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Erin Burnett Outfront

Report: Russia Could Be On Verge Of Launching Air Assault; Video: Moment Students Hunker Down Amid Shooting Spree; CNN Tracks Chinese Factories That Make Military Spy Balloons; Representative Assaulted, Punched In Face By Stranger In Apartment Elevator; Miraculous Rescues 8+ Days After Quake, Death Toll Tops 41,000. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired February 14, 2023 - 19:00   ET



ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, Russian bribe. Offers of $3,500 to anyone who would put their life on the line to fight Putin's war, as a new report says Putin looks to be on the cusp of launching an all-out air assault. We're live in Ukraine and Belarus tonight where Russian forces are also gathering this evening.

Plus, an OUTFRONT now front investigation, our Selina Wang in Beijing tracks down Chinese factories that make spy balloons, factories belonging to Chinese entities that tout their balloons' military capabilities. One exec even pointing to its balloon flying over the United States on a map, wait until you see this.

And Congresswoman Angie Craig speaks out after being attacked in her apartment building. A stranger follow her into her elevator, punched her, try to get into her apartment. She fought back. She's my guest.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, $3,500 for your life. That's what one city aligned with Russia is now offering men who sign up to fight Putin's war.

This is it. This is the decree. We got it in hand. It's a decree signed by the leaders of Baikonur City. It's a city aligned with Russia, technically right over the border in Kazakhstan.

It establishes -- let me just read what it says -- it establishes a lump sum payment to mobilize citizens, as well as persons who voluntarily expressed their desire to take part in the special military operation and who signed a contract for military service, residing in Baikonur City, as a measure of social support, in the amount of 260,000 rubles.

So, there you go. You got the price of a life there. The price of the life is 260,000 rubles. That's about $3,500.

It seems it may be more of a choice there, though, $3,500 to die, than it is in any other places in Russia. The mayor of Kuznetsk in western Russia now saying unemployed men should only be given one option. He's suggested the town shut down the unemployment center and instead send anybody who needs work to war.

His words, quote, the unemployed must enlisting the army. If you have nothing to do, then defend your homeland and you will be paid for it.

Now, the mayor insisting this will solve the city's unemployment problem and Putin's problems on the battlefield. It's incredible to hear this, $3,500 for your life. But, of course, from the numbers we know, there's a high chance that anybody who takes these deals and goes to the Russian front does not come home alive. We sometimes share intercepted phone calls with you.

And tonight, we have one that Ukraine intercepted, which is of a Russian fighter slamming his superiors for living larger than the enlisted men who are drinking water out of dirt puddles on the ground. And he complains at his request to come home was denied. Here it is.


RUSSIAN SOLDIER (through translator): There are these centaurs who live in three-story cottages in the town for (EXPLETIVE DELETED) sake, while you are here lying in a trench. You sleep in the dirt, eat in the dirt. You drink from puddles, while they walk around.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Are you going to try to get discharged?

RUSSIAN SOLDIER (through translator): Well, around New Year's, everyone lost their mind because they had rejected all of our requests to go home.


BURNETT: Requested all of our requests to go home, and there they are, stuck in trenches, drinking from filthy puddles.

Some battalions, as we've been reporting, are losing half their men. You don't have to guess at the morale. Because we can actually see what is happening, right? We have some new video to show you tonight and to OUTFRONT.

What you're looking at here are Russian fighters essentially sitting ducks. They're taking cover in a trench. And men taken out by Ukrainian drone. Gone.

Those are some of those lives extinguished. Those kinds of images are leading the chairman of the Joint Chiefs in the U.S., General Mark Milley, to say this.


GEN. MARK MILLEY, CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: Russia has lost. They've lost strategically, operationally and tactically. And they are paying an enormous price on the battlefield.


BURNETT: Enormous price.

There's another new video I want to share tonight. It's also new for us to OUTFRONT. It's a Russian fighter jet most likely hit by Ukrainian MANPAD, one of their portable air defense systems, totally damaged beyond repair. And, of course, they want to see this.

But I can tell you, I've seen it. Anyone there has seen. At the Ukrainian countryside is littered with burned out Russian tanks and missile systems. And yet, Putin is now upping the ante.

"Financial Times" reporting that according to intelligence shared with NATO allies, Russia could be on the verge of launching a massive air assault. And we can tell you that we're starting to see more and more Russian assets on at least two bases, along the Ukrainian border on the Belarusian side. Belarus, of course, the same country Putin used as a launch pad for his assault on Kyiv.


Tonight, Fred Pleitgen is there in Belarus, and David McKenzie is OUTFRONT live in Kyiv.

Let me begin with you, Fred, as we're talking about these assets accumulating on the Belarusian side. This reporting about Putin wanting to launch an all out military air assault. What are you seeing there?


Well, I think that's a really important point that you make and it's also an important observation as well. One of the things Ukrainians have been saying for a very long time is they fear the Russians might be preparing for that very large offensive that Belarus could indeed play a large role there.

And, of course, as you also mentioned, that first thrust that the Russians had when the war began nearly a year ago, that also came from Belarus. There were a massive amount of Russian forces that went into Belarus, and the Russians still have thousands of soldiers on the ground here in Belarus. They train them here to then actually go into Ukraine to fight there through the Donbas.

But, however, the Ukrainians believe that right now, there's not enough Russian ground forces on the ground in Belarus. But the air element, that really is the major important thing for them right. Now there were just massive air exercises, air force exercises with the Russian and Belarusian militaries that just concluded a few days ago.

Alexander Lukashenko, the strongman, he said it was all defensive in nature. It really doesn't really mean anything. But, of course, we know, that Lukashenko is very dependent on Vladimir Putin.

Lukashenko himself has said the Belarus security would not be possible without Russia. Now, there's many believe that Vladimir Putin has tried to draw Belarus more into his orbit and possibly trying to drive into this war as well.

One of the things we're looking at, Erin, is that in a couple of days, Lukashenko and Putin are set to meet once again. We are going to wait and see what happens there. But certainly, what the Ukrainians are saying if they see an uptick in Russian air movements on the Belarusian side -- and also, the Russians are using Belarus as well to hit Ukraine with some of those missiles that are obviously having devastating effects on Ukrainian cities -- Erin.

BURNETT: Absolutely.

All right. Fred Pleitgen, thank you very much. Live in Belarus tonight.

And, of course, on the frontlines in Ukraine, the brutal fight continues. David McKenzie is OUTFRONT with this report from Kyiv.


DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Thousands of miles from the front lines, a cemetery in Russia's far east for young men cut down in relentless waves of attack. Off camera, a woman sobs and says, our boys.

Soldiers of the 155th Marine Brigade, the unit has taken catastrophic losses in Vuhledar. For weeks, the coal mining time, the epicenter of Russia's effort to break through Ukrainian lines.

But the assault here has been a disaster. At least 30 Russian tanks destroyed by Ukrainian mines in artillery, a scramble chaotic retreat.


MCKENZIE: Across this front, the Ukrainians are well dug in. The lines are not moving.

But this soldier says there are now ten attacks a day, used to be just a couple.

To the north, the Russians are inching forward around Bakhmut, and every exit from the city is extremely dangerous.

The battles here at close quarters, unrelenting trench warfare at the edge of the city.

It's so hard, the enemy is pushing from different directions, says this Ukrainian soldier. All the efforts our men are making are priceless.

Fighters of the Wagner mercenary group paraded their flag at the village on the outskirts of Bakhmut. But they're being forced to fight for every single house.

And Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin admits -- Bakhmut will not be taken tomorrow because there's heavy resistance and grinding. Fro the meat grinder to work properly, it is impossible to suddenly stop festivities.

This as Wagner units continue to endure heavy losses and its efforts on the heels around Bakhmut. They are vulnerable to Ukrainian drones.

Ukrainian officials now expect another Russian thrust in the north, in the forest near Kreminna. There's been fierce fighting here for weeks. A Russian advance here would allow the Kremlin to claim it's captured all of the Luhansk region, the key objective of Vladimir Putin's war.

But the Ukrainians are putting up resistance. And their allies expected in the spring, they may be able to launch attacks of their own, if they are supplied the weapon and ammunition they need.

LLOYD AUSTIN, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: We believe that there will be window of opportunity for them to exercise initiatives. And then change, or continue to create the right conditions on the battlefield.

MCKENZIE: Before that, along this vast front, the Ukrainians must hold off what they expect to be an imminent Russian onslaught.



MCKENZIE (on camera): President Zelenskyy tonight, Erin, saying that the situation on the eastern front is, quote, extremely difficult. He said the fighters are fighting over inches, over meters, as he put it. This is an opportunity, he said, to destroy the Russian assets there.

There has been a call for more ammunition, more weapons, the basic things soldiers need to push forward and to stave off a Russian assault. NATO is promising it, but Zelenskyy tonight said that speed saves lives -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, David McKenzie, live in Kyiv tonight.

And I want to go now to Lindsay Addario, Pulitzer prize-winning "New York Times" photojournalist. She just returned from a trip to the frontlines in Ukraine.

Lynsey, I know on this trip you spent times near Bakhmut where the Wagner troops have been leading the fight for Russia and the fighting there is incredibly fierce. Close quarter fighting the David was just talking about.

What did you learn?

LYNSEY ADDARIO, NYT PHOTOJOURNALIST: Well, I was working for about three weeks in Donbas, very close to Bakhmut and as well near Kreminna where there are intensive battles going on continuously. I was working with Michael Schwartz for "The New York Times".

And what we were seeing was sort of been endless trail of fighters going to and from the front lines. A lot of wounded soldiers coming in, people talking about, you know, how Russia is basically sending an endless supply of soldiers to the front of the fight, and really sort of dispensable soldiers. Soldiers they clearly don't mind that they get killed in battle, and it's sort of wave after wave of Russian soldiers coming at them, some in ambushes and some just sort of constantly targeting them.

And so, definitely, there's been an uptick in fighting. Their goal obviously is to exhaust Ukrainian forces, so that when they come in, you know, wave after wave, eventually, they send in the most professional fighters at a point where Ukrainian soldiers are exhausted already, and running low on ammunition.

BURNETT: And, you know, you're actually seeing that happening in real time here.

I know you also, Lynsey, did some reporting on the Ukrainian army unit that's called the Free Russia Legion. And that unit is entirely made up of Russians fighting for Ukraine. And I know you in your team are doing that reporting.

You took your photo of the unit fighting on the front lines that I wanted to share. This is your picture of them. These -- are the Russians fighting for Ukraine.

Why are they doing that?

ADDARIO: Well, they're doing that sort of first and foremost because morally, they believe this is wrong, that they believe that Russia should not have you've -- invaded Ukraine. They feel if their way of standing up to what they feel as an unjust war. So, it's really a moral sort of stand.

And then there are, of course, Russians who lived in Ukraine for a long time and they feel like they want to fight on behalf of the Ukrainians. And then there's just of course people who detest Putin and want to sort of free their country from his leadership.

So, there are various reasons. We spoke to Michael Schwartz, our reporter, in the really the story was led by him. But we've met both on the front line, the trip to the front line was very quick. It was extremely dangerous. As you can imagine, the Russian legion are -- the soldier that the Russians would really like to target because they're their own countrymen fighting for the enemy.

So, we are about a mile from Russian positions and so, we did a trip there. And we did the training.

BURNETT: Wow. I want to show another photo. This is a man league's are. Saw a fighter with that free Russian legion. What stood out to you about him? I think it's just incredible, the context are given. You're about a mile away from the Russians. For whom these guys, this free Russian legion unit would be target number one.

ADDARIO: So, Saza looked like a baby. He was incredibly young. We met him at a training, that was in the Kyiv region. That was not the frontline. He was preparing to go to the front line. They had been training for

several months, and, very well trained, very professional. And Saza talked how he just didn't believe in his country fighting this war and he made a decision finally to just walk across the border into Ukraine. And offer himself up to fight for the Ukrainian military.

There is a system whereby, of course, all of these Russian soldiers have background checks. And have to be vetted before they can fight for the Russian legion.

BURNETT: Yeah, it is incredible, though, and incredible to imagine what it would take at such a young point in your life to walk across that border.

ADDARIO: Incredible, yeah.

BURNETT: Yeah. Lynsey, thank you so much. I appreciate it as always.

ADDARIO: Thank you, Erin.

BURNETT: Fantastic to speak to you and see your incredible work. Thank you.

ADDARIO: Thanks.

BURNETT: And next new video just in to CNN showing the terror inside one Michigan State University classroom as a gunman roamed the campus killing three.


Are authorities any closer to uncovering why? What was the motive on this?

Plus, an OUTFRONT investigation tonight. Our Selina Wang went out. She tried to track down six Chinese entities that are believed to be making spy balloon. Wait until you see what she found.

And a story of survival that is almost unimaginable tonight. A couple trapped for more than 200 hours today, alive -- pulled alive from the earthquake, you see on that ground.


BURNETT: Tonight, new video showing the tense and terrifying moments that students in a Michigan State University classroom spent hunkered down as a gunman roamed the campus. Police are still shooting for a motive in a deadly shooting on MSU's main campus, which is home to more than 50,000 students.

Now, police say the gunman who we know shot and killed three people and critically wounded five more had no known connection to the university but that he may have been planning more shootings, mass shootings. We're now learning the identities, as we find out all of these three students were killed so horrific last night.

Miguel Marquez is OUTFRONT.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Students fleeing. A shooter, this time on campus of a major university, Michigan State in East Lansing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was shaking in the bathroom. And it was just terrible. Just like preparing myself for the worst thing ever.

MARQUEZ: The shooting started around 8:30 p.m. in a classroom. Just as the last class of the day was wrapping up.

DOMINIK MCLOTKY, WAS IN A CLASSROOM WHERE SHOOTING TOOK PLACE: I went to the far side of the classroom, ducked down, and he came in and shot four times in our classroom.

MARQUEZ: The shooter, 43 year old Anthony Dwayne McRae, with no known connection to the school, made his way from a classroom to the student union building. Two students were killed in classroom, one at the student union.

CHRIS ROZMAN, INTERIM DEPARTMENT CHIEF, MSU DEPARTMENT OF POLICE & PUBLIC SAFETY: We had officers in that building within minutes. And in that building, they encountered several students who were injured.

MARQUEZ: Across the university of some 50,000 students, panic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Myself and a few others that were with me, we took heavy furniture from around the library and just essentially barricaded ourselves into a study room to make sure we were safe.

MARQUEZ: The dead, Alexandria Verner, a junior from Clawson, Michigan, and sophomore Brian Fraser and junior Arielle Anderson both from Gross Pointe.

Alli Vanderaue, a senior at the school watched the shooting in response unfold, unable to leave believe what she was saying.

ALLI VANDERAUE, MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY STUDENT: Every time I think a lot of us freak out when we hear loud noise. We need change and we need change now. How many times do we need to sit here and watch my students die, and my friends die? Like please -- just something needs to change.

MARQUEZ: Students, staff and residents now coming together to pray and cope with how this could happen here.

The shooter's father tells CNN his son grew better, inclusive and angry after the death of his mother two years ago. The shooter was charged with carrying a concealed weapon in 2019. He pled guilty to a misdemeanor. His probation ended in may of 2021.

McRae located with the help of alert citizen, just minutes after police released his photo. And at the Rock, a sort of community message board on campus, a question with no easy answer. How many more?


MARQUEZ: Now, in addition to the Rock there, this is a makeshift memorial is pack picked up on campus here, the statue of the Spartans here in the middle of the campus. But on the backpack of a shooter, they found a two page note. And it he indicated he wanted to finish off East Lansing whatever that means and also seemed to make threats to schools in New Jersey where he grew up.

It's also not clear tonight whether the two guns they found on him were legally purchased in 2021 -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Miguel, thank you very much from MSU tonight.

And next, an OUTFRONT investigation. Our Selina Wang went to track down the factories making Chinese spy balloons. They belong to Chinese entities that would be blacklisted by the U.S.


SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESOPNDENT: According to state media, they have a balloon factory on the outskirts of Beijing. So we should be getting close now.


BURNETT: And Minnesota Congresswoman Angie Craig who fought off an attacker who punched her in the face in her apartment elevator, blocked all the buttons. He followed her inside, tried to get into her apartment. The congresswoman got away and what she wants you to know tonight.



BURNETT: In tonight's OUTFRONT investigation, inside China spy balloon making operation. Six Chinese entities that make the balloons are now blacklisted by the U.S. One of them openly boasting about its, quote, killer capabilities. Another company's founder even on camera showing, you know, his wares pointing to a balloon flying over the United States. There's video state media openly saying the spy balloons are used for military purposes.

Our Selina Wang is OUTFRONT.


WANG (voice-over): They are hoisting the balloon up for a big moment. It's the maiden flight for China's first high tech giant balloon. State TV says it's for both military and civilian use.

If we can master this technology, the narrator says in this 2015 state media documentary, it might become the killer move in global competition. Fast forward to 2023 --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Holy crap, he's done it.

WANG: Now, the world's attention is on Chinese balloons. The U.S. Commerce Department has blacklisted six entities tied to China's military aerospace programs from obtaining U.S. technology without government authorization.

And the blue launched in this documentary was made by one of the blacklisted entities, Beijing Nanjiang Aerospace Technology. We tried to find the place. We geolocated a possible address for one of its factories.

According to state media, they have a factory on the outskirts of Beijing, so we should be getting close now.

This appears to be the exact spot in the state dog TV documentary. You can even see the same mountain ranges behind me. But if you look here, it looks like they're used to be buildings here, but now it's just this empty space. There is this metal gate and barrier over this area.

We actually spoke to multiple villages around here. None of them have heard of a balloon factory in specific, but when we showed them the state TV documentary, they said it was definitely filmed in this area and two of them said that they know several of the factories in recent years have been torn down.

We don't know if the blown that was spotted down in the U.S. this time around has anything to do with a six blacklisted companies. But Beijing Nanjiang Aerospace Technologies balloon has flown over the U.S. before, according to state media.

In this 2019 video, a cofounder of the company, scientist Wu Zhe, points to a computer screen showing the trajectory of an unmanned airship flying around the world. He says, look, this is the United States.

Beijing claims the balloon that intruded U.S. airspace earlier this month was only for civilian research purposes. But U.S. intelligence officials claim the balloon is a part of a fleet of Chinese surveillance balloons.

General manager of the Beijing-based balloon company told state media in 2015 that the balloons can be used for military purposes if they carry telecommunication or surveillance equipment on board.

The scientist Wu Zhe also founded Eagles Man Aviation Science and Technology Group or EMSAT, another balloon maker on the U.S. blacklist.


In this 2017 state media report on EMSAT, the anchor touts that these airships can carry a large number of detectors and communication devices for surveillance and reconnaissance for both military and civilian use.

CNN has reached out to all six Chinese entities for comment but none have responded.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This balloon program is not just for surveillance but also for science and the potential for dropping warheads, including hypersonic flight vehicles from high altitudes.

WANG: This week, Beijing has made accusations of its own, saying the U.S. has illegally flown balloons over Chinese airspace more than ten times since last May. The claim the White House immediately denied.

JOHN KIRBY, WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL SECURITY SPOKESMAN: There is no use U.S. surveillance aircraft over Chinese -- in Chinese airspace.

WANG: The U.S. is now on high alert for airborne objects in its airspace, putting China's near space ambitions on the world stage.


WANG (on camera): But, Erin, it's not just China that's developing this balloon technology. I spoke to Brendan Mulvaney, he's a director of the China Aerospace Studies Institute, and he says countries around the world are investing this including the U.S. He says he's seen a resurgence because it's relatively cheap, can hover for a long time wall surveilling and it's harder to detect.

But it is clear from the research that China has a growing interest in this area and sees a whole near space arena as the next frontier for great power rival -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Selina thank you very much, so much amazing detail and investigation there in your reporting.

So, let's go to John Bolton, former national security adviser under President Trump who will be brief tomorrow by the Biden administration on these Chinese surveillance balloons.

So, Ambassador Bolton you just heard Selina Wang's excellent piece about the six blacklisted companies that have been the heart of Chinese surveillance balloon ambitions. They've been touting this program on state media as you saw.

How concerned are you about what we are seeing from Beijing right now?

JOHN BOLTON, FORMER TRUMP NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Well, I am very concerned across the board certainly the balloon surveillance issue is in the forefront of the news, but Chinese efforts across the board to gain intelligence, not just about the U.S. government, not just about our military capabilities, but about all aspects of American life and their means and methods cover the fullest possible range. And I think Chinese aspirations are really global.

It may look like they are seeking right now only, in quotes, only hegemony along their Indo-Pacific periphery but I think they have global ambitions. I hope this balloon incident, however it turns out in specific, is something of a wake up call for the American people and for our European friends as well that China is the major threat that we face in this century.

BURNETT: So, the Biden administration says three balloons flew over the United States during the Trump administration went undetected until recently. And today, John Kirby, who, of course, is National Security Council spokesperson was asked directly about comments the recently made questioning that assessment.

Here's what he said, Ambassador.


KIRBY: All we are doing is speaking the truth. The reason we know that is because of the work we have done that since we have came into office to better understand this program and to try to do the deep analytical worked it needed to be done to decipher how these balloons operate.


BURNETT: Does this change your view? He says, all we're doing is speaking the truth?

BOLTON: Look, the administration is shattering its credibility every time it puts another spokesman out to talk about what's happened over the past couple of weeks. On the specific question what happened in the Trump administration, I count four different stories. First, it was detected, and it wasn't detected but it was assessed incorrectly.

I mean, it just keeps going back and forth. The critical question here and I will ask about all this tomorrow --

BURNETT: I know you're going to be briefed by then tomorrow, yeah.

BOLTON: I do plan asked them about it.


BOLTON: But here's the key point. And this is now come out in the past couple of days. It appears that the first balloon which is the one we know from China, we don't know where the other three came from, but that first alone was detected by NORAD or somebody from the moment it was launched from Hainan Island south of the Chinese mainland. Meaning that we knew from the get-go that balloon was from China, and yet it was tracked and approached Alaska where what the administration said first was it was detected just north of the Aleutian Islands.


And yet if this information and all the major newspapers --

BURNETT: About Hainan Island.

BOLTON: They knew it was from China from the beginning. There is no excuse not to have shot that balloon down before -- BURNETT: But can I just play devils advocate here? Maybe there is an

excuse. Maybe the excuse is they wanted to observe it. They wanted to see where it went. They want to see how maneuverable it was. They wanted to see what was on board. They were going to jam it, right? All that could be an excuse -- not an excuse, it could be an explanation, couldn't it?

BOLTON: Okay, let me ask you a few questions. Could they say with assurance that that payload under the balloon which they described as equivalent to three buses did not contain a nuclear weapon?

BURNETT: I can't certainly answer --

BOLTON: Can you say with certainty? That's right. And they can't. Either

BURNETT: That would be an incredible technology to be able to launch a nuke from a balloon but --

BOLTON: You don't have to lodge it, you just have to drop it.


BURNETT: Okay, I'm not going to answer your specific questions but you open the door that the fact that they knew more about it than they told us? Which takes away that they should've told us about, but that they knew more and that they made an intelligent assessment about what to do?

BOLTON: All I can -- all I can do now is repeat what they had said and the commander of NORAD said he made an assessment on first detection. That's what they said on January 28th, that the balloon did not demonstrate hostile intent.

I would argue it exhibited hostile intent the moment we knew it came from China. Did we make an effort to call the Chinese and say, one of your balloons is heading towards us. If you have control over that balloon, turn it around or we're going to shoot it down? Did we do that?

Or do we just sit there with our thumb in our mouth watching across into American territory? This is very serious.

BURNETT: I think it's going to be crucial to see what you get briefed on tomorrow, and what answers they do provide you with some of those questions you have.

Ambassador thanks very much. I appreciate you taking the time to speak with me.

BOLTON: Glad to be with you.

BURNETT: All right. And next, Congresswoman Angie Craig assault in her own apartment building. The alleged attacker forcing his way into the elevator striking here in the face. Congresswoman's quick instincts shelter getaway. But next, she has a lot more to share about an assault that frankly could've happened anywhere to almost anyone.

Plus, with a team of American policy volunteers made it to the site of the devastating earthquake, why they say this is unlike anything they've ever seen.



BURNETT: Tonight, Congresswoman Angie Craig speaking out just days after she was assaulted in her D.C. apartment building. The suspect, Kendrick Hamlin, is set to face a judge tomorrow in relation to the attack.

Craig says Hamlin followed her into her elevator, asked to use her bathroom. And she refused. Congresswoman Craig says he blocked her from the leaving the elevator and punched her in the face. Congressman Craig since she escaped by fighting back.

Luckily, she had a hot cup of coffee on her. She was able to throw that at him. Congresswoman Craig is now OUTFRONT.

And, Congresswoman, look, this is -- you know, just even hear this, I'm so glad you're okay. I mean, it's disturbing and terrifying. Get in an elevator something like this happens, it's really terrifying.

What else can you tell me about what happened and when you realize that there was something really wrong?

REP. ANGIE CRAIG (D-MN): Well, it was clear from the start that I was going to have to try to reason with him in the beginning to get out of the elevator. He slipped in just as my doors were closing and of course I tried to stop the progress of the elevator immediately and ask him to get out of my elevator.

But he insisted on following me up, he wouldn't get out and, so, look at the end of the day, he jumped in front of the buttons of the elevator, I asked to go to my apartment, and it was no way in hell he was going to get to my apartment. I had to do whatever I could do to fight my way out of that elevator.

BURNETT: I mean, that's -- I know it happened I'm sure it all happened very quickly when you look at it, so break it up piece by piece. What went through your mind when this was happening? He blocks the elevator buttons, it's really terrifying.

Did you even think about at the moment about your coffee of that sort of instinctual to use that hot liquid?

CRAIG: I think when he has to go to my apartment went fight or flight really kicked in for me. He did jump in front of the buttons at that point. I tried to move him out of the way. He got behind me at that point and I dumped the coffee on him.

At some point in the scuffle, he punched me. He sort of pushed me up against one of the elevator walls. As the doors open on the floor that we finally arrived at, he still didn't want to let me out of the elevator.

So I don't know that I had time to think quite candidly, I did what I needed to do together that elevator. I'm really lucky that he didn't have a weapon. I suppose now that I know his arrest history, I feel really, really lucky today to be here in Minnesota talking to you.

BURNETT: Absolutely. I mean, it is -- I mean, one can only imagine if he had had a weapon, what could've happened. The suspect is believed to be homeless, and you mentioned his prior record, I believe there were 12 prior results in that record. Some did have a dangerous weapon. So, there were times he did have that.

I know is due back in court tomorrow, and it could face up to ten years in bars if convicted.

Congresswoman, what do you want to see happen here?

CRAIG: Well, number one, I don't want there to be a 14th victim. It really is unbelievable that I was the 13th assault. The reason we are having a conversation here today and probably the reason that he could be held as that I am a member of Congress, that this is being adjudicated in federal court this time, unlike the other 12 instances.

What do I want to see happen? I want Americans and especially women to feel safe in their communities. And to me, that means we have to focus our efforts on public safety, making sure the people who shouldn't be released aren't.


But at the same time, I sit here and I think to myself -- how did this happen 12 times in America? With addiction, with homelessness, with mental health issues and this individual served 10 days, 30 days. That's no time to be able to get the help that this individual needs either.

So if I can stop from there being a 14th, or a 15th, or a 20th assault, (INAUDIBLE) at the same time, it really does emphasize the intersection of all these issues we are facing as a country.

BURNETT: Absolutely does. Now, on the heels of this, President Biden called you, the vice president called you, a senator from your state, Amy Klobuchar, I know came to see you.

Today happens to be your birthday. I mention that in the context of -- in a few days, you've got to a terrifying assault. You've now got sort of thinking about life that a birthday can bring, you got the president in the vice president calling you, right? This has been an unexpected and awful experience.

But I wonder whether all of this is changed your view at all of what you can and what you want to do in Congress?

CRAIG: Well, I think it has to change me. At the end of the day, I was focused on addiction, mental health as a member of Congress but I'm going to be even more focused on these issues. I'm headed to the border tomorrow, in fact, with a number of

colleagues to talk about fentanyl coming into our community and addiction challenges we have. At the end of the day, I hope that we can put our heads together to actually solve the issues of the day.

All of these topics end up being political wedge issues in Washington, which party can use it against each other to try and divide us. And I'm not interested in any of the nonsense, Erin. We've got to make sure that people are safe in their communities and we've got to make sure the people can get their mental health and addiction treatment that they need.

BURNETT: Congresswoman Craig, thank you very much. I appreciate your time and for sharing all that with us.

CRAIG: Thank you.

BURNETT: And OUTFRONT next, medical miracles. More than eight days after the devastating earthquake, people are still being found alive, including one couple who had been buried alive for more than 200 hours.

Plus, Alexei Navalny, one of Putin's top critics, is marking Valentine's Day, despite being held in a brutal penal colony near Moscow. His message tonight.



BURNETT: Tonight, miraculous stories of survival, even eight days after the massive earthquake hit Turkey and Syria. Two people, a man and a woman were pulled from the rubble in Hatay, Turkey today. This video captured the moment the rescuers located another 65-year-old survivor.

I mean, this is amazing, it's unimaginable. They are of course the lucky. Death toll is now topped 41,000 that we know of.

Jomana Karadsheh is OUTFRONT in Antakya, Turkey.


JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Deep in the heart of Turkey's disaster zone, these Americans are in a mission like other no other they've known. As soon as the earthquake hit, volunteers from Los Angeles County sheriff's department said they just knew they had to be here.

MIKE LEUM, MONTROSE SEARCH & RESCUE VOLUNTEER: It's the type of thing that we feel strongly about because we volunteer to do a search and rescue back in America. And so it's one of the things is just burning in our hearts to get out there and help people if we can.

KARADSHEH: They do mountain rescues and have responded to hurricanes and even traveled to Ukraine. They have never seen anything on the scale before.

COLLIN LIEVENSE, MONTROSE SEARCH & RESCUE VOLUNTEER: The destruction here is incredible. We are in one city now where there is -- we could go to each and every building, just know that there's someone that needs help there, and there's not of people to help them. Even though there's over 100,000 rescues, they need 1 million. This is just one city in a very large picture of Turkey.

KARADSHEH: On Monday, they helped rescue a 17-year-old boy, third life they've helped save this past week in hard-hit Hatay. There's just so much to do here.

LIEVENSE: We are looking at a pile of rubble the size of this building behind me were standing there just on a pile of rocks. There were hundreds of people underneath us. To get to them is just near impossible.

MARCOS RUBIO, MONTROSE SEARCH & RESCUE VOLUNTEER: We feel helpless, because so much devastation is being witnessed.

LIEVENSE: It breaks our hearts.

RUBIO: There have been times when complete happiness and joy because of people being found, so it's a rollercoaster of emotions.

KARADSHEH: The group says they are only here to support the people of Turkey reeling from their deadliest earthquake.

LIEVENSE: The people of Turkey are doing the hard -- hardest thing they've ever had to do, they are having to bury their own community, their friends, their loved ones. Some of the friends we are working with lost their entire family and they're helping to dig out other peoples families.

KARADSHEH: There's no giving up. Everyone here is searching for 70- year-old grandmother, just one mission in one city, and one massive earthquake zone.


BURNETT: Just incredible.

Jomana, I know the volunteers are from the sheriff's department that you speaking to. They typically do not rescue. So, this is obviously very difficult different from what they would ordinarily be doing?

KARADSHEH: Absolutely, Erin. They say that they don't really normally do urban search and rescue. They don't have the equipment for that, but they came out here not knowing what they are going to do. They just wanted to get on a plane they wanted to help people here what they got here, they thought, you know, they are EMTs. They thought they're going to be assigned a field hospital and that they be providing medical treatment in support for the survivors of the earthquake.

But instead, they were placed into the search and rescue teams and stepped out to help here in Antakya, one of the hardest hit cities in the earthquake zone.


And they have made a difference as have other teams from around the world who have come here and supported the people.

And, Erin, we were out there watching people in the community in that neighborhood. They were so grateful to them, having them there, people were bringing up coffee and tea up to them, and thank them for being there with for the Turkish people.

BURNETT: Just amazing that people are still being rescued alive. It is truly miraculous.

Thank you so much, Jomana.

And next to new message tonight from Putin's top rival, Alexei Navalny, who's in solitary confinement at a penal colony near Moscow tonight.


BURNETT: Just weeks after being transferred to harsher solitary confinement in a penal colony near Moscow, one of Vladimir Putin's top critics is still marking valentine's day. Opposition leader Alexei Navalny posted a message on his Instagram, celebrating his wife Yulia.

It reads in part: Haven't seen you for a terribly long time, but in my heart, there is a lot of you. Sometimes and surprised myself at how a normal human heart can hold so much of my enormous love for you. Yulia posted on her Instagram, an emoji of a broken heart.

Navalny's lawyer recently said he's expected to spend six months in solitary. This is all part of a nine year sentence he is serving for what the Kremlin says is fraud. Navalny, of course, survived a poisoning attempt from Putin's henchmen nearly three years ago now, last time he saw Yulia.

Thanks so much for joining us. I'll be back at 9:00.

"AC360" starts now.