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Erin Burnett Outfront

Paul Pelosi Had Surgery For Skull Fracture & Serious Injuries, Sources: Attacker Tried To Tie Him Up "Until Nancy Got Home"; Obama About To Speak In Georgia Where Senate Race Is Tight; Russian Recruit In New Video: We Are Being Sent To "Meat Grinder"; Feds Warn Domestic Violent Extremists Pose Threat To Midterms. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired October 28, 2022 - 19:00   ET



ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, breaking news tonight. The suspect in the violent attack on Nancy Pelosi's husband booked tonight on multiple charges including attempted murder. His blogs with his name we found show images of Pelosi and QAnon. The district attorney on the case is OUTFRONT tonight.

Plus, new video just in to OUTFRONT of new Russian recruits desperately pleading with their leaders saying they're being sent to the, quote, meat grinder.

And bring in the big names. President Obama, President Biden, Vice President Harris, all out on the trail tonight speaking in our hour. We'll take you there live.

Let's go OUTFRONT.


BURNETT: And OUTFRONT this evening, the breaking news. Paul Pelosi, the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is now out of surgery for a fractured skull. This after police say an intruder broke into their home overnight and attacked with a hammer. That intruder also attempted to tie Mr. Pelosi up, quote, until Nancy got home. This is according to sources.

Now, Speaker Pelosi was in Washington at this time. But sources tell CNN the intruder repeatedly asked "Where is Nancy? Where is Nancy?" in the rampage.

Now, the suspect is now identified as 42-year-old David Depape of California. He is facing charges of attempted homicide as well as burglary, assault with a deadly weapon and elder abuse. I'm going to talk to the district attorney in charge of the case in just a moment.

Relatives are telling CNN, Depape's Facebook page full of conspiracy theories. These theories were about the 2020 election, and January 6 specifically. That image there was on one of them. And two blogs written by a user with the same name of the suspect that we found have anti-Semitic screeds and QAnon-linked content, including videos with pictures of Speaker Pelosi in them. In this extremely disturbing attack coming just 11 days before

election day, leaders from both parties expressing outrage and a rare show of unity. Vice President Harris says she's appalled by the attack. And the Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell tweeted he was horrified and disgusted.

Now, lawmakers from both parties are also warning that this is a signal about what still lies ahead.


REP. KAREN BASS (D-CA): It reminds me of January 6th because when the insurrection is broken in the Capitol, one of the first places they went was to the speaker's office. It just shows us the danger of our democracy.

REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): This is what happens when you convince a third of the country that the election was stolen and that the other side was an enemy. This isn't how democracies work. This isn't how self-governance works. This is -- this is -- we're in a bad moment.


BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, Josh Campbell. He is outside the Pelosi home in San Francisco.

Josh, what else are investigators learning about this attack and the suspect here?

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, this individual appears to be the exact type of person that is law enforcement's worst nightmare. It's what they've been warning about, people who not only consume so many of these conspiracy theories but also appears to be predisposed to violence. As you mentioned, this individual's social media presence contained numerous conspiracy theories about the election, about January 6th, about COVID vaccines.

He retweeted, reposted information from Mike Lindell, the election- denying pillow salesman. And again, he's accused of coming here to the home of Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the early morning hours today turning this residence behind me into a crime scene.


CAMPBELL (voice-over): Eighty-two-year-old Paul Pelosi, the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, undergoing surgery today after being violently attacked with a hammer early Friday morning at the Pelosi's San Francisco home. Speaker Pelosi was in Washington at the time.

DISPATCHER: Special call special call, medic 66, location --

CAMPBELL: Police say they found Paul Pelosi fending off an attacker after responding to a request for a priority well-being check at the Pelosi home.

CHIEF WILLIAM SCOTT, SAN FRANCISCO POLICE DEPT.: They encountered an adult male. Mr. Pelosi's husband Paul, our officers observed Mr. Pelosi and the suspect both holding a hammer. The suspect pulled the hammer away from Mr. Pelosi and violently assaulted him with it.

CAMPBELL: The assailant was searching for the speaker, according to a source briefed on the attack. He confronted Mr. Pelosi, shouting "Where is Nancy? Where is Nancy?"

SCOTT: Our officers immediately tackled the suspect, disarmed him, took him into custody, requested emergency backup and rendered medical aid.

CAMPBELL: Two sources familiar with the investigation tell CNN the attacker hit Pelosi and attempted to tie him up after breaking into the back of the home around 2:30 a.m. A suspect 42-year-old David Depape is now in custody. His Facebook page now taken down had posts of memes and conspiracy theories about the 2020 election and the January 6th attack at the U.S. Capitol. Not long ago, Nancy Pelosi was a target of the January 6th rioters with them hunting for her and trashing her office.

The motive for Friday's attack on her husband is not yet known.

SCOTT: Mr. Depape will be booked at the San Francisco County jail on the following charges. Attempted homicide, assault with a deadly weapon, elder abuse, burglary, and several other additional felonies.

CAMPBELL: The speaker's office issued a statement, saying Mr. Pelosi is expected to make a full recovery.


CAMPBELL (on camera): Now, Erin, the residence behind me here was flooded with law enforcement for much of the day. Police as well as FBI agents, they appear to be nearly completing their processing of evidence for the day. Of course, this comes as we're learning new information about why these officers were brought to this location to begin with.

CNN's John Miller and Jamie Gangel reporting that Paul Pelosi was able to call 911 at the start of this attack and was speaking in code as he engaged with this attacker. It was an adept dispatcher who realized that something was wrong. They sent police here to this location. They were able to ultimately tackle the suspect.

He remains in custody. Authorities say they expect him to face multiple charges including attempted homicide and assault -- Erin.

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

And as Josh was speaking, we do have a development. Our Dana Bash is reporting that the speaker Nancy Pelosi is now in San Francisco, and she is at the hospital with her husband Paul right now as I speak.

So she has obviously gotten from Washington back to San Francisco. And she's there at the hospital.

I want to go now to the San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins.

District Attorney Jenkins, I appreciate your time. We understand the suspect is facing quite a few charges, attempted murder is the most serious.

What more are you able to tell us about this incident, and what Depape planned to do?


And first, I just want to extend our support and our prayers to Speaker Pelosi and her family. And we truly hope for a speedy recovery for Mr. Pelosi.

But what I can tell you is much of what you have already reported, which is that this individual forced his way into the Pelosi home before eventually attacking Mr. Pelosi with a hammer before officers could intervene.

And, so, he is facing attempted murder charges once we've reviewed this case, but that appears to be which direction we're headed, as well as assault with a deadly weapon and residential burglary.

BURNETT: So we've already discovered two blogs, district attorney, with the same name of the suspect, on these blogs. QAnon-linked content, a video that showed Pelosi during one of former President Trump's impeachments. Do you know anything about the suspect's motive or how long he planned this? I mean, do you have any of this information in hand yet?

JENKINS: No. That is a part of the ongoing investigation right now both between the San Francisco police department and the FBI.

BURNETT: So sources tell CNN the suspect -- you know, you talk about he broke in and then attacked, eventually attacked Mr. Pelosi. We understand he was saying "where is Nancy, where is Nancy." And that he then tried to tie Paul Pelosi up, in his words, until Nancy got home.

You mentioned that it seems like the direction this is going is there's murder charges. Is there any question in your mind right now that he was intending to kill Nancy Pelosi?

JENKINS: Right now, as I said, we don't know all of the facts just yet. We are still in the middle of a proceeding investigation. So, some of those details of what was going on in the home prior to the police arriving are still things that we're trying to flesh out. But we do know that at the point at which the police arrived, he did turn and use that hammer against the speaker's husband in a manner that appeared that he was intending to kill him.

BURNETT: It's obviously very significant that they saw that and that it certainly indicated intent to murder. You know, we've learned that part of the reason that this even possibly didn't end in such a horrific way was that Paul Pelosi called 911 at the beginning of the attack and was able to leave the phone line open even as he and the attacker continued to interact. One source says the suspect's struggle with Pelosi was then captured on police body camera as they came to the door to intervene, that this attack that you're referring to actually on camera.

What are -- more you're able to tell me, District Attorney, if anything about that 911 call or the bodycam video?

JENKINS: All I can tell you right now is that it is, really thanks to Mr. Pelosi having the ability to be able to make that call and truly the attention and the instincts of that dispatcher to realize that something was wrong in that situation and to make the police call a priority so that they got there within two minutes to respond to this situation.


And so we do have to give her great credit for her responsiveness and for the police responsiveness.

BURNETT: Yeah, have police been able to speak to the suspect yet?

JENKINS: They have been able to speak with him. But, again, like I said, given the investigation is still ongoing, none of that information is being released at this time.

BURNETT: You can't share that. Are you able to talk to us about what the condition the suspect is in?

JENKINS: He did sustain some minor injuries. But that's all I can say.

BURNETT: Minor injuries.

All right. Well, district attorney, I really appreciate your time. Thank you very much for sharing what you were able to share. Thanks.

JENKINS: Yeah, thank you so much.

BURNETT: All right. And I want to go now to Terrance Gainer, former U.S. Capitol police chief and sergeant at arms for the U.S. Senate, and CNN politics reporter and editor at large Chris Cillizza.

Chief Gainer, just a chance to give you to respond to the district attorney there. She made it very clear they have been able to interview the suspect who sustained minor injuries. But that intent to murder, she doesn't have any question in her mind about that at this point. That seems to be loud and clear here. It's incredibly terrifying to think about that.

TERRANCE "TERRY" GAINER, FORMER SENATE SGT. AT ARMS: Well, it sure is. This is a home invasion. And everybody should be able to relate to that, how scary it is to have someone break into your home and then get into the type of things that happen here. So, we need to be concerned in general about these type of individuals who can get pushed to the edge so easily by the hate and discontent that's being spread. BURNETT: And, you know, look, as we said, Chris, today there was this

bipartisan moment. Democrats and Republicans all saying this is unacceptable and hopefully for some perhaps a wake-up call that rhetoric can turn into reality. However, one exception to that is somebody who is a possible 2024 contender, darling of the Republican Party who actually buck some of the Republican election lies when he was running.

And that is Glenn Youngkin of Virginia. Here's what he said today.



GOV. GLENN YOUNGKIN (R), VIRGINIA: Speaker Pelosi's husband, they had a break-in last night in their house and he was assaulted. There's no room for violence anywhere. But we're going to send her back to be with him in California.


BURNETT: At best, tone-deaf, Chris?

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Yeah. So, he should've stopped with there's no room for violence anywhere in the country and just stopped.

The problem, Erin, is, look, politicians say dumb stuff all the time, you know, breaking news there. The issue, to me, is that there won't be a penalty to pay for Glenn Youngkin when he said what he said, right? What we have now is that these lines that were once sort of respected by everyone, like there are things you can say and there are things you can't say, those lines have been blurred or erased entirely.

And I harken back to what Adam Kinzinger said. When you vilify the other side over and over again, it's not just that the people on the other side disagree with you, it's that they are somehow evil or mal- intended, that they are purposely doing things to destroy the country. That's when you get into this situation where rhetoric equals action.

What worries me is given where we are as a country, I hope this is the only time something like this happens. I hope that we have a moment, to your point, we have a moment of people saying, this is too much, it's gone too far. I worry just based on everything that I've seen online, everything that I've covered over these last few years, I worry that's not the case.

BURNETT: Yeah. I mean, look, on the human level, you can only hope someone like Glenn Youngkin is cringing when he hears himself and saying, gosh, she was on the flight to go to a hospital where his husband was undergoing surgery for being attacked with a hammer and almost dying, you know, a skull injury, but he said that.

CILLIZZA: And saying sorry, Erin.


CILLIZZA: You know, we can still say sorry in politics. We can still say I'm sorry I was wrong, I shouldn't have said that. You know, it's been a bunch of hours since Glenn Youngkin said that. He's got access to Twitter, he could do that.

The issue is our current political environment doesn't -- it rewards not doing that. It rewards extreme rhetoric and does nothing for people who are wiling to moderate their tone.

BURNETT: Chief Gainer?

GAINER: I was going to say, you know, it is one thing for them to say how this terrible event was, but those words aren't enough. That's -- what they need to say is all the falsehoods that are being spread are incorrect. The former president loss, stop spreading that hate, and this depraved indifference to push these type of people to do these type of things needs to be more than just, oh, isn't this too bad.

So, each one of these leaders who's come out in the past few hours and said, well, this is horrible, they need to do something more. They need to say, stop, that election is over, go out and vote now and let the best person win.

BURNETT: All right, thank you so much. I appreciate you, Chief Gainer, and thank you, Chris.

And, next, former President Obama sent to try to rescue the Georgia Senate race as President Biden is back in Pennsylvania tonight. We're live in both states, crucial Senate seats up for grabs in each of them.


Plus, new video of Russian recruits pleading with their commanders that they be treated as people and not meat. You'll hear it yourself.

And a conspiracy theory run amok. A small rural Nevada county tried to hand count all mail-in ballots because they don't trust the voting machines, even though every single study has shown that voting machines count better than people. Tonight, the state supreme court is stepping in.


BURNETT: You're looking at live pictures out of Georgia and Pennsylvania, where Democrats are bringing out their biggest names. President Biden, Vice President Harris, and former President Obama for two major reasons that really truthfully could be the whole deal, control of the Senate.

President Biden is at a reception Pennsylvania, where Democrat John Fetterman is still trying to pivot after stumbling in his only debate with Mehmet Oz earlier this week.

It comes after the president received this revealing update from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. There it is. It was all caught on hot mic.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): It looks like the debate didn't hurt us too much in Pennsylvania, so that's good.

The state where we're going downhill is Georgia. It's hard to believe that they will go for Herschel Walker.


BURNETT: Well, you heard it yourself, the Senate majority leader making clear Democrats are worried about the Georgia Senate race which could explain why former President Obama is there right now campaigning for the incumbent senator, Raphael Warnock, tonight.


Eva McKend is OUTFRONT live from that Obama rally in College Park, Georgia.

And, Eva, you've been following the Warnock campaign very closely here. You hear what Chuck Schumer had to say, caught on that hot mic. How important is the former president's appearance there tonight?

EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: Well, Erin, President Obama is a key campaign surrogate for swing state Democrats. He animates moderate Democrats, progressive Democrats, and just a broad coalition of Democrats. Those are the voters that Senator Warnock and Stacey Abrams, for that matter, needs in this difficult midterm environment for Democrats.

We know tonight that President Obama is going to talk about the crucial nature of early voting, only about a week left to do so in this state.


MCKEND: But he's also going to talk about the importance of preserving our democracy. We know that that is a deeply animating issue for Democratic voters, both in Georgia, but really across the country.

Now, surrogates are not magic, right? President Obama is not on the ticket. But still, a lot of excitement here.

Erin, if you could see the line wrapped around this arena, before we could get in this room, I'd be surprised if all those folks were even able to get in. I mean, just the excitement among Democrats on the ground, awaiting President Obama tonight immense -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Eva, thank you very much. I know we're going to be hearing from the former president in just a moment.

In the meantime, I want to go to Stephanie Rawlings Blake, the former Democratic mayor of Baltimore, along with David Urban, Republican strategist who's worked on Pennsylvania campaigns for 25 years and was also a former senior adviser to the Trump campaign.

All right. Mayor Rawlings Blake, President Biden is getting ready to speak in Georgia tonight. You know, you can hear, there is raucousness there. There is noise. They are excited.

Warnock is facing a tight race against Herschel Walker. You heard Chuck Schumer saying this is going the direction of Walker. How concerned are you about his seat?

STEPHANIE RAWLINGS-BLAKE (D), FORMER MAYOR OF BALTIMORE: I think any Democrat that has any access to the internal polling is concerned right now. Herschel Walker's team was very smart, they were strategic. They undersold his performance to the nth degree. He did not stumble.

Senator Warnock did not make a knockout punch. And that ended up working out, it seems, on the ground, for Herschel Walker.

BURNETT: I mean, David, it's interesting, you know, getting all the emails you see the fundraising emails. The Herschel Walker once, there was a point you almost laughed when you got them. It's like, it's bad, it's really bad. Herschel Walker, we've got no money. I mean, it was -- you thought the whole thing was a joke.

But as the mayor is saying, that was a strategy, it appears, that right now looks like it might payoff.

DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah. Well, Erin, look, there's an old saying in politics. There's two ways to run a race: scared and unopposed, right? So, you run scared, you run through the tape.

And, look, both candidates are doing that. Both candidates working their best, pulling out the surrogates, reporting this earlier -- President Obama is a very popular man in Georgia. Unfortunately, he's not on the ballot, right? Senator Warnock is on the battle. We will see if that translates or not.

And, you know, Herschel Walker is surging right now at the right time. Same thing in Pennsylvania with Mehmet Oz surging at the right time. And, you know, Chuck Schumer on a tarmac there saying that they are worried about Georgia. They should be equally worried about Pennsylvania and Wisconsin and North Carolina and Nevada and Arizona, and, you know, on and on and on.

So, the tide is not shifting in the Democrats' favor right now.

BURNETT: So, Mayor, to that point, President Obama's rally tonight is the first in a five state swing that he's making before Election Day. So, 11 days out and I think we should emphasize here, a state like Arizona is not on this map right here. The election counter was telling me 400,000 people have voted there. I mean, a lot of people have already voted. So, you're pretty late in the game to be doing this swing.

But he's going to Michigan, Wisconsin, and Nevada as well, joint appearance with President Biden in Pennsylvania on the final weekend. Biden is going to Florida and New Mexico. A lot of these are states that they thought they would be winning pretty easily. But, obviously, at this last moment, they are nervous about it.

Mayor, does it feel like Democrats are playing too much defense?

RAWLINGS-BLAKE: Definitely. I don't think it's defense. I think it's playing smart.

When you talk about the 400,000 voters, we know where those votes are coming from. And because there are people on the ground saying, you know, they are coming from this area, that area. I think the Democrats are doing it smart. They are bringing out big guns to do micro- targeting. We know the votes we need to make sure are getting out to the polls. That's what will happen in these last days.

BURNETT: David, to win control the Senate, Republicans need to -- which comes down to about half a dozen key states, right? We will put those up there.


You mentioned Pennsylvania on that list -- North Carolina, Georgia, they are all there, Arizona.

They have to hold all of the current seats in red on this map, and they need to peel off one more, one more from Democrats, doesn't have to be one of the ones I'm showing, but that's the ones where the race is tight.

What do you see here? You are watching Pennsylvania, Fetterman and Oz running neck and neck. You heard Schumer about Herschel Walker. He seems to be much more confident about Pennsylvania than you would expect. So, where do you think that race ends?

URBAN: So, look, in Pennsylvania, I think the Fetterman debate was an absolute debacle for Fetterman campaign. I know they had a successful rally with Dave Matthews and 3,000 people. I think people are showing up tonight for President Obama, 3,000 people showed up for Dave Matthews, not necessarily John Fetterman.

I think Mehmet Oz wins Pennsylvania now. You can take that to the bank. He wins by a point or two.

In Nevada, I think Laxalt's going to win. I think it's going to be a bad night for Democrats. Just -- the fact of the matter is, I think Democrats are looking at places like Colorado.

You saw Washington state, Tiffany Smiley sneaking up on Patty Murray. Democrats playing defense in places that you thought were impossible to lose. If Tiffany Smiley wins in Washington state, Katy bar the door, Democrats got blown out.

BURNETT: Mayor, do you share those same concerns on your side? Obviously, it would be a deep concern. I mean, David's side is more elation. But do you think he's right in this analysis? RAWLINGS-BLAKE: I don't think he's right. I think the race he is

talking about is razor-thin, the polls are showing razor-thin in each -- in any direction. Anything can happen. That's why it's important that we are doing these rallies.

That's why we are trying to capitalize on, you know, whether it's Dave Matthews, whether it's President Obama. You know, we are bringing the people out who can help energize our base. I think that will not be the big red wave that he is predicting.

URBAN: Yeah.

BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you both.

URBAN: But, Erin --

BURNETT: Go ahead, final word. Yeah?

URBAN: I was going to say, the polls traditionally under-present, underreport Republicans. And that's why unless Democrats plus three, plus four, they are nervous because Republicans are generally under- represented and underreported in these polls, as everybody knows. So, if you're even, you are behind if you're a Democrat.

BURNETT: Well, we'll see. Again, when we finally get the results, it's going to take a few days after the election to know whether the polls are right or not. All right. Thank you both.

URBAN: Thanks for having us.

BURNETT: And next, the man who was known as Putin chief now running a brutal private army that's taking on a bigger role in the war every day. Could he be a threat to Putin himself now?

And on the same day Paul Pelosi is violently attacked, U.S. intelligence sounding the alarm about violent extremists across the country. That warning just coming up tonight.



BURNETT: Tonight, new video into OUTFRONT of Russian soldiers. Here first, a new recruit yelling at a higher-up that he and his fellow recruits are being sent to the meat grinder. Watch for yourself.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): My dear mobilized soldiers, you are surely not being sent to the meat grinder. You are good soldiers, well prepared for the fight.

RUSSIAN RECRUIT (through translator): Meat grinder, meat grinder, meat grinder.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Should you or your relatives have any queries, maybe with regard to those who are still training, they can address the district administration.

RUSSIAN RECRUIT (through translator): Well, why don't you explain it to them, (EXPLETIVE DELETED) to my parents?


BURNETT: Meat grinder, meat grinder, meat grinder. You saw that for yourself. It's incredible to think of this happening.

It comes as Putin today met with his embattled Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, making it clear things are not going well.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Based on the experience of conducting a special military operation, we need to think over and make adjustments to all components of the armed forces, including the ground forces.


BURNETT: Adjustments to all components of the armed forces including the ground forces. Putin realizing his entire operation is at risk if his military cannot change course fast.

And this comes as another close Putin ally is mocking the horrors Russia is inflicting on Ukraine. Russia's former president and prime minister now deputy head of Russia security council, Dmitry Medvedev, writing on telegram, quote, it is necessary to recognize the legitimacy of Russia's demands within the framework of the special military operation, and its results reflect in our constitution. And then the light will come in.

Making the point, if Ukraine would just give all that land over to Russia, they'll turn the lights back on, holding the Ukrainian people hostage in the literal dark until they cave.

And this is as Russia continues to bomb playgrounds, destroy apartment buildings, kill civilians, doing everyday things like shopping for groceries. Medvedev mocks the Ukrainian civilians and appeals to someone he's been bantering with on Twitter. Today tweeting at the new owner of Twitter, Elon Musk, quote: Good luck, Elon Musk, in overcoming political bias and ideological dictatorship on Twitter. And quit that Starlink in Ukraine business.

Musk has not yet responded publicly, at least.

But the trite banter in a face of gruesome, the rape and torture that's happening every day on the ground is actually pretty normal for Putin's former prime minister and Musk. Last week, Medvedev and Musk had a jovial back and forth on Twitter. Medvedev tweeted a nasty joke at the former Prime Minister Liz Truss to which Musk replied, quote, pretty good troll, to be honest.

[19:35:05] Then added, BTW, how is it going in Bakhmut? Musk's choice of city was notable, Bakhmut is a Ukrainian town where Russian forces have been making small and steady gains. And Medvedev replying, seeing you in Moscow on victory day, exclamation point.

All this after Musk also tweeted the so-called peace plan for Russia and Ukraine, a plan that tracked with exactly what Putin wants. It's all a very dangerous game as the former CIA director John Brennan told me when I spoke with him recently about Elon Musk's involvement.


JOHN BRENNAN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: He's made a number of very sorely misguided and I think harmful statements about Ukraine and Russia. I do think that Elon Musk needs to be very, very careful about what he's saying because the future I think of Ukraine really hanging in the balance.


BURNETT: The future of Ukraine and the lives of so many Ukrainians and Russians all hanging in the balance.

Fred Pleitgen is OUTFRONT in Odesa tonight.

And, Fred, what is the latest on the ground there tonight?


Well, still a lot of really heavy fighting going on, on the southern front, especially towards the town of Kherson. And one of the things that the Ukrainians are saying that the Russians have already put about a thousand of those newly mobilized recruits on the front lines, obviously right now facing off with the Ukrainians. And the spokeswoman for Ukraine's southern military command, she told me that the Ukrainians believe that a lot of the senior Russian officers have already left that area essentially leaving a lot of those recruits there, and the Ukrainians believe those recruits are little more than cannon fodder because they really don't have much in the way of experience, especially on a complex front line, like the one you have in southern Ukraine.

At the same time, the Russians are continuing to launch those Iranian- built and Iranian-supplied drones. The Ukrainians are saying that since mid-September, when the Russians started using them, they've already shot down more than 300 of those drones, of course, there are still a lot of those drones that do get through and they're wreaking havoc on Ukraine's energy systems, a lot of Ukrainian towns especially in the center of the country still having to ration electricity, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Fred, tonight from the ground.

And also tonight, the battle to oversee Putin's war is getting uglier. The man known as Putin's chief, I mentioned him, Yevgeny Prigozhin, who runs a brutal, private army is now challenging Putin's minister of defense, Sergei Shoigu.

Melissa Bell is OUTFRONT.


MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At a war council planning Russia's next move in Ukraine, a taunt to the Russian army's top grass.

Lead away so they know they're not just picking our noses here. The head of the Wagner mercenary group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, is now believed to have confronted Vladimir Putin himself, about the mismanagement of the war according to American officials. He'd already been emerging from the shadows appearing in Ukraine in April, and in Russian prisons recruiting hardened and sometimes diseased criminals. By this side, also, the grieving parents of the men he sent to their deaths.

Now the United States believes his complaints to Putin have centered around the Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu's handling of the war.

ANTON BARBASHIN, EDITORIAL DIRECTOR, RIDDLE RUSSIA: It's being selling himself as, you know, the most loyal servant that can solve problems. So, his rise is the payment for his work.

BELL: From the Kremlin, a clear change of tone since October 8th, with the appointment of General Sergei Surovikin, dubbed General Armageddon, to head Russia's war in Ukraine.

And on the ground, deadlier and more ruthless strategy, of bombing the civilian populations and its infrastructure into submission.

Prigozhin's mercenary is given a more prominent role at the expense of Russia's military hierarchy, according to Christo Grozev speaking to OUTFRONT.

CHRISTO GROZEV, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AND LEAD RUSSIA INVESTIGATOR, BELLINGCAT: What's interesting from my point of view, the new ambition that -- has obtained in that he believes he's much better than the regular army. His people are better equipped in the regular army.


BELL (on camera): It isn't just Prigozhin's Wagner mercenaries, Erin, that have given a more prominent role these last few weeks, but also the Chechen fighters of Ramzan Kadyrov. Now, what both men have in common, beyond the fact that they're loyal hard-liners is that they both been very openly critical of the Russian army's efforts in Ukraine recently, something that was unthinkable only a few months ago.

So, whilst the presence - increasingly open presence of their fighters is, of course, a concern to Ukrainian soldiers, to Ukrainian civilians specifically, Erin, it is also a signal of the fact that it is a less united, more fragmented force that they find opposite them. It's also, of course, a measure of the more vulnerable, fragile positions, of the powers that send them there to begin with.


BURNETT: Amazing.

All right. Melissa Bell, thank you so much for that report.

And next, the feds warning tonight about the domestic violent extremists opposed dangerous to midterm elections, saying, this is, quote, the most volatile, complex, dynamic threatening environment in recent times.

And Nevada Supreme Court saying no tonight to hand ballot counts, stopping efforts by conspiracy theorists in their tracks.


BURNETT: Tonight, just hours after Nancy Pelosi's husband was assaulted by an intruder in his home, the Department of Homeland Security now issuing a grave new warning about the threat of domestic violence extremists ahead of the midterms. We'll talk about it here in the next 11 days. It comes as politicians and election workers are increasingly concerned about physical threats.

"The New York Times" report shows that since 2016, there's been a tenfold increase in violent threats against lawmakers, 9,600 just last year. And that is according to the formal number the U.S. Capitol police are putting out.

I want to bring in Evan Perez here.

Evan, I mean, this is incredibly sobering warning. We're talking about this grave morning coming from 11 days to the midterms on the same day we find out about this violent attack on Paul Pelosi. What are you learning about why this threat is different from anything they've seen in the past?


EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, it's being driven by this perception of fraud in the elections. This idea that people, you know, if they're not satisfied with who wins the election, might lash out as a result of that. They're going to lash out not only at their opponent, political opponents but also against election workers because they don't like how the election turns out.

And, of course, that's all driven by the aftermath of what happened in 2020. And that's one of the reasons why you see so much concern not only in this bulletin from the Homeland Security Department, which was also the work of the folks from the Capitol Police and the FBI.

But you hear this also from police around the country. You saw the New York police department put out a bulletin just a few days ago warning of exactly this, this heightened awareness that there could be violence connected to the midterm elections. And, again, all of them say that there are no specific -- no known specific threats that they have detected. But it's just kind of like what happened today. It comes from nowhere.

BURNETT: It comes from nowhere. I mean, that's a person who while he had posted on these websites had no sort of a rap sheet, no sort of known history of anything. How do you know when somebody --

PEREZ: Completely off the radar.

BURNETT: Completely off the radar. So, what, if anything, is being done about this? And I guess in the context of what we were just saying, Evan, what even can be done about it?

PEREZ: Well, one of the things we saw just in the last few days, the FBI has been doing some outreach to the sheriffs and local police who really are the front line on some of this. And they are trying to provide some training.

They're also asking people to be on the lookout exactly because you will see some of these people might lash out at polling stations, for instance. And certainly places where the ballots are being counted. Those are the places where we might see some of that violence.

The other thing they're also concerned about is obviously some of the cyber threats that could come to try to give the impression that the election was stolen. These are all things that come into play around a key time like a midterm election.

BURNETT: Very sobering. Evan, thank you.

PEREZ: Thanks.

BURNETT: And, next, a big setback for election deniers in one Nevada county. Their efforts to count ballots by hand, declared illegal.

And an update on that 8-year-old boy we told you about, at this hour still on track to become the youngest person to climb El Capitan.



BURNETT: Tonight, shutdown. The Nevada Supreme Court has ordered an immediate halt to the unprecedented hand count of mail-in ballots in a rural Nevada county. Officials there denying the results of the 2020 election saying they won't use voting machines because they can be hacked.

Nick Watt is OUTFRONT.


NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This week, Nye County in Nevada started counting ballots by hand as well as by machine because this guy told them to.

JIM MARCHANT (R), CANDIDATE FOR NV SECRETARY OF STATE: Dispose of your electronic voting and tabulation machines and do not use them in any elections going forward.

WATT: Late last night, Nevada's Supreme Court ordered that hand count to stop until polls close election day. County officials vow to start again ASAP.

Jim Marchant is urging every county in Nevada to go hand count only. Some others might soon. None have yet.

LAWRENCE NORDEN, SENIOR DIRECTOR, BRENNAN CENTER FOR JUSTICE: Try to do this especially at the last minute is a recipe for disaster.

WATT: So, why do you think these people want you to do it?

JAMIE RODRIGUEZ, INTERIM REGISTRAR OF VOTERS WASHOE COUNTY: I honestly don't know. There is a lot of talk about the machines being able to be hacked, the machines that we have not shown ability to do that.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: Jim Marchant is a patriot.

WATT: Marchant did not return our calls. Now, he is also running for Nevada's secretary of state.

TRUMP: Jim is a winner. He's incredible.

WATT: Could win and at a MAGA rally this month called the hand count in Nye County --

MARCHANT: The new prototype for the election system we are going to deploy around the country with your help.

WATT: He has founded the America First Secretary of State Coalition. Members right now running for the office in 12 states.

MARCHANT: If we get all of our secretaries of state elected around the country like this, we take our country back.

WATT: They have two high-profile candidates for governors. Doug Mastriano in Pennsylvania. Kari Lake in Arizona.

KARI LAKE (R), ARIZONA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: We will no longer accept rigged elections. Who is with me on that?

WATT: Here in Nevada, since the 2020 vote, there has been the hand count push, lies about the election and threats against officials.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is not going to go away and it's much nicer to get it resolved peacefully than what might come next.

WATT: Supervisors of elections have quit or decided not to run in nine of Nevada's 17 counties.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Either fire her or lock her up.

WATT: Washoe County's long-serving registrar voters actually quit, fearing for her safety. RODRIGUEZ: We lost a total of six staff.

WATT: Out of?

RODRIGUEZ: Out of 9. We had a lot of people said this wasn't for them any more.

WATT: In Nye County, the clerk of 22 years, a Republican, quit after the hand count plan was approved. Here's her replacement. An election denier who has never overseen an election.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am trying to increase voter confidence in the election.

WATT: He is excited for the hand count.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a test. A test to see how it works. I'd like to see the whole country go to hand count.


WATT (on camera): So he says that a hand count wine crease voter confidence. Many election experts we speak to say it would do the exact opposite. Hand counts are more prone to human error, fraud and they take a long time -- time in which conspiracy theories can spread.

Now, this time around, the machine count in Nye County will be the official tally according to the state. That's this time. Next time, Erin, who knows?


BURNETT: Amazing. Thanks so much, Nick.

And next, that little boy climbing El Capitan is almost at the top. We've got the update for you.


BURNETT: All right. Any moment that 8-year-old boy we told you about last night could be making history. Sam Baker has now climbed more than half of California's El Capitan with his father. The height is nearly 3,000 feet.

Sam's dad Joe says Sam's mom will be waiting at the top. They posted this photo today with a message, almost there.

Sam's parents are both avid hikers. His father says Sam has been training to take on El Capitan every day for the past 18 months. I mean, it is incredible to see. Look at that picture. Such a little person about to achieve something so monumental and wonderful and so amazing that his mother will be there at the top.

We will all be looking forward to that moment.

Thanks to all of you for joining us. You can find the latest episode of our show and podcast or, obviously, your favorite podcast app.

"AC360" begins right now.