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Erin Burnett Outfront

January 6 Committee Urges DOJ to Charge Trump, Leaves Door Open on "Others"; Pence Hopes DOJ "Would Not Bring Charges Against" Trump; Supreme Court Puts Hold on Ending of Trump-Era Immigration Policy; Putin Makes Rare Trip to Ally Belarus; Remembering Esteemed CNN Investigative Journalist Drew Griffin. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired December 19, 2022 - 19:00   ET



ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, all eyes on the DOJ. The January 6th Committee urging federal prosecutors to charge Trump with four crimes including inciting or assisting an insurrection. A member of the committee and constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe are both OUTFRONT.

Plus, breaking news, the Supreme Court putting a temporary freeze on plans to end title 42, the Trump-era border policy, as thousands and thousands of migrants have been lining up to enter the United States. We are live on both sides of the southern border tonight.

And Putin making a rare visit to Belarus where Russia is now training Belarusian pilots to fly jets capable of carrying, quote, special warheads.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. Welcome to a special edition of OUTFRONT. We are live from Washington tonight.

And it is countdown for the Justice Department this evening. As the January 6th Select Committee makes history, referring Donald Trump to the DOJ for the criminal prosecution.

Now, this has never happened before in American history. And the committee is recommending not one but four criminal charges against Trump. The first, obstruction of an official proceeding. That charge alone could carry a 25-year sentence if convicted. That is life for Donald Trump.

Number two, conspiracy to defraud the United States. Three, conspiracy to make false statements to the federal government regarding the slates of electors. And, four, the charge of insurrection.

And the consequences for insurrection would end Trump's current White House bid.


REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): It is a grave federal offense anchored in the constitution itself, which repeatedly opposes insurrections and domestic violence, and indeed uses participation in insurrection by office holders as automatic grounds for disqualification from ever holding public office again at the federal or state level.


BURNETT: Disqualified from ever holding public office again. It is a major move. And, in fact, today is two years to the day from when Trump sent the tweet: Big protest in D.C. on January 6. Be there. Will be wild.

And that is just the start of a very consequential week for Trump. Multiple investigations into the former president are coming to a head as this year ends. Tomorrow, the House Ways and Means Committee is expected to discuss how to move forward with the six years of Trump's tax returns that it finally obtained.

On Wednesday, the January 6 committee will release its full report, and that is going to be crucial because it includes full transcripts of what they were told by witnesses behind closed doors. That is going to be a lot of information.

And then the Justice Department is conducting that simultaneous investigation on January 6th as well as Trump's mishandling of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago.

CNN is also learning tonight that the Georgia special grand jury investigating Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election is now writing their final report. All of that happening as we speak.

And in New York Trump is still facing a civil suit filed by the attorney general over allegations of widespread fraud.

There's a lot to get to tonight, so I want to begin with Evan Perez, because Evan as I said, it is countdown for the Justice Department. They've got these referrals now from the committee. And now they've got to decide if they're going to indict and for what, how are they handling this news tonight?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, this is a very, very important statement to come from a bipartisan committee that has spent many months interviewing hundreds of witnesses, thousands of pages of transcripts which the Justice Department is now going to get their hands on. That's one of the things that they've been most focused on is the evidence that will come from this committee investigation.

But, look, at least for three of the charges that were being referred by the committee, we know that the Justice Department is already well underway on at least parts of that investigation, including focusing on the former president's role in trying to coordinate the efforts in various states to overturn the election results. The committee and the Justice Department are aligned, I think, on those counts.

On the fourth count, which is the insurrection activation that the committee referred, that's where you might see some divergence because the Justice Department has looked at charging people with that crime, 2383. And they have not charged it, in part, because there were concerns internally, about that law which has been rarely used, it's a civil-war era law, and it is something that I think their concern may not apply to the former president.


The importance, however, cannot be lost, Erin. The fact that the committee is speaking for the House of Representatives which was a victim of the violence on January 6th.

BURNETT: All right. Evan Perez, thank you very much.

And now I want to go to a member of the January 6th Committee in the House, Democratic Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy.

And, Congresswoman, I really appreciate your time as we're reading the 161 pages of your executive summary. And I know we're going to get a lot more this week.

Do you have any doubt that the DOJ will charge the former president?

REP. STEPHANIE MURPHY (D-FL): I certainly hope that the DOJ will rely on the documents and the information and evidence that we've gathered, and the information that they are gathering to make a determination on which charges they have sufficient evidence to move forward with charges. I think that in a country like ours, no one should be above the law, and I've been heartened by the progress that DOJ has been making.

BURNETT: And obviously, they do have this criminal investigation. They've been interviewing people in front of the federal grand jury.

The former attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, was here earlier. I was asking him about the report. He said the DOJ will not be influenced by it. Not trying -- he wasn't pejorative about what you were saying, he just said they weren't going to be influenced.

Do you think that that could be true when you're giving them this voluminous information?

MURPHY: Perhaps he meant that they wouldn't be influenced by the recommendations that we made. And good for the Department of Justice that they don't want to appear to be politically tainted or motivated, that they are just following the facts where the facts lead them, and the fact that we are giving them evidence and helping them establish that fact and the case that they need is the important piece.

BURNETT: So one thing we heard repeatedly and noted in your summary report was the word "others." You're very specific to recommend these charges against the former president. And his lawyer John Eastman, who also named specifically regarding two of the charges. But otherwise for those two as well as the others, you said -- the other charges, you said there were unnamed others who could also be charged.

Here is what we heard today from the committee. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RASKIN: A criminal referral of former president Donald j. Trump, John Eastman, and others for violations of this statute. We believe that there is more than sufficient evidence to refer former President Donald J. Trump, John Eastman, and others.

REP. ELAINE LURIA (D-VA): Criminal referrals of Donald J. Trump and others.


BURNETT: Okay. So the "and others." on one hand, it felt vague. Now, Jamie Raskin, who is you just heard there, he obviously told CNN that there were other people involved but you were stymied, was the word he used because people pled the Fifth, what, more than 30 people pled the Fifth because people claimed executive privilege.

Do you think any of these others are cooperating with the Department of Justice?

MURPHY: I think the Department of Justice has greater powers than even Congress does to compel these people to participate and gather more information. And, so, we wanted to point them down that path without necessarily naming the specifics because we were stymied. There were a lot of people we wanted to get testimony from to build the evidence around that we just weren't able to get access to.

BURNETT: So, in the report you included a detail. And this was that the former Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien said he locked his office, which was glass. And he locked it because he no longer wanted to hear the lie from Rudy Giuliani. That he had decided to say, look, stop, you lost, let go. He didn't want Rudy Giuliani coming in anymore and that, quote, sure enough, Mayor Giuliani tried to get in my office and ordered her, speaking of his assistant, to unlock the door, and she didn't do that.

How much more information and new details will we and the DOJ, I should note the DOJ because they haven't seen the transcripts, see in these transcripts that you're going to release this week?

MURPHY: You're going to see a lot more information in these transcripts because in the hearings as well as in the executive summary, we've only been able to pull parts of it. You'll be able to hear a lot of different perspectives, even Eric Hirschman talking about the Hope Hicks piece on how they tried to tell the president that he needed to encourage the protest to be peaceful, and he said, no, he didn't want to.

And so, the public will be able to piece together the narrative from different perspectives of what happened in the run-up to and on January 6th.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much. I appreciate your time, Congresswoman Murphy.

And I want to go now to Manu Raju on Capitol Hill.

And, Manu, I know that you have been speaking to Republicans there in light of this breaking news. What are they telling you about these referrals?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they are divided over that. Many of them saying it's up to the Justice Department, and others criticizing the committee all together.

In one surprising statement, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says very little about January 6th issued a statement saying the entire nation knows who is responsible for that day.


Beyond that, I don't have any immediate observations.

Now, I put a question to other Republicans about whether they agree with that, including Senator Rick Scott, who responded, I haven't seen a poll like that. Other Republicans also aligning themselves with Scott saying they don't agree with Mitch McConnell.

I did ask Senator John Thune, who is the number two Republican about the committee's investigation and whether or not he believes they were credible. He said that: They did interview a lot of folks that had a lot of knowledge about what happened. And I think there were people who I think were very credible. He went on to say he needs to review the report further.

But breaking from a lot of Republicans who simply say that the committee was partisan, even though it was divided seven Democrats, two Republicans, saying that the committee's results cannot be trusted. A lot of the Republicans were saying that.

But some keeping an open mind, and others who have been critical of Donald Trump, Senator Mitt Romney said his view is very clear that Donald Trump was responsible for what happened on January 6th. And many of them just keeping their eyes -- keeping watching very closely what the Justice Department decides to do.

But, Erin, that statement by Mitch McConnell really reverberating around the halls of the Capitol. Unexpected that he would come out and say, go as far as saying the entire nation knows who is responsible for January 6th. Not mentioned Donald Trump, making very clear who he's talking about.

BURNETT: Yeah, very clear and doing it today. Thank you very much, Manu.

So, now, John Dean is with me, the former White House Nixon counsel, along with Stephanie Grisham, the former White House press secretary, and Ryan Goodman, of course, the co-editor in chief of the "Just Security" legal blog and the former special counsel at the Department of Defense.

So, Ryan, as we have talked about this every day, every step of the way, now you have the executive summary, the charges that they think that they have sufficient evidence for.

Do you see clear evidence for the DOJ to charge Trump on the four referrals that they are specifically making?

RYAN GOODMAN, FORMER SPECIAL COUNSEL AT DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE: Absolutely on three of the four, at least. So, obstruction of congressional proceedings, including pressuring Mike Pence, conspiracy to defraud the American public of a fair election, false statements and a false slate of electors, and there's this more troubling one of insurrection, which I think it's good for the committee to have presented that. But will the Justice Department actually move forward, it's a pretty steep hill.

BURNETT: So, you're not sure on that one, but three of the four. And, by the way, to be clear, one of those three alone carries a 25-year possible sentence. So, we're talking incredibly serious charges even if they don't go with insurrection.

So, John, the transcripts. You just heard the congresswoman speak of that. She said there's going to be a lot we're going to find out. Look, it's going to be voluminous, as I said, but a lot is going to come out and a lot of new details.

How important are those transcripts going to be to the Department of Justice, which, of course, has asked for them repeatedly over months, and they have been refused by the committee. But now they are going to get them this week.

JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: They could cut a number of ways. First of all, it's prior testimony. They might conflict, as you said on the grand jury is a problem, but also could open doors they don't have open at this point, and they'll take these people into the grand jury and get the testimony nailed down. So, I think they are a remarkable resource, and I'm sure the Justice Department is going to dive right in.

BURNETT: Right, and really important that you say could there be contradictions.

DEAN: Yeah.

BURNETT: And that is, in a sense, maybe makes this longer, not shorter.

So, Stephanie, we heard today Trump was not going to watch what happened today. But you know him well, and a big part of this actually is how he was watching that day every single thing and doing nothing. How much is he watching literally and figuratively?

STEPHANIE GRISHAM, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He's watching. He's absolutely watching. I said earlier he may have gone to golf today just to kind of put on a show that he wasn't watching. But I guarantee you, he was getting real time updates. He's already put a tweet out this evening talking some nonsense about double jeopardy.

So he's very much paying attention to this. I know he's got to be worried. I'll be interested, I have a feeling after all of this has happened, he's going to go out and start campaigning because, as you guys have noticed, he has not campaigned once since he announced, so I think he's going to try to distract from this.

BURNETT: Right, right, and, of course, as they point out here, a big part of what they did here is raise money off of all this.

GRISHAM: Oh, yes.

BURNETT: So, I suppose we could see that again.

So, I want to read something from the committee's summary report that was released today. The committee has substantial concerns regarding potential efforts to obstruct its investigation, including by certain counsel, okay, and then they say, some paid by groups connected to the former president who may have advised clients to provide false or misleading testimony to the committee. I mean, they go into detail saying that this counsel told a witness to say she did not recall when she did recall, as just one example. And you think this is significant?

GOODMAN: I think it's highly significant. In fact, when John says handing the Justice Department resource, this is a huge resource. It is a pool of people who seem to have criminal liability for trying to lie to Congress and then lawyers telling their clients to lie -- to essentially lie, to say I don't recall when you do absolutely recall.

And that means that the special counsel can now have this entire group of individuals with their transcripts, with the committee's evidence who he could try to flip.


He could say you're exposed. There's a great deal of legal jeopardy for you so why don't you cooperate with me in my investigation looking at the actions of President Trump, tell me everything you know.

BURNETT: So it gives them more people to flip if they need -- if they are running up against walls.

So, one of the people that is named -- the whole point that we were talking about with Congresswoman Murphy is, Donald J. Trump and others.

Now, there's one other who is named in two specific charges, and that, of course, is John Eastman, the attorney. He said something today, he tried to pooh-pooh the whole thing, but he said something that could be important, John, and he has not received a subpoena in the DOJ criminal probe. So he hasn't been subpoenaed.

What does that say?

JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It could say he's going to get a target letter soon. They don't need him. If he comes into the grand jury, he'll take the Fifth and won't be a witness in any circumstances. So I think he knows well enough the process as a former law professor, law school dean, what have you, how this works. He shouldn't expect the subpoena until the time is right. And it's not right yet.

BURNETT: Stephanie, as you read through all this today, it hit home, right, because you knew all the people, you were there, you've answered questions about this yourself to the committee. So the former president puts out a statement tonight. These folks don't get it that when they come after me people who love freedom rally around me, it strengthens me.

What -- what do you make of that as a response? I mean, obviously he puts on a whatever kind of facade he wants to put on. But this is where he is.

STEPHANIE GRISHAM, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Yeah. This is part him bloviating that everything will be fine. It kind of struck me a little bit like with the rally, he's like getting his people amped up to say these people will support me.

But I think that what I want the viewers to know and just having known him for so long. Take a step back. He's just trying to distract people.

The point is today we made history. This was a horrible day, by the way, a horrible day for us. But the former president got referred to the DOJ. And that's what he's trying to distract people from.

So I think people need to really remember that. And all of these investigations that are going on right now, I can't keep track of them, and I am just in half of them.

That's not -- it's not a witch hunt. It's not that everyone's after him. People need to realize this is a real, real serious pattern now.

BURNETT: And what is the bottom line in terms of what you think this does for the DOJ? You heard Rod Rosenstein say he doesn't think this will impact him. But what does it mean for the DOJ indictment decision?

GOODMAN: I do think it changes public opinion as long as the public digests what's been given us to today and the DOJ is not ignorant of that. So I do think that for them to understand that the public sees these major breaches of law and that they are criminal does put added pressure on the DOJ to act fast. We've got the person in that person who will act fast, which is Jack Smith.

BURNETT: Jack Smith, the special counsel. Thank you all very much.

And, next, which charge is the Justice Department most likely to prosecute? Constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe joins me.

Plus, breaking news, the Supreme Court has done it. They have temporarily frozen Title 42. That's the Trump-era border policy that Biden had continued that was used to turn away millions of migrants at the border. We are live on both sides of the border tonight.

And did an incoming Republican congressman make up his life story? It's incredible, his claims about his education, his career, his charity work, all of it reportedly don't add up. So who is George Santos?



BURNETT: Just in, Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney, the vice chair of the January 6th Select Committee, speaking out on the criminal referrals issued against former President Donald Trump.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): It was with solemnity and sadness that, you know, the facts led to criminal referrals for the former president of the United States. But I'm proud of the work that our committee has done, and I think that people ask me how do we make sure January 6 never happens again? I think that the -- there are a number of things we need to do. But probably among the very most important and maybe the most important is we have to hold those who were responsible for January 6th accountable.


BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, one of the nation's top constitutional law scholars, Laurence Tribe, he's a constitutional law professor at Harvard. He also advised the Democrats during Trump's first impeachment proceedings.

Professor Tribe, I appreciate your time.

So, let's get straight to where this is going to end. And out of the four charges that the January 6th committee referred to the Department of Justice, out of the four charges, perhaps the most significant may be the charge accusing Donald Trump of aiding or assisting an insurrection.

And it appears that the kind of hurdle on that one may also be the highest. Do you think the DOJ can get to an indictment and a conviction on insurrection?

LAURENCE TRIBE, CONSTITUTIONAL LAW PROFESSOR, HARVARD LAW PROFESSOR: I believe it can, and I believe that, just as Liz Cheney made clear accountability for so grievous an offense against the United States is the indispensable step to making sure it never happens again. It's clear, not from any opinion expressed by the special committee, but from the mountain of factual evidence amassed at a granular level with detailed quotations from specific co-conspirators, including people like Jeffrey Clark who was acting attorney general, and Kenneth Chesebro, who hatched the plot to have fake electors counted instead of real electors.

When all of that is put together, now the burden is going to shift dramatically to the justice department to explain why it is not indicting the former president for any of these terrible offenses, the first time in American history that crimes of this magnitude have been committed by an American president.


BURNETT: Now, Professor, the committee's report says, in part, and let me read for a minute. The Department of Justice, through its investigative tools that exceed those of this committee, may have evidence sufficient to prosecute President Trump under Sections 372, which is conspiracy to impede or injure a federal officer. That refers to Mike Pence, and section 2384, which is seditious conspiracy.

Accordingly, we believe sufficient evidence exists for a criminal referral of President Trump under these two statutes. It's interesting, because on the first four referrals that they make, they're clear they've got the evidence and they make the referral. Here they are saying they've got the evidence, but they didn't issue the referral for those two charges.

What -- why, do you think?

TRIBE: They made clear, and I think it was an important part of their technique. They made clear that they were going to make explicit referrals only when they had no doubt. But in this case in particular with respect to Section 372, which involves not only pressure on Pence, but it involves an attempt to prevent the president-elect from assuming office that in these areas, because people took the Fifth Amendment or simply refused to respond to subpoenas, that they might not have dotted all the I's and crossed all the T's, which is where they hope the Department of Justice will pick up where they left off.

So it is a very clear division between those things where they are basically saying you've got the goods, now you have to go and prosecute. And those things where they are saying you have the tools, now you have to finish the investigation. And it is clear the net result is a devastating set of referrals against the former president.

BURNETT: So, Professor, before the committee held its hearing today, former Vice President Mike Pence spoke about the Justice Department charging Donald Trump. Here's what he said.


MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: I would hope that they would not bring charges against the former president. I don't -- look, as I wrote in my book, I think the president's actions and words on January 6th were reckless. But I don't know that it's criminal to take bad advice from lawyers.


BURNETT: I don't know that it's criminal to take bad advice from lawyers. I will comment that the former vice president does have a law degree, but obviously you think he's wrong. How come?

TRIBE: Well, I think he's not only wrong, he's an utter coward. It's not just that his life was threatened. It's that the life of the republic was threatened when the former president tried to pressure the vice president by sending a tweet riling up the mob by saying that Mike Pence is responsible. That's when they said, "hang Mike Pence." For him at this point to say, I don't think it's all that serious, is

simply basically a suck up to Trump supporters trying to keep himself part of the MAGA crowd. It's shameful. It's not as shameful as what the former president did. But it shows he's utterly spineless and utterly unfit for office.

BURNETT: Professor Tribe, thank you very much. I appreciate your time tonight.

TRIBE: Thanks, Erin.

BURNETT: And, next, we have breaking news. Not long ago within the past hour, the Chief Justice John Roberts put on hold the end of a Trump era immigration policy, Title 42. It's supposed to go away, right? No, not now, they're putting a hold on it because, of course, it's been used more than 2.5 million times to turn away migrants at the southern border. And it was set to expire in two days. The lines are already gathering.

So what does it mean for the thousands and thousands who are lining up right now at the Mexican/American border? We are there live and you'll see.

And Vladimir Putin in Belarus tonight on a rare trip as fears grow of another Russian invasion into Ukraine from Belarus. Why was Putin there now?



BURNETT: Breaking news, the Supreme Court stepping in at the 11th hour to halt the end of Title 42. Policy now remains in place. It is the controversial Trump era policy that has been used more than 2.5 million times by border officials to turn away the flood of migrants at the southern border.

Now it was set to expire on Wednesday. Even a Biden homeland security official had acknowledged to CNN that it would be a, quote, disaster when it ended. So, it's going to remain in place for now thanks to the Supreme Court. President Biden, though, has until tomorrow at 5:00 p.m. to respond to the decision, a significant choice he has.

It comes as migrants who were already flooding into the U.S. ahead of the policy change have been bused to cities across the nation including New York, Denver, and Washington D.C. And Texas has deployed more than 400 National Guard personnel to the border in anticipation of an influx of migrants.

We are covering this breaking story from both sides of the U.S./Mexico border tonight. David Culver is OUTFRONT in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. And Ed Lavandera is in El Paso.

So, David, first to you, I know you're getting new reaction to this breaking news, a Supreme Court ruling from migrants who were expecting to be in the United States in just a few years -- a few days, I'm sorry. They were counting on this ending.

What are they telling you?

DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You're right, they were counting on this, and they were staging themselves right where they are, which has been for the past weeks if not months that ground on the Mexican side that, they have been crossed over the river to then enter the U.S., or at least start the processing.

We were with them as that news broke. And some of them learned it directly from us. They were confused, saddened, shocked. Some just feel lost. Take a listen.


CULVER: She's saying it's a really bad move because a lot of them are waiting for the 21st to go in with their kids. She says it's been cold.

He's saying it's possible that he will cross today and he says it's all depending on what folks on the other side are saying so he's in touch with people on the other side.



CULVER: So, that's what's happening right now, Erin. A lot of people are trying to get information from those who are on the U.S. side right now, those who have lined up and who have been talking to some of the Border Patrol officials and who are trying to figure out if they'll be able to be processed in the next few hours and in the next few days. They, of course, are still unknown as to what is next, and it's unclear if they will be able to enter especially now with the chief justice's ruling here.

BURNETT: It's incredible that so many of them are finding out from you as you tell them.

Ed, there have been many Democrats, the West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin among them, who have pushed for Title 42 to stay in place.

The case that reached the Supreme Court tonight, though, was not coming from the Democratic side. It was filed by GOP-led states including Texas, and the Republican governor in Texas where you are, Greg Abbott, tweeting, Texas continues to secure the border in the federal government's absence. The Lone Star wait won't wait for President Biden to do his job -- obviously making this a very political.

What else are you hearing from officials where you are?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Here, local officials on the city and county level say they are going to continue proceeding as if Title 42 is in fact going to be lifted on Wednesday, that they do not have time to sit around and wait to see what the courts do and what politicians do in Washington to determine how they get ready. And at this point, they say they are focused on really trying to ramp up and opening more, larger warehouses, perhaps even unused school buildings. Shelter is the number one top priority that officials here have and are the most concerned about. That and transportation.

So they say they will continue working on the logistics of making that all come online in anticipation that large numbers of migrants will be crossing the border in the days to come. But we should also point out there is an incredible amount of frustration when this news broke, we happened to be speaking with a man by the name of Ruben Garcia who runs one of the most prominent shelters here in El Paso. He expressed frustration that we knew that this date was coming a month ago, and that just now that there are still issues with it.

And so, the frustration about how everything is left to the last minute really complicates matters for the people on the front lines of all of this, which here in El Paso are churches and shelters and volunteers.

BURNETT: David, Title 42 now we've learned will remain in place maybe for days. We just don't know. Could be longer. But people are still lined up behind you, and so many of them it is clear may not even know that this has happened. They may be anticipating coming over.

Will this move by the Supreme Court, do you think, stem the flow of migrants or just create a bottleneck as more and more of them line up?

CULVER: It depends what's going to happen in the next few days and really perhaps even the next few hours, Erin. And by that, I mean, some of the folks we've spoken with say if they have a new date to look forward to or if they have some sort of deadline, then perhaps they'll plan around that. But when they saw the confusion set in with now it being frozen and it still remaining in place, some of them went over here and started lining up.

And, so, they figured, look, if it's not going to happen in the next few days, we might as well take our chances now to try and get it. Many of the folks who are waiting to be processed -- and it's, as you can tell, getting to be a very long line at this hour. They just don't know if they'll be able to not only get in but then be potentially expelled to places much more farther and more dangerous.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you, both live from the Mexican border.

And, next, is Putin looking for another way to invade Ukraine? The Russian president today making a rare visit to Belarus, warning that Russia is now training pilots there to carry what he is calling special warheads.

And an incoming Republican congressman says he went to NYU, says he worked for Citigroup and Goldman Sachs. And then he wins, right? And guess what? There's no record that any of that happened.



BURNETT: Tonight, life line. Russian President Vladimir Putin today saying that Russia is training Belarusian pilots to fly combat planes capable of firing warheads. The comments coming during a rare visit to Belarus where Putin was meeting with his counterpart Alexander Lukashenko who's providing crucial support for Putin's invasion of Ukraine. The meeting coming as fears grow of an imminent invasion from Belarus.

Nick Paton Walsh is OUTFRONT.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR (voice-over): Russia's president makes a rare trip to his smaller neighbor Belarus, and the timing has everyone wondering why. Putin tucking into local especially baked bread has always being bigger on the world stage, demanding his towering Belarusian counterpart come and see him. But was he here because he wants something?

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We have certain areas of military cooperation, and it's not just supplying each other, which, in my view, is incredibly important. It's also working together and cooperating.

WALSH (voice-over): As usual, it's hard to decipher what the Kremlin head is actually up to. But his forces have been dropping hints for weeks. Endless public exercises along the border between Russian and Belarusian troops. Not the top tier, but at the least designed to leave Ukraine worried.

Kyiv's top brass have gone one further and sounded the alarm of a full-scale invasion from Belarus in the weeks ahead. And late last week, accusing Russian planes of flying from Belarus' skies as they drop the missiles behind this raid which killed a young boy and three others. Careful, warns a rescuer here, as his helmet camera footage shows another child pulled from the rubble.

That relentless Russian targeting of Ukraine's infrastructure persisting early Monday. These rare images claiming to show damage to one facility, which, as dawn breaks, is swamped in firefighter foam.


Ukraine's president saying Monday, Russia had received 250 new Iranian attack drones, likely the Shahed loitering munitions. But he was sure to find more emotional reasons why Ukraine needs arms.

Ukrainian children, in their letters to St. Nicholas, are asking for air defense weapons for victory, and for them, for all Ukrainians, he said. They understand everything, our children. Let us act.

Yet, the constant saber-rattling to Kyiv's north on the border means even less chance of goodwill for now.

(END VIDEOTAPE) WALSH (on camera): Erin, Putin and Lukashenko ending their meeting with a press conference in which Putin said, any speculation that Russia is trying to somehow absorb Belarus into its territory is inaccurate. That was roundly mocked by the State Department.

Putin made some veiled references to possibly the use of some kind of special weaponry by Russian jets maybe from Belarusian skies. They've been accused of that last week by Ukraine. But, really, mystery around what may come of this meeting.

Certainly, Moscow and Minsk want Ukraine to feel something is afoot to keep them on edge, whether it comes to fruition on this very complex battlefield, we'll have to wait and see, Erin.

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

And next, an incoming Republican congressman tonight being accused of spinning an elaborate web of lives from his alma mater to working at Goldman Sachs, even the existence of an animal charity. Reportedly, no record of any of it.

And we'll say farewell to a father and friend, CNN's Drew Griffin.



BURNETT: New tonight, a newly elected congressman facing a barrage of questions as key parts of his resume like where he went to college, where he worked don't appear to be adding up. George Santos helped the GOP gained control on the House by flipping a Democratic seat on Long Island. His campaign website right now says George graduated from Baruch College with a bachelor's degree in economics and finance. But a spokesperson of Baruch told CNN they couldn't find a record with anyone of his name or birthday ever attending the school.

His bio right now on the NRCC's website says he's worked for companies such as Citigroup and Goldman Sachs. Both companies told CNN they have no record of his employment. And an archive version of his campaign website's bio from April says George founded he run a nonprofit called Friends of Pets United from 2013 to 2018 which was able to effectively rescue 2,400 dogs and 280 cats. Despite such specificity, no such organization was found in the database nor in the registered charities in New York state or Florida.

Jessica Dean is OUTFRONT from Capitol Hill.

Jessica, what is Santos saying about all this?

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, so far, Erin, we're not really hearing from him. We are however hearing from his attorney who put out a statement really pushing back on these allegations and calling them the original report by "The New York Times" a smear against Santos.

Let me read you in part what this lawyer said. Quote; Santos represents the kind of progress the left is so threatened by. A gay Latino immigrant and Republican who want a Biden district in overwhelming fashion by showing voters there's a better option than the broken promises and failed policies of the Democratic Party.

But, again, we are hearing just from his attorney, not from George Santos himself. Worth noting, this was his second run at this. And the Democratic Party of New York and his opponents' campaign pushing back on the idea that they dropped the ball saying "The New York Times" obviously has more resources. It is a massive newspaper and can do this sort of work.

BURNETT: Right, I suppose. It does seem like basic opposition research to check where someone went to school. But if Santos did misrepresent or just completely make up parts of his resume, what if anything can be done or would be done?

DEAN: Right, that's the big question, right? We're in flux right now. It is worth noting that his win was key to Republicans taking control of the House, that tiny margin. In that case, every win matters. Of course, Kevin McCarthy running for speaker, having trouble getting support there. So, it remains to be seen how that will play out.

If the House Ethics Committee gets involved, it could be anything from a reprimand to a removal. It is a question now of how Republicans want to proceed, how they want to deal with this. Will they seat him, will they not? These are the questions to keep an eye on as this unfolds.

But it is worth noting that the House Ethics Committee is the only committee that has the equal number of members from Democrats and Republicans on that committee.

So, it will be interesting to see what if anything they do with this.

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

And next, our friend and colleague, Drew Griffin, has died. Take a look at his life and the legacy he leaves us.



BURNETT: And we end the program on a profoundly sad note. Our colleague and friend Drew Griffin whose work you've seen on CNN and hear so many times passed away this weekend. Drew was with our investigative team for nearly 20 years, and as you have seen so many times, he was an intrepid reporter, a captivating storyteller.

And he was dedicated to giving a voice to those who didn't have one. He was fearless and fair. Just take a look at some of his remarkable work.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: What did you do? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Walk into the front door being held up open by

cops that waved me in.

GRIFFIN: Now you know that's not true.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I know that is true. There's proof of it. There's video of it.

GRIFFIN: The video I saw at that moment was a couple of cops overwhelmed by a mob.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, you didn't watch all the videos then.

GRIFFIN: I didn't? I think I did.

Why do you continue to push the lie that the 2020 election was stolen?


GRIFFIN: It's a lie. You have no proof. We looked at all the facts. You don't have the facts.

Drew Griffin with CNN.


GRIFFIN: There's another side here. The whisperers in the community talking about certain outburst that's may have taken place that we haven't quite confirmed yet.

You seem to be at the center of fraud allegations here.



Mr. DePerno, we'd like to give you every opportunity to answer some questions.

Could we have a few minutes of your time? We've been trying to ask you a question for a month and a half. What were you trying to do with those tabulators? What were you trying to prove?


GRIFFIN: Drew Griffin with CNN.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And who are you?

GRIFFIN: I just told you my name is Drew Griffin.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, well, I don't --

GRIFFIN: Wait a minute. We have -- your employees say that you are billing for the county services you're not providing, sir.

I would ask you, from, you why?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That was not my decision.

GRIFFIN: You fully believe Mr. Trump is capable of being president physically?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, absolutely. There's no question about it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're done. You're on private property. I'm going to call the police.

GRIFFIN: Thank you. I appreciate you, Doctor.

They changed the vote.

MIKE LINDELL, MYPILLOW CEO: Every single state --

GRIFFIN: And you have the proof --


GRIFFIN: That will show --

LINDELL: I have the whole --

GRIFFIN: The actual exchange of votes.

LINDELL: Yeah, 100 percent.

Was that your hardest interview?



BURNETT: Drew was an incredible journalist. He won a Peabody and four Emmys but he wasn't one to attend award ceremonies because he didn't want to be away from his family, Margie and his three children, Ele, Louis, and Miles. We are thinking of them tonight.

Thanks so much to you for being with us.

"AC360" begins now.