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Erin Burnett Outfront
Israel Pounds Gaza, Hamas Fires Rockets After Truce Ends; Santos Expelled From Congress: "To Hell With This Place"; Johnson Wrote Preface For Book With Disinformation, Homophobic Insults; Judge Denies Trump's Attempt To Dismiss Federal January 6 Case. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired December 01, 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:
New bombings and rocket fire in Gaza tonight, casualties mounting as questions grow over whether Israel's prime minister knew that Hamas had an attack plan a year ago. I'll ask his senior adviser.
Plus, to hell this place, the parting quote of George Santos. His office already -- locks already changed. His name above the office gone. So, now, what happens to his seat?
An exclusive new report this hour, House Speaker Mike Johnson promoting a book full of baseless conspiracy theories and homophobic insults. Some directed directly at Pete Buttigieg. And Pete Buttigieg is OUTFRONT to respond.
Let's go OUTFRONT.
And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.
OUTFRONT tonight, the war is on. Israel bombarding Gaza again, and Hamas once again firing rockets, now deep into Israel. Our team in Sderot, Israel, hearing the rocket fire from northern Gaza. This is the aftermath you're looking at now of Israeli strikes in Khan Younis.
Both sides blaming the other for ending the pause in the fighting. The reality tonight, though, is this -- more people are dying, the onslaught of war is continuing, and 136 people are still being held hostage by Hamas. That includes women and children, 17 of them, according to the IDF.
And tonight, we know that the October 7th attack in which these people were captured, and another 1,200, almost all of them civilians, were killed, was known to Israel for more than a year. According to "The New York Times", Israel was aware more than a year before the attack of Hamas's plans. "The Times" reporting Israel had Hamas's blueprint in its hands. Read it, looked at it, discussed it, but dismissed it as aspirational.
Tragically, that blueprint was shockingly close to reality, even including details about these paragliders, who would begin the assault.
Now, I'm going to be speaking with the senior adviser to the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, in just a moment. You'll want to hear his answer to whether Netanyahu saw the blueprint.
But, first, I want to go to Oren Liebermann in Tel Aviv.
And, Oren, obviously, fighting once again resuming, and now strikes further south in Gaza. What is the latest there?
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Erin, any hopes of extending this pause for another 24 or 48 hours were dashed early this morning, when the fighting between Israel and Hamas resumed with the same intensity, the same force, and the same often horrific results as we saw before the truce just eight days ago, that now feels like a lifetime ago.
We have to warn you, some of the images you're about to see are quite graphic.
LIEBERMANN (voice-over): A cruel dawn, after the seventh day of rest. War once again, in all its brutal intensity, as the pause in fighting ended early Friday morning. Israel carried out punishing strikes in southern Gaza, after previously telling Palestinians to evacuate their. Injured children want rushed to the hospital following attacks in Khan Younis and Rafah. Israel said it carried out more than 200 strikes against what it called, Hamas terror targets. The results have been devastating.
JAMES ELDER, UNICEF SPOKESPERSON: This is the biggest ill-functioning hospital in Gaza. It's a 200 percent capacity. Yes. This is a hospital. The whole system here is overwhelmed. This hospital, simply cannot take more children with the wounds of war.
LIEBERMANN: Trucks with humanitarian aid waited outside the Rafah crossing, unable to enter now the fighting has resumed. Israel dropped leaflets across parts of Southern Gaza, warning residents that this is an active war zone. A QR code led to a map of Gaza split into tiny parcels, a wave warning Palestinians to evacuate specific areas.
But Gazans needed electricity and Internet connection to view it, which has been cut off at times.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): They said if these leaflets saying we have to go in Rafah, why should we go to Rafah? What is there? Is Rafah safe? There's more shelling in Rafah than in Khan Younis these days.
LIEBERMANN: Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who met with Israeli and Palestinian leaders on Thursday, said Israel was taking concrete steps to protect civilians in Gaza. The U.S. made it clear the next phase of the war cannot look like the first phase, in which nearly 15,000 Palestinians were killed, according to the Hamas-controlled health authorities in Gaza. ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: That is absolutely imperative, and
we saw Israel take steps immediately today to start to get information of people about where safe areas are, how they can -- how they can get out of harm's way.
LIEBERMANN: The war coming to Israel as well, with sustained rocket fire from northern Gaza, where most of Israel's forces are located. And after more than a week of quiet skies over central Israel, barrages of rocket fire intercepted by Iron Dome.
In the north, Apache gunship on the move, as the IDF carried out retaliatory strikes against Hezbollah targets in Lebanon following rockets launched in northern Israel. This after a seven-day respite in the war, it has returned in full force.
LIEBERMANN (on camera): Despite the restart of fighting here, negotiations are ongoing to try and get back to a truce, a resumption of humanitarian aid going in as well, and release of hostages. But that wasn't able to make enough progress, quickly enough, to prevent the fighting that we have now seen, and in all likelihood, we'll see again.
In the meantime, "The New York Times" article, and other articles like that that we've seen over the course of the past several days, raising serious questions about what Israel knew in advance, and why it didn't act.
Israel's chief of staff of military says those questions will come and be answered after the war. But right now, Erin, that seems a long way off.
BURNETT: It certainly does. Thank you very much, Oren, in Tel Aviv.
OUTFRONT now, Mark Regev, the senior adviser to the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.
And, Mark, I appreciate your time.
So, according to "The New York Times", Israel obtained Hamas's battle plan for October 7th more than a year in advance. And I have seen some of the documents myself, the ones I saw were dated October 2022.
"The Times" points out that Hamas documents that they saw are shockingly close to reality. They call for a barrage of rockets at the outset of the attack, Hamas did that. They called for breaking through the wall, Hamas did that. They called for entering the, via paraglider, Hamas did that. They called for entering the motorcycle, Hamas did that.
Mark, do you know why this document was dismissed? MARK REGEV, SENIOR ADVISER TO ISRAEL PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: Well,
it is clear there was amazing mishap, a failure. There is no excuses for it. And we have to look into this. We paid for our mistakes on October 7th in blood, in the blood of over 1,200 Israelis who were -- who were murdered, and another 240 that were kidnapped and taken to Gaza. So we have to take this very seriously. We can't accept such a failure.
We pride ourselves, as Israelis, for having excellent intelligence services. And in this case, maybe the information there, it wasn't understood, it did not go up the chain like it should've. We have to investigate that. We have to find out exactly what happened.
You know, 50 years ago, Erin, there was a similar colossal intelligence failure, when we are attacked in 1973, in the Yom Kippur War, from the south by Egypt, from the north by Syria. And we were then taken by surprise. We had -- after that, we had a commission of inquiry, and lessons were learned.
And it was an important process for Israel. We will probably do the same thing now, I'm sure. When this roar is over, we have to look very carefully at what happened, where was the information, why was it not understood, who is responsible?
BURNETT: So, in July, a veteran intelligence, I'm sorry, a veteran intelligence analyst said Hamas had conducted a intense day-long training exercise. And the analyst said this appears similar to what was outlined in the blueprint. Now, the analysts we understand works for Unit 8200, which is Israel signals intelligence agency, went ahead and warned higher-ups.
And according to encrypted emails reviewed by "The New York Times", two things then happened. One, Mark, is that a colonel in the Gaza division brushed off the concerns, and two, is that veteran analysts commented, and I quote, I utterly refute that the scenario is imaginary. You can, you know, almost hear the frustration in the words that analysts chose to use.
Mark, I am curious as to what you think as to why there was such disbelief. When Israel at that point had the battle plans, and then visual proof of the plains being practiced, why was there still such disbelief?
REGEV: So, all of these questions need to be looked at seriously, and professionally, and objectively. And we'll do that. It's our obligation.
I mean, ultimately, Israel will continue to live in a -- in a challenging neighborhood. Somebody even say a dangerous neighborhood. And therefore, it is our obligation, that our intelligence services have to be good. And if there are failures, we have to understand where the failures happen, and why they happen.
BURNETT: So was the Prime Minister Netanyahu aware of the Hamas document?
REGEV: I'm not aware that he was -- I don't know that he was aware.
He's said, like everyone else, that when the investigations after this on exactly what happened, he'll, of course, be there to answer questions, and tell exactly what he was given, and what he wasn't given.
BURNETT: But at this point, you and he haven't even had a conversation as to whether he was aware of these documents that "The New York Times" is reporting about?
REGEV: Not this -- not this specific document, but we have -- we have had conversations on this general level. But once again, these discussions, we need to discuss at the right time. And the right time will be after this war.
At the moment, I think all of Israel is focused on winning this war. We have to win this war against Hamas, so that October 7th can never happen again.
BURNETT: All right. Mark Regev, thank you very much. I appreciate your time tonight sir.
REGEV: Thank you for having me.
BURNETT: OUTFRONT next, George Santos expelled. The sign above his office door gone, the locks changed, and now, Democrats have a real shot to win that seat.
Plus, our KFILE with exclusive new reporting on House Speaker Mike Johnson. He wrote the foreword for a book, that among other things, mocks Secretary Pete Buttigieg for being obnoxiously gay. Buttigieg is OUTFRONT to respond.
And, is he Trump's new secret weapon in Georgia? We are hearing from Trump's high-profile lawyer for the first time in court today, one who's represented rappers, and has even been rapped about.
BURNETT: Tonight, quote, two hell with this place. Republican Congressman George Santos today making a dramatic exit from Congress, after being expelled for ethics investigations. The sign in front of his office, already taking down. The locks on the door already changed.
A hundred five Republicans voted to oust Santos. Notably, Speaker Mike Johnson, and all the Republican leadership in the House voted to save him. So, the mass Republicans defied their leadership.
Miguel Marquez is OUTFRONT with reaction from Santos's district in New York.
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ex- Congressman George Santos leaving Congress, intense to the very end. Moments before his chaotic exit, CNN Capitol Hill reporter Annie Grayer spoke to Santos as he watched the vote turn against him, and his congressional career come to an abrupt end.
FORMER REP. GEORGE SANTOS (R-NY): It's over. But, what reaction? The House voted, that's their vote. Sure. They just set a new dangerous precedent for themselves.
Why would I want to stay here? To hell with this place.
MARQUEZ: GOP House Speaker Mike Johnson and the entire Republican House leadership voted to keep him in power. But, in his Long Island, New York district -- relief.
George Santos has been expelled today. What was your reaction to that?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That was my reaction.
SANTOS: We made it here.
MARQUEZ: The allegation snowballing since he was elected in 2022, Santos's resume, and life story came under glaring scrutiny.
He claims he was Jewish, that his mother was in the Twin Towers during the 9/11 terror attack, where he went to school, what sports he played, that he worked in finance for well-known banks, and that his grandparents fled the Holocaust. All of it -- lies.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My ancestors perished in the Holocaust. So, he did a horrible thing by lying about that.
MARQUEZ: In addition to his largely fictitious resume, the House Ethics Committee found Santos spent thousands of donor dollars on personal expenses, including shopping at high-end designer stores, Ferragamo and Hermes, paying for rent, for Botox treatments, and subscribing to the largely pornographic website OnlyFans.
Santos wearing Ferragamo shoes when he left federal court in October, after pleading not guilty to new charges, totaling 23 counts of fraud and money laundering.
Today, he departed the capitol in a Jaguar SUV.
MARVIN APPEL, VOTER, NEW YORK'S 3RD CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT: I i can't say I'm happy, because it's sad that it has come to this. But I'm glad, I think Congress made the right decision.
MARQUEZ: Robert Zimmerman lost to George Santos in 2022.
ROBERT ZIMMERMAN (D), FORMER CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: This is not a time to celebrate for me. It's a time of reflection about how we move forward. There were a lot of lessons to be learned.
MARQUEZ: For those who voted for Santos, and even some who didn't, they fear Congress has gone too far.
VINCE LENTINI, VOTED FOR GEORGE SANTOS: Shocked because to me, the Republicans caved. They even hurt themselves. We're expelling him before he has a chance to have a jury of his peers decide whether his conduct was criminal.
MARQUEZ (on camera): So what's next for the third district of New York? Well, the governor will set a date for a special election. The state parties will decide who runs in that election, and then no matter who is elected to represent this area of New York, they will do it all over again next year in November 2024 -- Erin.
BURNETT: Miguel, thank you.
And so, let's go to Van Jones, special adviser to President Obama, and CNN political commentator.
So, Van, the GOP now has a three-vote margin, because they just lost Santos. His seat is a seat that Republicans had flipped in 2022, and they voted for Biden, right? They voted for Biden. So, this is a big opportunity, right?
How big of an opening is this for Democrats?
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I mean, it's a chance to pick up a seat, and the margin is so thin that it makes it, you know, it's a good thing. I will say that booting somebody out of Congress over being a weirdo, it's stealing money for OnlyFans and Botox, I mean, I do understand the people who say, are you setting a precedent here where it's going to be easier to throw people out for just being, I don't know, weirdoes. And these -- and not people who are engaged in massive corruption like some of the Abscam folks.
So I do worry about the precedent being set here, but it's good for Democrats, because we get a chance to squeeze Republicans a little bit more.
BURNETT: All right. So, interesting to this point about precedent. No one in Republican leadership voted to oust Santos, and perhaps, you know, what you're articulating is a big part of the reason why, right? Speaker Mike Johnson didn't vote to expel him.
There is even talk, Van, this morning, that Santos might survive because the pressure from GOP leadership, right? We heard Elise Stefanik was going to vote not to expel.
And so, there was this thing that maybe the GOP rank and file would get behind their leadership. But they didn't. Not only did they not get behind their leadership, Santos was expelled by a wider margin than anyone expected.
So what does that tell you, Van? A hundred and five Republicans voted against their leadership on this.
JONES: Well, it means leadership doesn't get to lead much these days and there's a reason for that. Santos was sucking up a lot of oxygen. It wasn't the money that he stole, it was the time and attention he was stealing from all the other Republicans that made it necessary for him to go from the point of view from the rank and filers. In the old days, leadership to control you because they had money, they could control the purse strings. Leadership can't do anything except keep bunnies in the barn, and that's about it.
But what the real currency now is time and attention. And Santos is sucking up all the time and attention. So, from that point of view, it's rational for the rank and file to throw out. But like I said, tomorrow, when they throw someone else, you might look back.
BURNETT: And what, you know, you taken over on the Senate side what about Senator Menendez? You know, someone accused of taking money from a foreign government, and being getting classified briefings about that government. I mean, that's a -- that's an extreme level of seriousness. That's now you have to look at and say, if this, then that?
JONES: That's what I'm saying. This is Botox and OnlyFans. Meanwhile, we have a pretty mounts massive amounts of obvious corruption.
I just like it when the courts got a chance to say someone's guilty or innocent, and then Congress moves. I don't like it when Congress moves ahead of the courts, because that, well then, who gets to decide? If somebody's been found guilty in a court of law, that is a very firm basis for Congress to act.
JONES: This other stuff, I just think people just are tired of the circus of Santos. But just being a circus master or a clown is not usually basis to get thrown out of Congress. 11,000 people have served in Congress, only six have been thrown out. I can't imagine that this rises to that level of Abscam.
BURNETT: All right. Van, thank you very much.
JONES: Thank you.
BURNETT: All right. And next exclusive new reporting from KFILE on the House Speaker Mike Johnson, and how he promoted and wrote a foreword for a book that includes numerous homophobic slurs and insults, with several directed at Pete Buttigieg. The transportation secretary joins me next to respond.
And another mega company pulls ads from X, after Elon Musk dared companies to go ahead and do exactly that, telling them to go F themselves.
BURNETT: New tonight, baseless conspiracy theories, homophobic insults, those are just some of the things in a book that our KFILE discovered House Speaker Mike Johnson wrote the foreword to last year. The book is called "The Revivalist Manifesto", and written by a man name Scott McKay who is a political blogger in Johnson's home state of Louisiana. And one of the top targets in the book is Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.
McKay writing in part, quote, Buttigieg is a rather queer choice for transportation secretary. Not just because he's a member of the LGBTQ community and obnoxiously so. Buttigieg ran for president in 2020, not on the strength of his accomplishments, in which there were none.
Speaker Johnson embraced the content of the book in his foreword. Writing in part, quote, Scott McKay presents a valuable and timely contribution with the "Revivalist Manifesto" because he's managed to articulate well what millions of conscientious, freedom-loving Americans are sensing.
Now, Secretary Buttigieg will be my guest in just a moment, but first, Andrew Kaczynski of KFILE is OUTFRONT.
So, Andrew, this is far from the only time in this book that you see McKay disparage Secretary Buttigieg and his sexual orientation. In fact, he'll be saying something, and then his sexual orientation just comes in here, right, using the word queer the way he did, obnoxiously so. And even then, that is just a small part of this book.
ANDREW KACZYNSKI, CNN KFILE SENIOR EDITOR: Yeah, and right. And Mike Johnson not only wrote the introduction to this book, he championed it, passionately on his podcast. He said, I would not have written that introduction if I didn't agree with it. He wholeheartedly endorsed it.
And that part about Pete Buttigieg is far from the only homeless homophobic section of the book. I want people to look at this section, in which she writes about Buttigieg again, and he says, Buttigieg ran on the fact that he is openly, and obnoxiously gay. It says that he had, quote, an interesting brew of queer sanctimony that attracted Democratic voters. And outside of these --
BURNETT: Queer sanctimony?
KACZYNSKI: Queer sanctimony, I don't know what that means.
BURNETT: I don't know what that means, okay.
KACZYNSKI: I don't know what openly, obnoxiously means either. But either way, the book also promotes some pretty farfetched conspiracy theories like the pizzagate conspiracy theory, which claims that Democrats were running a child sex trafficking ring, because John Podesta, who is a Clinton campaign chairman hacked emails had the word pizza and hot dog in them. They claim that this was code for child sex trafficking of some kind.
Even the author claimed that some myths of this were debunked, but he said the code thing specifically wasn't.
There is this part about John Roberts, the chief justice of the Supreme Court, where he basically shares a hoax that he is connected to Jeffrey Epstein, and says that he could be being blackmailed over it. So those are just a few things that were endorsed by the person who is second in line for the president.
BURNETT: Second in line for presidency. And as you say, it was not just a blurb as they call it, saying my, hey, my friend wrote this book, it was the introduction to the book. It was interviews after. It was a lot of detail.
KACZYNSKI: On social media, he told people to buy it as well.
BURNETT: Right. So, I mean, he really promoted it. What did he have to say about all of this? And about the introduction that he wrote? When you reached out to him and he said you have all this reporting.
KACZYNSKI: So, we reached out to his office, we initially didn't hear back before we published our story. But a few hours after our story published, his office reached out to us. They told us they were going to comment. And they said to us, quote, the speaker had never read the passages highlighted in the CNN story, which he strongly disagrees with. He wrote the foreword as a favor to a friend, he supportive of the general theme of the book, but not as an endorsement of all the opinions expressed.
So, that's what they told us yesterday, or today. Listen to what he said in 2022, when he was promoting the book on his podcast.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
REP. MIKE JOHNSON (R-LA): I obviously believe in the product, or I wouldn't have written the foreword. So I endorse the work. I think it's important, because this is a very, very important conversation we need to be having right now. I think it really could make some waves, and it's beginning to do that.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BURNETTT: Well, that part is true.
KACZYNSKI: So, he endorsed it, endorsed it then, told people to buy it, says, now says he didn't read it.
BURNETT: It's incredible.
All right. Thank you so much for sharing all of that reporting Andrew.
And OUTFRONT now, the secretary of transportation, Pete Buttigieg.
Now, Secretary, the author of this book, Scott McKay, who Speaker Johnson is called a dear friend, he writes something else I want to read to you. In part he says, nobody in the administration knows anything about how transportation and logistics work. Something else that was made unmistakably obvious when the supply chain disintegrated in the summer on gay Mayor Pete Buttigieg's watch.
Okay, what do you think this obsession is over you and your sexual orientation?
PETE BUTTIGIEG, U.S. TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: It seems like they just can't think of anything else, right? There's no discussion of what we actually did. I'd be happy to spend all day talking about how in that very same season, when they said Christmas was going to be canceled because of supply chain problems, we wound up having an all-time record high, in terms of goods moving through our ports.
But in the meantime, you have somebody who has taken seriously by none other than the speaker of the House of the United States, basically suggesting that the reason we had supply chain problems in the rebound from COVID wasn't because of the factories in China shutting down, and sending the ships here all at once. It was because the secretary of transportation is married to a guy, and not to a woman. They just can't seem to let go of this.
BURNETT: So the speaker, Mike Johnson, wrote the foreword for the book, as you know. And in the foreword he says, Buttigieg is a rather queer choice for transportation secretary. Not just because he's a member of the LGBTQ community, and obnoxiously so. Okay? He says that.
Then he writes about your 2020 campaign, Buttigieg ran on the fact that he is openly and obnoxiously gay. The central precept of his campaign being that Christians objecting to his lifestyle were bad at religion, while he is not.
All right. That's -- that's -- that's in the book. And in his foreword to this, Mike Johnson calls the book, and I quote, a valuable, and timely contribution.
What's your reaction even to that?
BUTTIGIEG: Where do you even -- where you even start with this, right? It's 2023. I guess 2022 when the book came out. We're still talking about people this way based on who they are, and who they love? America, most of America at least has moved on from this kind of thing.
And what's obnoxious is the idea that you can be coming back to race, or sexuality, as this author does constantly. You know, not just way talks about me but the way he talks about cabinet colleagues of mine, all kinds of things, that mostly seemed to come back to an obsession with identity. With either who you are married to, or what your race is, and very little, certainly very little of use about how to make this country a better place.
BURNETT: So, Andrew Kaczynski, you just heard him play what Speaker Johnson said last year about the book, obviously glowing phrase, including he said that he wrote the foreword because he believed in the product, and he endorsed the work. He said, quote, I love the book.
All right, today, though, in light of all of these things, in these things that we are reading to you, KFILE calls his spokesperson for the Speaker Johnson, and that person says, quote, the speaker had never read the passages highlighted in the CNN story, which he strongly disagrees with. He wrote the foreword as a favor to a friend, supportive of the general theme of the book, but not as an endorsement of all the opinions expressed. What do you say to that? Saying that he never saw these phrases I just read to you?
BUTTIGIEG: Pretty hard to believe. I mean, look, I have often been called to write a blurb for a book. He didn't just do that.
He did just put a quote on the back of it. He wrote a foreword that is in the book, then had this guy on his podcast, and then went out of his way to say things associating himself book with the author, and with the book. So, that just doesn't pass the smell test.
BURNETT: And also, what is it here is not inconsistent with things that Johnson himself had said publicly, right? It's not the first time, far from that, that he is promoted anti-LGBTQ views. He's done it for decades, as KFILED discovered. Just listen to this, Secretary.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNSON: It's time for an honest conversation about homosexuality. There is freedom to change if you want to. Homosexual behavior is something that you do. It's not something that you are.
One in four high school students identify as something other than straight. We're losing the country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So, those are all things he said. He wrote, as you know, 2004, multiple editorials against same sex marriage, including one, Secretary, where he says experts project that homosexual marriage is the dark harbinger of chaos and sexual anarchy that could doom even the strongest republic. He talks about it a lot.
BUTTIGIEG: He seems fixated on it. And it's really troubling for millions of Americans, including me and my husband. And you know, this is, again, not just some fringe, radical member of Congress, although I'd argue these positions are certainly radical. He is the speaker of the House. And he is second in line for the American presidency.
BURNETT: Well, I mean, it is pretty incredible to see some of this and to see those editorials. And while I think it's important that you come out and speak about it, I, of course, share what -- you didn't say but perhaps you feel it's incredibly frustrating that you even have to be doing some at this time.
Thank you very much. I appreciate it.
BUTTIGIEG: Thanks for having me on.
BURNETT: And next, major court ruling against Trump, cutting at the heart of his defense. Why he's about to face a slew of new lawsuits, and the Palestinian student shot in the spine in Vermont as he was walking down the street right now still in the hospital. Will he be able to walk again?
His uncle just back from spending the day with him in the hospital is OUTFRONT tonight.
BURNETT: All right. We just have some breaking news in. A federal judge in Washington, just a moment ago, denying Trump's attempt to dismiss his federal election interference case, doing so on the basis of presidential immunity. It is a major defeat for Trump. This is a criminal case in Washington. Judge Chutkan making that rule.
It comes after a similar press federal appeals ruling earlier today that Trump cannot claim presidential immunity in civil lawsuits related to the January 6th attack. So, much more on this, I said this breaking development in just a moment. It comes as Georgia, Trump's newest lawyer, Steve Sadow, that you see right there, speaking today for the first time at Trump's Georgia election subversion hearing, and in a surprise move arguing that there should be no trial until 2029 in that case.
Sadow has a reputation for being a secret weapon of the elite, representing Usher, and rappers like TI and Rick Ross. Ross even rapping about the lawyer.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
RICK ROSS, RAPPER (rapping): I'm out on bond so I gotta beat it. Half a million to my lawyer cause he undefeated Sadow.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BURNETT: Tom Foreman is OUTFRONT.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Former President Trump should not even be facing charges for questioning his election laws in Georgia. That was Trump lawyer Steve Sadow's claim in court, where he said just look at the state's case.
STEVEN SADOW, TRUMP ATTORNEY: We find that it violates free speech, freedom of petitioning, all of the expressions of the First Amendment is designed to protect. And therefore, the indictment needs to be dismissed.
FOREMAN: Attorneys for others accused of trying to overturn the Georgia vote echoed that argument. And effectively said no one has been charged for something like this before. The prosecution's quick reply?
PROSECUTOR: This is the first time someone has, a criminal enterprise has gone together and try to overturn the results of an election.
ROSS: Indictment on the way, got Sadow on the case.
FOREMAN: So who is Trump's attorney mentioned in this rap video?
Sadow is in Atlanta order lawyer with a national reputation for arranging plea bargains on some big racketeering cases, and helping high-end clients and other matters, including rappers Rick Ross and Tip T.I. Harris.
T.I. HARRIS, RAPPER: Probably the best criminal defense attorney of his time.
FOREMAN: On Harris's podcast, Sadow spoke of his skepticism when it comes to police and prosecutors.
SADOW: We know a lot about abuse of authority. I mean, it always will continue, it's a question of what technique is used.
JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: My impression was something bag is about to happen.
FOREMAN: In 2017, when former FBI Director James Comey testified about being fired by Trump in the heat of the Russia probe, Sadow tweeted, I am not a Trump supporter. But he called Comey, self righteous, and a CYA showboat.
Now, he's representing the former president in Georgia, where some Trump allies --
REPORTER: M r. Chesebro --
FOREMAN: -- like Kenneth Chesebro, have taken a plea deal. Chesebro's lawyer knows Sadow, and says he is the right attorney to juggle the unique demands of this case.
SCOTT GRUBMAN, KENNETH CHESEBRO'S DEFENSE ATTORNEY: What we always want to tell our clients is don't say anything, be quiet, let me do all of the talking. That is advice any criminal defense lawyer would give their client. He can't do that in a case like this. The man is running for president.
FOREMAN: So, in court, Sadow is plowing ahead, suggesting the whole case if it proceeds next year, will interfere with the election.
SADOW: Can you imagine the notion of a Republican nominee for president not being able to campaign for the presidency because he is in some form or fashion, in a courtroom defending himself?
FOREMAN (on camera): He alluded to it earlier, Erin, perhaps it is no surprise. When the judge says what happens if Donald Trump wins the next election? Sadow's response, well, I'm pretty sure the law won't let him be tried until he is done with the presidency -- Erin.
BURNETT: That would be 2029.
All right. Thank you very much, Tom Foreman.
OUTFRONT now, Ryan Goodman, our legal analyst.
So, Ryan, let's just start there. People have called Sadow a genius. He argued and won the largest RICO case in Georgia history, really well-known in Georgia.
And he knows RICO. And that's what this is about. This is I guess, a now is the largest RICO case, and that's we know of.
So, any indication in court today of his strategy in that case?
RYAN GOODMAN, FORMER SPECIAL COUNSEL AT DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE: I thought he equipped himself very well. And he was formidable. And history outages I think is delay, delay, delay. It's Trump's strongest card.
And what he had to do today is make a procedural argument that would allow the judge to reconsider the judge's prior rulings to allow them to entertain a First Amendment claim before the trial even begins. That's what he wanted, it would create a huge delay.
And that's an uphill battle to get the judge to kind of reverse himself from his prior rulings. He may have actually managed to do that. The judge seriously took into account his arguments, and it might result in delay, delay. I don't think they'll win the First Amendment argument, that is not the point. Delay is the point.
BURNETT: But you thought that, you're basically saying, you know, if he's successful here, 2029 is when this would come. And that's hugely significant because the Georgia case is one where you can't pardon a sitting president, so even if the president -- even if he could pardon himself, it wouldn't work there, right? I mean, the Georgia one is specifically very crucial.
GOODMAN: That's right. He can't pardon himself, and he can't pardon his codefendants, and he can't squash the case if it was the Justice Department running the prosecution. What Sadow says is no, there's a supremacy clause argument, and the Constitution would say don't get to prosecute the sitting president.
Once again, that is a strong argument. There is a very strong argument that the U.S. Supreme Court will side with him, and say, a president is immune while they're in office.
BURNETT: All right, that obviously is crucial.
Now, just moments ago, as you are walking to sit down, Judge Tanya Chutkan rules against Trump's motion to dismiss, using the argument of presidential immunity for January 6. That, you know, obviously happening right now.
Can you -- can you put it into context, even in a minute since it happened?
GOODMAN: It's actually very interesting in the sense that it dovetails what his argument was today. He said after president prosecuted, well that's this case. So can jacks mitt prosecute president Trump, or does he have immunity for the actions that he took while he was president? The answer is, you can prosecute somebody.
And there's one important line in there, in her opinion. She says defendant Trump's four-year service as commander-in-chief did not bestow on him the divine right of kings to evade the criminal accountability that governs his fellow citizens.
It is a very huge opinion in this case because it means that Jack Smith can go forward, unless she is overturned by the court of appeals. But that shouldn't be happening.
BURNETT: All right. All right. Thank you very much, Ryan, and that development from Judge Chutkan happening just a few moments ago here as Ryan sat down.
Next, we have an update on the Palestinian student shot in the spine, while he was just walking down the street with his friends. His uncle, who just came out of the hospital from seeing him today, is next.
And Walmart, becoming the latest advertiser to pull money from X. The largest private employer in the United States pulling off Twitter just days after Elon Musk had this message.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELON MUSK, TECH BILLIONAIRE: Go (EXPLETIVE DELETED) yourself. Is that clear?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Tonight, one of the Palestinian students who was shot alongside two of his friends in Vermont is speaking out for the first time to CNN. Tahseen Ali Ahmad said in a statement, quote: The attacker who targeted us didn't see us as human beings. Tahseen was shot in the chest and is still in the hospital, so is his lifelong friend, Hisham Awartani who suffered a serious spinal injury. And OUTFRONT now is Rich Price, Hisham's uncle. Hisham and his friends were staying over Rich's home over the Thanksgiving holiday. They were out for a walk when this horrific, horrific shooting happened.
And, Rich, thank you for being on with us.
I know you had a chance to spend the day with your nephew in the hospital. How is he?
RICH PRICE, UNCLE OF HISHAM AWARTANI, PALESTINIAN STUDENT SHOT: Well, Erin, thank you again for a chance to talk to you about Tahseen. He is incredible. I mean, every single day, every single day, I am just, blown away by what kind of young man he is.
His concern, right from the start has been for his friends first of all, his two friends who were injured. His parents who are so far away, and for, you know, now that he has learned that bombing has resumed in Gaza, his concern is for those who are suffering under that siege.
BURNETT: Look, I know it is incredible that he is able to have that focus I do that. I mean, I know he hasn't -- at least as we understand, been able to move his legs. I know doctors have raised real concerns about walking in the future. Look, you have not had a lot of time. This is going to be a long process, I know Rich, of recovery.
But has that prognosis changed or improved at all at this point?
PRICE: No, it is still very much the same. He is currently paralyzed from the chest down.
Next week, he will be moved to a rehabilitation center, where he will begin the work that is to come. And we know that part of it is medical, a therapy component. But there is also really important mindsets and spirit component law. And, you know, from what I know of Hisham, and from what he's demonstrated this week, he's meeting this challenge head-on.
I mean, I spoke to a doctor today who said he's seen a lot of people suffer really devastating injuries like this, and it is rare to see someone who is as engaged, who is asking the doctors questions, who is sort of already put himself in the frame of mind to overcome this ordeal.
BURNETT: He sounds extraordinary.
You know, Rich, we've learned that there was an ex0girlfriend of the shooting suspect, that at one point, she called police to remove a shotgun that he had left in her home. She told police at the time she was too afraid to return the weapon herself, to actually go, you know, give it to him.
What is your reaction to this new information, and what it might say about the man, the suspect who did this?
PRICE: Well, with all due respect, there's not much more that I need to know about this guy to know that he's -- he's not a good guy. And it's my hope, and my expectation that the full weight of the law is going to come down upon him.
BURNETT: Are you frustrated at this point there hasn't been an update on whether this is a hate crime or not?
PRICE: Let's not really, Erin. We understand that there is a legal threshold, certain specific evidence that they need to obtain to transition to that designation. And you know, whether that comes or not, we're confident that they're going to carry on, and, as we said, we want the full weight of the law to calm down on him, however that is.
BURNETT: Rich, I appreciate your time. Our thoughts are with Hisham, an extraordinary young man he clearly is. Thank you.
PRICE: Thank you, Erin.
BURNETT: And next, Elon Musk told X advertisers to go F themselves. He said it loud, clear, repeatedly. And tonight, Walmart repeating a similar message with different words to Musk.
BURNETT: And finally tonight, Walmart is checking out of X. America's largest retailer, largest private employer is announcing it's no longer advertising on the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. The latest company to do so, in fact, after X's owner, Elon Musk, publicly embraced an antisemitic conspiracy theory.
The move follows other companies that paused advertising on X, including Disney, Paramount, Warner Bros. Discovery, which, of course, is the parent company of this network, and a principal analyst at Insider Intelligence offering a warning about the future of Twitter, well, now X, saying, quote, if anyone is killing X, it's Elon Musk. Not advertisers.
Of course, we should keep in mind, Elon Musk net worth has gone up this year, not down, despite the travails of Twitter.
Earlier, during my interview, one last point here with Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, I attributed a quote about Buttigieg to Speaker Mike Johnson. That quote was from a book that Speaker Mike Johnson endorsed, and wrote the foreword to.
Thanks so much for joining us. We appreciate your time.
"AC360" starts now.