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Erin Burnett Outfront

Supreme Court Rejects Trump Request, Clears Way For Release Of Taxes; Federal Court Skeptical Of Trump's Arguments In Mar-A-Lago Search; Nightclub Shooting Suspect To Have First Court Hearing Tomorrow; Ukraine's Security Services Raid Historic Orthodox Christian Church To Counter Suspected Covert Activities By Russia; Police Are "Making Progress" In Hunt For A Suspect In Quadruple Murder Case; McCarthy To DHS Chief: Resign Or Face Potential Impeachment Inquiry; Desperation In China Intensifies As COVID Cases Rise To Near Highs. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired November 22, 2022 - 19:00   ET



ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, Trump facing major defeats today. The Supreme Court clearing the way for House Democrats to get a hold of his tax returns as federal judges appear likely to rule against Trump in the Mar-a-Lago documents case.

Plus, Putin's reality check -- facing pressure at home, low morale among his troops. And Russian president now agreeing to meet with soldiers' mothers. It's a crucial moment, how his people turning on him.

And he lives next to the house where four Idaho college students were found stabbed to death. Hear how he describes what he saw at the house before the murders. He'll be my guest.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, Trump losing two major legal battles. One that has literally been waged for years imploding before the former president's eyes today.

This was a big blow to Trump for the Supreme Court. The court clearing the way for House committee to get Trump's tax returns. Now this is the same committee that you may remember has been in an all-out war with Trump over his tax returns, since 2019 they've been trying to get him.

And today, they succeed. Trump doing all he can to keep those records secret with excuse after excuse for years.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: In the old days no president gave tax returns.

This is a political witch hunt, the likes of which nobody's ever seen before. It's a pure witch hunt, it's a hoax.


BURNETT: Well, now, the court's ruling against him on that. And, of course, facts do matter. Every president in the past 45 years, except for Trump, has released his tax returns.

But the clock is ticking on this victory every second mattering. The committee only has until January 3rd before the Republicans take over the House and the committee, almost certainly ending the investigation. And you've got all the holidays literally every second counts on this one.

Well, now the second major blow to Trump today. This from a panel of federal appeals court judges expressing skepticism at Trump's arguments in the Mar-a-Lago case. A panel of judges all appointed by Republicans, two of whom were appointed by Trump himself, not buying Trump's argument that the government violated his rights when it searched Mar-a-Lago for classified documents.

The judge is appearing to agree with the Justice Department that the special master review of the documents, which was ordered of course by a lower court, is not necessary. Because federal investigators didn't take anything they shouldn't have taken. The chief judge on the panel pushing back at Trump's lawyer, saying, and I'll quote him, the entire premise of the exercise of this extraordinary kind of jurisdiction would be that the seizure itself is unlawful. And if you can't establish that, then what are we even doing here?

Right? Like they didn't establish that, so they're in the courtroom.

All right. Evan Perez has been following all the court proceedings today. He's out front in Washington.

So, Evan, look, these are significant events. And I want to start with the Supreme Court, right, the court -- the Supreme Court ruling on Trump's taxes, right, with all those judges he put on there, and this not going his way. What does this mean?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it means, Erin, that the ways and means committee now probably has just over a month to take a look at these tax documents. We anticipate that they're going to get them very, very soon.

What they said that they wanted to do, if you remember the former president said that he was under audits. And so, they say that they want to see whether there is any legislation that they can propose. Of course, they have very little time to work with, as you pointed out, Republicans are expected to take over the committees at the beginning of January. So that's just over a month to work with.

BURNETT: All right. Every second mattering, and I should say, we're going to be joined by a member of the Ways and Means Committee in just a moment. But also, Evan, the other blow today, the appeals court on Mar-a-Lago. What happens now? PEREZ: Well, look, we're waiting for the appeals court to rule. We

were watching very closely, Erin, for what William Pryor, the chief judge on this three-judge panel, how he would react. We expected that he might be the most sympathetic voice to the former president. It turns out not at all.

He raised questions as to, as you pointed out, why they were even here or hearing this case because it's extraordinary for a defendant, somebody who is under investigation to get the kind of help that he was getting from this lower court judge in Palm Beach. He pointed out that the reason why obviously the former president got a special master was because of this intermingling of items that the former president says were classified materials with his personal materials, and he said, I don't think it's necessarily the fault of the government if someone has intermingled classified documents with all kinds of other personal property.


You can tell that there was a lot of skepticism about why the former president, frankly, was getting special treatment from a lower court judge -- Erin.

BURNETT: Right. Of course a judge that he had appointed but a crucial point that they're making. If you're going to throw in medical records or whatever it is next to letters from Kim Jong-un, that's on you, not on them for taking the letters.

All right, Evan, thank you very much.

So, now, as promised, I want to go to the Democratic Congressman Lloyd Doggett, a member of the Ways and Means Committee which has been trying to get Trump's tax returns since 2019.

So, Congressman, here you are, the day has come, victory from a Supreme Court with Trump's judges on it coming saying, you know what, hand those tax returns over to your committee. Let's start with the most basic question. When do you expect to get the documents?

REP. LLOYD DOGGETT (D-TX): I'm hoping we will get them by next week. This is an important victory for accountability, and it's true that the efforts have gone on for three years on the lawsuit. I actually made the first motion to get these tax returns on February 3rd, 2017. So we're coming up on almost five years that we've been trying to get this.


DOGGETT: And, you know, Republicans in the House aided and abetted him in every way. The statute's explicit. It says: shall turn these over to the Ways and Means Committee. He never had the law on this side, but he had plenty of Republicans who would block and obstruct and refuse to take action. And then a Trump-appointed judge sat on the lawsuit for 2 1/2 years.

And so, now, we are right up against the final deadline. We know the same house Republicans that blocked access to his returns when we could have gotten them a long, long time ago have already begun putting out statements that make it clear if we don't get action before the January 3rd deadline, we will never be able to hold him to any level of accountability and fulfill our legislative responsibilities to see whether the IRS is conducting its audit to these appropriately.

BURNETT: So, let's be clear here. On January 3rd, they get control of your committee the house and they end it, that's clear. So, you've got just about six weeks. You're saying now you don't expect to get them until after Thanksgiving. Then you've got members on holiday and the holidays, Christmas, New Years.

Are you going to be able to do what you need to do here, congressman? Or is this sort of a pyrrhic victory where you win but you can't actually execute?

DOGGETT: Time is of the essence. I think we need to be ready to work holidays, weekend, whatever it takes to get this job done. There is a lot at stake here. And we cannot default at the last minute.

I know we will be acting on advice of counsel, the same counsel that won this decision today and has won in fact no judge has ever ruled for Trump's side on this issue. So it's clear. The law is clear. Our responsibility is clear, and Republican obstruction and willingness to continue to obstruct is clear.

So we need to move quickly. And I hope we begin that review next week.

Just to be clear about it, this does not mean that the records immediately become public. They're subject to privacy protection. In fact, it's a felony to leak or disclose these returns until our committee acts.


BURNETT: So if your committee is unable to do what you need to do, and I know it's -- I'm saying need to do because that's obviously an amorphous term. But you got to figure it out when you look at them.

But if you aren't able to get everything done by January 3rd, and each one of his returns is going to be this thick, I'm holding my hands up the size of the TV. So then, and the public isn't going to get to see them because of secrecy, the GOP takes over, what happens? No one ever sees them, nothing happens, they're gone?

DOGGETT: There certainly is the alternative of making these documents public, and the time pressure here creates an added reason to consider doing that. I'm not ready without having reviewed any of it to say that we need to act immediately on making them public. But there is a way that we can forward those tax returns to the House and the House can act on this. And it would have the effect of making it public, and then they could be reviewed with more care.

BURNETT: All right.

DOGGETT: That's something that the Republicans have got to consider if they continue to obstruct here.

BURNETT: All right. Well, it is crucial to know that you would have that option. And, again, even though that may be against his wishes, it would be consistent with the past 45 years of precedent with presidential candidates releasing those returns.

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

DOGGETT: Thank you.

BURNETT: I want to go straight to Ryan Goodman now, "Just Security" co-editor in chief and former special counsel at the Defense Department.

OK. So let's just start there where Congressman Doggett finished. So, time is of the essence, he made that clear. Nights, weekends, they're going to work them. If they can't get it done, they have this option.

Do you think they'll be able to do -- and I keep saying everything they need to do because we don't know what that is.


But I mean, literally, to read through each of this -- it's this thick -- you know, or more before the GOP takes over?

RYAN GOODMAN, FORMER SPECIAL COUNSEL AT DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE: I don't think they'll be able to do everything they want to do. So, the big question is, your question is, to whether or not they will release any of it publicly? And that is the question that was kind of burning behind the scenes of the different judges that entertained this question. So the district court judge at the very end of his opinion says, this may be not right or wise, but it is the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee's right to decide what to do in terms of releasing it. And the Court of Appeals said something similar.

BURNETT: It's going to be a crucial decision.

OK, now, the appeals court ruling in Mar-a-Lago, as Evan was going through that. You listened in on the entire hearing today, which you were able to do. We're not allowed to play sound bites from it. That's not allowed, but we are able to quote from it. So, in one exchange, a judge appointed by Trump cut Trump's lawyer off when the lawyer called the august search at Mar-a-Lago a raid, right?

The judge cuts him off and says, do you think a raid is the right term for the execution of a warrant to which Trump's lawyer, Jim Trusty, respected lawyer, apologizes for using the, quote, loaded term.

All right, and it's clear Evan was laying where this panel of judges appears to be. If the court decides in favor of the DOJ, says enough of the special master review what, happens to the Mar-a-Lago case time line?

GOODMAN: So, it would -- I think this might happen within the next few days. They would basically overturn judge cannon. And she would be no longer, essentially in, control of the Mar-a-Lago documents. They would basically be saying, you should never have exercised jurisdiction in the first place, Judge Cannon, you didn't have it. It was so bizarrely unusual, it's never been done before.

So they take it away from her. In fact, with the assistant solicitor general, the chief judge was actually just discussing, in part, should we say it's totally vacated? We've totally reversed her.

So they're just really playing with those particular words, but that seems to be what's about to happen. And then all of it will go to the Justice Department.

BURNETT: And they can then go, and you've got obviously the special counsel involved and things can go very quickly if they so choose.


BURNETT: Ryan, thanks very much.

GOODMAN: Uh-huh.

BURNETT: And next, the Colorado shooting suspect out of the hospital and in jail. The district attorney joins me next.

Plus, I'm going to speak to a shooting survivor from his hospital bed tonight. He was at the club with his partner and his sister. All three were shot.

Plus, is Vladimir Putin worried about his own people turning on him. After months of Russian soldiers complaining about low morale and phone calls like the one we played for you exclusively last night, Putin now agreeing to meet with the mothers of those troops.

And police say they are, quote, making progress in their search for the killer in the Idaho killings. I'm going to speak to a man who lives next to the students. He'll tell you what he noticed about the house where they were found dead.



BURNETT: Tonight, the suspected gunman in the deadly massacre inside a Colorado LGBTQ night club getting ready to make his first court appearance. He was released from the hospital today where he was being treated for injuries that he sustained after being taken down and beaten by customers inside the night club. The suspect is now in jail amidst growing questions about red flags that may have been missed.

Rosa Flores is OUTFRONT.


ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): New information is surfacing about the troubling past of the suspected gunman, 22-year- old Anderson Lee Aldrich. CHIEF ANDRIAN VASQUEZ, COLORADO SPRINGS POLICE DEPARTMENT: Our

investigators are writing search warrants and looking at any type of items such as computers and any technology.

FLORES: The suspect was caught on camera surrendering to police during a bomb threat incident last year.

ANDERSON LEE ALDRICH, SUSPECT: This is your boy. I've got the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) outside. They got a beat on me.

FLORES: When his mother called police on him, saying he had guns and ammunition, according to authorities. But the case was not adjudicated, and the file was sealed, which means it would not be detected in a background check.

ALDRICH: (EXPLETIVE DELETED) got their (EXPLETIVE DELETED) rifles out. If they breach, I'm going to (EXPLETIVE DELETED) blow it to holy hell. So, go ahead and come on in, boys. Let's (EXPLETIVE DELETED) see it!

FLORES: Until the age of 15, Aldrich was known as Nicholas F. Brink. He legally changed his name to Anderson L. Aldrich in 2016 through the courts in San Antonio, Texas, court records show. Prior to that in 2015, the shooting suspect was the subject of intense online bullying on a still active Internet parody page.

CNN has found evidence of the mocking comments that spanned a five- month period when he was 15 years old. The page resembling Wikipedia shows photos of him mocking his weight and accuses him of engaging in illegal activity.

Aldrich is the grandson of California Assemblyman Randy Voepel, who initially compared the January 6th attack to the Revolutionary War, but later said he did not condone or support the violence and lawlessness that took place on January 6th. Aldrich's family life is chaotic. He was primarily raised by his maternal grandmother, the ex- wife of the assemblyman, a source told CNN.

And since the shooting, police have been trying to reach out to the suspect's mother. Police say they don't know where she is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She has not offered to come forward and speak with us.

FLORES: The suspect's mother received three years probation for public intoxication and falsely reporting a crime to police in California when Aldrich, then known as Brink, was just 8 years old, according to court records, obtained by CNN. The court records show that she made a false report in 2008 about a break-in and burglary attempt where she was tied up with kite string and duct tape.

Weeks later, she admitted to making up the whole incident because she was lonely and wanted attention.

In 2010, court records also show she sought custody of her son, then 10 years old. When he was 12, his mother was again in trouble with the law. She was arrested for suspected arson, and the charge was later reduced to criminal mischief.


FLORES (on camera): CNN investigates also learning more about the suspect's father, that he was a porn star, that he was an MMA fighter, and also that he was convicted on federal smuggling marijuana charges. But that the suspect spent little to no time and had a very little relationship with the suspect.

Now, Erin, the suspect is in the building that you see behind me. That's where he will be spending the night. It is the local jail here. And, of course, he will be facing a judge tomorrow morning -- Erin.


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

And I want to go now to the district attorney for El Paso County, Colorado, Michael Allen.

And I really appreciate your time. Obviously, the suspect is now in the custody of the jail, going to appear before a judge tomorrow. Are you able to tell me when he'll be formally charged and whether you'll include hate crime charges among the charges?

MICHAEL ALLEN, DISTRICT ATTORNEY, EL PASO COUNTY, COLORADO: Yes. So tomorrow tentatively, it's scheduled for just a first appearance. He will be held without bond based on the arrest charges. Top formal filing of charges is probably going to be some time next week or depending on court scheduling the week after that. But that will be determined tomorrow.

BURNETT: That will be determined tomorrow. But you're saying we may not actually have charges for a week or two?

ALLEN: So, roughly about ten days, I think, is kind of what we're thinking. And, again, that's based off of the court's schedule. I will be available to be in the courtroom and deal with that within a few days after we get the case. But I would expect that there will be more charges than what the arrest charges entail.

BURNETT: OK. And in that I guess you're referring to things including bias or hate?

ALLEN: So we're definitely looking at -- Colorado has bias motivated crime statutes, which most people understand as hate crimes. We are definitely looking at that based on the facts involved in this case that are very well known in the community now. And so, we'll definitely look at that. And if there's evidence to charge it, we absolutely will charge those as well.

Those don't really go beyond the murders. The murders are the real target here. We'll provide the biggest sentencing option when we get to -- if we get to that stage in this case.

BURNETT: I understand, of course, each of those life in prison is a possible sentence. Is there anything more, Michael, as you look into this, that you are learning about the suspect's background or possible motive? And I know this gets at the bias issue, hate crime.

But why, that you can share with us?

ALLEN: Yeah, you know, that's the thing that, as humans, we want to know the why. The court with criminal law (INAUDIBLE) that we don't have to prove motive. But for people to understand what happened, why it happened, we certainly look into that. And if we have evidence to show why they did something, we'll certainly be presenting that as well.

And it's going to be an important story for this community. As far as that goes in this realm, I don't want to do anything that's going to impair my ability to prosecute this case. And so I really want to make sure that we understand that some things I can and can't say because I want to be able to make sure that we have a good prosecution effort here.


ALLEN: And I would prefer to stay away from that as of where it stands today, although I can tell you, we probably get information available for that as we get further down the road.

BURNETT: All right, have you been able or is any officials at this point, to your knowledge, been able to interview the suspect at this point?

ALLEN: So, that's one of those areas that I absolutely will not talk about. The U.S. Constitution and the Colorado Constitution afford people the right to remain silent if they choose to. So I'm not going to comment on whether he has interviewed or not interviewed just because I want to protect this prosecution effort.

BURNETT: All right. Well, I appreciate your time and sharing with us what you could. Thank you very much, Michael.

ALLEN: Thank you. I appreciate being on here.

BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, James Slaugh. He is still in the hospital tonight after being shot in the shoulder.

And, James, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me. I know you're there in your hospital bed after everything that you've been through, that you're trying to come to terms with. How are you doing tonight?

JAMES SLAUGH, SURVIVED SHOOTING AT CLUB Q: First and foremost, thank you for letting me share my story with you. I think that's the most important thing.

And, tonight, after all of the love and support and reaching out from everyone, I'm doing well. I already had my surgery. Everything is going as good as can be expected after something like this. BURNETT: Yeah. I mean, it's just -- it's impossible to really

comprehend what happened. I know you were at Club Q with your sister and your partner, and it was a special night. I mean, you were all together. I know you were there to try to cheer your sister up. She had had a recent breakup and it was hard. And you were there on the one-year anniversary of your mother's death from COVID.

And this is why you're all there, and then you hear shots ring out. Can you tell me what happened?

SLAUGH: Of course. We were actually getting ready to leave. It was about 11:50, something around that time. And my partner and I were getting ready to leave. And we were saying our good-byes to her and a friend that she had met just now because everyone -- we're talkative, we like to make friends there.


But we were saying good-bye. My back was turned to the front door. And we were in the bar area. And suddenly, I just hear pop, pop, pop, pop, pop. And I started to turn to try and see what's going on, and I get hit in the shoulder, or, rather, upper left arm -- or, sorry, upper right arm. The bullet went in.

I learned later that it shattered my humerus, and I have shrapnel in my arm. So, my arm becomes completely useless -- and I fall behind the wall. At that point, I see my partner John Carlos. I see the friend we were talking to. I see my sister.

And my first instinct was to call the cops. So, I fumbled, my right hand is still working but my arm isn't. I pull out my phone, get on the line with the cops, and I'm scared, I'm frantic. I just need you -- she just stayed on the line with me the entire time. A couple more pops go off, and then it's just silence.

And that silence was the scariest part because we weren't sure if he was reloading. We didn't know what he was doing. But then all of a sudden we hear, somebody call the police. And I yell out, I already am.

I get to -- my partner is like I've been hit in the leg. He had been hit, you know, I believe, somewhere in his waist. I don't know that his injuries had a chance to really discuss.

And then my sister's on the ground on her stomach. I see her one- handed typing something into her phone. And I just keep calling her name and she can't hear me. And everything is just quiet.

And then all of a sudden some people start getting up. These are people that didn't get hit. And these are just clients and patrons of this bar. And they start going around. And the thing that made me first tear up was a guy I had never met before, just a patron of the club, he grabs towels.

And he comes to me and he's like, have you been hit? I'm like, yeah, I believe so. He was like, yeah, it looks like it's your arm, you're going to be okay, you're going to live, you're going to be okay. And he just kisses my forehead. And that's where I first started tearing up.

BURNETT: Your sister, Charlina (ph), you say she was obviously shot in the stomach, in the abdomen. Those are incredibly serious injuries. Is she -- how is she doing? Do you know?

SLAUGH: Right now she is stable. She got shot, as far as I understand, somewhere in the gut area, and in her arm actually twice. So, a lot of shrapnel as well.

So, they -- she just went through another surgery to have a plate put into her arm, and another bullet removed near her elbow. So, she's stable, she is able to talk, she is able to communicate. She knows what happened. And I think she's just as strong, if not stronger, than myself, and all the other victims of this horrible crime.

BURNETT: And I know that you and John Carlos actually met at Club Q, right? This was a special place for the two of you, be it's where you met. And now this horrific thing has happened that has changed your life.

So, how do you even think about that place? How do you process this? Would you ever even go back?

SLAUGH: Yes. I'm not going to let a single person's hatred stop me from being who I am. I am not going to let hate win over love and respect and safe spaces because Club Q is a safe space. It will always be a safe space. And one single bullet will never be powerful enough to stop that love. It will never be powerful enough to stop the billions of good people in this world.

And I've seen all of the love and support through social media, through you guys, through everybody, just showing this amazing togetherness. And if there is a message that I would love to send, it's regarding that togetherness. I would want everyone to overcome that hate. I would want everyone to be understanding and loving. That's what we should be. One single bullet is not going to be powerful enough to stop that.

BURNETT: James, thank you so very much. I just want everyone to know who is watching you tonight that you do have a GoFundMe page. People can help you and your sister in your recovery. And thank you so much for taking the time from your recovery, from your hospital bed to speak to me. Thanks.

SLAUGH: Thank you.

BURNETT: And next, a massive raid in Ukraine tonight. Why Ukrainian forces ransacked a Russian orthodox church in Kyiv. And more than 90 people interviewed by police in their search for the killer of four Idaho college students. A neighbor who spoke to police about what he saw that night is my guest.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BURNETT: Major developments out of Ukraine tonight. The security service there raiding a 1,000-year-old Christian monastery in Kyiv. This was part of an operation to counter covert activities by Russian special forces.

And the intrigue mounts. The Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov is accusing Ukrainian authorities of being, quote, at war with the Russian Orthodox Church. This is new images of the Ukrainians in the now liberated city of Kherson show them ripping down Russian propaganda billboards and replacing them with signs that read "I love Kherson" and "Compatriots, you are free."

In Russia, Vladimir Putin will meet with the mothers of Russian reservists called up to fight in Ukraine.


It comes as soldiers grow increasingly grim and vocal about they're seeing and experiencing on the front lines.

Fred Pleitgen is OUTFRONT live in Moscow tonight.

And, Fred, let's start with this. Putin with this meeting, is it a signal that he recognizes that morale is now a very real problem at home?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Erin. I would certainly say that Vladimir Putin recognizes that it's something that is becoming an issue. One of the things that we have to keep in mind about the population here in Russia is that when all of this began on February 24th of this year, many of them were told this isn't going to take a very long time, only professional soldiers are going to take part in all of this.

Then the battlefield losses started mounting, and then you had this big mobilization. And, you know, a lot of people aren't seeing very much headway since that mobilization has started as well. And there certainly are a lot of people, especially the mothers of those who are being mobilized but also the wives who are saying, look, they really are demanding of the Russian president that their relatives need to be treated better.

Here's what we're finding out.


PLEITGEN (voice-over): Stark images from what many believe to be the second strongest military in the world. This video posted on social media purports to show new Russian recruits camped out in the snow and cold with little more than tarps for shelter, some trying to warm up by fires.

CNN cannot independently verify its authenticity, but those posting it say the soldiers even had to buy their own food to survive. Problems during training, problems on the battlefield. These recruits vent their anger at the Russian military. RUSSIAN RECRUIT (through translator): We were abandoned without

equipment, without everything. Where are the tanks? Where are the armored personnel carriers? Come on, bring it, or I'll come for you!

PLEITGEN: Dilapidated barracks, horrendous sanitary conditions, poor food. The list of complaints often documented in social media posts like this runs long since Russia says it has mobilized more than 300,000 men for the war in Ukraine since September, with more than 50,000 allegedly already on the battlefield, the Kremlin says.

Some relatives, especially mothers, complaining about the treatment of their loved ones. This group in southwestern Russia saying their husbands and sons had been sent to the front line without adequate training or gear.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (though translator): The commander who gave the order that our men should hold the defense ignored the decree of the supreme commander in chief that the newly mobilized should not be sent to the first line of contact.

PLEITGEN: Even in the areas of Ukraine that Russia has annexed, mothers are taking a stand. "Return students to their studies" this sign in Donetsk says.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (though translator): Vladimir Vladimirovich, please return our children. There are many dead, many captured. The rest of the children are physically and morally decimated.

PLEITGEN: Soldiers' mothers traditionally carry a lot of sway in Russia, and Russian President Vladimir Putin seems eager to show he's not tone-deaf to their plight, recently visiting what the military says were new recruits, even firing a sniper rifle himself, trying to convey he cares about the new recruits.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): About our country, you know, of course, we have costs, most notably regarding losses in the special military operation. I think about it all the time.

PLEITGEN: But many mobilized Russians and their relatives seem to feel left out in the cold after their country called them up to serve in a war that was never supposed to last this long.


BURNETT: Fred, it's amazing reporting. And when you talk about these mothers, obviously in the past they've been so important in turning public sentiment. Putin having that meeting could be significant.

You are in Moscow right now. What are you hearing from people there now about their support for what Putin's presence in Ukraine?

PLEITGEN: Well, you know, I think one of the big factors that we've seen over the past couple of weeks, Erin, that's really made the mood here a lot more gloomy has been the Russian defeat and withdrawal from Kherson. And I think a lot of people right now are not seeing any sort of end in sight. And one of the things that people have told us is on the one hand for them, it's big uncertainty, they really don't know what the future is going to hold.

But at the same time they also don't see any sort of light at the end of the tunnel. These were all folks who at the beginning were told this campaign is only going to last a couple of days. Then they were told maybe a couple of months. Then all of a sudden people were being mobilized.

If you look at what happened since the mobilization, Russia really hasn't made much in the way of headway. In fact they've withdrawn from Kherson. So, people now are certainly getting antsy. And at the same time one of the things that we're also seeing is that the sanctions really are starting to affect people as well -- Erin.

BURNETT: And that's very important as you're coming into the winter.

Fred, thank you very much.

And, next, police say that they're making progress as their search for a killer of four Idaho college students continues.


We're live in Idaho tonight.

And a new poll shows Trump and DeSantis running neck and neck as potential competitors for 2024. Harry Enten, OUTFRONT next with the numbers.


BURNETT: Tonight, new leads in the murder investigation of four college students stabbed to death at a home near the University of Idaho. Police telling CNN a, quote, substantial amount of information is coming in. Those are their words, substantial amount of information. They've interviewed more than 90 people they say and have obtained a new video from the Moscow, Idaho, neighborhood.


AARON SNELL, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, IDAHO STATE POLICE: We have not identified a suspect. And that's 100 percent accurate. However, I can say that through just the various leads that we've worked and through all the information that we have, we are definitely making progress in this investigation.


BUIRNETT: Definitely making progress, but still no suspect.

Natasha Chen is OUTFRONT live from Moscow, Idaho, tonight.

So, Natasha, what else did you learn from police today?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Erin, in that conversation I had with the Idaho state police communications director, he was talking about the number of videos that have come in through an online portal that they set up for people to submit surveillance footage that they might have. And he said that right now their teams are going over all of those files, and they're large files so that could take some time to comb through.


And then they send all of the information that's relevant to the detectives to go through. So, there is work being done right now, he said, behind the scenes. But it's just not a lot of information that they can release to the public right now because they want to protect the integrity of the investigation knowing that a lot of this information will have to be used during the prosecution and bringing the person or people responsible to justice.

And that's the other thing. In talking about the threat to the public, he did discuss that people should be vigilant because, after all, a suspect has not been caught, and he did not rule out the possibility that there could be more than one person responsible for this. I also asked about efforts of them asking for local businesses to see if anyone had purchased a recent fixed-blade knife. Apparently that did not turn up any useful leads.

But they are still working on all sorts of leads in other directions that they mentioned more than 700 leads that they're chasing right now, Erin.

BURNETT: I mean, more than 700 leads, not ruling out multiple people involved, asking for all this information. Look, understandably, people are afraid. And the University of Idaho has put out a new message for students today who are scared to return to campus. What does it say?

CHEN: Yeah, the university president noted in his message to students that many of them submitted comments to the university about how they hope the school will proceed after the fall break, after the Thanksgiving break. And taking into account all of that student input, the president said that they will allow for both in-person and remote learning for the remainder of the semester, the remaining two weeks of the year, and while it's -- remote learning is not preferred, he said it can be accommodated in limited situations, asking the faculty to prepare for that possibility for that option -- Erin.

BURNETT: It's amazing that they still have no suspect here. Thank you very much, Natasha.

And, next, Kevin McCarthy making a big play for votes in the race for House speaker, tonight going to the border and calling for the homeland security secretary to resign, or else.

And the Chinese government now requiring negative PCR tests just to go to the grocery store. We're live in Beijing.



BURNETT: Tonight, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy visiting the southern border and issuing a warning to the head of the Department of Homeland Security -- resign, or else.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): If Secretary Mayorkas does not resign, House Republicans will investigate every order, every action, and every failure will determine whether we can begin impeachment inquiry.


BURNETT: Well, the DHS said Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has no intention of resigning.

But it is not just Republicans who are upset over immigration. Here is the Arizona Governor-elect Katie Hobbs, who, of course, is a Democrat.


GOV.-ELECT KATIE HOBBS (D), ARIZONA: I don't think they're doing enough. I would love to have them visit and see firsthand the kind of support and relief that folks in these communities need from the federal government.


BURNETT: All right. OUTFRONT now, Harry Enten. So, Harry, how much is the topic of immigration right now resonating with Republicans and Democrats?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: Yeah. So, you know, if you look at our exit polling, you look at all the states, right, and we asked, you know, what's the most important issue? In Arizona, more voters say that immigration was the most important issue to their vote than any other state we pulled. Nearly double the national percentage, which is 10 percent in Arizona. It was 18 percent.

So, you know, this is something that Arizona Katie Hobbs specific. When it comes to Kevin McCarthy, look, this is all about a speaker's race, right? He wants to keep those defections.

BURNETT: Right, he wants that backdrop, yeah.

ENTEN: Exactly, exactly. He wants to make sure that those people on the, right who might try and leave him, he corrals them in. And we know from our exit poll that those voters who said that immigration was, in fact, the most important issue in their vote nationally, overwhelmingly for Republicans. This is a clear, easy win for him if he's trying to win a speakers race and corral those righty votes.

BURNETT: Which, of course, he's got some problems, right? He's lost more votes and you can vote to lose. He's got wheeling and dealing to if he can pull it out. All right, so the issue of immigration though that he has, you know, he thinks gets the base that helped propel Trump in 2016 to the White House. No question about it, right? Build the wall, his whole thing.

But you have new data on him, indicating that Trump weakest point among Republicans ever? Or --

ENTEN: Yeah, certainly since recent memory. Since I've been employed at CNN, which is 2018.

You know, the Trump brand is all about winning, right? I win, I win, I beat the Democrats. Well, it turns out that Trump has suffered some losses over the last few years, right? He lost in the 2020 election, even if he doesn't believe it. In the 2022 election, his candidates lost.

And it turns out that when you ask Republican voters, who has the best chance of winning against the Democrats? Is it Trump or somebody else? Look now, just 35 percent of Republicans say it is Donald Trump. That is down from last, year when it was a bare majority. That's well down from during his presidency in 2019.

And when you look at Ron -- versus Ron DeSantis, look at this poll. What do you see? You see that Ron DeSantis and Donald Trump are in a dead heat nationally. This Republican race is on if Ron DeSantis gets into it.

BURNETT: Wow. All right. Thank you very much, Harry Enten.

ENTEN: Thank you.

BURNETT: And next, China's zero COVID policy, yes, getting even more extreme tonight as it reports some of the highest case numbers of the entire pandemic. Most restrictive measures on earth are now taking a tragic toll there.



BURNETT: Tonight, China's COVID cases are surging even as Beijing is tightening COVID rules. The city announcing that it will require negative PCR COVID tests just to enter the supermarket or to get on public transportation. This is unbelievable.

China is reporting around 28,000 cases tonight, which in terms of cases, is nearly the highest number in the entire pandemic for China. The communist government is also reporting several deaths from COVID, and, that for the first time in nearly six months.

As the draconian lockdown rules tonight reach new record levels, some are taking desperate measures.

Selina Wang is OUTFRONT from Beijing.


(SCREAMING) SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The piercing cries of a grieving daughter. She nails and cries by her mother, who lays motionless on the ground, still wearing her mask.

Her mother jumped to her death from the 12th floor of their apartment building, their compound, under lockdown in the northern region of Inner Mongolia, after two COVID cases were reported.

In this widely shared audio recording, the daughter's heard banging on the tall barricades that block residents inside. She pleads, "Open the gate, open the gate, I'm begging you, please."

She's eventually allowed to rush to her mother's side. Neighbors filmed the tragedy from their windows.

Audio messages capture their desperate pleas to building management to be allowed to comfort the daughter. COVID enforcers and police surround the body. Local police said, the 55-year-old woman suffered from anxiety disorders. A later statement from police blamed managers of the loft building for their slow response.

In the eastern province of Shandong, a group of COVID enforcers in hazmat suits drag a resident out into the streets. To people hold the man down while others kick and punch him. Another woman is thrown to the ground.

Many cases of brutality from COVID workers have not been held accountable, sparking outrage in China.

But this time, police, without giving a motive for the attack, detained seven COVID workers involved in the beating.

In Hubei province, just outside of Beijing, a desperate father steps out of his car, holding a knife. He tells the authorities his baby son has been out of baby formula for a long time during lockdown. He gets back in the car and drives right through the COVID barrier. Moments later, police arrived. They escort him, handcuffed, towards a large group of policemen.

They surround him. One policeman sprays him down with disinfectant. He's arrested all because he needed to feed his baby.

After outrage on Chinese social media, local police released a statement saying the man had been fined only a hundred yen or less $15 and that his child milk powder problem had been resolved.

These scenes of suffering and tragedy adding to rage over the growing human and mental health toll of Chinese brute force COVID restrictions. In the southern metropolis of Guangzhou, residents locked down for weeks rushed to the streets, pushing, kicking down red barriers and metal gates trapping them in buildings.

Protesters cheering and shouting, demanding that they want to eat, they want to be unsealed, as people struggle to get enough food, essentials and medical care and lockdown. Beijing recently announced incremental changes to COVID restrictions but set the country is sticking to its zero COVID policy. And for people who've lost their loved ones in lockdown, these changes are all too little or too late.


WANG: And, Erin, that whole story and my conversation with you right now, all of that is being censored on airwaves in China, even though it's no secret here that this zero COVID policy is unsustainable.

But to come out of this, experts say, there need to be a few major changes. Number one, the vaccination rate of the elderly population needs to increase. Secondly, China's messaging needs to change. There is growing outrage, but many are still deeply fearful of getting COVID because of the propaganda and demonization of the virus, Erin.

BURNETT: Unbelievable. Selina, thank you very much, again, for another extraordinary report.

And thanks so much to all of you for joining us for it.

"AC360" starts now.