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Erin Burnett Outfront

Trump Dares Judge To Kick Him Out Of Court; Trump, Haley Hold Dueling Rallies As Race Gets Ugly, Personal; U.S. Launches New Round of Strikes Against Iran-Backed Militants; Massive Underground Operation Fueling Migrant Surge To U.S. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired January 17, 2024 - 19:00   ET




Trump unleashed, making a mockery out of a Manhattan courtroom, practically daring a judge to kick him out and insulting the woman that he sexually abused after coming face-to-face with her in court.

Plus, first OUTFRONT, a massive underground operations smuggling migrants into the United States. Our David Culver following their dangerous journey and finding the migrants living in the United States when they get here. We'll see where he is tonight.

And a royal mystery. Buckingham Palace announcing Kate Middleton had very serious abdominal surgery, in the hospital for two weeks away from royal duties for more than two months. What's wrong?

Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight: The Trump charade. Former President Trump is about to speak in New Hampshire after spending much of the day in a New York courtroom where he dared the judge in the E. Jean Carroll defamation case to toss him out of the room.

All day, Trump did not control these outbursts, and the reality of it is, is this is exactly what he wanted -- the theater, the coverage, all of it. He wants this case to look like a charade, like a joke by throwing his hands in the air, shaking his head, slamming the table, monitoring the words "witch hunt" and "con jobs" so loudly that the jury could hear it.

He did that while E. Jean Carroll was testifying that Trump's attacks had shattered her reputation. And then after court ended in, Trump goes out, he continued in this way.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: This is a person I have no idea until this happened. Obviously, I have no idea who she was, nor could I care less. It's a rigged deal. It's a made up, fabricated story.


BURNETT: Trump accusing Carroll of lying. Just to be clear though here, because its actually very easy to muddy the waters in this case and important to pull them out at moments.

The judge reminded Trump that, quote, for the purposes of this trial, it has been determined already that Mr. Trump did sexually assault Ms. Carroll. This is important to remember, jury already decided this. So, what's at stake now? Just how much money he may have to pay and defamation against her, not the abuse part.

His verbal assault, though, is consistent for Trump. It's part of a long pattern which he has now employing once again on the campaign trail when it comes to women.

Just look at what he said about his closest competitor, Nikki Haley, who as I speak right now is actually holding a dueling rally in New Hampshire


TRUMP: Now, they're pushing birdbrain. You know what that is? Nikki Haley.

She's not tough enough to deal with these people. I will tell you that. She's not tough enough.


BURNETT: Birdbrain, the tough word, Trump and women, nothing has changed. They're not on the campaign trail and not in the courtroom.

Paula Reid is OUTFRONT live in New York to begin our coverage.

And, Paula, clearly the former president, wanted this drama. He courted it in a courtroom.

What did he get out of it today?

PAULA REID, CNN CHIEF LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, it's remarkable, Erin. When you have someone on the stand that a jury has found was sexually abused, testifying about their experience, it takes quite a lot to try to steal the spotlight from them. And the way Trump and his lawyers went about it today was to try to manufacturer some drama between them and the judge. For example, throughout E. Jean Carroll's testimony -- again, this is the first time she's testifying with Trump in the room.

She testified at the trial in the spring, but he didn't attend a minute of that trial. But while she was testifying, Trump was physically and verbally reacting.

And, Erin, when you were any federal courtroom, there are rules, being disruptive during witness testimony is forbidden by anyone. You or I would likely be kicked out of a courtroom if we were doing this. Of course, the judge pushed back on Trump one time, just gently urging him to be mindful, not to be so loud that the jury could hear him and then being more forceful the second time it came up.

But again, it's not clear why Trump thinks that the rules of decorum in a federal courtroom don't apply to him. His lawyer, Alina Habba, also repeatedly admonished by the judge for not following the basic rules of evidence when trying to introduce pieces of evidence during her cross-examination.

Now, look, these all appear to be sort of manufactured controversies, right? They're just not following the basic rules that apply in a federal courthouse where the Trump team, Trump and his lawyers are litigating some very legitimate, constitutional questions. Today's drama old seemed designed just to amplify this narrative that Trump is somehow the victim of an unfair judicial system.

But, of course, don't want to lose track of E. Jean Carroll's powerful testimony today.


It is very difficult for survivors of sexual assault to testify in any courtroom, never mind when their perpetrator is just a few feet away. But again, Trump his goal today was to sees the spotlight and try to amplify his own victim narrative.

BURNETT: Paula, thank you very much, right outside that courtroom now.

And I want to go to Ty Cobb, the former Trump White House lawyer.

So, Ty, the judge warned Trump that he could be removed from the courtroom if he's disruptive. And this was after several times when Trump could be heard making comments during the testimony, like witch- hunt and con job.

So -- and Paula is talking about that, then the judge responded and I want to read exactly what the judge said. The judge says, Mr. Trump has the right to be present here. That right can be forfeited, and it can be forfeited if he is disruptive which one has been reported to me consists of. And if he disregards court orders, Mr. Trump, I hope I don't have to consider excluding you from the trial.

So then Trump throws his hands up in response, Ty, you know, kind of oh, and the judge says, I understand you're probably eager for me to do that. And then reporters in the courtroom heard Trump reply, Ty, quote, I would love it. Judge responds, I know you would. You just can't control yourself and this circumstance apparently.

What do you make of this back and forth? I mean, does -- does he just Trump really want the judge to kick them out? Does that serve his purpose?

TY COBB, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE LAWYER: Yeah, very much so. I mean, Trumps only there to create a political narrative. You know, there's nothing that he can contribute to this trial as opposed to the last trial where he was found guilty of sexual abuse -- sexual assault. You know, there, he actually could have testified and address the facts as to whether or not it occurred. This is just about damages. There's nothing that, you know, Trump can say about damages and nothing has to say about her testimony or the expert's testimony. He's not going to testify.

So he's just there for the show and the free publicity because, you know, Trump personifies the adage that there is no bad publicity if they're talking about you, you're winning.


COBB: So I think -- I think -- you know, his name calling, you know, is character -- I mean, he's went from name-calling the judge, to name calling Nikki Haley, you know, has continued lying about the sexual assault, even though a jury has already found him guilty, is very much akin to he's still the lying about the election be installed.

This is -- this is Trump at his worst, and I don't think were going to see anything much different between now and November.

BURNETT: So, the former president then posted a very lengthy rant on social media about the judge -- the judge in the trial that I'm attending today is a totally biased and hostile person. He is abusive, rude, and obviously not impartial. That's the point he keeps trying to make, right? And then he went on to repeat some of these claims after court at the time, Ty, what he was doing was slamming the judge for not canceling court tomorrow, which would enable Trump to attend his mother-in-laws funeral, which is also tomorrow.

Here's Trump.


TRUMP: So he would rather have been missed a funeral or go to the funeral and miss the trial. And that's a nasty man. He's a nasty judge. He's a Trump-hating guy. And it's obvious to everybody in the court. It's a disgrace, frankly, what's happening. It's a disgrace.


BURNETT: Ty, as you've made clear, he doesn't need to be there and there's no reason for him to be there at all, right? So being there is a show and there is no choice, he can go to the funeral. There's no impact.

However, he's presenting it this way for a reason. The reason is he wants the judge to look biased. You'd give other people the day off if they needed to be here, but not me. Will that work?

COBB: No. I mean, it will work probably for his political narratives and for his diehard fans who want to believe his fantasy about this being a politically motivated judiciary and Justice Department and federal courts. But Judge Kaplan is held in high regard. He's well seasoned judge. He's handled many, many cases that are much heavier lift for a judge than this particular case.

He's handled terrorism cases, mob cases. He just handled Sam Bankman- Fried case. You know, this is a very serious judge who believes that lawyers, you know, should understand that it's privileged to be lawyer, and that they need to follow the rules and that their duty is to help things proceed honorably and fairly and expeditiously.

I think his frustration with Trump is understandable. But I think he's actually probably equally if not more frustrated with Trumps lawyers, who does some shocking things in courtroom, in the courtroom today.

BURNETT: Well, his lawyer, Alina Habba, she would violate all the rules, right? When she wouldn't -- wouldn't stand up, and he's like this is a basic rule. You need to do that. These are the basic -- the basic rules of decorum again and again were violated.

COBB: That and responding to them at one point, saying, I don't like to talk to that way.


Plus, then she did a very sort of minor league job of trying to introduce some evidence and, you know, the judge was very patient with her. He gave her sort of two recesses or two opportunities, tried to guide through it himself, called a -- called a halt, and it took a break with the hope that one of her colleagues could help her figure out how to do what it was that she intended.

I was really sort of, you know, embarrassing and I think he's -- you know, I think, that's not -- that's not the type of lawyering that he's used to seeing. And I'm sure that the frustrates him because he demands a lot of the lawyers and show up in his courtroom, not least of which is respect, not only for the judge, but for the judicial system. And he's not getting that from her. And I'm sure that is in part what he's responding to.

BURNETT: All right. Ty, thank you, as always.

COBB: My pleasure. Thanks, Erin, nice to be with you.

BURNETT: All right. Good night.

And next, you're looking at live pictures of Nikki Haley in New Hampshire as those attacks between her and Trump have gotten exceedingly ugly.

Plus, a massive multimillion dollar business smuggling migrants into the United States. And tonight, we uncover where the tens thousands of migrants are heading, once they crossed the border.

And a rising star in the Republican Party had a lot to say about abortion.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of people tell me, don't say abortion is murder. Guess what? Abortion is murder!

(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: But wait to see what our KFILE found about his use of the word abortion now.



BURNETT: Tonight, the GOP race for 2024 getting very ugly and nasty in New Hampshire. And so some live pictures from the state, Nikki Haley just walked out at a rally in Rochester, New Hampshire.

Donald Trumps supporters are waiting for him to take the stage in Portsmouth.

Ron DeSantis actually was there but left the state earlier today, going down to South Carolina. This is Trump is ramping up a series of racist attacks on Haley in the state, assign of how negative things are going to get just in these few days before Tuesday's primary.

Kristen Holmes is OUTFRONT.


KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Donald Trump is putting his focus squarely on Nikki Haley as he eyes a win in New Hampshire.

TRUMP: Nikki Haley is a disaster.

HOLMES: With six days until the Granite State primary, the former president is dismissing Haley's support, claiming the former South Carolina governor is counting on Democrats to boost her candidacy.

TRUMP: Nikki Haley in particular is counting on the Democrats and liberals to infiltrate your Republican primary.

They're going to load it up with Democrats and independents and that's not what the Republican Party is about.

HOLMES: Registered Democrats are not able to vote in the GOP primary. The Republican and undeclared voters can.

The GOP front runner also returning to familiar tactics on social media, attacking Haley using her birth name after recently amplifying a post falsely claiming that Haley, who was born in South Carolina, could not be president because their parents were not U.S. citizens at the time of her birth, an echo of the racist lie he promoted that former President Barack Obama was not born in the U.S.

TRUMP: People behind Nikki Haley are pro-amnesty. They're pro-China.

HOLMES: The attacks are part of a broader strategy by Trump's campaign to blunt Haley's momentum in the Granite State, as polling shows her within striking distance, targeting her record on immigration to appeal to conservatives.

AD NARRATOR: Drug traffickers, rapists, poisoning our country, but Nikki Haley refused to call illegals criminals.

HOLMES: Haley also treating New Hampshire as a two-person contest.

NIKKI HALEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You look at the fact we've got all these issues around the country and around the world. And what are Biden and Trump both focused on? Investigations, past issues, things that aren't taking us forward. We can either have more of the same or we can say it's time to change and move forward.

HOLMES: But the former South Carolina governor, once again, inviting scrutiny for comments about race after earlier drawing criticism for failing to mention slavery as a cause of the civil war.

HALEY: We're not a racist country, Brian. We've never been a racist country.

HOLMES: Ask about those comments during a CNN town hall, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis not agreeing with Haley or attacking his rival.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The U.S. is not a racist country, and we've overcome things in our history. I think the Republican Party stands for merit and achievement and colorblindness. That is what we should stand for.


HOLMES (on camera): Now, Donald Trump also spoke after his court appearance earlier today, but it was clear New Hampshire was still on his mind. He repeated it saying that Democrats were going to vote in the GOP primary, something that again, it's not true, only registered Republicans and independents can vote in the primary.

He also said that he had seen polls that indicated he was very up in New Hampshire, and I will tell you, Erin, I talked to a lot of his campaign advisers and they are still concerned about Haley's rise -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Kristen, thank you very much from Portsmouth tonight.

And I want to go to Wayne MacDonald now. He's a longtime major player in New Hampshire GOP politics. He's a state representative and he was the state campaign chair for Chris Christie's campaigns in both 2016 and 2024, and Wayne's also the person Christie was speaking to in that viral hot mic moment just before Christie had announced he was ending his campaign, when Christie said Nikki Haley is going to get smoked.

And I'll ask you about that in a second, Wayne, but I really wanted to ask you about the race now. I mean, it's getting very nasty. You know, these things are very personal and pejorative. Will this turn voters off and New Hampshire? And do you think it'll hurt Trump or Haley more?

WAYNE MACDONALD, CHAIRMAN, NEW HAMPSHIRE REPUBLICAN PARTY: Well, negative campaigning, unfortunately, is effective as a former state party chairman, I always had nervous during primaries when leading candidates, whether it was for president or governor, or U.S. senate, whatever, started getting nasty. But at the same time, it almost always happens and every race, especially when you get toward the total election day, toward primary day, because there's so much at stake, they've invested so much. And its understandable that they're starting to feel the pressure and they want to -- they want to win.

BURNETT: So, Ron DeSantis did leave New Hampshire today, heading back to Florida. His home, of course, before going to weekend defense in South Carolina. Now, the New Hampshire primary is six days away, South Carolina is obviously more than a month away.


Does this strategy make sense to you?

MACDONALD: Well, it flies in the face of conventional wisdom, certainly. I'm not supporting Governor DeSantis or former President Trump. I have said that I'm not supporting former Governor Haley, Ambassador Haley, but I'm not -- so I'm not -- I don't have -- I'm not privy to some of the strategies that the DeSantis campaign, but his leaving New Hampshire does fly in the face of conventional wisdom and normal campaign practices as where with only six days to go until the New Hampshire primary. I'm surprised to hear that he did leave.

BURNETT: All right. You know, all right, you mentioned you not -- you're not going to support Haley, but right now, you're not supporting Trump or DeSantis. That viral hot mic moment that you were a part of, right, Chris Christie, you were there with them right before he went out, right? And he tells you Nikki Haley's going to get smoked and it's just before he went out on stage to speak -- well, less directly shall we say -- obviously didn't say that.

I want to just play part of the exchange with you again, Wayne.


CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: People don't want to hear it, Wayne. They don't want to hear it. We know we're right. But they don't want to hear it.


CHRISTIE: And there's -- you know, we couldn't have been any clearer.


CHRISTIE: She's going to get smoked and you and I both know it. She's not up to this

MACDONALD: She's still 20 points behind Trump in New Hampshire, right?

CHRISTIE: Yeah, oh, yeah.

(END AUDIO CLIP) BURNETT: Now after Christie dropped out, Wayne, you did make it clear, you're not going to support Nikki Haley. So that does leave just Trump or DeSantis, if you're going to pick from the main GOP. You said both campaigns have reached out to you.

Are you -- are you close to making a decision? What's going to decide who you pick?

MACDONALD: Well, as I've said, and I've had -- you know, I have friends and all the campaigns, both currently the current campaigns as well as the campaigns of the candidates who have dropped out and one of the things I said is I was much more pro-Chris Christie than I was anti-anybody else.

So, you know, I -- Governor Christie and I are friends. We go way back. I was proud to support him eight years ago. I was proud to support him this time. I'm in no hurry to make a decision or jumped on another campaign. And there's a good chance, I'll just stay out of this thing right up until a mocked ballot next Tuesday.

So I'm not in any hurry at all. And I can tell you that some Christie supporters have actually been voting for Christie even though we get out of the race. That's the kind of commitment he's attracted from his supporters.

Which is a very interesting data point, right? Is everyone talks about where, where might some of those voters go. Obviously, given his message had been a very, very clearly and directly against Trump.

Thank you so much, Wayne. I appreciate your time.

And now I want to go to the Democratic South Carolina State Rep. Todd Rutherford because take a look at him on the left of the screen and this image I'm going to show you now. That's him with Nikki Haley as she called to remove the Confederate flag from South Carolinas state capitol as governor, and then worked to get that measure pass through the state legislature. And he did all that and get it onto her desk.

So, Representative, I really appreciate your time.

And now that, of course, race and birtherism, it become a part of this campaign, I suppose it's no surprise that we're here, but nonetheless, it's disappointing. But here we are.

After Haley -- people won't understand where she really stands on these issues. She called to remove the Confederate flag of 2015. And at the time you said, quote, I give her credit fit for stepping out there and doing what's right. And you are with are in those moments.

Why do you think she is now having such a problem talking about race?

J. TODD RUTHERFORD (D), SOUTH CAROLINA HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: Because even when I gave her credit back then, what I gave her credit for was stepping in after the general assembly had already decided that we want to take the flag down. And now she's trying to walk back comments about race, comments about what South Carolina and the country's history work when she said on Fox News that this country has never been racist. We know that there was a three-fifths compromise back in 1787 when all the way to 1866, we know this country for hundred years of slavery, which she couldn't seem to mention when she was talked -- when she was posed that question before.

So, I'm not sure exactly what she's trying to do, except that it seems a lot of bird whistle -- dog whistling to try and get Republicans focused on anything else other than the facts and the issues. At the end of the day, I'm clear on the fact that Joe Biden is going to be there. Anybody that comes out of the Republican primary, whether it's her or Donald Trump.

But right now, she seems to be just stretched with trying to do anything she can to get people to pay attention to her.

BURNETT: So, Representative, let me ask you -- you know, last week I was with her at a town hall and we talked about her remarks about the cause of the civil war, right, when she did not mention slavery and she was clear that it should have been the first thing that she mentioned and then she said this


NIKKI HALEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It was not just slavery that was talked about was more about racism that was talked about. It was more about, you know, we had friends, we had Black friends, we had white friends, but it was always a topic of conversation even among our friends. And in the South, we're very comfortable talking about it


BURNETT: All right. You grew up in South Carolina, what's your response to that answer?


RUTHERFORD: In the South, we are very comfortable talking about race and it comes up a lot of the state house. And a lot of issues that divide Republicans and Democrats in South Carolina have to do with race. A lot of the issues when she was governor had to do with race, including the Confederate flag, which at no point did she try and take down before nine people were murdered, and what we now call the Charleston massacre.

She spent her entire governorship would six years trying to act as if race did not matter until all of a sudden it did. And you've got to remember, nine people were slaughtered at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, right before the Republican primaries. It was the perfect storm for us to get the flag taken down, but it was also the extolled to put pressure on her to make it happen which he refused to do our prior six years in the governor's chair.

BURNETT: All right. Representative, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much, sir.

RUTHERFORD: Thank you. BURNETT: All right. And next, breaking news, assassinated. The

prosecutor investigating the stunning armed assault that was broadcast live on television has been murdered.

New fears of all out chaos and lawlessness. We're going to take you live to the ground next.

Plus, Arnold Schwarzenegger detained, now facing criminal charges. And the details of this entire story or so bizarre that it's almost hard to believe that we have to share it.



BURNETT: Breaking news, CNN is learning that the United States moments ago carrying out more airstrikes in the Middle East targeting Iranian- backed militants who have been attacking ships in and around the Red Sea.

Now, when you look at this and again, these have always happened around this time in these past days, this is the fourth night that the United States has struck a series of targets in Yemen in the past week, in less than a week to be clear.

Oren Liebermann is OUTFRONT live at the Pentagon.

And, Oren, what more are you learning about these strikes tonight?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Erin, according to two us officials, the U.S. has now carried out further strikes against Houthi targets in Yemen. This is the fourth time as you point out within the course of the last seven days that we have seen the U.S. target the Iran-backed rebel group. On Thursday, we saw the U.S. and U.K. or carry out a wide array of strikes against command and control nodes, radar sites, as well as the missiles and drones they've used to attack international shipping. There was a follow-on strike on Friday against the radar site. Then, just yesterday, we saw them target anti-ship ballistic missiles.

And here once again, it's unclear at this point what was targeted. We expect to find that out soon, but the U.S. clearly showing a willingness to go after the Houthis in Yemen again, an Iran-backed rebel group after the Biden administration for weeks tried to avoid directly targeting the Houthis for fear of a potential escalation in the region.

But the context here is important. Erin, twice this week already the Houthis have targeted and hit us, owned and operated vessels, minor damage ships continued on their way, but that is a critical context for what were seeing unfold here.

BURNETT: All right. Fourth night in a row, and we'll see what was -- we get a list of how many strikes and obviously some of these other night to spend 30-plus strikes in a single, single night.

All right. Thank you so much. Oren. If Oren gets more, we'll bring him back.

And also tonight, the focus on the southern border, Texas will not surrender is the attorney general's response to demands that federal agents be allowed back into a stretch of border that Texas seized. You can see it here surrounded by fences and National Guard troops. The Biden administration had demanded that access be restored by tonight and this is coming as we have been tracking the massive surge of migrants in particular, now, Chinese migrants crossing the border via a massive underground curation.

In just the past year, more than 31,000 Chinese migrants have you illegally entered the United States, which is double the prior ten years combined, as our David Culver has reported here OUTFRONT.

Now, tonight he is live in Ecuador and he's told us about a massive underground operation there that's been smuggling migrants into the United States.

And, David, you're on the ground there tonight. What more are you learning?

DAVID CULVER, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. And, Erin, the reason it starts here in Ecuador is because this is a country that Chinese nationals do not need a visa to enter. And so this is really their first stop of the Americas. And then they had north.

Now, you ask most of them why they're going north. They'll tell you it's to find work. But when you enter the U.S. illegally and you're still in the backlog of an asylum claim, that can take time. However, we track several migrants and what we found is pretty interesting.


CULVER (voice-over): If crossing the U.S. southern border is step one --


CULVER: -- then step two for these Chinese migrants might just be even more daunting. You've made it. Now what?

How is it now that you're in the United States?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, that's freedom.

CULVER: Freedom, they tell us. Even as Border Patrol handcuffs and leads them onto buses to be processed, where they go from here, and who helps them along the way might surprise you.

When I go down to the basement here, he said he's got a couple of rooms.

From southern California to New York, we meet dozens of Chinese migrants who've taken near identical paths to get to the U.S.

They've been here four months?


CULVER: And they came over from California.


CULVER: Into San Diego.


CULVER: For Chinese migrants, parts of America can look and feel a lot like China. Take New York City's flushing neighborhood, home to a Chinese diaspora going back generations it is once again a desired destination for these new arrivals.

And you expect more to come?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, maybe five.

CULVER: Or maybe put in another bed you think?


CULVER: Community leader, Ma Ju (ph), towards me through the many rooms of this flushing house where he hosts migrants from China.

You have Christian.



CULVER: Buddhist.


CULVER: Muslim? All under one roof.


CULVER: Behind each door, we find a different story.

You're learning English. It's your daughter.


CULVER: Where is she right now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In China, in China.

CULVER: She's in China right now.

Does it surprise you that were seeing such a surge in Chinese migrants coming to the U.S.?

I'm not surprised. Ma says, I think this is just the beginning.

But Ma stresses that this goes beyond politics and economics, coming to the U.S. is their way of seeking dignity, he says.


Ye Chengxiang is seeking that dignity for his wife and their two young daughters. He says, the Chinese Communist Party's crackdowns on faith, especially towards Muslims, motivated him to leave.

To me, he says, the U.S. has felt like a soft, warm embrace.

While some feel hope, there are those like 28-year-old Zheng Shiqing, who feel mounting pressure to find work. He crossed into the U.S. a few weeks ago and is eager to repay money he borrowed from family and friends to make the trek.

There's an army of migrants marching north, he tells me. It is going to be so competitive to get a job. He sees that migration influx as added career competition. He looks to those who've come before him, like Wang Qun in the U.S. now for more than a year-and-a-half. After flying to Ecuador in the spring of 2022, Wang then rode motorcycles, buses, and boats to get to the U.S.-Mexico border, eventually making it to Los Angeles with a dream to become a truck driver.

Where do things now stand for us legally here?

Qun tells me today, he is part of the overwhelming backlog of U.S. asylum cases. But it's not stopped him from building a life here.

I've got to work permit, driver's license, and Social Security number, he tells me, adding we work hard and pay taxes. We're not a burden.

While Wang is waiting to plead his asylum case in court, he's now legally working as a truck driver. His focus on the road ahead, yet behind him, there are thousands from China and elsewhere determined to reach their American dream.


BURNETT: So, I mean, David, this is amazing to watch this and so many of these migrants, this treacherous path through Ecuador where you are tonight, where you're following breaking news. I mean, incredible violence there, the horrifying video of armed gunman taking over that television station and a major development tonight.

What's happened?

CULVER: Right. The reason we're here in Ecuador, Erin, is to get a better understanding of this recent surge in violence, and this is a country that for so long was known as an island of peace. And now, it's become what the president here has said, an internal armed conflict to neutralize terror groups.

And so, you mentioned that TV station. That's the one that was seen around the world because in the middle of a live news broadcast was when 13 on gunman came in. Not only did they have guns, they also had explosive at one point, they even put an explosive, a dynamite in the front pocket of one of the news anchors. All of this happening on live TV.

And that really awoke this country to what was playing out. And it started just a couple of days before because you had this notorious gang leader known as Fito, who somehow escaped from prison, then the next day, the state of emergency was declared. And now were seeing this violence that has really caused a lot of folks to feel unsafe to even leave their homes -- Erin

BURNETT: This is an incredible story, just amazing to see the chaos on the southern border, the incredible damage that the ripple effects of that -- David Culver. Thank you very much.

And OUTFRONT now, the former Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger.

Congressman, Ecuador under a state of emergency, it's descending into chaos and gang-fueled violence and it was a country known as a peaceful place to go. In fact, I think it even made one of the 52 places for this year to go to for "The New York Times", that was -- came out probably a few days before the armed rate of the television station, now assassinations.

How concerning are these developments? This is all stemming, of course, and related to what's going on on the U.S. southern border.

ADAM KINZINGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah, I mean, it's extremely concerning. These are cartels that are coming from Colombia. They're coming from Mexico. They're expanding their operations into Ecuador, destabilizing that country quite obviously.

And it's -- I mean, it's really been 20 or 30 years since the United States seems to have had a good foreign policy focus on our own hemisphere. I mean, obviously, what's going on in the Middle East is important, what's going on in Ukraine is important. But what's going on in her own hemisphere is just as important. We can walk and chew gum.

So this is a very concerning problem, not just for Ecuador, but this is going to increase further pressure on the southern border. And it really feels like were paralyzed dealing with the southern border.

I'll tell you, Erin, I've as a guard pilot and Air National Guard pilot actually work the southern border.


KINZINGER: It is a human trafficking problem. I mean, this is -- this is not about people having an opportunity. We all want people to have an opportunity but this is about, we would find dead bodies on the southern border. This is the cartel making money on trafficking humans.

One of these guys was just interviewed said he has to pay his family money-back for the journey. That money went to the cartel to get him up here. So that's a huge issue.

BURNETT: And, obviously, those cartels now in control of many the Mexican states, I mean, you seeing it. So when we talk about the southern border and what's happening there, okay, was a quarter million illegal crossings in December, when the numbers are just stunning, Congressman, it's hard to even, you know, comprehended.


James Clapper, you know, former DNI for Obama, had said it is a national security concern and I know you've talked about that, but when you the -- but when you talk to Biden administration, Congressman, they say, look, we are trying, we are trying. It's not that were sitting here saying we want an open border. They say they've put a budget request for 1,600 new asylum officers, 375 new immigration judges.

You know, they rant about people coming over the border. They say its congressional Republicans that are blocking these proposals and essentially keeping the border open. Is that fair? Are both sides responsible for the failure on the border.

KINZINGER: Yeah, I don't disagree. Look, I mean, I don't remember the details of it, but as part of the Ukraine money situation and Ukrainian and Israel, the administration to put down potential $10 billion or something like that for the border. I forget with the number was, and the Republicans rejected it, and I think Speaker Johnson, either today here yesterday said it's not the time for comprehensive immigration reform. Okay. I get it.

But when you're making -- when you're a divided government and you have a real problem, and the thing put on the table is more border agents and judges -- and here's the thing, you can go on a different news channel, not ours, and say, oh, what's -- what are we going to do with asylum judges and pooh-pooh that, but that's what you need because this backlog that's existing is because people can't get a hearing.

And when they get the hearing, usually, 80 percent of them are not eligible and they're deported.


KINZINGER: So, I mean, look, there's a lot that needs to be done, but yeah, it's -- this is an everybody problem thing. It's an American problem.

BURNETT: And we say it's not time for comprehensive border reform -- I'm sorry. That was word salad for me, but if not now, then when is almost what you could say?

All right. Congressman Kinzinger, I'm always glad to see you. Thank you.

KINZINGER: You bet. See you.

BURNETT: All right. Next, KFILE uncovering the radical views of a rising star in the Republican Party.


LT. GOV. MARK ROBINSON (R), NORTH CAROLINA: They were witches, all of 'em.

HOST: Yeah.

ROBINSON: They were -- they were witches. And I have no doubt, it would not shock me one bit if they were not Satanists involved in witchcraft.


BURNETT: Witches, Satanists and witchcraft, who is he talking about? We'll tell you about it.

Plus, Kate Middleton expected to be in the hospital for two weeks after surgery and out of sight for months. What's going on?



BURNETT: Tonight, quote, they were witches. That's what a rising star in the Republican Party, North Carolina's Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson said about early champions for Congress perception America


LT. GOV. MARK ROBINSON (R), NORTH CAROLINA: They were witches, all of 'em.

HOST: Yeah.

ROBINSON: They were -- they were witches. And I have no doubt, it would not shock me one bit if they were not Satanists involved in witchcraft.

It's an idea straight from the devil.


BURNETT: All right. That is just one of many examples uncovered by KFILE of Robinson expressing radically anti-abortion views.

Now, Robertson, who is also the leading Republican front runner in the North Carolina governor's race, is trying to walk some of this back.

KFILE's Andrew Kaczynski is OUTFRONT.

Andrew, those are sort of jaw-dropping thing to say and he wasn't facetious (ph) -- facetious. I'm sorry, I'm having trouble speaking tonight. It was not a one-off. He's a long history of making incendiary comments about abortion. What did you find? ANDREW KACZYNSKI, CNN KFILE SENIOR EDITOR: Yeah, that's right. Our

team found time and again Robinson voice support for the harshest anti-abortion laws completely, banning it without exceptions for rape or incest. He compared it to American slavery and genocide. He said women who end abortions, even after just 24 hours, were murderers. He called abortion providers, the butchers of humanity.

And it's not just abortion that Robinson has come under fire for. He is a long history of controversial comments. He mocked the survivors of that 2018 Parkland School shooting for their anti-gun activism, he called them spoiled little bastards and prostitots.

And he's even attack the civil rights movement. He said it caused people to lose freedom, but these abortion comments that we found were really some of the harshest. Take a listen to just a few of them.


ROBINSON: A lot of people tell me, don't say abortion is murder. Guess what? Abortion is murder.

Planned Parenthood is no more than a devil himself disguised as a organization meant to help the needy that need medical care.

I want North Carolina to be the most pro-life state in the nation, hands down.


BURNETT: He's a rising star in the Republican Party.

KACZYNSKI: That's right. And why is he doing this? Why is he moderating his rhetoric?

Well, he's doing it because abortion has been a losing issue for Republicans. He now says he never supported bans without exceptions for rape or incest. He says he does support those exceptions.

But every time that we've seen abortion go on the ballot since Roe was overthrown, we've seen it, we've seen abortion win. We've seen abortion rights supporters win and Robinson really doesn't want this election to become a referendum on his -- his comments.

BURNETT: All right, which is fascinating to see those comments. But again, right now, running for governor of North Carolina, the front runner.

Thank you very much, Andrew Kaczynski.

And next, Kate Middleton in the hospital and she could be there for weeks. Now, she's temporarily stepping away from her royal duties as well.

Plus, Arnold Schwarzenegger detained facing charges. I mean, just wait until you hear what happened to him at the airport.



BURNETT: Tonight, a royal medical mystery. Kate Middleton, the princess of Wales, is in the hospital and could stay there for two weeks after undergoing surgery. The royal family announcing the 42 year-old had successful abdominal surgery. And after another 10 to 14 days in the hospital, they say she will recover at home, and not returned to public duties until some maybe sometime late April.

Max Foster is OUTFRONT. He joins me now from London.

Max, this announcement was a major surprise today. What have you been able to learn about her surgery? And what seems to be an incredibly lengthy stay in the hospital and timeout.

Well, we're only told after she had the surgery. We weren't told you what into hospital, just that she was in hospital, had this successful surgery and it had been planned. The only detail they are giving us is off the record, is from a source, saying it wasn't related to cancer.

So I think it has been quite shocked. She's the picture of health. She is fit and she's been vibrant in recent engagements, and we're told that she's going to be in hospital for up to two weeks and could be then recuperating for up to three months at home.

So I think it has been quite a shock to people because she is the future of the monarchy. And after the queen dying and the slimming down of the monarchy, I think it has taken people by surprise at the very least, and we won't see her now, probably for months.

BURNETT: Yeah. And especially I understand, of course, she was she wants a right to privacy, but everybody so very much wants to know. I mean, and I can only imagine what that is like where you are.

And I know she's going to be missing for months. And Prince William now is also expected, you've been reporting, to step back from his duties while Kate is recovering. A contrary to some who had thought he might be out there even more and taking some of her engagements that he may be doing less to help take care of his own children.


What do you know about that?

MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, the very hands-on parents, both of them, they live -- they've got a house in Windsor and they stay there because the school is very nearby. They don't have room in the house, so lots of staff. They want to do it all themselves.

So, William has come off the royal diary and he's there, he's looking after Kate, but also the kids and running them around. All of those school duties. So we've got two senior members of the royal family off duty now, we've also got King Charles, who will be off-duty next week.

So you've effectively just got the queen and Edward and Anne now stepping in and representing the royal families. So we're going to see a lot less of them and I think people will feel that over the coming months as well because they used to seeing them all the time.

BURNETT: Yeah. I mean, so much so much curiosity of course, about what is really happening there. And of course, concern as well.

Max, thank you so much.

And next, Arnold Schwarzenegger detained and wait until you hear why authorities hauled him off, not to a jail, but to an ATM


BURNETT: Tonight, Arnold Schwarzenegger will face criminal tax proceedings in Germany after he was detained in the airport for failing to declare very, very expensive watch upon arrival in the country. So in this photo obtained by CNN, you see Arnold holding the box with the watch in question.

Now, here's the thing, Schwarzenegger gets pulled aside for hours, ultimately agrees to prepay potential walk taxes on the watch, which was apparently going to go to some charity auction. A source close to the actor though, says the whole ordeal would make for very funny cop movie we which is surely reference to the '90s hit, "The Kindergarten Cop".

Officers tried and failed to use a credit card machine, wasn't working, so then they gave up and they haul him off to an ATM. He needed more cash in the ATM would allow him to withdraw in a day and the bank was closed. So then a different officer brings out a new credit card machine and that did the trick. Wow.

Thanks for joining us. We appreciate it.

"AC360" starts now.