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Erin Burnett Outfront
Supreme Court To Decide If Trump Can Be Barred From Office; Biden Blasts Trump In First Campaign Speech Of Election Year; Docs Reveal New Details About Epstein's Ties To Clinton, Trump; China Using Doctored Video, Audio As Weapons In Elections. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired January 05, 2024 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERICA HILL, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next:
The Supreme Court will decide whether Donald Trump can be kicked off the ballot in Colorado, as President Biden warns tonight, Trump is the biggest threat to American democracy.
Plus, a new wave of documents tied to Jeffrey Epstein has just been released. New details about Donald Trump and Bill Clinton's relationships with the convicted pedophile.
And he is the billionaire who went after Harvard president for plagiarism again and again and again. Now, his wife admits she plagiarized, too. So, what's he saying now? The reporter who broke the story is my guest.
Let's go OUTFRONT.
Good evening. I'm Erica Hill, in for Erin Burnett.
OUTFRONT tonight, breaking news, the Supreme Court enters the 2024 election agreeing to hear Donald Trump's appeal of Colorado's landmark ruling that found he is an insurrectionist and therefore unfit for office and therefore can't be on the ballot in that state. It is a historic case, one that is also forcing these nine justices to act quickly. Oral arguments set to begin February 8th.
This decision, of course, could have not just a seismic impact on Donald Trump's political ambitions but on ballots across the country. Just last week, Maine Secretary of State announced Trump would not appear on her state's primary ballot. Oregon's top court is currently weighing a challenge to the former president's eligibility. And then, just yesterday, voters in Illinois and Massachusetts filed motions to remove Trump from their 2024 ballots.
Now, Trump's campaign is responding to the Supreme Court's decision, writing in part: The so-called ballot challenge cases are all part of a well-funded effort by left wing political activists hell-bent on stopping the lawful reelection of President Trump this November, even if it means disenfranchising voters. The attorney representing the Colorado group that wants Trump off the ballot is with us tonight.
But, first, Evan Perez is OUTFRONT live in Washington.
And so, Evan, as we just noted, oral arguments set to begin pretty quickly, February 8th. Overseas ballots, though, for Colorado voters will go in the mail on January 20th. How does all that work?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Right, exactly, Erica. That means by the times the justices get to hear this case, by the time they have these oral arguments, people will have voted. And so that really raises the question, right? Is this an indicator of where the court is leaning? I think that is certainly one of the big questions that everyone is asking, watching this schedule.
If you look again, just today, the Colorado secretary of state certified the ballot for Colorado. That's the official date that kicks us off for Colorado. March 5th is actually Election Day, but in between now and then, there's a lot of key dates. And one of them, of course, is January 20th where ballots go out to military and overseas voters.
Do we think that justices are ready to kick off Donald Trump off the ballot, the primary ballot in Colorado, including especially these military voters who will have begun casting their ballots by then? You take a look at that calendar again, by -- on February 12th is when other mail-in ballots begin going out. The first in-person voting begins on February 28th.
And so, again, a lot of us certainly when we starred hearing these 14th Amendment challenges, the idea the former president would be kicked off ballots in states because of the Section 3 of the 14th Amendment which, you know, again declares him to be an insurrectionist seemed very farfetched but here we are, right? These challenges have gone much further than anyone thought, and so here we have the Supreme Court having to weigh in. It really does kick off what we're looking at, a historic period where the Supreme Court for the first time since Bush v. Gore in 2000 is set to play a major role in the presidential election, perhaps making a decision on whether the former -- whether the former president gets to stay on these ballots.
HILL: Yeah. It is quite the decision indeed, Evan. Appreciate it. Thank you.
OUTFRONT Now, Sean Grimsley, who represents the group of voters in Colorado who want Trump off of the ballot.
So, the fact that the Supreme Court has agreed to decide this case, what is your reaction to that tonight? What do you anticipate?
SEAN GRIMSLEY, ATTORNEY SEEKING TO BAR TRUMP FROM COLORADO BALLOT: Well, we're thankful that the Supreme Court decided to take the case. We asked the Supreme Court to do so along with the petitioners. The Republican state party, Donald Trump and our clients asked that. We are also gratified the court is setting it on expedited schedule. We had asked for argument by January 19th. That was probably a little bit ambitious but having it on February 8th is pretty close, and we think the court will have this issue decided well in advance to March 5th, Super Tuesday.
HILL: So, well in advance to Super Tuesday, but there is the issue of, and, you know, Evan was going to this calendar there, there is the issue of these mail-in ballots. For overseas voters, Colorado voters, those go out January 20th. Does that have an impact?
GRIMSLEY: We hope not. I think everybody is going to be pretty aware at this point that the Supreme Court is going to weigh in on this issue in relatively short order. People will receive their mail-in ballots before I think the court reaches a decision, but if people hold off sending in their mail-in ballots, they have plenty of time to do so until March 5th. Then they will be able to see what the Supreme Court rules.
HILL: Do you think that many people will hold off?
GRIMSLEY: Well, I hope so. I hope that people recognize that this is a major issue, that the Supreme Court is going to be deciding, and that it would make sense rather than simply vote before the Supreme Court decides to wait and see what happens.
HILL: A group of House Democrats, as you likely know today, demanding that Justice Clarence Thomas recuse himself from this case, writing in part: Not only does your wife attend the January 6th rally but she was instrumental in planning it and bringing the insurrectionists to the Capitol, going on to say that Ginni Thomas has shown a, quote, fervent bias in favor of Mr. Trump and saying it is hard to believe her bias has no impact on you.
Again, important to note they are talking about the actions of Ginni Thomas, the wife of Clarence Thomas. Do you believe he should recuse himself because of his wife's actions?
GRIMSLEY: Well, I've not followed what the Judiciary Committee Democrats have done today, but I will say right now, we have absolutely no plan to seek recusal of Justice Thomas. I suppose if something came out we are unaware of we might change our mind, but at this point we do not plan to seek recusal.
HILL: Sean Grimsley, appreciate your time tonight. Thank you.
GRIMSLEY: Thank you.
HILL: OUTFRONT now, Steve Vladeck, our Supreme Court analyst.
Steve, always good to have you here because you put things in perspective so well for us.
As we look at this calendar, you know, Sean saying he is feeling pretty good about it. It's fairly aggressive, especially for the Supreme Court. How quickly do you think we could have a decision?
STEVE VLADECK, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yeah, Erica, I think Sean is right, that this is a court that is clearly trying to move quickly. You know, February 8th argument says to me that the justices are looking at that March 5th primary date and intending to issue a decision before that date.
Now, you know, will that mean that every Colorado voter will know before they cast their primary ballot what the Supreme Court has ruled? No, but I think from the court's perspective having this matter settled one way or the other before the Colorado primary will also help to provide some stability for the rest of the country, Erica, not just as we enter primary season but especially toward the general election as well.
HILL: Well, to your point, I mean, we saw from Maine secretary of state when she issued her ruling. She specifically cited Colorado. So, is this -- this decision ultimately that the Supreme Court will issue, what will it mean for every state in the Union?
VLADECK: Yeah, I mean, Erica, I have to think that the justices from across the ideological spectrum want to use this case to resolve this issue one way or the other. I think the least likely outcome from the U.S. Supreme Court is some kind of Colorado-specific decision that would require the court to get back into this. If the Maine case comes up to them, if a case from Illinois or Massachusetts comes up to them.
And so, I think there's going to be a lot of pressure on the court and I think the justices are well aware of this, to resolve one way or the other in this one case, whether former President Trump is going to be eligible within the terms of Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to run for reelection.
HILL: You know, I was really struck by some comments from Trump's attorney Alina Habba. She was on FOX News talking about the high court taking this up and sort of her thoughts on this.
Take a listen to this moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALINA HABBA, ATTORNEY FOR DONALD TRUMP: I think it should be a slam dunk in the Supreme Court. I have faith in them. You know, people like Kavanaugh who the president fought for, who the president went through hell to get into place, he'll step up. Those people will step up, not because they're pro-Trump but because they're pro-law, because they're pro-fairness, and the law on this is very clear.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HILL: As an attorney, just -- I mean just how inappropriate are comments like that? Could they backfire?
VLADECK: Yeah, I mean on a scale of one to ten, you know, that's probably about a 17 when it comes to inappropriateness. I don't know if they'll backfire specifically. I mean, I doubt, you know, Justice Kavanaugh is sitting there, you know, and basing his vote on what Alina Habba has said. But I do think, Erica, it really puts into very sharp context just how sticky a wicket this entire case is for this Supreme Court at this moment in our history. We have a court that is as unpopular as any court since that measure
has been taken by pollsters. We have a court that is a lightning rod in partisan and ideological ways, and now you have the president's own lawyer suggesting that justices who President Trump appointed are going to, you know, step up for President Trump in this context.
It really just I think illuminates why if I were the Supreme Court I never wanted to touch this case. It is only because the Colorado Supreme Court came along that they're now forced to.
HILL: So in terms of touching this case, right, the Supreme Court, can they answer the question of whether Donald Trump can be on the ballot without deciding whether he's an insurrectionist?
VLADECK: So in one direction, Erica, they can and in one direction they can't. If the court were to say that there's some procedural reason why the Colorado Supreme Court was not able to reach the insurrection question, maybe Section 3 doesn't apply to the presidency. That's one argument that's been made. Maybe it is not what's called self-executing, meaning you can't just go and enforce it in state courts. It is up to Congress to enforce it.
If the court were to take one of those off ramps, it could absolutely dodge the substantive question of whether President Trump's conduct before and on January 6th amounts to engaging in insurrection within the text of Section 3. Erica, the problem is those off ramps run in only one direction. They run in favor of leaving president Trump on the ballot in all 50 states. The only way for the court to sort of keep President Trump off the ballot is to tackle the insurrection question head on. I just don't think that's something the court is in any big hurry to do.
HILL: Yeah, it doesn't seem that way.
Steve, always appreciate your insight and your expertise. Thank you.
VLADECK: Thank you.
HILL: OUTFRONT next, breaking news. Former President Trump tonight responding to Biden's blistering takedown as he warned the former president and his supporters are on a mission to destroy America's democracy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He's willing to sacrifice our democracy, put himself in power.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HILL: Plus, he was the driving force behind Harvard president Claudine Gay's resignation because of plagiarism allegations. Now it turns out his wife did the exact same thing. The reporter who broke that story is my guest. He has a new scoop tonight.
And this just in. Singer Michael Bolton tonight revealing he was diagnosed with a brain tumor and has to undergo immediate surgery. An update on his condition.
HILL: Breaking news, democracy in danger. President Biden with his starkest warning yet about former President Trump, marking the eve of the third anniversary of January 6th by claiming the GOP front-runner and his supporters are a threat to democracy and the Constitution.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: Democracy is on the ballot. Your freedom is on the ballot. It is the first national election since January 6th insurrection placed a dagger at the throat of American democracy, since that movement. We all know who Donald Trump is. The question we have to answer is, who are we? That's what's at stake.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HILL: Just moments ago, Trump seizing on Biden's speech at a rally in Iowa, repeatedly claiming it is Joe Biden who is the real threat.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: I'm a threat? They've weaponized government and he's saying I'm a threat to democracy. What they're doing is very corrupt. People aren't going to take it. Joe Biden is a threat to democracy. He's weaponizing law enforcement for a high-level election interference. It is all about election interference.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HILL: Arlette Saenz is traveling with the president today. She's OUTFRONT with more.
BIDEN: Donald Trump's campaign is about him, not America, not you. He's willing to sacrifice our democracy, put himself in power.
ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Biden with his 2024 campaign trail debut in battleground Pennsylvania, speaking in his most blunt terms yet about former President Donald Trump.
BIDEN: Trump exhausted every legal avenue available to him to overturn the election, every one. But the legal path just took Trump back to the truth, that I had won the election and he was a loser.
SAENZ: The president using the third anniversary of the January 6th insurrection as evidence Trump is unfit to hold the nation's highest office.
BIDEN: It was among the worst derelictions of duty by a president in American history, an attempt to overturn the free and fair election by force and violence. I will say what Donald Trump won't. Political violence is never, ever acceptable in the United States, never, never, ever.
SAENZ: Biden also taking aim at Trump's attempts to reframe one of the most politically violent days in American history, pointing to this moment from Trump's first political rally of the 2024 campaign.
With the national anthem sung by a choir made of January 6th prisoners.
BIDEN: This is like something out of a fairy tale, a bad fairy tale. Trump began his 2024 campaign by glorifying the failed violent insurrection on our Capitol.
SAENZ: Biden's speech marked a turning point in his campaign as he draws a sharper contrast with his predecessor.
BIDEN: Today, we're here to answer the most important of questions. Is democracy still America's sacred cause?
SAENZ: His advisers view January 6th as a potent reminder of the stakes of this year's election, featuring the violent scenes in the year's first TV ad.
BIDEN: Something dangerous happening in America. There's an extremist movement that does not share the basic beliefs of our democracy.
SAENZ: Three years later, half of Americans believe Trump bears a good deal of responsibility for January 6th, but a partisan divide exists with 86 percent of Democrats making that assessment compared to only 14 percent of Republicans.
But Biden planning to keep his democracy argument front and center as he trains his eye on a possible rematch with his one-time rival.
BIDEN: I make this sacred pledge to you. The defense, protection and preservation of American democracy will remain as it has been the central cause of my presidency.
SAENZ (on camera): And, Erica, President Biden will continue this campaign push on Monday when he travels down to Charleston, South Carolina. It is there where Biden will speak at Mother Emanuel EMA Church which was the 2015 site of that mass shooting that killed nine black parishioners.
The president, one of the challenges going forward will be trying to convince voters democracy should be the central issue of this campaign at the same time when we've seen voters also express frustration and concerns about things like the economy and how it is impacting their pocketbooks. But the Biden team acknowledges they have work to do to try to define the stakes of this campaign. Early on, they say that they're going to remind voters what Trump did when he was in office and what he is vowing to do now, as they're really hoping this moment today was the opening salvo of the campaign.
HILL: Arlette Saenz for us tonight -- Arlette, thank you.
OUTFRONT now, Aquilino Gonell, who's a staff sergeant with the U.S. Capitol police on January 6th, injured in clashes with rioters as he protected the Capitol. He's also the author of "American Shield: The Immigrant Sergeant who Defended Democracy."
Sergeant Gonell, it's good to have you with us tonight. It is hard to believe in many ways tomorrow marks three years since the deadly insurrection. President Biden says Republicans have abandoned the truth, in his words, about January 6th, that they've abandoned our democracy.
Do you agree?
SGT. AQUILINO GONELL (RET.), FORMER CAPITOL POLICE SERGEANT INSJURED IN JAN. 6 ATTACK: I do. I mean this is coming from -- from a lot of people that's claimed to support the police and the party of law and order, and with their action they have shown that -- that they don't. When they had the chance and the opportunity to make meaningful legislation to produce a bipartisan investigation they chose to side with the insurrectionists, with the rioters and call them patriots and hostages rather than trying to find out why did they attack the police officer and democracy on January 6th.
HILL: We heard President Biden talk so much today about what he sees as a threat to democracy. Former president Trump responding, basically pointing the finger back at President Biden. Where do you believe the biggest threat is tonight to democracy?
GONELL: The former president, he just reflecting every single accusation that he does. It usually means that he's the one perpetrating those accusations.
When how are we supposed to take him at his word when he has shown what he is capable of? Before January 6th everybody kept saying, no, he's just joking, he wouldn't do anything, once he's president he wouldn't do those things. And as I speak at length in my book "American Shield," he has shown that he doesn't have any regard to anybody else who had done anything selfless for this country.
I for myself had dedicated 23 years of my life as a public servant, and I was not even born in this country. I did eight years in the military and 17 years as a Capitol police officer. I went overseas to defend this country in Iraq. I exercised my -- my voting rights from Iraq because I was not eligible to vote before that.
Here I was on January 6th defending the Capitol, our seat of democracy, against native-born citizens that were listening to the lies of the former president.
HILL: President Biden spoke about you today in his speech as he was talking about those events of January 6th. I want to play a little bit of that for you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: One Capitol police officer called it a medieval battle. That same officer called vile -- was called vile, racist names. He said he was more afraid in the Capitol of the United States of America, in the chambers than when he was fighting as a soldier in the war in Iraq. He said he was more afraid inside the halls of Congress than fighting in the war in Iraq.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HILL: When you hear President Biden using your story and your words, what is that like for you in that moment?
GONELL: Very humble, honored, but it is the same sentiment that I was feeling at that time when I testified. Again, when I -- I took an oath to defend the constitution, democracy in this country, and I was not even born in this country. Here I was getting attacked on January 6th, not by a foreign entity but by our own citizens.
And they -- some of them, they had taken the same oath that I did. Unfortunately, they had desecrated all of those sacrifices. I feel good that I did what I needed to do on January 6th, and whether you see me as a villain or as a hero, I know that I held my post. I know that I did what was required of me at that time.
You know, I'm glad that he recognized me and said those things, nice things about me. My son is very proud of that as well.
HILL: Sergeant Gonell, we appreciate your perspective tonight. Thank you.
GONELL: Thank you for having me.
HILL: OUTFRONT now, former Republican Congressman Denver Riggleman. He was an adviser to the January 6 Select Committee, and Karen Finney, who was senior spokesperson for Hillary Clinton's campaign.
Good to have both of you here tonight.
So, Congressman, President Biden is really now making Donald Trump's actions on January 6th a central part of his campaign. Do you believe that will resonate with Republicans?
DENVER RIGGLEMAN, FORMER REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN: Oh, with Republicans? I think it is going to be very difficult. Even now anecdotally, you know, I'm out here, I own distilleries and I have a lot of people who come through and it is interesting how many people are saying that January 6th doesn't really matter to them. What I do think it matters to are the independents and the center individuals, he did mention names Republicans in a speech. I think those individuals can be swayed.
I think you are only looking at 3 percent to 5 percent, Erica, that we need to get into because I thought the speech was very powerful, especially the part about Beau Biden that really touched me because I am a military veteran. I think what he was trying to do in the speech that might work is the disrespect that President Trump shows towards the troops, but the actually the disrespect that he shows towards our country's institutions and I thought that whole speech really highlighted not only former President Trump's conspiratorial nature and the fact he does not respect our institutions but the fact he is a coward, you know?
I think if I had to boil it down and summarize it, I think what really worked for President Biden today is that Donald Trump is a guy in a bar fight who lies about everybody in the bar and then once the fight starts, he hides in the bathroom. I think that's what President Biden was trying to say about Donald Trump.
He likes to hide. He likes to start fights. He likes to lie. We can't have that kind of individual running again or winning in 2024.
HILL: It's striking when I hear you say that because I was also -- this really stood out to me. Long-time Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg polled 2,500 swing state voters and found they thought that Republicans would actually do better when it comes to opposing extremism to protecting the Constitution.
So, you know, we have what we're hearing from the congressman, Karen, but if this is going to be Joe Biden's central campaign and it is not hitting with the swing state voters, does the message need to change at all? Is the campaign in trouble?
KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right. Well, I think there's one other piece of this we have to remember, and that is that on an ongoing rolling basis, we are going to continue to learn new details about the lengths to which Donald Trump went to try to overthrow the election on January 6th. We are already learning more than we even -- I thought, you know, during the Jan 6th hearings, we heard everything but now we are learning more about fake electors in Michigan and Wisconsin. So I do think as that plays out it adds another dimension.
But to the second point, I'll just say, Erica, yeah, you have -- they were going to have -- and the president mentioned this. They're going to have to take this message about our democracy and our country and this question of who are we, who do we want to be. Are we going to go forward or are we going to go backwards, and bring that down to the grassroots level because that means something a little bit different for every American.
It can mean reproductive freedom. It can mean a strong economy. It can mean, you know, voting rights. It can mean any number of different thing, different issues. And so, that's going to be part of the work of the campaign, is how do you take this big, lofty idea, which I think is in our hearts in so many of us, and bring that down to, you know, again that real grassroots level.
HILL: I want to play a little bit, shifting gears a tad here from Erin's town hall with Nikki Haley where she alluded to Donald Trump's legal issues including January 6th.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIKKI HALEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I personally think president Trump was the right president at the right time. I agree with a lot of his policies. But the reality is rightly or wrongly, chaos follows him, and we all know that's true.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: You said rightly or wrongly, chaos follows him. Is it rightly or wrongly? Is he the one who causes that chaos or is he the unwitting victim?
HALEY: It's both. I mean, you see a lot of these cases they've brought against him are political in nature, and there's no basis on it. And then you see some that he's going to have to answer for.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HILL: Congressman, can she have it both ways?
RIGGLEMAN: It is almost like we're watching the definition of political windsock and cognitive dissonance all in one statement. So he has chaos that follows him, he creates chaos, but he was the right president at the right time. But some of the stuff is political that's going after him, so what is she trying to say exactly?
It is the same answer she had when asked about how the civil war started. She doesn't want to piss off the base. I shouldn't say it that bluntly. That's really what's going to --
HILL: It's okay. We're cable.
RIGGLEMAN: Yeah. She is looking at the -- she is looking at the polling and the cross tabs and looking at the fundraising, so she answers that question. You can't have it both ways. That is -- it is such a ludicrous answer. Anybody who I think actually understands spoken English would say why don't you just try to answer the question honestly one time? That would be nice to see.
HILL: Unfortunately, we have to leave it there because even in cable, we have time limits.
Good to have both of you here tonight. Thank you again.
RIGGLEMAN: Thank you.
FINNEY: Good night.
HILL: OUTFRONT next, breaking news. More documents tied to convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein just released including new details about Epstein's ties to both Donald Trump and Bill Clinton.
Plus, he is the billionaire hedge fund manager who relentlessly pressed for Harvard president Claudine Gay's resignation over plagiarism. Well, now, his wife now admits she plagiarized, too. The reporter who broke that story has a new scoop tonight and he's OUTFRONT next.
HILL: Breaking news, a new trophy of documents related to Jeffrey Epstein's sexual abuse and the powerful men with ties to him. The latest drop, the third, revealing more details about former Presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton and their relationships with Epstein.
Jean Casarez has been going through these new pages and joins us now.
So, what have you found? What else is in these new documents, Jean?
JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, a brand-new drop just came, even more documents.
HILL: So, now, this is drop number four?
CASAREZ: Another one just came, but here's what we have. First of all, there's a lot of depositions that have been unsealed and one was a former employee, Juan Alessi. He said he met so many people because of Epstein. He said he met Donald Trump at dinner at Epstein's home at one point. Also another point at the home, there was Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson.
He met international beauty queens. He said he met a Nobel Prize winner in chemistry, and he said that he met former President Bill Clinton on the plane of Epstein.
Now, we do want to say that in regard to former President Clinton and former President Donald Trump, they are not and have never been accused of crimes in regard to Epstein or any bad deeds.
CASAREZ (voice-over): Jeffrey Epstein used to socialize with the world's elite, Donald Trump, Bill Clinton and Britain's Prince Andrew to name a few. Now many of Epstein's associations are surfacing again after their names appear in newly unsealed court documents linked to the late sex offender.
For years, Clinton's ties to Epstein have been scrutinized, questions have been raised over the extent of their relationship as the former president has confirmed he's met with him on occasion and traveled on his plane four times. But through a spokesperson said he knew nothing of the financier's terrible crimes.
There has never been any accusations of crimes or wrong doing against the former president related to Epstein, but the former president's name appears more than a dozen times across multiple newly released documents. Now in an unsealed e-mail revealed for the first time, accuser Virginia Giuffre in 2011 said she believed former President Clinton stood by his friend Jeffrey Epstein when it came to bad press. Giuffre writing, quote, considering that Bill Clinton walked into Vanity Fair and threatened them not to write sex trafficking articles about his good friend, Jeffrey Epstein.
Graydon Carter, "Vanity Fair's" editor at the time said in a statement to CNN that the interaction categorically did not happen.
A Clinton spokesperson told CNN they had no new comment about the alleged incident but on Wednesday said it has been nearly 20 years since President Clinton last had contact with Epstein. Also in the pages of depositions including one taken in 2016 from victim Johanna Sjoberg who worked for Epstein.
When asked if Clinton was a friend of Epstein's, she said she under Epstein had, quote, dealings with Clinton. She says in a document that she and Epstein had a conversation and, quote, he said one time that Clinton likes them young, referring to girls.
GEOFFREY BERMAN, U.S. ATTORNEY FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: Today, we announce the unsealing of sex trafficking charges against Jeffrey Epstein.
CASAREZ: In 2019, when Epstein was charged with sex trafficking, a Clinton spokesperson confirmed to CNN his travel on Epstein's plane. In 2002 and 2003, President Clinton took a total of four trips on Jeffrey Epstein's airplane, one to Europe, one to Asia and two to Africa, which included stops in connection with the work of the Clinton Foundation.
Ghislaine Maxwell's trial in 2021 confirmed that with sworn testimony from Epstein's former pilot saying he would typically be given notice if Clinton or high-profile passengers like him would be flying.
According to Clinton's representative, he also met with Epstein in New York. He had one meeting with Epstein in his Harlem office in 2002 and around the same time made one brief visit to Epstein's New York apartment.
But the spokesperson went on to say Clinton has never been to Little St. James Island, Epstein's ranch in New Mexico or his residence in Florida, where some of the sexual assault allegations are alleged to have occurred.
HILL: Jean, David Copperfield's name is also mentioned.
CASAREZ: Brand-new name.
HILL: A brand-new name.
CASAREZ: Brand-new name.
HILL: What are the details?
CASAREZ: Well, it comes out in deposition, and one deposition, it is a former employee, Sarah Kellen, and what she said was that she mentioned David Copperfield and then there were these questions to her by the attorney, asking her, so tell me, did they exchange girls between Copperfield and Epstein? And then did Copperfield give tickets to Epstein to give girls to the shows of David Copperfield and then those girls would go to the shows and be invited backstage by David Copperfield.
Another employee said that she met David Copperfield at the home for dinner and that he started asking her questions about whether she knew the methods that Epstein used for procuring the young girls and did she know that the young girls that they recruited another young girl would get paid for doing it.
CASAREZ: Very bizarre.
Now, we do want to say we have reached out to David Copperfield's representative several times for comment on these very serious accusations that are in those depositions.
HILL: Still waiting to hear back.
HILL: Jean, appreciate it as always. Thank you.
OUTFRONT next, the outspoken billionaire who called for Harvard's president to go citing plagiarism allegations against her -- well, that man's wife now says she also plagiarized. So, what's Bill Ackman saying now?
And deep fake videos, disinformation, spy balloons, China accused of pulling out all of the stops in an effort to interfere in a very important looming election.
HILL: Tonight, hypocrisy. Bill Ackman, the billionaire investor who demanded former Harvard president Claudine Gay be ousted over plagiarism and antisemitism charges, the man who was relentless in his criticism of Gay, tweeting more than a dozen times since December 10th about the instances of alleged plagiarism in her work, the same man who is not still satisfied with Gay's resignation and wants her punished further, it turns out Ackman's wife, Neri Oxman, a former MIT academic, is now admitting to plagiarism herself.
OUTFRONT now is Jack Newsham, senior reporter at "Business Insider" who broke the story about Oxman.
So, you -- actually, you are breaking more news tonight, as we speak it is happening. You found some additional examples as I understand it of plagiarism by Ackman's wife. What more can you tell us about those instances?
JACK NEWSHAM, SENIOR REPORTER, FAST INVESTIGATIONS AT BUSINESS INSIDER: That's right, Erica. On Thursday our first story covered four instances of plagiarism in Professor Oxman's PhD thesis. The story we just got reveals 28 new instances of plagiarism, 15 of which are citing Wikipedia or rather failing to cite Wikipedia but using text pulled directly from the popular online encyclopedia that anyone can edit.
HILL: I'm a little -- can you tell I'm a little dumbstruck by that, especially using Wikipedia?
When we look at all of this --
NEWSHAM: With reason. This is something that --
HILL: Go ahead.
NEWSHAM: Go ahead.
This is something that school kids are taught not to do, and yet it is appearing in work by someone who is seeking a PhD. I was just -- I was just as flummoxed as you were. I couldn't believe it.
HILL: So walk me back through what you found initially. So these are the new things you found tonight, those 28 instances, some of them, as you say, allegedly coming from Wikipedia. These first instances of plagiarism that you found in the dissertation, how similar were they to what was found in Claudine Gay's work? Is it an apples to apples comparison?
NEWSHAM: The first one in terms of styles I would say apples to apples. The first four instances we found, three of them were failures to use quotation marks around direct quotes that had been pulled from other academic works. Neri Oxman works at sort of the intersection of design in the natural sciences, and she pulled from articles written by scientists in Israel and a book about trees written by a German academic.
In three cases without using quotation marks around those -- around those lines that she pulled. And in a fourth case without any in-line citation at all, with no reference to the work she was drawing from. That is what she responded to by apologizing and acknowledging, you know, if she made errors, she would fix them.
We continued our -- and that, I should say, is very similar to what Claudine Gay was accused of. Claudine Gay was accused of doing this many more times, I believe the most recent number is 50 times she did things of that nature, failing to use quotation marks, failing to cite sources at all, but similar in style if not in number.
HILL: So, as you note, Oxman did -- she did acknowledge these errors, right, and apologized to them in response to the initial reporting from you. What about Bill Ackman in terms of responding to his wife's plagiarism I guess that she admitted to?
NEWSHAM: Well, in terms of the initial report Bill retweeted or reposted what she posted on Twitter or X I guess we're calling it now, and said that, you know, he hailed her graciousness. Tonight, however, shortly after we went to him and his wife for comment on our most recent findings, he tweeted that he was clearly a little upset with our planned report and said that he would be going through the work of every scholar at MIT, every member of the MIT board, all of the officers of the corporation including the president. He has he has been urging to resign. He has been urging to resign.
So, I'm personally very eager to see what it turns up, too.
HILL: This is one of the moments we say stay tuned because there's clearly a lot more to develop on this front.
Jack, really good to have you with us tonight. Appreciate you bringing us the breaking news and we'll continue to follow it. Keep us posted on your findings as well.
NEWSHAM: Thanks, Erica.
HILL: OUTFRONT next, spy balloons, doctored audio, deepfake videos, how China is now trying to rig a crucial election.
Plus, Michael Bolton with a stunning announcement tonight about emergency surgery for a brain tumor.
HILL: Tonight, multiple sightings of Chinese spy balloons, eight just this week, hovering over airspace around Taiwan.
Now, the balloons are similar to the ones shot down over the U.S. last year. And they're widely seen as an ominous message, one coming just days before a high stakes election in Taiwan that could determine whether Taiwan and China go to war.
Will Ripley is OUTFRONT.
WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A chilling picture of weaponized Chinese disinformation, deepfake videos, doctored audio, casting a sinister shadow over Taiwan's upcoming presidential election.
CNN inside a closed-door briefing with senior intelligence officials in Taipei. Beijing's goal, they say, boosting the chance of candidates seen as friendlier to China to win.
A senior security official tells CNN Chinese leaders held a secret meeting in the mainland, hashing out election interference plans. The meeting, chaired by Wang Huning, the fourth ranking leader of China's Communist Party. Wang ordering officials to be more discreet, Taiwanese intelligence tells CNN. They even said the military is involved, claiming PLA based 311, a psychological warfare unit in the mainland is targeting the self-governing democracy with disinformation. The mainland's Taiwan affairs office says Taiwan elections are purely
China's internal affairs, and allow no interference by any external forces. Taiwanese officials say the secretive gathering just days after Chinese leader Xi Jinping travelled to San Francisco, a four- hour marathon meeting with President Joe Biden.
President Biden told President Xi not to interfere in Taiwan's election. Is China going to listen to that?
PUMA SHEN, CO-FOUNDER, KUMA ACADEMY: I don't think so because they keep doing it.
RIPLEY: Puma Shin is a professor and politician, seeking a legislative seat for Taiwan's ruling Democratic Progressive Party.
Since taking power in 2016, the DPP prioritizes partnership with Washington over economic ties with Beijing, defying the Chinese Communist Party's preferred political agenda, a more China-friendly platform championed by two opposition parties currently trailing in the polls.
SHEN: For China, it's all about how to sway the people in the middle, I mean, the swing voters.
RIPLEY: He says methods include spreading disinformation, malicious rumors deliberately planted, magnifying narratives favorable to Beijing, trashing politicians seen as tough on China. From false claims that ruling party's vice presidential candidate is a U.S. citizen to fabricated allegations of mass surveillance by Taiwan's security agencies over Taiwanese individuals, fact checked in real- time by journalists in this Taipei newsroom.
EVE CHIU, CEO, TAIWAN, FACTCHECK CENTER: Usually we have a lot of rumors and disinformation but not so political. And now because the election is coming and mainly political and malicious ones --
RIPLEY: Her grim warning, misinformation is at an all-time high. And Shen says, not just in Taiwan.
Is China also trying to influence the U.S. election?
SHEN: Definitely. They actually have real engagement with real people. So, they're getting better and better.
RIPLEY: Distorting the truth, endangering democracy one vote at a time.
RIPLEY (on camera): China tonight accused of trying to scare voters here in Taiwan. Just in the last week or so, at least sightings of Chinese spy balloons, five of them flying directly over this self- governing democracy. And in recent days releasing new video of their third and most advanced aircraft carrier Fujian, which when it finishes its sea trials, which are expected to begin soon, Erica, it could play a key role, experts say, in any attack on Taiwan.
HILL: Really important reporting.
Will, appreciate it. Thank you.
Just ahead, Michael Bolton shocking fans, saying he's undergone surgery for a brain tumor.
HILL: Just in, singer Michael Bolton revealing he was diagnosed with a brain tumor just before the holidays, writing on Facebook that tumor required immediate surgery. He went on to say, thanks to my incredible medical team, the surgery was a success. I'm now recuperating at home surrounded by the tremendous love and support of family.
Bolton who is 70 says he'll be taking a temporary break from singing. The Grammy Award winner had planned to start touring next month. Those dates, though, will now be rescheduled.
"AC360" starts right now.