Return to Transcripts main page

Erin Burnett Outfront

Ukraine Warns Of Intensified Attacks Ahead Of "Victory Day;" U.K.: Russia Effort To Seize Mariupol Steel Plant Likely Linked To "Victory Day" May 9, A Day Putin Shows Off Military Might; $700M Superyacht With Possible Links To Putin Seized; Putin's Reputed Girlfriend Set To Be Sanctioned By EU; Trump About To Speak At Rally For Dr. Oz In Pennsylvania; Pompeo Breaks With Trump, Attacks Oz, Questions Turkey Ties; NYT: Former Defense Secretary Says In Book Trump Floated Launching Missiles At Mexico To "Destroy The Drug Labs"; Getaway SUV Found In Hunt For Escaped Inmate, Jail Officer; Shanghai's Strict COVID Lockdown Sparks Desperation; At Least 18 Dead, 64 Injured After Explosion At Havana Hotel. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired May 06, 2022 - 19:00   ET


PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: Well, thank you very much for watching. I'm Pamela Brown. Join me tomorrow for "CNN NEWSROOM" starting at 6 pm Eastern.

Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, Ukrainian officials warning of increased attacks as Putin looks for any win he can claim on Victory Day. His sights set on the steel plant where Ukrainian soldiers and civilians are running out of time.

Plus, breaking news, a superyacht just seized in Italy and it's not just any yacht, it is a yacht suspected of having ties to Putin himself.

And police find the getaway car believed to have been used by an Alabama corrections officer and an inmate together now on the run. Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, warnings across Ukraine. Officials warning of increased attacks by Russia ahead of its so-called Victory Day holiday on May 9th. In the capital of Kyiv, the Mayor urging citizens to take extra precautions, enhanced patrols, no public events, everyone urges to avoid crowds. It comes as the U.K. Ministry of Defense is also issuing this warning link to May 9th saying, "The renewed effort by Russia to secure the Azovstal steel plant and complete the capture of Mariupol is likely linked to the upcoming 9th of May Victory Day commemorations."

And that's what we're seeing in all that battle for the last Ukrainian controlled holdout in Mariupol. It continues tonight at that steel plant. Putin wants a victory there and he wants it in three days.

Victory Day is a big holiday in Russia. It commemorates the Soviet role in defeating the Nazis in World War II. So I'm going to show you some footage of what it looked like last year. It is a big deal, 191 military vehicles and 12,000 people in Moscow alone. They do parades across the Russia.

This year, Russia's defense minister Sergei Shoigu says the event will be smaller, only 131 types of weapons, 11,000 people. But the Kremlin has already confirmed the Russian President Vladimir Putin will attend the parade in Moscow's Red Square and he will make a speech and he wants that to be a victory speech and securing the steel plant in Mariupol would give something to Putin to brag about.

And here's why, if he gets that plant, he gets all of Mariupol formally and that completes the Russian land bridge from Russia to Crimea. Crimea, of course, is what Russia illegally annexed from Ukraine in 2014. That control of Mariupol and that whole stretch would also give Putin control of a majority of Ukraine's Black Sea coastline, crucial to the country's economy as a major world exporter of grain.

In fact, today, the U.N. said Russia is preventing nearly 25 million tons of grain from being exported from Ukraine. So this all comes down to this steel plant and the battle there is not over yet. Russia though is already seeking its claim elsewhere in Mariupol, they've the Russian flag flying over the city hospital, on the entrance to the city everything is in Russian. An adviser to the Mayor of Mariupol says Russia is also restoring Soviet era monuments across the city, Russian monuments, Soviet monuments.

Sara Sidner is OUTFRONT in Kyiv tonight. And Sara what more are you learning about the situation at that crucial steel plant right now?

SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We're talking to some of the family members of those who have soldiers, one of whom is inside that plant and they say it is a living hell there. However, they have been able to get out almost 50 People from that plant today. But as you remember just yesterday, the Mayor said there were hundreds of people stuck underneath that plant listening to bombardments and strikes.


SIDNER (voice over): A Ukrainian soldier in shocked silence, his arm shredded and burned, his vehicle hit by a shoulder fire grenade launcher, officially say, another victim in the bloody battle from Mariupol.

The video, a terrible reminder to those who have relatives still fighting there. Olga (ph) has a husband in Ukrainian army in Mariupol, Ana's (ph) brother is there as well.


OLGA: (Foreign language).


SIDNER (voice over): "It's so painful for me. People can't just be silent about the horrors happening there. They don't have days there. They are counting the minutes."

Ana (ph) says she fears for her brother who she says is deteriorating physically as he fights the Russians inside the plant.


ANA: (Foreign language).


SIDNER (voice over): "He's very skinny. He's exhausted. His eyes have black bags," she says. "He's in horrible condition, but that's just physically. Mentally, he's unbelievably strong. They are all so motivated to tear the Russians apart."

Russia is attacking from the ground and the sky: the devastation immeasurable, the human suffering incalculable. Under heavy fire, hundreds of civilians still stuck cowering in fear under the steel plant. This is the last Ukrainian stronghold in Mariupol. But Russia is squeezing in on it relentlessly bombing the place even after a promise of a ceasefire to allow those trapped civilians to escape.



CAPTAIN SVIATOSLAV PALAMAR, STATIONED INSIDE MARIUPOL'S AZOVSTAL STEEL PLANT (through interpreter): Once again, the Russians violated the promise of a truce and did not allow the evacuation of civilians who continue to hide from shelling in the basement of the plant.


SIDNER (voice over): Friday, a third rescue attempt got underway at least a dozen civilians rescued, adding to the nearly 500 people freed.


NIKOLE: (Foreign language).


SIDNER (voice over): Twenty-one-year-old Nikole was able to escape Mariupol, pictures of her formerly happy life there now devastate her.


NIKOLE: (Foreign language).


SIDNER (voice over): "This is practically suicide. If I do, my heart shatters. I don't understand why, how at some point.



SIDNER (voice over): On the other side of the battle, a Russian soldier nonchalantly says talks are useless for a ceasefire. The war in his mind has been ongoing for eight years since the Russians invaded and occupied Crimea. Now terror washes over another place and the bombs continue to fall.


SIDNER (on camera): And tonight, we're hearing from Ukrainian President Zelenskyy who has said he is working on a diplomatic effort for the troops. For the Army members who are inside of that plant. Some of them, by the way, injured, Erin?

BURNETT: Yes, injured and have been able to obviously do nothing about it in getting medical care. Sara, thank you so much.

I want to go now to retired Army Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, former Assistant Secretary of State for Political Military Affairs and Paul Kolbe, former Chief of the CIA Central Eurasia Division.

So Paul, as I mentioned, there are warnings now from leaders in Ukraine about increased attacks around May 9th, do you think that Ukrainian should exercise caution and do you think Putin will step up attacks?

PAUL KOLBE, FORMER CHIEF, CIA'S CENTRAL EURASIA DIVISION: Well, of course, Putin is desperate to show some sort of victory as he walks into the May 9th parade. As you noted just a moment ago, May 9th is an extraordinarily resonant holiday in Russia. One of the most important because it commemorates the victory over Nazi Germany, the conflict that cost 27 million lives.

And so just about every Russian citizen has someone, a relative, father, brother, uncle, grandfather, who died in that war. And Putin is now trying to appropriate that and to conflate it with the war of aggression that he is waging in Ukraine. The so-called denazification is just horrific and that the war that was actually against the Nazis, he's now trying to make that into a war against the fake Nazis that he describes in Ukraine.

BURNETT: So Gen. Kimmitt, talking about the steel plant specifically, obviously, if Putin is able to secure that, he has fully secured Mariupol, right, and I just laid out how that scenario would look for them, right? He has his land bridge and he has the majority of the Black Sea coast of Ukraine. So what do you think he's going to do? Is that plant now a crucial thing to secure in the next three days and what would he do to get it?

BRIG. GEN. MARK KIMMITT, U.S. ARMY (RET.): Well, militarily, and tactically the steel plant is not even part of the tactics at all. He has had that leverage to Crimea for some time now. This is a sideshow. It's a propaganda fight and it's so unnecessary to see what's going on here. It has no tactical value. It has become a battle between Putin who wants to demonstrate that he's going to destroy all the Nazis that are holding all the human shields there at Mariupol and the Ukrainians who are having their remember the Alamo moment. But in terms of military success or failure in the land bridge, this is inconsequential.

BURNETT: I mean, as we point out, right, statues going up around Mariupol, they've got a government, they've got the Russian flags, they've changed all the language to Russian on the signs coming in. Paul, there is though this, what Sara mentioned, from the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, he said that Ukraine is working on a diplomatic option to save its troops trapped in the steel plant. And he said, "Influential mediators are involved, including influential states." What do you think he means by that?

KOLBE: I honestly don't know what he means. I think it's extraordinarily slim chance that Putin is going to want to have anything other than a very clear victory there. A press, the General was saying, a propaganda coup that he can try to claim that he's got some sort of victory, salvage some sort of message for the Russian people on that May - on the May 9th declaration. It's very important for him to be able to show that there's something to show for the cost that they've paid.

BURNETT: Gen. Kimmitt, if what - is this enough for Putin? All right, so if he has some sort of the victory as he's going to call it about securing that land bridge and he tries to celebrate that on Monday and obviously we don't know what he'll do.


But if that's what he does, is that enough? Is that where he stops or no?

KIMMITT: Oh, I don't think so. He's been having this encirclement operation that he's been trying in the north to encircle the defenders around Donbas, the Ukrainians around Donbas for quite some time. I don't think he's going to stop that. I also don't think he's going to stop his initial intention of closing off the entire south all the way to Odessa so that he can make Ukraine a landlocked country and put his neck - his hands were on the neck of the Ukrainian economy. So I just don't think this is over. This is not enough for him.

BURNETT: And Paul, do you read anything into - there's been acknowledgement but not much more from the Russians about these leaks that have come to New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, indicating that U.S. Intelligence has been the linchpin crucial to Ukraine taking out 12 Russian generals and, of course, the Russian Flagship, Moskva, fighting ship? Do you think that this is sort of the silence before the storm or something else?

KOLBE: Well, look, I think today's battlefield, that precision guided munitions need precision intelligence. And I think we saw the Russians acknowledged this. When Putin's mouthpiece said that he thinks that the U.S. aid, both military intelligence and economic has not contributed to a fast resolution of their operation. Well, that's an understatement of the year.

If by that he means that U.S. aid and Western aid in general has prevented Russia from achieving its ends of decapitating the Ukrainian government of occupying the country and of creating it a vassal state or completely annexing it, he's absolutely right, U.S. aid has been critical in supporting the incredible bravery and capability of Ukrainian troops and citizenry.

BURNETT: Gen. Kimmitt, though, let me just ask you though, if U.S. aid has been critical, and it has, I guess, one could give different examples of in which way, but then Putin can choose to see that any way he wants, right? I mean, there are those who say, well, he could choose at any point to say the U.S. is already effectively at war with him. He hasn't done that yet.

KIMMITT: Yes. Well, he's inferred that and Lavrov has inferred that as well. It's not just the United States, he says that all of NATO is part of this fight. And whether it's the material support that we've been given or the intelligence support that we've been giving, both of those have been consequential to the ability of the Ukrainians to fight this battle, which has really become an attrition battle more than anything else. We're able to sustain and resupply the Ukrainians, Putin has nothing to add to what he is putting on the battlefield.

BURNETT: But General, can I ...

KIMMITT: They're running out of equipment. Ukraine is getting resupplied.

BURNETT: But you don't think that that will cause him to do anything to the U.S.?

KIMMITT: No, not directly and he certainly is not going to attack NATO. If he can't fight and win in Ukraine, there's no way he's going to have any kind of success against the NATO alliance.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you both very much, I appreciate your time.

And next, the breaking news, Italian authority seizing a superyacht with a suspected ties to Putin himself. This as Putin rumored girlfriend maybe the mother of several of his children is finally set to be sanctioned not by the United States, the EU is leading on this.

Plus, using the Trump playbook against a Trump-backed candidate, questioning Dr. Oz's ties to Turkey as he runs for Senate.


MIKE POMPEO, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE UNDER PRESIDENT TRUMP: We need to get him and his team to explain why he had time and energy and focus to vote in a Turkish election.


BURNETT: And the getaway vehicle used by an escaped convict and a corrections officer has been found. Was it deliberately abandoned though or did it break down?



BURNETT: Breaking news, Italian authorities just announced they've seized a superyacht that may belong to Putin himself. The Scheherazade believed to be worth $700 million has been described as a mini city, two helipads on board. This as the European Union is set to sanctions Putin's rumored girlfriend, Alina Kabaeva. It's a step the United States has so far refused to take. Jim Bittermann is OUTFRONT.


JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (through interpreter): Putin's punishment for the war hitting his most inner circle. The EU's prime target, Alina Kabaeva, who's said to be Putin's girlfriend and believed to have been given control over much of Putin's wealth and property.

The two have been rumored to be in a romantic relationship ever since Putin appeared to take an unusual interest in Kabaeva 30 years his junior after she won a gold Olympic medal for Russia in rhythmic gymnastics in 2004. A few years later, rumors began to circulate that Putin was separating from his wife, rumors that Kremlin vehemently denied, but which were confirmed in 2014 when the couple officially divorced after 30 years of marriage.

Meanwhile, Kabaeva rose steadily in Russian political circles, becoming a deputy in parliament from Putin's party in a post she held for six years before moving on to control a pro-Putin media group. For some time now, there have been calls from supporters of Ukraine to sanction Kabaeva. But Washington was reported to be reluctant to go after someone so close to the Russian President for fear of taking another step toward escalating the conflict.

Late last month, though, the White House appear to signal a change in approach.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: No one is safe from our sanctions. We've already, of course, sanction President Putin, but also his daughter, his closest cronies and we'll continue to review more.


BITTERMANN (through interpreter): And among the more, another close confidant of Putin, the patriarch Kirill, the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church who is said to have wealth far beyond the average church leader. He has strongly supported when he called in a sermon, Putin's special peacekeeping operation, which he added was a religious cleansing operation to liberate Russian speakers in Ukraine. He's so close to Putin that in a highly unusual comment from the Vatican, Pope Francis said of Kirill, the patriarch cannot become Putin's altar boy, something that threatened to put the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches further at odds.



BITTERMANN (on camera): And Erin, there are several other kinds of targets on the EU sanction list as well as a promise to wean Europeans off Russian gas and oil. Although several countries of the 27 nations, the EU are already asking for exception to that because of their heavy reliance on Russian energy, Erin?

BURNETT: All right. Jim, thank you very much from Paris tonight.

And I want to go now to Andrei Soldatov, Russian investigative journalist and the founder and editor of, a watchdog of Russian secret services activities now, of course, blocked in Russia. And Andrei, I always appreciate speaking with you.

So the Wall Street Journal, as you remember, right, last month said that the Biden administration held off on sanctioning Kabaeva. They decided not to do it, because they thought it was just too much. It would really inflame Putin. What kind of reaction do you expect from him now that the EU has gone ahead?

ANDREI SOLDATOV, RUSSIAN INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: Well, we, of course, know that Vladimir Putin can be really emotional when somebody talks about his relationship with Kabaeva and we know that he attacked Russian journalists for that. But he usually is getting that emotional when he enjoys complete immunity and then he has attacked Russian journalists.

But like, last week, the Swiss newspaper revealed a story about his two sons with Kabaeva and nothing happened, so I think maybe with the United States the story will be slightly different.

BURNETT: Which is interesting, right, because they - even talking about those children has been completely off limits. So you heard Jim also talk about the leader of the Orthodox Church, Kirill in Moscow. And Pope Francis said this week that the head of the Russian Orthodox Church shouldn't be 'Putin's altar boy'.

You have written extensively about this in your book Compatriots and elsewhere about the relationship between the church, the powers there and the Kremlin. How is the relationship between Putin and Kirill?

SOLDATOV: Well, it started in the beginning of the 2000s, because Kirill was in charge of foreign policy of the Russian Orthodox Church. And basically, he made the church the instrument of Putin outside of the country. For instance, the church helped to secure support among the Russian diaspora in the underworld (ph).

And later in 2010 when we get this crisis with Crimea and annexation and the invasion in Donbas, Kirill faced the very difficult choice, because the Russian Orthodox Church used to have a huge flock in Ukraine. So the choice was either to condemn the war and to save his people and his folk in Ukraine or to support Putin and he chose Putin. That is why this relationship is very, very important for Putin.

BURNETT: Yes. Well, it's a choice. Once you make that, once you crossed that Rubicon, you can never go back. So now and I'll just asked you about that yacht I mentioned because we just got that news tonight, Andrei, that mega yacht that many believe belongs to Putin himself was seized today in Italy. There's been extensive reporting done by Alexei Navalny's organization, right, tying every single person who works on that yacht, many of them back to the FSB, so they have done all of that work.

The yacht itself is said to be worth $700 million. How much does something like this impact Putin?

SOLDATOV: I think it impacts him a lot because it impacts his - the secrecy he introduced around himself that it's absolutely off limits to talk about his properties in Russia, about his yachts, about his palaces and now with all this conversation about his yachts, well, people in Russia might have a chance to actually learn something about the real face of Putin.

BURNETT: Right. Right. The selfless public servant as he pushes himself to the Russian people and there's that $700 million yacht, right, there's no avoiding those pictures. Thank you very much, Andrei. Appreciate it.

And next, a new book by Trump's former Defense Secretary Mark Esper claims that Trump talked about launching missiles at Mexico to destroy drug labs and that's not all that he waited until Trump was long gone to tell anybody.

Plus, China's strict COVID lockdown leading to suicides, as President Xi doubles down on his zero COVID policy.



BURNETT: Tonight, using Trump's playbook against him, Donald Trump is about to speak at a campaign event for Pennsylvania Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz, Republican primaries growing ugly. Trump's former Secretary of State is questioning Oz's loyalty to America, after ABC News reported that Oz who is a dual U.S.-Turkish citizen voted in Turkey's 2018 election.


POMPEO: We need to get him and his team to explain why he had time and energy and focus to vote in a Turkish election, but not in an American election.


BURNETT: OUTFRONT now Van Jones, former Special Adviser to President Obama and Scott Jennings, former Senior Adviser to Senate Minority Leader McConnell and former Special Assistant to President George W. Bush. So Scott, one of Trump's tactics, we all remember, right, paint a

political opponent as different and possibly unAmerican, right? He did it all the time. Now, we're seeing that very same tactic being used by a former Trump insider against Trump's preferred candidate, Dr. Oz.


I mean, that's a lot. It's got - is Pompeo turning on Trump here?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think there are 2024 implications here, Erin. Frankly, you've got Pompeo who wants to run for president, obviously, lining up against his former boss. And, candidly, for the McCormack campaign, and you want to go down this line of attack, what better surrogate could you had to deliver an attack like this, whether you think it's fair or valid, than a former United States secretary of state.

And so, Pompeo dipping into one of the biggest Senate races in the country, in my opinion, it has 2024 implications written all over it. He loved to best Trump in this race and say, hey, look at me, my endorsement matters.

BURNETT: And, Van, in this, you see karma?

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah. I mean, this is unfortunately, this is the chickens coming home to roost for Donald Trump. Donald Trump was famously attacking people as not American, said to a U.S. congresswoman to go back where they came from, even though they're U.S. citizens, et cetera. He created this whole sort of style of politics that is not been used against him.

My only sadness about it is that the only way you can attack Trump or his crew as from the further right, with the same kind of Trump tactics. It tells you about where the Republican Party is going now. It's unfortunate.

BURNETT: I mean, I guess, right, they are using the same thing. Obviously, this race is getting incredibly nasty, as you point out, Scott.

So, then, I want to ask you about Mark Esper. So, "The New York Times" reports that the former defense secretary, Mark Esper, has a new book, we know it's a new book, but they say, they write in it, they say Trump asked Esper in 2020 about launching missiles into Mexico to destroy the drug labs, that was a quote, and kill cartel members, arguing that, quote, no one would know it was us.

OK. Scott, we have seen what a country does when they throw missiles into another country. Mexico is a sovereign country. Is this revelation, though, going to tarnish Trump's image among his loyalists, or the opposite?

JENNINGS: No, the opposite. I mean, look, I sit out there in Kentucky, as you know.

BURNETT: Yeah. JENNINGS: And states like this have been ravaged by illegal fentanyl coming over the border. I mean, let's be honest, if Joe Biden had proposed this, we would be having a panel right now celebrating his bold leadership.

The only reason people are not crazy about this is because Trump proposed it. We have been using the U.S. military to fight the overseas military drug wars over years.

I did a little research before the show, I saw an article in "The USA Today", U.S. military expands war in Latin America. You know when it came, February 2013, when Obama and Biden were in it before.

We used the military to fight the drug war. People in Middle America are dying from this illegal fentanyl. I don't see what the big deal is and you ask specifically, do Trump's people like this? Heck yeah. They wish he had already done it.

BURNETT: So, Van, okay, then, there is a view on Trump's base. But what about for Democrats?

You have yet another person who worked for Trump waiting until long after to read a book and putting out all the stuff that is intended to show, I thought the guy was crazy and awful, and I'm now telling you that. Does it do anything for anybody doing it now, Van?

JONES: Well, it may be boost book sales. It's not exactly a profile in courage to do it this late.

I do think that it is unfortunate because nobody is going to come out and say, hey, I misquoted, Donald Trump would never say that. You never say anything like that because he used to say crazy stuff like that all the time, every day in the White House and on Twitter. I think people forgotten how nuts things got.

Look, I don't agree that if Biden says he was going to start bombing Mexico, that people would celebrate that. I mean, even -- your party might, I don't think people in our party would.

I think this is a reminder to the American people of how crazy things got for four years, and how crazy they can get again, that is what I think it is.

BURNETT: Scott, here is the thing, how do you take Trump? That they -- maybe people would like that he spoke that way. But nobody actually thinks he would do those sorts of things. I remember a conversation with Trump 12 years ago, when he told me, he wanted to bomb all the oil fields in Saudi Arabia, that was before his president. Now, you know, we hear this from the Defense Secretary Esper.

Does anyone remember two months ago when the war started, and Trump briefly kind of took on Putin who today, he called a genius again and said, well, let's just fly over and bomb the hell out of Putin, and put Chinese writing on the side of our planes, and no one will know it was us. I mean, Scott, it's the same thing.

Does he -- does he not just mean any of it seriously?

JENNINGS: I never know which part he means seriously, and which part, you know, he's throwing in as an aside. But I'm going to tell something right now. This drug war is serious business. The drug deaths are serious business.

The idea that he was trying to think of something out of the box, people would have responded to that. I know some folks think it sounds crazy, but people would have responded to that. And I'm not sure why he would throw into and let it know that it was us because I would think if I -- look, American presidents have been sending our military to other countries to fight the drug war since the Reagan years.


BURNETT: This is fair.

JENNINGS: This is not necessarily a new idea. It's a little more dramatic, but we do -- we do this all the time.

JONES: We're now praising Iran Contra? I mean, this -- look -- this is really, really bad stuff. Nobody's more anti-drug than me. Nobody's gone to more funerals over drug stuff than I have.

But there's a way to do it, and I don't think bombing countries and lying about is actually going to make things better.

BURNETT: Thank you both very much.

And next, large bank withdrawals and a hotel stay. Authorities tracking the movements of a corrections officer believed to have helped a murder suspect break out of prison.

And China's president doubling down on draconian COVID policies, policies that have now left countless feeling helpless, hopeless, and desperate.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There was a fear for whether I'm going to walk out of this alive.



BURNETT: Tonight, U.S. Marshals focusing their investigation on Tennessee as the search intensifies for missing inmate, Casey White, and former corrections officer, Vicki White.


Now, they are not related, but they escaped together. Deputies in that state discovering the pair's SUV just about two hours north of the jail. There are signs that this getaway might not have gone as planned. Ryan Young is OUTFRONT.


RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Seven days after authorities began search for Alabama fugitive Casey White and correction officer Vicki White, investigators are encountering more setbacks. U.S. marshals have located their getaway car but have no new leads on where the pair is now.

SHERIFF RICK SINGLETON, LAUDERDALE COUNTY, ALABAMA: We're sort o back. As far as the vehicle description right now, they found the car, but we knew they were gone.

YOUNG: CNN talked to the tow truck driver who moved the car last Friday, he said it was found abandoned in the middle of the road blocking traffic in Williamson County, Tennessee, about two hours north of the detention center, and only four hours after the fugitives were last seen.

SINGLETON: We're assuming where it was abandoned and abandoned so quickly, they probably had mechanical problems with it.

YOUNG: When police got to the tow yard, they saw the SUV had apparently been spray painted and the empty vehicle was locked.

CHAD HUNT, COMMANDER, U.S. MARSHALS GULF COAST FUGITIVE TASK FORCE: Now, what we're doing, in addition to canvassing the area, doing some interviews, we're looking at interviews, tips that were specific to that area. So it really reinvigorates the investigation for us, and it gives us a trajectory to carry on this investigation.

YOUNG: Vicki and Casey White who are not related took off last Friday morning, video shows the pair leaving the correctional facility and patrol car under the guys of going to the courthouse for a mental health evaluation. Officials are trying to find about more about a so- called relationship between the officer and inmate, which allegedly dates back to 2020 when Casey White was serving time in state prison and was brought to Lauderdale County for an arraignment on murder charges.

The sheriff's office says Vicki had access to about $90,000 withdrawn from a number of local banks.

SINGLETON: They had plenty of cash.

YOUNG: The court documents show that Vicki White sold her home two weeks prior for $95,000, well below the current market value. Vicki White stayed at a hotel the night before their escape near to where her getaway car was parked.

SINGLETON: We do know she was spotted on video at the Quality Inn, directly behind Logan's.

YOUNG: The day of their escape was supposed to be Vicki White's retire retirement date. Until then, she was a model employee at the prison. The fugitives are believed to be heavily armed and considering the violence of Casey's past crimes, the sheriff's office still has concerns for Vicky's well-being.

SINGLETON: Anything could set him off. At anytime he could just lose it and decides she's a hindrance to him and, you know, hurt or harm her.


YOUNG (on camera): Yeah, Erin, you think about this. You talk to the sheriff all this weekend we've been talking to him as well. Idea that they just wanted to find this car and all along it was found last week. It broke down in the middle of the road and, of course, you could see on the corner that car from the video that we had, someone tried to spray painted.

The other part about this is they're trying to execute that search warrant on that car, but it was completely empty, so it means they if they had weapons or any sort of rations, they took it along with them. The big question now is whether or not they got someone else to pick them up. Did they carjack somebody? Was there someone nearby?

That's part of where the investigation is focusing on. The other half of this that I found very interesting, if they got any tips in that area. Now, they are elevating those to the top of the list, Erin, hoping to close the noose and try to find where these two went off to in the next location.

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

I want to go down to Tim Clemente, former FBI special agent. He was part of the search team that tracked down the Olympic Park bomber Eric Rudolph.

So, Tim, let's start with the SUV that Ryan was talking about, the one that Vicky White and Casey White used to get away. Found about four hours after they left the jail on Friday. It was found in the middle of the road in rural Tennessee, and you can see it looks like they actually tried to spray painted. What do you think happened?

TIM CLEMENTE, FORMER SPECIAL AGENT, FBI: Yeah. Well, there's two possibilities there, Erin. Obviously, the most likely one is that they had mechanical failure and they had to abandon the vehicle right there, or perhaps they came upon another mode of transportation that was available and they just abandon the car. The spray-painting, obviously trying to change the color of the car, trying to change the appearance -- you know, removing the license plates, putting other plates on or leaving it without plates.

Any of those things could make it more difficult for the authorities in Alabama to find out about the vehicle which was found in Tennessee, because of the circumstances where these are different law enforcement entities in different states.

BURNETT: Yeah. CLEMENTE: All of the information that might have been gathered at the scene in Tennessee might not be immediately available to the investigators in Alabama. A sheriff would know that.

BURNETT: OK. So the sheriff said today that Vicki White withdrew $90,000 from multiple bank accounts before they went missing. Sheriff thinks she is using her law enforcement background thus far, obviously successfully to stay one step ahead of them.


How far do you think they could be by now?

CLEMENTE: They could be almost anywhere. I mean, it's been a solid week. I was thinking they would head for the water, the gulf and try to get South or Central America, because I think they will be much more incognito down there, because they would just look like a couple of Americans. I guarantee that not everyone in Mexico and south of there is aware of what is going on in Alabama, even though it's on the news here.

So that would have been my first thing, take some of that cash, buy a boat. Get out on the river, get down to the gulf, take the gulf along the coast and go wherever you can, as far as you can. That's obviously the easiest mode of transport, because nobody overseeing. There's no traffic cameras, there's nothing out in the open seas that would make them vulnerable.

BURNETT: Obviously, you know, we just don't know. Then the sheriff did have a specific message for Vicki White in today's press conference. I'll play this for you.


SINGLETON: You know, we're going to find you. Hopefully we find you safe. If you are safe right now, stay safe, get out while you can.


BURNETT: I mean, of course, it's all like she could just be forgiven and go back to her normal life, right? That's not how this would go in any case. Do you think that works?

CLEMENTE: I do think it works, Erin, and I think there's only two possibilities right now how this sense for Vicki. And one is a very sad demise, at the hands of the guy she helped free. The other is that she ends up in law enforcement custody and she is alive and well.

Either way, it's going to be a sad existence for her. At some point, and you reporter mentioned this, this guy is going to snap. This is not a happy camper. This is a guy that brought two guns to his girlfriend's house when he thought she was dating someone else and started shooting up the neighborhood.

That kind of anger is not something that dissipates.


All right. Tim, thanks very much. Good to talk to you.

And next, a very dark turn in China's COVID crisis. Amid the world's harshest lockdown, some are choosing to end their lives.

And Havana reeling tonight. Tonight, at least 18 dead at this hour after a massive explosion.



BURNETT: Tonight, China's leader Xi Jinping, with the strongest warning yet, vowing that anyone questions the country's zero COVID policy will face consequences, saying this even as his own city, Beijing, has all been completely shut down. Schools, entertainment, cultural, sports events, all close until further notice.

The lockdowns across country, the world's most populous country, tonight, fueling deep despair and taking a dark toll.

Selina Wang is OUTFRONT.


SELINA WANG, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Desperate to break free, one Shanghai resident pushed to the brink.


WANG: And during the world's strictest COVID lockdown, no longer wanted to live. I do not know exactly what's sugar this man's mental anguish, but many Shanghai residents saw this widely circulated video as reflection of their own despair, as they've been sealed in their homes for more than a month.

Protests have our updated, residents clashing with police, as the days drag on, hopelessness rises.

Multiple videos of bodies lie motionless face down outside of apartments have gone viral on social media. This one shows two dead bodies. Residents speculating that they jumped to their death from their windows amid desperation during lockdown.

The lockdown has sparked logistical chaos, leaving residents struggling to get food and medical care.

Multiple hospitals refused to treat violinist Chen Shunping's extreme abdominal pain. His son wrote to a widely shared social media posts that his father was later found outside his building in a pool of blood. He said his father had jumped from his apartment window. He said his father left a suicide note that said, I am saying goodbye to my friends and family because I can't stand the pain.

CNN has been unable to independently verify the authenticity of the story. The hospitals have issued denials. Chen's family have not responded to multiple requests for comment.

This is China's most affluent city. Residents like marketing executive Rita Zheng who loved her social and sophisticated life in Shanghai never expected that they would be fighting for survival.

RITA ZHENG, SHANGHAI RESIDENT: I have been under eating for about a week. At the end of that week, I was just feeling very depressed. There was a fear for whether I am going to walk out of this alive.

WANG: At least 27 cities are under some for the lockdown, impacting 180 million people.

China's leaders are still doubling down on its zero COVID policy, calling it a, quote, magic weapon to keep the country's COVID death slow.

Even if the harsh measures lead to emotional scars, that haunt residents years down the line.


BURNETT: Selina, it is just amazing to watch this. I want everyone to understand where you are right now. I know you have a screen behind you, but you are locked inside a hotel room, I know, in the city of Kunming, which I'm showing on the map. You have been there for 14 days, ands not because we have COVID or with someone who has COVID, because you're trying to enter the country. You have a 21 day quantity duty to do that. You earned a 14.

Tell me about what you're experiencing.

WANG: Well, Erin, my final destination is actually Beijing. But given the extremely limited flights into China, the only available one was to Kunming, which was 1,600 miles away.


So, during my 21 days locked in here, I did not my door, except for the daily temperature checks and COVID test, as well as food pickups.

In fact, I do not know if you just heard a knock on the door, that is the breakfast delivery. They leave three meals a day outside in plastic containers, but no outside food delivery is allowed.

And every few hours, I can hear and smell the staff who wear full protective gear spraying disinfectant all around the hallways. It sounds extreme, Erin, but this is the reality in zero COVID China.

BURNETT: Oh my gosh. Well, it's a great report, Selina. And I'm glad just to talk to you. I am sure being able to talk to you and do this is something, and now you get to go open your door when you are allowed to get your breakfast. Thanks so much.

WANG: Sure.

BURNETT: And OUTFRONT next, a deadly explosion rocks Havana, destroying a hotel known around the world. Tonight, there is a desperate search for survivors.


BURNETT: Breaking news, at least 18 dead and 64 injured after a massive explosion at the iconic Hotel Saratoga in Havana, Cuba. The Cuban president saying a gas leak is suspected to have caused a massive explosion.

It's a beautiful hotel. I stayed there when I covered the then President Obama's historic visit to the country in 2016. The hotel has often house top officials and celebrities, all sorts of visits, Jay-Z, Beyonce and others.

It's an incredible tragedy and rescue crews are still looking for survivors desperately in the rubble at this hour.

Thanks for joining us. "AC360" starts now.