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Erin Burnett Outfront

Trump Says He'll Testify In Hush Money Trial He Call A "Scam"; Johnson & Trump; GOP Flip-Flops On Abortion; Sources: U.S. Observes Iran Moving Military Assets As Biden Expects Iran Will Attack Israel "Sooner Than Later". Aired 7-8p ET

Aired April 12, 2024 - 19:00   ET




Breaking news, Trump announcing he will testify at his first criminal trial which begins on Monday. This as he threatens, quote, all hell will break loose on that day.

Plus, Mike Johnson showing up in Mar-a-Lago next to Trump, warning about election fraud in 2024. OUTFRONT to fact check, the man who the Trump campaign hired to find fraud in 2020, but he debunked every claim.

And Kamala Harris telling Trump to stop the gaslighting when it comes to abortion. This as our KFILE unveils the dramatic about-face GOP candidates are taking on this issue.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening. I'm Jim Sciutto, in for Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, breaking news, Trump to testify. The former president announcing tonight that he will take the stand in his first criminal trial, which begins on Monday.


REPORTER: Mr. President, do you plan to testify in your trial in New York?

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT & 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yeah. I would testify, absolutely. It's a scam.

REPORTER: Is it risky for you to testify?

TRUMP: I'll testify. I tell the truth. I mean, all I can do is tell the truth.


SCIUTTO: But the truth tonight is as of tonight, there are no more delays for Trump. The judge in the New York hush money trial, just moments ago, rejected one of Trump's final requests -- request to delay the trial. This time, Trump claiming the publicity surrounding the trial makes it impossible to begin on time.

Judge Juan Marshawn ruling: The situation defendant finds himself in now is not new to him and at least in part of his own doing.

This as Trump and his team are laser-focused on getting just one juror to be on his side. Remember, it needs a unanimous decision or Trump is acquitted.


TRUMP: You know, jury selection is largely luck. It depends who you get.


SCIUTTO: And an ominous warning tonight from Trump on his website reading: 72 hours until all hell breaks loose. Those words you see in all capital letters. Trump, adding. They want me in prison.

Paula Reid is OUTFRONT live in Washington.

Paula, Trump, he will be in that courtroom on Monday with the potential jurors. And tonight, he says he could testify.

PAULA REID, CNN CHIEF LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, he says he could testify, but it remains to be seen if that actually becomes a reality. Sources close to his legal team tell me, yes, that is something there are still exploring. But first of all, they have to seat this jury. And we expect that this will take at least a week, but in talking to sources on both sides of this case, Jim, it's really unclear how far into April or potentially made this process will go.

And here's how this is going to work: each day, they'll have a pool of approximately 100 jurors that they will whittle down each day until they can seat 12 jurors and six alternates.

Now, going into this process, the Trump team feels that they're already at a disadvantage because of the makeup of the Manhattan jury pool where they argue that there is a strong anti-Trump bias. But, Jim, as you know, there is a system in place, this system of jury selection is meant to weed out bias jurors with the Trump team is not convinced that that is going to render a fair jury.

Now, here's what they're going to do. If they have 100 people, they're going to try to strike people for cause, just allow people to raise their and if they have other or if they don't speak or understand English sufficiently or if they have such a blinding bias against the former president that they couldn't be impartial.

Now, tonight, the Trump team is asking the judge to separate out those two groups, people who cannot do this because they are so biased, or people who have other logistical or other concerns. Now, in a week of a lot of failed motions from the Trump team, this is a legitimate requests and its one where they could be successful, Jim. They want to be able to say potentially, hey, this is how many people we lost because of bias. They're trying to preserve issues on appeal and I think were going to see that throughout the process, they're going to be raising issues and making motions even if they know they won't be successful in the moment because they're trying to preserve their options for appeal.

Now, after they get rid of those folks for cause, then they will randomly select a group of about 18 people. Those folks will face questions from defense attorneys, prosecutors, and the judge. Then the two sides can use each of their ten preemptive strikes.

Now, again, unclear how long this is going to take and this is the system that is designed to seat a fair jury for most defendants.


But, of course, you're not dealing with just any defendant.

SCIUTTO: Had a defendants certainly schooled in the art of delaying the process.

Paula Reid, thanks so much.

OUTFRONT now, Robert Hirschhorn, jury and trial consultant, and Ankush Khardori, he's a former federal prosecutor.

Ankush, if I could begin with you. Trump says tonight that he does plan to testify in this case. Of course, whether he shows up, we'll see. Is that a good idea?

ANKUSH KHARDORI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: It's generally not a good idea for dependents to testify in their own defense and criminal cases. Trump has done this in civil cases, of course, very recently, including the New York attorney generals civil business fraud trial, Eugene Carroll's second trial, and those did not go well for him. In fact, I think those efforts were counterproductive and probably made matters worse in front of the jury in the A.G.'s case and, excuse me, E. Jean Carroll case, and the judge in the A.G.'s case.

So it's not a good idea, but maybe he'll do it.

SCIUTTO: It's such a great point that based on that experience, which we saw play out just very recently.

Robert, how could Trump's testimony in your view, impact the jury?


Well, look if he's really getting buried by the evidence in the case, he may not have a choice personally. I don't think he ever served himself well by testifying. He testified in the E. Jean Carroll, the jury lit him up for a huge verdict. And then in the A.G.'s case, remember, one of the complaints he made is all I should have had a jury.

Now that he does have jury, now that the king of continuance is finally going to have to face a jury, now he saying that they can't be fair. You got to -- you know, he's going to have his work cut out for him, but, Jim, always got to do is find one. We all got to remember that. If you can get one juror that doesn't vote for guilty, then he's won.

SCIUTTO: Ankush, Trump failed tonight and yet another attempt to delay the trial. In this case over pretrial publicity, but you did here Paula's reporting there, more challenges from the president's legal team expected next week, some of that, as she explained, setting up for a possible appeal.

But I wonder, is there anything you can think of that Trump's team could do now to stop this case for moving forward even after it begins on Monday?

KHARDORI: Nothing that would work or nothing that should work. This trial should proceed on Monday and go forward. And, of course, Trump and his lawyers often try in, the unusual things, including all of the efforts this week to try to prevent this trough and going forward, several of them were highly unusual and new to me. They all flopped.

So it wouldn't surprise me if he tries more of that, him and his lawyers, maybe I'm going to the Supreme Court after the trial has begun. I wouldn't expect that to work but I also wouldn't be surprised if they keep doing it.

SCIUTTO: Robert, so Monday, Trump is going to be face-to-face with these potential general jurors in that courtroom. He'll be there for jury selection. I wonder, how could that impact what the potential jurors say, how they behave? I wonder if you've seen a parallel to this that might give us a sense of that.

HIRSCHHORN: Yeah. Well, he's the most famous person in the world. And when you've come face-to-face with somebody that's got that kind of charisma, that kind of power, it tends to be intimidating, it tends to be shocking, it tends to be exciting.

But here's the thing, Jim, as long as the judge says to the jurors, look, we don't want you to tell us what you think we want to hear. Just tell us how you honestly think and feel about this case, this defendant, that's the best chance at this judge is going to have for getting a fair jury, but make no mistake about it. He's going to lose the vast majority of the jurors either four hardship trial, they just can't serve that long, or because they've already formed an opinion about president or former president Trump, or the case.

So he's going to go through a bunch of jurors. We'll know by the end of Monday what the page looks like and how long it'll take to pick this jury.

SCIUTTO: That's a great point. We'll be watching for that first day.

Robert, Ankush, thanks so much to both of you.

And OUTFRONT now, former Republican Congressman Ken Buck of Colorado. He just retired from Congress before his term was over, saying the dysfunction was worse than he ever saw more than nine years in Washington.

Congressman, thanks so much for taking the time this evening.

FORMER REP. KEN BUCK (R-CO): Thanks for -- appreciate it.

SCIUTTO: I wonder what your view is of the politics of this first criminal trial, the hush money trial. There are some who say that, well, he will be seen as a victim of all this. But I wonder how politically damaging you think this could be? Because there will be some damaging evidence so before in that courtroom.

BUCK: There will be damaging evidence, you know, a lot of people on the right of made up their mind. They're going to support them. A lot of people on the left have made up their mind, they won't support him.

The key to me is the essence of this case has to do with Donald Trump having an extramarital affair, paying a woman to have that affair and then paying that woman to not talk about the affair during the campaign for president in 2016.


That will turn off a lot of Republican evangelical, Christian voters. And I think they will be hard pressed to support this president, regardless of whether they get -- whether he is convicted or not convicted.

SCIUTTO: It's important to remind folks of the essence of this case where it began, as you did there.

Speaker Johnson, as you know, he just stood next to Trump at Mar-a- Lago and they spoke about, quote/unquote, election integrity. They did it amid an ongoing threat from Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene to oust Johnson from office. Trump just asked who he supports in this feud. I want to play his answer and get your thoughts.


TRUMP: It's not -- not an easy situation for any speaker. I think he's doing a very good job. He's doing about as good as you're going to do and I'm sure that Marjorie understands that. She's a very good friend of mine and I know she has a lot of respect for the speaker.

I stand with the speaker. We've had a very good relationship.


SCIUTTO: Greene certainly not letting up, saying she still doesn't support Johnson and certainly the former president may calculate that having another feud just doesn't support his own reelection chances are election chances in the fall.

Do you think Democrats may have to jump in to save the Republican speaker?

BUCK: Well, I think President Trump gave Speaker Johnson about as good a, an endorsement as President Trump could possibly give. And I think the message was directed at Marjorie Taylor Greene and I think she got the message.

If she does file this motion to vacate, I do think that there will be four, five, 10 Republicans who will vote to vacate the speaker. The only way the speaker keeps his job in that situation is if he gets Democrat votes. He may very well get those votes because he's putting a Ukraine bill on the floor, funding bill on the floor and that is something that the Democrats want and have signed a discharge petition for. He has passed bipartisan spending legislation.

So I think there's a good chance that he will get Democratic votes and survive this motion to vacate.

SCIUTTO: And many Republican lawmakers want that Ukraine aid bill to get a vote on the floor, too.

Earlier today, Greene offered Trump the following advice ahead of his meeting with Johnson. Have a listen to that.


REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): He doesn't need to be worrying about what mike Johnsons trying to talk him into and Mike Johnson's trying to saddle up to him because he's scared of a motion to vacate. Mike Johnson needs to do his job and leave President Trump alone and let him win this election.


SCIUTTO: So she's mad at Johnson as she referenced there, because she believes he might support more Ukraine aid, which we should note a large majority of House members do support. Trump just said he is at least looking at it, may consider it if it's in the form of a loan. Given that, you -- do you think Greene, who you nickname Moscow Marjorie, which is catching on, by the way, do you think she could change her tune, support more aid, but more importantly, that Congress will, that'll get a vote on this and get this aid to Ukraine as it needs it?

BUCK: If this bill goes to the floor, it absolutely passes. I think Marjorie Taylor Greene should follow her own advice. She has never been near President Trump where she hasn't taken an opportunity to have a photo-op. And I believe that Mike Johnson as speaker of the United States House of Representatives has every right to visit with the presidential nominee from his party and come to some agreement.

So that -- this president is running on the same platform that the Republicans in the House are willing to pass.

SCIUTTO: Congressman Ken Buck, appreciate you joining us tonight.

BUCK: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: And OUTFRONT next, Trump and House Speaker Mike Johnson, pushing new and baseless conspiracy theories tonight about the 2024 election before a single vote has even been cast. We're going to fact check him line by line. It's important.

Plus, Vice President Kamala Harris just eviscerating Trump, accusing him of gaslighting the American public when it comes to abortion as our KFILE is uncovering a growing number of Republicans who are now frantically flip-flopping on that very issue.

And breaking news, the U.S. is now moving assets into the Middle East, additional ones as President Biden warns tonight, he expects Iran to strike Israel and soon.



SCIUTTO: Breaking news with Donald Trump by his side, embattled House Speaker Mike Johnson pushing a ban on non-U.S. citizens voting in federal elections. This despite a law stating exactly that already long on the books. Johnson also claimed without evidence that Democrats are allowing migrants to cross the border to turn them into Democratic voters.


REP. MIKE JOHNSON (R-LA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: The House Republicans are introducing a bill that will require proof of citizenship to vote. It seems like common sense. I'm sure all of us would agree. We only want U.S. citizens to vote in U.S. elections, but there are some Democrats who don't want to do that.

We believe that one of their designs, one of the reasons for this open border which everybody asked all around the country, why would they do this? Why would they allow this chaos? Why the violence? Because they want to turn these people into voters.


SCIUTTO: Not really evidence to that. Johnson rushed down to Mar-a- Lago for this so-called election integrity press conference with Trump, as he's fighting simply to keep the speaker's job.

OUTFRONT now, Ken Block. He was hired by the Trump campaign to investigate election fraud claims in 2020 and debunked each claim put in front of him. He's also the author of the new book "Disproven".

Also with me, Stephen Richer, he is the Maricopa County recorder in Arizona, one of the Republicans who fought back against Trump's efforts to overturn the election.

Thanks to both of you for joining tonight and thanks for your candor throughout all this.


KEN BLOCK, AUTHOR, "DISPROVEN": Thanks for having me. I appreciate it. SCIUTTO: Stephen, first to you. You oversee the largest county in Arizona. That county, that state could very well decide who wins and loses the election.

So I wonder what you say to the claims you just heard there.

RICHER: Well, I agree as a matter of public policy and Arizonans agree, and I think probably most Americans agree that only United States citizens should be voting in elections, and that we should show documented proof of citizenship.

But in Arizona, we're already 99 percent of the way there. We require proof of citizenship to be able to vote a full ballot. We keep track of those who don't provide proof of citizenship. And I think the problem with this is the implication that it had any impact on a path selection or that if not passed, it would have an implication for a future election. And there's just no data or evidence to support that.

SCIUTTO: Ken, to that point, Johnson warned that the number of non- citizens voting could very well impact the election results in November, I want to play that and then get to some facts.


JOHNSON: There's so many millions of illegals in the country, that if only one out of 100 voted, they would cast potentially hundreds of thousands of votes in the election. That could turn an election.

This -- this could be a tight election and in our congressional races around the country. It could, if there are enough votes, affect the presidential election. So that's why House Republicans are going to act.


SCIUTTO: I mean, the fact is these things have been investigated over many, many years, single-digit cases of this over many millions of votes. You investigated non-citizens voting in 2020 for the Trump campaign. In your work, did you find any evidence of large numbers of non-citizens voting in the 2020 election?

BLOCK: We didn't. And, in Arizona, I was provided a list of 2,500 voters who somebody somewhere suspected were noncitizens. And I was asked to determine if I could but whether they were citizens are not. It's extremely difficult to do.

In fact, it's impossible to do in a way that would provide evidence that was stand up in court, which makes all of these claims so remarkable to me because like so many claims of voter fraud that I did debunk, there was no foundation --- there's no foundation of fact behind them. They were more for someone's fit -- someone suspected that something was happened, would happen, but they didn't have any direct proof that something bad was actually happening.

SCIUTTO: Yeah, my four years later, we're still talking about it.

Stephen, here's some of what Donald Trump said just before Johnson spoke.


TRUMP: We have an election problem and that's really what we're here to talk about today. We want to also mention election interference, and we want to talk about election integrity.


SCIUTTO: The fact as, again, as we keep saying, those claims, they've been debunked for years. How worried are you that Trump is already planting the seeds to say that there was fraud in the 2024 election, much as he did in 2020 and before a single ballot has even been cast?

RICHER: Yeah, it's disappointing. I would say let's have the election first and then you might surprise yourself and see how things go.

But to the point of Arizona again, we do require documented proof of citizenship for a full ballot and over 99 percent of Arizonans have done that and, that's true of many other states. And also, we have to remember what the original law is, the original policy, it is against the law in every single state in the country to vote in the federal election if you are not a United States citizen. That seems like a poor cost-benefit analysis to be an additional one vote in over 3 million votes cast in the Arizona presidential election and run the risk of a felony that would then lead to deportation? I'm not seeing that.

SCIUTTO: Yeah. Listen, it's such a good point to make.

Ken, our Marshall Cohen reported today that Johnson was one of Trump's biggest fighters and trying to overturn the election in the days back in 2020. Here, just a few examples of the basics basis claims that he pushed at the time.


JOHNSON: But I think all of us know intuitively that they were -- there was a lot of amiss about this election day.


The allegations about these voting machines, some of them being rigged with this software by Dominion. Look, there's a lot of merit to that. They know that in Georgia, it really was rigged. I'm saying that this system is set up for massive fraud and error and irregularity.


SCIUTTO: Just not true, according to record, by the way, Dominion had to pay. There were a lot of money had to be paid to Dominion for spreading false claims like that.

He went on to say, in that same interview that the problem with every election fraud case is that they are notoriously difficult to prove. So, to you as someone who debunked each and every election in fraud claim made by the Trump campaign and brought to you, what do you say to Speaker Johnson now?

BLOCK: Yeah, I'm somebody who has delivered actual hard evidence of some voter fraud. I anticipated some deceased votes that were cast before they were cast. Ive identified fight confirmed duplicate voters where individuals have voted in two different states. I've delivered evidence that stands up in court.

Speaker Johnson is an attorney and he should know better. He should understand that hearsay evidence, this is what he's talking about. Does not stand up in court and it should not ever rise the level that it is right now where we're impugning our election integrity and our infrastructure based on hearsay, which is what he's doing.

SCIUTTO: Now, listen, by the way, that's what happened. Trump made a lot of claims back in 2020. And when those claims went to court, they didn't stand up in court.

To both of you, gentlemen, you did the work. You spoke the truth. Thanks so much for joining us tonight

RICHER: Thank you very much.

BLOCK: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: OUTFRONT next, Trump's pivot on abortion is creating major headaches for Republicans who once said this:


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For me, there's no compromise on abortion.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would move to have a national ban on abortion.


SCIUTTO: But as our KFILE has uncovered, that is not what they are saying now, quite the opposite.

Plus, I'm going to speak to a Democratic strategist who predicted all the talking heads were wrong about a quote red wave in 2022, he was right. Now, he is confident that Biden is going to win.



SCIUTTO: Tonight. Enough with the gaslighting, those are the words of Vice President Kamala Harris just moments ago, eviscerating former President Donald Trump at a rally in Arizona.


KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now, Trump wants us to believe he will not sign a national ban. Enough with the gaslighting, enough with the gaslighting.


SCIUTTO: This as Trump himself tonight refused to answer if he is pro-choice or pro-life.


REPORTER: You have both considered yourself pro-choice and pro-life. Which one is it?

TRUMP: Well, you know exactly which one it is.


SCIUTTO: Well, Trump has switched his position on this 15 times.

CNN's KFILE finding example after example of Republicans following Trumps lead downplaying past anti-abortion stances or switching them completely.

OUTFRONT now, Andrew Kaczynski, senior editor of CNN's KFILE.

So, Andrew, let's begin with a couple of examples of well-known names running for statewide office.

ANDREW KACZYNSKI, CNN KFILE SENIOR EDITOR: Yes. We examine more of the a dozen competitive races around the country at various levels. House, Senate, governor, and what we found repeatedly was Republicans shifting their positions or downplaying them. In some cases, these changes have been settled. But in other cases, they've been rather overt with candidates reversing course on supporting outright abortion bans, or even denying they ever opposed it.

I now want to walk our viewers through some of them. Lets take Kari Lake. She is running for Senate in Arizona. Now the Arizona Supreme Court this week ruled that an 1864 law banning nearly all abortions in the state must be upheld.

But back when Lake ran a failed bid for governor in 2020, listen to what she said about the law.


KARI LAKE (R), THEN-ARIZONA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: I'm incredibly thrilled that we are going to have a great law that's already on the books. I believe it's ARS 13-3603. So it will prohibit abortion in Arizona except to save the life of a mother. And I think were going to be setting the -- paving the way and setting course for other states to follow.


KACZYNSKI: So, now, Lake says she opposes that near-total ban on abortion. Here's what her campaign told us saying that Kari is personally pro-life. Her position on a federal ban is clear. She opposes it. Just like President Trump, Kari is opposed to the territorial law and is calling on the state legislature to fix the issue.

Her focus is on saving babies and helping women through protecting IVF, baby bonuses, child tax credits, and paid family leave.

So she now says she opposes that territorial ban, even though she previously did say she supported that she even knew the state law's exact statue. So that is just a complete 180 on the issue.

Now, there's also Mark Robinson. He's a lieutenant governor in North Carolina and he's now running to be governor.

Now, he repeatedly backed a ban on abortion without exceptions for rape or incest before the Dobbs decision, and once regularly labeled abortion as a murder and genocide, and even compared the anti-abortion movement to the abolitionist movement to end slavery.

Listen to Robinson at one event in July 2020.


MARK ROBINSON (R), CANDIDATE FOR NORTH CAROLINA LT. GOVERNOR: For me, there's no compromise on abortion it makes no difference to me why or how that child ended up in that wound.


KACZYNSKI: Flash forward to today, Jim, and Robinson has said he avoids using what he calls, quote, the a word entirely and he denies his past support for bans without exceptions with his campaign telling CNN, quote, as governor, he would sign a heartbeat bill with exceptions for rape, incest, and when the life of the mother is in danger.

SCIUTTO: Yeah. Well, those previous answers are on tape.

You also looked at congressional races and found this is happening all over the country.

KACZYNSKI: Jim, that's right. And there might not be a clear example in all of the ones we looked through, then Joe Kent. He is the Republican running for Congress in Washington in a swing state -- swing seat.

Look at what he said in July 2022, he said, I would move to have a national ban on abortions. Now, look at this comment he made on Twitter in January. He said post-Dobbs decision. It's a state issue. I don't support a national ban on abortion.

So, just -- he said one thing and he said the complete opposite and something that's really interesting about all this, Jim, is we're seeing a lot of these candidates and as you saw Kent right there as a great example, who are citing state laws in trying to get around discuss -- discussing this issue.

But in theory, they are getting elected to positions where they could change the law. Trump has said he won't sign a national abortion ban, but he previously signed onto a 20-week ban at the federal level. So it's really going to be up to voters now to see whether they want to take candidates at their words on these changes.

SCIUTTO: Yeah. And you put the record before them. Andrew Kaczynski, thanks so much.

OUTFRONT now, Democratic strategist Simon Rosenberg. He's been involved in presidential campaigns for the last 36 years and confidently predicts that President Biden will beat Donald Trump in 2024. He has gone against conventional wisdom before. He was right, we should note, predicting Republicans would not get that much talked about red wave in 2022. Of course, they did not.

Simon, thanks so much for joining tonight.


SCIUTTO: So, as you know, Vice President Harris in Arizona just hammering Republicans on that anti-abortion law there, 160-year-old anti-abortion law.


SCIUTTO: And as we just heard in that KFILE report, Republicans are now scrambling to change their positions that they clearly see of vulnerability. Here, is this going to be the issue Democrats win on in your view?

ROSENBERG: Listen, I think the election change this week. I think it's been a very, very bad week for the Republican Party because it's a confirmation that MAGA -- the threat that MAGA poses to fundamental rights and liberties in the United States is ongoing. It's not something that happened before. It's growing and it's becoming even more dangerous.

I mean, millions of women in Arizona and Florida in the next few weeks are going to lose fundamental rights and liberties that women have had here in the United States for over 50 years, and is common throughout the modern world. And so, if you were scared of MAGA in 2018, in 2020, in 2022 and 2023, when Democrats won all these elections all across the country, MAGA 2024 is even more dangerous and scary iteration of MAGA.

And so I think it's going to be -- this is going to reinforce I think the extremism of the Republican Party in a way that's going to be very damaging to them in this election.

SCIUTTO: Yeah. I suppose you could look at some of those reversals from Republicans it was a sign that they see that, as well.

You say President Biden is being underestimated, right now and you point to some new poll numbers, including this one right here. The Ipsos/Reuters poll has Biden leaving Trump 41-37 percent.


SCIUTTO: Still within the margin of error. But you're confident things are going to swing. Biden's way, tell us why.

ROSENBERG: Yeah. So my basic take on the election as that Joe Biden is a good president. The country is better off. He's got a very strong case for reelection.

The Democratic Party is strong unified, raising tons of money, winning elections all across the country. And the Republicans have Trump, who I think is the ugliest political figure that we've seen in modern times. And I think that everything that we need to do to win is within the normal bounds of what a political party has to be able to do in a campaign.

I think making Trump look like a serious candidate for president again, is going to be very difficult. I think he's far more degraded than he was. I think his performance on the stump is far weaker than it was in 2020. He's got all the baggage from the trials and all the crimes that he committed in recent years and his own agenda is far more extreme.

I want to say one thing about abortion here and what the Republicans are trying to do by claiming that they're going to let it go back to the states. When you say that, then you're embracing Idaho's law which is -- has no exceptions for rape or incest or anything else.


You're embracing six-week abortion bans. You're embracing and validating the most extreme abortion positions in the country. They think that's a safe haven for them.

It's actually an endorsement of the most extreme abortion restrictions in the country. And so I do think that the Republicans now, my own view, is that what's happening in the polling, and I think any of us, including those of us, those in the campaign, believed that what would happen in the election is that as the general election began and it became clear that it was Biden versus Trump, and the Biden campaign turned on, that Biden would start to gain in the polls.

And that's what you're seeing right now. We've got a long way to go, but I would much rather be us than them seven months out.

SCIUTTO: Simon Rosenberg, thanks so much.

ROSENBERG: Thank you, Jim

SCIUTTO: OUTFRONT next, a CNN exclusive. We travel to the southern border with Mexican authorities who tonight are growing impatient with U.S. officials.

Plus, breaking news. The U.S. on high alert as President Biden says, he now expects Iran to strike Israel and soon. So what might such an attack look like?


[19:45:29] SCIUTTO: Tonight as pressure mounts for President Biden to take action at the southern border, former President Trump outlandishly claims that millions of migrants are entering the country from prisons.


TRUMP: They come from jails and prisons. They come from mental institutions and insane asylums. They've taken the gang members, the leaders, and the members and they've deposited them very nicely into the United States of America.


SCIUTTO: Similar to what he said back in 2016, frankly, there is zero evidence to support those claims, we should note.

It comes as our David Culver got unprecedented access to Mexican officials who are they say growing impatient with their U.S. counterparts.

David Culver is OUTFRONT.


DAVID CULVER, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You can see behind me here, there's a huge gap in the wall in this is where Mexican officials tell us that a lot of the smugglers are either directing or bringing some of the migrants to so that they can easily cross.

(voice-over): Which makes these rugged back wrote that preferred and profitable routes for cartel-backed migrant smugglers.

We're about an hour east of Tijuana, driving with Mexican migration officials along the U.S.-Mexico border, but we detour after learning a group of migrants has been rescued, as officials hear say.

We pull up and find about a dozen folks who described to me there were attempts to claim asylum in the U.S.

And he said he tried to cross, but Mexican officials stopped him from being able to go.

That's because Mexico is now stepping up its efforts to stop migrants from crossing illegally into the U.S.

Following requests from the Biden administration, Mexico is now pouring resources like the national guard and Mexican army in to help patrol and detain migrants like these, eventually transporting them to southern Mexico.

DAVID PEREZ TEJADA, HEAD OF THE MIGRATION NATIONAL INSTITUTE: Where we separate them by nationalities and then from them, we determined the deportation process.

CULVER: What's happening here goes beyond stepped up patrols. In recent months, Mexican officials have built base camps, deploying troops to some of the most popular illegal crossings sites.

The smugglers van, are there several of these vehicles just left abandoned and --

UINDENTIFIED MALE: Like seven vehicles in total --

CULVER: In this area.


CULVER: As we pull up, we realize we've been here before.

We've seen so many people cross through this property this right here.

At this spot late last year, we met U.S. residents fed up with migrants coming through their land.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They can come to the front door.

SCIUTTO: Our cameras captured hundreds each day and night.

That has stopped in recent weeks, and it stopped primarily because of what we're seeing on the Mexico side of things. This is a remote base on the border. You've got Mexican immigration officials. You've got national guard and you've got Mexican army who are here 24/7.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have our fridge, microwave, coffee --

CULVER: You have moved resources to live 24/7 on the border. Why is this important for Mexico to be doing that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want to prevent migrants to get in touch with the criminal groups.

CULVER: The number of migrant encounters reported by U.S. Border Patrol appears to reflect the impact of Mexico's actions, dropping 42 percent from December to January alone, and seeming this stay low.

But officials warn cartels and their smugglers frequently adjust their tactics and keep close watch.

They're watching us right now.

TEJADA: They see when we are patrolling and when we leave a spot.

CULVER: It's a crisis that has also sparked uneasiness for Mexican residents.

It's gotten so frustrating for these folks in particular that the community got together, wrote a letter to their governor petitioning for more resources. And for that reason that you have where you can see right here -- members of the Mexican national guard for now patrolling neighborhoods like this one to keep migrants from coming through.

Authorities here urge migrants to use the U.S.'s CBP One app rather than to risk crossing with smugglers.

Mexican officials at this location even help pre-screen up to 500 migrants daily for the U.S. asylum interview process.

So he's in communication with U.S. officials, on the other side, and they're sending documents back and forth to make sure that they have the right information.


While this is a more orderly way to claim asylum, it can take awhile to get an appointment.

Martha Archila says she's waited five months for this day.


So I asked why they didn't go through the smuggling route, which so many choose to do, and she said that for one, it costs an extreme amount of money and the other aspect remember her was they wanted to be able to enter legally through the appointment, try to build a better future there.

The road ahead is uncertain for both the migrants and for those protecting the border. We see that firsthand as we leave the remote border camps

The reason why we stopped and pulled over is because there are these spikes that we've noticed all along the different dirt roadways that take us to the border wall.

Evidence of smugglers' desperate attempt to salvage their profits.

There are dozens, if not hundreds, of these.

And while it slows them down momentarily, for now, they forge ahead and their efforts to curb the flow of a migrant crisis that's consuming resources on both sides of the border.


SCIUTTO: David, great reporting.

As we saw on the story, Mexican officials are expanding efforts to stem the flow of migrants into the U.S. We're seeing some effect in the numbers there as you noted.

How could U.S. politics derail those efforts, though?

CULVER: I think, Jim, the biggest threat to this bolstered support, which is as you're seeing, actually helping lower than numbers of migrants crossing illegally into the us comes at the shifting of policies and that's policies on immigration matters that not only come at the federal level here in the, but also at the state level.

So, Mexico gets increasingly frustrated when they see policies come out of states like Texas or Iowa and for them, that adds domestic pressures that during an election year, not only in the, but also in Mexico could cause them to have to then redirect those efforts, so to speak, and move those resources elsewhere.

So if they feel like its just going to add more problems on the Mexico side of things. They'll quickly abandon this added effort and put those national guards and Mexican military elsewhere.

SCIUTTO: David Culver. Thanks so much.

OUTFRONT next, breaking news, U.S. officials are now telling CNN, Iran appears to be moving military assets into position assets including drones and cruise missiles. This as Biden says he expects Iran to strike sooner, rather than later.


SCIUTTO: Breaking news, CNN just learning the U.S. has observed Iran moving military assets. One source says Iran is readying as many as 100 cruise missiles.

This comes as President Biden says, he expects Iran to attack Israel, quote sooner rather than later, the U.S. and the entire Mideast is bracing for retaliation after multiple Iranian officials were killed in an airstrike in Syria, which Iran blamed on Israel.

Alex Marquardt is OUTFRONT tonight and, Alex, the president, says he expects an imminent attack from Iran. Based on U.S. intelligence assessment what -- when could this happen? And what might it look like?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, the time-frame were hearing from the president there that echoes what we've been hearing four days from sources and experts that this is likely something that is imminent that could happen coming hours and days, but what this looks like, what happens and where -- those are the million-dollar questions.

We have some worrying new reporting from our colleagues, Oren Liebermann, and Natasha Bertrand, that just came in that U.S. intelligence is seeing military assets being moved around by Iran, specifically drones and cruise missiles. One source saying that they're reading as many as 100 cruise missiles, that can mean a number of different things. They're posturing, they're trying to deter Iran, but it -- or deter Israel, but it could also mean that they're preparing an attack from Iranian soil. That would be the first time during this war.

That would be a very significant move by Iran. But there are a number of different scenarios that we could see. We've also heard intelligence officials and experts talking about the possibility of proxy groups in neighboring countries carrying out waves of attacks using rockets, missiles, drones against military targets inside Israel because this is a retaliation against an alleged diplomatic post, Iran could carry out attacks against Israeli embassies around the world. One thing we do not expect to happen, Jim, is Iran around going after U.S. targets. That is something that the U.S. has warned against and -- but the U.S. very much is helping Israel prepare for what may come, saying that they are prepared to help Israel intercept anything that is incoming into Israel.

And the top U.S. general for the Middle East, General Erik Kurilla, he's been in Israel for several days preparing for this variety of scenarios -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: No question. And some of those assets being moved into the region are specifically for that task of potentially shooting down anything incoming.

Just briefly, Alex, the U.S. and Iran have been communicating directly and indirectly, to what end?

MARQUARDT: Well, both public and private messages from Iran to the United States, essentially saying stay out of it, that is between us and Israel. The U.S. has responded saying that you should not go after U.S. targets and don't escalate the situation. And that is a message that Iran has been getting from a number of different corners from the Europeans, from the Arabs. To what extent they will listen remains to be seen.

We could expect back to a very calculated but very significant retaliation by Iran -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: No question. We know all eyes are watching right now. Alex Marquardt, thanks so much for joining.

And thanks so much to all of you for joining us tonight on OUTFRONT.

"AC360" starts now.