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Erin Burnett Outfront

Biden On Being 82-Years-Old During Next Election: "Watch Me"; Santos: "Wasn't Very Mormon" Of Romney To Tell Me I Don't Belong; New Previously Unreported Details On Chinese Spy Balloon Timeline. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired February 08, 2023 - 21:00   ET




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ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: That is a master-class in compassion and empathy.

And a reminder, if you or someone you know is facing a crisis, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Crisis Lifeline, at 988. That's 24/7, again, at 988.

The news continues. ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT starts now.


President Biden all but ready to announce he's running again. As we're getting new details, into OUTFRONT, about his visit to Florida, tomorrow, why it has everything to do with Ron DeSantis.

Plus, why a special election that flipped control of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives is giving Democrats, across the country, a reason to celebrate, something you should be watching.

And Biden, going after the Chinese President, Xi Jinping, by name, China, responding tonight. We're going to go live to Beijing.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening, and welcome to a special edition of OUTFRONT. I am Erin Burnett.

And tonight, it's Biden versus DeSantis. So, the President is heading to Florida, tomorrow. And he has his sights set, in large part, on the State's governor. Now, this is new reporting, from Phil Mattingly, at the White House, this hour. And it comes as Biden is expected to announce his own run for reelection any day.

In fact, in a new interview, just hours ago, with PBS' Judy Woodruff, he took the question, about his age, head-on. Listen to what he said.


JUDY WOODRUFF, CO-ANCHOR AND MANAGING EDITOR, THE PBS NEWSHOUR: You'd be 82 to date of the next election, 86 if you're successful and elected and finish that term. Does it give you any concern?


Look, I'm a great respecter of fate. I would be completely, thoroughly honest with the American people if I thought there was any health problem, anything that would keep me from being able to do the job.


BURNETT: All right, let's go straight to Phil Mattingly, who is at the White House.

And Phil, you've got new reporting tonight, about why Biden is going to campaign, in DeSantis' State, and some really fascinating insight, into how he sees Florida.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. There's two real primary reasons why this is one of the early post-State of the Union travel destinations, for the President, the message and the foil, to some degree, the foils.

The message, you saw it, last night, live, and in-person, and the exchange that the President had back-and-forth with Republicans, off script, on the issues, of Medicare and Social Security. You talk to White House advisers. They make clear. There are no two issues that pop more in their polling than defending Medicare and Social Security.

No state where that's more important, given the scale of the population that's over the age of 65, and no state with two politicians that represent the contrast that the Biden administration, the President personally wants to detail than Ron DeSantis, the governor, and Rick Scott, the senator, from Florida, who he was citing, last night, in that speech.

As one White House official put it to me, "We want this fight. We relish this fight." That fight is certainly going to be brought to the table, by the President, as you saw, in the State of the Union, as you saw, in Wisconsin.

But keep something in mind here. Take a look at the travel, of the Vice President, and the President, in these first two days. And one state is not like the other.

The President going to Wisconsin, then Florida, the Vice President going to Georgia, and then Minnesota, three of those four states are critical to any electoral path, for the President, in 2024.

Florida is not one of them. And White House officials are candid when they say they're not expecting it to swing dramatically back toward Democrats, given the way it's gone over the course of the last couple of cycles.

But they know that this is a perfect place, to lay out that message, on Social Security and Medicare, and to have foils. As one White House official put it to me, "We like foils. There are no better foils in politics than Ron DeSantis, and Rick Scott."

Again, when you talk to White House officials, they make clear Florida's not necessarily a political winner, for them. But on the message and on the actual politicians, they believe it is. That's why he's going down there.


MATTINGLY: When you talk to them about what happened, last night, the back-and-forth, with Republicans, as one official put it to me, "We didn't plan for that. But Republicans walked right into the trap."

Chaos and extremes, I asked if that's how they viewed DeSantis and Senator Scott. They said "The most chaos, the most extreme," Erin.

BURNETT: All right, Phil Mattingly, thank you very much, with that reporting.

And OUTFRONT now, Margaret Hoover, John Avlon, Harry Enten, and Errol Louis.

OK. So, what's interesting here is Biden's going to Florida. And I hear Phil's reporting, on the foils, on the message. JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.

BURNETT: And that all makes sense.

But fascinating, John, just in the world we've lived in here, over these past decades, giving up on winning Florida?

AVLON: Yes. And look, this is Democrats recognizing that it has slipped away, from them. And that is largely the fault of Democrats, in the State. The dysfunction inside the Florida State Democratic Party, I think, is indicative of the weakness of Democrats they need to watch out for.

But I think it's a mistake to consider Ron DeSantis, and Rick Scott, your perfect foils. I'd put my money on Marjorie Taylor Greene, and Donald Trump, if you want that.


DeSantis matches up a lot more - is a bigger problem, for Joe Biden than, say, a matchup, on a presidential level, potentially with Donald Trump. Rick Scott, we saw, last night, policy-wise, take it all day long. He's not a really sympathetic figure.

But they should be trying to peel off Florida. The fact that Florida slipped away from Democrats is a problem for them that they need to be dealing with.

BURNETT: And it's interesting that they will admit this, right? I mean, they're not coming out and publicly saying.

But they're very clearly admitting it, telling, "Look, we know, we're not going to win it. It's the message that we're trying to make," which is kind of fascinating, when you've got the senior population in Florida, you think the message works. But you're giving up on the State.

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, SPECTRUM NEWS POLITICAL ANCHOR: Florida Democrats put a lot of money, into the Val Demings campaign, just in this last cycle. It didn't work out for them.


LOUIS: There are a number of factors that are working against them.

One of the sleeper issues is there's been a lot of migration, into the state, by Venezuelans, and others, who are sort of refugees, from socialism, who have been sort of targeted with the message that "Democrats are socialists. It's just like the country that you fled," and it's kind of run out of control.

So, that it's not just a refugees or second- and third-generation Cubans. But now Venezuelans, Nicaraguans, it's a whole change that's going on. And Miami-Dade is no longer as reliably blue--

(CROSSTALK) BURNETT: Which is fascinating.

And Margaret, in this context, President Biden, asked if he's going to run, and he's still making it clear, "That's my intention, but I haven't yet decided."

Here's something else, he said to Judy Woodruff, about that.


WOODRUFF: It sounds like you're running.

BIDEN: I haven't made that decision. That's my intention, I think. But I haven't made that decision firmly yet.


BURNETT: He's been using that word, "Intention," for a while.

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, HOST, PBS "FIRING LINE": Look, it's strategic. It's pointed. He clearly wants to run. He's trying to take the best interest of the country, and his party. I think it's clear he wants to run, he wants to do it. It's working well, for him. He has - he wants to finish the job. This is a message he tested, last night, as pointed out by John Avlon.



LOUIS: Sure did. 12 times!

BURNETT: "Finish the job."

HOOVER: But he clearly wants to. And everything he's pointed, he said he wanted to do a great job (ph). Look, going to Florida is a gutsy move. Florida is a red state. Let's just be really honest. It has been red for the last - I know.


LOUIS: I mean, it's really the--

HOOVER: I know. I got - the pollster is here. I got it.

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: No. I just like the interaction with you two.

HOOVER: But let's be honest. Let's be honest like this is basically a red state. He's going to Florida, to campaign, especially. That is gutsy. He's going to--

AVLON: To play offense.

HOOVER: --this is playing offense. That demonstrates a degree of vitality, from-- BURNETT: Yes.

HOOVER: --an 80-year-old incumbent president.

BURNETT: An invigoration that he wants to do that, right.

HOOVER: If Demings strived--


HOOVER: --we'll see how that goes.

AVLON: That's interesting.

BURNETT: Right, which is very interesting.

Now, Harry, in this context, DeSantis?


BURNETT: He has his message. You talk about whether he's a foil, whether you want him to foil or not, certainly would be a formidable candidate, it seems. We haven't really seen a lot of him outside of Florida, yet.

ENTEN: True.

BURNETT: All right. But he has made the whole issue of social policies, and woke, as he called it, the center of his existence, right, every day. So today, it was the Florida House Bill, really giving DeSantis a chance to run Disney.


BURNETT: I'm shortchanging it. I'm sure that Bob Iger wouldn't like that shortchanging. But that's what he wants to do in Florida.

Here's DeSantis, today.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): Disney is going to pay its fair share of taxes, and Disney is going to honor the debt.

This is obviously now going to be controlled by the State of Florida, which is no longer self-governing for them. So, there's a new sheriff in town. And that's just the way it's going to be.



BURNETT: He's the sheriff, right?


BURNETT: I mean, he loves it, right? Just to be clear, in case anyone here wants to--

ENTEN: Sheriff DeSantis!

BURNETT: Sheriff DeSantis, he loves the culture war.


BURNETT: OK. How is that working for him?

ENTEN: I mean, the fact that we're talking about it, the fact that he's made himself, a recognized name, throughout this country, not just in Florida, I think, gives you an idea that I feel it is working for him.

We can just look at the issue of education, right? And we can look at the idea, that he's running, and he's said, "I'm done with the woke educators." He doesn't want critical race theory being taught in schools.

And if we look at the polling, nationally, right, and we essentially say, "Are Americans satisfied or dissatisfied with the state or quality of K through 12 education?" Most Americans say that they're dissatisfied. And the vast majority of Republicans say that they're dissatisfied, at this particular point.

And if we look particularly at critical race theory, whatever that exactly means, right, but he is going to run on it.


ENTEN: If you say, "OK, do you believe that critical race theory should be taught in schools?" What do we see? We see that the majority, in fact, far less than a majority of Americans--


ENTEN: --say that critical race theory--

BURNETT: Of any party.

ENTEN: Look at this, look at this. "Approve of public schools teaching critical race theory," just 39 percent of all voters--

LOUIS: All voters.

ENTEN: 16 percent of Republicans.

AVLON: Sure.

ENTEN: John, you really want to say something.

AVLON: I do. I do. I do. I do.

HOOVER: Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.

AVLON: But the key point here is that critical race theory is not taught in public schools, at the grade school level.

ENTEN: But all of a sudden, the truth matters, in politics?

AVLON: Yes. Truth matters in politics.

HOOVER: No, no.

AVLON: Context matters in politics.

ENTEN: No. Not running a campaign that doesn't.

AVLON: But here's where there is a blind spot, because it does poll well.


AVLON: You're right.


AVLON: And DeSantis was reelected by 20 points. So, he's doing something right.


AVLON: Not only with the Republican base, but within what had - previously had been a swing state of Florida. So, I don't want to take the issue off the table. But you've got to add the context, and say just because you disapprove of critical race theory, yes, it matters that it is not in fact taught in grade schools.


HOOVER: I just want to be really clear too. I mean, there is a rift, within the Republican Party, and the conservative of movement, about what is the appropriate place, for government to play, in the context of corporations and private business.


HOOVER: And Ron DeSantis is on one side of this. He had his entire legislature enact a punitive measure, against a corporation, a job provider in his state.

AVLON: Big one.

HOOVER: There are Republicans, like Nikki Haley, and Asa Hutchinson, and Chris Christie, and others, who think that is absolutely not the role that the Republican Party and the conservative movement should play.

BURNETT: And they'll run on them.

AVLON: And they'll run.

HOOVER: And they will run on it. BURNETT: No. But what's interesting--

LOUIS: Yes. I mean, when you--

BURNETT: Yes, go ahead.

LOUIS: When you consider that they're going to now reach into the classroom, the elementary school classrooms, high school classrooms? When you consider the amount of censorship of books that's going on, a lot of stuff, bad stuff coming out of Tallahassee? Who's the last president who got elected based on banning books, or attacking gays, or running any of these extremist programs?

It's really not necessarily a winner. It may get him started. It may even get them through the Republican primary. But as a winner for the whole country, I don't see it.

BURNETT: Well, one thing that's also happening here, there's you got Biden going, right? And then you heard Phil's reporting, right?

And now, you're laughing. You don't want DeSantis as a foil.

I'll tell you who wants to be the foil for Biden.

AVLON: DeSantis! Yes.

BURNETT: DeSantis, right?


AVLON: Of course, he does.

BURNETT: He loves to slam Trump, and not use his name. But listen to what he had to say about Biden.

AVLON: Sure.


DESANTIS: And I'd also just say this. I spend my time, delivering results, for the people of Florida, and fighting against Joe Biden. That's how I spend my time.

I don't spend my time trying to smear other Republicans.


AVLON: I mean, look, obviously, DeSantis wants to be in the same sentence, as Joe Biden. He wants to say, "I'm the opposite of Joe Biden," and therefore, it benefits by comparison.

BURNETT: Right, "It's him versus me." Forget the primary, right?

AVLON: Of course.

BURNETT: This is exactly what he wants. AVLON: That is the oldest play in the book.


AVLON: And of course, he wants to all of a sudden invoke the 11th commandment of Ronald Reagan, and avoid any direct conflict, with Donald Trump, because that's not to his advantage, in a prospective primary. Not yet.

LOUIS: Good luck with that.

HOOVER: And in a strange way, he's doing Donald Trump's work for him too, right, like he's trying to be the guy, is fighting Trump, is fighting the opposition, is fighting Biden. He's going to do it instead of Trump. Therefore, he is the inheritor!


HOOVER: Right?

BURNETT: All right, all stay with me.

AVLON: All right.

BURNETT: Because our conversation continues after this.

President Biden also spoke to Judy, on the investigations, into his son, Hunter.


BIDEN: If the only thing they can do is make up things about my family. It's not going to go very far.


BURNETT: And Twitter executives grilled on Capitol Hill, today. We'll tell you why.

Plus, embattled congressman, and serial liar, George Santos, firing back at fellow Republican senator, Mitt Romney, after Romney scolded Santos, face-to-face, at the State of the Union.



BURNETT: All right, new tonight, President Biden, saying the Republicans' plan, to investigate his son, and other members of his family, won't go anywhere, and will only backfire, with the American people.

Here's that clip.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) WOODRUFF: One of the things Republicans say is a priority for them is investigating your family, your son, Hunter, your brother, Jim. They talk about access that they say others have gotten because of you, because of your political success.

How do you plan to deal with that?

BIDEN: Public's not going to pay attention to that. They want these guys to do something. If the only thing they can do is make up things about my family. It's not going to go very far.


BURNETT: All right. So, she's talking about the investigations there, into Hunter Biden. The classified documents also came up. And, in that context, he said it was some stray documents, no there there.

AVLON: Look, I think that interview, the experts we're seeing, I think, raises a couple of issues. First of all, there's that issue of vigor. He was amped up, last night. He was fiery. He was feisty. That is that sort of ASMR Biden, we hear sometimes, very understated.


AVLON: As it comes to saying that the American people aren't going to care about investigations into Hunter Biden? I think the Republicans have a long history of overplaying their hands, when it comes to obsessions.


AVLON: That said, first of all, it's true, people make mistakes, if they don't think about the policies that impact people. But he should not gloss over the legitimate questions that exist about why Hunter Biden was being paid so much money, by companies, when his father was Vice President. And--

BURNETT: To do so little?

AVLON: To do so little. That is not in the realm of obsession or conspiracy theory. That is - they're legitimate questions, and there will be answers to them. They may be nothing. They may be ethical questions, the not legal questions. But they shouldn't be dismissed out of hand.

BURNETT: And Errol, that's the question that when she said the first part of her question, and I thought she really - she put it out there, so well. When you talk about access, they say others have gotten, because of you, and your political success, right?


BURNETT: She wasn't saying corruption. She wasn't saying - she was just pointing at sort of the basic, as John seems to be saying, the basic obvious.

LOUIS: Well, she's right.


LOUIS: She's asking in a reasonable way.


LOUIS: The Republicans in that trumped-up committee are, literally trumped-up, are not asking in a reasonable way. The questions are made in utterly bad faith. They're about the past, and not the future. This is a talking point that has run amok.

This is intended as a talking point, during the 2020 election. They're mad somehow that it didn't take off. It didn't do what they had hoped it would do, for the Trump campaign, to sort of neutralize his first impeachment, or sort of make it seem like "Everybody down here does this." It's the past.

I mean, the American families, I think the President is exactly right about this, they're concerned about getting new sneakers for their kid. They're thinking about their next promotion. They want their kids to go to college. They want to buy a house that they can afford. They are absolutely not concerned about a talking point from the 2020 election.

HOOVER: And that said, I do think there are super-reasonable, thoughtful questions, about what a Vice President's son had access to, what deals he had access to, what business opportunities he had access to.

LOUIS: Well all they do is show the naked picture - they show the half-naked pictures of him. They can't control themselves.


LOUIS: And that's what I think people are going to see--


HOOVER: But - but this is not - this is not--

BURNETT: But then there's about what you're paying $50,000 a month, what--

AVLON: Yes, exactly.

BURNETT: --to do.

HOOVER: There are real questions about what opportunities Hunter Biden had, in the context of his business, because he was the Vice President's son that other people wouldn't have had.

And there's a transparency question. There's a transparency issue that the American people deserve to know. Maybe the far edge of the right wing, of Republicans, are going to take advantage of that. But regular ordinary Americans don't have access to these kind of privileges. AVLON: Rightly pointed out (ph).

HOOVER: And they ought to be able to figure out what the answer is.


LOUIS: If they have the discipline, somehow, to stick to the facts?


LOUIS: And stick to the issues that matter?


LOUIS: They might get somewhere with it. I don't see that happening.

BURNETT: Harry, do you see this as an issue that is - that has any staying power, in the middle, right? You're going to see--


BURNETT: --you're going to see the Republicans do what they do. And you're going to see the Democrats, and the diehard Democrats, do what they do, right? So, it's whether this issue has any play on the swayable vote.



ENTEN: No, I just don't buy it, to be perfectly honest with you, because we've had this script a little bit, at the end of 2020. Now, obviously, there have been some new revelations, since then.



ENTEN: But the fact is that I got to agree with my man, Errol here.

Voters care about the economy. They care about putting food on the table. They care about the price of gas that they're putting into their car. They cared, for a brief moment, about the withdrawal from Afghanistan, which is when Biden's decline really sort of accelerated--


ENTEN: --back in 2021. But I have not seen any poll, and I look at a lot of polls that suggest that Hunter Biden is anywhere near the top of any real voters list--

BURNETT: Anybody's list.

ENTEN: --at least in the middle--


ENTEN: --in terms of most important ones.

BURNETT: And in terms of the overall world that we're in, right now. You saw the midterms not go the way Republicans expected, right? No red wave.


BURNETT: OK. Now, there's some things people may not be watching, but maybe they should be, Harry, as we come into another cycle.

Democrats, securing control, of the Pennsylvania State House, last night, right? This is a state that could have had a Republican State House, election-denier governor--


BURNETT: --election-denier Secretary of State, all of it, right? And it did not go that way.


BURNETT: And you say that the special elections that we're seeing Pennsylvania, being first and foremost, may really matter.

ENTEN: Yes. I mean, look, if you look, there has so far been nine special elections, since the beginning of 2023.

And if you compare what's occurred in those nine special elections, they've been in Virginia, Georgia, and of course, Pennsylvania, you compare it to the 2020 baseline? What we see is that, in fact, Democrats are doing one point better compared to Biden's 2020 margin. And of course, Biden won the presidency. So, the fact that they're at least keeping up with that margin--

BURNETT: Widening - widening the win.

ENTEN: Or widening the win gives you an understanding.

And more than that, Pennsylvania, right? What we saw in 2022 was you look at Pennsylvania, you look at Michigan, you look at Wisconsin, the three states that voted for Obama, in 2012, then voted for Trump, in 2016, and then Biden in 2020? Look at how those races went. For governor, all Democrats, Senate, split, but four of the five key races went for Democrats. So that I think gives you an indication of where this country is.


ENTEN: You'd expect it to be far more Republican, given how low Joe Biden's approval rating is, but it simply put, isn't.


BURNETT: And as we're all sitting here, talking about Biden, making this decision, and how long he's going to kind of drag it out, or delay it, and strategically to decide, or announce his decision, does the special elections do what you just show us, historically? Does that mean anything for the next presidential election?

ENTEN: I mean, I think we can look at that last midterm election. I think it gives you a pretty good indication that special elections can in fact, be a leading indicator, right?

After Roe v. Wade was overturned, what we saw was this massive flip, in these special elections.

HOOVER: That's right.

ENTEN: Whereby before then?


ENTEN: They were leaning much more Republican compared to the 2020 baseline. While after them, they leaned much more Democratic, compared to the 2020 baseline.


ENTEN: You can see on your screen, right now. Six points, whereas before the Dobbs was implemented; six points better for Democrats than Biden did after it was.

So, for me, the fact that the special elections, so far not too bad for Democrats, we'll see what happens down the line, is a pretty good first indicator for them, despite the fact that Biden's approval rating is still in the 40s (ph).

AVLON: And you've got to pay attention to the state legislatures. They started swinging against Obama. Democrats lost real ground. And this is where redistricting starts creeping in.


AVLON: And these are either laboratories of democracy, or laboratories of autocracy, to quote David Pepper. So, the fact that something like the Keystone State's State Legislature is swinging Democrat is a very big deal, because it's not acting as a typical counterweight. And Harry's exactly right, the role that Dobbs played, in swinging that.

LOUIS: It also explains a lot of what we saw, in the speech, last night, the President harping over and over and over again, on the industrial jobs, on the--



LOUIS: --the 20,000 infrastructure projects that he's going to take credit for. That's what brings home the bacon. That's what he has been focused on, from the very beginning.


LOUIS: And that's what we're going to see in the run-up to 2024.

BURNETT: All right, over to Margaret.

HOOVER: Look, I think what we're going to see is President Biden affirmatively announcing his reelection. I think you're going to see Republicans do exactly what they - what you expect what you see in Ron DeSantis, and whomever.

The final word is that there has been a conventional wisdom that has counted Donald Trump out. And I think Donald Trump is still a factor here in the Republican Party that is too easy for commentators to forget about, especially in this moment.

BURNETT: All right.

All right, thank you all very much.

LOUIS: Sure.

BURNETT: And next, George Santos, firing back, at Mitt Romney, who told him directly that he doesn't belong in Congress.

Santos' fellow House members prepare a resolution, to having him expelled. Will it work?

Plus an unlikely critic of woke politics. Why New York City's Democratic mayor worries about the fate of his party.

I owe John Avlon for the heads-up, on this one, credit where credit is due.

Is he alone?

We'll be back.



BURNETT: Tonight, we are learning a resolution, to expel Congressman George Santos, has been drafted. Democrats, in Congress, are introducing this, tomorrow. But it is not expected to be brought for a floor vote, as of course, right now, Speaker McCarthy stands by the embattled congressman.

This comes as Santos is firing back, at Senator Mitt Romney, after the Senator told him at last night's State of the Union, that he did not belong in Congress.


REP. GEORGE SANTOS (R-NY): It's not the first time in history that I've been told to shut up and go to the back of the room, especially by people, who come from a privileged background. And it's not going to be the last. And I'm never going to shut up and go to the back of the room.

And I think it's reprehensible that the Senator would say such a thing to me, in the demeaning way he said. It wasn't very Mormon of him. That's what I can tell you.


BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, Democratic congressman, Ritchie Torres of New York. He is among those, who filed the House ethics complaint, against Santos, and he is co-sponsoring this resolution, to expel him from Congress.

So, Congressman Torres, I appreciate your time.

I know you're going to be announcing this resolution, tomorrow, with your fellow Democrats. Why have you decided to take this step now?

REP. RITCHIE TORRES (D-NY): Well, my colleague, Bobby Garcia, from California, is leading a coalition of members, including Dan Goldman, myself and others, to introduce legislation, to expel George Santos.

I mean, Senator Mitt Romney spoke for the majority of Americans. He spoke for both Democrats and Republicans, when he denounced George Santos, as a sick puppy.


There's something sick about a man, who lies about struggling with brain cancer, who lies about his mother dying on 9/11, who lies about his employees dying, in the Pulse mass shooting, who lies about his ancestors, surviving the Holocaust.

He has defrauded the voters of New York State. He's defrauded his way into the United States Congress. And it's time for him to be held accountable

BURNETT: Now, Speaker McCarthy, of course, is still sticking by Santos, saying he's waiting for the Ethics Committee, has refused to call for him to step down.

Despite the many lies, you referenced some of them, right, that have been uncovered over the past several weeks? Many of these are they're just simply lies, right? They're absolute lies, separate from other investigations that are now ongoing, into whether there's real legal culpability, on other things.

Do you think Santos is in Congress, to stay, at this point, if McCarthy doesn't change his view?

TORRES: Well, it appears that Mr. Santos is intent on clinging on for as long as he can. I mean, his only reason to remain in office is to maintain leverage, for a plea bargain, in the event of criminal prosecution.

But I want to be crystal clear. These are not simply lies. Like, he won his congressional seat, under fundamentally false pretenses. More egregious than his pathological lying, is his law-breaking. He violated House ethics. He violated campaign finance law. He violated securities law. There is ample evidence to justify his removal from Congress.

And the fact that he resigned, from his committees, presumably under pressure, from Kevin McCarthy?


TORRES: Is an admission of guilt.

BURNETT: Well, certainly under that pressure. So, we'll see what McCarthy will do here, as this moves forward.

I do want to ask you before you go, Congressman, about something the New York Mayor, Eric Adams, said today.

Because, we've been talking so much tonight about the elections, and President Biden's likely, very soon announcing - announcement that he will be running again.

So, Mayor Adams is blaming woke Democrats for pushing away some voters. And he got really specific about it. I wanted to play it for you.


MAYOR ERIC ADAMS, (D) NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK: There's a hemorrhaging of our Latino community, our AAPI communities, that's leaving, the traditional Democratic base, is because we've allowed the loudest, and those who consider themselves to be woke. Some of us never went to sleep, and we hear and speak directly to people.


BURNETT: So, in the 2020 election - 2022 election, I'm sorry, Democrats won Latino men by eight points. That was down 21 points from 2018. Democrats dropped 14 points, with Latina women, right? This is what he's talking about, in terms of the hemorrhaging.

Do you agree with the Mayor as to the reasons that he's talking about the woke, setting the Democratic agenda?

TORRES: I mean, I do acknowledge that there has been loss of support, among Latinos, and members of the Asian community.

But, keep in mind, some of those patterns are historical. If I remember correctly, George W. Bush, when he ran for president, in 2004, won 40 percent of the Latino vote.

So, the Latino community has never been a monolith. It's an ideologically varied community. And that's a pattern that has held for decades well before we even knew of the term wokeness.

BURNETT: All right, well I appreciate your time, Congressman Torres, thank you.

TORRES: Of course.

BURNETT: All right. And also tonight, House Republicans are kicking their - kicking off their fight, with Hunter Biden.

The Oversight Committee is holding a hearing. And that is where former Twitter executives admitted that the company made a mistake, by suppressing a New York Post story, about the contents of Hunter Biden's laptop, in 2020. Now, they also testify that the federal government had no influence, on their decision, to do that.

Here's the clip.


YOEL ROTH, FORMER HEAD OF TRUST & SAFETY AT TWITTER: I believe Twitter erred in this case because we wanted to avoid repeating the mistakes of 2016.

JAMES BAKER, FORMER DEPUTY GENERAL COUNSEL, TWITTER: I'm aware of no unlawful collusion with or direction from any government agency or political campaign on how Twitter should have handled the Hunter Biden laptop situation.


BURNETT: OK. So, saying no government involvement or pressure.

But despite that testimony, right under oath, Republicans continue to claim, without any evidence that the FBI was behind this.


REP. JAMES COMER (R-KY): Many Americans did not know about it, because of a coordinated cover-up by Big Tech, the Swamp, and mainstream news.

REP. NANCY MACE (R-SC): Twitter was basically a subsidiary of the FBI.

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): I think you guys wanted to take it down. I think you guys got played by the FBI.


BURNETT: Donie O'Sullivan is OUTFRONT.

So, Donie, a heated hearing, as you could see, "Basically a subsidiary of the FBI," right, despite the under-oath testimony to the contrary.


BURNETT: But this just foreshadows many of the fireworks, the clashes that are kind of come on this committee, because they now have it. They've got the gavel, and they are going to use it, to investigate President Biden, and his family.

O'SULLIVAN: Yes. And look, I mean, I think today was a really missed opportunity.


Because look, what you heard there, about Twitter being a subsidiary of the FBI? What we've actually saw, in the so-called Twitter Files, kind of selectively-released internal documents, and emails, from Twitter, is a lot of pushback, from Twitter employees, including some of those people, who testified, today, when they were getting requests, which we're learning, by the way, from both sides, both political parties, saying "No, we're not going to take this down."

And when they were getting emails, content that was being flagged, by the FBI? The FBI, specifically, as far as we can see, did not say "Twitter, you need to take this down." But they were flagging content. Twitter also pushing back.

Look, I think there are real questions, to answer here, about how these platforms could, and should, or if they should at all be working, with governments. I mean, the whole reason that the FBI was talking to Twitter in the first place, was because of all that Russian interference, in 2016. The feeling was, was that everybody kind of missed the ball on that. But we did - there was none of that discussion, today.

What we also heard, of course, was from Democrats, who were pointing out that the whole premise, and parts of the New York Post Hunter Biden story, that infamous story were false.

Have a listen.


REP. DANIEL GOLDMAN (D-NY): That is false, 100 percent false.

COMER: Is the gentleman sure about that?

GOLDMAN: Yes. In fact, I am sure about that. And as the lead counsel, in the first impeachment investigation, we proved that he was actually fired, because he was not prosecuting corruption.

COMER: I'm sorry. Would the Gentleman yield?

Corruption of the President's son's company?

GOLDMAN: I'd like to reclaim my time.

COMER: Gentleman's recognized.


O'SULLIVAN: So, we're going to be seeing a lot of that, I guess.

But look, I mean, despite the fact there are plenty of parts of the story that were false, Twitter executives themselves today admitted that the company shouldn't have blocked the story, in the way they did it. But we have not seen evidence that the FBI directed them to do so, which is the basis of why this hearing was such a--

BURNETT: Of the entire--


BURNETT: Of sort of the - you know?


BURNETT: The corruption allegations.


BURNETT: OK. So, what did Twitter executives say about requesting the Trump White House, to take down posts? Because, what's interesting is, when you have Republicans saying, "OK, OK, the government is trying to direct it, the government's doing this," well, requests come from elected officials, and administrations, on both sides, all the time.

O'SULLIVAN: Yes. This is, all we've heard so far, through these so- called Twitter Files, is how Democrats were badgering Twitter, saying "You need to take down this, and this. It's misinformation, disinformation."

What we learned today, though, from one former Twitter employee, who testified, under oath, before the committee, who was working at Twitter, at the time, said, back in 2019, she learned from a supervisor, at Twitter that the Trump White House requested this Chrissy Teigen tweet to be taken down.

I think we could show it to you, on the screen.

First, I should point out that Donald Trump took a pop, at Chrissy Teigen, saying "Musician John Legend and his filthy mounted wife," it goes on.

Chrissy Teigen responded in kind with some words there that they've told me, I'm not allowed to say on TV.

Apparently, the White House took exception to this, contacted Twitter, said, "You need to take a look at this, and you guys should take this down."


O'SULLIVAN: And Twitter didn't take it down.

The Trump - CNN has reached out to the Trump team. We haven't heard back from them.

BURNETT: Heard back.

O'SULLIVAN: But look, free speech, censorship, all of this?

BURNETT: Huge questions.


BURNETT: Huge questions. And everybody wants to censor what they don't like.

O'SULLIVAN: Precisely.

BURNETT: All right, well next, brand-new information tonight, on what the U.S. knew about the Chinese spy balloon, before it entered American airspace. Why defense officials chose not to act right then. And the moment a senior U.S. official says things got quote, "Strange."

Plus, a couple finds out their unborn baby has a fatal condition. They have to get an abortion, to save the mother's life. But it's against the law, in their State of Ohio. You will hear their powerful and heartbreaking story next.



BURNETT: New tonight, the U.S. Military failed to flag an early warning, about the Chinese spy balloon, as an urgent matter, as it headed towards the United States.

Sources say top Defense and Intelligence officials, who saw the internal alert, on January 27th, weren't immediately alarmed by it. It was the day before the balloon crossed into Alaska. And the urgency, inside the Military, did not change until the spy balloon moved over Alaska, and headed on a path, clearly, towards the continental U.S. That is when fighter jets were scrambled.

Now, all of this news, coming a day, after President Biden called out the Chinese President, Xi Jinping, during the State of the Union Address.


BIDEN: Let's be clear: winning the competition should unite all of us. We face serious challenges across the world.

But in the past two years, democracies have become stronger, not weaker.

Autocracies have grown weaker, not stronger.

Name me a world leader who'd change places with Xi Jinping.

Name me one! Name me one!


BURNETT: Selina Wang is OUTFRONT in Beijing.

Selina, pretty incredible, right, "Name me one," the passion, the force behind that pointing? And how was that seen by Xi Jinping, and the Chinese government? What's the response?

SELINA WANG, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Erin, I mean, that was probably one of the most fiery parts of the speech. He was practically shouting, by the end of it.

And Beijing's response to the speech has been that the U.S. is smearing China under the quote, "Pretext of competition."

And so, really, in addition to directly calling out Xi Jinping, Biden had also really underscored this rhetoric that autocracies have grown weaker, around the world. And we've seen his administration really pose this challenge as autocracies versus democracies.

Now, China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in response to this speech, also said that they don't want the entire U.S.-China relationship defined by competition.

From Beijing's perspective, that speech underscores our view, America is trying to keep China down, and contain its rise. They really see Biden as building on top of former President Donald Trump's harsher stance on China.

They've seen the Biden administration drop these broad new laws and policies that challenge China's influence. For instance, those sweeping restrictions, from the Biden administration that chokes off China's access to advanced computer chips; and stronger alliances between the U.S. and other countries that they see us anti-China.


Interestingly, also during his speech, Biden talked about investing in semiconductor production at home, bringing back supply chains.


WANG: Beijing accused the U.S. of undermining global supply chains.


BURNETT: All right. Selina Wang, thank you very much, live from Beijing.

And I want to go now to the retired Army Lieutenant General, Mark Hertling.

And General Hertling, the context around this is all this new reporting, we're getting, on the spy balloon, I guess, for lack of a better word, program of China, the State Department confirming today that this Chinese surveillance program extends far beyond the United States.

What more can you tell us about it?

LT. GENERAL MARK HERTLING (RET.), FORMER ARMY COMMANDING GENERAL, EUROPE AND SEVENTH ARMY, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, first, Erin, I'd go back to what you said, at the very beginning, about the military failing to flag the balloon, going over Alaska, as an urgent matter. I'm not sure I agree with that.

The tipper that some of our reporters talked about, in a recent article, in DotCom (ph), talked about information that was provided to the Command, about this balloon, coming across the Aleutians, and going into Africa.

Now, I hate to do this to you, Erin. But I'll give you a little hierarchy of military information and organizations.

There is an organization called Alaska Command, and it's near Anchorage, actually.


HERTLING: And they have responsibility, as part of Northern Command, the Command that eventually shot down this balloon, of kind of guarding the coastline. They have an Air Force base with the Eleventh Air Force there. They have 18 Different radar stations.

So, when a balloon like that comes over, they're going to tip on it, and send that into the Defense Intelligence Agency, so, it goes out, in something that I, as a commander, and all other commanders get, on a daily basis, called a black book. And until something becomes important, you don't do anything about it.

The Military has a phrase called O&R, Observe and Report. If there's a danger, associated with something, then you do something about it. But when you're just observing it, and tracking it, and they had fine control of this, as it moved across Alaska, then into Canada, a different nation--


HERTLING: --in coordination with Canada, then into the United States? I think that's when it started to rise to the level that the Joint Chiefs of Staff heard about the Intelligence, and then the President eventually did.

BURNETT: Right. And, of course, now they know the signature of it. It appears that this had happened multiple times before. I'm sure there's a lot of questions being asked, right now.

And one of the ways that they're going to get some answers perhaps is by seeing the payload, which of course, landed off the South Carolina coast, when they took it down.


BURNETT: Now, we understand General that the U.S. Military has recovered most of the debris now from the surface. They're now going to the underwater wreckage, to try to get everything they can, right, because, that's the whole point. If you're going to take it down, you want any information you're able to get.

What are you hearing about what we might learn, about the balloon's capability, from what's now sitting at the bottom of the ocean? HERTLING: Yes, I'm hearing we're learning a lot.

Now, of course, Erin, I have to comment that I don't have classified clearance anymore. But I am hearing from some of my friends, in the Navy, and the Air Force, and they're talking about the kinds of things they're finding.

So, not only was this balloon jammed, and tracked, across the United States, so it could not collect data. But the data collectors, it did have on board, were really looking at electronic surveillance, and signal surveillance.

BURNETT: Surveillance.

HERTLING: And it was a big platform. But it was jammed the entire time it was going across the United States.

So, we learned a lot about what it was trying to report back to China, also the fact that it certainly was not a weather balloon. But as we collect the data, from the ocean floor, off the coast of the Carolinas, I think we're going to learn a whole lot more about the equipment that the Chinese used.

And, by the way, this gave us a whole lot of information, on a lot of the other balloons that they're using, in other areas of the world, to include, and most importantly, Taiwan.

BURNETT: Yes, absolutely.

All right, General Hertling, thank you so much, and for sharing all that new information, much appreciated.

HERTLING: Pleasure.

BURNETT: And after this, an emotional story. No matter how you feel about abortion rights, you're going to see a family, sharing the tragic decision that they've had to make, the long journey to do it, when help could have once been offered much closer to home. That's next.



BURNETT: An Ohio couple, on a journey they would not wish on any other family. Their unborn child was diagnosed with a deadly condition, would not survive. The mother's health was also in jeopardy. But Ohio's strict anti-abortion laws meant that they could not get an abortion, in their home state.

Elizabeth Cohen is OUTFRONT.


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was a long road, to Pennsylvania, where Beth and Kyle Long said goodbye to their baby daughter, Star.

The road began in Columbus, Ohio, where Beth and Kyle met and married.

Excited to start a family, they tried for more than four years, spending more than $45,000, on fertility treatments. Finally, Beth became pregnant with a baby girl they nicknamed "Star."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She looks perfect.

COHEN (voice-over): At four months, Star looked great.

BETH LONG, KYLE LONG'S WIFE: I'm going to have your baby!

COHEN (voice-over): But then, on January 4th, Kyle wrote in his journal, "Beth receives bad test results." The doctors thought the baby had spina bifida. "We are prepared to raise a child with any disabilities."

But it wasn't spina bifida. Most of Star's organs were outside her body. Doctors delivered the devastating news, it was fatal.

LONG: She had something called limb body wall complex. It's very rare. Most of her internal organs spilled out, in a hole, in her abdomen, and were enmeshed in the placenta.

COHEN (voice-over): Kyle wrote in his journal, "The doctor stated her condition was not compatible with life."

And there was more bad news. The doctors explained that because of Star's condition, Beth had an increased chance of bleeding, during birth, or during an abortion, and might possibly need a hysterectomy.

LONG: The bigger she gets the more complicated and enmeshed it's going to be. So, time was of the essence.

COHEN (voice-over): But because of this Ohio law, the Longs couldn't move in a timely way.

Beth is a nurse, employed by the State of Ohio. The law bans her state-issued insurance, from paying for abortions. There's an exception, for when the life of the mother is endangered. But Beth's life wasn't in imminent danger, and she says her insurance company refused to cover the procedure, which would cost $20,000 to $30,000.

A spokesman for her workplace, which owns the insurance plan, says they will continue to comply with the law, while providing exceptional patient care.

After three weeks, the Longs were finally able to schedule an abortion, at a hospital, in Pennsylvania that would give them a discounted rate.


Beth and Kyle brought with them baby dresses, Beth had knit. And they said goodbye to their daughter, Cordelia Poppy Star Long. In mid-January, Kyle reached out to Ohio Governor, Mike DeWine, and U.S. Senator, J.D. Vance, who oppose abortion. He wrote, "We loved our baby girl and would have done anything to keep her. (Ohio laws) prevent grieving parents from the health care they need."

Kyle says he never received responses. Spokesman, for Governor DeWine, and Senator Vance, telling CNN they plan on responding to Kyle's email, DeWine noting that the law, banning state insurance, from paying for abortions, was enacted, before he took office.

The Longs left with anger, and grief.

A grief counselor took this picture, of Star's feet, to help them remember her.

LONG: I was in mental anguish, because I love her.


COHEN: Now, Beth and Kyle, want every other families, who might be in this situation, to know that there are resources, to help them get the health care that they need.

Now, they are recovering, Beth is recovering, from the procedure. And they hope to start fertility treatments, as soon as they can, to finally start their family.


Elizabeth, thank you so much.

Such a horrible story, no matter how you feel about that issue!

Thank you so much for that reporting, Elizabeth.

And thanks so much to all of you, for being with us.

"CNN TONIGHT" with Alisyn Camerota is next.