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Erin Burnett Outfront
House GOP Zeroes In On Impeachment While Blowing Up Border Bill; Texas Governor Faces Criticism Over Whether Border Operation Is Working; Israeli Forces Disguised As Medical Staff Invade Hospital; Far-Right Spreads Absurd Plot Involving NFL, Taylor Swift, Biden; Haley Holds High Roller Fundraiser, Tries To Keep Campaign Alive; Elon Musk's Startup Implants Brain Chip In First Human. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired January 30, 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:
Republicans working feverishly right now to bring articles of impeachment against the Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, even as those same Republicans say a border bill that's the strictest in decades is dead on arrival. Why? Well, Trump says so.
Plus, make-or-break night for Nikki Haley. She's meeting with some of the richest people in America tonight. Will they keep giving her the cash to take on Trump? A GOP donor who just left that fund raiser is OUTFRONT next.
And any takers? Elon Musk looking for the next volunteers to have a computer chip implanted into your brain.
Let's go OUTFRONT
And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.
OUTFRONT tonight, impeachment. House Republicans taking a major step tonight towards impeaching the sitting cabinet official, something that has not been done in 148 years in the United States. The target is the Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. And they are working right now and frankly expected to keep working well past midnight. They're making the claim that Mayorkas has committed high crimes and misdemeanors. That would, of course, justify impeachment.
What they are not working on though, is stopping people from coming over the U.S. southern border. They could be meeting to discuss the bipartisan border security bill negotiated by GOP senators. A bill that Republicans and Democrats involved in drafting say will be the strictest border legislation in America in decades.
So, why are GOP House members not meeting to stem the tide at the southern border? Well, the answer is because Trump said. Trump has said supporting a bill, the bill here that we're talking about would be a, quote, gift to the radical left Democrats.
So, Trump's loyal lemmings are getting in line to kill the bill. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): I just heard Speaker Johnson saying it's absolutely dead, which is what I wanted to hear.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's a non-starter as a speaker said.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He got there, said it's not going anywhere.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: It's not going anywhere, but they are staying up at work tonight to draft an impeachment resolution. Now, one person who really summarizes it well, the issue here is the former Republican Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.
He writes, quote: House Republicans are ducking difficult policy work and hard fought compromise. Republicans in the House should drop this impeachment charade and work with Mr. Mayorkas to deliver for the American people.
And Senate Republicans are also calling foul. Here's Senator Cramer to our Manu Raju, who just got this for OUTFRONT.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The former president came out and said that the Senate border deal is a betrayal. Is that the right way to characterize this deal?
SEN. KEVIN CRAMER (R-ND): Not at all. The only betrayal we have to worry about is whether it be trained the people we worked for and sometimes, you know, sometimes that may line up with everybody. Sometimes it doesn't. No, it's not a betrayal
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Senator Cramer pushing back against the former president who is driving the Republican response to the border. And here is what's happening in the House right now. Republicans are working hard to get impeachment articles against Mayorkas brought to the House floor. In fact, when it comes to those impeachment articles themselves, legal experts, including the famed concern urban of constitutional scholar Jonathan Turley are slamming the impeachment effort.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JONATHAN TURLEY, CONSTITUTIONAL LAW PROFESSOR: I don't think they have established any of those bases for impeachment. The fact is impeachment is not for being a bad cabinet member or even being a bad person. It is a very narrow standard.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: A very narrow standard. And by the way, on top of this, right, it is the fact that this is going to take time. It could take weeks, if not months, to go through impeachment proceedings for Mayorkas. And just -- if you look at what's happened in the past weeks, days, and months in that time, hundreds and hundreds of thousands, even a million migrants could illegally cross the border. That border, that House Republicans are choosing to leave wide-open at Trump's behest.
Manu Raju is OUTFRONT live on Capitol Hill.
And, Manu, I know you are getting some new reporting right now on the border deal as senators are coming back. What are you learning?
RAJU: Yeah, there was actually a debate behind closed doors and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell's office with his key advisers, his leadership team about how in whether to proceed with this deal, given the staunch opposition from Donald Trump, from House Republicans, and the fact that there appears to be no path to getting this into law, despite the demands for Republicans for years to do something on the border here.
In fact, one top Republican Senator John Cornyn just told me moments ago, he said, there's been no decision about how to proceed, just a lot of discussion about the fact that we're kind of stuck. Now, in talking to Senate Republicans to support this plan, many of them are simply exasperated, saying that, look, there is not a deal that has officially been released yet. There's no text of this and already were seeing our position.
You heard from Kevin Cramer. This is the North Dakota Republican who supports Donald Trump, right? There are pushing back against the former president and then I asked him about the expectation that House Republicans could essentially kill this bipartisan deal and whether they hell be backlash to the polls. And he warns that there could be.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. KEVIN CRAMER (R-ND): Here's what I worry about. If we don't try to do something when we have the moment to do something, all of those swing voters in swing states for whom the borders and number one priority have every right to look at us and you blew your opportunity. We were ready to give you a shot and you blew it. I don't see that as coming back as a reward to us. If we don't try, then shame on us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: So just so much uncertainty and division within the GOP ranks. Now this all comes as House GOP, of course, is moving to make Alejandro Mayorkas just a second. Cabinet secretary ever to be impeached by the House. There could be a floor vote as soon as next week as s swing district Republicans are telling me today that they plan to get in line, but Speaker Johnson has very little margin for error in the razor thin House Republican majority. There are a handful of members who are undecided about it at this moment.
So, it's possible, this effort could collapse, but Republican leaders at the moment are confident they'll get the votes in the House, even though he's poised to be acquitted in the Democratic-led Senate.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Manu. And interesting, Senator Cramer, just at the frustration that he felt as after he finished talking tomatoes sort of just walking away, the deep frustration that there is right now on Capitol Hill, the incredible dysfunction.
When we talk about it, it could come down to a few votes. One of those is the vote of Republican Congressman Ken Buck and he joins me now OUTFRONT.
And I really appreciate your time as always, Congressman.
So this full house vote as Manu is reporting, could come soon, could come as soon as next week on whether this moves ahead. The GOP led effort to impeach the Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, back in November, you voted to stall another Republican attempt to impeach him. At the time, you told me, Congressman, Secretary Mayorkas has not competed in -- committed, I'm sorry, an impeachable offense.
Do you still believe that or do you support this effort to impeach him now?
REP. KEN BUCK (R-CO): Let me just say I agree with Professor Turley that the impeachment clause is a narrow clause and it requires a high crime or misdemeanor or something akin to that. It isn't necessarily a convicted -- a conviction in court. But I do believe that there has to be some very, very egregious act that that is just like a crime.
And so in my view, Secretary Mayorkas has not committed that. I am a lean no at this point. I'm still open-minded. I have talked to constitutional scholars. Ive talked to members -- former members of the House who understand the practice and procedures here better than I do. I've listened.
I've also talked to the Homeland Security Staff on why this impeachment should go forward. I'm leaning no, but I haven't made a final decision.
BURNETT: All right. Well, important and obviously, as you mentioned, Mr. Turley and the point of view that he has there, right, can be a bad person. You can be doing a bad job, but it is a narrow standard and one that you are saying, at least in your view at this time, has not been met. So if you lean no there. Where do you stand --
BUCK: Erin, can I just interrupt for one moment? I'm sorry.
BUCK: But I think one of the reasons, Professor Turley, has such credibility is he was a no on both the President Trump's impeachments and I voted no on both of those. And so I look to scholars like Professor Turley for guidance on an impeachment like this.
BURNETT: So, Congressman, as part of this whole conversation, right? As I was pointing out, the right now, others in your party in the House are spending time working on this resolution, and not talking about the border bill. And obviously we've heard Republicans saying that the bipartisan Senate immigration bill is dead on arrival in the House as the exact words being used.
Do you believe that this bill -- and you heard Senator Cramer there, GOP Senator Cramer, saying that it will be on Republicans if this does not -- does not pass, that that will be the betrayal. Do you think this bill should be voted down or move ahead?
BUCK: Well, I think it should definitely be debated on the floor if it definitely given a vote on the floor. I have no idea what's in it, and nor does to my knowledge, Senator Cramer or any other House members. So, saying it's dead on arrival, I think is premature and unfair.
I would like to say that there are plenty of laws on the books that can be enforced.
President Biden could have the "remain in Mexico" strategy that President Trump had. He could have agreements with Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, that President Trump had.
So there are ways of mitigating the problem at the border, but I absolutely want to see more legislation and legislation that will be effective.
BURNETT: And I want to ask you, Congressman. You've been a straight shooter here in so many conversations, just about the former president's role in all of this, right? It's important, it's significant. He said it, you know, a border bill would be -- a border deal now would be another gift to the radical Democrats, okay, that's what he says.
But, and he said that just the other day. But in recent days, just in the past week, congressman, he has said that criminals, rapists, murderers, and terrorists are coming over the border. And he said that there's a 100 percent chance of a terror attack in the United States because of the people coming over the border. If those things are all true that there's 100 percent chance of a terror attack because of criminals, rapists, murderers, and terrorists coming over the border, how does he get to any kind of a deal now it'd be a gift to the radical Democrats.
I mean, are you okay with his thinking?
BUCK: Well, there's a whole lot to unravel in which you just said about President Trump's statements. So, first of all, I live in an area that has a lot of migrants in Colorado. There are a lot of very good, hard-working people that come across a border. I like them to do it legally. I'd like our legal immigration system to work better.
But to say that -- or imply in some way that all the people that are coming across are bad people, are criminals, is absolute nonsense and its political rhetoric that shouldn't be used. I do believe that we need to enforce the laws that we have better. And I believe that we need additional laws to give the executive branch more power.
BURNETT: All right. Well, Congressman, I appreciate your time, Congressman Buck. Thank you so much.
BUCK: Thank you
BURNETT: And as this battle goes on on Capitol Hill, many Republican officials in Washington and around the country are rallying around the Texas Governor Greg Abbott as his standoff with the Biden administration continues over the border. So, here's the real question.
Are Abbott's policies, the barb wire that you're hearing about -- is it doing anything to actually stop the flow of illegal immigrants?
Ed Lavandera went OUTFRONT to fact check this in Eagle Pass, Texas?
ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Gaston Santander fled Venezuela and crossed into Texas in the summer of 2021, just a few months after Governor Gregg Abbott launched the state- funded border security plan called Operation Lone Star.
GASTON SANTANDER, MIGRANT (translated): I crossed the river there was the Texas police.
LAVANDERA: Instead of being detained by Border Patrol agents, he was arrested by Texas state troopers. Part of Operation Lone Star involves arresting migrants for trespassing on private property. Governor Abbott has argued these arrests would deter migrants.
GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R), TEXAS: And when people start learning about this, they're going to stop come across the Texas border.
LAVANDERA: I thought you were handcuffed, arrested, charged with criminal trespassing. You spent more than a month in jail in Texas.
Santander says the experience was held. He spent his life working as a human rights lawyer now, was seen as a criminal. The trespassing charge was dismissed by a judge, and almost three years later, Santander is now in Colorado awaiting his asylum hearing. The state arrest did nothing to derail that.
Kristen Eder (ph) is a lawyer who's worked with groups that have defended thousands of migrants, snagged into the net of Operation Lone Star.
KRISTEN EDER, LAWYER: It's really just a political stunt and has no real effect on immigration.
LAVANDERA: The state says they've made nearly 10,000 trespassing arrests since 2021. Eder says, many of those misdemeanor cases are simply dismissed.
EDER: Operation Lone Star is essentially been a $10.5 billion temporary and harsh detour to the asylum system. It doesn't actually prevent a person from being able to request and receive asylum in the United States?
LAVANDERA: Since Operation Lone Star started almost three years ago, Governor Abbott has continued to escalate the number of state troopers and National Guard soldiers deployed to the border. State officials say Operation Lone Star has turned over nearly 500,000 migrants to Border Patrol and has led to over 35,000 more serious felony charges.
GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R), TEXAS: We've deployed more National Guard, thousands of National Guard than ever before in the history of the state.
LAVANDERA: But according to federal immigration data, the number of migrant encounters along the Texas-Mexico border has increased overall since Operation Lone Star launched in March of 2021. But the Texas governor's office points out that other states so in the southern border, like Arizona and California, have seen much sharper increases in migrant encounters than Texas.
Democratic State Representative Eddie Morales, once supported Operation Lone Star, now says the $11 billion price tag hasn't been working.
STATE REP. EDDIE MORALES (D), TEXAS: The numbers have just continued to increase.
We have to answer to a Texas taxpayers. I don't think that it's enough what we're doing. As a matter of fact, it's only gotten worse.
LAVANDERA: Morales represents Eagle Pass, the border city that's become the epicenter of the ongoing fight between state and federal authorities over immigration.
Texas authorities have taken over a public park and are blocking border patrol agents from accessing the area. The state has also installed miles of razor wire along the Rio Grande. Texas sued the Biden administration to prevent border patrol agents from cutting the wire to apprehend or rescue migrants. But the Supreme Court has ruled that border agents can remove the wire while the case plays out in court.
MORALES: This is all political theater. You walk a mile down that way or a mile down that way, and it's completely open.
LAVANDERA: And, Erin, we should also point out, for weeks, CNN teams have seen migrants cross underneath that razor wire many times. But despite the criticisms of Operation Lone Star, Governor Abbott continues to escalate the situation here as well with Republican lawmakers who have recently passed a bill that would make it a crime, possibly a felony to enter the state illegally. That new law is being challenged in court and the governor is also continuing to drum up support among fellow Republican governors and attorney generals from across the country -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Ed Lavandera, in Eagle Pass tonight.
Amazing, as he says, one mile in each direction and there go those visuals of the -- of the barbed wire.
All right. And next, a brazen raid. Israeli special forces dressed as women and medical staff storming a West Bank hospital, killing three.
And a man who wants to be Trump's VP is now pushing an absurd conspiracy theory about Taylor Swift and Democrats rigging the election.
Plus, two soldiers who were killed in drone attacks in Jordan now promoted. One of them, the daughter of a couple we spoke with last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ONEIDA SANDERS, MOTHER OF KILLED SOLDIER: In any situation that she was in, she made it enjoyable, even being deployed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Tonight, a cover for terrorism -- at least that is what the Israeli military calls a West Bank hospital that was raided by special forces. Those special forces, Israeli, were disguised as civilians and medical staff when they stormed the hospital, an operation that killed three Palestinians.
Palestinians Israel claims were linked to Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and they say they were planning to carry out a, quote, serious attack.
Jeremy Diamond begins our coverage OUTFRONT.
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Israeli forces disguised as Israeli civilians and medical staff storming a hospital in the occupied West Bank, weapons drawn. As they move through a hospital corridor, one man is temporarily detained.
Shouts of "army, army" ring out through the hospital corridor. Several are wearing hijabs. Two of the operatives could even be mistaken for new parents, baby carrier in tow.
A dozen Israeli forces infiltrated the Ibn Sina Hospital in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin, killing three Palestinian militants affiliated with Hamas, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
The Israeli military claiming this man, Mohammad Jalamna, planned to carry out a terrorist attack in the immediate future, without providing any details. In a statement, the Israeli military said: For a long time, wanted suspects have been hiding in hospitals and using them as a base for planning terrorist activities and carrying out terror attacks. While they assume that the exploitation of hospitals will serve as protection against counterterrorism activities of Israeli security forces.
Legal experts say that the Israeli commandos may have violated international law by disguising themselves as civilians and medical personnel.
One of the men targeted, Basil Al-Ghazawi, was being treated for injuries from a rocket explosion. The hospital said he was sleeping in his bed when he was killed. He and his brother, Mohammed, also killed by Israeli commandos in the same hospital room, where affiliated with Islamic Jihad.
The Israeli military said one of the men carried this gun, but did not say their troops have been fired upon.
NAJI NAZZAL, IBN SINA HOSPITAL DIRECTOR (through translator): They killed the three youth, Basil and Mohammed al-Ghazawi and Mohammad Jalamna, in the room while they were sleeping on their beds in the room. They killed them with cold blood, with gun shots to the head.
DIAMOND: Fierce battle later broke out in Jenin where the Israeli military has been cracking down on Palestinian militant groups, killing at least 381 Palestinians in the West Bank since Hamas's October 7th attacks, according to the Palestinian ministry of health.
DIAMOND: And, Erin, tonight, reports of Israeli forces at another hospital, this time in Gaza. Israeli tanks reported by the Palestine Red Crescent Society to be in the front yard of Al Amal Hospital in Khan Younis. There -- they say that the Israeli military is firing live ammunition as well as smoke grenades. There are displaced people there, about 8,000 displaced people there according to estimates.
And the Israeli military has been telling people there to evacuate for days now, but with Israeli military surrounding that hospital for days already, that has been proving easier said than done -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Jeremy, thank you so much in Tel Aviv tonight.
I want to go now OUTFRONT to the retired Army General Joseph Votel, the former commander of CentCom.
General, look, the images that we just saw there in the screen are disturbing holding that baby bassinette is disturbing.
We don't know the full details, but obviously the reports that one of these men they killed was already injured in a rocket attack and was sleeping when he was killed. Their disguises, medical staff and civilians, look, its hard to watch.
What do you make of this -- of the Israelis conducting this raid inside a West Bank hospital?
GEN. JOSEPH VOTEL (RET.), FORMER COMMANDER OF CENTCOM: You know, thanks. It's great to be with you. Well, you know, as you mentioned, there's a lot of details here that we don't know and I sure like to understand a lot more before I pronounce judgment one way or the other on this. You know, there's a lot of factors at play in this.
This is not, not, not a war zone. It's -- you know, there is reporting of an imminent attack.
Militants using the hospital for their own purposes and I do acknowledge that appears at least one of them was in a hospital bed. What, you know, Israeli forces I think in this case, you know, going undercover to try to go in and conduct an operation in self-defense to protect themselves.
So, there's a lot that has to be looked at in this. In the surface, I don't know if I'm ready to announce this as perfectly or not. But we certainly need to get behind the details of this.
BURNETT: Right. Well, President Biden is earlier as all of this as escalated, said he's decided how to retaliate for drone attack in which three soldiers and more than 40 were injured at that military outpost in Jordan.
Here's how he put it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Have you made a decision how you'll respond to the attack?
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes.
I don't think we need a wider war in the Middle East. That's not what I'm looking for.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Of course, there's also been 160 attacks on U.S. military personnel since this war began. And now that this horrific event has happened, there's going to be a response. Was it a mistake, general for the U.S. to not have hit back sooner?
VOTEL: I think so. I mean, I think we've seen this now for a number of weeks, and in fact, months. And I don't think we've sent a very clear and unambiguous message through our strikes and through our other information operations that that this was not going to be tolerated.
And as a result, we've seen Iran and its axis of resistance continued to push the red lines on this. Of course, with tragic results, this past weekend here in Jordan.
So these elements are going to push as far as they can. And if you don't push back hard on them, we're going to see results like we've seen.
BURNETT: General Votel, thank you so much for your time tonight.
VOTEL: Great to be with you. Thank you.
BURNETT: And next, Donald Trump is obsessed with Taylor Swift and so is everyone around him. Why are they so intent on trying to take down one of the worlds biggest stars?
Plus, Nikki Haley here in New York tonight. She's asking some of the richest people in America the keep her campaign against Trump alive. Will it work? Will it survive?
One of the donors who just left that fundraiser for Haley is OUTFRONT
BURNETT: Tonight, the right going all in a baseless conspiracy theory that claims Taylor Swift's relationship with Travis Kelce and the Super Bowl are all rigged to help Joe Biden win the election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENNY JOHNSON, HOST, THE BENNY SHOW: This is what I think is going to happen. There's going to be some type of proposal at the -- after the Super Bowl is rigged for the Chiefs and then the two of these people become like reached like crazy levels of absolute fame and then they use that in order to try and save Joe Biden.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Okay. Those comments do not come out of nowhere. There's a whole lot about this. In fact, the former presidential candidate and top Trump ally and now person seemingly campaigning for VP, Vivek Ramaswamy tweeted, I wonder who's going to win the Super Bowl next month, and I wonder if there's a major presidential endorsement coming from an article officially culturally propped up couple this fall, just wild speculation over here. Let's see how it ages over the next six months.
OUTFRONT now, Basil Smikle, former executive director of the New York state Democratic Party, and Erick Erickson, host of the popular Economists radio show.
Okay, great to have both of you with us.
So, Erick, I mean, honestly, okay. This is QAnon level, you know, pizza-gate conspiracy theories at the super goal is rigged and it's all rigged. So the Chiefs last longer, so I don't know. She gets a little bit more famous for making an endorsement. I mean, I can't even make sense of it all.
But Vivek Ramaswamy's post was in response, actually, Erick, to one and the promoters of pizza-gate. Does this trouble you? ERICK ERICKSON, HOST, "THE ERICK ERICKSON SHOW": Of course, it does. And let me be clear. First of all, I should admit I've been to five concerts in my life, four Taylor Swift and one Adele all because my daughter wanted me to take her to these concerts. So I get the Taylor Swift fandom by my daughter and so many others. Try to get me to wear a Taylor Swift sweatshirt tonight, but I didn't.
Here's what's going on. These guys aren't actually serious, but they know that people will believe them. And then the process, they'll get talked about, they'll get buzz. They might be able to cash in and grift on it. They're hucksters, frauds, and charlatans who are whipping people into a frenzy about something they don't even believe because they think it's funny to go viral and get attention and maybe convince some people who aren't very bright that it's happening.
In the process, you've got Cori Bush investigated by the Justice Department today and the rights not talking about that, they're talking about the most popular woman on the planet dating the most popular tight end in the NFL in the most popular sport on the planet. And they're just stupid.
BURNETT: I mean, so, Basil, I mean, look, here's the thing about this and just trying to understand what they think they're getting her, what, who they're convincing about, what.
I mean, Taylor Swift endorsed Joe Biden in 2020. In 2018, she actually endorsed the Democrat running against the Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn in her home state of Tennessee. By the way, it didn't do anything there.
In Taylor Swift's documentary, she talks about why she got involved in that particular race. Here she is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TAYLOR'S DAD: From security stand point, Taylor Swift comes out against Trump.
TAYLOR SWIFT, MUSICIAN: I don't care if they write that. I'm sad that I didn't two years ago, but I can't change that.
I'm saying right now that this is something that I know is right. And you guys -- I need to be on the right side of history. And if he doesn't win that, at least I -- at least I tried.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: All right. You know, she then reacted when Marsha Blackburn actually one. She called her Trump in a wig.
Okay. I'm saying this because we know where she stands. She's clear about where she stands. I don't know who was ambiguous about where she stands on Trump right now.
Why is there a conspiracy over this?
BASIL SMIKLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: You know, I have no idea.
I don't understand the Taylor Swift's phenomenon. If it was Shahed, different story at how the reaction.
But I don't understand the Taylor Swift phenomenon in this regard -- when we talk about pizza gate, they were real world reactions to this. People were harassed, people got hurt, and my sense is that what they're trying to do, as I said before, is to get Trump supporters to react and hope that that translates into a vote and suppression of other votes, in terms of -- in terms of both harassment and intimidation, right?
My -- again, my concern is that this actually has real-world consequences. This is just not theory.
SMIKLE: Now, number one.
And number two, how petty is this? You don't have any policies to run on. You don't have a legislative agenda that you can run on as a Republican.
So you want to make sure that these conspiracy theories get pushed out in some hope to kind of fill the void. The narrative void, but what effect does it have? All it'll do is gin up Taylor Swift supporters who are young voters all across the country if that is possible, to get them to go out and vote against you. So why do that?
BURNETT: I mean, Eric, this is the thing. I mean, it's there -- Taylor Swift, obviously being who she is as an inspiration to many young women, now you've got some of the women who worked with Trump taking shots at Taylor Swift, okay? So, again, I don't really understand this, but Alina Habba post -- she shared a post on Instagram.
The posts she shared says: Who thinks this country needs a lot more women like Alina Habba, and a lot less like Taylor Swift, and then Trump's national press secretary said this on "Hannity" last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAROLINE LEAVITT, MAGA INC. SPOKESMAN: Lets not forget that Taylor Swift has made a career off of writing songs about picking the wrong man. So I don't think we should take advice from her now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: You know, Erick, actually got real perspective on this because your daughter is a Taylor Swift fan. Do these women who worked for Trump coming out and saying this and behaving this way, does that fall on receptive ears on young women who just happened to like Taylor Swift as an entertainer?
ERICKSON: You know, maybe some but let me go back to Tennessee. She endorsed Marsha Blackburn's opponent. It didn't help a lot of people think for themselves. And the only people who apparently don't think for themselves with the people listening to these hucksters, frauds, and grifters, they think they can persuade.
And you know, to the other point, yes, there could be real-world consequences, you know, the pizzagate grifters who are the same guys pushing this actually purge people to show up at pizza restaurant and they did.
BURNETT: And they did, yeah.
ERICKSON: It's insanity that they're playing with fire and also many of these same guys, just six weeks ago, were saying Taylor Swift was accursed to the Chiefs because they weren't doing so well at the time. They're just trying to get viral attention and they don't care what the fallout is. It's a nihilism that's creeped into the right of deeply unserious people.
BURNETT: It is deeply unserious, Basil, and there could be serious implications to that. Trump himself, though, has previously slammed Taylor Swift when he came out -- when she came out against him in 2018, and then also this fall, he tells "The Daily Caller", I wish the best for both of them talking about her and Kelce. I hope they enjoy their life, maybe together, maybe not most likely not.
SMIKLE: Crazy. Again, how petty is this? Do you have nothing else to talk about but Taylor Swift and who's she's dating right now.
But look, at the end of the day, endorsements may not mean a heck of a lot. A percentage here in there.
BURNETT: Right. Right.
SMIKLE: However, one of the things that I remember from the Obama campaign and experiences that you had all these celebrities encouraging their supporters to go out and vote, the chatter, the buzz that they can create is worth millions. So, all you're doing is elevating her and elevating that buzz in that chatter. Why do that? What's the strategy for that?
BURNETT: Counterproductive from their perspective.
All right. Well, thank you both, so glad to see you both.
And next, some of the richest people in America coming together right now tonight to keep Nikki Haley's campaign alive. But will it happen? One of the donors who just left her fundraiser is next.
Plus, an insider whose job it is to follow Elon Musk's every move is next. Is Musk getting closer literally to reading our minds?
BURNETT: Tonight could be Nikki Haley's make-or-break moment. She's here in New York meeting with some of the richest people in America. She desperately needs their cash so she can keep fighting against Donald Trump in a primary race that at this point looks all but certain to go his way.
OUTFRONT into camera to the event to see who's there. And some of the high rollers who walked in, the billionaires. Leonard Stern and Stanley Druckenmiller were there, both major GOP donors.
And OUTFRONT now, Eric Levine, a major Republican donor who co-hosted tonight's fundraiser for Nikki Haley and just came straight here from the event.
So, Eric, I'm glad to see if I know you were just there with some of these individuals, all of them.
What was it like in that room tonight? Obviously, they see the polls, they see the same things everyone else sees. They know the reality as it appears right now.
Are they still willing to write the big checks?
ERIC LEVINE, NIKKI HALEY DONOR: Well, first, I want to -- so my wife knows, I'm not one of the richest people in America. I'm just a working stiff who raises money from some of the richest people --
BURNETT: From the richest people in America.
LEVINE: -- in America.
LEVINE: Yeah. So the room was very -- was electric. There were a few hundred people there. Nobody is fazed. They still believe in Nikki and I have every expectation that they're with her to the end as am I.
BURNETT: All right. All right. So you're still getting that feeling and that's significant because -- I mean, you know, some of them I obviously -- Ken Griffin came out today. Obviously, he wasn't going to be at this event, but he had given her $5 million earlier this year and he said, look, his way of asking whether you still supporting or was to say, I'm going to support the Senate. I'm going to support the House. I'm going to go that way as opposed to this way.
There are some who may feel that way at this point, right? You look at the polls, South Carolinas, she's running 30 points behind Trump, at least right now.
What path is she laying out for herself when she speaking in a room like the one you we just came from?
LEVINE: Well, I think her main point tonight was she wants to make America normal again. So I don't think she put manna together, but at Trump to my mind, we could all use that kind of manna from heaven and we could make American normal again. Her path is to stay in it, accumulate as many delegates as possible.
And this is not my speaking to the campaign. This is my surmise, and that over time, if she could can accumulate enough delegates and something happens to Trump, he becomes convicted or he's not a young man, something could happen to him as well, she'll be there to pick up the pieces to help make American normal again.
If she gets out now and husbands her funds and hopes that something happens that forces Trump out of the race, then 10,000 people are going to jump in. She has to stay in there. She has to accumulate delegates. She's worked very hard.
She deserves to be the nominee. She's the most qualified. She's the person who can beat Joe Biden. Donald Trump, I remain very skeptical, is going to be Joe Biden.
Just your last segment, the idea that people are fixated on Taylor Swift is one of the dumbest things I've ever heard in my life. You don't become president by warring about Taylor Swift. You become president by telling people how you're going to make their lives better. And you don't become president by telling people like me, you don't want me your world, you don't want me to vote for you.
BURNETT: Right, get out of the MAGA world.
LEVINE: Get out of MAGA-world, find another Ferris --
BURNETT: Robert Bigelow, Republican donor, says he gave Trump a million for legal fees. Don't know if you saw this, you might not --
LEVINE: I heard something about that.
BURNETT: Okay. So this is a million dollars for that. And He agreed to donate another $20 million to the main pro-Trump super PAC.
What do you say to that? That kind of fervor someone willing to put $21 behind Trump right now? I mean, he -- that he's still getting money like that.
LEVINE: Trump's a cult and some people are cultists and they follow Trump. They crawl over glass for the guy. And I understand it. I get it.
But I remain skeptical that he can win. When someone donates the $21 million -- I mean, do we really want someone to be president that has an $83 million judgment against him for defaming a woman and has been found to have accosted her in a changing room in -- I would -- Bloomingdales or one of the --
BURNETT: I think it's Bergdorf Goodman.
LEVINE: Bergdorf, it begins with a B. See, I'm not one of the wealthiest man in America. Otherwise, I'd know where it was.
But it would be nice if we could nominate someone to be president and can be elected president, that we could be proud of. And that's Nikki Haley.
The world is coming apart, we're failing abroad. We're failing at home. We -- you had a segment on before about three American service members were killed in Jordan over -- by Iran. Hamas is funded by Iran. Hezbollah is funded by Iran. The Houthis are funded by Iran. Proxies in Syria and Iraq are funded by Iran.
And Joe Biden will not defend our men and women in uniform. That's pathetic. That's disgusting. The man does not deserve to be commander in chief.
So we need to replace him. I don't know that Donald Trump can beat him. We need Nikki Haley, that she will beat him by 17, 18 points, and she'll have an incredibly long coattails as well.
LEVINE: You're talking about someone who wants to focus on the Senate. I primarily raised money for you, Republican Senate candidates.
LEVINE: If Donald Trump is the nominee, God help us if we don't retake the Senate because we'll lose the White House and the House, and the Senate will be the firewall between the country we have now in love and chaos.
BURNETT: All right. Well, Eric, thank you very much. I appreciate your time.
As I said, coming straight from that fundraiser for Nikki Haley.
And next, I'm going to speak to an insider who's been following Elon Musk and his controversial startup, which has now formally implanted a chip into a human brain. What is Musk's ultimate goal? And the two U.S. soldiers killed in the drone attack who have been posthumously promoted.
BURNETT: Tonight, open for recruitment. Elon Musk's brain chip company, Neuralink is recruiting new patients, volunteers to have a computer chip like this one implanted into their brain. Musk says the ideal candidate is under 40 and a quadriplegic. This is after Musk announced the first human patient to successfully implant one of the chips is, quote, recovering well.
Now what Musk says is that the chip will enable control of your phone or computer by thinking about it, something obviously with major implications for anybody suffering paralysis and for the population overall.
OUTFRONT now, Sarah McBride, she's a reporter at "Bloomberg" who has covered Elon Musk extensively, and specifically Neuralink. So, Sarah, you know him, you know, this company, this entire process.
Can you take us through -- through what happened here? What is the procedure to implant this into someone's brain?
SARAH MCBRIDE, REPORTER, BLOOMBERG NEWS: Sure. So this is a tiny device about the size of a quarter with a bunch of threads coming up with tiny, tiny electrodes attached to the threads. And the idea is, surgeons go into somebody's skull, open up their dura and their brain, put the device in there, make sure the electrodes go down a few millimeters into the brain so everything back up.
And there's a battery pack in it. It will recharge wirelessly and it will communicate wirelessly with an outside debase that can control, say, a computer cursor or an iPad. So, the procedure will one day Elon Musk has said, take maybe a half-hour. They're not quite there yet. The surgery that took place on Sunday likely took several hours and involved several surgeons, as well as this famous robot device for surgery that Neuralink has invented to do these procedures.
BURNETT: I mean, it is pretty incredible and you can think about how transformational this would be for someone, you know, suffering from paralysis of any sort or, you know, Stephen Hawking, right? Just to even comprehend that, is magnificent.
But Musk likens this --
BURNETT: -- to replacing a piece of the skull with a smart watch and, you know, the company did share video of a Neuralink trained monkey doing telepathic typing, using just his mind. So it is incredible.
BURNETT: If it becomes more widely available, it could change how we exist, right? You could have Waze in your brain, right? You're in traffic and you're looking for ways that we can see the potential applications. But with this comes the possibility that if you can tell -- if you can use it to do something, it knows what you're thinking. It's something on the other end might know what you are thinking, mind reading. Is that possible?
MCBRIDE: That's possible far into the future. Like so many musk projects, there's what he says that might happen one day like Teslas will be fully self-driving. And then the reality which is a little bit less than that.
MCBRIDE: So, he's spoken about all these futuristic possibilities for Neuralink. The reality is right now, it can perhaps help somebody who's paralyzed, maneuver a computer cursor, but years into the future and we're probably talking 20 years maybe it'll be able to do some of those more concerning things you just mentioned. BURNETT: It was pretty -- pretty incredible.
All right. Well, Sarah, thank you so much. I appreciate it.
And as I said, Sarah covered --
MCBRIDE: Thank you.
BURNETT: -- Musk extensively, and Neuralink specifically, extensively over the years. Thank you.
Next two U.S. soldiers who were killed in the drone strike who have been posthumously promoted.
BURNETT: Tonight, the United States, announcing promotions for two soldiers who were killed in that drone attack in Jordan. Specialists Kennedy Sanders and Breonna Moffett were promoted to sergeants.
I spoke to Kennedy Sanders parents. And here's what they wanted everyone to know about her.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: What do you want us to know about her? She's now died in service to her country.
SHAWN SANDER, FATHER OF SPC. KENNEDY SANDERS: Pretty much to remember her service and the commitment and the sacrifices she made for the country.
ONEIDA OLIVER SANDERS, MOTHER OF SPC. KENNEDY SANDERS: Her smile is contagious. She would always laughing about everything. Even though her time was shot on Earth, she lived her life to the fullest.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Sergeant Kennedy Sanders and her family are in our thoughts.
"AC360" starts now.