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Erin Burnett Outfront

Russia: Western Tanks Take Conflict To "New Level Of Confrontation"; Facebook, Instagram To Restore Trump's Account; Rep. Santos Faces New Scrutiny Over Source Of Campaign Loans; Attorney: Autopsy Shows The Tyre Nichols Died Due To "Severe Beating"; Reports: Musk Accused Of Censoring Content Critical Of India PM; Opening Statements Begin In Double Murder Trial Of Ex-Attorney. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired January 25, 2023 - 19:00   ET



ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, the sounds of air raid sirens ringing out across Ukraine, as Russia steps up its assault to the east. Tonight, driving Ukraine out of one town that's key to Russia's plans to take a crucial city.

Plus, breaking news -- Trump invited back. Facebook and Instagram both reinstating the former president's accounts. The reporter who broke that story is OUTFRONT.

And the mystery of where George Santos got his money is deepening tonight. The embattled congressman now suggesting the $750,000 personal loan is not personal at all. The details ahead.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight -- Ukraine is sounding the alarm.

Air sirens blaring across much of central and eastern Ukraine today, as Putin's forces ramp up. And tonight, Ukraine troops have now completely withdrawn from Soledar. Putin's forces are making gains in the east.

But any small gains are come coming at great cost. I mean, just take Soledar. No one knows the number of dead there. It's really unknowable at this point, except that it is unbearably high for the prize of a small, not strategically located town.

So, tonight, Russia controls Soledar. So, just take a look at this. What does that even mean, to control Soledar, that town?

Here's new video. You can see it. It's a total wasteland. Total, total destruction -- and it is only five square miles. All that death for that.

And tonight, the battle is raging on in nearby Bakhmut, where two Ukrainian fighters there tell CNN the situation in the city is incredibly alarming. Here is some new audio we are going to play for you. This is a

Ukrainian soldier who is on the front lines there in Bakhmut. Listen to him.


UKRAINIAN SOLDIER (through translator): The city of Bakhmut is constantly under artillery and airstrikes. The Russians are now massing infantry, easing armored vehicles and tanks, and making minor advances. They are climbing like cockroaches, and their units are holding their ground and holding the line of defense.


BURNETT: The word "cockroaches", of course, is multi-layer there. But the image is of swarms of Russian soldiers. And it does add to Putin pushing the image of a massive escalation.

Just take a look at this image from today. This is a Russian warship armed with hypersonic missiles, training with Russian allies, China and South Africa, right? They want everyone to see these images. If, of course, that is a powerful system.

And Ukraine's defense minister tonight is proclaiming that the Ukrainians now have more to fight back. the iron fist to break Russian lines. And that is because the Ukrainians, of course, now formally, have U.S. and German tanks. Both countries are agreeing to send their top-of-the-line tanks to Ukraine. The U.S. is providing Zelenskyy with 31 highly maneuverable M1 Abrams tanks.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today's announcement builds on the hard work and commitment from countries around the world. That is what this is about -- helping Ukraine defend and protect Ukrainian land.


BURNETT: These tanks are significant development for Ukraine. And while Russian state TV tried to downplay the tanks, one Russian reporter who has been there on the frontlines, warned Putin not to dismiss the help. And this reporter saying that -- it significant again, because it's in the context of Russian state television -- the reporter said, even without air support, such vehicles are very serious threat and could cause our advancing troops a lot of trouble. If we are talking about hundreds of armored vehicles, the effect would be the same as the appearance of HIMARS units at the front, which, of course, have transformed this for months ago.

Fred Pleitgen is OUTFRONT in Kramatorsk. That is near where the battles are raging in and around Bakhmut.

And, Fred, I know that you've been talking to so many of these Ukrainian soldiers on the ground and in Bakhmut. What are they telling you about the importance of the tanks? FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi there,


We spoke a soldiers fighting on the front line in and around Bakhmut. And they were absolutely elated to hear that Western main battle tanks could be coming to Ukraine in the not too distant future. They say tanks have been absolutely essential to help them hold Bakhmut for this long.

Of course, they understand it's going to be awhile before tanks actually get here. But they say, right now, they need all the help they can get because the Russians are making a huge push to take Bakhmut. Here's what we're learning.


PLEITGEN (voice-over): The Russian army claims its overwhelming firepower is decimating Ukrainian defenses on the most brutal front in this war, around the town of Bakhmut --

RUSSIAN SOLDIER (through translator): Fifteen men just ran into this house.

Yes, target hit. He managed to collapse in the middle of the building.


PLEITGEN: Ukraine has now acknowledged losing its last foothold in the small town of Soledar north of Bakhmut. The Russians there, mostly mercenaries, from the Wagner private military company, judging by their own claims.

RUSSIAN SOLDIER (through translator): We were forced to select the target, charge up and hit it. We had it precisely and we hit the building right in the place where the ATGM was located.

PLEITGEN: But despite sources telling CNN the U.S. has advised Ukraine to withdraw from Bakhmut, even Wagner commanders admit Kyiv's forces are fighting back.

WAGNER SOLDIER (through translator): The enemy puts up fiercest into our fighters. The enemy is holding on and is getting additional reserves and military supplies.

PLEITGEN: And the Ukrainians continue probing in other areas far from Bakhmut. The military releasing this video of a daring raid across the Dnipro River in south Ukraine, taking out a Russian command facility there.

But to go on the offensive, Ukraine needs hundreds of main battle tanks. So far, western partners have pledged about 100.

Moscow has vowed to hit those tanks when they enter Ukraine and is conducting a show of force of its own, sending the frigate Admiral Gorshkov which Moscow says carries hypersonic missiles to ocean drills with the Chinese and South Africa navies. But for now, Bakhmut is the epicenter of this conflict, and Ukrainian

soldiers here say they will fight for every inch.

UKRAINIAN SOLDIER (through translator): One day, their artillery works and the next day, the infantry assaults. It's a difficult time out. But our boys keep standing their ground.


PLEITGEN (on camera): As you can see there, Erin Burnett, pretty tough there for the Russian soldiers on the front line there now. What we are also hearing from senior military commanders that the Russians are bringing more and more personnel, but also a lot of heavy equipment to this frontline.

It seems as though they really want to take Bakhmut and also some of the surrounding areas as well. In fact, Ukrainians are saying there is almost constant shelling and also, a lot of attempts by the Russians to try to breach the front lines -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Fred Pleitgen from Kramatorsk.

And I want to go to former CIA director and former director of U.S. Central Command, the retired Army General David Petraeus.

And, General, thank you so much for your time. As we are watching that and we were talking about Ukraine wants 300 to 400 of these tanks, but they are getting about 100 of the combined -- not all M1 Abrams, but also with a, leopards each of which have their own attributes -- 31 Abrams, I guess, 80 leopards, and then U.K. is also sending their challenger tanks.

So, when you look at what has been promised, what does it mean? How significantly does it change the battle?

GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS (RET.), FORMER CIA DIRECTOR, FORMER U.S. CENTCOM COMMANDER: Well, it's usually significant. It is significant symbolically that this next step is being taken. It is very significant, substantively. On the battlefield, the tank is the centerpiece of combined arms operations, which are what will be necessary to have successful offensive's this summer, maybe late spring, by Ukraine, to take back, to liberate, more of the territory that Russia has occupied since 24th of February.

That tank is the piece around which everything else will be built. Their infantry fighting vehicles? We are already providing those, training them in Germany. There will be artillery. We have provided a lot of. That there is air defense, engineers, electronic warfare, EOD, drones out front.

But all of this exists to get that tank to the decisive point on the battlefield and to keep it, essentially, invulnerable from the various threats that could be presented to it.

BURNETT: And so, the tank really is the centerpiece. And you are saying that the M1 Abrams, for your experience with it, is as impenetrable as a vehicle as it gets?

PETRAEUS: It's extraordinary. Obviously, during the fight to Baghdad, I was a two star general. If employed correctly, and you keep the enemies infantry away with the -- missiles, you clear the obstacles and mines and so forth, that 120 millimeter cannon is enormously powerful and effective. And it will take out anything else that is out there.

But the key is, you have got to have those as your centerpiece. Of course, you have got to train on those. And so, there will be an effort, I'm sure, very quickly, if not already ongoing, perhaps -- on our tanks before these tanks are procured by General Dynamics. And then the others that are going to come the later part two from Germany, Poland and the other European countries as well as the Challengers.

And, again, this is only a third of what it is that Ukraine would like to have in a perfect case. This is quite a powerful --

BURNETT: But is it enough?

PETRAEUS: This is a lot. This is multiple battalions, probably two brigades at least, of armored and mechanized infantry forces, with all of the other elements around. And that can be a very powerful punch.

And it could enable them to breakthrough in some key areas and ideally, deny Russia that opportunity to support elements in Crimea and directly from Russia by the ground.


BURNETT: So, you think this puts primary on the table?

PETRAEUS: I think it puts the support for Crimea. I don't think it puts Crimea -- that is a whole different military problem. It could enable the Ukrainian forces to get -- the multiple armed rockets system, with the precision missiles in range to take out some of the very important air and naval bases and so forth in Crimea. But to sever the ability for support for Crimea would be of enormous value and enormous importance.

BURNETT: Absolutely. So, Russia today called the tanks extremely dangerous, saying it takes the conflict to a new level of confrontation. That was the defense ministry.

Putin said this today. Let me just play it.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): I have no doubt that, one way or another, sovereignty will be returned to Europe. Judging by the look of things, it is going to take a little while longer.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: All right. So, in it for the long haul. But what do you hear here, when you hear that they are getting ready for an offensive, you hear those words? Do you think a real escalation of a nuclear situation is on or off the table right now?

PETRAEUS: I think it is unlikely, highly unlikely. Because I think we have communicated effectively to him that this would put him in a worse situation after its use than before. And that has to continue to be the message.

Look, we have to do everything we can, as quick as we can, to enable Ukraine to show Russia and to show Putin that this is not sustainable, that this war is not sustainable in the battlefield, where they have already lost eight times the soldiers in 11 months that they lost in nearly ten years in Afghanistan. And also, by the way, through our financial economic, personal sanctions, and expert controls, that we need to tighten further, to show that Putin is unsustainable at home.

BURNETT: So, when it comes to unsustainable, a lot of people watching, will say, all right, hundreds of thousands of Russians have been mobilized. Many of them, some large a number of, them killed already, hundreds of thousands of young men when the first mobilization started fled Russia

PETRAEUS: Yes, more fled that showed up

BURNETT: Right, more fled than showed up, okay.

Then we hear about the mass use of prisoners as fighters, right? So, it all gives the impression that things are falling apart and Russia is running out of men.

PETRAEUS: But he's doubling down. He's actually doubling down. He's just announced and his minister of defense has confirmed that they want to increase the size of their armed forces by 150,000 to 200,000.

BURNETT: They've got those numbers.

PETRAEUS: They are trying to get the military industry stood back up, and again, we have to convince him that this is not going to achieve the progress, that this is going to be a losing proposition because, until then, they will not be meaningful negotiations.

BURNETT: Yes. But just on this, though, his willingness that he's putting out there to continue with this, the fact that there are actually the numbers of people that you are going to throw them out there to die, to do it. And a lot more people in Russia --


PETRAEUS: Which is what they are doing, by the way -- they are not well-trained. They are not well-equipped.


PETRAEUS: They are just pushing them into these battles like Soledar and Bakhmut, taking massive casualties for very incremental gains. And what eventually take control of -- they've largely destroyed in the process of actually seizing.

BURNETT: We're looking at Soledar, but does Ukraine actually need assistance with boots on the ground to win or not?

PETRAEUS: We're not going to do that. That's just not on the cards whatsoever. There's not going to be that kind of support. And these lines have been drawn very, very clearly by President Biden and the NATO secretary general and other leaders of NATO countries. We should be doing everything we can to enable Ukraine.

By the way, keep in mind that Ukraine, a country less than one third of the population of Russia --


PETRAEUS: -- has our generated forces -- and other words, it's done better recruiting, training, equipping and employing additional combat capability, supported by $27 billion just in arms assistance from the United States alone as well as others.

BURNETT: All right. General Petraeus, thank you very much.

PETRAEUS: It's a pleasure.

BURNETT: It's wonderful to see you here on set and to be together with you.

PETRAEUS: Thank you.

BURNETT: And next, the breaking news, former President Trump allowed to return to Facebook and Instagram. Why? And will he do it? Hasn't done it with Twitter.

Plus, QAnon promoter and election denier Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene gained power and influence in Washington. Now there's even talk of her trying to become Trump's running mate.

And the body cam video that shows police beating Tyre Nichols nonstop for three minutes is expected to be released any day. Nichols, of course, died at the hospital. So, what more does the video show? The family attorney has seen a video and will be OUTFRONT tonight.



BURNETT: Breaking news, Donald Trump given the greenlight to return to Facebook and Instagram. The company announcing tonight that his accounts will be restored in the coming weeks. It comes more than two years after Trump was suspended for his post on January 6.

The final Facebook post before his suspension coming as police were still securing the capital says, quote, these were the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously, viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly, unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love and peace. Remember this day forever.

Okay. Well, now he is back. At least, he's allowed to be back. And it means that Trump has access to massive, powerful communications and fundraising platforms, as he is right now the only declared candidate for president in 2024.

Sara Fischer is a senior media reporter at "Axios". She broke the story. She's also CNN media analyst.

So, Sara, okay, here we are, this is obviously a huge development, possibly. So, let's talk about -- you had exclusive conversations you had with a top Facebook executive. What did he tell you about why they decide to do this and now?

SARA FISCHER, CNN MEDIA ANALYST: Well, for one, Erin, they asked their independent oversight board for guidance on how they should be handling this. And what they said was that it is okay if you want to sort of ban someone for a certain period of time, but not forever. You need to give people guidance about when they are going to come back. So, I think one of the reasons they are bringing him back is because they got that guidance from the oversight board.

But then, number two, the climate, politically, is so different now than it was. At the time when a banned him, the Capitol was on fire. People were raiding, there was a lot of upsetness around the country. Right now, things are a lot calmer and I think if things they reinstate him it's not going to cause the political shockwaves that it did back two years ago.

BURNETT: Which is interesting. There are some -- obviously, many who disagree with that. But, you know, that's interesting that that's their thinking.

So, did the Trump team know there were coming? And this is the question because of course, he has not come back to Twitter, even though Elon Musk said he could. Is he going to take advantage of this?

FISCHER: The Trump team had no idea this was coming.


They found out as soon as we published the article. Nick Clegg told me, the Facebook executive -- that they did not meet with his same or any associates despite the fact that the Trump team we trying to meet with them and trying to make that happen.

Is he going to come back, Erin Burnett?

I put money on the fact that he is going to come back simply because, unlike Twitter, Facebook is a critical platform for fundraising. If you run a lot of ads on Facebook, you can gather a lot of data. And he is going to need that for a competitive race in 2024.

BURNETT: All right. It sounds interesting. He said, they were lobbying, they were trying. So, that's important to know that that was happening.

All right. Sara, thank you very much. Sara is reporting there.

And now, let's go to David Axelrod -- former senior adviser to President Obama and our senior political commentator.

So, David, you know, to Sara's point, you know, she saying, you bet he's going to come back. But Trump's reach on these platforms is huge. So, on his current social media platform that he is a part, of 5 million followers. Facebook, it's 34 million and 23 million on Instagram, which are the two that are getting reinstated, if he wants to take advantage of that in these coming weeks.

So, David, how significant is this decision at a time when he is the only declared candidate for 2024?

DAVID AXELROD, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: I think it is significant because these are tools that he has used very effectively in the past to raise large amounts of money. And I think the Trump campaign starting, in 2016, proved themselves to be very effective at communicating with their base supporters, largely through Facebook, many of whom they can't communicate with through Truth Social. These people are not on Truth Social.

One of the limitations for Trump is going to have to be to work through his deal on Truth Social. He has a contract with -- the founders of Truth Social that prescribe how he can appear on other platforms. So, that something he's going to have to work out. But as a political matter, this is of great utility to him.

Erin, one of the things that strikes me and I don't know when this came into play. But Facebook was also acting -- Meta was also acting at a time when we have a new House Republican majority. And one of the things that they have made clear that they want to go after the social media platforms for perceived political bias.

And you had better believe that Trump's permanent banning or seemingly permanent banning from Facebook was going to be one of the issues that they would raise. So they may be getting out ahead of that, financing this decision.

BURNETT: Right. There's always self interest at the heart of everything on a certain level. I suppose that that is a cynical thing to say. But I think many may share that sentiment in this case.

So, at the time, David, that Trump was suspended from these platforms, there were some world leaders who spoke out to criticize the decision, even in the heat of that terrifying moment. The then German Chancellor Angela Merkel said it was problematic.

The French President Emmanuel Macron criticized the tech companies responsible. He was really aggressive about. But here he is.


EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT: I don't want to live in a democracy where the key decisions and the decision -- at the point of time to cut your mic, to be sure that then it's not the institutions that take anymore because of speech -- is decided by a private player, private social network.


BURNETT: Does he have a point?

AXELROD: Yeah. This is what is so troubling about this issue. And it speaks to the outsized influence of these social media platforms. They are not public entities. They are not public utilities.

They are not under public control. They are private entities. And so -- and they have enormous amount of power.

And I -- look, I think we are still trying to get our arms around that reality. And this is a reflection of that. But one thing, Erin, that's a little disingenuous to me was their assessment that things are calmer now and therefore it is okay to bring this incendiary voice back in. There's nothing about Trump's post on Truth Social that suggest that he is any less incendiary now.


AXELROD: So, we will see how he behaves moving forward.

BURNETT: Yeah. Thank you very much, David.

And I want everyone to know, David's new podcast -- his new edition of "Axe Files" is out tomorrow. It's an interview with Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. You know, it doesn't matter who you talk to, David, they're always must listen to, but this one, of course, I hope everyone watch -- will listen to.

AXELROD: Thanks, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you.

AXELROD: And next, new questions about where George Santos got his money to run for Congress. The Republican Congressman now suggesting the $700,000 loan to his campaign didn't exactly come from him, he didn't loan the money. So, this is now a whole new inquiry. Where did he get it?

Plus, cities on edge -- the release of body cam video in the case of Tyre Nichols is expected. The 29-year-old's family says he was beaten by police nonstop for three minutes. He died. The family's attorney, who has seen this video, and says that Nichols was treated like a human pinata, is my guest.



BURNETT: Tonight, embattled GOP Congressman George Santos is already undergoing scrutiny for a growing list of lies and questionable campaign finances is facing more troubles, naming a new campaign treasurer on his campaign finance records. That person, though, had actually turned down the job.

This after Santos just made a slew of changes to campaign finance reports, including backtracking the hundreds of thousands of dollars that he gave to his campaign for personal loans. That was a big thing. I loan this to my campaign. Well, maybe not.

Eva McKend is OUTFRONT.


MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Why did you amend your FEC reports to say 500 --

EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER (voice-over): New questions surrounding Congressman George Santos's campaign finances.

REP. GEORGE SANTOS (R-NY): Let's make it very clear: I don't amend anything. I don't touch any of my FEC stuff. So, don't be disingenuous and report that I did because you know that every campaign rally hires fiduciaries.

MCKEND: Santos trying to dodge reporters after his campaign filed updated finance reports, with federal regulators late Tuesday.

The New York Republican previously claimed he lent his campaign more than $700,000 from his personal funds. Those revisions would appear to indicate most of that loan didn't come from him after all. But he is still listed as a source of the lone elsewhere in his filings, deepening the confusion about the source of the substantial sum.

RAJU: What was the source of your funds, sir? Why can't you divulge the source of the money?

MCKEND: In two of the new filings, one related to that loan, $500,000, and one for $125,000. Boxes previously checked indicated they had come from personal funds. We're now left unchecked, confounding campaign finance experts.

JORDAN LIBOWITZ, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, CITIZENS FOR RESPONSIBLILITY & ETHICS IN D.C.: This is incredibly sloppy bookkeeping or he's saying this wasn't really his money.


And in that case, there's a legal question of whether this is an illegal pass-through contribution, is this an illegal corporate contribution? There are a number of ways he could have pushed money that was not actually his to his campaign, but they aren't illegal.

MCKEND (voice-over): And while it is not unusual to update a campaign finance report, Santos has routinely amended his filings, multiple times.

LIBOWITZ: This week, in one very short period, he amended ten filings from -- I believe they were the last ten filings his campaign made. The filings date back to, I believe, April of 2021. So, something clicked and they went back and read at everything.

MCKEND: Other pressing questions remain about the dozens of disbursements just under $200, one penny below the threshold above which campaigns are required to retain seats. And just how Santos acquired so much wealth in such a short amount of time? That remains a mystery. And it's something Santos has declined to answer.

REP. GEORGE SANTOS (R-NY): It's the equity of my hardworking self that I've invested inside of me.

MCKEND: Federal officials have launched an investigation into his findings.

LIBOWITZ: If there's anyone's whose books need to be audited, it's probably George Santos.


MCKEND (on camera): And in new filings today, campaign officials listed Thomas Datwyler as the treasurer of several of Santos's committees. But Datwyler's lawyer telling us tonight he declined that role and did not authorize the filings made by Santos's team.

So, this treasurer they listed on documents today says he's not the treasurer -- Erin.

BURNETT: Wow. All right, Eva, thank you very much.

And as Eva was talking, they're mentioning committees. Of course, Santos is serving on committees. There are others who are also getting massive committee assignments. There are calls growing for House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to take action against Santos. But the other Republican gaining power and influence on these committees reportedly telling Steve Bannon that Trump is eyeing her for his VP is Marjorie Taylor Greene, the congresswoman who supported McCarthy in all 15 rounds of voting for speaker -- even calling Trump to try to convince holdouts to support McCarthy, you can zoom in on that picture and see the DT for yourself.

And after that support, McCarthy rewarded her with spots on the crucial Oversight Committee, and Homeland Security. And this is a serious deal. This person has been banned from committees not long ago, and a huge, huge ascent.

OUTFRONT now, Harry Enten.

So, Harry Enten, just how surprising is Marjorie Taylor Greene's pivot, given her past record?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: I think it's quite surprising. You know, we were following along that speakership battle, it just went on and on and on. And we know that the Republicans who were opposing Kevin McCarthy were the most conservatives on the large part, right? BURNETT: Yeah.

ENTEN: So I look at the ten most conservative Republicans in Congress. And only two of them supported Kevin McCarthy on all 15 ballots. One was Ronny Jackson, the former Trump official --

BURNETT: Doctor, yeah.

ENTEN: Served as his doctor, exactly right. So, he's a big part of the establishment.

But Marjorie Taylor Greene was the other one. I mean, that's a shocker. If you had asked me a year ago who would be leading the charge against the establishment, you would say Marjorie Taylor Greene. The fact that she was with Kevin McCarthy on all 15 ballots is quite the shocker.

BURNETT: Right, right. And whatever it is, it paid off. The committee assignments are -- those are creme de la creme.


BURNETT: And it comes as longtime Trump ally Steve Bannon tells NBC News that Greene believes that all of this -- which is interesting -- has her on the shortlist to be the VP nominee of the shortlist for Trump's VP pick.

So, she's obviously won twice in her own district. What do voters think of her?

Look, nationally, right -- in her district Trump won by nearly 40 points but look nationally and compare her to pass GOP nominees at the time of her nomination and look at her net favorable now. Look at her. She is far more unpopular than any of those GOP VPs were at the time of their nomination.

So, this is strikes -- me I'm going, why would Trump put her on the ticket? She's very unpopular. She's not going to gain him any votes in the center of the electorate. It's just bizarre, given how unpopular she is nationally.

BURNETT: Right. It's very interesting. Some of those -- knew who she was at the time. But Greene has that name recognition.

ENTEN: And not in a good way.

BURNETT: So, would she help Trump with any Republicans he's vulnerable with? Or, no, she's in his corner?

ENTEN: Look, where Trump has problems among Republican voters in the middle, right? Among moderates, that's his lowest vote share of Republican primary voters at this point. Among very conservatives, where she is strongest, that's where he is strongest.

It just does not make any sense to me -- why would Donald Trump pick someone who is already in the part of the Republican Party he's strong with? And he needs help with moderates -- both in the general election in the primary? It doesn't make sense, Erin.

BURNETT: It does not. Although a moderate choosing to take that number --


BURNETT: We will see. Harry Enten, thank you.

ENTEN: Thank you.

BURNETT: And next, calls for peaceful protests tonight as we await the release of body cam video in the case of Tyre Nichols, the 29- year-old who, according to his family, was beaten by police for three minutes, and later died.


Tonight, I will speak to the Nichols family attorney who describes the beating as nonstop.

And Elon Musk is accused of buckling to the Indian government. Twitter reportedly removing a documentary that was critical of India's prime minister. What happened to Musk's vows to protect free speech?


BURNETT: Tonight, extensive bleeding caused by a severe beating. Those are the findings from an independent autopsy ordered by the family of 29 year old Tyre Nichols, who died after his arrest in Memphis, Tennessee. Police say Nichols was pulled over for reckless driving on January 7th and tried to flee the scene before a, quote, confrontation occurred.

Well, that confrontation, according to attorneys for Nichols's family with him being beat for nonstop, three minutes. They have seen the footage of the arrest. Police say Nichols later complained of shortness of breath and was taken to the hospital. He died there three days later.

All five Memphis police officers involved -- who are Black -- have been fired. But the community is demanding more transparency.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We pay for these cameras. We want to see what is going on.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We want the footage now. We want to know, are we really employing people that think it's okay to beat the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) out of folks?



BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, Tony Romanucci, and attorney representing the Nichols family.

Tony, people in the community are demanding to see the police footage, which the D.A. says could be released in days. Now, you have seen it and you are able to watch it with Nichols's family and you say showed three minutes of, quote, nonstop beating. It sounds absolutely horrific. Can you tell us more about what is on this footage?

ANTONIO ROMANUCCI, ATTORNEY TO TYRE NICHOLS FAMILY: Well, Erin, as I said, this -- what we have to start from the top -- this was the result of a traffic stop which turned into a death. So, now we have got to put the pieces together as to why this happened, and what we do know from what we saw is that in the time that Tyre Nichols was in the custody -- was in the control, in the custody -- of these officers, for about a 3 to 3 and a half minute time period, he is was severely beaten.

And as I have said, our independent medical examiner said that his injuries are consistent with the severe beating. And that is what happened for those three, three and a half minutes. I mean, his bleeding was so deep -- the hammer during was deep -- that it is only consistent with that type of physical contact, that those officers make.

BURNETT: You have to watch that for three minutes with his family, it's just a horror. And I know that, fortunately, for transparency, but obviously, it's going to be hard for everyone to watch -- that will hopefully be released soon.

Did the video, Tony, give you any clarity -- the family any clarity -- about why? You talk about the traffic staff and this is how it started. Did the video give you any clarity about why police would start to use such force?

ROMANUCCI: So, I'm going to answer in two ways, Erin. The first answer is no. The video will not tell you why.

But let's take a step back and understand who these police officers were. They were all young police officers, relatively inexperienced -- two years to about five years of experience each. They were all part of the Scorpion Unit.

The Scorpion Unit is -- you can call it whatever name you want -- they have had other names all over the country. What they really are our saturation units, suppression type units, and what we have seen from this these type of units across the country -- and they have been disbanded before -- is that they typically perform pretextual stops in order to prevent crime.

What are they trying to really trying to do? Well, they're trying to find guns and stolen cars. But they wind up stopping innocent people. And they wind up using brute force to do it.


ROMANUCCI: So, does the video tell us why it happened? No. BURNETT: The U.S. attorney investigating Nichols' death in the press

conference today said that there is a criminal civil rights investigation going on. But it's going to take time. What does the family want to see?

ROMANUCCI: Well, the family wants nothing but the absolute most charge that they can bring -- and what they want our murder charges. There is no doubt. They want to see that. That, I can relate to you.

The family is quite clear that they want to see murder charges brought against these officers. And I would support those charges, if they can be brought.

BURNETT: Tony, thank you very much. I appreciate your time.

ROMANUCCI: Thank you, Erin.

BURNETT: And OUTFRONT next, Elon Musk, who promised to promote free speech on Twitter under fire for reportedly bowing to the Indian government, removing post about a BBC documentary that is critical of the autocratic prime minister there.

Plus, disturbing details in the case of Alex Murdaugh, the prominent South Carolina attorney accused of killing his wife and son. What we learned today during the opening arguments.



BURNETT: Tonight, Elon Musk under fire after Twitter appears to have censored links to a BBC documentary that is critical of the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. That's according to multiple reports. And keep in mind, this was done after the Indian government ordered social media platforms to censor post about the documentary. The move, of course, puts into question Musk's insistence that he's committed to free speech. Modi is an authoritarian leader who poses up to dictators like Vladimir Putin.

And this comes as Tesla, which, of course, Musk still runs, publicly traded, actually had a rebound after its worst year on record -- the company tonight posted revenue and profits that were better than expected. These days, these are rare good headlines for Tesla, which suffered last year -- significantly underperforming the overall market. The company struggles coming as Musk has turned much of its focus to Twitter, which he got for $44 billion last year. There are now reports that he may need to refinance it and he's very focused on that.

And look at what happened to Tesla shares ever since Musk took over Twitter. Not good.

OUTFRONT now, Ross Gerber. He's the cofounder and president and CEO of Gerber Kawasaki Wealth and Investment Management. He's a major Tesla investor. So, Ross, I know -- hopefully you are smiling because, obviously, this

is a good news day for you, for Tesla. You are a major shareholder. You know, last year, you blamed your funds performance, you're down 32 percent on Tesla, and you said Musk was not suited to run both Tesla and Twitter and everything else he's doing. It looks like -- when Musk took over Twitter, he called himself a free speech advocate.

Do you think that he is still capable or that he should be running twitter and Tesla, as well as everything else he is doing?

ROSS GERBER, GERBER KAWASAKI PRESIDENT AND CEO, TESLA INVESTOR: Well, certainly, this issue which you brought up is exactly the challenges he faces being CEO of Twitter. These are really complicated issues. In this case, you are talking one of the biggest markets in the world for entertainment, but you got an authoritarian leader who is a disaster, who's supporting genocide in Ukraine.

And so, if you are really a free speech absolutist, obviously, you don't block any of these things. And he's had no problem adding on many right wing people that I find their speech quite offensive.

So, to me, this is exactly why he should not have weighted into being in this business because he has other interest like Tesla.


And it has affected Tesla in many ways. And so, there are conflicts that are involved with these businesses and this is a perfect example of it.

BURNETT: Right, right. And I want to ask you about Tesla. One of our upfront producers owns a Tesla, Okay? And he drives his Tesla regularly from New York City to Plymouth, Massachusetts, regularly. Okay? It's about an hour south of Boston.

The trip takes a little more than four hours. I know you own Teslas. He loves his car. But he has to stop in charge of halfway through the trip -- he cannot get it all the way. And he has to take the long way because there aren't charging stations on the shorter routes. And he can't charge his Tesla in the city.

Now, I'm just listing these things to make a point, right? There have been real problems. Tesla has to cut the cost of its cars to boost slumping sales. But how significant are these basic logistical issues that we are talking about. People may say, I really want one of those cars. But I've got to take the long way and I can't charge?

GERBER: Well, first of all, New York City is a unique place for cars anyway. So that's --

BURNETT: That is a fair point. Fair.

GERBER: But like in California, there is no issue with charging, for example. And a lot of the country -- most cars that you drive actually won't drive for hours without any gas either. So, when you look at a range of a typical Tesla, it's similar to a typical car but -- BURNETT: I don't have to go the long way.

GERBER: Well, that all changed. You know, super charging network by 35 percent this year and the northeastern quarter, I hate to say, it isn't the main market for Tesla, really. It's a good market, but it's not really their main market. So, they will get there.

But charging has gotten really good. And you can charge your car now in 15 or 20 minutes. It is good to get out of your car every three hours anyway. So, I make the drive about three and a half hours up to San Luis Obispo. And I can get there on one charge. But after three and a half hours, you know, you're going to have to stop.

BURNETT: Yeah. So, what's your bottom line message to Musk right now?

GERBER: I think -- I'm pretty pleased with his adjustments after our discussion in December, on Twitter spaces. And I still think that getting a new CEO of Twitter should be a priority for him. I'm not sure -- there's a lot of rumors recently that, boy, it would be great to have someone else be the face of Twitter for exactly these reasons, that are complex issues with the BBC and YouTube and so on and so forth.

So, we are hopeful that they will find a new CEO and Tesla will continue to have the great performance it's had.

BURNETT: All right. Ross, thank you very much. I appreciate your time. Thanks for being with me.

ROSS: Thank you.

BURNETT: All right. And next, prosecutors say they now have video that places prominent South Carolina Attorney Alex Murdoch in his home minutes before his wife and son were killed.



BURNETT: Tonight, the trial now underway in the double murder in the wife and son of a once prominent South Carolina attorney who is accused of killing both of them. That man, Alex Murdaugh, pleading not guilty, but during opening statements today, prosecutors suggested there is video evidence placing him at the house just minutes before the killings.

Dianne Gallagher is OUTFRONT and I want to warn that what you are about to hear in her report may be disturbing.


DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Fifty-two- year-old Alex Murdaugh standing trial for the murder of his wife Maggie and son Paul.

CREIGHTON WATERS, LEAD PROSECUTOR: Neither one of them had any defensive wounds. As if they did not see a threat coming from their attacker.

DICK HARPOOTLIAN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY FOR ALEX MURDAUGH: All that left was the front of his face. Everything else was gone.

WATERS: They find him upstairs, and what it in a raincoat, a blue color, looking like a tarp. You can hear evidence that it was coated with gunshot residue on the inside.

GALLAGHER: Prosecutors say Murdaugh was trying to conceal years of financial crimes, but the defense is already working to poke holes in the case.

HARPOOTLIAN: There is no eyewitness. There is no forensics tying him to the murder. When I say forensics I mean, fingerprints, blood, whatever, tying him to the shooting of anybody that night.

GALLAGHER: Murdaugh, and now disbarred attorney for a prominent legal family in the South Carolina Lowcountry, is facing life in prison if convicted for shooting, and killing, his wife, and son. For the first time, the Murdaugh's only surviving son, Buster, sitting behind his father in court with, other family members, all listed as potential witnesses.

Attorneys gave glimpses into their versions of what happened, or didn't, on the night Maggie and Paul were murdered at the family's hunting property.

WATERS: Two shots, abdomen, and they took her down.

GALLAGHER: Lead prosecutor Creighton Waters laying out the state's case, which they, say involves ballistics evidence from a still unaccounted for gun, and appears to lean heavily on information found on all three of the Murdaugh's phones.

WATERS: The evidence will show, the defendant, Alex Murdoch over there, told anyone who would listen, he was never at those killings. But the evidence is also going to show when these things, every one of them is lining his pocket, and shows that he was there. And he was there just minutes before, with Maggie and Paul, just minutes before their cell phones go silent forever.

GALLAGHER: The state claiming there was also video evidence from Paul's phones at the dark at the dark kennels taken at 8:44 p.m. that night, with Alex, and Maggie Murdaugh's voices on it. Experts say Paul and Maggie were murdered sometime between 8:30, and 10:06 p.m.

Defense attorney Dick Harpootlian telling the jury, the timeline doesn't work.

HARPOOTLIAN: The cellphone records would indicate he would have had less than ten minutes to kill them, get up to the house, get in the car, and crank it out. He would be covered in blood. I


GALLAGHER (on camera): We learned from the opening arguments, Erin, the prosecution saying Paul was killed before Maggie, but there is also discussion about circumstantial evidence, and reasonable doubt. More specifically, it was a prosecution, literally, providing definitions for these, telling the jury that circumstantial evidence is still evidence, and that reasonable doubt does not mean that there is no doubt.

Dick Harpootlian, the defense attorney, of course, a skilled trial lawyer, likely to continue trying to poke holes in the case, saying that the state doesn't have one.

BURNETT: All right. Dianne Gallagher, thank you so much, on the ground there, reporting on this.

Thanks to all of you for joining us.

Anderson starts now.