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Erin Burnett Outfront

Hours Away From First Votes In First Primary Of 2024; Axios: Israel Floats Fighting Pause For Release Of All Hostages; Supreme Court Sides With Biden In Fight With Texas Governor Over Border; Fani Willis Facing Probes Into Use Of Funds, Personal Travel; New Video: Massive Blaze After Ukraine Says Drone Traveled Nearly 1,000 Miles In Strike Of Russian Oil Facility. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired January 22, 2024 - 19:00   ET




Hours away from the first votes in New Hampshire, can Nikki Haley stop Trump's march to the nomination? This as Republicans are now lining up behind the former president -- Republicans who apparently forgot that they used to hate him.

Plus, breaking news. Israel reportedly proposing a two-month ceasefire in exchange for the remaining hostages, and the reporter who broke this story is OUTFRONT.

And then Biden scoring a major victory and his border battle with Texas.

The Democratic mayor of Denver, he calls his city a ground zero for the migrant crisis, will be OUTFRONT. Why he thinks he has a solution everyone can agree on.

Let's go OUTFRONT.


BURNETT: And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, the first primary of 2024. At midnight, the first voters of New Hampshire get to go in and cast their votes.

And these are live pictures from where that will happen in Dixville Notch. Anybody watching electoral politics every four years, you hear about Dixville Notch. It is the first town to vote in the Republican primary this time in what is now a two-person race for the GOP nomination.

Trump is about to hold a rally in New Hampshire. He will be joined there by three of his former rivals-turned-supporters, Senator Tim Scott, Governor Doug Burgum and Vivek Ramaswamy.

While Nikki Haley is wrapping up her last event for the day, she now has that two-person race that she said she he wanted, making this her last big chance to show voters she has the support to take Trump down. And for Republicans who loath Trump, it does all come down to Haley. She is their only shot to stop Trump's march to the nomination and anything but a very close finished could mean the end of her campaign, which raises a very big question.

To those who have been trying to oust Trump rally behind him -- I mean, for years, we've seen anti-Trump Republicans coalesce around the former president when it finally comes down to it. And this time just take his recent opponent -- opponents like Ron DeSantis, who made these two comments one week apart.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: You can be the strongest, most dynamic, successful Republican and conservative in America, but if you don't kiss that ring, then he'll try to trash you. You know what? You deserve a nominee that's going to put you first, not himself first.

Trump is superior to the current incumbent, Joe Biden. He has my endorsement because we can't go back to the old Republican guard of yesteryear.


BURNETT: Okay. Well, that's Ron DeSantis, but now I give you the former candidate, Doug Burgum, Governor Doug Burgum, here he is in July of last year.


CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS HOST: Would you ever do business with Donald Trump?

GOV. DOUG BURGUM (R), NORTH DAKOTA: I don't think so.

TODD: Why?

BURGUM: I would -- I just think that its important that you're judged by the company you keep.


BURNETT: Well, tonight, you'll get to see the company he keeps because in moments he will be taking that stage and he will stand next to Trump, who he is backing.

And then there's Republican Congresswoman Nancy Mace of South Carolina. Today, she endorsed Trump even after he said this about her.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: In the first congressional district, you have another horrendous RINO known as Crazy Nancy Mace. She's a terrible person and she has no idea what she's doing.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: Well, I guess he thinks she is an idea what she's doing tonight, right? Endorsing him.

And then there's New York Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, rising star in the GOP, who is reportedly in the running to be Trump's running mate. She has perhaps Trump's fiercest defender now on Capitol Hill, but that was not always the case. She wants slam Trump for his lies and his attacks on women.


REP. ELISE STEFANIK (R-NY): I think he has been insulting to women. I think in the presidential field, there are some candidates who, over the long run and they've already started this process, are somewhat disqualifying themselves with untruthful statements.


BURNETT: Well, that was then and this is now.


STEFANIK: I support President Trump. He is an important voice in our Republican Party.


BURNETT: Well, there you have it. That's how it usually goes.

And Kristen Holmes tonight begins our coverage OUTFRONT at Trump's rally in Laconia, New Hampshire, where he is going to be surrounded by some of those individuals.

So, Kristen, how important is it to Trump tonight, to have three of his former opponents who have said things like we just heard them say rally around him and support him be onstage of them tonight?


KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, it's really astonishing listening to those clips that you just played because I remember back in 2022 after Trump announced after the midterms and its certainly he was not the time -- the tide was certainly not going that way. But clearly, we have entered into a new era and it is critical to Donald Trump to have these three opponents turned supporters fonts date with them because that is his entire message.

The message is the party is coalescing around Donald Trump. Nikki Haley, you should do the same, drop out, and let's move forward.

Now, it's not just those three that were here with. We're looking around, seeing all of his multiple -- excuse me, there was doing a prayer right now, so I just want you to know that's why I'm talking a little bit lower. But I'm seeing some of his top surrogates, Kari Lake, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Byron Donalds, all are here in the room. They are all here to support the former president. It's all part of

the same message, which is that Donald Trump should be the nominee. That's what they want to hear. Now, from terms of margins, it's been talked a lot about. They're not really setting any expectations for here in New Hampshire. They just want a big win and that's what they're focused on.

Again, as you noted, unless it's a close, close finished for Nikki Haley, it could be the end of her campaign that's obviously what they're looking for.

BURNETT: All right. Kristen, thank you very much. And thank you for -- I know it's hard for her to speak there.

All right. Our panel is with me.

Well, I guess, John, you've got to say, you know, Doug Burgum -- you know, that's a tough one. At least Kari Lake and Byron Donalds have only ever been on one side it. So I guess you could -- you could start with that. But nonetheless, here we are.

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: They always take the knee. That's what Donald Trump said about these folks who -- he can trash somebody you heard that there, Nancy Mace, First District South Carolina, terrible person, he said, to a crowd full of folks. And yet you consistently see the spinelessness, these people just supine crawling back to him.

They take the knee no matter what he says because they're afraid. It's combination of cowardice and career-ism, and it is corroding their soul.

BURNETT: One excellent use of the word supine.

AVLON: Thank you very much.


AVLON: Thank you.

BURNETT: Governor Sanford, Haley, tonight, I mean, this is -- this is crucial, right? This is, as we say, a do or die moment. You've known her, good times and bad, you know, her character for better and for worse.


BURNETT: Obviously, you know, you were governor and then she was lieutenant and she took over. What -- where do you think her head is right now? I mean, she knows the moment.

SANFORD: In fairness, she followed me. She was not my lieutenant governor, but she did follow me. Where's it go next? I mean, who knows?

I mean, I think, A, it's do or die. I think that if you'll hear what Ron DeSantis did, I think if you look at what Nikki may do, at the end of the day, it's about saving your own political capital. And I think Ron DeSantis did that to possibly fight another day. And if it doesn't go well in New Hampshire, I suspect you'll see that white flag go up from Nikki's end as well.

BURNETT: You do? You think that after all these things she said in recent days --

SANFORD: I know she said she's going through, but at the end of the day, if you get trounced in your home state, it does not bode well for future Senate run or for another presidential run.

BURNETT: So, Margaret, how well does she have to do tomorrow to stay in?

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I had an opportunity to visit with Governor Sununu about this last week on my PBS program. And he said that, you know, a strong second in a two-person race, which to me is not a win. But, it seems to me as though --

BURNETT: You're either going to come in one or two.

HOOVER: If you're two in a two-person grace, that's a lost to me. But would there all talking margins and that's how they're measuring it. If Trump has 12 to 15 points ahead, it's hard to see how she wins. If she's within four to six, I think that is a strong second place finish, which gives her a degree of momentum. And frankly, credibility to go back to donors and say helped me push this through, at least through South Carolina and see what we can do in South Carolina, which is admittedly an incredibly difficult race for her.

BURNETT: Right. And that's when we talk about these endorsements and she just to go through the endorsements, obviously, in the state, right.

Governor, who I know there's no love lost between the two of them nonetheless, the Governor, Joe Wilson, William Simon, Russell Fry, all at an event, Nancy Mace.


BURNETT: Tim Scott, it's pretty universal.

FINNEY: Yeah, and it has the feeling of momentum for particularly for voters who they're not paying attention to delegate counts or those sorts of things that were looking at. They're looking at a stage and thinking, wow, he's -- all these people are with them. I maybe I should just, you know, maybe its inevitable, right?

And that's a place where if you are Trump, you do want to push the inevitability narrative, right? Because that's how you just keep rolling all along.

And look, I agree with Margaret. I think if it's five points or more hard to make an argument to donors to keep yourself alive for a month. Because remember, its a month of campaigning that you've got to do in South Carolina the state is very -- you would know better like I, Governor, but this state is very different than it was when she was governor. And I think we're seeing that in some of these polls showing Trumps so far ahead.

BURNETT: So, Governor, she did talk about it, you know, obviously she's saying, you know, pending how she was -- well, she's not saying pending, but we all know pending, how does tomorrow.


She's making it that South Carolina because it's her state. She was governor there. She can win.

Here's how she put it.


NIKKI HALEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're going to go on into South Carolina, we're going to be strong.


HALEY: They talk about oh, New Hampshire, good for her because of independents. I won the state twice.


BURNETT: She did when it twice, how much has it changed?

SANFORD: I mean, on the coast, it's has changed radically given the influx of folks in the Northeast and the Upper Midwest, same if the other book into the state up in Greenville, Spartanburg, our industrial hub, if you want to call it that.

But the middle part of the state is largely the same. It has not changed a lot. I mean, a lot of folks that have been there for 100 years and -- I mean, you've got a lot of family history. Ill just leave it at that.

And so -- and so, what I would say is it's changed a bit, but it's on the margin and I just think that you look at the numbers and there's a reason that all these -- I mean, the entire congressional delegation minus one who happened to be her district when she was in the House, and all constitutional officers have gone that direction because they're reading the tea leaves in their districts across the state and its decidedly Trump.

ALVON: They're terrified of losing a primary, that's particularly true of Lindsey Graham. But let me just make the case for why I think Nikki Haley staying it is important.

BURNETT: And let's just say, by the way, you have extensive family history --

ALVON: In South Carolina.

BURNETT: I don't know if it's a wink, wink, nod.


HOOVER: If extensive means lasted one generation.

BURNETT: I mean, that's not very extensive in South Carolina, one generation.


AVLON: But my folks lived in South Carolina in the '90s.

Look, I think its important that she stays in if she can credibly because less than 1 percent of Americans have voted in terms of populations these respective states.


AVLON: Nominating Donald Trump, someone who's tried to overturn our democracy, indicted on 91 accounts is so unprecedented, understand why the politicians are all weak-kneed and falling into line. He's functionally the incumbent.

But that represents such a radical departure and having an alternative in place, I think is important for the country and the Republican Party to really assess what they're about to do to themselves and potentially the nation.

FINNEY: Can I mention something that we don't talk not much about with Nikki Haley? The other consideration voters are looking at her and saying, do I see that woman as commander in chief? And we haven't talked a lot about the unique challenges that women face, particularly when it comes to executive leadership, which means do I see her as the commander-in-chief? Could I see her going toe to toe with Putin? That's part of why she talks about her experience at the U.N. so often.


FINNEY: Do I see her as someone who's going to care about my family and fix the economy. And that's part of why she talks about being an accountant, right, in terms of issue areas where women traditionally have weaknesses and men have perceived, I want to say perceived, strengths.


FINNEY: We don't talk about that much, but that's another consideration here that when -- for women, it is a different consideration when voters are looking at that candidate and saying, do I believe she's tough enough to do the job.

BURNETT: Well, you use the word tough, and, of course, that's what Trump has questioned, you know, that she's not tough and he's called her birdbrain.

HOOVER: And an eminently sex just attack, you know, if sexism doesn't stop him. He's happy to do it.

Look, this is a question before New Hampshire voters who have delivered surprises repeatedly in the past and they're happy about doing that. The consequence of a President Haley versus a President Trump, when it comes to Ukraine, when it comes to China, when it comes to immigration, when it comes to the economy -- unaffiliated voters in New Hampshire have an opportunity, along with Republican voters in New Hampshire to make a choice so that America has a choice for a President Haley versus a President Trump.

I mean, this is the question right now, not South Carolina. And I hope they will give us another choice.


SANFORD: I mean, we with all those thanks but they're idealistic in nature, they're hope fors, they're the dream of where we want end up as a party. I'm just reading the tea leaves in South Carolina as they are right now. And I would say at this point, sadly, from my perspective, they're not particularly compelling from a Haley perspective.

BURNETT: I mean, 7 percent, right, turnout in when you look at Iowa right now, its not among the most populous states. I mean --


BURNETT: It is such a tiny slice of America that is making a decision for everybody else.

AVLON: So let's not --

SANFORD: But that's the nature of modern polling. I mean, you look at the sample size with most polls and they give you a read, they not be perfect. It's not a full representation, but it gives you a read.

HOOVER: And it's the process the Republican Party has chosen to make their selection for their nominee, which is frankly chosen in order to create the strength for Donald Trump, the nominee, if you will, of the party.

BURNETT: I want to ask on there is a primary tomorrow on the Democratic side. Biden's not on it. It's complicated. Dean Phillips is trying to get in on it. There was a robocall, an AI voice resembling Biden advising people not to vote.

AVLON: Yeah.

BURNETT: Pretty terrifying, by the way, on the macro of what this means but they were happy to use this AI call.

AVLON: Yeah, I think take a big step back and tried to separate the urgent from the important.

[19:15:02] And this is one of those important stories that might get missed today. AI aiding voter suppression, impersonating the president of the United States -- that's a harbinger of things to come and a very dark and dystopian way.


AVLON: So don't lose sight of that. We'll find out who paid for what they were trying to do, but those three things are so resonant with history and the future hanging over it. Pay attention.

BURNETT: Well, I mean, it's terrifying. We now know there -- I mean, you can -- says it sounds like him. You can have calls now where you wouldn't be able to recognize your own mother or your own child on the other line, right? That's how good this can be.

FINNEY: Absolutely.

And we have enough time that we can find out and were able to report. Imagine if it was election night, the night before the election in November and that's happening and we don't have the time to tell people, hey, this is false, hey, yes, you got to go vote tomorrow, right? I mean, that's the big concern.

And look, we're seeing some of these AI guys from Silicon Valley getting in the game here. They actually need to meet their responsibility to our democracy to help ensure or that their technology is not used to subvert democracy.

BURNETT: All right. All, thank you very much.

And I want to go straight to Brendan McQuaid because he's the president and publisher of the influential "New Hampshire Union Leader", which is the largest newspaper in the state. His endorsement is always highly sought by candidates in the primaries and the conservative leaning paper has just endorsed Nikki Haley.

So, Brendan, I appreciate your time.

And look, your endorsement doesn't pull any punches in the paper. You and your team, right? The dinosaurs from the last two administrations have indeed had their shot. And Nikki Haley is the fireball from the heavens to wipe them out. We want a better option than we have had for the past eight years and Nikki Haley is that option.

And to the conversation we just had here with our panel, you talk about her time as governor and U.N. ambassador and why you believe that shows she can lead on the world stage.

The reality is, of course, poll after poll does show Donald Trump with a significant lead in New Hampshire.

How do you think Nikki Haley can prove the polls wrong?

BRENDAN MCQUAID, PRESIDENT AND PUBLISHER, NEW HAMPSHIRE UNION LEADER: Well, by winning, number one. If she can do that, she can certainly prove the polls wrong. But I think the important point and your guests were talking about it is that the country deserves a choice, you know? New Hampshire is first, but we're not last.

So Nikki Haley staying in this race really shows that there is a chance for people to vote for someone who they actually support and not someone who they think they're supposed to support because that's what they've been told for the past year-and-a-half.

BURNETT: So in 2020, Brendan, your paper supported Joe Biden over Donald Trump. I know this was a tough decision, but you did that in the general election. It was your first Democratic endorsement for the paper in a century, 100 full years. So have you thought -- you said in that op-ed at the time, you said President Trump is not always 100 percent wrong, but he has 100 percent wrong for America. President Trump has proven himself to be the antithesis of thoughtful and pragmatic. He has failed to earn a second term.

Would you endorse Biden again if it's Biden-Trump, given that logic last time?

MCQUAID: We would be very hopeful for a third party candidate in that maneuver. I think if you if you reread our past editorial supporting Joe Biden, it was that Joe Biden was supposed to be a president who would serve a term, who would help bring the country back together, who would be more of a uniter than a divider, to crib from George Bush, and he has done none of those things. And he's now not in a great position to lead our country for four more years. So he's not the answer either.

The country needs another choice and Nikki Haley is that choice.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Brendan, I appreciate your time and thank you very much for being with us tonight

MCQUAID: Thanks for having me.

BURNETT: All right. And our special coverage of the New Hampshire primary will begin here at 4:00 Eastern tomorrow.

And next, the breaking news, Israel reportedly proposing something huge, a two-month pause in fighting. They're offering that in exchange for the release of all prisoners being held by Hamas, more than 100 we understand still being held. The reporter who just got that scoop is OUTFRONT next.

Plus, Biden winning a major battle at the border. Tonight, the Supreme Court giving agency okay to destroy what the Texas governor put in place to stop the influence influx of migrants. So who actually is the winter here?

And terrifying video we have just coming in of a rogue wave at a U.S. military base. The water so powerful, you can see what happens there.

We'll be right back.


BURNETT: Breaking news, something very significant that could signal the beginning of the end of the Israel-Hamas war. "Axios" is reporting tonight that Israel is proposing a two-month pause in fighting in exchange for the release of all remaining hostages. Israel believes there are still 132 being held by Hamas in Gaza. This is the longest ceasefire Israel has offered Hamas since the start of the war. I mean, in two months, a transformational period of time, to state the obvious.

Barak Ravid broke this story. He is our political and global affairs analyst as well.

So, Barak, what more can you tell us with your reporting here about a potential two-month pause in this war?

BARAK RAVID, CNN POLITICAL & FOREIGN POLICY ANALYST: So, first, that proposal is out there already for something like ten days. And by out there, I mean, that the mediators, Qatar and Egypt know about it and they transferred it to Hamas.

And it was a proposal that will discussed within the Israeli war cabinet with, after quite strong disagreements inside the war cabinet on how far Israel needs to go and the decision was to go pretty far. And two months pause. That's the biggest amount of days this will was ready to give Hamas since the war started.

BURNETT: And two months, I mean, transformational as I say to say the least.

Now you say that the mediators have been working on this for ten days. Obviously, you're breaking this news now is the first of the worlds heard about it. But that timeframe does raise the crucial question. Where are the negotiations? Is Hamas biting on this?

RAVID: So, again, I'll tell you what I hear from Israeli officials and it then maybe I'll tell you my own opinion. So what I hear from Israeli officials is that there are much more let's say optimistic than they were ten days ago, or even a week ago, or even three days ago, because they get the feeling that every day that passes, there is more willingness by Hamas to agree to start discussing this idea in more detail and basically drop their maximalist position of, you know, end the war, release every Palestinian prisoner, Israeli prisons, and give us immunity for the rest of our lives.


And so, Israeli officials say that they believe that in next 24 to 48 hours, they'll be much smarter on whether Hamas is ready to engage on this or not.

BURNETT: All right. The context for this, of course, Barak, is also that Israel has come under withering, blistering condemnation for many around the world for the state of the war. And when you talk about a two month pause, that completely changes the game. It takes away moment, it takes away everything. It takes away the people who are engaged in the war or is energy and it's all of it.

Is this really possibly the beginning of the end?

RAVID: I totally agree with you and, you know, Netanyahu refused to Hamas's main request or demand that Israel agrees to end the war, but when he proposes two months, pause, he knows, and everybody else who's been working on this know very well that after two months of pause, even if the fighting resumes this way or another, it's going to look much different okay. There'll be much fewer there is soldiers inside Gaza. The operations will look differently and this Israeli officials are totally aware that it might be very hard close to impossible to resume the war, to resuming operations in Gaza after two months of pause.

BURNETT: Barak, thank you very much, and obviously significant breaking news headline there from Barak.

And we've got some additional breaking news on this as well. CNN just learning that as part of the ceasefire talks that Barak is reporting on, Israel spy chief proposed that Hamas senior leaders could be allowed to leave Gaza.

Now, Oren Liebermann is live at the Pentagon.

Some people, Oren, may hear that and go, wow, allowing them to leave Gaza. I suppose sort of begs the question and go where and when, what more are you learning?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, the where and the when really isn't part of the discussion. That's not what Israel is focused on.

The key here, according to excellent reporting from my colleague Alex Marquardt, is that Hamas's military leaders who Israel has failed to find this point after more than 100 days of war would leave Gaza. For Israel, that would allow them to claim some sort of victory. And it's worth noting putting that this information comes from two officials who've been briefed on the international and ongoing negotiations.

So, for Israel, it means that Israel could claim some sort of victory. Hamas is military leaders who were critical in planning the October 7 terror attack would be out of Gaza, and it would weaken Hamas's stranglehold frankly, on the Gaza Strip. But crucially, it also comes as Israel has failed to achieve its military objectives of trying to completely destroy Hamas.

According to Israel's own estimate, Hamas contains or retains rather something like 70 percent of its fighting force. And we see its continued ability to launch rockets at Israel. This proposal, this idea of Hamas's senior leaders leaving Gaza was brought up at least twice by Israel's Mossad chief David Barnea, once last month in Warsaw, once again in Doha this month. But the Qatari officials who's been handling the negotiations, and have been trying to mediate between all the parties here, effectively cut it off and said its a nonstarter, that there isn't a situation in which there would be agreement where Hamas's senior military leaders would be willing to leave Gaza as part of a ceasefire.

They have control of the Gaza strip and it doesn't seem like they're ready to relinquish it.

In terms of who Israel would go after here, this would be names like Yahya Sinwar, Mohammed Deif, the senior military leaders there who are critical part of all this and retain a tremendous amount of control in Gaza and frankly, able to manage still an ongoing war.

BURNETT: Which is pretty incredible when you think about 25 miles by six and the decimation now that we all see daily on our screens.

Thank you so much, Oren Liebermann, and, of course, to Alex Marquardt and Barak Ravid for all of that significant reporting on the situation tonight.

Next, the Supreme Court siding with Biden over Texas when it comes to how the border is secured or not secured. As we hear exclusively from Vice President Kamala Harris. She was once tasks to fix the border crisis on what she thinks should be done.

Plus, new video just coming in of a massive explosion inside Russia from a Ukrainian drone that managed apply thousand tens of miles into Putin's territory, undetected



BURNETT: Tonight, a major victory for President Biden in his fight with Texas Governor Greg Abbott over the southern border. The Supreme Court ruling that Border Patrol agents can cut through razor wire installed by the Texas governor along the Rio Grande. The Biden administration arguing agents need to be able to access the area to both rescue and apprehend migrants. This comes as our Laura Coates spoke exclusively with Vice President Kamala Harris today about the crisis at the border where there were a quarter million illegal border crossings last month alone.


LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: Anger on both sides of the aisle, Democrats and Republicans, about an unsustainable border, what they're calling a crisis. Why can't this be accomplished during this administration?

KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, so there's no question that our immigration system is broken and so much so that we, as the first bill that we offered after our inauguration was to fix the immigration system, which included what we must do to create a pathway for citizenship and to put the resources that are needed into the border.

But sadly, people on the other side of the aisle had been playing politics with this issue. The solutions are at hand and, you know, gone are the days, sadly, where a President Bush or John McCain understood that we should have a bipartisan approach to fixing this problem, which is a longstanding problem.

COATES: But what are those solutions?

HARRIS: The solutions includes putting resources at the border, to do what we can to process people effectively, and putting in place laws that actually allow for meaning well -- meaningful meaning, pathway to citizenship



BURNETT: All right. OUTFRONT now, the Democratic mayor of Denver, Mike Johnston, who is dealing with an influx of thousands of migrants bused into his city by Governor Abbott.

And, Major Johnston, I appreciate your time.

I mean, your city is the single largest recipient of migrants per capita in the United States of America. So you've had more than 37,000 of them, hundreds a day, and that has added I think this really gives people watching the perspective, 5 percent to your city's population over the past year. So, 5 percent increase in population because of migrants, illegal migrants coming over the border.

So can we try to get an understanding of what this really means for people who live in your city, taxpayers, Mayor Johnston? How much is this costing your city?

MAYOR MIKE JOHNSTON (D), DENVER: Yeah, thanks for having me.

The good news is we know how to manage this problem. We found ways to be successful of those 37,000 people who've arrived, we've managed to get most of them into jobs and into housing and into services. But the challenges just to do that right where coronavirus (ph) resources and so we have spent more than $40 million this year. We are on path to spend about $180 million in 2024, which would be more than 10 percent of our city's budget. And we think that is unsustainable for our city to take on.

And so we know there is a solution here. The clear path is we need federal sources to help folks arrive and get integrated into the system and then we need ability for them to access work authorization if folks can get access to work, we can quickly get them into jobs. They can support themselves, pay for their own housing, and not have to require taxpayer supports. But those are the two big things we need right now to make this effort successful or workforce authorization and federal resources.

BURNETT: All right, so just to -- I mean, look, this is a really important conversation. I mean, 10 percent of your city's budget, by the way, I hope everyone heard that. I mean, this is very serious. It's significant.

So I understand, Mayor, why you're saying work permits, right? Because of exactly what you said. You want them to be able to pay their own way. So your other taxpayers don't have to do it. So it makes complete sense that you want to do that.

The reality is, of course, that when you do that, people who are here illegally are less likely to leave, right? There are less likely to go through the process and we know that even of asylum seekers, the White House themselves would say two-thirds of them would not qualify even under current rules for asylum.

So what do you -- what do you say to that, to the fact that migrants could see being getting these jobs as actually an incentive to those who are coming behind them illegally of hey, head for Denver?

JOHNSTON: Yeah. I mean, this is one of the reasons why we supported the federal supplemental proposal the president put out and we hope will be included in this bipartisan legislation that looks like it will be introduced in the Senate, is that included resources at the border to actually be able to adjudicate these asylum cases faster. What happens right now, Erin, as someone arrives in Denver and they've filed for asylum and their court date, I'll look at their court date. It is for April 23 of the year 2029. It's a six-year wait for an asylum claim.


JOHNSTON: If you could actually adjudicate those claims and 30 days or 60 days or 90 days, we would know who has a valid asylum claim. They get work authorization and stay and folks that don't have a valid asylum claim, I think its actually more just to let them know that early and help them look for other options and have them waiting and country for 4, 5, 6 years before they find out they can't actually stay.

BURNETT: So, there's one thing, obviously, as the mayor of Denver or that that you're not equipped to do because its not your job in any way, shape, or form, which is to determine, are there national security threats among the people who are big bused into your city. That would be outside the realm of what you do.

And I wanted to ask you about this in the context of the fact that there were what, a quarter million illegal border crossings in December alone. And I understand only, what, almost 40,000 over these past months have come to Denver. So they're not all going to Denver, but nonetheless, these are real numbers. 10 percent of your budget the former director of national intelligence under President Obama, James Clapper, is worried about it. I asked him specifically, do you buy that this is a national security issue?

Here's what he said, Mayor.


JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: I've gotten very concerned about it. There are Chinese, Russians and others so we traditionally thought about it as people coming from Central America, South and Central America. Well, it's much broader than that. So this is a serious national security concern.


BURNETT: Mayor Johnson, does that concern you? Do you share that worry?

JOHNSTON: I mean, the great majority of folks that we see in Denver are asylum seekers from Venezuela. There's the woman who was a police officer who was asked to tear gas people in her home country and refused to do it, and they came to kill her in the middle night, and she put two over kids on her back and walk 3,000 miles to get here.

And so, most of the human interest stories we hear our individual people who are school principals and engineers and commercial drivers license certified individuals who are looking for jobs and want to help. I do know that there are lots of folks that are coming from other countries into Central America to try to enter through the southern border. And so, we're aware of that can be a risk, all the more reason why we want to be able to have more resources at the border to be able to actually process those folks that are viably seeking asylum from those folks who aren't. Right now, we don't have the capacity to do that.


BURNETT: All right. Well, Mayor Johnston, I really appreciate your time and having this conversation with you. Thank you.

JOHNSTON: Thanks so much for having me.

BURNETT: All right

And everyone, I hope that you will stay up tonight to watch Laura's interview with Vice President Harris in its entirety. It is tonight with Laura Coates live at 11:00.

And next, the Fulton County D.A. who's investigating Trump now at the center of her lead prosecutor's divorce proceedings as questions grow over their lavish trips allegedly funded by taxpayer dollars.

Plus, new video that we just got in of a massive fire near St. Petersburg, Russia. A Ukrainian drone flying thousands of miles undetected, successfully striking a major Russian oil facility.


BURNETT: New tonight, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis on the verge of facing another investigation, a Republican Georgia state senator calling to establish a new committee focused on investigating Willis. She and Nathan Wade, who is the lead prosecutor in her case against Trump at her selection, facing allegations of misusing taxpayer funds while having an affair. Wade is accused of billing Willis and the county for hundreds of thousands of dollars of work on the case, money that was then allegedly used to pay for their lavish vacations together.

This is the latest in a series of developments that threatened to derail the case against Trump, as Willis's credibility is on the line. [19:45:03]

Paula Reid is OUTFRONT.


PAULA REID, CNN CHIEF LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Embattled Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis will not have to testify Tuesday in the divorce of her special prosecutor, Nathan Wade, amid accusations, the two engaged in romantic relationship.

ANDREA DYER HASTINGS, JOYCELYN WADE'S ATTORNEY: We're seeking her deposition and her individual capacity as the alleged paramour of my client's husband.

REID: The judge planning to make more information public, but saying Wade should testify before Willis is forced to.

JUDGE: He would have firsthand knowledge of whether he's engaged in an extramarital affair.

REID: Willis appointed Wade in 2021 to oversee the sprawling election interference case against Trump and his allies, despite Wade's sparse criminal law experience. He had been a prosecutor briefly, but mostly handled misdemeanors and never such a high profile case.

FANI WILLIS, FULTON COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: The defendants engaged in a criminal racketeering enterprise to overturn Georgia's presidential election result.

REID: In 2020, prior to Wade's appointment, Willis discussed appropriate workplace relationships as she campaigned for office.

WILLIS: I certainly will not be choosing people to date that work under me. Let me just say that.

REID: Now, one of Trump's co-defendants, Mike Roman, is alleging in court papers that Wade had an improper romantic relationship with Willis and use the money he build the district attorney's office to take her on lavish vacations.

CINQUE AXAM, ATTORNEY FOR FANI WILLIS: D.A. Willis does not determine what he says might (INAUDIBLE), no matter where it comes from.

REID: Willis and Wade have not directly addressed the allegations, but she has suggested they're being unfairly targeted.

WILLIS: Isn't it them who's playing the race card?

REID: Roman's lawyer also introduced evidence that Wade earned more than $650,000 for his work on the case, more than other prosecutors in the office. And several years ago, he charged the Fulton County das office $250 per hour for 24 hours in the same day.

Credit card receipts revealed in Wade's divorce show he purchased plane tickets to Miami and then San Francisco for him and Willis while he was working for her. Now, a Fulton County commissioner is investigating whether Willis misuse county funds or accepted valuable gifts and personal benefits from Wade.


REID (on camera): But these accusations don't make the underlying RICO case go away. If Willis is disqualified, a council of prosecutors will decide what to do with that case. It will likely go to another county.

And, Erin, this is such a political gift for Trump. He has tried so hard to paint every case against him as the product of a corrupt system. And here you have what was once their most feared case because it's a state case outside of pardon power with some really serious allegations.

BURNETT: Yeah. I mean, it is incredible, the things -- unexpected things that have now occurred.

All right, Paula, thank you so much.

And next, I'm going to speak to a report border who has spent more time with Ukraine's President Zelenskyy and his inner circle than anyone else, and some new details to share with you tonight, on Zelensky's thinking.

Plus, video capturing the town terrifying moment that a rogue wave slams into an American military base, sweeping people away.



BURNETT: Tonight, we've got new video into OUTFRONT. This is a massive fire at a Russian oil terminal. Ukraine says it launched long range drone that travelled nearly 1,000 miles undetected and then successful struck the facility near St. Petersburg.

And we've got more new video that actually shows a Russian tank in eastern Ukraine erupting into a massive fireball. This after a Ukrainian strike as the fight on the frontlines continues, coming down, as Kyiv says, it will not cede territory to end the war. No sign of negotiation.

And tonight, we're learning more about President Zelensky's wartime strategy from a new book whose authors had more access than any other reporter. And Simon Shuster joins me now, the author of "The Showman", and I hope everyone will get this, your new book, the product of so much reporting and time with him.

So, you know, you've got this video. Ukrainian attacks on Russian territory, they sent a drone in 1,000 miles. They successful caused these explosions in St. Petersburg.

You have had unprecedented access to Zelenskyy as he's navigated this, made these decisions and you've seen the defense, so did you become much more brazen in terms of -- remember when it first happened, right? Was it something near Belgorod and everyone thought, oh, no, what will the response be from Russia? Now, it's constant in Russian territory.

You've got some insight into his thinking. What can you tell us?

SIMON SHUSTER, AUTHOR, "THE SHOWMAN": I think the president and his team have been seeing the decline in support coming from the United States, from the West. And they have been hedging preparing a strategy of, first of all, ramping up their domestic weapons production. You know, these drones that were seeing, these, these are the most part homemade. They're made in Ukraine. They've ramped up their production of missiles. And these, these long-range attack drones.

And these are the things responsible for these very dramatic attacks that we're seeing and they point to the fact that, you know, if anyone in the west thinks that they can come in and turn off the tap and force Zelenskyy and the Ukrainians to negotiate or kind of the war in 24 hours as Donald Trump has suggested, you know, that's naive. The Ukrainians are preparing weaponry to continue the fight as long as they feel its necessary.

BURNETT: All right. And so, you also delve into an apparent rift that has been -- we saw sort of -- sort of, I'm sorry, started to see in the public realm, President Zelenskyy, and Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, who, of course, is the military chief.

So there was an interview, is it in "The Economist"? I don't remember where it was, where Zaluzhnyi talked about the concept of there being a stalemate. Now some have said he was misinterpreted, but nonetheless, after that time, there's been a noticeable sidelining of Zaluzhnyi by Zelenskyy, at least it has appeared that way in the public eye.


And you lay out in here some true simmering tension between these two. Really, I mean you can have daylight between those two figures.

SHUSTER: It's crucial to understanding the way Ukraine has prosecuted this war and the future of the war, that relationship. And I think that's something that I really tried to focus on in the book. It's one of the most important relationships that I cover.

BURNETT: Yep. And I sort of describe the evolution that began early in the invasion with an enormous amount of admiration and respect on the part of President Zelenskyy to Zaluzhnyi of mutual respect. But overtime, what you see is the president forming his own military priorities, getting more confident as a military commander, and sometimes his priorities, his ideas of what needed to happen on the battlefield didn't align with the general.

So they began to have disagreements behind the scenes and one of the first times we really saw at breakout in the open was over this discussion. Is there a stalemate at the front or not?

BURNETT: And I spoke to President Zelenskyy. Actually, it was interesting because it was his first outdoor television interview. So, we were down in Odessa and I remember when he sat down, he kind of looked up and he talked about the birds that he could hear birds and see a blue sky.

And I don't know for me, it was just somewhat profound, just a realization of what is life is like driving around and bulletproof car when he's even outside.

And so, he talked a little bit about how he spent some of his moments along, whether he exercises or not. And here's part of the exchange that we have.


BURNETT: What music do you like?

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: Oh, I like AC/DC and Ukrainian music. Of course, I like Ukrainian music a lot of because Ukrainian, that's native language. I like Eric Clapton, lot of -- lot of Guns n' Roses. Maybe it's too old, the music for --

BURNETT: I understand. We're the same, we're the same, yeah.


BURNETT: So you spent so much time with him. You've seen that. It was just a moment of him being human in a way that any of us could respond to him. You talk at one point in the book about how those around him say he looked like a walking corpse. You show the picture in here. You were just showing me of him right before the war and him now.

What else did you see in him?

SHUSTER: Yeah. I mean, the exhaustion was there and I think Zelenskyy felt that he saw it in many of his team members in the early days of the invasion. I mean, they were working around the clock and they were living down in the bunker underneath the presidential compound. So he realized that they needed some ways to unwind.

So, the book describes also how their lifestyle evolves. This clip about the music he likes reminds me of some of the movies they watch down there. And, you know, there was a lively debate about what movies to watch. And President Zelenskyy, even though he grew up watching these kind of Soviet comedies, he refused to watch them. They watched the kind of new releases from Hollywood much more than the Soviet ones.

BURNETT: Gives you, give any other examples of once he really liked, or?

SHUSTER: Well, one of the movies they watched was "13 Hours" which is an interesting one because it describes the siege of the compound American embassy in Libya in 2012, Ben Ghazi, Libya, which was a situation somewhat similar to what they were experiencing.

BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you so much, Simon. I hope everyone will read this book. And, of course, based on your fantastic indefatigable reporting. Thank you so much.

And next, wild footage just coming into a powerful rogue wave crashing into an American base. People were swept away. We'll tell you what happened.


BURNETT: And finally tonight, terrifying video just coming in of a rogue wave. This wave smashed into a U.S. Army base in Marshall Islands. The man who posted the video says no one was seriously injured. The images, though, are absolutely terrifying.

Thank you for joining us.

"AC360" begins now.