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Erin Burnett Outfront
McCarthy Unilaterally Orders Impeachment Inquiry Into Biden; State Media: Kim Jong Un And Putin Could Meet As Soon As Tonight; Putin Sides With Trump On Indictments, Calls It "Persecution"; Police: Escaped Killer Armed After Stealing Rifle from Garage; Interview with Rep. George Santos (R-NY). Aired 7-8p ET
Aired September 12, 2023 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, impeaching Biden. McCarthy making the first official move under pressure from his own party. But will it backfire?
And an OUTFRONT exclusive tonight. Congressman George Santos on impeachment on the 13 federal charges he's facing and whether he'll listen to calls for his resignation. He will be OUTFRONT.
Plus, armed and on the run. Police believe they're closing in on the killer who escaped from prison after he stole a gun and engaged in a shootout with a local homeowner.
Let's go OUTFRONT.
And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.
OUTFRONT tonight, impeaching Biden. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy facing a mutiny from the far right wing of his party, now unilaterally calling for a formal impeachment inquiry into President Biden. No vote. Just days ago, McCarthy said he'd only have an impeachment with a full House vote.
But today, the speaker said he has no choice but to act based on what House Republicans have discovered.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: These are allegations of abuse of power, obstruction, and corruption. And they warrant further investigation by the House of Representatives. That's why today, I am directing our House committee to open a formal impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden.
I do not make this decision lightly. And regardless of your party or who you voted for, these facts should concern all Americans.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: But the fact is that House Republicans so far have failed to show any direct evidence that President Biden profited or benefitted from his son Hunter's foreign business activities, as many Republicans have said themselves. Multiple Republicans in the House have warned against moving forward at this time, saying the evidence is not there to back it up, and it could backfire on Republicans.
Well, just in a few moments, I'm going to speak to George Santos, one of the most endangered House Republicans seeking election in a major swing district. I'll also, of course, talk to Santos about the legal investigation he is facing, and the many controversies swirling around him, that is coming up.
But first, the White House and the Biden campaign both wasting little time to slam McCarthy. The White House called it extreme politics at its worst, and the Biden campaign saying, in part, quote, as Donald Trump ramped up his demands for a baseless impeachment inquiry, Kevin McCarthy cemented his role as the Trump campaign's super surrogate by turning the House of Representatives into an arm of his presidential campaign.
Trump himself was also quick to get involved. No surprise there. A source confirming to CNN that he spoke on the phone with the House GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik about the Republican strategy.
But McCarthy's announcement today clearly contradicting a promise that he made himself just 11 days ago. Just 11 days ago, Speaker McCarthy told Breitbart and I quote him: The American people deserve to be heard on this matter through their elected representatives. That's why if we move forward with an impeachment inquiry, it would occur through a vote on the floor of the People's House and not through a declaration by one person.
Well, I guess 11 days ago is a totally different world since, you know, now it's going ahead on one person. McCarthy also repeatedly criticized then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for launching an impeachment inquiry unilaterally one person against then President Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCARTHY: Our job is to legislate, not to continue to investigate something in the back when you can not find any reason to impeach this president. You cannot unilaterally decide we're in an impeachment inquiry.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Well, the shoe's on the other foot now. Why the flip-flop? Well, you have to look no further than members of McCarthy's own caucus, threatening today to remove him as speaker if he doesn't give them everything they want when they want it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DAN BISHOP (R-NC): I'm prepared to support a change in leadership through the mechanism of the motion to vacate the chair if necessary.
REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): I rise today to serve notice. Mr. Speaker, you are out of compliance with the agreement that allowed you to assume this role. The path forward for the House of Representatives is to either bring you into immediate total compliance or remove you pursuant to a motion to vacate the chair.
Let me alert the country, a motion to vacate might not pass at first, but it might before the 15th vote.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Gaetz, of course, making a dig at McCarthy's struggle to win the vote for speaker. We were all there that night round after round after round, 15 rounds.
Manu Raju is OUTFRONT.
And, Manu, you spoke to Speaker McCarthy today.
What did he tell you?
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, he defended his strategy here. And he's also seemed to acknowledge that there is a long way to go to prove some of the central allegations here that Republicans have laid out suggesting that the president, while vice president, benefitted from his son Hunter Biden's business dealings and may have taken official action to help his son.
Well, they don't have evidence yet to prove that very serious allegation. When I asked the speaker about that directly, he contended, well, this is simply an impeachment inquiry, something in which they would try to find the information to back up some of those claims and allegations that have come up so far.
He also defended the decision not to have a vote to formally launch the inquiry. As you said, just 11 days ago, the speaker said that they would have a vote. But the problem is they don't have enough support in the House to formally vote to authorize that investigation.
Instead, Speaker McCarthy pointed the finger at former Speaker Nancy Pelosi who went forward on the second Trump impeachment without a vote.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCARTHY: Nancy Pelosi has changed the rules -- how are you, sir? Good to see you. And in following through.
RAJU: -- that shows that Joe Biden acted, took official action --
MCCARTHY: Okay, is this impeachment or is this impeachment inquiry? An impeachment inquiry is the ability to get the information to answer the questions. That's all we're doing. America needs the answers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: But, Erin, this is a party divided over the question about whether to move ahead with impeachment, particularly when the House versus the Senate, many Senate Republicans simply do not believe it makes sense to move forward with an impeachment inquiry at this moment, as well as some of those members in key districts, swing districts, ones that could flip to the Democratic side of the aisle, not there yet. So a big hurdle in the weeks and months ahead if they decide to move forward of actually impeaching the president. That's a decision the speaker will have to make.
BURNETT: All right. So, Manu, you know, as I said, the vote to actually impeach President Biden would need a majority in the House. That's just a basic fact. And we've heard from a lot of House Republicans who said they don't think moving forward with impeachment is wise.
So, does speaker McCarthy have the votes right now if it reaches that point?
RAJU: He simply does not. In fact, I've talked to a number of house Republicans who are saying that they want to see what this investigation actually bears out, whether they can actually prove some of these allegations and that they're not willing to vote for actually charging the president with high crimes or misdemeanors, which is an incredibly high bar. It would make Biden only the fourth president in American history to be charged with that.
And a number of Republicans, including the 18 who come from districts that Biden won in 2020, conservatives like Ken Buck of Colorado, all of whom are spectacle about moving forward. It shows you that Speaker McCarthy does not have the votes to actually impeach President Biden. It shows the pressure that he faces in the months ahead to prove his allegations to win over those Republican skeptics -- Erin.
BURNETT: Right, which, of course, would be party line, as you point out right now, though, a party divided.
Manu, thank you very much.
And, you know, the thing is, is the pressure to launch an impeachment inquiry, as Manu's talking about, is far from the only issue that has House Speaker McCarthy backed in a corner. Many far right Republicans in the House are also trying to force him to cut U.S. funding to Ukraine in any deal to fund the government to avoid a shutdown in just 18 days.
It comes, though, as Kim Jong Un is in Russia right now, meeting with Russian officials, about to meet with the Russian President Vladimir Putin. A meeting state media says could happen as soon as tonight and could result in a lot more weapons for Putin. The visit creating growing concerns among American officials about what this might mean for the war.
Matthew Chance is OUTFRONT in St. Petersburg tonight.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the moment a normally reclusive Kim Jong Un stepped off his heavily armed train into Russia's far east. The North Korean leader is internationally isolated, but now seems poised to become a key arms supplier to Moscow, a sign of how desperate for allies the Kremlin has become.
A visit at this level is a good message of broadening ties, the local Russian governor says in, an understatement of how significant this trip may prove.
Back in Pyongyang, at least, they looked euphoric ahead of Kim's first trip abroad in four years. And even behind the forced grins, North Korea's strongman must be genuinely smiling at what Moscow could offer in exchange for the ammunition it now so badly needs.
Russia's brutal conflict in Ukraine has become a grinding war of attrition, which may well be decided by which side can sustain almost constant pounding on the front lines. A big North Korean arms deal would bolster Moscow and strike a blow to Ukraine and its allies.
North Korea, of course, has its own terrifying military ambitions with Russia, it seems, increasingly at its side. President Putin hasn't ruled out a planned face-to-face meeting with Kim Jong Un at a strategic Russian launch site. When I get there, you'll know, he said. It's all fueling suspicions that Russian technical know-how which could advance North Korea's own missile program is on the table.
It would be a worrying shift from the last time Kim visited his Russian neighbor. A trip I covered in 2019 when access here in hindsight was freer.
Well, this is a rare glimpse of the reclusive North Korean leader. We simply don't see him very often in public. But here he is dressed in his hat and his long coat about to lay a wreath at the Russian war memorial.
But back then, curbing North Korea's nuclear ambitions was high on the Kremlin's agenda. Now, it's winning the war in Ukraine at all costs.
BURNETT: And, Matthew, I know you're in St. Petersburg tonight where Putin also weighed in on Donald Trump's legal problems and it was actually pretty interesting what he had to say, he had plenty to say.
CHANCE: He did, indeed. I mean, separately to that North Korean issue, President Putin has been pushing his support, again, for former President Donald Trump. It's something that became a feature of the 2016 election campaign in the subsequent Trump presidency. Well, now, Putin's at it again, this time saying that the charges against Donald Trump are politically motivated, but also basking in the visions that those cases have caused in the U.S.
Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): As far as the prosecution of Trump is concerned, this is good for us in today's conditions, because it shows the rottenness of the American system which can not pretend to teach others about democracy. All that is happening with Trump is the persecution of a political rival for political reasons. And this is done in front of the public of the United States and the whole world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHANCE: The rottenness of the American system. President Putin does tend to try and distract from the problems of Russia by pointing to the issues under way in other countries, particularly in the United States. In terms of the prospects of policy changing, if there is a Trump victory, Putin said he doesn't see any policy changes no matter who wins the U.S. presidency -- Erin.
BURNETT: Matthew Chance, thank you very much in Russia live tonight.
And let's go beyond the numbers with Harry Enten.
So, Harry, you know, you heard Matthew talking about Putin's press conference.
HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: Yeah.
BURNETT: You know, Putin seized on multiple opportunities today. He talked about the U.S. political system, stirred the pot on Donald Trump. So, where are -- where is the American public right now when it comes to Russia and the war in Ukraine?
ENTEN: Yeah, I mean, look, there is no one on either side of the political aisle, very few people that are fans of the president of Russia, Vladimir Putin. But one thing that has developed over the last year and a half is when it comes to the Ukrainian leader, President Zelenskyy. And what we see there is a massive polarized partisan split. These are the unfavorable views of President Zelenskyy.
And we see that Democrats and Republicans back in 2022 very few of either one of them had unfavorable views of Zelenskyy. But look at Republicans now, 41 percent of them have unfavorable views of Zelenskyy, versus just 11 percent of Democrats. So it does seem that this partisan wedge has certainly found its way into the Russian frame now.
BURNETT: It is absolutely incredible when you think about it. You know, how perception, how politics can change something. The people had such a passionate belief, and that can change.
On the impeachment front, you've got now McCarthy announcing this impeachment inquiry, okay, unilaterally doing so. Trump, of course, facing multiple indictments.
So, do Americans see these things as equivalent? Do they not? What's the perception on that?
ENTEN: Yeah, you know, when Fox News asked a very interesting question, which was essentially do you believe, you know, that President Trump -- former President Trump's actions were illegal, and they asked the same question about Joe Biden and his business dealings were -- his son's business dealings and the connections to Joe Biden. And what we see is they don't see them equivalently.
ENTEN: A clear majority believe that Donald Trump something versus illegal, versus when it comes to Joe Biden, just 38 percent of them did. So, you know, House Republicans might be trying to equivocate the two. But when it comes to the American public, they do not see them equally.
BURNETT: All right. So, you were sitting here as I was introducing the show, I played McCarthy.
I'm looking for it really quickly if I could find it, but 11 days ago. You know, you don't do this unilaterally.
Okay, here we are -- well, that was 11 days ago, that was ancient history, a massive flip-flop. He doesn't care. He's made the decision that this is the right thing to do for his reasons. It looks like that's because the right wing of his party. What's going on?
ENTEN: Yeah. I mean, look, two numbers that you have it on keep in mind. He's got a five-seat majority and it took him not 10, not 11, not 12, not 13, not 14, but 15 ballots to get elected as speaker.
BURNETT: As Matt Gaetz pointed out today.
ENTEN: Exactly right.
ENTEN: That's why he fears the right wing of his party. And that is why, in my opinion, he is launching this impeachment inquiry.
BURNETT: All right. Harry, thank you very much.
ENTEN: Thank you.
BURNETT: And, next, as I mentioned, we will hear exclusively from embattled Republican Congressman George Santos on McCarthy's move to launch an impeachment inquiry. And, of course, the 13 federal charges he is facing and whether it calls for resignation.
Plus, the manhunt of the convicted killer escalating dramatically tonight because police are now warning the escaped convict is armed and desperate.
And, first OUTFRONT tonight, we're going to take you to a village that was wiped out in seconds after the deadly earthquake, which we now understand has killed nearly 3,000 people in Morocco.
BURNETT: Tonight, armed and on the run. Police saying they're closing in on escaped killer Danelo Cavalcante after he was spotted and shot just last night. Cavalcante reportedly breaking into a house and stilling a .22 caliber rifle before running away into the woods.
Authorities likely just missing the chance to apprehend him at that time. Police at this hour are now focusing in Chester County's South Coventry Township. You see it on your screen. It's about 20 miles north of the county prison that Cavalcante escaped from.
There are armored vehicles converging on the scene tonight, as you can see. Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro calling for the convicted killer to surrender, saying, quote, the gig is almost up. Well, Danny Freeman, of course, has been watching this now for day 13 of the hunt, that is now growing more dangerous by the hour.
LT. COL. GEORGE BIVENS, PENNSYLVANIA STATE POLICE: Cavalcante is considered armed and extremely dangerous.
DANNY FREEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The manhunt for escaped inmate Danelo Cavalcante escalating dramatically as Pennsylvania state police reveal the convicted murder now has a deadly weapon.
BIVENS: He is now armed with a .22-caliber rifle with a scope and flashlight mounted on it.
FREEMAN: The stunning development happening overnight. Police say around 8:00, a woman driving close to where Cavalcante ditched this stolen dairy farm van thought she saw the fugitive crouched on a road. Police arrived and followed muddy footprints to discover Cavalcante's discarded prison shoes.
BIVENS: Information was received from another resident in that immediate area that a pair of work boots had been stolen from a porch at her residence.
FREEMAN: Search dogs tried to track Cavalcante's scent but couldn't find him, according to authorities.
Then, less than two hours later, at 10:10, police said Cavalcante emerged again, entering a residence open garage and stealing the .22- caliber rifle with a scope, flashlight and ammo.
When the homeowner saw Cavalcante in his garage, he fired his own handgun at him multiple times. Cavalcante still got away with the rifle.
BIVENS: We have no reason to believe that he is injured as a resulted of that shooting. I think he's just trying to survive and avoid being captured.
FREEMAN: Police said officers arrived on scene within minutes but lost him.
Authorities warning the community with a reverse 911 call.
911 CALL FROM PENNYSLVANIA STATE POLICE: Residents in the area are asked to continue to secure their homes and vehicles and remain vigilant.
FREEMAN: Today, Lieutenant Colonel George Bivens defended the operation that it's failed to capture the inmate after 13 days.
BIVENS: Our law enforcement people have done an amazing job tracking him and locating him that proverbial needle in the haystack and they've located that needle repeatedly. Nothing has gone wrong.
FREEMAN: Nearly 500 law enforcement agents have now descended on a new perimeter, in Chester County's South Coventry Township, about 25 miles north of the prison where Cavalcante crab-walked to freedom.
Armored vehicles, horses, helicopters, and troopers with long guns flooding the area Tuesday, hoping to end this search.
BIVENS: It's a large area, wooded, hilly terrain. It's not something that it's a matter of just sending a few people in and searching. As I said, we've had a number of tactical teams operating in there through the night. We continue to have teams operating in there now.
It will take a long time to clear that entire area but we will continue until we do locate him.
FREEMAN (on camera): And, Erin, the other piece of fascinating information that we learned today is police said Cavalcante actually knows where he is. They believe that he has been in this area before. All the more reason, police say, that you should be, if you live in this area, extra vigilant and lock your doors and lock your cars -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Danny, thank you very much.
And I want to go now to John Moriarty. He's a fugitive hunter. He is one of the premier fugitive hunters, in fact, for the state of Texas. He's been involved in every prison escape in that state since 1989. Most recently, the highly publicized 42-day manhunt for the so-called Texas Seven last December.
So, John, you -- this is -- you know more about this than anybody and you've been watching this here, day 13, tomorrow will be 14. Police tonight say they think they know where he is after he was shot at by that homeowner last night. They say now it's just a matter of tracking him.
What do you think? Are they going to get him? How much longer will this take?
JOHN MORIARTY, LED FUGITIVE TASK FORCE OPERATIONS FOR TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE: I think they will probably within the next 24 to 48 hours. I mean, it appears to me they've got him laid down pretty good in that wooded area. And a lot of it will come down to dog work because it's so thick in there, it looks like, that the dogs will have a better shot at rooting him out than anybody else.
BURNETT: This is kind of amazing, though, in this day and age when you think about it. I mean, I know they're using bloodhounds to help track him. And you think that's -- that could be the key to it, the dogs?
MORIARTY: Yeah. The dogs, the bloodhounds especially, but it all depends on how well trained they are. You know, I've worked with some dogs that they couldn't find him if you had a pork chop around his neck.
BURNETT: Wow. This is incredible, just that part of it. Of course, he's armed relevant for the dogs as well as for the human beings that are involved in this, 0.22 caliber rifle with a scope-mounted flashlight, we understand.
This is a man who's serving time and convicted of killing two people. One of them his ex-girlfriend who he stabbed 38 times in front of her two small children.
Does that -- does that change how search teams should approach him or anything about this?
MORIARTY: Well, absolutely. All of the officers that are in there are at risk. I mean, he could be setting up an ambush for them as he hears them coming towards him. He could use the weapon, you know, to also take his own life or have to stand up and have the police take his life, suicide by cop.
BURNETT: What is the end game of a search like this look like? Especially the weapon does obviously change it, as you point out, possibly.
MORIARTY: Yeah. As far as the possibility, Erin, of a home invasion type situation now that he's armed is on a higher plane as well as assaults on the police officers with the weapon. And, you know, it changed the game dramatically today what -- what happened last night.
BURNETT: All right, John, we'll -- we will see. I hope you're right that he's apprehended here in these next 24 hours, and with no injuries to anyone who apprehends him. Thank you so very much. I appreciate it.
MORIARTY: Thank you, Erin. Okay.
BURNETT: All right. And, next, our exclusive interview with Republican Congressman George Santos. He is standing by on Capitol Hill.
Plus, Fulton County's D.A. is up against the clock to explain how she can logistically try all 19 defendants in the Georgia election case in just a few weeks. Can she convince the judge?
BURNETT: Tonight, our exclusive interview with embattled Republican Congressman George Santos. He has pleaded not guilty to 13 federal charges. Those charges include fraud related to COVID-19 unemployment benefits, misusing campaign funds, and lying about his personal finances on House disclosure reports. He's also under investigation by the House Ethics Committee.
Despite all this, Santos says he is not resigning and he is running for re-election next year. And he is joining some of his Republican colleagues in calling for Biden's impeachment -- calls that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy finally caved to today, announcing an impeachment inquiry.
And Congressman George Santos joins me now.
And, Congressman, I appreciate your time tonight.
I want to start with the news from Speaker McCarthy. You put out a statement today about it, and you said, quote, in part: I have yet to receive any reports of sufficient evidence worthy of impeachment coming from the three House committees investigating President Biden.
Yet, I know that you support McCarthy in his call to begin the impeachment inquiry. How come?
REP. GEORGE SANTOS (R-NY): Well, it's very simple. The process can't be cheapened. We can't allow us to do the same mistakes that former Speaker Pelosi did and just bulldoze through an impeachment without any credible evidence. The American public is already fractured and sick and tired of that.
So that's why I've been no impeachment without impeachment inquiry, period. And I've drawn that line.
I'm happy to see the speaker today come out, putting out the process, laying out the process so the American people can have transparency into it and that we can mount evidence. And if we do find enough sufficient evidence to go and impeach the president, it is with a heavy heart that I will cast a vote to impeach the president.
BURNETT: But if there's no reports of sufficient evidence worthy of impeachment now, why support an impeachment inquiry?
SANTOS: Well, because I think we need to broaden the scope for the committee so that they can continuously dig deeper.
Look, if you were to compare us to the former -- to the former speaker, she didn't allow the process to play out. She just went and used whatever her assumptions were, and the majority at the time's assumptions were to be gospel. And they went ahead and rammed through an impeachment, which was very partisan on the first one. And then on the second one, you get something that was unprecedented.
So we don't need that. We want to fix the precedent and make sure that we uphold this to the seriousness that impeachment actually is.
BURNETT: Of course, this is partisan. It will be along party lines. But also I know that Speaker McCarthy at the time, as Speaker Pelosi had announced an inquiry, he was very upset, said it was a dark day for the rule of law because she did so unilaterally without a full House vote. That, of course, is exactly what he has done today.
And I want to play for you what he said at the time about the House speaker, then House Speaker Pelosi's move.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Make no mistake, yesterday was a dark day for America. It was a dark day for the rule of law that the speaker of the House would claim a president violated the law without ever having any information to judge it on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Now, though, Congressman, McCarthy, is doing exactly that, launching an impeachment inquiry without, as you yourself said, having sufficient evidence worthy of impeachment. Why is today not a dark day for the rule of law?
SANTOS: Well, I think it's amazing when I see networks like CNN, they love to criticize Republicans when they do exactly what the Democrats did. I don't recall seeing CNN's outrage when Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House, then did it.
So, I think she set the precedent. He's just following her footsteps. I guess it's eye for an eye at this point.
Look, we -- I was always in favor of --
BURNETT: Just take a step back. I understand your point eye for an eye. But if someone says it's a dark day for the rule of law, why is the right thing to do to say, oh, well, when I have the power, I'm cool with a dark day for the rule of law?
SANTOS: Look, it's not like you paraded an excitement and was cheering on what his decision. It wasn't -- it wasn't a decision he took lightly.
I'm not here to speak for him, but I support his decision. I support his efforts because if we're going to be completely honest, we have to have CNN bring Joe Biden on the network and grill him, put him through the tough questions, Erin. I challenge you to do that.
The American people deserve to see reporters like yourself bring them on to networks like CNN, and let's grill the president like you guys grilled Donald Trump for four years he was in office. I think it's very fair to go grill Joe Biden. Joe Biden has a treasure trove (ph) with his son Hunter Biden, cocaine in the White House, laptops from hell, all of these things. And none of this is spoken about on your network.
BURNETT: Well, that's not true. It's all actually spoken about on the network and certainly is on this program.
SANTOS: Is it, Erin?
BURNETT: But let me -- let me just ask you because back to the very fundamental point here, in the moment that we're in, does the evidence exist for an impeachment inquiry, Republican Congressman Ken Buck, your colleague, Congressman Santos, has opposed the push to impeaching Biden.
He was very direct.
Here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KEN BUCK (R-CO): The time for impeachment is the time when there's evidence linking President Biden -- if there's evidence -- linking President Biden to a high crime or misdemeanor. That doesn't exist right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So, what do you say to him?
SANTOS: Well, I agree with him. Right now, we don't have sufficient proof to impeach him, but we have sufficient evidence and sufficient leads to go do an inquiry. And that's exactly what we're doing.
I think what you're confusing and confusing the American people with what your -- the point you're trying to convey is that we don't have sufficient avenues to go investigate and look into the president, which clearly, as clear as day as we have sufficient avenues to go down and see what Hunter did, when Hunter did it, what the president knew, what did he do when he knew.
Nobody can explain how Hunter Biden with no experience ends up on the board of Burisma at this time that his father was vice president of the United States. Those are all valid questions the American deserves answer to.
BURNETT: So you support Speaker McCarthy, you're making it clear. It does come, of course, as no surprise, Congressman, he could call for an expulsion vote for you. He holds your fate in his hands.
And so I wanted to play something for you, for you to have a chance to respond to. This is an exchange between the speaker and our Manu Raju. This was on May 10th.
Let me play it for you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: Santos says he is running for re-election. Are you going to support him?
MCCARTHY: I'm not going to support Santos.
RAJU: You're not?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: When is the last time you spoke to Speaker McCarthy, Congressman?
SANTOS: I mean, look, I speak to the speaker when deemed appropriate and when needed. And I have a great relationship with him. I think he's a fantastic leader for the conference and I stand by that.
Now he might have a different opinion -- difference of opinion whether I should run for re-election or not. But, quite frankly, that's up to me, not up to him or anyone else in this body.
BURNETT: Are you confident that he stands behind you right now -- separate from re-election that he stands behind you staying in your seat right now?
SANTOS: Well, he believes in process, and I believe that I am entitled to the same process as every single American is in this country. I'm going through the process, and I'm standing strong doing that.
But it's amazing that every single time I come on networks, I do interviews with you guys, it seems to be the same questions that I've answered on and on again.
It seems that you guys in the mainstream media don't want to see a process. You want to see this jump -- the gun jumped and making a hasty decision against myself.
So, look, I can never win the argument with you guys, but I can say one thing is -- I'm entitled to that same process that Joe Biden is entitled, that Donald Trump was entitled to, but Donald Trump was denied and Joe Biden is being given all sorts of --
BURNETT: Well -- and certainly I see it, that we're giving you the opportunity to tell your side of the story and give your point of view.
McCarthy has said that he's waiting for the results of the House Ethics Committee, specifically their investigation to you, specifically as to whether he would call for your expulsion or anything else, right? The committee there has expanded its investigation into you after you were charged by the Justice Department.
Do you have any idea where that investigation stands tonight?
SANTOS: Absolutely not. And even if I did, it would be irresponsible for me to share it on national television because it can disrupt the investigation. So the reality is nobody's going to speak on an ongoing investigation of this -- of this nature.
BURNETT: Would you resign if the committee concludes that you committed wrongdoing?
SANTOS: Look, I think that the committee should be very weary about making any hasty decision. That's been my entire case in point with everything going on. The DOJ has their case.
I think that it would be very irresponsible for the committee to have one conclusion and then something else play out in court. So, my answer to your question -- no.
BURNETT: So I've mentioned, and you just mentioned, of course, the federal government. You've been charged with 13 counts by the federal government. Prosecutors wrote in a recent filing that you and the government, and I quote, Congressman, are engaged in discussions regarding possible paths forward in this matter.
Possible paths forward. Do you know what that means? Are you negotiating a deal with the feds?
SANTOS: There is no talks of negotiation, and the reality is for me to even get into the weeds of it would cheapen also, again, my ability to defend myself. But I can say one thing to you. Why don't you ask the DOJ what they meant by the letter. The letter was submitted by them, not by my counsel.
BURNETT: So, you do -- when I look at what you have done before, you did make a deal with prosecutors in Brazil when they charged you with fraud, and you avoided prosecution in that deal. You did so by confessing and paying retribution to the victim.
So, would you do something like that again?
SANTOS: Like I said, I don't know where you're getting your information from. But I would challenge -- I would challenge you to bring up receipts on that because that's not how it happened in Brazil.
BURNETT: All right. The bottom line question is would you --
SANTOS: So you're not prepared. So, hold on. So, you're not prepared. You made a -- you made a statement, an accusatory statement on national television.
BURNETT: Well, no, are you going to say that you did not make a deal with prosecutors? No, I'm not. Did you make a deal --
SANTOS: So you're not prepared?
BURNETT: -- with prosecutors in Brazil or did you not?
SANTOS: Well, I just told you no, but you're not prepared. So, you brought me on air on national television trying to --
BURNETT: No, no, you can come on and say that that's false.
SANTOS: But you're unprepared.
BURNETT: That's your right to say that it's false.
SANTOS: I'd love to see you put receipts on the screen so the American people can see it.
BURNETT: Our reporting is that you confessed and paid retribution to the victim. That's all I can say, that's our reporting. I do want to give you a chance to respond --
SANTOS: But you're not prepared to prove that to the American people.
BURNETT: I do want to give you a chance to respond to some other allegations that are out there that we have reported extensively on. And this is the payments made by your campaign, all of which were just one cent below the $200 mark. And that is significant, so our viewers understand, Congressman, because at $200, you have to have a receipt. The campaign is required to keep a receipt.
So, we found in our reporting seven payments of exactly $199.99. Those included Il Bacco Restaurante in Little Neck, New York, twice in a single day on November 30th, 2021.
A $199.99 charge for hotel accommodations at the W South Beach Hotel, that was October 2021. Lowest price room the reporting showed at that time typically would have cost more than $700.
And then it went, $199.99 to Uber, Walgreens, Walmart, Best Buy, Delta Airlines and more.
And, in fact, Congressman, a report filed by your campaign had hundreds of $199.99 payments to anonymous.
Now, you have blamed your campaign treasurer, I understand, who has resigned. The question is, do you know if your treasurer was putting in for money that wasn't spent just to get reimbursements and steal the money? Do you know what was happening here?
SANTOS: Well, I can't accuse her of doing that. But I can say that the burden of that entire report is not on me. I hire a fiduciary, like every single politician, and every mistake made there, or not, it's not me.
I'm a first-time member of Congress, first. You know, I ran twice only in my entire life. I couldn't have known what was going on.
But the reality is what was behind all those 199s, I have yet to know. My new team is auditing the campaign as we speak. They're trying to get to the bottom of what transpired.
But the reality is this is on -- this is all the doing of a former fiduciary who had a dereliction of her duty and her service and rupture of her contract with my campaign by just being absolutely sloppy and inexperienced on everything and anything that she did when it came down to my campaign finances.
So I can't answer that question. I can't tell you why. I can tell you that I operated above board. My campaign operated above board.
There was no such thing as funneling money to -- for reimbursements or anything of the nature, not that I'm aware of.
Now if a bad actor in the campaign engaged in some nefarious scheme to do so -- well, I can't be responsible for that, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. So you're saying you have -- you had no idea what was happening with the books on your campaign?
SANTOS: No, I did not.
BURNETT: All right. I want to give you a chance to respond to a story that we've covered. I know others have as well. But I've had a chance to speak to the U.S. Navy veteran Rich Osthoff.
He told us that you scammed him. That he went to you to try to get help to save his sick dog, that you had a charity to help animals. He said that you did raise $3,000 for life-saving surgery for his dog. He says that you then disappeared with the money, and his dog died.
And he came on this show, he talked about it. And here's what Rich told me his dog meant to him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICH OSTHOFF, NAVY VETERAN: That dog saved my life at least two times. When I first got out of the service, I was depressed. I was having nightmares, bad, bad memories about some things that happened, not war-related but other things that the military does to you.
I started drinking too much. I was doing reckless stuff. My father even told me he thought I had a death wish at that point. And I probably did. I was very suicidal. I would start crying for no
reason. And if I didn't have that little princess with me, I probably would've not been here to speak to you right now, at least two times.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Congressman, I want to give you a chance to respond to him.
SANTOS: Look, it's a very moving story. It's a sad story. But it's just so unfortunate that he even acknowledged in different interviews that we've never met, I've never met him.
And whatever transpired as far his dog goes and whatever money has transpired, I have -- I -- A, I did not do it. B, everything I've ever done to advocate for animals and help animals, I've done so very transparently. I've partnered with other organizations throughout the history of helping animals.
I've driven hours upon hours to save animals from different hard -- life-threatening situations. And there's hundreds of people out there that can vouch for my work in animal advocacy. I'm an animal lover myself. I have four adopted dogs.
The reality is whatever happened to him, whatever communication happened there, it's unfortunate. But I stand convicted, I did not hurt him or I did not hurt his dog, and anybody you can talk to would know I'd put my hand on a blade to save a dog, let alone a veteran's dog.
So, it's unfortunate. Again, I can't -- I can't tell you what happened there, but it wasn't me.
BURNETT: So, Michael Boll is the founder of the New Jersey Veterans Network and he worked with Rich to try to get this money. Because Rich was a veteran, and Michael was trying to him.
He says, Michael Boll who runs the network, he says he did speak to you directly.
And here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL BOLL, PRESIDENT, NEW JERSEY VETERANS NETWORK: When I spoke to him on the phone, he was not listening to what I was saying. He already made up his mind. I said to him, can you please give the money back to the people, or there's a veterinarian in Rich's area that we can give the money to and put it in a fund where he can use it from time to time. It's not your money to keep. And he just wasn't hearing it.
I called Rich back horrified. I was really upset because this is Rich's lifeline. I felt horrible to tell him that I failed him because of feeling that Mr. Devolder at the time was going to do the right thing and he did not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Congressman, did -- are you saying you never spoke to him either?
SANTOS: I've -- look, this is even news to me now. This is breaking news for me. I don't even know this man's name or who he is I ever spoken to him.
I just love that the pile-on effect just keeps going on. People just now -- everybody knows me. Everybody's met me. Everybody's had an interaction with me.
And then obviously they go on hack network who just take it for gospel without any proof. And you guys report it as gospel and truth.
So I don't know what to do anymore as far as controlling any sorts of reality when it comes down to all the reporting around this stuff.
BURNETT: So, I want to follow up on the Brazil point since you said that we hadn't done our homework. Documents obtained by CNN showed prosecutors in Brazil agreed to a deal with you in a case in which you were accused of defrauding a Rio de Janeiro area clerk of $1,300 of clothes and shoes in 2008. The victim says you appeared on video.
So, do you have any response to that?
SANTOS: No, I'm not engaging on this because, again, if you can't prove to the American people your allegations, then I'm not going to entertain it. You -- please, you guys need to be better prepared next time.
BURNETT: All right. We'll stand by our reporting, and I want to be very clear about that.
I do want to give you a chance to respond to the things that you know that everyone knows about you, the allegations about you, that -- things that you've said that are dishonest have been wide-ranging. Some of these things that you have followed up on, you know, and you said you didn't -- you didn't get an MBA from NYU as an example.
But here are a few of them and I want to give you a chance to respond to this before you go. Here they are.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANTOS: My grandparents survived the Holocaust.
My mom was a 9/11 survivor.
They sent me to a good prep school, so -- which was Horace Mann Prep in the Bronx.
I actually went to school on a volleyball scholarship. When I was in Baruch, we were the number one volleyball team. I put myself through college and got an MBA from NYU.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
BURNETT: So, Congressman, I just want to give you a chance. So, you admitted, I understand you didn't graduate from NYU. Horace Mann says they've searched the records. There's no evidence that George Santos or any alias attended Horace Mann.
Can you explain to anybody watching that why you said some of the things that you've said, which you yourself have admitted are not true?
SANTOS: Erin, you know what would be great? And I'm not deflecting but I'm just going to call you out here and CNN. Have you brought Joe Biden on the network and spoken about all the things he said across the last 46 years? Because I haven't seen it. Joe Biden was top of his graduating class --
BURNETT: Congressman Santos, this interview is between you and me, and it is about you.
SANTOS: I understand but -- I understand. But we started off on impeachment. That was the preface of this interview. So I'm really going to go back. Are you bringing Joe Biden on? So when you bring Joe Biden on --
BURNETT: Okay, it's completely irrelevant to the conversation. And to be very clear -- to be very clear, you and I spoke this afternoon, and I said we would begin with impeachment and talk about many other things about you. You were well aware of that. So it would be unfair to claim anything otherwise.
SANTOS: Sure. Look -- I'll continue to say when CNN starts pressing Blumenthal, Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden, I'll continue to talk to you guys.
But for now, no, I'm not -- I'm not answering these questions to you.
BURNETT: All right.
SANTOS: I've done them extensively throughout many interviews and people can see it elsewhere.
BURNETT: All right. All right. Well, thank you very much. I appreciate your time, Congressman.
SANTOS: You have a great one. Thank you.
BURNETT: All right. And next, another lawsuit to keep Trump off the state ballot, this time because a group of voters claim Trump engaged in an insurrection or rebellion. But do they have a case?
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [19:52:49]
BURNETT: Tonight, Fulton County D.A. Fani Willis facing a deadline to explain how she can logistically try all 19 defendants in the Georgia election case together, including former President Trump and do it next month. Right, so we're talking just a few weeks here.
The D.A. has requested to start the trial on October 23rd, which is just 41 days from now. The judge has already voiced skepticism telling prosecutors this is his first televised hearing last week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUDGE SCOTT MCAFEE, FULTON COUNTY SUPERIOR COURT: It just seems unrealistic we can handle all 19 in 40-something day. It can be easily twice that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, Ryan Goodman, the co-editor-in-chief of "Just Security" and, of course, former special counsel at the Defense Department.
So, Ryan, do you think Fani Willis will be able to convince the judge to do this, to try 19 defendants all together starting next month? And I believe she said there would be at least 150 witnesses as well.
RYAN GOODMAN, JUST SECURITY CO-EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: That's right. I think it's inconceivable that she'll convince him. But in any case, it could be an uphill battle if she wanted to convince the judge she wanted to have a trial of all 19 together at a much later point in time, but the idea that the judge would force 17 individuals who have not said they want a speedy trial to all come together by October 23rd and then deal with all of their motions before October 23rd as he strongly indicated, I don't think that's in the cards. I think that brief she files will have to include what a plan B or plan C looks like.
BURNETT: And what do you think those look like? I mean, is this -- I mean, in terms of all the setting, how far down the road does this get pushed?
GOODMAN: So it's a great question. I do think we're looking at an October 23rd start date of course for the two individuals who asked for a speedy trial, Kenneth Chesebro and Sidney Powell.
A big question for me is whether or not there'll be others in that dock at that time. So will the judge agree with Fani Willis, the D.A., to put some of the people whose cases are similar in kind to Kenneth Chesebro like John Eastman who's another private attorney working on behalf of Donald Trump or the other individuals who are alleged to have accessed voter data information from voting machines in a particular county in Georgia, Coffee County, along with Sidney Powell.
So, there could be one clump, or one basket, October 23rd and I think a second basket months from now and maybe even a third from individuals trying to get into federal court. He might reserve them for a much later date.
BURNETT: Right, and, of course them may include the former president himself, right, trying to get into federal court. Also includes for sure we know mark meadows. His request to move his case to federal court. And a judge on Friday rejected that request, but it may not be over. The 11th circuit court of appeals has this.
You have noticed an order from the appeals court today. What did you see? What does it mean?
GOODMAN: So, I do think it's a long road ahead potentially for the Mark Meadows litigation. There's no strong indication the 11th Circuit will uphold the district court decision and maybe the Supreme Court as you indicated in your question could also decide on his favor.
Today, they asked for an additional briefing on a peculiar legal question that I don't think is going to give any support to the D.A., which is does this law really apply to former official. It does. I think she's going to tell them it does. So, that's not an out for the court.
BURNETT: All right. Ryan, thank you. See you soon.
GOODMAN: Thank you.
BURNETT: And next, Apple making a major change tonight. Are you serious? It means all the old iPhone cables are no longer going to work? We'll explain.
BURNETT: Tonight, iPhone mania. Apple announcing the iPhone 15 -- 15 during its highly anticipated keynote event. The ubiquitous smartphone getting some major updates. It got a new design, better camera.
Another big change is saying good-bye to the chargers that you've been using. The new iPhones will use a USB-c, and that will allow you to charge an iPhone or laptop with the same cord but it does mean the iPhone ones have to be replaced.
Well, attendees at today's event obviously wanted to check it all out. You would have think they'd never seen an iPhone before when we saw some of the behavior there. But, of course, it'll be hot demand everywhere, but in the Chinese government, where it's been banned.
Thank you so much for joining us.
"AC360" starts now.