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Erin Burnett Outfront
Mothers Of Russian Soldiers Address Putin, Condemn Combat Conditions; CNN Exclusive: FBI Searches University Of Delaware For Biden Docs; Special Counsel In Eight Secret Court Battles Tied To Trump's Actions; Nikki Haley Calls For Mental Competency Tests For Politicians Over 75 As She Takes Swipe At Biden, Trump; Third Near Collision On Runway In Less Than A Month; CNN On The Ground In Turkey As Rescuers Search For Signs Of Life. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired February 15, 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, dramatic new video into OUTFRONT of Putin's forces hiding from Ukrainians, then taken out via drone. CNN is live on the Belarusian/Ukraine border where some wonder whether the next major Putin offensive will launch from.
Plus, breaking news, the special counsel investigating Trump is locked in at least eight secret court battles right now, at least eight. And we're going to tell you everything we know about it and why tonight.
And just in, a near collision on a U.S. airport runway. A 777 coming dangerously close to a cargo plane. This is the third close call in less than a month. What is going on?
Let's go OUTFRONT.
And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.
OUTFRONT tonight, attacked. New video into OUTFRONT tonight showing Russian soldiers coming under fire. I warn you, as we always want to do here, it is graphic. I'll show you now. These are heavily armed Russian soldiers that you see on your screen hiding, trying to stay out of view of Ukraine's drones. They're spotted, though, and targeted.
Now, according to Ukraine, two of the men were killed. And a Russian state television war correspondent, who is embedded with Russian troops, tonight posting, claiming that the private Russian army, the Wagner Group, is making progress in the ongoing fight for Bakhmut. But still can't declare victory months after the brutal and intense fighting began in this city.
The Russian correspondent saying, and I quote him: The enemy, he's referring to Ukraine, is already plowing a new road for the fields in order to provide supplies to both Bakhmut and its outskirts. The Kyiv regime's artillery is constantly working both in the frontline and close to the rear. The Wagner PMC fighters do not have a large quantity of ammunition. And this of course is not good. Well, not good for Putin, but pretty incredible, right? This is
Russian state TV, pro-Russian, right, with that very significant admission. They don't have enough ammo.
Well, not good for Putin and neither is the morale of Russians, whose sons and husbands and loved ones are on those front lines right now without the ammo, without the training.
Tonight, we have this new video. This is a group of mothers. They address Putin by name. They tell the Russian president they're doing this publicly that he is failing his people.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MOTHER OF A RUSSIAN SOLDIER (through translator): It's not a secret that no proper clothing, weapons, or provisions were issued to them. Medical care leaves much to be desired. It has been over a year that our guys have been in service, and over all this period of time, they've been given either a leave of absence nor holiday. Combat assault requires special training, which they did not undergo. Prior to their dispatchment, they spent only two to three days on the military training range.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And you see one speaking but surrounded. As we've seen sometimes from the Russian soldiers who speak out, there is a speaker, but they make sure that they are surrounded to show that there are others in solidarity.
This protest from these angry mothers inside Russia where they could be jailed for what they're saying for speaking out is significant. The pressure inside Russia comes as we're getting new video of Ukraine taking out a devastating weapon that Putin has been using to inflict mass casualties on the front lines. You've heard about the thermobaric weapons from day one.
But here you see Ukraine targeting the Russian multiple rocket launcher system that is equipped with those thermobaric weapons, and we've talked about them from the beginning of the war because they're horrific. They're banned under the Geneva Convention for a reason. They suck the oxygen out of an area. So, if there's one that detonates, it literally rips the oxygen out of people's lungs and causes it to rupture. It's horrific way to die. It's banned by the Geneva Convention, and Russia's been using it in Ukraine. Ukraine taking that one out.
And Putin's forces, of course, are suffering major losses on the battlefield. However, he is still fighting and he is celebrating a big win tonight. Tonight, the government of Switzerland announcing it will not confiscate Russian assets, saying it's unconstitutional to do so.
Now, this is a significant development because Russian oligarchs do store massive amounts of money still in Switzerland, the notoriously secret government there even acknowledging up to $48.5 billion of Russian money is in Swiss banks. And just to say this out loud, this isn't the money of everyday Russians.
Switzerland is where oligarchs and Putin's inner circle have long played. It's the reported home of Putin's ex-wife Ludmila, which is nestled there. We've highlighted it at the base of a mountain in Davos where, of course, the powerful and rich just recently met.
And according to "The Wall Street Journal," Putin's girlfriend, the Russian Olympic gymnast Alina Kabaeva has resided in a high-walled mansion near Geneva. Switzerland now still says it's committed to supporting Ukraine.
But the reality is, is that money is what is fueling Putin's major new offensive.
It is what will buy and produce more ammunition if they can do it. It is what will fuel an offensive that may very well they -- may very well, I'm sorry, include a new front from Belarus. "The Financial Times" reporting that Western intelligence shows Russian aircraft gathering at the Belarusian border with Ukraine, signaling what could be a major -- and they say -- an imminent air offensive.
Fred Pleitgen is OUTFRONT. He is in Minsk, Belarus, tonight.
And, Fred, you had rare access to the border between Belarus and Ukraine today. This is the border that all eyes around the world are on to see what Putin is really gathering, what's happening there. You were there. What did you see?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, and so much concern on the Ukrainian side about that border. I was just on the Ukrainian side of that border a couple of weeks ago. And the Ukrainians really are worried that Putin could use Belarus once again as a launch pad for attacks on Ukrainian territory. So, of course, every chance we have, we need to try to get into that border area.
Now, the access that we got today was part of a Belarusian government organized trip, with all the restrictions of that entailed. But we certainly get some pretty interesting insights. Here's what we saw.
PLEITGEN (voice-over): As Russian forces ramp up their assault at Eastern Ukraine, Kyiv believes the Kremlin's massive spring offensive may already be well underway. And Russian President Vladimir Putin could again use Belarus as a launching pad for attacks. On a visit organized by the Belarusian government, we saw the Ukrainians aren't taking any chances.
The Belarusians say from their side, this border crossing is open, but you can see over there that's Ukrainian territory, and over there that crossing is definitely shut. There are several layers of barbed wire and earth mounds to make sure no one can get through. Russia launched its main thrust towards Kyiv through Belarus almost a year ago, penetrating all the way to the gates of Ukraine's capital before its forces were decimated and retreated.
Today, the situation of the Belarusian/Ukrainian border remains tense. Although this crossing is usually calm, even here some trolling. The Ukrainians fly the white, red white flag, one of the many provocations the Belarusians say and they've beefed up their own forces here.
ANTON BYCHKOVSKIY, SPOKESPERSON FOR BELARUS STATE BORDER COMMITTEE (through translator): Mainly, border guard units have been expanded. If before it was two people, now it's three or five. The armament and equipment were also updated.
PLEITGEN: Belarus says all the measures they're taking here are purely defensive. But Minsk recently conducted large-scale air force drills with the Russian military, and the U.S. believes Russia is amassing aircraft near Ukraine's border. Putin recently hinting he's even considering placing nukes into Belarus.
VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): I consider it possible to continue the implementation of the president of Belarus' proposals on training the crews of combat aircraft of the army of Belarus, which have been converted for the possible use of air- launched ammunition with a special warhead.
PLEITGEN: Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko acknowledging he needs Putin.
ALEXANDER LUKASHENKO, BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Let's be honest. Are we capable alone without Russia to defend our sovereignty and independence? We are not.
PLEITGEN: In the towns near the Belarusian/Ukrainian border, the war next door weighs heavily.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): It makes me cry, of course. It is scary. You are afraid for the people there. And, of course, you want to influence the situation somehow. But I am an ordinary person.
PLEITGEN: Others fully in Putin's corner. I ask this man if he thinks Belarus should support Russia.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We are one nation with Russia. We absolutely should help them.
PLEITGEN: For now, all is quiet at the Belarusian/Ukrainian border. A nervous calm folks here hope will hold somehow.
PLEITGEN (on camera): You know, Erin, for the moment, both the Ukrainians and the U.S. believe that the Russians don't have enough ground forces here in Belarus right now to launch a ground offensive. But they also say that missile attacks, for instance, and drone attacks are very much being launched from Belarusian territory towards Ukraine.
Now the next big event that we're going to be looking at is Friday when Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko is going to be in Russia speaking with Vladimir Putin there. And we'll see then how things move forward and whether or not Belarus will be drawn even deeper into this war -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Fred Pleitgen, thank you very much for your crucial reporting there, and on the border and, of course, tonight from Minsk.
OUTFRONT now, retired Air Force Colonel Cedric Leighton and Nina Khrushcheva, the great-granddaughter of Nikita Khrushchev, the former premier of the Soviet Union.
She is also professor of international affairs at the New School.
So, thanks very much to both of you.
Colonel, let me start with you. So, Fred just showing us what's happening in Belarus. As he's very clear to say, you don't just go to Belarus and film what you want to film, right? I mean, you know, this was a government-allowed tour.
But nonetheless, he had eyes on the ground where really no one from the West has eyes on the ground. So how concerned should Ukraine be about what's happening in Belarus and about this amassing is the word that's being used of Russian air force in Belarus?
COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, I think they should be very concerned, Erin, and the reason for that is that Belarus was a launching pad for the initial invasion last year. When you look at that, you see that this is not going to be a ground movement, it looks like, because there are no really Russian formations that are showing up there on the ground, Russian infantry formations or anything like that. But there are air formations that are showing up.
And the way that Putin and Lukashenko have spoken about this, it's very clear that they intend to use Belarusian air space to launch missiles against the Ukrainians.
BURNETT: So, Nina, you know, the context here is, of course, Putin rushing to do this, and, we hear obviously the Russian state media reporter talking about ammunition shortages, there are issues on the ground. And we're well aware of those. But at home, those Russian mothers that we saw, we've heard complaints, but they were very clear gathering in a group and very critical of how their children are being treated.
Here's a little bit more of what they said. They did use Putin's name directly. Here's what else they said to him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MOTHER OF A RUSSIAN SOLDIER (through translator): Some of the men on the front lines are suffering from fever and wounds. They have neither been seen by doctors nor referred to health specialists when requested to resolve their ongoing health conditions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: I mean, they're going through the detail saying that their son's only had two days on a shooting range to even go there and no medical supplies, they can't come home. Do their words at this point signal anything to you?
NINA KHRUSHCHEVA, GREAT-GRANDDAUGHTER OF NIKITA KHRUSCHEV: Oh, absolutely. And the fact that it is shown on state TV, the fact that it is being reported by Russian correspondents, the war correspondents, it's very important because what the government is now doing, what Putin is now doing is to say, look, we've never been in this position, we haven't done war since 1945 since World War II, and we understand it's difficult. We are trying to change it, we're trying to make it better.
But they are not hiding it, and it's very important because that's how Putin thinks he's going to get ahead of the game, admitting mistakes, saying, yes, it is all horrible, but it is for the good of the nation and we are trying to fix it. Very loudly and quite often he meets with his officials and he says, well, now my order is you take care of all the problems. The problems need to be solved, in all the regions they need to be solved.
KHRUSHCHEVA: The governors of the regions go to the front lines and talk to the soldiers. So they try to stay ahead of it in order to say this is our problem for the whole country, and we are going to be victorious.
BURNETT: And then, of course, the complaints still come at some point there's only so much you can say. Oh, I'll help you solve it when it doesn't resolve. I guess that's the big question in the context, Colonel, of what that state media correspondent posted today, which is, oh, don't worry, we're going to win Bakhmut, but the Wagner Group doesn't have enough artillery -- I'm sorry, ammunition. And by the way, they also have issues with artillery and tanks and other things but specifically ammunition.
LEIGHTON: That's really their Achilles heel, if you will, Erin. And when you see that problem, the very fact that they can't supply even -- even though it's private, private in quotation marks, Wagner group, that is really going to be a real problem for them. There's only so much papering over that you can do.
And, you know, what Nina was saying is that this is the perfect way to try to obfuscate what's going on. Except if you don't have the resources, no matter what you say, it's going to be a real problem to actually make it real and provide the kinds of things that society needs.
KHRUSHCHEVA: Can I add something on the Wagner? So Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner, he keeps talking about the fact that it's not as hunky dory as government officials are saying. He comes out very, very publicly, and saying it's not going to take five seconds, it's going to take another month or a few months. If the war is to be won, it's going to take another year or three years.
So even those rogue military groups come out and say it's a difficult fight, it's a difficult fight, be prepared.
BURNETT: Now you talk about Putin. You've met him. And you've interacted with him. But you've seen a real change. A person that used to be actually come off as incredibly charming is now, it seems, well, completely different and also so isolated.
KHRUSHCHEVA: Well, I mean, 22 years in power, absolute power corrupts absolutely. When he came in, he was a scrawny young man who didn't even know how to dress well. And he loved intelligence, and that's how I met him.
But after all those years in the Kremlin, all the world leaders, the attention that he gets even today, we say, oh, it's not going well. But look everybody discussing him. Somebody of that stature, somebody of being lieutenant colonel, he wasn't even a KGB general. He was a very, very small rank. You know what it is. Very small rank.
So now we all talk about him. For him, it's a great victory. It's going to -- of course, he's now very ossified (ph). In fact he now has a car, a rail car which is completely protected from everything, which, by the way, now the joke -- it's a bad joke -- in Russia is that, oh, he's just like Stalin who never went to the front, but he had this protected car.
So he's really even playing in these very traditional autocratic leaders like Joseph Stalin was in World War II.
LEIGHTON: And the czars also had their rail cars. It goes all the way back.
KHRUSHCHEVA: Stalin is something that we, in fact, there was even a museum in which this car is standing and you can visit.
BURNETT: All right, thank you both very much.
KHRUSHCHEVA: Thank you.
BURNETT: And, next, the breaking news we are just learning exclusively that the FBI has searched the University of Delaware for more classified documents belonging to President Biden.
The special counsel investigating Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election right now is also, we are learning, battling the former president in at least eight secret court cases. So what is Trump trying to keep private?
Both of these stories moving forward right now as we speak. We'll have the details next. Plus, Ron DeSantis' latest culture war is escalating tonight as parents take their anger over his attack on an A.P. course straight to him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They want to get rid of all the classes, and that would greatly disadvantage everybody in Florida.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And graphic details emerging tonight about how one man survived more than seven days in the rubble after that massive earthquake. What he was forced to drink in order to stay alive.
BURNETT: Breaking news right now on two major Justice Department investigations. First, CNN learning exclusively that the FBI has searched the University of Delaware in connection with the investigation into Biden's handling of classified documents.
Also breaking right now, special counsel Jack Smith, he's locked in at least eight secret court battles right now, eight. And every single one of them is in connection to former President Trump's actions after the 2020 election. They are hugely consequential.
Evan Perez and Paula Reid are OUTFRONT, breaking this story.
Paula, let me start with you first because I know you literally have just been able to confirm this that you've been working on this story. What are you learning about the new search for Biden classified documents?
PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Erin, we've learned that the FBI has conducted two searches at the University of Delaware in connection with the ongoing special counsel investigation into possible mishandling of classified materials at multiple locations connected to President Biden. Now, we learned that these two searches happened on two different days and focused on two different locations.
One of the searches focused on the Senate archive that is hosted by the university. And the president formally donated many papers related to his time in the Senate to the university. The second search we are told focused on materials that he has sent to the university in recent years. We have learned that investigators did retrieve some documents from the university, but none of them appeared to have classified markings.
But, Erin, they are still being reviewed, and that process takes some time. Now, a spokeswoman for the president's attorney declined to comment and referred all questions to the Justice Department. The Justice Department declined to comment, and the University of Delaware has not responded to our outreach.
But this is significant, Erin, because of course this is yet another location connected to president Biden that has been searched in the course of this ongoing special counsel investigation.
BURNETT: All right, thank you very much, Paula, and, of course, significant in that context, as Paula says, there is a special counsel in the Biden classified documents situation, and there is one in the Trump classified documents.
And on that let's go to Evan Perez because you have new reporting on Jack Smith, the special counsel in the Trump investigations for the DOJ, and these secret court battles that he's locked in right now, a lot of them and a lot of really important ones.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Right. We are talking about at least eight of these proceedings. And thanks to our team, Casey Gannon, who sits at the courthouse and Katelyn Polantz, we've been able to learn a little bit about what these things are about because a special counsel is trying to keep a lot of this under seal in secret.
A lot of this has to do with the fact that we're dealing with a litigious person, this is Donald Trump. And he is fighting over a number of things. The one we learned just a couple days ago about Evan Corcoran, his lawyer who was brought before the grand jury. The special counsel is trying to get him to answer questions that have to do with his interactions with Donald Trump, his client, obviously.
There's also another proceeding to try to get access to information from Scott Perry, Representative Scott Perry's cell phone, another thing that's also under seal. All of these things are now playing out, Erin, behind the scenes, under seal. The special counsel has actually argued that it is because of the public interest, the extensive public interest in these matters that some of this should be kept secret, which sort of takes transparency and turns it on its head.
I would note that the Justice Department regulations do allow the special counsel to tell the public because of the extraordinary nature of this investigation and the fact that they're writing new law with every single one of these cases that they should be able to explain a lot of this to the public. But it looks like we're going to have to wait a lot more -- a lot longer for the judge who's overseeing the grand jury to reveal a lot more about this -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Evan, thank you very much, all that breaking news from Evan and Paula.
Let's go to Ryan Goodman, OUTFRONT right now.
So let's start here with Evan, since he just was talking about these eight court battles. They're secret but they're very important because what they do get could transform this, what they don't get could stymie it. So what do you make of this?
RYAN GOODMAN, FORMER SPECIAL COUNSEL AT DEPT. OF DEFENSE: So I think there's a clock that's running down, and the special counsel needs to, at some point, and let's say in the next four months, make up his mind, is he going to seek an indictment. And if we've got all of these ongoing secret court battles, they could extend the clock well beyond those four months.
And I think that's what he has to make as a decision. At some point, do I just go for it? If I'm going to have an indictment, indict, and not try to settle all of these issues. How badly do I need Scott Perry's cell phone, for example.
BURNETT: Right. So he has to make choices, but obviously fighting at eight different levels makes a big difference.
So now, Paula talking about a search of yet another location for President Biden. Now she said they retrieved a lot, they haven't given any indication of any classified documents being found yet. They're still looking, but that's where her reporting is right now. But what do you make of that, that under that special counsel that they're still searching more locations?
GOODMAN: So, I think it makes sense that they want to search everything because of national security reasons, not necessarily criminal reasons, are there any more classified documents sitting out there in the wild or at sitting at a university. In some ways, it's good news for President Biden. Not only that they haven't yet found or haven't seemed to have found documents with classified markings.
But they're searching these places. It seems that it's based cooperation. They don't have, like, probable cause that there's evidence of a crime at the University of Delaware.
BURNETT: It's just like, hey, we want to look and they say, okay.
GOODMAN: That's right. which is what Pence has done. But it's a sharp contrast with President Trump.
BURNETT: Right. Now, Pence has done, but when it comes to the DOJ investigation of January 6, of course, Pence wouldn't testify to the committee and now, he's fighting to testify to the grand jury, which is very significant.
You had said that if he claimed executive privilege, that there's no "there" there. Trump is trying to claim that on his behalf. And what Pence is claiming is separation of powers. Hey, on that day, I was head of the Senate so that's a separation of powers issue at the DOJ. Is there any "there" there?
GOODMAN: There's there this time.
BURNETT: Uh-oh, okay, there's "there" there. So you think this could work for him?
GOODMAN: Yeah, legal scholars may debate, was he actually a part of the Senate on January 6th as president of the Senate. But the Department of Justice under Attorney General Garland in August of 2021 took the position that he was, that he does have this speech and debate clause immunity for January 6th. But then that doesn't mean that he can't enter a bunch of other questions.
So the idea that he can say I am not going to even show up, that doesn't make sense. The idea that he can say it, there are certain lines of questions I won't answer, he's got an argument.
BURNETT: Right, and, of course, if they pertain to that day, that -- that is extremely significant.
All right. Thank you very much, Ryan Goodman.
And next, Nikki Haley taking on Biden and Trump where it hurts most, calling for a competency age for politicians over 75. Will that idea gain any traction?
Plus, CNN learning tonight of a third near-collision in a month at an American airport. This time a United Airlines jet on a runway while another plane was about to land.
BURNETT: Tonight, Nikki Haley is going there right away. The just- declared GOP candidate for president is taking on not just Biden, but Trump, where it hurts most.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIKKI HALEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: America is not past our prime. It's just that our politicians are past theirs.
In the America I see, the permanent politician will finally retire.
We'll have term limits for Congress.
And mandatory mental competency tests for politicians over 75 years old.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And that would apply to both Trump and Biden.
This as one of Haley's potential rivals for 2024, the Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, faced protests today for his opposition to that AP African American studies course. The course that he said had a political agenda.
Leyla Santiago is OUTFRONT.
LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hundreds of protesters gather outside the Florida state capitol, including faith leaders from around the country condemning the governor's decision to block a college-level African American studies course from high schools.
REV. AL SHARPTON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: Our children need to know the whole story! Not to not only know how bad you worked but to know how strong they are.
SANTIAGO: This just days after Florida Governor Ron DeSantis suggested the state might re-evaluate its relationship with the college board which administers advanced placement, or AP elective classes and the SAT in Florida.
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: Does it have to be done by the College Board? Or can we utilize some of these other providers who I think have a really, really strong track record? Turns out there are. IB courses, they're actually more rigorous than AP, and the colleges accept it. You have the Cambridge, which is also more rigorous.
SANTIAGO: The College Board is the sole provider of AP classes and tests, and a move to get rid of them could affect students across the state of Florida.
IZZY CUMMINGS, FRESHMAN STUDENT IN FLORIDA HIGH SCHOOL: They want to get rid of all AP classes, and that would greatly disadvantage everybody in Florida.
SANTIAGO: This feud with the college board stems from the state's objections to a proposed AP course on African American studies. The Florida Department of Education expressed concern about several topics of study in its pilot course, including black queer studies, the movements for Black lives, and Black feminism. They also cited concerns with the works of specific authors and scholars.
The College Board later released the official framework for the course with many of the topics that the state of Florida objected to removed. Instead, students can take them on as part of a required research project. But the two sides are still at odds over what prompted the changes. The state claims their objections motivated them, while the College Board asserts that politics did not play a role in the final framework for the course, and has even accused the Department of Education of slander.
Under DeSantis, Florida has banned the teaching of critical race theory and passed new legislation barring instruction that suggests anyone is privileged or oppressed based on their race or skin color.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are tired, tired as hell of people telling us how to direct our history. Black history is everybody's history. It's American history.
SANTIAGO (on camera): Many of those that came here to march today say that this is about more than just protesting, this is about feeling targeted and demanding change. As for that AP course -- well, the Florida department of education says that the college board has not submitted its official coursework yet -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Leyla, thank you very much from Tallahassee tonight.
I want to go now to David Urban and Van Jones.
So, Van, first, as you heard Leyla's reporting, is this a fight Democrats want to be having right now? Is this where they should be focused?
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I don't think it's a political question so much as a question of living in a country where we actually are not banning books, we are actually able to talk about our very complex history. The reality is that we have an ugly and unequal origin. Our founding was ugly and unequal. But our founding dream is about equality.
So we've got to be able to talk about the ugly and the beauty together. And if we are not allowed to do that, then it's hard to understand how we can all be Americans together. So I think it's bigger than politics. It's deeper than politics.
BURNETT: Now, David, of course, sometimes the messengers matter. And I know that you've been looking at what we saw, and you saw Leyla plays Al Sharpton there. Al Sharpton is a standard-bearer for many in the Democratic Party.
But do you think anytime DeSantis has Al Sharpton going after him, it's a good thing for more than his base?
DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Just one second, Erin, just to address what Van said. In the state of Florida, African American education, the history of African Americans and their experience in society is mandated under Florida statute. And if you look at the statute, you can Google it and pull it up, it's pretty extensive.
So, I think what the governor is saying in the battle he is trying to make is we believe in education, we're not trying to deprive people of the history of, the Amistad case, and Martin Luther King and oppression and civil rights. I don't think that's what's at issue here. I think that's a different thing.
I think when Al Sharpton shows up in Tallahassee and is banging on the governor's steps, I think that's a political win for the governor in that case. Look, I don't like to see politics division. I think politics should be about addition, about one plus one and one, and how we keep gaining people and bringing, attracting the party, not separating them. But in a primary, unfortunately, this kind of politics is winner for both sides, unfortunately.
BURNETT: So, Van, then you have the age issue on top of the race issue that's come out here. Nikki Haley went out today, and that was a message it was to Biden and it was to Trump. It wasn't even thinly veiled. When you get to saying 75 for the age and competency test, you just have to check the birthdates.
So, what does that mean? I mean, does that have the potential to stick with Republican voters? Does that do anything when it comes to Trump where, you know, we hear about the age issue with Biden all the time. Trump's younger, but a couple years younger. We don't hear the same complaints from the GOP base at least yet.
JONES: I just think it's in poor form. First of all, there are a lot of older people who vote. I think she runs the risk of insulting a bunch of them. I just think it's in poor form.
Frankly, I feel like Marjorie Taylor Greene, she's young and dumb. I'd rather have old and wise than young and dumb. I just think she's trying to get attention for herself. But I think it's in poor form and beneath her to insult somebody because of their age.
BURNETT: David, what do you think?
URBAN: Look, I mean, the Republican Party's older and grayer than the Democratic Party. I think the Republican Party is something like 27 percent of the Republican Party's 65 or older. So you run a risk of turning off a lot of voters.
I think we need new ideas, not necessarily -- they could be from old people, but just new ideas.
BURNETT: Well, and, Van, DeSantis is coming out and his focus has been at least thus far, and, look, he's got an economic record in Florida that he could be running on. And I'm sure he intends to. But as of yet he really hasn't. Other than the free state of Florida, the word "free" has come to be more ideological than it has been economic, right?
So here are some of the things he's picked on to make his point.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: In Florida, we do education, not indoctrination. We were just the only ones that had the backbone to stand up and do it because they call you names and they demagogue you when you do it. Across the political spectrum, people were saying that, you know, this really is junk, why don't we just do and teach the things that matter? Why is it always someone has to try to jam their agenda down our throats?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURENTT: Now, Van, what's incredible about that, he's talking about education. He knows 68 percent of all Americans aren't happy with public education. So he's got bipartisan support there. But of course when he's saying someone has to always jam their agenda down our throats, he is putting in an agenda now of his own.
JONES: Absolutely. It's the height of hypocrisy. The idea that high school students on their way to college can't study, say, James Baldwin, who's a gay Black man because we don't want queer studies. Like what are you talking about? Gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender people are Black people as well as anything else.
So he's got the agenda, and his agenda, unfortunately, is not an agenda that's about education. It's about his own elevation to the White House. That's all this is about.
BURNETT: All right, thank you both very much. A conversation, which, as we all know, which will be continued.
David, Van, thank you.
BURNETT: And next, another close call at a U.S. airport, the third in just one month. This time it was a 777 in the path of a cargo plane.
Plus, a survivor of that massive earthquake revealed what he had to do, drink his own urine to stay alive. He was trapped for more than a week, and it did keep him alive.
BURNETT: CNN just learning tonight of a third near-collision at a U.S. airport in less than a month. This time Honolulu, Hawaii, where the FAA says a United Airlines 777, a jet that can carry more than 300 passengers crossed a runway where a cargo plane was landing. The two planes stopped just short of a collision.
But this close call came just days after a similar incident at JFK where an American Airlines flight crossed in front of a Delta plane trying to take off. And in Austin, where that FedEx plane nearly landed on top of a Southwest flight. I mean, this is just terrifying to watch. This is the one that we've all seen. I mean, it's unbelievable.
Gabe Cohen is OUTFRONT.
And, Gabe, this is the third time here we've learned this month of something like this. What are you learning about this latest incident in Honolulu?
GABE COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, and you're right, Erin. It is terrifying. So this latest incident happened on January 23rd. And I want to walk you through how it played out. So flight data from the tracking site Flight Radar 24 shows a United 777 flight land at the airport. That's the yellow line. That red line is a small cargo plane landing on the runway next to it.
[19:45:03] Now, that data shows that 777 then turns left towards the next runway. And the FAA says that aircraft then crossed the runway despite being told to wait by air traffic control just ahead of where that cargo plane was landing.
Now, the FAA says the two aircraft were a little more than a thousand feet apart. So, not nearly as close to colliding as in those other two incidents at JFK and Austin. In that JFK incident, as you mentioned, the planes came within a thousand feet of each other after air traffic control ordered one of those planes to abort takeoff.
And then in Austin, a FedEx plane came just within a hundred feet of landing on top of a southwest flight earlier this month. So the NTSB now is investigating, Erin, what happened in Honolulu. And these are really just among this growing list of alarming incidents that's led the acting head of the FAA to announce a sweeping safety review of the agency.
They are now planning a summit with industry partners next month they're going to go through steps to try to make the industry safer. And they're going to start digging through flight data to see if there's maybe a trend here, Erin, and maybe there are more of these incidents happening than we realize.
BURNETT: All right, Gabe, thank you very much.
Let's go to Mary Schiavo, CNN transportation analyst, the former inspector general at the U.S. Department of Transportation.
So, Mary, the FAA in this case, right, says it was United Airlines 777. It was the one that was improperly crossing the runway at Honolulu as a cargo plane was landing, and the distance there, as Gabe said, 1,200 feet. Obviously that's not as close as the two incidents in JFK and Austin, as he pointed out.
But just how close is that for two planes with the speeds planes are moving at, and what do you think went wrong?
MARY SCHIAVO, CNN TRANSPORTATION ANALYST: Well, the three that we've been talking about, as you mentioned in this broadcast, were what they call category a runway incursions. That means collision, a disaster, probably the loss of aircraft and life was very narrowly averted. So these are the serious ones. And the problem for runway incursions or near-misses or near-collisions at the airport is from about 2011 to 2017 they were studied and they increased 83 percent. Then COVID came along and they decreased.
But in 2022 they were back up to 1,732. And in just the first six weeks of this year, there have been 507. Now, not all of those are category A. In fact, every year, it's less than a dozen or so. But, you know, there's been many studies the errors are often over 60 percent. They say it's the pilot's fault, they say bad communication accounts for probably 60 percent of it.
And there is something that helps, but it's communication, pilot error -- BURNETT: And, Mary, you're saying ordinarily of this category A,
fewer than a dozen in a year. We've had three in a month. So what do you think is happening right now?
SCHIAVO: Well, there are lots of explanations. But a lot of people blame it on the ramp-up of aviation after the COVID downturn. A lot of people blame it on training, pilot training because there are a lot of new pilots out there. But these were experienced pilots in these cases. So they're blaming it on communication.
And they're also just blaming it on the system ramping up. But also we have to look at equipment. And we have to look at the systems that are provided by the FAA to avoid this. One's called the airport surface detection equipment. And we have a new one, it's the taxiway arrival protections.
And those equipment, when deployed, will be very useful across the board. But we don't have them everywhere. So it has to be a multifaceted approach to get this very alarming number back down.
BURNETT: Right, of course. And just to be honest, it seems like there's a real crisis in infrastructure and transportation in this country. A lot needs to be dealt with.
Mary Schiavo, thank you very much.
SCHIAVO: Thank you.
BURNETT: And, next, buried alive for nine days, and tonight alive. An 18-year-old pulled alive after the devastating earthquake. The story is unbelievable.
Plus, emotions running high as the white supremacist who shot and killed ten people at that Buffalo supermarket had to be rushed out of a courtroom moments after learning his fate.
BURNETT: Tonight, incredible stories of survival in Turkey and Syria after the massive earthquake. One man who survived more than seven days buried inside a 15-story building told CNN he was trapped in total darkness. He had wrapped himself in a rug to stay warm. Speaking from his hospital bed, he explained the dramatic steps that he took to stay alive.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HUSEYIN BERBER, EARTHQUAKE SURVIVOR WHO WAS RESCUED AFTER 187 HOURS (through translator): There was some medication on the cabinet, and a bottle of water. They all fell down next to me. I swallowed some medication with the water. The bottle was empty, so what to do?
Now this is a bit embarrassing. I urinated into it, kept it for a while. It became nice and cool, and then I would drink it. That's the way I managed to survive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Sara Sidner is outside tonight in Adana, Turkey.
SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Rescue teams from around the world attack the piles of crushed buildings, sometimes with brute force, and other times as carefully as possible. It's a delicate balance, trying to save any possible life underneath, or, at the very least, keep bodies intact.
CHRIS ALLENDER, USAID RESCUE TEAM MANAGER: It's going to take the thousands of rescuers here, not just the United States, but it's going to take a collaborative effort of all the rescue teams here.
SIDNER: People are actually just hoping to find anybody, even if they're dead, so they can bury them.
ALLENDER: And that's very important also.
SIDNER: The teams do this as bereaved families look on, watching their every move.
I swear I have lost my days and nights, he says in tears. Our sorrow is great.
While he waits, he prays for the four members of his extended family to emerge, and remembers the terror of waking up to the sway of his own building. Our building was bending like this, but unlike this one, his building did not break apart.
Los Angeles County civil engineers are on the site with USAID to help the Turkish government sort out which buildings have light damage, major damage, or which need to be demolished.
KAITLIN HANNON, LOS ANGELES COUNTY CIVIL ENGINEER: I think it would be okay to live here.
SIDNER: You would?
HANNON: Yeah. I think, you know, from this viewpoint, the main concern is actually the building next to it falling on top of it.
SIDNER: We are there when the owner of an apartment building approaches, asking whether it's safe for her to live here again. And engineer Hannon goes with her inside.
While the homeowner decided she was too afraid to stay in her building, despite Hannon saying it was assessed as being safe, others Hannon has met are relieved to hear an assessment like that.
HANNON: A lot of them that we've gone and are actually doing well, and once we tell those people that, they'll start crying, and it's heartbreaking, but to be able to tell someone, your house is safe, and it kept you safe during this, you know, it's, it's something we can help with, something small we can do.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Over 6000 structures we put eyes on just to assess at a very quick glance.
SIDNER: The findings of civil engineers are then put into a grid created by Los Angeles county fire.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So we can see where rescue is needed.
SIDNER: It's a guide for the Turkish government to see the status of thousands of buildings affected by the quake.
Still, nine days on, miraculous rescues are rare, but happening.
In Adiyaman, a man is left speechless and grief while he awaits any signs of life. Five of his family members are buried in this rubble. A few hours later, an 18-year- old is pulled alive from this pile of death. Once again spurring hope in those waiting for more people to be pulled to safety.
Even in the disaster zone, children find a way to sooth themselves despite the grief that continues to weigh heavy on everyone here.
SIDNER (on camera): To give you some idea of the vastness of what has happened here, the government here in Turkey now says about 50,000 buildings need to be demolished.
And we also note that there are tens of thousands of people who are now homeless because of this earthquake, and tens of thousands more who need to be buried -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right, Sara, thank you very much from Turkey tonight. And to find out more about how you can help victims of the earthquake, please go to CNN.com/impact.
And next, the tense moments inside a Buffalo courtroom today, the man who killed 10 people at a supermarket officially sentenced.