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Erin Burnett Outfront

Trump Appeals Colorado Ballot Ban To Supreme Court; Tensions Rise As 100+ Killed At Ceremony For Slain Iran General; Haley, DeSantis Face Tough Questions As Iowa Votes In 12 Days. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired January 03, 2024 - 19:00   ET




Breaking news: Trump appeals to the Supreme Court. The former president asking the nation's highest court to overturn Colorado's ruling banning him from the ballot. His legal team says what happened on January 6th was not an insurrection.

Also tonight, on the brink of a global war. After explosions killed more than 100 people in Iran, the president there pointing the finger at the United States. Is the war in the Middle East about to get much bigger?

And we're live tonight in Iowa as Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis face some tough questions with days to go before the caucuses here. Who's got more momentum?

Let's go OUTFRONT.


BURNETT: And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. We are live tonight from Des Moines, Iowa, where CNN will host back-to-back town halls tomorrow night, days away from the Republican caucus.

Now, we'll have much more on that in a moment. But we have breaking news tonight at this hour. Former President Trump tonight asking the nation's highest court to keep him on the ballot in Colorado, filing that appeal. The former president appealing the historic ruling by the highest court in Colorado, which deemed him an insurrectionist and held that that made him ineligible to hold public office, according to the Constitution's 14th Amendment in the state of Colorado.

According to Trump's filing, Trump's lawyers were right. The Colorado Supreme Court aired in how it described President Trump's rule in the events of January 6, 2021. It was not "insurrection", and President Trump way -- and no -- President Trump in no way, quote, engaged in a, quote, insurrection.

Now, separate from the issue of being on the ballot, again, to focus on the crucial point here, they're saying it was in an insurrection. His lawyers going on to write that in the days leading up to January 6th and on that day itself, quote, his only explicit instructions called for protesting peacefully and patriotically to support our Capitol police and law enforcement, to stay peaceful and to remain peaceful.

Here's Trump leading up to January 6th.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: But you have to fight hard, and then you fight hard, and you hit them back.

We have to fight.

Now is the time to fight harder than ever before.

If you don't fight to save your country with everything you have, you're not going to have a country left.


BURNETT: And on the day of the insurrection, here is Donald Trump in his own words.


TRUMP: Fight. Fight, fight. Fighting, to fight, fighting. Fight, so I fight, did fight, I fight, did fight, fight. Fighting. We fight. Fight like hell. Fight like hell.


BURNETT: Trump mentioned the word "fight" 16 times. Sixteen times, he said the word fight and the minutes before his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol.

Now, today's filing by Trump trusts the Supreme Court into having to resolve an unprecedented legal issue and it is one that will affect not just the election in Colorado, of course, but also possibly the entire election itself, across the United States.

I mean, just take a look at Maine, right? Last week, the secretary of state there announced Trump would be cut from the main primary ballot. Trump is appealing that decision as well.

And another challenge to Trump's eligibility for office is now before the top court in the state of Oregon.

Well, in a moment, I'm going to speak to the former Trump White House attorney Ty Cobb.

But, first, I want to begin with the breaking news here with Paula Reid. She is OUTFRONT live in Washington tonight.

And, Paula, this appeal coming in the Colorado case which was the crucial canary in the coal mine for this, right? Perhaps led to then what happened in Maine. What can you tell us, from your reporting, about the appeal, and then

what happens from here?

PAULA REID, CNN CHIEF LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: So, the way the Trump team has framed this, they are asking the Supreme Court to return to voters the ability to choose the candidate they want. They argue that the Colorado Supreme Court's decision to remove Trump from the ballot was the first time in this country's history that the judiciary has prevented voters from selecting a parties primary candidate. Then, they go on to advocate for their interpretation of the Constitution, specifically Section Three of the 14th Amendment.

That is the part that has been litigated now across multiple states, and it says that if you engaged in an insurrection, you cannot hold a future office. They insist that it doesn't apply to presidents, because it doesn't explicitly say that it does. They argue to the high court that if you believe that this applies to presidents, you have to believe that the drafters decided to bury the most visible and prominent national office in a catch-all term.


They insist that this reading defies common sense and is not correct.

Now, Erin, as you know, this question, this divided the courts even in the state of Colorado. So that's a question that is right for the Supreme Court. They also argue that the mechanism for determining eligibility that is Congress, not the state, and attacked the secretary of state of Colorado's power to assess the eligibility based on her assessment of the candidates' qualification.

So, now, all eyes are on the Supreme Court. Today's appeal, increasing the pressure already on the high court. But, that coupled with the numerous appeals that we're seeing here, really, we need a high court to weigh in and give clarity to all 50 states on all of these issues.

It's very much expected that they will weigh in. What they'll say, Erin, is anybody's guess.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Paula, with the breaking news. Now, let's go, as promised, to Ty Cobb, the former Trump White House lawyer.

So, Ty, you've had a chance to read through Trump's filings tonight, this appeal that we know was coming, right? You had a chance to see the arguments and the details they make. You know, you thought, originally, this could be a 9-0 ruling in his favor. Not whether he's an insurrectionist, right? This is about whether he can remain on the ballot.

Do you think the Supreme Court -- now that you've read this appeal -- will keep him on the Colorado ballot or not?

REID: Yes, I do. I think -- I think the way that the court will analyze this, they will not -- I don't think they'll reach the issue of was it or was it not an insurrection, sadly. I mean, as you highlighted earlier, you know, you can say fighting 16 times, or peacefully twice, and you know, pretend that you didn't mean fight, and that you can sit in your office for three and a half hours, do nothing, and send out a mean tweet about Vice President Pence, and pretend that you didn't incite these people.

But, I think the issue is not whether or not Trump participated or gave aid or comfort to insurrectionists, but whether Article Three of the 14th Amendment actually applies to the president. And I think there, you know, sadly, that Trump has the winning hand under the Constitution.

The Colorado Republican Party briefed this issue a week or more ago and their petition for cert, Trump slipped his brief in under the deadline. Why the delay? I don't know.

But the argument that is essential to both briefs is the applicability of Article Three. The article, as written, does not mention the president or the vice president. The term officer of the United States is used three times in the Constitution, and the way it's used an Article Three says that anyone who is an officer of the United States who has taken an oath to support the Constitution, that's -- that's an oath that comes out of article three. The Trump oath, the president's oath comes out of Article Four and is not an oath to support the Constitution -- those at the precise where it's used in Article Three, and in -- and an Article Three of the Constitution, and the Article Three of the 14th Amendment.

But the words that the president says are to protect and preserve and defend the Constitution. So the oath is different, and the two other times that it's mentioned in the Constitution are the appointments clause and the commission cause, which effectively say that the president appoints or commissions all officers of the United States, and as recently as 2010, Justice Roberts made the point in the Free Enterprise versus the Public Accounting Oversight Board that people do not vote for officers of the United States.

So I'm sad to say, on this one, that I believe that the president's lawyers are correct, constitutionally. Other people disagree, and there was a battle of law review articles. Originally, Professor Bill Baude at --


TY COBB, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ATTORNEY: -- or William Baude at University of Chicago, who I know and respect, and his colleague Professor Paulsen of the University of St. Thomas wrote a review article articulating the theory that was adopted and Colorado, and subsequently in Maine.


But there's been equal scholarship on the other side, and Professor Steven Calabresi, who was, you know, he's no liberal defender, he founded the Federalist Society after being unenthusiastic supporter of the Baude article, concluded, reluctantly, that loathsome though Trump was to him, he had to agree that Article Three did not apply to the president, and that Trump would have to be beaten at the ballot box.

I think that's where the Supreme Court will end up. I think it will be -- it should be 9-0, because the issue is relatively straightforward. On the other hand, it could be, you know, it could be 7-2, but I don't think it'll be much more split than that.

BURNETT: Well, you know, people will replay your answer here because you did lay it out and I think it's important that you did because, you know, there are many who say, well, it's circular, you scoff if you say you can't have the president as an officer, but I think it's important for people just to hear exactly all these details as you lay them out.

We do have some reporting separate from the issue of being on the ballot, the issue of immunity itself, right? The DOJ, January 6th case against Trump.

COBB: Sure.

BURNETT: A source tells CNN that he will be attending next week's Appeals Court arguments on presidential immunity, and obviously, his side is arguing that he cannot be prosecuted for official acts as president.

You are among a dozen attorneys and former government officials who signed on to a friend of the court briefing, an amicus brief filed in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, to argue against Trump's claim of immunity, against, so you think he can be prosecuted.

So, why do you think he's choosing to be there himself in person? What's behind that? That we just found out.

COBB: I don't think it's the advice of his lawyers. I think it's, you know, his ego and his perception that, you know, in his all powerful imagination, as the man behind the curtain, who wants to be in front of the curtain for this one, and thinks that it may well influenced the judges in connection with the questioning and determinations.

But I think he's -- I think he's drastically mistaken. I'm not sure why -- why he would be there. But he has the absolute right to be there. He is the party.

And I think that -- I think that those arguments are, frankly, so frivolous that there's a striking possibility that the D.C. Circuit will rule promptly and decisively against him and connection with his claim that, unlike the principle forever honored in America and the last 250 years or so, that no man is above the law, that contrary to that kind of belief, he is, and he's wrong.

BURNETT: All right. Ty Cobb, thank you very much. We appreciate it, as always.

And next, two bombs in Iran killing more than 100 people. Tonight calls for retaliation. Iran blaming the United States. Again, a very serious question now for all of us about whether we're on the brink of a much greater global war. Plus, with just 12 days until the Iowa caucus, Ron DeSantis ramping up

his attacks, only not against the front runner, Donald Trump.


UINIDENTIFIED MALE: I think he needs to go after Trump. And I don't see him doing it.


BURNETT: Plus, breaking news. Dozens of documents connected to accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein were just released, going through them, possibly including the identities of some of his very well known associates.



BURNETT: Tonight on the brink of an all out war, calls for retaliation tonight are growing after more than 100 people were killed, 100 people killed today by two powerful explosions in Iran and the supreme leader is warning there will be a harsh response to the attack. It happened at a ceremony honoring the former Iranian General Qasem Soleimani.

Now, he was a crucial revolutionary guard general. He was assassinated by the U.S. under Trump administration four years ago. The Iranian president now point the finger at Israel, saying, quote, I warned the scientist regime, do not doubt that you will pay a heavy price for this crime and the crimes you have committed.

This comes just today after an explosion in Beirut killed senior Hamas leader Saleh al-Arouri. Hamas blaming Israel. Israel, of course, is not taking direct responsibility. And the leader of Hezbollah now vowing a response and punishment over al-Arouri's death.

Lebanon's foreign minister telling CNN they're desperately trying to hold Hezbollah back from war with Israel. The entire region right now is a tinderbox, with growing fears that this war could spread there and far beyond the borders of Israel and Gaza and the Middle East itself.

Nic Robertson begins our coverage OUTFRONT live in Tel Aviv.

Nic, Iran today, when you've got 100 people dead around the grave of a general that they revered, it was a bomb, people showed up to help. There was another bomb. It was a horrific event.

What more are you learning about what is behind it and what retaliation could actually occur because of it?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yeah, and the biggest death toll in this sort of strike inside Iran in years and years and years. The Iranians have clearly pointed the finger at Israel for this, and as you were saying, they're vowing both from the supreme leader and the president, vowing a response, a harsh response. Israel has not said anything about it at all. The United States has

said they believe it's a terror attack. We have no independent information about it and they have no reason to believe that Israel was involved. That's the U.S. position, and Israel's science silence is the same thing.

But what does that mean? How could the response come? Iran calculates carefully what it can do, where it can do, how can do it. But don't forget, this leadership is smarting from just ten days ago. One of their senior IRGC generals was killed in an airstrike in Syria, and they believe that was, again, Israel responsible for that strike.

So they would feel that Israel is digging them, they've been cautious to keep themselves away from the fight in Gaza, but this perhaps if it doesn't tempt leadership, it will certainly create upward pressure from hard-liners, particularly within the IRGC, to want to see some action.


BURNETT: Yeah, absolutely. When you have 100 people dead, it can change the calculus in the country.

Thank you very much, Nic, in Tel Aviv.

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

And, Barak, you've been warning about the potential for a much bigger war. And here we are. We got 100 people dead, as Nic was saying, many, many years since we've seen such a thing in Iran, so shocking that country. They're blaming Israel and Israel's silence, of course, doesn't mean much. They're silent when they do something, silent when they don't, so around can level any charge at once.

How close are we tonight to a wider war?


So, first about the terrible explosion in Iran, at least as far as I understand from speaking to both Israeli news officials, this was not an Israeli operation. Israel had nothing to do with this -- with this thing. And by the way, unlike the killing of Iranian general's death in Damascus a few days ago, which was an Israeli operation, today explosions had nothing to do with Israel.

But still, if you look at what is going on in the region, and not necessarily in Iran, but the two other hotspots connected to Iran. First, Lebanon, and second, Yemen. Those are two major hotspots that can blow up at any minute.

In Lebanon, we are all waiting to see whether Hezbollah will retaliate for the assassination of the official Saleh al Arouri by Israel the other day. And in Yemen, we're waiting to see whether the U.S. and its allies are finally going to do something militarily against Houthi attacks on shipping lanes in the Red Sea.

BURNETT: And it just escalates and escalates. I mean, the Beirut strike that killed Hamas leader Saleh al-Arouri that we were talking about a moment ago, two U.S. and one Israeli official. So, you've got three of people telling Israel was behind that.

Obviously, Israel hasn't taken responsibility for that specifically, but then you've heard what's happening in Beirut. A foreign ministry says that they're trying to retain any kind of control situation, trying to hold Hezbollah back which, could jump in and defend here and escalate this further. So where does that go?

RAVID: I sink the Israelis are waiting to see how Hezbollah will retaliate. They think that Hezbollah is going to launch a long-range missiles at Israel. But the question is, what's going to be the target? Is the target Tel Aviv? That's one scenario that takes you to an all of all out war in minutes.

But if it's another target, let's say a military base, that's a different scenario that you can somehow contain. I think we need to see what Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah is going to do. He gave a speech a few hours ago. Didn't give any hints about where he's going other than the fact that he says that there will be in retaliation.

And the challenge for the Biden administration will be tomorrow when President Biden's envoy Amos Hochstein will be in Tel Aviv for talks with Israeli officials on what the Biden administration says it's trying to do to get some sort of a diplomatic initiative to calm down tensions between Israel and Lebanon.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you -- thank you very much, Barak Ravid. I appreciate your timer.

And I want to bring in Seth Jones, senior vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

So, when you hear Barack's reporting, the attacks on Iran killing more than 100 people -- I mean, incredibly brazen. You heard Barak's reporting that Israel was not responsible. Either they were or they weren't, or maybe, you know, someone wants it to look like it was them, right? It's unclear at this time.

It's been four years since that general was killed. Iran promised retaliation. Then do you take their promises of retaliation now that you got 100 Iranians dead seriously? Do you think that that's real and soon?

SETH JONES, DIRECTOR, INTERNATIONAL SECURITY PROGRAM: Well, Erin, what's interesting is that Israel has conducted attacks in Iran, but they have generally been very precise. They've assassinated nuclear scientists. They have assassinated some al-Qaeda and other terrorists operating from cities like Tehran.

But what the Israelis has not done is this kind of indiscriminate attack, which was perpetrated --


BURNETT: A suitcase bomb in a car, right?

JONES: Yeah, and it killed indiscriminately. So, anybody in the vicinity, women, children, man, whoever was there. That strikes me as unlikely. Very different from what Israel has done.

There are other groups that have conducted indiscriminate attacks, Mujahideen (INAUDIBLE), Jundallah, the Islamic State, these lawmakers state, they've conducted indiscriminate attacks.

So it's one thing for the Iranians to publicly tie this attack to Israel and vow revenge. But I do think that the Iranians to publicly tie this attack to Israel and vow revenge, but I do think the Iranians are going to be very careful on the response, particularly if they assess it was not an Israeli assassination.


BURNETT: Right, no matter what they say, right? What they actually -- what they actually assess.

Nonetheless, you've got Lebanon, Yemen, the Gaza situation. You have a world increasingly divided over the war between Gaza, Hamas, and Israel.

In this, you are writing a Wall Street Journal op-ed today which I hope everyone will read because you sound the alarm on China. You say that China is on wartime footing. Wartime footing and that the United States is not. In fact, you look at historically when the United States was a wartime footing, percentage of our GDP that the United States was spending on the military, triple, quadruple what is spending now, whereas China is right now investing. And you pointed out some very sobering numbers.

And you say specifically, China is preparing for a possible war with the United States. What do you see?

JONES: Well, I think that the big picture here is that we've got a very delicate international security environment. I mean, you throw in the constant war in Ukraine right now. But we have elections in mid- January in Taiwan. It is likely at this point that the DPP is going to win that election. It's not the party that the Chinese government, the Chinese communist party wants. It is the pro-Taiwan party.

There will almost certainly be, in a period between elections and when the DPP leader gets inducted, some kind of Chinese demonstration of force. We've seen variations along these lines.

So I think what the U.S. has got to manage right now is it's got this spreading conflict that we just heard in the Middle East. It's got a constant barrage of Russian attacks against Ukrainian targets, cities, with U.S. air defense systems, munitions and assistance and now we are on the verge of potential escalation with Taiwan elections in Asia. That is a very difficult situation for any U.S. president now to be in. BURNETT: Yeah, and terrifying when you look at the shortages because

of support in these other conflicts that the U.S. has, even ammunitions and supplies. Seth, thank you very much, Seth Jones.

And, next, we are live in Iowa, where Republican candidates are, of course, right now hustling. Every single vote matters. One state is a first date, it matters. And some voters are starting to wonder why Haley and DeSantis are not taking on Trump as much as the other.

And breaking news, hundreds of pages documents tied to the accused sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, just released. We're going through them, 200 names may be in there as we're coming through these, including some very well-known people.



BURNETT: Welcome back to a special edition of OUTFRONT. We are live in Iowa tonight, and you are looking at Grand View University in Des Moines. That is the sight of my town hall tomorrow with Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley.

And Haley and Ron DeSantis are facing tough questions today from voters. There are just 12 days to go, 12 days until the Iowa caucuses, and so much is at stake for this for the whole country. And who has the momentum here?

Jeff Zeleny is OUTFRONT.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Time is running short in the race for second place.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis --

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What you're able to do in Iowa is going to reverberate all across this country.

ZELENY: And former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley.

NIKKI HALEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They don't see the momentum we have on the ground. We've got it in Iowa, we've got it in New Hampshire.

ZELENY: Not only locked in a bitter fight for the Republican nomination, but for the right to confront Donald Trump head on. Their collusion course escalating for months as left Trump in a front- runners lane of his own, much to the frustration of Republicans like Chris Garcia, who saw DeSantis today in Iowa.

CHRIS GARCIA, IOWA VOTER: I think he needs to go after Trump. And I don't see him doing it.

ZELENY: Garcia asked DeSantis why he had gone soft on Trump, the question the governor took issue with.

DESANTIS: I've articulated all the differences, time and time again on the campaign trail.

ZELENY: When we caught up with Garcia, he told us he wanted to see DeSantis fight harder.

He's going after Nikki Haley quite a bit in ads. What do you think of that?

GARCIA: Yeah, that's fine, but Nikki Haley isn't the leader, you know? Donald Trump is. So that's where it needs to be.

ZELENY: Twelve days before Iowa opens the voting in the GOP primary, Trump holds a commanding lead. Yet he has emerged nearly unscathed, at least to the onslaught of attack ads from his rivals.

DeSantis and two allied groups supporting his candidacy spent seven point $6 million targeting Haley last year in Iowa alone, compared to less than $500,000 into Trump. For her part, Haley and her leading super PAC spent nearly $10 million targeting DeSantis and only $1.5 million at Trump. It's a dizzying back and forth, with allies of Haley mocking DeSantis.

AD ANNOUNCER: You can't beat Trump by trying to be Trump.

ZELENY: And belittling the management of his campaign and super PAC.

AD ANNOUNCER: In a world of chaos, the last thing America needs is another dumpster fire.

ZELENY: Supporters of DeSantis casting Haley as a flip-flopper.

AD ANNOUNCER: Don't believe a thing Nikki Haley says. She doesn't.

ZELENY: And falsely tying her to big name Democrats.

AD ANNOUNCER: Just like Hillary Clinton, Nikki Haley shouldn't be president.

ZELENY: Has Trump been the beneficiary of this back and forth between Haley and DeSantis?

BOB VANDER PLAATS, PRESIDENT, IOWA FAMILY LEADER: Well, I think he's the beneficiary at some point, because obviously, the former president is going after DeSantis a lot, has spent millions of dollars against --

ZELENY: All yearlong.

VANDER PLAATS: All year long, has called him names. And that's same thing with Nikki Haley as well.

ZELENY: Bob Vander Plaats, an influential Iowa Christian leader, who endorsed DeSantis, said it's a delicate dance facing all candidates, how to confront the former president who still wields such loyalty in the GOP.

VANDER PLAATS: They're going to try and peel away the Trump voter to come to you. You can't alienate them, okay? So, that's an issue.

ZELENY: Haley is closing strong, raising $24 million in the final quarter of last year, more than double her previous quarter.

DOUG STOUT, IOWA VOTER: I've decided we need a governor as Republican nominee.

ZELENY: Doug Stout has studied all the candidates and for now is still torn between DeSantis and Haley.

STOUT: It's bad that it has devolved where both are fighting for second. They're not fighting for second. They're fighting for president.


BURNETT: All right, it's amazing to look at the numbers. I mean, the numbers they spend going after each other, Haley and DeSantis versus going after Trump. But you just mentioned those Haley fundraising numbers. What do they look like in context?

ZELENY: Look, it's extraordinary. I mean, $24 million over the October to December periods, that's when she was really gaining ground in those debates, twice as much as the quarter before, three times as much in the springtime.


It would almost have been impossible to imagine that she would in the year and start this year with so much more money and a stronger financial position than Ron DeSantis. His super PAC is off the air here because of the money difference. So now he is the second one that comes in. So, all that matters is that she and her allies now are advertising so much.

But the bottom line to all of this, they are in each other's way. They're trying to jostle with one another and so many voters we talked to say they are still deciding between DeSantis and Haley.

BURNETT: Right, DeSantis and Haley, right. So, that's -- that's where you've got the split. That's why we talk about second.

ZELENY: Indeed.

BURNETT: All right. Jeff Zeleny, of course, spending so much time here in Iowa.

And throughout thank the campaign, many of the GOP hopefuls have repeatedly turned to a popular conservative radio host and former state senator who has his finger truly on the pulse of Republican and Iowa politics, which is what we're talking about here. Here's what some of them have said to radio host Jeff Angelo to win over his listeners. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

HALEY: For so many, they respect what he did, thought that he was the right president, the right time. But they want to look at some other options. They don't want just Trump and Biden. They want to leave the drama and stratus quo of the past. And I -- they do agree with me, you don't have to be 80 years old to serve in D.C.

DESANTIS: I would represent bigger vitality in the executive that we sorely need. I'm also somebody that would be eligible to serve two terms. I mean, Donald Trump would be a lame duck on day one. That's a huge liability in terms of actually being able to get all this stuff done.

VIVEK RAMASWAMY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Make no mistake, I'm running to be the nominee. I want to beat President Trump and my fellow competitors in the GOP primary, to leave this country. And I think it's going to take somebody with fresh legs from the next generation.


BURNETT: All right. Jeff Angelo is with me now. He's the host of "Need to Know With Jeff Angelo," the radio show.

So, Jeff, all of them talking to you, again and again, and again, and you, obviously, you know, talking to your viewers, former state senator here.


BURNETT: If this is a race for second place, which it appears to be, so you agree with that. So, everything you are seeing and hearing, who do you think has the edge in that number two?

ANGELO: I think Ron DeSantis has the edge in the number two because he got Governor Kim Reynolds endorsement, who's very popular in Iowa.


ANGELO: But not only did she get behind a podium and say, hey, I really like Governor DeSantis. She said, here's access to my turnout. She had an aggressive turnout machine.

And, of course, it's going to be a cold blustery night in Iowa on January 15th, turnout becomes really, really important. I do think that Ron DeSantis has access to that superior turnout machine.

BURNETT: All right. So, it's interesting watching Jeff Zeleny lay out the numbers, right?


BURNETT: All the money. It's like what, ten times the amount being spent by, you know, taking on Haley or DeSantis as compared to what they're doing with Trump. And DeSantis rejected criticism from an Iowa voter, an Iowa voter was like, come on, why aren't you taking on Trump himself? I want to play a little bit more of that exchange.



IOWA VOTER: In my viewpoint, you're going pretty soft on him.

DESANTIS: But what do you think, so, you know, because we -- I've articulated all the differences, time and time again on the campaign trail. I know -- I just -- I think there's just a narrative that -- I think the narrative is this. What the media wants is, they want Republican candidates who just kind of like smear him personally and kind of do that. That's just not how I roll.


BURNETT: All right. Now, that voter, interestingly, is still backing DeSantis, right? So, he's still backing him despite his criticism. But what do you see? Is there something here? Is there a point the DeSantis should be going harder?

ANGELO: Yeah, Erin, I mean, Iowa voters are very savvy. That guy is absolutely right. It's crazy that we are repeating history again. When Trump was campaigning the first time around in Iowa, nobody wanted to touch, him nobody wanted to say anything negative because they were afraid of upsetting his supporters. They thought somehow magically he's going to falter and our pick up his supporters. That doesn't happen.

BURNETT: That sounds like deja vu, doesn't it?

ANGELO: Yeah, it's deja vu all over again. We -- you absolutely have to go hard against him because he's the leader, he's the front-runner. He's the person you have to pull voters away from him. You have to say, look, I know you supporting Trump and here's the reason you want to support me instead.

No, they've been destroying. Haley and DeSantis are destroying each other.

BURNETT: Trying to destroy each other and hoping they can pick that vote, right?

ANGELO: And I think that after the campaign is over and you're talking to DeSantis people, they are going to say, Erin, you know what, we really made a mistake we didn't go hard against Trump.

You know, there's an old saying, if you're going to come at the king, you better not miss. If you want to win, go all in, tell us why we shouldn't vote for Trump. And instead you're going after the fellow second place finisher, 29 points back. It makes no real sense.

BURNETT: We'll see if they listen. And we will see what happens when we get the hindsight.

ANGELO: Exactly. BURNETT: All right. Jeff, great to see you, and thank you here in Des Moines.

And we are hosting back-to-back town halls right here tomorrow night. I will be back here in Des Moines with Nikki Haley live at 10:00 and Kaitlan Collins will host a town hall with Ron DeSantis at 9:00 Eastern.

All right. Next, after this, we will be talking about Republican lawmakers taking the trip to the border, a group of migrants crossing into the United States just feet away when this happened. According a quarter of a million illegal crossings in December along. Live at the border next.

And, breaking news, hundreds of pages of documents that revealing Jeff Epstein's prominent network of friends, it's just been released. We're combing through this, possible hundreds of incredibly well-known names.



BURNETT: Tonight, a catastrophe. That's what the House Speaker Mike Johnson is calling which he saw as he toured on the busiest areas of the southern border. A group of migrants, literally, when they were there, crossing the border, right in front of Johnson, right in front of Johnson, he was there with 60 other Republican members of Congress.

Take a look at this.


REP. MIKE JOHNSON (R-LA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Today, we got a firsthand look at the damage and the chaos that border catastrophe is causing all of our communities. The situation here and across the country is truly unconscionable. We would describe it as both heartbreaking and infuriating.


BURNETT: The visit turning up the pressure on the Biden and Democrats to do something. I mean, after all, there were a record 225,000 border apprehensions last month alone. That's a quarter million in one month. You can do the multiplication. And that number is the highest in more than two decades.


Ed Lavandera is OUTFRONT. He is live, from Eagle Pass, Texas, which has really become the center of this current crisis.

And, Ed, can you tell us more about what you saw alongside Speaker Johnson and the other lawmakers at the border today?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, you show the moment where you had two different groups of migrants who just happened to show up on the Texas side of the Rio Grande as these Republican lawmakers were moving around here this afternoon. You know, it's really hard to say what was behind all of that but definitely clearly like an odd situation, especially given that over the last few days in the week or so, the number of migrants crossing into Eagle Pass has dramatically fallen off.

So, there are a number of reasons for that. There are natural ebbs and flows to these migration patterns, but also we've heard anecdotally from people on the other side of the border that immigration checkpoints on the Mexican side have become more robust. So, that could play a role in preventing migrants from reaching the Texas border as well.

But we've also heard, you know, a lot as we talked about Eagle Pass being this central point and these lawmakers, more than 60 of, them turned out here today, really trying to ratchet up the pressure on the Biden administration to do more on immigration.

The Biden administration hit back saying that this visit here today really kind of is hamstringing negotiations for a border bill that Republicans and Democrats are trying to negotiate on the second Senate side.

BURNETT: So, Ed, you know, there are some major questions about whether House Republicans are going to accept any kind of a border deal, right, that has been negotiated in the Senate right now. You know, Senator Schumer, of course, came out and sort of, you know, saber-rattle rattled on that, Speaker Johnson, but what did Johnson say about that today?

LAVANDERA: Well, again, he spoke with CNN's Jake Tapper just a few hours ago. We can play a little of that because it gives you a sense of where these House Republicans and many of them echoes similar themes to what the speaker was saying to kind of get a sense of where they are right now.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: You would turn down a compromise that was not 100 percent of HR2?

JOHNSON: Jake, I'm not going to answer hypotheticals because they've not sent us any -- any suggestion yet.

This is not about sending more money down here. It's about changing the policy. And the White House seems not to understand that.


LAVANDERA: So, Erin, we spoke to several House Republican members after their tour here this afternoon. They all kind of said the similar thing. HR2, what Jake was referring to there, is the House version of a border bill. And many of the Republican members are very skeptical that anything that comes out of the Senate will go as far as what they have passed in their own bill. And many of them also told us they were willing to shut down the federal government over this -- Erin.

BURNETT: Wow. All right. Of course, that is -- that is now, we're counting down to that, too, as you talk about the political cycle. And we've got another shutdown looming as well.

All right. Ed Lavandera, thank you very much, as you see the barbwire behind Ed along the border tonight.

And next, breaking news, potentially explosive documents tied to the accused sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. These have just been released, going through them as they've been saying -- some of the names in there, possibly some of his very famous associates, and many of them.

Plus, new details about what may have caused that deadly runway crash in Japan. We have a special report for our Will Ripley this hour.



BURNETT: Breaking news, we've got newly unsealed documents, 40 in total, OK, as this is coming out. This is all related to the accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, and they were released just a few moments ago. So, as we go through them, we understand that they could reveal as many 200 names that had previously been redacted. So names of some incredibly well-known influential people that we did not know prior to this.

I want to go straight to Shimon Prokupecz, who's been going through the documents for us.

And, Shimon, I understand, right, you're talking about 40 documents, hundreds and hundreds of pages. So, you're starting to go through this. What have you found out so far?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE AND CRIME REPORTER: Yeah. You know, the team is going through this, certainly. A lot of this relates to this lawsuit that was brought back in 2015 by one of the victims against Jeffrey Epstein's former girlfriend, Ghislaine Maxwell, who, as you know, was convicted back in '21 for sex trafficking and essentially aiding Jeffrey Epstein in the sexual assaults of these women.

So this lawsuit was brought back in 2015 against Ghislaine Maxwell and just now, the court is unsealing all of this. And really, it's because the fight by victims and journalists in this case, specifically "The Miami Herald" which has been fighting for this information in fining today we are first seeing these documents and as you said, it's hundreds and hundreds of pages.

It all relates to depositions and other court actions that the victim in this case, Virginia Giuffre, was doing. She was doing stuff to try and get information to substantiate her allegations. So, there's a lot of documents here, and as you said, a lot of names, some names that will be familiar to people. Some that may not be.

But as you said, we are continuing to go through those names, and we should have more information here shortly. But this is a big moment, Erin, for the victims in this case, for those who have followed this case for so many years, wanting transparency and finally now, it appears that we have some of that. And it's not over. This is going to go on for a couple of days.

BURNETT: No, absolutely. As you point out, 40 documents are going to be more and more. But, you know, people -- people have wanted this transparency and I think we're all grateful we're finally getting it.

All right. So, as Shimon goes through -- his team goes through this, he's coming back, on. But as I said, there's a mountain of information. So, Shimon, thank you.


BURNETT: Shimon and his team on back on this looking.

Meantime, we have new details about that fatal runway crash in Japan. And next, we're going to tell you what we have learned today. Our Will Ripley with exclusive reporting of whether there was a specific and deadly mistake. We'll be right back.



BURNETT: Tonight, alarming new details about the fiery deadly crash on the Tokyo runway. We are learning the red warning lies to stop planes from taxing onto the runway were actually not working when he Japan Airlines jet landed and crash into the coast guard plane. This comes as we get new transcripts which are showing air traffic control had instructed the coast guard plane to, quote, taxi to holding point. A minute later, the passenger plane was clear to land.

Now, the transcript does not show the coast guard plane was cleared for takeoff.

Will Ripley OUTFRONT with new details.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A catastrophic collision in the heart of Tokyo, captured from passenger Aroto Iwama's (ph) window seat as flames engulfed his Japan Airlines jet.

Honestly, I was scared to death, he says, at landing, I felt strong shaking. And when I looked out the window, I saw sparks flying, the plane burning. When the plane stopped in less than a minute, the cabin was full of smoke.

That black smoke below through the cabin. In this video, the voice of a young child. Please, let us off quickly, he says. A polite plea for help. Flight

attendants forced to use megaphones to direct passengers, the onboard communications system broken.

With just seconds to spare and some emergency exits blocked, the crew of 12 successfully evacuated 367 people, including eight infants. Everyone survived, with barely a bruise.

The investigation of Tuesday's harrowing crash focusing on four crucial minutes, 5:43 to 5:47 pm. Japan Airlines flight JL516 making its final approach over Tokyo Bay, cleared for landing at Haneda Airport, just as the Japan Coast Guard turboprop was pulling onto Runway C, right into the path of the much larger Airbus A350-900. The airline hurdling down the runway as flames consumed the fuselage.

The explosion and fire ball fully engulfed both aircraft in a matter of minutes. The airliners fire resistant material and emergency exits allowing vital time for nearly 400 people to escape the inferno. At least five coast guard crew members died.

Japan's transport ministry releasing the official written transcript of those final four minutes, suggesting possible miscommunication between air traffic and the two planes.

Cockpit audio confirms the tower telling the coast guard flight to taxi to a holding point, given the commercial flight clearance to land.

JAL 516: Cleared to land runway 34R JAL 516.

RIPLEY: The transcript and audio raising key questions. Why would the coast guard plane in the wrong place? Why do the Japan Airlines pilots fail to see the other aircraft and abort the landing, especially on a clear evening with good visibility?

Mangled metal and melted plastic, a reminder of just how bad it could have been.


RIPLEY (on camera): And what is left of that airliner still sitting on Runway C right now. Just minutes ago, the team of investigators pulled up to the scene, including technicians from Airbus who are helping the Japanese investigators comb through that wreckage looking for the cockpit voice recorder, which could provide crucial clues as to what actually happened. We're still waiting for comment, Erin, from the Japan's transport ministry, but CNN reporting that those lights in the runway were not working, could the plain just move a little too far onto the runway creating this disaster?

BURNETT: Oh gosh, who knows. But what a miracle, and how credible those flight attendants. Holy, wow.

All right. Thank you very much, Will.

And thanks to all of you for being with us. We'll be back here tomorrow live in Iowa.

"AC360" starts now.