Return to Transcripts main page

Erin Burnett Outfront

January 6 Committee Subpoenas Trump, Says He "Orchestrated" Effort To Undo Elections; Private Russian Military Force Builds Anti- Tank Barricade; Voter: Latinos Don't Care What You Say, We Care What You Do; Biden Admin Turns To Elon Musk To Help Iranian Protesters; Trump's Beloved Boeing 757 Back In Air, 2024 Run Still Up In The Air; Making The Unexplainable Explainable: NASA Team Set To Study UFOs And Their Impact On Security, Air Safety. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired October 21, 2022 - 19:00   ET



ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, Donald Trump's subpoenaed on the same day Steve Bannon is sentenced for defying the January 6th committee.

And Lindsey Graham taking his fight over a subpoena all the way to the Supreme Court.

Plus, new audio tonight in OUTFRONT from the front lines. Newly drafted Russian soldiers saying they haven't been paid, they have no helmet, no flack jackets and no basic training.

And he is the world's richest man by a long shot. Is he about to have major influence on two massive global conflicts? Why the Biden administration is now considering teaming up with Elon Musk. It is exclusive CNN reporting this hour.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, Trump subpoenaed. The January 6th committee in its most aggressive move yet officially serving the former president with a subpoena for documents and testimony about the insurrection.

It is a ten-page document. Got it here. And it lays out the committee's findings. It makes it clear, they say, that Trump is the, quote, central figure in the committee's investigation.

They say, and I quote, we have assembled overwhelming evidence including from dozens of your former appointees and staff that you personally orchestrated and oversaw a multipart effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election and to obstruct the peaceful transition of power. That crucial word "obstruct."

Trump's attorneys responding tonight saying they will review the subpoena. They put a legal statement out. Quote, we once again that flouting norms and appropriate and customary process, the committee has publicly released a copy of its subpoena. What's interesting at this hour so far no word from Trump himself. You

know, he always has a lot to say about this issue. I keep this. This is his letter. When the committee voted to subpoena Trump last week, he wrote this 14-page letter to the chairman of the committee, Bennie Thompson.

It's got pictures in here of his crowd size for the January 6th rally. He rants in all caps in his opening line, the presidential election of 2020 was rigged and stolen. It goes on to say despite very poor television ratings, the unselect committee has perpetuated a show trial.

As he continues, 14 pages, a lot to say, ranting and raving. And, yet, nothing like that tonight. Just the letter from his lawyers.

It all comes on the same day that Trump's former top adviser Steve Bannon was sentenced to four months in prison for defying the January 6th Committee. The judge saying as he delivered that punishment because Bannon showed, quote, no remorse for defying Congress and that others must be deterred from committing similar crimes.

And that's not the only major development in an investigation involving Trump tonight. There's so many things happening. "The Washington Post" has important new reporting, saying that the most sensitive classified documents seized from Mar-a-Lago include information about Iran's missile program and highly sensitive intelligence-gathering aimed at China that could expose how the United States gathers intelligence, the sources and methods.

Evan Perez is OUTFRONT.

And, Evan, there's a lot happening here as the former president receives this subpoena from the January 6th committee. What is the latest?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, the former president now has two deadlines. One is on November 4th where he is being ordered to produce just a wide variety of documents, communications, signal encrypted messages from a number of people including people like the Oath Keepers, the Proud Boys, some of his former allies like Mike Flynn, Rudy Giuliani.

And, of course, the committee goes through the list of the allegations against the former president, some of which they say are supported by people in his administration, people inside his own White House. And I'll read you just a part of what they say. They say, you were at the center of the first and only by a U.S. president to overturn an election and obstruct the peaceful transition of power.

And what the president is also being asked to do is to appear for a deposition on November 14th. This would be behind closed doors, he would be taking questions from the committee staff, from committee members. The committee in their letter to the former president point out that there are some of them who are former prosecutors who will be doing these questions. And as you pointed out, the former president's legal team says they

are going to review the subpoena. We don't anticipate, Erin, that there's going to be a lot of cooperation if the past is prologue.

BURNETT: So, right, if. And, of course, you never know. You look at this 14-page rant that he wrote last week, where he is mentally on this.


I mean, this also comes in the context of all these subpoena fights, the Republican Senator Lindsey Graham is now going to the Supreme Court to try to avoid a subpoena. And that is in the crucial Fulton County, Georgia, investigation being headed up by Fani Willis. What do you know about that?

PEREZ: Right. And in this case, Senator Graham has already lost at the district court level. He's lost in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta. And now he's asking the Supreme Court to come in and stop the Fulton County grand jury from taking his testimony.

The argument that the senator is making is that because he is a sitting senator, he's protected by the constitution's speech or debate clause. He says that the efforts that he made speaking to officials there in Georgia to try to overturn the election results there were part of his preparation for January 6th and his effort to object to the certification.

So, that's what he says he was working on at the time. And, so, obviously, the 11th Circuit has already said that, look, you do have those protections as a senator, but they are not just unilateral, that there are some questions that you should take from the grand jury.

So we'll see. The request went to Clarence Thomas, Justice Clarence Thomas. And we expect that he is likely to refer it to the broader court. And then we'll see what they decide -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Evan, thank you very much. Obviously, anything that could possibly involve the Supreme Court weighing in is of crucial importance.

Let's go now to Ryan Goodman. He's the co-editor in chief of "Just Security", also the former special counsel of the Defense Department. Elie Honig, our senior legal analyst and former federal prosecutor. And Phil Mudd, counterterrorism official who worked at both the CIA and the FBI.

So, Ryan, let's just start with the standoff now underway between Trump and the committee. How do you see this playing out?

RYAN GOODMAN, FORMER DEFENSE DEPARTMENT SPECIAL COUNSEL: So I think one way it could play out is that Trump actually does decide that this is a stage that he wants and he shows up. And he uses it in a certain sense as theater. I do think that's a possibility. People shouldn't underestimate. And the other one is litigation and he tries to fight it, but I think

he has a losing hand in terms of the law as we just saw with Steve Bannon in a certain sense. But he has the clock. And I don't think this is going to end up with something like a criminal contempt resolution from Congress necessarily. There's just really not enough time for something --

BURNETT: They don't have the time.

Elie, it's interesting, though, that you can't underestimate the possibility that Trump will want to do this, that he will want this platform, that he will want to turn this into a spectacle of his own making.

And committee member Zoe Lofgren just told CNN that the committee could be open to having live public testimony from Trump.


REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): Well, that's subject to negotiation, but first we need to hear back from him, as you know, we've asked for the documents first so that we can consider what additional questions we may wish to pose to him.


BURNETT: Elie, is there any situation in which live public testimony from the former president on camera is a good idea?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: It's certainly not a good idea for Donald Trump. It's a reckless self-destructive idea for Donald Trump, A, because lying in front of Congress is a crime on its own. But there are criminal allegations swirling around Donald Trump.

There's an interesting game of chicken that's sort of developing here. On the one hand, if Donald Trump says, yes, I will come in and testify but it has to be live on camera, and we've seen other people do that --


HONIG: -- the committee has not gone for it.

Then the committee is going to have to decide, do we want to give him that outlet? Do we want to give him this platform? Because the way the committee has structured the subpoena, it says you have to answer questions at a deposition, meaning on our rules, not on camera, not live.

So, there's going to be an interesting back and forth here where I think both sides are concerned, both with the law and the appearance.

BURNETT: So, Phil, the context here also more broadly is what we're finding out about the Mar-a-Lago documents. And obviously we knew there were lots of classified documents in there. But the seriousness of this, if anything, is getting bigger. "The Washington Post" is reporting that some of them contained

intelligence about Iran's missile program and highly sensitive intelligence work aimed at China that could -- and this is the crucial part -- expose intelligence gathering methods.

How serious and dangerous is this, Phil?

PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: This is a pretty simple question. There have been a lot of debates, and I think appropriate debates, about whether the president can declassify information.

Let's step into a different realm, Erin. And that is, for example, on the issue of the Iranian missile program. Let's say the president could declassify that information. My question would be why would you want to tell Iran how we collect information about your missile program?


Typically, this information is very specific. That is, it's not fudged, it's meant for intelligence experts to analyze. It would allow the Iranians to immediately look at the information if it were declassified and say, within no kidding, 15 minutes, where did that information come from and how can we prevent the Americans from collecting that information again?

So not only is there an intelligence risk to revealing it, there is a question that we've ignored for many months. Not can the president declassify this, but why the heck would he ever want to do that, Erin? I can't figure that out.

BURNETT: Right. To your point, if you care about national security, you would not declassify, right? That that sort of has been missing in this whole conversation.

And, Ryan, it's an important point because it also raises the question of whether Trump would have any defense for keeping information like this.

GOODMAN: I can't conceive of it. So, he's tried to make arguments like I had personal records. These are not personal records. He's tried to make arguments that maybe there's executive privilege. President Nixon before the Supreme Court totally conceded that a former president can never invoke executive privilege for classified intelligence reports.


GOODMAN: So what is he left with? Maybe he says, oh, my goodness, I didn't know those were there. That's really damaging. So he was keeping them in an unsafe environment and he didn't know they were there? That's even worse. I think it's really strengthened the prosecutors' hands against him that this is the kind of evidence they're sitting on.

BURNETT: And, Elie, the other context for this is what it could possibly mean for an indictment. Because I think you got to layer both parts of this in. It would be what possible justification could you have for keeping them, and then the point that Phil made, which is there would be no patriotic, sensical justification for declassifying the documents even if you said, as the former president has said, that he could just do it by thinking it.

HONIG: That's exactly right, Erin. And this is absolutely the type of factor that prosecutors will consider. If you just looked at the statute books, the law, it matters that these are government documents, that's relevant for the criminal law. It matters to some statutes that are classified.

But the level of sensitivity doesn't technically matter in that black and white way. But you can bet prosecutors can and do and should consider that factor, just how sensitive are these documents. And if that reporting's true and these related to our most sensitive secrets about Iran and China, that absolutely will weigh in favor of an indictment.

BURNETT: Right. And we should also be clear here in terms of motive, multiple times they ask for documents, he refused to give them all back. You've got the employees saying it was his specific personal direction to go put certain boxes aside. He did go through boxes. You know, it certainly leads you to think that he knew exactly what he was keeping.

All right. Thank you all very much.

And next, new video into OUTFRONT, newly drafted Russian soldiers complaining about no pay, no helmets, no flack jackets. You're going to hear them speak. They don't want you to see their full faces, but they want you to hear what they have to say.

And Latino voters leaving the Democratic Party. How come?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So many people are tired of politicians that just speak but don't act.


BURNETT: And, Elon Musk, the world's richest man, could have a lot of power over two major conflicts. What's Elon Musk's end game, and why might the Biden administration get on board?



BURNETT: Tonight, Putin's most brutal fighters building a mysterious and massive new fortification. This is a story first on CNN.

We're going to show you these new satellites images. They're from Maxar. We're just going to tell you what they're looking at. This is an antitank fortification that right now runs more than a mile

long, four rows of cement pyramids with a large trench behind them. It's in eastern Ukraine.

Russian media outlets are dubbing it the Wagner line, referring to the Wagner Group, which is a Russian mercenary group known for its brutal and inhumane tactics.

Now this new video and satellite images are also revealing that this trench digging, all of these, these concrete pyramids really have just happened in the past few weeks. It's all in a Russian-occupied town in Luhansk, which is one of the four regions Putin has illegally annexed. One Russian media outlet says that the Wagner Group plans for it to go 135 miles. The strategy, the reason for such a massive buildup is unknown right now.

And President Zelenskyy is, at the same time, ramping up warnings that Putin is preparing for a false flag attack. Zelenskyy claims Russian forces are mining crucial parts of this dam that you're looking at on the Dnipro River.

The Ukrainian president saying Putin's goal is to frame Ukraine for the attack on the dam. It is an event that would devastate the city of Kherson, could leave hundreds of thousands of people in nearly a hundred towns and cities underwater it.

It would also leave Ukraine's largest nuclear power plant and the largest in Europe without any water that is needed for cooling. It would also risk the lives of many thousands of Russian soldiers, including the newly mobilized and the wholly unprepared troops from Putin's draft. These troops are now increasingly talking about their dire situation.

So, I'm going to show you a video that is shared on Telegram which is where many Russians post. It purports to show discontent among Russian soldiers. Take a look.


RUSSIAN SOLDIER (through translator): They are not paying us our salaries as promised by the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation.

This video is being shot on October 21st, and our salaries have yet to be deposited. I'd also like to bring attention to the fact that the soldiers still don't have their gear yet -- vests, gloves, flak jackets, helmets or armor plates. The Turkish gear is of poor quality.


BURNETT: So you see them there in a group or like a class photo. They want you to hear them. Their face coverings show that they know that being identified is a line they can't cross. But they want you to hear them and see them as a group.

Soon, by the way, they, along with many other Russians, may be dying on the front lines.

Fred Pleitgen is OUTFRONT on that front line tonight in Kramatorsk.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): As the crow flies, the front line is only a few hundred yards away in Bakhmut, Ukraine's forces are both outmanned and outgunned here but holding on because they say they're outwitting the Russians. We've been given access to this secret workshop where tech savviness is leveling the battlefield, the commander tells me.


STARSHINA, 93 BRIGADE, UKRAINIAN ARMY: It is game changing because we have no so much forces, we have no so much guns and bullets and so on. So we have to be smart or we die.

PLEITGEN: The place is run like a startup. No idea is off limits. The soldiers work around the clock repairing, modifying, and arming consumer drones, led by a young whiz known as the serpent.

THE SERPENT, 93RD BRIGADE, UKRAINIAN ARMY (through translator): It's way better to know in advance that an assault is coming. Literally every meter we are watching every centimeter here. It helps us to save lives during both the assault and the withdrawal.

PLEITGEN: Ukraine's army says the Russians have around five times more troops here than Kyiv does. The brigade filmed this video they say shows Russians simply charging towards Ukrainian positions out in the open disregarding the lives of Moscow's own soldiers.

THE SERPENT: There are a lot of them and they have a lot of weapons. We have creativity.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In our platoon, I do bombs.

PLEITGEN: And they have their weapons expert, a 19-year-old who goes by the call vine Varnak (ph) and turns grenades into aerial bombs in his makeshift bomb factory.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We roll (ph) them for drone dropping.

PLEITGEN: He removes any excess weight and attaches a pressure fuse.

Finished. And there is some tape. And you take this on a drone, take this, and just drop it.

It's not just drones. The unit also built this radio-controlled gun turret and a kamikaze cart packed with explosives. All of this is developed on the battlefield for the battlefield, helping Ukraine's army turn the tide here.

STARSHINA: We defend our positions, and now we make counteroffense. And we are a successful unit. PLEITGEN: Like so many of the troops defending Bakhmut, the tech

warriors often work to exhaustion, thinking up new ways to blunt Russia's massive assault despite a lack of heavy weapons.


PLEITGEN (on camera): You know, Erin, over the past couple of days, really the past couple of weeks, the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said that the toughest fighting for Ukrainian forces is in this area, is around the town of Bakhmut. I got to tell you, we spent the day around that area and there are just constant barrages of artillery that you can really hear the entire time.

Now, the Ukrainians have been saying it's difficult for them here. For a while they said they don't know whether or not they were going to be able to hold this town. But right now, they think they might be turning the tide, also thanks to the unit that we just saw there and might be able to go into counteroffensive operations -- Erin.

BURNETT: That should be a huge shift in an area that the Russians felt confident in.

All right. Thanks very much, Fred.

I want to bring in now Phillips O'Brien, professor of strategic studies at the University of St. Andrews. He tracks all the Russian troop movements in Ukraine. Also with me tonight, Steve Hall, former CIA chief of Russia operations based in Moscow, and our national security analyst.

Thanks to both.

Phil, let me start with you. CNN obtained the satellite images. Right now, mile long of trench antitank fortification, these giant concrete pyramids built by the notorious Wagner mercenary group. Russian state media says this is ultimately going to be 135 miles of this.

What do you think is going on here, Phil?

PHILLIPS O'BRIEN, PROFESSOR OF STRATEGIC STUDIES, UNIVERSITY OF ST. ANDREWS: Well, I think what's more -- I'd be impressed if they can build a 135-mile defensive line in the next few weeks. That's a major undertaking.

I think what's more important is what it indicates. And what it indicates is the Russians are now almost everywhere except for Bakhmut where you were just looking in the defensive position. I think they understand that they've lost the initiative right now. They're desperately trying to draft these new troops in, build up a new army.

Until they can do that, they understand that really what they have to do is try and hold on. So building that kind of line is a sign that they have some understanding of the situation they're in.

BURNETT: And, Steve, it comes as Putin continues to broaden the war. There was a story today in "The Washington Post" that people following this war closely. I want to make sure everyone saw it.

We're citing Norwegian authorities. And "The Post" is reporting that the son of a Russian oligarch who has close ties to Putin was just arrested in Norway for flying a drone over a sensitive facility. Is this just a coincidence or something more, Steve?

HALL: Erin, I guess it's possible that this young man could have been -- he's not so young, he's in his late 40s. But it could be possible he just happened to stray into restricted air space in Norway.

It's also entirely possible that, of course, he was doing this on behalf of the Russians. His father, Yakunin, not only a prominent oligarch, but also was former KGB officer, himself very close to Putin.

That's how it works in Russia. A lot of times there's almost this freelancing where you've got people who will say I can maybe get some valuable intelligence and get it back to the Kremlin to see what it's worth. So, to me, that sounds much more likely than this guy just going out and enjoying himself flying his drone.

BURNETT: And, Phil, I also want to -- in the context of all of this, you've got these soldiers that are not being trained and not getting anything they need. More and more video intercepted phone calls are coming out.

So, the one that we have today is Russian soldiers who are sort of standing -- I've been describing it like a class photo -- but the point is they wanted everyone to see them as a group. They cover their faces because they don't want to be formally identified. And they tell us what they're experiencing.

Let me play it.


RUSSIAN SOLDIER (through translator): They are not paying us our salaries as promised by the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation.

This video is being shot on October 21st, and our salaries have yet to be deposited. I'd also like to bring attention to the fact that the soldiers still don't have their gear yet -- vests, gloves, flak jackets, helmets or armor plates. The Turkish gear is of poor quality.


BURNETT: So, Phil, I know you see so many of these videos. What -- what does it say that they're doing this, that they're speaking out in this way?

O'BRIEN: Well, Erin, what it says, I think, overall, is this process wasn't well-planned out. I mean, it's clear, I don't think, that the Russians really wanted to mobilize. This was something that they were forced into when they understood the situation on the battlefield, and they simply had not prepared for this in any rational way in terms of putting aside the right equipment, stockpiling what you needed.

And what they did is they just simply weren't ready to process and train and prepare. And that is something that they have to be very careful with because there are going to be political ramifications. These are videos that are widely seen in Russian. And the Russian media has been quite sensitive to the criticisms that have been made about this.

So, that's -- I think it shows, one, the lack of preparation and, secondly, that the government's going to have to be careful and take these concerns under advisement.

BURNETT: And, Steve, we're hearing more and more that Putin could decide to use a tactical nuclear weapon in Ukraine, right? You hear it from all sorts of quarters. Now former President Trump says he thinks Putin will use a nuke in some form. Here he is on Fox Radio.


BRIAN KILMEADE, FOX RADIO: Do you think Putin would use nuclear weapons?

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: Well, I don't think he'll stand for losing. So, in some form, maybe limited form.


BURNETT: You know, Steve, look, Trump and Russia, the issue is loaded. But he is a former president who dealt with Putin. Do you agree with his analysis?

HALL: I do not. I've always assessed that the likelihood that Vladimir Putin would use nuclear weapons of any type is relatively low, certainly low when you're talking about a strategic nuclear warhead that can reach the continent of the United States. Arguably, perhaps a little bit more likely if you were to try to use a tactical nuke inside of Ukraine. But I still think it's unlikely.

And I think Putin is also calculating that we're going into winter. He is really hoping that the oil and energy crisis that is going to strike Europe, that the hardships that are going to come because of the sanctions and because of the difficulties, he's hoping that the political will to continue to help Ukraine is going to go by the wayside on the side of the West, certainly on the Europeans.

And so I think he's thinking, well, that's probably better to wait for that than to go ahead and use a nuke. Let's see how it works out over the winter. So I still think it's a low probability event.

BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you very much, both of you. Appreciate you.

And next, another busload of migrants heading to New York City tonight as voters, including this one who once voted for Bernie Sanders, say the Democrats need to step it up on immigration.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It just seems like Republicans care and talk more -- they talk about the border issue a lot more.


BURNETT: And exclusive CNN reporting tonight. The Biden administration is considering teaming up with Elon Musk to help Iranian protesters. But one official warns that Musk is a loose cannon. Does he have too much power just because he's rich?



BURNETT: Tonight, another busload of migrants due to arrive in New York City on their way right now from Texas, they will add to the more than 21,000 migrants that have arrived in the nation's biggest city since April. This is an issue that is not going away.

Boris Sanchez is OUTFRONT.


ABRAHAM ENRIQUEZ, FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT, BIENVENIDO: If America is so bad, if America is so -- is such a terrible country to live in, why did 50 migrants die suffocated in a trailer to come seek a better life in this country?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The grandson of Mexican migrants, Abraham Enriquez says Democrats are losing support among Latino voters because their rhetoric is out of touch and that their policies allow for what he calls unrestricted immigration. He says hard line policies pursued by former President Donald Trump resonate with many voters like him.

ENRIQUEZ: I think Latinos, we don't really much what you say. It's what are you going to do, right? So many people are tired of politicians that just speak but don't act.

SANCHEZ: Justin Stubbs, an independent who supported Bernie Sanders in 2016, says it's the GOP that seems to be paying most attention to the border crisis.

JUSTIN STUBBS, INDEPENDENT VOTER: It just seems like Republicans care and talk about more -- they talk about the border issue a lot more.

SANCHEZ: While the immediate impact of immigration might be felt most strongly by voters here in Texas at the southern boarder, it's an issue that resonates all over the map.


Including here in Florida, where there's also a large Hispanic population and a Republican governor that's taken a hard-line stance. MARIA CORINA VEGAS, DEPUTY STATE DIRECTOR, AMERICAN BUSINERSS

IMMIGRATION COALITION: This is not a policy, that's a stunt. I'm sorry. That is a stunt.

SANCHEZ: Local pro-immigration advocate Maria Corina Vegas says leaders like Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott try to win votes by demonizing outsiders.

VEGAS: And that's what populists do, effectively.

SANCHEZ: But the Venezuelan-American warns the long-term cost could be devastating.

VEGAS: I never thought I would see that in this country. I saw that in my country. It tore my country apart. It doesn't matter if it comes the right or from the left. It's antidemocratic.

SANCHEZ: For Cuban-born entrepreneur, Julio Cabrera (ph), the issue of immigration is tied to the economy.

JULIO CABRERA, ENTREPRENEUR: This country moves because of the immigrants and Latinos.

SANCHEZ: Sixteen years ago, Cabrera says he was robbed at gunpoint by criminals in Mexico while trying to seek asylum at the southern border with his daughter. Today, he's a successful restaurateur in Miami. The American dream, he says, would be impossible without immigrants. So he's turned off by what he calls incendiary rhetoric.

CABRERA: Everybody is immigrant here, and we have done something remarkable for the community.

SANCHEZ: Younger voters like Marvin Tapia (ph), a Colombian-American who lives in Miami's Little Havana, argue that demographic change is a blessing that more politicians should embrace.

MARVIN TAPIA, VOTER: We're sharing a country built on immigrants. And we should kind of be proud of that that we evolve and we grow and we change. We should learn from it instead of run from it.


SANCHEZ (on camera): With early voting already underway in many states, the Latino vote could prove pivotal, already in Florida, nearly a million ballots have been cast. The question remains, though, will this rightward trend among Latinos continue? Erin?

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

And now, Xochitl Hinojosa, former DNC communications director.

And, Xochitl, you hear Boris' report of a voter who supported Bernie Sanders in 2016 and is frustrated now because Republicans seem to pay more attention to the problems at the border than Democrats. And, you know, look, Biden is now using Trump's Title 42 policy to keep many migrants in Mexico. We've seen a sharp drop -- a huge drop in Venezuelan immigration. The Biden numbers out tonight said 80 percent drop in just the past few weeks.

Will a drop like that help Democrats or will it hurt Democrats because Biden is using Trump's policy?

XOCHITL HINOJOSA, FORMER DNC COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Well, I think that what you heard there is two voters who are equally frustrated about a broken immigration system. And I don't blame them. This is something that presidents for decades have to deal with.

And what you see right now from Republicans is they're attempting to politicize it while Democrats are providing solutions. Specific on Biden's immigration policy, yes, he is -- people who are trying to come over illegally, he is having them wait in Mexico. But he is using innovation and the program that he actually used for Ukrainians who were trying to seek asylum to potentially use that to bring Venezuelans who are seeking asylum.

So what is different between Biden and Trump is not only is Biden seeking order, but he's also seeking a humane process, what the American people want. He is allowing people to seek asylum and having a process in place that would fully vet them and potentially house them here for some time. And, so, I think that what Biden is doing, he's doing what he can with the tools that he has, and given that Congress --

BURNETT: But I guess I totally understand what you're saying. But I'm saying is it a tough position to be in when the tool that's giving you the 80 percent drop is Trump's policy, Title 42? It's hard to go brag about that drop when Title 42's in the same sentence.


BURNETT: So then if you can't brag about the drop, are you getting the benefit -- are you looking like you're dealing with the problem, right? It is a tough situation.

HINOJOSA: It is absolutely a tough situation. What he is looking to do is he wants order and humanity. And I think the border is tough for any president. It's been tough for President Trump. It was tough for President Obama.

Moving forward, I think what Biden and the administration should do is really try to bring voice to this the way they did with Ukrainian refugees and let people know that they do have a process.

I think that is something that people don't understand that he's trying to solve the process versus politicize it like Republicans.

BURNETT: All right. Xochitl, thanks very much. I appreciate it.

HINOJOSA: Thank you.

BURNETT: And, next, the White House considering teaming up with Elon Musk, even though one U.S. defense official warns that he is a, quote, loose cannon.

And what has 43 seats, 24 karat gold-plated seatbelts and is now starting to do test runs? Quote/unquote, Trump Force One is back.



BURNETT: Tonight, the White House engaging in talks with Elon Musk about the possibility of setting up SpaceX's satellite internet service Starlink inside Iran. The president hoping to help protesters there connect with the outside world.

The move coming even as some are questioning Musk's reliability in his dealings with the U.S. government or any foreign policy. A senior defense official calling Musk a, quote, loose cannon.

Alex Marquardt is OUTFRONT with this exclusive report.


ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): As the United States carefully weighs how much to support the protesters in Iran, CNN has learned that the White House has turned to the world's richest man, Elon Musk, about his Starlink satellite internet to help Iranian activists communicate and get their story out.

Starlink has been critical for Ukrainian forces in their fight against Russia. And Moscow said the Starlink signal is active in Iran. But it would be a major technological and security challenge to smuggle in thousands of Internet terminals and use them in such an oppressive country.

CHRIS KREBS, FORMER SENIOR OFFICIAL, DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY: It's not just a matter of making it available. It's actually getting the terminals on the ground, into the country, educating people how to use them, making sure that they're being used in a way that is actually not detectible.

MARQUARDT: A senior administration official told CNN, we are interested in finding ways to ensure that the Iranian people can have access to the Internet on their phones and everywhere else.


And so Starlink is one option, but it is not the only option.

AMIR RASHIDI, DIRECTOR OF DIGITAL RIGHTS AND SECURITY, MIAAN GROUP: Access to the Internet is very, very essential, (INAUDIBLE) tools, unblocking access to the international infrastructures. These are like immediate needs that the U.S. government has the power to do.

MARQUARDT: Amir Rashidi fled Iran after participating in the 2009 mass protest. He worries about demonstrators getting caught with Starlink.

RASHIDI: As soon as you get arrested in Iran, to the eyes of the Iranian government, you are CIA agent or UK intelligence service agent.

MARQUARDT: Those challenges and fears are coupled with concern over how erratic and unpredictable Elon Musk can be. A senior U.S. defense official familiar with the Pentagon's discussions with Musk told CNN he is a loose cannon we can never predict.

That after an abrupt 180 by Musk when CNN exclusively obtained documents showing his company SpaceX wanted the Pentagon to pick up the tab for tens of millions of dollars per month for Ukraine. After CNN's report, he wrote, the hell with it. Even though Starlink is still losing money, we'll just keep funding Ukraine government for free.

Musk has been thanked for his support by top Ukrainian officials, and says, he is pro-Ukraine.

He also controls where in Ukraine Starlink is available, meaning he has significant sway over the battlefield, while he's also been proposing a peace plan which echoes Kremlin talking points.

On Thursday, he responded on twitter to former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev complementing Medvedev on an unrelated topic and asking about the brutal fighting in the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut.

CHRIS KREBS, FORMER SENIOR OFFICIAL, DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY: To have someone that is in the public sphere going back and forth on their position, particularly when they start communicating directly with leaders of the antagonizing force, that is gravely concerning.


MARQUARDT (on camera): While Ukrainian officials have been publicly grateful for Musk's contributions to Ukraine, one person I spoke with who's familiar with the discussions between SpaceX and Ukraine told me that Ukraine needs Musk's technology, but they don't know if he will continue to support them. This is a lot of power in potentially two global events in the hands of a single, very wealthy, mercurial person. We did reach out to SpaceX for comment and did not get a response -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Alex, thank you so much for more of our exclusive reporting there on Musk.

And next, Trump's Boeing 757 has been idle for more than four years and tonight it's back, it's refurbished and is doing test flights. Is he getting it ready for the 2024 campaign?

And NASA looking to explain the unexplainable, announcing tonight a team of 16 people devoted to researching UFOs.



BURNETT: Tonight, so-called Trump Force One is back in the air. CNN aviation experts spotting the plane writing patterns this week. The plane is now parked 15 minutes from Mar-a-Lago. It had been grounded during the end of Trump's presidency and for months after. If you'll recall the president use r used it as a backdrop for a lot of his rallies, leaving many to wonder if the rehab plane could be what he is now trying to use a centerpiece of trying to run again.

Kate Bennett is OUTFRONT.


KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Donald Trump's beloved Boeing 757 for four years sat idle as Trump flew around on Air Force One. Afterwards, empty and not able to fly on a tarmac at a New York state airport.

Now the plane renovated and rehabbed.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: They've never had anybody that owned a Boeing 757.

BENNETT: That plane nicknamed "Trump Force One" appears to be back in action once again.

Flight data from earlier this week shows the jet making a series of short flight loops at varying altitudes, taking off and landing at a small airport in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Some of the flights lasted than ten minutes, lower than 3,000 feet. Others were longer, 20 to 30 minute at altitudes ranging from 9,000 to 23,000 feet. Test runs aviation experts tell CNN to determine if equipment is operating safely and smoothly.

CNN capturing the plane Thursday home in Palm Beach, having flown there Wednesday evening after almost one year of overhaul. The plane was a crucial prop from the start of Trump's presidentially campaign.

REPORTER: Coming in a 757 jet to Iowa, how do you think that helps you relate to people in Iowa?

TRUMP: What am I going to do, go out and rent a plane?

BENNETT: Now, it very well could be taking the spotlight again, as the political world waits for an announcement of a potential second run.

But Donald Trump's obsession with aviation goes back long before 2016. In the late 1980s, Trump purchased an airline, renamed it Trump Shuttle until it went out of business in 1992.

TRUMP: You have to find the right price.

BENNETT: Trump had his own Boeing 727 for several years and used it as a backdrop before selling it in 2009 and upgrading to the 757 in 2010, a plane he had fully renovated to include a master bedroom, guest suite, dining room and VIP area, with metal surfaces from seat belts to toilet handles plated in 24 karat gold and a large "T" for Trump on the tail. But once in the White House, Trump took off on plans to get a new Air

Force One, envisioning scrapping the traditional light blue and light color scheme for a new one with more red, white and blue.

For now, it looks like Trump got that new red, white and blue color on his own plane and the T on tail replaced by an American flag.


BURNETT: Kate, obviously, the timing here, right, he's obviously given every indication that he plans to run again and now his plane is ready. This is all the choreographing for sure he wants.

What more do you know about the inside of the plane?

BENNETT: Well, the inside of the plane is likely very similar to what it was before. I don't think he gold-plated everything from toilet handles to all the metal of the seatbelts in 24-karat gold and then just tossed that.


So, it's likely still very luxurious. You know, it's one of his prized possessions. And clearly, again, as you said, this is plane going to mean something. It meant so much the first time he ran. If he does run again, our sources are telling us that we're going to see him and the plane sooner rather than later.

So, we're anticipating probably maybe around midterms or if he goes to campaign for someone, I think the sight of it in Palm Beach just a stone throw from Mar-a-Lago is really indicative that he's ready to get back on this thing. He's sick of flying smaller planes. He's ready for the big guy again.

BURNETT: All right. Thanks so much, Kate.

And next, veteran astronaut Scott Kelly beginning work Monday as part of a NASA team to research UFOs.


BURNETT: NASA announcing a team of 16 people to research UFOs. Astronomers, astrophysicists, biologists, former Pentagon officials, and veteran astronaut Scott Kelly will begin work Monday. They're going to spend nine months studying unclassified data on UFOs and talk about how to use that data.

In short, NASA says it wants to make the unexplainable explainable. I think UFOs are key to national security and air safety. They will make the findings public next year.

Thanks for joining us.

Now, it's time for Anderson.