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Erin Burnett Outfront

New Video of Russian Soldiers Who Say They Refuse to Fight; Russian Official: "De-Satanization of Ukraine" Becoming Urgent; DOJ Asks Judge To Force Trump White House Lawyers To Testify In January 6 Probe; Fetterman And Oz About To Face Off In First And Only Debate; New Video Deepens Mystery Behind Hu Jintao's Forced Exit. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired October 25, 2022 - 19:00   ET



ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, revenge. New video tonight of Russia punishing its own soldiers for refusing to fight, arresting and forcing them to live in concrete cells with no bathrooms. This as CNN gets access to evidence that Putin doesn't want anyone to see.

Plus, it's debate night in America, one of the most highly anticipated face-offs of the year, Fetterman versus Oz. How much will Fetterman's health be front and center this evening? We have new reporting from both camps.

And where is former Chinese President Hu Jintao. New video tonight showing the moments just before he was abruptly out of a major communist party meeting.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, new video of what Putin is doing to his own soldiers, video that appears to be Russian soldiers banished to a dark concrete cellar for refusing to go to the front line in Ukraine.

You want to see you this footage obtained by Astra, which is a group of independent Russian journalists. Here it is. You can see soldiers dressed in Russian military fatigues, packed into a small windowless room. That's why there is not much light there.

One of them explains how they're being treated. Listen to it.


RUSSIAN SOLDIER (through translator): Well, here we are. They arrested us. This is October 2nd, 22. We are part of the third battalion of the 488th motorized rifle regiment.

We were arrested for refusing to follow orders. Yes, refusing to follow orders. They sent us to a basement of a military unit. All of us are mobilized soldiers of the Russian army, called up by decree of the president. They are threatening to send us back to the meat grinder, to the

slaughterhouse to get routed by the enemy. We refused.

RUSSIAN SOLDIER (through translator): So this is how we live. This is where we go to the toilet. Cover your faces if you're afraid. This is how we sleep.

What a life. Everything here is molded. We're basically living like bombs. And you can see that there's something leaking from the ceiling here as well.


BURNETT: CNN could not independently confirm the video. But it comes as Putin is under incredibly pressure.

Today, Putin is speaking to his newly formed, quote-unquote, coordination council, saying that the challenges Russian forces are facing are serious and significant, Putin's direct words, serious and significant. So serious in fact that the rhetoric from Russia is ramping up.

A top official with the Putin's security council saying that with the continuation of the special military operation, it becomes more and more urgent to carry out the de-Satanization of Ukraine.

De-Satanization, this is from a top official on Putin's security council. Where do you go after words like this when you say you're fighting Satan?

The context here on action is that today, Russia's deputy ambassador to the U.N. claiming, again, that Ukraine was constructing a dirty bomb. That's the action. The claim wide lane seen as a pretext to allow Putin to escalate to nuclear war.

And tonight, President Biden responding.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let me just say Russia will be making an incredibly serious mistake if it were to use a tactical nuclear weapon. I'm not guaranteeing you that it's a false flag operation yet. We don't know. But it would be a serious, serious mistake.


BURNETT: This all comes as we're getting unprecedented and exclusive access to what's happening to Russian troops on the battlefield. This is actually what Putin doesn't want and can't afford for Russians to know or to see. His soldiers losing their jaws, their fingers, their legs, because of commanders who deceived them, and Russia sent them into battle with absolutely no plan to care for their injuries, which is why they ended up in a Belarusian hospital.

This is an exclusive report. And we're going to show it to you in just a moment. But first, Nic Robertson is OUTFRONT live in Kyiv.

And, Nic, you hear Biden's warning to Putin saying it would be a mistake for Russia to use a tactical nuke. And yet again today from the Russian emissary to the U.N. we hear the false flag operation, possible false flag operation being pushed where the Russians say Ukraine will use a dirty bomb. That is seen as a pretext for Putin to go nuclear.


Does Putin really think the west will believe him on this dirty bomb?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: I don't think he particularly cares if the West believes him. He knows that this is a point of leverage. He knows that the west understands this that when he uses this language, he may escalate the situation. The Ukrainians don't believe him because they're not building a dirty bomb. Ukrainians, Western allies don't believe him because they don't believe Ukraine is building a dirty bomb.

But Putin's also appealing to his own domestic audience, those that don't want to go and fight, those that are refusing to fight because he's raising the stakes and saying Ukraine is going to go nuclear on us. He's also appealing to people like President Xi in China, he's appealing to people like Prime Minister Narendra Modi in India. He's appealing to big international autocrat backers.

Those, you know, President Putin has said to President Xi over the past month that he understands China's got some concerns. Narendra Modi, Indian prime minister, has told President Putin that this is not the time for war. Putin is making it clear to them that this is the time for war, and he does need their backing because Ukraine is out of control, and it's going to escalate.

So, Putin's real appeal here, and he has a huge track record, as we all know of lying, because he said he was never going to invade Ukraine. He knows the West doesn't trust him.

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

And I want to go now to Democratic Congressman Jim Himes. He sits on the intelligence committee, and frankly he just returned from Ukraine where I know you met with President Zelenskyy and other leaders there in Kyiv.

Now, we just showed this footage obtained by a group of independent Russian journalists, the soldiers are in Russian military fatigues and packed into this disgusting cellar. They are saying they were arrested for refusing to go fight on the front, and they're choosing to make this video and hoping that it will be seen. Now we can't independently confirm the video, but does it fit from you're hearing from Ukrainian leaders and U.S. intelligence?

REP. JIM HIMES (D-CT): Very much so. The Ukrainians have captured a lot of Russian troops and they interrogate them. And, of course, what they hear and often times we'll see the reports of what they've heard is that they were fooled, they were told this was a training exercise, they were told all sorts of different lies that now have them fighting and dying in Ukraine.

And remember in Ukraine, you know, Ukraine was a place where lots of Russians had cousins and sisters and friends. And so the only way, and this connects your two stories, the only way you either compel soldiers to do this is either to threaten them with the kind of conditions you showed or to dehumanize the Ukrainians. And that's, of course, where the de-Satanification comes in.


HIMES: It's not going to work because these Russian soldiers know these Ukrainians. But that's what they're doing.

BURNETT: So, on this de-Satanization, right, this is the assistant secretary of Putin's security council who said this. And I simply point it out to say when you are saying that you are fighting Satan, there isn't a whole lot worse to go, right? So in terms of your words, you're right there at existential end of the line. And this comes in the context that top Russian officials are warning that Ukraine is going to use a dirty bomb, and that obviously would be a false flag attack that could possibly allow Putin to then escalate to true nuclear weapons.

What is your understanding right now, from your briefings, from your time with President Zelensky? Is it -- is it a real possibility that Putin would use nuclear weapons?

HIMES: You know, it's hard to answer that question because it's hard to predict his behavior. And he has made -- since February of this year, he's made every mistake that you could make. And that is sometimes the question is, is Putin playing three-dimensional chess here or whatever?

He has made every single strategic and tactical mistake, and he's lost 70,000 people and he's losing on the battlefield and he's at risk domestically. So I think they're throwing spaghetti on the wall, just putting stuff out there in the hope that something works.

But here's the thing to remember about a dirty bomb. And that's of course very different than a nuclear weapon. What he risks, it's not so much the ire of the West, as Nic Robertson said. He doesn't care about that.

The only thing he's not going for him right now is his partnership, of sorts, with China. Do you think China stays in that partnership if Russia uses a dirty bomb? I don't think so. So the stakes are high for him.

BURNETT: So, yesterday, I spoke with Abbas Gallyamov, who is Putin's former speechwriter. He spent a lot of time with him writing speeches. He said he's seen a big shift in him over these past few years.

And here's something he said about his perception of Putin right now.


ABBAS GALLYAMOV, FORMER PUTIN SPEECHWRITER: He is becoming more and more emotional. Previously he was very logical and very rational. He could control his emotions easily. And he's exhausted.


BURNETT: More and more emotional as opposed, and he said he used to be previously logical and very rational. But now more emotional, exhausted, not able to control his emotions.


On the Intel Committee, how concerned are you right now about his emotional state, about his rationality, frankly, in making decisions?

HIMES: We're very concerned because here's a man who regarded himself as Peter the Great. He was one of the great leaders of Russia.

What has he actually done? He's unified NATO, country -- you know, Finland and other countries that we never imagined. He's unified NATO. He's destroyed his country's economy. And he's shown that the Russian military would lose to the Rhode Island National Guard, right? That's what he's achieved, this man who regarded himself as a great person.

So, the question then becomes what happens to a desperate man like that? And maybe -- you know, it's hard to answer that question.

BURNETT: And yet there are some in your own party who say now it's time to make a deal with Putin, to do some sort of negotiation. Obviously, the House Progressive Caucus withdrew this letter that dozens of them had signed, saying that the U.S. should negotiate directly with Putin. But one prominent member of the caucus, Ro Khanna, Congressman Ro Khanna, has since said today that he still stands by it and that they shouldn't have taken that letter back so he does believe that the U.S. should negotiate.

What do you say to him?

HIMES: I'd tell you a couple of things. Number one, the Ukrainians are winning this war. Number two, do you trust Vladimir Putin? If you could reach some agreement, do you trust him to abide by that agreement?

Number three, what's in that agreement? Because the progressive letter, which thankfully they withdrew, its objective was for a free and independent Ukraine. Okay, that's a start.

It's not just a free and independent Ukraine. It is the Russians facing accountability for their war crimes. It is the Russians vacating every square foot of Ukrainian land. So that raises the question, what are you negotiating towards? Because we're not going to -- well, I shouldn't say we.

BURNETT: You're only negotiating if you're going to give up land. HIMES: Exactly. And that's not -- I was in Kyiv 72 hours ago. From

the president of Ukraine to the guy who served coffee in the hotel, they said this ends when every Russian is off every inch of our land.

BURNETT: Right, and that's what hopefully people like Ro Khanna will hear from you tonight.

All right. Thank you so much, Congressman Himes. I appreciate your time.

HIMES: Thank you, Erin.

BURNETT: And now, the CNN exclusive, the unbelievable story of a doctor who ended up in the position of having hoards of Russian soldiers come to the hospital. The doctor escaped fleeing with evidence of what Putin's brutal war has cost his own soldiers.

Melissa Bell is OUTFRONT.


MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For Andre, it was the hardest of good-byes. I love you, he tells his daughters as he prepares to swim for his life.

"Is daddy leaving?" asked one. Yes, he replies.

The young doctor from southern Belarus had just driven his family across the country from their home near the Ukrainian border. Andre then swam into the safety of neighboring Lithuania, running from a war that wasn't his, fleeing with x-rays of some of the Russian soldiers he treated as the war began. The ghosts of Vladimir Putin's war machine.

ANDREI, DOCTOR, MAZYR CITY HOSPITAL (through translator): I wanted to tell their stories. I just took some evidence to confirm it. What I took with me could make me liable, they can charge me with espionage.

BELL: With a state of the Russian army, its defeats and its casualties, these images are a rare window into Russia's catastrophic invasion.

On February 24th, the first day of the war, Russian forces landed at this airport on the outskirts of Kyiv. The fight that ensued was brutal. Ukrainian counteroffensives inflicted devastating casualties on the Russian paratroopers. Many wound up in Mazyr City hospital in southern Belarus.

ANDREI (through translator): Most had blast injuries, injured hips, face, lacerations to the torso area, head, brain injuries, several had damage to their jaws.

BELL: Andrei says that many of the injuries he treated were consistent with soldiers coming under unexpected and chaotic fire power. ANDREI (through translator): They saw a lot of explosions and

couldn't even see who was firing on them. Some of them told us they'd gone through hell.

They didn't expect what was waiting for them in Ukraine. They thought they were going in for military exercises. They were mainly angry at the commander who had deceived them. Most already were resigned to their new reality, losing a finger or a leg.

BELL: The trucks used to transport the wounded shared at the time on social media. Andrei says they arrived at night, bringing 30 soldiers on the second day of the war, 90 on the third.

ANDREI (through translator): They came from Borodianka, some from Hostomel and others from Bucha. A number was written on the forehead of each to direct them to the right department. At least the ones who admitted had a good chance of surviving, there was one guy who was missing his entire lower jaw and he was only complaining that he hadn't eaten or drank anything for three days.


BELL: But the soldiers kept arriving. Andrei says about 40 a day on average. The wounds easier for him to remember than the names, although one in particular does stand out.

One of the early narratives of the start of the war was the number of commanders that were being lost on the Russian side. Several wound up in Mazyr district hospital, including General Sergei Nyrkov.

ANDREI (through translator): He suffered abdominal injuries from a mine in Chernobyl. And then after he was stabilized he was taken away with the other officers. I felt disgust towards the officers, mainly the feeling that they were war criminals.

BELL: Most, Andrei says, the men were ordinary soldiers, very young and inexperienced -- 18, 19, 20-year-olds who would spend a couple of days in his hospital before being sent back to Russia. Their lives saved but changed forever.

ANDREI (through translator): I had the impression that only a small portion of the soldiers sent actually made it out alive and to our hospital. I had a feeling that some of the living envied those who had died.

BELL: Andrei is now rebuilding his own life with his family in a European city, with what little they could bring. Mainly, the X-rays hidden in one of his daughter's toys to be brought to safety and now to light.


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: So, Melissa, why are Belarusian doctors even needed to treat Russian soldiers? It's incredible this was the option they had to go over the border to Belarus. BELL: It speaks, Erin, to that total lack of preparedness that we've

now been covering over the course of the last few months. If you look at that border, that's why so many of the tens of thousands of troops that were amassed around the Ukrainian border were in Belarus simply because of its proximity to Kyiv.

You remember that the plan in the beginning was to take Kyiv as quickly as possible. That didn't work out as planned. The soldiers had to be taken back across that border whichever way they could. Not just the field hospitals that had been set up on the other side of the border but to those civilian hospitals. And I think one of the most chilling things we heard from Andrei and from another Belarusian doctor we also spoke to as part of our investigation was that they were brought back, and by their wounds and by their nature of what they told them, they understood that most of them, the worst had simply been left on the battlefield.

Erin, it is a chilling story of a lack of preparedness and just the sheer callousness of this invasion from the start. I should add that we reached out to Mazyr District Hospital and to the Russian ministry of defense for a response and we didn't get one.

BURNETT: Melissa, thank you very much. Chilling on so many levels, and perhaps hat Melissa just said there, the most of all that so many of them were just left to die by their own on the battlefield.

Well, next, a CNN exclusive. CNN learning the justice department is now asking a federal judge to force two of Trump's former top lawyers to testify about conversations that they had with the former president.

Plus, John Fetterman about to face Mehmet Oz in their it first and what will be their only debate. Fetterman recovering from a stroke will read the questions via closed captioning. Will Oz make his opponent's health the issue tonight or not?

And shelters in south Florida are full. Many migrants with no choice but to sleep on the street. So, when Florida Governor Ron DeSantis flew migrants to Martha's Vineyard, why did he send them from Texas? It's a story you'll see first OUTFRONT.



BURNETT: Tonight, a CNN exclusive. The Justice Department now asking a federal judge to force two top lawyers from Donald Trump's White House to testify about conversations with him. Those lawyers are former White House counsel Pat Cipollone and deputy White House counsel at the time, Patrick Philbin. This as Trump has waged a secret court fight to block former advisers from testifying before a federal grand jury investigating the events of January 6th.

Our senior justice correspondent Evan Perez is OUTFRONT.

And, Evan, this could, I think, have a major impact on the investigation if the Justice Department succeeds and gets these former Trump lawyers to testify, right?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Right. It really does have the possibility of getting prosecutors into the inner circle of Donald Trump and his White House. Pat Cipollone was the former White House counsel. Patrick Philbin was his deputy.

And, look, they were there during some of these conversations as the former president was trying to impede the transfer of power in 2020, which is after the 2020 election, which is exactly what the prosecutors of the justice department are investigating, Erin.

And the justice department so far has been winning these secret proceedings that are going on at the courthouse here in Washington. They got Greg Jacob and Marc Short, former aides to the former Vice President Pence to come back in and answer questions. These are very, very important questions about conversations that they had with the former president.

So, the fact that they're winning these fights does bode well for the Justice Department as they try to get the compelled testimony of Cipollone and Philbin.

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

I want to go now to Laurence Tribe, the constitutional law professor at Harvard Law School, who also consulted House Democrats for the impeachment of then-President Trump.

So, Professor, what does it mean for Donald Trump if the DOJ succeeds here and gets in this inner circle, as Evan describes via Pat Cipollone and Patrick Philbin's testimony?

LAURENCE TRIBE, CONSTITUTIONAL LAW PROFESSOR, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL: It means he's in deep trouble. There's no reason the justice department should not succeed, when a grand jury demands the testimony of people who have first-hand knowledge of someone who appears to have been involved in an insurrection and a seditious conspiracy. They're entitled to get that information.

If there were an executive privilege for a former president, and that's doubtful, it would be overcome by the context. The information is needed for a criminal investigation. It was unanimous in the U.S. Supreme Court in both cases where the issue arose that the need for information in a criminal proceeding trumps, no pun intended, any executive privilege.


So there is no basis for them to resist the order that they're going to get from the department motion with the court. And there's no reason for the court to deny that motion.

BURNETT: So, obviously that is significant. There is also what's going on in the grand jury investigation in Georgia. You've been very critical of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas giving Senator Lindsey Graham a temporary freeze from testifying before that grand jury in Georgia.

Why do you think Thomas' decision -- which, by the way, went against what two other courts already ruled, which is that Graham should have to appear before that grand jury. Why do you think Thomas doing this is so egregious?

TRIBE: Well, it's egregious because it's illegal. It wasn't the fact that he granted Lindsey's request, even denying Lindsey's request would've been unlawful because 18 U.S. code -- actually 28 U.S. Code Section 455 says that a justice or judge, but it includes a justice, and the language it uses is shall disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned.

So even denying Lindsey's request would've been wrong. He should've just handed it over to another justice. But there's another part of 28 U.S. Code that is slam dunk applicable. It says that a justice shall -- and I keep emphasizing the word shall, it's not discretionary -- disqualify himself in any proceeding in which -- and I'm going to quote the language -- his spouse is known by the justice to have an interest that could be substantially affected by the outcome.

Now, we know that Ginni Thomas has an interest. She made it clear, it's not even secret. She was at the January 6th rally. She sent at least 29 texts a few weeks earlier to the chief of staff Mark Meadows urging him to back up the president's effort to prevent the transfer of power to Biden. She said the whole Biden family should be tried for treason. Then there were texts that she sent to the legislators of Arizona and Wisconsin, urging them to submit phony electoral slates to prevent the transfer of power.

So she is intimately interested in the outcome of the proceeding in Georgia where the same question, the question of whether former President Trump and members of the House and Senate including Senator Graham were engaged in an effort to strong-arm people like Raffensperger --


TRIBE: -- to create phony votes. So she is in the middle of it. He has to know that. It's not a question of their pillow talk. Everyone in the country knows it.


TRIBE: Everybody knows it. You got to not take part. It's open and shut.

BURNETT: Well, as you say, it's not -- it's not discretionary, it's shall. And that operative word carries so much weight in this case.

Professor, thank you so much.

TRIBE: Thank you.

BURNETT: And, next, one of the most anticipated debates taking place tonight. John Fetterman and Mehmet Oz are facing off. And the big question is, well, what role will Fetterman's health issues play in this debate?

Plus, is Florida's Ron DeSantis eyeing a presidential run?


REP. CHARLIE CRIST (D-FL): Will you serve a full four-year term if you're re-elected governor of Florida? It's not a tough question.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: The only worn out old donkey I'm looking to put out to pasture is Charlie Crist.




BURNETT: Tonight, Pennsylvania Senate candidates John Fetterman and Mehmet Oz are just a half an hour away from facing off in perhaps the most highly anticipated debate of the midterm election cycle. Sources telling CNN that both candidates have been holding extensive practice sessions leading up to tonight. One Oz adviser told CNN that he will focus on pardons that Fetterman granted us lieutenant governor, while Fetterman plans to remind voters of Oz's transformation with Trump's backing.

Jessica Dean is OUTFRONT.


JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, a Senate debate like no other, with one candidate's health front and center.

JOHN FETTERMAN (D), PENNSYLVANIA SENATE CANDIDATE: It's the elephant in the room, having a stroke.

DEAN: Democratic Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman plans to use closed captioning to read everything being asked of him and any answers given by Republican Mehmet Oz as he continues to recuperate from a stroke he suffered in May. It's a tool he's utilized in recent interviews and on the campaign trail. It's also an issue Oz has already seized on.

MEHMET OZ (R), PENNSYLVANIA SENATE CANDIDATE: I don't think there's closed captioning on the floor of the Senate. And maybe he doesn't need closed captioning when he's actually moving around, but maybe he does. Again, a lot of question marks and voters deserve better.

DEAN: Fetterman has previewed his own attack on Oz hitting him on crime, a focal point of Oz's campaign.

FETTERMAN: He literally doesn't have a plan other than to talk. And that's been a hallmark of his campaign.

DEAN: But Oz did unveil his plan to combat crime on Monday, just in time for the debate showdown.

OZ: I came here today because the biggest problem I hear in Philadelphia is lawlessness.

DEAN: Oz has made crime a key part of his pitch to voters continuing to attack Fetterman on the issue.

OZ: John Fetterman, lieutenant governor, threw out that, at a time when there was a 60 percent increase in crime here in Philadelphia.

DEAN: New CNN polling examined which issues matter the most to Pennsylvania voters with the economy the clear leader by more than double the second most cited issue, abortion. Crime falling further down on the list.

And the race remains tight according to new CNN polling, Fetterman holds a slight lead over Oz gaining support from 51 percent to Oz's 45 percent of likely voters.


DEAN (on camera): And, of course, a lot of the strategy around debates is setting expectations. And we've been hearing from the Fetterman campaign in the last couple of days really setting those expectations low, talking about how Mehmet Oz has a giant leg up because he spent years in front of a camera really talking to people on television, that this is not Fetterman's preferred mode of communication, but that he's going to be doing this, Erin.

So, again, setting those expectations low. We know Oz wanted more debates. We're going to see them here in just about 30 minutes for the first time and only time together during this campaign.

BURNETT: All right. Jessica, thank you very much. And she'll be there watching.

Now, I want to go to Larry Sabato, founder and director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics. He is the longtime trusted election forecaster behind the newsletter "Sabato's Crystal Ball."

Larry, I always enjoy speaking to you, and this debate is amazing at how important it may be, right?

You have this race in Pennsylvania as it leans Dem, in favor of Fetterman. But I know you're watching closely tonight to decide whether it stays there or moves back to a tossup race. How much does the debate tonight impact your calculation?

LARRY SABATO, FOUNDER & DIRECTOR, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA CENTER FOR POLITICS: Very, very rarely does a debate matter as much as this one's going to matter in the Pennsylvania Senate race. And it's going to matter because, for a combination of reasons. John Fetterman's health and ability to serve in the Senate has become the central issue of the campaign. Maybe it shouldn't have. But it is, it's there. And the Oz campaign has been effective in putting it there. John

Fetterman has to find a way to diffuse that, which he can do by an effective performance. But he has to do more than that. He's got to shift the campaign to another subject. He's got just enough time to change the agenda. If he doesn't change the agenda before November 8th, I think he'll lose.

BURNETT: So, you've downgraded a handful of Democrats in just the past week. Senator Patty Murray from Washington. You move that from safe to likely Dem. In the House, the race for Democratic Congressman Mike Doyle and Congresswoman Kathleen Rice moving in Republican favor. And in the New York governor's race, I mean, something that could be 30 points or would ordinarily be a 30-point race is now no longer a safe race as she's running against Lee Zeldin.

How much do you think could stick between now and election day?

SABATO: Well, we do only have two weeks left. If something's going to happen, it has to happen quickly. Look, I don't think, Erin, that this is going to be a Republican tidal wave. I really don't.

But I do think there's a Republican tide that is pulling the election in the GOP's direction. I think that almost assures that Republicans will take over the House quite possibly by a healthy margin, the Senate is still on the edge of the knife, but there are lately more positive signs for Republicans than for Democrats. Not so many that they absolutely positively will win the Senate. But something's got to change if Democrats are to retain at least a 50/50 split.

BURNETT: Right. As words matter so much, and I think your metaphor there is very powerful. A tide is different than a tidal wave.

Larry, thank you so much. I appreciate it.

SABATO: Thank you, Erin.

BURNETT: And next, a story you'll see first OUTFRONT. South Florida is facing its own growing migrant problem. So why did Ron DeSantis fly migrants from Texas to Martha's Vineyard instead of from his own state?

And the mystery deepening in China. We've got new video surfacing about what happened right before the former Chinese President Hu Jintao was abruptly escorted out of the room.



BURNETT: Tonight, dodging. Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida refusing to answer whether he'll run for president in 2024 or whether he'll commit to serving a full term if re-elected in two weeks.


REP. CHARLIE CRIST (D-FL): Will you serve a full four-year term if you're re-elected governor of Florida? It's not a tough question.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: The only worn out old donkey I'm looking to put out to pasture is Charlie Crist.

CRIST: At a minimum, you ought to be able to tell them if you get re- elected, you'll serve as governor. Ron?

MODERATOR: Governor?

DESANTIS: So we had the border that was in much better shape in January of 2021.


BURNETT: Refusing to answer the question. And it does come as DeSantis is still under fire for his controversial decision to fly migrants from Texas to Martha's Vineyard.

Rosa Flores is OUTFRONT.


ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ana Melissa Arellano's (ph) family has been living in this Miami motel for about a month. But the Venezuelan mom and her two children don't complain.

You were sleeping on the street?

She says she would cry.

The Arellanos are some of the hundreds of thousands of migrants who were processed by border authorities this fiscal year at the southern border and released into the U.S. pending immigration court proceedings. And Florida is a top destination.

Of the more than 356,000 new immigration cases filed by the government from May to September, about 71,000 were filed in the Sunshine State. And the majority, nearly 50,000 of those, were filed in Miami.

Which begs the question, when Florida Governor Ron DeSantis recently took credit for transporting migrants --

DESANTIS: They went from Texas to Florida to Martha's Vineyard.

FLORES: Why did he go looking in Texas and not in his own state?

RON BOOK, MIAMI-DADE COUNTY HOMELESS TRUST: I'm sure I could have found him 50 families to get on an airplane.

FLORES: Did the governor ask you?

BOOK: But no one has called me.

FLORES: Ron Book runs the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust, a public/private entity and says that so many migrants have asked for help in recent months. His new policy is not to shelter them. BOOK: It's gut-wrenching.

FLORES: He says his shelters are full with South Floridians.

BOOK: It's the responsibility of the federal government.

FLORES: Book passes the calls for migrants to Malena Legarre.

MALENA LEGARRE, HERMANOS DE LA CALLE: We get these calls every day.

FLORES: She runs a small nonprofit. Since January, Legarre says she's helped nearly 500 migrants who didn't have family or friends in the area. Legarre finds two Venezuelan men waiting outside a shelter that wouldn't take them in. The men say they've been on the street for 15 days.

So this is what you deal with on a daily basis?



FLORES: Legarre finds two Venezuelan men waiting outside a shelter that wouldn't take them in. The men say they've been on the street for 15 days.

So this is what you deal with on a daily basis?


FLORES: Legarre says she usually puts them up in a motel for a few days or a few weeks as she did for the Arellano family.

LEGARRE: But we explain that it is a limited time, then they need to start to provide for themselves.

FLORES: But with Miami's high rents, Legarre says that since January, she has relocated about 350 migrants to all these states.

What do you think about the governor going to Texas to relocate migrants?

LEGARRE: I think it was a mistake. I mean, you need to focus first on the people that are in Florida, right?

FLORES: Did the governor's office ever reach out to you or your organization?

LEGARRE: No, no.

FLORES: Legarre says she connects migrants with out-of-state relatives or friends and pays for their transportation out of Florida.

LEGARRE: We spend around $30,000 on tickets from April 1st to September 30.

FLORES: She is mostly funded by donations.

DeSantis --

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: The legislature gave me $12 million. We're going to spend every penny of that.

FLORES: Should some of those $12 million come here to Miami?

RON BOOK, MIAMI-DADE COUNTY HOMELESS TRUST: We would welcome any resources that we can to helping to relocate individuals.

FLORES: Arellano's children have started school. Her partner started working construction. And she was quoted thousands to rent a home.

Would you be able to pay that?


For now, it's living day by day in a small Miami motel counting blessings.


FLORES (voice-over): I've reached out to Governor DeSantis' office multiple times about this story and have not heard back. But Ron Book, who you just met in that story said he is now in contact with the governor's office about the homeless migrant problem in Miami and also about the relocation efforts.

So, Erin, now it appears that Governor DeSantis' office is aware that there are migrants in Florida who are in need or might be in need of transportation out of his state -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Rosa, thank you so much.

And, next, new video emerging tonight from China, showing exactly what happened before the former President Hu Jintao was escorted out of the room. And as of tonight who has still not been seen since. So where is he?

Plus, we remember the man who dedicated much of his life to American national security.



BURNETT: Tonight, it's been more than three days since the former Chinese President Hu Jintao was abruptly escorted out of one of the biggest communist meetings of the decade and no word, no image, no sign of Hu.

But there is footage showing what happened before China's former leader was led out of the room in front of the cameras.

You can see Li Zhanshu, one of the highest ranking members of the communist party, sitting to the former president's left. He intervenes as Hu repeatedly tries to read from a stack of papers that are covered up by a red holder. Hu was trying to Li takes it away.

While this is happening, China's current leader Xi gives instructions to another man who physically lifts Hu up from his chair. It's an unexpected moment. And when you look at this, taking it back, you realize the role that Xi possibly played. Some arguing it was a power play by Xi. Others, including state media, saying this was all because of Hu's health.

To date, no media outlet in China has mentioned the incident. But I want to go to Selina Wang. She is in Hong Kong again tonight and has been following this story.

Selina, I will play this footage again. I mean, it's pretty incredible. Li Zhanshu intervenes as Hu repeatedly tries to read something, who is trying to hold on to the file, it's clear. Li takes it away and then Xi appears to be, obviously, who was just, just won re-election, appears to be the one who gives the order right before Hu is lifted up and removed.

What does this video indicate to you?

SELINA WANG, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Erin, this is really deepening the mystery here. The video, it doesn't debunk the official statement that he was escorted out because of health reasons. But it does suggest that the document, which we don't know what's in that document, did play some role in all of this.

Now, Hu, he is 79 years old. He has been looking increasingly frail. But a moment mentioned as chilling there is as he is being escorted out looking frail and confused and distressed, Xi Jinping and the leaders around him are looking emotionless, staring straight ahead.

Now, I have spoken to experts who think there is more to this than that pure health explanation, including the Steve Tsang of SOAS China Institute. He told me that this is humiliation of Hu Jintao. It is a clear message that there is only one leader who matters in China right now and that is Xi Jinping.

And this is also wrapped up in symbolism because Hu had led China at a time when it was opening up to the world, when it was growing rapidly economically. Hu led with collective leadership. Xi Jinping, he is stacked up top positions with his allies, excluding some people who are seen as closer to Hu Jintao, he is all about that one man rule, Erin.

BURNETT: And, you know, what's amazing, Selina, is that this entire incident has been scrubbed from the Internet in China. State media coverage of the ceremony didn't include the scene. The Chinese state- owned broadcaster CCTV did broadcast, though, a video of Hu sitting next to Xi. They showed him voting before the incident, right?

So, if you were in China, what do you mean? He was there. He voted. What's there to see here? Does the majority of the Chinese population even know that anything happened? WANG: No, they don't, Erin, because this video is not being seen in

official media. It's scrubbed from discussion from social media. It's as if this never happened, right?

And what that scene is showing is that it was all stability and choreography, the show went on as planned. That is what the audience at home sees. The focus of coverage of the party Congress to the people in China is all about Xi Jinping.


The focus is on him, his successes, how he is the only man to lead China to national rejuvenation, to greatness. But overseas, Erin, well, Hu Jintao has overshadowed Xi in some ways.

BURNETT: It's amazing. So two very different stories. Absolutely stunning that they could control it in this way.

But amazing that we know of that new video and it shows those crucial moments before.

Selina, thank you so much. Her incredible coverage there from Hong Kong.

And next, I want to remember former Defense Secretary Ashton Carter.


BURNETT: Tonight, former Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has died. Carter served during the Obama administration and his confirmation vote as secretary of defense was unanimous. Think about that.

His talent and conduct were apparent to all. He was a leader with foresight. He was the secretary of defense who implemented a war plan in case of Putin's aggression when the U.S. hadn't had one 2004 two decades.

I met Ash Carter many years ago at a conference where he talked about leadership and in 2015, I had the chance to travel to South Korea with him when he was defense secretary. I asked him why he wanted the job.


ASHTON CARTER, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY: I hope to make sure that what I say to him makes sense and is the best possible advice. That's my job, is to help him think through what to do about this complicated world where we have so many wonderful opportunities as a country, but real threats also. That's my job.


BURNETT: He was a profound thinker. He died suddenly of a heart attack and he was working until the very end.

Just last week, he was meeting with people about new weapons systems being transferred to Saudi Arabia that he feared were a risk given Putin's friendship with the Saudi crown prince. Until the very end fighting for his country.

The former Defense Secretary Ashton Carter was only 68 years old.

Thanks so much for joining us.

"AC360" starts now.