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Erin Burnett Outfront

Russian Military Map Confirms Russian Losses, Ukrainian Gains; Russian Correspondent: Russian Military In "Operational Crisis"; Justice Clarence Thomas Gives DOJ Deadline To Respond To Trump's Supreme Court Emergency Application; New Audio: Trump Takes Credit For DeSantis' Rise; Hurricane Ian Death Toll Rises To 109, Lee County Alone: 55 Deaths; Herschel Walker: "I Never Paid For An Abortion And It's A Lie". Aired 7-8p ET

Aired October 04, 2022 - 19:00   ET



ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, defeat and a rare admission. Russia acknowledging it's losing ground on the battlefield.

And tonight, a Russian official calling for Putin's resignation is OUTFRONT. He's in fear of retribution as being drafted into Putin's army.

Plus, breaking news. Justice Clarence Thomas gives the Department of Justice a deadline after Trump's emergency request for the Supreme Court to intervene in the Mar-a-Lago case.

A new audio of Trump talking about Ron DeSantis, a man Trump calls whiney and fat.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, Russia admitting defeat. The spokesman for Putin's defense ministry pointing to a map that acknowledges significant losses on the battlefield. You can see the map there behind him. It is the map that Russia showed today of territory it claimed is under its control.

Now, compare that map to the one the defense ministry used yesterday. So, in one day, they show that Russian forces have been pushed south. You can actually see it in the change in the shades. They're showing that themselves, and the Russians are talking publicly about their significant losses.

A war correspondent for Russian state media today said that Russia's special military operation is undergoing a, quote, operational crisis. Another Russian correspondent writing that the Kherson region is, quote, drenched in the blood of our soldiers. That's a direct quote talking about retreat, a brutal retreat and that it has been a disaster.

These are graphic and brutally honest observations of the counteroffensive for the Ukrainians that has been gaining steam. Today, Ukraine, once again, raising its flag over multiple liberated towns all in the Kherson region.

Of course, it's also posting this video of a modern Russian tank abandoned. This is one of their more important ones now in the hand of Ukrainian troops who are using it against Russians.

And there's more embarrassment for Putin tonight. Russia has lost track of the Russian state journalist who made headlines in March for interrupting that live broadcast. You remember that? She's the one who walked holding the sign that said "no war." According to Russian state media, she's now disappeared. She's said to be on the run after escaping house arrest with her 11-year-old daughter.

Now, back in May, she briefly left Russia to work for a newspaper in Germany. She told me that she had no regrets despite the backlash.


MARINA OVSYANNIKOVA, JOURNALIST (through translator): Yes, I have been feeling this intimidation all the time. It is constant. I feel bullying in social media. People were calling me British spy or FSB agent.

They were trying to discredit me in all possible ways. They were saying all sorts of lies about me. They are finding all kind of information about me posting it on the media.


BURNETT: Marina was brave. She went back to Russia. And tonight, as I said, she's missing, escaping house arrest.

Nick Paton Walsh begins our coverage tonight OUTFRONT in Kryvyi Rih.

Nick, more setbacks for Russia. Ukraine keeps regaining territory, and obviously the Russians now are admitting it. What are you seeing on the ground tonight?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Erin, it's at times hard to really keep track of exactly how fast things are changing here in Ukraine. We've just come from the east from Lyman where we saw that Russian strategic stronghold full after consistent pressure from Ukrainian forces coming down from their recent success in the north of the country.

Now we're in the south and seeing a remarkable change in what Russia controls here. In areas which Russia has just declared rubber-stamping today, in their minds, as being officially part of Russian territory, even a map put out in a daily press briefing by Russia's ministry of defense showed a stark change between today and yesterday of what they control on the western side of a key river in Ukraine, in the Kherson region. About a quarter, maybe a third of that area suddenly in the day changing hands into Ukrainian control. That is startling.

And it plays to a number of fears amongst analysts or issues analysts have pointed out about how on that side of the river, Russian forces are poorly supplied, cut off from the rest of occupying forces in Ukraine, on the other side of the river in the east, and vulnerable to Ukrainian advance.

Well, that's clearly happening right now. Hot on the heels of Ukrainian success in the east as Russia continues with this very strange charade of declaring areas that are controls in Ukraine to be Russian territory. Starling to see how fast this is moving, I just can't imagine the conversations happening privately in Russia's elite given how in public terms, they're busy expressing dissent and criticism by how badly this is going, Erin.


BURNETT: Yeah, Nick Paton Walsh, thank you very much.

I want to bring in Matthew Chance now, our senior international correspondent, who has covered this war from the beginning from inside both Ukraine and Russia.

And, Matthew, I mean, it's amazing what Nick's referring to. You know, even in public now, pro-government outlets, Russian correspondents are talking about things like the ground is now drenched with the blood of our soldiers, this retreat was a disaster, we're in an operational crisis.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. It's incredible, isn't it, that you're hearing this kind of criticism on Kremlin-controlled state media and newspapers on television as well. You know, the Russians have completely dropped any pretense that this is going well, and they're kind of embracing the idea of the fact that it's up for heavy losses, that they're being trounced in what can only be described as a battlefield rout.

And, you know, and that's something that's really interesting. This whole new category of critics is being allowed to voice their opinions on television.

But I say a couple of important things about those critics. First of all, they're not criticizing Vladimir Putin himself. They're blaming a lack of manpower. They're blaming commanders on the ground for making the wrong decisions. And that's important.

The other thing is that these critics are all coming from a certain sort of side of the debate. They are hard-liners. They are calling not for an end to this war. They're not criticizing the basis of the conflict on moral grounds.

They're basically saying all of them, you know, look, we should take the gloves off with Ukraine why are we approaching them with kid gloves, we should be showing them what we're made of. So that doesn't bode well for what the next step may be for the Russians.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Matthew Chance, from London.

And now, I want to bring in Dmitry Palyuga, a St. Petersburg municipal official who has called on Putin to resign. Dmitry is currently in Kazakhstan.

And, Dmitry, thank you so much for speaking to me. I know that more than 200,000 Russian citizens have gone to Kazakhstan since Putin announced mass mobilization. What are you hearing from other Russians who have left your country?

DMITRY PALYUGA, DEPUYT, SMOLNINSKOYE MUNICIPAL DISTRICT, ST. PETERSBURG: Yeah, I have many friends who have left the country during these days. And basically they -- before this mobilization, they had some hope that it will end some time, I mean, the war will end. But now, we see the next escalation.

And right now, people in Russia can be drafted just, you know, out of the street. And obviously people don't want to be drafted, don't want to go to this war. So they are leaving the country right now.

BURNETT: Now, some of them are voting with their feet. You took a stand. You called on Putin to resign nearly a month ago on September 7th. You came out, and you spoke about this.

Did you feel like you were in danger if you stayed in Russia?

PALYUGA: Yeah. There are two sides. First of all, we had some signs from power structures that we probably would be prosecuted if we don't -- wouldn't have left the country -- wouldn't leave the country. And the second side is that, obviously, I also can be drafted, as every man in Russia.

So, it's twice as dangerous for me to stay in Russia right now.

BURNETT: Well, our Melissa Bell has reported that some Russians now are seeing another side of things. Social media even in Russia is filled with videos from soldiers showing this mobilization as chaotic, that the equipment they're being given is not in any way ready to fight with. Take a listen.


MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We were officially told that there would be no training before being sent to the combat zone. We had no shooting, no tactical training, no theoretical training, nothing.

If you have hernias, plates in your head, I was told you're fit for mobilization so stop saying you can't. I live on pills, so if I go, you'll be doing your tasks like everyone else.


BURNETT: Dmitry, do you think regular citizens in Russia are now realizing the truth, not just about Putin, but about how ill-equipped and untrained some of these Russian troops are?


PALYUGA: Yeah. They certainly do. Before that, there was some -- some belief that Russian army is still

strong even if something goes wrong, we still have a lot of weapons, a lot of trained men. And it's still a good army.

And right now, people definitely are starting to realize that something is completely wrong with Putin's army.

BURNETT: The leader of Chechnya, obviously an ally of Putin's, is now urging him to use low-yield nuclear weapons to regain the advantage.

Dmitry, do you think Putin would actually do that?

PALYUGA: Unfortunately, I think it's possible. It's more than possible, more than just possible. I would say that it's like 70 percent that he can go this avenue.

BURNETT: Dmitry, thank you so very much. I appreciate your taking the time and being willing to speak with me.

PALYUGA: Yeah. Thank you for having me.

BURNETT: And I want to bring in now retired Army Major General James "Spider" Marks.

General, you just heard Dmitry say he thinks there's a 70 percent chance that Putin will use a nuclear weapon inside Ukraine.

What do you say to that?

MAJ. GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, it's very difficult, Erin, to get inside Putin's head. Look, the two options are he uses a nuke, we would assume a tactical nuke, which is lower-yield, smaller range. Or he doesn't use it.

So you walk through the calculus of both of those. If he uses it, he has to assume that there's going to be some form of escalation, probably conventional escalation. You don't want to have a nuclear escalation. And I would imagine that would include a NATO force on the ground in Ukraine going after the Russian forces not to invade Russia but to get the Russian forces and either push them backward or slaughter them in place. That's one calculation.

The second is maybe his calculation is NATO's got some fracturing that's taking place, they're moving into the winter. The coalition won't hold together, they need Russia, the sanctions aren't really working. Let's be frank. More nations have signed up for the World Cup than for the sanctions.

So the calculation may be I use a nuke and now I've achieved the influence I want to achieve, and everybody kind of backs down a little bit. Who knows what's inside his head? I hate to tell you, I don't know how this thing lies.

BURNETT: No, but it's a very sobering statistic about the World Cup. Let me just, in this context, though, and the reason this conversation is happening, is because in the conventional sense, Putin has been met with so much failure, so much failure in fact that the maps of the Russian defense ministry is putting out, you know, within a 24-hour period confirm significant losses for Russian troops in the south around Kherson.

They're not trying to -- they're putting out the map, OK, and they're showing that the line where they are is moving back and they're showing it happening in 24 hours. What do you think of that? The fact that the Russian military itself in public releases is admitting defeats on the battlefield?

MARKS: Yeah, I have to go with what Matthew Chance, which I think is incredibly bright and precise, which is, these are the declarations of hard-liners saying, look, our military is falling on its face, we haven't gotten our act together, we need to mobilize more. So these are all for domestic consumption. The rest of the world knows this is just a chimera.

He's talking to the Russian people saying we need more of you dudes. You need to kind of get behind us, and the military needs to get its act together. I mean, these are guys who really want to double down on this, which really goes back to your first question, does this now escalate to the potential use of nukes?

BURNETT: Yeah. All right, General, thank you very much. I appreciate your time.

MARKS: Thanks, Erin.

BURNETT: And, next, Trump turns to the Supreme Court, asking the justices to intervene when it comes to the classified documents seized from Mar-a-Lago.

And rescue efforts in Florida intensifying tonight. The death toll is climbing, now 109 confirmed dead. We're live on the ground with the rescuers who are still going door to door tonight.

And Republican Herschel Walker denying a report that he paid for a woman to have an abortion in 2009. His son tonight is calling him out for it.


CHRISTIAN WALKER, HERSCHEL WALKER'S SON: He lies about it. Okay, I'm done, done! Everything has been a lie.




BURNETT: Breaking news: Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has just responded to Trump's appeal in the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case, giving the Justice Department a deadline to respond of next Tuesday. Trump's lawyers are asking the court to intervene and to allow the special master to review those 103 classified documents seized from his Florida home during the FBI search in August.

Evan Perez is OUTFRONT.

Now, Evan, this has been a back-and-forth here through the day. Obviously, originally, a lower court had ruled in the justice department's favor. And now, you've had this fast and furious counter counter-response, and the response is coming from Justice Clarence Thomas.

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, Erin. Justice Thomas oversees the 11th circuit, which was the last court that looked at this issue that the former president is raising. And the fact that Justice Thomas is giving the Justice Department a week really kind of indicates that he doesn't see the emergency in this. Of course, the former president took two weeks before he even filed this petition to the Supreme Court.

And what he's arguing is that the 11th Circuit, he's saying the appeals court didn't have the jurisdiction it tried to take over here to, essentially, forbid the special master from reviewing these 100 classified documents. Now, the purpose of the former president is that he believes that these 100 classified documents not only should be reviewed by the special master but perhaps also be reviewed by his own lawyers. That's something the justice department is opposed to.

But I tell you, one of the things that stood out is right at the top of the petition from the former president. He lays bare what his argument here to Justice Thomas and to the conservative Supreme Court. He is saying that this is an extraordinary case that is being brought essentially by his political rival, President Biden.


And that's -- he's putting politics at the center of what the Supreme Court is going to be taking a look at, Erin.

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

So, let's go now to Elliot Williams, our legal analyst and a former federal prosecutor.

So, Elliot, what do you make of this, the Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and obviously, people may think of him in the context of the whole, you know, imbroglio going on with Ginni Thomas and the January 6th committee right now. But he is saying this because he oversees the circuit court under which this happens so that's why his name is involved.

What do you make of his decision?

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think the biggest decision is the fact that he's giving them a week suggests that there isn't an enormous emergency. He's saying, look, former President Trump has to prove in order to win on any of this that he will suffer some form of irreparable harm that there's a major emergency that requires the courts to act very, very quickly by giving the Justice Department a week, it's a signal that Justice Thomas probably doesn't see it that way.

BURNETT: Right. So, this does come at a time when the Supreme Court, as an institution, is under intense scrutiny for weighing in on politically explosive cases. Obviously, you know, abortion being one of them. But it's become a light rod, in a way that many in the court have never wanted it to be. Three of the justices serving right now were appointed by Trump.

So how likely do you think it is, Elliot, that the Supreme Court will actually agree to take this up?

WILLIAMS: Yeah. So, that's an excellent question, Erin. And consider that this isn't the kind of social issue, the hot-button cases that have led to the public taking such an issue with the court. This is an actually quite arcane question of the law of appeals that's very deep and very in the weeds.

And as has been said, the Supreme Court hasn't looked very kindly on former President Trump in cases he's brought with respective documents and his personal property. Both when Congress was the one seeking information from him and when other government entities were the ones seeking information from him. He's pretty consistently lost those cases, and it's not hard to see how either a court just doesn't take this up or rules against it if they do.

BURNETT: And so, this is, essentially, his lawyers would know this, this is just a delay tactic then?

WILLIAMS: Yeah, it's highly likely it's a delay tactic. If any appeal is going to slow down a case, this was filed on an emergency basis. So, it's -- you know, you're talking about weeks as opposed to months that an appeal at the end of the case would take. But it's hard to not see this as an effort to slow down proceedings that were moving pretty quickly.

BURNETT: Right, which I think is significant for everyone to understand, slow it down in the context of midterms and possible presidential campaign announcements and all these other timelines that he's playing out.

I want to ask you about something else, Elliot, that came out today that's a secret audio recording that we just heard played in the Oath Keepers' seditious conspiracy trial, which has potentially serious implications for the former president. The defense argued that members of that group, they were just there to provide security. They had no violent intentions. That's their defense.

But, today an FBI agent testified that the group's leader Stewart Rhodes spoke at a meeting in November of 2020 where he talked about pressuring Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act and to take weapons to Washington.

In the audio, Rhodes says, and I quote: We're not getting out of this without a fight. There's going to be a fight, but let's do it smart and let's do it while President Trump is still commander in chief. If they blow bombs up and shoot us, great, because that brings the president reason and rationale.

Elliot, is this significant evidence?

WILLIAMS: It is very significant evidence. Look, Erin, it's clear that the defense that they are presenting is that all -- who among us has not tried to talk over Signal or visit the Capitol or talk to our friends or procure firearms? All of those things in isolation are perfectly legal. When you do them together at the time of a significant violent attack on the seat of democracy, that can be charged as seditious conspiracy.

And, so, what they're trying to do is just plant some doubt in the minds of the jury. Now, clips like that really speak to the intent of these individuals, suggesting that they knew what they were doing. I think at another point in the initial indictment, they talk about a bloody revolution. It was clear, and the prosecutors are making the case that they knew that they were seeking violence.

BURNETT: Elliot, thank you.

WILLIAMS: Thanks, Erin.

BURNETT: And next, first here, new audio of Trump taking credit for Ron DeSantis' rise, a man that he calls fat, phony, and whiney, according to Maggie Haberman.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: I said Ron, you're 3 percent. You can't win. He said, if you endorse me, I can.


BURNETT: And we're with search and rescue teams in Florida. They are still scrambling to search hundreds of damaged boats for survivors.



BURNETT: Tonight, newly released audio from "New York Times" Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Maggie Haberman's interview with Donald Trump.

The former president talking about the man who may very well run against him for president in 2024.



TRUMP: He was at 3 percent. He was a great defender of mine in the Russian hoax. He was on television. But the people of Florida didn't associate with him with the word "governor."

In other words, they saw him constantly defending me on Russia, Russia, Russia. But, you know, often times you see that, but you don't say, oh, he's going to be governor of Florida.

He came to me, he said, I'd love your endorsement. I said, Ron, you're at 3 percent. You can't win. He said, if you endorse me, I can.

And I said, well, look, you never know, but it's not going to be easy.


This guy's got $28 million. He's been running for eight years.


BURNETT: Trump making these comments to Maggie Haberman during one of three sit-down interviews for her brand-new book "Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America," which was just released today. It's being called the book Trump fears most.

Let's just start with DeSantis. He is seen as Trump's biggest threat in 2024 if they both run for president. That's the general assumption out there. Trump is clearly trying to send DeSantis a message with this. He knew you were going to write about it.

HABERMAN: There is no potential candidate in the Republican field who Trump has talked about more to aides than Ron DeSantis. It is a constant running discussion. And you really caught that, I think, in what he is saying to me where he believes he made Ron DeSantis.

Now, Donald Trump believes he makes a lot of people who he doesn't make. He definitely helped DeSantis in 2018. But one of the things that I explore in "Confidence Man" is how he believes that if he does something for someone, they owe him fealty for life, including to the exclusion of their own future ambitions. And he clearly believes that Ron DeSantis should be aware of the fact that Trump vaulted him ahead.

BURNETT: And so then you also write that Trump has called DeSantis fat, phony, and whiney.

How much does Trump loathe him

HABERMAN: Trump resents anybody who can try to come into his spotlight. I think a real key here, Erin, is that Ron DeSantis has been raising a lot of money --


HABERMAN: -- at a time when Donald Trump's own fundraising has slowed down.

A couple of Republican donors told me that they considered, and other donors considered parking money with DeSantis under the guise of supporting him in his re-elect in Florida gives him an in for 2024 if DeSantis runs and they don't really want to support Trump.

Now, I think many of them would if Trump is the nominee, even though they -- a lot of them don't want him to run. But Trump is aware of that and he considers that someone moving on his territory. BURNETT: So, to this, this is what's fascinating about Trump. He

doesn't want to lose, right? The last thing he would want is to run and then lose to Ron DeSantis. That would be devastating to him, it would seem.

But I know you believe he's backed himself sort of in and of itself a corner. He has to run.

HABERMAN: I do -- I do. I think that he has basically created this scenario where he has really very little option other than to run, for a couple of reasons. Number one is he wants the attention. Number two, he ceases to have relevance the way he does now if he is not running. He can't fundraise the way he did. It has become part of his branding.

He's under investigation, and he considers this a way to cull the investigation's witch hunt and also as possible armor for the future if he wins the White House again.

Now that doesn't mean I think he's particularly eager about another campaign. I don't think either one of those things is true. But I still think -- and maybe that will change if he announces. But at the moment, I still think he has backed himself into a corner.

BURNETT: Which is really interesting, and one crucial part obviously of his whole ethos has been his Twitter presence, which obviously has going to way. He's been on Truth Social.

So now he's been banned after January 6th from twitter. Elon Musk is now really going to buy it. Elon Musk has been very clear, he has said this.


ELON MUSK, BUSINESSMAN: I do think that it was not correct to ban Donald Trump. I think that was a mistake. I would reverse the ban.


BURNETT: Now, Trump has responded by saying Elon Musk is full of bullshit. He has said things like that. He's implied he would never go back on Twitter even if Musk allowed him.

HABERMAN: It's worth noting that I think Musk praised Ron DeSantis which is part of what elicited that statement from Trump against Musk.

BURNETT: Yes, yes.

HABERMAN: Exactly. I know Trump has said he wouldn't go back on Twitter. It's hard to predict the future. But just given everything we know about Trump, it is really hard to see someone offering him a giant megaphone and him saying "no thanks".

BURNETT: Right, say one thing, do another, he's never had a problem with that.

All right. You mentioned being under investigation, how that plays into his decision to run. The Mar-a-Lago documents investigation, we now know that Trump had letters from Kim Jong-un and President Obama, information about the president of France. We don't know exactly what that was, even now, but we know he had it.

FBI finds 25 documents marked top secret, 184 classified documents. Maggie, you've talked to him so many times. What do you think his motive was? His motive in keeping all these documents

HABERMAN: There's a couple of reasons that I can see Donald Trump having done this. And one is simply because he thinks things are his and he treated everything during the presidency like they were his. You know, my money, when he would talk about campaign money. My generals -- he would refer to the House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy as "My Kevin." People become possessions.

He's very fond of trophies. I could see him keeping something because he wants to wave it around to show off. He also is a really -- everything with him is about leverage. And if he thought these documents were going to give him leverage in some way or another, I think that could be part of it, too.


BURNETT: Now, the National Archives, of course, had asked for the letters from Kim Jong-un, we know that, specifically, which makes this particular exchange that you had with Trump about these letters when you had them this summer even more jaw-dropping.


HABERMAN: Did you leave the White House with anything in particular Are there any memento documents you took with you, anything of note

TRUMP: Nothing of great urgency, no. I had great things there. The letters, the Kim Jong-un letters, I had many of them.

HABERMAN: Did you take those with you

TRUMP: Look at what's happening. No, I think that's in the archives. But most of it is in the archives.



BURNETT: So he volunteers he has the letters. When you're sort of, oh, what, he backtracks immediately. Almost as if it didn't register to him that this was newsworthy. Do you think that's really the case?

HABERMAN: So this interview was just over a year ago at his club in Bedminster. And I asked him if he had taken any memento documents just because I knew how proud he was actually of those Kim Jong-un letters. He would wave them around in the Oval Office in front of visitors, in front of reporters. This was a constant -- it was of concern to his staff. So I asked the question, did you take anything? And he said, nothing

of great urgency. So he denies having anything. Then he volunteers the letters. I didn't ask about the letters, he volunteered them. And I was surprised and he seemed to be indicating he had them.

And when he registered my surprise, he backtracked on what he had said. Now, we -- you know, it was not until months later that we all found out that he had classified material, many documents that were marked "classified" at Mar-a-Lago that he returned to the National Archives.

But it was -- the answer that he gave me is much more interesting now after the August 8th, 2022, search by the FBI of Mar-a-Lago, because, you know, it shows a mindset when he must've realized that this wasn't true.

BURNETT: Right. Well, Maggie, thank you very much. I hope everybody will go out and get this book. There are so many details in it. And thank you so much.

HABERMAN: Thank you.

BURNETT: And, next, we are live in Florida with search and rescue teams who are struggling to search the incredible number of boats that still keep washing up. And they're trying to go boat by boat.

Plus, Georgia Senate candidate Herschel Walker denying a report that he paid for an ex-girlfriend to have an abortion. See what happened when our Manu Raju tried to get some answers at a Herschel Walker event.


MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Can you tell Herschel Walker to actually come out here and answer these questions himself

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a closed event. It's a prayer event with faith leaders.




BURNETT: Tonight, Hurricane Ian's death toll rising again with 109 now confirmed dead. Rescue efforts are intensifying tonight as officials are going door to door and literally boat to boat to try to look for survivors. They are warning that time is running out for survivors and it is unclear how many people are even missing at this point six days after the storm.

Leyla Santiago is in Fort Myers Beach. She has been with search and rescue today. And, Leyla, I know that they have been telling you they have been

having a very hard time searching some of those boats. It's amazing, but they're still washing up.

What does all this mean for fatalities?

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, every single search and rescue team that I've talked to, whether it's out going out on boats or just searching here on land, they will tell you the same thing, they are going door to door, boat to boat, hoping that they find someone that they can still help, but understanding that there is a potential they could get to someone when it's too late.

And, even so, the search continues as they understand that this is a long-term search to get people the help they need here.


SANTIAGO (voice-over): By land, by water, the search continues across the hard-hit area of lee county, Florida, nearly a week after Hurricane Ian left behind total devastation and more than 100 people dead.

This central Florida rescue task force is still looking for survivors. Their mission, get to the mangroves on the barrier island of Sanibel, cut off when its bridge collapsed, to search the hundreds of boats that were tossed and left disabled during the storm.

MATT JAYNES, RESCUE TEAM MANAGER, TASK FORCE 4 FLORIDA: There is a large population of commercial shrimp vessels, and mooring fields, where people live on sail boats and cabin cruisers year-round. And many of those people, you know, will ride out a storm on their boat, that's their home. Many of those vessels have been pushed deep into the mangroves in an inaccessible area, so we are taking the smaller boats that we can to get back in those areas and make sure they're clear.

SANTIAGO: These are the boats that will carry in the search and rescue teams. They'll go about 45 minutes that way near Sanibel into the mangroves to find boats.

And this is what they're coming across, mangled boats in tough-to- reach areas.

JAYNES: The inaccessibility is probably the greatest challenge we have.

SANTIAGO: This is the bridge to Sanibel. But you can see it's collapsed over here, and the road just completely caved in right over here by the water.

But, tomorrow, for the first time since the storm, residents of Sanibel will be allowed to get back on the island by private boats to inspect their property.

MAYOR HOLLY SMITH, SANIBEL, FL: My heart is breaking knowing what we're all going to be facing tomorrow. I'm going to see my home tomorrow as well.

SANTIAGO: Not the case for those who live on Fort Myers Beach. They were ordered to leave the barrier island with no guarantee of when they will be allowed to return.

Korin Gulshen was dropped off here by Lee County officials where friends and families are reuniting with their loved ones who rode out the storm.

KORIN GULSHEN, FORT MYERS BEACH RESIDENT: Shock, disbelief that such a massive storm came through here. We were warned, we knew it was going to be big. You know, we made that choice to stay. My island of paradise is gone as I knew it.

SANTIAGO: More than 400,000 people are still without power, and many on these barrier islands may not have it for up to a month. Still, they are holding out hope.

GULSHEN: We're strong people, we will get through it, and we'll rebuild and come back.



BURNETT: And, Leyla, I know you're standing there with boats behind you, the destruction in the fishing community. And I know these boats for so many, they're livelihoods for people. They're homes for people.

What happens to their owners who have truly lost everything, their home, their livelihood?

SANTIAGO: You know, Erin, I actually just had what I can only describe as a very tough conversation with a woman in this area. She was telling me about the families here about how they haven't seen any help, only nonprofit organizations have come here to provide any sort of assistance. And they are saying that these boats being here, yeah, it destroys their livelihood. These are shrimpers that are used to being out on the water, and that's what they want to do.

She was quick to point out, these are the shrimpers that provide food and have done that for decades here. Now they feel like they've been left behind because they haven't had the help. She says all they want is to be able to shower, to be able to wash their hands. And they haven't even had a local government official come here to let them know what will happen next in terms of assistance.

BURNETT: Oh, that's amazing. Thank you very much, Leyla, from Fort Myers tonight.

SANTIAGO: You bet.

BURNETT: And next, Republican Georgia Senate candidate Herschel Walker scrambling to contain the fallout from a damning report that he paid for an ex-girlfriend's abortion. Walker says that report is false, but his own son is turning on him tonight. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIAN WALKER, SON OF HERSCHEL WALKER: Don't lie on the lives you've destroyed and act like you're some moral family man.


BURNETT: Plus, witnesses say students in Iran risk being beaten and shot as they take to the streets chanting "death to the dictator".



BURNETT: Tonight, Republican hopes of taking back the Senate may be taking a hit. Republican Georgia Senate candidate Herschel Walker is denying a report that he paid for a girlfriend's abortion in 2009, claimed "The Daily Beast" story saying that a flat out lie, and a repugnant hatchet job.

Walker has been a vocal proponent of a no exceptions ban on abortion. His own son now publicly speaking out with a very personal denouncement of his father.


C. WALKER: Lie after lie after lie. The abortion card drops yesterday, it's literally his handwriting. They say they have receipts, whatever. He gets on Twitter, he lies about it.

Okay. I'm done! Done! Everything has been a lie.


BURNETT: CNN's Manu Raju is OUTFRONT in Georgia tonight.


MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Herschel Walker's Senate campaign now reeling, upended by an explosive report alleging that the staunch anti-abortion Republican paid for a girlfriend to get the procedure for a child they conceived 13 years ago.

HERSCHEL WALKER (R), GEORGIA SENATE CANDIDATE: I never paid for an abortion, and it's a lie.

RAJU: Walker stayed behind closed doors on Tuesday, with his aides refusing to disclose his schedule, even after they initially agreed to say where he would campaign this week.

CNN however, did obtain an invitation to an event hosted by Prayer Warriors for Herschel, at a Baptist church in Atlanta.

But CNN was not allowed to cover the event, or wait in the parking lot. Even as a leading conservative activist, Ralph Reed, came outside to defend the candidate.

RALPH REED, FAITH & FREEDOM COALITION: I will promise you this: the voters of Georgia are going to reject this kind of gutter politics.

RAJU: Can you tell Herschel Walker he should come out here and answer these questions himself?

REED: This is a closed event. It's a prayer event with faith leaders.

RAJU: According to "The Daily Beast", Walker in 2009 reimbursed his then-girlfriend $700 for the cost of the abortion. The woman was not named, and CNN has not verified the report.

But "The Daily Beast" reported obtaining a bank deposit slip with a copy of Walker's personal check, and "get well" card signed by H, telling the woman, pray you feel better.

H. WALKER: I sent out so many get well, sent out so much of anything. But I can tell you right now, I never asked anyone to get an abortion.

RAJU: One of Walker's sons, Christian Walker, lashing out publicly against his father.

C. WALKER: Don't lie on the lives you've destroyed and act like you're some moral family man.

RAJU: But Walker tweeted, I love my son no matter what.

Can you respond to Christian Walker saying this is a lie, sir?

REED: I gave my statement.

RAJU: Like so many battleground states, the Supreme Court decision to strike down Roe v. Wade putting abortion front and center, especially for suburban women.

SUSAN SEGAL, GEORGIA VOTER: Abortion is certainly a driving issue for me.

RAJU: Senator Raphael Warnock, a Democratic incumbent, tapping into the issue at a campaign event outside of Atlanta.

SEN. RAPHAEL WARNOCK (D-GA): A patient's room is too small, and cramped a space for a woman, her doctor, and the United States government. That's just too many darn people in the room.

RAJU: But the freshman Democrat sidestepping questions about the story's impact on the race.

Senator, do you believe "The Daily Beast" story?

WARNOCK: I honestly haven't had a chance to look at it.

RAJU: Warnock and his allies have already spent $76 million on ads here, about $10 million more than the GOP, attacking Walker's complicated past. But Republicans are hoping Warnock's ties to an unpopular President Biden, and concerns over inflation and crime --

AD ANNOUNCER: Raphael Warnock, he chose felons over Georgia families.

RAJU: -- will be enough to overcome Walker's problems.

DAVID GOULD, GEORGIA VOTER: I don't agree with Warnock's philosophy.

RAJU: Walker keeping Biden at an arm's length.

Do you think Joe Biden should run for reelection?

WARNOCK: Part of the problem in American politics is there's too much of the conversation about the politicians.


RAJU (on camera): Now, Senate Republicans are rushing to Walker's defense, including a super PAC link to Mitch McConnell, which plans to spend more than $20 million in the final weeks of this campaign. Also, the National Republican Committee planned to spend big has been in touch with Walker since the controversy broke.

On the other side, a group that is linked to Chuck Schumer, the Senate majority leader, plans to come out with an ad tomorrow, attacking Walker over his position on abortion, which is supporting a total ban of abortions and imposing any exceptions including for rape and incest -- Erin.

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

And next, demonstrations erupting across Iran, girls even now removing their head coverings to protest the death of a 22-year-old who died in custody.



BURNETT: Death to the dictator. That is the chant for some brave Iranian students who today walked out of class in protest of the death of a 22-year-old Masha Amini, who died in custody of the Iran's morality police. For three weeks now, the protests have continued to grow bigger and louder, despite witnesses saying that students are being beaten, detained, and shot.

This is video from Tehran, where girls removed their mandatory hijabs, and can be seen waiting from the air. A video also shows them throwing objects.

But these types of demonstrations are rare and they're highly risky, not only for the protesters but for any reporter in around who covers them. As of tonight, we know of at least 35 journalists who've been arrested since the protests began. Just in the past few weeks, 35 journalists detained.

Well, President Biden has spoken out, saying he is gravely concerned about the violent crackdown. And today, we have learned of a development. The U.S. is expected to oppose new sanctions on Iranian officials who are involved in suppressing protesters. No word yet on how do we determine that, or implemented.

Thanks so much for joining us.

"AC360" starts now.