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Erin Burnett Outfront

Trump-Backed Election Deniers In Primaries In Arizona, Michigan And Missouri; Sources: Secret Service Tells Employees It May Disable Text Messaging On Phones After January 6 Texts Were Erased; Sources: DOJ Subpoenas Trump's Former Deputy White House Counsel Philbin; Biden Signs Executive Order To Protect Access To Abortion; Alex Jones Testifies Sandy Hook Shooting Was "100 Percent Real"; China Begins Live-Fire Drills Around Taiwan After Pelosi Visit; Ukrainians Say They Did Not Expect Neighbors In Belarus To Support Putin's War. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired August 03, 2022 - 19:00   ET



ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, down to the wire. The final votes in the Arizona primary are being counted right now, a primary where one election denier is already casting doubt on the results despite being in the lead.

Plus, more fallout after January 6th text messages were erased from Secret Service phone. What action the agency is considering taking tonight.

And just in, CNN learning Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr. sat for depositions as part of New York's investigation into the Trump Organization.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, awaiting results. We're standing by for a new batch of election results from the key state of Arizona, where as of this moment, Trump backed election denier Kari Lake has the lead in the primary for governor. Eighty percent of the vote is in, and we do expect a big batch of counted votes coming in tonight. So, we are awaiting those.

Lake leads Karrin Taylor Robson, who the former Vice President Pence is backing her, by more than 11,000 votes.

But tonight, tonight, the front runner has made it clear she doesn't trust the results. She wins if wins, she wins of she loses.


KARI LAKE (R), CANDIDATE FOR ARIZONA GOVERNOR: There are a lot of shenanigans going on. So, you know, we knew the shenanigans were happening.


BURENTT: And Lake is not alone. At least five Trump-backed election deniers won their primary races last night.

I want to play for you what four of these winners, like these are people who are moving ahead, advanced, voters have chosen them. This is what four of them said about the last election.


MARK FINCHEM (R), CANDIDATE FOR ARIZONA SECRETARY OF STATE: For those media outlets that claim there is no fraud, you're willfully ignoring the evidence.

ABRAHAM HAMADEH (R), CANDIDATE FOR ARIZONA ATTORNEY GENERAL: If you look at the evidence, there was obviously some -- something wrong with the election, okay? Trump was robbed of this election.

REPORTER: Do you believe Donald Trump should still be an office?

JOHN GIBBS (R), CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE FROM MICHIGAN: I do, yes. He should've won the election.

REPORTER: They went -- do you believe he won the election?

GIBBS: I do, I do, yes. There are so many shenanigans.


BURNETT: So what these for people said, and again, they've all just won their primaries. They've advanced to November. But they said is, of course, not just false, but dangerous.

And today on Capitol Hill, we heard emotional testimony from Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson about the ongoing threats she and other election officials are still facing nearly two years after Trump's election lies.


JOCELYN BENSON (D), MICHIGAN SECRETAR OF STATE: Right now, we are facing an unprecedented wave of continuous, unrelenting harassment and threats. There's an omnipresent feeling of anxiety and dread that permeates our daily lives and those of our families.

Not long ago, my son, standing in our driveway, picked up a stick, turned to me and said, don't worry, mom. If the back guys come again, I'll get them with us. He's six years old.


BURNETT: In a moment, I'm going to hear from a Republican who stood up to Trump's election lies, Bill Gates, the chairman of Maricopa County's Board of Supervisors, of course, the crucial county in the crucial state of Arizona.

But first, Kyung Lah is OUTFRONT live in Scottsdale, Arizona, where we are awaiting more results from yesterday's primary.

So, Kyung, this is a crucial batch of votes. I know, right, when we're looking here and when can they make this call. How crucial could this next set of results be to knowing who won this primary?

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It could be extremely crucial. What we don't know is how many ballots will be released in these results. The results are scheduled to come out from Maricopa County in the 10:00 p.m. Eastern Hour and depending on how big that is, it could be decisive.

So what Maricopa County says that they're going through is about 120,000 votes, mail-in votes dropped off on Election Day and they're in the process of signature verifying and they are also in the process of reviewing provisional ballots and it's from 150,000 to 160,000 total ballots that they have still to go through. So there's going to be some sort of result today. We just need to know how big that result is going to be despite all of these votes still being out there.

Kari Lake who right now is leading the Arizona Republican gubernatorial race, that nomination, she says she's already won. She's held a news conference saying that she has won, that she's already declaring victory. That she is the nominee.

And to be fair, the wind is at her back. A lot of these last-minute votes, the in-person votes have broken for Lake.


Despite the fact that she is leading just by a hair, she says that she still believes the 2020 election was stolen, that Donald Trump should be the president and take a listen to what she says the logic of why she thinks that she be in the lead, Erin, listen.


KARI LAKE (R), CANDIDATE FOR ARIZONA GOVERNOR: We outvoted the fraud. We didn't listen to what the fake news had to say. The MAGA movement rose up and voted like their lives depended on it.


LAH: And the Trump-endorsed ticket has Kari Lake, if she happens to hold that lead at the very top, the Secretary of State Mark Finchem who has been on the QAnon circuit and also an elections denier, Abe Hamadeh for attorney general, and U.S. Senate Blake Masters.

So, Erin, at least at the top of the ticket, it does appear if Lake holds on this could be a clean sweep of Trump-endorsed candidates in the state of Arizona -- Erin.

BURNETT: It is so crucial. Such a crucial state. Kyung, thank you very much.

So, as we await that batch of ballots, I want to go to one of the Republicans who resisted Trump's efforts to overturn the election in Arizona. Bill Gates, the chairman of Maricopa County's Board of Supervisors. Also with me, Alyssa Farah Griffin, former White House communications director for then President Trump.

So, thank you both very much.

Bill, let me start with you because we are waiting for this big batch of votes. This could be the decisive batch in calling this, could make the race over. Your Republican Party's next nominee for governor could be an election denier that says Donald Trump won. She said there were shenanigans with this election that she's about to win.

Bill, what's at stake here?

BILL GATES (R), CHAIRMAN, MARICOPA COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS: Well, there's a lot at stake, and I would say it's the future of the Arizona Republican Party, if not the future of this democracy here in the state of Arizona. As you -- as you mentioned earlier, we have several of the candidates now who are going to be the nominees of the Republican Party here in Arizona who are anti-democratic, small D. they don't believe in democracy, and they don't believe in our election system.

Look, I talked to the lawyer who headed up the Election Day operations for the Republican Party. He said, we had a great election. It ran very smoothly.

And yet Kari Lake is saying that there was fraud, that they outvoted the fraud. So, they're lying about this. They have a narrative that they're trying to push and it is very dangerous.

BURNETT: Very dangerous and very sinister, right? Because if people don't believe in elections then, right, there goes the country.

Alyssa, Kari Lake has made this a point all of the way through, her campaign and even today. Today, she had plenty to say about rigged elections.

Here is Kari Lake from today alone.


LAKE: The republic is in jeopardy because of shoddy, shady elections and people know it.

I think if you look at how last night and yesterday went down, you would see there are very serious problems. I am not satisfied with how the election was run.

There were a lot of shenanigans going on. So we knew the shenanigans were happening.


BURNETT: So the current Republican governor of Arizona is Doug Ducey, of course. He stood up to Donald Trump and refused to help him overturn the election. So, Alyssa, what happens if Kari Lake is governor of Arizona? It's

crucial, right?

ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It is absolutely crucial, and having an election-denying, Trump-endorsed secretary of state is almost more crucial. An effort by Trump world that's been underway for many, many months is to recruit secretaries of state who support him on these election lies so that if he is to run again in 2024 and not win, he actually could be successful in some of these efforts to overturn state results.

But I would say this. I think last night's results are being framed as a victory for Trump, and I guess that's correct in the way that many of his endorsees won. It's a win for election lies and it's a loss for democracy. I think that the MAGA monster of the election was stolen, you can't trust election results and it's grown far bigger than just Trump himself.

Across the board, I've seen some very what I would consider sane and serious candidates. Markwayne Mullin, member of Congress, saying, yes, I think the election was stolen. This is permeating the party to such a dangerous degree and with someone like Kari Lake, it looks like she's going to pull it off. But I would remind the public, she was an Obama supporter, she was anti-Trump when she was elected, and now, she's the voice of spreading election lies.

I think some of these people are charlatans but the public is believing it, and that is a problem. As many as 60 percent of Republicans believe the election was stolen.

BURNETT: So, Bill, Alyssa raised a really important point, right, about the other race in your state that matters so much tonight, the secretary of state race. So, you don't have a lieutenant governor in Arizona.


So, secretary of state is first in line to succeed the governor. And, of course, the secretary of state oversees elections, right? So, a double whammy of importance.

Republican voters in Arizona chose Mark Finchem, who is part of the Stop the Steal movement, and who says the state should be able to overturn voters and presidential elections.

So, if Finchem ends up your secretary of state, Trump's the GOP nominee in 2024, Bill, what does this mean?

GATES: Oh, I'm very concerned about this. We need someone as a secretary of state who is focused on making sure that the elections ran smoothly, but certainly not putting a finger on the scale. I have no question that Mark Finchem will put his finger on the scale. He's made that clear.

In fact, shortly after the election in 2020, he said, you know it? We need to come up with a villain in the story. He said, let's make it the board of supervisors. That's exactly what you've seen through the audit, and even today. On minute by minute, we're being attacked for this election that we ran on Twitter and elsewhere, and there's simply no basis for it.

So, you're absolutely right. They are attacking the foundations of democracy, and that's why we're going to keep saying the facts. And were there a couple of hiccups? Sure. But, in fact, it was a very smoothly run election.

And as I said before this election, if Kari Lake or someone else has problems with this election, they need to let us know. If there are things going on, they need to make us aware of it. But they're not, because issues are not happening. They're not going to affect the outcome one way or another.

BURNETT: Melissa, I want to show it again because you raised this. It wasn't just Arizona. Across the country, candidates backed by Donald Trump who were openly and proudly election deniers won Republican primaries. Not all, there were some repudiations, but it happened in multiple states.

What does this tell you about your party?

GRIFFIN: Well, it's unequivocally going the wrong direction. And I hate to get political, because the most important thing here, frankly, is the undercutting of democracy and our basic institutions and trust in our elections.

But I would also note that some of these candidates who are elected or nominated because they promoted the big lie are actually just not very good candidates. So, Blake Masters, for example, who's now the Senate nominee is going to face off against Mark Kelly, an incredibly popular Democrat who could have a much tougher race as opposed to someone like Doug Ducey who was chased out of the race and probably would've gotten a victory.

And I just want to mention, my friend Peter Meijer of Michigan, one of the impeachment ten, came into office a veteran.


GRIFFIN: A successful businessman, also one of the most principled young leaders have gotten to know, lost his race for telling the truth. Now, he's the nominee there -- an election denier, who, by the way, now the seat they're saying is a lean Democrat seat, because he's such a weak candidate, he doesn't even live in the district.

So what Trump is doing playing and airing his grievances is also just hurting the party broadly.

BURNETT: That raises real questions. Republicans expecting a sweep, and perhaps all this puts that in question.

Thank you very much. Bill, Alyssa.

And next, we are learning tonight that the Secret Service is considering actions after those texts went missing on January 6th. We're going to tell you what those where.

And also, what happened in Kansas? An incredible vote to protect abortion rights in that ruby red state. Democrats now seizing on a surprising result.

And conspiracy theorist Alex Jones facing a brutal cross-examination, forced to admit his lies about the Sandy Hook school shooting were just that.


ALEX JONES, CONSPIRACY THEORIST: It's 100 percent real, as I said yesterday. And as I said here yesterday, it's 100 percent real.




BURNETT: New tonight, the Secret Service may temporarily disable text messaging on employee cell phones, as the agency is under fire amid concerns it maybe erased messages relevant to the January 6th investigation.

In a staff-wide memo, Secret Service leadership says that texting functions may be suspended as the agency is trying to figure out what happened and how messages are retained, but this is all in the context of the Justice Department which is expanding its criminal investigation into January 6th. Now we know issuing new subpoenas for key members of President Trump's White House.

We have both stories covered with our reporters tonight, but I want to begin first with Whitney Wild with her new reporting on the Secret Service.

So, Whitney, what more are you learning about potential changes in the agency and what implications for those may be for this crucial question of what happened to those text messages.

WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think what this is at a minimum, it's an internal acknowledgement that leadership within the Secret Service understands that something like this cannot happen again. So they're trying to make these steps even while there are these oversight bodies that are investigating how this happened, still, the Secret Service is trying to in whatever way they can trying to be proactive here.

So, what we know again, Erin, is that the Secret Service Director James Murray sent an agency-wide memo Tuesday, letting employees know that it is considering temporarily suspending the use of texting as the agency tries to figure out how to better retain those text messages.

Again, this is an internal acknowledgement that what happened again was basically a really big problem and they need to figure out how to try to fix all this and what's clear is there's this gap between generating these text messages and being able to retain it. The memo states that there were a list of things that they were trying to work through mainly the message of this memo that went out to employees is this is a temporary fix, something that we're considering as a temporary fix.

Further, the memo states that there were regulatory and security reasons for why the agency's text messages weren't backed up on a server in the first place because remember, Erin, this was the inadvertent loss of data due to a data migration. So what happened in that case is they left the responsibility to the individual employees and that was the main problem here.

The memo also makes clear that they're going to study how disabling text messages will impact their operations and communications with other agencies. Erin, finally, this is intended to serve as a road map for the next Secret Service director and we don't know who that is yet. That name has not been announced.


But we do know that this was so -- that all of this was so serious to Secret Service and to leadership there that the current director chose to actually delay his retirement to try to help the agency navigate all of this.

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

Now, the other story developing tonight, more signs that the investigation by the Justice Department is expanding and zeroing right in on the inner sanctum of Trump's White House. Sources are telling us tonight that former Trump deputy White House Patrick Philbin has been subpoenaed by the grand jury investigating January 6th. Philbin worked under White House counsel Pat Cipollone who himself was just subpoenaed by the grand jury. Both men were there, key witnesses for the Trump's attempt to subvert the 2020 election.

Kara Scannell is OUTFRONT breaking this story.

And, Kara, what more are you learning about these subpoenas?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, sources tell CNN that the subpoenas to the former White House counsel Pat Cipollone and his deputy Patrick Philbin are seeking both documents in their testimony before a federal grand jury. So, this is certainly another escalation of the Department of Justice investigations. They had previously called that we know of according to sources, Mike Pence, the former vice president, two of his top aides, Marc Short, who is his chief of staff, and Greg Jacob, his counsel.

Now, interestingly, for both, all of these individuals, they have this question of executive privilege looming around it and as we've reported, the Justice Department is preparing for a court fight on this, but certainly going to the highest ranking members of the Trump administration, Pat Cipollone and Patrick Philbin. It is a real indication that the Justice Department is zeroing in on the actions within the White House as Cipollone testified before House committee. He was in the room as there were efforts to come up with plans to subvert the election results and also when Trump and his associates were talking about replacing the top of the Justice Department, Cipollone and Philbin said they would resign if that happened.

BURNETT: So, Kara, obviously, that is very significant in terms of the DOJ. But you also have new reporting about Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump and this is specifically about the New York attorney general's investigation into the Trump organization?

SCANNELL: Yeah, Erin. So, we have learned that Ivanka Trump sat for her deposition under oath before the attorney general's office today and that Donald Trump Jr. had his deposition under oath last Thursday.

Now, according to one source, Donald Trump Jr. answered the questions that they asked him. He did not assert the Fifth Amendment and that is something that his brother Eric Trump had done when he was questioned under oath. One source says this was a concern about how it would appear if they refused to answer questions under oath. This has been a long-running investigation, the civil investigation by the New York attorney general into the Trump Organization's finances and into the accuracy of their financial statements.

But by answering these questions it does raise the stakes for them because there is still that parallel criminal investigation by the Manhattan district attorney's office. We haven't seen much public activity and we know that it had slowed down to some extent and they were not presenting evidence before the grand jury, but when I interviewed Alvin Bragg, the Manhattan D.A. in April, he said that, of course, they would look, they would obviously take a look at any testimony that was taken in the civil case -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Kara, thank you.

And let's go straight to Elie Honig, former federal prosecutor, our senior legal analyst.

So, Elie, let's start with the two subpoenas. Philbin and Cipollone, quick succession we find out about these. What does this tell you about the federal criminal probe?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Erin, there's been a real shake up in DOJ's investigation, and I mean that with respect to the focus, the pace, the urgency of their investigation. Now, for the first year and a half or so, after January 6, DOJ adopted this formalistic, bureaucratic approach. How many times did we hear Merrick Garland say, well, we started the ground level and work our way up?

That, Erin, I will tell you is a bit of a prosecutorial cliche. It's something prosecutors say all the time. But it's not really true. You don't have to start at the ground level. You can sometimes start in the middle or near the top if the evidence permits it.

I think the issue was, why wouldn't they just start near the top? Why wouldn't they just be talking to people like Pat Cipollone, Pat Philbin, Cassidy Hutchison, Marc Short, a year ago. Whatever the reason, whatever the explanation, they're doing it now and it's clear that DOJ's focus has shifted from the capital to inside the White House.

BURNETT: All right. And, Ali, the other question, of course, is on the other development that Kara was reporting on. And that's in New York with Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump Jr. in that civil case.

What does this say to you that there is now depositions. And as she reports, not taking the Fifth?

HONIG: I think it's notable the distinction that Kara drew between Eric Trump, who did take the Fifth, and that is right, you have the right to take the Fifth if you think your testimony might be used against you, and Donald Trump Jr., who apparently has not taken the Fifth. So, you may ask, was there some calculation made there?


HONIG: The testimony but all the Trump adult children have given here can be used against them, potentially, in a criminal case. I'm sure they have confident council who made them aware of that. As Kara said, the criminal investigation appears to have stalled out, but there still is a very live, civil investigation that could result in a major lawsuit brought by the attorney general of New York, Letitia James.

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

And next, President Biden taking steps tonight to protect women's right to an abortion.

And a mother who lost her son in the Sandy Hook massacre confronts conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, the man who once accused her of being a crisis actor.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think I'm an actress?





BURNETT: Tonight, President Biden signing a second executive order of protecting abortion rights after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. And that coming just hours after voters had their say for the first time since that ruling in Kansas.

One of the most conservative states in the U.S. voted overwhelmingly to protect abortion rights. Nearly 60 percent of voters there rejected an amendment that would restrict abortion protections from the Kansas constitution.

Today, President Biden celebrated that.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't think the court has any notion for that matter, or the Republican Party for that matter, decide how far to press their extreme agenda and how women are going to respond. They don't have the clue about the power of American women. Last night in Congress -- in Kansas, they found out.


BURNETT: So Kansas, it's a state where only 42 percent of voters actually voted for Biden in the 2020 election, overwhelmingly went for Trump, right? Fifty-six percent.

Now, it does have a Democratic governor, but in Kansas, they haven't voted for a Democrat for president since 1964. Kansas voters have not elected a Democratic senator since 1932, right? It's incredible.

And the vote last night in Kansas on abortion actually stands out, because, well, maybe we should've expected this. It fits right with the most recent CNN poll, which found that 63 percent of Americans do not approve of the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Kansas voters, well, it turns out they feel how voters everywhere feel.

This November, at least four states have measures similar to Kansas as on their ballots -- California, Kentucky, Montana, and Vermont.

OUTFRONT now, Nancy Northup, president for the Center of Reproductive Rights, which won a lawsuit in 2019 that defined the constitutional right for abortion in Kansas. The senator also filed the Dobbs case with the Supreme Court, which is at the heart of all this now, because it led the court overturning Roe v. Wade.

So, Nancy, I really appreciate your time.

First, let me just start with, actually, maybe we shouldn't have been surprised, because polls have shown this, but you're looking at a state, right, that overwhelmingly voted for President Trump, that hasn't elected a Democratic senator since 1932. Maybe you weren't expecting about this resounding. What was your reaction when you saw it?

NANCY NORTHUP, PRESIDENT, CENTER FOR REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS: Well, absolute elation was the reaction. It was so heartening to see that almost 60 percent vote to deny the taking away of the right to abortion in the Kansas constitution.

And just to take a step back, the win in 2019 that's guaranteed the right by the Kansas Supreme Court recognizing in the Kansas constitution, that was based on close analysis of Kansas's history, the language in its constitution, its protection for natural rights, and the Supreme Court of Kansas said, that includes bodily autonomy, the right to make decisions about your body, and the right to self determination. So, those are fundamental Kansas values based on the Kansas

constitution, and the Kansans last night said, that's right, we do not want our rights taken away.

BURNETT: All right. So I mentioned, obviously, that you're winning Kansas in 2019, but the center also argued the Dobbs abortion case before for the Supreme Court, which is at the heart of all this, right? Because that's what led to the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

But now, with voters in Kansas, the first in the country to speak have spoken and supported abortion rights so resoundingly, does this change in any way, Nancy? Does it hope your legal strategy as you move forward here?

NORTHUP: Well, I certainly think it helps. It gives the real energy behind both the other ballot issues where you talked about, where again, voters are going to have an opportunity themselves to say they want favorites protected. I think it's a shot across the bow, to state legislators that are taking away rights so rapidly in many states.

And it really puts the wind behind our sails. You know, people were saying, there's not a path to victory in Kansas, but in the state of Kansas, the organizers of that ballot opposition campaign that wanted to keep the constitutional right, they didn't listen to the naysayers. They said we're going to go talk to people, door-to-door, and we are going to have our rights secured, and it was just such an overwhelming victory.

BURNETT: So, Republicans say that, okay, fine, Nancy. But this vote doesn't matter when it comes to the bigger political picture. The Republican Senator Roger Marshall from Kansas today said that while he's personally deeply emotional sorrowful, that's a quote, about how this vote turned out, he then went on to say this.


SEN. ROGER MARSHALL (R-KS): I think voters, come November, will be very focused on the cost of gasoline and groceries, and rent. That's all I hear about.


BURNETT: So, Nancy, do you think he's right? I mean, you see this vote today, you see it on slates, in a couple of crucial states, right, in November. Will this really change much in the midterms? Or is he right?

NORTHUP: I think we saw from Kansas yesterday is that voters don't see this as a partisan issue. Voters see this as an issue of their fundamental rights. And they really want them protected. You said it's what the CNN polling shows across the nation. And so, I think it's -- this is what has happened -- what the Supreme Court has done has really awakened people across the country to the fact that yes, will still be fighting in court.

[19:35:11] We'll be arguing legislations. But they need to take hold of their rights. And if they can do that, then they'll be able to secure that in certain states.

BURNETT: Nancy, thank you. I appreciate your time.

And next, a case against Alex Jones now in the jury's hands. How much could the conspiracy theorist be forced to pay for lying about the Sandy Hook massacre?

Plus, China calling Nancy Pelosi's trip to Taiwan, quote, stupid and crazy. It warns that the United States as a whole will now pay for her visit.


BURNETT: The jury just finishing deliberations from the day in the trial of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. The jury is expected to return tomorrow and were tasked to deciding on the amount of money to award in damages for spreading lies about the killing of 20 children and six staff at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

Jones finally admitting today that the Sandy Hook massacre was not a hoax.


ALEX JONES, CONSPIRACY THEORIST: It's 100 percent real. As I said yesterday. As I said here yesterday. It's 100 percent real.



BURNETT: Jones' admission now, coming after saying that the trial, his words, was, quote, rigged against him, telling his Infowars viewers that the jury pool was full of people who didn't want planet they were on.

The parents of slain six-year-old Jesse Lewis are seeking as much as $150 million in damages.

Miguel Marquez is OUTFRONT.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Conspiracist Alex Jones facing reality, questioned by the lawyer representing parents of 6-year-old Sandy Hook victim Jesse Lewis.

MARK BANKSTON, PLAINTIFF LAWYER: You and your company want the world to believe that this judge is rigging this court proceeding to make sure that a script, a literal script, is being followed. That's what you want the world to believe, right?

JONES: Aren't I barred from talking about this? BANKSTON: I'm asking your question, Mr. Jones.

JUDGE: The way the court works is you answer a question until there's an objection.

MARQUEZ: John's struggling to answer without being contradicted by either his own words or those being said by others on his behalf. Just last Friday, Robert Barnes filled in for Jones on his Infowars show.

ROBERT BARNES, ATTORNEY: That's why the judges rigging the court proceeding to make sure that the script -- this is literally a script. A script. It's called in a certain way for future audiences.

MARQUEZ: Jones' cross-examination follows withering testimony from Scarlett Lewis, Jesse's mother. She faced down Jones, the man who told and fanned lies that the mass murder at Sandy Hook never happened. Her son Jesse never existed, and his mother, merely an actress.

SCARLETT LEWIS, MOTHER OF SANDY HOOK SHOOTING VICTIM: And then to have someone, on top of that, perpetuate a lie, a lie, that it was a hoax, that it didn't happen, it was a false flag, that I am an actress. And you get on and say, oh, sorry. But I know actresses when I see them. Do you think I'm an actress?

JONES: No, I don't think you're an actress.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, you can't talk right now.

MARQUEZ: Jones under pressure found liable in three separate defamation lawsuits brought by the families of ten victims of the Sandy Hook massacre. The jury for this case determining how much Jones must pay for his lies.

JONES: Sandy Hook is a synthetic, completely fake, with actors, in my view, manufactured.

MARQUEZ: The parents' lawyer establishing Jones made hundreds of million dollars over several years based on text messages from his phone, evidence Jones didn't realize they had, catching him in another lie.

MARK BANKSTON, PLAINTIFF LAWYER: Twelve days ago, your attorney is messed up, and sent an entire digital copy of your entire cell phone with every text message you've sent for the past two years, and when informed, did not take any steps to identify this privilege, or protected in any way. And as of two days ago, it fell free and clear into my possession, and that is how I know you lied to me when he said he didn't have text messages about Sandy Hook. Did you know that?

JONES: See, I told you the truth. This is your Perry Mason moment. I gave them my phone.

MARQUEZ: Jones testified earlier in the deposition that he searched the text messages on his phone for the term Sandy Hook. It came back with no hits.

JONES: Several different phones with this number, but I did, yeah. That's why you got it.

BANKSTON: No, Mr. Johns. That's not why I have it.

JONES: My lawyer sent it to you. But I'm hiding it. Okay.

JUDGE: Mr. Jones, please, just answer questions.

MARQUEZ: Jones's defense, on his show, he's only asking questions, and the mainstream media is taking everything he says out of context.


BURNETT: Miguel, you know, it's really riveting to watch that. Now, the family of the victim here at the heart of this particular case is asking for $150 million. So, I'm wondering, from your reporting, if they're awarded any of that, what is the chance of Jones actually pay money?

MARQUEZ: Yeah, that is a growing question because in a separate legal situation, Jones has declared bankruptcy, families not only there in that Texas courtroom but also in Connecticut where they also want defamation suits against drones, they're concerned he's using the bankruptcy court to hide tens of millions of dollars in profits so that they can't get it if those juries come back with awards -- Erin.

BURNETT: Miguel, thank you. As we follow that jury tonight, but will return tomorrow.

And this Friday on CNN, don't miss investigative correspondent Drew Griffin's special report on Alex Jones -- megaphone for conspiracy. That's Friday night at 11.

And next tonight, China lashing out at the U.S. after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's trip to Taiwan. More on Beijing's warning tonight.

Plus, we're going to take you to Ukraine's border with Belarus, the northern front lines of Putin's war where Russia is now unleashing a brutal assault.



BURNETT: Tonight, the Chinese military carrying our live fire drills surrounding Taiwan after sending 27 warplanes into Taiwan's air defense zone. All of it is part of an intimidation effort on Taiwan and also to strongly protest the visit by the Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Before leaving Taiwan today, the speaker emphasized America's support for the democratically governed island.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: We will not abandon our commitment to Taiwan and we are proud of our enduring friendship. Now more than ever, America's solidarity with Taiwan is crucial. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: China's foreign ministry calling her visit, quote, stupid and crazy, and added that whenever the U.S. provokes China, quote, the result has always been humiliation and self retribution.

Will Ripley is OUTFRONT in Taipei tonight.

And, Will, China obviously is livid at the highest levels. President Xi with these military exercises, where you are essentially now surrounded. You got these live drills going on as we speak, sending a very clear message.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And the message of, hey, Taiwan, don't forget, we have a defense budget 15 times the size of you and we have many, many more weapons and we could easily take you.

I mean, that is clearly intimidation. And it's clearly a result of Nancy Pelosi being here at this time, a couple of months before Xi Jinping's, you know, unprecedented third term at the party congress. The trip need to happen now, it wasn't supposed to happen now. It was supposed to happen in April. But Pelosi got COVID, and so, they reschedule for this time.

But despite people warning her, President Biden and the Defense Department, the Pentagon saying, hey, this might not be a great time, they went through with it. And so, she had 20, you know, very friendly and, you know, uplifting hours with the Taiwanese leadership, and they, of course, were thrilled to have somebody with a democratic career like Pelosi's, you know, speaking to folks that they're young democracy.

But then, 20 hours later, she's back on the plane, she's out. And Chinese ships are surrounding Taiwan and six different locations opening fire. So it is the cost-benefit analysis of this trip here is that -- I question, Erin.

BURNETT: Right, that's the crucial question. So, Will, the foreign ministry says that Pelosi's visit has severely impacted the political foundation of China-U.S. relations. Now, I know it's really difficult to separate, you know, bluster and bluffing from real change, right? And we may only know in hindsight.

But from your extensive reporting there, how damage is the relationship right now between the U.S. and China?

RIPLEY: I mean, it's hard to see it getting much worse, except for the two sides going into a battle with each other. I mean it's really, at the moment, the United States look as China as an adversary. But, you know, down the road, they're watching the Chinese military continue to grow, you know, with the thought that China might just try to take Taiwan, even taking into account that the United States might get involved.

That's also called, you know, potentially, World War III, right here in Asia, where there is a bunch of nuclear weapons going around. The dynamics surrounding Taiwan is not just Taiwan. As Nancy Pelosi said, when she spoke to parliament, it's authoritarian versus democracy clash that could be coming to a head. This island could potentially be the frontline.

And to try to defuse that situation, you need to have calm and mutual respect and maybe try to avoid making people angry, there could've been rescheduled might have been a preventable -- this is a trip that could have happened at another time. And maybe that is such a sensitive time. And they could've still had it and we wouldn't have the ship surrounding Taiwan right now, reminding Taiwan it could be invaded and taken over.

BURNETT: Yeah, I mean, it's important for people to realize, right, what it's like where you are right now, right, surrounded by that, live fire drills, the massive might of the Chinese military. I mean, that is, at the least, right, is destabilizing.

Thank you very much, Will Ripley, live from Taipei tonight.

And next, why Ukrainians are accusing Belarus, right, the entire northern border of Ukraine there, Belarus, of now being part of the attack.



BURNETT: Tonight, betrayal. That's the feeling of many Ukrainians as Russia launches a new round of strikes from neighboring Belarus.

Jason Carroll is OUTFRONT.


JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is hard for Svitliana Slyvka not to tear up when she is asked what is like to live so close to the border of Belarus. Whenever she thinks about it, she thinks of her son who was fighting in the world.

She says, I live from call to call, therefore, it is a very painful topic. Slyvka co-works in the only store in the tiny, Ukrainian village of Dniprovske, located just two miles from Belarus. Just last week, the Ukrainian military said Russia launched a rocket attack aimed at northern towns and villages in Ukraine, rockets launched from Belarusian soil, flying right over small villages like this one.

This video taken from another rocket attack a few months ago. These sights and sounds now all too common here, Georgii Sokolenko recorded it one night on his own.

He says it is very difficult. First, you worry about your family, your relatives, your country. We decided we will defend but you can't fight against artillery with machine guns.

Sokolenko showed us damage the strike after rockets hit his home. But he points out, it's not just property damage. It's also many long- standing relationships between Ukrainians and Belarusians.

Belarus seen as a key ally to Russia. This Ukrainian soldier that patrols the border between the two countries. He was on duty the night in February when the war started and he says, armed drones were launched by Russians in Belarus.

He says before the war, there were friendly relations between Ukraine and the Republic of Belarus. At the moment, we do not maintain and the relations.

He carefully showed us in area just a stone's throw from the border, now mined.

On the 28th, we saw missiles flying from that direction, he says.

This bridge that once connected the two countries now destroyed by the Ukrainian military to prevent Russia from entering Ukraine this way again. It is a symbol for how people like Slyvka now feel about some of the Belarusians they once called friends.

She says, we expected such an attack from Putin. But we did not expect this from the Belarusians. It is just betrayal, it's the stab in the back that no one expected. They are worse than Russia.


CARROLL (on camera): Well, Erin, as you just heard, the feelings of betrayal are deep and run very deep in these border communities. Many of these people remember when Russian troops march over the border into their villages. That is why the sense of betrayal is likely to last long after the war is over -- Erin.

BURNETT: Jason, thanks so much. You've seen all those Belarusian cigarettes in people's houses that those Russians have left. They did indeed come from Belarus.

Thank you so much to Jason.

"AC360" starts now.