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Spicer: If Syria Uses Barrel Bomb, U.S. Will; Respond; WH Clarifying After Spicer Seems To Draw New Red Line On Syria; WH: Not Ruling Out Further Action In Syria; U.S. Warship Heading To North Korean Peninsula Tonight; Angry Voters Fill Republican Congressman's Town Hall; Manhunt for Armed Suspect Who Sent Manifesto to Trump; United: Passenger Dragged Off Flight was "Belligerent". Aired 7-8p ET

Aired April 10, 2017 - 19:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN THE SITUATION ROOM WITH WOLF BLITZER HOST: -- decision by those folks who did what they did. Rene, thank you very, very much. That's it for me. I'm Wolf Blitzer in The Situation Room. Erin Burnett OutFront starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT HOST: OutFront next. Breaking news, the White House calling out Syria for using deadly barrel bombs. Something the Assad regime does daily. Is it a new red line?

Plus a massive U.S. Warship headed toward the Korean peninsula tonight. Will it stop or encourage Kim Jong-Un?

And a massive manhunt tonight for a heavily armed man who mailed Trump and anti-government manifesto. Let's go OutFront.

BURNETT: Good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. OutFront tonight, the breaking news, the White House saying the U.S. is prepared to take more military action against Syria. Not only if Syria uses chemical weapons, now citing Bashar al-Assad use of barrel bombs against the civilians as another trigger for retaliation. The White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer made that threat not once, but twice.


SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECETARY: If you gas a baby, if you put a barrel bomb into innocent people, I think you can -- you will -- you will see a response from this president. That is unacceptable. The sight of people being gassed and blown away by barrel bombs ensures that if with he see this kind of action again, we hold open the possibility of future action.


BURNETT: Let's be clear, barrel bombs are evil weapons. They're like IEDs dropped from the sky. Literally made from a barrel, frequently that is an oil drum that is then filled with explosives and shrapnel, things like nails and small metal parts. Sometimes they're even filled with chemical weapons like chlorine and then dropped from the sky. A Syrian network for human rights reports that Bashar al-Assad helicopters dropped 13,000 barrel bombs in 2016. So that is an average of dozens a day.

Obviously if a barrel bomb is now cause for U.S. military intervention, this game has entirely changed. Even if Sean Spicer only meant barrel bombs carrying chemical weapons by the way, Assad launched eight such barrel bomb attacks dropping chlorine in just 30 days at the end of last year alone accorindg to human rights watch. Again, a complete game changer. Perhaps this is why immediately after Spicer's comments multiple administration officials raced to clarify them.

They say there is no change in Syria policy but they didn't say that he didn't mean what he said about barrel bombs. The confusion comes as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson heads for Moscow for one of the most intense and high-stakes meetings in decades. The Russian President Vladimir Putin who once awarded Tillerson one of Russia's highest honors says he's not going to meet with the U.S. Secretary of State. Sara Murray begins our coverage OutFront at the White House. And Sara, it does seem like there is confusion at the White House.

SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. It was a little bit of perplexing day to see exactly what the administration's policy is going forward when it comes to Syria, which of course has been the big question in the wake of President Trump's decision to order those military strikes last week. Now, Sean Spicer did say multiple times that barrel bombs could be another red line for additional action on the behalf of this administration, but then they walked it back.

They said there is no change in policy. Now, obviously if they had come out and said, look, if there is a barrel bomb, we are going to respond, that would be a big change in policy as you were pointing out. They're saying that's not exactly what Sean Spicer meant, but they're not saying what he did mean. I think, Erin, what you are seeing is this is an administration that's still very loathe to draw clear red lines. They don't want to find themselves in the same place, the Obama Administration did where they drew a clear bright red line on Syria and then when challenged didn't respond. President Trump has made it clear he wants to be unpredictable. He doesn't want to forecast any potential military intervention ahead of time. And I think we're seeing sort of the by-product of that policy and on a day like this that leads to a lot of confusion.

BURNETT: All right. Sara, thank you very much. And White House offering very different views on its policy towards Syria as Sara is pointing out. More contradictions though coming just days after that base was hit. Jim Sciutto is OutFront.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Tonight, Syrian war planes taking off from the same air base hit by a U.S. missile strike Friday. White House says it has not ruled out further military action there, but it is sending mixed, even contradictory messages on the administration's goals in Syria. U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley said regime change is inevitable. Following last week's chemical weapons attack, which sparked the U.S. military action. NIKKI HALEY, UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Regime

change is something we think is going to happen because all of the parties are going to see that Assad's not the leader that needs to be taking place for Syria.

SCIUTTO: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson however appeared to say the opposite. Placing his faith in a political process inside Syria over any outside action.

REX TILLERSON, UNITED STATES SECERTARY OF STATE: I think our strategy in Syria as you know, our priority is first the defeat of ISIS. And it's through that political process that we believe the Syrian people will ultimately be able to decide the fate of Bashar al-Assad.

SCIUTTO: White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer seemed to acknowledge both end games.

SPICER: I can't imagine a stable and peaceful Syria where Bashar al- Assad is in -- is in power. I think we all recognize that that happens and there can be a multipronged approach. We are ensuring that ISIS is contained and there's a de-escalation of the proliferation of chemical weapons at the same time creating the environment for a change in leadership.

SCIUTTO: Tillerson and other U.S. officials have been unanimous in blaming Russia for sharing responsibility for the chemical attack. A message state department officials say Tillerson will bring to Moscow.

TILLERSON: The recent terrible chemical weapons attack in large measure is a failure on Russia's part to achieve its commitment to the international community.

SCIUTTO: Russia dismisses the accusation, accusing the U.S. instead of "an act of aggression." Tonight, U.S. war planes continue to fly over Syria targeting ISIS forces even as the Syrian regime has increased its air defenses in the western part of the country. Perhaps sensitive to public questions about how long lasting the effects are of that U.S. missile strike on Friday, the Defense Secretary James Mattis released a statement today cataloging the damage and the view of the pentagon among other things saying that planes -- Syrian planes will no longer be able to refuel from that base to rearm from that base. And also presenting this figure, Erin, that 20 percent of the Syrian Air Force is no longer operational, though our Pentagon team has done some digging on that, they can't quite pinpoint exactly what -- where that figure comes from and if those planes were taken out in that particular strike.

But there's sensitivity there, you might noticed the president was tweeting about this himself over the weekend.

BURNETT: Yes. All right. We're going to get a little bit more on that now. Jim, thank you. OutFront now, former governor Bill Richardson and former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. and Energy Secretary, Kori Schake, former director of defense strategy with the National Security Council under President George W. Bush, David Gergen, former presidential advisor to four presidents and former air force colonel, Cedric Leighton, also former member of the joint chiefs of staff. Thanks to all.

BURNETT: So Kori, let me start with you. This whole issue of what Sean Spicer said today, if the U.S. red line is to act if Bashar al- Assad uses barrel bombs, that's a game changer. Assad used 13,000 last year alone. If it's chemical-carrying barrel bombs he used at least eight in just 30 days at the end of last year according to human rights watch. Either way this is a game changer, right?

KORI SCHAKE, FORMER DIRECTOR OF DEFENSE STRATEGY, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL UNDER PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, I think if we were going to prevent any use of barrel bombs by the Assad government, it would be a dramatic expansion of American involvement but my understanding is that what the press secretary was trying to say was that any use of chemical weapons, whether chlorine gas which -- as you said Assad has delivered by barrel bombs or the Sarin gas used last week that they are I think trying to draw a clear red line to say that any chemical weapons used will be penalized with destruction of the forces that delivered the weapon and the surrounding air bases and infrastructure.

BURNETT: Colonel, though, let's say that he means chemical carrying barrel bombs. According to human right watch that was done eight times in one month at the end of last year. That is still a game changer. That is not just one strike now and then we go away. That is then war. I mean, what other word would be there for that?

COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON, FORMER AIR FORCE COLONEL: Absolutely. And, you know, Erin, what that really means is that that would mean that we go to war tomorrow. And that's the difference. You know, right now we are kind of in a -- in a holding pattern. But if we actually do what the press secretary said and follow him word for word literally then we would have to be prepared to go to war tomorrow and I don't think we're ready to do that.

BURNETT: David, let me just play again what Sean Spicer said because he had two times to say and he was very clear. Here he is.


SPICER: If you gas a baby, if you put a barrel bomb in to innocent people, I think you can -- you will -- you will see a response from this president. That is unacceptable. The sight of people being gassed and blown away by barrel bombs ensures that if we see this kind of action again we hold open the possibility of future action.


DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISOR: I think what we have here is a failure of communications by the White House. You know, in years past the mornings have been consumed by somebody on the national security council staff coming up with a set of talking points on all the major issues on the day. Going to the national security policy people, getting them cleared and then sharing them with the defense department and state department and other agencies. And if there are any differences working them out, it takes a long time but you know why you do it, you do it so you can avoid the kind of confusion that we have here which is not helpful to American foreign policy.

BURNETT: Right. And as colonel said, would mean we are going to war tomorrow. I mean, Secretary, there's also this claim you heard Jim Sciutto say that the defense department is saying that they wiped out 20 percent of the Syrian Air Force in the strike. But we've been unable to run that down. They're not providing any evidence or giving any sort of a press briefing to explain what they he mean. I mean, do you think that that's -- that that's possible? I mean, obviously, they didn't destroy the runways and planes were taking off hours later in strikes, but that doesn't mean it's not true that they destroyed 20 percent. Do you think it's possible that that's a real number?

BILL RICHARDSON, FORMER GOVERNOR, NEW MEXICO: I do think it's possible and I trust General Mattis. I think he is one of the stronger members of the national security cabinet, but I think the big problem here is that what we have is policy change, but nobody is connecting with each other. The secretary of state should be making statements like this. Not the U.N. Ambassador, not the press secretary doing the red lines. The red lines are done by presidents. President Obama did that.

Now, this has to be President Trump. I think he has to clarify the policy, talk about an end game, but I will say something. I think the policy is moving in the right direction. But they've got to fine-tune it. They've got to have a final strategy and the president has to back up his cabinet. The president should be clear about the policy towards Syria, to Russia. He should make either an address to the country or a public statement about what he thinks. That's what everybody is wondering.

BURNETT: Because certainly it hasn't happened yet. I mean, Kori, we've been getting instead conflicting statement address from Nikki Haley, from Rex Tillerson, from Sean Spicer and when it comes to the crucial issue of whether the Russians knew which -- by the way if they did it's another game changer because then you have the involved in a chemical weapon attack. The secretary of state was asked specifically whether the Russians knew about the chemical attack. By the way, given that there were Russians on the very base where this attack was launched from, he answered the question pretty definitively. Here he is.

TILLERSON: Well, to our knowledge, we do not - we do not have any information that suggests that Russia was part of the military attack undertaken using the chemical weapons.

BURNETT: Do you think that's possible, Kori?

SCHAKE: Well, it does sound pretty unlikely. More over the national security advisor said two days ago that it would be hard to imagine that the Russians operating on the same base did not know what was happening and weren't involved in it. So I think it's just one more example of the way the administration hasn't gotten its story straight.

BURNETT: Yet another contradiction. And David, it comes as Rex Tillerson is heading to Moscow. He's going to be there in just hours from now. This is a guy who got one of the top honors, was with Vladimir Putin when he gave that, even if it was symbolic. They were side-by-side when he awarded this medal, but now we hear Puttin is refusing to meet with him. This could be the most important diplomatic meeting in decades between the U.S. and Russia. How significant is that? Putin won't partake.

GERGEN: I think -- I think Puttin will be sending a very clear message. If he does not disobey. I would assume they'll make that call in the Russian front a few hours --


GERGEN: -- see how it's going.

BURNETT: See how it's going.

GERGEN: And then figure out whether they want to bring him in or not. And they'll take advantage and they try to play Tillerson. There is no question about it, they will try to take advantage of him. Here the Russians have promised us, all these years that the Syrians don't have any more chemical weapons. They have -- they signed up three -- you know, we're going to get rid of these chemical weapons.

BURNETT: And yet here they are launching from a base where there are Russians. It just -- it defies reason.

GERGEN: Well, that's right. And they put -- you know, one thing, though, it does give Tillerson some really strong arguments to make against them, but the one thing this has done is it's demolishing the story that Trump is a puppet of Putin's. I mean, you know, that's -- I mean, on political standpoint, what we've been talking about for months about the Russian connection, you know, this has been helpful. So, you wonder about is there a bigger thing going on behind the scenes here. Is there a bigger story that we don't get.

BURNETT: All right. Thanks very much to all. Of course staying with me next, one of America's largest warships, more than 60 fighter jets on the ship alone right now headed towards Kim Jong-Un. These after the missile strike on Syria. We are live on Pyongyang. Plus, a paying customer dragged off a United flight to make room for United employee. Dragged essentially away from his wife. The man who was sitting right there who witnessed this our guest. And Jeanne Moss on Bill Clinton sharing old times and I hope not old stocks with 41. Do you think Clinton gave Bush a pair of these?


BURNETT: Breaking news. The White House is sending North Korea a major warning tonight. The U.S. military deploying the nuclear powered USS Carl Vinson to the region. It's one of America's biggest warships. Dozens and dozens and dozens of aircraft. We're going to show you all of that in just a one moment. First though, the big question, will this stop or challenge Kim Jong-Un to launch another missile? Will Ripley is the only American journalist on the ground inside North Korea tonight and he's OutFront. WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Facing mounting global pressure to

stop testing nuclear weapons, many fear North Korean Leader Kim Jong- Un might accelerate his weapons program and they're waiting for his next move. On Saturday, North Korea celebrates the Day of the Sun. Their most important holiday of the year. Honoring the birth of the nation's founding father Kim Il-Sung. Five years ago North Korea tried to launch a satellite just two days before the Day of the Sun.

The first attempt failed followed by a successful launch later that year. Now, North Korea may be ready for another dramatic show of force after a series of missile launches, U.S. and South Korean Intelligence Officials believe that North Korea is ready to conduct a nuclear test at any time. In response to recent provocations, the U.S. is rerouting the carrier strike group Carl Vinson to the Korean peninsula. Just days after President Trump's surprise missile strike on Syria.

Some view the strike as a warning to North Korea. The U.S. is willing to respond with force if provoked. The situation is so tense we're at the brink of war says this Pyongyang resident. But if that happens, we'll all go to the frontlines to fight the Americans. President Trump may be trying to put pressure on North Korea to stop development nuclear weapons, but here in Pyongyang, that pressure seems to be having the opposite effect.

One North Korean government official tells CNN, the aggressive acts of war on the part of the United States are getting increasingly reckless. In response, we will continue to strengthen our self- defense capability. North Korea is working to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile that can deliver a nuclear warhead to the mainland U.S. Most analyst say they don't have one yet, but it's only a matter of time. We think we're very capable of defending ourselves this Pyongyang resident says, because we have the strong leadership of Marshall Kim Jung-Un.

The mood inside North Korea is not tense, but festive on their biggest holiday week of year. Tens of thousands are visiting national landmarks like the birthplace of late President Kim Il-Sung. The two late leaders. For the first time, CNN cameras are allowed inside the museum of the Korean revolution, more than 120 room chronicling all three generations of Kim family leadership. This rare inside look at North Korean history shows the entire nation is built around these three men.

I'm shown footage from 2011 when North Koreans learned of the unexpected death of the nation's second leader Kim Jong-Il. The footage brings our guide to tears. Now, their supreme leader Kim Jong-Un is leading her and 25 million North Koreans like his grandfather and father before him, he has absolute power over the lives of his people. And we may hear from Kim Jong-Un or some other North Korean senior leaders in a matter of hours at the supreme people's assembly.

A major political gathering kicking off here in Pyongyang. There are hundreds of delegates and one of the things they are likely going to be discussing is North Korea's nuclear program. There's been speculation that there could be some sort of a missile test or even North Korea's sixth nuclear test sometime this week ahead of their major national holiday, the Day of the Sun. And of course, North Korean officials are telling us that they are watching very closely the movements of the Carl Vinson Carrier Strike group.

It's interesting, Erin because North Korea hides so much news and information about the outside world from the people who live in this country but on the streets of Pyongyang they know everything about the Carl Vinson, they know about the Syrian crisis, they know about the missile strike ordered by President Trump because these activities by the United States fit the North Korea government's narrative that they've been telling people for years that this country is under the imminent threat of invasion with missiles raining down from the U.S.

And government officials here are telling us that the actions of the Trump Administration just reemphasize that point and it allows them to tell people that they are justified in build -- trying to build a nuclear weapon and intercontinental ballistic missile with a nuclear warhead capable of reaching the mainland U.S. They could be two years away from having that kind of weapon. Erin?

BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you very much. A fantastic reporter as we said on the ground in Pyongyang. I want to bring back my panel. And Colonel, let me start off with the ship as, you know, it's fascinating what he saying that everybody in Pyongyang that he's talking to knows about this ship. So let's just look at it. This is the USS Carl Vinson, OK? Which is right now sailing up near the Korean Peninsula. Here is -- this is a massive, massive beast. Tell me about it.

LEIGHTON: This is one of the big power projection platforms that the United States has. And as you see here, 6,0000 plus crew. The entire carrier's battle group is going to have over 7,500 people. Aircraft, 60 -- over 60 aircraft. Some carrier battle groups have over 70 aircraft, but generally you've got a combination of fighter aircraft usually FAA teams which have an air-to-ground strike capability as well as an air-to-air strike capability and then it also have electronic warfare aircraft and the logistics aircraft as well.

BURNETT: So, all of that on this on one ship. And then that isn't even the arsenal, right? This is arsenal. Put it in English, what is the ship capable of doing?

LEIGHTON: So, this ship is capable of not only defending itself, but also after -- it's capable of going after all the different threats that we perceive are going to be coming against it. And so, if the North Koreans for example would run an anti-ship missile against the Carl Vinson or any of its -- of the members of the carrier battle group, we would see the (INAUDIBLE) being deployed. You would also -- if there weer aircraft, you would see the NATO sea spa sparrow and anti-missile system being deployed and then when you have missiles that are being shot at the air -- at the aircraft carrier as well as the other members of the carrier battle group, you would have the ram being used to fight those missiles.

BURNETT: So Secretary, you have been to North Korea nine times. You know it better than anyone else on the ground. Will Kim Jong-Un be deterred by this show of force or will it actually motivate him more for that nuclear armed ICBM?

RICHARDSON: Well, he's so unpredictable, the answer is we don't know, but we should be very, very cautious. I support the Carl Vinson taking these steps as a show of force. I think what we need to watch is the possibility of a miscalculation. We've got 28,000 American troops in South Korea, 50,000 American troops in Japan, 25 million people in Seoul. We want to avoid a tinderbox conflagration. And what Kim Jong-Un wants, I believe right now he want some kind of a provocation.

He wants to show for internal reasons that he's strong, he wants to continue his nuclear effort. I think what we need to watch is what happened in Florida. President and the Chinese possibly agreeing on a strategy. I have no reason to believe that something very strong has come out, but possibly for the first time an effort by China and South Korea announcing that a increased sanctions, but what we don't know is South Korea and China combined especially China, that controls food, fuel assistance, all kinds of support for North Korea will really lean on Kim Jong-Un to cool it and possibly the next step is a diplomatic effort and I believe that it's going to be the U.S. and North Korea in some kind of bilateral deal if tensions are going to be defused.

BURNETT: So, you know, we have this missile defense. Obviously, this here is a map of the Korean Peninsula. The defense system here is called THAAD. It's the U.S. Missile defense system. We can just show you a little bit. Sorry of how it actually works. That is the missile defense system that is there. Now, the point I want to make here, Secretary, is actually Donald Trump said recently in that interview with the Financial Times, if China is not going to solve North Korea we will. That's all I'm telling you.

If the U.S. were to strike North Korea's new nuclear site, Secretary to try to do this preemptive strike, that people throw out there as an idea. Could it all be done in one fell swoop or would you definitely have a strike back from North Korea first in which millions could perhaps die?

RICHARDSON: North Korea would strike back. I think eventually we would defeat North Korea massively, but there would be the possibility of the 25 million people in Seoul being effected, American troops, a tripwire effect. You want to avoid that, but at the same time I think we have to protect our interests in the peninsula and we have to first, I believe, use diplomacy. And remember too, there's a young American there named Otto Warmbier who is detained by the North Koreans. Let's not forget getting him out. I've been trying and many others have too. But I think we got to be extremely careful. Let China show what they're ready to do first before some kind of military strike.

BURNETT: Because Colonel, this THAAD and missile defense system that we were just showing, it is unproven, right? Because it hasn't actually had to work in a real-life scenario.

RICHARDSON: That's true. Many of these systems that are being deployed are -- have either seen service in Iraq or Afghanistan. This is one that has not. And as a high-altitude air defense system it is designed to go after exactly what it says. High altitude missile threats. These missile threats are going to be the ones that could most effect areas like Seoul, population centers and it could also potentially even be used against longer range missiles.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Secretary. Thank you. And next, the race everyone is talking about. Is a democrat about to win a seat in deep red Georgia head by republicans for decades. And United Airlines, a paying passenger dragged off a plane so one of their employees could take his seat. We're going to talk to a man on board who watched this stunning thing unfold.


[19:32:09] ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, angry voters filling a town hall for Republican Congressman Ted Yoho in Florida after a man was punched at one of Yoho's last town halls. Some voters frustrated at Republicans for supporting President Trump's agenda.

Nick Valencia is OUTFRONT in Gainesville, at that town hall.

And, Nick, it has obviously started there. What's happening?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Erin, this just got under way. So far, the environment here is a very civil one, but it just got under way. People waited for hours outside to make sure that they got a seat inside here. This capacity crowd of up 600 people. The last time around when he hosted a town hall here, Representative Ted Yoho that is, in Gainesville, it was not as smooth.

Inside that town hall, he got an earful from his constituents. Many people upset about the repeal of the Affordable Care Act or the potential for that. They're also upset about potential involvement or alleged involvement of Russian into the election that may have influenced it towards President Trump.

I spoke to Joy Pitts here. She's a chapter president for Indivisible. And interestingly enough, Erin, she is one of the people that helped organize this event. The congressman's office made it very clear that they were involved with Indivisible here in trying to get this event organized. Many people here upset. They plan on voicing displeasure and they waited a long time to make sure that they got inside -- Erin.

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

And tonight, all eyes are on crucial special election in Georgia. Democrats seizing on the protest against President Trump, hoping that a first time candidate can win a seat that Republicans have held for nearly 40 years.

Jason Carroll is OUTFRONT.


JOHN OSSOFF (D), CANDIDATE GA 6TH DISTRICT ELECTION: I'm proud of the momentum that we've been able to build.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Meet Democrat Jon Ossoff, at 30 years old, the former congressional aide and documentary filmmaker, has never held public office, but he has become the candidate to beat.

OSSOFF: This thing has taken a little bit of a life of its own and people are watching across the country because it is the first competitive contest of this new era.

CARROLL: Traditionally, voters here in the sixth district which includes part of Atlanta and the city's affluent northern suburbs have sent to Congress the likes of Newt Gingrich and most recently Tom Price who is now health and human services secretary. It was thought that one of the 11 Republicans running in the special election would claim the seat until Ossoff turned the race into a referendum on President Trump.

OSSOFF: I want to go to Washington and hold people accountable, and that includes the president of the United States.

CARROLL: Trump carried the district by a little more than a point last November. In 2012, Mitt Romney swept it by more than 20 points.

OSSOFF: I think spring has sprung.

CARROLL: Ossoff hoping to tap into angst among Democrats over Trump has been running ads critical of the president.

OSSOFF: We can't let Donald Trump put us at risk.

CARROLL (on camera): How effective do you think that has been for you so far?

OSSOFF: There are clearly people who have serious concerns about the president's approach to go governance.

[19:35:05] BOB GRAY (R), CANDIDATE GA 6TH DISTRICT ELECTION: Nice to see you.

CARROLL: GOP candidate Bob Gray isn't afraid to embrace the president, hiring several of Trump's former state operative to see help his campaign.

GRAY: It's pretty clear that this is a district that's getting behind our president.

CARROLL: While former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel and former State Senator Dan Moody question if the district is truly on the verge of turning blue.

KAREN HANDEL, FORMER GEORGIA SECRETARY OF STATE: They're dreaming about this, but the Republicans are going to hold on to this seat.

DAN MOODY (R), CANDIDATE GA 6TH DISTRICT ELECTION: The Republicans will ultimately select a candidate that can beat the Democrat. CARROLL: Claire Wise (ph) has not decided on a candidate but --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It will be a Republican candidate. I think he is too liberal.

CARROLL: Cheryl Sykes, also a registered Republican, disagrees. She's backing Ossoff.

CHERYL SYKES, JON OSSOFF SUPPORTER: I think he's dedicated and I really feel like we need more balance and more middle of the road people in Washington.

CARROLL: And Dave Ferguson, a self-described independent, summed up his reasoning for supporting Ossoff.


CARROLL: Ossoff has raised more than $8 million and has $2 million in the bank. His momentum not lost on Republicans who've added staff and ratcheted up their attacks.

AD ANNOUNCER: Ossoff wasn't exactly fighting against terrorism. He is fighting against restriction on keg parties.

CARROLL: Ossoff's goal for the April 18th primary is to get more than 50 percent of the vote to avoid a June runoff.

(on camera): Do you feel any sort of sense of extra pressure?

OSSOFF: Yes, I do feel it. You know, I'm human too. And there's a lot of eyes on the race. There's a lot of people I want to make proud.

CARROLL (voice-over): Jason Carroll, CNN, Roswell, Georgia.


BURNETT: And OUTFRONT now, CNN politics editor-at-large, Chris Cillizza.

And, Chris, you know, Ossoff has raised more than $8 million, you just heard in the report. That's more than Tom Price raised in his last three elections combined, right? The Republicans have noticed this. The RNC had an attack email today saying, look at Ossoff, he doesn't live in the district, right? They are firing back.

How seriously are Republicans taking this race?

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Well, I think more and more seriously because it is a district that Donald Trump only won by one point. And the reason for that is not because it's not a Republican district, it is. It's because it's not a Donald Trump Republican district. It's affluent. It's near a big city. You know, it's a suburb, and close in suburban district.

Donald Trump ran above people like Mitt Romney in 2016 in rural areas that are also Republican. He struggled in suburban areas like this.

So, you're going to have to get a bunch of crossover Republicans to vote for Assad to have any chance and he points out the real chance is here is next Tuesday's primary. A ton of Republicans candidates splitting the vote, he's the only serious Democratic candidate in the race. If he doesn't get 50, now, it's a one on one race in a Republican district in June, much tougher.

BURNETT: But the thing is here, you know, Democrats obviously have a lot of momentum to be able to be in this situation, right? There's five special house elections.


BURNETT: And the reason, just so people watching understand -- four of them are Republicans now in the Trump administration which is obviously why those seats were vacated. We have Mike Pompeo seat in Kansas, among them. You just heard a voter there, Chris, though, say one word for why he's going to vote, Trump, right? That is what this is all about.

CILLIZZA: Yes, no question. And Ossoff has made it a referendum on Trump, as has the Democratic candidate in Kansas, the race tomorrow night. You've seen big wigs from the Republican Party. Trump has now recorded a robocall in Kansas for Mr. Estes, the state treasurer who is the Republican nominee. Mike Pence recorded a robocall. Ted Cruz was in the state today.

These are not things that happen by accident, Erin. They are concerned about the districts because it's the first elections in the Trump era. And when you have a president who's anywhere between 35 percent approval, and maybe 43 percent approval, nationally, you need to be concerned.

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

CILLIZZA: Thank you.

BURNETT: And next OUTFRONT, a massive manhunt tonight. A desperate search for a man armed with high powered weapons who sent a threatening manifesto to President Trump.

And shocking video, why did United Airlines call police to drag a paying customer off an overbooked flight. Really, you can't make this story up. It's sop awful what United did.

A passenger sitting in the middle of it all joins us next.


[19:43:22] BURNETT: Breaking news: a massive manhunt this hour for a man who sent an anti-government manifesto to President Trump on the same day he allegedly stolen arsenal from a gun store. Joseph Jakubowski is believed to be armed and dangerous with more than a dozen high end rifles and hand guns from the Armageddon gun shop in Janesville, Wisconsin. About 30 minutes after the burglary, the police found Jakubowski's car on fire. They believe intentionally.

Authorities also say Jakubowski sent a 161-page manifesto to the president in a moment he captured on video.


JOSEPH JAKUBOWSKI, SUSPECTED OF ROBBING GUN SHOP; SENT MANIFESTO TO TRUMP: To anybody that got this letter, you might want to read it. There it is. You see it's (EXPLETIVE DELETED). Revolution. It's time for change.


BURNETT: Officials say they spoke to an associate of Jakubowski who said he had been threatening to steal guns and use them in an attack. That he had made threats toward schools.

OUTFRONT now, Sheriff Robert Spoden, one of the people leading the man.

And, Sheriff, I appreciate your time tonight. He sent that manifesto, 161 pages, to President Trump. His car we know you have found on fire, right? I mean, do you have any idea how he's getting around or where he could be?

SHERIFF ROBERT SPODEN, ROCK COUNTY, WISCONSIN: That -- no, we don't. And that's where we need our citizens to be the eyes and ears of law enforcement. And that's not just only for citizens that are here in Wisconsin. That's across the nation because he could be in Washington, D.C. He could be in California. I mean, it depends on wherever he believes the next step in his plan is.

BURNETT: What sort of places are you concerned he could target?

SPODEN: Well, obviously, when you read the document that he sent to the White House, he has a strong dislike or hatred towards government officials, both local and federal and state level.

[19:45:07] So, we're concerned that, you know, if his end game is to inflict casualties, then he may go someplace where there are going to be a large number of people. So we have tried to increase our security at areas such as the courthouse, you know, school events, things such as that where there would be an opportunity for him to inflict a lot of damage.

BURNETT: We know he has obviously this arsenal of guns, bulletproof vest, helmet. How dangerous is he?

SPODEN: Well, when you look at the document that he wrote and sent, it's very lengthy. It's very detailed. It's one that obviously he has put a lot of thought and effort into.

And in it, he talks a great deal about revolution. He talks a great deal about change and even in the video where he actually films himself doing that, mailing the document to the president, he again brings up revolution. He obviously has thought about this for some time. He went and stole

these 18 guns, including long rifles and hand guns. He then goes and burns his car in a desolate area and basically goes under the radar.

And so, what we're concerned about is that this could be just another step in his plan. When he talks about revolution, he's talking about having the people rise up. And so, I believe he's looking for some event or something he can do to promote his cause and that's what really scares us back here.

BURNETT: And also, when you talk about involving others, I mean, you know, we see the video of him mailing the manifesto and we heard him speak, it's clear it seems someone else was videotaping him, right? Someone else knew he was doing this or was a part of it. We're looking at him here.

Do you have any idea who that is or not?

SPODEN: Yes, we do. We actually have identified that individual. He's a male and we're not certain if he even understood the seriousness of that document. We've interviewed him. He has cooperated with investigators and we continue to hold him as a person of interest. He's not in custody and he has cooperated with us.

BURNETT: All right. Sheriff Spoden, thank you very much for your time tonight.

SPODEN: Thank you.

BURNETT: And next, outrage over this -- a paying customer violently dragged by police off a United Airlines flight in order to accommodate crew that needed to travel to their next flight. The person sitting right in front of him my guest next.

And Jeanne Moos on the socks that rock a presidential relationship.


[19:50:11] BURNETT: Breaking news tonight: the federal government reviewing the incident of a man forcibly dragged off an airplane. It's a disturbing moment and it came after United Airlines asked some people to get off a flight to accommodate traveling crew. They offered money, people didn't want to take it. So, then, they said, well, we're going to pick you randomly and the man they picked declined.

And then this happened.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, hey, hey. Come on.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my god, look at what you did to him. Oh, my god.


BURNETT: That's Chicago aviation security officer put on leave tonight. Again, the story here is United Airlines asked for volunteers really because they needed to get a flight crew on to get to another airport on time. Nobody that was paying for their seat wanted to get off. So, the airline said tough, we'll pick randomly and you better get off.

The United CEO apologized today for, quote, "having to re-accommodate these customers", saying the airlines is doing a detailed review, but doubling on their side of this, s you'll hear in a moment.

Joining me now, John Klaassen, the man in the orange shirt sitting right in front of the man who was dragged off.

We're just trying to get that shot back. We lost it for one second. OK.

OK, we're going to go to break, we'll get him back on the other side of it. His tale is worth hearing, trust me.

Plus, Jeanne Moos on the sock story.

We'll be right back.


BURNETT: Joining me now, John Klaassen, he's the man in the orange suit who was sitting in front the men who has dragged off that United flight today.

And, John, thank you for being with me. I mean, it had to be just stunning to see this. I mean, there you are, this is another video from a passenger, this is the aviation security officer literally pulling that man out of his seat, forcibly, you see him hit his head on an armrest. It looks like there was blood there.

Could you see if he was hurt?

JOHN KLAASSEN, PASSENGER ON UNITED FLIGHT 3411: No, he was bleeding from the mouth. Yes, he was visibly hurt as they drove him off the plane.

BURNETT: I mean, we also, you know, some at one point saying, "I just want to go home. I just want to go home." I mean, you actually spoke to him. You had had a conversation with him before this video. I understand that you said he was traveling with his wife. What did he tell you? KLAASSEN: Well, when the United personnel came on and told him he had

to leave the airplane, we had talked. He was sitting just right behind me. He was sitting with one of my students. He had just gotten back from Greece where he'd been working with refugees.

And, yes, we spoke at that point. And I suggested he'd call his lawyer, which I believe he did. His wife was actually sitting about three rows behind him on the other side of the airplane, they went together. Yes, he was very pleasant, very sweet man.

BURNETT: And, I mean obviously, airlines, the whole story is sort of stunning to believe, frankly, John. But, obviously they're not supposed to separate people who are traveling with others. He was traveling with his wife.


BURNETT: The airline has just released an email that they sent to their employees today.

[19:55:05] And in it, the CEO of United tell tells us that the employees was disrupted and belligerent. You were there. Was he?

KLAASSEN: Well, when the United employee came on the flight, after telling us that we were all stuck on the tarmac, that we would not be allowed to leave until they made room for their personnel, they increased the amount of money they were offering to $800, of course, they're not really dollars, they're United dollars for flights and no one took it because we were all a little upset and honest that we were going to have to sit and wait until four people volunteered. She said that rather than negotiate up a higher price or trying to get other people to volunteer, she said, well, we'll choose four people to get off the flight.

And yes, that's a pretty traumatic experience.

BURNETT: I mean --

KLAASSEN: He was fine. He was like the rest of us, a little stunned, that they would even suggest such a thing and not disruptive at all. When she came on and said he had to leave, he said, "Look, I'm a doctor, I have patients tomorrow. I need to get back to Louisville. I'm not getting off the flight."

BURNETT: And that's when it escalated, it does seem like he got incredibly upset, and anyone watching could understand why.

KLAASSEN: Oh, absolutely.

BURNETT: I mean, how shocked were you at all violent this became?

KLAASSEN: I was. I couldn't believe it. I understand that United could ask us to leave, what I was shocked that they weren't willing to raise the price. And, I mean, these are just United Airlines dollars. It wasn't really costing them anything at all. And they would have easily had more volunteers if they had just done that. None of us could believe that it would get to that point of violence.

When the police came on, they were just determined to take him off the plane. There was no negotiating, there was nothing. It was just, you're off the plane.

BURNETT: It's impossible to believe, really. John, let me just ask you this question -- will you fly United again?

KLAASSEN: I have been asked that several times. I don't know, I would prefer to probably fly a different airline at that point. I mean, it's kind of scary, you're sitting on that plane, and in come these three police officers and they pull you off a flight that you purchased a ticket for? It's kind of hard to understand that.

BURNETT: All right. Well, I appreciate your time and thank you very much. And welcome home.

KLAASSEN: Thank you. Thanks.

BURNETT: And now in a lighter note, time for Jeanne Moos and the socks appeal of two American presidents.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So what does a former president get another former president who probably has everything? Socks, and not just any socks, green ones which chocolate Labradors.

GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT: I like a colorful sock. I'm a sock man.

MOOS: A sock man spotted sporting everything from pink socks to lobster stocks. No wonder Bill Clinton is socking it to him. The two became close while traveling together to disasters like the tsunami in South Asia.


BUSH: I just enjoyed being with the guy.

CLINTON: I love you.

MOOS: And Clinton knows Bush loves socks, like these cactus ones. His collection has inspired headlines like "all the president's socks."

If you think Superman is for kids, check out Bush's Superman socks worn on his 89th birthday.

His presidential library foundation asked folks to send in their own flamboyant sock photos, in honor of his birthday, "Read my lips, no boring socks," tweeted one guy.

If you donate to the GOP, you can get an autographed pair.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) with your very own pair of George H.W. Bush socks.

MOOS: George W. Bush is more conservative, with his Crocs and socks bearing the presidential seal. His dad sure knows how to charm the ladies, he donned a red, white and blue pair to cheer on the Houston Texans cheerleading squad.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We love your socks.

BUSH: I'm surprised you noticed that.

MOOS: And though he's known for being humble, his selfie socks were a minor sensation, given to him by a fan. They ended up being auctioned off for charity, for 535 bucks.

But those Bush selfie socks don't quite have the flare of the Trump hair socks. Selling for $35.69 at Walmart, but be prepared to not just wash, but comb your socks.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


BURNETT: And thanks for joining us. Don't forget, you can watch OUTFRONT anytime, anywhere. You just go to CNN Go.

In the meantime, we'll pass it off to "AC360" with Anderson Cooper. It starts right now.