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Erin Burnett Outfront

Trump Team Could Appeal Colorado Ballot Ruling As Soon As Today; Israel: GoPro Footage Captured Voices Of Hostages Killed By IDF; Haley, DeSantis Hold Dueling Events, Trade Barbs; 10 Americans Freed In Venezuela Prisoner Swap On Way To U.S.; RFK Jr. Campaigns In Arizona As Poll Numbers Stay Strong. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired December 20, 2023 - 19:00   ET




Trump cashes in, asking supporters to chip in after the Colorado Supreme Court disqualified him from the ballot there. Trump's appeal to the Supreme Court is expected that any moment as he also tries to use the Supreme Court to stall his January 6th federal case. All eyes on the highest court in the land tonight.

Plus, screams for help. There are new evidence showing GoPro footage of the three hostages that the Israeli military shot and killed. At least one of the hostages has reportedly heard crying for help. How did things go so terribly wrong?

And RFK, Jr. keeping up his momentum in the polls in these weeks leading up to the primary season. His media strategy, the podcast circuit. And many of his supporters say that is what sucked them in. A special report.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

And OUTFRONT tonight, chip in. Donald Trump, those are the words being sent out to supporters, doing everything he can to take advantage of Colorado's historic ruling, barring him from running in the states primary.

This fundraising ad, appearing all over Trump social media accounts. And it reposts every few hours. So you're getting deluge with it. It asks his supporters to, quote, chip in, so Trump can stay on the ballot, trying to make this a mega moneymaking situation.

The plea coming as his legal team is right now attempting to appeal the Colorado case to the Supreme Court, a move that will put the nine justices on the Supreme Court in the center of the 2024 election. And tonight, President Biden weighing in.


REPORTER: Is Trump an insurrectionist, sir?

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I think it's self- evident. We saw it. Now, whether the 14th Amendment applies, I'll let the court make that decision. But he certainly supported an insurrection. No question about it. None, zero.


BURNETT: Meanwhile, Republicans are calling out the Colorado court for, they say, trying to overrule voters.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Look, it's unfair. They're abusing power 100 percent.

NIKKI HALEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The idea that judges are going to take it upon themselves to decide who can and can't be on the ballot is truly unthinkable.

VIVEK RAMASWAMY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is a move on behalf of the establishment in both parties that I think is-bent to term into say the Donald Trump should not be able to run and see this through.

CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I do not believe Donald Trump should be prevented from being president of the United States by any court.


BURNETT: And just to be clear, there, if anybody was going to jump on this and take the other side, right, given what he feels about Trump being president, it would be Chris Christie. But he didn't. He said the court should stay out of it.

And the Supreme Court will now have a crucial ruling ahead on this. And this is not the only case that will play a role in history and this election. Today, Trump trying to stall Jack Smith's January 6th case with the Supreme Court, asking the highest court in the land to shoot down Smith's request to immediately rule on whether the case can move forward.

And the Supreme Court is also facing a whole slew of other cases that could significantly impact the election. Like a case on the validity of the law used to charge hundreds of people in connection with the January 6th riot. Like a case on whether an abortion drug will be available. Like a case on the scope of the Second Amendment.

Not since Bush v. Gore in 2000 played such a pivotal role in the election. Frankly, when you list of this and think about where we are now, that almost seems small and quaint. Like a little hanging chad by comparison. There is drama in the Supreme Court over this precipitous moment and

whether they can meet it. Pressure is building for Justice Clarence Thomas to recuse himself from any case dealing with January 6th. That is because his wife and her efforts to overturn the 2020 election are relevant here.

Shortly after the election, Ginni Thomas, his wife, was texting Trump's chief of staff, Mark Meadows, one of the messages reading, help this great president stand firm, Mark, three exclamation points. The majority knows Biden on the left is attempting the greatest heist of our history.

She also emailed John Eastman, of course, one of the architects behind Trump's attempt to overturn the election, the whole fake elector scheme. She was also at the January 6th office deal rally before the attack on the U.S. Capitol.

And just last year, she told a House committee investigating January 6th, okay, get ready for this one, this is where it all comes to ahead, that she still believes the 2020 election was stolen.


She said that last year to the committee.

And now, her husband, the husband of an election denier, could help decide the 2024 election.

Evan Perez is OUTFRONT live in Washington.

And, Evan, you know, it is incredible. The Supreme Court, always important. In this moment, all roads leading right to those nine justices. I know you have new reporting tonight on what the Trump team thinks is next in the face of this historic Colorado ruling.

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, they are bracing for more of these 14th Amendment challenges to spring up in other states. It's been a number of them already, as you know. All of them a failed, really, until this one, and Colorado. We also saw one just recently filed in the state of Oregon.

And so, that one is pending. And so, what we don't know is where these will happen next. That's what has the Trump team a lot more concerned because, obviously, they're going to have to spend money to defend the former president in multiple states. That's a huge problem, obviously. It's a big financial issue.

But one of the other things that we're watching for is obviously when they go to the Supreme Court. They have some time, and we're told Alayna Treene, one of our correspondents he's talking that the campaign, has told that it might be a few more days before we see that appealed to the Supreme Court.

They, of course, need to make that appeal. They have a few things they want to bring up, including, of course, the idea that there was not due process in this case in Colorado. But they have a few more days. Obviously, Colorado has to certify its ballot by January 5th. And of

course, that's when the vote is actually in March. The question is whether the Supreme Court will be able to address all of this in the next couple of months before voters in -- primary voters, in Colorado go to -- go to the ballot boxes on March 5th, Erin.

TAPPER: All right. Thank you very much. That really lays it out when you think about it. I mean, at some level, you think, name off the ballot, you're thinking all the way out to next November.

But no, because this affects the primaries for Colorado, that is in March. You've got printing deadlines sending out absentee ballot deadlines, right? The time is of the essence, every day matters.

Ryan Goodman is with me now, the former special counsel of the Department of Defense; Steve Vladeck, the professor of law at the University of Texas School of Law, joins us; and Van Jones, former special adviser to President Obama.

So, Ryan, this is a huge moment for the Supreme Court. I know I sort of was being a little tongue-in-cheek, which makes 2000 look like a hanging chad moment. But, I mean, this is -- this is an incredibly historic moment.

RYAN GOODMAN, FORMER SPECIAL COUNSEL AT DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE: It really is. These are gigantic cases that will define the future of the country in so many ways. Will a former president be barred from running for office again because they're responsible for engaging in an insurrection? That's just enormous stakes.

And then the other is a big one as well. Are presidents of the United States immune from criminal trial for conduct that occurred while they were in office? That's the second big win that they have to decide, and probably will be deciding these cases earlier in the year.

BURNETT: Right. And so, let's talk about the timing here, Steve, because as you've been looking at the court and how they seem to be responding here, do you have any indication?

I guess there's two parts to this. Is there any question that they're going to take up these issues? The Colorado case in the immunity issue in January 6th? The Jack Smith situation that Trump is trying to stall right now. And how quickly could these decisions actually occur?

STEVE VLADECK, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Sure. I mean, Erin, the first question is the easy one. No. I think no matter what, both the immunity question and the section three disqualification question are going to be resolved by the U.S. Supreme Court, certainly between now and June. I think the question is how much faster.

And the U.S. Supreme Court, we could hear from the justices as early as the end of this week that they're going to either take up Jack Smith's expedited appeal in that case, that they're going to let the federal appeals court go first. Argument in the federal appeals court (INAUDIBLE) scheduled as of now for January 9th. So, that's still pretty quick. The Supreme Court, even if it doesn't step in now, could presumably

hear that case by the end of January, early February.


VLADECK: You know, the Colorado case, Erin, is a bit trickier because the Colorado Supreme Court stayed its own ruling. And that stay means Trump's name will be on the ballot, so long as he filed his appeal in the Supreme Court by January 4th. You know, I think the U.S. Supreme Court might take a little bit more time with that case, but a little more time means January or February for the oral argument, with the decision by March.

Erin, by the Supreme Court standards, that is lightning fast. And I think we've already seen a couple of very small tea leaf ridden type signs that the justices are clearing up their calendars and making provisions to move pretty quickly on both of these cases, you know, once they're fully ready to go.

BURNETT: So, Van, one thing that's clearly happening now is that, well, now, the Trump GOP primary opponents seem to be aligned.


They're rallying around it, right? You've got Chris Christie on the same page as Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley.

I mean, what did it take to get us there? Well, there, we are, all defending Trump. You know, that's the reality that we're seeing it. Trump fundraising off of it, and in a big way, right? I mean, it just kept hitting your inbox today, again and again and again.

So was the Colorado decision actually good for Democrats? I mean, in a moment, I'm sure a lot of them were celebrating. But are they now?

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: People were happy and hopeful that maybe something can happen that would impose some kind of accountability on a runaway train called Donald Trump that has done everything to trash our democracy, to trash our norms, seems to be possibly barreling back towards the White House.

Now, the Republicans that you see rallying around him now, that's not new. In fact, if Mitch McConnell had just done his job, the Republican leader in the House, and convicted Trump for these political crimes, we wouldn't be here. What happened is the House impeached Trump for all his behavior, and Mitch McConnell didn't let the Senate convict him. Had that happened, he would've been disqualified the right way through politics.

Instead, it's dumped over into the court system. And now, you've got criminal courts and civil courts, and election officials, and everybody trying to figure out a way to stop this guy, and Republican Party is standing strong. They've been derelict in their duty as a party from the beginning, from the beginning of this whole crisis.

BURNETT: Like a game of hot potato. Remember when Mitch McConnell said that, right? That Trump was guilty as he says it, but this to the court -- hot potato.

JONES: And now here we are.

BURNETT: And now, here we are. And now here we are.

JONES: A big mess.

BURNETT: And we're also, Ryan and Steve, in the context of a court that has Clarence Thomas on it, whose wife, as I just laid out, Ginni Thomas, was -- even as recently as last year, denying the election and in contact with John Eastman and in contact with Mark Meadows, and attending the stop the steal rally.

Ad he has at this point shown no indication that he has any intent of recusing himself.

GOODMAN: Yeah, I think that he should. I mean, just for the public interest, and the fairness of the proceedings, and to see the court as it beyond reproach. His spouse is directly in communication with John Eastman, a codefendant who Donald Trump in the Georgia case and is an unindicted coconspirator the federal case.


GOODMAN: She's in direct communication with Mark Meadows, who is a indicted coconspirator in the Georgia case, and he's --

BURNETT: Calling it the greatest heist of our history, I was just reading up what she was texting Mark Meadows.


GOODMAN: Absolutely. So, she was in communication with him. But it's about the very core set of issues that are in these cases about trying to overturn the election for Donald Trump after the election was held. And she's very much supportive, and she's pushing Meadows, in fact, into that space.


GOODMAN: Yeah, that would be the time that he would recuse himself. He has recused himself previously, but it was a case that was directly about the communications between her and John Eastman. But this is -- one of the piece of the same puzzle. I think the right thing to do would be to do this.

BURNETT: So, you're saying he should, yes, right thing to do, yes, from Ryan Goodman.

Steve, will he?

VLADECK: No, and I mean, we already know at least one sign of that, Erin. The order that the court issued last week where the court agreed to expedite consideration of Jack Smith's petition for certiorari judgment in the January 6 prosecution had no notation that he was recused. And I think what we really should do is take a step back and try to figure out what's the endgame if you're the Supreme Court? I mean, if you're chief justice John Roberts, how do you navigate through the sticky wicket to get the court to a place where it still has credibility on the far side?

Some of that's about whether Justice Thomas recuses. But, Erin, some of that is about, you know, is there a way to reach some kind of compromise where you have justices appointed by presidents of both parties? Justice from across the ideological spectrum reaching some kind of consensus? Much like a unanimous Supreme Court did back in 1974 in the Watergate tapes case.

You know, I think that's the real question now for the Supreme Court. Now they're not going to be able to avoid these issues, what are they going to do to keep the public faith that this is a judicial resolution and not just a partisan political one?

BURNETT: A very thoughtful answer. I also have to give you credit for doing a croquet analogy in, which is a rare thing indeed.

Van, a final word to you. President Biden weighing on this, saying whether the 14th Amendment applies, I let the court make that decision. But then being very clear, unequivocal, he supported an insurrection, no question about it, none, zero.

Is that the appropriate response from the sitting president?

JONES: Well, look, what he said is right. I mean, we all saw him whip up this mob in the mob go attack people in trying to hang his vice president. What he said is right, but I'm not sure it was right for him to say it in that it puts him in the controversy in a way that's not that helpful.

If the court goes his way, it makes them look like maybe he pushed the courts in the certain direction, which is not appropriate.


If the court doesn't go his way, he looks weak. So I would prefer that Biden just stay out of this controversy.

We have a court system. It should never have gone to the court system. The Senate should've handled this. But we have a court system, the doing the best they can, I don't think the executives should be weighing in.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much. Van, Steve, Ryan, appreciate you all very much.

And next, what was caught on tape so horrifically. Three hostages killed by Israeli fighters were recorded, reportedly yelling for help days before they were accidentally shot. And that's not all that was captured on IDF GoPro.

We're live in Tel Aviv, next.

Plus, Biden making a deal. Ten Americans who've been held in Venezuela prisons are now on their way home after Biden makes a pact with the leader who takes his cues from Vladimir Putin.

And where is Alexey Navalny? The Russian opposition leader's wife raising concerns about her husband who has now been missing for 15 days.


BURNETT: Tonight, a fatal mistake. CNN is learning new details tonight about that shooting death of three Israeli hostages by Israel's own military, the IDF.

There's GoPro camera footage that exists, and it's actually from a military K9 dog. So, they had put a GoPro on that dog. It went into the house for the hostages where, so they were looking for them.


You can hear the three hostages, Samer Talalka, Yotam Haim and Alon Shimriz five days before their death on this video. They were caught in a firefight between Hamas and the IDF, and their voices can be heard on the GoPro footage screaming for help, along with cries saying, hostages. Well, the K9 was killed by Hamas in that particular attack, and of course, those three hostages were killed by the IDF days later.

Jeremy Diamond is OUTFRONT live in Tel Aviv.

And, Jeremy, it's just a whole new level of horror to the story, that there was a situation where there was a dog, right, with the GoPro footage, that the IDF could've known that there were hostages there, and they seen it, watched it, I don't know. What more are you learning about this footage?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Erin. Especially given the fact that this footage was captured five days before those three hostages were shot and killed mistakenly by Israeli soldiers. This footage was apparently captured during a firefight in which the Israeli military believes that its forces actually killed the Hamas fighters who were holding those three Israelis hostage.

And that footage, though, Erin, was unfortunately only located yesterday, after those hostages had already been killed. It's not clear exactly why soldiers didn't enter that building at the time to retrieve the dog and to retrieve this GoPro footage. But once the Israeli military analyze this footage yesterday, is that they could clearly hear the voices of those three hostages. And this will be a part of the investigation that the Israeli military is conducting. But today, also, what we heard is the mother of one of those hostages.

She recorded a voice message to the soldiers of the unit that was involved in the shooting of her son and those two other hostages. In it, she tells them not to blame themselves. Listen.


IRIS HAIM, MOTHER OF SLAIN HOSTAGE YOTAM HAIM (through translator): I know that everything that happened is completely not your fault. It's nobody's fault, except Hamas, may their name and memory be wiped off the face of the earth.

We all need you to be safe and sound. Don't hesitate for a single moment. If you see a hostage -- you need to protect yourselves, because it's the only way you'll be able to protect us.


DIAMOND: Meanwhile, we are hearing a very different message from the father of another one of the hostages.

Abe Shimriz is saying that the shooter should not have opened fire. He is also accused the Israeli government of murdering his son. And tonight, he's also delivering a message directly to the Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu, effectively accusing him of cowardice for not calling or visiting him -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Jeremy. Just a horrible tragedy.

And, of course, those three men did have their shirts off. They were carrying a makeshift white flag, two of them shot immediately, one of them sought cover and was then shot, even after, of course, speaking in Hebrew by the IDF snipers.

So, OUTFRONT now, retired Army Lieutenant General Mark Hertling.

And, General, you fought and led soldiers in combat. Deep experienced training soldiers, dealing with snipers, dealing with urban warfare. How do you view the IDF killing these three Israeli hostages? Obviously, with their shirts off, and a white flag, that would be against any norm in their own standards. They've said that. But then you're in the middle of the specific situation in Gaza where it happened.

LT. GENERAL MARK HERTLING (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Erin, you can't tell. I mean, it's interesting to listen to the different responses by both the mother of Haim and also the father, who was condemning the Israeli soldiers.


HERTLING: But in any kind of situation and combat, it doesn't matter. I mean, the reporting has been that they were carrying a white flag, and they had their shirts off. That doesn't matter, truthfully. It's very difficult in intense combat to figure out who is friend and who is foe.

In addition to that, the training of individual soldiers, like Israeli soldiers, they were involved in this incident, and leads them down a different path depending on the level of training. If they are extremely well-trained, they may hesitate and not someone approaching them.

But we don't know the conditions on the battlefield that particular day. Was it a firefight? It appears to have been. Was there a lot of smoke or darkness or confusion? And when you're in that situation, the soldiers put their finger on the trigger are primarily concerned with their own welfare, defending themselves.

And I think that -- you know, I had an incident in one of the units. It took us five days to figure out the details of exactly what happened. And, you know, it was a training situation, again, much like this one. And, unfortunately, the soldiers who -- the soldier as I understand -- it was one soldier who killed two of the hostages, that soldier will carry this the rest of his life.


It's unfortunate that these hostages were killed. That soldier will carry out the rest of his life. The other soldier who fired before the commander gave the order to cease fire, the unit will carry it, the Israeli Defense Forces will carry it.

And it's an unfortunate situation. This is what happens in combat, unfortunately, sometimes.

BURNETT: So, General, it's been more than two weeks since the IDF said it had surrounded Sinwar's home and it was actually Prime Minister Netanyahu announced that night, leading to the implication that they had it. That was sort of the tone that came in. And then it was, no, he wasn't there.

But last night, the Israeli ambassador to the United States told me that they believe that Sinwar is deep in a tunnel inside Gaza, and I explicitly then said, are you sure he's there? And he said, we believe that he is.

So, what do you think that intelligence is? I mean, in some levels, it seems that they know a lot, and on another, it's sort of shocking, given how small Gaza is and how many Israeli eyes have been on it how little they know.

HERTLING: Yeah, it's interesting. I saw your interview last night. It was a very good one with the ambassador, Erin, and what I'd say is, they don't know a lot, and they know a lot. It describes exactly what you just said.

Today, a report came out and extensive tunnels, and in fact, I talked to a former Israeli colleague that I knew over there. He said, Mark, you could not believe the amount of tunnel systems that we're seeing right now. It is beyond belief.

It isn't just the one that Jeremy was in the other day that you can drive through. It go off in branches and different direction, it's multiple stories. It goes down 50 feet. It was generated by drilling machines that the Israeli army said they haven't even used on the Tel Aviv metro. It goes below the water level after the initial 50 feet.

So these tunnels are extensive. They're complex. They're large, and just mind-boggling in the Israelis go in there. So they don't know a lot about these tunnels.

And Yahya Sinwar is somewhere in those tunnels, and they can say, hey, we believe he's in there, but they don't really know for sure. So it is a mixed bag of knowledge and lack of knowledge whenever you're dealing with the subterranean facilities like Israel has seen, which no other army in the world has seen these kind of subterranean facilities.

BURNETT: All right. Well, General Hertling, thank you very much as always.

And next, the Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley saying new signs of momentum after the state's popular governor, Chris Sununu, endorsed her in New Hampshire. So, the crucial question for her now is whether she can catch up to Trump to try to stop him. Governor Sununu is next.

And Biden, striking a deal with a power hungry leader who's threatened to invade his neighbor and ordered free ten American prisoners. Those Americans are about to land on U.S. soil for the first time in just a few hours.



BURNETT: Tonight, Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley are in Iowa, holding town halls right now. They've been crisscrossing the state all day, there are only 26 days until the caucuses.

You're looking right now at live pictures, both of them campaigning at this moment, ramping up their attacks on each other as they try to emerge as the clear alternative to Donald Trump.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Haley? No one would even try to say she's a conservative. We know she's not.

NIKKI HALEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Every single commercial that Ron DeSantis put out there has been a lie.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: All right. All of this coming as Haley is seeing a major surge in New Hampshire, right? The second state to vote. She's in second place there, with about 30 percent of likely Republican voters naming her as their first choice. So, that's nearly tripling her support from September, and it's important to note that in that state, Trump does not have a majority. He does, 48 percent in the most recent polling in Iowa, but in New Hampshire, he does not have a majority.

So, a very -- at least on the poll front, very competitive looking there, after receiving a key endorsement for states Governor Chris Sununu, who is OUTFRONT now.

So, Governor Sununu, I really appreciate your time.

So, Governor Haley is seeing a clear surge since your endorsement last week. Now, as I pointed out, Trump is not pulling out a majority in New Hampshire in the most recent polling as he is in Iowa. We don't know how either state will go.

But even though Haley has momentum in your state, does she have the time to bridge a 14-point gap with Trump?

GOV. CHRIS SUNUNU (R), NEW HAMPSHIRE: Oh, without a doubt. Look, I mean, we are notorious for really making up our mind almost at the last minute. So, the last three weeks between January 1st in the 23rd, that some folks will really start engaging.

They're going to start now a little bit, you can see that momentum. She's the only candidate that has momentum. So, you know, she's getting kind of that earned media. People are starting to really look in her direction, and those that want to see a one-on-one race, which is most people, are really saying, okay, this is the path.

So, the Chris Christie voters are coming over, the Ron DeSantis voters are coming over. She had another poll that kind of backing up the first poll, saying that, you know, she's within, you know, 12, 13, 14 points here, which again sounds like a lot, but for New Hampshire, that's nothing knowing that everything can change at the last minute.

BURNETT: All right. So, then the other question is, we talk about the order of the states. New Hampshire comes second. You've got Nevada caucuses, and you've got South Carolina, obviously, but coming down the pipeline after that. Does she have to win New Hampshire to actually move forward to the GOP nomination and a very clear way to voters in those next states to vote? Is a solid second cut?

SUNUNU: Oh no. Yeah, of course. Donald Trump is the only person that has to win Iowa in New Hampshire because the whole world been told that he's going to win in a landslide in vote states for the last year. So, the expectations for him are incredibly high.

No one expects, right now, of the candidates to win either state. A solid second would be great. But Nikki can -- I think she's going to win here. I mean, I really, really do.

With a voter turnout, which I think is going to be record-breaking, with the number of conservatives that are galvanizing behind, as moderates, undeclared voters, whoever it is, everyone is kind of coming in for Nikki Haley, not just because I say so. That has very little to do with it.

She's earning it, right? She's doing the town hall. She's bringing the energy. She's showing her conservative credentials, the background she brings, she's always looking forward.

And new Hampshire is a state, with respect to Iowa, I know it does what it does, but New Hampshire always picks the next generation of conservative leadership. That's just our history, that's the opportunity folks are going to galvanize behind, especially with all that momentum.

Political momentum is a very real thing, and sometimes it can become a freight train that's hard to stop. But I think that's what you're going to see here.

BURNETT: So, today on the campaign trail, and Iowa, obviously, got both governors, Haley and DeSantis.


Right now, you're looking at live pictures, of course, of Nikki Haley in Iowa town halls, but the dominating topic has been the Colorado Supreme Court ruling that kick Trump off the ballot there for the primary for his actions on January 6th, inciting an insurrection.

Now, Nikki Haley, Ron DeSantis, Chris Christie, Vivek Ramaswamy, there's been unanimity among all of them that this was the wrong thing to do. Trump is getting ready to appeal the ruling.

The question for you, Governor, is -- is how much is this moment helping Trump and hurting Haley and others?

SUNUNU: A lot.

BURNETT: Because it puts a lot, huh. How do you see that?

SUNUNU: Oh, yeah, no, this definitely helps Trump. Trump has played this victim card, right, and his weakest moment in this campaign, the indictments hit, and he played the victim card, his numbers went through the roof. So, you have Colorado being this outlier state, during this very bizarre move, which is likely going to get overturned by the Supreme Court, and it should. Hopefully, it'll just happen quickly so we can get back to it being a one-on-one race between Trump and Haley, because it is -- it's just a one-on-one race at this point.

Even in Iowa, you know, God bless Ron, he's put all his chips in Iowa, a poll came out today having Nikki clearly alone in second place, even in Iowa.

So, this is a one-on-one race, but as soon as we can put this victimization of Trump behind all of us, he's going to play that card up as hard as he can. He never wants to talk about the future. He never wants to talk about what he's going to try to do and bring to the table, because then it gets questions about his past, which he can't answer.

So he's just going to keep playing the. Hopefully the Supreme Court will put it behind us quickly.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much. I appreciate your time, Governor Sununu. Good to see.

SUNUNU: You bet.

BURNETT: And next, ten Americans freed after Biden strikes a deal with the world leader has been following in Putin's footsteps trying to take over half of the country next door, on America's next door. So what could this mean for Americans? Like Paul Whelan, who are being held in Russia tonight?

Plus, RFK Jr. shifting to a new strategy, podcasts. And guess what? It's paying off.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah, absolutely, it sealed the deal for my vote for Mr. Kennedy.




BURNETT: Breaking news. Ten Americans jailed in Venezuela are about to land on American soil for the first time since their imprisonment in just hours. They are part of a prisoner swap that the Biden administration is striking with the authoritarian regime of Nicholas Maduro, the ruler of Venezuela. The U.S. giving up a close ally of Maduro in this trade, and President Biden is defending it.


BIDEN: It's okay because detained American people who were held illegally, and we made a deal with Venezuela to hold free elections. So far, they maintained the requirements, and that's it.


BURNETT: Ed Lavandera is OUTFRONT.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ten Americans who spent months and years imprisoned in Venezuela are on their way back to the United States. State Department officials say six who were officially listed as wrongfully detained by the U.S. government will touch down in San Antonio, Texas, tonight.

Among them, Joseph Cristella, Eyvin Hernandez, Jerrel Kenemore, and Savoi Wright. ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We have no higher priority

than doing everything we possibly can to bring our fellow citizens out of harm's way.

LAVANDERA: Also included in the deal is Leonard Francis, the infamously corrupt military contractor known as Fat Leonard. He was the mastermind of the largest bribery scandal in the U.S. naval history. He fled to Venezuela after his conviction in 2015. The U.S. had eased some economic sanctions against Venezuela as the country took steps to open its elections and agree to return Alex Saab, an ally of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

Saab was facing prison time in the U.S. on corruption and money laundering charges. The Venezuelan government is also releasing 20 political prisoners, some seen leaving prison by a CNN team in Venezuela.

The Biden administration says this is a sign of improving relations between the U.S. and Venezuela, and part of its effort to push the socialist dictatorship towards more democratic reforms.

But the deal comes as the Maduro regime is threatening to take over part of a neighboring country, Guyana, since just east of Venezuela, and Maduro, once control of the small country's oil reserves. And a senior administration official says Maduro still faces criminal charges in the U.S., including drug trafficking and corruption.

President Biden is vowing to keep the pressure up on the Venezuelan president.

BIDEN: Venezuela thus far is keeping their commitment toward a democratic election and we're going to hold them accountable.

LAVANDERA: But this deal sparks renewed frustration for families of some other Americans imprisoned abroad. Paul Whelan has been held in a Russian prison for nearly five years. His brother recently telling OUTFRONT his family is growing frustrated with the Biden administration.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unfortunately, I don't see that the government is any closer to bringing Paul home than they were a year ago.

LAVANDERA: President Vladimir Putin so far is refusing to make a deal for his release.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We want to negotiate.

LAVANDERA: The Russian president said last week, we want to negotiate and the agreements must be mutually acceptable and satisfactory to both sides. Like the one made to release Brittney Griner more than a year ago in exchange for an international arms dealer. But the hope for these other American families is that the U.S. could strike another deal to bring their loved ones back home.


LAVANDERA (on camera): And, Erin, several members of families related to these Americans who will be returning here to San Antonio tonight have released statement saying they are great for their loved one's ordeal is over, they're grateful to the U.S. government for their efforts in negotiating their release. It's not clear how many of those family members will be here on the ground when this plane arrives here later tonight.

As I mentioned, six of the ten we are expecting to see here at Kelly Field in San Antonio later tonight, we don't have much information on the other four, but we've been told they are being taken to another location -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Ed, thank you very much in San Antonio, where that plane is going to land.

I want to go now to Chuck Pfarrer, former member of SEAL Team Six because he's worked on hostage rescues and negotiations around the world.

So, Chuck, talking about the situation here -- you know, many in Venezuela consider Alex Saab, who's now going to be released by the United States in this swap, right, one for 10, is guilty -- an ally of Maduro, guilty of some terrible abuses as part of the Maduro government.


What's your reaction to the details, as you know them, of this swap?

CHUCK PFARRER, FORMER NAVY SEAL: I was pretty surprised actually that something would come out of Venezuela like this at the present time, with Maduro's recent saber rattling. I was actually surprised that Alex Saab would be -- would be given back. He was a member of Maduro's insider club.

These are guys that, you know, purloined Venezuela's natural resources. The grift is measured in the billions. And Alex Saab was on route to Tehran to negotiate a Venezuelan back alley oil deal.

The problem for people like Maduro, he can lay hands on all sorts of resources, but he has a hard time turning them into dollars. There's definitely some give here in Venezuela, among the people who were transferred were two former green berets, Luke Denman and Airan Berry, who were involved in a failed insurrection attempt back in 2019.

BURNETT: So you're saying that front it significant. But amazing when you're looking at a moment where Venezuela has threatened to, you know, militarily invade more than half of its neighboring country to get oil reserves. The Biden administration reduced sanctions on Venezuela, all of this playing into this moment.

Putin, obviously, is a big supporter of the Maduro regime. Meanwhile nothing happening there. Paul Whelan five years imprisoned in Russia, and nothing is happening there. Does this deal mean anything for somebody like Paul Whelan?

PFARRER: Well, you know you've got three hostage transactions attracting world attention. It's hard to see three points on a map and not draw a triangle. Paul Whelan is Russia's blue chip hostage. And again, this is a guy who went for a two week vacation in Russia. He spent five years in a labor camp. He was not traded for Viktor Bout, who was the international arms dealer, sort of exporting misery all around Africa, but we will hope Paul will get home for Christmas, but I'm not sure I have a lot of hope.

BURNETT: Well, amazing that you would put Christmas on that map. I guess even hearing you say that would perhaps give some hope for a miracle here. But it has been five years of his family has suffered, and he has suffered.

Chuck, thanks so much.

PFARRER: My pleasure. Thank you.

BURNETT: All right. And next, RFK Jr. is building on his support by focusing on podcasts, sort of a totally different track than the other candidates. And it is working. We will show you exactly what he is doing, while it's resonating.

And it's now been 50 days since Putin top critic Alexey Navalny went missing in the Russian penal colony he's in. Tonight, the head of his foundation demands answers.



BURNETT: Tonight, RFK Jr. set to take the stage in moments for a campaign rally in Phoenix. He is polling higher than any third party or independent candidate in a generation, consistently since early in the spring, polling 20 percent in a hypothetical three-way race against President Biden and former President Trump.

One of his main media strategies is actually going on podcasts. It is a specific strategy, and the question is, how is it working?

Lucy Kafanov is OUTFRONT.


JORDAN YOUKILIS, RFK JR. SUPPORTER: Hello and welcome to Entangled. I'm your host, Jordan Youkilis.

LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Jordan Youkilis, a Colorado venture capitalist and podcaster, says he's voted for Democrats in every presidential election since he's been eligible, until now.

YOUKILIS: So this election, I'm planning to vote for Bobby Kennedy.

KAFANOV: Youkilis says he experienced the transformation of sorts during the pandemic, which changed not only his political views but also where he gets his information.

YOUKILIS: Since the pandemic started and I lost trust in a lot of the things that were being told to us by the corporate media, I started to explore more and more alternative sources of media and get more actively involved and things like podcasts.

KAFANOV: A form that he thinks serves Kennedy well.

YOUKILIS: I think one of the reasons that Bobby Kennedy is more successful in long form podcast is because he can articulate his intelligence. If I was just looking at the corporate media presentation, I would probably think he was just a conspiracy theorist, anti-vaxxer.

ROBERT KENNEDY, JR. (I), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you. All thank you very, very much.

This campaign is kind of Armageddon, potentially, for the legacy media.

KAFANOV: Kennedy is open about his online strategy.

KENNEDY: If you can convince those people to watch a podcast, watch Joe Rogan or Jordan Peterson, that they have a very, very high and very quick conversion rate.

KAFANOV: Since launching his long shot bid for the White House, first as a Democrat, now is an independent --

KENNEDY: It became clear to me that that's what I needed to do.

KAFANOV: Kennedy has been making the rounds on popular podcasts and live streams.

KENNEDY: Elon, real pleasure meeting you and thank you so much for hosting this.

KAFANOV: Where he is able to reach large audiences while speaking at length, usually without being challenged or fact-checked.

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST: Why would we have biolabs in Ukraine?

KENNEDY: We have biolabs in Ukraine because we're developing bioweapons.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, last podcast he did was censored and removed.

KENNEDY: Which is clearly a violation of First Amendment.

JOE ROGAN, PODCAST HOST: Wi-Fi radiation causes --

KENNEDY: Yeah, from your cellphone -- I mean, cell phone tumors. ROSIE AGUILAR, RFK JR. SUPPORTER: That's the one that cinched it for

me, was Joe Rogan, 1999.

KAFANOV: Rosie Aguilar says she hasn't voted in the past several presidential elections.


The candidates just didn't excite her.

AGUILAR: Those are my choices, dumb or dumber.

KAFANOV: She wasn't planning on voting this year, until she listened to Joe Rogan's three-hour-long interview with Kennedy.

AGUILAR: Joe asked great questions. Questions I would ask. And you know, Mr. Kennedy responded in a way that made sense to me. Like, wow.

KENNEDY: I'm going to reboot the GPS.

KENDRA WILSON, VOTER: Yeah, I was swayed by RFK Jr. on long-form podcast form.

KAFANOV: Kendra Wilson was initially interested in Kennedy, too.

KENNEDY: We're ten times more likely to die over the next three months than girls.

KAFANOV: But the more she saw of Kennedy on the campaign trail, the less she liked.

WILSON: It wasn't until I saw the rallies in the Zoom event, and it was like everybody is white here. This isn't a solution to anything. I hear him talking about all this unity but what I see is not unity.


KAFANOV: For outside the mainstream candidate like Kennedy, this is a strategy that frankly makes sense. He can bypass gatekeepers and fact checkers. He also ends up reaching large and engaged audiences.

And while the supporters that we met, Erin, have been extremely enthusiastic about him, which is no small feat, frankly, in this election, it remains to be seen whether the so-called podcast demographic will actually turn out on Election Day.

BURNETT: Yeah, absolutely. But, I mean, unbelievable. It's fascinating to come up with a totally different strategy as well, at least so far, obviously executing on.

Thanks so much, Lucy.

And next, pressure growing for answers as it has now been 15 days since Alexey Navalny went missing.


BURNETT: Tonight, where is Alexey Navalny? A question he and his family and his top aide, Maria Pevchikh, frequent guest on OUTFRONT, they are asking now, pounding the table, saying for 15 days we don't know where Alexey Navalny is or what is happening to him.

Navalny leaving a Russian penal colony just over two weeks ago. His team is concerned he's being transferred to another distant and even worst penal colony, but they don't know if alive or not.

The wife of another imprisoned Putin critic Vladimir Kara-Murza had this warning about prison transfers.


EVGENIA KARA-MURZA, WIFE OF JAILED PUTIN CRITIC VLADIMIR KARA-MURZA: The next step is the transfer. And this is a very dangerous period. They tend to lose prisoners during transfer.


BURNETT: Tomorrow night, Navalny's daughter Dasha will be OUTFRONT. We'll see you then.

Thanks for joining us.

Anderson starts now.