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Erin Burnett Outfront

Prosecutors: Parade Shooter Confesses to Killing 7, Injuring Dozens, Gunman Contemplated a Second Attack in Madison, Wisconsin; Two-Year-Old Boy Orphaned After Parents Die in Parade Shooting; Police: Tipster Foiled July 4 Shooting Plot in Richmond, Virginia; Trump White House Counsel Agrees to Videotaped Interview With The January 6 Committee; As Trump's Legal Challenges Mount, Supporters Open to Alternative; Biden Calls Griner's Wife, Says He is Working to Secure Release. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired July 06, 2022 - 19:00   ET



ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, new surveillance video of people fleeing gunfire at the deadly Independence Day parade. The shooter confessing to that attack today, saying he actually contemplated firing on another city that day, too.

Plus, crisis averted in another American city. A tipster blowing a whistle on people who are planning a mass shooting and I'm going to speak tonight with the police chief in Richmond, Virginia.

And two Americans captured in Ukraine. I'll speak to the mother of one of the men who actually did speak to her son last night, got a call from him. What did he tell her?

Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, panic and terror. We have new video tonight. It just shows simply the horror, the sheer horror as the Highland Park parade shooter began attacking spectators on July 4th. Store security camera footage shows parade goers fleeing to safety.

This video is from a store right across from the building that officials say the shooter used. And it actually comes as the shooter today confessed to the massacre and said that he contemplated a second attack in Madison, Wisconsin. That is the city that he drove to after he fled the scene in Highland Park.


DEPUTY CHIEF CHRISTOPHER COVELLI, LAKE COUNTY MAJOR CRIME TASK FORCE: It appears when he drove to Madison, he was driving around. However, he did see a celebration that was occurring in Madison, and he seriously contemplated using the firearm he had in his vehicle to commit another shooting in Madison.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: Well, thank God he didn't.

But tonight, we are learning about those that he did kill and attack in Highland Park. Sixty-nine-year-old Eduardo Uvaldo died tonight at the hospital. He's taken off life support. His wife was hit with bullet fragments in her head as well and his grandson was shot in the arm. His granddaughter described him as a, quote, kind, loving, funny that didn't deserve this.

None of the victims did, of course, including 64-year-old Katherine Goldstein. Her family is speaking out now about her final moments and she was there at the parade with her 22-year-old daughter Cassie. That's Cassie you see on the right. Katherine is in the middle, her other daughter on the left.

According to Katherine's husband, Cassie looked up and she saw the gunman. She said, mom, we have to run. And a bullet then struck Katherine in the chest while they were running away. Cassie saw her mom fall to the ground and said, I love you, one last time before Katherine closed her eyes.

Josh Campbell is OUTFRONT tonight in Highland Park tonight.

And, Josh, what more are you learning about the investigation?

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good evening to you, Erin.

Today the suspected shooter in this mass shooting made his first appearance in court. Today, we also learned an incredible amount of information about the moments before, during and after this attack. We learned more information about the type of weaponry that was used. And as you mentioned, this chilling new information about the suspect, potentially contemplating conducting a second attack.


CAMPBELL (voice-over): The Highland Park gunman's first appearance in court Wednesday comes as new surveillance video shows people running for safety in a nearby store. One woman is seen crawling on the ground to project a child from gunfire and another inspects her bleeding leg.

The gunman is now being held without bond charged with seven accounts of first degree murder for shooting into a crowd of parade goers on July 4th. The prosecutor naming each one of the seven victims as he read the counts, and police saying the suspect admitted to the shootings.

ERIC RINEHART, LAKE COUNTY STATE'S ATTORNEY: He went into details of what he had done. He admitted to what he had done.

COVELLI: His motivation isn't necessarily clear. He had some type of affinity towards the number four and seven and inverse with seven, four.

CAMPBELL: Saying his affinity for the numbers --

COVELLI: Comes from music that he's interested in.

CAMPBELL: During the rooftop attack, police say the gunman shot from three magazines, each containing 30 rounds.

RINEHART: The defendant fired empty one clip of I believe, 30 rounds and re-loaded a second clip.

CAMPBELL: The prosecutor saying he looked down his sights, aimed and opened fire. Investigators said they found 83 spent shell casings. Police say after he exited the rooftop he dropped his rifle and fled. He said he dressed in women's clothing and covered up his tattoos with makeup so he wouldn't be recognized.

On the run for almost eight hours that day, he still had approximately 60 rounds of ammunition in his car when he considered attacking a second gathering in Madison, Wisconsin, but decided not to.


When asked if he was deterred --

COVELLI: Indications are that he hadn't put enough thought and research into it.

CAMPBELL: Now there are questions about whether the attack could have been stopped. Authorities say the suspect passed four background checks despite a previous threat in 2019 that was reported to the Illinois State Police.

COVELLI: It occurred in September of 2019. A family member reported that Crimo said he was going to kill everyone and Crimo had a collection of knives.

CAMPBELL: Yet, he still passed background checks through the firearms transaction inquiry program between June 2020 and September 2021. Authorities say the suspect legally purchased the high-powered rifle he used in the shooting and today dodged questions about the gunman's father, who apparently sponsored a gun license for his son.

Are you looking at any potential criminal charges with other family members, the parents perhaps?

RINEHART: I don't want to comment on that. I don't answer that question right now in terms of while our work continues to look at all of the information and evidence in this case.


CAMPBELL: Now, Erin, as that investigation continues, you are looking here live at a makeshift memorial that has been set up here, this crime scene. Obviously, this is a community that is very much still in mourning. We see volunteers coming out here to comfort some of the victims, some of their family members. There are about a dozen comfort dogs out here from the Lutheran charities. Of course, we have been talking about the people here on this date impacted, the survivors. We're told by prosecutors that they will continue to prosecute this

case to the fullest extent of the law, trying to ensure that this victim -- the shooter is held accountable for terrorizing this community.

We're also learning that the FBI's victim witness center is in the process of returning some of the items that were left behind at this crime scene as people were fleeing. They're in the process right now of getting those back to members of the community -- obviously, a community that will be in mourning for quite some time now, Erin, losing seven of their residents and the injuries here impacting dozens of others -- Erin.

BURNETT: Josh, thank you very much from Highland Park.

I want to go to now to Craig Ehrie, former FBI special agent in charge, and Elie Honig, who was an assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.

So, Greg, I wanted to start with you. Police are saying now that the gunman seriously contemplated, those are the words they are using, a second attack on a holiday July 4th celebration in Wisconsin after he had his rampage in Illinois, right?

So he fled to Madison. Hours later, he seriously contemplated this. Had a firearm, 60 arms of ammunition in his car at that time.

If he followed through, how much more bloodshed could he have caused?

GREG EHRIE, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE, NEWARK FIELD OFFICE: Certainly, it could have been a repeat of what he did do. This is the greatest fear when law enforcement responds to these. The two greatest fears are, are there accomplices? And if the person is not capture, every hour, every minute expands that target radius. Are they going to do this again?

The chilling part of this, as he freely admits he was considering it, if he hadn't been captured so quickly, he certainly could have added to this body count and had more victims and the strategy would have just expanded.

BURNETT: I mean, right, in a sense, Elie, what we're talking about here from a perspective of society is it's luck, right? It was luck that he chose not to do that, or whatever is the right word, which brings to this crucial question. They are saying that when he -- he confessed. He confessed to what he did. He confessed he was planning another -- that he considered, seriously contemplated a second attack when he was fleeing the first attack.

What are the legal implications of all that, of admitting to it and talking about another possible attack?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Erin, the evidence of the confession will help prosecutors establish the premeditation, the intentionality they need in order to establish the first degree murder charges that they have brought here. I know this may seem like an ironclad case, but you can take nothing

for granted as a prosecutor, especially with stakes as high as this one.

Second of all, if we are to see an insanity defense from this shooter, the defendant will bear the burden of saying he was so detached from reality that he didn't understand the nature of his actions. This type of evidence that he planned, that he went to the second location, that he thought better of it, to me that directly overcomes that kind of defense. So, this is going to be really important evidence for the prosecution.

BURNETT: Right. And, of course, to keep in mind that in 2019 he had made homicidal threats against people in his family and they made reports to police, right? So, there's a history.

Greg, now, police are saying he confessed to the actions in the parade shooting, but they're saying they still don't know about his motive. I mean, you know, right there in Josh's reporting, you hear that they thought he had an obsession with the numbers four and seven or seven and four if you reverse them because they were in some music he was interested in.

That's literally the level that they're talking about right now. They don't know about the motive.

Does that tell you anything?

EHRIE: Not specifically right now. And this is a question that the victims and other people involved in this are always asking whenever you respond, and I have done this dozens of times.


Everybody wants to ask the question of why. There will be some why, but this why may be specific in this individual's mind. It won't make sense to all of us. It may go in further of a prosecution or help us look down the road for similar issues, but his motivation seems very scattered. As I talk to my former colleagues in law enforcement, he's pretty incoherent on why this happened.

But Elie's point, he was very clear on he planned this. He made efforts to get away, to disguise himself, which is going to further the prosecution.

BURNETT: So, Elie, on the point about the threats that he made before, they were suicidal and homicidal in 2019. They were reported to Illinois state police.

And yet, he was able to legally buy five guns in part because his father sponsored him for a firearm card, because he was under 21, so that his father was required to do that, even, again, to emphasize after the incident of the threat against -- him threatening to kill everyone in his family, which his father presumably was aware about, that police went to home. They removed 16 knives, they removed a dagger, they removed a sword. They did that all at the time and his father sponsored him for this

gun license and he's able to get all these guns. Do you think, Elie, that there is a case here against the gunman's father?

HONIG: Well, Erin, Josh Campbell, of course, asked that exact right question to the prosecutor in the clip we just saw. And I thought it was interesting. The prosecutor neither ruled anything out, nor in. He said we're looking at all the possibilities.


HONIG: This kind of charge was sort of unheard of until earlier this year in February of 2022 when we had that tragic shooting at the school in Michigan. And the parents in that case were charged with involuntary manslaughter.

Now, if you look at Illinois law, what prosecutors would have to show is the father's conduct here was so reckless that he essentially created a grave danger to others. And that's going to depend heavily on the specific details of this case.

What exactly did the father know? How immediate was the threat? How reasoned was the threat? How seriously did he take it?

So it seems like this is something prosecutors are taking a close look at. It's a difficult call to make but they're going to have to weigh all the evidence and make a decision on that.

BURNETT: Greg, Elie, thank you both.

And tonight, one of the victims killed in the Highland Park mass shooting is being remembered as a hero because he shielded his 2-year- old son. Kevin McCarthy and his wife Irina were both killed as they watched the parade with their son Aiden. The child, though, was found underneath his father's wounded body. Now, his family, his grandparents are facing the unimaginable task of explaining what happened that day.

Adrienne Broaddus is OUTFRONT.


ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A father's final act in the chaos of Monday's mass shooting. Thirty-seven-year-old Kevin McCarthy shielding his two-year-old son Aiden from a gunman who opened fire from a nearby roof, saving his life.

SEN. TAMMY DUCKWORTH (D-IL): He was pulled out from underneath his father who was still bleeding by -- by Good Samaritans. And they pulled him out and they went to work on his dad because his dad's leg was still bleeding, and then a couple scooped him up and took him to safety. And then his dad died on the scene.

But, yes, his dad did everything he could to protect his son and was successful in that. BROADDUS: The boy's father, 35-year-old Irina McCarthy also among the

seven people killed. Greg and Dana Ring spotted Aiden covered in blood with the Good Samaritan as they sheltered from the gunfire. The Rings took the child to police.

GREG RING, TOOK CARE OF AIDEN MCCARTHY AFTER SHOOTING: When we pulled in, the cops looked like they were getting ready for war. I will never forget. I pulled up and said, this is not our kid. It's not his blood, he's okay. What should we do?

And the cop said, we can't be baby-sitters now. Can you take care of him? We said, of course.

BROADDUS: While the Rings cared for Aiden, a neighbor saw a photo of him on a neighborhood watch page, helping to reunite Aiden with his grandparents.

ADRIENNE ROSENBLATT, NEIGHBOR OF VICTIMS: He didn't know. I don't know how they're going to tell him. How do you tell an 18-month-old boy that mommy and daddy are in heaven now?

BROADDUS: Aiden's grandfather Michael Levberg telling "The Chicago Tribune" that when reunited at a local police station, Aiden said, are mommy and daddy coming soon? Levberg said he doesn't understand.

Levberg told "The Chicago Sun-Times" his daughter and son-in-law were crazy about their son and had been looking forward to enjoying the July 4th parade with him. Now, the Levbergs are mourning the loss of their daughter and son-in-law while also caring for their grandson who has been left with no parents.

REP. BRAD SCHNEIDER (D-IL): His parents were both murdered by the shooter at the parade. A young couple killed in the prime of their life. A young child left an orphan.


BROADDUS (on camera): And the family that will raise 2-year-old Aiden is seeing the heart of this community and beyond. A GoFundMe account created has received more than 45,000 donations totaling more than $2.6 million.


But, Erin, as you know, all the money in the world can't erase this family's grief.

BURNETT: Adrienne, thank you so much for that reporting. Adrienne in Highland Park tonight.

And next, another July 4th mass shooting plot. This one was foiled, but it was a mass shooting. It was going to be in Richmond, Virginia. But it was foiled because of just -- a member of the public, somebody saw something, called in a tip. And Richmond's police chief is my guest. Plus, big breakthrough for the January 6th Committee, a highly sought witness, Trump White House counsel Pat Cipollone agreeing to a videotaped interview behind closed doors. What will he reveal about what went down that day?

And cracks in the Trump base are beginning to show. But who can replace him?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think if DeSantis ran, he would be a great partner, and he would win.



BURNETT: Tonight, a mass shooting plot foiled in Richmond, Virginia. Two men arrested after a tipster reported they were planning an attack on the city's July 4th celebration. Police said the men had two assault rifles, a handgun and more than 200 rounds of ammunition.

OUTFRONT now, the Richmond Police Chief Gerald Smith.

And, Chief Smith, thank you so much for being with me.

Thank goodness that you were able to intervene and that the horror that could have unfolded did not happen. You say the attack was planned at the massive 4th of July event that you have in Richmond, at the Dogwood Dell, which is a local amphitheatre, you have 2,400 people that can fit there. It was absolutely packed on Monday night.

What can you tell me, Chief, about how the plot was foiled?

CHIEF GERALD SMITH, RICHMOND, VA POLICE DEPARTMENT: I think the thanks and appreciation goes out to the hero citizen as I'm referring to them that actually picked up the phone and made a phone call to tell us that they knew of information of someone planning this mass shooting.

At that time, after that, our officers, our great officers of the men and women of the Richmond Police Department they went to work and started an investigation immediately that led them to the arrest of these two individuals. So the thanks and the appreciation first goes to that hero citizen who actually heard something and said something.

BURNETT: So the two men, I mean, are you confident that you have the extent of the plot? And are they speaking to investigators? Have they revealed anything about their motive and their intent?

SMITH: We know what their intent was. We do no know at this time what their motive was. We do know they were coming to do a mass shooting at the Dogwood Dell, at our 4th of July celebration. We have no idea what their motive was as of yet.

I don't know if they are speaking to investigators at this point in time. I do know our investigators are continuing to put the case together and work with it to ensure a successful prosecution as it moves forward.

BURNETT: Now, I know when we look at the time line here, when you got this tip, one of the suspects was arrested right away, the day the tip came in, which was July 1st. The second suspect was under surveillance, though, for four days, and wasn't arrested until July 5th which would be after what they said was their intended target. Why was your defendant confident that he wouldn't act over those four days or you would be able to intervene if he did?

SMITH: We were keeping a close eye on him. If he were to make any kind of move that would have been a threat to the public, our officers would have taken action immediately. If this guy even made a move down Dogwood Dell, he would have been stopped and asked before he even could get there.

The investigation when we first got it on July 1st and that's when the call came in, our detectives went to work that day and we arrested the first suspect that first day. Probable cause did not come along for the second suspect until later. Once we got probable cause, we effected the arrest.

BURNETT: Right. Okay, that's important. So you're saying you didn't know about the second one in full when you got the call. It does come to the call, right?


SMITH: Oh, we did. We did.

I'm sorry. I interrupted you but we knew about the second suspect. We just didn't have probable cause to take him into custody.

BURNETT: Okay, I understand. So did he try to do anything that day? What gave you probable cause?

SMITH: The investigation. Our detectives went to work in speaking to people, speaking to witnesses and others. And through that investigation is where the probable cause came from. Nothing about his actions that led us to believe that what led to probable cause, only that the investigation and the facts that led to it. So, we kept our eye on him very closely.

BURNETT: So, Chief, obviously now this goes to a legal process and that raises all kinds of questions, right? Do they go to prison? Are they going to be back out again. There are so many questions anyone watching would have.

But at this very moment, I have to look at this way, Chief. Your city was spared because of a lucky tip, because of a citizen, a person, who stepped up and called you.

And I'm just wondering how you feel as a police chief in a city that almost had a mass shooting. Is that where we are in this country, that we're basically going to rely on luck and a hero tipster to prevent what now seems to be regular mass shootings?

SMITH: I don't think we can rely on luck. I think we can rely on great police work that we saw in this case. And we really need to implore our citizens and our community not just in Richmond but across the country to partner with police and to actually say something. We can deal in possibilities all day long, but you know the probably was high that these guys were going to do a mass shooting. And the individual, the citizen hero, stepped up and let us know something and we did something.

So, we have to give all due credit to that one phone call and that all the citizens across this great country of ours realize one phone call, you can save how many lives -- we cannot calculate how many lives they actually saved on the 4th of July with that one phone call.

BURNETT: Yeah, it's amazing.

Chief Smith, thank you very much. I appreciate your time tonight.

SMITH: Thank you, Erin. Have a good evening.

BURNETT: All right. You, too.

And next, Trump White House counsel Pat Cipollone will testify before the January 6 Committee on Friday behind closed doors. A member of the committee joins me next. The thought of Trump running again is too much for some Republicans.



IRINA LAROSE, FORMER REPUBLICAN WHO IS NOW INDEPENDENT: I don't think the Trump movement is the right movement for our country. I'd like to see a more moderate Republican.



BURNETT: Tonight, a major breakthrough for the January 6th committee. Trump White House counsel Pat Cipollone will testify before the committee on Friday. This according to sources. Pat Cipollone's interview which is happening under subpoena will take place behind closed doors. It will be videotaped, though, and it will be transcribed.

It comes after former many former Trump administration aides told the committee that Cipollone stood up to Trump's attempts to overturn the 2020 election. And he warned that Trump's intention to go to the Capitol on January 6 as Congress certified the election would pose a dire, legal risk.


HUTCHINSON: Mr. Pat Cipollone said something to the effect of please make sure we don't go up to the Capitol, Cassidy. Keep in touch with me. We're going to get charged with every crime imaginable if we make that movement happen.


BURNETT: Kaitlan Collins is OUTFRONT.


And, Kaitlan, obviously, you covered Cipollone extensively while reporting on the Trump White House. What will his testimony bring to the committee's investigation? Obviously, he was -- didn't want to do it and is now doing it under subpoena and in a very carefully negotiated manner.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. He had fought testifying initially, but now, of course, he has agreed to come in and talk to the committee about this. His system, Erin, could be potentially very consequential because he was there for key moments leading up to January 6th. Of course, following the election that Trump lost, he was there the afternoon of January 6th, as Cassidy Hutchinson was testifying in her testimony.

This could be really pivotal for the committee. It certainly a big get given he had pushed back against testifying. He had gone in for a formal interview back in April. But he wasn't under oath and it wasn't transcribed. That's where this one will be different.

Now, you won't see him testify publicly in the way that you saw Cassidy Hutchinson come forward. Instead, he's expected to meet with a committee behind closed doors.

My colleague Pam Brown was told it will be videotaped. It will be transcribed and it will be under oath, of course. So, that is why this will be such a big deal.

And I've spoken with some people who are familiar with how Pat was reviewing this. He did not want to go in. He is a very institutional thinker. He takes executive privilege seriously. But that subpoena that he got last week from the committee really changed everything.

And, clearly, they were keen to speak with him because you saw Liz Cheney make that appeal saying that need to speak to that committee. And so, one thing I have heard, though, a word of caution with the question of whether or not he invokes executive privilege, what questions will he be willing to answer to the committee.

But he could be useful potentially for the Democrats and the Republicans on this committee as they are working forward with this investigation because you have seen some of Trump's allies come out and dispute what Cassidy Hutchinson testified to. He could prove critical in backing up some of what she said.

BURNETT: Yeah. All right. Thank you so much, Kaitlan Collins, reporting from the White House.

And I want to go now to Democratic Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren of California. She's a member of the Select Committee.

So, Congresswoman Lofgren, what are you hoping to learn from Pat Cipollone that other witnesses have not already told you? Or is the main point simply to corroborate or to, you know, have a second voice on things?

REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): Well, we just want the truth, of course. We learned quite a bit about things that Mr. Pat Cipollone said and did from multiple other witnesses, but there are some things that we'd like to hear from him directly, and we hope that we will learn some things from him.

He certainly was in the room when a variety of things happened relative to the efforts to overthrow the election, and we hope to learn more from him about that.

COLLINS: So, Kaitlan just mentioned the issue of executive privilege. Are you concerned that Cipollone will claim executive privilege or attorney-client privilege on most of the questions?

I mean, I know there are some people who do that sort of an attitude to you, right? He would do it in a much more institutional way of how he believes the law, right? He's a widely respected lawyer.

But do you expect that that's going to be what you end up getting?

LOFGREN: Well, executive privilege is held by the current president, who has not asserted it when it comes to finding out information about the January 6th plot. The attorney-client privilege could be asserted. But, remember, the presidency is his client, not Mr. Trump as a person.

And, so, as Judge Carter found in the evidence case a few months ago, there is also a client fraud exception to the attorney-client privilege, and he, himself, told Ms. Hutchinson that there was some legal jeopardy here.

So, I'm sure we will get information that's of use to him and we'll also respect, you know, his dedication to these principles that he holds dear.

BURNETT: So, his interview -- I understand, Congresswoman -- is going to be behind closed doors this week. It will be videotaped and it will be transcribed.

Do you plan to show Cipollone's testimony in future hearings, or did you -- did you negotiate that right away? Or once you have it, is it yours to do with it what you will?

LOFGREN: Well, once we have it, we have it. It's hard to say whether or not it would be produced as part of a hearing. You know, we don't know.

I'll say this. There have been occasions when very important witnesses really didn't want to come in in person. I'll give the prior attorney general as an example. He did come in and be interviewed for two and a half hours. Both Ms. Cheney and I participated --


LOFGREN: -- in that interview. And he really didn't want to come in in person. We could have tried to force him.


But when we looked at the videotape, we realized, really, we had all of the information that we would have gotten in a public hearing, and there was no need to have a fight over it. So that could be something like this as well.

BURNETT: So, your fellow committee member, Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger, told my colleague Dana Bash that new people have coming forward all the time to give the committee new information, right? And we understand that people came forward who were in the Trump administration after Cassidy Hutchinson bravely testified. But he's saying new people coming forward all the time.

Can you give us any sense of who these types of people are? I'm not going to give you names. I'm not asking for that. But who is coming forward? How valuable is the information that they have?

LOFGREN: Well, some of it is corroborative. Some of it is valuable, some of it not as much. So we need -- but you need to sort through everything. You can't just discount it.

If you get, you know, a mountain of evidence, you need to look at that evidence and see what's important and what isn't so that we can get the complete picture. That's a time-consuming intensive effort that we're engaged in.

BURNETT: And how are you managing that with the time? Do you anticipate, you know, more -- more sort of sudden hearings being announced?

LOFGREN: Well, I don't know. I really felt that it's worked best to let the chair make the announcement of the hearing schedule rather than the individual members. But as you know, we've announced this hearing for Tuesday. I think it will be useful. There will be new information connecting the dots leading up to the January 6th event.

BURNETT: I want to ask you -- you know, obviously, you got the January 6th Committee. We have the -- what's going on in the state of Georgia. And now, we have the Department of Justice, right? There are multiple avenues going here, parallel tracks, if you can call it that.

Now, in Arizona, a development, Congresswoman, where two Republican state senators have been subpoenaed by the FBI for e-mails and text messages. One of them is State Senator Karen Fann who led the charge for Arizona sham audit of their 2020 election result.

So do you have any sense of how significant this development could be?

LOFGREN: You know, I don't know. And the Department of Justice is not sharing with the committee its investigation. And that's right. It would -- it's not proper for them to share with the committee the details of their investigation.

If they have something they think is a crime, they'll bring an indictment, and that's when you'll find out what they're doing.

BURNETT: All right. Congresswoman, I appreciate your time as always. Thank you.

LOFGREN: You bet. You take care.

BURNETT: All right. And next, Donald Trump's legal troubles are just too much for some Republicans. It's Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, Donald Trump without the baggage.

And we've been following the story of two American fighters captured in Ukraine. The mother of one of those men did get a chance to speak to her son last night. So what did he tell her? I'm going to ask her next.



BURNETT: Tonight, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis naming a director to his newly created and controversial Election Crimes and Security Office. The new office was a pet project for DeSantis who pushed for a special unit to investigate election fraud amid Trump's campaign to push election lies. As Trump's legal troubles continue to mount, some Republicans are looking at DeSantis as Trump but without the, quote, baggage.

Leyla Santiago is OUTFRONT.


JOSEPH BUSH, TRUMP SUPPORTER: I think we're at a Trump rally.

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Joseph Bush is a Trump fan. The 58-year-old Republican who moved to Florida last year likes that the former president ran the country like a business.

BUSH: There is somebody that believes in our Second Amendment rights, the flag, the economy.

SANTIAGO: Trump is as strong as ever, he says, in good standing to lead the Republican Party despite the revelations emerging from the January 6th hearings.

CASSIDY HUTCHINSON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE AIDE: The president said something to the effect of, I'm the f'ing president. Take me up to the Capitol now.

BUSH: I watched a little bit of it to know it's very one-sided and it's distraction.

SANTIAGO: That's something we heard repeatedly.

Are you watching the January 6 hearings, though?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have not, no.

SANTIAGO: Why not?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just haven't got a chance.

JASON TOM, INDEPENDENT: I think that there's a lot of validity to what's happening. I think there's also a little bit of a fishing expedition.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not a hearing. It's a show.

SANTIAGO: While some Republicans and independents here told us they question the politics behind the hearings, others --

IRINA LAROSE, FORMER REPUBLICAN WHO IS NOW INDEPENDENT: I think we all need to know that information. People are not well-informed.

SANTIAGO: Irina LaRose is watching the hearings. She once considered herself a Republican. Now --

LAROSE: I don't think the Trump movement is the right movement for our country. I'd like to see a more moderate Republican.

SANTIAGO: For some, that Republican is their own Governor Ron DeSantis.

TOM: I mean, I think he's definitely a strong candidate. I think he has really good ties. You know, I think -- I don't -- I don't think that former President Trump is going to be a person that's going to be running.

SANTIAGO: Both are powerhouse fundraisers. Each with more than $100 million cash on hand.

And while Trump remains popular with the GOP base, there are some signs DeSantis is making gains, polling even with Trump in a recent New Hampshire poll of Republican primary voters.

And while loyalty to Trump here remains on full display --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think Trump is going to lead the way. I think he needs to redeem himself for sure.

SANTIAGO: Republicans also told us, they are open to a fresh face leading the party.

JIM SEATON, REPUBLICAN: I don't think Trump will be elected president again.

SANTIAGO: Why do you say that?

SEATON: Because there's so much -- many people against him. SANTIAGO: Even some of Trump's strongest supporters.

BUSH: I moved to Florida because of DeSantis. I think if DeSantis ran, he got (ph) a great partner, and he would win.


BURNETT: And, Leyla, you know, this is so interesting to see that. There has been so much chatter about a possible DeSantis challenge to Trump, right? Not that DeSantis would run if Trump didn't, but an actual challenge.


Notably, DeSantis didn't ask for Trump's endorsement for his current election bid as governor of Florida. Is there a feeling that he has the momentum and the will to take on Trump at the primary?

SANTIAGO: Well, take that last gentleman at the end of our story, what his take is on all this. I asked him if he had to choose between the two. And, remember, he is a huge Trump fan. Trust me, that was not the only flag -- Trump flag he had on that boat.

Even he said if he had to choose today, right now between the two, he would go with Governor DeSantis because he doesn't have that baggage that comes with President Trump. Now, for Trump's point, our CNN reporting right now is that he himself is fixated on Governor DeSantis, and that comes from his own aides telling CNN that -- Erin.


All right. Leyla, thank you so much for that report from Florida tonight.

And next, two Americans captured in Ukraine. I'm going to speak to the mother of one of them. Suddenly she had a chance to speak to her son. He is live. She's going to share a recording of his message with us.

Plus, the Great Salt Lake setting a new disturbing and ominous record.



BURNETT: Tonight, President Biden telling Brittney Griner's wife he is working to secure Brittney's release as soon as possible and that his administration is pursuing every avenue to bring Brittney home. President Biden also saying he is working on the release of Paul Whelan and other U.S. nationals detained in Russia tonight.

Alex Drueke and Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh are among those being held. They have been missing for 26 days. They were captured on June 11th while fighting with Ukrainian forces north of Kharkiv. And last night, Andrew Drueke called his mother and said this.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) ALEX DRUEKE, CAPTURED IN UKRAINE: You all just keep doing everything you can to get the release going.


BURNETT: And we've been checking in Alex Drueke's mother, Bunny Drueke, regularly throughout this ordeal that she's been going through. She's with me again tonight.

And, Bunny, I appreciate your time. I know you have been speaking to the State Department. The Whelan family after President Biden today they said they're furious he hasn't called them. He did, of course, call Brittney Griner's wife today.

I'm wondering, Bunny, have you heard directly from President Biden or anyone at the White House? And do you feel that that should happen, that that personal reach out to you should occur?

BUNNY DRUEKE, MOTER OF ALEXANDER DRUEKE, AMERICAN MISSING IN UKRAINE: I have not heard from President Biden or the White House, but I have not expected to because that's not really their responsibility. That falls to the State Department, and I think that Secretary Blinken and his staff have been doing an excellent job with our situation.

BURNETT: So, you were able, Bunny, to speak --


BURNETT: Yeah, go ahead.

DRUEKE: I was going to say that our men are not in the same situation as Brittney Griner. It's -- she is being unlawfully detained by Russia, and Andy and Alex are prisoners of war in this Ukrainian conflict.

BURNETT: I know you were able to speak with Alex for nearly ten minutes last night, which must have been amazing to hear his voice as his mother. How did he sound? And was he able to tell you anything?

We obviously had no idea what situation he was when he had to call, who was sitting in there, that sort of thing. But what was that call like? What was he able to tell you?

DRUEKE: Well, I know that he was not alone. I know that they were listening. He had a message to deliver from them, which was they are very eager for negotiations to start. And I explained that this is a delicate situation, that the U.S. doesn't have diplomatic relations with the DPR because we don't recognize them as a country, and we're having to involve other countries.

And I know that our embassy and State Department are talking to the Ukrainian embassy this week, and so that's very encouraging to me. Alex sounded good. He sounded strong.

BURNETT: So you were able to record a short clip of your conversation with him last night. He talked about his dog, Diesel. Here he is. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

ALEX: They were asking if I have a family and I said no, I don't have a wife and kids, but I have a family and I've got a dog.

BUNNY: That's right.


DRUEKE: He speaks awfully quickly.

BURNETT: It must have been wonderful for you to hear his voice. Yeah.

DRUEKE: He was speaking quickly because he wasn't sure how much time he would have. But in case the viewers didn't quite catch that he was saying that he was telling them he's not married, he doesn't have kids but he does have a family and he does have a dog. So, hopefully, they know that he has people and a loved one eagerly waiting for him to get home.

BURNETT: Did the conversation feel natural? Did it feel scripted? Is there any feel you have for that?

DRUEKE: The first part of it when he's talking about what I refer to as business matters, it feels a little scripted. And sometimes I would ask him a question and he would hesitate to answer it or the answer would be vague, and I realized he was probably being directed by whoever was in the room with him.

But mostly when we talked about diesel or we talked about the family gathering for the Fourth of July and how we missed him not being with us, that part of it felt more relaxed. And he -- I think he enjoyed hearing that part of it very much.

BURNETT: And, Bunny, what is the very latest you have from the State Department?


Sounds like you're saying that the Russian related forces want negotiations to start, but they haven't yet. Are you sure there will be negotiations for lack of a better word?

DRUEKE: I'm confident that they will -- there will be negotiations at some point. I do know that this week, the State Department will be talking with the International Committee of the Red Cross. They also assured us that the U.S. ambassador and the Ukrainian ambassador would be speaking this week and that Alex and Andy are on the agenda. And then next week, there'll also be a meeting about that.

BURNETT: All right. Bunny, thank you very much. I appreciate your time and sharing that with us.

DRUEKE: Thank you, Erin. I appreciate you letting us get the story out. BURNETT: All right. And next, the Great Salt Lake, it is in trouble.

It is shrinking before our eyes, and with it, poison is coming in the air.


BURNETT: The water level in the Great Salt Lake in Utah has dropped to its lowest level on record, and hates the second time in a year that it has set a record. To quote a Utah official, this is not the type of record we like to break. A climate change fueled mega drought is to blame and continues to tighten its grip on the West. Water usage is also responsible.

And here's the thing, if the lake continues to dry out, the impact could be toxic. Scientists predict the air surrounding Salt Lake City could thing, if the lake continues to dry out, the thing, if the lake continues to dry out, the impact could be toxic. Scientists predict the air surrounding Salt Lake City could literally turn poisonous for humans. The lake bed contains high levels of arsenic. As more and more becomes exposed as the lake recedes, the wind carries that arsenic.

A Republican state lawmaker who lives by the lake told "The New York City" it's a potential environmental nuclear bomb that's going to go off.

Thanks for joining us tonight.

"AC360" with Anderson starts now.