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Erin Burnett Outfront

Trump Intensifies Calls For Haley To Quit, Others Follow; Exclusive: GOP-Led Committee Investigation Into Rep. Gaetz Expands; Video: Russian Plane Carrying 74 People Plunges To The Ground, Explodes Into Massive Fireball; Race To Replace Santos A Test Case For Dems Trying To Flip Seat. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired January 24, 2024 - 19:00   ET




Trump's pressure campaign. The former president wants Nikki Haley out, calling her birdbrain, questioning her, quote, fancy clothes, saying he doesn't get mad, he gets even.

Haley is defiant. She is live this hour.

Plus, dramatic new video of the Russian jet crashing near the Ukraine border. Seventy-four people on board killed as questions grow tonight over who is behind that crash.

And a passenger notices missing parts on the wing of a plane he boarded that has done the safety instruction ready for takeoff, tells the crew and the flight is canceled. Why didn't the airline notice it first? He's my guest.


And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight: Trump bullying Haley. Trump tonight calling her a birdbrain, who can never win. And his bullying on GOP leaders as well is working. They're all just getting on board.

I mean, just listened today the chairwoman of the RNC who had once vowed to stay neutral in this race.


RONNA MCDANIEL, CHAIRWOMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: I'm looking at the math and the path going forward. And I don't see it for Nikki Haley.


BURNETT: And that just follows Republican lawmaker after lawmaker, who are caving in rushing to jump behind Trump.

John Cornyn says, I've seen enough. JD Vance, Haley can drop out or help the Democrats. Lindsey Graham, the sooner we unite, the better. And the House Speaker Mike Johnson, it's now past-time for the Republican Party to unite around President Trump.

Now when he says, let's -- it's past time, I just want to pause for some important context, it seems. One-point-one-six percent of the United States population has voted, 0.16 percent. And that 0.16 percent live in only two states.

Now, as for Haley, she says she's determined to stay in the race. We'll see. She's about to take the stage for the first time in her home state after losing to Trump by 11 points in New Hampshire.

And while it is fair to say, to me at least, that it does not seem like the founders of this country would ever have wanted 0.16 percent of the country to make a decision like this in a moment, like the one that we are in, the reality appears to be that Trump does have this locked up, two states and two clear wins.

So then why if he does have it locked and the GOP is all piling on to tell him that there back in the fold and they're good and it's wonderful and he's got it, why is the man who by all measures on track to become the Republican nominee so personally vitriolic about Haley?

Just listened to him last night during his victory speech, and I do want to remind you again, this was a victory speech.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: But I don't get too angry. I get even. When I watched her -- the fancy dress that probably wasn't so fancy, you must really hate her.


BURNETT: Vengeful and denigrating.

And also, I feel totally comfortable saying this -- it's blatantly sexist. What does denigrating her wardrobe and calling it cheaper, I don't know what he was trying to say, what does have to do with anything?

But here's the thing -- the people who are around Trump in that moment, were all on board. Let's just replay that last clip where Trump put Senator Tim Scott on the spot and I want you to watch the men behind Trump.


TRUMP: You're the senator of her state and she endorsed me. You must really hate her.


BURNETT: Laughing like childhood bullies on a playground.

Tim Scott, Vivek Ramaswamy laughed at the insults that Trump hurled at the only person still standing in the race against Trump, a race that by the way, they both lost, and now they're happy to pile on the only person still standing, happens to be a woman.

Dianne Gallagher is OUTFRONT live in Charleston, South Carolina.

And, Dianne, you have been talking to voters there all day. So in the context of all this, there's the reality of whether Nikki Haley's able to get any traction her home state. What are they telling you?

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, Erin, this may be Nikki Haley's backyard, but after talking to voters today, South Carolina is Donald Trump's playground.

Look, the Haley campaign insists that it's not going anywhere. They have two new ads up today, part of a $4 million buy. There's the rally tonight, but the Trump voters insist she should get out. Her supporters, however, believed that she does have what it takes to stand tall in her home state.


GALLAGHER: At Coastal Coffee Roasters in Summerville, a cup of coffee this time of year comes with a splash of politics.


GALLAGHER: The Palmetto State's Republican primary, a month from today.


TRUMP: We'll head out to South Carolina where I think we're going to win easily.

GALLAGHER: Nikki Haley fresh off another decisive loss to former President Donald Trump, looking to voters in the state that elected her governor twice to keep her in this race.

NIKKI HALEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: But South Carolina voters don't want a coronation. They want an election.

GALLAGHER: But voters here, over and over again told us they've already made their choice.



GALLAGHER: Support for Trump remains strong with Republicans in South Carolina, despite his legal troubles and the fact it's now a one-on- one race with their former governor.

BARTHOLOMEW: I just think that Trump is a stronger presidential figure than she is.

MUNOZ: I think she should drop out, apologize to President Trump and join forces, so we can try to say this country.

GALLAGHER: Voters frequently citing Trump's long list of high profile South Carolina endorsements.

SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC): This election is over.

GALLAGHER: None more than Senator Tim Scott, who was appointed by Haley in 2012.

KRAMER: I think there's going to be surprise where I think Trump's going to landside like that, I do, with Tim Scott backing him, I do.

GALLAGHER: But not everyone is ready to forfeit the race. Stephanie Bennett says she's technically undecided, but likes Haley.

STEPHANIE BENNETT, SOUTH CAROLINA UNDECIDED VOTER: Start track record as governor here. And then what she did at the United Nations.

GALLAGHER: And yet she's worried in a month, her vote won't matter.

BENNETT: I wonder if people aren't going to go into it with a preconceived notion of he's already won, you know, with -- I just -- that is a fear, like get out and vote. I don't think he's already won because I don't think he has.

GALLAGHER: A similar concern about half an hour down the road from William Cogswell, the first Republican elected as mayor of Charleston in over a century.

MAYOR WILLIAM COGSWELL (R), CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA: There seems to be the attitude that it is a foregone conclusion. I think she brings a breath of fresh air and I think our country needs that.

GALLAGHER: He endorsed Haley back in November and still believes in her campaign.

COGSWELL: And I think she is a fighter. She has beat the odds repeatedly.

GALLAGHER: But Dorchester County Republican Party chair Steven Wright, who says he's remaining neutral for now, believes even with a month to go, Haley may already be out of time.

STEVEN WRIGHT, REPUBLICAN PARTY CHAIR, DORCHESTER: I think people like Nikki Haley, but South Carolina is Trump country. The polls indicate that. The enthusiasm on the grounding indicate that.


GALLAGHER (on camera): Now talking to Haley supporters, many of them said things like, you know, democracy and choice as part of why they want her to stay in. Although, Erin, I talked to several who admitted that there is a slight fear that they have if she is beaten by a landslide by Donald Trump in her home state, that it could have a negative impact on her future political aspirations.

BURNETT: Certainly the calculus she's got to weigh tonight.

All right. Dianne, thank you so much.

And here in our conversation. I mean, Ryan, really interesting hearing all those different perspectives of the people that Dianne was speaking to today. You know, some say drop out, some say stay in. They believe in her, mayor of Charleston, was interesting that she had that conversation.

What is the case for Haley saying in right now?

REIHAN SALAM, PRESIDENT, MANHATTAN INSTITUTE: Well, honestly, it's that Donald Trump is 77 years old. He is facing a number of indictments. He has a very complicated path forward and a lot of things can happen over the course of a few weeks.

Is it very likely? Absolutely not. But she's not going to be Donald Trumps running mate, I think would be reasonably assured of that. She's not going to be a successor if Donald Trump wins decisively in this primary contest for 2028.

So this is her shot. If she sees this as an opportunity to make a difference, make a mark. This is when she has to do it. And, you know, again, the odds are against her, but that's been true of her before.

BURNETT: I mean, and, Margaret, she's dealing with calls is there a birdbrain, all the sexist invectitude that he throws her direction, and the fact that while the party seems to be getting on board.

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I frankly been really invigorated by her chutzpah in the last 24 hours, frankly, just her willingness to say, you know what? All y'all, I'm staying in anyway. And I'm going to fight.

And, you know, you may not believe in me, but I believe in myself, I believe in this campaign, I believe in what it stands for, and I am going to be sort of a beacon for something else. And I applaud that. I think this Republican Party needs that desperately.

And to Reihan's point, it's hard to see the path. But there are always things you don't know. And maybe that's what she's hanging your hat on. Maybe that's sort of a hope and prayer.

But frankly, it is -- it is the better thing for this country, no doubt. And certainly, the better thing for the Republican Party, in my view.


VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You got to be proud of her. People been saying, we wish a Republican would stand out or Donald Trump, everybody caves to, everybody kisses the ring, everybody falls in line. Why can't somebody stand up?

She's doing it.


JONES: There's someone doing it. Her name is Nikki Haley.


So she is now the -- there are two things standing between Donald Trump becoming president of the United States. One's named Nikki Haley. The other's named Joe Biden.

So if you believe that the Republican Party can do better, should do better, can look better, can sound better, there's somebody trying to do that, the name is Nikki Haley. So to try to push her out now, including a lot of people who just add a cynicism resignation are saying she should get out, and make last (INAUDIBLE)

BURNETT: As you say, cynicism or resignation, I mean -- I made the point, you know, look, just my point of view -- 0.16 percent of America is voting.


BURNETT: It -- I understand our system.


BURNETT: But I think in the context of this unprecedented personality that we're talking about, it is incredible to think that were in a moment where so few people could decide something so momentous.

AXELROD: Yeah. Look, I admire her chutzpah and I admire your good use of Yiddish. I'm invigorated by that.

But look, here's the reality and it has been from the beginning of the main part of this campaign, Donald Trump has the support from a really important cohort in these Republican primaries. And that's Republicans, okay?

He won three-to-one among Republicans in New Hampshire. She won among independents. But New Hampshire's the most inviting state for independents to participate. The Republicans are -- there are more moderate.

And once you leave this phase of, I think South Carolinas are winner- take-all states. A lot of these primaries are winner take all. So, hanging around is hard.

You know, being the symbolic figure in this race again and again and again, it's hard and there's a question of how long you can raise money to do that and what ultimately are you what -- what are you -- what are you looking at down the road here? She's 52 years old. I think she's not done or doesn't want to be done.

I don't think she's ready to make the Chris Christie decision because he was sort of a suicide bomber in this thing and knew it going in. I don't think she's not been willing to go as far as Christie did.

And what do you do in this race? What you heard in that video where people saying, we liked her, she was a good governor. We think she was -- we're supportive of her, but we like Trump more for president.

And so, how do you change their minds without actually making a very strong case against Donald Trump? And what is the cost of doing that again and again and again to her? These are the calculation she has to make.

SALAM: Well, this is one thing that is important to keep in mind is that Donald Trump running in 2024 is markedly different than in 2016. You have the improvisational Trump on the stump making that victory speech. But you also be very disciplined Trump campaign. Susie Wiles, this team, they know what they're doing, and they made a policy pitch.

They were hitting Nikki Haley from the right on immigration and then hitting her from the left on Social Security. That discipline could be something that carries them through and we can't underestimate the efficacy and the fact that he's really thought that message through.

AXELROD: And I guarantee you that they it did not say, gone on out there and act like a jackass and go after Nikki Haley, and really personal, sexist ways and humiliate Tim Scott. That was his -- that was the improvisational Trump, the challenge for his campaign team is they can do all the blocking and tackling well, and they are, but they can't control him.

That was a really horrible exhibition last night, and it only probably made Haley more determined to try and stay. Whether she does, I think is an open question. But he didn't help himself in that project?

BURNETT: No, no, no. Didn't sound -- didn't sound much like victory.

All right. Margaret, today, Biden got a big endorsement and it was an endore -- I mean, you know, I wouldn't ordinarily say this was a big endorsement as one would expect it, but it had actually been up for grabs in some senses, Trump has been courting unions and the UAW aggressively.

And he wanted this one badly. He went to Michigan and -- you know, during the entire strike and auto workers for Trump signs were showing here. Biden ends up getting that. So, I mean, okay, so I understand you would ordinarily expect it, but it wasn't necessarily a sure thing. What does it mean?

HOOVER: I mean, what I think -- I don't -- I actually not at all surprise. I don't think any political operative as surprised. I mean, there was not really a chance the United Auto Workers, American autoworkers were actually going to endorse Donald Trump.

BURNETT: Van is raising his eyebrows there.

HOOVER: OK. I mean, please feel free to talk about this when I finished, but I just -- when Donald Trump and Joe Biden had basically competing campaign events in Michigan earlier this year, recall Donald Trump had tried to go get auto workers to show up and he had a really difficult time. I mean, it almost became sort of -- it was like a big political campaign flop.

And Donald -- and Joe Biden came away with the campaign slogan and all the campaign footage. It just -- I don't -- I recognize that winning those voters won't be as uniform as it has in the past for Joe Biden, and this is an area where Trump has done well.

JONES: I -- you're right that it should have been an easy layup, but it wasn't and it's because Republican Party is trying to become the party of the multi-racial working class.


And I'm proud that the UAW leadership, at least recognizes that unions have been doing better under Joe Biden had been growing more, have been winning victory. I live in Los Angeles, the whole town was shut down for six months and strike against AI, the union movement is growing. If you're -- if you're a proud working class person, you got to be proud of unions. If you're proud of unions, you should be proud of Joe Biden.

And I was glad that the union, at least leadership recognized that this is a pro-union president, more so than any in my lifetime. And he deserved that. He did -- he earned that endorsement. You didn't hear it, he earned it.

AXELROD: It would have been a blow if they did not endorse him. It was important for him to get that endorsement and message is also really important here. They will amplify this message that van is speaking about, which is an important contrast with Trump. Trump talks like the working class, but he doesn't govern in their -- to their benefit. And I think this is going to be a big contrast in the campaign.

SALAM: Guys, he bought the endorsement. Okay. Joe Biden has channeled billions of dollars to the big three automakers. He was on the picket line with the UAW.

This UAW leadership is hard left.

JONES: What do you mean?

SALAM: This was going to happen.

JONES: When you say bought, I say he earned it by being a good president for labor.

SALAM: Well --

BURNETT: I will -- I will --

SALAM: Respectfully disagree.

BURNETT: All right. I guess we'll leave it like that. At least we keep it respectful in this forum.

Thanks to all of you.

And next breaking news, the House investigation of Republican Matt Gaetz, a big development there. The committee now reaching out to a woman who allegedly had sex with the congressman as a minor.

Plus, questions growing over the fate of a Fulton County D.A. who's investigating Trump and his accused of misusing taxpayer funds while having an alleged affair with her lead prosecutor. Can Fani Willis survive? I'm going to speak to a former assistant D.A. there who knows Willis and her prosecutor.

And it is becoming one of the most watched races in the United States, one that could give Democrats a shot at taking back the House. But can they win back George Santos's seat?



BURNETT: Breaking news, CNN reporting exclusively that the House Ethics Committee investigating Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz has contacted the woman Gaetz allegedly had a sexual relationship when she was a minor. This is according to a source familiar with the committee's work. It's a sign that the Republican-led committee's investigation into Gaetz has expanded to include questions of alleged sex crimes.

Paula Reid is OUTFRONT. Paula broke this exclusive reporting.

So what more can you tell us about the allegations and the -- where the House is in the investigation?

PAULA REID, CNN CHIEF LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: In addition to the outreach to this woman, the committee has also reached out to the Justice Department asking for material drills and its years long investigation into the congressman. And the investigation into Congressman Gaetz actually began under Trump-appointed Attorney General Bill Barr and went on for several years and it expanded beyond these allegations of sex of the minor to include obstruction of justice, potential lobbying violations, sex trafficking, though, ultimately, the congressman was not charged, but his closest associate, Joel Greenberg, did plead guilty to a series of crimes, including soliciting and having sex with a minor.

Now, in a statement tonight, the congressman responding to our reporting saying, quote, those allegations were not true, have never been true. And the people who spread those lies have been exposed, indicted and imprisoned

BURNETT: So you talk about the DOJ. I understand that sources are telling you that the committee has contacted the DOJ formally and they've requested some of that information from the investigation that you're talking about into Gaetz. What do you know about that?

REID: So what's interesting about the ethics investigation is that it was sort of on hold, right? It was opened in 2021 and then they he decided to yield to the Justice Department's investigation. But when the Justice Department wrapped up midway through last year, this investigation was revived.

And as we report tonight, the congressman, he was very frustrated and blamed then House Speaker Kevin McCarthy for allowing the ethics probe to be revived, and Kevin McCarthy has said that he believes that Gaetz allowed those frustrations to drive his attempt -- is actually successful effort to push McCarthy right from the speakership.

But now, in a post-Speaker McCarthy world, the investigation not only continues this ethics probe, but it's expanding. The big question now is to what extent will the Justice Department be willing to hand over materials without a subpoena and even then. That's the next thing to watch.

BURNETT: All right. But obviously, significant that there are developments here on this front

Paula, thank you so much.

And I want to turn now to the investigation of former President Trump in Georgia, where the focus has turned from Trump to the top prosecutor on the case, the Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, and there are questions tonight over Willis's future. She has been alleged as part of this to have misused taxpayer funds while having an affair with the person she selected to be the lead prosecutor in the case against Trump, a man named Nathan Wade. He is accused of billing Willis and the county, so taxpayers, for hundreds of thousands of dollars of work on the case, money that was then allegedly used to help pay for their lavish vacations together.

So, in a court hearing next week now, we understand we could hear from Wade for the first time about the allegations against him and Willis.

Darryl Cohen joins me. He is the former Fulton County assistant district attorney.

And I know Darryl that you know, both Nathan Wade and Fani Willis. So you've known them both over the years. In that context, were you surprised when you heard all of these allegations?

DARRYL COHEN, FORMER ASSISTANT DIRECTOR ATTORNEY, FULTON COUNTY: I was disappointed, Erin, that are heard all of these allegations. It's not something that I wanted to hear. It's something that we have to deal with. And I was disappointed as I mentioned, but things happen sometimes.

BURNETT: So you say, but things happen sometimes. What do you think should happen now as a result, right? I mean, there's now a county investigation into this. I know that that obviously the judge involved in the Trump election case also is having hearing.

Should Fani Willis step aside?

COHEN: That's a very good, an interesting question, and one that we're going to find out. But there's so many things -- Fani used bad vision. She could not see the forest for the trees. Sometimes affairs at the heart take over affairs of the logic.


And in this case, I think Fani didn't mean to do anything nefarious, but what she did was at best inappropriate. The optics are bad. My dad was an eye doctor. And if he saw someone that had bad vision, he did what he could to correct it. I think that's what Fani needs to do now.

She could be excused from this case. She could be reprimanded. The judge could say, hey, Fani, don't do that again. Nathan Wade could be excused from the case.

The Fulton County D.A.'s office could be excused. I don't see any of that happening. If I were Fani, I would just say to the public -- I'm sorry. I made a mistake and the optics are bad, but we did nothing illegal, immoral, or unethical.

BURNETT: Okay. So then to that point though, Darryl, do you think a jury -- I mean, I guess that's -- the lens you have to put on mess to keep -- to keep with the eye references here because I wont make it more national. But do you think that a jury could look at that and say, okay, this is a real case or does this impact their view of the credibility of the actual case itself? COHEN: If the jurors if this case ever gets to trial, and if the

jurors listened to the evidence or the lack of evidence, certainly, they're going to be affected in some way by what has taken place today, yesterday, last week, last month. But I think as time goes by, jurors are like regular people. That's what they are.

As time goes by, this is going to be more and more faint in the background. And I don't really think it's going to have any effect on the trial, be Trump convicted, be he acquitted, be at a mistrial.

BURNETT: So if Willis steps decide, though, and I understand you're saying, you don't think that she will need to. But if she does, and there are a lot of calls for that, because you know them both and you know, the office, do you think Darryl that there is someone strong enough to take over the case and have it move forward, expeditiously? Or does this case essentially fall apart?

COHEN: I don't think the case is going to fall apart regardless of what happens. It may be lost or won by the D.A.'s office in Fulton, but it's not going to fall apart.

What we are looking at, Nathan Wade had a very thin -- very thin amount of experience as far as RICO, which is what most lawyers have. But he is probably a very good head coach. And that's what they're looking for.

So if Fani happens to step aside and say, I'm going to recuse myself because I don't like the optics, then if Nathan Wade stays, he stays as a head coach. There are other people in the office that can handle that case because it's piece-by-piece. It's not one person doing everything. It's several people doing something.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Darryl, I appreciate your perspective on this, given that you know the office and know them both. Thanks.

COHEN: Thank you.

BURNETT: And next, we have some new video into the show of the moment, a Russian jet crashed near the Ukraine border overnight, everyone onboard was killed. Russia tonight is claiming the jets suddenly changed course just before the crash.

And this is a tea party that you do not want to be invited to. And we'll explain



BURNETT: Tonight, dramatic new video into OUTFRONT capturing the moments a Russian plane crashed in Belgorod, right along the Ukraine border, bursting into a massive fireball. All 74 on board were killed.

The Kremlin says the plane was carrying Ukrainian prisoners of war and accused Ukraine of shooting it down. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy tonight broke his silence on the crash saying, quote, given that the plane crash happened on Russian territory, that is beyond our control.

Fred Pleitgen is OUTFRONT.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): The final moments of the Russian military planes flight, diving to the ground, seemingly out of control. After the impact, the jet explodes in a giant fireball.

I heard only two explosions, this eyewitness says, the first one was a dull bang, then an explosion, then big flames.

Russian media showing debris scattered across a large area at the crash site. Authorities say, no one onboard survived including 65 Ukrainian prisoners of war set to be exchanged the same day. Moscow blaming Kyiv for the incident.

The Ukrainian side launched an air defense missile from the Kharkiv side, Russia's foreign minister said. It targeted the airplane and was a fatal strike.

The Ukrainians haven't denied shooting the plane down, but Kyiv says the Russians never told them they'd be flying the Ukrainian POWs to Belgorod, holding Moscow responsible for the loss of life and the failed exchange.

Landing a transport plane in a 30 kilometer combat zone cannot be safe. And in any case, should be discussed by both sides, because otherwise, it jeopardizes the entire exchange process, a military intelligence statement says. Based on this, we may be talking about planned and deliberate actions of the Russian Federation to destabilize the situation in Ukraine and weaken international support for our country.

Ukraine says Russia often uses the IL-76 cargo jets to transport missiles used to target Ukrainian cities and civilian infrastructure. A recent attack killing and wounding scores in Kharkiv in Ukraine's northeast.

When the missile attack started, I kneel down near the washing machine, this woman says, look, something hit me here, glass, glass, but I'm alive. Some people died and my flat is gone.

The Ukrainians have vowed revenge for missile attacks like these and say, they consider Russian cargo planes transporting missiles to be legitimate targets.


BURNETT: And, Fred, it's just incredible to think about that those prisoners of war, at least they say, were headed for an exchange -- just an absolutely horrible event.


I mean, the context here, of course, is that the Ukrainians have a dire weapon shortage as the front lines continue. And I know you are there on the ground. You I've been seeing what they have and what they don't have. You've been watching the frustration

What is it like there in context of the U.S. lack right now of support?

PLEITGEN: The situation for the -- yeah, Erin, I think the situation is actually for the Ukrainians, even a lot worse than many people realize back home in the U.S. The ammo shortage really is dire and you know, I've been on some of the most active frontlines here in this country. And in every single one of those, the soldiers on those frontlines have been saying the biggest problem for them is a shortage of ammo, especially 155 millimeter artillery shells.

And in some cases, they're even having shoot smoke ammo at the Russians, at advancing Russians because they simply don't have explosive artillery ammo anymore to fire at them. And one of the things that the Ukrainians are saying its really getting to them is the fact that they're not getting enough resupply. But the Russians are because the Russians are not only out-producing right now the U.S. and its allies, but the Russians also got a million shells from the Ukrainians. And that's led to some pretty scathing comments from some Ukrainian politicians.

I want to listen into what the foreign minister of this country, Dmytro Kuleba, said to German publication "Bild". Let's listen in.


DMYTRO KULEBA, UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: As ridiculous as it may sound. But it seems that North Korea is a more efficient partner to Russia than -- than friends who tried to supply Ukraine with artillery ammunition, and that's ridiculous and it must be changed.


PLEITGEN: That's ridiculous. And it must be changed, he says.

You know, what we're also seeing on the frontlines is that the Ukrainians, by and large are able to hold up a lot of those Russian assaults. But, of course, it comes at great cost that may say it's making them all the more difficult but they don't have enough ammo, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Fred Pleitgen. Thank you very much, along those frontlines. Amazing there from the foreign minister that North Korea is a more efficient partner to Russia than the U.S. to Ukraine right now. Thank you, Fred.

And next, I'm going to speak to the passenger who noticed parts missing on the wing of his jet just before takeoff. How did the airline not catch that?

And the race to replace George Santos. Now, one of the most closely watched special elections in the United States Democrats desperately want the seat back. Do they have a chance?



BURNETT: New tonight, the Boeing CEO facing growing questions from lawmakers after several troubling incidents, including, of course, this moment when the door plug shot out of the side of a planet, 16,000 feet over Portland.

CEO Dave Calhoun insisting his planes are safe.


DAVE CALHOUN, BOEING CEO: We fly safe planes. We don't put airplanes in the air that we don't have 100 percent confidence in.


BURNETT: Unfortunately, it comes as we learn of another incident on a Boeing plane, this time in Atlanta, Georgia, where a Delta flight was taxiing for takeoff this weekend when a tire on the nose of the plane came loose and fell off.

Tower audio capturing the moment the pilot right behind the plane actually saw it and flagged it.


DAL17838 PILOT: Delta 982, this is the aircraft looking at you. One of your nose tires just came off. It just rolled off the runway behind you.

DAL982 PILOT: All right. Tell you what, let me talk to maintenance.

Tower, let me have -- I'm going to contact our maintenance folks.


BURNETT: And tonight, we're also hearing the story of one passenger on an Airbus flight from Manchester, England, to New York. He looked at his window for takeoff and he saw this -- looks like missing parts and empty holes on the wing of the plane. He had just boarded. So he alerted the crew, all the passengers were ordered to get off that plane and his flight was canceled.

That passenger, Phil Hardy, is OUTFRONT now.

And, Phil, you know, shared the video with us of what you saw and then you shared this video where you can see an engineer out there. This is like you looking through the window of the plane and he's tinkering on the wing with a screwdriver. Virgin Atlantic says the tops of four fasteners were missing.

So you go, you sit down, you're getting ready to come to New York. How did you notice this in the first place?

PHIL HARDY, PASSENGER WHO NOTICED FASTENERS MISSING ON AIRBUS WING: Well, I was just looking out the window as you do, not a great deal else to do. And I'm one of these people that notice things and someone just didn't look hard because you could see the white screws in alarm and then just fall black holes. So I took a picture, zoomed in closer and you could actually see that there were holes.

BURNETT: So then you do -- you do what? Is a flight attendant walking by or you ring the button? I mean, everything -- everybody's loading. But you find someone a flight crew to tell them. Tell me how that how that went down and how they reacted when you pointed out the window?

HARDY: Well, luckily, the flight crew just finished their pre-flight safety briefings. So there was a flight attendant just to my right hand side. I've got their attention. Let her know. She got the supervisor who came down. I showed him photos that had taken he that borrowed by phone to go and show the captain the pictures. And then about ten minutes later, an engineer appeared on board.

BURNETT: So captain looks at it, captain wants an engineer, then the mechanic goes out. What did you see as the mechanics? I guess I don't know where they walking on the weighing or what -- what's happening on the wing?

HARDY: Well, first appeared out of, I caught on the eye, on the mechanical lift, getting a closer inspection. And I could seem confirmed down to one of his colleagues in the first glace the thought that they were just coming off, but still in place.

BURNETT: How did (AUDIO GAP) going on?

HARDY: I think the passengers directly adjacent to me realize what was going on. However, I found out later on, most of the people on the plane thought I was just complaining because my TV wasn't working, which by the engineer came on board.


BURNETT: I guess as I'm smiling although, you know, I mean, it's -- in this environment, you know, when you think about it, it's -- it is scary.

I mean, now, now, Phil, Virgin Atlantic and Airbus, they're stressing, they say the plane, so would've been safe to fly had it taken off. You know, Virgin Atlantic, they're saying in a statement the flight was canceled to provide time for precautionary additional engineering maintenance checks, and they say the safety of our customers and crew as always, our top priority. And this was not compromised at any point.

You know, Airbus, their comment on this is that a secondary structure panel used (AUDIO GAP) aircraft. Each of these panels has 119 fasteners. So there was no impact of the structural integrity.

Now, look, you know, you and I aren't sitting here as engineers, but the question to you, Phil, as a passenger sitting there, you looked out, you saw that, you saw what happened. The captain wanted them mechanic. You hear the statements.

Do they make you feel any better?

HARDY: No, to be (INAUDIBLE) of it, put me in doubt. I mean, that's trying to put my mind to rest. They explain that the screws are actually still there. They weren't missing. It was only the heads that have come off. Now surely is the heads that's the important part of the screws if the panel was designed with 119 screws, but safe to fly without four missing, then why wasn't it designed with 115 screws?

So, these things do cross your mind, but like he say, we're not engineers and they do know what were talking about. So you have to kind of put your trust in them.

BURNETT: Yeah, but it is -- it is the case though that that trust, of course, has now been called into question with some of these other incidents. So it is -- it is important. I'm sure everyone on that flight was very grateful that you did what you did and raised your hand.

Thanks so much, Phil.

HARDY: No problem.

BURNETT: And we reached out to FAA certified pilot mechanic Jeff Simon about the incident, and he told us, quote, it's unfortunate that the discrepancy appears to have been discovered by a passenger that would lead one to believe the airline was unaware of the discrepancy and that ultimately, the quality system broke down somewhere.

Well, next, the race to replace George Santos is heating up. And this is a race that could ultimately lead to a change in the balance of power. It is a crucial one. Special report on that next, and then an American chemistry professor

stirring the pot over how to make tea. Attentions are boiling across the pond.



BURNETT: So, tonight, the race to replace George Santos is now the most closely watched special election in the United States and it is only two weeks away. Democrats are hoping to flip the seat. Can they do it?

Miguel Marquez is OUTFRONT.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the race to replace George Santos, voting day in this special election, a little over two weeks away.

On a scale from one to ten, how motivated are you to vote in this election?


MARQUEZ: Santos flip the seat from Democrat to Republican in 2022, the Democrats hope to take it back. It's a race that will have national implications. The biggest question, who will actually vote?

How much of this is leftover concerns about George Santos in the end, the madness at that was, and the fact that he wasn't properly vetted?

DOROTHY SHAW, VOTRE, NEW YORK THIRD CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT: That's probably in the back of my mind, too, like we don't need someone untried.

GEORGE SANTOS, FORMER NY CONGRESSMAN: You could go look at the video.

REPORTER: Mr. Santos, who?

REPORTER: What happened?

MARQUEZ: What might be most amazing, George Santos, a freshman congressman whose lies, alleged criminal behavior, and general drama catapulted him to national prominence, national joke, then ex- congressman.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Expelled from Congress on Friday by a vote of 114 Shantay you stays, to 311 Sashay away.

MARQUEZ: Santos now on the celebrity video sharing website Cameo.

SANTOS: Hey, Aaron (ph). It's George Santos.

MARQUEZ: Plays the tiniest of cameos in the race to replace him. MICHAEL DAWIDZIAK, POLITICAL STRATEGIST POLLSTER: I do believe that

the Santos effect is going to be minimal as far as how people vote. And I think they're just going to be happy that it's not George Santos.

MARQUEZ: Neither candidate, Democrat Tom Suozzi, nor Republican Mazi Pilip, making Santos central to their campaigns.

TOM SOUZI (D), NY CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: We've all moved beyond George Santos. It's over.

MARQUEZ: Whether you voted for George Santos or not, everybody was very upset with him in this district. Do you think that matters to your race, to this race?

MAZI PILIP (R), NY CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Absolutely not. They know who I am.

MARQUEZ: For some of Pilip supporters, Santos, a non-factor. It's all about where they see the nation heading.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How can you not be concerned about what's going on in this country?

MARQUEZ: Such as?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Such as the illegal immigration which we call immigration and give money to those people, such as crime.

MARQUEZ: Do you think one side or the other has the edge?

DAWIDZIAK: No, I look at this -- I mean, I really think this race is going to be a real barnburner.

MARQUEZ: Michael Dawidziak worked on campaigns, mostly Republican locally and nationally, for more than 40 years. Like most special elections, he says, either issues nor Santos will matter.

What wins in these elections then?

DAWIDZIAK: It's just hard work. There's no magic. It's hard, hard work. It's getting on the phones. It's knocking on doors. It's -- it's a lot of work and a lot of organization. You've got work and pull that vote out and that's what wins these elections.

MARQUEZ: Laurence Miller, a progressive, was angry over George Santos's chaotic time in office, but that's not his motivation for supporting centrist Tom Suozzi.

LAURENCE MILLER, VOTER, NEW YORK THIRD CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT: Part of me is happy with his reaching across and my partisan, moderate position in this time because (AUDIO GAP) the country is so fractured.


MARQUEZ: OK, now, for the record, that's Cameo appearance by George Santos was not Erin.


This Erin, Erin Burnett --


MARQUEZ: -- I'm afraid to say. Look, if one thing George Santos can do, he's a rarity. He can bring both Democrats and Republicans together. They seem to dislike him.

Similarly, he hasn't said much about this election though, only that he's not voting for a Democrat if he votes at all.

BURNETT: It's going to be a fascinating one, and so much at stake.


BURNETT: All right. Thank you to Miguel.

And next, an international brouhaha between the U.S. and the U.K. And yes, there will be even more tea puns after this.


BURNETT: (AUDIO GAP) between the U.S. and U.K. boiling chemistry professor concluded that adding a pinch of salt is the secret to a perfect up of tea.

Well, the professor spilled the tea in a new book for which she researched to documents spanning more than 1,000 years. Did her homework. And she says the salt works to make the tea less better.

Now this is now a piping hot controversy across the pond. Just listen to how they're talking about it on British TV.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think the fact is, she's an American in a cup of tea.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Which by definition means she's not an expert.


BURNETT: Wow, it's the biggest brouhaha between Brits and Americans over tea since -- well, you know?

Well, the U.S. embassy in London read the tea leaves and issued an official response, selling out the American professor saying in a statement, quote, we want to ensure the good people of the U.K. that the unthinkable notion of adding salt to Britain's national drink is not official United States policy. And never will be.

Well, thanks for joining us.

Anderson starts now.