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Erin Burnett Outfront

Ukraine: Russia Has Carried Out 190+ Strikes In 12 Days, Killing 70; New Yorkers Increasingly Frustrated Migrants Are Straining Services; Special Master In Mar-A-Lago Case Frustrated: "Where's The Beef?"; U.S.: Saudis Sentence American To 16 Years In Prison Over Tweets; Iran Intensifies Protester Crackdown By Hunting Down The Wounded. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired October 18, 2022 - 19:00   ET



ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, Putin's top commander speaking out, signaling what may be a drawdown from a major city. Is Ukraine on the verge of another major win?

Plus, New York's migrant crisis. More than 18,000 migrants arriving in just the past six months. The city pushed to the brink, and some New Yorkers are not happy about it. It's a story you'll see first OUTFRONT.

And an American citizen sentenced to 16 years in a Saudi prison for tweets he sent while he was in the United States. The man's son is my guest.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, Putin's top commander speaking out saying Russia and Ukraine are one, upping the ante hours ahead of a major meeting between Putin and his national security council. Inside Russia, all eyes on what Putin may do and whether he'll dramatically up the ante. This as his top commander in an interview said that, quote, difficult decisions are ahead, seeming to signal that he may pull back from the crucial Ukrainian city of Kherson.

And tonight, we have new video, I'll show it to you, it shows Ukrainian forces pushing deeper into the Russian-controlled area of Kherson.

So they're in that armored vehicle, as you can see, moving relatively quickly there. That is in the Kherson region. You hear the sound of constant gunfire. You see that man firing the machine gun. Ukrainian troops have been raising the flag in town after town in Kherson, even as Putin continues terrorizing drone and missile strikes, nearly 200 in recent days, according to Ukraine, destroying a third of the power stations in the country.

The reality remains even with all of those strikes, right, when you look at what's happening in Kherson, Putin is feeling the pressure on the ground and also now at home from a formidable group of Russians, the mothers of newly mobilized soldiers.


RUSSIAN MOTHER (through translator): I got a call from my son today. And he told me, mom, help me, save me from this hell.

RUSSIAN MOTHER (through translator): It's just a portrayal that they go there unprepared.

RUSSIAN MOTHER (through translator): My son, Sergei Karazev (ph) was not even supposed to be mobilized. He has poor eyesight. How can he shot a gun?


BURNETT: They're standing there together, mothers and sisters.

And a mother's wrath can have profound impact. Certainly the Russians know that, Putin knows that. In the Chechen War in the 1990s, it was mothers in Russia who spoke out against it who were partly responsible for turning Russian public opinion against that war, which is why a lot could be riding on Putin's security council meeting tomorrow, a meeting where top ally, Dmitri Medvedev, who has publicly threatened war, is also expected to speak.

Fred Pleitgen is OUTFRONT to begin our coverage tonight live in Kramatorsk, Ukraine.

And, Fred, Putin again today waging a brutal war against Ukrainian civilians.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, very early on starting in the early morning hours, Erin, we were fast asleep when all of a sudden we heard the outgoing sound of surface-to- air missiles and then all of a sudden, several thuds, a location near where we were got hit by three missiles. That was a thermal power plant in the town of Dnipro. But once again, the Russians also on masse using those kamikaze drones to hit targets throughout this entire country. Here's what we're learning.


PLEITGEN (voice-over): Russia hitting Ukraine's infrastructure with massive strikes across the country. Power plants in several regions targeted by both kamikaze drones and cruise missiles. This video purports to show Ukraine taking down one of them. But some hitting civilian areas like this residential building in the southern town Mykolaiv.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We woke up at 1:45 a.m. because of a very large explosion. It's impossible to describe it. There was so much dust.

PLEITGEN: The Ukrainians say 30 percent of their energy infrastructure has already been destroyed by Moscow's blitz. Key installations like this power plant the city Dnipro hit by multiple missiles. Ukraine's air defense is sometimes also overwhelmed by swarms of cheap kamikaze drones.

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): The world can and must stop this terror. When we talk about Ukraine's need for air and missile defense systems, we talk about real lives taken by terrorists.

PLEITGEN: Kyiv believes Moscow is resorting to drone strikes because its forces are running out of precision cruise missiles. Stocks of some weapons already critically low, Ukraine's military intelligence claims. But Russia's army is showing no signs of letting up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): During the last 24 hours, the armed forces of the Russian Federation continued to deploy long-range high-precision weapons, both air and sea-based on Ukraine's military command sites and energy infrastructure.


PLEITGEN: Russia continues to face major problems with its mobilization effort. While many Russian regions claim they fulfilled their recruitment targets, some recruits complain they're not getting adequately compensated.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The motherland called so we are all here and we are going to defend it. But while we care about the motherland, it does not care about us at all. The question is, when will it be done? We will go there now and our relatives who have been staying at home for a whole month without any provisions. They're struggling. In a month, they will be homeless.

PLEITGEN: Ukrainian officials believe despite Russia's strikes, its forces will prevail on the battlefield. The senior intelligence leaders saying Russia's defeat is inevitable.


PLEITGEN (on camera): One of the reasons, Erin, why the Ukrainians are so confident is, of course, that situation down in Kherson where the Ukrainians are saying they're continuing to make some pretty significant gain, of course, closing in on the capital city of that region, which is also called Kherson, hearing now from pro Russian officials that they want to start evacuating civilians from that area simply because the Ukrainians are coming so close.

One of the only places where the Ukrainians are having more trouble is where I am right now. It's the Kramatorsk Bakhmut region where they are fighting some of the toughest Russian fighters from that private military company called Wagner -- Erin.

BURNETT: Wagner Group.

All right. Thank you very much, Fred, from Dnipro tonight.

I want to bring in now the White House national Security Council spokesman John Kirby. And, Admiral, I appreciate your time. Look, we're hearing Putin's top

commander talk about what he says are difficult decisions when it comes to Kherson. He said that today in an interview. Kherson, of course, has been under Russian control since the beginning of the war. Ukraine has made some significant gains there.

What does your intelligence indicate? Is Ukraine on the verge of another major win there?

JOHN KIRBY, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL SPOKESMAN: They certainly are putting a lot of pressure on the Russian troops that are around the -- sort of the northwestern edge of their presence in the Kherson oblast. They're across from the Dnipro River, and -- but they're sort of isolated.

And so, the Ukrainians are putting a lot of pressure on them, Erin. And they're sort of advancing on multiple fronts in part of the Kherson oblast.

Now, I will tell you that just from what we've been seeing the last 24, 48 hours, there haven't been a lot of geographic advances made by the Ukrainians, but they are applying a lot more pressure in that area, and that would explain why some Russian officials are thinking about moving the troops back across the river so that they don't get cut off.

BURNETT: So, in the context here, the head of Ukraine's defense intelligence agency predicts that the war will end, quote, by the summer. By the summer, everything should be over. That really stood out to me. I haven't heard anybody else make such a prediction.

Do you think that that's possible?

KIRBY: Look, we think the war should end today and we'd love it to end right as soon as possible. The shorter the better, obviously. I think everybody wants to see all of this death and destruction come to a close, and for the Ukrainian people to enjoy their sovereignty and their independence again.

I am not in a position where I can say we could verify that prediction by summer. I think you need to be real careful with words. It's unpredictable as we have all seen ourselves over the last 20 years here in the United States, very difficult to say with accuracy, you know, that the war is going to end on a certain date.

Now we do know that bad weather's coming. And it's going to make it hard for both armies to be able to maneuver in either of the Donbas or down in the south due to the muddy roads, the constant rain and, of course, the cloud cover. So, we're going to have to see where things end up come wintertime.

BURNETT: So, into this is a war that in some ways seems to be getting bigger and broadening, Admiral. Talking about Iran, we've confirmed tonight that Iran sent military personnel to Crimea to train Russian troops on using those Iranian-made kamikaze drones. And "The Washington Post" actually reports that Iran is maybe going to be sending ballistic missiles to Russia too, which would be incredible.

You look at those Iskander missiles that Putin had at the beginning of the war, nearly 90 percent of them are gone. The Iranian missiles could theoretically replace or given more than it had before. It's unclear.

What do you think? Could Iranian arms help transform Putin's depleted arsenal?

KIRBY: I think it remains to be seen, Erin. It really does. I think it's too soon to know what kind of an impact that Iran's support is going to have on the battlefield.

They are -- they have a burgeoning ballistic missile program at home and certainly, they have an intrinsic, organic ability to create -- to manufacture these drones.

But whether it's going to have a strategic effect on the battlefield, again, I just -- I think we need -- we need to know a lot more. I mean, so far, I think you can say that it hasn't. I mean, in fact, all they've done with these attacks over the last few days is stiffen the resolve of the Ukrainian people and make them more determined to claw back territory that is rightfully theirs. So I think we're just going to have to see where this goes.

BURNETT: There is another aspect to this story, the U.S. relation with Russia that you have been closely involved with. The WNBA star Brittney Griner is still there in Russia. She spent her 32nd birthday today in prison.

She released a statement through her lawyers, Admiral, that said, quote: Thank you everyone for fighting so hard to get me home. All the support and love are definitely helping me.

But yet she's still there. The U.S. offered the notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout as part of a prisoner swap. But our understanding is that Russia has not provided any serious counteroffer.

KIRBY: Yeah.

BURNETT: What do you think right now, do they have any interest in releasing Griner?

KIRBY: We are working that real hard, Erin. I can't speak for Russian intentions. I can tell you that we have made a very serious proposal.

We continue to be in discussions with Russian officials about finding a way to bring her and Mr. Whelan home. She shouldn't have to spend another day, let alone another birthday, in wrongful detention in Russia, and we are working that real, real hard.

I can tell you, it's top of mind for the president. It's top of mind for everybody here on the national security team. We want to get these two Americans home. And we're willing to continue to have those kinds of discussions with Russian officials. We urge them, of course, to take us up on the proposal. Short of that, we're willing to keep talking to 'em.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Admiral John Kirby with the Security Council.

And I want to go now to Dan Rice, special adviser to the commander in chief of Ukraine's armed forces.

Dan, you just heard John Kirby talk about the ballistic missiles that Iran may start sending. It's too early to tell whether they could trance form things. But obviously from a numerical perspective, it's possible that it could, you know, fill up that depleted inventory.

How much more does the Ukrainian military right now, the chief of the armed forces, say to you that they need to stop Russia's air assault, both drone and missile?

DAN RICE, SPECIAL ADVISER TO UKRAINIAN COMMANDER IN CHIEF: The biggest thing they need right now are air defense systems, both missiles and aircraft. We really need the Ukrainian air force to be restocked. But we are putting in a lot of air defense systems. They're just getting there though, the NASAM system.

BURNETT: They keep saying we only have 10 percent of what we need.

RICE: They need a lot more and you can never defend everywhere. So, that's the thing about that -- it's a 1,200-mile front. You can only really defend your key cities. You can't defend everywhere. But they are defending it.

But the Russian attack under this new general is ruthlessly attacking the civilian population, which is a war crime, but they're never charged in any other wars. But they are attacking the cities, trying to attack the grid, making it a very difficult winter. They are trying to, in my opinion, trying to get to the negotiating table, to try to go back to the 2014 lines. Ukraine won't have it. Ukraine wants all of their land back to the '91 lines. They really need air defense systems and aircraft.

So, ideally the Poles want to give them their old Russian fighters and the Ukrainians know how to operate them and know how to maintain them. If we get those to 'em right away, we give F-16s to the Poles and these are already fully depreciated aircraft. They're mothballed in the U.S. It's not costing the taxpayer. So, get those out to the Russian, to the Poles, get the Russian aircraft out to Ukrainians.

BURNETT: So, this comes in the context of what we're learning about the Russian troops and how they're behaving. I spoke last night with Alex Drueke and Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh. These are two Americans who have gone to fight with Ukraine. They ended up being taken hostage by Russians, spent time in Russia, 105 days they were held captive, and they were tortured and they described it.

Here's some of what Alex told me they experienced in those 105 days.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ALEX DRUEKE, AMERICAN FIGHTER HELD BY RUSSIAN-BACKED FORCES FOR 105 DAYS: There were a lot of beatings. There was a lot of physical torture. But I think some of the worst stuff, there was a lot of psychological torture. I mean, we were both in forms of solitary confinement for long periods of time. They would put us in a lot of stress positions like forced to stay up standing overnight for 18 hours on our feet when we're dehydrated. And put you in positions where parts of your body go incredibly painfully numb.


BURNETT: We've seen before and after pictures of Ukrainian soldiers who have been tortured by Russians. What is this treatment by Russian forces mean?

RICE: You know, the entire Russian army from the top to the bottom is just an immoral army. You see in the general's orders the strikes against civilian targets intentionally trying to kill women and children. You're seeing torture on the prisoners of war. You're seeing horrible atrocities of rape, looting, everything across the battlefield.

This is really -- I mean, the Russian culture is just a defunct culture at this point. I think Russia's got some serious problems and it's showing in the lack of discipline in their army. And they're going to lose.

And we can't let them win with this horrible army because they'll continue to other countries.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Dan Rice.

And, next, New York City unveiling a new facility tonight, scrambling to house the crush of new migrants, the surge that has led to frustrations for some New Yorkers.

Plus, where is the beef? That is the literal word, those are the literal words from the special master in charge of reviewing the sensitive documents seized from Mar-a-Lago.


Why he is going more frustrated with Trump's team?

And an OUTFRONT exclusive tonight, horrific details emerging of Iran's bloody crackdown on protesters. A 14-year-old boy's leg peppered with what appears to be birdshot wounds.


BURNETT: Tonight, New York City officials unveiling a massive new facility built in response to the surge of migrants arriving to the city. It is over 84,000 square feet. One of two new facilities built to accommodate the ongoing migrant surge.

Officials say 18,600 people have arrived to the nation's biggest city since April, and in a story you'll see first here OUTFRONT, some New Yorkers are trying to do all they can help, while others are growing increasingly frustrated by the influx.

Miguel Marquez is OUTFRONT.



MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the history of this city of immigrants.

CASTRO: We haven't seen something like this in New York City for nearly a century.

MARQUEZ: This latest wave of migrants tough to absorb. The city now turning to tents, temporary shelter for individual asylum-seeking men.

CASTRO: New York City is doing everything possible to make sure asylum-seekers are treated well.

MARQUEZ: Already, dozens of hotels across the city no longer serving tourists. Instead, asylum-seekers, most from Venezuela, many of them, families with young children.


Several New Yorkers we spoke to who didn't want to attach their name or face to their views, expressed frustration the city's response in the steady stream of Venezuelan immigrants coming to the city, stressing the budget and the school system. One person even repeating a baseless fringe theory that this current wave is little more than a Democratic ploy to replace white voters with minorities.

Still, some regardless of their feelings about immigration, say everyone needs to step up.

People came to your door and they were hungry.

SEBASTIAN "SAM" BONGIOVANNI, OWNER, VERDE'S PIZZA SHOP: There was a pregnant woman, young family, pregnant woman with kids, and there was another family with them.

MARQUEZ: Sam Bongiovanni opened Verde's Pizza just over a month ago on New York's Staten Island.

In the last few weeks two, nearby hotels have become shelters for migrant families.

BONGIOVANNI: This is not about Democrat and Republican, but this is a very Catholic Republican neighborhood and they do believe in the border laws and they don't like what's happening. They can't stand it. But they're Catholics first. I'm Catholic first.

MARQUEZ: Bongiovanni in New York's most conservative borough, stepping up despite how he or others feel about border politics. Many of his customers also pitching in. Every donation goes up on the wall.

BONGIOVANNI: Keep the slice and the tip. Use it for the migrants. God bless you for your help.

MARQUEZ: The challenge of this current wave of migrants, enormous, most escaping a repressive Venezuelan government. They arrive in large numbers, many are families, New York's shelter system wasn't designed for migrants. And many of those coming have almost nothing and have no connection, no friends, no relatives anywhere in the United States.

ILZE THIELMANN, TEAM TLC NYC: In the past, we're meeting people who were on their way to their sponsors, who would take care of them, house them, feed them, clothe them. Now we have people coming here with nowhere to go, no one to turn to.

MARQUEZ: New York City schools also struggling to absorb some 6,000 newly arrived children who often don't speak the language and may be traumatized from their long and difficult journey.

ROBIN KELLEHER, PARENT ADVOCATE AND COMMUNITY EDUCATION COUNCIL DISTRICT 2: Here we are with thousands of kids and family members in a situation where they've been through hell.

MARQUEZ: Robin Kelleher's child now goes to kids with kids from Venezuela. Her car now stuffed with everything from clothes to diapers for families starting from zero.

KELLEHER: I was there the first day when they were arriving, and the supplies that had come in over the weekend, because we had one-day notice, the supplies were gone in like the first like half an hour.


MARQUEZ (on camera): Yeah. So the city is really struggling to deal with this crisis. This facility may start receiving immigrants as soon as tomorrow. There's already one open in Manhattan for families that offer similar services. The mayor here has declared a state of emergency and says that this entire crisis by the end of this year alone may cost the city as much as a billion dollars -- Erin.

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

OUTFRONT now, Xochitl Hinojosa, former DNC communications director, and Scott Jennings, former senior adviser to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and former special assistant to President George W. Bush.

All right. This is a complicated issue, but it's at the center of people's lives now and the political campaign in ways it hasn't been before because of where we're seeing this. You saw Miguel's reporting. New York City has never dealt with anything like this before. It is struggling with the influx. People are helping but frustration is growing.

Is this approach backfiring at all? XOCHITL HINOJOSA, FORMER DNC COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Well, Democrats

are doing everything to fix this while Republicans continue to politicize it. The reason you see the influx is because you have Governor Abbott and others that are busing migrants to New York. And so, what Democrats are trying to do is they're trying to process the migrants and house the migrants. And President Biden, his administration, just announced this last week that there is now a new process, that if you're coming over illegally, you will have to stay in Mexico for a very amount of few Venezuelan migrants, there will be a process, a vigorous process in order for them to stay, which is ensuring that they have housing, vaccination and a process to vet them.

And so you're seeing the administration and Democratic governors act, while you're seeing Republicans on the other hand politicize it and not solving the problem. So I think moving forward if Republicans really want to solve this crisis, they'll work with President Biden to ensure that he can have their legal pathways for migrants.

BURNETT: Xochitl, the 18,600 people coming to New York seem to be part of why Democrats have made these moves, suddenly there was this sudden influx of people, and now there's been a change in the asylum rules.

HINOJOSA: Yeah, absolutely. And I think that one of the things that you're seeing from these governors, they're trying to house them. They're working with the federal government in order to house migrants.


People have the right to asylum. So they're doing that. And so -- but you're seeing from Republicans on the other hand is you're seeing them politicize the issue and not working with the federal government, which causes chaos in communities.


SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Okay. Where to start? Let's see, number one, Xochitl, who I love, by the way, so we're going to have a friendly conversation here.

Look, this is not a new process that the Biden administration has engaged in. It's an old process that started under Donald Trump. The reason the Biden administration is having to send these folks back to Mexico is because of the mess they have created by welcoming all these people here in the first place.

It was just a couple of weeks ago that the Biden White House press secretary was decrying, decrying these Republicans sending these Venezuelans to Martha's Vineyard. Oh, they're fleeing communist regimes and now it's the Biden administration who's sending them back to Mexico, which is exactly what Donald Trump was doing. So it's not a new process, it's an old process.

Number two, these Democratic officials who have declared sanctuary cities as part of campaign rhetoric are now experiencing a fraction of what the mayors and local officials and governors of Texas and Arizona and Florida and other communities are dealing with. This is a fraction of what they're dealing with.

The entire goal of this was to bring attention to this crisis that the Biden administration has ignored. Essentially, they've declared open borders, and everybody heard the message, and here we are on a crisis, and that was the point.

So, now, we've got the Democrats' attention. And my suspicion is that's why you're seeing the Biden administration react because finally somebody had the guts and the wherewithal to bring attention to the inactivity and the inattention of border security that's gone on under Biden and Harris.


HINOJOSA: I just want to correct something here really fast. There are no open borders. You are seeing fentanyl being seized at the border. If it's being seized, Scott, there is no open border. Second of all --

JENNINGS: If it's all being seized, Xochitl, then why is it in our communities killing everybody? If it's being seized, why are they here?

HINOJOSA: Eighty-four percent of it being seized is being seized at the border. What I will say about the difference between President Biden in the last administration, which I think all of your viewers -- and, Scott, I think you understand that too -- is former President Trump dismantled the asylum system. And so what Biden was left with was essentially nothing. And he had to rebuild from there.

What Biden is doing is different in the sense that he is going to allow a certain number of Venezuelans come over that are coming here legally, and there is a process in order to do that. That is not what President Trump did. That is very different than what president Trump did because President Trump dismantled the system. He caused chaos in our community.

JENNINGS: Is he or is he not --


BURNETT: What about remain in Mexico? Biden wasn't doing that, now he is doing that for a lot of people. Isn't it fair to say that is going back to Trump's policy?

HINOJOSA: He is doing that for people who are attempting to come over illegally. We hear a lot of people talking about there needs to be a process. And I 100 percent agree that there needs to be a process.

But Republicans in Congress failed to work with Biden on this. So he is doing what he can with the tools that he has. So those that are coming over illegally will be in Mexico. Those that are following a process, there will be a process in order for them to come over and declare asylum.

JENNINGS: Just a couple of weeks ago the argument from the Democrats was that everyone coming here from Venezuela no matter how they got here were coming here legally under the asylum laws. When DeSantis and Abbott moved to put the Venezuelans in the sanctuary cities, the argument was, oh, this is so terrible. These people are coming here legally. They're all here legally under U.S. asylum laws.

And it was like, oh, it's kidnapping, it's human trafficking, it's the height of cruelty to put them at Martha's Vineyard and New York City and Chicago. And now, Joe Biden is putting them in Mexico.

I don't know about you guys but I'd much rather be in Martha's Vineyard or New York City than left in some shelter in Mexico. That's all I'm saying.

HINOJOSA: Well, Scott, there's a process.

JENNINGS: They're going back on what they said two weeks ago.

BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you both very much. Obviously, this is the crucial issue right now. Thank you.

And, next, the special master tasked with reviewing the thousands of documents seized from Mar-a-Lago tonight losing his patience asking, his words, where is the beef?

Plus, an American citizen sentenced to 16 years in a Saudi prison, 16 years in Saudi prison because of a few tweets that he sent while in Florida where he lives. His son unbelievably frustrated with how the U.S. government is handling the case, is my guest.



BURNETT: Tonight, where is the beef? Literally those are the words -- that is the question the special master in the Mar-a-Lago case, Raymond Dearie, is asking the Justice Department and Trump's lawyers tonight. Judge Dearie voicing his frustration about the lack of direction he's receiving. He's got to go through thousands of documents seized from Trump's Florida residence.

And Dearie went on a conference call today and said, quote, where is the beef? I need some beef. I don't want to be dealing with nonsense objections, nonsense assertions, especially when I have one month to deal with who knows how many assertions.

Okay, OUTFRONT now, Ryan Goodman, co-editor in chief of "Just Security" and former special council at Defense Department.

So, Ryan, look, even as I read that, it's clear from the words he used, I mean, his frustration comes across. No patience for the lack of direction.

Look, Trump is the one who fought to have the special master. He actually picked Dearie to be there. And yet here we are.

Why has he been left adrift?

RYAN GOODMAN, CO-EDITOR IN CHIEF OF JUST SECURITY: So there are some strange legal arguments and missteps by the Trump team, at least. Dearie is saying, for example, I've got this document, you've told me it's both executive privilege, which means that it must be a government document, and you've told me it's a personal document.

Metaphysically, it cannot be both. He doesn't say those words --


BURNETT: Venn diagram where those few things overlap.

GOODMAN: Right. It's like pick your metaphor, day and night, or reptile and mammal. It's just can't be both. That was one.

Another one, he says there are a number of records you've said it's attorney/client privilege, but there seems to be a third party involved which would defeat attorney and client privilege. You need to be telling me how does it even make sense?


And then there's other frustrations that he has with both sides, in the sense that they have a strange letter that was apparently sent from the Trump lawyers to the Justice Department. And he says to them, was it sent? And neither side wants to take the burden of saying, yes or no, we did send it or, yes or not, we didn't receive it. And so he's frustrated.

BURNETT: Yeah. Well, I can understand. That's described.

Now, you know, underlying all of this has sort of been -- and I understand legally it may not matter, but in the court of public opinion it might. And that is what is Trump's motive for having all this stuff. Separate from the fact that he repeatedly misled and lied about what he gave back and when, the kind of motive of why he had it. We had some exclusive audio of Trump talking about some evidence at the center of this case with Bob Woodward, you know, the journalist who wrote the book of Trump, conducted several interviews with him.

And in one part, you hear Trump showing and sharing with Bob some of the letters from Kim Jong un.

Here it is.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: Nobody else has them. But I want you to treat them with respect. I haven't -- with anybody.

BOB WOODWARD, AUTHOR: Understand. Understand.

TRUMP: And don't say I gave them to you, okay? WOODWARD: Okay. I --

TRUMP: But I think it's okay. Normally, I wouldn't -- I wasn't going to give them to Bob. You know, what, did you make a photostat of them or something?

WOODWARD: No. I dictated them into a tape recorder.

TRUMP: Really?




BURNETT: Okay. So on the one hand, he knows he shouldn't be doing this, don't say I gave them to you, okay? I mean, there's the admission of guilt. On the other, it's a guy just trying to brag about his cool letter from Kim Jong-un and not a guy necessarily out there selling national security secrets.

So, when you put this together on balance, is it more damning for Trump or not?

GOODMAN: I think it's more damning. The Espionage Act in fact says that it has to be closely held information. He's obviously saying to Woodward this is closely held, because nobody else has this.

BURNETT: Right, I shouldn't be -- I wasn't going to give them to you. Normally, I wouldn't, right, because he knows he shouldn't.

GOODMAN: Yeah. And also if he's had these documents at Mar-a-Lago, for whatever purposes, kept them to himself, that's one thing. But if he's showing any of these documents to other people, that triggers another part of the espionage, dissemination. And that's a big deal. It would influence, I imagine, the Justice Department's decision whether or not to indict, it would influence their ability to say whether it could get a plea bargain with him, because that's much more severe if you're intentionally sharing the national defense information.

BURNETT: To make some sort of a plea, what would be if you pursue a charge like that, what would be the punishment ordinarily if you weren't able to reach a plea?

GOODMAN: You'd get ten years as a felony. So, it like it hurts the ability for both sides to find a misdemeanor or something like that as a lesser charge.

BURNETT: Right. Well, I mean, it's certainly very clear. I mean, that's very clear, and don't say I gave them to you, it's there.

All right, Ryan, thank you.

And, next, an American citizen sentenced to 16 years in prison for writing critical tweets in Florida about the Saudi government. His son is speaking out, next.

Plus, a CNN exclusive. Hospitals turning into traps as security forces in Iran track down and detain protesters in desperate need of medical care.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Most of the time, we use fake names or fake calls for protesters to help them so that they will not be recognized by intelligence forces.




BURNETT: Tonight, Saudi Arabia sentencing an American citizen to 16 years in prison, and doing that for tweets that he wrote when he was in the United States where he lives in Florida. Seventy-two-year-old Saad Ibrahim Almadi wrote tweets that criticized the Saudi government for its tax policies and also suggested that a street be named after American journalist Jamal Khashoggi who was brutally membered -- murdered and dismembered with the approval of the Saudi government.

After a 16-year prison sentence that he is now facing, he's banned from leaving the country -- from Saudi Arabia for another 16 years. Ahmadi would be 104 years old before he could return home to Florida.

OUTFRONT now, Saad Ibrahim Almadi's son Ibrahim. This is his first television interview.

And also OUTFRONT with me is Josh Rogin, "The Washington Post" reporter who first broke this whole story.

Thank you both so much for being with me.

And, Ibrahim, let me start with you. Just -- it's unbelievably shocking news and horrible news. Sixteen-year prison sentence for your father you've found out about. Have you been able to speak to him or to get any information about how he's being treated?


BURNETT: Zero calls?

ALMADI: Zero calls until now. My father have been tortured, and I have not been able to contact him, not even through phone. The Department of State have told me they are working on his case, but I have not seen any progress yet. They have been working 11 months in silence, but there is no progress yet.

BURNETT: And they've -- they've talked to you about the torture that your father is enduring, right? ALMADI: Absolutely. My father received freezing temperature in his

cell. They wake him up in the middle of the night. They prevent him from sleeping. They torture him until he convicted (ph) himself that he made some tweets in order to destabilize the kingdom.

My father is no near being dissident. My father is a senior American citizen who just want to live freely and happy in the United States where he got his education in the '70s and '80s.

BURNETT: Right, and, of course, and lived there -- as you say, lived in the U.S.

ALMADI: Correct.

BURNETT: Josh, you obtained, and I have read all of the tweets, 14 tweets, that led to these charges against Almadi. They are tame, to say the least. He criticizes the Saudi royal family in one for spending the people's money. In another one, he mentions naming a street after Jamal Khashoggi.

As I said, they're incredibly mild. I didn't say anything else that was even that critical in the 14 tweets he sent. I mean, very, very vague. I mean, Josh, this doesn't seem to add up.

JOSH ROGIN, GLOBAL OPINIONS COLUMNIST, WASHINGTON POST: Right. Well, Erin, what's important to note here is that these tweets were made by an American citizen while he was in the United States. In other words, he's expressing the right to freedom of speech as an American citizen while in our country. And then when he shows up at the airport in Riyadh, they take him from the airport, throw him in prison and sentence him to 16 years in prison.


Now that's not only a violation of his rights as an American citizen, it doesn't even comport with Saudi law. And when you think about that, it means that the Saudi regime under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has been extending its arm of transnational impression into our society. And now they feel they have the right to imprison anyone who commits any slight against the regime even if it doesn't happen in their own country. And that's a really dangerous precedent.

And that's why I think that the Almadi family has been rightfully pressing the State Department to give Mr. Almadi the designation of being wrongfully detained. That's the most important thing. That's what Brittney Griner has. That's what Paul Whelan has, and they deserve it. Don't get me wrong.

But Mr. Almadi also clearly deserves it. And that would allow the State Department to really be active on his case. And here we are, 11 months later, 16 years in prison, 16 years of a travel ban. And they won't give him that and they won't explain why, and that's a travesty.

BURNETT: Ibrahim, I understand the State Department had asked you, you referenced this, but they asked you to not say anything. They were working on this, and you complied for 11 full months, 11 full months you've been living this. They've talked to you about how they know your father's being tortured. They've seen those tweets, which were incredibly generic and sent from the United States from Florida.

And you are speaking out now. What made you decide to do that right now?


I have been following the guidance of the Department of State and our embassy in Riyadh since December 2021, since I knew about the situation because my family has to hidden the story from me for a month. As soon they told them, they advised me to work with them secretly so they can perform better. So I did.

And after doing that, my father was hold -- was been held for 11 months for no charges. And now he's been sentenced for 16 years. And until now, they have no intention of placing wrong detention on him. If my father was held in Russia or Iran, we'll see his name in the headlines every morning.

BURNETT: I know.

But, Josh, obviously this is in the context of a United States that has been obviously ramping up its relationship again with Saudi Arabia and Mohammed bin Salman, right? MBS negotiated the freedom of those two American fighters, humanitarian aid to Ukraine, meetings with Biden, and that seems to be the priority now.

ROGIN: Well, it's kind of a bizarre situation where the U.S. government is happy to bargain for Americans who were held by adversary regimes but won't bargain for Americans held by supposedly allied regimes. And, sure, we understand that the Biden administration has interests in keeping the U.S./Saudi relationship nice and friendly and they need the oil and they need the good relations. But at the same time, Americans are trapped there unjustly and it's their responsibility to get them out and they're not doing it.

BURNETT: Well, this is an incredible story, incredibly hard to even understand it. It doesn't add up in any way and it's important for people to hear it.

Thank you both so very much.

ROGIN: Thank you, Ibrahim.

BURNETT: Josh, with the reporting, and Ibrahim, to talk about your father. Thank you.

And, next, fears mounting tonight that an Iranian athlete who competed in Seoul without a hijab, you see her there, could be arrested, even tortured as we're learning terrifying new details about just how far Iran's security forces are going to track down protesters.

Plus, an incredible image taken from the International Space Station shows two bright orbs, those blue orbs right in Earth's atmosphere. What are they?



BURNETT: Tonight, growing concerns that a female Iranian athlete could face arrest and even torture after competing in a climbing competition in Seoul without hijab. Elnaz Rekabi posting an apology online today, saying she didn't mean to break Iranian rules but this comes amidst the major crackdown on protest in Iran.

Jomana Karadsheh, as you know, has been covering this. She's OUTFRONT with a report and I warn you, some of the video tonight is graphic.


JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The repressive republic is crushing dissent with brutality that knows no bounds. Kurdish cities like this one bearing the brunt of an unforgiving crack down that's left no place safe, with security forces now hunting down the injured.

PROTESTER (through translator): The injured don't go to hospitals because if they go there, plain clothes police will arrest them, even in most pharmacies, they cannot go and get treated because they will be immediately identified and eventually lead to their arrest. For this reason, people are not being treated for their wounds.

KARADSHEH: This is the leg of a 14-year-old boy peppered with what appears to be bird shot wounds. Protestors in his town know better than to go to the hospital. His story replicated over and over across the country.

Doctors, protestors and a human rights group tell CNN hospitals have turned into a trap, too dangerous for protestors. A doctor inside Iran who doesn't want to be identified for his safety spoke to us through the voice of a translator.

PROTESTER: They mostly come under cover, but most of times, they are recognizable by some signs. They come and ask about new patients, if they want to use force, we have answer them. Most of the times, we use fake names or fake calls for protesters to help them so that they would not be recognized by intelligence forcers.

KARADSHEH: Security services are cracking down on identifying people by the horrific injuries they're inflicting on protestors and it's not just at hospitals. Protestors say ambulances are being used to detain people. In this video, people attack an ambulance with security forces inside. The narrator says protestors are saving a girl.

Not knowing who they can trust, desperate protestors are now turning to an Iranian-American doctor in New York for critical medical advice over Instagram.

DR. KAYVAN MIRHADI, INTERNAL MEDICINE PHYSICIAN: The pictures they would send to me are as basic as fractures and when they're running away from the police versus brutal beatings, people have sent me skull fractures that they're trying to treat in their house.


A lot of them fear like, you know, spend the next ten years of my life in prison or just let this broken femur heal on its own.

KARADSHEH: Dr. K as he's known is relying on a small underground network of doctors he trusts.

MIRHADI: A lot of this is happening, you know, in covert areas. You know, like hidden areas by doctors that they want to remain anonymous.

KARADSHEH: Doctors helping protestors have reportedly been arrested but that isn't stopping those putting duty above self.

PROTESTER: As a doctor I see this as a duty to save people anywhere and try to have people on the street. No matter where, no matter what risk. No one should die because of seeking freedom.


KARADSHEH (on camera): And, Erin, we did ask the Iranian government about the apparent arrest of protestors at hospitals and clinics but the Iranian government did not respond to our request for comment. This, Erin, as I'm hearing from Iranian Americans that more and more protestors are getting in touch with them asking for their help to connect them with doctors in the U.S.

It's a really desperate situation.

BURNETT: All right. Jomana, thank you so much. Jomana has been covering this since this beginning.

And, next, astronauts taking this image of orbs in earth's atmosphere. So what are they?


BURNETT: A remarkable image tonight from 254 miles above Earth. Astronauts on the International Space Station captured this image. So you see these two mysterious looking blue orbs in Earth's orbit.

Well, let me tell you what they are. The one on the bottom is actually a lightning strike.

Here's something I never thought about. Most of the time, the ISS does not see lightning strikes because there's cloud between the ISS and the lightning, but at this moment there was a gap so you see the incredible image and the other one on the far right was created by the moon's light hitting the earth's atmosphere.

Thanks so much for joining us.

Anderson starts now.