Return to Transcripts main page
Erin Burnett Outfront
January 6 Panel Releases New Transcripts From Trump Family, Aides; Russia Launches 69 Missiles Across Ukraine In Deadly Barrage, Ukrainian Government Says "One Of The Most Massive" Attacks Of War; Rep-Elect George Santos Facing New Scrutiny For Claims About His Mother And 9/11 Amid Fallout From Resume Lies; Southwest Airlines Says It Will Return To "Near-Normal" Tomorrow After Cancelling 15,000+ Flights In One Week; Biden Signs Bill Banning TikTok From U.S. Government Devices; Tributes Pouring In After Death Of Global Soccer Icon Pele. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired December 29, 2022 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SARA SIDNER, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, distrust in Trump's inner circle. New transcripts from the January 6th committee reveal the former first lady did not trust those closest to Trump, including his own children. That testimony from former White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham. She's my guest.
Plus, a massive missile attack. Russia launching one of its biggest assaults on Ukraine since the invasion. A member of Ukraine's parliament sheltered during the strikes joins me live.
And TikTok now banned from federal devices. Why intelligence officials say it's a security risk.
Let's go OUTFRONT. Good evening. I'm Sara Sidner, in for Erin Burnett.
OUTFRONT tonight, all roads lead toe or through Mark Meadows. That fact made crystal clear after the January 6th Select Committee just released transcripts of nearly 19 witnesses' testimony, including former White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham, former Communications Director Alyssa Farah Griffin, former acting defense secretary Christopher Miller and Donald Trump's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr.
One of the big revelations, former First Lady Melania Trump did not trust Donald Trump's inner circle or his own children. That's according to testimony from Stephanie Grisham, who will join me in just a bit. Grisham testifying under oath that Melania, quote, didn't trust Mark Meadows. She was very wary of Giuliani, Sidney Powell, Jenna Ellis, a lot of the people who were coming up into the residence and talking to the president and also later saying and then certainly when it came to the kids, especially Don Jr. and Kimberly Guilfoyle, she never trusted that they were doing things in the best interests of Don Jr.'s father.
Transcripts also revealing just how willing Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said he was to help Trump overturn the election. Christina Bobb, a former OAN host turned Trump lawyer, testifying about a conversation involving Graham and Meadows, among others, saying in part, and I'm quoting here, Senator Graham was trying to get me your information. Just give me five dead voters. Give me, you know, an example of an illegal's voting. Just give me a very small snapshot that I can take and champion.
Paula Reid is OUTFRONT for us tonight.
Paula, you have heard the name Mark Meadows there a few times, but witness after witness after witness the transcript after transcript, Meadows' name comes up again and again and seems to be there for everything.
PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly right. And while the committee made a conscious decision to focus its final report on former President Trump, it's clear from pouring over these transcripts, dozens and dozens of them, clearly establish the fact that Mark Meadows was at the center of this multifaceted plan to try to overturn the election.
Just going through a few examples here. It starts right around the time of the election. Mark Meadows is the one texting with Donald Trump Jr. about a plan to try to keep Trump in power. A plan that looks exactly like the one that was adopted over the next two months. Meadows was involved in pressuring states to overturn their elections.
We also learned that he was the one trying to keep some meetings about the election results off the books at the White House and allegedly burning papers in his White House office, including after some meetings with a GOP representative who was involved in pressuring the Justice Department to overturn the election results.
We also know meadows is the one many people reached out to on January 6th to convince the president to come out and be more forceful in denouncing the violence. I think it's really interesting what Stephanie said in her interview, how she talked about how the former first lady didn't really trust Meadows, and had some concerns because she was especially, according to Stephanie's testimony concerned about people who just told the former president what he wanted to hear, and she felt like Meadows was one of those people.
Now, he is -- Meadows is the common factor in so many of these scenarios and so many of these events. And now, it will be up to special counsel Jack Smith to establish and investigate whether this is any criminal conduct we're talking about here.
SIDNER: And that would be the next step. Also, Meadows mentioned in the transcript for Donald Trump Jr. who was asked about the texts he sent to Meadows on January 6th. What's that all about?
REID: That's right. They had a few different text exchanges. The one you're referring to happened while the violence was taking place on the Capitol, and Donald Trump Jr. reached out to the former chief of staff to get him to convince his father to come out and take a more forceful stand against what was happening.
Now, of course, the committee was curious, why didn't you just reach out to your father yourself. He is after all your dad. He said, of course, his father doesn't text. He also didn't want to call him because he didn't want anyone to overhear the conversation.
So he was pressing meadows to convince his father to do an Oval Office address. Here is some of what he said. He said, look, I think that this takes time. I wasn't in the White House to help. I wasn't there. So I don't know what happened, but I did think we just needed to be more forward and more out there at that point.
Now interestingly, the transcripts involve a lot of instances where Donald Trump Jr. just couldn't recall when asked more specific details, particularly about why he thought his father's tweet about the Capitol Police was not a sufficient response.
SIDNER: Paula, thank you so much for sharing all that.
OUTFRONT now, former White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham.
You were in the room where it happened, or where some of it happened any way. Let's start with Mark Meadows. He was the president's chief of staff. You would imagine that a lot of things go through him.
How much blame do you think he bears for what happened on January 6th, knowing what you know now from the transcripts and the January 6th report?
STEPHANIE GRISHAM, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, I'm disappointed to say I wasn't surprised by, you know, everybody talking about Mark Meadows and his role in this. I think as chief of staff holds a lot of responsibility, and I think he should have been shutting people down the moment they were texting with ideas such as Don Jr.'s idea to have his father keep power.
He should have shut that down. He should have even dealing with the ire of the president or at thought of being fired, he should have been telling the president you lost, we need to move on. Certainly on January 6th, he should have been telling him to go out there and say something.
At the very least, that's where that day I resigned. Maybe he should have resigned. I think something like that, someone like the chief of staff resigning in protest would have maybe made the president do something. We'll never know. This is me speculating. But I hold him very much in contempt with all of this.
SIDNER: You also testify what you called a complete 180 from Melania Trump in the weeks running up to January 6th and her refusal to call for peace as the deadly insurrection was at full steam. You testified in part, quote, and I don't have to tell you this, but I'm repeating it. She had to -- she had started to, in my opinion, drink somebody's Kool-Aid that perhaps this election was stolen, and that because I knew she was up there with the carpet, and I was watching violence take place at our Capitol. And she just literally said no to me, with no explanation. I mean, I
kind of was like just F you. I was so, so disappointed in her.
Now you just mentioned you resigned that day. What were you getting from her? Was it you weren't getting anything, or she started to believe the election lies?
GRISHAM: So, you know, after the election, she started to become more distant. And every now and again, she would say something wasn't right with the election, you know, something bad went on here. That just wasn't her. She was always very pragmatic, and she always -- she never really believed conspiracy theories. She was always one of the first people to speak out and advise her husband, you know, when he was not right about something.
So it started after the election. My personal opinion is that she knew they were leaving and she was going to go back to Florida and be in very close proximity with him. I think it was about survival and she didn't want to start anything with him -- again, just my opinion.
But then, yes, on January 6th when I sent her that text, the fact that she didn't say what is going on, why would we even put that out told me she knew what was going on. And the fact that she knew what was going on and just wrote back no was something I couldn't stand for.
I had tried to resign a few times between November and January, and she'd always talk me out of it. But that day was just the last straw for me and several others.
SIDNER: I want to ask you lastly about Cassidy Hutchinson who testified, we all saw that, being told that Trump was lived that the Secret Service would not take him to the Capitol after his speech on January 6th.
But you testified, quote, that even if Secret Service had given him permission, that man was not going to march down the street with people. I just know him. He is afraid of people. He doesn't want to do those things. He was just riling up a crowd that you could tell was already angry.
What makes you so sure about that?
GRISHAM: Just observing him and knowing him for six years. He would often, you know, say I want to go out in that crowd. And he knew the Secret Service would tell him no. It was almost a little joke between some of us that he knew what he was doing.
So, you know, I think he said I'm going to go walk with you to rile people up and to get them to actually go to the Capitol.
I believe he got angry in the car. Don't get me wrong. But I think it's all for show. That is him.
I think (AUDIO GAP) angry that day, and he probably took it out on secret service.
SIDNER: Stephanie Grisham, thank you so much for joining us and giving us insight from your perspective.
OUTFRONT now, Jennifer Rodgers, former federal prosecutor.
You know the two people the committee really seemed to focus on are Donald Trump and then chief of staff Mark Meadows. What kind of things could Meadows face if DOJ does decide to prosecute here?
JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Sarah, he could face basically everything that the former president could face. I mean, Mark Meadows seemed to be the center of this conspiracy. He was involved in all of it. The plots to pressure state electors, the plots to pressure state legislatures, the fake initial lawsuits that were filed. He was in the midst of really everything all the way up to potential insurrection charges.
So I think that whatever the DOJ is looking at with respect to former President Trump almost certainly also applies to Mark Meadows as well.
SIDNER: Seditious conspiracy charges, we've seen people convicted of that, the Oath Keepers. That's 20 years potentially if federal prison. These are really serious potential charges. One of the transcripts released today was from long time loyal Trump aide Stephen Miller. He said, quote, it's extreme or outlandish to think Trump or anyone in the White House would have wanted anything other than peace and harmony on January 6th.
That seems to fly in the face of what we saw coming out of their mouths. But what do you say to Stephen Miller?
RODGERS: You know, it's funny, Sara. One of the things I think we're seeing in these transcripts, and I know we haven't seen them all yet, but I'm really struck by what what's not there. Prosecutors are going to look for elements that support charges, each element beyond a reasonable doubt. But they're also going to look for evidence that undercuts that. They need to know if there is any exculpatory evidence in there.
And Stephen Miller is the sort of witness who would try to provide that. But saying general things like oh, you know, you'd have to be crazy to think that anyone wanted anything other than peace, or the former president's speech was very peaceful, that's not evidence like that. So what we're really not seeing in any of these transcripts, at least not yet is evidence that undercuts what the committee's conclusion is.
And so if I'm a prosecutor so far I'm looking at this body of evidence and saying this looks pretty solid for charges, and I'm not seeing anything contradicting that. And Stephen Miller is the sort of witness who would want to provide that sort of information if he could. So the fact that you're seeing him, Don Jr. and other witnesses not giving us that sort of thing, I think that in and of itself is really telling.
SIDNER: Jennifer Rodgers, thank you so much for your insight. OUTFRONT next, a savage Russian missile blitz, pounding Ukraine.
Ukraine's defense minister calling it one of the biggest missile attacks since the war started. We are live from Kyiv.
Plus, Congressman-elect George Santos, no, the story is not over. Feeling more heat about wild lies he has told about his life. Now there are questions about claims he has made about his mother. But will any of it change his swearing in as a member of Congress next week?
And Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg with a warning for southwest airlines tonight. Do right by all those stranded passengers or else.
SIDNER: Tonight, senseless barbarism. That's how Ukraine's foreign minister describes Russia's latest deadly assault. Sixty-nine cruise missiles raining down across the country. Ukraine's defense minister is calling it one of Russia's, quote, most massive missile attacks to date in this nearly year-long war.
Three people have been killed, according to Ukrainian officials. Ukraine's military says 54 of those 69 missiles and nearly a dozen armed drones were shot down by Ukraine's air defenses. This as the Belarus defense ministry says it found fragments of a Ukrainian missile on its territory. Ukraine saying it could be, quote, a deliberate provocation, part of Russia's, quote, desperate and persistent efforts to bring Belarus into the war.
Ben Wedeman is OUTFRONT in Kyiv. Ben, what are you hearing at this hour?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, just a few moments ago, Sara, we did hear the air raid sirens go off here in Kyiv. Now, we haven't seen any reports or heard any reports of impacts or it appears that the sirens are off now. But certainly we have seen in other parts of the country this evening or this morning, early morning of scattered drone attacks as well.
Now the day started here just before sunrise with some large explosions in the Kyiv area. Now according to the mayor of Kyiv, 16 Russian missiles were fired at the capital. All of them were intercepted by air defenses, but in the process of intercepting those missiles, the debris fell to the ground, causing some extensive damage in some residential neighborhoods.
One of those areas we went to 14-year-old girl and her mother were injured in addition to a man nearby. In another house we saw in a different part of town, there was a huge crater right next to a house where two gentlemen were living, an elderly father and his adult son. They fortunately were in rooms on the other side of the house, emerged largely unscathed, but seriously shaken. Now even though 69 missiles were fired and 54 of them were
intercepted, this has caused serious problems with the electricity system. President Zelenskyy this evening saying -- conceding that there were problems still in Kyiv, Lviv, Odesa, Kherson and elsewhere. But said if it hadn't been for the interception solve many of those missiles, the damage would have been much, much worse -- Sara.
SIDNER: And, Ben, I know you went out to the damaged areas and are telling the stories of the people there. No one can quite know the helplessness one feels seeing their mother under rubble unconscious. I know you talked about the damage to human beings there in Kyiv and the entire country.
Ben Wedeman, thank you and your team for that report.
OUTFRONT now, Inna Sovsun. She is a member of Ukraine's parliament. And retired Army Major General James "Spider" Marks. He is our military analyst.
Inna, you were in Kyiv as these Russian cruise missiles rained down on the capital. There are attacks happening regularly there now when it was quiet for just a bit. What has it been like living through this?
INNA SOVSUN, UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT MEMBER: Well, indeed, I actually -- I missed the air raid alert this morning, and I woke up to the sounds of explosions. And the first thing I thought was actually it's quite strange. I was not feeling fear, but I was feeling very much annoyed because this has so much become part of our daily reality. And what we're feeling is not so much fear at this point, being annoyed that oh, no, this is happening again.
We were under air raid for a lot, 6:00 in the morning until about midday. There is an air raid alert right now as we speak. This just became a norm for us.
This is a bad norm to live with because you have interruptions to your life. You cannot plan anything. You don't know when you're going to have electricity or not. You don't know when you'll be able to go to work or not, none of that.
I think what people are feeling is exhaustion from all this uncertainness of war that we are living through that we didn't choose to live through, but we unfortunately have to live through.
SIDNER: Yeah, I know the annoyance is very high because in Kyiv you hear those all the time. That is until something strikes something that you live in or work in and hurts or kills somebody that you love. And then it turns to anger and fear.
General Marks, Ukraine's defense ministry is calling this one of Russia's most massive missile attacks since the war began more than ten months ago. Putin's escalating campaign of terror on Ukraine civilians hasn't changed it seems the calculus of this war up to this point. What do you make of that?
MAJ. GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, it really speaks to the Ukrainian people. I have to tell you. The Ukrainian mp that is on the show with you and myself tonight is just her words were so incredibly inspirational. She's not intimidated. She is not frightful. She is annoyed by all of this. I absolutely love that resilience. And we should all be buoyed by that. Thank you so much for your comments.
To the point of the Russian SOP, the standard operating procedure that they've embraced is one where they will stand off and they will launch missiles. That's what they are doing. When --
SIDNER: I think we have lost Mr. -- oh, no, we've got you back. Go ahead. You were saying --
MARKS: You missed the best. No, I'm joking. What happens is when Ukrainian soldiers engage Russian soldiers, Russian soldiers get slaughtered. So Russian soldiers are backing off, and they are resorting to long-range, dumb bombs, rockets, and missiles. And the Ukrainian people have to resist which they do quite immensely well.
SIDNER: Well, it wasn't something that Russia certainly thought was going to happen, that this would go on this long with Ukrainians fighting back so fiercely. Even at the very beginning, the U.S. intelligence was that this was going to end in three days, and Russia was going take over the country. That certainly didn't happen.
Inna, it appears that these attacks, though, have no end in sight. Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says that any talks based around Russia withdrawing from occupied territory is, quote, an illusion. What would you like to say to him if he were sitting across from you directly?
SOVSUN: Well, I would like to say to him he is delusional in fact, because what he is asking for is basically give us four regions of Ukraine, and then we can negotiate. Well, a, it's illogical itself. If he call those four regions of Ukraine, they are four regions of Ukraine. He cannot simply asking for them. What is more important to point out, he is saying there are four regions of Ukraine, which is Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and, Zaporizhzhia, which they claimed belonged to them.
But, look, in Zaporizhzhia, they never entered center of the city of Zaporizhzhia. They were not close to it. They never took control of it. That is why the majority of the region leave.
With Kherson, they actually withdrew from Kherson. They're not controlling the city of Kherson, which is again the biggest population center in the whole region. But now they're claiming give them to us, and then we shall negotiate. That makes no military sense.
So I think that he is just delusional. He has to say something, so he is coming up with some explanations while at the same time, and I agree with the general on air here with us that Russian army is not showing any military results. There is no reason for us to agree to any negotiations where we're giving up our territory while Russian army has only been retreating for the last couple of months, thanks to the resilience and strength of the Ukrainian army and to the support that we're getting from the American and our allies on the west. No reason for us to negotiate at this point while we are winning militarily.
SIDNER: Inna, we call it talking smack, but it's propaganda that you're saying is coming from the defense ministry there in Russia.
General Marks, I want to give the last question to you. There is concern, questions are swirling around what Belarus might do that their defense ministry saying fragments of a Ukrainian missile landed in its territory. What could this mean?
MARKS: Well, let's look back at what happened to Poland a couple of weeks ago when the Ukrainian air defense capability chased a Russian missile, and that's what happens, chased a Russian missile, engaged it, destroyed it and the remnants landed in Poland.
Not provocative of all, but a nature of air defense combat. Same thing is probably going to happen or happened in Belarus. I have no fax. But this is probably what occurred.
This is a false flag effort on the part of Russia. They're trying to paint the Ukrainians as being provocative and that they have started this expedition and this expansion of the fight across the border to Belarus.
Look, if the Belarus military were to engage with Ukrainians, not unlike the Russians early on in this fight, they would lose. And the biggest concerns the Ukrainians might have is they might run out of bullets killing Belarusian soldiers that come across the border. This is what you call good money after bad.
SIDNER: And needed to hear that last comment there, General Marks. I appreciate you.
And, Inna Sovsun, thank you so much. And best of luck to you. I hope you are able to stay safe and sane throughout all of these attacks.
SOVSUN: Thank you.
SIDNER: OUTFRONT next --
MARKS: Thank you.
SIDNER: -- new inconsistencies from Congressman-elect George Santos. Now questions are growing about claims he has made about his mother and September 11th attacks.
And Southwest Airlines telling passengers Friday will bring minimal disruptions. This as the department of transportation officially warns the airline it must follow through on passenger reimbursements.
SIDNER: New tonight, more scrutiny for Republican Congressman-elect George Santos. He now faces multiple investigations after telling a host of lies about his education, his work history and claims his grandparents survived the Holocaust.
Now a claim involving his mother and 9/11 is getting scrutiny.
In July 2021, Santos responded to a Twitter account saying 9/11 was a victimless crime, and Santos responded with this, quote, 9/11 claimed my mother's life. So I am blocking so I don't ever have to read this again.
Five months later, Santos tweeted December 23rd this year marks five years I lost my best friend and mentor. Mom, you will live forever in my heart.
Santos has repeatedly claimed his mother was working at the World Trade Center when 9/11 happened, including on his campaign website. That's now actually been taken down, and that is a 2021 radio interview.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
REP.-ELECT GEORGE SANTOS (R-NY): She was in the south tower, and she made it out. She got caught up in the ash cloud. My mom fought cancer to her death.
ANDY HOOSER, HOST: Oh, my gosh.
SANTOS: My mom passed away in 2016. She never applied for relief because her motto was I can afford it. We're fortunate.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
SIDNER: And just a quick clarification, Santos has previously claimed his mother was a financial executive, but that description has since been removed from his website.
It's unclear if Santos' mother was at the World Trade Center on 9/11.
Melanie Zanona is OUTFRONT live for us in Washington.
Melanie, it's unknown if any of this will lead to possible charges for Santos. But what we do know is that it's his finances, right, that are being scrutinized by investigators?
MELANIA ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Yeah, that is exactly right there. Are now investigations both at the federal level and the local level, and they are looking into his finances and whether any potential crimes were committed. And there a number of questions that have gone unanswered. There are
questions about his financial disclosure reports, whether proper protocols were followed, where his income came from, some of the loans he gave to his campaign -- so just a whole host of questions. And the Nassau County district attorney's office said in a statement that the string of fabrications is, quote, nothing short of stunning.
And meanwhile, the web of lies about his education and work history has also started to unravel. Our KFILE team has uncovered some new falsehoods and fabrications that Santos made including that he went to an elite private school in New York and was forced to drop out when his family fell on hard times. However, the school says no record that he ever attended the school.
Santos has also claimed that his mother had a historically Jewish last name, but genealogists say no evidence of that last name in his family history or his family tree. In fact, no evidence of Ukrainian or Jewish heritage at all in his family tree. So, obviously, remarkable stuff here but no evidence that he is going to suffer any short-term consequences, Sara.
SIDNER: I did want to ask about the political side of this because the House minority leader still hasn't said anything. Kevin McCarthy, though, was expecting support from Santos because Santos says he would support McCarthy for speaker. So now we're getting to the point.
Does this mean that McCarthy isn't saying anything because he -- the vote is so close that he needs Santos' vote?
ZANONA: Sara, you're absolutely right that he needs every single vote he can get. Perhaps that is why he is being silenced. And, listen, we are, what, five days away from the speaker's race, and Kevin McCarthy still does not have the votes.
I am told he has scheduled a conference call for tomorrow afternoon. We are expecting him to convene some various wings of the party, and they're going talk about potential rules changes, which McCarthy is hoping to within over some final holdouts, but obviously time is running out -- Sara.
SIDNER: Melanie Zanona, thank you so much.
OUTFRONT now, former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti, and Scott Jennings, former security adviser to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Renato, what kind of legal trouble could Santos be facing here?
RENATO MARIOTTI, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, there are reports that he is under investigation by the Eastern District of New York, federal prosecutors as well as by Nassau County state prosecutors. And I think his problems are going to be on two fronts. First, it appears that he has had a $750,000 contribution to his campaign coming from a corporation. On its face, that violates campaign finance laws. And the question really would be whether that was done willfully or not. Then there is also the question of whether or not his financial
disclosure forms to Congress are accurate. He is reporting a large amount of income in a short amount of time. It's sort of unusual. Given all the other lying that occurred here, you can understand why prosecutors are scrutinizing him very closely.
SIDNER: Scott, to you. Santos says he does intend to be sworn in. He is not going resign. Do you see any discipline being leveled by the Republican Party?
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, unfortunately, there is nothing in the Constitution that allows people to take him out back and take him to the woodshed. So, he will -- he will be sworn in.
What they can do as a conference is put him in time-out, or put him on probation. Don't give him any committees. Refer him to the ethics committee. Say publicly that these criminal investigations that Renato was talking about should go forward, and say, essentially, we're not going to deal with this guy as a functioning member of our conference until these investigations are complete, because we don't know what we're dealing with here.
I mean, he is a clown. He is an embarrassment. He is a troubled young man, and he appears to be a pathological liar. I think it would be proper for Republicans to let the committee system and the investigations play out before they treat him like a full-fledged member of the conference.
And look, worst case scenario, two years comes around pretty quick in this country. Now that the voters have some information, worst case they can get rid of him next time around.
SIDNER: Renato, now to you. Santos has defended himself two times with a smile on his face after his lies were exposed. Here is one of the examples.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANTOS: Did I embellish my resume? Yes, I did, and I'm sorry. And it shouldn't be done.
I have to face my mistakes, and I'm facing them. The reality is that I remain committed to doing everything I set forward in my campaign. I'm not a fraud. I'm not a fake.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIDNER: Just out of curiosity, as these investigations go forward, can any of his admissions about lying be used against him in some sort of criminal case against him?
MARIOTTI: Yeah. I actually think he has put himself in a difficult position, because ordinarily, his best defense in to either of the charges that I mentioned would be to take the stand himself and say that he had no idea that what he was doing violated campaign finance laws, or he had no idea that the false statements in his financial disclosures were in fact false or that he didn't pay attention to that.
But now, if he ever took the stand, he would be subject to withering cross-examination where prosecutors would confront him with lie after lie after lie. I really think he would actually put himself in a very weak position. And that I think is going to make it easier for prosecutors to get over the line and ultimately give evidence that they feel comfortable bringing charges on behalf of.
SIDNER: Scott, you know, we know that Santos, as I mentioned earlier, has said that he is going to support House Minority Leader McCarthy for speak over the House. Does that explain McCarthy's silence, just point-blank?
JENNINGS: I don't think Santos' position on McCarthy is going to be the reason that Kevin becomes or doesn't become the House speaker. Like I said, once he takes office, the immediate move for Kevin and the leadership team would be to send him right over to the Ethics Committee. Whether they make that case today or the do it the minute he is sworn in, it matters not.
I think what's most important is that McCarthy locks down the votes he needs beyond Santos. I know he released a letter tonight from some of his supporters saying they won't support anyone but him. They're having a conference call to discuss strategy. I think the reporting is right. He doesn't have the votes yet.
But I talked to some members of Congress this week. They want McCarthy to go to the floor no matter what, and try to put the onus on these five or six people who are the holdouts. They're saboteurs. They're sabotaging the Republican conference.
Over 85 percent want McCarthy. And you have a handful of folks who are agents of chaos? It's ridiculous. And so, McCarthy needs to press ahead and make clear to his supporters that he is going to the floor no matter what.
SIDNER: Scott, there is a lot of things in Santos' story that are just jaw-dropping. One of the things, though, that really so rich is the multiple lies he spread but he was claiming all the time to be a champion for honesty and politics. Here he is debating his opponent and explaining why he and his supporters were victorious.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don't want to be genuine the American people.
SANTOS: My opponent is going to say a lot of things that are misleading that he cannot corroborate.
We're fed up with being lied to.
(END VIDEO CLIP) SIDNER: Will anyone in the GOP, never mind the Democrats. That's a non-starter, trust Santos, want to be anywhere near him if he is sworn in, or when he is sworn in?
JENNINGS: Absolutely not. If you're trying to get something done on Capitol Hill and you could choose between a normal person and this clown, you choose a normal person every time. There are 435 members of the House. He'll be 435th in terms of influence. And I don't think that's going to change until these investigations are complete.
And based on what we know today, I don't think it's going to change after the investigations are complete because it looks like this guy has totally fabricated his whole life. As Renato said, he's got his financial issues that are really problematic. So, I would expect him, if he serves a full term to be the least influential member of the House. And then for the voters, worst case scenario to take care of him in two years. I wouldn't see him getting anything done on Capitol Hill whatsoever.
SIDNER: Wow. Mr. Jennings, Mr. Renato, thank you both so much for joining OUTFRONT.
And coming up next, the Department of Transportation warning it will come down hard on Southwest Airlines if the company does not do right by its customers and do it fast.
Also, TikTok just banned on all federal devices over security concerns.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARK WARNER (D-VA): TikTok is an enormous threat. They can visualize even down to your key strokes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIDNER: Tonight, warned. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg telling Southwest Airlines the department will take action if it doesn't follow through on promised reimbursements to passengers. This is after the airline canceled roughly 16,000 flights over the past week. The airline saying it expects to return to normal operations tomorrow.
OUTFRONT now, Democratic Congressman Rick Larsen. He is the incoming ranking member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the current chair of the Aviation Subcommittee.
Congressman, thank you so much for joining us. You will be the ranking member, as we just mentioned in just a few days. The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee has pledged to look into the cause of this catastrophe.
Will you launch your own investigation in the House?
REP. RICK LARSEN (D-WA): I think the House of Representatives should hold hearing on this debacle that's taken place over the last couple of days. And we have the opportunity as well to set up for the reauthorization of a federal bill that will look at what we can do to better ensure the traveling public gets the support they need when things like this happen.
So I do want the see us have a hearing, and we have the opportunity to change the law as part of looking at the laws around aviation in 2023.
SIDNER: I want to ask you about this. Southwest has said it will be up and running with minimal disruptions tomorrow. But the pilots association that I've spoken to quite a bit has been very clear that it had warned the airline years ago to upgrade its IT systems, which Southwest has said is to blame for stranding thousands of people at airports during this peak holiday season.
How can southwest be held accountable?
LARSEN: Yeah, it sounds like weather was only a trigger to the underlying problem at Southwest Airlines. And that was this scheduling system, this technology that, you know, 20 years ago basic investments and upgrades would have been a good thing to do, but they didn't do. And now, 20 years on, we have a disaster on our hands.
So, I think we're certainly going to push Southwest to do that. But first and foremost, thinking about the customers, we looking them, rebooking customers they can rebook, refunding customers for their fairs and the fees that they paid, reimbursing customers as well for costs that the customers or while being stranded at airports.
And there is one more R that I think is important, remorse. Southwest Airlines should show a little bit more remorse about how they treated their customers and the traveling public.
SIDNER: Yeah, the CEO has apologized twice.
Congressman, I do want to say there is this Passenger Bill of Rights, but it doesn't seem quite sufficient to help passengers deal with something like this. Your fellow member of Congress, Katie Porter of California, tweeted this out today. Airlines are supposed to refund travelers within 20 days for a cancellation flight, but they're rarely penalized for failing to do so. She has a bill that not only gets people their money back sooner, but also fines airlines ten times the original price for not promptly issuing a refund.
Would you support something like that?
LARSEN: I think it's certainly within the realm of possibility that Congress strengthens the Passenger Bill of Rights as we look at some of the actions that we can take. As well as speeding up the refund time frame. It's 2022. You can go to a store tomorrow and get a refund put back on your credit card for something if you return it. I'm not saying this is exactly the situation, but 20 days seems like a
long time to be able to get a refund in a world in which we live in with the technology that we have today. So, certainly, that's another aspect that we ought to be looking at.
SIDNER: All right. Thank you so much, Congressman Larsen, for coming on the show.
LARSEN: Thank you very much. I appreciate it.
SIDNER: And OUTFRONT next, President Biden just signed a law that in part bans TikTok on all federal devices after security officials raised the alarm about the app.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: Its parent company is controlled by the Chinese government.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIDNER: And this hurts. The death of Pele, a global icon on the soccer pitch and off of it.
SIDNER: Tonight, President Biden is just signing a massive $1.7 trillion government spending bill. The bill includes $45 billion to support Ukraine's defense against Russia, $38 billion for natural disaster relief, and ban on the mega popular social media app TikTok on all government-issued devices.
TikTok has more than a billion users globally, but its parent company is controlled by the Chinese government, and top U.S. intelligence officials are sounding the alarm.
Josh Campbell is OUTFRONT.
JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Beyond the overnight sensations, and viral four-legged superstars, a potential threat to U.S. national security. This according to a growing number of federal and state officials.
WRAY: We the FBI do have national security concerns about the app.
CAMPBELL: The app, the popular global social media giant TikTok, which now boasts more than a billion users.
WRAY: Its parent company is controlled by the Chinese government.
CAMPBELL: The director of the FBI spoke at the University of Michigan this month. He says one key threat is the Chinese government's ability to potentially control the platform's algorithm.
WRAY: Which allows them to manipulate content, if they want to, to use it for influence operations.
CAMPBELL: And the potential threat officials say also includes data collection and espionage.
AVRIL HAINES, U.S. DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: It's extraordinary the degree to which China in particular, but they're not the only ones, obviously, are, you know, developing just frameworks for collecting foreign data.
CAMPBELL: Even in a politically polarized American, the Chinese Communist Party's influence in the digital space has garnered increasingly bipartisan concern.
WARNER: TikTok is an enormous threat. They can visualize even down to your key strokes.
REP. MIKE GALLAGHER (R-WI): The question we have to ask is whether we want to give the CCP the ability to track our location, track what websites we visit, even when we're not using the TikTok app itself.
CAMPBELL: TikTok says they have been negotiating with the U.S. government on a potential deal to resolve the national security concerns that could include content recommendation and moderation and data security access. Despite those claims, federal legislators have taken action, this week banning the app from devices used by employees of the U.S. House.
Missouri Senator Josh Hawley spearheaded an effort to ban the app from all U.S. government devices.
And on Thursday, President Joe Biden signed legislation making the ban law.
ANDREW MCCABE, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: TikTok should not be present on any devices that are sitting in the hands of the people that we trust to run the government.
CAMPBELL: And it's not just Washington. Wednesday, the governor of Kansas barred TikTok from state-owned devices, the latest in a series of state leaders who have vowed to rid their systems of the app.
GOV. KRISTI NOEME (R-SD): It's off our networks. It's blocked off of our surfers. Anybody who uses any of our systems no longer will be able to download or utilize this an because of the national security threat that it is. It will be a criminal offense if they do.
GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D), CALIFORNIA: Thanks to the people of this state.
CAMPBELL: Despite the warnings from the intelligence community, some elected leaders across the country continue to make a social media presence like California Governor Gavin Newsom.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Governor --
NEWSOM: Thank you very much. Thank you.
CAMPBELL: His office did not respond to CNN's request for comment. Still, the warning from U.S. intelligence leaders remains stark.
WILLIAM BURNS, CIA DIRECTOR: It's genuinely troubling to see what the Chinese government could do to manipulate TikTok.
SIDNER: Josh, several lawmakers are active on TikTok themselves. What does this mean for them?
CAMPBELL: You know, it's incredible. We've seen officials at the federal level, members of Congress, state leaders, local leaders using TikTok, this despite the warnings we've seen from multiple U.S. intelligence officials. You have to wonder if that will change, if they will take these warnings from them seriously and try to model some kind of behavior for their constituents.
I often hear in talking to people, a lot of people say what difference does it make if a foreign government is spying on me watching dog videos on TikTok, right?
And full disclosure, Sara and I share a lot of dog videos, sometimes daily, not on TikTok.
But it's fun to do and we get that. But what cyber researchers are saying is that it goes beyond the app itself. Whether you're a member of Congress or an average citizen, you should be concerned about what you put on because it could lead to tampering with the device simply having the software, Sara.
SIDNER: Just for the record, I don't have TikTok. Thank you, Josh.
OUTFRONT next, the world tonight mourning the death of an icon, Pele.
SIDNER: A titan of sports has died. Iconic Brazilian soccer star, the global legend Pele passed way today after a fight with cancer. He grew up in the slums of Sao Paulo, rising to glory not only in football, but in life he was a U.N. ambassador. He was proclaimed an honorary night by Queen Elizabeth, and he was the man who managed to stop a civil war for a time in Nigeria as warring factions called a cipher to watch him play.
The power of Pele, one name synonymous with true greatness. Pele was 82 years old, surrounded by his loving family as he died peacefully.
And before we go tonight, a look at a new CNN film coming New Year's Day. Dionne Warwick known for her singing voice was also a voice for social change. Here's a look. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DIONNE WARWICK, SINGER: I became very, very vocal and very public with the AIDS issue based on the fact that we were losing so many people.
Something had to be done.
ELTON JOHN, SINGER: Dionne was definitely a hero of mine and a hero to a lot of people. She was the first person in the music business to speak up about it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The royalties for "That's What Friends Are For" changed the trajectory of the epidemic in America.
WARWICK: I did what I could do, and that's the way I moved to this very day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIDNER: That's going to be good. Don't miss "Dionne Warwick: Don't Make Me Over", New Year's Day, at 9:00 p.m.
And thank you so much for joining us.
"AC360" starts right now.