew they would fail on these voting rights bills. They knew that they would set up this intra party fight with Manchin and Sinema whose position on the filibuster has not changed in all the months that we've been discussing this.
And yet they set this up anyway, in fact, to the point where it's coinciding with his one year anniversary in office. So I mean, that just from a strategic perspective is not particularly smart. But I think it highlights the challenge that they have in trying to convince Americans that, hey, we did all of this stuff for you, things are going great. When the last thing on people's minds is the price of gas at the gas station, the price of food at the grocery store and the legislative melees here in Washington, I think it's just a trifecta of really bad issues for voters to take in right at this moment.
BURNETT: And Van, it comes as Abby talks about, people talking about competence in the administration and there's been so much focus on the administration and who's doing what, and who's going to remain doing what. And I have to say, the President was very clear today, one of the shortest, but most clear exchanges he had was the one about running for re election and vice president Harris and his plans for 2024. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You put Vice President Harris in charge of voting rights.
Are you satisfied with her work on this issue and can you guarantee - do you commit that she will be your running mate in 2024 provided that you run again?
BIDEN: Yes and yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Okay. (Inaudible) care can you expand?
BIDEN: Pardon me?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you care to expand on (inaudible) ...
BIDEN: No, there's no need to. I mean, I answered the question. She's going to be my running mate, number one, and number two, I did put her in charge and I think she's doing a good job.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Of course, I guess it depends - I don't know how you define a good job, obviously. We're about to see that fail, so that's obviously a strange credulity, but very clear there. Van, very clear.
BURNETT: On Kamala.
JONES: Well, listen, and I appreciate that and I think a lot of Democratic voters appreciate that. That's the one time that you don't want to give any fuzzy foggy, let me tell you a long story answer, clear and direct. They are a team. He's staying together and they're going to fight forward.
And look, I think that part of the reason that answers stood out so much is because some of the other answers were kind of foggy and meander. I think I have to be honest that you can be a foggy and meandering a president, say like Reagan near the end, if you're winning. But if you're foggy and meandering on key questions, and you're also not winning, then you've got a real problem.
And so I think the real challenge that you have is the numbers are out there that are bad, but this party has got to come together and start putting some wins on the board for this President. They either got to start, they're going to either hang together or are they going to hang separately in the fall.
BURNETT: So Abby, it comes in the context of the polls, 38 percent of people think things are going well, in the United States, 62 percent say things are going badly. Self-identified independents are the largest group in this country and their approval of Biden has gone from 50 percent to 25 in the past year. Those are big things to turn around.
PHILLIP: A hundred percent. I mean, look, voters feel like they are kind of on their last straw right now. I think this country and maybe even the world has been so strained by the pandemic, you didn't really get the sense in the press conference today that Biden really understood the gravity of how - just being better than the last guy, doing better on vaccines is not enough to help people feel like they are truly getting through this pandemic.
Parents struggling with kids constantly home from school because of outbreaks, because of going virtual for a couple of days, all kinds of different reasons. They lose childcare, maybe they can't afford childcare. Families, I think, are having a really hard time. And I think Biden tried to make a lot of explanations for why that might be the case.
He says there are things on the grocery store shelves. He cited some statistics on that. But what was missing was a sense of I feel what you are going through, and here's how we're going to resolve it.
PHILLIP: That still - Biden can do that. He actually has empathy, but he didn't do it today and it's not clear to me why they can bridge that gap between what the numbers say and what people are actually feeling in their homes and in their pocketbook.
BURNETT: Which is usually something that he is stronger at.
BURNETT: To your point. Van, one other thing stood out to me and that was when the President was asked whether he believes the midterm elections could be fair, if election reform bills aren't passed. And I wanted to play part of that exchange.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If this isn't passed, do you still believe the upcoming election will be fairly conducted and its results will be legitimate?
BIDEN: Well, it all depends on whether or not we're able to make the case to the American people that some of this has been set up to try to alter the outcome of the election. No matter how hard they make it for minorities to vote, I think you're going to see them willing to stand in line and defy the attempt to keep them from being able to vote, I think you're going to see that people were trying to keep from being able to show up, showing up and making the sacrifice that needs to make an order to change the law back to what it should be but it's going to be difficult.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Van, I have no interest in false equivalencies in any way. But when the first words out of your mouth are well, it all depends in a country already questioning the legitimacy of elections, that was a bit jarring.
JONES: Look, I think that was the opposite of the Kamala answer where it was foggy and meandering. I think the point he was trying to make, which I hope he makes better in the future, is there's a difference between voter suppression where you make it hard for people to vote, you fix that with longer lines. That's not the real problem. The problem is voter subversion. What he was trying to talk about was putting people in charge or counting the votes who might cheat that is a big issue.
And I think there's a whole big voting rights conversation, things are getting all mixed and muddled including in his answer. I think we can't fix suppression with long lines but you can't fix subversion with long lines, because you got to make sure that people who are counting the votes are fair. If you would focus on counting the votes fairly, I think you could have a bipartisan consensus, but I think he botched that answer pretty badly.
BURNETT: Right. Because the answer, of course, the question was about his voting bill ...
BURNETT: ... which he then answered a question about something else that's happening at the state level. All right. Thank you both so much. I really appreciate your thoughtfulness, your perspective. Thanks.
And next, the Senate expected to vote on any moment on moving forward with President Biden's voting rights legislation. So what is this going to look like? Live.
Plus breaking news, the Supreme Court clearing the way tonight for the January 6 Select Committee to get hundreds of documents that Trump had fought to keep secret. A member of that committee is OUTFRONT.
And the White House trying to clear up what Biden said tonight about Putin and Ukraine.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: Russia will be held accountable if it invades and it depends on what it does. It's one thing if it's a minor incursion ...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [19:19:52]
BURNETT: Breaking news, the Senate is set to vote moments from now in an effort to move the President's voting rights legislation forward. That vote will fail tonight in part due to Democratic Senator Joe Manchin's continued refusal to kill or in any way alter the filibuster.
And that is the only way to get Democrats to pass the bills with a simple majority.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): I rise today to rebuff what I believe is a great misleading of the American people. For the last year my Democratic colleagues have taken to the Senate floor, cable news airways, pages of newspapers across the country and to argue that repealing the filibuster is actually restoring the Senate to the vision of the Founding Fathers intended for this deliberate body. My friends, that is simply not true.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: He couldn't be more clear. That speech from Manchin, as I said, at the very same moment that President Biden was giving his big one year press conference, saying that he hasn't given up yet on voting rights legislation and there are still avenues left to get it passed. The President also saying he hasn't given up on his Build Back Better spending plan, which is also stalled thanks to senators Manchin and Sinema.
The President conceding tonight that he may have to split that bill up in order to get any parts of it through. Manu Raju is OUTFRONT on Capitol Hill. So Manu, obviously, this is now a big night on the floor of the Senate. What can we see?
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. We can expect to see failure for the central part of Joe Biden's agenda after months of trying to push this bill and making this the big focus in the initial weeks of the new year that it'll finally end to a failure.
Democrats are going to, in the next hour, have a vote to try to overcome a Republican-led filibuster. They're not going to get any Republican support and they do need 10 to break that filibuster. And at that point, that's when Chuck Schumer, the Senate Majority Leader will try to move to change the Senate rules to impose what's known as a talking filibuster, requiring members to take to the floor. And once they're done talking, that's when the Senate could essentially move to pass this bill on a simple majority vote.
But to do that, he has to change rules first, which means that Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema have to be on boarded. Those two senators have been opposed for months at any efforts to reduce the 60 vote threshold to overcome a filibuster, which means that the efforts have changed Senate rules will fail.
Now, at the same time, Joe Biden has been making this case privately to senators. He came up here to Capitol Hill last week, urging them to get on board. These two senators; Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, were not swayed and they were also not swayed by his public comments at tonight's press conference, where he said that they do not pass these voting bills that the elections could be viewed as 'illegitimate'.
Well, I just asked Joe Manchin about that, Erin, and he said that we might have a little difference of opinion on that and he's not the only one. Sen. Ben Cardin, a close ally of the president, who will also vote with the President tonight told me I don't know if I'd use those terms. He said instead, those state laws are troublesome. Erin?
BURNETT: Very interesting, Manu. We're just talking about that very point, how the President opened the door to - that it could be illegitimate results if this bill doesn't pass. Thank you so much, Manu.
And as we await that vote, I want to go now to Democratic Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, because she was there today. She went to the Senate chamber to watch the debate over voting rights. I so much appreciate your time. So you were there. You saw Sen. Manchin. What did you make of that and what do you make of the symbolism of Manchin and Biden speaking literally at the same time today?
REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D-TX): Well, Erin, first of all, thank you so very much for having me this evening. I think there's a real question of who will be the drum major for justice and equality tonight. When Sen. Manchin spoke at the same time as the president, was he in the name of Dr. Martin Luther King who died in the fight for social justice and voting rights, is he going to be the drum major for justice and equality?
I think the divide of the President and Sen. Manchin was not one that created, for me, any tension. The President, I believe, has worked without ceasing for the American people. I think the question has to be for the 50 Republicans and two of our friends, for them to be able to stand up for the Constitution over a frivolous and insignificant Senate rule, I want to ask Sen. Manchin on whether he understands that the compact that we've made as the American people laws. It is a nation of laws and that foundation is the Constitution.
There is nothing in the Constitution that promotes advocates or even states, the language of the filibuster. He's wrong. I want to give him time to change his mind and Sen. Sinema. I want to give him time to be a drum major for peace, justice and equality.
BURNETT: So the President today when he talked about this framed part of the problem with his voting rights legislation in this way, I wanted to play it for you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: I think that's a problem that is my own making by not communicating as much as I should have. [19:25:08]
The fact is that there is timing that is not of one's own choice, as it's dictated by events that are happening in the country and around the world as to what the focus is. But part of the problem is as well, I have not been out in the community nearly enough.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: You got to give a person credit who is willing to talk about what the mistakes they may have made, okay. And he lists two there specifically, not communicating as much as I should have and I have not been out in the community enough. Is that what you think went wrong, though?
LEE: Well, I want to absolutely give the president for being a straight up guy. He is a person who speaks honestly and speaks from the heart. But let me be very clear, this is a legislative process, thank the President for embracing both of these bills and embracing Martin's legacy and embracing Martin's family and embracing John Robert Lewis.
But this is a legislative process and the Congressional Black Caucus, for one, has been enormous and outstanding leader in engaging with all of the senators and all of our members in the House. And we voted successfully for both of those bills. I wrote Sen. Manchin, a five- page letter and laid out my life story. The story of my constituents. The story of those of us in the south. Those of us whose districts have already been written out because of oppressive, suppressive voting laws.
I don't put myself up as the singular important aspect of this, but it is the American people. And we gave this process a very long time, but yet, I am willing to give it more. I believe a rolling talking filibuster is right. I believe Senator Manchin is wrong and Senator Sinema is wrong.
Am I angry at them? No, I want to engage with them. And as I engage with them, I want them to take the time to change their mind, because we cannot have elections, if you will, that are fair and reputable without these particular laws.
BURNETT: And obviously, look, I know you've got to be hopeful. They've obviously made it clear every which way to Sunday that they aren't going to change their minds. But I understand that you're still pressing ahead. It leads me to this question, though, and that is that some Democrats, you're saying you're not angry with them, but others are and they're open about it.
And they're saying Sen. Manchin, Sen. Sinema should be primaried from the left for refusing to kill the filibuster to pass voting rights. Today, CNN stopped Sen. Bernie Sanders and asked him whether he's open to backing, openly backing primary opponents to Manchin and Sinema, one word answer, yes. But Sen. Mitt Romney defended them tonight and I wanted to play what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): My colleagues did not criticize me or hang me out to dry when I had a vote or two particularly with regards to the impeachment of Donald Trump. They did not make my life difficult. They respected by vote of conscience. I am surprised to see people talk about bringing a primary against Joe Manchin or Kyrsten Sinema.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So Congresswoman, do you stand with Bernie Sanders? Would you support a primary challenge to those senators or do you think Mitt Romney is more on the right path here?
LEE: Well, Erin, you just opened the door for me to walk through. Sen. Romney has no excuse for not supporting these legislative initiatives. There is great support in the State of Utah, I believe, in terms of Utah becoming a more open state, if you will, among many other states to support this legislation as 71 percent believe there should be early voting made easier, 69 percent believe that we should have mail-in and early votes, so I'm not ...
BURNETT: Sen. Romney, of course, says no one from the White House has ever reached out to him to even talk about possibilities of it.
LEE: And the White House clearly told me that that is not accurate when I say the White House leaders have told me that that is clearly not accurate. But I certainly would encourage anyone to reach out to all persons who want to seriously work. I want to answer your question directly. I want to take the time to focus on them as senators and expect for them to be deliberative.
I want them to understand what the Republican senator said in the 1800s and he said it's shameful in the Senate that the majority is subjected to the tyranny of the minority. I would hope that Sen. Manchin would look at that premise that it is the minority that is terrorizing the majority, that wants to go forward on real voting rights laws to avoid what is happening, Erin, in Texas where they are throwing out under the new oppressive voting law, ballots coming in that are mail-in ballots because they don't have a number.
That is outrageous, unconstitutional and is a shame on America.
I plan to stand with Dr. King and John Robert Lewis and what has been done to move voting rights forward over the last decades.
Let's ask the Senate tonight to not let this be the last time. Let them continue to debate and let's get to it and let's pass these votes -- these bills and signed by the president of the United States.
BURNETT: I so much appreciate your time and thank you. And as we speak here, of course, we are awaiting those votes on the Senate floor.
Next, the breaking news from the Supreme Court deciding that Trump cannot keep hundreds of White House documents away from the January 6th Select Committee. It's a big victory for the committee, and a member will be with me next.
And Biden predicting tonight that Russia will move in on Ukraine and that the type of incursion matters. Now, the White House trying to clean that up.
BURNETT: Breaking news: The Supreme Court clearing the way for the January 6th Select Committee to obtain former President Trump's White House records. It's a major blow to Trump. He has fought to keep secret more than 700 pages of those records. Some of the documents include White House visitors' lists, call log.
There is also handwritten notes from the former chief of staff Mark Meadows are included. Correspondence about January 6th. Documents alleging voter fraud. All of that is in here.
Paula Reid is OUTFRONT.
So, Paula, what more can you tell us about this decision? I mean, this is something the former president had strenuously fought all the way to the Supreme Court.
PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Absolutely, Erin. This is a big loss for Trump, made possible, in part, by three justices that he appointed to the high court.
Now, here, the Supreme Court has rejected his request to block the House Select Committee investigating January 6th from obtaining his White House records. Now, Erin, he had tried to assert executive privilege over some of these documents. But the current president is the one with the power to protect materials from previous administrations. President Biden citing the extraordinary circumstances of January 6th, declined to assert privilege.
Even today, the chief justice said, look, this is an unprecedented question. What do you do when a former president and a current president disagree about executive privilege?
Now, Trump lost at the lower court. He lost at the appellate court. And here today, at the Supreme Court losing in an 8-1 decision. Notable, Erin, Justice Clarence Thomas was only justice to note a dissent. And all three of Trump's Supreme Court picks decided against him.
Now, what does this mean for the committee? Well now, more than 700 pages of documents could potentially shed some light on the days leading up to January 6th and January 6th itself in terms of what was going on at the White House.
Now, among these documents as you noted, you have call logs, you have notes from top staffers. These materials could potentially really help the committee understand what was happening in the White House during this time. BURNETT: All right. Paula, thank you very much and the way it
happened on the Supreme Court I think is so important to note. Thank you.
And I want to bring in now Democratic Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren of California because she is a member of the January 6th committee.
Congresswoman Lofgren, thanks for coming back.
Obviously, it's a victory for your committee. The former president fought extremely hard to keep these records private. They went all the way to the Supreme Court and they lost.
Do you know how quickly you will receive the documents?
REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): Well, we have received some documents that were not covered by the injunction because of the way it was drafted, already. That's just been received. And we expect to receive tranche one, two, and three promptly. I don't know that we have a deadline. But I -- I think very promptly.
And it's a very big deal for getting the truth out. I was glad to see that the court respected the decision made by the appellate court. As I think I said the last time I was with you, the -- the former president failed to make his case. To get injunctive relief, you have to prove irreparable harm and you have to prove a likelihood of prevailing at trial. He didn't even try to do that at the appellate court.
And so, this doesn't really resolve the issue of a dispute between a former president and a current president. He just didn't make his case. And so, we are going to get these documents and we are going to go through them and help piece this picture together.
BURNETT: Well I know, you know, promptly obviously is important and I know time is of the essence in your work. I -- I do know congresswoman or understand that you were supposed to obtain four pages of Trump's White House documents from the national archives about an hour ago. And did you receive those? And are you able to -- to tell me anything about what's in them or how important they may be?
LOFGREN: We did receive some material from the national archives today. The staff is going through the material. The members have not yet had a chance to look at it but yes, the material is starting to flow in.
BURNETT: So, a source who's seen the subpoena that your committee issued to Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani says it demands information about his contacts with members of Congress and elected officials -- election officials -- I'm sorry -- and Giuliani's lawyer told CNN the subpoena is and I quote just political theater, that Giuliani is protected by executive privilege.
He adds, when you are asking questions of the president's personal attorney, you're not going to get answers. Giuliani obviously appears willing to defy your subpoena. How
important is he to you? Will you go to criminal contempt if he doesn't cooperate?
LOFGREN: Well, I don't -- I don't want to predict what the committee will do but he -- he is an important figure in the plot leading up to the -- the riot on the 6th. We have questions for him.
The idea that his communications with other elected officials is somehow covered by executive privilege I think is -- is not correct. And we'll -- we will do what we need to do to get the information from him that we deserve.
We want to get all the facts and, you know, if he thought he was doing such a wonderful thing, why wouldn't he come forward and tell the truth to the committee?
BURNETT: So, you know, you talk about you want to get everything and I know you have talked to 400 people. I -- I understand that.
And -- but the subpoenas this week, one thing that really stood out to me, Congresswoman. You've got Eric Trump on there. You got Kimberly Guilfoyle, the fiancee of Donald Trump Jr. on there.
Donald Trump Jr. -- Ivanka Trump --
LOFGREN: That was for the --
LOFGREN: Phone record, not the content you but just the --
BURNETT: Phone records themselves. Yes, an important distinction and thank you for making that.
But I want to know, well, I guess, first of all, are there going to be more coming for those individuals? But also, what about the others? Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, we haven't heard about them in this capacity yet, even though we have heard some of the text messages that they sent that day.
LOFGREN: Let me just say we are looking at everything. I am not in a position to say when requests for interviews or even subpoenas will be issued. That's something that the committee does as a group. However, nothing is off the table. We're going to get to the bottom of this entire plot.
BURNETT: All right. Well, Congresswoman, I appreciate your time. Thank you, again, for being with me.
LOFGREN: You bet. Anytime.
BURNETT: All right. And the January 6th investigation not the only legal setback Trump is
facing tonight. CNN learning Manhattan's new district attorney, Alvin Bragg, has been briefed on the criminal investigation into the Trump Organization that Cy Vance was running. Source telling our Kara Scannell that Bragg is now actively involved in the case.
It comes as New York Attorney General Letitia James who was working side by side with the D.A. says her investigators have evidence of, quote, fraudulent or misleading statements from the Trump Organization. They are revealing new details in a court filing pushing for testimony from Donald Trump himself, along with his children Ivanka and Don Jr.
OUTFRONT now, Shan Wu, former federal prosecutor.
And, Shan, look, this is pretty significant. They are coming out ask saying they have got a lot of the goods they found misleading numbers for six Trump properties from New York City all the way to Scotland. They are saying they have proof that Trump reported his Trump Tower penthouse was almost three times bigger than it actually was to increase the value by $200 million and drop the value two years later.
They are saying just they have got absolute proof that they lied about values to get loans, insurance, and other things, all of which would be fraudulent.
This is civil. But they are also working, of course, with the Manhattan D.A. on criminal charges possibly. Where do you see this going?
SHAN WU, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, I think this is further corroboration of what we have been hearing all along, which is that the Trump organization felt free to inflate and then deflate values whenever it helped them and that is fraudulent. The same evidence as to civil fraud would be the evidence for criminal fraud. The question is going to be for the criminal prosecutors to determine if they think, overall, the case is strong enough to meet that higher burden of proof in the criminal case, as compared to the civil case.
But the evidence is going to be the same, and it sounds like there is something there.
BURNETT: I mean, it certainly does from the way they are putting it out. You know, no -- no -- no fogginess or meandering in this. The court filing says the A.G.'s office -- they are basically zeroing in on a lot of things but one of them, actually kind of specific detail that stood out to me, file cabinets at the Trump Organization that they say could be key because they note while Mr. Trump famously doesn't use e-mail or a computer. He regularly generated handwritten documents. He had assistants who maintained files on his behalf and all of his, you know, receiving of hard-copy documents and he used post-it notes to communicate with employees.
I can say, you know, having known him over many of those years, it's true. He communicated in handwritten notes constantly, post-it notes. It's how he did it. Do you think -- what do you think they are hoping to learn from these
files? They going to get everything?
WU: Well, I think that is such an interesting point that you raise, Erin, because that is a great distinction between a civil and a criminal case. With the civil case, even when they issue these subpoenas, the recipient still has a lot of discretion. They decide what's responsive to the subpoena. That's what we call it.
And here, it sounds like from the filing that they made a decision that there wasn't that much responsive in the filing cabinet. In the criminal case, by contrast, the prosecutor could just execute a search warrant and take the entire cabinet. So what they are looking for there would be corroboration of what Trump's state of mind would be in terms of contemporaneous notes, post-its, anything like that that might have been kept and indications that he saw certain information as well because they are looking to see what he as well as other executives would have known.
BURNETT: All right. Shan, thank you very much.
WU: You're welcome.
BURNETT: And next, reaction tonight from the White House. A bit of a scramble here after President Biden spoke about a potential Russian invasion in Ukraine.
Plus, what the president admits he could have done better when it comes to the pandemic.
BURNETT: Breaking news: the White House right now trying to clean up this striking comment from President Biden about how the United States will respond if Putin invades Ukraine.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Russia will be held accountable if it invades, and it depends on what it does. It's one thing if it's a minor incursion and then we end up having to fight about what to do and not do, et cetera. But if they actually do what they're capable of doing with the force they massed on the border, it is going to be a disaster for Russia.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: The it's one thing if it's a minor incursion, of course, had a lot of jaws on the floor and the White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki now coming out in a statement moments ago saying, quote: If any Russian military forces move across the Ukrainian border, that's a renewed invasion and will be met with a swift, severe, and united response.
Obviously, quite different than what the president said.
Matthew Chance is OUTFRONT live from Kyiv, Ukraine.
Matthew, you have spoken exclusively with Ukrainian official about Biden's comments.
What did they tell you?
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I would say, Erin, that they were displeased when they heard those comments would be an understatement. One of the officials I spoke to said that he was shocked when he heard president Biden draw a distinction between an incursion and an invasion. And to suggest that if there was some kind of minute -- minor, rather, incursion into Ukrainian territory, then that would be treated differently and elicit lesser sanctions than a major invasion.
It -- it's not the kind of nuance we have heard before. Certainly, something Ukrainian officials say they have never heard spelled out to them. Though, I understand it is that kind of sliding scale of sanctions depending on the seriousness of the Russian action that is being discussed privately. Nevertheless, the point of the concern here in -- in Ukraine, according to this one Ukrainian official who has been in touch with other ministers in the country as well is that it potentially offered a green light to Vladimir Putin to stage a limited land grab into -- into the country with the response of just sort of limited sanctions from the United States.
In the words of this official, Putin gave him the green light to enter Ukraine at his pleasure. I have to say, Erin, also touched on I think a very sensitive nerve here which is this idea that, you know, behind closed doors, when U.S. and Russian officials get into the room, they talk about the future of Ukraine with Ukrainian officials not there. Some kind of back-room deal may be done.
It is always what U.S. officials say isn't but it is something there is paranoia and concern about here in Ukraine.
BURNETT: And, Matthew, President Biden -- you talk about the green light that you are hearing about. He also predicted that Putin will, quote -- his words -- move into Ukraine. He said quote he has to do something.
Now, perhaps he is just referring to the obvious, right, which is he has got 10 -- you know, by your count, 40,000 or 50,000 troops there or ready to be there. But is that the assessment on the ground in Ukraine? That he will for sure?
CHANCE: Well, it's -- you know, it's kind of schizophrenic I think the view here from the ground. On the one end, you have got military intelligence gave us a briefing yesterday saying there were 127,000 Russian troops that have gathered there. Kyiv, the capital here has been brought into range of -- of missile batteries. Scando-Russian Missile batteries which could have obviously a devastating effect. But the president himself here, President Zelensky, is playing down
that threat and urging everybody to calm down saying he doesn't believe there is going to be an invasion -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Matthew, thank you very much. Reporting tirelessly for us from Kyiv.
And OUTFRONT next, we return to a hospital we first visited back in September to see what's the biggest battle they are now facing.
BURNETT: Breaking news. President Biden saying he should have put more an emphasis on COVID testing and saying that he has more work to do to fight the virus.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: It's just -- it's not going to go away immediately. Some people may call what's happening now the new normal. I call it a job not yet finished.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: It comes as the state of Kentucky is reporting more than 1 million cases since the pandemic began and the health-care workers right now are at a breaking point there.
Miguel Marquez is OUTFRONT.
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Owingsville, Kentucky, rolling hills, rural, the coronavirus still the heavy burden for health-care workers.
DR. AARON PARKER BANKS, FAMILY MEDICINE PHYSICIAN, ST. CLAIRE HEALTHCARE: I've -- I've held the hands of people dying of COVID. I have been within the COVID ward. I've -- I've had close friends lose their lives even at my age. I've had -- I've had somebody who like I say a mom to me lose her battle. There is just no words what we're experiencing right now at the healthcare forefront.
MARQUEZ: Dr. Parker Banks is the physician at St. Claire Healthcare Clinic here. The battle now, the highly infectious omicron variant, more patients, and some days less staff.
PARKER: It definitely put the strain on the system, on an already strained system. So right now, we have probably a 40 percent reduction in staff currently today due to COVID or COVID exposure. With that, everybody else here has to pick up a significant amount.
MARQUEZ: At St. Claire's main hospital Morehead where we visited in September, health-care workers are still battling the virus and false information.
ASHLEY FAY, PHYSICIAN ASSISTANT, HOSPITALIST, ST. CLAIRE HEALTHCARE: I think a lot of our patients just need to be able to be talked to, let them know the truth, talk to them and answer their questions because a lot of them are just fearful of it.
MARQUEZ: People you treat, they come in not believing they have it? Or what --
FAY: Some of them don't believe they have it. They don't believe it's a real thing. I have heard that.
MARQUEZ: With nearly a third of Kentuckians testing now positive for the coronavirus, the state has smashed its record-weekly case count, more than 70,000. The unvaccinated or partially vaccinated accounting for nearly 80 percent of those cases, nearly 85 percent of hospitalizations and more than 83 percent of deaths.
Sharry Conn, 80 years old, diabetic and asthmatic, now has coronavirus too. She had one dose of the Pfizer vaccine, and says if not for that, she might be in worse shape today.
SHARRY CONN, PARTIALLY VACCINATED: And that asthma really knock you down when you can't breathe, you better be getting somewhere.
MARQUEZ: And with COVID on top of it, that is not a good complication.
CONN: Uh-huh. The way I can understand that I didn't have it bad like some people because some people don't take shots like that.
MARQUEZ: Not sure how she picked up the virus, she says once released --
CONN: I will get that second shot. Yeah. I'll go to my doctor.
MARQUEZ: And despite the sharp rise in cases, one bright spot.
DR. STEVE KOENIG, PULMONOLOGIST, ST. CLAIRE HEALTHCARE: It seems that because omicron, in general, appears to be a milder disease versus the delta, we're still having a lot of hospitalizations because a lot of people are being infected just by the sheer numbers, but I think the number of people on ventilators, the number of people requiring respiratory support are a little lower than they were than delta.
MARQUEZ: Still, health-care workers here, like everywhere, working harder, longer, and with seemingly no end to the pandemic or the nation's bad mood.
CHARLOTTE KINNEY, NURSE MANAGER, ST. CLAIRE REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER: Everybody just needs to try to be a little more patient, be kinder with each other. Everybody's got their own struggles, whether it's where they work or what they're dealing with, with their families, people's had losses personally. So we just need to all work together to be a kind of place, I think.
MARQUEZ: I was really struck by the pessimism that a lot of the health-care workers I spoke to had this time around. When the vaccine came out, they were hopeful that the end was in sight. When they were getting through the delta variant and that wave, they were hopeful the end is in sight.
They are not sure now, how deep or how long this current wave is or whether another one's on the horizon -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Miguel, thank you very much from Lexington, tonight.
Thanks very much to all of you for joining us around the world.
"AC360" starts now.