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Erin Burnett Outfront

Trump, Biden Wage War Over Black And Hispanic Voters; Republicans Defend Alito On Flag Controversy; Tucker Carlson Denies Having A Role In Russia Airing His Show; China Holds Massive Military Drills Around Taiwan As "Punishment". Aired 7-8p ET

Aired May 23, 2024 - 19:00   ET




Trump in the Bronx, making a major play for Biden's base. And Biden tonight, fighting back hard.

Plus, blame the wife. Republicans piling on blaming Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito's wife as calls grow for Alito to recuse himself from Trump cases over these flags.

And constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe, who warned the country about Alito before he was confirmed all the way back in those confirmation hearings, you see him there. He's OUTFRONT tonight.

And Russia just cannot get enough of Tucker Carlson. They are now re- airing his show on Russian state television.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, Trump bashing Biden in the Democratic Party's own backyard right now.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: We're going to make New York bigger, better and more beautiful than ever before. And that includes right here in the Bronx.


BURNETT: That is happening right now, as I speak, Trump is at a rally in the Bronx right here in New York City. He is ramping up a major effort to pull Black and Hispanic voters away from Joe Biden, voters who are crucial to Biden and whether he wins.

Trump is holding this rally where you see him live now in Crotona Park. It is a neighborhood where minorities make up an overwhelming majority of the population. Fifty-nine percent Hispanic, 35 percent Black, and top Democrats from the Bronx and New York state are slamming Trump over the visit tonight. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. RITCHIE TORRES (D-NY): Instead of holding a rally in Crotona Park, he should be apologizing to the people of the Bronx for the damage he's done.

GOV. KATHY HOCHUL (D), NEW YORK: New York will never, ever support Donald Trump for president. We know him better than anyone.


BURNETT: All right, Trump, though, sees an opening, and here's why. Let me show you Harry Enten's most recent analysis. The precinct around Crotona Park used to be as Democratic as it could be. For presidential elections, this was -- this was a sure thing in every single way, 90-plus percent margins of victory, 2008 to 2016.

Then a big change and a warning sign for Democrats in 2020, that edge went from 94 all the way down to 69 percentage points. If that trend continues in Crotona Park and anywhere else across the country, Biden is in serious trouble.

And a brand new poll out today also raises a red flag. It says close to 30 percent of Black voters saying they would vote for Trump. Now in 2020, Trump only got 12 percent of that vote. So, 12 percent up to 30, more than doubling. It is the margin that matters for victory.

And tonight, Biden is fighting back hard with the campaign ad reminding voters about Trump's attacks on the ultimately exonerated Central Park 5 in New York.


TRUMP: Of course I hate these people.

ANNOUNCER: Donald Trump disrespecting Black folk is nothing new. He was sued for refusing to rent his apartments to Black families, and called for the execution of five innocent Black and Brown teenagers.


BURNETT: Now that Trump campaign responded by accusing Biden of trying to, quote, gaslight Black voters.

Now, Kristen Holmes in the Bronx tonight OUTFRONT where Trump is holding his rally. Kristin, a place that a few years ago, you never would have thought you'd be standing at a Trump rally here. There you are right now. What is turnout like?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I will tell you, Erin, turnout is certainly much larger than the Biden campaign would like, given that this is one of the bluest counties in the entire country. But of course, as you said, it is coming as Donald Trump is making a play for minority voters, particularly Black men, Latino men. That is something that we know that Donald Trump, one sees some opportunity with, but also two, as you showed in that recent polling, there's some movement there and they really believe they can siphon off these minority voters from Democratic groups.

Now, the other part of this has been really interesting is Donald Trump himself saying that he believes New York in play -- is in play. Now I will obviously tell you that 2016 is not the same thing. 2020 is not the same thing. Both times he lost the state by roughly 20 points or more.

But Donald Trump is here for two reasons. One, we know that he's courting minority votes. Two, he had to be here, at least his team thought he had to be here. He was supposed to be in court today. They thought he was going to be in court through the end of the week. Obviously, that wrapped Tuesday, and they have planned this rally for several months in advance, trying to go to various communities in areas in New York to keep them somewhat on the campaign trail, somewhere -- somewhat surrounded by people who would be cheering for him while he was in all day long.

But I will say, he's been remarkably on message here, talking about things that do matter to New York voters, talking about helping with infrastructure, helping with jobs, and I talk to a number of people in the Bronx before we even got into the rally, and then really response to him being here was mixed.


We had people saying he should get out, and he doesn't belong here, but also had people saying that they voted for Biden in 2020 and they were looking for an alternatives, many of them citing the economy, saying they felt like times were too hard and they were looking at seriously voting for Donald Trump -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Kristin, thank you very much. Right up there in Crotona Park in the Bronx.

Joe Pinion is OUTFRONT with me now, Republican strategist and former Republican Senate candidate here in New York, and the host of "The Truth with Sherwin Hughes", a radio show out of Wisconsin, Sherwin Hughes is back. He interviewed President Biden on his show last week.

So, Sherwin, you know, you were telling me then that you felt Trump had ignored the African-American community as president. And that that community is much better off now under President Biden.

But now, when you look at what's happening in the Bronx and sure they had time to plan this. They knew they were going to make sure people showed up, but people hello, are there this is one of the most reliably Democratic districts in the country. And they're there listening to Trump right now, those -- some of those voters, what do you make of it?

SHERWIN HUGHES, HOST, "THE TRUTH WITH SHERWIN HUGHES": I think this is nothing more than an exercise and political theater. People that show up to rallies are not indicative of the people that are actually going to cast their votes. Donald Trump is not going to get the electoral votes in the state of New York in fact, the folks that are in the area of the Bronx voted for Joe Biden, the like and 80 plus percent. He got -- Joe Biden got 80 plus percent of them vote in the area surrounding the Bronx.

But I think as the campaign goes on, and people are reminded of not just who Donald Trump is, but his whole cast of Republican characters who they are, and the policies that they support are harmful to people of color, especially African Americans, whatever the polls are saying right now, yeah, certainly going to go in different direction as we move toward November.

BURNETT: All right. So, Joe, so just another -- as the former president is speaking there in the Bronx, he is he is sticking on message. Here's something that he just said a moment ago.


TRUMP: It doesn't matter whether you're Black or Brown or White, or whatever the hell color you are, it doesn't matter. We are all Americans, and we're going to pull together as Americans


BURNETT: Is this just political theater?

JOE PINION, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, look, I will acknowledge to Sherwin's point that this is an election year. There is a certain level of pageantry that goes into every election, both at the national level and at the local level. But it is no different than when Joe Biden goes down to Tulsa and talks about the greatest threat to America being white supremacy, even though he knows he's not going to get the electoral college votes of that state.

He does it because he speaking to a broader audience, that it will be newsworthy, that he is trying to explain to Black people writ large, that I care about you. And similarly here with President Trump, what you see is somebody trying to say that the political calculus of yes, there has not worked, that he is in the poorest congressional district, adjusted for actual income. And yet somehow, you have Democrats who are more concerned with him being there and the conditions that people are living through, public housing, where $80 billion behind in natural repairs and they have done nothing, when we have arsenic at dangerous levels in the drinking water in public housing, and they have done nothing.

So, yes, there are plenty of arguments that Democrats can make, but you don't want to make them, they want to relitigate 2016 and 2020 in the hopes that people will not actually focus on what's happening to them every single day.

BURNETT: And what's happening them every single day, Sherwin, and as Kristen pointed out, right? She talked to people around that rally today, some were excited, some wished she hadn't come, right? I mean, what you'd expect.

But of those she spoke to who were waiting for that rally and supported Trump, here's some of what they had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am a staunch Trump supporter, 2024, more than any other year. I feel compelled to do it this year.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trump is the best, the only man capable to make those changes and he will make those changes. It's Donald Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Democrats destroying my city and we need somebody that's going to hear the people's voice and Trump is the people's voice.


BURNETT: So, Sherwin, what -- what's your reaction to that? They're willing to speak out and say it. They're there. They are Black and Hispanic. Is this possibly the tip of a bigger iceberg this year?

HUGHES: I find it rich than those individuals think that Donald Trump is going to be some kind of way helpful when he is appointed the fewest number of African-American judges to the federal bench. When his policies have essentially gutted affirmative action, not just him, but the other Republicans that support him, which I think gets overlooked because were Republicans do is they obstruct Democratic policies that really seek to have working class people, people of color and Black people. But the Republican Party blocks all of that.

And so when -- as African Americans, when we look around our community and we see nothing but Democratic elected officials and we see the trajectory of our lives are not changing, it's easy for us to blame the Democrats want to change direction.


What the Republicans are doing is making it difficult for Democrats to put policies in place that can actually help us. And then they're having us blamed the Democrats when its actually them, and their policy agenda.

BURNETT: So, Joe, right now, Trump has been sticking on message, as Kristen said, and I'll let you know if that changes. But in other times, if he has talked about trying to win over Black voters he has said, because I am in a court case, because there's a mug shot of me. Black people you connect with me.

This is what he said and let me just play how he said it.


TRUMP: Lot of people said that that's why the Black people like because they have been hurt so badly and discriminated against.

We've all seen the mug shot and you know who embraced it more than anybody else? The Black population, its incredible. You see, Black people walking around with my mug shot. They do shirts.


BURNETT: Does that -- I mean, how do you respond to that? What do you hear when you hear that?

PINION: I look, I think it's a misguided attempt at humor. Black people not responding to the mug shots. Black people are responding to despair and to my colleague's point, I would agree, Black faces in high places are not going to be the salvation of Black people policy will.

And so when I sit here in New York state, where we have close to 20,000 Black students in the Rochester public school system and 16,000 families have tried to hit the eject button and every single person represents them is a Democrat, and won't allow it to happen. I don't see policies is trying to move people forward when I look at that as the civil rights issue of our time.

BURNETT: Do you really think he's joking here? I mean, I know he gets that there's humor in it, but he seems pretty serious.

PINION: I think -- here is the reality. The reality is that we have two men on the ballot, one person who thinks that sneakers and mug shots might help him, and the other person who thinks that he has the right at his big old age to tell me that if I as a Black man don't vote for him, then I no longer get to call myself Black.

So, what appears to me that we have reached a point in time in our politics where we tried to whitewash away the sins of the non-Black candidates when they offend the sensibilities of Black America, but we agree with their underlying political ambitions.


PINION: I think that becomes the issue here, more so than anything else.

BURNETT: Sherwin?

HUGHES: If Donald Trump was really interested in courting the Black vote, because quite honestly, there's a lot of African-Americans and people of color that do want something different because they're not seeing things change as quickly as they probably should, then why is he talking about gutting the Affordable Care Act? And that would take health care away from a lot of people of color, a lot of working class folks, and African-American.

If you really was concerned about African Americans, he would be having a conversation about reparations he'd be having a conversation about how African-American properties in Black neighborhoods are devalued simply because African-Americans live in those communities. Donald Trump is never going to mention any of those things that can actually help because he is just engaging in political theater and trying to get us to blame the Democrats when it is the Republican Party just trying to sow doubt in our elections.

And we're not going to forget what happened on January 6 either. So that also should be a warning to a lot of folks.


PINION: Again, there is a -- what you're talking about is a sensible policy-based conversation about what is good for Black people and what is bad for Black people. We can talk about reparations, but there are many Black people who just wants California, come up with a blue collar commission to agree on a number that the governor then said they were never going to pay.

And what always seems like that old orphan Annie, the promises come tomorrow, and think we're going to have different issues that we care about. But ultimately, having the conversation is important and trying to slander either candidate I think is where we get into a bigger ball of --

BURNETT: All right. Well, Joe and Sherwin, thank you both very much. I appreciate your being on with me.

And next, blame the missus. Republicans are backing Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito's excuse, as calls grow for him to step aside after flying two controversial flags.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My understanding his wife was turned upside down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At least in one case, I think it may have been a spouse.


BURNETT: Plus, tens of thousands of Iranians making it clear tonight that they want more hardliners in charge after the sudden death of their president. This as we are learning the first details from the investigation into that helicopter crash. We will take you live to Tehran tonight.

Plus, China holding massive military drills around Taiwan as the Communist Party threatens those who want independence with, quote, heads bashed, blood in the face.



BURNETT: Tonight, blaming Alito's wife. Republicans coming to the Supreme Court, Justice Samuel Alito's defense, still pointing the finger at his wife after "The New York Times" reported that the Alitos flew another different and controversial flag outside their vacation home, a flag also flown by people at the Capitol on January 6. And that is now two flags outside Alito's homes, embraced by January 6 insurrectionists.

And one of the many problems here is that Alito has a history of playing and politics according to financial disclosure reports, Justice Alito sold a large chunk of Anheuser Busch shares just as conservatives boycotted the company for using a transgender woman in an ad. He also visibly challenged former President Obama during the State of the Union. Justices are always keep play it straight. He shook his hand and mouth, not true. Alito accepted a luxury vacation from a billionaire Republican megadonor, who would go on to add the cases before the Supreme Court. Alito did not recuse himself from those.

The question now is whether Justice Alito should be on the bench to decide the two major Trump cases before the court, which will make history, one about immunity at the heart of the DOJ election interference case, and the other about charges against January 6, insurrectionists.

My guest now is the constitutional law professor at Harvard, Laurence Tribe, actual -- actually warned senators about Alito during his confirmation hearing in 2006.


Here it is.


LAURENCE TRIBE, HARVARD CONSTITUTIONAL LAW PROFESSOR: I'm very troubled by his views. Obviously, it follows from that that I would be hard-pressed to recommend his confirmation.


BURNETT: I'm going to speak to Professor Tribe in just a moment.

But first, Manu Raju OUTFRONT live on Capitol Hill.

And, Manu, you have been talking to pretty much everyone there about Alito. And what are they telling you?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Look, the reaction has been mostly along party lines. Yes, there are some Republicans who are offering the mildest of criticism of Samuel Alito saying that he probably should have exercise better judgment, but they are quick to pivot and blame his wife, aligning himself with what -- themselves with what Alito said, putting this on his wife, this upside down flag that was outside of his house.

Others are saying what Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader told me over this week, that they should leave, Democrats should leave the Supreme Court alone. That was the words of Mitch McConnell.

Democrats, on the other hand, say that this shows that in their view, Alito cannot be impartial and must recuse himself from these two key cases involving January 6.

Now, as I put this question to a number of Republicans, they're making clear though that they are on the line -- in the side of Alito. Listen.


REP. THOM TILLIS (R-NC): I think that that's what happens when you're a public figure, whether in judiciary, the U.S. Senate probably not wise.

SEN. TOMMY TUBERVILLE (R-AL): That's a sign of distress. My understanding -- my understanding the wife turned upside down, and our country is under a little bit -- not a little bit. A lot of distress right now as we speak.

REP. JARED MOSKOWITZ (D-FL): I mean, look, he's got a flag fetish. I mean, good -- good, good for the Supreme Court justice.


RAJU: Now, Senate Democrats do have a bill to impose a new code of ethics on the Supreme Court, but that bill passed the Senate Judiciary Committee last July, and it still has not come to the floor of the Senate for a vote. Chuck Schumer, Senate majority leader, was asked about that a bill earlier this week, he did not commit to putting it on the floor, but said he would have discussions with the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin in the days ahead.

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

And I want to go now to noted legal scholar, the Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe.

And, Professor, we just saw you criticizing Alito during his confirmation hearing. You were there and you were asked and you said you were, quote, troubled by his views. That was 18 years ago. What is your reaction now to these -- to the second flag incident now on Alito?

TRIBE: I don't know how many flag incidents we need before we can tell that Justice Alito should not sit on any of the cases related to the insurrection. Perhaps he shouldn't be on the court at all. He's not just turned the American flag upside down, but in case after case, I'm afraid he's turning the Constitution upside down.

Just today in a six to three opinion, he essentially refused to agree with the district courts detailed findings showing that race was the dominant motive in the drawing of district lines in one of the southern states, that he's been very political.

And the flags that he flies even if he tries to throw his wife under the bus with respect to one of them raise serious questions about whether he is signaling his sympathy with the insurrectionists and it seems to me that that's more than enough to explain why the Senate Judiciary Committee under the chairmanship of Dick Durbin should begin hearings, not just on imposing a binding code of ethics, because that's already been recommended by the committee, and I think Chuck Schumer should put it on the floor, but also about whether Samuel Alito really has met the requirements of good behavior.

That's what these appointments are for. They're not for life. They are under the Constitution as long as the justice doesn't breach important elements of the oath of neutrality.

BURNETT: And, you know -- okay. So, as part of this and it's important that you note that on the actual code of ethics to formalize it. But on this issue of people coming to his defense, and this has been Republicans, and obviously, Alito blamed his wife for the first incident. He referred to her as Mrs. Alito and he said that that she had hung the flag upside down.

Now, a number of Republicans are repeating the wife as the excuse, but others of them, professor and this is interesting, Speaker Johnson among them, Senator Tom Cotton, among them, said that the second flag, the one -- not this one here, but the other one flying outside Alito's vacation home was George Washington's flag, this one.


So it's okay.

What do you make of that excuse?

TRIBE: George Washington was flying it as a symbol independence against president -- against the King George of the United Kingdom that's not what's at stake here the current context insurrection, not against the commonwealth, not against the empire, but against the United States of America.

Even the Nazi symbol, if you go back far enough think 6,000 years ago in India, it represented something else.


TRIBE: But when a simple comes to stand for fascism or overturning the American Constitution, then you've got to own it. That's what he's doing and they're simply reaching -- reaching back to which has nothing to do with the current situation.

BURNETT: The swastika analogy is a powerful one, as it does show, right time. The context of the time that you are in does everything. When you, when you choose to use a symbol.

There are Republicans saying that this is harassment by the left and Senator Thom Tillis says it's intellectually dishonest to criticize Alito. And the reason he says that, Professor, I want to give you a chance to respond. He says, look at comments made by other justices, including Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and to remind everybody, of course, what she said was, I can't imagine what the country would be with Donald Trump as our president. She went on to call him a faker, right?

So it was clear where she stood politically in that instance. Is that different?

TRIBE: Right. Well, I criticized her when she said that. She was not, however, on the rampage politically against a certain set of ideas. She had her views and they affected the way she voted. Likewise with Scalia, you don't expect these justices to be sort of empty vessels, blank slates. But it's something very different when the justice becomes an active political player, the way justice Alito did when he mouthed the words "not true" during Obama's state of the union message. And the way his been doing in defending in various very political speeches. his decision in the Dobbs case to roll back Roe v. Wade and to refer to 17th century thought that women who were -- meaning sorcerers should be burned as switches.

I'm sorry, I think I'm getting a call from --

BURNETT: All right. I'll use that as our cue to end this conversation for now, Professor, but I really appreciate your time. And thank you.

TRIBE: Thanks. And I'm sorry for the interruption.

BURNETT: That's all right. Don't worry about it. It happens to us all.


BURNETT: All right.

And next, Tucker Carlson is now all the rage in Russia. His show, even now airing in full on Russian state television. And tonight, Tucker Carlson is weighing in.

Plus, the man who got George W. Bush elected president is warning Republicans tonight that RFK Jr. is going to help Joe Biden win. So what do the numbers tell us? Harry Enten is OUTFRONT.



BURNETT: Tonight, Tucker Carlson denying he has anything to do with Russian state television re-airing his interview show. Carlson saying in part, quote, this is completely absurd. I've never even heard of this channel.

But it is not absurd when you consider that Carlson has had no problem with Russia's full embrace of him after his two-hour interview with Vladimir Putin was full of propaganda and free of pushback.

Matthew Chance is OUTFRONT with more on Russia's latest television star.



MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CHIEF GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On Russian state TV, Tucker Carlson's face is hard to escape. That loud American journalists, they call him conservative Republican views, clearly strike a chord with the Kremlin.

CARLSON: Russia, 24.

CHANCE: For months now, Carlson's online show has been airing on local Russian media, show signs the Kremlin which has silenced critical voices sees propaganda value on what he has to say.

Most recently, a segment on the dangers of U.S. biological weapons development with an American science and technology writer was aired in full.

Carlson tells CNN he was unaware the clips were being showed.

But for months now, the Kremlin has been casting Tucker Carlson who lost his job on Fox News last year, as a truth speaking American media star. Even granted him a rare, very long interview with Vladimir Putin, screened at cinemas across the country to dutiful Russians.

I watched this movie night out of big respect to our president, said (INAUDIBLE).

I've seen it twice, says another. It's great to hear the opinion of our great leader, she adds.

Tucker Carlson isn't the only outspoken American celebrated by Moscow.

TV ANCHOR: Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene --


CHANCE: Is also praised on Kremlin TV.

As Republican Senator Mike Lee, both staunchly opposed to U.S. military aid to Ukraine, a position, of course, shared by the Kremlin.

As the war in Ukraine drags on, there are concerns Kremlin propaganda and to Ukraine pro-Russia is increasingly finding its way into the U.S. political debate.

Even being uttered one Republican congressman told CNN recently on the House floor and Moscow's interest lies in bolstering those who it feels share, at least in part, its are skeptical, sometimes distorted worldview.


CHANCE: Well, Erin, it's not like all of these U.S. figures are particularly popular inside Moscow. In fact, when it comes to Tucker Carlson, many of the people in the Russian capital that we spoke to didn't even know who he was. We have to remind them this is the person who interviewed Vladimir Putin.

Now, the point is this, that in this U.S. election season, particularly, the Kremlin, is keen to promote and support anyone it sees as a potential ally and anyone who supports its narrative.

Back to you, Erin.

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

And also this hour, death to Israel, death to America. Mourners screaming those chants today as Iran's former president, Ebrahim Raisi, was buried following a three-day funeral ceremony, where tens of thousands of people lined the streets in multiple cities in Iran. This comes as the country continues its investigation into the sudden helicopter crash that killed Raisi and the foreign minister of Iran.

Fred Pleitgen is OUTFRONT tonight in Iran.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): The streets of Mashhad jam-packed with people, mourning the late President Ebrahim Raisi as a truck with his casket made its way to the Imam Reza Shrine, one of the most important holy sites in Iran.

Hundreds of thousands of people have come out here on the streets of Mashhad. This is really very much the political and the spiritual homeland of Ebrahim Raisi, and the people here say, while they're in great sorrow, they hope that Iran continues down that conservative trajectory that was common for Ebrahim Raisi's administrations.

In power for three years, Ebrahim Raisi was a conservative hardliner, overseeing a crackdown on protests against Iran strict hijab laws in 2020, but also the first ever strikes against Israel from Iranian soil in retaliation for the bombing of Iran's embassy compound in Syria.

Crowds at the funeral screaming "death to Israel", and "death to America", vowing to remain loyal to Raisi's hard-line agenda.

One hundred percent, 100 percent, this man says. These are all Raisis and they will continue.

And this woman says, we have come here to say if they took Raisi from us, we still have our supreme leader and we back him and we'll never leave him alone.

We have always expressed our position towards the U.S., this man says, just like the policy of the president and the martyr Qassem Soleimani to struggle against arrogance, we won't allow the arm of arrogance to go around the world. We'll cut it down.

After Raisi, Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and several others were killed in a chopper crash in northern Iran on Sunday, Tehran says a new president will be elected in late June.

But this week has been one of mourning, culminating in the funeral pairs for Raisi inside the Imam Reza Shrine.

As the body of Ebrahim Raisi was brought to its final resting place, Iran is looking ahead, one of the U.S.'s toughest adversaries soon to decide its political future.


BURNETT: And, Fred, incredible that you were able to actually experience all of that. And I know you have some new information tonight about the crash itself, the helicopter crash. What are you learning? PLEITGEN: Yeah, we certainly do. There's a preliminary report now from

the investigative committee that is, of course, looking into that crash and, of course, as you know, and we've been reporting, Erin, and there had been some questions about whether or not this was really an accident, possibly due to bad weather, or whether or not there might the foul play involved in all of it?

Well, the first preliminary report now the investigators are saying that, first of all, they believe that the pilot was not acting suspiciously. He didn't deviate from the flight path and apparently and kept communications with the other choppers that were in that convoy as well. But importantly, also, it seems as though the investigators have also looked at parts of the records of that helicopter and decided and found out that there were no bullet marks on that wreckage and no shrapnel marks either.


So, it's increasing looking though as though it really was just an accident that happened possibly due to weather on that mountain side, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Fred, in Mashhad, Iran, live here on CNN tonight. Thank you, Fred.

And next, RFK Jr. and his running mate practically strangers, not on the same page on a lot of policy, barely campaigning together. Is it worth the money?

Plus breaking news, Chinese warships and fighter jets surrounding Taiwan. Beijing now warning those who won independence will end up with their heads bashed and bloodied.



BURNETT: Tonight, a top Republican strategist warning RFK Jr. could swing the 2024 election to Joe Biden. Karl Rove writing in a "Wall Street Journal" op-ed that Kennedy's, quote, outlandish claims and moonbat ideas, will, quote, pry more than a few wackos off Mr. Trump, perhaps enough to hand the election to Mr. Biden.

Well, this comes as major differences are emerging between Kennedy and his running mate, Nicole Shanahan.

Eva McKend is OUTFRONT.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The next vice president of the United States, Nicole Shanahan.

EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Nicole Shanahan is not a familiar name in national politics.


MCKEND: And before choosing her as his running mate, independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. didn't appear to know her either.

SHANAHAN: As recently as a year ago, I really didn't think much of Bobby Kennedy because I didn't know much about him.

MCKEND: Still --

ROBERT F. KENNEDY JR., INDEPENDENT PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm confident that there is no American more qualified than Nicole Shanahan to play this role.

MCKEND: Now, after a series of interviews meant to introduce these Silicon Valley lawyer to voters, some key compatibility questions have been raised as well, such as -- are Shanahan and Kennedy aligned on abortion?

KENNEDY: I wouldn't leave it to this stage.

HOST: Right.

KENNEDY: Oh, I would --

HOST: You would say completely it's up to --

KENNEDY: We should leave it to the woman.

MCKEND: But in an interview with "The Sage Steele Show" podcast this month, Shanahan seemed unclear about where the top of the ticket stands.

SHANAHAN: My understanding is that he absolutely believes in limits on abortion.

MCKEND: Kennedy supports abortion limits up to fetal viability, which experts say occur between 23 to 24 weeks. Shanahan has shown support for federally restricting abortion between 15 and 18 weeks.

And where does the duo stand on Israel's war with Hamas? Kennedy has been unflinching in backing Israel.

KENNEDY: I would continue aid. Israel's fighting a defensive war. It's not a war of choice.

MCKEND: While Shanahan has been more critical.

SHANAHAN: But, you know, starting a war with Hamas right now is not just starting four with Hamas. It is -- it is engaging in something in the Middle East that was not very well-planned.

MCKEND: Both Republicans and Democrats have pounced on the relatively unknown independent, saying the wealthy California native was only picked for her pocketbook. TRUMP: She's more liberal than Junior by far, not a serious person,

and only a pot of cash to help her get her no chance candidate on the ballot.

MCKEND: "The New York Times" reports Shanahan received around $1 billion after recently divorcing Google co-founder Sergey Brin.

The threat of a third party effort with deep pockets has prompted Democrats to target Kennedy's campaign over concerns he could hurt Biden's reelection chances.

TAMIA BOOKER, DEMOCRATIC POLITICAL CONSULTANT: It's more looking like she's more like a checkbook in this situation because she is she was only involved really when he needed to get on the ballot. In April, the Kennedy campaign raised more than $10 million, but some $8 million of that haul came directly from Shanahan, as the pair seeks to forge a path together on the campaign trail.


MCKEND: And, Erin, the campaign acknowledging Kennedy and Shanahan do in fact differ on abortion, but telling me in a statement in part, both are aligned with the emerging national consensus of no restrictions up until a certain point and restrictions thereafter.

Meanwhile, Kennedy continues to have a strong showing in the polls for a third party candidate. In the latest Marquette poll, Kennedy getting 17 percent behind Trump's 40 percent, and Biden's 37 percent -- Erin.

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

So let's go beyond numbers with Harry Enten.

So, Harry, look, this is -- this is crucial, this whole conversation.

RFK Jr. is going to speak at the Libertarian Convention tomorrow. Trump is also speaking at the Libertarian Convention. Both going after those votes, obviously.

How does RFK Jr. do with people who maybe last time around didn't find a candidate?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: Yeah, those who are disenchanted with a two major parties, right? Those who didn't vote for Biden or Trump, or didn't actually even cast a ballot back in 2020, look at who those folks are supporting right now. What you essentially has -- have as a two-person race with RFK Jr. at 37 percent and Donald Trump at 30 percent, Joe Biden way back at 12 percent.

And I think this gives you an indication of why both of them are going to that Libertarian Convention. They both believed that they can appeal to third parties, those folks who support third parties and essentially say those people who are disenchanted with the system, RFK wants to be there guy, but Donald Trump also wants to be their guy.

BURNETT: It's very interesting, 37 percent of the people who sat out last time.

Okay. So, Karl Rove, I shared part of that op-ed, he says RFK Jr. is going to take more votes from Trump.


Obviously, we've heard -- I've heard this argued every which way to Sunday. What are the numbers tell you?

ENTEN: Yeah. At this particular point, it does look like RFK Jr. is going to take more votes away from Trump than Joe Biden. But it's not a landslide, Erin, I think that's the important thing here.

If you look at the latest Quinnipiac University poll, which you see is that the folks who support RFK Jr. in the three-way, when you squeeze it down to a two-way, you see that Donald Trump wins 51 percent of them. Joe Biden wins 37 percent. Now again, that's not a landslide, but it's something that could matter in a tight election, right?


ENTEN: It's the type of thing that could make the difference if RFK Jr. is, in fact, stays in the racing, continues to pull those high percentage that Eva was talking about.

BURNETT: That's right, especially in states that had what, 10,000-vote margins. Arizona and Georgia, we're looking at you.

ENTEN: Exactly.

BURNETT: Nicole Shanahan, Eva was going through some of the policy differences there. She is one of his only donors actually, not just a huge one, but maybe one of the only.

ENTEN: Yeah. You know, if we look at the campaign committee, you know, if we look what percentage of the donors last month, of the money that came in came from her. We're talking about north of 70 percent. You see that 74 percent.

But if you look at the American Values 2024 super PAC, Timothy Mellon, who's a billionaire who also donates a lot of pro-Trump causes, 81 percent of the money came from him.

So the fact is most of the money for Kennedy is coming from two people.

BURNETT: That's really fascinating on so many levels, these local traditions.

ENTEN: He claims to be a small money guys speaking for the small people, but in fact, its for the large donors that are for him.

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

And next, breaking news, China now warning those in Taiwan could end up with bloody and bashed heads, as Chinas circles Taiwan with warships and fighter jets.



BURNETT: Breaking news, China's surrounding Taiwan with dozens of fighter jets and warships, a massive show of force, they say, as punishment for Taiwan swearing in a new president.


WANG WENBIN, SPOKESMAN, CHINA'S MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS (through translator): All separatist forces for Taiwan independence will have their heads bashed bloody in the face of the historical trend of China's complete reunifications.


BURNETT: Heads bashed bloody.

Taiwan now shoring up its defenses as the threat of a full-scale Chinese invasion looms, working to build its own vision of Elon Musk's Starlink satellite system without Musk's help.

Will Ripley is OUTFRONT.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Deep beneath the waters around Taiwan, a fragile digital lifeline, some call shockingly vulnerable to a Chinese attack.

Fifteen undersea internet cables connecting Taiwan to the rest of the world, vital strategic assets. And potential millage terry targets cut the cables, you cut off the internet, plunging 24 million people into digital darkness, leaving this island democracy dangerously exposed.

Elon Musk spent years and billions developing Starlink, using low orbit communication satellites to provide high-speed Internet.

Here in Taiwan, people have plenty of reasons to doubt the reliability of Starlink. Elon Musk controls it and he has deep business ties with China.

In September, Musk made comments seen as signing with Beijing over Taipei.

ELON MUSK, STARLINK DEVELOPER: Their policy has been to reunite Taiwan to China. From this standpoint, maybe its analogous to like Hawaii.

RIPLEY: Taiwan's foreign minister quickly fired back, posting on Musk's X platform: Listen up, Taiwan is not part of the People's Republic of China, and certainly not for sale.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three, two, one. RIPLEY: To protect itself, Taiwan is turning to space, investing billions to develop and launch its own low orbit communications satellites, to ensure uninterrupted Internet connectivity in times of crisis. A program spearheaded by Wu Jong-shinn, director general of TASA, Taiwan's Space Agency.

WU JONG-SHINN, DIRECTOR GENERAL, TAIWAN SPACE AGENCY: The communication satellite is very important for our communication reliance during urgent periods.

RIPLEY: Starlink developed by SpaceX, crucial in conflict zones like Ukraine and Gaza. TASA is racing to develop a similar system in space.

The satellite you're developing, if the internet or the communication lines were cut and Taiwan could go the dark right now without this.

WU: Yeah, right. And we take it very, very seriously.

RIPLEY: A chilling case study of Taiwan's digital vulnerability on its outlying Matsu Islands last year. Taipei accused to Chinese ships of severing underwater cables without providing direct evidence.

The only backup, sluggish microwave radio transmission, isolated islands cut off from the outside world.

Taiwan is cooperating with NASA in the U.S., accelerating its space program in the face of rising threats.

WU: China is rising up in space. There's no country, the vision, or there's no boundary.

RIPLEY: And back on earth, rising cross-strait tensions adding urgency to Taiwan's space race.


RIPLEY (on camera): These military drills happening right now around Taiwan underscore just how urgent of a project this is for Taiwan because any of the warships that are selling around theoretically could cut the internet cables which would result in a island-wide communications blackout, which could of course, weaken Taiwan be a precursor for a blockade or an invasion. I mean, these are the scenarios that they are thinking about and are now potentially playing out, or at least the training for which on the Chinese side playing out in real time -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Will, thank you very much in Taipei tonight.

Thanks to all of you.

Anderson starts now.