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Erin Burnett Outfront

Officials To OUTFRONT: Potential For Terror Attack On U.S. Is Real; Putin Warns Russia "Has The Largest Arsenal Of Nuclear Weapons"; Report: Trump's Criteria For VP Pick: "Who's The Best On TV?". Aired 7-8p ET

Aired June 14, 2024 - 19:00   ET




Breaking news, a 911, wake-up call. Intelligence officials sounding the alarm to OUTFRONT about the warning signs of an imminent attack. This as CNN learns more about the eight men with links to ISIS who entered the United States through the southern border.

Plus, an OUTFRONT exclusive tonight: on board a Russian warship off the coast of the U.S., capable of firing a hypersonic missile in more than 6,000 miles an hour. We're going to take you on that ship tonight.

And new details tonight about Trump's VP search. His number one question: who's best on TV? Well, we'll also tell you who's reportedly playing hard to get to win over Trump.

Let's go OUTFRONT.


And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, we begin with the breaking news, a 911 wake-up call, a major terror warning coming into OUTFRONT tonight from multiple officials who have been on frontlines are protecting America. The new warnings prompted by the arrest of eight men in the United States with possible ties to ISIS.

Former CIA Director Leon Panetta tells OUTFRONT tonight, quote, this is a real terrorist threat that must be taken seriously by law enforcement. The goal of ISIS is to attack the U.S. and they will recruit and train those who have conducted successful and failed attacks around the world. This is a 911 wake-up call.

And the former director of national intelligence, James Clapper, tells us that these arrests of the people from Tajikistan are, quote, a stark reminder that the terrorist threat to this country hasn't gone away. We cannot take our eyes off this ball.

And then there's the former secretary of homeland security, Michael Chertoff. He tells us tonight: Groups like ISIS and Al-Shabaab are growing membership and financial strength, even increasing territorial control. Our own homeland security depends on taking effective steps.

Well, these warnings all coming into night, come after those eight men with ties to ISIS were arrested in major cities across the United States, specifically, Los Angeles, New York and Philadelphia. All of them, every single one of the eight men, entered the United States through the southern border.

And sources tell CNN that some of the men expressed extremist rhetoric on social media or in direct private communications. And we are learning tonight that the discovery of these men's extremist views set off a flurry of emergency actions by federal agencies.

One major your concern for officials is that these men are all from Tajikistan. Now, why is that important? It is important because it was ISIS members from Tajikistan that attack that Moscow-area concert hall in March, 140 people, more than 140 people were killed. They're building burned and the worry tonight is, is that if they could do that in a country won by a paranoid former spy, a police state obsessed with terrorist threats and coup attempts, maybe they could do it here.

It's a warning that the FBI Director Chris Wray issued just days before those eight men were apprehended in the United States.


CHRIS WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: Just in the time that I've been FBI director, we've disrupted multiple terrorist attacks in cities and communities around the country, increasingly concerning is the potential for a coordinated attack here in the homeland, not unlike the ISIS-K attack we saw at the Russia concert hall back in March.


BURNETT: Josh Campbell is OUTFRONT in Los Angeles.

And, Josh, you broke the story today of this heightened concern by U.S. national security officials of a potential attack in this country.

What more are you learning from your sources tonight?

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Erin, we're learning it was the U.S. intelligence community's targeting of ISIS members abroad that helped this government identified those eight men who are here in the U.S. Of course, recently in Congress, it was hotly debated whether to strip the U.S. intelligence community of those authorities, current and former officials are telling myself and our colleague Katie Bo Lillis that they are sounding the alarm.

These arrests come as the FBI director himself says, he can't remember a time when so many different types of threats where elevated all in once.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): Would you say that there's multiple blinking red lights out there?

CHRIS WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: I see blinking lights everywhere I turn.

CAMPBELL: Current and former U.S. counterterrorism officials increasingly sounding the alarm over concerns about threats to the homeland.

Multiple U.S. officials tell CNN eight Tajikistan nationals with possible ties to ISIS those were arrested on immigration charges in Los Angeles, New York, and Philadelphia.

The man had entered the U.S. through the southern border and requested asylum, raising no red flags when initially vetted by immigration officials, but it was the later discovery of their potential ties to an ISIS affiliate that set off a flurry of urgent investigative efforts by FBI agents and analysts coast-to-coast.


No specific attack planning was detected, sources said, but senior U.S. officials decided late last week to arrest the men and begin proceedings to expel them from the country, rather than continuing surveilling them to determine any possible plot.

The FBI investigation continues, sources say, along with a renewed focus on threats from central Asia.

KATIE BO LILLIS, CNN SENIOR INTELLIGENCE REPORTER: And we have seen a number of high-profile attacks and plots, both planned and carried out by Tajik nationals acting on behalf of ISIS-K, several in Europe, as well as in particular, the deadly attack on a concert hall in Moscow earlier this year that killed more than 100 people.

CAMPBELL: The recent arrests have also renewed concerns about the vulnerability of the U.S. southern border. In 2023, U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported 169 encounters with non-U.S. citizens identified as potential matches with names on the terrorism watch list, a broad category of individuals who may have only tangential connections to note extremist, but nevertheless remain a matter of grave concern for terrorism experts in this heightened threat environment.

CHRISTOPHER O'LEARY, THE SOUFAN GROUP: Terrorist groups are learning and adaptive organizations. They've identified vulnerability that the United States has.

JULIETTE KAYYEM, FORMER DHS ASSISTANT SECRETARY: What we need to do is police and target our resources so that we stop people from entering illegally or if they present themselves at a border crossing, ensure they never make it in if they are in fact a terror threat.

While officials say the group known as ISIS-K, an ISIS affiliate based in Afghanistan, has dramatically ramped up its online fine propaganda machine.

O'LEARY: The scope of the problem is really massive. The problem since September 11 continued to metastasize. The enemy has not stopped. They're committed to causing violence and harm to us.

We have to be committed to protecting this country.


CAMPBELL (on camera): Now, Erin, security officials tell us that its riskier for groups like ISIS-K to train operatives abroad and trying to send them in this country, which is why so many of those groups have focused efforts on online radicalization, trying to find the so- called lone-wolf.

And that is difficult for law enforcement to identify if you have a group of people who are communicating law enforcement can possibly detect those communications much more difficult if you have one extremist who doesn't telegraph to anyone what they're potentially about to do -- Erin.

BURNETT: Josh Campbell, thank you very much, with all that new reporting.

And our chief law enforcement and intelligence analyst John Miller is OUTFRONT now, former NYPD, deputy commissioner of intelligence and counterterrorism.

Greg Ehrie is also here, chief security officer of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which oversees all the bridges, tunnels, and airports in this area. Also, former FBI section chief of domestic terrorism operations.

So thanks very much to both of you.

It's a very sobering conversation, Greg. So let's start with the damage -- what really is at stake here when we were talking before the second began, John said he's never seen of a threat in this area that hasn't come to the Port Authority. How serious is this right now?

GREG EHRIE, CHIEF SECURITY OFFICER, PORT AUTHORITY OF NY AND NJ: It's extremely serious. I liken it to a weather front. You're seeing all the right fronts come into play.

We have a border issue. We have an ideological issue. We have ISIS-K, which is increasing their external operations. And then we find these individuals who we don't really know a lot about in our borders. But that's what we know.

What don't we know? Who aren't we seeing that's already here or it's trying to plan to come in.

BURNETT: And, John, I know you've been talking to your sources. I mean, this is not theoretical. We hear these warnings. It is -- it's real and it could be imminent.

JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: So there's a couple of three things that have happened, I mean, in the last two years. One, you see the end of the war in Iraq. You see the end of the war in Syria. You see the end of the war and the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. And with that, Erin, you also saw the counterterrorism analysts and operators who are focused on that for so long being sent to other problem sets China, Russia, cyber and all of those are problem sets.

The problem is during those same two years, groups like ISIS-K have time to regroup, to rebuild, to re-engineer their social media platforms and their radicalization, outreach and redevelop the network. And when you see an attack in Moscow, as was pointed out here --


MILLER: -- that's a difficult environment for a terrorist group to operate in. And then you see an attack by ISIS-K in Iran and even less permissive environment, then you have to ask, why are we not going to see these targets? That's in the United States and these arrests are a sign that's --

BURNETT: It's a real risk. I mean, those eight from Tajikistan arrested, right? As we're talking about in that news just days ago. It was -- it was ISIS members from he said that did successfully attack that concert hall in Moscow more than 140 people were killed.

Do you see the real risk of something like that? I mean, they found eight who knows what they don't know?

EHRIE: We do, and it's exactly as John's pointing out, you're watching in the business of terrorism, you want the notoriety.


You want the media attention. And we're watching a group like ISIS-K grow and learn from what they've done -- their operations, Iran, then Russia. And then you start to think, what's the next target that would get them the most notoriety that would make the biggest splash for them? It's hard not to come back to the United States, and then they look.

And as John mentioned and we've talked about it with our intelligence community partners, the fact that these groups have had time to study now, look for our vulnerabilities, our gaps, and do planning. And that's what were facing.

BURNETT: And what sorts of things are you most concerned about, John? Are you hearing about in terms of the form that this could take?

MILLER: I think if you look at the arrest of these eight, it really spells it out because when you peel back those layers, what you have is a rerun. We saw this movie for.

You may remember Junaid Hussein and his plots when you were in the FBI and I was in the NYPD, an ISIS operative who managed to work social media to find like-minded people in the United States, recruit them and then give them the encouragement to do these attacks and there were multiple attacks planned. That's what we were seeing with this group of Tajiks, where they have

shifted to say, we're not looking for people from the Arab world or with, you know, obvious Muslim names. We're going to take people who could be from Eastern Europe or the Stans, send them to week borders and then start communicating with them.

And here's the real thing, Erin, which is there was a real debate. You've been in this debate. Do we watch this network? Do we see what shape it takes? Do we identify the plot? Do we stop it?

And the risk management people look at that and they say, do you have enough control over all of these people --

BUIRNETT: Over what could happen.

MILLER: -- to be able to get in front of that for certain? And the answer was no, which is why they rolled it up.

BURNETT: And so, Greg, you know, the southern border, right? That is the heart of this concern right now. It's bigger than that, but that is big, right? And you have all eight of these individuals did come over that border. How -- how many more could there be? How serious is the southern border risk to you?

EHRIE: It's an incredible concern, as John said, we've been seeing this show before and now, we add on top of that. It's not a political issue. It just is what it is. In our business, we have to deal with the facts. We have a border that people are coming freely over and we don't really know who's in there.

A former FBI director at once said, and the intelligence business, we're looking for a needle in a stack of needles. Now, with the environment were in right now, you're looking for that needle on a football field with one eye closed because we don't know where to look. It's just wide open. It's an extreme concern.

BURNETT: So, John, there have been many moments of great concern in the U.S. since 9/11. Why is this moment different?

MILLER: It's different because it's all happening at once, Erin. We have a growing domestic terrorism threat. We have accelerationists who are looking realistically to start a race war, to have the overthrow of the U.S. government.

And at the same time, we have foreign terrorist organizations who are not just committing acts of terrorism against Western targets overseas, but are actively looking at external operations in Europe and the United States. We know that from the very near miss of the attack of the cathedral in Cologne, the planned attack of the parliament in Sweden, the fantastic work of German intelligence that shut those attacks down in two other countries.

And what we're looking at here is a real effort to take the propaganda opportunities because what's going on in Gaza and other places and say, we can stir emotions and get people to act. BURNETT: All right? Well, thank you both very much. Sobering, but

important for all for everyone to hear and doing real context around all of this, including the border.

And next, an OUTFRONT exclusive, CNN goes inside the Russian naval destroyer that is just 90 miles off the coast of Florida. CNN actually inside Russian navy, naval destroyer, think about that. Russian soldiers were watching our reporters every move. We're going to take you there.

And "The Apprentice" on steroids. New reporting tonight on Trump's top three VP picks, and the question that he asks about every single one of them.

Plus, Biden struggle, struggling to win over young voters. But one 21- year-old is fiercely fighting for the president on TikTok where some of his videos, anti-Trump videos are getting up to 15 million views.



BURNETT: Tonight, point of no return, -- those Putin's words, threatening the United States with a not-so-subtle nod at his, quote, largest arsenal of nuclear weapons.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We have come on acceptably close to the point of no return, calls to inflict a strategic defeat on Russia, which has the largest arsenal of nuclear weapons demonstrate the extreme adventurism of Western politicians.


BURNETT: Matthew Chance is OUTFRONT. He is live in Moscow tonight.

And, Mathew, even for Putin, you know, this is harsh and dark rhetoric. Sometimes, its a little bit more subtle, implied, rather than direct.

What are you learning about the significance of him saying this now?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CHIEF GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, I think it's pretty significant because it comes as G7 leaders, including President Biden, meets in Italy and talk about a plan to provide Ukraine with financial aid using confiscated Russian assets in the West. That's something that Putin was very angry about. He called it theft and he said that the Western states would be punished for that.

But look, I mean to be clear, Erin, since the full-scale invasion of Ukraine back in 2022, Russia has been saber-rattling, talking about the dangers of trying to defeat a nuclear armed country like Russia, saying it could end in tragedy.

[19:20:12] And Putin was really sort of doubling down on that in a speech to the foreign ministry here in Moscow, earliest day in those -- in those fiery remarks, he spoke about Western leaders saying they, they don't seem to understand the scale of the threats that they themselves have created.

So he's really trying to ratchet up that rhetoric, Erin.

BURNETT: He also outlined, I know today Matthew, the conditions for a, quote, final end is the way he used it for the war in Ukraine. But I know that you say you've never heard him lay it out in such a way. What does he say?

CHANCE: Well, I think that one of the challenges about sort talking about why Russia invaded Ukraine is trying to sort of get clear what they want out of it. And I think this is one of the rare occasions that Vladimir Putin sort of set out the latest Kremlin thinking on that and it is quite a lot.

Vladimir Putin saying that he wanted basically Ukraine to surrender vast areas of territory, including the four regions that Russia has unilaterally annexed already. We're talking about Zaporizhzhia region, Kherson region, Donetsk and Luhansk as well. He said he wanted Ukraine to basically denounce any ambitions or renounced any ambitions to join NATO, eventually. And, of course, he said he wanted Western sanctions on Russia to be -- to be lifted.

When all that's sort of clear that that will be done, then he said he would order a ceasefire in Ukraine. It's something that's been sort of rejected out of hand by the Ukrainians, by NATO and by the United States.

BURNETT: Yeah, of course, other times in the past as he fires have been suggested and then violated.

All right. Thank you very much, Matthew, from Moscow tonight.

And now, as promised, that exclusive asset access that we've gained inside a Russian naval destroyer. Now this naval destroyer, Russian, is off the coast of Florida, right now near Cuba. It is part of that flotilla that we've been following that includes a nuclear-powered submarine. Now, there are four ships are now docked right now in Havana, Cuba.

And it comes as the U.S. military in a rare move has announced its own fast-track nuclear-powered submarine is now nearby at Guantanamo Bay, arriving there our just morning.

So, Patrick Oppmann is there, OUTFRONT, in Cuba and you're going to get to go on the destroyer now.


PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Several hundred Cubans wait in the boiling sun to tour a Russian warship. Russian diplomats told me the public would be allowed to visit the Admiral Gorshkov, one of the most modern warships in President Vladimir Putin's navy, capable of firing hypersonic missiles, the traveling more than 6,000 miles per hour. It's the first of three days the ship will receive visitors, a rare opportunity for people here to see he up up-close a frigate belonging to Cuba's cold war era comrades.

We're going to get in line and see if we'll be able to get aboard.

After nearly three hours waiting, having my Cuban resident ID card run through a database by police and passing through metal detectors, we're told to board the Gorshkov. Just next to us is the nuclear nuclear-powered submarine Kazan, the first of its kind, to come to port here.

The visit of the four Russian ships, the largest Russian convoy in Cuba in years, is not a threat to the U.S., both Russian and Cuban officials say.

But the U.S. is closely tracking these ships and their movements. A sign in English by the gang plank to the Gorshkov says the ships, quote, main purpose is combat operations against enemy surface ships and submarines. Although none of the vessels were currently carrying nuclear weapons, the Cuban armed forces ministry saying that.

Hello, I say in rudimentary Russian to the sailors aboard the Gorshkov. We are only allowed on the main deck and Russian sailors watch our every move.

A deck above us were sophisticated communications equipment is visible. A soldier armed with an assault rifle keeps guard.

These sailors could be fighting in the war in Ukraine and seemed to enjoy the peace and tranquility of the Caribbean.

Sailors show me anti-rocket defense systems and a cannon they say can fire 23 kilometers, nearly 15 miles.

After only the briefest of tours, we're told it's time for us to disembark.

We say our goodbyes to our Russian hosts. As we leave, this Russian sailor count us one-by-one, to make sure no one stays behind to learn the secrets of a Russian warship stationed just 90 miles from the U.S. coast.


BURNETT: And it is pretty incredible, Patrick, you know, that you are there and you were able to go on board this, you know, that they were allowing people in Cuba to go on this destroyer, sort of top of their line. Has anything like this ever happened before?


OPPMANN: No, we've never seen -- my 12 years of living here, a convoy as large as this one. Cubans say that they never remember a nuclear- powered submarine coming here ever, even during the height of the cold war, the height of the Russian presence here and then have three days were hundreds of Cubans really anybody wanted to could wait and then go on and film away.

We were encouraged to film with our phones. So this is sending a very powerful, not very subtle message, both to Cuba, about Vladimir Putin's intentions and as well, of course, to the most important intended audience here, the West, the United States, the Biden administration, about the fact that if the West can put lethal weapons on the doorstep of Vladimir Putin, well, he can do the same to them.

BURNETT: Yeah, absolutely. And, of course, as we pointed out, the U.S. now, putting a ship at Guantanamo Bay.

Patrick, thank you very much. Live in Havana tonight.

And next, we have new reporting from a longtime Trump reporter on Trump - Trump's top three picks for VP, and how one of them is actually playing hard to get his if he doesn't want it.

And I'll talk to a 21-year-old who's working to get out the youth vote for Biden on TikTok, and getting tens of millions of views.


HARRY J. SISSON, 21-YEAR-OLD, CLIMATE ACTIVIST: Trump is over there with his wealthy buddies at Mar-a-Lago saying, you get a tax cut, you get a tax cut.




BURNETT: Tonight, new details about the preparations going into CNN's presidential debate by both the Trump and Biden campaigns. The rate now less than two weeks away.

CNN is learning that former White House chief of staff Ron Klain is leading Biden's prep, which will focus on painting Trump as chaotic and divisive, and for Trump's part, CNN is learning that he is in policy prep sessions with Senators Marco Rubio and Eric Schmitt.

This as "The Bulwark's" Marc Caputo reports for the final weeks of Trump's veepstakes have turned into, quote, "The Apprentice" on steroids, that three names specifically have risen to the top. Those are Doug Burgum Marco Rubio, and J.D. Vance, all passing what is considered Trump's TV test, which is when Trump asks people, does he look good on television? Who's the best on TV?

And all three of those men seem to know that. Just look at these numbers since May 1st. Burgum has done more than 30 interviews for Trump, 30 TV interviews. Vance has done 20. Rubio, I guess really pulling in third at 13, and there may be a reason for that, so hold for that because I want to bring Mark Caputo in now. So, Marc, this is -- you're reporting on this. Now, you have spoken to a lot of MAGA insiders who know what Trump is thinking, what he's saying to them.

So let's start with J.D. Vance. What's the current case for and against?

MARC CAPUTO, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, THE BULWARK: I mean, there's a lot of things that MAGA-ville really likes about J.D. Vance, but the big thing is that he's from the Rust Belt. He's from Ohio and in the polling and in the estimation of the Trump campaign he just needs to win one of those Rust Belt swing states, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, or Michigan, and he'll win the presidency.

And Ohio being right next to Pennsylvania, they feel really good about Vance. He's a smart guy.

The problem, however, is that he's really young. He's 39. He is about to turn 40 and he doesn't have a lot of political experience. He's only been a senator for two years.

BURNETT: Right. And his old Trump criticism, liking tweets where he called him a douchey something, I don't know -- it was KFILE had a great report last night, monster.

CAPUTO: I let you say that, not me.

BURNETT: Okay. So but there's that history, but an interesting just to point out, obviously, Ohio now red state, but that they think that that could get one of those neighboring Rust Belt states that you lay out.

Okay. Now, what about Doug Burgum, who originally had been running himself and now has been on Trump's plane, been at Mar-a-Lago, been at rallies. I mean, really been tied at the hip to him.

CAPUTO: Yeah. The way it was described to me is they have a buddy- buddy relationship. He's 67. Donald Trump is -- well, I guess today he's 78.


CAPUTO: They're the closest and age out of the three. He's independently wealthy. He really knows oil policy. He's introduced Trump and helped with oil executives who are helping financed the campaign. Trump really likes and they just have a good relationship.

The thing is, you sort of a black box and North Dakota is not really a very big state. It's not a huge media state. They don't have very competitive elections. Not a lot of national media, so not much is known about him.

So, you know, who knows what you get with Doug Burgum once you put him on the big stage.

BURNETT: All right. Let's get back to lucky or unlucky 13. We'll see which it is. Marco Rubio's appearances, media appearances, right, which were so much, so many fewer than Burgum or Vance. You say that is part of perhaps his strategies.

So talk to me about Rubio.

CAPUTO: Yeah, to a degree. Marco Rubio kind of really doesn't want to go overboard. It's also not a style as opposed to J.D. Vance or Doug Burgum or they went down to Manhattan for instance, during the criminal trial, and be true to appear there. Rubio didn't.

Rubio's been a little more standoffish. And in fact, Trump and notice at one point he had a said to some people, hey, you like -- does this guy really want it? Does he want to be vice president? The word got back to Rubio and Rubio quickly said, yes.

And the case for Rubio is pretty vast. The guy is very smart. He's fluent in Spanish. He's bilingual. One of those 13 media appearances is on Telemundo, where he just spoken fluent Spanish about the case for Donald Trump and the Republican case.

He's also been on the big stage, unlike the other two that is he ran against Donald Trump in a really competitive Republican primary market in 2016.


BURNETT: Little Marco.

CAPUTO: But -- yes, that's part of the downside, right? He was little Marco, and Rubio did insult, how do we say this on television? Donald Trump's genitalia, albeit by way of the size of his hands.


CAPUTO: The other issue that Rubio has is the far-right really doesn't like it. In 2013, he tried to do comprehensive immigration reform. He hasn't gotten a lot of forgiveness for that. And a lot of people see him as a neo-con, sort of a war hawk.


CAPUTO: That's not quite true if you look at sort of his history and the history of Donald Trump. But that's the rap on him.

BURNETT: Yeah. He's any certainly, certainly gone much more with Trump find Ukraine. That would be consistent with anything and the history of Marco Rubio.

CAPUTO: Right.

BURNETT: But this whole question of Trump's saying, well, who's good on TV? I mean, it fits with everything we all know about Donald Trump. But what does that actually mean as far as you're hearing it? What's this -- what's this? Who's good on TV mean?

CAPUTO: Well, just means like, who is, who is going to defend and prosecuted my case the best now the thing but Donald Trump is, he asks a lot of questions. He doesn't answer them. So we really don't know what is Donald Trump think about the answers, who looks on television?

I mean, if you talk to a lot of women and MAGA ville, women do like J.D. Vance's eyelashes, yes, I'm not joking, and his blue eyes. So he does have more of the look that Donald Trump is looking for.

But as one of the advisers and confidence that I spoke to spoken to Donald Trump said, look, J.D. Vance looks like if you shave his beard, hell be about 12-years-old and he's lucky he's got those flecks of gray in there. That does matter to them.

BURNETT: Well, and you know what all jokes aside about long eyelashes, we know Trump cares about how people look. So I don't know how long eyelashes will go, but it's not just a laughing matter.

All right. Thank you very much. Good to see you, Marc.

CAPUTO: Thank you. I appreciate it.

BURNETT: All right. And whoever Trump picks will have to be sure to not go against Trump on a major issue that could decide who wins and who loses. This issue is now so huge for so many single voter issues in America. And Phil Mattingly is OUTFRONT.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT & 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The states will determine by vote or legislation, or perhaps both, and whatever they decide must be the law of the land.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Since April on at least one issue, Donald Trump has stayed on message.

TRUMP: The states now decide on abortion.

MATTINGLY: No matter the question, if it's related to abortion and Trump returns to what could best be described as an unambiguous goal of ambiguity.

TRUMP: States are handling it.

Some states will be more conservative and others will be more liberal.

Some people will be happy some people will be okay. Some people won't be quite as happy. Some will be thrilled.

MATTINGLY: Driven by what three people who have spoken privately with Trump on the issue concede his recognition of the electoral danger, a hard-line approach to the issue poses.

This motivates Democrats like nothing else, one of those people told CNN. He sees it and isn't going to fall into that trap.

But for a former president who has managed to publicly hold diametrically opposed views on the issue -- TRUMP: I'm very pro choice.

I'm pro-life.

MATTINGLY: The messaging to disarm a potent Democratic strength doesn't erase a very unambiguous reality Trump's first-term record, four years, where his top administration officials utilized executive authority to reshape federal abortion policy at home and abroad.

TRUMP: And I'm proud to be the most pro-life president in American history.

MATTINGLY: And it's record that anti-abortion advisers and advocates point quick to as a roadmap for a second term and a post Roe versus Wade America.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's a pro-life president. I believe he'll be a pro-life president in the future, also.

MATTINGLY: Expanding on aggressive and immediate first efforts to make good on campaign promises tied to abortion.

TRUMP: During my first week in office, I reinstated and expanded the Mexico City policy and we issued a landmark for life rule to govern the use of Title X taxpayer funding.

MATTINGLY: Has federal agencies with legal policy and funding authority and led by unapologetic anti-abortion appointees deployed a wave rulemaking, guidance and restrictions tied to their policy goals, which the Trump White House readily touted and its list of first term accomplishments just days before he left office, all of which occurred before the cornerstone of Trump's anti-abortion legacy took place.

TRUMP: For 54 years, they were trying to get Roe v. Wade terminated, and I did it and I'm proud to have done it.

MATTINGLY: Three, Trump appointed Supreme Court justices clinched the reversal of the national guaranteed to abortion access in 2022.

Yet it's what Trump could do on his own that is drawn the most interests from anti-abortion advocates like Roger Severino, a former top Trump HHS official.

ROGER SEVERINO, FORMER DIRECTOR, HHS OFFICE FOR CIVIL RIGHTS: We have federal laws on the books that prevent the interstate trafficking in abortion drugs. It's very clear.

MATTINGLY: That's a reference to the Comstock Act, an 1873 law that bans the mailing of the drugs and tools used in abortion. The law held no weight while Roe was on the books.

Trump had as declined to answer whether he'd use the law despite promising in April to release a statement within two weeks.

But a Trump DOJ could weigh a series of interpretations from choosing to prosecute anyone who sends or receives mifepristone, which is used in roughly two-thirds of nationwide abortions, are going as far as to restrict the mailing of any supplies used in surgical abortions, effectively a total ban on the procedure.


MARK LEE DICKSON, ANTI-ABORTION ADVOCATE: If we were to have an administration that would actually enforce the Comstock Act, then we could see every abortion facility in America shutdown.

MATTINGLY: Mark Lee Dickson is one of the key anti-abortion activists responsible for promoting the Comstock Act, lobbying dozens of cities to outlaw abortion through local enforcement of the law. His partner in that effort is former Texas Solicitor General Jonathan Mitchell, author of Texas's strict anti-abortion law, and Trump's attorney, who argued the Colorado ballot case before the Supreme Court in February.

Once a fringe theory, Comstock has woven its way into conversations all the way up to the nation's highest court.

JUSTICE SAMUEL ALITO, U.S. SUPREME COURT: This is a prominent provision. It's not some obscure subsection of a complicated, obscure law. They knew about it. Everybody in this field knew about it.

MATTINGLY: All laying the groundwork for the self-described, most pro- life president in American history should he win a second term, despite his current political message, will have significant authority on abortion issues if he's an office, something he made very clear just one year ago.

TRUMP: There, of course, remains a vital role for the federal government in protecting unborn life.


MATTINGLY (on camera): And, Erin, we saw the political balance the former president is trying to strike, just earlier this week, speaking at an event for a group that claims to want to eradicate abortion. The former president getting two minutes virtual remarks, not showing up in person, not actually saying the word abortion at all, but making clear that he stood side-by-side with them.

And that's a critical point here when you talk about the messaging, it's the personnel that will matter more than anything else when the former president, if the former president gets into office and nobody that I spoke to for this story thinks that his personnel is going to look any different than it did in the first term. What will be different? Roe versus Wade no longer exists -- Erin.

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

And next, the 21-year-old college student who's fighting for Biden on TikTok and getting up to 15 million views for a post.


SISSON: For a minute straight, Donald Trump talked about boat sinking, batteries, sharks, and water.


BURNETT: And next, a near collision caught on camera. Two planes coming dangerously close. Tonight, we're going to take you exclusively on board a plane testing new technology to make sure it doesn't happen again.



BURNETT: And tonight, President Biden wishing Trump a happy birthday, writing on social media, quote, happy 78th birthday, Donald. Take it from one old guy to another. Age is just a number.

Also releasing a new ad highlighting the fact that Trump and Biden are three years apart.

It comes as poll after poll shows more voters have concerns about Biden's age though than they do Trump's. But the president is getting some help from a 21-year-old TikToker, Harry Sisson, who's videos pushing back on Trump have gotten as many as 15 million views.


SISSON: Donald Trump is over there with his wealthy buddies at Mar-a- Lago saying, you get a tax gut, you get a tax gut, you get -- it's nonsense.

Just remember when Donald Trump said that he would date his own daughter -- I mean, oh.

For a minute straight, Donald Trump talked about boat sinking, batteries, sharks, and water.

We have President Biden who talks about wanting to lower health care costs, protecting the environment, giving women their reproductive rights back. Donald Trump is talking about that, whatever that was.


BURNETT: And Harry is OUTFRONT now.

So, Harry, just so everyone knows you're in college now. You've just finished your junior year. You've posted 560 videos just this year, meaning 2024, sticking up for Biden, pushing against his critics.

So let me just ask you, as someone who just finished your junior year in college, how come, why are you choosing to do this? It's obviously a huge investment of your time.

SISSON: Look, just so much on the line right now? And this election is so important. And I think the choice couldn't be more clear.

I've said before in my videos and I think this is the easiest choice that Americans will have to make in modern American history.

Look, President Biden is incredibly accomplished, investing in infrastructure, lowering insulin cost, capping insulin at $35 a month, large investment of fighting climate change in world history. I mean, the list is extensive and that's an amazing resume to run on in and of itself.

Then you look at the other side of the race. You have Donald Trump, that convicted felon, the proven sexual abuser, proven fraudster, who is not actually running on anything. He's running on like, oh, I think Joe Biden's mean to me, the FBI sucks, and the DOJ is hard (ph) on me. That's his entire campaign.

BURNETT: So the thing is so again, you're 21-years-old --


BURNETT: -- and a lot of people your age are doing other things, right? And many who aren't -- don't -- don't have the same passion. So Biden was ahead of Trump by 29 points last time around for voters 18 to 29. You weren't even in that range at that point, right. But he was ahead by 29 points.

Now, he's only ahead by five. He's only ahead by five.

Okay. So when you look at the people that you are putting these videos out and hoping they see, why is that? Why has that plunged?

SISSON: You know, I think it's for a variety of reasons. I think that there's like some disliked toward the president right now on a couple of different issues, the Middle East and TikTok ban --


SISSON: Gaza, specifically.

BURNETT: And the TikTok ban you think also.

SISSON: Yeah. I talked to young people every single night on like debates. I do. And I hear that pretty frequently.

But my argument back them is that Trump is worse some both of these issues, right?


When he was president, he banned TikTok. He had an executive order that would ban it and 45 days. President Biden's just looking for divestment.

And with Gaza and the Middle East, it's tragic what's happening. But President Biden has been in government for decades. He has the foreign -- foreign policy experience. He knows what he's doing. This is an experienced guy and having somebody who is an office knows what he's doing is important. Donald Trump can't find Gaza on a map. BURNETT: All right, so when you are I played some of the videos,

right? You're pushing back on Trump's specifically and you're talking about some of his rants on stage and how he goes from one thing to another. You know, the implication being there's no connection loses train of thought. Okay.

But right-wing media has been seizing on moment when Biden, right? Whether it's be gaffes or how we walks are walking off the stage, you know, the G7, you've no doubt seen that one.

So as a 21-year-old, when you see those things from Biden, how he talks, how he walks the gaffes, do they give you pause?

SISSON: Never, never once have I ever been concerned about the president's age. I mean, look, there's three things I think about when I think about the president's age.

Look, Republicans and world leaders have said that he's fit to serve. Kevin McCarthy said that he's sharp, he's strong in negotiations. President Biden has also had a physical this year and on-site conducting exams were neurologists and they said that he passes exams perfectly fine.

And I refer to President Biden 60 minutes interview where he said watch me in a question about his age and I'm watching him and his records fantastic. And last thing I'll say is like, I spent time with the president. I interviewed him, and I was never concerned.

He was sharp. He didn't -- he didn't get any advance and the questions I was asking, he gave me really thoughtful answers and I've never been concerned about it.

BURNETT: All right. So, now, you point out. You've met him. You've been invited to events.

Has the White House Biden campaign ever tried to tell you what to say, tried to get you to look at something?

SISSON: No. I've never gotten like are you must post this. You must post this. There have been briefings where they say, look, there's so much misinformation on social media. We just want you to have the most accurate information, but there's no pressure to posts. There's never been like, oh, you have to say this or were going to be angry with you or anything like that.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Harry, thank you very much. I appreciate it. And hope people will check out your videos and see how the work. You've been doing. So thanks.

SISSON: Thank you much.

BURNETT: And next, we're going to take you on board a Boeing plane said on a collision course on purpose.



BURNETT: New tonight, an OUTFRONT exclusive. CNN's Pete Muntean going aboard a Boeing plane intentionally set on a collision course, using new technology designed to stop the rise of dangerous close calls.

Here's Pete with more.


PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): I am boarding what looks like a normal commercial airliner. But instead of seats, there are computers. The passengers are engineers, and the flight plan is a mid air crisis.

VOICE PROMPT: Traffic on runway.

MUNTEAN: This is what's known officially as a runway incursion. The dangerous near collisions rose sharply at airports nationwide in 2023 and keep happening, from JFK last year --

TOWER: (EXPLETIVE DELETED) cancel takeoff clearance!

MUNTEAN: -- to Reagan National Airport just last month.

TOWER: Super king air zero alpha alpha go around go around!

MUNTEAN: In India, new video shows one such incident happening in real time.

Last fall, two private jets clipped one another on a Houston runway, mere inches from disaster.

THEA FEYEREISEN, HONEYWELL SENIOR TECHNICAL FELLOW: We're seeing near messes that are nearer and near from catastrophe.

MUNTEAN: Inside this Boeing 757 is the first system alerting pilots to runway incursions that are about to unfold. It's a prototype from Honeywell, which is giving us this TV exclusive.

The best way to see it in action is by creating a runway incursion of our own.

This flight is taking us from Dulles international airport to a smaller airport in Hagerstown, Maryland. Waiting for us on the ground, another Honeywell airplane that will purposefully be in the wrong place at the wrong time, in this case sitting idle on the runway as were coming into land. Very similar to a near collision between FedEx and Southwest flights in Austin last year.

VOICE PROMPT: Traffic on runway. Traffic on runway.

MUNTEAN: This is what that looked like from the outside.

The goal here is to put this into new airplanes, but also existing airplanes so this gives pilot the chance to stop these incidents that are unfolding in front of them. Now, we are on the runway as Honeywell's other plane taxis out in front of us just like last year's incident at JFK.

VOICE PROMPT: Traffic on runway. Traffic on runway.

MUNTEAN: Honeywell software pulls from technology already in most commercial airliners, combining the system that warns of collisions with the ground, with the system that warns of collisions with other airplanes. Both have been mandated by the federal aviation administration for years.

Joe Duval was our pilot, and thinks airlines won't act on new technology within another federal mandate.

JOE DUVAL, HONEYWELL DIRECTOR OF FLIGHT TEST OPERATIONS: It does cost some money and we've got a get something that got it pushes them to that point of accepting it into the docket, the tech now.

MUNTEAN: The National Transportation Safety Board has been calling for runway incursion warnings in the cockpit for 24 years. A plea reiterated just last week by the agency's chair.

JENNIFER HOMENDY, NTSB CHAIR: It's going to be technology that prevents any of this from reoccurring.

MUNTEAN: FAA chief Mike Whitaker insists there is no one cause of runway incursions, but it will take more than one solution.

MIKE WHITAKER, FAA ADMINISTRATOR: So we're looking at those layers of safety. Are there other layers that we can insert?

MUNTEAN: As new technology takes aim at avoiding disaster.

Pete Muntean, CNN, Hagerstown, Maryland.


BURNETT: And thanks so much to all of you for joining us on this Friday night.

Have a great and safe weekend. We'll see you Monday.

"AC360" starts right now.