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Erin Burnett Outfront
Ukraine: Russia Has Mobilized 500,000 Soldiers, New Offensive Soon; GOP Representative Ready To Go "Over The Cliff" With Vote Against Debt Limit Hike; FBI Interview U.S. Veteran Who Alleges George Santos Took $3,000 From Dying Dog's GoFundMe; African American AP Course Revised Amid DeSantis Criticism. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired February 01, 2023 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, Russian onslaught. Ukraine breaking -- bracing for half a million more Russian troops to storm its borders as Russia is already ramping up its assault tonight.
Plus, a major update to a story we've been following. The FBI now investigating congressman George Santos for allegedly stealing thousands of dollars meant to help a veteran's dying dog. This as the $17,000 that Santos claims he spent in Florida reportedly doesn't add up either.
And breaking news, Hunter Biden's attorney is now calling for a criminal investigation into Trump's former attorney Rudy Giuliani and others over the laptop found at a Delaware computer repair shop. Why now?
Let's go OUTFRONT.
And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.
OUTFRONT tonight, half a million more Russian fighters. That's what Ukraine is bracing for tonight, 500,000 more Russians and a major onslaught.
Here's Ukraine's defense minister with the chilling warning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OLEKSIY REZNIKOV, UKRAINIAN DEFENSE MINISTER (through translator): Officially, they announced 300,000. But when we see the troops at the borders, according to our estimates, it is much more. We think that they have already mobilized 500,000.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Five hundred thousand. It sounds huge on an absolute basis, and if it pans out, it is huge. Just to give you the context, 500,000 is nearly 2 1/2 times more than the number of Russian fighters used to invade Ukraine nearly one year ago. And the predicted new offensive could be just weeks away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REZNIKOV (through translator): We think that, given that they love symbolism, they will try something around February 24th.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: February 24th, of course, marks one year since the beginning of Putin's invasion of Ukraine.
And as Ukraine braces for what could be this massive onslaught, the nuclear drum beat again growing louder in Russia. Just listen to what's being said tonight on Russian TV.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): This ends with our victory or this ends in a nuclear world war three.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And she is sort of the most well known Russian broadcaster. Nuclear world war three.
And this warning comes as the war continues its brutal, exhausting, horrible toll. The Russians today decimating a residential building in Kramatorsk, at least three people are dead, 20 injured. And crews are, according to officials, now digging through the debris trying to look for survivors. Just to the south, we'll show you some new video that we just have in, once a town of 9,000. Tonight, look at it -- it looks like a burnt outfield, completely destroyed.
Our Fred Pleitgen was just miles from there today and he joins us tonight from Pokrovske, Ukraine, where there is heavy fighting.
Fred, what did you see today? And what did you hear from the soldiers on the front line?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Erin.
Well, first of all, around where we are right now, there are actually air raid sirens going off. So, what happened tonight in Kramatorsk with that missile coming down, the Ukrainians believe that something like that could happen in other places as well and certainly that the threat of something like that happening is very real and certainly does continue also.
But we were indeed also on the front lines today in a Ukrainian trench. And in the time that we were there, the shelling there never stopped, and the fighting there never stopped either. Here's what we witnessed.
PLEITGEN (voice-over): All-out winter warfare on the eastern front. We're in a trench with Ukrainian paratroopers. They fire on Russian positions using AKs and a U.S.-supplied Browning heavy machine gun.
They're searching for weak spots in our position, says the commander, call sign Ghost. They want to see if we fight back. If we show strong resistance, though, they don't advance. And this is what strong resistance looks like.
The Russians are only about 400 yards away, hidden in the snow and fog but constantly firing at the entrenched Ukrainians.
The enemy uses all kinds of weapons, Bogdan says, small arms, heavy machine guns, artillery, mortars, rocket launchers and aviation as well.
But so far, the Ukrainians say they haven't lost an inch of territory here.
The Ukrainians say the situation here is reminiscent of some of the worst times in World War II, where they're not only fighting a strong adversary but the elements as well.
The snow, the mud, and the cold make fighting here even tougher. And Ukraine's leadership believes the Russians will soon escalate even more after mobilizing hundreds of thousands of men for a likely spring offensive.
But this gunner who goes by the name "deputy" says the paratroopers are ready. It will be hard, he says, it will be tough, but we will hold because we stand here for our land. If we don't do it, nobody will.
There's a visceral hatred towards Moscow's leaders among these men.
In Russia, they have a terrorist dictatorial regime, Bogdan says. So now the civilized world is fighting against this wild medieval dictatorship.
As we prepare to leave, incoming grenades explode above. This, the men say, is a relatively quiet day. They expect much worse in the months to come. But their motto is, if not us, who else?
PLEITGEN (on camera): And, Erin, that is the reality on the ground there and in so many other places on Ukraine's eastern front. You were mentioning, the Ukrainian defense minister saying he believes up to 500,000 people could've already been mobilized by the Russians in every single place that we've been going to on the eastern front here in Ukraine, they have been telling us the Ukrainians that they believe that the Russians have already beefed up their forces.
And certainly the Ukrainian government today said they believe the month of February and the month of March are going to be extremely tough for the Ukrainians on the ground. They obviously say they need more western weapons to hold their ground, but they also say of course they are not going to give up an inch of their territory without a fight -- Erin.
BURNETT: Fred, thank you very much. That was an incredible report.
And I want to bring in now to talk about it, Ekaterina Kotrikadze, the news director and anchor for TV Rain, which is an independent Russian language television channel shut down by the Russian government at the start of the war.
Also with me, retired Army Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, a former assistant secretary of state for political military affairs.
Thanks to both.
General Kimmitt, let me begin with you because you hear Fred, the Ukrainian troops he's speaking to, they say today is a quiet today, the grenades exploding overhead as he was leaving. And the defense minister of Ukraine is saying that Russia's already mobilized 500,000 soldiers, that they're seeing them amassed on these borders again.
Do you think that we're about to see a big change in this war?
BRIGADIER GEN. MARK KIMMITT (RET), FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE FOR POLITICAL MILITARY AFFAIRS: Well, I really don't. I think we may see a big change in this war in a couple of months. But, as the soldiers said, this is very much like World War II. No, in fact, this is like World War I, the trench warfare in France that went on for years and years.
Unfortunately, I think in the near term we're going to see much the same for the next couple of months until one side or the other prepares for a counteroffensive. That's why we got the tanks. That's why we're bringing in the tanks so the Ukrainians have a chance, and the Russians may have plans on their own.
But I certainly hope we're interdicting their lines to make sure the majority of his troops never show up.
BURNETT: Katrina, you pointed out to us that sound bite we played threatening that if the Russians don't win, it's nuclear world war three. You're pointing out that a lot of the Putin TV commentators really are upping the rhetoric right now. Let me play how another prominent TV host put it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VLADIMIR SOLOVYOV, RUSSIAN TV PRESENTER (through translator): Why the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) would our state build up a stockpile of strategic and tactical nuclear missiles? Why? Just to be afraid of using them?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Ekaterina, what do you read into that? And what does the Russian public really think at this point?
EKATERINA KOTRIKADZE, ANCHOR, TV RAIN: This was Vladimir Solovyov, one of the biggest stars of Russian propaganda, Erin. Actually, the situation right now is dangerous for Vladimir Putin. As we can see, they don't have any other -- any other tools to use for Russian public and for the Western world except for the threats. They are threatening the world with this world war three, with the nuclear weapon because this is the last hope that they can catch right now and offer the world.
The attitude of people in Russia is fear actually. The society is terribly depressed. People understand that this is the war actually that this is not a special military operation, how they called it before. Vladimir Putin is already calling this a war and Sergey Lavrov, the minister of foreign affairs, and others, they are not hiding any more that this is a very serious situation and people are understanding it right now.
So this is the new stage for Russian society. They can hear these words about the nuclear weapon. I know that people are scared to death.
They don't want this nuclear war of course because they don't want to die. They want to, you know, raise their children and so on and so forth. So they are looking for some kind of, you know, maybe kind of -- soft moment, they are looking forward to maybe freezing this war, because this is the only way to survive for Russian citizens. They don't know how to see the future without Vladimir Putin because he has built a terrible repressive state where no one has the right to think freely or to talk freely.
BURNETT: So, General Kimmitt, a well known and highly respected Russian analyst said this about the current state of the Russian military in the context of what Ekaterina just said. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): By the start of the mobilization, our airborne forces lost 40 to 50 percent of the staff.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Look, it's an incredible admission, right, happening on one of those very same programs, General. So I do want to emphasize that.
But to say something like that, that nearly half of Russia's airborne forces are gone, I mean, it's stunning. But then I think about what the Ukrainian defense minister said today that Russia has 500,000 more soldiers coming.
General, what is the real picture here?
KIMMITT: Well, I think the real picture is quantity has a quality all its own. If they are going to be pouring 500,000 troops in, that's going to make a significant difference no matter how many tanks we give, no matter how much artillery they have.
But I wouldn't put too much stock in what the defense minister said. There's an old saying in the military that the first report is usually wrong. That seems like an awful large number to anybody that's been following us for some time.
BURNETT: It certainly does. When you heard it today. It wasn't the math that we'd heard in the mobilization or anything. But it is a stunning number.
Ekaterina, you have extensively covered Putin opposition leader Alexei Navalny. He is in the news today. His lawyer saying that he is being transferred to even harsher solitary confinement. He, of course, is the opposition leader in Russia and was poisoned by Putin's men and put into a penal colony. He was able to post a message today.
Quote, when something like this happens to you, you realize how important it is to fight this unscrupulous regime, how important it is to do just about anything in order to throw the yoke of these scoundrels off Russia, and dispel the illusion that they have planted in the hands of millions. Let us try to remain strong and do all we can every day.
And yet he physically seems weaker every time we get an image of him, Ekaterina, and as I said today, going into even harsher solitary confinement. What happens if he doesn't survive?
KOTRIKADZE: It's going to be a huge problem for Vladimir Putin because he has already tried to kill him, and we know that. But it was a different time. Right now, when the level of fear and depression in Russian society is so high, when everyone is at the edge, when mobilization is something, the people are scared very much.
And we know that because we can see how many people watch us, and millions of Russians are asking questions about mobilization in particular. So, Navalny, his death, if it happens, I mean, it's terrible. But if it happens, can be a huge trigger for Russian people to go out on the streets and to protest and to change something.
I don't want this to happen, of course, and no one wants this to happen. And Putin doesn't want it to happen. So that's why they are not killing him in jail. This is the only good news for Alexei Navalny and for the civil society of Russian Federation, which survives out of Russia, unfortunately, right now.
So, yes, he is in a terrible circumstance. They are trying to break his personality. But he is proving every single day, Erin, if you look at him, if you look at what he says, what he writes, what he tweets with the help of his lawyers, you can see how strong this person is. And I am sure that he survives actually.
BURNETT: All right. Ekaterina, thank you very much. General Kimmitt, thanks to you.
And for all watching, we're talking about Alexei Navalny. You can watch the Oscar-nominated CNN film "Navalny." It is now streaming on HBO Max.
And next, the White House say it's won't negotiate when it comes to paying America's debt. But this is what they're dealing with.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF C ONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It sounds like you are prepared to go over the cliff if you have to.
REP. TIM BURCHETT (R-TN): Over the cliff, shut it down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Democratic Congressman Porter is next to respond.
Plus, an update to a story we've been following. The FBI now investigating Congressman George Santos after a Navy veteran accused him of stealing thousands of dollars in donations meant to save the veteran's dying dog.
And did Ron DeSantis win? A curriculum for the AP class on Black history that DeSantis has objected to, has now been stripped down after some very public criticism.
BURNETT: New tonight, Biden and McCarthy face to face. Neither side ready to cave tonight as the two most powerful men in Washington try to raise the nation's borrowing limit before the U.S. defaults on its debt for the first time ever.
Keep in mind the U.S. lost its top-notch credit rating in 2011. That was due just to the threat of a default. And it has been 4,198 days since that happened. And America still hasn't gotten it back.
Biden wants to raise the debt ceiling. He wants to do it with no strings attached. McCarthy is insisting on tons of strings, otherwise in his view, known as spending cuts that would go along with agreeing to raise the debt limit.
Here's what just one Republican congressman is saying today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Is there any scenario in which you could see yourself voting for the debt limit?
REP. TIM BURCHETT (R-TN): No, not really.
RAJU: Then there could be a fault then.
BURCHETT: There could. But I voted to shut it down under Trump as well. I think we were reckless then and we're going to be reckless again and we'll never stop. RAJU: It sounds like you are prepared to go over the cliff if you
BURCHETT: Over the cliff, shut it down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, Democratic congresswoman and U.S. Senate candidate Katie Porter of California.
And, Congresswoman, I appreciate your time.
Well, you heard it, shut it down, go off the cliff. So, what should Biden do? Stand firm on refusing to negotiate with Republicans or not?
REP. KATIE PORTER (D-CA): Biden should definitely make clear that it does not benefit any American -- Democrat, Republican, or otherwise -- to have our credit rating damaged.
This simply helps nobody and hurts everybody. Every single American, regardless of their political ideology, benefits from a strong, stable, globally competitive economy. And that is at risk if we do not vote to raise the debt ceiling.
BURNETT: So, the issue here, of course, is that many Republicans want to attach a raising of the debt ceiling, which, of course, is debts already incurred, right? It's paying bills you already incurred with future spending changes, right? They want to marry those two things together.
So, some of them specifically have called for changes to Social Security. For example, things like raising the age to receive full Social Security.
And I thought it was interesting, Congresswoman, there was a recent CBO report that projected part of the funding for Social Security will be completely gone, totally gone in ten years.
Do Republicans pushing for changes to Social Security have a point?
PORTER: They do not. And here is why. This is how much Social Security adds to our national deficit. Zero, nothing.
Social Security is not debt-financed. In fact, by law, you cannot use debt spending to fund Social Security. And, in fact, we currently have over $2.9 trillion surplus.
So, do we need to think about how to make Social Security as strong and as viable for future generations as we can? Absolutely. But it is nuts to try to blame Social Security and blame working Americans who pay for the program and suggest that Social Security is in any way responsible for the national debt. It simply is not.
BURNETT: Well, I'm glad you brought your trademark white board. And luckily there was -- you didn't need to write the whole national debt number on it. You just need to write zero.
But, to this point, the overall debt number is immense, right? The debt since the last time we were on a brink of a default, 2011 when we lost that first credit rating, right, as you know, the debt has more than doubled. And today, our debt dwarfs our economy, right? So you've got debt 134 percent of what our economy produces in a year, right?
Now, when you've looked at that in other countries, it's often presaged economic crisis and collapse, really horrible things and have completely destroyed families living -- standard of living for generations.
Does America need to cut something big time, big picture here?
PORTER: Well, I do think we always want to be responsible with our tax dollars. We want to ask about any tax dollar that we're putting toward anything, whether it's the Pentagon budget, which takes up about half of our discretionary spending each year --
PORTER: -- or whether it's toward an environmental program, pandemic employment fraud. I had a hearing about that today.
Every tax dollar should be spent wisely. But a lot of these tax dollars are spent on investments that actually help us grow our economy. When we grow our economy, when we have more Americans at work, we have more tax revenue.
And that's exactly how President Biden has been able to lower the deficit twice, once through the Inflation Reduction Act and creating growth in our economy and savings there, and another time through simply addressing and reducing programs.
So, the solution is to have a strong economy. And, as you do that and if it's consistently strong, you're not having high jinks around things like the debt ceiling, you will see overall that come into balance. But it's not -- it's wrong -- it's right that we should think. It's not wrong to say that we ought to look at every dollar and make sure it's spent wisely.
PORTER: But when you see things like Social Security being put on the chopping block when it doesn't even add a single dollar, not even one dollar to the deficit, it makes you wonder whether Republicans are really being sincere about their effort to protect taxpayers.
BURNETT: Right, right. Whether it's about politics or actually about cutting spending. And, of course, many of us are skeptical about their goals of cutting spending because they've increased it significantly when they have had control of the spending purse.
Thank you very much. Appreciate your time, Congresswoman.
PORTER: Thank you.
BURNETT: And, next, a major update to a story we've been following. The FBI now looking into accusations George Santos stole thousands of dollars that were donated to save a veteran's dying dog.
Plus, Hunter Biden now going on the offensive, demanding investigations into some of his biggest Republican foes who had access to his laptop.
BURNETT: New tonight, the FBI now investigating George Santos for allegedly stealing $3,000 that was meant to save a veteran's dying dog. That veteran, Rich Osthoff, telling OUTFRONT that he spoke today with two FBI agents and handed over his text messages with Santos regarding the GoFundMe fundraiser for his dog Sapphire.
Sapphire died and never got the surgery needed to save her life. I recently spoke with Osthoff who was scammed by Santos, who went by the name Anthony Devolder at the time.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And you never got a dollar of the money?
RICH OSTHOFF, NAVY VETERAN: Never got anything.
BURNETT: And obviously, she died.
OSTHOFF: She about four months after this all went down. There was a string of texts between me and Devolder. I talked to him one time on the phone.
And in one of the texts, I was so upset about it, I knew I wasn't going to get the money at that point. I knew there was something going on. I was like, I knew that you mined my dog and my friends and family's hearts to raise money for yourself. And he told me that was the most offensive horrible thing anybody had ever said to him. That I think was the breaking point where he decided he was not going to give me the money or where he could actually break away from, he knew I wasn't going to call him back anymore.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Jessica Dean is OUTFRONT on Capitol Hill.
Jessica, what more can you tell us about the FBI's investigation into Santos?
JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this evening we know a spokesperson for the U.S. attorney's office for the Eastern District of New York is not commenting.
But, Erin, as you mentioned, we do know that Rich Osthoff, the man you just saw there, has been talking with two FBI agents, giving them all of the information that he has, including those text messages as the federal investigators continue to comb through George Santos' financial history. And that's what a lot of these investigations have zeroed in on. His finances both in this case but also more broadly with the FEC and federal elections, his documents there that have been amended and changed.
You'll remember there was a treasurer that was listed that said that they never okayed their name to be listed. So there's a lot there that various investigations are going through. In this case, again, they have talked directly with this man and we know that he turned over those text messages. All of this is coming as Santos continues to not answer really any questions that we are giving him here or asking of him, rather, here on the hill as he goes back and forth from votes.
But we do know that he just agreed to step away from his committees in light of all of this. And we heard from House Speaker Kevin McCarthy just a little bit ago when he got back from the White House with his meeting from President Biden, he was asked about this. He said he's glad that Santos has actually stepped back.
And this is after he said he believed he should've been on committee. So, he was asked, what changed his mind? Here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I had some new questions.
REPORTER: About what? About what?
MCCARTHY: I think going through ethics will answer some others. And I think until he goes through that, it would be better that he doesn't serve on committees.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DEAN: So he won't be serving on those committees, Erin, and this will be happening as, of course, the House ethics committee begins to probe through his campaign finances and take a closer look at all of that. As you imagine, there's a lot of questions about that as well.
BURNETT: It is significant though just for McCarthy to say what he said there. Thank you so much, Jessica. Appreciate it.
And now, veteran Richard Osthoff will join me in studio tomorrow. He'll discuss the FBI investigation into Santos. So that is coming up.
But more problems for Santos as well. The "Miami Herald" investigating more than $17,000 Santos campaign said it's spent in Florida. Some of the numbers aren't adding up there.
You see Aaron Leibowitz on your screen. He is with "The Miami Herald", and he's the one who's been digging in to all of these numbers. So, Aaron, thank you so much for your time.
So you started going through Santos' campaign reports to see where he spent money in south Florida. You found expenses for a local diner, $199.99. Just to be clear, that's one penny below the amount where the FEC requires campaigns to keep receipts. Another diner, $75.79.
So, you called the restaurants to see did he actually spend this money that he said what he did. What did you find out?
AARON LEIBOWITZ, REPORTER, MIAMI HERALD: That's right. So I reached out to some of these businesses that Santos reported in his campaign filings, this particular restaurant reached out to the managing partner of the diner who told me, you know, he was able to look back at receipts from those days in October 2021. And he didn't find anything that corresponded with the amounts that Santos' campaign had reported.
You know, didn't find any checks for $199.99. Nothing for the $75 and change the following day. He was not able to confirm that those amounts were legitimate.
BURNETT: Which is pretty stunning. And I should just say to everyone, the possible implication could be you're putting in expenses you didn't incur and then you're keeping the money for yourself. Possible. I'm not saying it happened, I'm just raising what the questions are the come out of your reporting.
Another list of expenses caught your eye. These are payments over three days to a parking lot in Miami Beach. And the amounts here, interestingly, varied quite widely. Some $3 to $4. A couple for more than $100. There are two others listed as $99.99. What's the significance of these numbers, and do these add up?
LEIBOWITZ: Yeah. Those caught my eye as soon as I saw them. The address listed on the campaign reports is for a parking lot in Miami Beach right near the Fontainebleau Hotel. It's a public parking lot. In order to park there, you have to pay $20. That's for any amount of time. It's a flat $20 rate.
There's a 35 cent transaction fee if you use a mobile app. Residents can get a $6 rate. So the amount should be multiples of that. They should be multiples of 20 or multiples of 6. And then you factor in this transaction fee if you're using the app.
So I reached out to the city of Miami Beach and their parking director essentially told me these amounts appear to be impossible based on the filings, which was the address of this particular public parking lot.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Aaron. Really important reporting and painstaking. I know it takes a lot of time to do this, and it really matters. Thank you.
And next, breaking news. Hunter Biden now demanding investigations into some of Trump's biggest allies after a laptop was found in Delaware. And did the people behind an AP class on Black history cave to Ron
DeSantis? Tonight, the curriculum that was blocked is out. And what's still in it?
BURNETT: Breaking news. Hunter Biden on the offensive tonight. CNN learning Biden's attorneys are calling for multiple state and federal agencies to investigate a computer repair shop owner, Rudy Giuliani, and other right-wing figures who widely publicized contents from a laptop during the 2020 campaign. It marks the first time Hunter Biden and his legal team publicly acknowledged that it was his personal data.
So it's significant in that regard, right, finally acknowledging that, and now, this different move. Biden accusing the owner of the shop of accessing the laptop without authorization and sharing it with "The New York Post."
The laptop does appear to contain a massive trove of information detailing, among other things, business documents, emails and photos including some obviously salacious material.
Evan Perez is OUTFRONT.
And, Evan, you know, the reason this matters is multiple reasons, I guess. But this is the first time Hunter Biden has said, okay, it was my laptop essentially, right? That's significant to even get there on its own. I mean, what is happening here?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Right. Well, they're saying that this is his data and that it is purported by these critics that it came from a laptop that he allegedly dropped off in 2019 at this repair shop in Delaware. What he's saying, though, Erin, is that his data has been weaponized by this computer repair shop owner, and Rudy Giuliani who he was working with, as well as a number of other right-wing figures to essentially use this information to try to damage his father, Joe Biden, president, ahead of the 2020 election, and that continues to this day.
Obviously, Republicans have spent a lot of time focusing on Hunter Biden, promising to do investigations, congressional investigations of him and his business dealings and trying to tie that back to President Biden. That's the reason why you see this change in strategy essentially that has now occurred.
What he's asking for is for investigations to be done by the Delaware state attorney general as well as the Justice Department for what he says were violations of computer laws and other laws because of the use of his data from this laptop.
BURNETT: All right. So, it's interesting that they're doing this now. It's an aggressive move. This story is not a new story. Why now?
PEREZ: Right. Well, it's very interesting timing. Obviously, we know and we've all been watching the Delaware U.S. attorney who is doing a criminal investigation of Hunter Biden, focusing on tax -- possible tax violations as well as a false statement related to a gun purchase. So we know that that is the sort of atmosphere as well as the fact that the Republicans are launching all these investigations.
Here's Hunter Biden discussing this laptop in a previous interview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
INTERVIEWER: Was that your laptop?
HUNTER BIDEN, SON OF PRESIDENT BIDEN: For real, I don't know.
INTERVIEWER: I know, but you know --
BIDEN: I really don't know what the answer is.
INTERVIEWER: You don't know. Yes or no if the laptop was yours?
BIDEN: I have no idea.
INTERVIEWER: And you didn't drop on of a laptop to be repaired in Delaware?
BIDEN: Not that I remember at all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PEREZ: You can see there that Hunter, at least until now, has, you know, at least tried to shed a lot of doubt as to whether this was even his information. This was stuff that came from a laptop that he dropped off, a definite change in strategy, Erin. And you can see that he wants to go after his critics now.
BURNETT: All right, thank you very much, Evan.
So Ryan Goodman is OUTFRONT with me now.
Okay. So, Ryan, this is a significant shift for Hunter Biden, right? You got -- you see that interview sort of seemed laughable on its face at that point. And then, now, all of a sudden, acknowledging, well, it's the data, whether it's the laptop or not, that's the question.
But he has denied that the laptop is his for a long time. Just listen to this exchange.
Oh, okay, sorry, we don't have the sound bite. But he says, and you didn't drop on of a laptop to be -- in Delaware? He says, no, no. Not that I remember at all, right?
So what do you read into the fact that he's now saying, okay, it's my data at least? RYAN GOODMAN, FORMER SPECIAL COUNSEL AT DEPT. OF DEFENSE: So it
sounds like it is a big pivot that he's going on the offense in a certain sense, not just being defensive. And that he would make such statements might also mean that he thinks that he's maybe no longer in certain legal jeopardy that he would actually make these claims, like this is my laptop. If he's making those claims to the federal authorities, state authorities, it sounds like he's either built up his confidence about that or it's a strategy to deal with the incoming House Republican investigations.
BURNETT: Right, which, of course, it very well could be because they have made it very clear they are going to do that. What do you make about -- so there's the first time acknowledging and then there's the going on offense and saying we want, you know, an investigation into Rudy Giuliani and to the guy at the computer repair shop.
Do you think that there possibly could be crimes there? Is just a lot of bluster? Is there something behind it?
GOODMAN: So, there could be crimes there. We haven't heard his side of the story because he previously said it wasn't necessarily his laptop. The crimes include intentionally gaining access to a computer without authorization or an accessible authorization.
And then the facts on the other side, the computer repair guy says, you know, I had a policy and he signed it, Hunter Biden signed it. And it said after 90 days, if you don't come pick up your laptop, it's abandoned.
BURNETT: And he never picked it up.
GOODMAN: And he never picked it up. But CNN has this news report, apparently in his own book, the computer repair guy says, well, the day after he dropped off his laptop, I opened it, because he's repairing it, and I saw a file in it, and said income.pdf. And I looked at his book, and he says it had a purple dot and it was begging to be opened.
BURNETT: So, one day is not 90 days. So there you may have -- wow.
Okay. All right. Ryan, thank you very much. Interesting development shifting tonight for Hunter Biden.
And, next, did Ron DeSantis just change the curriculum for an AP class on black history that he took issue with just days ago? Well, the curriculum is out, and it does appear that that class has been changed.
Plus, a city remembers Tyre Nichols, three weeks after his deadly arrest in Memphis.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All I want is my baby brother back.
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BURNETT: Tonight, caved. A college board stripping down its curriculum for an AP African-American studies course after Florida Governor Ron DeSantis called it a, quote, political agenda. The board watering down topics that DeSantis and the Florida Department of Education objected to, something likes the Black Lives Matter Movement and queer theory.
Leyla Santiago is OUTFRONT.
MARVIN DUNN, HISTORIAN: For 42 years, not knowing this man was killed right here in Miami's history from that moment was never the same.
LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The man was Arthur McDuffie, a black father beaten to death by white police officers in Miami in 1979. The officers were acquitted, riots followed.
So, it happened here?
DUNN: Right here.
SANTIAGO: It's places like this central to historian Marvin Dunn's Teach the Truth Tours, an effort to shed light on the history he says many students don't learn about in the classroom.
DUNN: There is now an effort in Florida to cherry-pick history. And when you start cherry-picking history, you need to make sure you don't have somebody doing that who hates cherries.
SANTIAGO: The latest controversy, an advanced placement African American study course. The College Board, the non-profit that oversees the AP program, has now revised its official coursework. Florida's Department of Education had rejected the initial proposal to the pilot course saying it was, quote, inexplicably contrary to Florida law and significantly lacks educational value.
Florida's Governor Ron DeSantis after this point has been very critical of the pilot program.
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: We have history, a lot of different shapes and sizes, people that have participated to make the country great, people that have stood up when it wasn't easy and they all deserve to be taught.
But abolishing prisons being taught to high school kids as if that's a fact -- no, that's not appropriate.
SANTIAGO: Last year, Florida passed legislation known as the "Stop Woke Act" championed by DeSantis. In part, it barred instruction that suggests anyone is privileged or oppressed based on race or skin color. The state's objections to the AP course stemmed from proposed course written for the pilot program.
The Department of Education provided CNN with a copy of the curriculum they reviewed and the objections related to unit four titled movements and debates. Concerns included Black queer studies, movements for Black lives, Black feminist literary thought, citing concerns about the works of specific authors and scholars.
DESANTIS: This course on Black history, what is one of the lessons about? Queer theory. Now, who would say that an important part of black history is queer theory? That is somebody pushing an agenda on our kids.
SANTIAGO: The newly released official framework does not include any of the authors or scholars that the state listed as a concern. Queer theory and Black Lives Matter mentioned in the course, but only as ideas for potential student project topics. We asked the co-chair of the development committee for the course of any changes were made because of the objections of the state of Florida.
ROBERT PATTERSON, AFRICAN AMERICAN STUDIES PROFESSOR: No. That -- if that were the case, if the state of Florida or any state itself could single-handedly alter the curriculum of African American studies, the AP African American studies course or any AP course, for that matter, it would actually undermine the integrity of the process that we have in place.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I learned a lot.
SANTIAGO: CJ Feltman (ph) and TJ Brown and their moms who live in Miami say they have been waiting for a course like this. They all attended a Teach the Truth Tour and say they wouldn't know as much about their own history if it weren't for the courses taught by Dunn.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We learn about the same people every year, George Washington Carver, Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks. I feel like it's just the same stuff being tout and, okay, they can know this, but that's it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel like if we don't learn this history, it might repeat itself and it will go on and on. We have to learn it in order to stop it.
SANTIAGO: Some parents welcome the scrutiny. Anisha Smith (ph) told us she wouldn't mind if her daughter took the course but some things she said are best taught at home.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Some things, like the queer studies, that may or may not offend some of the children, make them feel a little bit uncomfortable.
SANTIAGO: As for Professor Dunn, he is now part of a lawsuit against the state Stop Woke Law. Being uncomfortable, he says, is a part of learning and understanding the history that is often overlooked.
DUNN: Look like what had happened here. A man was massacred at this shot. But listen, every community in this country has spots like this,
places where Blacks have been abused, killed and they've been forgotten about. This is not unique to Miami.
BURNETT: And, Leyla, you know, this report is so fascinating. I mean, this is basically the end of this whole specific battle or could DeSantis still object to the revisions?
SANTIAGO: Absolutely. Yeah. The state of Florida could still object to that.
In fact, this morning within a few hours of this coursework being released, Governor Ron DeSantis was asked about this. Now, he told reporters he still hadn't reviewed the course work yet, so we'd have to get back to them.
But I did talk to his office who tells me that the Department of Education is currently reviewing the coursework to make sure that it complies with Florida law. So I imagine there are a lot of legal eyes on this right now, kind of looking to see if they believe that this complies with the "Stop Woke Act" and other Florida legislation from last year, including the banning critical race theory.
But, you know, we'll have to wait and see what the Department of Education decides to do if they will accept this in Florida classrooms, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you so much, Leyla, reporting live from Miami tonight.
And next, Tyre Nichols laid to rest three weeks after his brutal arrest and beating.
BURNETT: Tonight, remembering Tyre Nichols. The 29-year-old was laid to rest today three weeks after he was fatally beaten by Memphis police officers. Nichols family remembering him as respectful and peaceful. A young man gone too soon.
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KEYANA DIXON, SISTER OF TYRE NICHOLS: All I want is my baby brother back. And even in his demise, he was still polite. He asked them to please stop. He was still the polite young man that he always was. He asked them to please stop.
ROWVAUGHN WELLS, MOM OF TYRE NICHOLS: The fact that I really truly believe my son was sent on an assignment from God.
(END VIDEO CLIPS) BURNETT: Vice President Kamala Harris sat next to Tyre Nichols' parents during the service. She called on Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act when she spoke.
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KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This violent act was not in pursuit of public safety. It was not in the interest of keeping the public safe because one must ask, was not it in the interest of keeping the public safe that Tyre Nichols would be with us here today? Tyre Nichols should have been safe.
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BURNETT: Five Memphis police officers have been charged with murder in Nichols' death. Two others are on leave as the department investigates the case.
Thanks so much for being with us tonight.
"AC360" begins now.