Return to Transcripts main page
Erin Burnett Outfront
Trump Team Warns Of "Chaos & Bedlam" If Banned From Ballots; Soon: Nikki Haley Takes Questions At CNN Town Hall; AG Garland On Uvalde Report: Pain Families Face "Almost Unimaginable"; Questions Grow Over Princess Kate's Royal Health Scare; Experts: Kim Jong Un Could Be Closer Than Ever To Waging War. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired January 18, 2024 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next:
The breaking news, Trump threatens, quote, chaos and bedlam in a new Supreme Court ruling. The man who told his supporters to fight on January 6 says if he doesn't get his way, all hell will break loose.
Plus, our voters OUTFRONT series tonight, the voters Nikki Haley is depending on to carry her to victory, it is actually not who you think. Wait until you see this one.
And as Prince William visits his wife in a hospital, we are learning more about Princess Kate's health, diet. So, why is the 42-year-old mother of three sidelined for months over a mysterious surgery?
Let's go OUTFRONT
And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.
OUTFRONT tonight: the breaking news, chaos, and bedlam. President Trump warning tonight that if the Supreme Court does not get him back on the ballot in Colorado, there will be -- and this is from the filing -- chaos and bedlam. That warning from Trump comes in a formal legal brief submitted to the Supreme Court just moments ago.
Now, keep in mind this is the same Trump that lit the fire leading to the insurrection on January 6. And now, it's a message he's sending to his millions of supporters -- chaos and bedlam -- warning that efforts to keep him off state ballots, quote, promise to unleash chaos and bedlam if other state courts and state officials follow Colorado's lead and exclude the likely Republican presidential nominee from their ballots.
Now, putting aside what you think about names coming off the ballot, the way that this is written is a chilling warning. And remember, it is not the first time Trump has said this. Here he is just last week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: Because there will be bedlam in the country. It's a very bad thing. It's a very bad precedent, as we said. It's the opening of a Pandora's box.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Bedlam in the country.
Now, of course, we've seen what that looks like. I mean, just to go back here and lay this out, I want to share a few of the tweets that Trump set and sent in the days and weeks leading up to January 6. On December 12th: We have just begun to fight -- he types with three exclamation points in all caps.
On the 19th of December: Big protests in D.C. on January 6, be there, will be wild.
In December 26th: History will remember, never give up. See everyone in D.C. on January 6.
And then this is what followed as Trump spoke to charged-up supporters on January 6.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CROWD: Fight for Trump! Fight for Trump! Fight for Trump!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And those words were followed by this -- bedlam and chaos.
Paula Reid is OUTFRONT live in Washington.
And, Paula, what else is in this new filing from Trump to the Supreme Court?
PAULA REID, CNN CHIEF LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, here, the Trump legal team expanding their argument for why Trump should not be removed from the ballot under section three of the 14th Amendment. At the top line, they're arguing that this would strip voters of their ability to choose a candidate, and, quote, threatened to disenfranchise tens of millions of Americans and promised to unleash chaos in bedlam if other state courts and state officials follow.
And you noted that echoes language that in the past has led to violence. But here it is also true, Erin, that if the Supreme Court does not weigh in here, and offer clarity, if each state is going about this a different way, that would prompt chaos and confusion.
Now, they also detail their constitutional argument to the high court. They insist that this section of the Constitution does not apply to presidents because they are not quote, officers of the United States. They also insist that Trump did not engage in an insurrection and was interesting about this, Erin, is that it is highly unlikely that the court is going to want to touch this issue. Instead, we expect that they're going to focus on constitutional interpretation and not want to get in to specifically what happened in and around January 6.
They also argue that it should be up to Congress, not state officials to enforce this section of the Constitution and they argue that it technically only prevents you from holding office, not from running for office. Of course, if you run for office and then you win, eventually, you have to get to the question of, well, what about holding an office, but that would just be more work for the Supreme Court.
At this point, Erin, it's unclear how the high court is going to approach this case. They have not laid out the questions that they intend to answer.
But of all, Trumps legal issues, legal cases that we cover this one has the strongest chance of at a high level, offering him a chance of success because it seems highly unlikely that the justices are going to want to strip voters, other choice of candidate.
All right. Well, Paula, thank you very much.
And everyone was with me.
And, Margaret, let's just start off with, as Paula says, you know, this may be a case right where the Supreme Court is uniform, right? And says he should be allowed to be on the ballot, but the issue seems to be the words that he used in the filing -- chaos and bedlam will ensue.
MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it looks like think Nikki Haley is right. Chaos does follow him everywhere. I say that tongue in cheek.
HOOVER: He's creating the chaos and that is not just chaos that is incidental. That's a threat. That is not a warning that bad things are going to happen. That is a threat that he will make it so.
And I just -- we have to be really careful and take really seriously the fact that these aren't just words, this isn't just crazy rhetoric as many Republican politicians often say, oh, the extortion, the crazy rhetoric is there. He has proven that that rhetoric can match violence at his calling, at his beck and calling, and that's what we should be careful about.
BURNETT: I mean, David Urban, it is -- it is incredible when you look back, right, at what he has said before and what happened and fight for Trump. And it is -- that is what ensued. I mean, unfortunately, there is a playbook and he is choosing to use those words tonight.
DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: So, look, so not surprising that I disagree, right? So I think I just heard Paula say in your previous segment that if all these states, if there was a mishmash of states across the United States, that some decided to keep the president on -- the former president on the ballot. Some took them off. There would be chaos and bedlam in terms of who could vote --
BURNETT: She said chaos and confusion.
URBAN: Why would you be -- chaos and confusion? Okay. So, chaos and confusion. We could wordsmith here, but there will be chaos and confusion. There will be bedlam.
If Donald Trump, if the people who are running on a threat to democracy platform themselves try to strip democracy away for people by allowing them to have a vote at the polling place, for who they choose to be president, that's going to create a lot of chaos and bedlam, and I don't think it's -- listen, you know, I -- the former president and I, you know, we part ways in a lot of different things. In this case, I think his lawyers are right and I think the word is -- the wording is not to hyperbolistic.
I think it would create chaos and would create confusion, would create bedlam.
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I can't imagine -- I'm hearing (INAUDIBLE) -- but I can't imagine anybody walk into a courtroom telling the judge, judge, if you -- if you follow the law and the law gives you an outcome that I don't like, we're going to have chaos and bedlam here in Los Angeles. That person would be called a thug and carried right out the door.
And so I understand what David saying that if you -- if you think what do you mean is chaos in terms of election officials might not know exactly what to do. And that's not what it sounds like, buddy. That's not what it sounds like coming from Donald Trump.
BURNETT: Yeah, I mean, it doesn't seem like there's any confusion from him what those words mean.
BURNETT: I mean, it's not you saving it, David Urban, it's him.
URBAN: No, but talk about disenfranchisement. I mean, oh, my God.
BURNETT: Well, okay, go ahead, David Axelrod.
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah. Now, look, there are two things can be true, right? I think there are real questions about what it would mean to tell tens of millions of Americans that their choice -- that they can't vote for their choice. But it's also true that Donald Trump has habitually used these words to provoke his supporters and he has wielded it, David, many, many times. He has suggested that bad things will happen if he doesn't get his way, and sometimes bad things have happened.
So the lawyers may have used these terms meaning one thing, but the problem as they come in the context of a guy who has used them in a quite different way throughout his political career and sometimes to the great detriment of the country.
BURNETT: The messenger matters, Margaret.
HOOVER: The messenger matters, the context matters.
David -- you know, David, you have a point, right? You can't argue that you're in favor of democracy and then argue that Donald Trump's fair election would not be democratic. I give you that, right? But it's a choice of words and it's a context that is it clear dog whistle to his supporters, which we all -- I mean, that's very difficult to deny.
URBAN: Listen, I got -- I got -- I think I guess converted Axe and Margaret I think in this --
HOOVER: Yeah. No, we agreed with you on democracy, but we disagree with your irresponsible rhetoric.
AXELROD: I've been on this one. I've been consistent on this issue. I'm troubled by the idea that people -- that tens of millions of people won't be able to vote.
It's a serious question though. The Colorado brief was -- the Colorado decision was pretty well-reasoned and the court -- I think they'll find an exit ramp before they have to actually decide whether Donald Trump is an insurrectionist or not.
BURNETT: Go ahead, Van.
JONES: I think -- I think you're right. But I mean -- here's the deal, usually, it's my Republican friends who tell me that democracy by itself is a disaster. They say we have a democratic republic, which means that there are times when you do not let the majority have its will. As the majority said, they wanted to take all the money from the billionaires, you say no, hold on a second, there'll be -- that'll be democracy but it would not fit with our system of government.
The people that the reason they passed that amendment is that they were concerned that people who had shown such disregard for this country to launch the civil war would still be popular enough to somehow be elected and do more harm.
And so it is the case, it's sometimes the framers and the people make amendment say, we don't actually want a full-blown democracy because sometimes the mass of the people do things that are wrong. Usually, Republicans are saying that.
Right now, the Democrats are saying that, that there's a reason for this amendment, that there can be people who are popular, who are well-liked, who were well-loved, but who are too dangerous to hold office and people who have been part of insurrections fall in that category.
BURNETT: All right. I want to ask about one other thing that happened today, and this was actually about Biden. Biden has been trying to make inroads on Trump -- which he's now pretty much acknowledging it's a two-person race, too, by the way he's behaving. And you went to North Carolina and was hitting Trump on the economy, which is different than how he often does on this democracy issue. Okay? But today, it was on the economy.
And I want to play something that Trump said recently followed by what Biden responded today. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: When there's a crash? I hope its going to be during this next 12 months because I don't want to be Herbert Hoover.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He wants to see the stock market crash. You know why? He doesn't want to be the next Herbert Hoover. As I told him, he's already Hoover. He's the only president to be president for four years and lose jobs, not gaining jobs. He doesn't know what he's talking about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Van, is this a winning message for Biden or not? Getting any traction?
JONES: Well, listen, right now, polling on the economy is really, really terrible. His numbers on the economy are actually pretty good. And so he's in this weird middle ground where he's got to start making the case for himself on the economy. I don't think he's the best message for himself, by the way. I think these union guys who've been out there -- have been benefiting from him to be speaking. I think that the solar engineers and other people working in red states putting up wind farms, they should be speaking up.
I think he should get other people to speak up for him on the economy. But I think he's trying to fill that gap between his poll performance and its actual performance on the economy.
BURNETT: David Axelrod -- yeah, look, I think that he has tried to tout his economic accomplishments and frankly, some of the numbers are very, very impressive. But you can't jawbone people into feeling better. They either are, or they aren't in. And sometimes they lag that economic statistics.
I think what he needs to do is set up a comparative that he engages in often about the economy, about advocacy. A lot of his policies have helped raise wages among middle-income people and lower-income people that's where his emphasis has been.
Trump talks like a champion of the middle-class, but governs like an economic royalist, and the centerpiece of his administration was a gigantic budget busting tax cut that really did favor people in the upper income brackets. But Biden has a good comparison to make, but it shouldn't get into side debates about silly comments by Trump. BURNETT: Well, they both, they both that seemed to agree on Herbert
Hoover, which is actually not the issue that I think a lot of people would think were going to talk about, but I believe, Margaret, that is what you take issue with here -- Margaret Hoover.
HOOVER: I was just like -- I was just like for Democrats and Republican --
BURNETT: Great, great granddaughter.
HOOVER: One great. He was my great grandfather, I never knew him. He died in '64. I was born in '77, but will Democrats just bury the 90- year-old's talking point from the earliest 20th century and recognize the Great Depression was a unique event in American history.
FDR couldn't solve it. Hoover couldn't solve it. We've learned a lot about modern macro economic sense then. And it's time --
AXELROD: It wasn't actually -- Margaret, it was -- it was Trump who brought it up. He said he didn't want to be Herbert Hoover.
HOOVER: I know. He is not a Republican.
BURNETT: You might actually be agreeing with Trump here because he's saying --
AXELROD: Wherever your grandfather, wherever he is, he doesn't -- he should be happy that Donald Trump doesn't want to be him.
HOOVER: That's the tell that Donald Trump isn't a Republican because the Republicans wouldn't talk --
BURNETT: All right. Quick, final quote, yes?
URBAN: I would just say this -- yes, I would just say this: voters are going to have to answer the question to answer every four years, are you better off now than you were at the beginning while administration? Until voters feel that they're better off under Biden than they were under Trump, Biden's going to keep failing that test.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you all very much.
And next, Nikki Haley bringing in support from independents who say this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I will do anything in my power to make sure that Trump does not become our next president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: But is that enough to defeat Trump even in New Hampshire? Our Voters OUTFRONT report is next.
Plus, more breaking news tonight, the sordid details of an alleged affair between the Fulton County D.A. who's investigating Trump and one of the prosecutors on her team. The D.A. now claiming the prosecutor's wife is the one meddling in the case. Is all of this going to come out to help Trump and hurt Fani Willis's credibility.
And is Kim Jong Un closer than ever to launching an all-out nuclear war?
BURNETT: And you are looking at live pictures out of New Hampshire where CNN will host a town hall with Nikki Haley tonight, just five days before the state's primary, which maybe do or die for her campaign.
And Haley meantime, is ramping up her attacks on the front runner, Donald Trump
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIKKI HALEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I mean, Trump says things Americans aren't stupid to just believe what he says. The reality is, who lost the House for us, who lost the Senate, who lost the White House? Donald Trump, Donald Trump, Donald Trump. Let's talk about the truth, instead of talking about the lies that he continues to say.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: All right. Well, this comes as Haley tries to court voters across New Hampshire to take down Trump. But actually, this is really interesting. Some of the voters that she's courting may not be who you think they are.
And that is why Jeff Zeleny is in New Hampshire with this Voters OUTFRONT report.
NANCY PROTZMANN, NEW HAMPSHIRE VOTER: I will do anything in my power to make sure that Trump does not become our next president.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Nancy Protzmann has long wanted to vote against Donald Trump. But after seeing Nikki Haley today, she said she finally found someone to vote for.
PROTZMANN: I liked what she said, and I don't want Biden either.
ZELENY: Protzmann is a voter stuck in the middle, are critical piece the New Hampshire electorate.
Have you voted in the past for Republicans and Democrats? PROTZMANN: Yes. Yes, I have voted for both.
HALEY: Thanks for being here. So good to see you.
ZELENY: To keep the Republican race alive, Haley is trying to stitch together a coalition of independents and moderates in New Hampshire, a state Trump lost in the 2016 and 2020 general elections.
Danielle Brown has voted for candidates of both parties over the years. On Tuesday, she intends to back Haley to send a message to Republicans.
DANIELLE BROWN, NEW HAMPSHIRE VOTER: They don't have to be you fearful and just simply jump on the Trump bandwagon. He's a bully. But in some people feel that they have to go with him.
ZELENY: Trump is trying to keep Republicans in line, hoping to blunt Haley's rise.
TRUMP: Nikki Haley, in particular, is counting on the Democrats and liberals to infiltrate your Republican primary.
ZELENY: His rallying cry is false. Democrats are not allowed to vote in the Republican primary.
In New Hampshire, more than 343,000 voters are undeclared. Those voters make up nearly 40 percent of the electorate, more than registered Republicans or Democrats.
What Trump may not know is that Haley's rallies are filled with plenty of voters like Susan Rice, who once supported the former president.
SUSAN RICE, NEW HAMPSHIRE VOTER: I will be upfront and honest with you. I supported Trump in 2016. I voted for him in 2020.
ZELENY: Rice is exhausted by Trump and excited by Haley's potential to rebuild the Republican Party.
RICE: I don't necessarily sorry about the court cases. But it's the baggage and honestly, sometimes what comes out of his mouth.
MELINDA TOURANGEAU, NEW HAMPSHIRE VOTER: Thank you for coming. Do you like what you heard?
ZELENY: Melinda Tourangeau is a lifelong Republican. She first saw Haley a year ago and a supported her ever since.
TOURANGEAU: I'm very glad I had someone else to choose from.
ZELENY: Meaning someone other than Donald Trump?
TOURANGEAU: Exactly. He was a good president for the time, but this is not the time. We need unification. ZELENY: Haley is targeting undeclared voters from the suburbs to the
sea coast, where Trump underperformed other Republicans, like Governor Chris Sununu.
MARY HOELL, NEW HAMPSHIRE VOTER: I was going to vote for her to try to knock out Trump. I don't know if that's a good strategy or not, but -- but I do like her I do.
ZELENY: Mary Hoell and her friend Colleen Smith don't always agree on politics, but they found common ground in Haley.
COLLEEN SMITH, NEW HAMPSHIRE VOTER: Isn't that what democracy is?
ZELENY: Hoyle said Trump's criticism against Haley could backfire in New Hampshire, which she believes maybe one of the last places to slow his rush to the nomination.
HOELL: I don't think she's trying to infiltrate. Of course, she's trying to get votes, but that's what she's supposed to be doing. And we have a ton of independents in this state.
ZELENY: And the conversation between those two friends who went to a Haley rally, Erin, was so interesting. One thought that Haley was a little too conservative. The other thought, she was perhaps a little too moderate, but they did again find common ground in her candidacy. They believe she is a better choice for the Republican Party and indeed the country.
But building this coalition of independents and yes, some Republicans is key for Haley's success here. And it could well determine how long this Republican presidential race goes on -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Jeff Zeleny in New Hampshire.
So, Harry Enten is here with me.
So, Harry, everybody watching this around the country because obviously New Hampshire is something even South Carolina, her home state isn't, right, this role of independents.
HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: Yes.
BURNETT: That is for general election strength. But in New Hampshire, when you look at the numbers, how many independent voters does she actually have to get to beat Trump?
ENTEN: Yeah. So, you right now, if you look at Republican primaries of the past and you look at the polling for this particular primary, folks who aren't registered with a party registered independents, or those who aren't yet registered and were registered day of, they're going to make up somewhere historically speaking, between 40 and 50 percent of the electorate.
Right now, our last CNN poll had it at 45 percent. My guess looking at the numbers, based upon the current percentage of Republicans who are going to vote for Haley and the current percentage of independents, that number may have to go above 50 percent. So it is a tough row to hoe, but the fact is, it could happen, is this idea of independents not voting in New Hampshire as Donald Trump's trying to argue, they always vote in New Hampshire, they always vote --
BURNETT: Right. It's always between 40 and fort -- well, in the past three, 40 to 47.
BURNETT: So, 50 is not out of the realm.
ENTEN: It's not.
BURNETT: But it would be by -- significantly high.
ENTEN: She would have to be what has normally happen in history, but not by that much.
BURNETT: Okay. So it's -- that's tough but not impossible. But we want the reality here.
So then this specific group of voters that Haley's doing extremely well with. How closely do you watch this college-educated Republican vote? Which, by the way, I should note in Iowa went for Trump.
ENTEN: It went for Trump. But in New Hampshire right now, the polling shows its going for Haley. We actually found a cross tab or she is ahead of Donald Trump and it is among college educated, likely GOP voters in New Hampshire. She's not only doing better amongst them than she did an Iowa, even nationally, even though this is a better group for Haley, then say non-college educated voters, Trump is still ahead nationally.
In New Hampshire, she's ahead. She's going to have to pull in a larger margin than that most likely. But the fact is those voters, especially in the southern part of the state, perhaps around Hanover, New Hampshire as well. That's in the western part of the state along the Connecticut River Valley. She's going to do very, very well amongst those voters if she wants to win there,
BURNETT: Okay, so now one of her big backers is the co-founder Ken Langone of Home Depot, billionaire. He says he's ready to give Haley a nice sum of money. That's what he told "The Financial Times". So but then he said, if she doesn't get traction in New Hampshire, you don't throw money down a rabbit hole and that's why people love Ken who love him because he's -- he speaks like that.
BURNETT: OK. He's got a net worth of nearly $8 billion.
ENTEN: Yes. BURNETT: We looked at how much money he gave. So, back when he backed
Christie and he's always -- you know, always hoped for Christie, but now, obviously, that's gone. 2016, a quarter million dollars to a pro Christie super PAC.
How much money -- how much could he help her if he were to get in?
ENTEN: Yeah. I mean, it would help her significantly look. Haley has been fundraising more and more money. You know, last quarter was by far her best quarter. She raised upwards of $24 million. That was more than double what you raised in the third quarter.
But Donald Trump raised $45 million. And the third quarter significantly more than her, she's going to need a lot more fundraisers like Langone to get in on her side if she wants a chance, because without money, politics -- a political campaigns die.
BURNETT: Right, and die really fast.
ENTEN: Die very fast.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much.
ENTEN: Thank you.
BURNETT: And don't miss the CNN town hall with Nikki Haley tonight at 9:00 Eastern.
And meantime, next, the breaking news, the Fulton County D.A. Fani Willis is fighting back against allegations of an affair with her lead prosecutor in the Trump case. Tonight, making major accusations of her own.
Plus, Prince William visiting his wife in the hospital. So what do we really know about Kate Middleton's health? A special report from London.
BURNETT: Tonight, Attorney General Merrick Garland gets emotional in an exclusive interview with CNN as a new DOJ report finds the massacre in Uvalde, Texas, in which 19 children and two teachers cheers were killed, could have been stopped much sooner. A lot of those people would be alive.
Here's what Garland told our Evan Perez shortly after visiting the elementary school where this horror took place.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MERRICK GARLAND, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Being there, seeing how small the two school rooms and their attachment to each other, the holes in the wall left by the shooters, the places where the children tried to hide, you think of child shot and left in a classroom? A small classroom with the shooter was still shooting for more than an hour, when law enforcement could have come in and rescue and conducted a rescue. It's not -- it's not a pain that's ever going to go away.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Evan Perez is OUTFRONT from Uvalde tonight.
And, Evan, what else did the attorney general tell you about the -- this mass shooting, and now, the DOJ's investigation?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, this has been an emotional couple of days. The attorney general spent the night here in Uvalde. He did a tour down at the town square where there are these -- these murals that have been painted for those children who were killed in that massacre.
And one of the things that he told me was obviously spending time with the family members. He met with them behind me here in a room here, this building behind me with the Associate Attorney General Vinita Gupta. They took questions from the family members for more than two hours. And one of the things that family members are asking for is obviously accountability.
One of the -- one of the hopes is that as a result of this report and some of the things that were found, there were seriously lacking in the federal -- I'm sorry -- in the law enforcement response that day, that local authorities will take further action, perhaps maybe getting rid of some of the police officers who are still on the police force here in Uvalde.
BURNETT: All right. Now, I know you also as part of your conversation, you talked about that and the other major legal cases going on right now that you're covering, including the special counsel Jack Smith's election case against former Trump -- President Trump. So, today, the judge hinted that that trial which was supposed to begin in six weeks could be delayed. What did Garland tell you, Evan, about this case and the timing?
PEREZ: Well, he defended the effort by the Justice Department, by the special counsel, Jack Smith, to try to keep that trial date, trying to get this trial started ahead of the election. As you know, Erin, the Justice Department has rules that prohibit taken ticket taking certain actions of stay away or staying out of the way of elections.
And so, that's one of the questions I had for him was asking certainly whether the timing of that -- of that trial presents a problem for the Justice Department. Listen to his response.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PEREZ: Is there a date in your mind where it might be too late to bring these trials to fruition -- again, to stay out of, out of the way the elections as the department policies acquire?
GARLAND: I'll say what I said, which is that the cases were brought last year, prosecutor has urged speedy trials with which I agree, and this now in the hands of the traditional system, not in our hands.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PEREZ: And, Erin, that's certainly the most extensive comments we've heard from the attorney general on the subject of these trials, of the former president. Obviously, we are all now waiting to see whether the former president's effort to appeal this to the appeals court, and, of course, to the Supreme Court, whether that succeeds in trying to prevent these trials from happening this year -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Evan, thank you very much, in Uvalde tonight.
Ryan Goodman is with me now, our OUTFRONT legal expert.
So, just start with what Evan just played there, the attorney general, talking about the timeline, which is something that he's not done before, right? So, obviously, just significant that he would say it at all. But when you hear that answer, you do hear something very specific. What is it?
RYAN GOODMAN, CO-EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, JUST SECURITY: I do so the legal community has always wondered if the Justice Departments 60-day rule where they don't take any overt action in an investigation applies to the start of the trial. In other words, if we're 60 days out from the November elections, do they just stop in their tracks and say we can't proceed any further.
I hear the attorney general, A, not saying that the 60-day rule applies and, B, strongly suggesting it does not. He says it's not in our hands. It's not our call.
It's the court's call. And he also says the decision was taken to indict last year, so that decision --
BURNETT: Right, he's emphasizing, we did our part.
GOODMAN: That's right.
BURNETT: But what you're saying is that he's implying as long as you can get it, started within 60 days, it wouldn't stop.
GOODMAN: That's right.
BURNETT: There are some who would say that even if you've started that, you hit 60 days, if you're not done, it just goes on hold.
GOODMAN: That's right. Or we're all waiting for what the Supreme Court will decide. Do they actually hand it back down to the district court? And then the question is, is it in a 60-day window? Can they start?
He seems to be saying we can start. It's the court -- it's up to the court, just not in our hands.
BURNETT: So, a new hearing has been scheduled in the Georgia election case. I want to ask you about this. This is a allegations that the district attorney, Fani Willis, she is an elected Democrat, is romantically involved with the person she chose as her lead prosecutor, Nathan Wade. And he was then billing by the hour to do this and that -- you know, so she hires him, they're having this its a fair and they take the money that she pays him and spend it on things for themselves, vacations and other things like that.
There's a hearing now this judge is going to hold on February 15th, and they're asking Fani Willis to respond to these allegations. She has not responded yet. She's been silent.
So can you just explain why if there was romantic relationship and she's paying him this money and they're using it to do things together, tell me exactly why that what the problem is?
GOODMAN: So, the strongest form of the argument is and it's a pretty good argument, that there's a conflict of interests, that they are -- the two of them are profiting off of the investigation that she's paying him at this rate where he's billing extraordinary hours.
BURNETT: I mean, one, it looked like 24 hours in one day, which is obviously BS if it occurred.
GOODMAN: Yep. And then its also an astronomical amount for a prosecutor in Georgia on a yearly basis. That's the argument and that she hires him, and they're romantically involved when she hires him. And he's not very qualified for the position. He's never tried a federal -- he's never tried to felony case, not federal, felony case.
GOODMAN: And never defended a felony case, according to the allegations and according to the public record, "New York Times," et cetera, that's the argument.
And so, the judge saying, I'm going to here an argument, I'm going to have an evidentiary hearing and the Fani Willis has to respond. I don't think that's what she wants to hear. It seems that the judge is taking it seriously.
BURNETT: Yeah. Well, I mean, the way you lay that out, those are -- those seem to be very serious things. And, you know, taxpayer dollars at what's being used to do these things. So, people deserve an answer.
All right. Thank you very much, Ryan.
And next, a nation searching for answers after the princess of Wales was suddenly hospitalized and going to be hospitalized for weeks and then out of the public eye for months. So, tonight we are learning more about it.
And North Korea may be closer than ever to all out war, as it is looking to exploit the chaos around the world. We have a special report.
BURNETT: So, tonight, Prince William visited his wife in the hospital. She's recovering from what we've been told is abdominal surgery. The princess of Wales remains in a private London hospital where she could spend the next two weeks.
The royal family is trying to keep her diagnosis under wraps, only saying that her public schedule we put on hold until sometime in April as she recovers, which, of course, is a dramatic shift, shocking shift for a very, very active princess.
Max Foster is OUTFRONT.
MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Loved and admired, a royal health scare has caught the nation by surprise, when on Wednesday, Kensington palace shared that Catherine, the princess of Wales, needed medical treatment. It circulated questions about the condition of one of the most senior royals' health, who aside from having morning sickness during pregnancy, has never had any known health problems while she's been a royal.
Now, she's forced to stay out of the public eye its up to three months until doctors give her the all clear.
Last seen over Christmas with her family at Sandringham, the princess of Wales lives an active lifestyle, but having a regular royal schedule of engagements, some 120 last year and by being a hands-on mom, looking after her three children. She still finds time to enjoy the outdoors and keeping up her favorite hobbies like skiing and working out, all to keep the princess fit and healthy.
Her relatability to the public has made her a role model amongst adoring fans, who might try to catch a glimpse of her at Wimbledon, but she's regularly seen every summer watching the games. A patron of the all-England lawn tennis club, the princess's interest in the sport extends beyond the annual championships.
Known to enjoy cooking for the prince of Wales and her children, Catherine, has even been spotted stocking up at a British supermarket, showing that she doesn't like to rely on staff for shopping and trying to maintain a normal lifestyle. But now, all the appearances slow down, as Catherine recovers and with Prince William juggling child care at home. The couple have canceled all travel plans for the foreseeable future.
With King Charles and two other senior royals taking a backseat, heads turn to Queen Camilla and other members of the family to step up as the public faces of the royal household, to reassure Britons that all is fine and it is business as usual.
FOSTER (on camera): We are actually getting more detail in these medical bulletins than we normally would from the palaces, perhaps suggesting a new era of openness in the royal family -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Max, thanks very much to you.
And, of course, perhaps more transparent than in the past, but still at this point, they're not saying what it is.
OUTFRONT now, Dr. Jonathan Reiner, CNN medical analyst, and cardiologist.
And, Dr. Reiner, the palace has said this was a planned surgery, not an emergency one. They have been clear and transparent and saying that it is not a cancer diagnosis, but other than abdominal surgery, they haven't said anything else.
I mean, what do you make of this?
DR. JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Well, we know that she's had a rather extensive operation.
We know that because the palace announced that she's going to be in hospital for 10 to 14 days. So that speaks to the -- to the rigor or the extent of the operation. And we also know that its going she's going to be recovering out of the public eye for two to -- two to three months and there aren't a lot of procedures that these days that requires such extensive recovery. For example, if you have an abdominal operations such as cholecystectomy to take your gallbladder out, you know, that's an outpatient procedure almost basically, most of the time, and just really several days to recover before you get back to work. You can have open heart surgery and be out of the hospital and less than a week and back to work in three weeks.
So the princess of Wales has had a large operation and its going to require a long time to recover.
One other thing we try and get people out of the hospitalist quickly as possible because you can get infections in the hospital, and so it's better to recover at home.
BURNETT: Yeah, right.
REINER: And with her resources, she can have basically as much help as she -- as she needs, physical therapy, nurses, IV infusions. So again, when you keep a patient in a hospital, you're keeping them because they need treatment that they can't get at home. And she can get just about anything at home.
BURNETT: All right. So when you say only a few things could be that and obviously we emphasize, we don't know what it, what it is, but what -- what are those? REINER: Well, we're told that she doesn't have cancer, which is wonderful. There are some operations, for instance, for pancreatic cancer that would easily keep people in the hospital for two weeks. You know, other abdominal operations such as a colectomy or partial colectomy. Those can keep people in the hospital for awhile.
I don't want to speculate on what kind of surgery the princess's had. You know, these are difficult disclosure for public officials, can be very difficult.
I'm not sure anyone really has the right to know, but, you know, the British people probably have a need to know. She's part of the fabric of their -- of their country. She's essentially, I guess, the queen and waiting. And she has a relationship with the folks in her country.
So at some point, the news will come out.
BURNETT: I think it's pretty profound the way you said it, maybe not a right, but it need.
BURNETT: And she has a, you know, a right, and a need for her privacy. And yet, of course, that she is -- she has much more than that. So, we'll see if they do -- they do seem to give soon give more information.
Dr. Reiner, thanks so much.
REINER: My pleasure.
BURNETT: And next, a top North Korea expert telling CNN, the North Korea is now preparing for war, all out war, with inspiration from Vladimir Putin. A special report is next.
Plus, near total communications blackout in Gaza is now stretching into its seventh day. We have been able to get one dispatch from inside.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
MAHMOUD SHALABI, AID WORKER IN NORTHERN GAZA: The sewage water is filling the streets.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BURNETT: Tonight, North Korea on the verge of war -- the stark warning about Kim Jong Un getting closer than ever to launching an all-out war is as a top White House national security official is warning that the threat from North Korea could change drastically. That is the exact word that was used, given its recent military cooperation with Russia and Vladimir Putin.
Will Ripley is OUTFRONT.
WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, the Korean peninsula staring down the barrel of a catastrophic conflict, that warning from one of Americas leading nuclear scientists, one of two long time North Korea observers, who say Kim Jong Un is sending signals in state media. He may be prepared to take advantage of oval chaos to exploit what he sees as weakness and vulnerability between the U.S. and close allies, South Korea, and Japan.
SIEGRIED S. HECKER, PROFESSOR, MIDDLEBURY INSTITUTE OF INTERNATIONAL STUDIES AT MONTEREY/TX A&M UNIVERSITY: They're talking about war. They're talking about war preparations for their country. And so, we're quite concerned.
RIPLEY: For years, former Los Alamos director Siegfried Hecker had unparalleled access to North Korea's highly secretive nuclear program, seeing more than almost any American.
What he's seeing now, he says, reminiscing of the lead-up to the catastrophic Korean war more than 70 years ago, a chilling shift in leader Kim Jong Un's strategy, far more than the usual saber rattling.
HECKER: I think this time it's different. He may have decided that it is time to actually take some actions.
RIPLEY: For the past 30 years, North Korea's goal was normalizing ties with the U.S. Hecker says that ended in 2019 when summit talks in Hanoi, Vietnam collapsed. Former President Donald Trump and Kim walked out, humiliating and infuriating the North Korean leader, riding his armored private train back to Pyongyang, empty handed, perhaps giving up on U.S. diplomacy, making a strategic turn towards conflict.
HECKER: He may believe that they're actually -- there is some way sort of what one would say, what's a path to victory, that he may be thinking very differently than what our conventional thinking is.
RIPLEY: Kim's confidence maybe bolstered he says by closer ties with China and a deepening military alliance with Russia. North Korea's foreign minister Choe Son-hui visiting Moscow just this week, also labeling South Korea a hostile country.
CHOE SON-HUI, NORTH KOREA'S FOREIGN MINISTER: This is a political provocation.
RIPLEY: And not just political. North Korea testing a new hypersonic missile, potentially nuclear capable, adding to Kim's growing arsenal.
RIPLEY (on camera): And tonight, experts say that arsenal already poses a credible threat to tens of thousands of U.S. troops across this region, in places like South Korea, Japan, Guam, some missiles, Erin, believed to be capable of even striking the U.S. mainland.
Kim also has the world's fourth largest standing army, well over a million strong, which is why experts say diplomacy and military deterrence are crucial here.
BURNETT: All right. Well, Ripley, thank you very much, from Taipei tonight.
And next, we have an exclusive dispatch from inside Gaza, which is very hard to get because communications have been down there for a full week.
BURNETT: Tonight, the blackout, a near total communications blackout in Gaza has now hit the one week mark. There's no sign of letting up at this point. The purple line that you're looking at there shows connectivity since the war began. The drops are outages. This one is noticeably longer than any of the others, and its effect, of course, can't be overstated.
No phone line, no Internet access makes it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to get any humanitarian aid into the enclave to communicate with anybody. It did -- we have though, and occasional moments, you can get a breakthrough. We were able to get one dispatch from inside Gaza, from Mahmoud Shalabi, the aid worker we've been talking to since the war began. You've heard a lot from him.
He reached us on a borrowed phone with a special SIM card. That's how he did it. And he's telling us what it's like right now where he is.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SHALABI: The sewage water is filling the streets. There are no pavements. There are no streets basically. Everything has been obliterated and wiped out. It's really difficult to maintain our dignity as Palestinians living in the north of Gaza.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BURNETT: Losing their dignity and this fight for survival as Mahmoud describes it. And it is continuing for so many in Gaza who are suffering tonight.
Thank you so much for joining us.
"AC360" starts now.