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Trump Appears To Call For Ex-Clinton Aide To Go To Jail; W.H. Defends Trump's Criticism Of A "Deep State Justice Department"; Trump Backs Protesters As Violence Erupts In Iran For 6th Day; Iran Blames Enemies, Slams Trump Amid Deadly Protests; Trump Takes Credit for Zero U.S. Airline Deaths in 2017; Dems, Republicans on House Panel Could Issue Dueling Reports in Russia Investigation; Trump to North Korea: I Too Have a Nuclear Button.. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired January 2, 2018 - 19:00   ET


[19:00:15] ERIN BURNETT, ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT HOST: OutFront next, attacks on the nation's Justice Department, threatening to jail political opponents. This is from the President of the United States of America tonight.

Plus, riots in Iran getting deadlier. Trump siding with the protesters. What's his end game?

And the President takes credit for planes not crashing. How? Let's go OutFront.

BURNETT: Good evening, I'm Erin Burnett. And OutFront tonight, the deep state. President Trump attacking his own Justice Department, accusing the agency of mass conspiracy against him. The President charging the department is part of a so-called deep state. It's an unsettling and destabilizing charge and it comes as the President appears to call for Hillary Clinton top aide, Huma Abedin, to go to jail. It happened as of course it usually does, via tweet.

Today, here's what the President wrote. "Crooked Hillary Clinton's top aide Huma Abedin has been accused of disregarding basic security protocols. She put classified passwords into the hands of foreign agents. Remember sailors' pictures on submarines? Jail. Deed State Justice Department must finally act? Also on Comey and others."

Well today, the White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders defended her boss' obvious disregard for due process in that tweet.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is the President requesting that the Department of Justice investigate Huma Abedin? And how did he reach his conclusion that she should be in jail given that she hasn't been indicted or convicted of any crime?

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Look, obviously, the facts of that case are very disturbing. And I think the President wants to make clear that he doesn't feel that anyone should be above the law in terms of any investigation. That would be something the Department of Justice would need to decide, and I would refer you to them on whether or not they move forward.


BURNETT: Interesting and important that she would punt and refer reporters to the Department of Justice. Considering that the President told The New York Times in an interview this weekend, "I have absolute right to do what I want to do with the Justice Department." That would mean there would be no need to defer to them. She could just answer the question. She didn't want to.

The President's apparent call to jail Huma Abedin before she's convicted, never mind charged with a crime, though, does fit a pattern for the President.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Hillary Clinton has to go to jail, OK. She has to go to jail. For what she's done, they should lock her up.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER (in unison): Lock her up. Lock her up. Lock her up.

TRUMP: Lock her up is right.

She deleted the e-mails. She has to go to jail.


BURNETT: One of the perks of a democracy is that its leaders do not throw their opponents in jail. That, of course, would be the definition of a dictatorship, like Vladimir Putin's Russia where political opponents are not only routinely jailed. Sometimes shot and poisoned. Or in Iran where this week at least 21 people have been killed during political protests. Iran's notorious Evin Prison is believed to have an entire wing only for political prisoners.

Sara Murray is OutFront tonight at the White House. And Sara, on this issue of the deep state, the President obviously seems to be making the case that his own Justice Department is part of a deep state conspiracy against him. What does the White House say about that today?

SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right. And look, obviously, we have heard complaints from this President before about his own Justice Department. But it's striking that he would go so far as to liken the Justice Department to part of the deep state, suggesting that there is this broad conspiracy that somehow taking place to undermine Trump's presidency.

Now, no surprise, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders did not go that far when she was talking to reporters today. She said that of course the President doesn't believe that everyone who works for the Justice Department is part of the deep state. But she did add caveats to that. She did say that the White House believes that there should be changes that are taking place within the ranks of the Justice Department.

She pointed to the fact that the President chose Chris Wray to lead the FBI and that he does have faith in his new FBI Director, but believes there needs to be changes within the ranks of FBI agents. And I think it gives you a window, Erin, into sort of where the President's thinking is on this. He's now nearly a year into this White House, but still believes there are entire arms of government or at least parts of these government institutions that are dedicated to undermining him.

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

And I want to go to Jessica Schneider now also OutFront in Washington. On the claim itself here, just the facts, Jessica, I mean, the President obviously seems very clearly appears to be calling for the jailing of Huma Abedin because he says she, quote, put classified passwords into the hands of foreign agents. What are the facts here? What is he talking about?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, it seems the President is pointed to a Huma Abedin e-mail that was released in a document done from the State Department this weekend. So it was an e- mail found amid hundreds of others on Abedin's estranged husband Anthony Weiner's computer, we all remember, just a few weeks before the 2016 election.

[19:05:00] So take a look at this e-mail. It is dated August 2009. And Abedin actually forwarded it to herself from her State Department e-mail to her personal Yahoo account. And you can see there, it lists the passwords to log on to her government issued laptop while she was at the State Department.

So OK, there's that. But there's no indication that Abedin's computer was actually compromised. However, there was a massive Yahoo e-mail hack that affected all three billion accounts in 2013. And that leads to the possibility that this particular e-mail was stolen. And Erin, that's why presumably the President made that huge leap on twitter that those passwords got into the hands of foreign agents.

But we have done our own fact checking, and here's why it's really not likely that government systems were compromised. First, Abedin had left the State Department in early 2013. That was six months before that Yahoo hack. Secondly, Abedin had a two-step verification system on the government computer, so really a password alone wouldn't get somebody in.

So as of now, the Department of Justice, they're not commenting on any possible investigation, and they're not saying whether or not government computers may have been compromised because of this password information that Abedin had forwarded to her Yahoo account. But of course, Erin, that is not stopping the President from tweeting about it, as we saw this morning. Erin?

BURNETT: All right, thank you very much. Obviously, it appears bad judgment, but that could be very different from criminal or actually getting in the hands of foreign agents. The President seem to put out there as fact.

OutFront now, Richard Painter, White House Ethics Lawyer under President George W. Bush, Julie Pace, the Washington Bureau Chief for the Associated Press, and Tim Naftali, Presidential Historian, the former Director of the Nixon Presidential Library. I want to get to Huma Abedin and the charges there just a minute, Tim, but first, the President's use of the term deep state, which he put in this tweet. It's not a nothing phrase, right? It is significant and troubling.

TIMOTHY NAFTALI, FORMER DIRECTOR, NIXON PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY: It's very troubling. It's a term that actually comes from the far left. People who after they learned about what the FBI was doing with the anti-war movement, and after they learned about the efforts by the CIA to kill foreign leaders, some on the far left said that there was this state that was beyond the ability of the demos, of the people to control.

And so it comes from the far left. And it was a product of conspiracy thinking. The irony of this is that we learned about all of these activities because we have a Congress, because in fact the public does have power. But nevertheless, people on the right and the President clearly associated himself with that side now, people on the right now have taken this to mean that there is this state, largely populated by intelligence officers and members of law enforcement, who are doing things without control, without transparency. It's very dangerous for the President to say this because it means that the President believes he doesn't control his own government.

BURNETT: And that, of course, sends a horrible signal, not just to Americans but around the world.

Now, Richard, when the President said this, he specifically called the deep state Justice Department, right? He called on them to act, right, regarding Huma Abedin. And I want to play more of what happened when the White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders was asked to explain about this deep state allegation today. Here she is.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does this administration believe that the deep state is a real thing, that there is this shadow government out there actively plotting to sabotage him?

SANDERS: Look, the President finds some of those actions very disturbing. And he thinks that we need to make sure if there is an issue that it's looked at, but if there was anything beyond that, I would refer you to the Department of Justice that would look into it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does he believe the entire Justice Department and its more than 100,000 employees are part of this deep state?

SANDERS: Obviously, he doesn't believe the entire Justice Department is part of that.


BURNETT: Richard, does that give you -- it's not the entire Justice Department, not all 100,000 employees?

RICHARD PAINTER, FORMER W.H. ETHICS LAWYER FOR PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, he is basically saying that he wants to clean out the government, including the civil service, from any people who could be political opponents of his. Anyone who might disapprove of him. And that's the way business is done in a dictatorship. In a communist dictatorship or a fascist dictatorship or some other type. That's not the way we do business in the United States.

This is reaffirming what we have learned in 2017, that Donald Trump is a very dangerous man. He does not belong in the presidency. And I voted republican, and I want to continue to vote Republican, but I'm not going to support any member of the House or Senate who continues to support this president. He's extremely dangerous.

We need to put Mike Pence in there or somebody else because this type of rhetoric can lead to action and could mean the destruction of our democracy. We need to take this very, very seriously in 2018. This is not just rhetoric. He is repeatedly tweeting this way, and he is taking action, including firing his FBI Director, and I think trying to fire Robert Mueller.

[19:10:07] BURNETT: So let me -- I mean, look, that's a very passionate statement there. To the point that you made, that you don't think it's just rhetoric. Julie, Richard mentioned the tweet. The President has tweeted about a so-called deep state four times since June.

We'll just put them up there so people can see them. One, of course, was today. But it's not a new term for him. It's not a new conspiracy for him to throw around. Why, Julie, do you think he is doing this? I mean, is this just to stir it up, or does he truly believe in it? And it is a reality, as Richard is saying?

JULIE PACE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, ASSOCIATED PRESS: I think there are a couple reasons that the President has continued over this past year to push this idea of a deep state. One, there are advisers and friends of the President who share this belief that there is a cadre of Obama officials, of career civil servants who are Democrats who are out to get the President, who have taken his election as a challenge and are seeking to actively undermine him. So, on the one hand, he does believe that there are these pockets of Democrats who are out to get him, scattered around the government.

On the other hand, I do think that some of this is a political tactic by the President. He knows particularly when he's talking about Hillary Clinton, when he's talking about Huma Abedin, when he's talking about Obama administration officials. He knows that his base gets motivated by this. He knows that he can distract his supporters from things that may not be going well for him. The progress that may not be being made on agenda items. He knows he can get attention when he does this.

But again, I do believe in talking to his friends and his advisers that this is something that has become a real concern for him. BURNETT: And on this point, when he says that, Tim, too that the Justice Department, you know, is deep state, they need to put Huma Abedin, he appears to say, in jail. Let's be clear to the point that Richard made. That is something that happens in a dictatorship. That is not something that happens in a democracy. It's just not how it works.

NAFTALI: Remember that the President's most important responsibility is to uphold the Constitution. And we have rights under the Constitution. We have our Fourth Amendment right. We have the right to be -- to a fair trial. We have a right to a justice system that is impartial.

A tweet like the one, this one, is just part of a sort of string of tweets that we've seen over the last few months. This is a way of undermining our justice system. But I want to -- I'm going to make one very important point. We have seen this before.

Richard Nixon didn't use the word deep state, but when the CIA refused to help him cover up, he began to spread myths that the CIA was undermining his administration. And by the way, there are some Americans who believe that Richard Nixon was railroaded. And many of them believe a myth that the CIA brought him down. That's a product of the willfulness of a man with authoritarian instincts who wants to misuse government agencies.

My concern, like Richard's, is that the use of the deep state term is a way of getting a pass. Our President want to be able to do what he wants with these institutions. If they don't follow him, he's going to say that they're not responsive and they're part of the deep state.

BURNETT: Right, which, Julie, that certainly appears to be the case, right? If he doesn't get what he wants, then he complains, right? I mean, whether it's an intentional authoritarianism or not, it is authoritarianism.

PACE: Absolutely. And I think it speaks to a fundamental misunderstanding of the presidency that Trump has had since he took office. If you talk to people during the transition about a year ago at this time, they talked about the presidency in a much different way than we have historically come to know it.

There was this expectation, I think, that Trump would have more power than the presidency actually has. I think there was a misunderstanding of the different levers of government. Certainly the relationship between the White House and the Justice Department is one that the historical relationship between the White House and Justice Department is one that this administration has struggled to understand. And there was a feeling that Trump could come in and sort of wipe the slate clean and instead he's found he actually as President doesn't have ultimate power.

BURNETT: All right. And, of course, that's one of the great things about our presidency, that there is a career civil service and it's not just all swinging one way or another. It's part of our system. Thanks so much to all three of you. I appreciate it.

NAFTALI: Thank you.

BURNETT: And next, protests across Iran, at least 21 deaths now, hundreds of arrests. The situation, unpredictable at this hour. We're going to get updates tonight from the streets of Tehran.

Plus, Trump claiming credit for the fact that there were no commercial aviation deaths in 2017. Yes, taking credit for that.

And Jeanne Moos on frozen sharks and other strange things that happen when it gets this cold.


[19:18:06] BURNETT: Breaking news. A sixth day of protests in Iran. The country's supreme leader blaming, quote, enemies of the country for the biggest demonstrations there since 2009. At this hour, 21 people have been killed in protests taking place across the nation. Four-hundred fifty people have been arrested.

Now, the demonstrators initially taking to the streets to protest surging prices for things like food and fuel. Then, though, the protests turned political, spreading quickly. President Trump took the demonstrators' side, tweeting in part, "The people of Iran are finally acting against the brutal and corrupt Iranian regime." He continued, "The people have little food, big inflation and little rights. The U.S. is watching."

But earlier today, the White House dodged again and again a chance to come out and say it loudly and clearly and call for regime change in Tehran.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What does the President see as the end game in Iran? Would he like to see regime change?

SANDERS: I mean, I think the ultimate end game would be that the citizens and the people of Iran are actually given basic human rights, and he'd certainly like to see them stop being a state sponsor of terror.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just to be very specific, the President said it's time for change in Iran. Did he mean in leadership or in policy or both?

SANDERS: I think, again, the biggest thing is the change would be that the people of Iran have basic human rights, which their government is frankly not allowing them to have at this time.


BURNETT: OutFront now from Tehran, Los Angeles Times Reporter, Ramin Mostaghim. And Ramin, you're there in Tehran, in Iran on the ground. These protests, it seems to me much less about their size and more about how many protests there are taking place. How widespread are they in Iran right now?

RAMIN MOSTAGHIM, REPORTER, LOS ANGELES TIMES: In terms of the cities and provincial towns, I can say less than 30 provincial towns and big and small cities as of the country are involved.

[19:20:09] And the smaller the cities, the smaller the town, the more tension, we can say. And even human casualties are more in the provincial towns, in the south and the center of Iran, in the east of Iran.

BURNETT: Ramin, you know, these protests in a sense, they seem to come out of the blue. Obviously, there's widespread discontent. But the sudden protests around the nation did come out of the blue. The government, of course, has said it's going to stop. Do you think that it will stop?

MOSTAGHIM: We can see, we can compare the nights with each other, and I can say that last night, a few hours ago, local time, it was less tension, less protesters, less anti-riot police, and more tranquility. So we can say until Friday, which is the day of staged and orchestrated Friday prayers in Tehran, and more than 800 cities out of the country, until Friday morning, I can say it will be on the trend of diminishing. It's predictable. But as it came out of the blue, it can be resumed out of the blue sky.

BURNETT: All right, Ramin, thank you so much for your time from Tehran tonight. Appreciate it.

MOSTAGHIM: Bless you.

BURNETT: And now I want to go to the Democratic Congressman from Virginia, Gerry Connolly, who sits on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. And Congressman, I appreciate your time.


BURNETT: Good to have you. The President said this Iranian regime is brutal and corrupt. I guess I just want to start with your basic view on what he said. Do you agree with President Trump?

CONNOLLY: Yes. I believe the regime is brutal and corrupt.

BURNETT: And yet we just heard the White House refusing to call for outright regime change. Should they just come out and say it? I mean, considering everyone knows the United States want regime change in Iran. The President has called the regime brutal and corrupt, and yet they won't take the next step and call for regime change. Are you OK with that?

CONNOLLY: I think that the administration needs to tone down the President's tweets with respect to Iran. It's OK to identify with the protesters and their cause and to champion them. But you've got to be very careful that you don't play into the hands of the hard liners who will cite the great Satan, America, for instigating these protests, and that can only result in harm to the protesters we want to identify with.

So I think Trump needs to not be Trump in this particular case. You have made your point. Now let things unfold. Iran's got a lot of internal problems that hopefully at the end of the day might result in a lot more freedom in Iran. But we're not going to effectuate that.

BURNETT: All right. So I want to read the full tweet since you reference it and saying that he should tone down his language publicly. Look, here's what he said. He says, "The people of Iran are finally acting against the brutal and corrupt Iranian regime. All of the money that President Obama so foolishly gave them went into terrorism and into their pockets. The people have little food, big inflation, and no human rights. The U.S. is watching."

Now, of course, as you know, Congressman, he is referring here to the Iranian nuclear deal that President Obama's team negotiated. Is President Trump justified in ending that deal now, as he has made it loud and clear he can do at any time?

CONNOLLY: No. It would have catastrophic consequences. And it would --

BURNETT: Like what?

CONNOLLY: Well, it would produce a nuclear Iran. Absolutely. And it would solidify public support for the regime at a time where that public support is fractured. So it would be such a counterproductive thing long-term in the region and counterproductive with respect to what we hope might yet happen in Iran, within Iran.

BURNETT: Yesterday, I don't know if you saw this, Congressman, but a former National Security Council official under President Obama said that in retrospect, it was a mistake that Obama did not get more involved with the 2009 mass political protests in Iran, right. He was essentially -- didn't want to get involved in another country's internal politics. Is the President making the right move?


BURNETT: President Trump, as opposed to President Obama, by taking the demonstrators' side at all?

CONNOLLY: No. I think it's perfectly fine to identify with the demonstrators, but I do reject that kind of after the fact criticism of President Obama or any other president. Our options to influence events within Iran are very limited. We don't have leverage.

And so you can tweet until your heart's content, you can make public statements until your heart's content. It doesn't change anything. And in fact, it solidifies the hard liners we don't want to help.

[19:25:06] And so I don't know that President Obama had great options in front of him, and I don't know that President Trump has great options in front of him. He likes this median of tweet --

BURNETT: Yes. CONNOLLY: But I don't know if it effectuates change.

BURNETT: So, speaking effectuating change, one way tweets do effectuates change is just people being able to communicate with each other which they were doing in Iran and using twitter is one of many ways. And in my conversation with Ramin, this happened off camera, but I want to reference it, he told me that the social networks galvanized the protesters. That's the words he used. And the government shutting them down has tamped down the protests. It is a direct impact on fewer people showing up to protests.

So I ask you, Congressman, did Google, Facebook, Twitter, bear some responsibility here?

CONNOLLY: Yes, I think they do. And one of the big differences between 2009, the last great protests, and the current protest, is the pervasiveness of social media. It has grown exponentially within Iran, which allowed a lot of people to communicate their grievances and their political views in a much more free way than they could eight years ago, nine years ago. And I think that's a big difference.

The other big differences is these protests, in addition to being spontaneous and seemingly without any political direction, tend to have attracted a lot of the working class, not the educated elite. And that ought to worry Tehran, the government and the clerical leadership in Tehran a great deal.

BURNETT: All right, Congressman Connolly, thank you for your time tonight.

CONNOLLY: My pleasure.

BURNETT: And next, President Trump congratulating himself for planes not crashing. Does he deserve the credit? Well, we have a fact check.

And then, trouble in the Russia investigation on Capitol Hill. We have some new reporting just in to CNN. We'll be back.


BURNETT: President Trump takes credit for a lot of things, as you know, and some of the claims are fair. Others aren't. Take today's tweet, "Since taking office, I have been very strict on commercial aviation. Good news. It was just reported that there were zero deaths in 2017, the best and safest year on record."

Well, according to The Washington Post, Trump makes an average of nearly six false or misleading claims each day, which they tally up to 1,950 of such comments before he's reached even technically the end of his first year in office.

[19:30:13] So, how does the president's claims about aviation safety stack up?

Tom Foreman is OUTFRONT with a fact check -- Tom. TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Erin, the first problem is in the

second line of this tweet in which he refers to 2017 as the best and safest year on record. What he's citing here is a worldwide study of aviation safety. And yes, it was a very, very successful world, but that's not his purview. It's really the United States of America.

And here, was 2017 a good year for safety and airlines? Yes, it was. But so were all of these other ones dating back quite some time, despite 9 million to 10 million flights a year, you have to go all the way back to 2009 before you can find a U.S. carrier with a regularly scheduled passenger flight with a fatal crash in this country.

So, best and safest on record, well, if it turns out that 2017 had slightly more flights, a few more passengers than any of these other years -- yes, you can squeeze out that kind of claim, but it's incremental at best, and it builds on work that goes back years before Donald Trump was president.

BURNETT: So, to the point here in the first line, tom, when they say since taking office -- I'm sorry, he says, I have been very strict on commercial aviation. Right? That's sort of where he's taking credit.

I mean, has he been strict on commercial aviation? What's he done?

FOREMAN: He's done some stuff. For example, he's called for the modernization and the privatization of air traffic control. That really hasn't gone anywhere in Congress.

You may recall the laptop ban that was in place for a while, trying to deal with the threat of plastic explosives. That was then replaced with more strict screening measures. But bear in mind, this is really about dealing with terrorism, not general aviation safety, which is what these reports are about.

And lately, his team has been talking about this group out here called the Commercial Aviation Safety Team, or CAST, saying they're going to become more proactive. This is a private/public partnership, which indeed works on reducing the danger in the air, but here's the thing. He's talking about what they're going to do with that, and this team, by the way, has been in place for 20 years. It was started by Bill Clinton.

So, his notion that since taking office, he's been very strict on commercial aviation, there's very little evidence to support that, and even less to show that it's produced any substantial results -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Tom Foremen, thank you very much.

Let's go to Jason Miller, former senior communications adviser for the Trump campaign, and Norm Eisen, former Obama White House ethics czar.

All right. Jason, coming out here, you know, ostensibly to take credit for no airplane crash deaths in 2017, why would he feel the need to even -- to do that, to even take credit for that?

JASON MILLER, FORMER SENIOR COMMUNICATIONS ADVISER, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: Well, Erin, I got to hand it to the president, of all the issues I thought we would be talking about this evening, at least when I got up this morning, aviation safety wasn't one of them, but the fact we're debating whether or not this is the single safest year that's on record or if it's tied for being the safest year on record, I think really goes to the fact that President Trump knows how to go and push the issues and get us talking about things that he wants us to be talking about.

But I think in all --

BURNETT: When something awful happens in the air, he's going to take credit for that, going to take the blame?

MILLER: But where what I would say is he has actually gone and implemented measures on the safety front that do allow him to take some credit here. Because one of the important things to point out is that while there have been zero accidents, thank goodness, as there haven't been going back as far back international carriers since 2013 and domestically since 2009, we know that the threats, the security threats, have continued to go up each year.

And so, for putting in those additional safety measures this past June and making sure that we're looking out for those, I think you really have to hand it to the president and his team.

But the one other point I would make here is going back to the presidential campaign from last year, when you look at 2015 and 2016, during the primary and the general, the president has been talking about aviation safety and a need to get our airports and overall aviation system improved, he's been talking about this for the last couple years as something that would be part of his infrastructure agenda, so this has been a priority for him. We have seen things get put into place. I'm glad to see we have a fantastic record.

BURNETT: All right, Norm. Do you buy it?

NORM EISEN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ETHICS CZARR UNDER PRESIDENT OBAMA: Erin, thanks for having me back. And, Jason, it's a nice try, but come on. It's yet another of the almost 2,000 lies that the president has told in his first year in office. According to "PolitiFact", only 16 percent of what he says is true or mostly true. Extraordinarily, we have never had a president like this with the other 84 percent that is not true or mostly true.

He's taking credit for something that he has nothing to do with.

[19:35:03] He hasn't implemented his aviation measures. He has plans with the air traffic controllers. They have gone no place.

And the question you have to ask yourself is this is a small one, and you say, OK, who cares? But he lies about the big stuff too. He claims that the tax bill killed Obamacare. That's not true.

He claims he's had the most successful record of any president in passing legislation, breaking Truman's record. That's an out and out lie. He claims immigrants come here, they have put in a grab bag and their names are chosen. That's false.

He lies about the big things too. It saddens me as somebody who has worked in the White House and who venerates the presidency. He's like the boy who cried wolf.

And, Erin, it's going to come back to haunt him because the obstruction of justice charges that Bob Mueller is looking at is going to be up to the president to be candid or not. Is Mueller going to believe him or not when he says believe him or not when he says I didn't intend to obstruct? Like the boy who cries wolf, this is going to back to haunt him.

BURNETT: Jason, to the point norm is making, right, in "The New York Times" interview the president gave a few days ago, got fact checks. Twenty-four misleading or false claims in the length of that interview, which "The Washington Post" calculates as one every 75 seconds, OK? Who knows exactly whether they were all said at once or over the span of a whole interview, but you get the point. That's the average.

They ranged from, you know, exaggerating the number of people who follow him on social media as just one example. Are you concerned about this, Jason? Are you concerned about the stat that Norm just shared, 84 percent of the time, false or misleading, or do you think it just doesn't matter?

MILLER: Well, Erin, I have to push back a bit on the good ambassador here. He didn't actually answer the central question of whether or not this was the safest year on record or if it was tied for being the safest year on record.

BURNETT: No, no, the central question is, is the president responsible for it being the safest year on record, Jason.

MILLER: I think he's had a huge part of it, and I think he absolutely should be able to take credit for it.

BURNETT: That's ridiculous, I'm sorry. You can't give the president credit for the plane not crashing.

MILLER: And you know what? And President Obama should be able to take credit for the years he had fantastic safety records as well.

BURNETT: Thank goodness, he didn't because it's silly.

MILLER: It's not silly. It's showing we're having a safe system and we need to make sure we are, even with these additional terror threats and security threats that are out there. I don't think it's silly at all. I think it's a really important issue that we put out there.

But going back to your earlier point about the fact checkers. I mean, so much -- there really needs to be who is watching the fact checkers here. So many of these things are such nit-picks and so many of them, I really think they have an agenda of trying to get at the president. I think they do more of a disservice than anything else in a lot of cases here. BURNETT: Norm, a chance to respond to that. Is that petty?

EISEN: Jason, if I ever become a habitual liar and get in trouble, I'll hire you, because you're a good soldier. But this is a cancer on the White House and the presidency and the United States.

The president should be the most trusted man in the world. When we count on the North Koreans, for example, to take him at his word and his nose has grown like Pinocchio, he's endangering our national security. These are not close questions. And you have to ask yourself, what kind of man tells these lies when he knows he's going to be caught?

And the frequency of them, it's shameful and it's dangerous. So, I don't -- sure, the aviation taking credit for the aviation record is a small thing. But 2,000 of these, that is not a small thing.

BURNETT: All right.

MILLER: But you agree, Ambassador, we had a perfect year last year?

EISEN: Well --

BURNETT: Well, that's not the question. We had a perfect year last year.

MILLER: It's a very valid question.

EISEN: It's -- the president had nothing to do with it, Jason. Let's celebrate the fact that the president prevented a giant meteor from striking the planet earth and sending us into a second ice age. Come on. The man had nothing to do with the aviation record.

BURNETT: All right. I'll hit pause there. Jason, you had the first word so Norm will get that last word. Thanks so much to both.

And next, trouble in the Russia investigation tonight. New CNN reporting at this hour about Democrats and Republicans on a collision course.

And Kim Jong-un with an ominous threat for the New Year.


[19:42:40] BURNETT: Breaking news: Congress on a collision course in the Russia investigation. Democrats and Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee appear increasingly likely to issue competing reports, with very different conclusions about the probe.

That's really bad news. It could mean people don't trust the answer. It could mean Americans don't get a definitive answer on whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia.

Manu Raju is OUTFRONT on Capitol Hill.

Manu, look, it's a damning thing, really bad news. What are you learning about this collision course between Democrats and Republicans?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Well, Erin, Republicans on the committee say they have interviewed dozens of witnesses, including major players in the Trump campaign orbit, people who are close to the president. They have gone through scores of documents, and they say they have reached a conclusion that Democrats have been searching for, that there actually has been no collusion between the Russians and the Trump campaign, and they say they want to move closer to issuing that final report, laying out whey they have learned, including what they believe is that there is no coordination or efforts to work together between Russians and the Trump campaign.

Democrats are looking at the same evidence and seeing the complete opposite picture, saying that, increasingly, there had been a number of efforts by the Russians to reach out to the Trump campaign and they say there are a number of things the committee has not yet explored, including Trump financial ties, any that may exist with Russia, as well as learning about the extent to which people like George Papadopoulos, the Trump foreign policy adviser, whether he communicated with the campaign about this effort by the Russians to give him dirt on the Clinton campaign.

And that means Democrats, Erin, could issue their own report saying what they found and what they believe the committee has not yet explored. That seems to be an increasingly likely scenario as Congress returns to session for 2018.

BURNETT: Look, as I said, I don't think anyone can overstate what bad news this would be and how bad for the country if these guys can't get it together and come up with a conclusion that both parties could agree on.

A key player in all this, Manu, I know is the intelligence committee chairman, Devin Nunes, right?

RAJU: Yes, that's right. And he, of course, as we know steps aside publicly from the Russia investigation earlier this year, among concerns about his handling of classified information. He later was cleared by the House Ethics Committee of any wrongdoing.

But even so, Erin, behind the scenes for months, he's wielded significant influence over the committee. He has retained subpoena power. Democrats accuse him of blocking their subpoena requests on a number of occasions.

[19:45:01] And he's launched his own investigation into what he believes is alleged wrongdoing at the Justice Department, even calling on multiple times for the Justice Department to lay out more information about its relationship with that British agent Christopher Steele, who put together the dossier of Trump and Russia allegations. Republicans are supportive of what Devin Nunes is doing, but, Erin, Democrats believe he's interfered with the investigation.

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

And next, has Kim Jong-un boxed President Trump into a corner? The crucial New Year's message.

And Jeanne Moos asking how cold is it? So cold that penguins were forced to go inside.


BURNETT: New tonight, U.S. officials warning North Korea's preparing to launch another missile. It would be the first test of the New Year and it comes as Pyongyang makes a surprising move, intended to back President Trump into a corner.

Barbara Starr is OUTFRONT.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An extraordinary new year's address from North Korea's unpredictable leader.

KIM JONG UN, NORTH KOREAN LEADER (through translator): The entire continent of America is within reach of our nuclear attack. They must never forget the nuclear button is placed on my desk at all times. They must realize correctly that this is not a threat but reality.

STARR: Kim Jong-un also suddenly suggesting he might send a team of athletes to next month's Winter Olympics in South Korea, which quickly got a positive response from South Korea's president, who called for talks on how to make that happen.

All of this perhaps leaving President Trump potentially on the outside looking in.

[19:50:00] COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Kim would love to drive a wedge between the United States, and Korea, South Korea, or Japan. It is very important for him to in essence take South Korea out of the mix of alliances that it currently has.

STARR: United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley not yet embracing progress.

NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: North Korea can talk with anyone they want, but the U.S. is not going to recognize it or acknowledge it until they agree to ban the nuclear weapons that they have.

STARR: The president putting his own take on developments tweeting: Sanctions and other pressures are beginning to have a big impact on North Korea. Soldiers are dangerously fleeing to South Korea. Rocket man now wants to talk to South Korea for first time. Perhaps that is good news, perhaps not. We will see.

The risk for President Trump, defending South Korea could be much tougher if North and South grow closer. Already, there are signs the U.S. military may keep a lower profile on upcoming training and exercises. U.S. policy is unchanged. North Korea must denuclearize, give up its

weapons. But even as Kim recently made another unusual public appearance, attending a concert with his newly promoted sister, he continues to make clear he will continue pursuing missiles and nuclear warheads.


STARR: All of this as there are growing signs that Kim Jong-un is preparing for another ballistic missile test, but if he carries through on it, given this olive branch to South Korea is still something that remains to be seen -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Barbara, thank you.

And OUTFRONT now, Gordon Chang, author of "Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes on the World."

Gordon, an unexpected move and perhaps a very smart one. Let's have a direct conversation, North and South, and box out President Trump.

GORDON CHANG, AUTHOR, "NUCLEAR SHOWDOWN: NORTH KOREA TAKES ON THE WORLD": Yes, I mean, for Kim Jong-un, this is great, he can drive a wedge between the South Koreans and the Americans, and that's important because if Kim is going to realize his family's historic goals, which is to take over South Korea, he needs to get the U.S. off the peninsula.

But there's also a Russia and China play here because if Kim looks reasonable, that means Moscow and Beijing are going to really sort of help him and they're going to sort of isolate us. That's a really good win/win/win for Kim Jong-un.

BURNETT: In a lot of ways especially all the people who provide him money and sanctions relief. The president just actually tweeted in the past couple seconds about North Korea. Here's what he said, Gordon.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un stated that the, quote, nuclear button is on his desks at all times. Will someone from his depleted and food-starved regime please inform him that I, too, have a nuclear button, but it is a much bigger and more powerful one than his and my button works.

CHANG: Well --

BURNETT: I didn't make that up, people.

CHANG: I know.

And Kim Jong-un actually doesn't have a button that he can push, you know? Right now, maybe three months, six months from now he can pick up a phone and launch a nuke at the United States.

The one thing that Kim can do, that's an electromagnetic pulse device. He doesn't need heat shielding, he doesn't need guidance. He can do a lot of damage to the United States.

But, you know, the one thing Trump also tweeted this morning was the sanctions are starting to bite as you saw. And I think that's actually true because we were seeing a lot of evidence where people in Pyongyang are not getting their rations. That soldier who defected, he had uncooked kernels of corn in his stomach, which means he was scrounging for food.

He was the best of the best. So I think that essentially Kim is looking at all this and saying, look, these Iranians, that regime might not be there, they may not pay me by $3 billion, that's 10 percent of my economy.

BURNETT: Does that matter to Kim Jong-un what happens here when the president of the United States, well, my button is bigger? I mean, it's childish and silly, but (INAUDIBLE). I mean, does it matter he says something so silly or not?

CHANG: Yes, what it does is it legitimizes Kim Jong-un, because, you know, he brings himself --

BURNETT: I have a button, it's bigger than yours.

CHANG: Trump is bringing himself down to Kim Jong-un's level. He's in a shouting match with the president of the United States. That looks good from his perspective.

So, you know, this is not good diplomacy on the part of our president. There's a lot of things Trump has been doing which are good. This is really bad.

BURNETT: All right, Gordon Chang, thank you very much.

CHANG: Thanks Erin.

BURNETT: And, next, the cold weather is good for one thing, science experiments on demand. Wow. Cue Jeanne Moos.


[19:57:36] BURNETT: So, just how cold is it? Well, for this kind of an investigation, who else to conduct it but Jeanne Moos?


JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Who needs a thermometer to answer the age-old question, how cold is it? Cold enough for the Calgary zoo to temporarily bring its penguins indoors before letting them out again. Cold enough to freeze a shark, at least three of them were found washed up on Cape Cod likely stranded due to cold shock, noted the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy. They had to be thawed to be autopsied. A true sharksicle.

How cold is it? Not cold enough at six below to deter a guy dressed as a banana from water skiing on the Mississippi. But definitely cold enough to generate internet memes. I'm not going outside until the temperature is above my age.

Remember this trick from previous cold snaps? Turning boiling water instantly into snow is so last year. This is the year of --

CRAIG BOEHM: Frozen bubbles.

MOOS: Craig Boehm created a perfect specimen of temperature of minus 31 degrees Fahrenheit, in Saskatchewan, Canada. It has all the allure of a fragile homemade snow globe with over 4 million views.

BOEHM: It's crazy.

MOOS: There's pretty much one basic recipe for making ice bubbles and it doesn't involve using the store-bought bubble blowing stuff.

Another Canadian who has helped whip up #bubblemadness recommends warm water, corn syrup, dishwashing soap, and sugar.

The corn syrup, what does it do?

BOEHM: It basically hardens, gives it a little bit of structure, otherwise they just blow away.

MOOS: And if you really want a snow globe effect, add a Christmas tree so when the temperatures dip, just dip your straw and --

BOEHM: Start blowing.

MOOS: Even penguins love bubbles.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


MOOS: Can't believe the penguins actually had to go inside.

All right. Well, thank you so much for joining us. As we all continue to power through the cold, don't forget, you can watch OUTFRONT any time and anywhere. You just have to go to CNN Go.

In the meantime, have a great night. Stay warm.

"AC360" with Anderson begins right now.