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Erin Burnett Outfront

Secretary Of State Speaking After U.S. Pulls Out Of Afghanistan; U.S. Military, Final Evacuation Plane Have Left Afghanistan; Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) Discusses About U.S. Leaving Afghanistan Ending A Long War; Flint, Michigan Schools Sticking With Remote Learning Indefinitely; Inside Look At Draft Trump Order That Targeted Voting Machines; Boris Johnson Scandal Deepens, Now Potentially Criminal. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired January 25, 2022 - 19:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Thank you so, so much and our hearts go out to the families of these two police officers. Our deepest, deepest condolences. May they rest in peace and may their memories be a blessing.

Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, President Biden now threatening to send us troops to Eastern Europe soon as the U.S. military aid arrives in Ukraine and President Biden is making sure the whole world sees what he's doing tonight.

Plus, exclusive CNN reporting this hour, the Justice Department now looking into fake Electoral College certifications that had declared trump the winner in seven states that he lost.

And students back in schools in Chicago but a principal there warning tonight that 'children are not okay, teachers are not okay, schools are not okay'. He's my guest. Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, Javelins and Iskander missiles, the U.S. and Russia flooding the zone around Ukraine as President Biden warns that U.S. troops could soon be headed there. These are new pictures of roughly 300 American Javelin anti-tank missiles arriving in Kiev today as President Biden says the troops are ready to go to Eastern Europe.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I may be moving some of those troops in the near term. This would be the largest, if you were to move in with all of those forces, it would be the largest invasion since World War II, it would change the world.


BURNETT: And the White House believes this could happen, today telling reporters the Biden administration believes an invasion by Putin is 'imminent'. That warning comes as Russia is making new and aggressive moves along the Ukraine border.


JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: We have seen a consistent accumulation of combat power by the Russians in the western part of their country around the borders with Ukraine and in Belarus.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In addition to the troops, can you talk a little bit more - can you give us any specificity about the weaponry that they're piling over on the border as well?

KIRBY: Artillery and armor, and conventional ground troops, and logistics and sustainment, and medical support and aviation support.


BURNETT: That's what you need for a war and that's what the Pentagon is seeing and it's what Russia wants us all to see, the defense ministry today putting out new videos both land and sea based threatening them. I want to show you some of them so you see what they're putting out here of what they're doing. Kirby described it, Admiral Kirby did, but here you can see it.

Russian troops carrying out so called planned combat readiness exercises in that one there and then the Iskander-M operational and tactical missile system, showing that off. They are moving that in the video. You see troops placing the short range missiles into their combat positions. The East Gander-M system has a range of 250 to 300 miles and can carry both conventional and nuclear warheads.

It is important to remember when I give you those distances, because if these weapons were placed along Russia's border with Ukraine or Belarus' border with Ukraine, both of which Russia can do, you can see the 200 to 300 miles is well within the range of Kiev. In the border of Belarus, you can see only 60 miles away. Russia obviously with troops along all of those borders right now.

And in Belarus, Russia releasing new video of troops unloading tanks and other armored vehicles from the trains. This is what they're amassing along those borders. And then at sea, Russia is now conducting joint drills with the Chinese. Putin showing an anti- submarine warfare ship and a navy cruiser outfitted with missile launchers and torpedo tubes.

So he's threatening and he's saber rattling despite all of this, though, in these videos that they are putting out. Russia continues to insist there's no plans to launch an invasion, instead blaming the United States and its allies for the soaring tensions. And all of this prompting more countries to warn their citizens to leave Ukraine, you now have Australia and Canada tonight pulling families of diplomats out of the country because the fears of an invasion are real.

And as I mentioned, all eyes are on Putin and it's not just American eyes and NATO eyes. America's adversaries are also watching. They're testing Biden as well. North Korea firing to cruise missiles this morning, according to the South Korean military. That was Kim Jong- un's fifth test just this year. We're still in January.

And Taiwan accusing China of sending 52 warplanes into its airspace this week, including nuclear capable bombers. America's foes are watching. They're watching to see what happens in Ukraine. Matthew Chance is OUTFRONT live in Kiev tonight.

Matthew, what are you learning from Ukrainian officials this evening?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's a strange one, Erin, because on the one hand, Ukrainian officials are welcoming the potential deployment of 8,500 U.S. troops to the region to bolster NATO defenses here.


They're welcoming the recent delivery today of U.S. anti-tank missiles, Javelin missiles. There were some large numbers of them delivered today. But they are pushing back on the U.S. characterization on the sort of imminent nature of any conflict here. They're saying that's not what they're seeing at all and they don't think that Putin's forces, that Russian forces are exactly prepared right now to launch an imminent attack against the country.

I spoke to a senior Ukrainian official close to the leadership here and saying that they've been looking at, Ukrainian officials have been looking at satellite images on an hourly basis from the U.S. and from other Western intelligence agencies as well and they're saying they're not seeing Russia getting into combat mode or positioning themselves to attack, so that's a real difference from the sort of characterization that they're getting from the White House. They're saying they don't see the threat from Russia at the moment is imminent, but they just see it as dangerous.

And they're saying that they don't believe an order has been given for an invasion to take place yet. And when an order is given, it's the assessment of Ukrainian officials, that it will be between one and two weeks before those forces close to Ukraine's border would be ready to strike, so we're some way off yet, Erin.

BURNETT: Right. And if that's the case, that's certainly not the lightning strike that we hear is possible from the United States and others. All right. Matthew, thank you very much in Kiev.

I want to go now to retired U.S. Army Major General James "Spider" Marks who is the head of geopolitical strategy at Academy Securities, along with Evelyn Farkas, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia in the Obama administration. Thanks very much to both of you.

Gen. Marks, let me start with you, the White House today clear where they stand using the word imminent to describe an invasion. You heard Admiral Kirby laying out all that they're seeing them do in terms of all the support that would be needed for invasion too. And obviously, we have the satellite images, and we have the images that Putin himself wants us to say. Do you see this as imminent and inevitable? JAMES MARKS, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: I do, Erin. When you have in places all the necessary combat enablers, is what we call those, in order to conduct an invasion, they are positioned, they have been there for a while and most importantly, what you see over the past few weeks is you've seen an increase in the number of rocket and artillery forces.

Look, let's be frank, this is a Russian formation, but these are Soviet-like tactics and the Soviets went to war with an overwhelming amount of artillery fire. So you mentioned it up front, those rocket forces certainly can reach Kiev. What I see is the possibility of an invasion is imminent, we could label that in terms of days or weeks, but they are in place.

And the ability to transition from the positioning that they have right now, the training that they are doing to maintain those skill sets and then to launch, to cross the line of departure really could be a matter of hours or days.

BURNETT: And that timing is so crucial, because as you say imminent is a word. But when you start to put specifics on it like you are - that's what gives it its meaning.

Evelyn, one of the videos that they put out and again Putin does all this on purpose, sort of showing the relationship, the alliance between China and Russia and these exercises they're doing together. Now, China is denying a report tonight that it may have asked Putin not to invade Ukraine during the Winter Olympics, Putin scheduled to go to the Olympics.

How do you see this, Evelyn? Would Putin invade during the Olympics? Is this something that plays into his timeline and what do you think his timeline is?

EVELYN FARKAS, FORMER U.S. DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE FOR RUSSIA/UKRAINE/EURASIA: Well, Erin, it's really interesting that you brought that up, because that's exactly what I was thinking in terms of this question of imminent. I do think that it's more likely that Putin would strike now rather than during the Olympics or even after the Olympics, because you'd have to sustain this high level of readiness all the way through almost the entire month of February.

The Chinese probably didn't ask Putin not to invade right now, because they don't have to. I mean, Vladimir Putin knows full well that President Xi would be mad to have Russia distracting the world from the Olympics during that timeframe of February 2nd to 22nd when the Olympics are being held in China again.

So I think he knows that either has to go now or he has to go later and as I said, there are constraints on that. There are some other weather constraints. But the most important thing to consider is whether there's still any likelihood that he won't use military force. And I think we have seen very little sign of that.

He does not appear likely to back down. He's only escalated the situation, but I wouldn't say the doors closed because the way Vladimir Putin operates, he lines everything up, so we can take either option and lots of different military options and we won't really know until he decides.

BURNETT: And so Gen. Marks, let me enter into this two things and one thing some people may not have heard during the day today.


Today, the Secretary General of NATO said that NATO will 'not deploy' NATO combat troops to Ukraine. Now, that's something that President Biden has said more than once about U.S. combat troops going to Ukraine as well. Here he is.


BIDEN: There is not going to be any American forces moving into Ukraine.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What made you decide to take U.S. ground combat troops off the table when it comes to Ukraine?

BIDEN: They never were on the table.

That is not on the table.


BURNETT: So General, what is to say if U.S. has categorically said they're not doing it and now NATO is saying they're not doing it, so then nobody is doing it but Ukraine, at least from what people are saying, what does that say to Putin?

MARKS: Well, what it says to Putin is that you Putin have achieved one of your objectives, which is to fracture NATO. When you take options off the table, you remove that ambiguity from your opponent. And you've eliminated a number of options that he or she must deal with, for the President to say, we're not going to deploy forces, that's for domestic U.S. consumption, but it has an international impact that is very, very pronounced.

For the NATO Secretary General to say NATO will not deploy, again, it gives Putin all the ammunition he needs, figuratively, to - as Evelyn described - have a number of options that are available. We should never take options off the table. I simply don't understand that.

BURNETT: Right. You negotiate against yourself in that situation.

MARKS: Of course, you do.

BURNETT: Evelyn, I want to just ask you about sanctions, because that's what's theoretically on the table. We're going to sanction the hell out of them, start high and stay high is the U.S. motto. But the U.S. needs its allies on board, they need NATO and those allies in Europe, they rely on Germany. I mean, I'm sorry, they rely on Russia, Germany. They said, okay, we'll impose sanctions, but we're not going to send any weapons to Ukraine, taking that off the table.

And obviously, we know the reason, Russia is Germany's largest supplier of gas, according to the latest numbers, 50 percent to 75 percent of German gas comes from Russia. The rest of the EU gets about 40 percent of its gas from Russia. So to sanction Russia on gas is going to crush Europe, does the U.S. have any solution to that?

FARKAS: Well, Erin, I mean this is a really good point and it's crazy, because when I was in the Obama administration, we had one guy running around high level envoys trying to work on energy security so that Putin wouldn't have the Europeans over a barrel on this issue. Clearly, we didn't succeed and the German government, they really need to come up with a contingency plan for heating gas for their citizens. And instead of doing that, of course, they are still clinging to the idea that maybe they can have this second pipeline to Russia.

The issue about not sending arms, it's a little bit different. It's tied to their history. I mean, I would say in this instance, they should break with that history, because this is actually a dictator who's doing exactly what Hitler did, grabbing territory in the name of his own ethnic claims.

So I actually think that the Germans should change that policy, but I understand why they're making that distinction. I will commend a lot of other NATO allies, the U.K., the Baltic States, Poland for providing assistance to Ukrainians and that is part of the deterrence. I mean, moving all the material and equipment, not just to NATO allies, but to Ukraine is part of demonstrating to Putin that there'll be a price to pay if he moves.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you both very much. I appreciate your insight.

FARKAS: Thank you.

MARKS: Thanks, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. And next, a CNN exclusive, the Justice Department tonight revealing for the first time that prosecutors are looking into the people behind those fake 2020 elector slates, the ones that would have declared trump the winner of states that he lost.

Plus, an inside look at the executive order that could have led to a full blown constitutional crisis had Trump signed it.

And the Australian Open tonight reversing course, after officials banned T-shirts that asked where's Peng Shuai, the Chinese tennis champ who had gone missing after accusing retired senior communist leader of rape.



BURNETT: New tonight, the Justice Department now looking into the fake Electoral College certifications that declared former President Trump the winner in seven states that he actually lost to Joe Biden. They were sent to the National Archives in mid December 2020 as part of a wide ranging effort, which was led by Rudy Giuliani to push the big lie and overturn the election.

Now, the fake certifications were all signed by rogue pro-Trump supporters and here's the Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco with our Evan Perez in an exclusive interview.


LISA MONACO, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: On the issue you raised in terms of fraudulent electric certifications has been reported. We've received those referrals. Our prosecutors were looking at those and I can't say anything more on ongoing investigations.

But more broadly, look, the Attorney General has been very, very clear. We are going to follow the facts in the law wherever they lead to address conduct of any kind and at any level that is part of an assault on our democracy.


BURNETT: And that was an interview with Evan Perez who's with me now. So Evan, I mean, those comments from Lisa Monaco are very significant, because they are the first time that the DOJ has said anything about these fake certifications and what they're doing about it and whether they're looking into it, so tell me how significant it is and what it means.

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, it's very significant for the Justice Department to even address this. As you know, they're very, very hesitant to talk about ongoing investigations. And we already heard from prosecutors in a couple of states that had made those referrals and they said they're very gratified, because they know it's important for there to at least be the message that the Justice Department is taking this seriously. They're going to look to see whether there are any crimes that they can prosecute in.

And look, this is driven by the falsehood that there was vote fraud and some of that we know is driving threats against election workers around the country. Lisa Monaco, the Deputy Attorney General and I talked about that, here's what she had to say about that.


MONACO: I'm concerned about the really disturbing nature of the threats that we've seen. They've been disturbingly aggressive and violent and personal. We set up an election threats task force and you're seeing the fruits of some of that work.


You saw indictment just last week that is a result of that election threat task force. That case, and that indictment and those charges were the first coming out of that task force, but they will not be the last.

(END VIDEO CLIP) PEREZ: And Erin, one of the important things to note there is that states are having trouble recruiting workers for these elections. Some of them are coming up just in a couple of months. So, it's very important for there to be some kind of deterrent and that's one of the things that I think you're hearing there from Lisa Monaco, the Deputy Attorney General.

BURNETT: All right. Evan, thank you very much with that exclusive reporting.

I want to go now to Abby Phillip, anchor of CNN's INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY and Shan Wu, former federal prosecutor.

So Shan, let me start with you. These fake election certifications from what you know, do you believe there's enough evidence for the Justice Department to actually file criminal charges over them?

SHAN WU, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, we don't know that much about it, Erin, at this point. But certainly facially it sounds like it could violate both state election and fraud laws as well as federal ones. And as Evans reporting points out, it is very, very significant that Lisa Monaco, the number two at the Justice Department made this statement.

I've worked with Lisa closely and we both work for former Attorney General Lino (ph). And she is very, very careful with how she acts and how she talks. So her phrase there, ongoing investigations is a very, very significant phrase.

BURNETT: Right. She didn't just say it lightly, because she realized she misspoke. It was done carefully.

So Abby, does any of this give Trump pause in his political reemergence. This is getting at the heart of what Rudy Giuliani was pushing right to overturn the election in seven states that Trump lost.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, I really don't think that Trump is very much fazed by any of this nor are his most ardent supporters. One of the interesting things is hearing just a few days ago that one of the characters in this terrible saga, Boris Epshteyn, basically shrugging this off and admitting that this was actually their plan.

And the reason for that is because these are people who truly believe these lies and truly believed at the time that this was a legitimate thing for them to do. Now, that doesn't change, that this may very well be charged as fraud and that they could be facing real legal jeopardy for all of this.

But I think that the reality is that facts have never gotten in the way of these people pushing these lies and believing them fervently. And I don't think that it will really affect former President Trump's thinking on his own political future or on whether or not he wants to advise his people to cooperate with any of these investigations, whether on Capitol Hill or elsewhere at the Justice Department or at the state level.

BURNETT: So Shan, sources with direct knowledge of what happened here tell CNN that Rudy Giuliani was the leader of the efforts to put forward these illegitimate electors in the states Trump loss and that he coordinated at a state by state level. So he was the leader and he was micromanaging it, all the details. So when the January 6 Committee announced that it was subpoenaing Giuliani, it cited a hearing in Michigan where he said this.


RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER ATTORNEY FOR DONALD TRUMP: I would never certify an election or have my name associated with anything that was false. Now, it is your responsibility to do that. The power is given to you. In the McPherson case in 1892, United States Supreme Court made clear that you can take that power back any time you want to. Anytime, you can take it back tonight. You can take it back the day before the electors go down to Washington. You can take it back anytime you want.


BURNETT: What do you take away from that, Shan, and how concerned Rudy Giuliani should be now, legally?

WU: He should be very worried legally. I mean, he says that "he wouldn't associate himself with anything false" and there is doing exactly that. And these evidence is coming out that he was in charge of this, his own representations of this role sounds like he is a mastermind, a key player, that's going to be a big problem for him here.

I mean, there may be some defenses down the road claiming that some of these documents have some disclaimers on them. But overall, if the department is looking at this and they charge, they're going to charge the whole kit and caboodle. They're not going to parse it out and I would be very surprised if he's not charged rightly if this continues in this direction.

BURNETT: So you've got what's going on at the DOJ and Abby, of course, then you have the January 6 Committee, Alex Jones, and anyone who doesn't know his name, he's one of those who helped push the big lie on his show Infowars. He revealed he met with the January 6 Committee yesterday. Now, he says he took the fifth almost 100 times.


So making it clear he wanted nothing to do with him, wouldn't answer their questions.

However, he then also said this.


ALEX JONES, DONALD TRUMP ALLY: I just had a very intense experience being interrogated by the January 6 Committee lawyers. They were polite, but they were dogged. The questions were overall pretty reasonable. They have everything that's already on my phones and things, because I saw my text messages to Caroline Wren and Cindy Chafian and some of the event organizers right there, so they already have everything.


BURNETT: It's amazing, Abby, that Trump and his allies have tried to discredit the Committee, say it's a fraud and a sham, Newt Gingrich saying that they should be the ones to be indicted. But anyone that I've talked to who's been in front of that Committee and I'm talking about specifically Republicans have talked about how professional it is. And Alex Jones, who says he takes the fifth and wants nothing to do with it admits he's impressed by their investigative work and their professionalism.

PHILLIP: Honestly, Erin, he sounds kind of shaken in that clip about the experience overall. And it seems to be partly because he maybe wasn't expecting there to be that much detail wasn't expecting his text messages and documents to already be in their possession. And he talked a lot about pleading the fifth and doing so because he was concerned that he would be sort of incriminated based on his inability to recollect things completely accurately.

But I think that what he's trying to convey to his supporters is that he didn't plead the fifth because he had something to hide. He's trying to signal to them that he wasn't necessarily hiding. But I do think that many of these individuals really are worried at this point, because they were so knee deep into something that turned out to be quite violent, and many of them don't know what that means for their own legal Jeopardy.

BURNETT: Right. And the Republican Secretary of State for Georgia, Brad Raffensperger, he told me when he went in there ...


BURNETT: ... he said they asked the questions they already knew the answer.


BURNETT: They already had the text, they already had it, they've done their work. All right. Thank you both very much.

And next, President Biden says schools should remain open. Well, I'm going to talk to one principal who is back but warns that the children are not okay, the schools aren't okay and the teachers aren't okay. A Chicago principal next.

Plus, an inside look at the threat to democracy as laid out in that executive order, which would have directed the United States Pentagon to seize voting machines in key states.



BURNETT: Tonight, the superintendent in Flint, Michigan, defending his decision to stick with virtual learning indefinitely, citing the COVID surge. Students have been remote since January 5th. They were supposed to return to the classroom this week, but now no. Parents trying to figure out how they will work and have kids taken care of, and there is not set date to return to the classroom.


LAKIA CANNON, FLINT MOTHER: I have to be able to make a living so that I can pay for a roof over our heads. So I can pay for food. And if I can't have someone who can sit with the kids during their school hours, then I have to.


BURNETT: This comes as President Biden continues to push schools so stay hope. Of course, he sent $120 billion in federal funding to schools from the American Rescue Plan.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are not going back to closing schools. Schools should stay open. And many states and school districts have spent this money very well. Unfortunately, some haven't. I encourage the states and school districts that use the funding to protect our children and keep their schools open, use it.


BURNETT: One district where students are now back is Chicago, but a principal in that city has a dire warning writing, quote, it is the wildest stretch in two years of pandemic schooling. COVID is everywhere. Kids are in and out of quarantine. Children are not okay. Teachers are not okay. Schools are not okay.

OUTFRONT now is Seth Lavin, the Chicago principal who wrote that op- ed.

And, Seth, I appreciate your time. Tell me how you have seen your students impacted in your school by the pandemic and also by not consistently being in the classroom with their peers and teachers.

SETH LAVIN, ELEMENTARY PUBLIC SCHOOL PRINCIPAL IN CHICAGO: Sure. Well, I appreciate you having me on. It's good to be here. You know, anybody in any school in America will tell you that kids are having an incredibly hard time this year. We are out of practice being in community, all of us, and so schools are a place where we come back together. We relearn how to be in a community.

We're seeing kids struggling with self-esteem. We're seeing kids really struggling with what it means to be in relationships with each other. We are seeing kids struggle with what it means to be in a classroom community. That makes it hard. It makes it hard for them. It makes it hard for

their parents. It makes it hard for their teachers. You can see the hurt in them and how difficult it is and how important it is that we do this work.

BURNETT: You paint a vivid picture in your op-ed. I hope everybody reads it. It's online, about what it's like to be a teacher right now. You write, quote, a kindergartner throwing chairs, second grader tearing up a classroom, a middle-schooler swearing in your face and falling to the ground in tears. You can't discipline your way out of trauma.

It is clearly impacting the behavior of students, of children everywhere. Tell me more about what your teachers are dealing with.

LAVIN: Sure. I mean, so my wife is a teachers, not at my school, and, you know, of course, I am in close conversation with the teachers at my school, and they would be the first to tell you just how hard it is. And I don't want to come down on our students. I don't want this to be a piece about how bad the children are.

We love our kids. I love our kids. And what you can see is just what's happened to them, what happened to all of us, which is that this pandemic has broken a lot and taken a lot from us and left us without a lot of the skills we would have if we were together for years. I am not saying if schools were opened, this wouldn't have happened.


But, you know, you see it in the school. You feel it in the school. You feel kids having a hard time listening. You feel kids having a hard time working in groups. You feel it with some kids really started with the basics of being in class doing the what teacher wants, working with the other kids.

BURNETT: I just wonder also, you know, you're talking about these incredibly important parts about, you know, being a child and being human and cared for and that is so essential to schooling, all schooling, and also elementary school schooling. Then on top of it, you have kids who are behind, and a lot of kid who are never going to catch up, right? They will have to be pushed through the systems in various places around this country.

What do you need to do? I mean, it sounds like the needs are so great and so beyond our abilities right now. I mean, what do you need to get kids caught up academically and also supported emotionally and socially?

LAVIN: Yeah. I mean, first, I challenge the idea that we weren't going to get caught up, you know, caught up to what. I think, like I said, schools are communities of children. We have all been hurt by this pandemic. Our kids feel it and they feel is as kids.

So they are coming back to us and they're showing us that hurt and they are showing us a lack of self-esteem because of everything they have been through. So we have to take care of them. The first thing that has to happen is they have to be in school

feeling safe, they have to feel safe in school, and if we can get that right, if we can get them back together in a way that they feel okay with, then we can do the rest. Then we can figure out fractions and the rules of grammar and all that. We can catch up with that. But that coming back together is something we all are still trying to do right now.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Seth, I really appreciate your time. Thank you so much. And again, I hope that anyone watching will go and read Seth's full op-ed. Thanks so much.

Next, an inside look at the alarming executive order that could have upended the election had Trump signed it.

Plus, things are getting worse for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, as police investigate a number of parties he attended, a number of parties during the U.K.'s strict COVID lockdown.



BURNETT: Tonight, allegations of international vote-rigging conspiracy to deprive then-President Trump of a second term. A special counsel appointed to investigate alleged election fraud and to bring criminal charges if warranted. All of these things were part of an executive order, an executive order that was written and was intended for Trump to sign, and it would have directed the Pentagon to seize voting machines in key states.

All off this was published, the entire order, by "Politico". He didn't sign it though.

And Tom Foreman is OUTFRONT with the story.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It reads like a fictional thriller. The inauguration postponed, voting machines seized by the military and Donald Trump's presidential power extended by weeks while his hand-picked investigators decide who won the election.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: We won this election and we won it by a landslide.

FOREMAN: The December 2020 draft executive order could have triggered all of that if it had been signed and enacted before Joe Biden's win was certified.

REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): It's a lawless document and really breathtaking in its approach to our American democracy.

FOREMAN: So what's in it? According to "Politico", the draft is a patchwork of conspiracy theories and dubious legal arguments previously pushed by team Trump. For starters, the paper claims President Trump had a constitutional right to declare an emergency and pull in the Pentagon based on probable cause the vote was rife with fraud.

TRUMP: The decertification of the election.

FOREMAN: Court after court had already dismissed those claims.

CHRISTOPHER KREBS, PARTNER, KREBS STAMOS GROUP: The sheer brazenness and, you know, the illegality of it all is pretty shocking.

FOREMAN: Chris Krebs, once served as Trump's cybersecurity advisor.

KREBS: This is a violation on its face of Posse Comitatus Act, which is a restriction on using federal troops for federal law enforcement action.

FOREMAN: But there is more. The paper cites a forensic report that found Dominion voting machines used in several battleground states were intentionally and purposefully designed with inherent errors to create systemic fraud and influence election results. The draft falsely says Dominion is owned and controlled by foreign entities, adding multiple expert witnesses identified acts of foreign interference in the election.

But that report was soundly debunked by a much more comprehensive analysis by the state of Michigan. While a judge cited in the draft did question whether Dominion machines might be subject to tampering, the paper claims it happened. Witnesses in Georgia have provided evidence of crashes, the replacement of a server, impermissible updates.

But the draft offers no proof and Dominion officials are suing some Trump advisors for billions for defamation.

GEORGE CONWAY, CONSERVATIVE LAWYER: This was absolute banana republic stuff. No one writing this document or taking this document seriously, in my view, could have been of sound mind.


FOREMAN: We don't know who wrote this. We don't know why it wasn't signed, how seriously it was ever considered, Erin. But we do know this. It fits completely into everything we've seen from team Trump. Keep delaying. Keep denying.

Keep trying to not admit the simple truth. Joe Biden won. Donald Trump lost.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Tom Foreman, for that detail.

I want to go now to Bill Gates to talk about this. He is the Republican chairman of the board of supervisors in Maricopa County, Arizona, right at the center of this.

So, Chairman, you see this executive order. Trump considered signing it. He actually never did. But when you look at it, the order was written with all this detail, empowering the Pentagon to come to your state and seize voting machines, such a thing was drafted and ready, what in the world is your reaction?



It's really frightening to think that we got this close to that executive order being signed, that this sort of executive order would even be written. But instead what we saw here in Arizona was that the state Senate did President Trump's bidding and specifically subpoenaed the election machines and the 2.1 million ballots from Maricopa County. So they decided, we actually saw that play out here as your viewers know.

BURNETT: So, the executive order, you know, alleges that those debunked conspiracies about those Dominion voting machines that you are talking about, you know, they said that the machines were used by international actors, right, that they went in and changed the tallies, right, the whole thing, the whole allegation which is completely false.

So what do you say? I mean, a lot of people believe this. You oversaw an election that used Dominion machines, you know? And this whole thing at its core is alleging something that is a lie, which is that the machines were, you know, messed with and tallies were changed.

GATES: Right. And this has been proven again and again to be patently false. This issue was raised in the courts multiple times. There is no basis to it.

And then, further, we conducted our own audits in Maricopa County that established there were no issues with those machines. There was no malware placed on them. Those machines were never connected to the Internet.

So, there was simply no basis for this claim. But, unfortunately, all of this led really, all of this that was sort of sowing these doubts at this time that were articulated in this executive order laid the predicate for the so-called audit here in Arizona.

BURNETT: Right, right. So-called, of course, the bottom line, right? I mean, it was not a real audit. Even though its conclusion was that Biden's margin was bigger than what had been reported.

I appreciate your time. I thank you so much.

GATES: Thank you.

BURNETT: Next, what's happening in the U.K. is bizarre. Another huge blow to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, because we are finding out about these parties, multiple, plural, now being looked at by police during COVID.

And the pressure on China at Australian Open in the form of these T- shirts.



BURNETT: Tonight, police investigating a number of parties held by Boris Johnson at Downing Street despite rules for the country at the time that forbid indoor gathering. Two of the parties were birthday celebrations for himself.

Prime minister's political future is now in serious jeopardy.

Bianca Nobilo is OUTFRONT.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A boozy party in Downing Street.

BIANCA NOBILO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From bad to worse. The British government was already investigating Prime Minister Boris Johnson for allegedly breaking COVID rules. Now London's police, also known as the Met, are, too.

CRESSIDA DICK, COMMISSIONER, LONDON METROPOLITAN POLICE: I can confirm that the met is now investigating a number of events that took place at Downing Street in white hall in the last two years, in relation to potential breaches of COVID-19 regulations.

BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: And I apologized for the impression that --

NOBILO: For weeks, Johnson has been struggling to contain the growing scandal.

JOHNSON: That I have been repeatedly assured since this allegations emerged that there was no party and that no COVID rules were broken.

NOBILO: In the New Year, new allegations. The Downing Street staffers threw a raucous party on the eve of Prince Philip's funeral in April last year, which Queen Elizabeth attended on her own. Johnson apologized to the Queen and finally admitted that he did attend a bring-your-own-booze party during the May 2020 lockdown, but said it wasn't his fault.

JOHNSON: Nobody told me, and nobody said that this was something that was against the rules. It was a breach of the COVID rules, that we were doing something that wasn't a work event.

NOBILO: But now, CNN affiliate ITV reports that on Johnson's own birthday in June 2020, he attended two separate parties at Downing Street with as many as 30 people, including the decorator redesigning his apartment.

This photo was taken earlier that day.

At the time, up to six people could only meet outside, and indoor gatherings were not allowed. A source who worked at Downing Street at this time confirmed Johnson's wife organized a gathering in the afternoon and they sang happy birthday.

Just months before, Johnson had written to a 7-year-old girl congratulating her for postponing her own birthday party.

MICHAEL ELLIS, BRITISH CONSERVATIVE MP & PAYMASTER GENERAL: The government recognizes and I recognize the public anxiety and indignation that it appears as though the people who have been setting the rules may not been following the rules, and I would like to repeat that sentiment today.

ANGELA RAYNER, UK DEPUTY OPPOSTION LEADER (LABOUR): Well, well, well, all too soon, the minister and I find yourselves here once again. Rather than dealing with the cost of living crisis impacting on families, we're talking -- we're talking about scandals in Downing Street again.

NOBILO: The crisis for Boris Johnson is now political and potentially criminal. His spokesman says no laws were broken, but the police investigation comes at a time when many in his own conservative party are actively plotting to get rid of him.

Johnson has spent the past two weeks throwing them red meat, scrapping COVID restrictions earlier than planned, upending the fees to fund the BBC, and getting tough on Russia.

Whether he stays in power may depend on the outcome of these investigations, which the police commissioner said will go where the evidence takes us.



NOBILO (on camera): Erin, as the amount of allegations of parties inside Downing Street while the country was under a strict lockdown starts to break into double digits, the hypocrisy and the outrage over that hypocrisy felt by the public and MPs has reached a fever pitch and it's now really subsiding into an exasperation felt in the country at large and also by his own MPs who are now making moves, it seems this week, to potentially try to oust him.

BURNETT: It's an incredible story.

Bianca, thank you so much. Bianca Nobilo live from London.

And next, why T-shirts asking "where is Peng Shuai?" can now be seen throughout the crowd at the Australian Open.


BURNETT: Where is Peng Shuai t-shirts now allowed at the Australian Open while millions are watching. Those wearing the shirts were first told to cover up, but now there's a course change from Open officials. They say people can wear the shirts as long as they don't create a disruption.

Activists who want to keep the Chinese tennis star in the news hope to hand out shirts during the women's singles final Saturday. Peng is not taking part in the tournament. She's not been seen or has been seen publicly only in highly controlled appearances -- only in highly controlled appearances on video after she accused a former Chinese vice premier of sexual assault and rape.

Thanks so much for joining us.

"AC360" starts right now.