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Erin Burnett Outfront

Protesters Face-Off With Riot Police In China Over COVID Rules; AG: DOJ Wants "All" Transcripts, Evidence In January 6 Committee Probe; American Detained In Russia Reportedly Moved To Prison Hospital; Russia Passes Anti-LGBTQ Law; 1+ Million Votes Cast In Georgia Runoff; Soccer Star Christian Pulisic Recovering, Says He'll Play Next Game. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired November 30, 2022 - 19:00   ET



ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, demonstrators clashing with police in riot gear as China's security forces prepare to go after people for their social media likes. A young Chinese man who is risking his safety to speak out against the communist government is OUTFRONT tonight.

Plus, record-breaking early voting numbers out of Georgia. Less than a week before the formal runoff day, some Republicans are asking why Herschel Walker spent precious days off the campaign trail.

And Paul Whelan, the American wrongfully detained in Russia, has reportedly been moved to a prison hospital from a penal colony. What's going on? Whelan's brother is my guest.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, clamping down. Chinese security forces in riot gear clashing with protesters who have been rising up against the Chinese President Xi Jinping's strict zero COVID restrictions.

The situation on the ground today in the city of Guangzhou in southern China quickly deteriorating. Protesters hurling glass bottles at riot police. China's police state crackdown is now leaving many Chinese in fear of their lives, knowing the steep price they may pay for criticizing President Xi Jinping and his policies.

Today, I spoke exclusively to a young Chinese man who only wants to go by the name Hal. For months, he endured xi's brutal crackdown on COVID. He's now in the U.K., only able to leave China because he's studying abroad, and he's speaking out, protesting outside the Chinese embassy there.

He doesn't want to show his face, but he had a lot to say, knowing that he was about to tell me about Xi could endanger him and his family, who remain in China.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HAL, CHINESE STUDENT: There were many people not comfortable and agree with him. But no one can just maybe say -- they can't speak out that they don't like him, because if you do, you might be monitored and maybe you'll be arrested, maybe you are in custody.


BURNETT: And tonight, President Xi is upping the ante, now even liking a post that China deems illegal or harmful on the Internet could result in punishment.

Now, this is a notable move because social media, even as controlled as it already is in China, is what's fueling the demonstrations. Look at that map. That's just what we know. Demonstrations in at least 17 cities have been taking place across the entire country of China. And social media's been the only way that many in China and those of us outside know what's really happening there, because if you were to look at the largest-run communist newspaper in the world, it's in China, there's no mention of any unrest, all the stories about Xi's meeting with other foreign leaders. It's as if it isn't happening.

Now, China is offering up some small gestures to try to ease the tensions. They are now allowing people in 11 of Shanghai's districts to now leave their homes. But it's a very little drop in the bucket, and too little too late for many, many millions.

The Chinese man Hal told me what he and others endured, and it was incredible to hear it, including this with the food that the government forced on them in lockdown.


HAL: There are some bugs in the food, and there are some residents receiving the bad vegetables, the bad meat, and even some received none of them. They are starving at home and some died because they were starving. So it's very bad.


BURNETT: You will hear more from him in a moment. We've been covering this draconian COVID lockdown policies on OUTFRONT for months, and it's unforgettable, the cries of people that you hear crying out desperate for medicine, for food, just to get out. Some so desperate that they have jumped to their deaths. Others have been paraded by men in hazmat suits and publicly shamed for breaking China's COVID rules.

Security forces have even gone as far as to beat a dog to death after its owner was infected.

And tonight, CNN obtaining new video of security forces in hazmat suits beating protesters at the world's biggest iPhone factory, which is in Central China. We're going to have much more on that in just a moment. I want to go to Selina Wang, she is OUTFRONT live in Beijing tonight.

And, Selina, what more are you able to tell us about the situation on the ground where you are tonight?

SELINA WANG, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, those attempts by the security forces to snuff out all of these protests appears to be working since the weekend they've become smaller, more scattered. We see the police forces blanketing these key protest sites. This individual intimidation that appears to be working.


We spoke to one protester who said they believe there are even undercover agents inside their Telegram groups. And, of course, as we've discussed, there are even police stopping people in Shanghai to check and see if they have banned apps that would allow them to use apps like Telegram.

But authorities are going to still remain on high alert. State media announcing the death of former communist leader and President Jiang Zemin on Wednesday. There is a chance that this could become a new rallying point for protesters because China has a story of people taking to streets to mourn the deaths of previous leaders, while also using the chants to let out their frustrations about the current government.

And Jiang was seen as someone who paved the way for China's emergence as a global superpower. During his leadership, China had this rapid economic growth that integrated deeply into the global system, critically joined the World Trade Organization, and won the bid to host the 2008 Olympics.

Some scholars are even putting it this way, that he was one of the few Chinese leaders who wanted to become a normal world leader, not a communist dictator. On Chinese social media, we did see an outpouring of people mourning the former leader and reminiscing when China was freer and more open to the world.

BURNETT: It's incredible to think about this. You've also been closely following the protest and crackdown at Apple's biggest supplier in China.

Foxconn, the images here have been incredibly disturbing and unbelievable in so many cases. What are you learning about that?

WANG: Yeah, Erin, that anger and frustration over COVID, no one is immune to it, spilling out from the streets, residential communities, but also inside factories. That chaos at Foxconn, they've been dealing with it since mid-October after a COVID outbreak. They've been dealing with co-workers fleeing the factory, workers revolting inside the factory.

And important that before the pandemic, the fact that Apple relied so heavily on Foxconn on its supply chains inside China and Asia, it was seen as a selling point, they could get this low-cost efficient manufacturing. But now that reliance of China, on China, it is seen as a liability.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) WANG (voice-over): Anger boils over into violent protests at the world's largest iPhone factory. Workers stream out of Foxconn's factory dorms in central China, protesting unfair treatment, dirty living conditions, and chaotic COVID rules at the Apple supplier. Videos obtained by CNN show a group of police in white hazmat suits beating workers with batons and metal rods.

The police are hitting people, a worker shouts in the video. A Foxconn employee at the protest told CNN, the scene turned into a river of blood. Police hit the workers ruthlessly.

Earlier squadrons of riot police had rolled in. They're going to start beating us, protesters yelled in fear, facing off rows of law enforcement with riot gear. The protest escalated into the evening, workers tearing down COVID barriers using metal beams against police.

Masses of them hurling metal parts towards law enforcement, even using a COVID barrier as a shield against rows of authorities. They worked together to push over a police car, cheering and chanting. Since October, the Foxconn plant has been sealed off from the outside world after a COVID outbreak that forced employees to live and work on site, in what videos obtained by CNN show are filthy conditions, garbage piling up in the hallway.

The factory plunged into chaos. Videos showed workers scrambling, fighting to get enough food and supplies. Then came the exodus, masses of workers walked miles along highways to escape the plant. Analysts estimate this factory produces more than half of Apple's iPhones.

Apple already warned customers they'll need to wait even longer to get their new products because of China's COVID lockdowns.

So, to attract workers, Foxconn promised higher pay and bonuses. New workers signed up. But when they got to the factory, the pay package was worse than what Foxconn advertised.

A Foxconn employee said workers felt cheated, leading to thousands of people protesting.

Foxconn later blamed the payment discrepancy on a, quote, technical error, and sent text messages to workers offering to pay them $1,400 to quit and go. Soon after, videos showed long lines of workers boarding buses to leave the factory. Their departure possibly putting an end to another violent and dramatic scene, but increasing the pressure on Apple, it's just the latest victim of China's zero COVID policy.



WANG: Shenzhen City, the place where that factory is located, they have just announced they are going to be lifting the lockdown. But that's not going to immediately reverse the damage for Apple. And the damage is huge. Analysts are estimating it was costing Apple roughly a billion dollars a week in lost iPhone sales, Erin. BURNETT: Wow, that's incredible. It shows why the global story here

is so significant. But the human cost and what they are enduring, just horrific.

Thank you so much, Selina, live from Beijing.

And after Selina's report, I want to bring you more now of our conversation earlier with Hal. He is from the eastern part of China. He is now studying in England. And this is an interview you'll see only here.

I began by asking him about his family, who are still in China. I asked whether he's worried about them. Here's his response.


HAL: Yeah, absolutely worried about them. I think I still need to do something because some people in China, they are protesting against the government, they are taking much bigger risk than me. So, I am worried, but I have to do this.

BURNETT: When you say you have to do this, what made you decide to actually protest?

HAL: My peers and I have a duty to do something to call for their human rights and a normal life for the people in China.

BURNETT: Have you spoken to your friends who are in China? And are they scared?

HAL: They are mostly worried about what will happen after these protests and after the lockdown, because the Chinese government is imposing restrictions even harder on the control of the speech, of the assembly, and on demonstration. Some people were arrested during the protest, and the much more worse is they are randomly checking, forcing the citizens to hand their phones. They don't respect the human rights of privacy and liberty.

BURNETT: You experienced the lockdown in Shanghai at university I know before you moved to England for school. I know they told you that the lockdown would be six to seven days, but it ended up being three months. And some of the details of what you experienced are really hard and, frankly, incredible to imagine.

Can you tell us about things like using the bathroom and about the food?

HAL: In the lockdown, the Shanghai, all access to shanghai is controlled by the government, which means anyone that wants to transfer some resources like the food, like vegetables, meat, they have to get official permit -- permission from the government. The foods we received, many times we eat something very bad and stomach ache or there are some bugs in the foods. And there are some residents receiving the bad vegetables, the bad meats, and even some received none of them, they are starving in home and even someone, like, died because they were starving. So it's very bad. In the restrictions, in the lockdown, we talked all night at the beginning. We played card games 15 games. But after those days we are, like, we don't want to do anything, we just lied down and stared at the ceiling wasting our time, because our spirit is actually exhausted.

BURNETT: Hal, the world is watching these protests now and wondering how big this will get and whether this is about more than just zero COVID, whether it's about freedom in a bigger sense. What do you think of Xi Jinping's leadership?

HAL: I think it's a continuous dictatorship of the country because there are many people not comfortable and agree with him. But no one can just maybe say -- they can't speak out that they don't like him, because if you do, you might be monitored and maybe you will be arrested, maybe you will be in custody. It's like the control of your liberty.


BURNETT: Thanks to Hal for the courage to speak out.

OUTFRONT now, Yasheng Huang, professor at MIT's Sloan School of Management and author of an upcoming book about China, "The Rise and Fall of the East", along with Dr. Larry Brilliant, an epidemiologist who helped eradicate smallpox.


He studied the Chinese vaccine for COVID and has been able to compare it, you know, side by side to Pfizer, Moderna, and others.

Thanks very much to both of you.

Dr. Brilliant, you know, you hear Hal there, and obviously, you know, we're calling him Hal and we're pixelating his face because even though he isn't in China, he is afraid to show his face. He obviously has protested. His family is still in China. He's passionate enough to protest. Many, though, are now living in fear.

So the question for you is, if China were to drop the zero COVID policy, if they were to decide this is so serious, we need to end the lockdowns and just open up like the U.S. is, like Europe is, what would happen?


This is very serious epidemiologically as well. First, China has some of the best epidemiologists and virologists in the world. They know what to do.

The lockdown worked before there were vaccines. And then China bet on a locally produced pair of vaccines that are simply not very effective. So, if China opened up rapidly without finding another way to vaccinate and immunize people, the virus would spread everywhere. Because of the lockdowns, a very small percentage of the population has had natural immunity, the kind that you get. They've neither had disease-induced immunity, nor vaccine-induced

immunity. There may be 500 million to a billion people who are immunologically naive, unready to meet an omicron or any other variant of this disease. It's a very dangerous situation epidemiologically as well for them.

BURNETT: So you're saying, you know, even if you have strains that are less virulent, that's in question. But you'd be looking at many millions of deaths?

BRILLIANT: Well, look at what we saw in Hong Kong only a few months ago when omicron infected Hong Kong, and the elderly population had not been vaccinated, they had not been infected before. They had the highest death rate in the world.

I have seen estimates that if China opened up without an effective vaccination program, you would be seeing deaths that would exceed a million in a very short period of time. And that, of course, would be terrible for China. I want to point out, it'd be terrible for the world if hundreds of millions of people got COVID and those virus replicated and mutated and it kept on going, this disease would be spread all over again.

BURNETT: So, look, that's all very sobering. And, Professor Huang, you know, look, the reality, though, because of these lockdowns. And you know, you heard Hal describing just like the complete, the spiritual exhaustion, finally after weeks they just stare at the ceiling.

We've seen protests in at least 17 cities across China. This is something we've never seen before like this. What is all of this doing to Xi's government, his image internally?

YASHENG HUANG, PROFESSOR, MIT SLOAN SCHOOL OF MANAGEMENT: I think the government now is in a bind. If they use the lockdown, they are going to have the kind of consequences that Dr. Brilliant just described. If they don't, they are facing economic pressures, political pressures, and psychological pressures.

The mistake, the folly is that they've failed to use the window of opportunity after the initial success controlling the outbreak in Wuhan to effectively vaccinate the elderly and the population. They've been relying on this zero COVID policy for too long without taking care of the vaccination problem. In terms of the damage to the regime, either way there's going to be damage.

You relax the controls. You have many people getting sick, some people die. You get damage from there. If you don't, the economy is suffering terribly, people are suffering terribly, there will be further protests. So, either way, it is not a good situation.

BURNETT: No, and, Dr. Brilliant, is it as simple as if China had just used the other vaccines, the mRNA vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna, this would all be prevented?

BRILLIANT: You know, they've had a very effective vaccination program in terms of number of people vaccinated, perhaps as many as 90 percent of the population has had even two doses of the vaccine.


Had they used a more effective vaccine, then they wouldn't have the problem that they have now.

There's still time. What I believe they should do is bring in enough vaccine that is effective, concentrate on the elderly population who are most likely to die if there are outbreaks. And then roll out vaccination programs city by city simultaneously easing the lockdowns. There is a way to do it. And they're incredibly gifted people at rolling things out at scale. This is the time to do that now before it gets too late.

BURNETT: Professor Huang, quickly, would they do that, though, if that means using an American vaccine?

HUANG: Well, this is the sticking point, and that's going to be another loss of credibility for the regime because they have actually painted a very negative picture of the vaccines developed in the west. Now you have to back down from all this rhetoric and use the western vaccines. So that's not going to politically help the regime. But in terms of public policy, I do believe that's the only responsible thing to do. And they should do it even if politically they have to suffer. They have no choice.

BRILLIANT: Erin, could I point out one bit of good news? Which is last week they agreed to bring in American-made mRNA vaccines and allow vaccination, but only for foreigners. Perhaps that could be an avenue for a soft open.

BURNETT: All right, thank you both very much.

HUANG: There are not many foreigners left.

BURNETT: No, not many foreigners left, yes, and now, even people like Hal have fled. And, by the way, I want everyone to know Hal was planning to stay in China. But now, he's left and doesn't plan to go back. Thank you both very much.

And, next, Attorney General Merrick Garland speaking publicly tonight about the newly named special counsel in the DOJ Trump investigations.

Plus, former U.S. marine Paul Whelan who has been wrongfully detained in Russia is now reportedly in a prison hospital. But his family hasn't heard from him. Whelan's brother is my guest.

And record-breaking early voting numbers coming out of Georgia just six days before the runoff between Herschel Walker and Raphael Warnock. So who has the momentum? We're live in Georgia, tonight.



BURNETT: Tonight, the DOJ versus Congress. The battle between the January 6th Committee and the Justice Department continuing tonight as Attorney General Merrick Garland says he wants witness transcripts from the January 6th committee to help with the Justice Department's own criminal investigation.


MERRICK GARLAND, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: We would like to have all the transcripts and all the other evidence collected by the committee so that we can use it in the ordinary course of our investigations.


BURNETT: Just moments ago, though, the Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, who has long resisted DOJ requests to see the committee's work, saying the Justice Department will see their witness transcript when's the general public sees them.

Evan Perez, who asked Garland about the transcripts, is OUTFRONT.

And, Evan, you know, this is the thing. They're not -- they're not on the same page. Everything is not in tandem, right? The committee making it clear yet again that it's not making special favors for the Justice Department.

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: This is plain nuts. This is insane that this is a dispute that's been going on for months. And the department has written letters to Bennie Thompson and to the committee. By the way, the Democrats on this committee are the ones who have been criticizing the Justice Department about the pace of investigations. And yet, they are taking some actions, which is withholding these transcripts, which could help these prosecutions and these investigations from the Justice Department.

Clearly, you can hear the tone of the attorney general. He's not happy. It is still just a discussion.

BURNETT: No, I mean, it is incredible, right? They're trying to, you know, with the special counsel, make these big decisions on indictments. And I know sources are telling you that the committee will hold a crucial meeting this week to talk about whether to make criminal referrals to the justice department, including one for former president Trump, who of course did not cooperate with their subpoena. What more do you know about all this?

PEREZ: Well, we know that a subcommittee is going to meet Friday. They're going to have important decisions including on whether to make referrals on obstruction, on perjury. These are big ones that the committee has been talking about. You've heard a lot of members talking about it. And they could make referrals to the Justice Department. Then of course we're going to hear them criticize the department for not moving quickly enough to bring those possible prosecutions.

BURNETT: So, Garland also talked about the special counsel. And I know everyone's focused on this. What is he doing, where is he, where are we going to know if they indict? Of course, Garland appointed this special counsel to oversee the

investigations related to former President Trump, related to January 6th as well as the Mar-a-Lago documents. What did Garland say?

PEREZ: Well, we know now that they met in person, and special counsel has now been meeting with members with the team that are doing these investigations, Erin. One of the criticisms I think you heard from people on the left as well as the former president's supporters was that this would drag out these investigations.

And what you heard from Garland today is that that is not going to happen, that he is getting his work going with the teams that are already, you know, underway with these investigations. He also talked about the fact that obviously there are things that we know are ongoing.

For instance, as you heard last night on your program, Katelyn Polantz reported, that you had important witnesses like Stephen Miller going into the grand jury. So clearly things have not been affected. The question is, you know, how soon do we see action against some of the big targets that we know are in focus of this investigation.

BURNETT: Absolutely. Evan Perez, thank you very much.

PEREZ: And next, concerns growing about the American Paul Whelan who's being wrongfully detained in Russia at a penal colony. We are now learning that he is reportedly, emphasis on that word, been in a prison hospital for two weeks now. His brother is next.

Plus, Herschel Walker missing crucial days on the campaign trail less than a week before the runoff Senate election in Georgia.


So, can he catch up? We're there live tonight.


BURNETT: Tonight, Paul Whelan, the American who's been wrongfully detained in Russia for nearly four years, has reportedly been moved to a prison hospital. He hasn't been able to contact his family in a week, according to his brother.

A lack of communication is raising serious concerns. Paul Whelan is serving a brutal 16-year sentence in a remote penal colony in Mordovia, the same region where Brittney Griner is currently in a penal colony.

OUTFRONT now is Paul Whelan's brother.

And, David, when was the last time that anyone in your family heard from Paul?

DAVID WHELAN, BROTHER OF PAUL WHELAN, AMERICAN DETAINED IN RUSSIA: The day before Thanksgiving. And he had had regular phone calls with them for quite a while. And it was just an average call, things that were going on in the prison colony and things that he wanted to hear about from our mom and dad.

BURNETT: And I know he has made a longstanding point of if I don't call every few days, then something's wrong, and obviously now it's been a full week.


And I understand the Russians are telling you that he was sent to a prison hospital nearly two weeks ago. Obviously, that would mean that he would have called you from that hospital if that's the case when he made the call.

Do you believe their claims that he's even in a prison hospital? And do they even say why?

WHELAN: No, I don't believe it. Paul was visited by the U.S. embassy staff. They said he looked very healthy on November 16th. And then according to the prison, thanks to the U.S. embassy calling them, they said they moved Paul to a prison hospital on November 18th.

And there's just no reason that he would have had to have gone for medical attention unless there had been an emergency. But he was able to call our parents on the 17th, on the 18th, and so on until the 23rd, and never mentioned that he'd been moved, never mentioned having a health issue.

So I think that something else is going on here. And I think it's up to the Russian government to show that Paul is where he's supposed to be, which is unfortunately in a labor colony until he is freed.

BURNETT: I mean, it's incredible to say where he was supposed to be is a labor colony. But knowing where he is would mean so much to you. What do you think is happening?

WHELAN: It's hard to know. It could be benign. The Russian nation is a brittle nation. Its infrastructure breaks all the time. We've had to deal with broken phones before. And if that were the case, it would've been an easy thing for the prison to say the phones are broken, the prisoners can't call, and then at least we would have had some confidence that was going on.

But it's the story that doesn't make any sense. And, of course, we've heard about the Zambian student who was in a prison near Moscow who's now been killed in Ukrainian. You just never know what will happen to a prisoner in Russia.

BURNETT: That's right. And we are hearing about prisoners being recruited and being sent to the front lines in Ukraine.

The U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken says that the U.S. government is trying to establish contact with your brother as well to try to understand what the situation is. Are they filling you in on everything? Are they getting any answers?

WHELAN: I haven't heard back as far as what the State Department has heard, other than what the U.S. embassy knows in that they don't know the answer and they are trying to get an answer. The embassy has done an incredible job of keeping on the Russian government. In the same way they've taken people hostage, they need to take the opportunity to say where Paul is, or else we won't know.

BURNETT: Well, I'm sorry. I hope that you get some answers and are able to hear from him. Of course I know that is a small, small thing in the context of being four years into a 16-year sentence and I know you're desperately hoping for a prisoner swap, which the U.S. government is working on, they say, for both of your brother and Brittney Griner. Thank you so much, David.

WHELAN: Thanks for having me.

BURNETT: And, next, Putin desperate to boost support for his war in Ukraine is now about to sign a law that targets his own people, claiming it will protect them from the U.S. Wait until you hear about this.

Plus, the early vote shattering records in the Senate runoff in Georgia. More than 1 million ballots already cast in the race between Herschel Walker and Raphael Warnock. We're live on the ground with voters.



BURNETT: Tonight, Vladimir Putin is expected to sign into law a sweeping antigay law that makes even praising a gay relationship a punishable crime. This comes as Putin is dealing with mounting losses in Ukraine.

Fred Pleitgen tonight is OUTFRONT from Moscow on the connection between these two crucial things.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: For years, being gay has been extremely tough in Russia. Now it's about to get even harder. After Russian parliament passed what it calls the LGBTQ propaganda law, claiming, in part, it's a defense against U.S. influence.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I cannot put it any other way. The United States of America has become the global center of this sodomy. Let them live there, don't touch us.

PLEITGEN: Antigay tirades are often embedded into coverage of what Russia calls its special military operation in Ukraine on state TV, making the war out to be part of a larger battle of Russia against the West of its alleged moral decay.

Yarolslav Rasputin, a gay rights activist in Moscow, says he feels singled out.

YAROLSLAV RASPUTIN, LGBTQ ACTIVIST (through translator): This is the information noise that we are becoming victims of. We are being used as scapegoats to distract attention and redirect the hatred of the electorate that supports Putin and the war.

PLEITGEN: Russian President Vladimir Putin often portrays himself as the savior of traditional family values even equating Western LGBTQ freedoms to devil worshipping.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Such a total denial of a human being, a rejection of faith and traditional values. Suppression of freedom begins to look like a perverted religion, outright Satanism.

PLEITGEN: The new law bans praise of what the government considers nontraditional sexual relationships or otherwise suggesting those relationships are, quote, normal. But LGBTQ activist Rinat Dalitgeldeyev (ph) who has fled the country says the law will essentially make it illegal to be openly gay in Russia.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The only text that I can now show publicly, according to the law in Russia in my social network on the street, in a newspaper, or in a movie, is, gays are outlawed, gays are bad, and lesbians should be in jail.

PLEITGEN: Not a single Russian legislator voted against the bill. Punishment includes fines of up to thousands of dollars for individuals. Foreigners could be jailed for up to 15 days and deported.

Vladimir Kumo heads an organization providing legal aid to the LGBTQ community. And he fears the lawyers might soon be targeted as well with significant fines for legal entities.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): There are fears among lawyers that if they defend political cases like rallies or alleged gay propaganda, this may be turned against them in the future.


PLEITGEN: But activists and lawyers fear that even more of Russia's LGBTQ community will come to the conclusion that their only way to live openly will be to flee the country.


PLEITGEN (on camera): You know, at a meeting last week, Vladimir Putin said that he believes that Russia has been playing by others' rules for way too long now. And he's obviously out to change that. Vladimir Putin has also been very clearly that he believes that LGBTQ freedoms are against Russian values, as he believes that they are, and also against Russian society as well. And he certainly seems to be on his way to rolling those back.

The one thing that's missing from this law now, of course, is Vladimir Putin's own signature. There's no doubt that will happen. I can tell you it's already sending chills through the LGBTQ community, at least what's left of it here in this country, Erin. BURNETT: Fred, thank you very much, live from Moscow tonight.

And, next, more than 1 million voters in Georgia have already voted in the state's crucial runoff between Raphael Warnock and Herschel Walker. And Democrats are now about to call on their biggest star to try to put them over the top. You'll see who that is.

Plus, he saved the day for Team USA against Iran. Who is the star soccer player who was injured after scoring the only goal? And will he be able to play in Saturday's game?



BURNETT: Tonight, more than 1 million votes cast in the Georgia Senate runoff. The race between Herschel Walker and Raphael Warnock shattering single day voting records. But among Republicans, there are some concerns over Herschel Walker's decision not to campaign for five days around Thanksgiving.

Jason Shepherd, former chairman of DeKalb County Republican Party telling "The New York Times," quote, I think we're behind the eight ball on this one.

Dianne Gallagher is OUTFRONT. She is at a Walker campaign event.

So, Dianne, I mean, coming off the campaign trail in this early voting when we're setting records on the votes seems like it could be a very significant decision. Who has the momentum six days out from election day itself?

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, Erin, that 1 million early vote crossing that, it's something that Democrats are celebrating. It means momentum might be on their side at least in the early voting period. But, look, I talked to Senator Warnock that he excited but didn't want to get comfortable knowing these types of races tend to be very close and that's likely the reason for his extremely robust campaign schedule.

He has an aggressive schedule with multiple stops every day. He's had that essentially since the run-off period started.

Now, as you mentioned that "New York Times" reporting there, comparing that to Republican Herschel Walker's campaign has been far less aggressive, fewer events, he took those five days off in public events and a four-week runoff period has some Republicans concerned, as "The New York Times" reported.

I spoke to voters, though, and supporters of both Warnock and Walker say that they feel like people are energized and that they think that will be what pushes it through, the old cliche -- turnout.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I like the fact that he's pro-America. He wants to put Georgia first. Everything that's been happening the last two years he wants to go back to what it was a couple years before. I voted for Warnock two years ago and I regret it with -- I regret it to the bone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Being out here to see Senator Warnock and having him being part of the voice we wanted here in Atlanta, even though these not Latino, we rally behind those with similar interest.


GALLAGHER: Again, because this is a four-week period, time is running out in the early voting period, Erin, just two days left, Thursday and Friday for early voting, and then, of course, election day. So campaigns have just a few days to get this through.

BURNETT: Yeah, right, absolutely. So, now, Dianne, Democrats have been, as you pointed out, pulling out all the stops campaigning and trying to get turnout in their favor. One of the party's biggest stars is back in the state tomorrow?

GALLAGHER: Yeah. Former President Barack Obama returning to Georgia to campaign for Senator Warnock in those last final days before the election. Some of what he did before the general election here, he is still a huge start within the party and here in the state of Georgia. And the former First Lady Michelle Obama reported a robocall that went out to voters in the state.

On the Republican side, former President Donald Trump not coming to the peach state to campaign in person for Herschel Walker, but he is going to hold a tele-rally before election day, Erin.

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

And, Dianne, as you can see, is in Rome, Georgia, tonight.

And next, a man known as Captain America scored the winning goal against Iran in the World Cup, but he was also then injured. Will Christian Pulisic be able to play Saturday?



BURNETT: Tonight, all eyes on the 24-year-old soccer star Christian Pulisic, the man dubbed Captain America who scored Team USA's the only goal against Iran and ended up in the hospital after.

Andy Scholes is OUTFRONT.


ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The U.S. soccer star Christian Pulisic sending Americans into a frenzy with his goal in the 38th minute against Iran.


SCHOLES: The man nicknamed "Captain America" by fans coming through with a signature goal, sending Team USA through to the knockout phase.

But the 24-year-old's game-winning goal came with a cost, as the star forward was forced to leave the game at half time with an injury.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hopefully, he'll be ready for the game against Netherlands.

SCHOLES: For years, Pulisic has been deemed the great next hope for U.S. soccer and is finally is coming to fruition.

Pulisic was born in Hershey, Pennsylvania, and soccer has always been in his life.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Christian has really learned to walk with a soccer ball at his foot.

SCHOLES: Both of Pulisic's parents played collegiate soccer at George Mason and Pulisic played in the U.S. developmental program at a young page, before starting his professional career in Germany when he was 16.

When he was just 17, he became the youngest U.S. player to appear in a World Cup qualifying U.S. match. But in 2018, Pulisic and Team USA suffered heartbreak, failing to qualify for the World Cup.

And after the final whistle, a devastated 19-year-old Pulisic crouched down covering his face.

CHRISTIAN PULISIC, AMERICAN SOCCER STAR: It just wasn't meant to be for us. That's how I looked at it.

SCHOLES: In 2019, Pulisic signed with Chelsea in the move cost the premier league club $73 million, which made Pulisic the most expensive player to date from the United States. Two years later, that move paying off as Chelsea would win the Champions League, making Pulisic just the second player from the U.S. to do so.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where do you think the pressure is coming from?

PULISIC: Everyone.

SCHOLES: Pulisic has been the main pitch man for Team USA for the World Cup and he's delivered under the pressure. Will he play on Saturday?

According to an online post from his hospital bed, he says he'll be ready. The team says Pulisic is day to day, but as he greeted his teammates yesterday after the win, it's hard to imagine him missing this moment.

PULISIC: Knowing a lot of these guys for so long and being able to do it with them by my side is definitely special and, you know, hopefully a moment that we're going to cherish for the rest of our lives.

SCHOLES: In Atlanta, Andy Scholes, CNN.


BURNETT: Thanks for joining us.

"AC360" starts now.