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Trump Urges Supreme Court To Keep Him On Colorado Ballot; Haley Sharpens Attacks On Rivals Five Days Out From New Hampshire Primary; DOJ Releases Damning Report On Response To Uvalde Massacre; Top White House Official Meets With Families Of Americans Believed To Be Taken Hostage By Hamas; U.S. Bracing For Winter Storms, More Snow And Ice. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired January 18, 2024 - 18:00   ET


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: We'll have you back again soon.

I'll be back here tonight at 9:00 P.M. sharp Eastern live from New Hampshire for the CNN town hall with Governor Nikki Haley. She's going to take questions directly from New Hampshire voters tonight in this very room. This is happening just five days before next week's primary. And you can watch the CNN town hall tonight on CNN and streaming on CNN Max.

Our coverage continues now with Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. I will see you in roughly three hours. Here's Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news. Donald Trump files a new brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse Colorado's decision kicking him off the ballot. Our legal experts are standing by with details on the filing and what it could mean for the truly historic oral arguments next month.

Also tonight, Nikki Haley sharpens her attacks on her rivals just five days out from the New Hampshire primary. Haley going after Donald Trump for losing the White House and dragging down Republicans while calling Ron DeSantis invisible in the state.

Plus, the U.S. Justice Department releases a scathing report on the law enforcement response to the Uvalde elementary school massacre. The attorney general, Merrick Garland is speaking exclusively with CNN about fatal mistakes made by police.

Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Let's get straight to the breaking news out of the U.S. Supreme Court, Donald Trump warning the justices they would unleash what he is calling chaos and bedlam if they allow Colorado to remove him from the state's ballot.

Our Justice Correspondent Jessica Schneider has details for us. Jessica, give us the latest.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, the former president's legal team, they're really laying this out broadly. They're saying that the Colorado Supreme Court simply got it wrong when that court ruled to take Donald Trump off the ballot there. And they're asking now the Supreme Court to rule in their favor or else they're warning, as you said, that it will unleash chaos.

So, on the first page of this 50-page filing, this is what Trump's legal team is writing. They're saying, the court should put a swift and decisive end to these ballot disqualification efforts which threaten to disenfranchise tens of millions of Americans and which promise to unleash chaos and bedlam if other state courts and state officials follow Colorado's lead and exclude the likely Republican presidential nominee from their ballots.

So, what we're seeing today from Trump's team is really the opening step for this case to get in motion at the Supreme Court. Trump has filed his brief today. The voters who actually won this in Colorado, they'll file their brief by the end of the month, and then this case will be heard by the high court February 8th.

This is very much fast-tracking, a hugely consequential case. It needs to really be decided quickly because these primaries are playing out around the country. Right now, though, all of the decisions that ruled against Trump, they've been paused. So, Trump's name, in fact, will appear on the primary ballot, even in Colorado, in Maine, those are two of the states that have ruled against him.

But the Supreme Court really does need to decide this issue very soon to get things settled, just in case, as is potential that Trump is the Republican nominee and if he needs to appear on that general election ballot in November.

So, Wolf, Trump's legal team is putting it all before the Supreme Court in their brief. They're saying a number of arguments. They're saying Trump did not engage in insurrection, that this section of the 14th Amendment wouldn't even apply to him anyway. And they're saying overall that this section of the 14th Amendment can't be used to deny Trump access to the ballot.

So, Wolf, the justices, Trump's legal team, they're asking the justices to consider a lot here, a broad array of arguments. We'll see which arguments the nine justices seize onto. But, of course, a lot at stake as we are just months away from the general election with primaries happening as we speak.

BLITZER: A lot at stake, indeed. All right, Jessica Schneider, thanks for that report.

I want to get some analysis right now from our legal and Supreme Court experts. And, George Conway, what do you make of the arguments of Trump's lawyers?

GEORGE CONWAY, CONSERVATIVE LAWYER: Well, I haven't had the chance to read the brief closely. It was just filed within the last hour. But I will say this, that I noticed in the brief that they have moved up the argument, which was pretty much on the backburner previously, that Trump did not engage in an insurrection. And I think the reason why they did that is because the principal legal arguments that they've been relying on that were relied upon by the Senate in the Colorado Supreme Court was that the provision doesn't apply to the president of the United States, which is a very, very bad argument, and that Section 3 of the 14th Amendment is not self executing, which doesn't make any sense. The text of the statute, text of the amendment doesn't say that.


So, they're going back to making more of a factual argument that he did not engage in insurrection. And I think what they're going to try to do is to raise the bar as far as high as possible on what it means to engage in an insurrection. You have to take up arms or you have to engage in very specific planning.

The problem with that is that none of this would have happened but for Donald Trump. I mean, Donald Trump wanted this to happen. He stood idly by during the two or three hours, the Capitol was being ransacked, and he precipitated this for weeks on end before that. And it's going to be a very difficult thing for the Supreme Court if it can't find a legal basis to exclude him from the application of the 14th Amendment on legal grounds, it's going to be equally hard for them to make a binding factual determination on this record that Trump somehow did not engage in insurrection.

BLITZER: Setting a stage for a huge legal battle before the Supreme Court.

Gloria, does Trump's team have a point, though, right now in arguing that removing him from the 2024 ballot would cause chaos, would disenfranchised a lot of voters are.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, they said chaos and bedlam. I'm not sure it would cause bedlam. But I think it would be confusing. There are states that would do one thing, and other states that might do another. And when you're having a national election, and you have a candidate, and he could very well be the Republican nominee, you can't be on the ballot in some states and not on the ballot in other states.

So, what we're looking for is a definitive answer from the Supreme Court. And it ought to come quickly, as Jessica was saying, because the primaries are ongoing. And so we need a definitive ruling from the court.

BLITZER: We certainly do. Joan Biskupic, you're our Supreme Court analyst. You know the Supreme Court. It does not want to get political, as all of us know. But what are the implications of the Supreme Court taking this case on?

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SENIOR SUPREME COURT ANALYST: Well, there are concrete legal issues here. I don't think they're ever going to look at whether Donald Trump engaged in insurrection. There are threshold legal questions that Trump's lawyers have put out here that the justices need to decide. Number one, is the presidency covered by the phrase officer? The Section 3 of the 14th amendment says that an officer who has taken an oath to uphold the Constitution and then who engages in insurrection should be barred from future office, from holding future office.

So, there are a couple of very important legal matters that only the Supreme Court can decide. Is the presidency an officer, an official, covered by this section? Is it -- does it apply only to someone who would hold office, not run for office?

That's another argument here. And another one that's front and center in the Trump filing today is whether states have any latitude to change the qualifications. This brief cites a 1995 precedent of the Supreme Court that said that states are not allowed to.

Now, this is their filing, it will be countered by the Colorado voters filing, but I would say there are concrete legal issues that the Supreme Court has to decide, and I do not think they will go near the question of whether Donald Trump engaged in insurrection, and they don't need to. There are other threshold issues here that will all play out.

And I think this brief is much more -- I thought the petition was focused enough that the justices took the case, and they needed to take the case, but this brief is fairly focused, and when we hear oral arguments on February 8th, it will be joined by members of the Supreme Court Bar who are former law clerks to these justices. So, I think we're going to see a very robust argument from both sides.

BLITZER: Yes. I think you're right. George, how do you think this is -- what do you expect? How do you think it will play out?

CONWAY: I honestly can't tell you. I mean, I think that some of these legal arguments are -- I don't think they're particularly good. And I think the only reason why anybody would go to these legal arguments, like the notion that the presidency, which is referred to as an office 25 times in the Constitution, and that I don't think it's a really convincing argument to say that this doesn't apply to the president.

That said, they don't want to go into the question of whether or not he engaged in insurrection, even though I think that's actually -- I don't think it's a strong argument. I think it's the least embarrassing argument in terms of its faithfulness to the text of the Constitution.

BORGER: I don't think they want to go into any of this, to be honest. I mean, they don't, and you know much more about this than I do.

BISKUPIC: Yes, they don't.

BORGER: They don't want to be in the middle of the fight.

BISKUPIC: They have to, and they want to do it.

BLITZER: They've got no choice of this. BORGER: Right, they have no choice. But the last thing in the world the Supreme Court wants to do is be in the middle of a presidential election, and they find themselves not only on this case, but the question of immunity smack dab in the middle of an election.


BISKUPIC: Well, you know, Gloria, I actually think they might seize the moment. They know that they're the only entity in America that can decide this once and for all. And if they punt in some way, they're just going to push it to November. If it turns out that they believe that this provision doesn't apply to somebody running for office, only holding for office, there will be chaos.

Wolf, as you know, there are states that have put their litigation related to the 14th Amendment Section 3 litigation on hold. All eyes are waiting for the Supreme Court to resolve this. And I think we'll probably have a decision by the end of February.

BLITZER: And whatever the Supreme Court decides about Colorado or Maine for that matter will apply to all the states, right?

BISKUPIC: Absolutely, absolutely.

BLITZER: All right. Guys, thank you very, very much. I appreciate it.

Just ahead, the U.S. Justice Department releases a truly blistering new report criticizing law enforcement's response to the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, where 19 children and 2 teachers were murdered, documenting a litany of failures which outraged the community, survivors, the families of the victims, indeed, people all over the country.

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.



BLITZER: A scathing new report from the U.S. Justice Department calls law enforcement's response to the 2022 school massacre in Uvalde, Texas, a failure as survivors and loved ones of the 19 students and 2 teachers who were murdered seek accountability.

More now from CNN's Senior Crime and Justice Correspondent Shimon Prokupecz.


SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Tonight, the Justice Department releasing a damning new report about law enforcement's failures responding to the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas.

MERRICK GARLAND, ATTORNEY GENERAL: The law enforcement response at Robb Elementary School on May 24th, 2022 and in the hours and days after was a failure that should not have happened.

KIMBERLY MATA-RUBIO, MOTHER OF UVALDE VICTIM LEXI REUBIO: I hope that the failures end today and that local officials do what wasn't done that day, do right by the victims and survivors of Robb Elementary.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We got shots fired at the school.

PROKUPECZ: Bursts of gunfire.

GARLAND: The victims trapped in classroom 111 and 112 were waiting to be rescued at 11:44 A.M., approximately ten minutes after officers first arrived when the subject fired another shot inside the classrooms.

PROKUPECZ: Reports a teacher was shot.

GARLAND: They were still waiting at 11:56 A.M. when an officer on the scene told law enforcement leaders that his wife, a teacher, was inside room 111 and 112 and had been shot.

PROKUPECZ: A desperate 911 call from a trapped student.

GARLAND: The student was in a room full of victims. That student stayed on the phone with 911 for 16 minutes.

PROKUPECZ: Major events that should have prompted police to step in immediately. Instead, police waited 77 minutes to stop the gunman.

GARLAND: 49 minutes after officers arrived on the scene, and they were still waiting for another 27 minutes after that until finally officers entered the classroom and killed the subject.

PROKUPECZ: During those 77 minutes, 19 children and 2 teachers were killed. The long awaited 575-page report is the fullest accounting of what happened, highlighting the serious failures in the law enforcement response.

JOSHUA KOSKOFF, LAWYER, KOSKOFF AND BIEDER: These families didn't need a 400 or 500-page government report to learn that law enforcement failed them in a historic way.

PROKUPECZ: While quick to arrive to the scene, their report found law enforcement stopped outside the classroom where the gunman was on a killing spree inside.

GARLAND: I think the report concludes that had the law enforcement agencies followed generally accepted practices in an active shooter situation and gone right after the shooter to stop him, lives would have been saved and people would have survived.

PROKUPECZ: Countless other issues identified in the report after the gunman was killed, from the emergency medical response to how bereaved parents were told their children were dead.

GARLAND: Some families were told that their family members had survived when they had not. PROKUPECZ: Many family members of the victims and survivors thankful for the federal report detailing what went wrong that horrific day, but they are still frustrated by the lack of accountability.

VERONICA MATA, MOTHER OF UVALDE VITIM TESS MATA: We're grateful that we got what we have right now because it's probably the most updated information that any of us have gotten.

JAZMIN CAZARES, SISTER OF UVALDE VICTIM JACKLYN CAZARES: What else does she possibly need to prosecute or to remove these people from their positions of power when they can't even do their jobs?

PROKUPECZ: The federal assessment does not make any recommendations for punitive steps for law enforcement. But in an exclusive interview with CNN, Attorney General Merrick Garland says the report provides a basis for accountability.

GARLAND: The community now has the kind of report necessary to make sure accountability occurs.

PROKUPECZ: The Uvalde district attorney says she's continuing to investigate, but families say they want charges brought against the officers.

MATA: We're going to continue fighting that some type of change is made in honor of our kids.


PROKUPECZ (on camera): And, Wolf, the Texas governor, Greg Abbott, releasing a statement thanking the Department of Justice for their review. They said that they've already adopted some of the recommendations and they're continuing to work on improving school security here in Texas. Wolf?

BLITZER: Yes, it's so heartbreaking, that story. Shimon, I want you to stand by. I want to continue this conversation with you.

I also want to bring in Katherine Schweit. She's a former senior FBI official and an active shooter expert.


Katherine, as I said, you're an expert on how police should have responded. The attorney general, Merrick Garland, said they could have saved lives. What should we understand about the enormity of the failure here?

KATHERINE SCHWEIT, FORMER SENIOR FBI OFFICIAL: I think that is the best word about it. It is an enormity. It's astonishing to see, even though it's not surprising, the glaring disregard for best practices by the law enforcement who responded.

And if you read the numbers and the details, you find out that law enforcement looked for more than a dozen, they gave more than a dozen excuses why they didn't go through that door when standard protocol that they trained in themselves two months before, they hosted a training two months before the shooting, law enforcement did, and they still found a dozen or more excuses looking for keys or looking for ballistic shields.

And then in the end, they went in anyway and they didn't get injured, but they let those people die in there. And that's -- it's unforgivable.

BLITZER: And, Katherine, in this nearly 600-page report, singled out the former school police chief, the former city police chief and the current sheriff. What should accountability look like for them, and perhaps for others?

SCHWEIT: Yes, others here and also elsewhere. I think every police chief, mayor and school district head should be sleeping with this book underneath their pillow and looking at the details of what's in it and what they didn't do. Because it's a very, very number of people who are working now who let this happen. I don't think they should be at the helm anymore. They clearly didn't, they didn't have any foresight to protect those children.

And there are laws around that, you know, I'm sure the D.A. is -- I'm a former prosecutor considering whether or not the child protection laws for the state were violated. And that's probably part of what the challenge is right now.

BLITZER: Shimon, on that specific point, you've been doing amazing reporting on this story ever since day one, why hasn't the district attorney pursued any criminal charges yet, and will this report from the U.S. Justice Department change things?

PROKUPECZ: I mean, it could change things because it gives the voice that the families here feel that they have not had. They have now the attorney general of the United States here today standing before them to the world saying what happened here should not have happened and this was a massive screw up.

If you ask the families, Wolf, they'll tell you they believe that the D.A. is trying to protect herself politically. She's trying to protect some of the officers that were involved here because they can't understand why it's taking so long for her to make a decision.

In her meetings with them, in private meetings, she has said that it's just taking a lot of time. She needs to gather more evidence. She needs to bring experts in. We have no indication. She's not spoken about any of this publicly. We have no indication if she's doing any of that.

She keeps saying she's going to make a decision at some point. There's potentially going to be some grand jury that's going to hear some evidence. But it's really all a mystery because we just don't know. We have no insight. And she's really not given any information on what she's been doing. In fact, she's been preventing information from coming out. There's a lawsuit for media organizations requesting information. She's fighting those.

So, it's not entirely clear what her end game here is going to be, but it's very, very frustrating for the families, Wolf.

BLITZER: Katherine, I want to play another little clip from our exclusive interview with the attorney general, Merrick Garland. Listen to this.


GARLAND: But there's so much that we still need to do, and the Congress needs to do. An 18-year-old should not have a military-grade weapon that belongs on a battlefield, not in a classroom.


BLITZER: So, Katherine, how does law enforcement actually make sure an enormous failure like this never, ever happens again, especially when they're up against assault weapons?

SCHWEIT: You know, what we saw here is that that law enforcement had the right weapons to respond. The assault weapons or semi-automatic weapons that we see being used in so many of these shootings, you know, they're not the whole story, right? Handguns are part of the story too. But law enforcement has to be properly prepared. They have to have the equipment. So, they have to have the equipment that they can be, you know, the same types of shooters.

BLITZER: Yes, they got to do something to learn the lessons of this horrible, horrible disaster.

Katherine Schweit, Shimon Prokupecz, to both of you, thank you very much for reporting, for joining us.

Coming up, we're following new war of words among the candidates on the 2024 campaign trail, all coming just ahead of our CNN town hall with Republican Presidential Candidate Nikki Haley. We'll have a live report from New Hampshire. That's next.



BLITZER: Let's get an update right now from New Hampshire, where voters will be heading to the polls in just five days for the state's crucial Republican primary, Nikki Haley hitting the campaign trail today and ramping up her attacks as she looks to shake up the race.

CNN's Omar Jimenez has the latest.


NIKKI HALEY, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In five days, we shocked the country.

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Nikki Haley sees a path in the final days to the New Hampshire primary, one that increasingly involves going right through Donald Trump.

HALEY: The reality is who lost the House for us? Who lost the Senate? Who lost the White House? Donald Trump, Donald Trump, Donald Trump.

JIMENEZ: It's a notable shift from Haley, who, up until now, has largely focused her criticism of the former president on policy differences.


HALEY: He threw a temper tantrum last night. He's doing other things to attack me, but he won't get in front of me and answer the question.

JIMENEZ: The former South Carolina governor emphasized to voters there's a crucial bottom line at the ballot box Tuesday.

HALEY: I'm going to tell you the truth. You're going to see a lot of things said. But at the end of the day, it's the drama and the vengeance and the vindictiveness that we want to get out of the way.

JIMENEZ: Haley was the only candidate campaigning in New Hampshire Thursday, hoping to capitalize on a toned down DeSantis presence in the state. As DeSantis says, they're shifting focus to states beyond New Hampshire.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Nikki Haley cannot compete with Donald Trump there. And the fact that she can't do it there, she can't do it anywhere. She's certainly not going to do it in South Carolina.

JIMENEZ: Meanwhile, former President Trump has turned his attention squarely on Haley here, as a weaker candidate to take on Biden.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: A vote for Nikki Haley this Tuesday is a vote for Joe Biden and a Democrat Congress this November because that's what's going to happen. You can't do it.

JIMENEZ: And even going after his rival personally, promoting lies on social media about her eligibility to run for president despite Haley being born in the U.S.

HALEY: He can say whatever he wants. His record has been that he lost the House, he lost the Senate, he lost the White House. That's a fact. That's not what I'm saying. That's what he's done.


JIMENEZ (on camera): Now, one of the interesting things that when Chris Christie dropped out of the race, I talked to a lot of his supporters who were thinking about jumping to support Nikki Haley. And those that were hesitating told me it was because they didn't think she was confronting Donald Trump directly enough.

So, it will be interesting to see if this is the beginning of a pattern or just responding to recent attacks, Wolf.

BLITZER: We will see. Omar Jimenez in New Hampshire for us, thank you very much.

I want to bring in CNN Political Commentator Ashley Allison and Republican Strategist Kevin Madden. Let's discuss what's going on.

Kevin, what do you make of the way Haley is now directly responding to Trump going after him much more forcefully?

KEVIN MADDEN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I think it's very clear that she recognizes she's in the new phase of the campaign, that she, you know, has emerged now as probably the most direct threat to Trump, and she's got essentially a one-on-one race with him in New Hampshire.

And that one of the other things is that she has a lot of voters out there that are still showing soft support. In one of Jake Tapper's earlier reports where he was speaking with Jeff Zeleny up in New Hampshire, you saw a lot of the Haley supporters saying that they're curious, right, or they're intrigued by Nikki Haley. Well, curiosity is not enough right now. She really has to convert a lot of those voters.

And so this message that she's pushing right now, in this last phase, in this new phase, as we close in on votes in New Hampshire, is to really like close the deal. That's all directed on electability. Because we saw from a lot of the exit polls, GOP voters right now, they want somebody who can win. And so she has to, in these remaining stages, really demonstrate she can take on Trump and that she can win, and she's the best candidate to take the party forward in November.

BLITZER: As you know, Ashley, Trump has the chance to become the first non-incumbent Republican ever to win both Iowa, which he won, and New Hampshire. If he pulls that off, is the race over?

ASHLEY ALLISON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think so. I mean, how do you -- Nevada is not being contested right now, and so that's the one right after New Hampshire. And then, okay, sure, we can go to South Carolina, but are the donors going to stick around Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis if -- and more endorsements, because we saw in Iowa, we had senators falling in line behind Donald Trump.

If you can't win the state that you thought you were going to excel in, which is New Hampshire for Nikki Haley, then I don't see how you survive. Just the same way is that Nikki Haley is saying, Ron DeSantis' campaign is over, because he didn't win Iowa, which is where he put all of the eggs in his basket.

So, I don't want to see Donald Trump as the nominee and definitely not as a president, but if he pulls it out of New Hampshire, even if it's close, I think it's a wrap.

BLITZER: Yes, I don't know if you agree with that.

MADDEN: Well, you know, I said candidates never run out of reasons to run. They do run out of money, right? So, it gets harder and harder to find donor enthusiasm and the dollars to come in when you're not winning anywhere.

And then, lastly, it's a delegate hunt. Like if you're not winning delegates in New Hampshire, and now you're heading to these bigger states that are resource-heavy, and it's a delegate hunt, Donald Trump is in the best place.

BLITZER: Nikki Haley is clearly trying to court independent moderate voters in New Hampshire. She shared a very bitter critic of how the Republican Party is doing. I want you to watch this.


HALEY: We have lost the last seven out of eight popular votes for president because you keep pushing people away. I'm bringing people in. Am I conservative? Yes. I was a Tea Party governor. I was a strong U.N. ambassador. I am a conservative through and through. But I am not going to stop trying to win every Republican, every independent and every Democrat, because that's what's going to heal this country.


BLITZER: Is she right, Kevin?

MADDEN: Well, she does. She has the best argument right now that she has a strong conservative record and it can win base Republican voters, but at the same time can convert new voters around the country.


This general election in 2024 is going to come down to persuadable voters who aren't necessarily hardcore partisan Republicans or hardcore Democrats. And Nikki Haley's appeal, I think, is that she can win those voters in the general election.

BLITZER: She argues, Ashley, that she has a better chance of beating Biden than Trump would have. As far as the Biden campaign and Democrats are concerned, who do they fear most being the Republican nominee, Nikki Haley or Donald Trump?

ALLISON: Well, I think the fear is Donald Trump because of what it would mean to lose to Donald Trump. You've heard the former first lady, Michelle Obama, most recently the vice president, Kamala Harris, talking about the threat Donald Trump really poses to our democracy.

But I will say after the last two-and-a-half, three weeks of Nikki Haley not being very clear about the root of the Civil War and saying that our country has never had racism or started in racist, I don't think the Biden campaign is too concerned either running against her right now because she's kind of confused on some issues.

MADDEN: The polling might say they'd be concerned.

BLITZER: We'll see what happens. All right, guys, thank you very much, Ashley Allison, Kevin Madden.

And to our viewers, stay with CNN for our Republican presidential town hall with Nikki Haley. Jake Tapper moderates live from New Hampshire. That's later tonight 9:00 P.M. Eastern.

And just ahead, a very public break by the Biden administration on new comments from the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, that and more with the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Republican Congressman Mike Turner. He's standing by live. We'll discuss.



BLITZER: There's breaking news we're following right now. The U.S. House of Representatives has just passed a bill to keep the federal government open at least until March. That now goes to President Biden's desk for his signature. This as lawmakers keep wrangling over a deal that would send new aid to Ukraine while stepping up enforcement on the U.S. border with Mexico.

Let's get some analysis from the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Republican Congressman Mike Turner of Ohio. Mr. Chairman, thanks so much for joining us.

REP. MIKE TURNER (R-OH): Wolf, thanks for having me.

BLITZER: Let's talk a little bit about this new legislation that the president is getting ready to sign. Republican Senator John Cornyn is pushing back against what he calls hard line demands from House Republicans on this deal. Listen to this.


SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-TX): You have to make hard choices sometimes in politics and in life. And here, the question is, do you want to get something that will help us stem the tide of humanity coming across the border and drugs, or do you want to get nothing?


BLITZER: So, what's your reaction to that? Do House Republicans risk getting nothing right now?

TURNER: So, you're really actually talking about two different bills. There was the bill that was passed in the House that's funding for the fiscal year. And then there's the supplemental. That is the national security bill. That's the quad that the president has proposed, which is Ukraine, Israel, Indo-Pacific, and then the border provisions.

Now, what I think Cornyn was talking about, which is very important, is that we need to make certain that we stem the flow at the border. The president knows it has to occur. I was just at the White House yesterday. He himself said in our meeting, the border is broken. And we can't do that just by providing additional funds that go to aid or assistance to people who come across the border. We have to secure the border.

And that's what the negotiations are that are ongoing in the Senate. They're working on a bill right now. Both McConnell and Schumer represented yesterday in the meeting at the White House. They thought that the bill that was coming forward would be a really good discussion point. But, absolutely, I think the American people believe, as the president did when he proposed this bill, border security has to be part of this package and it has to be meaningful.

BLITZER: But you're willing to compromise with Democrats on this, right?

TURNER: Well, I think the fact that the Republicans have the House and the Democrats have the Senate and the Democrats, which always has to, by the way, work on a bipartisan basis, as you know, and then the presidency is in the hand of the Democrats, we're going to end up with a bipartisan solution.

But all four of these are incredibly important. Ukraine desperately needs our aid. Israel clearly needs our assistance, our allies in Asia also do. But the border is the most significant present national security threat to the United States.

BLITZER: Speaking of Israel, the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, just had a news conference and he said he told the U.S. he will oppose any establishment of a Palestinian state. As you know, President Biden keeps talking about the need for a two-state solution, Israel living alongside a new state of Palestine. Does what Netanyahu is now saying make peace even more complicated, more difficult?

TURNER: Well, you know, it's not surprising to hear him say something like this. And, obviously, that's his view of the challenges that Israel is facing. But on the Palestinian side, you can't have a two- state solution unless the Palestinians have one state, and they've not had one state. In the West bank, you have the Palestinian authority, and Gaza. The Palestinian Authority had been supplanted by Hamas, a terrorist organization, and there had been no additional political activity there. They ruled in Gaza. The fact that there's not one coherent Palestinian group or organization certainly prohibits being the next step.

BLITZER: Do you support a two-state solution?

TURNER: I think a two-state solution would be the best solution because you would have two nations side by side that hopefully could have peace. But you can't have in Gaza a terrorist organization that not only, as we saw on October 7th, mercilessly killed Israelis, but the amount of shelling, the routine bombing that occurs from Gaza into Israel, it cannot be permitted.


BLITZER: Let's talk about what's going on with the U.S. shelling, hitting these Houthi -- Iranian-backed Houthi rebels that are going on right now. President Biden says the strikes against the Houthis will continue. You've been fully briefed. You're the chairman of the intelligence committee.

How are -- how are they going?

TURNER: Well, first off, it's about time. You can't play defense, you know, we kept getting the news stories on a repeated basis as to the attacks that were happening on ships that even missiles that were launched at our own military ships. And that we were being by our own technology, were on defensive mechanism being able to take those down.

You can't play defense continuously and you have to let them know that they're not going to be able to continue this. So its very important that the president took the step in Yemen to hit the Houthis, to begin to diminish their overall capabilities, but they need to know they're going to be paying a price for trying to diminish the ability to have commercial shipping.

BLITZER: I want to ask you before I let you go because we're almost out of time. A quick question on the U.S. Supreme Court. You've signed a brief asking the Supreme Court to reverse the decision removing Trump from the Colorado ballot.

The brief also cast doubt on whether Trump bears responsibility for the January 6 insurrection. It says this: It is hard to imagine an actual insurrection is quickly asking for peace and encouraging disbandment.

Does that mean you think Trump acted appropriately that day?

TURNER: Well, of course not. But what I think is important is Colorado is not acting appropriately and another, have other states that have looked to take down democracy by taking off a valid candidate. The brief's core principle, as you know, is the fact that Article 14, section three states specifically that it is to be enforced by congressional action and legislation. We have in this instance, Trump hasn't even been charged, and he certainly hasn't been convicted of insurrection for states on their own to take this up, where the Constitution specifically reserves the enforcement of this provision, the enactment of this provision to Congress is why the Supreme Court needs to rule against them.

BLITZER: Chairman Turner, thank you so much for coming. And I hope you'll be a frequent visitor here in THE SITUATION ROOM, my SITUATION ROOM.

TURNER: Thank you.

BLITZER: Appreciate it very, very much.

And we'll have much more news right after this.



BLITZER: Right now, families of American hostages held in Gaza are meeting with a top White House official demanding answers about their loved ones who've been in captivity now for months.

Brian Todd is monitoring this story.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For more than 100 days, they faced the crushing anxiety of not knowing their loved ones fate at the hands of Hamas. Tonight, the families of American hostages held in Gaza have come to Washington to press for answers, meeting with President Biden's national security adviser, Jake Sullivan at the White House.

JONATHAN DEKEL-CHEN, FATHER OF AMERICAN HOSTAGE SAGUI DEKEL-CHAN: We're painfully aware that every hour, every day that passes all of the hostages are in increasing dangerous.

TODD: We asked Jonathan Dekel-Chen and Gillian Kaye (ph), the parents of 35-year-old American hostage Sagui Dekel-Chen, a father of three, including a five-week-old daughter he's never seen if they'd heard anything about his current condition. They said the last they had heard about six weeks ago was that he was alive.

DEKEL-CHEN: Of course, that was six weeks ago. And in hellhole that's the Hamas tunnels with the neglect, the lack of nutrition, medicine, air, it's impossible to know what their condition is, and, of course, an ongoing war above their heads.

TODD: More than 100 hostages were released during a seven-day truce between Israel and Hamas late last year. Now, the White House is saying there's no new progress to announce, only that there are serious discussions ongoing about trying to get the six Americans released.

One positive sign this week, a deal between Hamas and Israel to deliver medication for hostages in Gaza, in return for humanitarian aid to also be supplied to Palestinian civilians in Gaza.

But for family members, that is painfully little progress.

JON POLIN, FATHER OF HOSTAGE HERSCH GOLDBERG: It's clear we are failing. The hostages are running out of time.

TODD: One hostage still believed held in captivity is a toddler, Kfir Bibas, who turned one-year-old today. His family marked his birthday with a bittersweet gathering.

YOSI SHNAIDER, RELATIVE OF ONE-YEAR-OLD HOSTAGE KFIR BIBAS: He's not to be able to start walking, to start crawling, to do things that he's supposed to -- supposed to do as a kid, its not clear if fear be boss is still alive. The Israeli military said in November, it was assessing a claim made without evidence by Hamas's military wing that the child was killed in an Israeli airstrike.

As protests continue in Israel tonight, demanding that Israel secure their release, analyst Peter Bergen says right now negotiations for hostages would be at an especially hard stage.

PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Hamas on to signs that the hostages, they have continued to hold, quote/unquote, higher value than perhaps the previous set of hostages. In particular, military age, males in particular, I think actually unfortunately American citizens or dual nationals, they're going to drive a very hard bargain for.


TODD (on camera): Following the hostage releases and one rescue, the latest information from the Israeli prime minister's office is that it believes 132 hostages remain in Gaza. Of those, it says 105 are alive and 27 are dead -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Brian, thank you very much.

Also, those hostages come home and come home soon.

Coming up, millions of Americans are bracing for more cold temperatures, snow and ice after a deadly winter weather. That's already killed dozens of people here in the United States.



BLITZER: Tens of millions of people across the United States are now bracing for winter storms that will soon hit both coasts.

CNN meteorologist Elisa Raffa is my hometown of Buffalo, New York, for us.

Elisa, what are the conditions like there now?

ELISA RAFFA, AMS METEOROLOGIST: We're finally starting to see this snow slow down a little bit here, Wolf. We were dealing with two to three inch per hour snow rates all day, visibility, incredibly low, trucks not allowed on I-90 because of the conditions.

And where are we putting all of this snow? There's so many these mountains all over the city as these plows are working overtime. Now, the fans are working overtime going to take you appear where you can see there's actually traffic people in Buffalo braving the conditions to head to that Sabers game that was postpone because Wednesday was too difficult.

Now that conditions are starting to ease up a little bit. They're trying to get to the game, the Bills game is still on schedule for Sunday and they're asking people, hey, you want to make an extra couple of bucks, come shovel out the stadium.

I want to show you some of these snow totals. I mean, were talking about feet of snow, over 40 inches over parts of Watertown, from Lake Ontario, the Buffalo area has 20, 30 inches and will continue with this snow. We'll have another storm system that's kind of wiping through and it gets cold again going into the weekend -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Elisa Raffa, in beautiful Buffalo, New York, my hometown, as they said, remember, go Bills!

Thanks very much for joining us.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.