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Erin Burnett Outfront

Russian Fighter Who Fled Army Speaks Out; "Going To Shelter": CNN Team Has Close Call As Russia Launches Strikes; Pentagon Tracking Suspected Chinese Spy Balloon Over U.S.; Santos Dodging Questions On Probe Of Alleged Scam Targeting Veteran; Trump Escalates DeSantis Feud Amid 2024 Talk; New Details About SkyCop Camera That Caught Police Beating Nichols. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired February 02, 2023 - 19:00   ET



ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, a Russian lieutenant who fought in Ukraine has fled Putin's army and he's OUTFRONT to talk about it. The lack of equipment, training, boiling rapids for food, the atrocities he says were committed by Russian fighters. You won't want to miss this interview.

And breaking news, the Pentagon right now is tracking a Chinese spy balloon that's flying over the U.S. President Biden asking for military options. What are the Chinese doing?

Plus, FBI agents investigating Congressman George Santos for allegedly scamming a veteran out of thousands of dollars meant for his dying dog. That veteran is OUTFRONT tonight. What did he tell investigators about Santos?

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, a Russian officer speaks out right here. Konstantin Yefremov served on the front lines for three months and is now telling all. The former lieutenant is the most senior Russian officer to speak publicly about what he saw ended in Ukraine. You are going to see that interview in just a moment.

Yefremov managed to escape Russia in January. But he still speaks with the men he served with, and so I asked him about Ukraine's claims that Russia's mobilized half a million troops and whether any of those troops are properly trained. Here's what he said that.


KONSTANTIN YEFREMOV, FORMER RUSSIAN SENIOR LIEUTENANT, FLED MILITARY (through translator): These people who are coming out, they're not prepared, they have not been trained, and they're not even aware what kind of horror is awaiting them there. This number is just a bubble, because we are talking about just handymen. Not servicemen.


BURNETT: Handymen, not servicemen. No prep, no training. Yefremov says that they go and they're joining because if they don't,

then they will go to prison. He says that they have no choice, other than prison for multiple years.

Yefremov, who first spoke to the BBC, shared this video with us. He says that what you're looking at here, which he took with his cell phone on the frontlines, is Russians firing a series of rockets towards Ukrainian positions last year. He tells us that not only did he not know where the artillerymen were shooting, and his job here was to protect them, that's what his unit was doing at the time, he says.

He says, the Russians firing those rockets had no idea what they were shooting up. Of course, we know the targets are constantly civilian homes, schools, apartment buildings.

Yefremov, in fact, says he wouldn't three instances of Russians torturing Ukrainians. And he has this to say to the Ukrainian people.


YEFREMOV (through translator): I asked the Ukrainian people for forgiveness that I came to their land with a gun in my hand.


BURNETT: Yefremov is seeking asylum in the United States and you will hear more from him in a moment because his details about the Russian forces come as President Zelenskyy said that Russia's new offensive is now underway.

And as fighting intensifies, our Fred Pleitgen today who is just yards from two missile strikes in the city of Kramatorsk. He and his team were in the middle of a civilian area. The attack, of course, sending everyone scrambling for shelter, afraid of dying. At least seven people were injured. You are going to see and hear from Fred in a moment about this terribly close call.

And for the Ukrainians who are still in the line of fire, nowhere else to go, they're about to be even more of these horrible moments. A spokesman for Putin claiming tonight that Russia is now on the verge of using its, quote, existing potential to the fullest, in order to respond to the weapons that Ukraine is set to receive from the West.

Fred Pleitgen is on the ground in Ukraine.

And, Fred, we're also glad to see you. The incredible reporting that you've done, we all seen outcome to incredible risk, it was very close call for you and your team tonight near the front lines.

What happened?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, first of all, thank you, Erin. You're absolutely right, wasn't an extremely close call. I think one of the things we need to point out to our viewers is that we were going to Kramatorsk to the city, to actually report on the aftermath of a missile strike that had taken place on the civilian area. But while the cleanup operation was going on and a search and rescue operation, the Russians struck exactly that area again. And it was very close to where we were.

Here's what happened.


PLEITGEN (voice-over): Two missile strikes on the city Kramatorsk in eastern Ukraine, right at the location we are about to film.

There were just two massive missile strikes right in our vicinity. You can see it's just a couple yards away from where we are. We're not exactly sure what kind of missiles they were, but this is a residential area.


We're right in the middle of town.

Photojournalist Mathias Heng films the damage caused by the impact. Ukrainian authorities later said they believe the missiles were S- 300s, normally used to shoot down planes, devastating when launched at urban centers.

As medics tended to the wounded, producer Tim Lister checks in with our headquarters.

TIM LISTER, CNN PRODUCER: Large detonations really, really close. We are going to stay in shelter.

PLEITGEN: As we take cover, residents are clearly traumatized by the violence.

It is terrifying, Natalia tells me. But what can we do?

The strikes came as a search and rescue efforts were ongoing in exactly the same neighborhood, after a Russian missile leveled an apartment block on Wednesday night, killing at least three and wounding eight.

The Russians seem to be bringing the cities of this region into their war, regardless of the consequences. And Russian President, Vladimir Putin, is saying there is worse to come.

Putin spoke Thursday at events commemorating the battle of Stalingrad, where Soviet forces defeated Nazi Germany 80 years ago, openly threatening the U.S. and other countries supporting Ukraine.

Clearly, they don't understand that modern war with Russia will be quite different for them, he said. We won't send our tanks to their borders, but we have the means to respond and it won't be with the use of armored vehicles.

Cities like Kramatorsk already know that the Kremlin is ready to escalate its war on Ukraine. Largely quiet just weeks ago, they are now in the eye of the storm, as Russian forces seek to grind their way through Donetsk.

When the coasts seemed clear, we left Kramatorsk.

We are going to get out of here as fast as possible, just in case more missile strikes come. But it certainly seems to us as though the Russians are making Kramatorsk a front line in this war.

A grim prospect for the thousands of civilians here and in other towns in eastern Ukraine.


PLEITGEN (on camera): You know, Erin, that really is one of the things, is that towns like Kramatorsk really have been fairly safe over the past couple of weeks, the past couple of months, and people were starting to return to Kramatorsk. But now those people, understand they are not safe at anytime of day or any time of night, and they certainly believe and understand that things could get a lot worse, very soon, Erin.

BURNETT: You know, Fred, just to see that, I mean, and I think that's the point, right? You're going out to a civilian area to report on the aftermath and this happened. Just the randomness and the terror that everyone endures, and thank goodness of you and Tim Lister and your crew are okay.

This is all part of Zelenskyy, you know, saying that the new Russian offensive is already underway.

Do you think that's part of what you experienced and saw on the ground today?

PLEITGEN: Well, it could certainly be and I think, you know, one of the things that we've seen as we've been traveling around the eastern front here in Ukraine is that there is a lot of places where the Ukrainians are seeing a lot more Russian forces are on the ground. A lot of those mobilize are starting to come to the front lines and certainly, the Russians and many places are already doing probing offensives, are trying to see and feel out basically how strong the Ukrainians are, if there are any weaknesses in the positions of the Ukrainians.

But it certainly seems to us, Erin, that hitting those rear echelon areas, hitting towns like Kramatorsk, but also others in that area as well, is very much also part of Russia's new tactic, possibly Russia's new strategy. We have seen that with missile strikes occurring in some other towns, as well. And it's having a devastating effect on the civilians that remain in those areas.

Of course, a lot of them feel extremely unsafe and a lot of them are being hurt and being killed in the process, Erin.

BURNETT: All right, thank goodness again you are all okay and thank you so much, Fred.

OUTFRONT now, Konstantin Yefremov, the former senior lieutenant who was seeking asylum in the U.S. after serving in Ukraine. He's the most senior officer to speak openly about what he saw there.

And, Konstantin, I appreciate your time. You shared with us your military ID card, which I'm going to show viewers on the screen now, that shows you were made a lieutenant in 2017. And obviously, you served in Ukraine.

I know you still speak with Russian shoulders who are there, fighting now. What are they telling you about what's happening on the ground?

YEFREMOV (through translator): Well, I have to say that they're only very few people that I've been in contact with because you can imagine just talking to me already puts them at the risk of high danger. In fact, after this interview and just opening up, I can imagine tomorrow, or may just as well even today, there will stop talking to me.

And the last time I talked to them, there wasn't much they could share with me. Just hunger, cold, their circumstances, their conditions are very dire.


BURNETT: You talk about dire conditions and know you shared with us some photos, Konstantin, that you say are from your time fighting in Ukraine. And, you know, we've heard you talk about them being hungry. We hear about Russian soldiers not having enough food. That happened to you.

You took a picture of this rabbit that you had to hunt for food while you were there and then you boiled it in a bucket to, and you sent us that photo as well.

What is morale like right now for the troops? I know you're describing it as dire.

YEFREMOV (through translator): Everyone or nearly everyone who's there understands that what's happening is wrong, that it's all very wrong, and they truly do not believe Putin's fables about Ukraine's invasion, and I would like to say that the very fact that they're in trenches, just cause -- their living situation, for many of them, their military service is their means of living, and basically they only have one choice. It's either their family and children and up on the streets, or they have to be in the trenches.

And now, after the mobilization, many of them in general, after the mobilization, they cannot resign. Otherwise, they'll be sent to prison for seven, ten years. So, basically there is no choice. They either have to remain there or find ways to flee, like I've already said, the circumstances are dire.

BURNETT: Obviously, some of what has happened on the ground, you know, we know about horrific war crimes committed by Russian forces across the entire space of this war. You shared a video or photo with us in front of a building in Ukraine where you say that Ukrainian prisoners were tortured.

What did you see happen?

YEFREMOV (through translator): I personally saw how the deputy commander of the unit, whose name is Chavaga (ph), tortured and threatened with sexual violence, prisoners of war from the 36th navy division.

BURNETT: Were there others, Konstantin, who had issues with this? Because obviously, many soldiers were participating and going along.

YEFREMOV (through translator): I cannot say that anyone would have dared to say anything to this colonel in any way or could've showed their disapproval. Because just like he shot that Ukrainian prisoner of war, he could've easily shot me or anyone else who said that they didn't agree with this, besides he was drunk nonstop and he was driving around the nearby villages, where there were other prisoners of war.

As far as I know, there are about 20 other Ukrainian prisoners of war. But I, myself, was a witness of interrogations of three Ukrainian prisoners of war.

BURNETT: You tried to resign, Konstantin, from the army. You ended up being dismissed because he refused to turn to Ukraine and they showed you a document, you shared with us and let's share with our viewers. This serviceman refused to go to the territory of Ukraine to perform his service and combat mission, thereby Senior Lieutenant Yefremov Konstantin Vladimirovich committed gross disciplinary offense, expressed by his evasion from his duties of military service.

Konstantin, you are now hoping to seek asylum in the United States. You have left Russia. Why do you think the United States should grant you asylum?

YEFREMOV (through translator): I believe that the United States of America is the country of democracy, where human rights are upheld, and I've already been in Mexico for a month, and over this period of time, I've been trying to seek appointment with the border guards, and unfortunately, so far, my efforts have been in vain. And therefore, I address mass media and human rights advocates to support me in seeking political asylum.

BURNETT: Konstantin, thank you so very much for your time.

OUTFRONT next, the Pentagon right now tracking a Chinese spy balloon that's flying over the United States. This is not a balloon, as you may envision it. It's the size of three buses. It was spotted by a commercial plane. The president, his military advisers, are doing about it tonight.

Plus, it's an update to a story first OUTFRONT. The FBI investigating Congressman George Santos's alleged scheme to scale thousands of dollars from veteran, dollars that were meant to save his dying dog.


The veteran is back with me tonight. What did he share with the FBI? And it's a story you'll see first here in OUTFRONT, the sky camera that captured the fatal beating of Tyre Nichols. We are going to take you inside that sky cop operation and talk to the man who place that camera in just that exact place that capture the brutal arrest.


BURNETT: Breaking news: the U.S. tracking is suspected Chinese spy balloon flying over the United States. This is a picture of the balloon. And that ballot is the size of three buses and it was over Billings, Montana.

Video from our affiliate in Billings shows it flying high in the sky over the city. It's there, very visible. Officials said the balloon was observed over Montana, after flying over Canada.

President Biden's been briefed on the situation and a senior defense official says he requested options on how to deal with the massive balloon. The military has so far decided again shooting it down.

It comes at the Secretary of State Anthony Blinken is about to leave for a visit to China.

Oren Liebermann is OUTFRONT.

And, Oren, what more are you learning about the balloon. Just a state the obvious, they're decided not to shoot it down. But it's there, right? I mean, it's still flying over the U.S. as we speak?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: And it's been for several days. The Pentagon says they've been tracking this since it entered U.S. airspace essentially coming in from over Canada.


And they've been monitoring it since, even launching F-22 fighter jets to keep an eye on this. The Pentagon says it's traveled over a number of sensitive sites. Although they won't specify what those sites were, we already know that Montana for instance is home to ballistic missile silos. It's possible that's what this balloon was going after with its surveillance, its intelligence gathering capabilities as the Pentagon keeps an eye to see where this is going. What's happening, and how it evolves over the next several days.

The Pentagon obviously is concerned about this. They do say this is happened several times in the past. They haven't said when, but they did say that it happened in previous administrations. Of, course, the key question is, what do you do with this, President Joe Biden was briefed about it. He asked for military options.

But senior military leaders including chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Milley, advised again shooting it down, at least for now. There's some risk to people, to essentially facilities on the ground if you shoot it down. Not all that much, Montana's not the most populated state. But there is some, the Pentagon says that they don't believe this gives China any huge surveillance, or intelligence gathering capabilities over the satellite they already have. BURNETT: Yeah. So, I guess, Oren, to that question, do they know what

it's doing, and why they're doing this now?

LIEBERMANN: They don't have a specific answer to that yet, in terms of what it's trying to gather, is a controllable, what is it looking for. Obviously, it's race tension with the times when they're pretty much already sky-high. China reacting angrily, essentially earlier today, that the U.S. has gained access to more bases in the Philippines. We saw similar angry reaction with the announcement from the U.S. that they're essentially revamping a Marine Corps facility in Okinawa, right near Taiwan.

So, the tensions are already high here, this is adding to those tensions the Pentagon says they've raised this with China, through the embassy here, and in Beijing, it gives you an idea of how angry they, are they pointed out that if they do assess the rates growing, they do have options.

BURNETT: All right. Oren, thank you very much for your reporting.

And now let's go to a retired Air Force Colonel Cedric Leighton. He was stationed in Southeast Asia, where he watched China during his military career.

So, Colonel Leighton, let's look at this balloon that Oren's reporting on. It's the size of three buses. This is enormous. As Oren points out, China has satellites. They're watching the United States all the time.

So, what is this thing about -- what China's doing right now?

COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: So, one of the big things, air, and that China could be doing with this is that they could be scooping up signals intelligence. In other words, they're looking at our cell phone traffic, radio traffic. They're looking at the governments command to control networks.

And as Oren pointed out, we have ballistic missile bases, a series of ballistic missile silos in Montana and in North Dakota and Wyoming. So these are the kind of things that they're looking at.

Also, they're probably looking at the strategic bomber base that we have in the Dakotas. So, this is something that gives them a chance to perhaps augment their satellite coverage. And it's definitely a system that could be collecting a lot of data.

BURNETT: So, that's -- what you're saying, is there is more data and specific data, signals intelligence, cell phones, that they will be able to get other ways that they can get from. This to make the point clear, you're talking about the strategic bomber base, I'm sorry, nuclear facility.

This was seen over Billings, Montana, and as Oren says, there's not a lot of people there, and that's part of the reason why they're so strategically important to the United States, to our nuclear arsenal, and to the strategic bomber base. I mean, this location is hugely significant?

LEIGHTON: It is. It's part of what we call or nuclear triad, which is made up of bombers, missiles, and submarines. So, two parts of that triad are right directly in the path of this Chinese balloon.

BURNETT: So, I guess I'm curious whether you think they should shoot it down, is just floating. There this is a real question. Then they've decided not to do that for now, what do you think about that and I know you also think that China may actually be doing not just for itself, but for Putin?

LEIGHTON: Yes, in fact, there is a robust intelligence sharing a relationship at when China and Russia. So one of the things that you need to look at, when it comes to this is what kind of diplomatic fiasco it would be if we did shoot it down. There's a potential that it could raise tensions even more.

There's a potential of course that a few shoot it down, as Oren pointed out, there would be the possibility of the loss of life on the ground. So, these are things that need to be weighed, and they believe they can mitigate the collection efforts and if they can make them relatively meaningless, a relatively harmless, then they usually opt things like this flyover, and let them move on to their handlers.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Colonel Leighton, and I appreciate your time.

LEIGHTON: You bet, Erin.

BURNETT: And next, an update to a story we've been following. I'll speak to the veteran that's not talking to the FBI after accusing George Santos of stealing thousands of dollars meant for his dying dog.


What did he share with the agents?

Plus, former President Trump unloading on Governor Ron DeSantis.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: Ron DeSantis got elected because of me. You remember he had nothing, he was dead.


BURNETT: So far, DeSantis refusing to publicly take the bait by name -- is it the right?


BURNETT: Tonight, FBI agents are now looking into whether Congressman George Santos stole thousands of dollars meant for veterans dying dog. The congressman saying today that he's not worried, dodging questions about the federal investigation. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

REPORTER: Are you concerned about the FBI investigation?


REPORTER: Have you spoken to the FBI?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Mr. Santos, you're facing a federal investigation here. This is very serious. Can you explain to your voters and your constituents what happened with this veteran, the conversations that you had with him?


BURNETT: Met with silence there.

Well, we spoke with that veteran, Rich Osthoff, in an interview you saw first on OUTFRONT last month.


He says George Santos promised to help his dog get a lifesaving surgery and set up a GoFundMe page in 2016. But after about $3,000 of donations poured in, the veteran says Santos stopped answering his calls and texts. He never saw a dime, and his dog died just four months later.

Rich Osthoff is back OUTFRONT with me now, along with Michael Boll, who is the founder of the New Jersey Veterans Network who intervened and tried to help Osthoff get the money.

So, of course, you also spoke with George Santos, at the time, who was Devolder at the time.

OK. So, Rich, how do you feel -- you got a call from the FBI after all this comes out. How did you feel when you got that call?

RICH OSTHOFF, NAVY VETERAN: Elated. I didn't think it was good prosecutable after so many years, and that that call verify that it was. It made me feel really good.

BURNETT: And what did you share with the FBI agents? What did they want to know?

OSTHOFF: I gave them everything they asked for -- texts, emails, and some of the GoFundMe screenshots and stuff that I had. I don't have anything to hide, so I gave them everything they ask for.

BURNETT: Everything they asked for.

And, Michael, I know you spoke directly with George Santos. We now know to be George Santos, when you try to help Rich get the funds, to reach out and try to help him. You thought this was going to be a routine conversation, hey guys, and of course, it wasn't. I understand you'll also be speaking with the FBI about all of this

and everything -- the conversations that you had. What does it mean to you to see this being investigation, though, now?

MICHAEL BOLL, PRESIDENT, NEW JERSEY VETERANS NETWORK: Just being there for Richard from the beginning. I love Richard. He knows that. And seeing him being a victim at the time, and vulnerable -- at this point, it's been a long road to get here.

And being a police officer, a former police officer, I really want to see justice because this is bringing life back to Richard. This is closure for this whole entire incident that has happened.

BURNETT: We just saw him. Our Manu Raju was asking the question about the investigation into this, and he had nothing to say by the elevators about the FBI investigation. And, in fact, as you know, Rich, he's trying to clean up all of the lies that he's proven to have made about many other things. And here is what he said it interview earlier this week.


REP. GEORGE SANTOS (R-NY): I don't think a lying is excusable, ever, period. I am sorry. I'm deeply sorry. I fielded schools, have been calling supporters to apologize directly to them.


BURNETT: What do you even say to that?

OSTHOFF: It doesn't look sorry to me. I think if he was sorry, he would resign. He's just a big distraction right now. Everything that I've seen is just him being followed around by reporters, hounding him, and it's like a circus. He's not getting anything done.

BURNETT: Well, Michael, I mean, you know, he has been able to weather the storm, as Rich is pointing out, right? I mean, he's there at work every day. And he's with McCarthy, who said he has more questions for him now. But he's a member of Congress, he gave a speech about supporting the Jewish community.

And I'm mentioning not because he claimed he was Jewish during the campaign.

BOLL: Yes.

BURNETT: And, obviously he is not. Listen to this.


SANTOS: I urge the 118th Congress to stand together proudly upholding every single American, no matter race, pedigree, religion nor creed has any less American than their neighbor.


BURNETT: That's him right now on the floor of the U.S. Congress. How is it making you feel to even see that?

BOLL: It's a -- non-controllable lying. It just -- he doesn't care what he says. There is no repercussion at the time, when he was saying all these things. He really believed that he can get away with everything that he said. And he was for a long period of time.

He's in his 40s, right? I mean, this gentleman has been doing this for a long-time. He's very good. He's very intelligent.

BURNETT: Rich, you know, you sit here tonight. You have two dogs, and now because of all this they're getting service trained, North Shore Animal League. You're going to get another dog. And today happens to be your dad's birthday.

OSTHOFF: Happy birthday, dad.

BURNETT: How are you doing right now?

OSTHOFF: I'm doing great. Just -- I'll be doing a lot better when I stop seeing him on TV so much. It's an open wound. Every time I seen him, it's like pouring salt in doing it again.

But I'm not in that bad place I was six years ago. And since this is all going down, my dogs been getting a lot more love for me every time I go home. Every time I come home, I bought them a big bag of pigs ears and stuff the other day, too. They're just -- it's making me realize how much I love him all over again. It's good stuff, bonding.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you both very much.

OSTHOFF: Thank you.

BOLL: Thank you.

BURNETT: And next, it's getting personal between Trump and DeSantis, with the former president unleashing a wave of new attacks against the Florida governor.

Plus, first on OUTFRONT, it's called sky cop. That's the overheld -- overhead, I'm sorry, cameras that capture the key moments of Tyre Nichols' brutal and deadly arrest. The man who literally installed the camera at that crucial intersection speaks out.



BURNETT: Tonight, former President Trump not letting up on his attacks on the Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, someone who hasn't even announced that he's running for president. Just listen to this.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: Ron DeSantis got elected because of me. You remember, he had nothing, he was dead, he was leaving the race. He came over and he begged me, begged me for an endorsement. He was getting ready to drop out.

And there were tears coming down from his eyes. He said if you endorse me, I'll win.


BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, Harry Enten, our senior data reporter.

So, Harry, Trump is clearly focused on DeSantis. More than anybody else.


BURNETT: He seemed to be fine with Nikki Haley, pretty much fine with anybody else.

ENTEN: Yeah.

BURNETT: He's not fine with DeSantis.

ENTEN: No, no, he's not fine with the Florida governor. If you look at the national poll, you get a gun understanding of why he's not fine.

It's basically Trump, first, DeSantis second, both above 30 percent, and then Mike Pence at 7, Nikki Haley at 3 percent. Basically, it's a Trump-DeSantis universe and then everybody else, and nobody else at this point is anywhere close to where those two gentlemen are.


BURNETT: Now, okay, it's still 20 months to go.

ENTEN: Yeah.

BURNETT: Now, there's a lot of things that can change --obviously, you've got, you know, potential indictments. The complications of Biden's classified documents. There's just -- we've never seen anything like this, okay? And maybe that's why DeSantis is also waiting, Who knows?

But so, we are in this ahistorical moment.


BURNETT: But still when you look at history, 20 months ahead when you look at the front runners, how likely is it that any of them are the nominee?

ENTEN: Yes. So, essentially, if you look at early primary polling, polling at this point and go back all the way since 1972, it actually turns out the national polling gives you a good indication of who's actually going to win the primary, right?

So, if you're polling basically in the Trump zone, 35 percent north, the likelihood of winning the primary is 75 percent. If you're in the DeSantis zone, basically 20 percent to 35 percent, you're likelihood of winning the primary based upon races in '72, 40 percent.

And then if you look at Haley, and the Pence territory. Less than 5 percent chance of winning the primary. Now, of course this could be a historic moment. We're not saying this is necessarily what's going to hold in 2024. But based upon history, you'd much rather be DeSantis, or Trump than anybody else.

BURNETT: Right. And as you say, even if you're historical and something happens to Trump for these legal reasons, I mean, who knows? You've got DeSantis sitting there, right, which is --

ENTEN: That's exactly right.

BURNETT: So there are a lot of people who are poised to announce Nikki Haley, obviously.


BURNETT: Chris Sununu, Mike Pence, clearly, and there's going to be more.

So, when you have two people who are taking up this much oxygen at this point, does that deter other people?

ENTEN: It does. In fact, you know, if you look essentially back in the past years which, you know, two candidates added up to more than 70 percent of the early primary polling vote, right, what do we know? There are only two such examples of, that least when there's no incumbent running on the side. One of them was to 2000, one of whom was 2018, both on the Democratic side.

Look at how many people around in those two years, two to in 2000, five and 2016 on the Democratic side. If you're making a bet based on this poll, you'd definitely bet that there are far fewer Republican candidates and say the Democratic side, you know, four years ago when we had north of 20. We're probably going to be in the single digits.

BURNETT: Right, we have multiple, multiple debate nights.


BURNETT: I mean, I only remember we're preparing for debates, like how you're going to -- just to get everybody again.

ENTEN: Yeah.

BURNETT: Okay. All right. Harry, thank you very much.

ENTEN: Thank you.

BURNETT: So, now, let's go to Geoff Duncan, a former Republican lieutenant governor of Georgia.

So, Geoff, you saw Harry's numbers. From the inside, how do you see it? Is the race for 2024 on the Republican side down to Trump and DeSantis, or do you see a real opening for someone else? GEOFF DUNCAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, if there's ever been

an election to be ahistorical, it's going to be this election with all the stuff that's gone on to get to this point. But, certainly, the polling right now is all over the place, I actually saw poll from New Hampshire, statewide poll that had DeSantis 12 points over Trump. So it's still a moving target.

But look, there's certainly three lanes developing, right? You got the Donald Trump lane, the Ron DeSantis lane, and it's third-party that is polling in the single digits. But it is definitely going to be a developed lane.

BURNETT: All right. So, "Politico" has reported that Trump is getting ready for an all out offensive against DeSantis. And he's really started, right?

Just listen to him over the past few days.


TRUMP: Ron wouldn't have been governor for wasn't for me. So when I hear that he might run. You know, I consider that very disloyal.

I'm way ahead in the polls. Ron DeSantis is way behind me. I got 1.2 million more votes than Ron DeSantis. People don't know that.


BURNETT: And of course, it's not really a fair comparison because that was for governor of Florida.

Let's be clear though, Geoff, when you look at this DeSantis response sometimes. Very clearly. But not clearly. He doesn't say Trump's name, he talks about how he wanted, how resounding it was that he punches back but he does not use Trump's name.

Do you think that that's right, or does he need to hit back more directly?

DUNCAN: Well, this is just Trump being Trump and we all know we're going to get and there is no surprise when you turn on the TV. And listen in to say in those things and pick on people.

My encouragement as a Republican would be for Ron DeSantis not to take the bait. To stay focused on pointing folks back to his conservative record in Florida, how he's growing an economy, helped navigate the state through a pandemic, a lot like Governor Kemp here in Georgia, and our opportunities to put on display what conservative leadership is truly looks like.

That's what Ron DeSantis gets to do every single day. Don't take the bait. Stay focused on the mission ahead.

BURNETT: So, the GOP-led House today, voted to remove Democratic Congresswoman Elon Omar. I want to ask you about this because obviously, the tenor in the country writes about what's happening in Washington. She was on the foreign affairs committee. Now off, setting comments that she made as a congresswoman, but even Democrats the time criticizing called antisemitic. She had said politicians supported Israel because it's all about the Benjamins. And in 2021, compared the U.S. and Israel to Hamas and the Taliban.

But Democrats say, look, this is too far. This is just McCarthy getting back at Democrats for kicking people like Marjorie Taylor Greene off their committee when Democrats had the power. McCarthy says, no, he says no. It's this specific commission for these reasons.


How do you see?

DUNCAN: Well, like Republicans and Democrats, I pushed back at her statement, those antisemitic statements were horrible to listen and not appropriate in any setting. Two and they're not appropriate in any setting.

I know she was trying to walk those back even here on this network. But those statements were made.

You know, look, at the end of the day, one of the strong roles that the speaker has, and I have as lieutenant governor, setting these committee assignments. So, you know, it's important to use that.

But, you know, look, I'm worried like many other Americans are worried at the stock market, the economy, immigration, national affairs, foreign policies, those are things that are keeping me up and I like most Americans. And we run the risk here of trying to make a point and not make a difference, we focus on the small little brown skirmishes around committee assignments and other things like that.

But, look, as a Republican, too, we need to be willing to push back on statements like Marjorie Taylor Greene's statements. You know, we got to make sure we push back on both sides.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much. I appreciate your time.

DUNCAN: Thank you.

BURNETT: Geoff Duncan, former lieutenant governor of Georgia.

And next, the story that you'll see first OUTFRONT. We're going to take you behind the technology that captured that horrific overhead footage of Tyre Nichols's beating.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The camera was put here to deter crime and to capture crime. And it did what it was supposed to do.


BURNETT: Plus, see how two brothers fueled America's addiction to painkillers we're making nearly $1 million a week, by creating what they call a Disneyland of pain clinics.



BURNETT: Tonight, the Memphis police department set to release more footage of the fatal beating of 29-year-old Tyre Nichols in Memphis, Tennessee. The D.A. says it includes audio of people talking after the beating that we have not yet heard.

Some of the most disturbing video we've seen so far, which I've warned again before we show. It was captured of course without audio. It was caught from above. What's called a SkyCop street camera, which gave that aerial view of the officers striking Nichols nine times in less than four minutes.

Ryan Young is OUTFRONT live from Memphis.

And, Ryan, you actually spoke to the person today who installed the exact camera that captured this crucial footage, without which we wouldn't have known how this went? What could you tell us?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, I did. And, look this video is all across the world right now. People are talking about it. And there's so many questions about how this video, not only was recorded, but how did someone turn the camera.

That got us thinking. We wanted to share to the public what's in the sky here all over Memphis. It's called sky cam. You can see the camera right there. This blue light, and this box is throughout this entire city, and the videos crystal killer. If you look, here you can see the camera switch.

This is from inside one of the video immigration centers, you can see how someone can control the camera, my photographer, JD and I, are out here and you can see the license plate on that car clearly. You can see as walking, and dispatch can look at the radio of a police officer radio in, turn the camera, and even zoom and to get a bit closer, to give you that up close detail.

So many questions about the video, but it proved crucial in this case.


YOUNG: Joe, what's that camera that's up there?


YOUNG (voice-over): It's a surveillance system used to capture this overhead shot of the brutal beating that led to the death of Tyre Nichols. Five former Memphis police officers now charged with second degree murder. Joe Patty installed the exact camera that captured the crucial footage of Nichols being beaten up by the Scorpion Unit.

PATTY: The cameras put here to deter crime, and to capture crime, and it did what it was supposed to do.

YOUNG: Patty is a former Memphis police officer, who oversaw MPD's SkyCop program in its early stages from 2010 to 2018. And he now works for SkyCop, a private company that works with police departments to build the cameras and technology that goes with that.

PATTY: So, this is a utility pole, its spot powered by a light, and it has a recorder inside. And as blue light, zoom camera, and a connection with cellular. So that we can pull this camera up at anytime, it's always recording. And we need video, we can just pull it up.

YOUNG: Is it a 360 view, or is it important for whoever the operator is to make that turn like they did that night?

PATTY: It has capability of 360. But it needs to be turned into a certain area, field of view.

YOUNG: Each SkyCop box as three cameras, and there are currently around 1,500 SkyCop boxes around Memphis.

The data from all the cameras analyzed by police staff, in a real time crime center.

How does that camera know to move over to this intersection and catch what happened to Tyre?

PATTY: The Memphis police department has a real time crime center. It can access any one of these SkyCops from there. It also has computer aide dispatch. They have a dispatch sitting in there. So, they'd be monitoring things in the city.

YOUNG: Memphis PD says the crime data they gather from SkyCop is analyzed to provide information, on the type of crime, day of the week, time of day, and the location the crimes occurring, which makes the department more accountable, and responsible for the crime that occurs across the city.

PATTY: It's a virtual officer on a pole. Never has to take a vacation, always recording.

YOUNG: And in the case of Tyre Nichols, this SkyCop footage was instrumental in the speed of which the five officers were fired, the district attorney's decision to charge them. And potentially could lead to more charges as the investigation continues.


YOUNG (on camera): Erin, when you think about the body cameras were obstructed during all that happened. If it wasn't for the sky camera like this one, and even though I'm in the dark. You can see me, it's amazing to see how close it can zoom in.

SkyCop is a Memphis-based company. All this is made in America, as we come back down here to the ground. You see the details of this camera can provide. And even though all the officers knew that camera was right up above. They still continued with the actions they did, when you think about this in the end, there'll be more video coming out, and SkyCop still in the sky helping the citizens across the city -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Ryan, thank you very much. Absolutely incredible to see that, right? Just going back and forth, and showing it can be controlled. And what they were watching, it's absolutely incredible.

Ryan, thank you very much for that -- for that amazing report.


And next, the wild story of two brothers who are making nearly a million dollars a week by fueling America's addiction to painkillers.


BURNETT: And finally tonight, as the opioid crisis continues to take more than 100,000 lives every year in the United States, a new CNN film looks at the rise and fall of twin brothers, who built an empire pushing all those pain pills.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The George brothers didn't start the opioid crisis, but they sure as hell poured gasoline on the fire.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's talk about growing up in Florida.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anything to do with money perks Chris and Jeff's interests. The big money was at the pain clinics.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's window dressing that allow them to deal drugs legally.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There was a line all the way down the street.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was like a frat house.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: W were basically the Disneyland of pain clinics.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They thought they were smarter, that they can get away with everything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I felt this whole thing spiraling out of control.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Florida was the never ending pill bottle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All these patients were driving from at a state.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People were dying because of them. They didn't care.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I put on the wire. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These people buried themselves.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have the signal.



ANNOUNCER: "American Pain", Sunday at 9:00 on CNN.


BURNETT: Thanks so much for joining us.

"AC360" begins now.