Return to Transcripts main page

Erin Burnett Outfront

Colorado Supreme Court Removes Trump From 2024 Ballot; Report: Israel Proposes New Hostage Deal, Pause In Fighting; Texas Sued Over New Law Allowing State To Arrest Migrants; CNN On The Ground Near Volcanic Eruption In Iceland. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired December 19, 2023 - 19:00   ET




The breaking news, a historic decision by the Colorado Supreme Court tonight. Moments ago, the court ruling, disqualifying Trump from running in that state. Name to not be on the primary ballot. Trump vowing to swiftly appeal.

It's a crucial ruling, will other states follow?

Also breaking tonight, Israel says it's ready for a weeklong pause in the fighting in exchange for the release of more hostages. The reporter just breaking this news with the terms is my guest.

And the live, spectacular pictures from Iceland. Lava at one point flowing so fast, it could fill up an Olympic-sized pool in 20 seconds. We're live near the volcano with our Fred Pleitgen.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, the breaking news -- and this is important -- the Colorado Supreme Court ruling just moments ago that former President Trump should be removed from Colorado's primary ballot.

The consequences of this decision are obviously enormous, with the court upholding a trial judge's decision that Trump engaged in the January 6th insurrection. And the Colorado Supreme Court saying that, therefore, if you engaged in that insurrection, he is not eligible to be a presidential candidate because of the 14th Amendment's insurrectionist ban. Now, that ban comes from the civil war era. It says that a person is ineligible to be on the ballot, to be president, if they, quote, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.

So, tonight's decision tees up an appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States, which could settle the matter for the entire nation before the presidential -- Republican primaries kickoff in January. But talk about the speed with which this would have to move.

Evan Perez is live OUTFRONT in Washington. Okay, Evan, this is not what most people expected. I don't know what

they expected. But this was not. So, here we are. You've got a chance, 133-page ruling, I should note, it was 4-3, right? This was not unanimous. There are dissents here.

What else does the Colorado Supreme Court's decision say?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, I will read you just from the first page of this opinion, it's an extraordinary opinion. It's very long. And it's clear that the justices, or the judges here went through all of the record in this case, including the district court opinion.

I will read you just what they say here. They say a majority of the court holds that President Trump is disqualified from holding the office of president under section three of the 14th Amendment, to the United States Constitution. As you pointed out, that's the section that says that you cannot be a senator or representative of Congress or elector of the president or vice president or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, if you support it -- if you took an oath to support the Constitution, and then engaged in an insurrection.

Now, the district court had previously said that President Trump -- former President Trump -- did engage in insurrection, but, on a technicality, saying, because this section of the 14th Amendment does not specifically say that the office of president's subject to it, that President Trump could stay on the ballot. What this court says is, no, they reversed part of the ruling there, saying that he does fall under this, and I'll just read you just a part of where they review the district court's finding.

And they say this. They say: In conducting our independent review of the district court's factual findings, we agree that President Trump intended that his speech would result in the use of violence, or lawless action on January 6th to prevent the peaceful transfer of power.

And look, they go through, chapter and verse of the actions of the former president on January 6th. They talk about the fact that well before January 6th, Donald Trump had begun laying the groundwork for saying that the -- that the election was going to be rigged. So, they go through all of this, and go to his intent.

And, Erin, look, it's very important that the district court first ruled that Donald Trump essentially was an insurrectionist. And this court says, we agree. And as a result of that, he is disqualified, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. So, then, what happens from here? You know, you talk about this Supreme Court ruling, possibly, right, this being sent up to the Supreme Court. Well, the primary is going to start in weeks.


PEREZ: Right, exactly. And even more important than the primaries, the Colorado secretary of state is required to certify the content of the primary -- presidential primary ballot on January 5th. So, what they have done here is they have at least suspended their ruling. They have stayed the ruling, saying that, if Donald Trump goes to the Supreme Court, then, the secretary of state is allowed to keep Donald Trump on the ballot, pending whatever the federal Supreme Court decides.

Now, what they say here, though, is that -- obviously, this ruling will stand until then, and so Donald Trump will be on the ballot. What we don't know is, obviously, what the Supreme Court -- the federal Supreme Court -- will do. It's almost certain they are going to want to review this.


PEREZ: A reminder, Erin, that Colorado votes in early March. That's when the Republican primary is set to happen in Colorado. And so, the Supreme Court -- the federal Supreme Court has until then to make a finding.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Evan.

Of course, Evan, there is the time to print the ballot. There is logistical issues that goes with all that as well.

PEREZ: Right.

BURNETT: We talked about the -- voting by mail.

All right. I want to go to Erik Olson, who's one of the attorneys who argued this case for the plaintiffs.

Erik, I appreciate your time. As I said, we knew there was going to be a decision. I don't know that very many people expected it to be quite like this. Maybe you are one of them, the court did rule in your favor, not unanimous. It was 4-3.

What was your reaction when you first saw this moments ago?

ERIC OLSON, ATTORNEY FOR PETITIONERS IN COLORADO 14TH AMENDMENT CASE: I was thrilled and proud to be in America, where courts can hear disputes like this. We had six Colorado voters put on an equal footing with a former president. Each got to put on our case. The district court ruled, found facts, and ruled on the law.

One way the Colorado Supreme Court review that work agreed with the factual findings. But disagreed with one important legal finding, but found that he was -- in the end, Donald Trump was disqualified under the Constitution, to be on the ballot.

BURNETT: Right. And of course, the original ruling was inconsistent, right? It said he engaged in insurrection, but it was okay for him to be on the ballot, I'm sure handing it. But that was the inconsistency that was being probed here. And the Trump campaign obviously says tonight that it is going to swiftly -- that's the word they use -- file an appeal to the United States Supreme Court. This is where the margin that I just mentioned is important. It was

not unanimous. It was a 4-3 decision. Trump's campaign, of course, is saying that all seven were appointed by Democrats. It seems to be besides the point, because it was a split ruling, 4-3.

But nonetheless, are you -- are you ready for this? I mean, this is going to, obviously, come very, very quickly.

OLSON: Yes, we are ready for this. Colorado law allows for these challenges to occur very quickly. We had tried a case, arguing it appeal. We, of course, know that the Supreme Court is the likely destination for this decision. And we are ready to present our arguments and are optimistic (AUDIO GAP) review of the Colorado court's careful and thoughtful approach to both the facts and the law here.

BURNETT: All right. So, I just want to ask you about these dissents and I haven't had a chance to read all of them myself. I'm sure you have. But, obviously, it was 4-3. The chief justice both write was among the dissents, right? So, the chief justice of the Colorado (AUDIO GAP) and in part, the writing here is that dismissals -- particularly appropriate here, because the electors brought their challenge without a determination from a proceeding, for example, a prosecution for an insurrection-related offense.

And Justice Samour seems to also concur with that, right? This determination that the former president engaged in insurrection was put in by a judge in a ruling. But not determined by a jury, or in a full due process setting. What's your response to that?

OLSON: I would say two things in response.

First, President Trump had all the opportunity he needed to put on the witnesses and called the evidence that he wanted to. He chose not to testify. He chose not to use all the hours of trial allocated to him. He chose not to call witnesses remotely, like we did. Actually -- they had one witness remotely. But he didn't take full advantage of the due process that was here.

Second, our constitution is clear, that you become disqualified once you have engaged in the insurrection. There is no need for a specific finding by a court or tribunal for that disqualification to attach. And all that the courts did here was confirm that the conduct that Donald Trump engaged in, leading up to and on January 6th, meant the definition of engage in insurrection. And that's the process the Constitution expects and that's the process that Donald Trump received in this case.

BURNETT: And, of course, though, when you look at the Department of Justice and Jack Smith's special counsel, they haven't yet proven that in a court -- in a court of law, how do you feel about your odds with the Supreme Court given that?


OLSON: Well, I think that the civil and criminal differences are significant here. There is no fundamental right to be a presidential candidate, unlike where your limit interest when you are a criminal defendant. And so, we think and hope that the U.S. Supreme Court does with the two courts you have heard this case so far have done in Colorado, which is thoughtfully and carefully look at the facts and the law, and we believe the conclusion is clear.

So, again, we are optimistic about how the U.S. Supreme Court will review this, particularly given the care and hard work that the Colorado courts engage in here.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Eric, I very much appreciate your time. As you say, you are thrilled, and no doubt about it. Obviously, a very significant win for your team tonight. I thank you very much for your time.

OUTFRONT next, David Axelrod, former senior adviser to President Obama, along with Joan Biskupic, our senior Supreme Court analyst who joins on the phone.

David, look, this is seismic. You've run primary election in Colorado, beginning of. March, you've got to print all the ballots.

You've got to do all this. And right now, you have the former president of the United States, and the Colorado Supreme Court -- they said take his name off it.

How do you even respond to that if you're a campaign? You know, I think it's safe to say this was a seismic ruling.

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, there's no question about it, Erin. And one thing that has not been mentioned is that three other states have gone the other way in terms of the state courts handle these challenges. So, of course, the Supreme Court is going to have to sort this out because you can't have individual states deciding this question.

But, look, I don't think it's any secret how the Trump campaign is going to handle it. They're going to handle it the way they've handled everything else. They are going to say this is a judicial fiat to the people of their choice. And there are tens of millions of -- the guy's 50 points ahead in the Republican primary for president here, so they are going to say, this is an effort on the part of (AUDIO GAP) -- you know, and as you read earlier, they are already blaming, you know, Democrats and Biden and all of that to try and deprive people of their choice.

And so, it's seismic. I mean, the legal question is a seismic. And Joan can address that. The political question is seismic as well because what would happen, actually, if the Supreme Court adopts this position and prevents Trump from running before he's even tried on this, by the way. He does have a trial coming up, ostensibly, in March --


AXELROD: -- where they will hear facts around his activities leading up to the insurrection.

But what is the impact on a country that's already badly divided of a decision like this where people are -- tens of millions of Americans are told, you can't vote for the candidate of your choice? I am very, very torn about that because I think what he did was the most heinous thing a president can do.


AXELROD: On the other hand, you know, we -- we don't want to rip the country apart. And we are faced, in history, from time to time, with questions like this. And now, it's in the lap of the Supreme Court.


I mean, Joan, this is the point, you know, when -- as David points out, three other states have ruled the other way. And yet, you have this coming out tonight, a seismic event, a significant decision. Granted, a split -- Colorado Supreme Court, 4-3, the chief justice among the dissenting. How consequential is this?

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SENIOR SUPREME COURT ANALYST (via telephone): I can't overstate the consequences of this evening. I also want to stress how we now have two major, the very critical Trump election issues barreling toward the court. They will have to decide both of these one way or the other.

And the other case, of course, is whether he is immune from criminal prosecution for election subversion. That's the case brought by special counsel Jack Smith that is now pending up there. And we may know by the end of this week whether the justices will hear that one on an expedited schedule, or have it first heard by a U.S. appellate court.

Both of these are huge issues. You know, when I -- when we even wrote about the immunity question last week, we talked about how novel it was, and how unprecedented in the context of the Jack Smith election subversion controversy. But this one, this one is really so novel because it's just never been tested in this era at all, the 14th Amendment query.

And David rightly points out that other state courts have gone the other way. This one, I think, both of them need to be resolved quickly. And only these nine justices are able to resolve it.

And I do want to remind everyone about how, even when Donald Trump was in office, every single case of his -- from administration policy to his own business cases that came to the court -- they were all fraught. And these are especially fraught, and these are especially fraught because they will effect his election process, especially the Colorado one most directly.

And, you know, I know that, from what I have heard in the discussion so far, Erin, is that, of course, Colorado election official has said that this matter has to be settled by the first week of January, around January 5th, which is the deadline to get the list of candidates for the GOP primary. And they also have the issue of overseas ballots, as I understand it, that there is a deadline windows have to go out.


BURNETT: Yeah, right.

BISKUPIC: And if this whole thing is just kind of stayed and kind of put on hold, what happens to voters who received the ballots that have Donald Trump's name on that? Because, of course, the ruling that just came tonight has been postponed, is some harm already done?

Now, you know, again, this is a heavier lift for the challengers than the immunity case. I think this is a very, very hard case for the U.S. Supreme Court. But look at the challenge, you know, voters who challenged Trump's name on the ballot. They just won. And so it won't be -- the Supreme Court, but it is a higher mountain decline. Where is the immunity question that Jack Smith is bringing? That has a little bit more grounding. And I could see -- I could see him prevailing in a way that, maybe, Trump, the challengers -- prevailed.

Go ahead, Erin.

BURNETT: No, I was just going to say -- David, the points Joan is saying, when you read through -- and I don't want to overset overemphasize this, but the chief justice of the Colorado Supreme Court was among the dissent, right? It was a 4-3 ruling, saying that you have not had a prosecution for -- causing the insurrection, right? That you had to wait for that step before you take some off the ballot.

To that point, and I will go before the Supreme Court, but to that point, you know, I was talking earlier to someone, and in another state this is an issue. And this person said, this will only supercharged the extremists. By the way, this person is a Republican.

What do you say to that? That that's what the outcome of this maybe?

AXELROD: Without question. Listen, there is a loud minority in this country that believe the -- Trump has told them, again and again, and supporters have backed him on this, that there was something untoward about the last election, that it was stolen, that he was the true winner of that election.

And, you know, 60, 70 percent of Republicans believe that. The people who attacked the Capitol on January 6th did so thinking they were doing their constitutional duty --


AXELROD: -- because they thought that something untoward has happened. So, you can imagine the reaction if he is taken off the ballot.

BURNETT: All right. David Axelrod, thank you very much.

Joan Biskupic, thanks very much to you. I want to go to Ty Cobb now, the former Trump White House lawyer.

So, Ty, 133 pages and then you have the three dissents, which I'm trying to work my way through there. From what you've seen, what do you take away?

TY COBB, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE LAWYER: So, I -- the way I see this is that the Supreme Court has to take this. They can stay the dates in Colorado. They will move expeditiously.

I was struck by the majority opinion, and the amount of verbiage devoted to the sort of straw man arguments. The real key issue in this case is, is Trump an officer of the United States in the context in which that term is used in article three of the 14th Amendment?


COBB: And in 2010, you know, Chief Justice Roberts, in free enterprise, that people don't vote for officers of the United States. Article two officers of the United States is commonly understood in the Constitution to refer to appointed officials.

And to the extent that the president or the vice president are included as an officer, or included within the admonitions of the Constitution, they are typically highlighted, like, in the impeachment clause, which specifically says president, vice president.

So, I think this case will be handled quickly. I think it could be 9-0 in the Supreme Court for Trump --


BURNETT: Can I just say, Ty, that would be I mean, I emphasized I never like to talk about who appointed whom, because they like to just believe in impartiality of justice, but nonetheless it has become important. So, as Trump's already pointing out, oh, the Colorado Supreme Court, they were all appointed by Democrats, okay, sure, it's a 4-3 ruling. They didn't all rule against you.


A Supreme Court, you know, where what we often hear about how politicized it is -- and I know we are looking into the distance here, but if you are looking at 9-0, that will surely be a statement.

COBB: Yeah. I think -- I mean, so, I do believe it could be 9-0 because I think the law is clear. And as you will recall, I was once an advocate of this position. There have been multiple law review articles, the most prominent by Bill Baude and his colleague. I was on a panel with Professor Baude at the University of Chicago Institute of Politics discussing this, and heard his views, and his scholarship is excellent.

On the other hand, there are multiple competing scholars who disagree, and highlight the point that I just made about the multiple Supreme Court decisions, which are three. And do not conclude that officers, as used in the context as this context are -- include the president or the vice president.

And after -- I mean, there have been many constitutional professors, Steve Calorisi of Northwestern probably the most prominent who after reading all the scholarship changed his mind. He was originally a supporter of the idea that this outcome was appropriate, but he later concluded despite his strong feelings against Trump, that Trump would have to be beaten at the ballot box. And I think, sadly, that's the case.

And it will -- it will be a race to get there. I mean, the Supreme Court, though, will not hesitate to move quickly on this. They know what is at stake. So, they know what they responsibility is.


COBB: And they can delay some of these Colorado dates, to the extent they think they are obligated to, or have to.

BURNETT: Right. Now, obviously, his name remains on the ballot, until they rule, one way or the other.

COBB: Right.

BURNETT: That was one of the predicates of the ruling today out of Colorado. You hear the music, Ty. That music is from Trump's rally in Waterloo, Iowa. He's there, and he is onstage.

Right now, he is basking in the music and in the crowd. Then, he will obviously speak.

Now, we have the statement. But I think -- when I just said to David Axelrod that a Republican in another swing state -- he was dealing with some of these issues. The comment was that this ruling would supercharge the extremists.

You know, what do you think? As he walks out there, is this something that he sees as, basically, a win in a certain sense?

COBB: Oh, totally. Totally. This is -- this vindicates his insistence that this is a political conspiracy to interfere with the election, and that -- you know, that he's the target, and that people should not tolerate that in America. It is doodad, but that is the way he tries to sell this.

Now, the reality is, he committed these crimes in 2021. Jack Smith has only been on the job for 13 months at most. So, justices moved relatively speedy. This hasn't been stalled to attack the election.

BURNETT: No, it is though -- I -- I did not mean to laugh. I wasn't laughing like I was humorous, but speedy I suppose by the rules of the law, to so many that doesn't feel that way, but I understand your point, the way the law works, it has, the courts.

All right. Ty Cobb, thank you very much. As we get more, we'll be back with Ty. Our breaking news coverage continues, though, here, with the crucial

question, how will the decision to remove Trump from the ballot play on the campaign trail and with voters receiving this news?

We also have more breaking news this hour. Israel reportedly open to a truce in order to free dozens of hostages. It could be a deal much better for Hamas then the last one, and a reporter just broke that story, along with the Israeli ambassador to the United States, will both be OUTFRONT.



BURNETT: Breaking news, Trump just taking the stage in Iowa after a stunning ruling in Colorado kicking him off the state's presidential ballot. His campaign just releasing a statement calling the decision, quote, deeply undemocratic.

He's speaking there live, as you can see, in Waterloo, Iowa, at a gathering right now. So, this is a live image.

And Jeff Zeleny is OUTFRONT live there are at Trump's rally.

So, Jeff, you know, we saw him take the stage, and he took quite a while to actually start talking. There was the music and people clapping. Do people in the room know what happened? Obviously, he has put a statement out. I mean, what's the vibe there?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: There is no doubt that people who have been waiting here for the former president for the last several hours have read the news on their iPhones. We talked to a couple supporters, and quite frankly, this all sort of blends together. One woman told me that yet another court case against Trump, and if past his prologue here, he certainly has gained support, and certainly has consolidated his supporters behind him.

He will see if he addresses to that this evening. He has not yet. As you said, he's now focusing on the Iowa caucuses. He is really urging for, calling for a decisive victory. He said a victory on January 15th can put this to bed and send his rivals home.

But there is no doubt, his campaign, his advisers, his team are focused squarely on this Colorado decision. And you mention that statement that came out a few moments ago. Let's take a look at that from his campaign.

It said this: The Colorado Supreme Court issued a completely flawed decision tonight, and we will swiftly file an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. We have full confidence the U.S. Supreme Court will quickly rule in our favor and finally put a end to these un-American lawsuits.

Just a few moments ago, the campaign sent out a fundraising appeal based on that Colorado ruling. So, Erin, we have seen this movie many types of times before in different types of rulings. This case, of course, is incredibly different. It's about his name being on the ballot. But we know his supporters rallied to his defense.

So, his advisers say they expect him to address it here tonight. That is a rally here in Iowa. We will see if he does, but we know his supporters enjoy coming to his defense at moments like this. And I expected to be the same, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you very much, Jeff Zeleny. And, of course, Jeff is there. So, if Trump says something worth sharing, we will share it with you.

OUTFRONT now, Scott Jennings, former senior adviser to Mitch McConnell, and Amy Walter, the publisher and editor in chief of "The Cook Political Report".


OK. Thanks so much to both of you.

So, Scott, Jeff Zeleny talking about the reaction in that room. So, people came there, they waited for hours. They had seen the news. And this is -- this seems to blend together for them. But these are the moments they wait for. They wait for, and they will come to his defense. It sort of fits with what the Republican operatives told me, that this will supercharged the extremists who believe that democracy is being stolen.

So, what does this mean for his campaign? Do you anticipate this fundraising email going out, be another record? Does this move the needle?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Oh, yeah. I mean, this is more jet fuel for this campaign. Every time he has had a interaction with the legal system, he has seen a boost among Republicans. And now, once again, I expect he will be blessed with, other than Chris Christie, a bunch of opponents who are going to wind up praising him and defending him tonight just as they have in the other instances.

I think, for the biggest sort of liberal Trump haters out there, this is like getting drunk at your office Christmas party. Seemed like a good idea on a Friday night, really going to regret it on Monday morning because this validates everything Donald Trump has been trying to tell the American people, which is that there is a whole system at the federal and now state level trying to keep me away from the White House.

It is rigged. You know, all the language he uses.


ZELENY: And this will be evidence for those claims. I'm sure we are going to hear it in Iowa tonight. And, boy, this -- I suspect this will definitely take the seals out of the Haley boomlet that is supposedly going on right now.

BURNETT: Well, that's fascinating. I mean, Amy, to that point, Vivek Ramaswamy wants to get attention on this. He posted on social media, quote, this is what an actual attack on democracy looks like. I pledge to withdraw from the Colorado GOP primary unless Trump is also allowed to be on the state's ballot.

But obviously, you know, he is going to jump on to get attention in the moment. But the former Bush White House press secretary Ari Fleischer saying, who exactly is the threat to democracy, it's Democrats.

So, you're seeing it from different ends of the Republican political spectrum is the point I am making. What do you -- what do you think? And to what Scott is saying? Does this take the wind out of the Nikki Haley surge we've seen? Because now Trump has this?

AMY WALTER, PUBLISHER & EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, COOK POLITICAL REPORT: Well, I think it is certainly -- I agree with Scott that it's certainly some jet fuel for Donald Trump in Iowa, a state where he already has a commanding lead. And the fact that this is happening just, you know, less than a month before the Iowa caucuses is pretty good timing on that front. He can keep beating this drum into the time of the voting, making a very difficult for Ron DeSantis, most especially, who is desperate to show some strength in Iowa.

Remember, he has put his entire campaign, put all the chips in the middle of the table here in Iowa. And now what everybody is going to be talking about, certainly for the immediate future, but could be going all the way into January and the caucuses, is what happened in Colorado. One thing I do want to point out, though, is that the Supreme Court is likely -- as you've noted in the show thus -- far the Supreme Court is likely to weigh in here. We don't know when, or what they will say.

But let's be clear. When we are thinking about the long game, the Supreme Court is going to have a lot of influence in the 2024 election.


WALTER: On the January 6th defense. On the president's legal team, the former president's legal team on presidential immunity, on the mifepristone case and abortion.

So, the Supreme Court and other courts are going to be brought into this election at different times. And I think you are going to see a surge and decline. Who does it interest or invigorate? One side would be -- one case will be Democrats, the other Republicans.

BURNETT: So, Scott, the numbers, as Amy mentions in Iowa, it is a commanding lead for Trump coming into this, okay, 58 percent. He's got a majority of the likely Republican voters in the most recent poll. In New Hampshire, he is ahead, but he does not have a majority. And he has been positioning Iowa as sort of -- the stronger he is there, and he can just be done. He could just be done.

So, what does he do now to capitalize on this? What does he do tonight on that stage? JENNINGS: Well, I think he tells the people of Iowa that everything I

have told you is true. And how do you know it is true? Because of what we are seeing in the news tonight.

And the Republican Party, 70 percent of the Republican Party nationally, according to all the polls, want me to be the nominee. We need to end this charade right now. You will need to send a message here in Iowa that this primary is over, and give me the momentum to turn this off, so we can focus all our efforts on Joe Biden.

If I were them, that is the message I would use. By the way, Joe Biden is out -- his principal message about Donald Trump is that Donald Trump is the greatest threat to democracy. Well, now, Trump is going to tell the Republicans, who is a bigger threat to democracy? Me, or the people trying to keep me off the ballot out of legitimate (AUDIO GAP).

And so, for a lot of reasons, this gives him a chance to try to make Iowa the end of this election.


BURNETT: And, Amy, can Iowa be the end of this election for Trump?

WALTER: I don't think it can be the end of the election, because New Hampshire is just so different than Iowa. There are a lot more voters in New Hampshire who want to turn the page from Donald Trump. Much more so than those who are sitting in Iowa.

So, I think he can win both. Ultimately, he's ahead in both, as we noted. But I think New Hampshire is really the place where we will see whether any of the momentum for somebody other than Trump candidacy, which Nikki Haley is clinging onto right now, is gone.

BURNETT: All right. Amy, Scott, thank you both very much on this breaking news.

And next, more breaking news this hour. New reporting that Israel is open to a pause in fighting in order to free more hostages. But the report who broke this story can explain exactly how it is different than last time, and the Israeli ambassador to the United States will respond next.

Plus, live pictures of the bottleneck at the U.S. Mexican border, 13,000 migrants were apprehended in the past 24 hours. We're going to take you there to see it up close.


BURNETT: Breaking news, ceasefire offer. Israel saying tonight it will pause fighting in Gaza for a week, an exchange for the release of nearly 40 hostages. Longtime Israeli reporter Barak Ravid just breaking that news moments ago. He reports that the hostages would include the rest of the women Hamas is holding, men over 60, and others in need of urgent medical care. This comes as Israel's Channel 12 reports that the IDF recently

breached two tunnels that they believe that the Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar was hiding in just before they arrived.


So, I want to go straight to Barak Ravid, our political and global affairs analyst.

So, Barak, you are breaking this news right now. What more can you tell us about the details of this cease-fire, and how it compares to the last one?


Well, this thing happened yesterday in Warsaw, in a meeting actually was the director of the CIA, Bill Burns, was attending with the prime minister of Qatar, and with the head of the Israeli Mossad spy agency. And the Israelis came to this meeting for the first time, with a proposal for how to re-launch those talks that were not taking place for several weeks since the last cease-fire collapsed.

And the Israelis came with a proposal that says we ready for the release of 40 hostages that are, as you said the women, the elderly, the sick ones, to agree for at least one week of cease-fire, maybe even more, by the way, and, you know, also to smaller stuff like more humanitarian aid, and other things. The Qataris are now taking this proposal to Hamas. Hamas, until now, refused to even relaunch talks.

For example, the prime minister of Qatar told the head of Mossad, listen, Hamas says they want to stop the war before they're going back to talks. So, the Mossad chief told them, if Hamas wants us to end the war, they need to do two things. First, they need to lay down their arms. Second, they need to turn over all of those who are responsible for the October 7th attacks -- something that obviously Hamas are not going to volunteer to do.

BURNETT: No, but, Barak, when you lay out the terms that you are saying that Israel put forward, 40 hostages in exchange for a week pause, that is much better terms for Hamas than the last time around, in terms of the number of Israeli hostages released over that timeframe, isn't it?

RAVID: Exactly, because the last time, Israel agreed to a seven-day pause in, return for 80 hostages. Now, it says it will agree to at least a seven-day pause for 40 hostages. So I think this is what Israel is willing to do to try to sweeten the deal for Hamas. That again, for the moment refuses to go back to the table. And I think this is a sort of attempt to shaken up things, and put Hamas in front of a dilemma.

BURNETT: All right. Barak, thank you very much for these breaking details. As I said, Barak Ravid, breaking the news of this proposed truce, as well as all of the details.

So I want to go down to the Israeli ambassador to the United States, Michael Herzog.

And, Ambassador, I very much appreciate your time. So you hear Barak Ravid's supporting, obviously, you know the details of where this negotiation stands right now.

How close are you to a deal with Hamas, has there been any response from this proposal yesterday?

MICHAEL HERZOG, ISRAELI AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED STATES: So, I'm not going to go into specific details. I will say that Israel is willing to give a chance to another deal, to release hostages, as many as possible. And if that includes pausing the fighting, then Israel is willing to go for that.

I think it's premature to tell whether or not we have a deal, because until now, Hamas refused to do another deal. They were hoping for a permanent cease-fire, but I hope that under the pressure of what we are doing on the ground, plus pressure from the Qataris, they will agree to do a deal -- but it's premature at this phase.

BURNETT: Ambassador, Barak was also reporting that for a seven-day pause in fighting, Israel had put forth, your Mossad chief had put forward an offer for Hamas to release 40 hostages. Of course, the last in there is a seven-day pause, it was 80 hostages.

Can you explain at all what the logic may be to giving the same amount of pause for half the number of hostages?

HERZOG: So I'm not going to go into details and discuss this in public. I think there are things better to be discussed behind closed doors, which is what we are doing. But we are hopeful that we can get the deal.

BURNETT: All right, so it has -- Israel first said, when we first got news that the IDF forces had encircled the Hamas leader in Gaza, Sinwar's house. There are reports now that IDF troops twice breached tunnels that they believe Sinwar was hiding in just before they got their, Ambassador.

How close have IDF troops come to Yahya Sinwar?

HERZOG: Well, Sinwar has many homes in Gaza. Of course, the Gaza Strip, and we go to some of them. We believe he's hiding in a deep tunnel, and we hope to get there as well.

As we move along, Hamas built over the years a huge complex of underground tunnels for its military purposes, over 500 kilometer is more than the new metro. It's a huge complex. As we go along, there is a learning curve, we learn more and more, we understand more. And, we develop more methods to destroy this town hall system. And we believe that sooner or later, we will get to Sinwar.


BURNETT: Are you sure? You're saying you believe he is hiding in a deep tunnel. It sounds you're sure from your intelligence, Ambassador, that Sinwar is indeed still in Gaza?

HERZOG: We believe he is.

BURNETT: And if you capture and kill him, does that mark the end of the war, as you see it?

HERZOG: I believe it will shorten the war. We have to destroy their military capabilities, their military infrastructure. We have to remove the threat.

Israel is not going to live again with that kind of threat in the neighborhood, given the events of October 7th. So, it's not only about the leadership, it's also about the leadership that is a total component of the picture? And if you get the leadership, I think it will shorten the war.

BURNETT: So, Ambassador, Prime Minister Netanyahu met with family members of some of the hostages, obviously this has all taken on even more horrible context after the IDF shot and killed three Israeli hostages, who had emerged for building. They were shirtless. They were waving an improvised white flag. One of them was not hit initially, the other two were killed of course, but the one who was not hit ran to seek refuge, and still ended up being shot and killed by Israeli troops.

Now I know, Ambassador, that the IDF says that the state violated its rules of engagement. But a former IDF soldier, a member of the veterans organization breaking the silence named Ariel Bernstein, he spoke with the newspaper "Al Kaish (ph)". He said that the Israeli army's instructions are essentially that anyone in the combat zone is a terrorist.

And I want to give you a chance, Mr. Ambassador, to respond to that because the chain of events, is currently known and put out by the IDF, do seem to indicate that IDF troops did exactly what they intended to do in this situation.

HERZOG: Well, I take issue with the contention that the IDF eyes everyone in war zones as a terrorists. These are very complicated situations for our soldiers, and as a chief of staff of the IDF said, publicly, this was a violation of the rules of the IDF.

I was in uniform for many, many years. It does not represent the rules and the values of the IDF. It was a tragic mistake, a tragic mistake that we will mourn. But that is not representative of the rules of the IDF and its general conduct.

People are, you have young soldiers endangering their lives fighting terrorists. These are very complicated situations, and I think we should not judge them from far away. At the same time, this was a tragic mistake, which is being investigated. And I say again and again, it does not represent the rules of the IDF.

BURNETT: All right. Ambassador Herzog, I appreciate your time tonight, sir. Thank you.

HERZOG: Thank you very much.

BURNETT: All right. And next, we have live pictures from the U.S.- Mexico border. Migrants there are held up in a border crossing. What is behind the incredible surge of humanity that we are seeing right now? Our Rosa Flores is there.

Plus, more live pictures out of Iceland, where a massive eruption, volcanic is underway. Lava, toxic gas now spewing into the air. And our Fred Pleitgen is at that volcano, live.



BURNETT: Tonight, immigration showdown. Texas Governor Greg Abbott, now being sued over his new law giving local police the power to arrest migrants and send them to Mexico. The federal lawsuit filed as there's a major surge at the U.S. southern border.

CNN learning tonight that nearly 13,000 migrants, 13,000, have been apprehended in the past 24 hours. That's an 80 percent increase from last week.

And these numbers, though, no matter how you look at it relatively, are absolutely enormous.

Rosa Flores is OUTFRONT at Eagle Pass, Texas.

And, Rosa, you are there, there is a large crowd of migrants behind you, as you have been there these past few hours. What is happening now?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, thousands of migrants are waiting to be transported for immigration processing. But let me set the tone here, Erin, because really, that if you go past Texas right now, this is the epicenter of the broken federal immigration system, colliding with a state, the state of Texas, wanting to take matters into its own hands.

Let me show you what I'm talking about. Look over my shoulder, and you will see that there are thousands of migrants here. I can see women, children, men. And right now, what you are looking at is a federal issue. The federal government has to process these migrants, hold these migrants.

But, Governor Greg Abbott has just signed SB-4. This creates a new crime for illegal entry into the state of Texas. And what you are looking at could become a state issue. Now this law as expected to go into effect in March. But as you mentioned Erin, it is already caught in the legal battle. We will see what happens there.

But local communities are very concerned about this becoming a state issue. Why? I talked to the local sheriff, he says his deputies are not trained in immigration law, and he says his jails don't have room to jail all of the people that you see behind me.


SHERIFF TOM SCHMERBER, MAVERICK COUNTY, TEXAS: We have no training of immigration laws. We're going to put them, we don't have the space in my jail. We have to take them somewhere else.


FLORES: Now, Erin, this SB4 law does not have money for local governments for police training, and that's one concern. Now back to the lawsuit, Governor Greg Abbott issuing a statement, saying that this law is constitutional, and that he plans to fight it all the way to the Supreme Court.

BURNETT: Of course, he's going to be busy. So, why are all the people behind you outside, Rosa? I mean, obviously, it looks very improvised in terms of the red netting, or the orange netting that they have up, to sort of create lines?

FLORES: And the easy answer is that Border Patrol is overwhelmed. Right now, there's about 23,000 migrants in border control custody.

And, Erin, that doesn't include all of the migrants that you see behind me. The holding capacity for border control is actually 10,000. So just think about that, there's already 23,000 people in custody.

So, why this backup and this bottleneck? There's a few reasons. Of course, there's low capacity, and also the Biden administration is trying to oppose legal consequences to illegal entry -- Erin.

BURNETT: Rosa, thank you very much, in Eagle Pass tonight.

And next, Iceland, we're going to take you live there, the major eruption that is still taking place. And our Fred Pleitgen is right near that volcano. He's next.



BURNETT: You're looking at live pictures of the volcanic eruption in Iceland. At one point, lava spewing at a rate that would fill an Olympic pool in 20 seconds, according to Live Science.

Well, Fred Pleitgen is there. He is OUTFRONT in Grindavik, Iceland, which was less than a mile from the eruption.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): The arctic night illuminated as the earth breaks apart from the fissure bursts its molten core. Weeks of earthquake led to this display of our planet's fire and force.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Following a volcanic eruption, there is always high levels of toxic gases. The main concern in Iceland now is the distribution of this with the wind. PLEITGEN: It's never possible to say when it if a volcano like this

one near the town of Grindavik will erupt. Officials took no chances though, evacuating the population after weeks of tremors. Thousands of shakes were felt in November and all knew what they could bring. Thankfully none were in Grindavik, the town, when the volcano two miles away finally did erupt. This crack in the surface of our world, close to four kilometers or more than two miles long, spewing lava.

This is as close as the authorities want to let us into the volcanic eruptions in the southwest of Iceland. It's a so-called fissure eruption, that means interruption along a crack that can lead several miles long, rather than on a volcanic cone. Now, one of the good things about these eruptions is that actually usually, they don't spew ash into the atmosphere very high, which can, it has in the past, disrupt air travel internationally.

Of course, in a place like Iceland, that could have massive effects.

Previous eruptions in Iceland have lasted weeks or even months.

HALLGRIMUR INDRIDASON, REPORTER, RUV ICELAND: Unfortunately, for the inhabitants of Grindavik, it's impossible to say how long this will last.

PLEITGEN: In the town of Grindavik, the earthquake damage is clear, the lava may follow.

INDRIDASON: If this activity goes on, the big question is will Grindavik be inhabitable in the long run?

PLEITGEN: Whether people can ever move back here depends on a set of geological circumstances being created right now.


PLEITGEN (on camera): And those geological circumstances, Erin, is one of the things that many Icelanders talk about right now. They say that this area of Iceland was dormant for about 800 years. But now in the past two years, we've had for volcanic eruptions here, none of them nearly the size of the one that's going on right now.

And again, the authorities believe that volcanic eruption could continue for weeks, possibly even four months, Erin.

BURNETT: Wow, an incredible thing that you got to witness, Fred. Thank you so much.

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

"AC360" starts now.