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Erin Burnett Outfront

Biden Confirms Russia Has Used Hypersonic Missiles In Ukraine; Russian Paper Reports Nearly 10K Russian Troopers Killed Another 16K Plus Injured Since Beginning Of Ukraine War; U.S. Warns Russia Attacks Grow More Dangerous For Civilians As Russian Forces Are "Desperate" For Momentum; Man Describes Fleeing Mariupol With His Wife Amid Russian Attacks; Russian Actress' Message To Putin: Stop This Nightmare; Historic SCOTUS Confirmation Hearings Begin For Judge Jackson; Witness Tells Chinese Media He Saw Plane Nosedive Before Fiery Crash. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired March 21, 2022 - 19:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Let me join in the applause. What an amazing young seven-year-old. That moving performance, by the way, was part of the benefit concert to help the people of Ukraine.

Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.



ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: All right. I want to just begin by apologizing, we had a technical difficulty there, but a good evening to all. I'm Erin Burnett and OUTFRONT tonight, we begin with breaking news.

The U.S. confirms tonight that Putin has used hypersonic missiles in Ukraine. This as President Biden this evening warns Ukraine is pushing Putin to his limit and that the Russian president now is growing more dangerous.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And now Putin is back against the wall and the more his back is against the wall, the greater severity the tactics he may employ.


BURNETT: Those tactics according to Biden now include those hypersonic missiles, which can fly 10 times the speed of sound and evade many anti-missile systems. It's a clear sign Putin is upping the ante using longer range artillery fire and missiles at civilians as well.


JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: They've been frustrated. They have failed to achieve a lot of their objectives on the ground. They're lobbying an awful lot of hardware into the cities to try to force their surrender and it's increased over the last few days.


BURNETT: One of those cities suffering constant attacks is Mariupol, home to some of the greatest horrors of Putin's war thus far. Just today, cars carrying children trying to flee the violence were attacked. According to Ukraine, two of those children are now in critical condition. We still have no idea how many of the more than 1,000 missing civilians who are sheltering in a school and theater in Mariupol are alive, absolutely no word about that in days. But attacks like the ones we are seeing here have the United States and other allies accusing Putin of violating international law.


KIRBY: We certainly see clear evidence that Russian forces are committing war crimes.

JOSEP BORRELL, HIGH REPRESENTATIVE, EUROPEAN UNION: What's happening in Mariupol is a massive war crime, destroying everything.


BURNETT: We're going to have much more from Mariupol in just a moment. I'm going to speak to a man who literally just fled the besieged city. His eyes seeing what we all are desperately want to know what is happening. He just saw that hours ago. And we're also hearing tonight from the woman who took this video of Russian forces firing on protesters in Kherson. I'm going to warn you, the video is graphic. She told CNN that the purpose of the gathering was to tell the Russian troops to go home.

Instead, they open fire. You see there a man hit, it looks like hit on the leg, bleeding.


The brutal assault comes as Russian forces are said to be having command and control problems. And this is an incredible thing, multiple sources are now telling CNN that the United States of America is unable to determine if Putin even has a military commander leading his war. A war in which he has involved 150,000 troops around the border plus 40,000 he already might have had in Donbas. I mean, it is a stunning thing.

Fred Pleitgen begins our coverage OUTFRONT live in Kyiv tonight. And Fred, what is the latest on the ground where you are?

FRED PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Erin. Well, it certainly seems a bit of a more quiet night tonight than it was, for instance, last night. But, of course, we did have a lot of air raid sirens and anti-aircraft fire going on.

What we have seen throughout the course of the evening is that there have been those air raid sirens have fewer impacts than we have seen, for instance, the night before. However, we also did hear some gunfire, some outgoing gunfire. And, of course, throughout the past 24 hours, it really has been a lot going on especially towards the north east of Kyiv, which is, of course, one of the major frontlines here of this war. And as the U.S. once again reiterated today, they say that it is still one of the Kremlin's main objectives to try and win Kyiv.

Now some of the video that you're seeing right now on your screen there, that was a shopping mall that was hit by massive ordnance from the Russians. We were at the scene of that earlier today and I can tell you, there was utter devastation at that shopping mall, one building just completely annihilated. And a lot of the housing blocks around there were badly damaged as well.

In fact, we were on the eighth floor - on the 11th floor, sorry, of a building that was, I would say, at least 300, 400 yards away from that explosion. And we still found massive shrapnel well inside that building. So, obviously, very dangerous for the people who live there.

The city council here in Kyiv is saying that at least eight people died. And, of course, the big question then becomes, Erin, why did the Russian strike it?

Now, the Russians are saying that the Ukrainian military was hiding multiple rocket launchers there and also ammunition as well and that's why they struck it. We got in touch with the Ukrainian military. They claimed that that is not true that there would have been more secondary explosions, if that would have been the case. There really is a back and forth with that.

That area that you're seeing on your screen, it's very close to the front line, Erin, I'd say about 7 kilometers or a little under five miles away from the front line. And while we were there, I can tell you that we did see a lot of outgoing, a rocket artillery fire, we did hear a lot of booms as well and we certainly saw a smoke on the horizon so you can see just how close the frontline still is to the capital of Kyiv, even though as Russian forces appear to be bogged down and not making very much headway at all, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Fred, thank you very much live in Kyiv tonight.

And for more I want to bring in retired Army Major General James 'Spider' Marks and Paul Kolbe, former Chief of the CIA Central Eurasia Division. He served at the CIA for 25 years and was stationed in the former Soviet Union. Thanks very much to both of you.

Gen. Marks, I want to start with the headline I just shared, which was so stunning. Multiple sources telling CNN tonight that the U.S. is unable to determine if Vladimir Putin actually has a military commander leading this war. I mean, that is a pretty stunning thing that the United States of America, by the way, whose intelligence on this has been nothing short of stunning, right?


BURNETT: They do not know if he is a military commander leading the war? MARKS: Well, there are reasons to determine that or at least come to

that assessment. The military that we've seen, the Russian military that we've seen in action has been stumbling poorly, has not been able to execute maneuver combat, the synchronization of the various combat arms does not exist. They engage with isolated elements. There's no effort of a three dimensional fight, which is how you engage with other units.

Clearly, you would come to the conclusion that there's nobody in charge, what you have is individual units that have individual targets. But there's nobody synchronizing all of that with a command and control element.

BURNETT: Paul, does that shock you to hear or not given what you know about Putin?

PAUL KOLBE, FORMER CHIEF, CIA'S CENTRAL EURASIA DIVISION: Well, the performance shock me and the poor performance that Gen. Marks and others have laid out really is stunning. I'm sure there's a chain of command, I just don't think it sounds like it's being very effectively managed.

BURNETT: Gen. Marks, I just want to share with you some reporting that we're just getting in here and this is numbers of dead and injured Russian soldiers. Okay. So there is a news website in Russia, a Russian tabloid, that reported some numbers that we have heard nothing like. We heard, what, 500 out of Russia?

MARKS: Right.

BURNETT: Well, now a Russian tabloid reports that the number of killed soldiers, Russian soldiers is almost 10,000, just a few hundred shy of that. And then other injured soldiers is 16,000. So that's 26,000 dead or injured Russian soldiers in one month, which is nearly 20 percent of the entire force Putin had staged around the border.


The death numbers are more than the U.S. sustained in 20 years in Iraq and Afghanistan combined.

Now, this was on a tabloid, but it's in Russia. This is where this appeared so I can't speak to the sourcing of it, obviously, myself. But this is coming out of Russia. This is what this tabloid is reporting. These numbers are stunning.

MARKS: Yes. It's staggering. This is a little more than a motorized rifle division. I mean, this is 10,000 dead and 16,000 wounded. Those soldiers are out of the mix and they have to be evacuated. They have to do things with it.

So it not only has the effect of the 26,000, Erin, but you then have additional soldiers that have to extract those soldiers, care for those soldiers, get them in the hospitals, get them back or you leave them alone. But the point is, is it a (inaudible) number to the Russian military to have those numbers of casualties. And to follow up on one point, the fact that we don't think there's

somebody in charge, this leads to that, and that we're really looking at military that isn't led at all. That's one of the major issues when you look at this Russian military, no noncommissioned officers and no sense of initiative.

In the U.S. military you have a task and a purpose. In the Russian military, it's do what I say, don't take the initiative.

BURNETT: Paul, I mean, it is incredible. And I think General just use two crucial words there; staggering and devastating if these numbers are the case. And Paul, let me give you some context, so this is a Russian tabloid, they put these numbers out, 10,000 dead Russian soldiers, 16,000 injured in 26 days.

They cite figures when they do this that they say come from Russia's Ministry of Defense and it stays up for 21 hours, this story and then suddenly the story is swoop, taken away, the post is gone as if it were never there. What do you read into that?

KOLBE: Look, it's important to note that this paper, this tabloid, Komsomolskaya Pravda, is a pro-Kremlin paper, has long history back in the Soviet Union. So if you were to look at the front page today, you would have no idea there's a war taking place in Ukraine, lots of pictures of flowers in springtime.

But the fact that this number was reported in that paper, a pro- Kremlin paper, 20 times more than had been officially reported, as you noted, almost 10,000 really is stunning. That means that a wide Russian population has had a chance to look at this and absorb what that means.

It means a couple of different things. One is they've immediately come out and said, well, we were hacked. This is not accurate. Well, the number, regardless, is much closer to reality than the few that the Kremlin reported. It shows that the country can't be hermetically sealed.

So either there was a leak of information from the Ministry of Defense that was reported in what looks like an anti-war movement or it was hacked, true information was inserted and it shows the country can't be hermetically sealed that truth is going to seep in. And as truth seeps in, support for the war and support for Putin will seep out.

BURNETT: And Gen. Marks, I mean, the reality is as truth seeps in, that many dead and injured, that is going to affect a broad swath of Russian society.

MARKS: Completely. Just think about it for a second, these Russian soldiers that are now captured, that are now going - they're in the hands of the Ukrainian soldiers and they're putting these young Russian soldiers up on social media. They're pulling out their cell phones and they're saying, talk to your mom and dad, we're going post this, we're going to send this back home. Send a message to your mother, tell her how you're faring here in Ukraine and what you're really up to. That's incredibly powerful. And the aggregate weight of that is quite

phenomenal. The information warfare is clearly being won by the Ukrainians.

BURNETT: And again, I'm just going to make the point here. That is 17 percent of the entire force that we talked about from months that Putin was amassing along that horseshoe around Ukraine. Seventeen percent of them, according to those numbers, would have already been killed or injured. It is staggering. Thank you both so very much.

MARKS: You bet, Erin.

BURNETT: And next we're going to take you to Mariupol, a city that according to Ukrainian President Zelenskyy is being literally reduced to rubble. And I'm going to speak to one man who has been there throughout, just managed to get out this weekend. The details of his journey and the loved ones he had to stay behind.

Plus, I'll speak to a Russian actress who is speaking out against Putin and also against her own father, a famous Putin supporter.

And the video is hard to watch, a Boeing packed with people nose-dives before crashing. How did it happen?



BURNETT: Tonight, the Ukrainian city of Mariupol under constant attack after the city refused to surrender to Russia. One Ukrainian officer telling CNN bombs are falling every 10 minutes and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy standing firm tonight.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE (through interpreter): Hard working on the city of Mariupol which is being destroyed by the occupiers and being reduced to ashes, but it will survive.


BURNETT: Well, Phil Black is OUTFRONT with a look at the devastation in Mariupol tonight. And I want to warn you, some of the images may be disturbing.


PHIL BLACK, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Between the shelling and airstrikes in Mariupol, people emerged to do what they can for the living and the dead.


This man says he hopes these graves are only temporary that the bodies will be re-buried someday. They spend much of their time sheltering in what remains of the buildings and often beneath them. Basements offer some protection, but little comfort.

This woman says they have enough food and firewood to last a week.

Around 300,000 people in Mariupol are living like this. Those without homes are crowding together in large buildings over the weekend in art school with around 400 people inside was bombed and destroyed.

This video gives a sense of what these large shelters are like. It's from a theater where around a thousand or more people were staying, mostly women, children, the elderly. Days later, it was blown apart in a suspected airstrike.

The Russian word for children marked out in huge letters outside provided no safety. Catarinia Sky (ph) lived across from that theater and delivered food and other aids to the people hiding out there.

She tells us it's difficult to describe the sympathy she felt further. They were terrified, cowering in horror at the sounds of planes overhead, always afraid of a bomb dropping.

Alevtina Shvetsova lived under Russian attack in Mariupol for 21 days. "This is not just a city," she says, "this is my whole life." She survived without power in freezing conditions with little food with eight other members of her family until the building was hit. They pulled dead neighbors from the rubble and decided to leave the city.

Alevtina says she can't imagine life without Mariupol. She will return. But now in her burning city there are lots of people, lots of children under the rubble, others in shelters.


BLACK (on camera): Ukraine's Defense Minister says the people defending Mariupol are saving lives all over the country. They are slowing Russia's advance by drawing its fire. With the invading force yet to claim a single major city, the desperate battle for Mariupol has taken on symbolic importance for both sides of this war, Erin.

BURNETT: Phil, thank you so much.

OUTFRONT now our Artur Shevchenko, he escaped Mariupol on Friday with his wife. And Arthur, I am so grateful to you for talking to us and recounting the horror that you had to endure and witness. What was it like in Mariupol when you left?

ARTUR SHEVCHENKO, FLED MARIUPOL ON FRIDAY WITH WIFE, OTHER FAMILY MEMBERS: Well, it was terrible. Like a lot of shelling, a lot of bombing, a lot of burned down buildings, cars, a lot of shattered glass on the streets from these buildings, a lot of people on the streets, which are like they were cooking food on the bonfires like it was terrible.

BURNETT: I know Artur while you were in Mariupol because of the constant shelling, you had to spend days inside. What did you see when you went outside that just truly shocked you the most when you saw it? SHEVCHENKO: Well, one day - like one night I saw the - I looked into

the like eastern part of the city and I saw like the sky went like red. It was like really - like something was burning there and was like the whole horizon like from the east side of the city. And I understood that there were some like shelling, bombing, fighting burning like et cetera, it was really, really shocking for me.

BURNETT: I know the food and water situation in Mariupol is a catastrophe. Artur, I've heard about people who have been forced to drink melted snow or to drink from puddles. What was your experience with just the basic essentials of life, food and water?

SHEVCHENKO: Oh, it was strange because like maybe on the fifth or sixth of the siege, I understood that all my thoughts were about food. Like what I was eating in the morning, what I will eat in the evening, where I will get the food, water, like basic instincts. It was hard to imagine like ...


BURNETT: Were you able to get food and where? Where were you able to get food and water?

SHEVCHENKO: Well, we have a lot of news before the war from the U.S. government saying that Russia will attack, a lot of troops over Ukraine was inside the (inaudible), inside the western part of the Russia. And at first, we were skeptical about this, but I thought, what if this is true and I bought some buckwheat rice and that's why we basically had some food because of this stock that I bought like two weeks before the war.

BURNETT: Wow. So that may have been what saved you and your family?


BURNETT: Artur, I want to show everyone a video you took in Mariupol before you were able to get out a few days ago. You were inside a shelter while there was shelling outside. I'll just play what you shared with us.


BURNETT: What was that moment like?

SHEVCHENKO: Well, it was strangely like peaceful. It was like while we were like was chilling and we were listening to music, and it was some connection to the previous life.

BURNETT: All right. Artur, I appreciate your time. I'm so glad that you're out. But I am so sorry for what you have endured and what so many who you know are still enduring there. Thank you.

SHEVCHENKO: Thank you. I want to thank you for highlighting this for telling truth to the world instead of like - we have bad example of Russia, which tells like lies from the television and it's good too that you are showing the truth. BURNETT: Thank you.

And next, I'm going to speak to a Russian actress whose famous father spoke at Putin's pro war rally, that one over the weekend. She's now speaking out against Putin and taking on her own father tonight.

Plus, the incredible story of one Polish family, one that has taken in 46 Ukrainian refugees.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why have you opened up your house to so many people?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because it showed this - it's in Polish tradition, I think.




BURNETT: Tonight, a Russian actress is speaking out against Putin's invasion of Ukraine and her own famous father's support of it.

Vladimir Mashkov is a very popular actor in Russia, and he spoke at Putin's propaganda rally just a few days ago. You may recognize him. He's been in hit movies like "Behind Enemy Lines" with Owen Wilson, and "Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol" with Tom Cruise.

Well, here is part of what he said at that pro-war Putin rally.


VLADIMIR MASHKOV, RUSSIAN ACTOR: Lackeys are they who compose lampoons behind our army's back. Those who seek to be politically correct in the eyes of Europe and America, wallowing in hatred.

We are Russian people. We love our country. We are for our world with Nazism. We are for our army, for our president.


BURNETT: Now his daughter, Masha Mashkova, an actress who has lived in the United States for six years, opposes the war and she responded to her father's speech in part, quote: Today, my dad spoke. I really wish that all he had said was true.

And Masha Mashkova is now OUTFRONT.

And, Masha, of course, the sort of, you know, next unsaid were, but it is not true.

Let me start with this question, Masha, what was it like to see your father standing there and to hear him speak like that? MASHA MASHKOVA, ACTRESS: What's happening right now, it's just

unthinkable and surreal. And the fact that so many Russian people, including my dad, believe that this violence is somehow justified, it breaks my heart. But, it's nothing compared to what the Ukrainian people experience now, dying.

BURNETT: So, Masha, I want to talk to you about you and your father, but, first, what your -- you have this perspective on why he believes this. Everyone wants to understand, why do you think that your father, and obviously millions others, many millions of others in Russia believe what he's saying?

MASHKOVA: I don't want to talk for him. I just -- I can talk for myself.

I just have (ph) different reality. I was privileged to travel around the world, and see the world with my own eyes. I worked a lot in Russia, and Ukraine.

And less than a year ago, I was in Kyiv, and I saw a beautiful, kind Ukrainian people. I have many friends and colleagues there.

None of them hated me for being Russian, and none of them asked to be saved by Mr. Putin. That's what I saw.

BURNETT: So, what do you want Russians who support Putin's invasion of Ukraine to hear the most right now, Masha?


What do you want them to know?

MASHKOVA: I know that there are a lot of Russians, my friends, and colleagues, who are in absolute agony right now. And the Ukrainian people are suffering.

And I just hope that we can someday find friends to transform Russia into a country of compassion and progress. Not lies and violence. I know that it's easy for me to say because I'm in another country now, and I'm not sure that I'll be able to come back.

BURNETT: You mentioned your ties to Ukraine. And I know they're deep. You've spent a lot of time there. You filmed movies there. You got a lot of friends there. Your husband is half Ukrainian.

You know, when you stop for a moment and think, can you believe so many millions of Russians truly do not know what is happening? What we are seeing, the reality of this human suffering that Putin's invasion is causing Ukrainians?

MASHKOVA: I talked to my phone -- I talked on the phone with my dad yesterday.


MASHKOVA: And now, I do believe that, unfortunately, yes, I told him that I'm going to speak to you guys, to CNN, and asked if I can tell what he told me. And he said, yes.

And -- so, I'm -- I'm -- he asked me to come back to Russia immediately to take my daughters with me and to be a good Russian. To ask for forgiveness for betrayal, and to be with Russian people, with my people, to help fight Ukrainian Nazis.

BURNETT: Hmm. I mean, Masha, I understand, you are -- you are -- you're right. And it's important to make the point, right, that what you're going through is obviously nothing in comparison to what's happening in Ukrainian. But yours is yet another family that is -- that is now breaking because of this.

I mean, it's got to be difficult, right? Your father -- you love your father. You call him to have the conversation and that's the conversation. That's got to be really hard.

MASHKOVA: It was very hard decision to -- but you know, I'm not only a daughter. I'm a mother. I have two beautiful daughters.

During the pandemic, one of my daughters found a dance teacher Danya (ph) online in Kyiv, of all places. And during the whole pandemic, they were dancing like five or six times a week and they became friends. And when last spring, I went to Kyiv, I took Steph (ph) with me to meet her best friend, her teacher, Danya, and we had such a great time in Kyiv.

So probably because of their friendship, I decided to share my position on this war. Because when the bombing started, my daughter was terrified. And we were with Danya on the phone back and forth constantly. And because of Danya, I speak now. I know what it means to him as the bombs are falling, and because of what it would mean to my daughter later in life.

BURNETT: And do you think, Masha, do you want to ever go back to Russia?

MASHKOVA: I love my father very much. He is one of the greatest actors living today. And I love my grandmother, my mom's mom who raised me. She is in Russia now and she also believes Putin's version of reality.

But I was rooted on Russian TV projects and Russian TV. So I am part of this system. My grandmother was watching me in those TV shows about good (ph) vet, or investigator, and after that, she was watching propaganda. I didn't think that I do any harm but it turns out, I also did.

BURNETT: Masha, I am grateful to you for speaking out. Thank you very much.


BURNETT: And next, the story of one remarkable family, opening the door to 46 Ukrainian refugees, providing them with food, water, even birthday presents. Plus, see chilling images tonight of the moment of Boeing 737 fell

from the sky. What do we know about how this horrifying thing could happen?



BURNETT: President Biden warning of a Russian cyberattack against the United States saying, quote, it's coming. This as the U.N. says 10 million Ukrainians have been displaced from their home since the invasion began. Three and a half million of them fleeing the country altogether.

One Polish family -- one Polish family has provided food and shelter, even birthday gifts, for 46 refugees.

Ed Lavandera is OUTFRONT.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The children enjoy a game of hide and seek with a young boy hiding in the corner. But they're not siblings. They're new friends brought together by war and the goodwill of Jaroslaw Swiecicki and his wife Malgojatha (ph). They opened their home to this Ukrainian family who escaped the war zonal less than a week ago.

When did you decide to help Ukrainian refugees?



LAVANDERA: Since the war started, the Swiecicki family has taken in 46 people. This truck driver, who recently recovered from cancer, said helping Ukrainian refugees is something he has to do.

Why have you open up your house to so many people?

SWIECICKI: Sure, because it's a Polish tradition, I think, to open our hearts, to open our homes for someone who is in need.

LAVANDERA: And he's quick to think of the little things that make his guests feel at home.

Yulia Grishko is Poland with her 7-year-old son, 4-month-old baby, along with her elderly parents. Today is her birthday.

She wanted to us see the gift she received from her host, blue and yellow flowers, Ukraine's national colors.

Yulia and her family escaped from the eastern Ukrainian city of Dnipro last week, the fighting has intensified around their hometown.

So, on March 13, at 5:30 in the morning, a Russian fighter jet flew over your home. What were you thinking in that moment?

She says, this was the turning point. I realized that I could no longer endure it. At that moment, I thought I had to save my children.

Yulia is a police officer at home. She was on maternity leave when the war started. Now, it is up to her to figure out what to do next as the war drags. But she says her heart is in Ukraine with the family she left behind. My heart stayed at home, she says. I'm scared for my relatives but thank God I'm in a warm place surrounded by kindness and I have inner peace.

This family here in Poland, will you always consider them part of your family?

Yes, she says. They have already become part of our family.

On this night, far from home, Yulia was treated to a birthday cake surprise and a lovely version of the song, "Sto lat!", the traditional Polish birthday song.

Yulia tells us her only wish is for peace and the end of war so her family can return home.

Ed Lavandera, Przemysl, Poland.


BURNETT: And next, President Biden's Supreme Court nominee preempting the criticism from Republicans in the first day of historic confirmation hearings.


JUDGE KETANJI BROWN JACKSON, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE NOMINEE: I decide cases from a neutral posture. I know that my role as a judge is a limited one.


BURNETT: Plus, the terrifying video showing the moment that Boeing plane fell from the sky. What happened?



BURNETT: Senate Republicans giving a glimpse today of a new line of attack against Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, President Biden's pick for the Supreme Court.

Paula Reid is OUTFRONT tonight on Capitol Hill.



the first day of her historic confirmation hearing, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson told lawmakers she was humbled to be the first black woman nominated to the Supreme Court.

JACKSON: My parents taught me that unlike the many barriers that they had had faced growing up, my path was clear clearer, so that if I worked hard and believed in myself in America, I could do anything or be anything I wanted to be.

REID: Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin kicked off the hearing by highlighting the significance of her nomination.

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): Not a single justice has been a black woman. You, Judge Jackson, can be the first. It's not easy being the first. Often, you have to be the best. In some ways, the bravest.

REID: Jackson currently sits on the D.C. federal appellate court and was always considered the front-runner for the vacancy created by the coming retirement of Justice Stephen Breyer for whom she once clerked. She would bring unique work experience as a former federal public defender and member of the U.S. Sentencing Commission.

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): You will be the first public defender on the court. You understand our justice system uniquely through the eyes of people who couldn't afford a lawyer.

REID: Monday marked Jackson's fourth congressional confirmation hearing for various posts over the course of her career.

JACKSON: I decide cases from a neutral posture. I evaluate the facts and I interpret and apply the law to the facts of the case before me without fear or favor, consistent with my judicial oath.

REID: But Republicans on the committee had several lines of attack against Jackson. Some GOP lawmakers signaled they will take on her judicial philosophy.

SEN. TOM COTTON (R-AR): It's not enough to say only that one would look at the facts and arguments in the case and fairly apply the law.

SEN. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R-TN): I can only wonder, what's your hidden agenda?

SEN. JOSH HAWLEY (R-MO): Let me say a few things that I'm concerned about, as by your record that trouble me.

REID: Republican Senator Josh Hawley has tried to paint her as being soft on crime, specifically sex offenders in child pornography cases.

COTTON: I'm not interested trying to play gotcha. I'm interest in her answers.

REID: CNN reviewed Jackson's decisions in question and found they weren't out of line with what other judges decided and that Hawley has taken some of her comments out of context. DURBIN: Trust me, we'll get it on the record, because there's a big

story to be told that Hawley is leaving out.


REID (on camera): Today really served as a preview of what lawmakers will focus on when they finally have the chance to question Judge Jackson tomorrow. Now, these hearings continued through Thursday before moving on to a committee vote and then a vote by the full Senate.

Erin, Democrats are hoping to wrap up this entire confirmation process before they leave for recess on April 8th.


BURNETT: Thank you very much.

And next, the Boeing 737 crashes, 132 people on board. What went so horribly wrong?


BURNETT: Search and rescue operations are underway tonight after a Boeing 737 passenger plane with 132 people on board crashed in China. You're looking at what we believe is the moment a 737 fell from the sky. New flight tracking data showing the plane plunged as you can see, more than 25,000 feet in less than two minutes. That final descent is just shocking.

These -- as you can see, this is a surveillance camera, CCTV, from a mining company that happened to be nearby captured that video.

That happened to be nearby captured that video. It happened near the city of Wuzhou, in the southern province of Guangxi. Boeing's shares dropped by as much as 8 percent on the news and it's truly disturbing and horrifying, such a loss of life.

I want to go to Will Ripley. He's in Taipei tonight.

And, Will, you know, watching that it's horrible and it's this mining company, right, that actually happened to capture, right, that just happened to be pointed in that direction plane diving headfirst into the ground. No obvious indicator as of now what possibly could've caused this terrifying end. What are you learning?

RIPLEY: It's really, you know, chilling to watch this, Erin, and to imagine what it must of been like to be on that plane for those 132 people, 123 passengers, nine crew members, for two minutes or longer with the plane going down like that. Vertically into the ground.

And that video even though we haven't verified as authenticity, it matches up exactly with what this is described seeing. No smoke flume coming from the plane, it was just going estimate a round 400 miles an hour straight down into that mountain, followed by a deafening explosion and there were flames that were visible, and then pieces of plane scattered throughout the woods there.

That crash site is so remote, it surrounded on three sides by mountains, there is one narrow pathway in, one way out. So even getting there is proving to be a challenge right now. There was bad weather overnight, that's hampering the rescue efforts that were ordered by the Chinese president himself Xi Jinping. He issued the statement just hours after this crash, Erin, which is really rare for President Xi to do and partially because this is China's first air disaster in more than a decade. The last time they had a commercial air tragedy like this was 2010, 44 people died, but also the plane involved, Erin, a Boeing 737 800. This is a workhorse. Thousands of these planes are in the skies across the world right now.

BURNETT: Yeah, that's right. And what about the investigation aspect of this? Do you expect this is going to be a transparent investigation?

RIPLEY: Well, that's the big question. You know, Boeing has said that they're ready, that they've been communicating with the National Transportation Safety Board waiting for the call from Chinese aviation authorities, China Civil Aviation Administration, and yet as of now, we don't know if any communication has taken place.

And I've been speaking with investigators who say the track record with China is that they really lack transparency, it's really difficult to get information exchange to get them to actually share information on a timely manner. So, in other words, it could take well over a year before we have any answers as to what's actually happened here, was it some sort of mechanical problem, was it pilot error?

And if the United States can be involved in this, and yet China goes on the offensive against Boeing airlines in their technical specifications, that could already complicated trouble relationship between the U.S. and China, Erin.

BURNETT: Absolutely, this is a very significant in that regard.

Will, thank you very much.

And thanks to all of you.

"AC360" starts now.