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Erin Burnett Outfront

Trump Asks Supreme Court To Halt Ruling That Denies Him Immunity; Joint Chiefs Head On Trump Remarks: U.S. "Credibility Is At Stake"; Democrats Try To Win Back Santos' Seat Tomorrow; Joe Biden Jokes About His Memory After Special Counsel Calls It "Poor". Aired 7- 8p ET

Aired February 12, 2024 - 19:00   ET




Breaking news, Trump taking his case to the Supreme Court, a last ditch effort to press his claim of total immunity as president. This as he's looking to slow down the Georgia election trial. Can he keep any of them from coming to a verdict before the election?

Plus, the backlash building. The Joint Chiefs of Staff tonight slamming Trump's threat to abandon NATO. The former director of the CIA and retired Army General David Petraeus weighs in OUTFRONT.

And it is one of the most closely watched elections, one that could give Democrats more power in Washington. Tom Suozzi is confident that he will flip George Santos' seat. He's my guest.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, the breaking news, Trump appealing to the Supreme Court. The former president now pressing the nation's highest court to step in and agree that he has absolute immunity for crimes that he may have committed while in office. Now, Trump is appealing this historic ruling by a federal appeals court that says he has to stand trial for January 6th.

Now, remember, that was a scathing rebuke from the three judges. They unanimously batted down Trump's argument that he has absolute immunity. And they slammed his alleged efforts to stay in power. Now at the time, Trump railed publicly against the ruling. He called it election interference.

But now, it is actually a legal document. It is filed and his legal team tonight writes, quote: The D.C. Circuit's order thus threatens immediate irreparable injury to the First Amendment interests of President Trump and tens of millions of American voters who are entitled to hear President Trump's campaign message as they decide how to cast their ballots in November.

Odd because obviously this isn't about campaign message. It's about what he did on January 6, but this appeal does put the Supreme Court right in the center of the 2024 election.

Now, Ryan Goodman, our legal analyst and his team at Just Security, went through this document today and they still conclude that we are looking at a verdict of guilty or not guilty just weeks before the election, in this case.

Now this is not the only case that consume Trump's time and energy today, though. He also chose to appear at another hearing. This one was unclear classified documents found at Mar-a-Lago. Trump came face- to-face with a judge. He appointed Aileen Cannon behind closed doors.

Trump's team wants access to the evidence that the DOJ has, but that's something prosecutors have been trying to prevent. They claim some of these documents are too sensitive.

Now this dispute over the classified materials is threatening to drag out that case. Currently, it is still scheduled to go to trial on May 20th, but we'll see what happens with that as this develops. It also came today as Trump prepared for hearing in Atlanta, and whether the D.A. prosecuting Trump will be removed from the Georgia election interference case that is slated for this week as well.

Our team of reporters is standing by here. Evan Perez, live in Fort Pierce, Florida, or Trump appeared in court today. And Nick Valencia live in Atlanta.

So, Evan, let me start with you. I want to start with a Trump's immunity appeal because that came late today. Obviously, he wants a Supreme Court to take this up. When could we hear from them in this case?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, the pressure will be on the Supreme Court to say immediately, Erin, whether the former president gets to have a pause on the proceedings because obviously, the way this appeals courts structured its decision is order. This was set to go back to the trial judge so that she could resume the effort to prepare for trial as soon as possible. So, now, what Trump needs it is for the Supreme Court to come in and say that there is going to be a pause at least for them to hear from the special counsel from the government, whether this needs to be paused further there are off- course weather.

The former president gets to use all of the parts of the appeal, part of this is the former president is trying to buy time, perhaps spend another few weeks asking for the appeals court to have en banc hearing, have the entire appeals court rehear the case. One of the things you heard from the former president and his filing today, he said that this was going to radically disrupt his ability to campaign.

I'll tell you this. He was here in Fort Pierce today. He didn't have to come to this hearing, but he did show up, was here for about five hours, his campaign was outside, Erin, handing out signs to some of them his supporters who are outside.

[19:05:12] Again, the former president using the filing tonight to sort of make the point that, you know, these trials are getting in the way of his campaigning. The issue is, Erin, he doesn't have to show up to all of these things. He's choosing to do that as part of his campaign.

Of course, we don't know yet whether -- when we're going to hear from the Supreme Court. But obviously this could eat up several more weeks of time.

BURNETT: All right. Obviously, when you get to the timeline that were on here with an election several weeks matters a lot.

Evan, thank you so much. And Trump is not only trying to fend off those federal trials, he is trying to delay his trial in Georgia, which, of course, is a crucial one for many reasons, including that any kind of a presidential pardon for even going to have that conversation wouldn't apply to a state verdict. Hearing in that case is now scheduled for Thursday, which is the same day as a hearing in Trump's New York hush money case.

Let's go to Nick Valencia, who is in Atlanta.

Nick, this is obviously an important hearing. What more can you tell us about it? It's now scheduled I understand for Thursday where you are in Atlanta.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Erin, it's a major hearing. It could be a defining day in this case, especially now that the door is open for Fani Willis potentially to be disqualified over this. The presiding judge, Scott McAfee, signaling that he's taking these allegations of an improper relationship very seriously and saying that if he sees there's evidence that Willis financially benefited from this personal improper relationship with or lead prosecutor, then that could potential lead her for to being disqualified.

Listen to McAfee in his own words at a hearing earlier today.


JUDGE SCOTT MCAFEE, FULTON COUNTY SUPERIOR COURT: The state has admitted a relationship existed. And so what remains to be proven as the existence and extent of any financial benefit. Again, if there has -- if there even was one. I think it's possible that the facts alleged by the defendant could result in disqualification. I think an evidentiary hearing must occur.


VALENCIA: Another major headline is Fani Willis could have to testify in her own defense. It depends on what other witnesses called, say, first. Ashleigh Merchant, she is the attorney that first made these allegations public. She says she intends to call a star witness named Terrence Bradley, who will prove not only did Willis financially benefited from this alleged relationship, if from this relationship rather, but also that this relationship began before Willis hired Wade to be the special prosecutor in this. One thing that we won't hear in Thursday's hearing, anything to do with Nathan Wade's qualifications. It's clear that McAfee only wants to hear evidence related to this, whether or not she financially profited from this relationship -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Nick.

And, of course, we should say in her filing, she made very clear that the relationship did not start until after she had already hired him. And in fact, she had tried to hire several other people before hiring him and that other relationships started after that. So, obviously, crucial to note that as well was in that filing.

Ty Cobb is with me now, the former Trump White House lawyer.

So, Ty, so much to talk about.

I want to start with the immunity filing from Trump, but coming late today. I know you've had a chance to read through it. Obviously, I know you don't think that he should have immunity, but now you're seeing their full argument that they want to put in front of the Supreme Court. Is it persuasive?

TY COBB, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE LAWYER: Not at all, Erin. Nice to be with you again.

The -- this brief -- this brief, this petition, first day, is pretty weak. It's repetitive of their briefs below which the arguments that they presented were not only soundly rejected, but, you know, eviscerated both in oral argument and in the opinion. I don't think the Supreme Court is going to find those arguments compelling in any way.

The Supreme Court can do a variety of things here. You know, they can grant or -- they can grant or deny the stay. If they'd grant the stay, you know, they will likely expedite consideration of the case. It can turn the -- they can turn the state petition into a cert petition and either grant or deny that. They can do that very quickly.

Or they could grant to stay and wait for Trump to file for search, which I don't think they will do I personally. And I maybe sharp minority. I personally don't see them taking this case although I do think it's possibility they could consider the state petition as a petition for cert and stay the case for 28 or -- I'm sorry, 24 to 48 hours.

And then and then deny cert. I think this case could be over this week.

BURNETT: Which would be obviously hugely significant. And as you point out, denying cert would mean letting the lower court obviously stand.

So I know you have also, Ty, in the classified documents case, you have Trump there today, obviously, there by choice.

[19:10:01] Again, right, these are all by choice. So he chose to be in that room behind closed his doors, with a judge that he happened to a point, Aileen Cannon, and the judge met with Trump's team. He was there and also with Jack Smith's team. Jack Smith's team.

And right now, this seems to be focused and we don't know what happened behind closed doors, right, but on whether the Trump team will have access to the names of people involved in some of these -- some of these documents. What do you think Judge Cannon will do?

COBB: So there are two tracks running in Florida right now. One is on the motion to reconsider her decision to permit Trump and the public access to unredacted documents that would reflect names. But those were interviews of witnesses and other things that would reveal witnesses and not necessarily classified information, then there's the meeting today which was held behind closed doors, which specifically focused on classified documents.

I think that this judge has no intention of allying this case be tried before the election. In any event, I think her ruling last week was clear air as Jack Smith has highlighted in the motion to reconsider. I think if she doesn't reconsider or if she reconsiders and stays the course on that ruling, that the special counsel will mandamus are on the 11th Circuit, will reverse or quickly and perhaps even remove her.

Certainly, if she grants access to classified documents that the government doesn't believe is appropriate, under the Classified Procedures Act, the government has a right to an interlocutory appeal to go straight to the 11th Circuit and seek relief on that, and also likely to seek her removal.

BURNETT: Also be fascinating to see whether -- whether we do get a removal.

All right. Ty, thank you, as always.

COBB: My pleasure. Thank you, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. And next, the breaking news, a top Biden official tonight, warning that Americas credibility is at stake as Trump threatens to abandon America's allies. Former CIA director, the retired Army General David Petraeus, weighs in next.

Plus, Biden today joking about his age and memory.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Folks, I have a problem. I know I don't like it, but I've been around awhile. I do remember that.


BURNETT: And an exclusive dispatch. Witness the horrors of the war in Gaza through a child's eyes, a child whose story we've been following with you.



BURNETT: Tonight, growing condemnation of Donald Trump's comments encouraging Russia to attack any NATO ally, which does not spend enough on its own defense. It is, quote, solely in the interest of Russia, according to the German chancellor Olaf Scholz.

And in the United States, the Joint Chiefs Chairman CQ Brown, trying to reassure allies about America's commitment to them tonight.


CQ BROWN, CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: U.S. credibility is at stake in each of our alliances and U.S. leadership is still needed, wanted and watched.


BURNETT: Well, the reason for all of this is because of something that Trump said which has sent shockwaves around the world after he said this about NATO.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT & 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: One of the president of a big country who stood up, said, well, sir, if we don't pay and we're attacked by Russia, will you protect us? I said, you didn't pay. You're delinquent? He said, yes, let's say that happened.

No, I would not protect you. In fact, I would encourage them to do whatever the hell they want. You got to pay.


BURNETT: All right. Well, obviously, just to be clear what that means, to encourage them to do whatever the hell they would want. I mean, the way it is right now is that NATO considers an attack on any member country to be an attack on all, including the United States. So in giving that anecdote, if it occurred, Trump is either signaling his intent to abandon NATO, a crucial military alliance which is defined and the world after World War II, or he is potentially inviting World War III.

So, OUTFRONT now, the former CIA director and retired Army General David Petraeus.

So, General Petraeus, obviously, whether an incident like this actually occurred as it's -- as he relays, it is highly suspect, but the point that he's saying, if I -- if you don't pay, you're delinquent, I would not protect you. In fact, I would encourage them to do whatever the hell they want. You got to pay.

What's your reaction when you hear that? GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS (RET.), FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: Well, it's

concerning. In fact, of all day long, I've been fielding emails from old colleagues. You know, I actually had assignments where I was dual- headed as a U.S. and NATO officer at the one, three and four-star level. So, a lot of experience with NATO and the number of earlier assignments as well. And everyone is seeking reassurance just as was the chairman of the joint chiefs and I agree very much with him and what he said.

There's a particular irony about this, too. And that is that the Europeans have really been stepping up in recent years, particularly, of course, after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, he had a point when he was in office, as did all of his predecessors.

Again, I heard this from President Obama, adding new NATO summit when I was a NATO commander, I heard it from President Bush. Secretary Gates in his final gathering of the NATO defense ministers, railed on the subject.

So there is absolutely a point here. But there has been actually considerable progress and were talking about the 2 percent of GDP on defense, where were not including, again, what Europe is doing for Ukraine in all the different areas. By the way, they've actually --

BURNETT: Which as you point out exceeds.

PETRAEUS: -- pledged more, even in security assistance than we have now. We've done about $44 billion. That's over a two-year period in which we had annual defense budgets of over $800 billion each year.


PETRAEUS: This is easily affordable, but at the end of the day, this is really about our cold hard national interests. Keep in mind that Russia, first of all, would never stop if they achieved their objectives in Ukraine, Moldova, and Lithuania, a NATO member, would be next.

BURNETT: Just an explanation point on that. You're saying is they would not stop this?

PETRAEUS: No, no. no.

BURNETT: Oh, they be happy if everyone would negotiate and settle for a couple of provinces in the Donbas.

PETRAEUS: This is complete nonsense. He has never stopped.


His goal since taking office increasingly has been to reassemble as much of the former Soviet Union or Russian Empire as he can.

Remember, this is someone who said that the worst geopolitical catastrophe of the previous century, which included two World Wars in the Great Depression was the dissolution of the Soviet Union. And by the way, he holds us are responsible for that.

So his grievances are not even just with his neighbors and former Soviet Union republics. It's with the United States and we should recognize that and recognize that we do not want him to succeed because again, it won't stop. And that's the real question before our Congress right now.

This is not just about Donald Trump and overly populist rhetoric on the campaign trail --


PETRAEUS: -- causing all signs of concerns with our NATO allies and undermining deterrence at the end of the day, therefore, as well, or at least creating some doubts about that.


PETRAEUS: This is about what's going on in Capitol Hill right now where if this $60 billion package together with the additional funding for Israel in for the Indo-Pacific Region, Ukraine is in serious trouble.

BURNETT: And you mentioned Israel. We now understand that about 100 Gazans were killed by Israeli airstrikes is part of that operation to free the two hostages, which happened over the weekend.

This is according to Israeli officials. So they're saying this -- I'm sorry, according to local officials, just to be clear, but they're saying 100 people were killed.

CNN is reporting that President Biden's growing increasingly frustrated with Prime Minister Netanyahu and the possibility of slowing this down of a ceasefire or anything of the sort.

I'm curious. You know, that he's -- he's really frustrated. Apparently the call yesterday, it was 45 minutes any he got off and he was -- feels that he's being ignored -- ignored by Netanyahu.

And I wanted to ask you about this general, because the United States has spent about $300 billion on economic and military aid to Israel. Of course, dwarfing the aid any other country in the region.

Can you explain why Biden does not have more leverage over Prime Minister Netanyahu, why he would feel ignored?

PETRAEUS: Well, I'll leave that to those that study domestic politics in the U.S. But let me actually just comment on the bigger issue here --


PETRAEUS: -- because I actually believe that print Prime Minister Netanyahu is right to want to destroy Hamas. I don't believe if this is an organization with whom you can reconcile or you can leave them still -- BURNETT: Right.

PETRAEUS: -- alive. And keep in mind by the way, destroy doesn't mean every single last leader and member. It just means to render the enemy and capable of accomplishing his mission without reconstitution, keep your eye on that task.

I believe they have to dismantle the political wing again as he believes they need to obviously to get their hostages back. And it was great to see that they did get two of them back here in the last 48 hours. The problem is that how you go about this matters, and we used to have a sign on the wall of what the command centers you had five combat commands and this sign was staring me in the face.

And it asked, will this operation take more bad guys off the street than it creates by its conduct? And you've got to really think that through because --

BURNETT: Well, there isn't that -- this seems to be an obvious answer to that in this case.

PETRAEUS: It may be. Again, I -- unless you really know what's the target, what's the --

BURNETT: I mean, I don't mean in this specific case of two hostages for 100?


BURNETT: I mean, what's happening with the Israeli operation in Gaza.

PETRAEUS: Well, I think the president's reservations and secretary of states and others are founded. There is substance here. It doesn't mean that you shouldn't destroy Hamas, though. And that's where I find the disconnect.

And I'm concerned that even in northern Gaza, where they have clear to considerable portion of that area, you see Hamas trying to reconstitute. Remember, you have to keep them from reconstituting. We learned the hard way after we withdrew our combat forces and the Iraqis, took their eye off the Islamic State, that they can reconstitute. That was the first ever Islamist extremist caliphate.

So how they go about this is critical and they've got to get many of these -- more than a million Palestinian civilians down in southern Gaza back into their homes in northern Gaza, even if heavily damaged and show them that life will be better and secure them from Hamas.

BURNETT: All right. General Petraeus, thank you so much. I appreciate your time.

PETRAEUS: Good to be with you, Erin. Thank you.

BURNETT: All right.

And next, in just hours, polls open in the crucial ways to replace George Santos. This is a crucial race and the question is whether Democrats can win it back. Democratic candidate Tom Suozzi says yes and he will be OUTFRONT next.

And disturbing details emerging tonight about the mother who opened fire at Joel Osteen's megachurch. We're now learning that she had a second weapon.



BURNETT: Tonight, all eyes are on New York, and the most closely watched special election of the year. Polls opening in just hours in the race to replace the disgraced former Congressman George Santos. Democrats think they have a chance to flip the seat as former Congressman Tom Suozzi takes on the Republican newcomer Mazi Pilip.

Now, the race is tight. The results could be a huge indicator of what is to come in November.

Miguel Marquez begins our coverage OUTFRONT.



MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The final push -- Democrat Tom Suozzi going old school, handing out pastries at neighborhood bakery St. Rocco's.

Election eve, how are you feeling?

SUOZZI: I feel fantastic. This has been a great election. We've run a fantastic campaign. It's been the best campaign I've ever been involved in.


MARQUEZ: Republican Mazi Pilip reaching out to her voters through national conservative media.

PILIP: The issues we are seeing right now, the border crisis, unvetted migrants coming here, attacking our police officers on the streets. This is exactly the formula when you are weak on crime.

MARQUEZ: Early voting now done. Nine days of early voting plus absentees. So far, 80,467 voters out of more than a half million active voters in the district have cast their ballots. Over 37,000 registered Democrats, over 25,000 registered Republicans, and nearly 15,000 with no party affiliation.

With turnout expected to be low, and a major snowstorm forecasts for election day, many of the votes in this race may already be cast.


Still, campaign volunteers in the thousands from both parties knocking on doors, targeting likely voters, making sure they get to the polls.

Voters here bombarded with ads from both campaigns. Suozzi making the pitch that he's a trusted centrist and steady hand, after the chaos of George Santos.

Pilip's pitch to voters, she's a new voice who can make a difference. Her opponent, too tied to Joe Biden and the national Democratic establishment.

AD ANNOUNCER: Tom Suozzi voted with Biden every single time. Democrats have far-out spent Republicans, $13.8 million to Republicans $8.1 million. For some voters, it doesn't matter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's part of the problem from Washington. I mean, he's been -- he's been down here and he voted 100 percent with Biden every time.

MARQUEZ: You want to see an outsider. I wanted to see some new. We don't need the same (EXPLETIVE DELETED) has been going on.

Others here see high stakes and an overwhelming desire to return to the political center.

ANDREW WEISER, VOTED FOR DEMOCRAT TOM SUOZZI: I am registered in one direction, but I'm generally an independent at this point.

MARQUEZ: Why so important to come out here and vote today?

WEISER: I was concerned over our last representative. We've had no representative focused on integrity this time around.


MARQUEZ: So what you're looking at here behind us is the vanguard of the Republican Party here in Nassau County. They just had their final rally for Mazi Pilip, before election start -- the election starts tomorrow.

They had luminaries from across the state. The Republicans want to hold this seat. Congress is so narrowly divided. Democrats certainly want to pick that seat up because then they'll really be even more razor thin. That snowstorm tomorrow, Republicans here say, if voters can't get to the polls, they have monster trucks at the ready to pick them and get them to the polls.

BURNETT: All right. That's going to be fascinating to see how this plays out.

All right. Miguel, thank you.

And OUTFRONT now is the Democratic candidate in this race, the former Congressman Tom Suozzi -- obviously, just saw him there in Miguel's reporting, talking to voters in these final hours before election day. And, Tom, I really appreciate your time. I know you are looking right

now to flip this seat back to Democrats. Obviously, the trend and the district that has been the other direction. It's been a bit of an uphill climb.

So do you feel like you can do it right now? And what your polling shows and given the anticipated bad weather.

SUOZZI: Yeah, I feel great. You know, the polling shows us ahead the public polling shows us four points ahead, three points ahead. Our private polling shows the same thing.

The bottom line is, people are sick and tired of Washington, D.C. They're sick and tired of everybody attacking each other and I want to try and bring an antidote to that. I want to try and get it that we focus on delivering for the people, people working together across party lines, Democrats and Republicans trying to find common ground.

We see that happening with this bipartisan bill in the Senate that got killed because Trump dove in and said, we don't want to give Biden a victory, because we're not doing that bipartisan bill in the Senate, we're keeping the border open, we're endangering Israel and we're empowering Putin. That doesn't make any sense.

And as Mitt Romney says, that's appalling. So we've got to get people working together to try and solve the problems we face in our country again.

BURNETT: All right. So in your district, though, the headwinds that I'm referring to. I mean, Joe Biden won your district easily, eight points in 2020, right. I mean, I was -- that was not close. But a recent poll now shows him losing to Trump if the election were held now by five points, right? So that's obviously huge swing.

And in your district specifically, of course, people are watching Nassau County, which flipped to elect a Republican as its top official and the majority leader, Chuck Schumer, lost there to a Republican in 2022, right? So there's some data points that could be quite troubling.

How do you overcome that?

SUOZZI: Well, this is a very tough seat for any Democrat, but the polling shows that I'm still ahead because people know me and I'm not running this race as Democrat. Vote for me. I'm a Democrat versus Republican I'm saying vote for me because I want to change what's going on in Washington, D.C., and get people to work together.

You know, from before, Erin, I was the vice chair of the Problem Solvers Caucus, 25 Democrats, 25 Republicans working together to try and find common ground. My opponent of the other hand is the same old extremist viewpoints, just taking the same talking points straight from the top. She's anti-choice, she's pro-guns. She won't support the bipartisan immigration deal.

I mean, by not supporting that deal, you're keeping the border opening, you bringing more migrants to New York. By not supporting that deal, you're endangering Israel. By not supporting that deal, you're empowering Putin. People are sick of that. People want us working together.

I think that when you look at a race like this, you've got to figure out what's the message that the people want to hear. And fortunately, my message is the same message I've had for 30 years, which is I just want to get stuff done.


I want to help people. I want to fix problems. That's what I'm about.

BURNETT: So, the influx of migrants is obviously huge problem around the country, but specifically in New York and New York City.

New report in "Axios" today details serious infighting and the Biden administration over the crisis and specifically -- I know you've been campaigning, so I wanted to read it to you, specifically, it says it was a meeting on Air Force One on the way to tour the border late last year, President Biden then quote, lit into his team. He demand ended obscure immigration data points and vented when he staff didn't have them handy, continues to say, quote, people in the meeting later told others and frustration that his winding process and irritability were making it more difficult to reach decisions about the border.

But, Tom, you didn't appear with the president was he was in New York last week at his fundraisers. Your party affiliation doesn't appear on lawn signs which are staked across the district.

Do you believe that President Biden is a liability for you?

SOUZZA: I think that President Biden is underwater in my district, but President Trump is also underwater my district. Nobody's popular coming out of Washington, D.C. these days because they're not getting enough stuff done. I said to the president in through the New York Times and to some of his staff back in August of last year, the president should do what Bill Clinton did, take the issue they're attacking you on, make it your own, propose a bipartisan solution. If the Republicans go along with you, we can finally fix a problem we've had for 35 years in our country if they don't go along, you can say, oh, they're just playing politics and of this issue. It didn't go the way I said, but it's the same result.

The president supports the bipartisan deal in the Senate right now, that would close the border, that would hire more immigration judges that would put more border police on the border, that would build a wall that would give money to New York City and New York state that would do all the things we want to do. But it's being stopped by President Trump and the Republicans and Speaker Johnson, just because they want to win political points.

BURNETT: All right. Tom Suozzi, thank you very much. I appreciate your time.

SUOZZI: Thank you so much. All right. And next, first lady, Jill Biden, coming to her husbands

defense what she's telling Democrats tonight that is actually raising a lot of money for the Biden campaign at this hour as these numbers come in.

And new details about the mother who opened fire in Joel Osteen's megachurch police now saying they have uncovered antisemitic writings.



BURNETT: Tonight, President Biden joking about his memory after that scathing special counsel report that labeled him as a, quote, sympathetic, well-meaning elderly man with poor memory.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I've been around, I know I don't look like it, but I've been around awhile. I do remember that.


BURNETT: First Lady Jill Biden making a much more serious argument. She writes, quote: Believe me, like anyone who has lost a child, Beau and his death never leave him. I hope you can imagine how it felt to read that attack. That email from her is now the second most lucrative email since President Biden's campaign launch announcement.

OUTFRONT now, the former Biden White House communications director Kate Bedingfield, and former Illinois Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger.

Congressman, let me just start with you on the point of, obviously, Jill Biden being very serious in her response, but the president himself trying to defuse the situation with humor, right? You may not notice it, but I've been around a long time, at least I remember that.

Is that -- is it a laughing matter? Is that the way to handle this?

ADAM KINZINGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah. I think it is the way to handle it. I think they need to -- look, this isn't something that is going to go out of the minds of voters. It's not like if you talk about something else, people are going to forget that he's advanced age. I think the best thing he can do is talk about it.

You think back to Ronald Reagan in his debate where he said I'm not going to use my opponent's youth and inexperience against him. And that actually was -- it was huge. It was a huge line.

Joe Biden, I think can be pretty funny. And I think it's -- it's, you know, talk about it, be serious, be a serious man which he is. But I think fine times to joke about it. And then obviously pivot back to the fact that his opponent is not just losing his memory, he's also insane.

BURNETT: Well, there you -- manna to Kate here.

Kate, Trump did though, to the point that the congressman just said, make some pretty incredible and confusing gaffes himself, right? This is not just, you know, kind of stumbling around. These are actually things that often for the current president. He got slammed for.

Let me play a few.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT & 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's a man, Viktor Orban, did anyone ever hear of him? He's probably like one of the strongest leaders anywhere in the world and he is the leader of -- right? He's the leader of Turkey.

Nikki Haley -- you know, do you know they destroyed all of the information, all of the evidence, everything, deleted and destroyed all of it, all of it, because of lots of things like Nikki Haley is in charge of security..

Kim Jong Un leads 1.4 billion people and there's no doubt about who the boss is, and they want me to say he's not an intelligent man.


BURNETT: Obviously -- okay, that's not the president of Turkey. That, of course, is Erdogan. Nikki Haley and Nancy Pelosi are different people. And Kim Jong Un is not to be confused with Chinese President Xi.

All right. But this happened again and again. And, Kate, I will be honest, if this happened with President Biden, there's coverage of it. But there isn't so much with Trump. I put these together for a reason. What does it say about Trump? Does it make a difference?

KATE BEDINGFIELD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, this, Erin, I think this is exactly why age is not actually going to be the defining issue in this race? Is it going to be a factor? Yes, of course. We know that. We see it in the polling.

Obviously, both candidates are on the older end of the spectrum. It's going to be a piece of the discussion, but it is not actually going to be the defining issue in the race, in the way that I think that a lot of the press is trying to make it out to be right now.

And I think what you have to do is take a step back and look at the substance of what Trump and Biden are saying when they're out in the campaign trail.

I mean, you had Trump this weekend saying that if he were president and NATO allies weren't paying, he would allow Russia to do whatever the hell they want to come in, start World War III.


He essentially said -- I'm not going to stand up to our adversaries when I'm president. That's an incredibly serious and frightening thing. That's also the kind of chaotic leadership. If you want to call it leadership, that people are rejected about Donald Trump in 2020.

So, you know, this notion of who's going to recall a specific name in the context of the conversation, that's not the defining thing. It's what is the -- what is the conversation they're saying. What is the actual content around what they're saying.

BURNETT: And totally get it, Kate, and I totally understand, Congressman, how many want that to be the conversation and sometimes it is, but it does seem with President Biden and certainly from the polling, while there's concern about both being older, it is focused on him. It absolutely is focused on him.

And what can Democrats do, Congressman, to turn that around, where every conversation with him isn't somehow get into that space?

KINZINGER: I mean, look, it is about him. He's the president right now. He's the one making the decisions and, you know, fair or unfair. And I think it's unfair, obviously, in comparison to Donald Trump, but Donald Trump appears very energetic. And frankly, as we've seen with his base, he can literally change what he believes in a rally from one day to the next, and it doesn't matter because what they want to do is just belong to this like MAGA thing.

So what can Democrats do? I think you've got to get Joe Biden out there. He doesn't have to run a marathon, but I think get out there, he should have done the Super Bowl interview. I don't understand that.

You know, go out, talk to the media, do some rallies. He can be energetic. Obviously, the State of the Union is coming up. Every time he's done the State of the Union, he's been pretty aggressive in pretty good. So that's the kind of thing. I think they need to do over the next few months.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you both very much. I appreciate it.

And next, alarming details tonight emerging about a mother who walked in with her son and open fire at Joel Osteen's megachurch. So what did she have to do with the church? We have some new details here right now.

And the war in Gaza through a child's eyes tonight. In his own words, you are going to hear from the 10-year-old child of our producer Ibrahim Dahman. His story is one that we have been following with you, OUTFRONT.



BURNETT: Tonight, we're learning more about the shooting at Joe Osteen's megachurch near Houston. The shooter identified as 36 year- old Genesse Moreno. She entered the church with an AR-15 purchased legally, and with her seven-year-old son in tow. Shooters now dead after exchanging gunfire with two off-duty police officers and her son tragically is in critical condition.

Nick Watt is OUTFRONT with new details.


NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Moments before a Spanish language service was set to start, those are gunshots.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You want I believe that it's something different. And so, you hear the second shots and then you see the fear in people's eyes is when you realize that there's an active shooter.

WATT: A woman wearing a trench coat and a backpack had walked into celebrity Pastor Joel Osteen's megachurch with her seven-year-old son and an AR-15 in rifle and opened fire.

CHRISTOPHER HASSIG, SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT, HOUSTON POLICE DEPARTMENT: There's a few minute gone battle for lack of a better term.

WATT: A gun battle with to off duty law enforcement officers working security at the church.

KEVIN LILLY, CHAIRMAN, TEXAS ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE COMMISSION: These two officers held their ground. They held their ground in the face of rifle fire at point-blank range.

WATT: Police identified the shooter as 36 year-old Genesse Moreno. They say she had a second weapon in her backpack. She said she had a bomb.

HASSIG: She eventually falls to the ground. The seven-year-old child falls to the ground as well from gunfire. One gunshot wound to the head.

HOUSTON PD DISPATCH: Shooting at Lakewood, two people down, we need ambulance. We need this ambulance for the child.

CHIEF TROY FINNER, HOUSTON POLICE DEPARTMENT: What we need to do for him is pray. He's still in critical condition fighting for his life.

JOEL OSTEEN, CELEBRITY PASTOR: I want to thank all these gentlemen because, you know, I can only imagine if it would have been during the 11:00 service.

WATT: That's when Pastor Osteen was preaching.

OSTEEN: God bless you. It's great to be with you today.

WATT: Thousands have gathered to hear this prominent pastor, televangelist, businessmen and author who preaches that wealth is a sign of divine favor.

OSTEEN: God wants you to not only have all your needs supplied but plenty leftover, so you can be a blessing to others.

WATT: Officials say the shooter had a history of mental health issues. Apparently, she bought the rifle in December legally.

HASSIG: There was a sticker on the butt stock of the rifle that stated Palestine. A sticker simply stated Palestine.

WATT: Investigators say they have found antisemitic writings and believed there was some kind of dispute involving her ex-husband's family, some of whom are Jewish.

Why did she targeted this Christian megachurch remains unclear.


WATT (on camera): So investigators are still trying to piece together the life of this shooter -- divorce, custody battle, a fairly lengthy, but fairly minor criminal history, possession of an illegal weapon, possession of marijuana, forgery, assault, and also there is one known connection to the church. Back in 2020, the shooter posted on social media a picture of a letter from the Lakewood Church thanking her for a donation -- Erin.

BURNETT: Oh, its just so tragic for that child.

All right. Thank you so much, Nick.

And next, an exclusive dispatch now giving us a glimpse of the war in Gaza through a child's eyes.



BURNETT: Tonight, OUTFRONT, seeing the horrors of the Israel-Hamas war through a child's eyes, a child whose story that you know well, you've seen on this show. You may remember Ibrahim Dahman, our CNN journalist who shared his exclusive dispatches from Gaza and then his journey out of Gaza with his wife and their young sons.

Well, tonight, we're hearing from his 10-year-old son Zaid who you see on your screen and the blue shirt in his own words.


ZAID DAHMAN, 10-YEAR-OLD: My name is Zaid. I am 10 years old. I am from Gaza. It's where I was born. I have witnessed a war or two. I have seen a lot. I got used to it. The sound of the missiles. I got used to the land shaking when a missile hits it. I know what to do and I used to go to my grandma's room because it had no windows and I used to sleep there.

One time they bombed something near the Red Crescent building. It was so close and the sound was very loud. It was right behind us. I keep thinking about it all night long, how loud the sound was and how much I cried. The day came for us to leave Gaza. I was so scared in the car. I was yelling because I saw the missiles next to me and the smoke. Now we live in Egypt. I can't sleep at night. I sit and think about my

grandmother, and how they are living. I feel like I'm a camera observing their lives, you know?


BURNETT: You know, he asks and we hope that all of us can just hear his words.

Thanks so much for joining us.

"AC360" starts now.