Return to Transcripts main page

Erin Burnett Outfront

2 Russians Detained in Alaska Seeking Asylum to Avoid Putin's Draft; Russian-Backed Leader: Russia's Defense Chief Should "Shoot Himself"; Report: Feds Believe They Have Enough Evidence to Charge Hunter Biden; Biden Admin Scrambles to Respond to OPEC Slashing Oil Production. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired October 06, 2022 - 19:00   ET



ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, desperate Russians fleeing to America. Two men arriving in Alaska by boat to dodge Putin's draft. This as one of Putin's allies say the war in Ukraine is going so badly, the defense minister should shoot himself.

Plus, a significant development in the Justice Department's investigation of Hunter Biden. "The Washington Post" reports federal agents believe they have enough evidence to charge him.

And President Biden making good on a campaign promise, giving pardons to thousands of convicted by marijuana possession.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening, I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, Russians escaping Putin's draft, fleeing to America. We learned two Russians are in Alaska after crossing the Bering Strait by boat just to escape Putin's draft. This is according to a spokeswoman for Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska to OUTFRONT. The two Russians we're told are requesting asylum after landing in this Alaskan island.

The town clerk there the men told the villagers they had sailed their boat from city of Egvekinot in northeastern Russia, which is approximately 300 miles by sea away. This is the latest as we understand it. And the Department of Homeland Security tells OUTFRONT that the two Russians came ashore in a small boat on Tuesday.

Think about that, 300 miles and now fleeing to America. It's a desperate move, and it's coming as an official Ukrainian source says that in the east of Ukraine, Ukraine has regained control over 93 settlements in the past two weeks. That's incredibly quick, and in the south, since October 1st, 29 settlements have been retaken by the Ukrainians.

All of this leading to a new barrage of criticism directed to Putin's top military commanders from Putin's own allies. The Russian appointed deputy leader of Kherson even going so far as to say the defense minister who, of course, is a very close ally and historically close friend of Putin should kill himself.


KIRILL STREMOUSOV, RUSSIAN-APPOINTED LEADER IN KHERSON (through translator): It's true. Many are saying if they were the minister of defense who was responsible for this debacle, they'd simply blow their own brains out, just as a true officer should. But, you know, the notion of a true officer is a foreign concept for many.


BURNETT: Even the head of Russia's state Duma defense committee is now demanding that officials start telling the truth about what's really going on in the battlefield.


RUSSIAN LAWYER (through translator): We need to stop lying. We brought this up many times before, but somehow it's apparently not getting through to individual senior figures.


BURNETT: And a top Russian state television spin doctor making it clear that he doesn't understand now what's happening either.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): There's a lot of fishy stuff going on. The fall campaign so far to put it mildly has not gone so well for us.


BURNETT: Fred Pleitgen begins our coverage OUTFRONT in Kyiv tonight.

And, Fred, what more are you seeing and hearing on the ground about how the war is really going?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Erin. Well, it certainly seems to be going pretty well for the Ukrainians right now. In fact, the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy he also came out and said the Ukrainians in the past couple of days actually had won back half a thousand kilometer of territory, had gained that back from the Russians. He's also speaking about dozens of villages in the past couple of days alone.

One of the things Ukraine is also saying is the world shouldn't think this is easygoing for the Ukrainians. They're still having to fight for every inch, but in some places, they are making pretty fast progress. Here's what we're looking at.


PLEITGEN (voice-over): Dangerous battles for Ukrainian forces as they continue to press counter offensives against the Russian army. This video the authenticity of which CNN cannot independently verify purporting to show an infantry vehicle hit by an anti-tank mine. The soldiers scrambled and then returned fire.

But Ukrainian military officials say they're making major headway especially in the south of the country in the Kherson region.

We do not name the direction, the spokeswoman says, but more than 400 square kilometers of the Kherson region have already been liberated from the occupiers.

While the Russian military has retreated from large areas in both southern and eastern Ukraine, the Kremlin still says it plans to achieve all of Russian President Vladimir Putin's military aim.


Russia's defense ministry saying they've already mobilized around 200,000 men, many now undergoing basic training. But videos released on social media seem to show major problems with the mobilization. This purports to show new recruits having to bed down on yoga mats for lack of beds.

The narrator claiming some of the new recruits have been heavily drinking.

In rare open criticism, a Kremlin installed official in southern Ukrainian ripping into putin's defense minister.

Yes, indeed, he says. Many say being the minister of defense will allow the situation to happen, he simply could as an officer shoot himself. But, you know, the word officer is an unfamiliar word for many.

But while Russia's forces may be on the defensive, they can still wreak havoc. Hitting the city of Zaporizhzhia with several missiles overnight leveling residential buildings leaving one woman dead and several people injured.

At first, I didn't understand what was going on, this resident says. I covered myself with a blanket just in time. Glass splinters from the window hit me. It was as if I was in the middle of a fog.

But Ukrainians say attacks like the ones in Zaporizhzhia won't stop their forces on the battlefield. Kyiv's troops racing to take back as much territory as fast as they can.


PLEITGEN (on camera): And, Erin, certainly the Ukrainians say that's exactly what they want to continue is to keep up that pace of operations to make sure that the Russians aren't able to regroup and reinforce those lines of defense.

Right now, it really seems a lot of the momentum that we're seeing on the part of the Ukrainians is shifting towards the south of the country as they're trying to take that major population center of Kherson. If they do manage to do that, that would be a huge feat by the Ukrainian military. It was one of the first places the Russians managed to capture when they invaded in February in Ukraine. Right now it seems they're putting a lot of pressure on and you can see the way it's going for the Russians there. It certainly seems it's going to be quite a while before any new Russian recruits are going to manage to get to the front lines.

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

I want to go to now to Andrei Soldatov, a Russian investigative journalist who is the founder and editor of a, which is news site now blocked in Russia, and retired Army Major General James "Spider" Marks.

So, Andrei, I mention the two Russians who fled to Russia and what we've been learning talking to officials there, the 300-mile boat ride to try to get out of the town they were in. They said they wanted to avoid Putin's draft and now seeking asylum in the United States. What's your reaction to that?

ANDREI SOLDATOV, RUSSIAN INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: Well, I'm not entirely surprised. While once the mobilization started we've seen so many Russian people trying to leave the country and because the road to Europe is mostly blocked, so they are trying every way possible. Once the mobilization started, it was about Georgia and Kazakhstan. Last week, it was about Kazakhstan and Mongolia, and now it looks like people are trying, well, Alaska.

BURNETT: I mean, it is pretty incredible to think about if this is what they ended up doing, 300 miles, and now putting real questions on the United States on what to do.

General Marks, the context here is the lightening speed in which the Ukrainians have succeeded in their counteroffensive.

As you saw in Fred's piece and what the Ukrainians are laying out, 93 settlements regained in the east since September 21st and in the south in the Kherson region in just the past five days almost 30 settlements have been taken. So it's happening extremely quickly. But the reality, of course, General, is this could turn anytime for Russia when they start putting these masses on the front lines even if they are poorly trained and equipped.

MAJ. GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, U.S. ARMY (RET.): I think what's going to happen is the Russian units that the part of Ukraine went back to Russia, they're refitting, they're reorganizing, doing the best they can to get back into the fight. You have to imagine, you have to assume.

And then the mobilization I think it's going to be more diluted than a duty to the Russians because these are 300,000 for the most part not trained, ill-equipped, not motivated as we saw in Fred's video.


MARKS: I think that's going to be more of a problem than anything else when you try to integrate those soldiers into the current fight. They'll be isolated and push to the side.

BURNETT: It's interesting you say even with those numbers it would still be diluted and not accretive.


I mean, Andrei, you heard the criticism now coming inside, Putin's ally talking about Minister Shoigu, the defense minister, saying that he should shoot himself if he were a true officer. Others saying we need to stop lying, there's a lot of fishy stuff happening.

These are from official sources, state television, very senior people. Does it surprise you to hear so much of this so openly now?

SOLDATOV: Well, it is a surprise but there is an explanation. While the Kremlin is getting extremely worried that we are losing control of the information space, so to speak, in Russia, people are losing trust in the Kremlin. And the Kremlin is trying to regain it by allowing at least some criticism towards the military.

And also, Vladimir Putin privately is quite happy to have his minister of defense being criticized because that is the best guarantee there will be no political risk and that's good for Putin because he's getting more and more paranoid.

BURNETT: General, that's pretty incredible, though, that Putin would see the power play right now by allowing your defense minister supposed to be commanding troops to be the one to say someone should blow their brains out, allow this criticism there, because it's not actually coming at Putin -- I give a long pause -- yet.

What does that say to you that Putin is happy to see this directed at Shoigu for now?

MARKS: Well, you know, what we've seen is that leadership has been absent at the tactical level and at the operational level with the Russian forces. This is indicative of how absent leadership is throughout this entire chain of command. In fact, before we go tonight, I'd ask Andrei how to say the buck stops here in Russian, put that on a plaque and send it to Putin.

We're watching everybody blame everybody else for all the problems the Russians are having right now. It's not unbelievable and it's played outright in front of us.

BURNETT: Yeah. And I should point out for everyone watching, to remind that we have reported here on CNN that Putin himself has been giving orders, that it's actually gotten to that point, orders directly to the field himself.

Thank you both so very much. I appreciate it.

And next, "The Washington Post" reporting federal agents investigating Hunter Biden have what they believe is enough evidence to charge him, and it is now in the hands of the U.S. attorney in Delaware.

And President Biden pardons thousands convicted of marijuana possession. It's a promised delivered in time for the midterms.

Plus, Herschel Walker's new denials he paid for an ex-girlfriend to have an abortion, as some tell him take a page from Trump's playbook after that "Access Hollywood" tape and you'll still win. Will he?



BURNETT: New significant developments tonight in the Justice Department's investigation of Hunter Biden. "The Washington Post" reporting that federal agents believe they have enough evidence to charge Hunter, President Biden's son, with tax crimes and a false statement related to a gun purchase.

This comes after CNN reported the investigation has reached a critical juncture and that there was an internal debate in the Justice Department about potential charges.

OUTFRONT now senior justice correspondent Evan Perez who, of course, has been reporting on this so extensively.

So, Evan, while it's significant federal agents think they have enough to charge Hunter Biden, the decision -- the decision on what happens here falls to the U.S. attorney in Delaware, right?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Right. David Weiss is a former appointee of President Trump. He was kept on by the administration to oversee this case, Erin, and he's the one going to make the call. Look, we've previously reported in July this had been a debate inside the department because certainly the investigators believed that they had a case. This is why they went to the justice department to present they believe supported this.

They got some push back initially from officials at the Justice Department, at the main justice headquarters. But in the end those officials relented, and it is now firmly in the hands of the U.S. attorney. And this is a very serious case. This is something that they've been -- they've spent several years now investigating. Both investigators from the IRS and the FBI have worked on this case.

BURNETT: So, Evan, tell me more about what the potential charges entail.

PEREZ: Well, they've looked at a lot of things. They've looked at a lot of his business affairs, Hunter Biden's business affairs in China as well as in Ukraine.

In the end, what they've narrowed this case to, Erin, is quite possible false statements in regard to a gun that Hunter Biden purchased. And at the time he purchased it, he would have had to say he was not addicted to drugs. He has since gone public saying he was addicted to drugs. So, that is a problem and a potential violation of federal law.

And the second one would be a violation of tax -- tax law. So those are two serious charges. We expect that no decision is going

to be made until after the election, and again, this is a very serious case. Federal agents have been working on this for a couple of years. And, you know, "The Post" is catching up to some of the reporting that we've done, but this is something going to be front and center after the midterms.

BURNETT: Absolutely. All right. Thank you very much, Evan.

So, I want to go to the former special counsel of the Defense Department on this and some other big developments today.

So, Ryan, Hunter Biden obviously is going to be very worried about what happens here. I understand Evan an laying out the gun charges. It seems to me from a lay person perspective, the tax charges here are more serious, right? There could be more implications from that.

What do you think happens here?

RYAN GOODMAN, CO-EDITOR IN CHIEF, JUST SECURITY: I think he has to be very worried because it does sound like at least with the gun charges it does sound like an open and shut case and does have a penalty up to ten years.

BURNETT: Wow. So, right, so you're saying up to penalties here that's it.

GOODMAN: Yeah, and he does admitted in this book that he was addicted to narcotics during that period of time and on the form he says no in answer to the question.

BURNETT: Open and shut.

GOODMAN: Yeah. So, I think that's one big problem for him. And on the other one is, the tax crime it could be up to five years for every instance in which he tried to commit tax evasion.

BURNETT: Wow. OK, so this is very serious.

Now, there is an unwritten rule they're not going to do this within 60 days of an election. And as Evan was saying you're looking post- election from when this would be announced most likely if they're consistent with that, because we're only 30 days.


So then what happens now? I mean, are they just going to make a decision yes or no? Is there going to be some sort of a plea? What -- where do we go?

GOODMAN: So, it does seem there's going to be kick back after the mid- terms. It doesn't have to be. In a certain sense, he's not a candidate, nor his father a candidate in th midterms. So, strictly speaking, the rule doesn't apply to them. It sounds like they're going to decide in November or December. So, I think that's a very big decision. They all decide in the same

period other decisions come to the justice department and Mar-a-Lago and it might be a wind fall in the sense they're going to show the American public they're going to follow the facts and follow the law.

BURNETT: Well, you're going to have both of these decisions happening at the same time. So, without fair nor favor you kind of get the -- you would have both sides theoretically. We'll see.

All right. So, this also comes as we're getting a big development in the Fulton County grand jury investigation. Again, this is into Trump's efforts to overturn the election in Georgia. Fani Willis, CNN sources are telling us, that she was going to quickly wrap up with the grand jury, but indictments would not come until after the election, again. So she's going to wait as well.

But, we -- many have said there's a lot of evidence here, and certainly I've talked to people who have been in front of that grand jury and they'd made it clear that grand jury has a lot and has been involved and was asking the right questions. Who do you think it's going to be indicted?

GOODMAN: I think there are two people. It's Donald J. Trump and Rudy Giuliani. She's already said Rudy Giuliani is a target for the investigation, and publicly, she's basically pointed the finger at Donald Trump. And the crimes that she says she's investigating are basically about them. That includes pressuring officials, lying to state lawmakers about election fraud. That is actually their activity under investigation. There's a lot of evidence against them.

BURNETT: Okay, so when you say Rudy Giuliani, and I know that from people who have testified in that room and also Donald J. Trump, but amazing a fact that happened here. This often when you talk about Trump comes down to the one crucial call he made to the secretary of state of Georgia, Brad Raffensperger.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: So, look, all I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have, because we won the state. And flipping the state is a great testament to our country because, you know, there's just -- it's a testament that they can admit to a mistake or whatever you want to call it.

So what are we going to do here, folks? I only need 11,000 votes. Fellas, I need 11,000 votes. Give me a break.


BURNETT: Okay, if he's indicted what then?

GOODMAN: If he's indicted I think there's that smoking gun audiotape. They have the entire audiotape of the entire conversation. It's a very long conversation. I think he may, if he was a normal defendant in a case like this, they'd have to think about pleading or something like it because the evidence is so overwhelming against him we're going to potentially see a trial in Georgia, in Fulton County, that would then proceed --

BURNETT: Wow, even if he's announced a presidential run.

GOODMAN: Yes, announcing a presidential run, the Justice Department rules don't apply. But even in that case we're in a situation in which she says she's going to follow the facts, follow the law and indict people who committed crimes within her jurisdiction.

BURNETT: Well, it is going to be incredible to see how this all plays out, and she said so much of this coming to a head at the same time after election day. Thank you so much, Ryan.

GOODMAN: Thank you.

BURNETT: And next, candidate Biden said he would do it and now he is. Pardons are coming for people convicted of federal marijuana possession.

And deny and deflect is a strategy that worked for Trump, but will it work for Herschel Walker?



BURNETT: Tonight, President Biden in a major move just weeks before the mid-terms pardoning people convicted of marijuana possession under federal law. Senior administration officials telling CNN the announcement clears the convictions of some 6,500 Americans who were charged over the past 30 years under that federal law. Biden is asking states to follow his lead for people convicted on state charges of simple possession. Right, all he could do is federal and he did that.

Kaitlan Collins is OUTFRONT now.

This is something he's talked about and now making good on his promise. It's a major step towards what many of his supporters want, which is decriminalization of marijuana.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, it's a major step. It's a major shift for the federal government to take this step, Erin, and it is something President Biden had promised on the campaign trail and some advocates had asked why it did not happen yet almost two years into his administration, but today, he delivered on that promise by moving to pardon thousands of Americans who have been convicted under federal law of possession of marijuana. The White House putting the estimate of the people affected by this decision by President Biden at about 6,500 people in addition to the thousands prosecuted under the law in the District of Columbia as well.

And so, with this move, President Biden is also urging governors to follow his lead for people convicted under state offenses, under state law, that they should also take a similar step to what he's taking by pardoning these thousands of people because, of course, there's more than a dozen states where marijuana is no longer illegal. So, you're right, this isn't the full decriminalization that some

people on both sides of the political aisle have called for, but it is a pretty big step for this White House. And in addition to President Biden pardoning these thousands of people and calling on states to follow his lead, he's also asking the Department of Health and Human Services and the attorney general to conduct a review into how marijuana is classified because right now as a schedule one drug, that means they believe it's high potential for abuse, they don't believe it has any medical purposes.


Even fentanyl is not considered a schedule one drug. And that's obviously caused so many issues and deaths in teenagers and young people, and has become such a crisis in this country. And so, he's calling for review of that in addition to this major move that the White House announced this afternoon.

BURNETT: All right. Kaitlan, thank you very much from the White House tonight.

So, John Avlon is with me now, our senior political analyst.

So, as Kaitlan saying, major step towards decriminalizing marijuana, and look, on a practical level 6,500 people over the past 30 years, that's not very many people. But that doesn't mean it's a move that does not matter.

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: First of all, it just addresses the cannabis contradiction that exists with this disconnect we have between federal and state law. It rights a wrong. These people some of them the record hangs over them, makes it more difficult to have the processes in place.

But the real news isn't just this. The real news is what Kaitlan indicated in the second step, moving towards declassifying as a schedule 1 narcotic.

BURNETT: That's right.

AVLON: That is reefer madness. Since 1971, it's been on the books saying marijuana is the equivalent of heroin, has no medical use. Tell that to the 31 states that have as a medical marijuana, that it's highly addictive, that it's worse than cocaine and fentanyl. It causes disrespect for the law. So, to take the step it's about common sense, is about freedom and obviously about campaign promises kept.

BURNETT: Right, right. And as you and I were saying, even if you don't believe marijuana should be used recreationally or by kids or you want other restrictions, that can be handled by other ways other than the schedule one and two, but that's an important note.

AVLON: That's critical to understand, you know? Biden even indicated some of the things he thinks should be off limits, kids, marketing, there's no right to go to show up at work stoned, you know? You could deal with that. BURNETT: Right, right. So, yeah, it is hard to ignore the timing.

You've got all kind of headlines he may not want economically, et cetera, coming into Election Day, 30 days away. So is this a good time to do this.

AVLON: I mean, look, we're in that month long window, so everything has a political implication. As you said, it doesn't affect that many people, but it is broadly popular. Gallop had a poll the other week saying more Americans smoke more marijuana than cigarettes.

This is bipartisan. Fifty percent of Republicans think it should be decriminalized. In the past, Democrats and Republican presidents haven't touched it in part because they were afraid of seeming weak when it came to drugs. And I think the political calculus has really shifted fundamentally.

BURNETT: It really has.

AVLON: Yeah.

BURNETT: All right. John Avlon, thank you very much.

And next, Herschel Walker deflecting and denying after an alleged ex- girlfriend accused him of paying for an abortion.


REPORTER: Have you reached out to any of the mothers of your children?


REPORTER: To ask why -- why not?

WALKER: Why do I need to?


BURNETT: Can he save his campaign?

And Saudi Arabia raising oil prices for Americans. So much for that fist bump between President Biden and Mohamed Bin Salman.



BURNETT: Tonight, taking a page from Trump's playbook. CNN learning people close to Herschel Walker's campaign are urging him to dial-up his defense as "The Daily Beast" reports he paid for a woman to get an abortion in 2009. They're now saying not only that but that same woman is the mother of one of his children.

Now, Walker's campaign manager privately is comparing this to Trump's "Access Hollywood" in the 2016 election. And allies are pushing for a more Trumpian response. Walker has appeared to take that advice. He returned to the campaign trail today and said this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: Have you reached out to any of the mothers of your children?


REPORTER: To ask why -- why not?

WALKER: Why do I need to? It's not correct. That's a lie. And that's what I mean, that's a lie.


BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, Scott Jennings, CNN political commentator and former senior advisor to the Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and former Democratic Congresswoman Katie Hill, founder of the political action committee "Her Time."

Thank you both for being here.

So, Scott, do you think just from the strategic perspective that we're presenting here that a more Trumpian response like after the "Access Hollywood" tape leaked like Chris Christie wouldn't go on the Sunday shows and Trump powered through and, of course, winning the White House.

Will this work for Herschel Walker?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLTICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it ultimately depends on what the truth is. I mean, he says it's not true, and his campaign is telling people apparently they've got evidence it's not true and thinking of rolling that out at the debate next week. So, I guess some of that, Erin, will depend on whether they have something here that fully refutes what's going on.

The other tactic of course is just to power through it and say there's too much at stake and Raphael Warnock's dishonest and I've never claimed to be a perfect person and the country's in the ditch and we need to push back on Joe Biden.

There's two tracks of it, I think. Yeah, I'd like to see Herschel Walker use those tracks as forcefully as possible if he's going to do it.

BURNETT: So, Congresswoman Hill, this is obviously not the first report about Herschel Walker in this area. Three women including his ex-wife and ex-girlfriend have accused of making threats against him. Even that, though, support among Americans and white evangelicals specifically held very strong.

So, you know, do you think it's all baked in? That it maybe kind of -- I mean, Scott saying he wants to see the evidence and I'm not asking you where you stand on it, Scott, what you should do if it's proven to be a lie. But, Katie, what if nobody cares?

KATIE HILL (D), FORMER CONGRESSWOMAN FROM CALIFORNIA: Yeah, I mean, I think the Republican base has made it pretty clear they don't really care about the truth or about, you know, what their politicians feel about or act towards women, right?

These threats of domestic violence, the hypocrisy around paying for an abortion or having one of your mistresses get an abortion if you're a Republican politician, it's just like a trope, right? Something we've seen before. And the base doesn't care. The base didn't care about "Access Hollywood." it is what it is.


And at the end of the day, the numbers are going to matter and the people that are going to matter are undecided. I honestly think that people know if they believe him or not. They know if that even matters to them. It really is about who's going to show up, and I think that's going to come down to women, and women who I believe are going to vote based on their freedoms.

BURNETT: I mean, Scott, does this really come down to see Herschel Walker let's just say they come out with whatever evidence they have saying it isn't true, and say the women comes out with the evidence saying it is true. If it turns out all of this is true, that he paid for the abortion, and he lied about it and she's also the mother of his other children, do you think it matters?

JENNINGS: I mean, look, it could matter. I mean, this race is so close. By the way, Democrats have spent about $50 million in attack ads against Walker and it's largely been on the issue of character. And the race has gotten closer and closer in the midst of that attack and barrage.

So, this is hardly the first accusation or character allegation against Walker in this campaign, so you could make the argument that it hasn't mattered yet despite the spending on character attacks because Republicans are so upset about the direction of the country.

So on the margins is where it matters. In a race this close, 1,000 people here, 2,000 people there, it's hard to pick that up in the polling. You can certainly pick that up in election night if you lost by 3,000 votes.

It's hard to measure. Most political operatives are wait and see. I don't think you're going to see real solid data in the campaign until next week and then you'll have to make an assessment where they are and what they have to do in response.

BURNETT: Well, I mean, you know, you talk about few thousands. And we know 11,780 votes was the margin of the presidential election, right, so incredibly close.

Katie, look, it comes on the heels of Erick Erickson who obviously everyone knows as the preeminent conservative talk show host and bloggers and also knows Georgia politics. He said what made this real and damaging for Walker is that one of his known four children who is a conservative spoke out against his father, and here he is. His name is Christian. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIAN WALKER, SON OF HERSCHEL WALKER: After lie after lie after lie. The abortion card drops yesterday. It's literally his handwriting on the card. They say they have receipts, whatever.

I haven't told any stories. I'm just saying don't lie. Don't lie on my mom, don't lie on me, don't lie on the lives you destroyed, and act like you're some moral family man. You all should care about that, conservatives.


BURNETT: Katie, you know, that's what made it real, Erick said, and it certainly seemed that way. Do you think that will matter, that just ends up being it had its moment in the frying pan?

HILL: I think it depends on where that is making it to, right? So if you get a few people who are like, man, I really was going to vote Republican because I am upset about the direction of the country and I didn't care for Herschel Walker necessarily but I feel like I need to, you know, move away from the Democrats or whatever, I think -- yeah, I think it could come down to a few people saying I can't vote for this guy and not show up.

And in a mid-term like this some Republicans not showing up because they don't care about the rest of the election enough and they're not motivated enough, you know, to kind of go against what they see as their values in this particular case, I just -- I don't know how much we're going to see of that. It's not possible to predict.

I think it's going to come down to, you know -- like we said people to me have made up their minds about this kind of thing already, and it's really where it gets baked in on election night.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you both very much.

And next, President Biden scrambling after OPEC cuts oil production by millions of barrels a day.

And another bus of migrants was sent to Washington today. So what happens to migrants after they get there?



BURNETT: Tonight, the White House scrambling for answers after OPEC said it will slash oil production by 2 million barrels a day. I want to be clear it sounds like a huge number and it is. In fact, it is the biggest cut in production since the pandemic began. Now, obviously, in pandemic, nobody was buying oil, it could be getting a lot worse. It will almost certainly lead to a hike in gas prices, and so it is a gift to Russia. It just is. That's what it is. That's who it's going to help by Saudi Arabia.

This is even after Biden's controversial meeting. Remember he had that face-to-face meeting with the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman.

It resulted in this memorable picture of the two fist bumping. Biden now facing criticism from his own party.


REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA): The trip was clearly a mistake. Look, I'm not just disappointed, like many Americans I'm outraged.

SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): I think it's time for a wholesale reevaluation of the U.S. alliance with Saudi Arabia. I think the president does not seem to have gotten us from the Saudis what we need.


BURNETT: This as Biden tells the American people not to worry.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There's a lot of alternatives. We haven't made up our minds yet. It is a disappointment and says that there are problems.


BURNETT: All right. Well, among the alternative, right, wherever you stand had they okayed it would be the keystone pipeline, but that is obviously not the case.

OUTFRONT now, John Miller, former deputy assistant director of national intelligence and our chief law enforcement and intelligence analyst.

So, John, let's start here with the optics, right? Biden goes and has this meeting and there's the fist bump. He had said that MBS and Saudi Arabia should be a pariah forever because of the crown prince's involvement in the dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi, "The Washington Post" journalist. And Biden goes and have this meeting and this is what he gets. It's embarrassing.

JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: The fist bump from the administration's standpoint was him taking a lot of risk to engage that way. From the Saudi point of view it was too little. They were expecting something more.


But in the conversation, sources tell me that what they were working on to increase production by 750,000 to a million barrels a day, and to stabilize the market because sanctions against Russia, so on and so forth depended on this. And they've more than doubled that in terms of loss with this decision.

BURNETT: So your sources are saying there so Biden is sitting there with MBS. We're going to increase production. We're going help you out of your inflation. And the next he hears, just from a diplomatic perspective, that's unbelievable.

MILLER: So that's what's been going on in the intelligence community today. And in the foreign service community, as people are transcribing for tomorrow's presidential daily briefing, what does this mean, why did this happen, where are the divergent interests here.

And as you've already pointed out, you take a presidential administration that's on the edge of a recession, a Europe that's worried about freezing to death over the summer because they have been cut off from Russian oil because of sanctions, and this is good for the Russians. They sat at the table in Vienna with the Saudis and the OPEC members. If their prices go up, Russia's prices go up too.

BURNETT: So, last week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken thanks MBS and the Saudis. He thanks them publicly for the release of two American hostages who have been in Ukraine. I guess the Saudis are saying we gave you that. Now we're going to do this unbelievably huge thing that is pro-Putin.

MILLER: Well, a member of Congress said we should engage in a wholesale reevaluation of our relationship with the Saudis. I think the Saudis have already done that wholesale reevaluation of their relationship with the United States.

BURNETT: And they've made a choice.

MILLER: We're playing catch-up here. Yes. They made -- they made an important choice. And they showed their cards this week.

Now, let's be clear. It's not all politics. Some of it is about the money. The energy market softened. There was an OPEC meeting. OPEC has over the years avoided all of these political entanglements and focused on we're here to make money. That's a part of it.

But anybody who says there is nothing to see here on the political side is not seeing what the Saudi prince has just done to the American administration that came to it hat in hand.

BURNETT: Well, let's just see.

All right. John Miller, thank you very much.

And next, the breaking news just happening here. "The New York Times" is reporting that the justice department beliefs Donald Trump has still not returned all of the documents he took when he left the White House. Wow. We'll have that next.



BURNETT: Breaking news. A top Justice Department official recently told former President Trump's lawyers that investigators do not believe that Trump returned all of the documents he took when he left the White House in 2021. That means there are still documents out there. This according to "The New York Times."

Evan Perez is OUTFRONT.

So, Evan, what else do we know about this? Even after the search, after everything, they say they think there is more.

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Right. This communication came from Jay Bratt, who is the head of the counterintelligence at the justice department, the national security division, Erin, and he is the one that has been leading this case, the investigation into these documents that were taken during the August search.

And what "The Times" is saying is they've told the lawyers for the former president that they believe there are still additional documents in his possession, and it's not clear exactly what the justice department might do to try to retrieve those documents. It apparently is -- obviously there are multiple options, which include possibly conducting another search.

BURNETT: Just pretty incredible. And I know there were some lawyers on the team who said okay, they say they're missing stuff. Let them look everywhere. Let them come back. And Trump has chosen not to do that.

PEREZ: Right. And, look, this is a feature of the Trump world where you have certain people around the former president who are advising him to cooperate, to perhaps in this case Chris Kise, according to "The Times", a lawyer who was brought in by the former president, paid up-front $3 million to help him with this case, advised him to cooperate and perhaps even hire a forensic firm to look for additional documents. Others told the president, the former president to fight. And that's apparently the advice he has chosen. Not a surprise, because that's what we've seen in the past from Donald Trump.

BURNETT: All right. Evan Perez, stay with me.

I've got John Miller with me now as well. John, you have dealt with top secret clearances and information. So this is also in the context of what, 40 odd cover sheets that they did find, which were marked classified in some sense that had nothing behind them.

MILLER: Right. So you have to ask, there are these folders. They're marked at very high classification levels. So where are the documents that belong in them? Are they there? Are they somewhere else? It would be very odd to take the folders without the documents.

BURNETT: And it also seems then in that case, and now we know Trump himself from some of the reporting did go and pick the documents he wanted. Those documents were specifically separated from their classification and put somewhere.

MILLER: So if this was a normal criminal case with a normal criminal search, and we've had other cases related to Trump investigations where this has been done, you would search the house. You would search the club. You would search the office. You would search the New York apartment. You would search everywhere these things could be. In this case, they were very careful about just searching the place

where they had specific information. But Evan is right. They're in a real conundrum, because the Trump legal team has them tied up in special masters litigations and judges and a real traffic jam there. And it's going to be hard for them to move forward.

BURNETT: Right. At the very least here, one thing we certainly know for sure, which is that there are top secret that the president is now categorically refusing to return.

MILLER: And there is a risk to what's inside those documents, what they are and who is seeing them.

BURNETT: That's right.

All right. John, thank you very much. Evan, thank you.

And thanks to all of you for being with us.

It's time now for "AC360."