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Erin Burnett Outfront

DOJ Getting Info From January 6 Committee On Trump Team's Fake Electors Plan; Audio Reveals Bannon Describing Trump's Plan To Win At All Costs; Video Of Uvalde Police's Entire 77-Minute Response Now Public; Obama Chides Ex-White House Doctor Ronny Jackson: "Beneath the Office"; Ex-Gov. Richardson Expected To Go To Moscow To Help Free Americans; Ukrainians: Russian Strike Elementary School For Second Time; Mysterious Radio "Heartbeat" Detected A Billion Light-Years Away. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired July 13, 2022 - 19:00   ET



ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, fake electors. New details tonight about the Department of Justice's investigation into Trump's plot to overturn the election. Is Merrick Garland closer to a criminal indictment?

Plus, Obama in his words, reprimanding the former White House doctor, his former White House doctor Ronny Jackson. What did he say and why did he lose his cool?

And it is the most closely watched Senate race of the year. One candidate has been off the rail for two months and another is accused of spending more time in a neighboring state. What is going on?

Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, will Merrick Garland indict Donald Trump?

Tonight, a major clue into what investigators are focusing on, that is the fake electors, those fake electors from contested states. Bennie Thompson, the chairman of the January 6th committee, telling CNN that his committee is providing the DOJ with witness transcripts related to the effort to put up those fraudulent electors from battleground states that Trump lost.

Now, this, of course, was central to Trump's scheme to overturn the 2020 election and the committee has shown how wide-ranging included testimony from the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, describing a call that she received from the former president and his attorney, John Eastman.


RONNA MCDANIEL, RNC CHAIRWOMAN: He turned the call over to Mr. Eastman, who then proceeded to talk about the importance of the RNC, helping the campaign gather these contingent electors in case any of the legal challenges that were ongoing changed the result of any of the states.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Did you also receive a call from U.S. Representative Andy Biggs of Arizona on the morning of January 6th?


SCHIFF: And what did Mr. Biggs ask you to do?

BOWERS: He asked if I would sign on both to a letter that had been sent to my state and/or that I would support the decertification of the electors, and I said I would not.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A staffer for Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson texted a staffer for Vice President Pence just minutes before the beginning of the joint session. This staffer stated that Senator Johnson wished to hand deliver to the vice president the fake elector votes from Michigan and Wisconsin.


BURNETT: All right. So, Chairman Bennie Thompson also has a message tonight for Steve Bannon, who claims he's willing to testify before the committee.


SEN. BENNNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): We have a subpoena that listed a number of documents that he needed to produce for us. So I would say before we engage Mr. Bannon at all, he will have to comply with that subpoena. That has not happened yet.


BURNETT: Now, it remains to be seen if Bannon complies or if his claim to testify is just a stunt to kind of, you know, mock the whole process, as even the Justice Department alleges. Bannon, of course, was a key player in Trump's claim to power. In fact, according to newly published audio, it's just today, new audio, Bannon had insight into Trump's plan for election day.

Here is Bannon speaking to a group of so-called associates three days before the actual election. Listen to this.


STEVE BANNON, FORMER TRUMP AIDE: What Trump's going to do is just declare victory. Right. He's going to declare victory, and he's just going to say he won.


BURNETT: Then on December 30th, after many in Trump's circle had already told the president he lost the circle, by this point, every single sane rational informed individual knew this, Bannon still convinced Trump to return to Washington for Mar-a-Lago for the Stop the Steal rally. And that is according to "The Washington Post" reporters Bob Woodward and Bob Costa in their new book. They quote him saying: You got to return to Washington and make a dramatic return today. People are going to go, what the F is going on here. We're going to bury Biden on January 6, f'ing bury him.

And just yesterday, we learned that Bannon spoke to the president twice on January 5th, the day before the insurrection, one time, just minutes before he said this, just minutes, okay, before he went public on his radio show and said this.


TRUMP: All hell is going to break loose tomorrow. Just understand this: all hell is going to break loose tomorrow.



BURNETT: Manu Raju is OUTFRONT live on Capitol Hill to begin our coverage tonight.

And, Manu, you have been speaking to January 6th committee members all day. What more have you learned about their investigation and what happens in these next crucial few days?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, top Democrats are telling me tonight that they believe that the committee has amassed enough information to get the Justice Department to investigate Donald Trump's actions. That's what Adam Schiff, one committee member, told me today, as well as the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin told me, as well.

Now, they have indicated that they began a process, the committee has, to allow the Justice Department to come in, to review some witness transcripts involving that fake electors issue that you talked about, but also could expand into more issues, as well.

One issue that could come up, potential of witness tampering. That's one that Liz Cheney herself brought up yesterday, a phone call that Donald Trump made to a potential witness. They didn't connect, but that information was eventually relayed to the Justice Department.

But the committee acknowledging to me today, the chairman, Bennie Thompson, that they don't know why Donald Trump made that phone call to that individual, and they really have no other information other than that. But they say the ball is now in the Justice Department's court.

Now, the committee itself plans to have a hearing next week to focus on 187 minutes. Those minutes that counted down as the Capitol was being attacked, which Donald Trump did not act. They say new information about that time frame, when they said according to one committee member, Jamie Raskin, who said today, most presidents could act on the first or second minute. Donald Trump did not.

But, Erin, that could be the last hearing for some time. The committee will write its report, potentially not have another hearing until that report is finally done, detailing everything they have found, potentially released sometime in the fall -- Erin.

BURNETT: Wow, sometime in the fall. Of course, a hearing in the crucial fall -- you know, that's the political side of this, and political election season.

All right. Manu, thank you very much.

I want to go now to Stephanie Grisham, the former Trump White House press secretary. She resigned on January 6th. Ryan Goodman, former special counsel and co-editor in chief of "The Just Security" legal blog. And Katelyn Polantz is our justice reporter.

So, Ryan, let me start with you, what Manu is reporting from all these conversations. He talks to the chair of the committee, Bennie Thompson, today, who says the Justice Department is only interested in the fake elector scheme right now, and the information that the committee has amassed on that.

So let's just start with one simple question here -- is there enough that you have seen on that issue from the committee to have a criminal indictment of the former president?

RYAN GOODMAN, CO-EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, JUST SECURITY: Well, I think first is there enough to criminally investigate Donald Trump as the target of the investigation, around it's just beyond the line, absolutely. In fact, it would be dereliction if the Justice Department is not doing that right now.

But there is a lot of evidence that points to an indictment. The Ronna McDaniel testimony actually puts him at the center, by saying to her on the phone with John Eastman, you know, can you coordinate the alternate state of electors, and we have a federal district court judge who had said that Eastman and Trump more likely than not engaged in criminal conspiracy and then he followed that up in June with a second opinion that said the ultimate side was a critical objective of the criminal conspiracy.

So, we've seen plenty. And then since then, we've seen a lot of testimony from former Trump officials discussing how that plan manifested.

BURNETT: And so, all right, so this is crucial. Sop, you got him at the center as the target, that you certainly have enough for an investigation and potentially an indictment. Katelyn, the thing, though, that what Bennie Thompson told Manu was that right now, the DOJ was only interested in the fake elector scheme, okay.

But what we're saying, what Ryan is saying, look, that could get you all the way to criminal indictment of former president. However, Katelyn, from your reporting, does it seem that the DOJ will ask the panel for more? Will go beyond the fake electors?

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR REPORTER, CRIME AND JUSTICE: Well, I mean, that really is the way that this seems to be going and is likely to go, but there would be a very long road ahead for the Justice Department. So, right now, we have watched the House focus on Donald Trump, they have interviewed more than a thousand witnesses, so more than a thousand transcripts they have of people at lots of high levels of the Justice Department, of the administration of the White House, of the Trump campaign.

The Justice Department is working from bottom up, right? They are starting with the rioters, and then they're now peeling back these political layers. One of the layers that they're looking into is obviously the fake electors. Thompson did discuss that as one of the things they're working with the Justice Department on, sharing those transcripts.

But there are many other threads that we know of through our reporting of this Justice Department investigation. Just recently, Ali Alexander from Stop the Steal, he was in the grand jury. We also know he spoke extensively to the House committee. That is something that the Justice Department may want to compare what he told both entities.

We also know that the Justice Department was looking into John Eastman, Jeffrey Clark at the Justice Department, and we also know that they are looking into the extremist groups still, the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers.


So the committee, they have talked to lots and lots of witnesses about those very things, about those people. And so right now, we are at a point where the justice department may be dove tailing more and more as time goes on with what the committee has done so far.

BURNETT: All right. So, Stephanie, I want to ask you about Steve Bannon. You know, I just played the audio of him before the election, three days, saying Trump is going to declare victory. It doesn't matter if he wins or not. He's just going to declare it.

Obviously, you know, Steve Bannon -- and you spent plenty of time in the room with him during the parts of the campaign. What was your reaction when you heard that? And given your knowledge of Trump, how confident are you that Trump paid attention to what Steve Bannon was telling him to do?

GRISHAM: Well, when I heard the audio, it was chilling audio, and I really hope that all Americans listen to it. I wasn't surprised at all. And I think that -- I think that, of course, Trump would be listening to Bannon, because Bannon was telling him everything he wanted to hear. I mean, we know now from all that this testimony, and I know from my own experience, Trump will keep saying no to people until he finds somebody who will say yes and Bannon was doing that in that moment.

Another thing is that nothing ever gets done without Trump. Trump knows all. People don't act -- people don't say anything without his blessing. I know that. I was his press secretary.

So the fact that Bannon said that really makes me believe truly that Trump said that to Bannon, that they discussed it, and that Trump was well aware and planning to do exactly what happened.

BURNETT: You know, it's just pretty powerful -- you know, just a pretty powerful indictment just from your words there, Stephanie.

You know, Ryan, we learned yesterday about two phone calls that Bannon had with Trump on January 5th, right? So, he calls him, and he gets off the phone with Trump and then says all hell will break loose, right?

So from one conversation to the public platform, Bannon is the one who, according to Costa and Woodward, he convinces Trump to come back to the rally himself, attend in person on January 6, does all of this add up to anything with Trump? When the whole point here is, how much planning? They proved this wasn't spontaneous. How much planning from the president himself went into this?

BANNON: I mean, it's remarkable. In that audio recording, Steve Bannon says this is our strategy. In fact, that's the strategy that plays out. It's really remarkable. It really point to Trump -- and Bannon obviously has some crucial information that he's willing to go to prison not to reveal to the committee about this.

BURNETT: So when he's saying, Katelyn, throwing out, oh, now, I will be willing to testify after fighting, right -- fighting the subpoena, and Trump's involved in this whole last-minute testimony, seems like a mockery. Is that -- is that -- is that real or how is this going to play out? How does the DOJ see it?

POLANTZ: Well, one could call that a defense strategy he's trying. He's asking again to delay his trial just a few days ago. The judge said, no, we're not going to delay the trial. So we'll see them in court tomorrow, see if the judge buys this attempt. It doesn't seem likely.

But what we can -- what we know about this case as we look at it is that it really is finite. It's very self-contained. The Justice Department is ready to go to trial on Monday when jury selection is set to begin. They want to call two witnesses, maybe three. They want to keep it to three days, maybe four, very succinct, very efficient.

And they said in their recent filings that this isn't about compliance. This isn't about extracting information from Steve Bannon to them or to the House. This is about punishing him for not showing up in the House Select investigation.

And so, that is what they're going to trial over and they're going to keep it to that as far as we know from the prosecution.

BURNETT: Stephanie, I mentioned at the beginning, and I want to make sure people know, right? You resigned on January 6th. Next week in that hearing, we are going to hear about that 187 minutes of the riot which Trump was silent. He did nothing. He did nothing publicly.

You have written about a text exchange you had with Melania during the riot, when you were, you know, begging here, encouraging her, please tweet something to stop the violence, just take a stand. She declined and then you resigned. Is there any doubt in your mind, Stephanie, about why Trump did not act during that time?

GRISHAM: Why Mrs. Trump didn't act?

BURNETT: Or I'm sorry, why -- well, either one, but obviously I'm focusing on the former president, but her, as well with her relationship with him.

GRISHAM: Well, I think that -- I think that the president did not act because he was enjoying watching people fight for him. And I think he truly was trying to have this election overturned.

Mrs. Trump, I don't -- I don't know why she didn't. She had always been a voice of reason. It's a lot of the reason I stayed with her for so long. You know, she was the first to speak out with Charlottesville. She had no problem going against some of the West Wing messaging, and sometimes it would force her husband's hand.

When she said no, just no, and didn't even explain to me why she said no, that really crushed me and it really led me to believe, and I still believe that she knew that her husband was going to potentially be marching on the Capitol or she knew something big was going to go on that day and she decided not to act.


BURNETT: Well -- thank you all very much. I appreciate it.

And next, new details about who is in the 77 minute surveillance video from inside the elementary school during that horrific Uvalde shooting. We see the police doing nothing, waiting outside the classrooms, and now more about who they are.

Plus, former President Obama takes on Trump's former White House doctor and his own. What the former president wrote to Ronny Jackson, after Jackson questioned Biden's mental health.

And in just hours, lawyers for WNBA star Brittney Griner will be back in a Russian courtroom. New details on their specific request, tonight.


BURNETT: Tonight, growing questions about who leaked surveillance footage of the Uvalde elementary school shooting and why. The 77 minutes of video now public is fueling criticism about why police stood around waiting more than an hour to go in that classroom door and kill the shooter.

Well, one Texas lawmaker is adding crucial context to an aspect of the tape. Democratic State Representative Joe Moody says the Uvalde officer you see here checking his phone is Ruben Ruiz, the husband of Eva Mireles, one of two teachers killed in the same shooting, who contacted Ruiz by phone to tell him she had been shot.


OUTFRONT now, Vince Salazar. He is the father of Layla Salazar, one of the 19 children who were killed that day in Uvalde.

And, Vince, I can't pretend to understand how difficult every day is for you and to see this footage. As you watch it and I -- you know, what stands out to you as you try to get accountability?

VINCENT SALAZAR, FATHER OF LAYLA SALAZAR, 11-YEAR-OLD KILLED IN UVALDE SCHOOL SHOOTIN: I think the main thing that stood out to me was that, you know, the amount of time they were in there that, you know, the amount of law enforcement there and just them not acting.

You're there. There's a shooter in the school, shots are being fired. And you're just standing in a hallway. There's just no excuse for that.

BURNETT: It's incomprehensible. You know, we know --


BURNETT: More than one officer knew someone in that room, whether a spouse or a child. It makes it even more incomprehensible. We see this officer standing around, and they're not doing anything. One gets hand sanitizer in one of the most jarring moments, and this happens for an hour.

We don't hear the audio, and thank God for that. But they did. They were there. They were listening to it.

I mean, what in the world -- what in the world should happen to them that would, in your mind, give you some kind of justice?

SALAZAR: I think at the bare minimum, they shouldn't even have jobs. I mean, I just don't see how -- I just don't see how through all this time, nobody has been fired, nobody has resigned.

I think Peter Arredondo, he resigned from city council, but I don't think he resigned from his job. So, it's just -- you know, it's frustrating, because you can see that these guys were in there and they just didn't do their jobs. If it was any one of us not doing our job, we wouldn't a job.

So, you know, in that line of work, you know that every day you wake up, that something like this could happen, and you accept that and you, you know, most officers do their jobs. But to see that and the way it happened like that, it's ridiculous.

BURNETT: The mayor of Uvalde says he wants to ask for a criminal investigation into the leak of this video. But at the core of the video, Vince, of course, is putting the botched response by police right in the face of every American, right?


BURNETT: So, people hear the 77 minutes, and now they have to actually see the 77 minutes, they have to see it. And there is something even more unbearable about that. Do you see any value in this being made public or do you think that that is just absolutely wrong?

SALAZAR: I think there is some value in it because, obviously, you can see when the police respond quickly enough, what can happen. You also see just how easy it was for him to just walk in the door and just you know, in the lackadaisical way, just walk down the hallway and walk down the next hallway and start opening fire. If that doesn't open eyes, I don't know what will.

That can't happen, you know. There is a failure on so many levels. I mean, those doors should have been locked. I mean, I understand it's the last few days of school, but you can't put your guard down even for a second.

We all know these schools are targets, and this is -- I just can't -- you know, I can't fathom how easy it was, you know, for him to just -- to do what he did. You know, somebody has to be held accountable for sure.

BURNETT: We all -- we all will continue to fight to make sure that's the case. I appreciate your speaking, Vince. But as you said, you use the word lackadaisical. Just -- seeing how easy it was, seeing how nonchalant and seeing everyone walking so casually. Something about seeing it does make it -- we can all only hope possible to have accountability.

SALAZAR: Right, right.

BURNETT: I thank you. You're in our thoughts.

SALAZAR: I'm sure we will. Thank you, Erin, for having me on.

BURNETT: All right. And next, President Obama saying the words "cheap shot", those are his angry words he's directing towards his former White House doctor. Why?

Plus, the family of former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan who has been held in Russia for more than three years, pinning their hopes on Bill Richardson, who's heading to Russia to try to secure his freedom.


Whelan's sister is OUTFRONT.


BURNETT: Tonight, cheap shot. That's what President Barack Obama called his former White House doctor. Ronny Jackson's comments about Biden's cognitive health are what's at issue. Jackson tweeted in February of 2020: Remember the cognitive test I gave Donald Trump? The one he aced. Sounds like somebody else might need some testing done! Scary. Explanation points all over the place.

Well, so that happened, and then this happened. Obama wrote an e-mail to Jackson shortly after that tweet. We obtained it here at CNN. In it Obama writes, quote: I have to express my disappointment at the cheap shot you took at Joe Biden via Twitter. It was unprofessional and beneath the office you once held. It was also disrespectful to me and the many friends you had in our administration. I expect better and I hope upon reflection that you'll expect more of yourself in the future.

OUTFRONT now, Van Jones, former special adviser to President Obama.

Okay, Van, you know, look, he knows the rule. You write it, and then you put it away for a few days and decide whether or not to send it and he did.


He chose to send it. He thought it was important. How out of character was it for Obama to do that, to take that step to send it to Dr. Jackson?

VAN JONES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, look, I just think people misunderstand President Obama.. They act like he's some kind of care bear, pooh bear.

This guy was tough, and he had high standards for everybody on the team. And he -- we talk about no drama Obama. That was real. And he does take offense and umbrage to people who are beneath the dignity of the office.

You do not play when you're on Barack Obama's team. I think he was pissed. Now, I don't know that he does a lot of writing that way.

But he's not a care bear, he's not a pooh bear. He had high standards. He fought his way up from the grassroots in Chicago to the White House and he had a team of people that was loyal. For somebody to go off script that way and medically evaluate Joe Biden, who he's never medically evaluated, that is wrong. And I'm not surprised that Obama felt that way.

BURNETT: So, President Biden today was asked about a potential rematch between himself and Donald Trump, which, of course, is a front burner issue in U.S. politics. I want to play for you what Biden said.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm not predicting, but I would -- I would not be disappointed. I'm not even halfway through my term yet. There's a lot of room to figure out what is going to happen.


BURNETT: All right. So that was actually -- there was a little bit of wavering there. But bottom line, you know, I would not be disappointed if the rematch was between himself and Donald Trump. But, you know, also saying, not even halfway through, a lot of room to figure out what's going to happen.

Is it your sense, Van, that Biden believes he's still the best person to defeat Trump if that is the race? JONES: Listen, he thinks he beat him bad the first time. He thinks he

can beat him badly again. Obviously, the polls show some Democrats are worried or nervous.

But look, you have both these guys that think Biden saying, I beat you last time, I'll beat you again. Trump is saying, you didn't beat me, you cheated, I'll get you next time.

It's like two old guys yelling at each other across the lawn. It's not that pleasant to watch. I think that Biden believes that he can beat Trump again. He beat him the last time and beat him again, and I don't think that he feels at this point he should be asked to back off or to not be the standard bearer. He feels like he'd be/

BURNETT: Right. Well, of course, you're not even at the midterms yet.

Looking at today's inflation report, it's bad, okay? It's really bad. People are paying 9 percent more for just basic stuff than they were a year ago, 9 percent in one year, okay? Forget talk about whether wage growth is outpacing this, it isn't.

How bad is this for Democrats heading into those midterms, Van?

JONES: I think it's bad. I mean, anybody that -- if you want to play it and spin it, obviously this is the hangover from COVID and supply chains and the war in Ukraine, that type of stuff.

But at the end of the day, the Democratic Party, we've got the White House, we've got the Senate, and we've got the House, and voters are going to hold us accountable. I think that what Democrats have to continue to do is to point out that this is not -- this is not permanent, that there are steps being taken on the Fed side to deal with inflation. The administration is moving aggressively to figure out the supply chain issues. They're doing what they can.

But elections have consequences. We're in charge and we're going to be held accountable.

BURNETT: Yeah. As well as the general pointed out, there's still $2.5 trillion of excess money left to people's pockets. Good when it comes to having -- having a cushion.

JONES: Right.

BURNETT: Bad possibly as a fuel for an inflationary cycle. Van, thank you so much.

JONES: Thank you.

BURNETT: And as we talk about the races, it could be the most consequential race of the year. And that is match up that really could determine who controls the Senate. That's why it's so crucial. The Democratic nominee John Fetterman has been off the campaign trail for months due to the sudden stroke he had. And the Republican, Dr. Mehmet Oz, is facing questions about why, well, he's not in the state, he's apparently been in New Jersey and not capitalizing on his opponent's absence on the campaign trail in Pennsylvania.

Jeff Zeleny is OUTFRONT tonight in Pittsburgh.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's been two months since John Fetterman hit the campaign trail in Pennsylvania for an election now less than four months away, a race with Mehmet Oz that could determine the balance of power in the Senate.

Fetterman is still slowly emerging from a near deadly set setback, a stroke and heart condition that sent him to the hospital on May 13th. Four days later, he swept to an easy Democratic primary victory.

GISELE BARRETO FETTERMAN, WIFE OF LT. GOV. FETTERMAN: John is going to be back on his feet in no time.

ZELENY: But ever sense, he's been sidelined and fighting to recover.

A surprise visit with Democratic volunteers last weekend, seep here in this edited campaign video, shows the promise of his return and the serious steps still ahead in his rehabilitation.

LT. GOV. JOHN FETTERMAN (D), PENNSYLVANIA SENATE CANDIDATE: We will be back on the trail soon! We're almost at 100 percent. So --


ZELENY: His speech is halting, yet stronger, aides say, than a month ago.

LT. GOV. FETTERMAN: It nearly -- almost the end of my life, you know? And it's fully changed my life since then.

ZELENY: His surprise appearance at the Pittsburgh campaign office brought a smile and sense of relief to Janice Gladden, who was sitting only a few feet away during Fetterman's brief stop.

JANICE GLADDEN, DEMOCRATIC CAMPAIGN VOLUNTEER: It was great to see him. He was, you know, he just looked so vibrant, like he really came through all of those difficult health problems.

ZELENY: Have you been wondering how he's been doing?

GLADDEN: Yes, yes, I have. Yes, I have.

ZELENY: While Oz is seeking to capitalize as his celebrity as a TV doctor, some Republicans worry whether he's taking proper advantage of Fetterman's absence.

His TV ads have gone dark since winning a hard fought primary in May, leaving the airwaves to his Democratic rival.

LT. GOV. FETTERMAN: Pennsylvania is our home. And it's worth fighting for. ZELENY: From afar, Fetterman is badgering Oz for recently moving to

Pennsylvania, after living in New Jersey for more than three decades, flying a welcome home banner over the Jersey Shore.

DR. MEHMET OZ (R), PENNSYLVANIA SENATE CANDIDATE: I'm here to speak truth to power.

ZELENY: He also blasted Oz for filming a video from his New Jersey mansion, an assertion Oz did not deny.

Republicans, meanwhile, are deploying a missing person's poster of Fetterman, also arguing he's too extreme for Pennsylvania.

The last time Fetterman appeared at a campaign event was May 12. His wife Gisele told us she noticed something was seriously wrong the next morning.

G. FETTERMAN: Came back to the car, he was talking to me, and for one second, his mouth moved in an unnatural way. Immediately, that second, I rushed him to the hospital.

ZELENY: He left the hospital nine days later, with a defibrillator implanted in his chest, to recover at home in Braddock, just outside of Pittsburgh.

Summer Lee, a Democratic state representative, who is running for Congress, said she often sees Fetterman out walking as he continues to recover.

SUMMER LEE (D), PENNSYLVANIA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Obviously, the sooner we can get him back on the trail the better. If we can get him back for the long haul, you know, after Labor Day, I think he's going to be in good shape. We are going to be better for that patience.


BURNETT: Jeff, you know, so -- look, months off the trail. This race is so crucial. You know, you've got a rival who doesn't spend much time in the state. How is this playing out with voters? Are the voters that you spoke to worried about Fetterman's health, his ability to do the job?

ZELENY: Look, Erin, Fetterman has been out of sight but not out of mind. Usually several times a day, sometimes hour by hour, he's engaged on social media, responding to the issues of the day on Twitter, going after Oz on Twitter, as well.

But the voters we talked to have been wondering whether he is. Have been wondering how his health is. It's all out of concern, of course. But there was a deep sense of relief when his campaign posted that video on Saturday of him walking and speaking. The question, of course, will he be ready for debates with Oz in the fall?

Now, there's still a date that some Democrats are talking about, August 15, the last date to change his name on the ballot. His campaign says that is not going to happen and he's moving forward. But, Erin, Election Day is in less than four months -- Erin.

BURNETT: Jeff Zeleny, thank you very much from Pittsburgh tonight.

And next, WNBA star Brittney Griner's lawyer is expected to appear in a Russian courtroom tomorrow, as a top U.S. hostage negotiator is gearing up to go to Moscow to try to secure Griner and former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan's release. Whelan's sister is my guest, next.

Plus, a mysterious heartbeat has been detected a billion light years from Earth. What is it?



BURNETT: Tonight, lawyers for WNBA star Brittney Griner preparing for a court hearing tomorrow where they will ask the Russian court for a lighter sentence. Griner faces up to ten years if convicted and she did plead guilty to drug charges for actually carrying a vape pen with a small amount of cannabis oil.

It comes as CNN learns former New Mexico governor and diplomat, Bill Richardson, is getting ready to travel to Moscow any day to try to help secure the release of Griner, as well as former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan, who has been in prison there for more than three years.

The White House says both are wrongfully detained, as pressure mounts to bring them home.

I want to bring in now Paul Whelan's sister, Elizabeth.

And, Elizabeth, I appreciate your time. More than three years, to imagine what your brother, with no sense of where this goes or how long it can be, you got Bill Richardson ready to make this trip. The State Department says your brother's case is a priority.

But, again, it has been more than three years. Where do you feel you are right now? Do you feel you're closer, that this is actually close to happening, Paul coming home?

ELIZABETH WHELAN, SISTER OF PAUL WHELAN, FORMER U.S. MARINE DETAINED IN RUSSIA: I certainly hope so. I know that basically outside the U.S. government is definitely coordinated and really desires to get Paul and Brittney home. I don't think that there's any lack of enthusiasm for that. But I also believe the national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Monday, that this will require a government-to- government solution. Hostage diplomacy like this is a really serious business.

BURNETT: It certainly is.

Now, you know, Brittney Griner's case got a lot of attention, and to be frank with you, that's where more people are talking about your brother again, right? And I know you were frustrated. You tweeted that you were angry that President Biden spoke about your brother in a call with Brittney Griner's family, right? That was the call he made, instead of calling you directly. You know, you voiced that frustration and he did end up calling you.

But I just wonder, Elizabeth, when you think about more than three years you have been fight thing battle, are you concerned with all the attention that Brittney Griner's case is getting, that Paul could be left behind again?

WHELAN: Well, you know, it's really difficult, because each case is different. Sometimes the hostile foreign nation who is holding an American wants to do different negotiations for different people. And that's not something the Whelan family can control.


But I've never been mad at the Griner family or even at the president, but I have been upset about the process, because sometimes we just don't know where we are, and families aren't always given the detail of the information.


WHELAN: Although I have to say, with this administration, we've had a lot of interaction. So you're always concerned. You're always worried about what is going to happen next. Like you said, 3 1/2 years, we're exhausted.

BURNETT: I know you have been able to share some of the developments related with your brother, you've been able to have a conversation, about your call with Joe Biden. I can imagine -- I know those calls are important to you, I can only imagine how important they are with him with his situation. How is he doing?

WHELAN: Well, he's doing about as well as you can expect after 3 1/2 years in a Russian forced labor camp. He's lost about 20 percent of his body weight. He's really trying to hang in there. He's trying to be as strong as he can.

He speaks to our parents in 15-minute calls, a number of times a week right now, which is really good. For the first 18 months, we weren't able to speak with him at all. So he's doing the best he can.

I think the call from the president really lifted his spirits. You know, you can't get any higher than that. So, he knows everyone is fighting for him.

BURNETT: I can only imagine. I mean, you know, Russian forced labor camp, what that even entails in the historic context. What is it that your family is asking for right now or expects?

WHELAN: Well, I think we've been pleased at the recent outreach with information, you know, to let us know that the U.S. government is united in trying to get Paul back, that he remains a priority. And I know that's a word unfortunately that's been used too often recently.

There are 50-some families of Americans being held in 18 different countries.


WHELAN: You know, and we all want to be a priority and we all want that call from the president. So, I think, of course, we want Paul back right away. That's the first thing we want.

But the other thing I'm looking for all of us is just a better, smoother process to deal with these hostile foreign nations and also some punishment and deterrence to stop them from doing it again. This is just an awful situation.

BURNETT: Elizabeth, thank you very much. I appreciate you taking the time.

WHELAN: Thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate it. Hopefully, we'll have some good news before too long.

BURNETT: Yes, we all hope.

Next, Russia is continuing in its war, its barrage on Ukraine's front lines, apparently launching rockets in an elementary school for the second time in one location.

And a heartbeat-like sound heard in space detected from a galaxy a billion light years away. What is it?



BURNETT: Tonight, the White House calling on Russia to immediately release civilians deported from Ukraine, calling it a war crime. The U.S. saying it suspects 1.6 million Ukrainians, 1.6 million, including more than a quarter million children have been detained forcibly from their wills and deported from their homes to Russia.

It comes as Ukraine says an elementary school was hit by a Russian rocket for a second time in the front line city of Mykolaiv. The governor there calling that an act of terrorism.

Ivan Watson is OUTFRONT.


IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This used to be a classroom in school number 60 in the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv, that is until before dawn on Tuesday when what appears to be a Russian rocket slammed into the building. Nobody was hurt thankfully perhaps due to the time of day, its summer vacation right now, but look what's left.

The principal says this school was constructed more than 100 years ago. It's completely devastated now. And the Ukrainian authorities here, they say the same morning the city was hit by nearly two dozen other impacts, including a hospital, which just goes to show that nothing and nobody really is safe in this conflict zone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is terrorism and that's it. Because this is like a strategy of Russian to scare civilian people to make panic.

WATSON: What is your message to your own residents when a school can be blown up like this?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Once again, it was better than it was.

WATSON: The fighting is intensifying. Ukrainian forces have succeeded in pushing back Russian troops in some areas and Ukrainians also claim to have carried out some strikes deep behind Russian front lines destroying what they claim are ammunition depots and even a Russian military officer's position.

The Ukrainian government is urging residents of the nearby Russian occupied city of Kherson to evacuate if they can. They are anticipating even more fighting in the near future.

In the meantime, the Russian military continues to lob back long-range munitions at places like Mykolaiv. And I want to show you this, the teachers say that some other kind of Russian artillery hit the courtyard of this school back in early April, spraying the walls of the nearby gymnasium with shrapnel.

So, this school has been hit twice since the Russians invaded Ukraine in February of this year, and with Mykolaiv, this city so close to the front lines, things could get much worse here in the near future.


BURNETT: I mean, you know, Ivan, amazing. And you talk about how things could get much worse. Obviously, you know, the Ukrainians are saying they need a whole lot more and a whole lot faster of new U.S. weapons systems. Obviously some of that material has already gotten there.

What are you hearing about it? Is it -- how significant is what they're getting? How much of an impact is it having?


WATSON: Well, there is an impact because both the Ukrainians and the Russians are talking about these long-range precision U.S. weapon systems called HIMARS, the high mobility artillery rocket systems. The Ukrainians grateful and celebrating these long-distance strikes deep behind Russian front lines, the Russians denouncing them.

We're hearing for the second time this week of strikes in a town called Nova Kakhovka which is deep behind Russian territory. The Ukrainians are claiming that HIMARS were used to strike a suspected ammunition depot there. We don't know if these types attacks which the Ukrainians are claiming are taking place day after day are enough to change the tide of this battle.

The Ukrainians claim they hurt Ukrainian -- Russian morale and they're lousing up logistics and -- meaning that there's no real safe space in areas where the Russians thought they could freely operate even a week or two ago. Back to you.

BURNETT: Ivan, thank you so much. Live from Ukraine tonight.

And next, researchers hear a heartbeat, a heartbeat-like sound from a billion light years away. So what is it?


BURNETT: Tonight, mystery heartbeat detected in space. Researchers say, every fraction of a second, they recorded a boom, boom, boom. That heartbeat similar to what's been heard when stars run out of fuel and collapse.

So, what about real heartbeats in space? The new James Webb telescope might change our most fundamental understanding of life in the universe. Already, the telescope has picked up water vapor on a Jupiter-sized type planet orbiting a distant star in the atmosphere. That star is only 1,000 light years away.

Water vapor -- just imagine what that could mean.

"AC360" starts now.