Return to Transcripts main page
Erin Burnett Outfront
Investigative Organization: Putin Now Using An Armored Train For Travel; White House Release New Details From Biden's Physical; CNN Gets Rare Access Inside U.S. Plant Making Ammo For Ukraine; Fetterman Checks Into Hospital For Clinical Depression; Trump Faces Legal Danger As Special Counsel Subpoenas Meadows, Pence. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired February 16, 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, the head of Russia's private military calling out Putin as we are learning new details about the Russian president's preferred way of travel -- an armored train equipped with high tech communication systems that drops them off in front of his house. New details ahead.
Plus, results from President Biden's physical had been released his doctor says he's physically healthy. But the White House will not say if the 80-year-old took a cognitive test. How come?
And rare access into an American weapons production factory. Production ramped up to the max. It is a race against time, a report you'll see first here.
Let's go OUTFRONT.
And good ev-ening. I'm Erin Burnett.
OUTFRONT tonight, calling Putin out. The head of the Wagner Group, that brutal private Russian military tonight, publicly blaming Putin's generals for not winning the battle of Bakhmut. That battle of daily hand to hand combat and mass death that has been raging for months.
Here is the Wagner Group chief today, Yevgeny Prigozhin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
YEVGENY PRIGOZHIN, WAGNER CHIEF (through translator): The advanced proceeding less fast than we would want. Why is the advance not fast enough? I think we could've taken control of it by the New Year, if we hadn't been hindered by our monstrous military bureaucracy and obstacles created a daily basis.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Monstrous military, Putin's monstrous military. It's a pretty incredible thing to say. You're in the middle of a war. You're calling the military monstrous.
Well, part of why Prigozhin is slamming Putin's military so vocally, clearly seems to be the pressure that he's now under from his own fighters, the majority of whom are convicts.
Here are Wagner fighters, angry about the lack of ammunition.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WAGNER FIGHTER (through translator): We are the artillery agreement of Wagner PMC. Every day, we carry out difficult combat tasks. Covering assault groups, at the moment we are completely cut off from the ammunition supplier.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Completely cut off from ammunition. Now, we have a special report tonight on the ammunition situation, which is a crisis for both Russia and Ukraine. That's later this hour.
Prigozhin's public anger comes as Ukraine keeps successfully blocking most Russian missiles. We have new video in tonight, I want to show. You looking at here is the Kherson air defense missile brigade shooting down an incoming Russian cruise missile. Success ratio, save countless lives even as, of course, those missiles have been so destructive.
But all this is impacting Putin in profound ways and we have a new report tonight from the dossier center. It's an investigative group that tracks criminal activity associated with the Kremlin. It says that since the start of the invasion, Vladimir Putin has for the most part, stop using his private airplane.
You see it there, right? He used to do it. The whole head of state walk down the stairs, now, now this is his preferred mode of transportation. According to the Dossier Group, which is run by Mikhail Khodorkovsky, an opposition leader, Putin's traveling mostly in this armored train, equipped with a special communication system. Why the train?
Well, earlier, I spoke to Ilia Rozhdestvenskii, a reporter with the Dossier Center, and he told me that the Russian president is afraid.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ILIA ROZHDESTVENSKII, REPORTER, DOSSIER CENTER: The psychological region of using this train, is that he's scared. He's scared that he can be tracked. That is plane can be tracked and his plane can be shot down by NATO air forces, or by the air forces of Ukraine, or why some missile, some kind of missile that shots the Ukrainian bridge or anything like this could happen.
So, he's scared, and he believes that it is a more secure way to travel, that nobody will know where he was going, nobody will understand that he's inside this train.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: No one will know because Rozhdestvenskii says it looks like a normal passenger train. That gray with the white stripe, that's the Russian passenger train.
Make no mistake, though, this particular train is not like the others.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROZHDESTVENSKII: There are three locomotives. Putin's trains have three of them because it's wreaking havoc. It's armored, and so, it's heavy in needs more locomotives.
This train has some kind of special equipment, for special communications. He wants to communicate securely. He needs some special lines to communicate to his prime minister, and other officials, and to ensure that he's not by some foreign intelligence. And you can see part of this equipment on the roof of the cars.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURENTT: You can see part of it from the roof.
And it's heavy, it's armored. So, it takes three locomotives to transport it, not just one.
These officials Putin talking to most likely include Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, his closest ally, his country was used to launch the invasion of Ukraine a year ago. And there's evidence now that Belarus will be used again as a launch pad. "The Financial Times" reporting that according to Western intelligence, Russian aircraft are now gathering along Ukraine's border.
Our Fred Pleitgen is OUTFRONT. He's live in Belarus tonight at the capital of Minsk.
And, Fred, I know today you had very rare opportunity to be with and to question the Belarusian president, Alexander Lukashenko, what did you say?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He's been an important figure for Vladimir Putin. As you, say his closest ally in all of this, and someone who's extremely combative.
And you're absolutely right. We were able to ask him several questions today about his relationship with Vladimir Putin, about Belarus and their role in this war here in Ukraine. It was a really testy exchange.
Here's what happened.
PLEITGEN: Vicious fighting in eastern Ukraine.
The military so far repelling those Russian attacks here. As Vladimir Putin's forces struggle both soldiers and armor, Putin's main ally, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko spoke to international media from one of the first time since Russia invaded Ukraine, an invasion that was started in large part from his country.
When I asked him why still support Putin's war, Lukashenko -- combative.
ALEXANDER LUKASHENKO, BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): This is another rhetorical question. Why do you support Ukraine? Pumping it with weapons instead of sitting down to negotiate as I suggest?
PLEITGEN: Lukashenko insists Belarus won't send troops to fight alongside Russia, unless directly attacked by Ukraine, but says he still firmly stands by Russian President, Vladimir Putin.
Lukashenko gets angry when I asked when he surprised by how weak Russia's army is.
LUKASHENKO: You must see that this is the number one army in the world fighting against you. Americans and Europeans, practically against NATO, using Ukrainians -- and the Ukrainians are not dumb.
PLEITGEN: Many Belarusians opposed to Lukashenko have gone to Ukraine to fight against the Russian army.
We're here to prove that we Belarusians are not our government. We don't want to be associated with that junta seized the power in Belarus. I mean, the Lukashenko regime, this volunteer says.
Near Bakhmut, they often face off against mercenaries from the Wagner private military company. Wagner boss, Yevgeny Prigozhin, recruited tens of thousands of convicts from Russian jails, and brought them to the front lines.
I asked Lukashenko how he feels about Russia using convicts as expendable fighters.
LUKASHENKO (through translator): Russia did indeed use convicts, but now this is forbidden. It's forbidden in Russia, and Yevgeny Prigozhin, Wagner are not doing this. It is forbidden.
PLEITGEN: And what about the Russian defense ministry, they're using convicts now I ask.
LUKASHENKO: The minister of defense -- that's not true. The ministry of defense has enough mobilized resources and enough servicemen to create a special unit if that's what they're doing. I will find out the answer to this question tomorrow.
PLEITGEN: Lukashenko is meeting Vladimir Putin on Friday, but Lukashenko really wants, he says, is to host peace talks with Putin, U.S. President Joe Biden, and Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine, and asked me to relay the message.
LUKASHENKO: If Biden has a desire, pass on to him through your channels that we are ready to welcome him in Minsk, and have a serious talk with him if he wishes for peace in Ukraine. Even Putin will fly to Minsk, and we can meet there, the three of us. Two aggressors, and a peace-loving president -- why not? (END VIDEOTAPE)
PLEITGEN (on camera): The Ukrainians see that very differently, Erin. They very much see Belarus and Alexander Lukashenko himself as being complicit in the war here -- in Vladimir Putin's war in Ukraine. Also quite frankly, Lukashenko did say today that he would continue to allow the Russian army to use Belarusian territory to strike Ukraine. That's something that will continue.
Now, of course, all eyes are on that meeting, between Putin and Lukashenko that's going to take place in just a few hours from now. And we'll see how possibly the posture of Belarus in this conflict, it changes or whether it stays the same, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, for that incredible access, from Fred Pleitgen there in Minsk tonight.
And I want to go now to retired Army Lieutenant Mark Hertling, the former commanding general for Europe and the Seventh Army, and Steve Hall, the former CIA chief of Russia Operations.
So, General, you heard Fred, you know, there, argumentative Lukashenko in that exchange.
And obviously as Fred says, this meeting between Putin and Lukashenko is just a couple hours from now. Putin's amassing air forces in Belarus, air forces are told as we know not a big part of this war, Western intelligence is saying that Putin is now planning a mass air assault.
So, what would this mean?
MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, first, Erin, I have to compliment Fred Pleitgen. He is -- he is getting some unbelievable reporting from inside the train, phenomenal work. What I would suggest it is Mr. Lukashenko's saying his forces aren't not going to participate in this action. And I'd say the reason why is because he can't.
The Belarusian army has about five brigades, close to 30,000 to 40,000 soldiers. They are the worst trained in Europe. When I was commander of the U.S. are in Europe, they were at the bottom of the list of 49 countries in terms of their capability. He also knows, Lukashenko also knows that if he were to commit his soldiers into Ukraine, he would have an uprising without any security forces to protect him.
Russia can certainly use the territory of Belarus to launch another attack towards Kyiv. They've done in the past. They can do it in the future. But I see a continual use of poorly trained, mobilized soldiers by Russia in this event. I also say, again, I think we're going to see more and more ballistic missions from aircraft and launch sites in Belarus from the Russian army.
BURNETT: Right, and that's, of course, what they're clearly trying to do, right? To have those aircraft station close, and to be able to really increase that air assault. That's the concern, in this context, Steve, you're either trying this and we'll see what happens. We'll see whether it transforms the situation.
But they're doing it because of the failures that they're experiencing on the ground. I mean you hear Prigozhin complaining about that. I mean, it's pretty incredible. I mean, he's been public in his criticism. But to call Putin's military, a monstrous military bureaucracy, it's a significant thing, blaming Putin's generals for not winning Bakhmut. Why is he doing this now, so publicly?
STEVE HALL, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, first, Erin, I make a very small distinction. It does make a whole lot of sense for us here in the West, but it's a win in Russia. There's a long history of Russia, in Russia, if you want to criticize the Kremlin, you don't name the czar, you don't name the president in this case, Putin directly. You talk about all the guys that are around him, the military generals. That leads it into a public sense of, oh, he's just surrounded by bad advisors. He's a good guy himself. It's Putin who gets all these bad advisors. So, that's what Prigozhin is sort of tapping into.
But, you know, he's also tapping into something else, which hasn't been done previously. It's someone who's previously an oligarch, so just a very rich Russian who was allowed by Putin in the Kremlin to make money however he needed to, to cross over into politics and to position himself, potentially, in some sort of leadership position inside of Russia.
The last time that happened, that was Khodorkovsky, who tried about ten years in jail because Putin wasn't having. Prigozhin is apparently having some more success at that, which is fascinating.
BURNETT: Well, fascinating, of course, with all the reports today. When it goes wrong, it can go very wrong, several more strange unexplained deaths. We find out it seems weekly.
General Hertling, in this contacts, but as Steve mentioned, it's his group the Dossier Groups that down this research, this painstaking research on the train, Putin's train. So, the reporter there, Ilia, explained why Putin is using this train. Here he is again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROZHDESTVENSKII: He's scared, he's scared that he can be tracked, and his plane can be shot down by NATO air forces, or by the air forces of Ukraine, or by some missile, some kind of missile that shots Ukrainian bridge, or anything like this can happen.
So, he's scared, and he believes that it is a more secure way to travel, that nobody will know where he was going, nobody will understand that he's inside this train. And nobody will try to do something with this train.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: In general, in a certain level, it's kind of stunning thing to say, right, train goes 50, 75 miles an hour, train has to stick to tracks. And everyone can see when train is moving. It is a pretty stunning thing to say, that this is -- you know, Putin is so worried about his plane being shot down these resorting to train something down in the era of Stalin, or by the likes of Kim Jong-un.
KIMMITT: Yeah, Erin, what I'll tell you is President Zelenskyy by comparison is getting around the battlefield pretty well. He's been to all the frontlines. He's appeared on camera with soldiers on the front line, in the trenches. He's been there multiple times in all of the situations.
If Putin has this great army that Lukashenko just talked about, is he that concern that he's got to move from Moscow, to St. Petersburg, to Minsk, in an armored train. I would suggest, and maybe Steve can talk more about this, that it can be readily picked up by signals communications and aerial observation.
He is afraid, as a reporter said, from the Dossier, that he's going to be killed. And this is what autocrats do when they're in really bad times, and don't trust their people and don't trust their armies.
BURNETT: Steve, what does this say, Putin is used to the strain which is likely, said you know where to, and when it's going. There what does that say about his mind?
STEVE HALL, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yeah, if this reporting is accurate, and, of course, we do have to remember, it comes from Khodorkovsky, who has a bone to pick with Putin, so it benefits him to show that he's scared, but if it's true, and, of course, Stalin did it, so it could be true, and of course, the North Koreans do it, so this is unprecedented.
But, you know, there's pluses and minuses. You know, planes are easy to spot in one sense, they take off and land in airports. There's tail spotters, there's also the ways you could find airplanes. You know, there might be certain circumstance in which trains are a little harder to spot, there's less communication, you can't see them fighting for the earth. But if they've got that special communication package that you're talking about, then they're emitting that something's noticeable it's, like, wow this is an interesting. Trained by the, wait pulled by a lot more and it seems to be different from other trains.
So, there's pluses and minuses, but I wouldn't say that is perfectly safe to be traveling on a train, but it does reflect if it's true to what Putin, you know, Putin's mindset is, we --
HERTLING: And I say, the train has to stay on a track. It can't deviate from that track. So, there's not a whole lot of capability to evade being targeted.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you both very much. I appreciate it. And next, fit for duty that's what Biden's doctor saying after today's
physical. The White House will not say if the president took a cognitive test. Why?
And taking on Elon Musk and very publicly. Retired astronaut Scott Kelly is OUTFRONT to tell us why.
And Georgia special round jury investigating Trump's effort to overturn the 2020 election, saying that at least one witness may have committed perjury, under oath. Trump's former White House counsel Ty Cobb is my guest tonight.
BURNETT: Tonight, the White House releasing the results of President Biden's physical exam, calling him healthy and vigorous. Not mentioned as whether not a cognitive test was given to Biden, who will be 82 at the end of his first term, is the oldest president in U.S. history.
Phil Mattingly is OUTFRONT at the White House.
So, Phil, what else can you tell us about the president's physical?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You know, the top line from the summary of the five-page memo sent by the president's physician says that he's able to successfully carry out the duties of the office, vigorous and healthy, critical words. I think White House officials were happy to see, not that they've been giving any indication otherwise. To some degree, it was a very similar report from the president's first physical back in late 2020.
However, it did list that he had a lesion removed from his chest, that it's currently undergoing -- being viewed at this point. I'm the biggest take away right now is stable gastro -- reflux, sorry, and also persistent atrial fibrillation, but that is asymptomatic being treated for that as well. The biggest take away when you talk about is physical, when you read this memo, the president, healthy, vigorous, fit for office.
BURNETT: Right, so they're saying that, that's the release. But then of course comes in the context, Phil, of Biden likely days or weeks away for officially announcing he's running for reelection. So, you get this report, maybe this will assuage some of the concern I know that you have been reporting. About that many Democrats don't want him to run, or have major concerns.
We'll see whether this report changes that. Why is that feeling so pervasive?
MATTINGLY: There's two important moments that happened in the last two. Weeks the state of the union address, where the president really when you talk about adviser, he was at its best. There's no question about that. That assuage a lot of concerns from Democrats that I was speaking to for the story that you're referencing. This report today goes even further than that in terms of the health perspective.
But when you talk to Democrats, look, they're not much different in the White House -- they see the polls. They see the polling and they understand that people are maybe happy where the president, they understand that he's 80 years old. He's the oldest president the history of the country, and that concerns them.
It concerns them primarily because they don't want to lose an election in 2024. When you talk to White House officials, they make clear, he's not really challenge right now and they feel very good about where they're going because of the agenda and obviously he's healthy.
BURNETT: All right. Phil, thank you very much.
I want to go OUTFRONT now to David Axelrod, senior adviser to President Obama.
And, David, you know, you heard Phil's reporting, dozens of White House aides, Democratic operatives, officials behind the scene about Biden. They're worried, they say they don't want him to. Run you have this report today that he's healthy and vigorous. It didn't include a cognitive exam that we're aware of. They certainly not saying that it did, and they're not releasing results if there was one.
So, what are you hearing from all the Democratic operatives insiders about him?
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, look, before we get to the Democratic insiders, and politicians, White House aides and so on. We have polling. And let me just preface this by saying, Erin, if Joe Biden were 20 years younger and had the record he has, there wouldn't be a whimper about whether he should run for reelection. There would be a great deal confidence about his ability to win.
He led the country through a crisis, the COVID crisis, the economy has done very, very well. Inflation is still a concern, but the rest of it has been very positive. There's lots of historic legislative achievements. He's got a lot to crow about, the problem is he's an old crow. And everybody recognizes that.
And you see it in polling. You know, he has 80 percent approval rating among Democrats, yet 58 percent say they prefer another candidate for president in 2024. It's not record base, it's about age, and it just shows up in other ways of polling very strongly in focus groups. People know that, politicians know that.
Joe Biden has made a decision, and he's going to run. So, I think people are going to fall in behind him. But it's a continuing concern because as healthy as vigorous as he has today, he's going to be asking the American people to believe that he will remain so until he's 86, in the hardest job of the planet and that creates problems.
BURNETT: It's a lot. It's a lot. And you mention the focus groups. According to some new reporting, Phil's new reporting, that one person who observed multiple 2022 campaign focus groups, said that voters bring Biden's age up constantly. And that's 2022.
Some of the words are pretty awful. These are words from the focus groups, dementia, brain dead, mush, literally comes up all the time. I mean, these are unpleasant things to repeat. But that's what's coming out of the focus group as we understand.
How big of a problem is that, how hard is that to overcome? Because in terms of being a persistent question I suppose.
AXELROD: Yeah. I mean, there's no magic answer to those questions. I think you want to appear vigorous. You want people to see you doing your job. He constantly says just watch me. I think that's the best they can do.
But nobody gets younger. Everybody gets older. And so, you know, I think people are going to be watching closely in the next couple of years to see how he performs, to see if there's any slippage. And that's just something he's going to have to live with. The other thing this does, Erin, it puts pressure on the vice president because I remember when we were doing the campaign in 2008 for Barack Obama. We ran against John McCain after he picked Sarah Palin.
There were a lot of questions about Palin, the focus groups people would bring up that McCain was 73, had melanoma, that there was no guarantee that he live out his term. They had concerns about Palin, and they weren't going to vote for McCain. Now, Kamala Harris is hot Sarah Palin, I don't want to make that comparison at all. But she isn't pulling particularly well, she hasn't gotten great reviews. And that's going to create an issue for him in this campaign, and she'll be like a candidate for president.
BURNETT: And thank you very much, David Axelrod. Pretty profound questions.
And don't miss the newest episode of David's podcast, "The Axe Files". His guest this week, Tom Knives, U.S. ambassador to Israel.
And next, Senator John Fetterman, who suffered a massive stroke last year and was hospitalized last week after feeling light headed has now check himself into Walter Reed for clinical depression.
Plus, a rare look inside a weapons factory here in the United States, that is now racing to keep up with the demand of weapons needed in Ukraine.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: To this point is only taken a few hours to keep the steal, and turned into what looks like an artillery shell.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [19:31:05]
BURNETT: Tonight, a race against time. CNN with a very rare look tonight inside a U.S. weapons production factory in Pennsylvania, a factory that's ramping up its production to the max, to keep up with demand on the battlefield of Ukraine. Ukraine and Russia are firing they say 100,000 artillery shells at each other, on average every week, and a war with absolutely no and inside, it's a stunning number.
And Oren Liebermann has the story that you'll see first OUTFRONT.
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: In the steel furnaces of Scranton, Pennsylvania, the weapons of war at high demand. One ton metal rods, heated, forged, into about 11,000 high explosive artillery shells a month. CNN got a rare look inside the Scranton army ammunition plant, one of only a few in the country that make this crucial round.
Here, especially made steel is heated to 2,000 degrees, slowly shaped step by scorching step, into its final product.
To this point, it's only taken a few hours to keep the steal, and turn into what looks like what artillery shells, the precedent that familiar shape. But it's still days of testing and inspecting, to make sure that this can be turned into a one 155 millimeter artillery shell and fired.
The process doesn't end here, the empty shells are shipped to other plants for explosives, fuses, 5,000 miles from the frontlines in mother Russia, the enemy here is further time.
Ukraine can burn through the plant's monthly production in half a week, locked in a grinding war of attrition with Putin's army and Russian mercenaries.
JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: The current rate of Ukraine's expenditure is many times higher than our current rate of production.
LIEBERMANN: One year in, the war has turned into a vicious math problem. How to make enough ammo for the Ukraine, United States, and allies. The Pentagon is already planning on new ammo plants in Texas, Canada, part of a race to increase capacity of the defense industrial base.
Doug Bush is the Army's head of acquisitions.
DOUG BUSH, ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF THE ARMY FOR ACQUISITION: Right now, we are meeting demand. Of course I wanted to be faster. Everyone does. But there is a time factor, a year in 18 months is often what you're looking at.
LIEBERMANN: Bush says this is the greatest ramp up military production, possibly going back to the Korean War. BUSH: Early on, we realized we need to put our foot to the floor.
LIEBERMANN: The goal within two years is to produce five times more artillery rounds each month, up to 70,000, twice as many Javelin anti- tank missiles, up to 4,000 a month, 30 percent more rounds for the HIMARS rocket launchers, about 850 a month.
Precision weapon Ukraine has used to target Russian command posts, ammo depots, and 60 Stinger anti-aircraft missiles each month. The U.S. isn't at war with Russia, but that matters little to weapons manufacturers whose products are part of the fight.
SETH JONES, CSIS INTERNATIONAL SECURITY PROGRAM DIRECTOR: Our defense industrial base is still largely geared towards a peace time environment, and not towards a wartime or at least a quasi-wartime environment that we're now in.
LIEBERMANN (on camera): If you want to get a sense of how this is increasing at the pace at which is increasing, just in the last two weeks, the army has put out $1.5 billion in contracts for more 155 millimeter artillery ammunition, that you saw me made in that piece.
Erin, the goal is to do this as quickly as possible, and you see it reflected in the contracts, the production, and the pace here.
BURNETT: Pretty incredible reporting. Oren, thank you so much.
All right. And I want to go now to retired astronaut Scott Kelly, also retired military fighter pilot and retired captain in the U.S. Navy.
Scott, we appreciate your time.
Warren's reporting is incredible. It gives the sense that the shortages we hear about the frontlines, what that means, what it takes to produce that. Ukraine, as or unreported is burning through about 11,000 artillery shells every few days, every few days. So, now, in the U.S., they're significantly ramping up weapons production, but that takes time. Can the United States even keep up?
And also the big question so many have is, at what cost is all of this depletion and supplies bringing to America's own supply in military?
SCOTT KELLY, FORMER NASA ASTRONAUT: Well, Erin, first of all thanks for having me on. I do think we can keep, out this country has an incredible capacity to rise to the occasion. But it's also how many artillery shells, other rounds we are -- the Ukrainians are using to defend themselves and, you know, of course, we need to have a reserve here in the United States, to protect ourselves for all different kinds of reasons.
And -- but I think will be able to continue to supply them, and we're at a critical time right now. I mean, Ukraine has the initiative. We need to do everything we possibly can to continue to support them. BURNETT: One thing I'll say, is just anywhere you go where there's
fighting, the grounds completely littered with. It's just unbelievable. Ordnance of all sorts, it's sort of stunning just to kind of see that and how it's absolutely everywhere, the sense of how much they're going through.
They've also on the frontlines relied incredibly heavily on Starlink, Elon Musk's satellite internet technology on the battlefield, right? They're open about it, that without it, it wouldn't be where they are. They would've possibly lost this war in the first days.
Now, Starlink saying the technology wasn't meant for offensive military purposes, and Musk is blocking Ukraine from using it to control drones, which is a huge thing. And Elon Musk gotten a Twitter exchange with you, and said that he's blocking that because he doesn't want to start World War III. So, therefore, he's going to block the use of Starlink.
I know you have a problem with that reasoning. Tell me why.
KELLY: So, you know, first of all, I have a lot of respect for Elon as an engineer, and as a visionary technologist, I do think he may go down as a Thomas Edison of our time. And I hope that's the case, I hope it doesn't get him asterisks (ph) with that title. He very well may.
So, he's in a tough position. I mean, I know it's his company. It's his decision to do what he wants. But I think in this case, he's really pulling the rug out from under the Ukrainians.
They've had this capability for a long time. They've been using Starlink to communicate on the battlefield for corrective fire, for their artillery to make it more precise, which to me, isn't an escalation. If you're allowing more precision in your targeting, you know you're not causing collateral damage, you're able to advance this fight more quickly.
And I think escalation will come if we don't allow Ukraine to use this, if we don't support them because they have the initiative right now and I think the only way Putin's ever going to back down as if he's defeated on the battlefield, and we absolutely need Starlink's help, Ukrainians do.
BURNETT: All right. It's amazing to see what a significant thing that one human being can have on all of this, when you think about it, and it's not Putin, right, and it's Elon Musk.
All right. Thank you so much. I appreciate your time.
KELLY: My pleasure. Thank you.
BURNETT: All right. Great to talk to you.
And next, Senator John Fetterman now hospitalized for depression. It comes just a week after the stroke survivor was hospitalized after feeling light headed. Plus, the Georgia grand jury investigating Trump's efforts to overturn
the election tonight recommending charges be filed.
BURNETT: Tonight, Pennsylvania Senator John Fetterman is hospitalized for depression. Fetterman's offices, he checked themselves into Walter Reed for in-patient treatment. His wife tweeting, after what he's been through in the past year, there's probably no one who wanted to talk about his own health less than John. I'm so proud of him for asking for help and getting the care he needs.
Fetterman, of course, was also in the hospital last week for light- headedness and is in a recovery from the stroke he suffered last May.
Manu Raju is OUTFRONT on Capitol Hill.
And, Manu, all eyes on the situation here. What are you learning?
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Senate Democratic leaders are still confident that John Fetterman will recover and that he will be able to serve out the full six years of the term that he was just elected to last November. Chuck Schumer, the majority leader, and Dick Durbin, the number two Democrat, both indicating they're so confident he will get there. Even though Dick Durbin told us that he did not see any signs of this while they were meeting behind closed doors, even saying that Fetterman was in a briefing about China yesterday, he had been attending Senate Democrat meetings at -- attended votes.
But nevertheless, this serious turning -- the situation turning very serious for Fetterman who, of course, suffered a stroke last year during the campaign season, did not -- was not he was off the campaign trail for several weeks afterwards and the effects of that stroke were very noticeable, at his debate performance and interacting with individuals throughout the course of his campaign season.
But over the last couple of days, things have gotten noticeably worse according to his office. His chief of staff, Adam Jentleson, sending out a statement saying, while John has experienced depression off and on throughout his life, it only became severe in recent weeks.
Now, the statement went on to say that Fetterman is still getting the care he needs and will soon be back to himself. It's unclear exactly when Fetterman will return to the Senate, but the question will be, how he will be, when he returns and whether he will be able to serve out his time, and whether or not he will -- the care that he's getting will ultimately get him to a place where he can serve as a senator.
At the moment, Democratic leaders are hopeful and confident that he will get there -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. But obviously, this raises a lot of questions and, of course, it is important and significant that he chose to do this and felt it was important that he's taken care of himself.
Thanks very much, Manu.
And now, I want to go to Dr. David Scheiner, he was President Obama's personal physician for over 20 years.
Dr. Scheiner, Fetterman, of course, suffered that stroke in May. He is suffering from the side effects still, right? He is recovering. He uses assistive technology to help him with audio processing. He was admitted to hospital last week after feeling light headed. And now, he's going to be inpatient for depression treatment.
How common is that for someone recovering from a stroke?
DR. DAVID SCHEINER, PRESIDENT OBAMA'S PERSONAL PHYSICIAN FOR OVER 20 YEARS: About 30 percent of people have strokes have depression, and the more severe the disability, more likely the higher chance to have depression. I cannot think of any kind of disability worse than aphasia, inability to communicate, to understand what other people are saying. Perhaps he may have some trouble even reading.
It's interesting and that I saw him compare the situation, Fetterman, to the Santos situation. Republicans refuse to make a move on Santos, even though he's obviously should be thrown out, and the Democrats, knowing that he's severely disabled, refused to do anything about Fetterman.
They have the Democratic governor. You can appoint a senator. He should drop out now. Should've dropped out before the election, but at least now, he's won -- let him step out with honor and (AUDIO GAP) the likelihood that he's going to really recover that well, I think, is questionable.
I maybe had one or two patients over 50 years who suffered from aphasia that showed some improvement, but it was never dramatic. He will never get back to where he should be, and he's had severe brain damage.
We only have 100 senators. That's too important to be left in that kind of situation. I think this is -- I think this is ludicrous.
I think it's embarrassing. It's absolutely wrong. It's as bad as the Santos thing, as far as I'm concerned.
BURNETT: Well Dr. Scheiner, I appreciate you taking the time. I mean, you know, you're not mincing words. You're saying what you really think and I appreciate that. Thank you.
SCHEINER: You are welcome. Thank you.
BURNETT: And next, this Georgia special jury releasing a portion of its report. That portion, and I want to stress, portion, does not recommend charges against president, but they're only putting out parts of it. Trump is celebrating, despite that, as is he getting ahead of himself? His former White House lawyer, Ty Cobb, is my guest.
Plus, the family of actor Bruce Willis tonight, revealing the painful disease that forced Willis to take a step back from acting.
BURNETT: Tonight, charges recommended in the Trump Georgia probe. The Fulton County special grand jury investigating Trump's effort to overturn the 2020 election saying in newly released portions of its report that at least one witness may have committed perjury, lying under oath.
Now, they did not name names, so we don't know who that could be. But we do know that the grand jury heard testimony from, well, 75 or so people, including the governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp, former Trump attorneys, Rudy Giuliani and John Eastman. Republican senator, Lindsey Graham, and the former Trump national security adviser, Michael Flynn, all of them on a list along with countless others.
OUTFRONT now, Ty Cobb, former Trump White House lawyer.
And, Ty, I really appreciate your time. So, let's start off with this portions have been put out. I emphasize that because as much of the report has not been released yet. Trump is declaring victory, saying: Thank you to the special grand jury of the great state of Georgia for your patriotism and courage, total exoneration. Of course, they did say they were going to be the charges could be recommended, although there was nothing about him in the portion they put out.
Do you think he's speaking too soon?
TY COBB, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE LAWYER: Well, I absolutely, Erin. Nice to be with you.
Yes, Trump is speaking way too soon. I think whoever put out that statement may have been trying to curry favor with the former president. Likewise, I think our friend Norm Eisen, who thinks this is some significant death knell, is speaking too soon.
I think, you know, the reality is, you've got to wait for the facts and there are no facts in here. I mean, the only facts that you have are the number of the good citizens of Georgia that did their lawful duty hand devoted considerable time and effort to which we should all be grateful, to reviewing the evidence and listening to people, and trying to make some difficult decisions.
But we don't know what those decisions were. And the fact that the report, you know, arguably may only be nine pages long, you know, that doesn't bode well for Fani Willis's broad racketeering investigation. I do think, though, that even I'm stepping a little bit out of bounds because we are just speculating. We know that what hasn't been produced is a list of individuals and statutes, and potential violations they may have committed with a grand jury vote next to each of them. That will be -- that will be consequential. What we have today is not
and on the perjury concern, you know, I think that's a legitimate thing to put forward. But unfortunately, when you say one or more, and there are 75 witnesses, it dumps everybody.
So, it would be nice to get that cleared up.
BURNETT: To have some more detail. By the way, I should say for everyone watching, I've interviewed several people who testified before that grand jury. Gabe Sterling, Brad Raffensperger, and they have all been so clear that individuals who served on this grand jury we're taking months and months out of their lives, paid attention to every answer, ask incredible questions, research -- I mean, the commitment that the people of this country, the citizens put on that grand jury it's just something to applaud.
From every single person and sometimes you lose faith in the system, not in this case. Just, you know, worth saying.
COBB: I agree and that's gone on, you know, in cities and states across our country and that's what makes this country great, people willing to serve the country, particularly when called upon.
BURNETT: Now, I want to ask you about the former White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows. Of course, you know him. He's been subpoenaed by the special counsel, Jack Smith, to testify in the DOJ's January 6 investigation. Now, when that happened, the quick take was, okay, that means he's not cooperating with the DOJ, they would subpoena him otherwise.
But you actually don't think that. You think this is further evidence that Meadows is cooperating with the DOJ.
COBB: So, I'm not sure this is evidence that he's cooperating, but I do believe he is cooperating. And there's no indication that he is contesting this.
You know, Trump is the person who has made the executive privilege assumption and Trump has the right to contest that because it was arguably his privilege. I don't think it will be taking longer to solve. The D.C. Circuit and other courts have been pretty quick on executive privilege.
It's been pretty nailed down by now that the evidence being given to particularly the federal grand jury process is essential to their investigation.
I don't believe that this is consequential. It's more than likely that the special counsel doing his duty thoughtfully is insulating himself against acclaim later on that he improperly coerced executive privilege testimony, which could, you know, taint a prosecution down that road. I think he wants it to be green lighted. I wouldn't be surprised to see Meadows in front of a grand jury and in
two weeks to a month.
BURNETT: Wow, incredible and fast. Faster than I think almost any other one would expect.
All right, Ty. Thank you so much. I always appreciate it.
COBB: Great to visit with you and my heart goes out to both Senator Fetterman and Bruce Willis on their mental health struggles. I will pray for both of them.
BURNETT: Yeah, absolutely, and as you say, thank you and we are going to be talking about Bruce Willis next because we do have new details on the rare brain disorder that has forced him to stop acting. We will tell you the latest we know after this.
BURNETT: New information tonight about actor Bruce Willis's health. Coming from his family who says, Willis, with 67, is now living with a form of dementia. His loved ones, including his ex-wife, Debbie Moore, shared the news on Instagram and she wrote, unfortunately, challenges with communication are just one symptom of the disease Bruce faces. While this is painful, it is a relief to finally have a clear diagnosis.
Willis stepped back from acting last, year after that initial diagnosis, which was aphasia, which, as we mentioned earlier in the show, an impact speech and language. But now this new, as they're saying, they found out that he has dementia, and it's called FTD for short, the type that he has. The Mayo Clinic calls it an umbrella term for a group of rain disorders generally associated with personality behavior, and language.
Well, our thoughts are with him and all of his family.
Thanks so much for joining us.
"AC360" starts now.