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Erin Burnett Outfront

Martial Law Now In Effect In Parts Of Ukraine, U.S. Says Putin Is "Desperate"; Federal Judge: Trump Knew Voter Fraud Claims Were Wrong; Republicans Gaining Steam, Midterms 20 Days Away; Protesters Fight For Freedom In The Face Of Iran's Brutal Tactics. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired October 19, 2022 - 19:00   ET



ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, the breaking news, parts of Ukraine right now at this hour officially under Russian martial law as Putin takes desperate steps amid Ukraine's punishing counteroffensive. Tonight, we're going to take you to the front lines. Our reporter Fred Pleitgen was feet away from incoming fire. You'll want to see this report.

And also breaking this hour, we're learning Trump's team is deciding whether to allow federal agents to return to Mar-a-Lago because they say that he still has stuff as a federal judge now says, Trump lied under oath about his claim of a stolen election.

And Senator Marco Rubio pulls a total 180. He once told a Parkland victim's father that he supported raising the minimum age to buy a rifle. And now, he's taking it back. That victim's father is my guest.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, the breaking news: martial law. Putin's martial law now at this hour is in effect in parts of Ukraine just after midnight local time. Russian President Vladimir Putin doing the move not seen from Russia since World War II.

Here, his declaration, martial law. And this order does a few major things. First, a degree of martial law in four Ukrainian regions that Putin has illegally annexed and, frankly, are in large part in many places under Ukrainian control. So, that opens the door for Russian- backed leaders there to impose sweeping new restrictions, curfews, seizing property, detaining people, forcibly moving people to other regions.

Now, the order like many Russian laws is open for a lot of interpretation. Putin could take these new powers even further. All we know is what he said today.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We are working to solve very difficult, large-scale tasks to ensure Russia's security and safe future.


BURNETT: Now, Putin also gave authorities in the annexed regions the power to draft Ukrainians to fight against Ukrainian forces. So, just think about that, that they can force Ukrainians to fight against their own people.

Now, these orders do something else really important that we wanted to emphasize. They also give wide-ranging new powers to all other governors across all of Russia. All of Russia, not just in the annexed areas, all of Russia. Allowing them to do -- well, it's unclear. It could be a whole wide range of transformational things, tracking down on travel just one of them.

These appear to be desperate measures from a desperate leader. Here's President Biden today.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think that Vladimir Putin finds himself in an incredibly difficult position. And what it reflects to me is, it seems his only tool available to him is to brutalize individual citizens in Ukraine, Ukrainian citizens, to try to intimidate them into capitulating. They are not going to do that.


BURNETT: Now, Putin's decree, signed and stamped here, show that he is still escalating his war and the face of devastating losses. Now, we have exclusive, incredible new footage tonight of what is actually happening to Putin's frontline, that's causing him to need martial law declarations.

Our Fred Pleitgen is on that frontline and today, with just feet away from oncoming fire. Watch this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to wait and -- that there aren't any hits close to us.


BURNETT: I'm going to speak to Fred in just a moment because Putin's orders today, martial law, come as his mobilization is becoming a bigger and bigger problem for Putin at home. An op-ed in the Russian daily newspaper reads, and I want to quote it because this actually appeared in Russia. Partial mobilization itself has become a much larger nationwide problem on the following levels, social, psychological, managerial, economic and, here are the crucial words, possibly political. That's sort of an incredible thing to think it is appearing in Russian state press.

And just listen to what was said on Russian state television by a war correspondent. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSSIAN WAR CORRESPONDENT (through translator): We are confronting forces that are quite substantial. In some front line areas, the enemy outnumbers our forces 4-1.


BURNETT: Fred Pleitgen is OUTFRONT live in Kramatorsk.

And, Fred, Putin's martial law now in effect, an hour or so into that.


He's doing everything possible to turn the tide on the war. What you experienced on the front lines today shows the incredible devastation that his forces are facing.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. I think you're absolutely right, Erin. There is certainly a great deal of escalation on the part of the Russians. Of course, throughout all of Ukraine, you know, in the past ten days or so, we've seen all the strikes on the important infrastructure here with power plants being hit, long range strikes being conducted by the Russians as well.

But in the place we were in today, Bakhmut, that's a place where the Russians have amassed some of their most brutal forces and a lot of their artillery because they want to take the strategic town. But the Ukrainians are trying to stop them. We did get in there today. Here's what we saw.


PLEITGEN (voice-over): When entering Bakhmut, the need is for speed. We're driving straight into one of the most dangerous places in war- torn Ukraine with a military combat medic who goes by a call sign Katrusya. Bakhmut is under a nearly constant Russian assault.

Our car hasn't even come to a full stop when the first shell hits nearby. The medic stops. We need to take cover as best we can.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're waiting for the shooting to stop.

PLEITGEN: So we're taking cover because we had some artillery fire. We're going to wait that there aren't any hits anywhere close to us.

We're at the receiving end of a full Russian artillery barrage. Photojournalist Richard Harlow (ph) tracks the projectiles whizzing over our head.

Katrusya says Ukrainian troops face this kind of shelling several times a day.

KATRUSYA, COMBAT MEDIC, UKRAINIAN ARMY (through translator): The artillery attacks happen every day. It's never quiet. Other parts of the city take hits many times a day. There are times when several mortars hit within a minute.

PLEITGEN: Katrusya's own husband was killed here a month and a half ago. While Ukrainian forces have been gaining ground against the Russians in many places, in Bakhmut, things are different.

Kyiv is trying to fortify its positions but they acknowledge the Russians have more artillery and are using seasoned fighters from the Wagner private military company.

Still, even pinned down with artillery flying overhead, Katrusya says her confidence isn't shaken.

KATRUSYA: Absolutely we will win. The price of victory will be huge. Unfortunately, every day people are dying and there are a lot of dead and injured soldiers on every part of the line.

PLEITGEN: The fighting here has destroyed much of this town and left the few people who remain, traumatized.

Sergei (PH) doesn't even take cover anymore as artillery strikes nearby.

I asked him if he's afraid.

SERGEI (through translator): Afraid of what? Everything will be fine, mate. Everything will be fine.

PLEITGEN: A pause in the shelling gives us a chance to get out of Bakhmut Ukrainian tanks roll in the other direction trying to defend this key city from Vladimir Putin's forces.


PLEITGEN (on camera): You know, Erin, that combat person didn't even flinch. She said she sees this so often, unfortunately, in that place in Bakhmut where the Russians are expending so much of their power to try to take that place. The Ukrainians acknowledge the situation for them is extremely difficult but they vowed not to cede even an inch of territory to those Russian forces, Erin.

BURNETT: Fred Pleitgen, thank you so much. So glad that you and your team are safe tonight.

I want to go to Andrei Soldatov, a Russian investigative journalist whose website on Russian secret services has been breaking so much news on the secret services. It has been blocked in Russia.

And Evelyn Farkas, former deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, joins me. She's also the executive director of the McCain Institute.

Evelyn, I just want to start replaying this video for a moment. Fred, coming under fair earlier today in Bakhmut. He says, you know, you can hear the amount of artillery the Russians are burning through. Obviously the Ukrainians are under incredible pressure in this particular. But that onslaught from Russians, I mean, it's just never ending.

You're right in the middle of a town.

EVELYN FARKAS, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE FOR RUSSIA, UKRAINE, EURASIA: Right, Erin. I mean, I think the biggest lesson to take away from all this right now. I have a piece in the "Boston Globe" saying that there is an urgent need to give Ukraine whatever they need the provide air cover, to provide protection against artillery, to harden these units. Put them in tanks. Get them so they can press forward and move the Russians out.

And it's urgent because, frankly, what Putin wants is all of these declarations that he's making about martial law and nuclear forces and all of this. It is all an effort to gain time. He wants to force the West to slow our systems so that he can draw this out.

And frankly, for us, that's a losing proposition because as this gets drawn out, there is increased risk. Maybe through Belarus or elsewhere, that we get drawn into the war.

He's using social media, this is the last point I want to make. He's using social media to try to influence U.S. policymakers. If you see, if you watch trending our arguments that the Russians are using in our social media. So we need to be on the alert here.

BURNETT: So, Andre, as you hear, I want to reference these decrees, right, these orders, martial law in four regions, also giving -- and this obviously is important to emphasize -- governors across all of Russia the ability to do the same. How far is Putin going to take this declaration of martial law, Andre?

ANDREI SOLDATOV, RUSSIAN INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: It's a really good question. It is obvious that essentially it means the militarization of the Russian society because essentially it means giving more powers to the military and giving more powers to the FSB. The governors could play a role but it will be the military who will decide what to do in this particular region. And the regions which are bordering Ukraine will be used as a testing ground and the practices might be expanded to the rest of the country.

BURNETT: It is really interesting. Some of those, they're in here by name, those regions bordering Ukraine. It is a test and it could expand. I mean, it's a pretty stunning to think about when you think about closing borders and martial law, and a country that's a size of Russia.

Evelyn, we talked earlier today to Ksenia Thorstrom. She's a municipal official from St. Petersburg. She has bravely called for Putin to resign. She said these orders show that Russian authorities recognize they are in trouble.

Now, that may be. But in trouble in a way that they are doubling down and doing everything they can to continue with the war. How desperate is Putin right now?

FARKAS: Well, Erin, I think he's really desperate. He doesn't have enough manpower to essentially halt the Ukrainian momentum. Yes, as you showed in that one area, in Bakhmut, the Russians do seem to be holding their own. But certainly, in Kherson, they're about to lose that whole province, and Putin said he's got four provinces. Well, he has three now.

So, they are definitely desperate and that's why Putin is trying as much as possible to target our will to support Ukraine. And we have to press forward as fast as we can to give them what they need. And the we includes the entire international community, Israelis and others as well.

BURNETT: Andrei, you also have reporting about the FSB. They are taking on a much larger role in the war in all of Russia with Putin's blessing.

What are the implications of that, of the FSB, the Secret Service intelligence, getting all this power in the context of these orders of martial law?

SOLDATOV: It means FSB found a way to regain its status and its reputation which suffered badly in the beginning of the war. Right now, Putin believes it is only servicing the agency inside the country which could give him what he needs, political stability and security and protection against Ukrainian attacks within Russia.

And the FSB is using these powers -- these new powers to establish more control and to make Russia a bit more totalitarian than it is now.

BURNETT: Yeah. Just incredible to imagine, but as we said, these decrees, right, something that hasn't been done since World War II. We are continuing to break precedent in terrifying new ways. Thank you both so very much.

And next, breaking news, on two major investigations involving President Trump tonight. Trump's weighing whether to let the FBI back into Mar-a-Lago. They said there's more stuff there that he still won't give them.

And a judge revealing there are emails, emails that show Trump knew that his voter fraud lies were lies.

Plus, millions of dollars from Trump's super PAC now pouring into key Senate races, as some Republicans are gaining momentum. Our Harry Enten has been crunching the numbers, the data expert, next.

And a CNN exclusive. Firsthand accounts from protesters in Iran about state-sponsored tortures and forced disappearances.



BURNETT: We're following breaking news on two investigations involving former President Trump. So, let's start with this. Sources tell CNN tonight that Trump's team is weighing whether to allow federal agents to return for another search of Mar-a-Lago, as the DOJ makes it clear that it thinks Trump is still hiding more government records. That's pretty incredible to think about, after all of this? Still hiding them?

And that's one thing. The other thing is a major ruling from a federal judge who says Trump knew claims of voter fraud were wrong but decided to include them in a sworn legal filing anyway. Now, the judge says there's evidence for this. That he's got receipts because there are emails written by former Trump attorney John Eastman that have never been seen publicly.

The judge says, quote, the court finds that these emails are sufficiently related to and in furtherance of a conspiracy to defraud the United States.

Our CNN reporters are OUTFRONT on both of these important developments.

Evan Perez is following that Eastman ruling. I want to start, though, with Kristen Holmes on the discussions underway for a second search of Mar-a-Lago.

And, Kristen, this is pretty stunning. I'd just take a step back here and say, because they think after all this, he's still hiding documents?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. So, the Department of Justice has indicated both in court filings and in private discussions with Trump's team that they believe there are still some of these documents that belong to the government at Mar-a- Lago.


So now what we have learned is that Trump's team is weighing their options when it comes to the Department of Justice and these presidential records. They're looking at not only how to best protect Trump from legal jeopardy but also, how to alleviate some of the pressure that's on the former government among these growing number of legal battles that he's facing.

And one of the ways they are looking at and one of the options that they are weighing is to allow federal investigators to come back down to Mar-a-Lago and essentially, search the property. And, Erin, this wouldn't look like what we saw in August with the FBI and all over the property. This will would be more of a supervised search we are told, that in this scenario, likely, Trump's lawyers would be present.

But it does signal a shift in strategy here. We have seen that he has been listening more to his combative advisers when it comes to this issue. In public, we have seen him saying that these documents belonged to him. He's lamented that he's been treated unfairly and differently than other presidents.

But we're told with all that's going on, with all the pressure that it has come to a point that he is started to signal that he is more willing to cooperate. This is just one of the things they're looking at.

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

And now, let's go to that ruling from the federal judge. What this would do is give the January 6th committee the emails, more emails from this former Trump lawyer, John Eastman.

Evan Perez is OUTFRONT.

And, Evan, you know, when you read this, you sort of stop in your tracks for a second. I mean, the federal judge is saying these emails are the receipts that they show, that Trump knew that he was lying about voter fraud when he signed legal documents attesting to said fraud, that he knew it was a lie. How damning is this?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is always very bad, Erin, for you to have a judge say that he believes that there's a crime that was committed and the former president was part of it essentially. And so, what he's done is he is denying Eastman's effort to hide these emails, to keep these emails from the January 6th committee. Eastman is saying they should be protected under attorney- client privilege.

But the judge says that is not so. Simply because this falls under what is known as the crime fraud exception.


PEREZ: So what the judge says, you can see this filing from December of 2020. The former president signs it. It was filed first in Georgia and then in federal court. The president's legal team were trying to argue that there were tens of thousands of fraudulent votes, and you can read from the John Eastman email where he said the former president had some doubts about this and then he signs the document.

I'll read you just what the email says. It says, although the president signed the verification to the state court on December 1st, he has since been made aware that some of the allegations in evidence offered by the experts has been inaccurate. For him to sign a new verification with that knowledge and incorporation by reference would not be accurate. The former president, Erin, was doubtful. He was basically raising some concerns about signing this document because he knew these were false and the judge says that. But he did it anyway.

And that's the reason why the judge says these documents should go to the January 6th committee as part of their investigation. And, of course, as you know, there is a justice department investigation and an investigation in Georgia that is looking at these very same issues.

BURNETT: Evan, thank you.

So now, let's go to norm, Eisen, former counsel to House Democrats during Trump's impeachment trial and Stephanie Grisham, the former Trump White House press secretary who resigned on January 6th.

So, Norm, let's just start with what Evan is talking about, that you got this federal judge saying that the emails show that the lawyer, you know, that Trump knew that this was false. And that he then went out and continued to attest to these false things anyway. And this judge says that is -- would be evidence in furtherance of conspiracy to defraud the United States.

How significant is it?

NORM EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Erin, it's very significant because what you have here is, in black and white, evidence that Trump was told these numbers were a fraud, were phony, and he went ahead and repeated it anyhow. So, it goes to the heart of this 18 USC 371 conspiracy to defraud the United States by installing himself for a second term, defrauding the country out of the rightful winner of the election.

We already knew this judge said there were likely crimes, but now we have a lot of January 6th committee evidence. This is another significant step forward to the likely indictment of President Trump.

BURNETT: I mean, it's pretty incredible, right?


You got the emails showing these numbers are false, they're fraudulent. He continues to repeat the lies under oath, right?

And you have conversations that January 6 committee played showing that Mark Meadows says he knows he lost. He knew it. It is incredibly damning. It all fits together.

And, Stephanie, in this context, he signs the court document under oath on December 31st. That's verifying these numbers, right? He's verifying it. He puts his name on it, OK? They've shown the date. This is after he received an email saying these numbers were false and fraudulent and wrong. He signs it anyway. And he continued to make that claim in public as well. Just listen to this.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: Over 10,300 ballots in Georgia were cast by individuals whose names and dates of birth match Georgia residents who died in 2020 and prior to the election.


BURNETT: Now, Stephanie, just to be clear, that thing about dead people which was false and a lie has been clearly debunked. He said it a week after Eastman sent the email that Trump was made aware of that the number of dead voters was wrong. And he went out and said it anyway.

Why do you think he continued to push this in public and in court under oath, knowing it was not true?

STEPHANIE GRISHAM, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE PRSS SECRETARY: Look, when it comes to the former president, his mantra was always, just keep repeating something and people will eventually believe it, whether it is true or not. I think that's the case here. Look, best case scenario, he wasn't briefed very well, which I have a feeling he's going to claim and throw attorneys under the bus.

But at the end of the day, I think by this point, truly, I think he feels invincible. He's had no consequences other than a lot of bad news coverage, over so many things he has done. So what's another document he signed when there are no consequences? To me, this is him feeling invincible.

BURNETT: Wow. Fascinating if true.

And, Norm, this is also, we're getting the reporting. You just heard Kristin talk about Trump's team possibly going to allow federal agents to go back to Mar-a-Lago for what appears to be some sort of a supervised search, OK? I just -- can I just say -- I find this amazing.

There is a whole year of asking him for information and him saying he's giving it all over and he doesn't and he attests to it under oath. His lawyers do. And then they go in and search and find all this stuff. Now they say he's still hiding stuff? And he might cooperate them looking? It all sounds bizarre.

EISEN: Well, often, when team Trump floats these ideas, Erin, as you well know, they do have a peculiar ring to them. In this case, we'll see if they actually follow through. Sometimes these ideas are advanced just to shape the media narrative. If they do, that probably means there aren't any left.

BURNETT: That's an interesting take.

Okay. So, Stephanie, to that point from Norm, if they're throwing it out there. Okay, maybe we'll let you come back for a supervised search. By the way, there are other places he could have put documents. That's not to say it's the only place they could be.

What do you think is happening behind the scenes?

GRISHAM: Look, I agree with him 100 percent. I think this is either just a PR stunt of some kind or if they do go through with it, I would guarantee they don't find anything. And that would be predetermined by the Trump team.

You know, just like there was earlier reporting that Kristen had that they were thinking of taking a better tone with the DOJ. I think I imagine there are people, because I've seen it a million times. There are some people that are giving him advice to calm down, just cooperate, et cetera, et cetera.

But I think that's all for PR that's being put out there. I know that he will not ever back down.

So back to your original question, yeah, I think if it happens, there will be miraculously nothing there and then he can tout that on his social media. BURNETT: All right. Thank you both very much.

And next, Democratic candidate John Fetterman who, of course, is still recovering from his stroke, releasing a letter today from his doctor saying he is fit to serve. So, is that going to do it for voters?

Plus, four years ago, Senator Marco Rubio told Fred Guttenberg, his daughter was killed in the Parkland school shooting, Rubio told him that he supported the age to buy a rifle.


SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL): I will support a law that takes that right away.



BURNETT: Now, Rubio reversing course. Fred Guttenberg responds.



BURNETT: Tonight, Trump's cash infusion. The former president's super PAC pouring money into key Senate races. Seven figures going to JD Vance, his campaign against Democrat Tim Ryan in Ohio. Nearly 3 million more will be spread across Pennsylvania, Georgia, Nevada and Arizona. Those are crucial races.

And it comes as Republicans are gaining momentum in the closing weeks of the campaign.

OUTFRONT now, Harry Enten.

So, Harry, lots of talk about polls and what they do and don't show and people get so angry about this.

What do they show?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: Look, we always talk about, you know, these national poll numbers and, you know, I think we -- pretty much, most experts agree that the House is leaning Republicans. It's really the Senate where the ball game is at.

So, I think it's important to look at the Senate trend lines in four key swing states -- Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, Pennsylvania. In three of the four states, what we see is still Democrat leads, but we also see in three of those four seats is that their momentum is with Republicans.

You can see that the Democratic margin in three of the four, Georgia being the one that is not the case. Not a big surprise, Herschel Walker being who he is. We have seen three or four point movements toward the Republican Party over the last month and a half. So, to me, it seems like even if Democrats and Republicans are sort of

even the Senate, the momentum is on the Republican side.

BURNETT: Right. I mean, those -- over that short period of time. That's important. You have early voting starting. You know, you're in the zone here now.

President Biden's approval ratings, what kind of role do they play here? Depending on again where you look at the poll, but you got an overall hovering close to 40.


How does that impact?

ENTEN: Yeah, I think there's this whole idea that Democrats were hoping their candidates would sort of stay above where gravity was, right? Gravity being President Biden's approval rating pulling them down.

But take a look at the generic congressional ballot, right, and take a look at how the people who disapprove of Joe Biden's job, what is the margin that Republicans have among them? Back in June and July, Republicans were up by 51 points. Now it's 61 points.

The people who are disapproving of Joe Biden's job are moving more and more into the Republican camp. And that's bad if Joe Biden's rating is as low as 40 percent.

Here's the other thing that is so important. Look at the most important problem. Who do you think is the better party to handle that problem? The Republican Party with an 11-point advantage right now on that issue.

It's the largest advantage in the midterm for Republicans since 1946. You have all this gravity, all this gravity pulling down at contract candidate. See if they can hold on. But right now, the momentum is on the Republican side because of that gravity.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much.

So let's go to a Republican strategist and former campaign senior adviser. Obviously, you like to hear a poll that you just heard from Harry. You know, 11 points, the widest margin since 1946? 1946 as Harry said. Three weeks though, David, is a long time. I know you got early voting starting but a lot can change. So how do you keep the momentum?

DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, so, Erin, it is -- as I said, it is a horse race. We're in the final stretch, and I think Republicans are, you know, are hopeful, but cautiously optimistic, because we've seen this race go back and forth many times. You know, interestingly, I think you've seen, some of the states in the really critical states like Georgia and Pennsylvania and Nevada and North Carolina. What you're not seeing is President Biden going there and campaign,

right? So I think Republicans need to stick to their message on these kitchen table messages about the economy, inflation, crime, things that they poll very well on. Who is better at taking care of those things? Republicans do. I think they'll stick to that message, run through the tape on Election Day.

BURNETT: All right. And that's what you -- run through the tape. Obviously, Georgia had gone a point the other direction. Obviously, there is been a lot of pressure on Herschel walk we are all the revelations.

But on the screen, one thing that stands out to me, Dave, is, OK, it has gone in your direction. But it's still not over the finish line in as many places as you need it to be. I'm not talking about the day. You have more ground to make up when you look at this.

Pennsylvania, let's just take that one where you still have the Dem up 4 points. Today, John Fetterman has a letter from his doctor saying he's fit to serve. Dr. Oz, who's running against him, the Republican, has actually distanced himself from criticism of Fetterman on the health issue.

But how is that playing out?

URBAN: Yeah. So, listen, I think, you know, John Fetterman has got lots of problems and they don't really stem from his health. I think his problem is his record and he doesn't want to talk about his record. He's using the health issue as an opportunity not to get out and talk about his position on sanctuary cities, on crime, on student loans, on fracking, on lots of issues not popular with Pennsylvanians.

I think that given the opportunity for Dr. Oz, Mehmet Oz, and John Fetterman, to go toe to toe, Pennsylvanians will have a clear choice and they'll select Dr. Oz to be the next senator from the commonwealth.

BURNETT: Thank you very much, David Urban. I appreciate it.

And next, Senator Marco Rubio, he told my next guest, Fred Guttenberg, four years ago that he supported raising the age to buy a rifle. Marco Rubio said that. Now, he's running for re-election and he has pulled a total 180. Fred Guttenberg is with me to respond.

And a CNN exclusive tonight. Protesters with firsthand accounts of the brutal tactics in Iran right to squash riots, waterboarding, beatings with belts and electric shocks.



BURNETT: Tonight, a complete 180. Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida saying during a debate that he does not support raising the minimum age to buy a rifle.


MODERATOR: In a nationally televised town hall three days after the Parkland massacre, you said, quote, if you're 18 years of age, you should not be able to buy a rifle. I will support a law that takes that right away.

Would you still support that federal law?

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL): Let me tell you why that law doesn't work and that proposal doesn't work. We had a shooter last Thursday. Tragic, in North Carolina. He was 15. Where did he get the gun?

He didn't get it from a gun show. He didn't buy it. He's 15 years of age.


BURNETT: So listen to exactly what Rubio said to the father of one of the victims of the Parkland school shooting during that town hall in 2018. Watch this.


RUBIO: I absolutely believe that in this country, if you are 18 years of age, you should not be able to buy a rifle and I will support a law that takes that right away.



BURNETT: There's something about that moment that was meaningful for a lot of people. And Fred Guttenberg was the father you saw there. You saw him with Senator Rubio there in the wake of the shooting. His daughter Jamie was one of the 17 people killed in parkland. She was 14 years old.

So, Fred, I mean, I just want to be clear here. It's not like you suddenly became a supporter of Senator Rubio's or anything like that. But that moment when you said fantastic and you were nodding, you were emotional. It almost seemed like you were surprised but there was a moment between the two of you and he said he believed in this and he was going to do it. And then he come out last night and says, no, not anymore. Not at all.

GUTTENBERG: That was days after I buried my father. I was just a dad who wanted the believe him. I didn't know enough about the issue back then and how badly he has failed in the years prior, and we all know how either failed since.

He's a liar. He's just a pathetic liar. And you know, while I was sitting, waiting to go on here tonight, I was reading the reporting on the DNA test kits that Texas schools are now giving out to parents in case their kids get shot in school. You can draw a straight line from guys like Marco Rubio and their

lies, and their ineffectiveness, to DNA test kits for parents whose kids are getting shot in schools. Because Marco has done nothing. Listen, for the year after that town hall, I met with him on a regular basis.

BURNETT: I think that's important to say. You actually -- you did meet with him. He took those meetings. So you had face to face conversations.

GUTTENBERG: One hundred percent. And I tell you, I stopped after a year. I started to feel like, he's like a dog chasing his tail, running in circles, going nowhere.

And I got tired of being run around like him -- by him like that. He is -- he is useless. He isn't accomplishing anything. And he lies about it.

BURNETT: So, you know, it's been five years now. You talk about that moment was days after you buried your daughter. Almost five years now. And there is been so many promises made. It is almost impossible to take stock of them all, right?

Now, there was a bipartisan bill that was passed. President Biden had passed it.


BURNETT: But it does not include minimum age to buy an assault weapon. It doesn't ban assault weapons. It does some things, but it fell so far short.

So you know, you bring up those DNA test kits. Is it inevitable that we keep having more Parklands?

GUTTENBERG: If we keep voting for people like Marco Rubio. Listen, Val Demings said it right last night. She said -- in the debate. How many times are you going to watch? She listed a whole series of examples. These different things happen, stand by and do nothing.

In the legislation passed in the spring, we made it harder for younger people to get weapons.


GUTTENBERG: But the reason it wasn't a complete change to the age of 21 was the determination to make it bipartisan and get Republicans to come along. That was what had to be given up.

If you want to know what you can do for me, for all the other victims of gun violence, vote out the guys like Marco Rubio and vote for gun safety candidates.

BURNETT: You're here tonight, we spoke about a week ago, less than a week ago when the jury recommended a life sentence for the gunman.


BURNETT: Not the death penalty. And obviously, you felt betrayed and horrified by that. You've had a few days to reflect.


BURNETT: And you are still going to be in that courtroom again for sentencing. You have the opportunity to speak then. Where is your mind right now?

GUTTENBERG: It took me a day or two to get here. But after four and a half plus years of every day preparing for that trial and that outcome, that chapter closed. I am ready to go to a place where I will think about it two more time in the rest of my life. One will be November 1st at the sentencing. And the other will be when I read the news reports that the prisoners took care of it.

I'm done having him take up any space in my head. My daughter is dead along with 16 others because of the actions of that one monster. And for the rest of my life, my energy will be focused on ways to continue to honor the life of my daughter. Not how I -- not what I would love to see happen to him.

BURNETT: Fred, thank you very much.

GUTTENBERG: Thank you.

BURNETT: Next, an exclusive firsthand account of what is going on in Iran, the incredible abuse that protesters are enduring. Electric shocks, electric hoses, kicked, punched, tortured.

Plus, an engineering feat. The Sanibel Causeway which had been destroyed during Hurricane Ian is once again already open to traffic.



BURNETT: Tonight, a stunning new image. This is an x-ray you are looking at on your screen purportedly showing shotgun pellets in a skull of a woman shot by anti-riot forces in Iran. These dozens of white dots on your screen, and there are dozens of them, are shots that hit the women's head.

Now, we haven't independently verified that video. We don't know what the impact was to the woman either, whether she's alive. But it comes as protests rage on despite the incredible risks.

Jomana Karadsheh is OUTFRONT.


JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The desperate struggle of the cruelty that awaits. It's not just to escape. It's to survive, to stay alive.

So many Iranians know all too well the path to which this would lead. Hell on Earth for those who dare to dissent.

It's the repressive regime's playbook tried and tested time and time again. This 29-year-old protester says he was detained this month and endured four days of torture by Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps.

PROTESTER (through translator): Somebody started kicking, punching our stomach area, putting our heads in buckets of water so we couldn't breathe, and beating us with a belt, hose and electric shockers.

KARADSHEH: He claims he was coerced into signing a confession saying he was paid by the U.S., U.K. and Israel governments to, quote, create chaos in Iran. He's been left with minor scars that are hearing, but what we don't see may never heal.

PROTESTER (through translator): Nowadays I don't have much sleep. I have nightmares most of the time. In my nightmares, I see someone as follows me in the dark and I'm alone and no one is helping me.

KARADSHEH: And he says the authorities still stalk him.

PROTESTER (through translator): I received a phone call from an unknown number but I'm active on Twitter. He threatened me and my family saying if you don't stop they will arrest me and that I know what's awaiting me.

KARADSHEH: It's a pattern of oppression that's played out before. In 2019, the world saw how far the state would go to crush those rising up.

Farhad, the father of two, tells CNN he watched several of his friends gunned down on the street back then. Weeks later, the authorities came for him. He says he was dragged from his home in the middle of the night and taken to what he describes as a regime torture chamber for 16 days of horrors and beatings that left him beyond recognition.


We reviewed the horrific photos of Farhad's injuries. To protect his identity, we're not showing those images and his scars. He's had several reconstructive surgeries that patched his jaw back together.

But Iranian authorities have not left him alone. He says they freeze his bank account at times, and call threatening to kill his children and rape his wife.

It's all part of the disturbing playbook that several protesters CNN spoke with have experienced firsthand. They're watched through CCTV cameras and by state sponsored hackers online, hunted, tortured, forever stalked and threatened.

But that's not stopping the thousands risking it all every day in Iran. Farhad is back out protesting, this time with his children. He knows the cost of defiance, but it's a price he's willing to pay for their freedom.

Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, Istanbul. (END VIDEOTAPE)

BURNETT: Another powerful report from Jomana.

Next, a crucial lifeline that was destroyed during Hurricane Ian is now reopened.


BURNETT: Tonight, a major step in Florida's efforts to rebuild after Hurricane Ian. Today, the Sanibel Causeway reopened for residents of the barrier islands. For the past 21 days, there has been no way for people to get there, to get to their homes. Parts of the bridge were completely destroyed by Hurricane Ian.

It's an incredible feat, 21 days and back open. I mean, just look at the before and after of the bridge.

Now, while people may finally be able to get to Sanibel and Captive Island, it could be several weeks before power is restored.

Thanks so much for joining us.

"AC360" with Anderson starts now.