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Erin Burnett Outfront

Israel Invades Southern Gaza In Hunt For Hamas; CNN Gaza Journalist's Relatives Killed, Childhood Home Destroyed; Police: 16- Year-Old's ISIS-Inspired Terror Plot Foiled; Trump Attacks Justice System, Says Black Voters Agree With Him; Veteran Reporter Vanishes After Assignment In Beijing. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired December 04, 2023 - 19:00   ET




Breaking news. Israel ramping up the fighting in southern Gaza tonight as a near communications blackout hits the Gaza Strip. This on a day that CNN's producer Ibrahim Dahman learns his family in Gaza has been killed, his childhood -- his childhood home destroyed.

And Donald Trump trying to connect with Black voters as he rails against the justice system, as Biden sees his support among that same group of voters taking a dive. John King OUTFRONT at the magic wall.

And, vanished. A reporter who covers sensitive topics now missing in China tonight. Is she the latest person to disappear for crossing Xi Jinping?

Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, invading southern Gaza. Israeli troops are now making their way south after capturing large portions of northern Gaza. We have some video here which appears to show an Israeli tank on one of the few roads that actually runs from north to south in Gaza. A road used by those who have had to flee their homes.

Now, these images are just about three miles north of Khan Younis, a city Israeli defense forces had told people living in Gaza city to go to, to go to for their safety, but now Israel is telling tens of thousands if not a lot more and it is unclear to how many people are still there to once again evacuate, saying parts of that area are now a, quote, battlefield.

I want to warn you that this video is graphic. What you're looking at, though, is what the Red Crescent which is on the ground says is them trying to help the injured. They claim this was a strike on homes in southern Gaza. We did see a big crater actually near the Rafah Crossing overnight, as well.

Those once again fleeing for their lives, it is a confusing, terrifying, complicated road to safety. The IDF is actually dropping leaflets like what you see on your screen. Now, you may notice, obviously, it's written in Arabic, but you see we're zooming in there, it's a QR code. That QR code is actually what directs people where to go.

Now, I mean, it is a little bizarre to think about that for even just on the face of it, but there is another problem. Just on the actual reality, there is a near total Internet blackout in Gaza tonight which would make it completely impossible for anyone to scan the QR code and pull up the instructions on where to go. That should give you an idea how bad this communications blackout is at this very moment.

We actually tried to tape an interview with the Red Cross spokesman in Gaza tonight, but we were unable to get a connection. There's no phone right now and definitely no QR links, but if anyone saw the QR code before the blackout, or after the blackout if it ends, this is what the IDF evacuation map looks like, that's what comes up. Certain neighborhoods are highlighted telling people where to go and then there are those arrows. I mean, this is confusing especially given that more than half of the Gaza strip home to more than 2 million people is now under evacuation orders.

Reminder, 25 miles long, and six miles long at its widest. From the entire north now under evacuation order to the growing section of the south, the U.N. secretary-general saying there is nowhere safe to go in Gaza, which is a sad reality for so many, including our brave producer Ibrahim Dahman. You know him, he has sent us explosive daily dispatches from Gaza, as he was there in north Gaza and then trying to flee to get his family safely out of harm's way.

He tells us that tonight, one Israeli strike yesterday hit his aunt's house where nine of his relatives were trapped. They were killed, all of them. Another strike destroyed his childhood home. We're going to have much more on Ibrahim's story in just a moment.

And we've got Jeremy Diamond tonight OUTFRONT live along the Israel- Gaza border and Ben Wedeman in Jerusalem.

I'm going to begin with you tonight, Jeremy. Israel is now expanding that ground offensive in southern Gaza tonight, of course, the place where so many millions have been told to go for safety. What are you learning?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Erin. Israel is expanding its ground operations inside southern Gaza over the last few days, but today, the first tanks have now been spotted inside southern Gaza, this as I met up with Israel's top tank commander to talk about the central role that tanks have been playing in this war in Gaza and that they will continue to play in the southern offensive.


DIAMOND (voice-over): As Israel expands its ground offensive into southern Gaza --

BRIG. GEN. HISHAM IBRAHIM, ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES: I think it's no more question if the tank is relevant or not relevant for this war. DIAMOND: -- Brigadier General Hisham Ibrahim, the head of Israel's armored corps, says tanks will once again be central to Israel's urban warfare strategy.


IBRAHIM: Our tanks is everywhere in the urban area. When you attack you have in the beginning the tanks firing and the attack first and then just the infantry come and be close with the tank.

DIAMOND: Israeli tanks were at the tip of Israel's offensive into northern Gaza in late October, clearing the way for infantry troops to move into dangerously and densely populated cities.

You are clearing the way so infantry troops can move in.

IBRAHIM: Yeah, exactly.

DIAMOND: Ibrahim says this kind of coordination is a lesson learned from Russian failures in Ukraine.

IBRAHIM (through translator): We saw that where the Russians fought only with tanks alone, they were more vulnerable. This combination of combined power overcomes almost every problem on the battlefield.

DIAMOND: Israeli tanks are pushing through, not around, residential buildings, reducing entire neighborhoods to rubble to minimize the risk to Israeli troops.

That also means that you have to destroy a lot of residential buildings.

IBRAHIM: Yeah, that's exactly what we do. We are firing for the buildings, we destroyed, but we make sure that this building is empty from citizens and we just destroy what we have to destroy.

DIAMOND: And we see a lot of civilians die in Gaza.

IBRAHIM: Yeah, but we make sure that before we attack Gaza that the citizens go south. You know, this is war.

DIAMOND: Israeli tanks have also become a top target.

IBRAHIM: They have RPG and they want to destroy the tank because for them this is the win picture.

DIAMOND: In a series of propaganda videos, Hamas fighters are seen ambushing Israeli tanks. General Ibrahim says these fiery explosions often show the tank's anti-missile systems in action.

No tanks have gone out of commission.

IBRAHIM: Zero. Zero. We have tanks that we have to us some, maybe few days to fix them and they do back to the battlefield. But destroyed? Zero. Zero.

DIAMOND: His troops, though, are paying a heavy price.

IDF SOLDIER (through translator): The first RPG that was fired hit the tank, penetrated and I got hit by the shrapnel.

DIAMOND: During a visit to wounded soldiers, General Ibrahim says his corps has suffered more casualties per capita than any other.

IBRAHIM (through translator): This is because we are on the front line. The tank corps is the corps that is winning this war. This is our war.


DIAMOND (on camera): And Israel is expected to continue relying heavily on its tank forces as it pushes into the south, but General Ibrahim told me that he expects the fighting to be much more complicated. Hamas has had weeks now to prepare its defenses in the south and they have also been drawing lessons from their fights with Israeli forces in the north -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Jeremy, thank you very much for that. It seemed up close the tank warfare hand to hand, as it is there.

And as we mentioned, CNN journalist Ibrahim Dahman learned that at least nine of his relatives were killed in an Israeli air strike at his aunt's house in Gaza yesterday.

These are images of the aftermath of that strike. Dahman's childhood home in Gaza city was destroyed in another strike. Now those of you who watched the program regularly will remember Ibrahim because almost every night since the war began, we were sharing his exclusive dispatches of his nearly month-long effort to escape from Gaza with his young family, including this harrowing moment when they were speeding through a Gaza road amidst massive explosions.


IBRAHIM DAHMAN, CNN GAZA JOURNALIST (translated): I'm with my family fleeing airstrikes in Gaza. My son is terrified. I tell him, don't be afraid, son. But the truth is, I'm afraid too.


BURNETT: Ibrahim, of course, is now out of Gaza, but even hearing that I get goosebumps. The last month he and his family were finally able to evacuate Gaza, they crossed into Egypt to their incredible relief.


DAHMAN (translated): The feeling of being in Egypt is indescribable.

Are you happy Khalil? What do you want to say?

KHALIL DAHMAN (translated): It was difficult, but at the same time it was good.



BURNETT: They are safe, but at least nine members of his family are dead in the airstrike.

Ben Wedeman who has worked with Ibrahim Dahman extensively over the years knows him incredibly well is OUTFRONT.

So, Ben, what more can you tell us?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I spoke to Ibrahim this morning and Ibrahim's been through a lot, and he tries to put on a brave face, but he told me he's lost everything.

He's lost relatives. He's lost his childhood home. He doesn't know about his other home in Gaza. All his memories, he says, he told me are gone, and he just is sort of in a daze.

I mean, really, what he's doing now is just focusing on work. In fact, he told one of my colleagues who advised him after hearing the news of the loss of so many members of his extended family that he should take the day off just to get away from work, but he responded that work helps burn the hours. Work distracts me from the fact that not only has he lost so much, but he still has parents inside Gaza, and that is really occupying his mind around the clock and it's very difficult for people to get out of Gaza and in fact, very difficult for people to get out from one part of Gaza to another and let alone get out of Gaza altogether.

So he's struggling. He's struggling, but as I said, he's trying to distract himself by work, and I've known Ibrahim since he had a full head of hair. He was just a kid, and he's always been enthusiastic about the work and when he had got a full-time position with CNN, I've never seen a colleague so happy and proud. Everything that he did he put his entire soul into the work.

And so when I heard and many of us heard what had happened to him, to his extended family, you know, we all reached out to him. I think he was overwhelmed with the amount of phone calls and messages that he received. I hope if he's watching us now, he understands that we all care about him. We hope his family that's still in Gaza is safe that they can survive this war and he can get back to work in his home.

BURNETT: And I know that he has put his soul into it and has made such incredible sacrifice and his willingness to share this and document for the world to see with the children out there and his wife.

All right, Ben, thank you very much. I appreciate it.

And I want to go straight to the Israeli Defense Forces Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus.

And, Colonel, thank you for being on the program again.

So, you just heard Ben talk about Ben Dahman, our producer, who had documented day by day his leaving northern Gaza getting to the south and getting to Egypt and his extended family killed in a strike yesterday. At least nine of them and you heard Ben talking about Ibrahim. Ibrahim said one other things about his relatives, Colonel, I wanted to share with you, he said, and I quote, they were extremely peaceful and simple people. They have no affiliation with any organization or group.

What do you say to him and his family with this grievous loss in an Israeli airstrike this weekend?

LT. COLONEL JONATHAN CONRICUS, ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES SPOKESPERSON: Yeah. I am -- I saw the footage, and I've actually followed his documentation of the ordeal that his family went through. I saw it on CNN, and as I was waiting for interviews a few weeks ago I saw that, and I feel for the man. I am sure that he's -- his family, I trust that what he says is true that they were not affiliated and it appears that they are the unfortunate and sad consequences of a war.

I don't know the specifics of where the house was and what happened there. I don't know what impacted, but I can say that if they were not affiliated with any terror organization, then they were not a target and not the enemy. And at this stage, I cannot provide anything but words of sympathy to him and his family, and I hope that he's safe, and that other civilians are safe and other civilians forced out of their homes, 250,000 of them are safe, and that they'll be able to return to their homes at the end of this war.

BURNETT: Colonel, of course, the reality of it is is the horrible tragedy that touches Ibrahim now personally is touching so many. According to the AFP, senior Israeli military officials have said around two civilians have been killed for every Hamas fighter that you have successfully killed in the Gaza Strip.


So that's two civilians for every terrorist. Can you confirm that?

CONRICUS: Yeah, I can confirm the report, and I can say that if that is true, and I think that our numbers will be corroborated. If you compare that ratio to any other conflict in urban terrain between a military and a terrorist organization using civilians as their human shield and embedded in the civilian population, you will find that that ratio is tremendously positive and perhaps unique in the world.

I understand that there are civilian casualties, and I understand that footage and coverage goes towards emotions and to cover those civilian casualties, but what I want to say is that we will get those figures out and they will official and on record by the IDF, with the name behind it. And then we would be able to say and to back up afterwards with names and numbers that we are indeed targeting the terrorists. We are not after the civilians and we're going through great efforts in order to keep it that way and -- yeah.

BURNETT: It is, of course, hard to comprehend two-for-one, but when you say you're going to great efforts, Colonel, and one of those efforts is those IDF directions which I don't know when you actually plugged in but I have shared with anyone watching at the top of the show, the directions for the evacuation.

CONRICUS: Yeah, I --


BURNETT: All right. So you know there's the QR code, right? And then when you click on it -- you can't right now because there's a blackout, but if you were to click on it and you were to see where to go in this -- in this urban area, and tiny little parcels, block by block, numbers, I suppose? It's hard to even read it.

How do you really expect anybody to get that, to click on it, to see it which they can't do because of the blackout and to follow the directions and to get somewhere safely? I mean, is that -- is that reasonable?

CONRICUS: I think, Erin, that it may not be perfect, but it is the best thing that we can do. The situation is that for weeks we have designated a humanitarian zone and we have been asking civilians to go there. Unfortunately, civilians for various reasons because they are under the control of Hamas, because international aid organizations have channeled them there, many other reasons have not yet gone to the humanitarian zone which I think is very unfortunate.

The reason why we made that human -- or designated that humanitarian zone is because it's one of the few areas where Hamas isn't embedded above and below ground and therefore, a relatively safe area because we would have no interest in fighting there because Hamas isn't there, and that's what we've been asking all along. The attempt or what you showed on the map and I can agree that it's not perfect. But, by the way, I contest the fact that there's a blackout because I saw lots of cameras out when our hostages were being returned and I also lots of live footage from the (INAUDIBLE) as well.


BURNETT: Tonight, though, there is. I was actually going to interview the spokesperson for the Red Cross. We were unable to get communications, Colonel, for 45 minutes. I mean, there's a widespread blackout tonight.

CONRICUS: I've seen the spokesperson of UNICEF on CNN and other living network and I think there isn't really such a blackout because evidently, he has service and many others have and there's video coming out.

Listen, I understand that it's not perfect, but this is what we are trying to do. We are trying to reach out to Palestinians. We're trying to inform them ahead of time where fighting is going to be in order for them to be able to take precautions and move from where there's going to be fighting. I don't know how else we can square that circle of defeating Hamas, where Hamas is and minimizing civilian casualties.

BURNETT: Yes, I --

CONRICUS: If anybody with military experience has an idea, we're open for suggestions but it has to square in defeating Hamas, not ceasing operations and letting Hamas win, but defeating Hamas and minimizing collateral or damage to civilians.

BURNETT: Colonel, one final point on the blackout that's been going on in the past few hours. And the Red Cross was there. Earlier, there was video earlier. Then this black -- and that's actually why we had the interview scheduled with the Red Cross, then the blackout affecting most of Gaza has been in effect.

Do you know if it's been resolved? Do you know why it's in place?

CONRICUS: I am not aware of a blackout. I am aware of problems with coverage in local areas. There have been reports of it, but I see live streaming by Palestinian propagandists from various areas, including from 20 minutes ago. I watched it live of a very known notorious Palestinian propagandist.


He was live on TikTok.

So, there is Wi-Fi, maybe not specifically with the Red Cross that you were speaking with, but I am factually aware that there is live Internet services in Gaza. Not perfect and not 5G Manhattan speed, but there definitely is Internet service.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Colonel Conricus, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much, sir.

CONRICUS: Thank you for having me.

BURNETT: All right.

And next, U.S. terror plots. Police in Las Vegas arresting a 16-year- old and find bomb-making materials and an ISIS flag. And that's not all. We have more disturbing details next with this reporting.

Plus, John King tonight at the magic with the latest OUTFRONT battleground, looking at why more and more Black voters are saying this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do not feel confident as a Black man in this country to vote for Joe Biden.


BURNETT: And the mother of one of the three Palestinian college students shot in Vermont is my guest. Her son Hisham Awartani now paralyzed from the chest down.


BURNETT: Tonight, U.S. terror plot foiled. A 16-year-old boy arrested after Las Vegas police say he was ready to launch ISIS-inspired terror attacks. Police also saying they made a series of disturbing discoveries at his home including ISIS propaganda and bomb making materials.


Let's go straight to our chief law enforcement and intelligence analyst John Miller.

So, John, I mean, you know, you hear this in the context of, you know, what we're -- what we're hearing from Israel and from Gaza. How real -- how real and how imminent was this threat?

JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: Well, how real was dictated by really the boldness of the post that they saw placed in one of these message boards which said: Peace be upon all of the brothers who see this. I am here to announce that I will be starting lone wolf operations in Las Vegas against the enemies of Allah. I ask you to make Dua for victory. I am a supporter of the Islamic State, and I will make sure the Zionists in this city know it.

So with that as a starting point, the Las Vegas Metro Police, the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force working together were able to trace from that message board to a location where deputy chief of the Las Vegas Metro Police, Dori Koren, will tell us what they found.


DEPUTY CHIEF DORI KOREN, LAS VEGAS METROPOLITAN POLICE DEPARTMENT: Our search revealed numerous items of concern to include terrorism propaganda and materials to indicate the suspect's intent to commit an act of terrorism. Some examples include a handmade ISIS flag which you can see a photo of, ISIS and al Qaeda propaganda, radicalization materials, and general guidance of conducting a terrorist attack, as well as components for building an improvised explosive device and bomb-making recipes and instructions.


MILLER: So, Erin, that gets to the heart of your question, how imminent was it. So, there are stages to this. It's radicalization and then mobilization toward violence which is taking actual steps.

According to authorities, what they found in there was everything you needed to make a bomb except the explosives. So, that's a timer, a power unit, a detonator, and the research --

BURNETT: So, this is right up to the line?

MILLER: Right. And the research that we're finding into the chemical components like TATP which you can buy at any big box store by putting together three or four things told them that this could be imminent. The one thing that they didn't indicate that he had chosen a particular target.

BURNETT: A target, all right. So, the context here is knife and hammer attack reportedly carried out in behalf of ISIS at the Eiffel Tower. You have officials saying they thwarted a plot by two teens to ram a truck bomb into one of those Christmas markets in Germany. So, I mean, I remember years ago right after Brussels, after Paris, the Bataclan, we were hearing things like this, right? Remember in Lyon? It feels like that.

MILLER: So, it is like that and the driver here and the threat picture is the images that are coming in from Gaza and ISIS is already natural and well-developed talent for creating dramatic propaganda. Now with this imagery of suffering, destruction and death they are able to say, you know, you have to rise up.

The remarkable thing here is the truck bomb targeting the Christmas market in Westphalia in Germany was put together by a 15-year-old and 16-year-old. In Las Vegas, we're seeing another 16-year-old. In Paris, we saw a 26-year-old man, but this was his second time around. He had been charged earlier and served time in an earlier terrorist plot. So we're going to see this churning for a while.

BURNETT: Yeah. And it seems to be starting up. All right. John Miller, thank you very much, very sobering tonight.

And OUTFRONT next --


AD NARRATOR: Getting ahead with the president, Joe Biden is putting in the work for Black America.


BURNETT: Why Biden is spending time wooing back voters who were once the most reliable Democrats. John King at the magic wall with his latest in our series the battlegrounds.

And George Santos apparently has already found a new job.


REP. REP. GEORGE SANTOS (R-NY): Hi, Katie. Thank you for the love. Thank you for the kindness, you know, Botox keeps you young. Fillers keeps you plump. Mwah!




BURNETT: Tonight, Donald Trump's bid to overturn his gag order in the New York fraud case has been denied. The gag order now in place at least through Trump's anticipated testimony on Monday. Now, of course, this is just one of several trials Trump is facing. As you know, through it all he's been raging through the justice system saying it is unfair -- which is something that he has said connects him specifically to Black Americans.

Do you remember after he was indicted in Georgia, that he fund raised off of this mug shot saying this?


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: Because of what they've done, many Democrats will be voting for Trump. The Black community is so different for me in the last -- since that mug shot was taken. I don't know if you've seen the polls. My polls with the Black community have gone up four and five times.


BURNETT: There is no evidence that the polls for Trump have gone up four or five times with Black voters, but Black voters' view of Biden has taken a dive and that is tonight's OUTFRONT battleground.

John King is at the magic wall.

So, John, as you have dug into this in-depth what is going on with Black voters and President Biden?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Erin, as we go through this, let's just start with the numbers and the numbers don't lie.

Take a look here. There's the president's approval rating among Black voters when he took office. Early 2021, 87 percent, nine in 10 Black voters approve. Following it out, this is just this summer, down to 57 percent. So, a 30-point drop from the beginning to beginning of the summer among Black voters.

That's an approval rating. Now, let's translate it into some other numbers. You ask voters in the poll, right, who are you going to vote for in the election? Excuse me while I turn my back and stretch this out.

In 2020 election, nearly nine in 10 Black voters said they voted for Joe Biden over Donald Trump. Three polls -- three polls last month, 73 percent in the CNN poll, Black voters said they'd vote for Biden, 69 percent NBC, 69 percent Fox. So, seven in 10 Black voters said they would vote for Biden now, down from nine in 2020. That is a problem.

His support and not only approval rating is down, his support in the polls drops, and some other warning signs, you might, Erin, call these non-Biden warning signs in the 2022 midterms, just Democrats did better than they thought, but Black turnout was down. And just recently, the Republicans took the governor's office from a Democrat in Louisiana, Black turnout was down. The Mississippi governor's race, he Democrats hoped for an offset. They were hoping for a big, high Black turnout. It was essentially flat, even down a little bit. So, it's not just Biden's numbers. In elections, they see Black disenchantment you might call it.

BURNETT: All right. And, of course, it does come out to turnout, right? It's not that Trump will win that group and it's by how much Biden wins, right, where that margin is.

So, where does this problem, John, matters most as you see it?


KING: What matters most is the key question. So, let's just look at seven, what we call presidential battleground states. In Georgia, the highest percentage, 29 percent, nearly three in ten voters in Georgia are Black. In North Carolina, a state Republicans keep winning but Democrats think is close, is 23 percent. Eleven percent in Pennsylvania, 12 percent in Michigan, 7 percent Nevada, 6 percent in Wisconsin, 2 percent in Arizona.

So, in the key battleground states, the Black vote matters. In some states, decidedly so. Let's just go back and look at the map. Look at Wisconsin for example.

Joe Biden won Wisconsin by just over 20,000 votes. Imagine if Black turnout dropped in Milwaukee, or a small percentage of Black voters for third party voted for Trump. It doesn't take much, Erin, if your statewide margin is only 20 votes.

Look at Pennsylvania, nearly what, 3.7, 3.8 million votes cast, Joe Biden won the state by only 81,660. Imagine if Black turnout drops in Philadelphia by even a small amount, or again, a little bit for the third party, a little bit for Trump. It would make the difference.

I give you one more example. I could give you plenty, but just look at Georgia, right? Think about Atlanta and the Fulton County. Look at the margin there in 2020. That's predominantly Black voters for Joe Biden because he statewide, he won by fewer than 12,000 votes, again, just a tiny percentage, staying home, voting for Trump, voting for a third party could make the difference.

BURNETT: So, John, just to try to understand what it is, right? There's the possibility of a macro issue, right, that it could be something like the economy, right? Then there's something maybe Democrat driven, and is it a lack of progress on police reforms or something that maybe Black -- some Black voters had felt had been promised and not delivered? Or is it something altogether different, right? Republicans actually winning Black voters over, right?

I mean, are you able to ascertain what the main driver is?

KING: That's why it's so complicated for the president trying to fix it because, Erin, it's all of the above. At least that's what we're seeing in our travels.

Listen there, this is Joseph Fisher. He's a college student. We met him in Michigan. He goes to the University of Michigan, but he comes from Georgia.

In the last election, he helped organize and register voters in Georgia, even though he was too young to vote. He helped Joe Biden to win. He is furious at the president. He says the president should not be taken Israel side in the Israel-Hamas conflict, and he says, sorry, Mr. President, not next time.


JOSEPH FISHER, UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN STUDENT: I do not feel confident as a Black man in this country to vote for Joe Biden. I do not think that he will make me feel more safe in an America that he is stirring over. And so, I think it's time that we start taking actionable steps like these grassroots are doing in order to create a reality where third-party candidates can win.


KING: So you hear there a young Black man said he'll go third party.

One more example, in Wisconsin, we met a yoga studio owner, Joanna Brooks, just outside of Milwaukee. Listen here, Erin. She said Black votes have been taken for granted by the Democratic Party for long. She says it's time that Black voters look elsewhere.

But this works in Biden's advantage. She listens to Trump. She saw his justices overturn Roe v. Wade. She watches him attack democracy and she says Black should reconsider, but not until after 2024.


JOANNA BROOKS, MILWAUKEE VOTER: I grew up almost certain that my rights were guaranteed. I took it for granted, and now as I sit and watch the work of so many Black folks during the civil rights movement, so many women who fought for women's rights and when I see their work slowly being undone that was a wake-up call for me for sure. You have to fight.


KING: So, you heard that at the end. Has to fight in 2024, especially, she says, Erin, if it's Trump. But again, you hear the disillusionment with the Democrats.

BURNETT: And I know, John, in a conversation I had over the summer with a leading African-American politician in the country, he was saying one of his biggest concerns was that the Biden administration in his view at that time was a bit like an ostrich. They had their head in the sand about this issue and they didn't want to address it because they didn't really want to admit that it was a problem. Has that change? Is team Biden doing something about this now?

KING: They say they are. Some of it is money. Some of it is trying to put bodies on the ground in those key Democratic cities.

Let me just give you one example, let me come back to the full 2020 map, and just show you this. The Biden -- the president as we know, Erin, has no significant Democratic primary challenge at least the moment. Yet, his campaign, the Democratic Party, super PACs affiliated with the Democrats and Biden are spending big on ad money already.

Look at this big ad, $2.4 million here, $5 million here, $5.2 million in Atlanta and $4 million in Detroit. A lot of these ads targeting Black voters in inner cities.

Now, if you look at the polls, you don't see any evidence yet that it's working, but the campaign Biden operatives say it takes time for the ads to sink in 37 the numbers right now are pretty bleak, because we'll see if the strategy works.

BURNETT: We will because, of course, voting begins very soon.

KING: Yes, it does.

BURNETT: John, thank you very much.

KING: Thank you.

BURNETT: And next, the Palestinian student shot in Vermont now paralyzed from the chest down. His mother who has been by his side is OUTFRONT next.

Plus, an award-winning journalist now disappeared in China, and she is not the first to cross the Communist Party to vanish.



BURNETT: Tonight, paralyzed. One of the three Palestinian college students shot in Vermont will soon be transferred from the hospital to a rehab facility. Doctors have told the family that Hisham Awartani is paralyzed now from the chest down. Hisham and two of his best friends allegedly shot by the suspect Jason Eaton on Thanksgiving weekend, and the families are calling for him to be charged with a hate crime in addition to three counts of attempted second-degree murder that he faces now.

OUTFRONT now, Elizabeth Price, Hisham's mother.

And, Elizabeth, I truly can't believe I'm even speaking to you. I'm sure there are moments that you can't believe what has happened to you and to your child. I know you travelled from the West Bank immediately when you got the unbelievable and horrible news about your son being shot. You've been with Hisham ever since you arrived in the U.S.

What can you share about your time with him these past days?

ELIZABETH PRICE, MOTHER OF HISHAM AWARTANI, PALESTINIAN STUDENT PARALYZED: My time with Hisham has been spent marveling at who he is. He is just a quiet, resilient, measured man who, as I actually spent time with the doctors, trying to figure out what's been going on with him and pushing the physiotherapist to try and help him get stronger, he is going to be a success no matter what happens, (AUDIO GAP) and overcome this.


But he also spends his time thinking about how his life and his injury is even with those things he's in a better place than his compatriots in Palestine. So I think his heart has been bleeding for the other Hishams under the bombs of Gaza as he wrote in a recent statement.

BURNETT: I understand the doctors have told you that Hisham is paralyzed from the chest down now. Obviously, he is young and he's going to go to a rehab facility. Have they given you any sense, Elizabeth, of whether he might be able to recover and to walk again or do they not know?

PRICE: They don't know, but I think really what we've been taking away from this is that good comes from bad. I mean, Hisham in a second had his life overturned and his body broken temporarily, we hope, but he and his friends are energized to keep on going, to continue to work to create a better dialogue in this country, a dialogue against the dehumanizing language, whose only natural conclusion is hateful violence that he's seen.

Now, he and his friends, I've seen his friends go back to their campuses determined to pay it forward for all of the support that they provide to continue telling and reaching out to others so they can have a dialogue to tell the truth that people are really wanting to hear because what we've been hearing from people is they've been reaching out and they've been -- you know, we have comments coming on our GoFundMe page for Hisham that are just heartbreaking in their compassion. Sons of a Holocaust survivor saying we stand with Hisham.

I've been receiving letters from -- from Jewish-Americans saying this is done not in my name, from Vermont residents saying, anything that you need, we will do for you. People want to come together across divides that don't really exist, but have been shamefully created by a media narrative and a narrative of our government -- politicians who use reductive, binary language that really try and drive people apart, but haven't been successful in this case.

BURNETT: Elizabeth, thank you so much. I mean, Hisham's clearly extraordinary that such a young man able to see this the way he sees it and it is truly extraordinary, and thank you for sharing.

PRICE: Thank you very much.

BURNETT: He's, I hope, in everyone's thoughts. Thank you.

PRICE: Thank you. Thank you.

BURNETT: And next, an award-winning journalist now missing in China after her reporting on sensitive subjects. So what has happened here?

And George Santos finding a new way to make money just days after being expelled from Congress.


SANTOS: Hey, James and Sophia. Congratulations on your engagement. (END VIDEO CLIP)


BURNETT: Tonight, vanished. An award winning journalist based in Hong Kong has gone missing after a reporting trip to Beijing.

Journalist Minnie Chan's reporting has tackled sensitive subjects, including the Chinese military and Taiwan. And now, her friends and colleagues fear she may be the latest unexplained disappearance in China.

Will Ripley is OUTFRONT.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Intrigue, uncertainty, and one burning question, what happened to Minnie Chan. The Hong Kong journalist on assignment in Beijing last month vanished into thin air.

Chan was in the Chinese capital covering a global defense forum. It ended on October 31st. Soon after, she dropped off the radar. Her last report published November 1st.

Delving into China's controversial role as mediator in the Gaza conflict, publicly siding with Palestinians over Israel. Radio silence ever since.

Friends trying to reach Chan on social media hitting a brick wall. Mounting messages of concern, not a single known reply.

On November 11th, a mysterious post on Chan's Facebook page. Personal photos followed by a flood of concerned comments, one from a friend and fellow journalist speculating someone else must have posted the pictures. Eerie silence from Chan fearing speculation she may be under the microscope of Chinese authorities.

A veteran reporter, nearly two decades at "The South China Morning Post", it's had no contact with her. In a statement, the paper says it did speak with Chan's family. Her family told us she's safe, the paper said, writing she's on personal leave in Beijing, handling a further matter. We have no further information to disclose, the family told the paper.

Those who know her strongly believe there's more to the story. China's foreign ministry telling reporters they're not aware of the situation.

Known for astute coverage of Chinese defense and diplomacy, Chan interviewed a host of high ranking Chinese officials, tackling touchy topics like Beijing's military strategy targeting Taiwan. Chan also worked for "Apple Daily", raided two years ago by 500 Hong Kong police officers. A government crackdown forced the paper to close.

You want people to have a right. I interviewed Jimmy Lai, "Apple Daily's" billionaire owner shortly before his arrest, along with other newsroom leaders, later charged under Hong Kong's draconian national security law, which rolled back civil and political freedoms, drafted in secret, imposed by Beijing's communist rulers, China's heavy handed response to the fiery pro- democracy protests of 2019.

In the years since, a crackdown on pro-democracy figures, the disbanding of political parties, and newsrooms, activists forced to choose between a life in prison at home or a life in exile abroad. And now, the mystery of Minnie Chan, raising new fears for the safety of from reporters. If a seasoned journalist from a mainstream outlet can disappear in Beijing, who's next in line for China's vanishing act?



RIPLEY (on camera): This is not the first veteran journalist to disappear in China. There was an Australian Chinese news anchor named Cheng Lei, who was just released after three years in prison. Her crime, she had a briefing with government officials, and she broke their embargo by a few minutes.

She talked about it on air a few minutes before she was allowed to three years in a tiny cell with the lights on 24/7 and just 10 hours of sunshine a year, Erin.

BURNETT: Wow. Wow.

All right. Thank you very much, Will Ripley. Stunning and horrible.

Well, next, he was booted from congress, but now George Santos will record a video just for you for 200 bucks.


BURNETT: Tonight, disgraced former Republican Congressman George Santos has a new gig after being expelled from Congress. Charging $200 for personalized video messages on the site, Cameo. He's already recorded a number of greetings, like these.


SANTOS: Hey, James and Sophia. Congratulations on your engagement.


BURNETT: Well, he even recorded a message requested by a former colleague. That colleague being Senator John Fetterman, who had Santos record a cameo for the New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez, someone Fetterman also wants expelled because of serious corruption charges.


SANTOS: Hey, Bobby, look, I don't think I need to tell you, but these people that want to make you get in trouble and want to kick you out and make you run away, you make them put up or shut up. You stand your ground, sir, and don't get bogged down by all the haters out there. Stay strong. Merry Christmas.


BURENTT: Well, he got joy out of doing that. You can tell.

Menendez, of course, had gold bars at his house, is accused of acting as an agent for Egypt, even as he received top secret briefings s the chairman of the powerful Foreign Relations Committee.

All right. Thanks so much for joining us.

"AC360" with Anderson begins right now.