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Erin Burnett Outfront

Ukraine Braces For "Provocative Actions" By Russia As Biden Makes Surprise Visit To War Zone In "Calculated Risk"; U.S. Condemns Series Of Ballistic Missile Launches: "Escalatory"; George Santos Admits He's "A Terrible Liar"; Jimmy Carter Receiving End-Of-Life Care At Home; Gun Ownership Among Asian Americans On The Rise After Shootings. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired February 20, 2023 - 19:00   ET



PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, Ukraine with a warning for Russia tonight as President Biden makes a top-secret trip into Ukraine to meet with President Zelenskyy.

Plus, embattled Republican Congressman George Santos opens up about his past in a new and revealing interview, and confesses to being, quote, a terrible liar.

And the latest on Jimmy Carter. I'll speak to one of his top White House advisers who helped engineer his rise from governor to president.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening. I'm Pamela Brown, in for Erin Burnett tonight. Welcome to a special edition of OUTFRONT.

And tonight, ready for anything, Ukraine's military preparing for provocative acts by Russia to mark the one-year anniversary of its invasion, and telling Russia its air force will be ready 24/7 to respond. The warning as President Biden made an unprecedented surprise visit to Kyiv to meet with President Zelenskyy, sending a painful reminder to Putin of how his invasion plans have failed.

The visit also stinging Russian troops already dealing with major morale issues. A Telegram account managed by Russian military bloggers noting Biden has done something Putin has not, saying, quote, almost a year after the beginning of the special military operation, we are waiting in the Russian city of Kyiv for the president of the Russian Federation but not for the president of the United States.

And the man Putin has turned to in hopes of winning this war is also now complaining he lacks the necessary equipment. Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner Group, the brutal private mercenary group, saying this.


YEVGENY PRIGOZHIN, WAGNER CHIEF (through translator): All the questions I raised about ammunition, unfortunately, stay completely unresolved. And it is the most serious problem. I'm unable to solve this problem despite all my connections, contacts, and everything is sinking and sticking.


BROWN: But Russia still showing no signs of retreat at all, including in Ukraine's eastern Donetsk region, which is under constant shelling as Putin looks for any claim to victory just hours before a major speech to his country. We have reporters tonight in Ukraine and Russia.

Fred Pleitgen is in Moscow. But let's start with Alex Marquardt in Kyiv.

Alex, what is the latest there on the ground where you are?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Pamela, President Biden is now back across the border. He is in Warsaw tonight. He was here in Kyiv not just at a symbolic moment, because we are marking the first anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine later this week, but at a strategic moment as well. This is a real inflexion point in this conflict.

Ukraine is expected in the coming weeks to mount a new counteroffensive, to try to take back territory, likely in the southern part of the country. That is what at least some of the $500 million military aid package was going to be aimed at that was announced today at near-term offensive objectives.

At the same time, Pamela, we are starting to see the early stages of a new Russian offensive on at least four different axes in the eastern part of the country. It is not going well for them. They are losing a lot of men.

Now, both offensives due to start early as this war enters its second year -- Pamela.


MARQUARDT (voice-over): Russian forces trying, and so far, failing to make real headway in the opening stages of a new offensive in eastern Ukraine. A devastating toll on both sides in the months-long battle for Bakhmut, where Ukraine is mostly facing mercenaries and convicts from the private Wagner Group.

Today, a Ukrainian soldier in Bakhmut, taking the time to thank President Joe Biden for his historic visit to Ukraine.

COL. YURIY FEDOROVYCH MADYAR, ARMED FORCES OF UKRAINE (through translator): This is the most powerful message of support for Ukraine at this moment.

MARQUARDT: In the capital, the U.S. and Ukrainian presidents seemingly undeterred by an air raid siren trying to show the world they are in lockstep. Together, briefly visiting St. Michael's Church before emerging to lay

a pair of wreaths. The Ukrainian and American flags in front of a wall of portraits of soldiers who died in the fight with Russia.

Biden keen to remind Russian President Vladimir Putin of his failures in the past year.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Putin thought Ukraine was weak and the West was divided. As you know, Mr. President, I said to you at the beginning, he's counting on us not sticking together. He thought he could outlast us. I don't think he's thinking that right now.


MARQUARDT: While Zelenskyy called the moment the most important in the history of the U.S./Ukraine relationship.

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): This is the visit in this most difficult period for Ukraine when Ukraine is fighting for our own liberty. Today, our negotiations were very fruitful. They were very important and crucial.

MARQUARDT: Negotiations about continued military aid.

Today, President Biden announcing an almost half-billion dollars aid package for Ukraine, including ammunition, howitzers, and air defenses. But big-ticket items that Ukraine wants, like longer-range missiles and fighter jets still up for discussion.

ZELENSKYY: This conversation brings us closer to victory.

MARQUARDT: This surprised unprecedented visit on the eve of a bloody anniversary, extreme secrecy shrouding Biden's journey. No word, but there were signs, deserted streets and a heavy police presence suggesting a prominent arrival.

President Biden quietly left Washington for Poland just after 4:00 a.m. under the cover of darkness and after a long train ride across western Ukraine, arrived to warm smiles and laughter from Ukraine's first couple. His feelings left in a hand-written message about solidarity and friendship, which was echoed on the streets of Kyiv.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It is support for us and a message for the Russians that this issue must be resolved and Ukraine must win. We hope that his visit will speed up the events.


MARQUARDT: And, Pamela, the White House says that they warned the Kremlin that Biden would be here in Ukraine several hours before he arrived, part of what they call the deconfliction process.

Now, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, who was with Biden, he did not say what the message was to the Kremlin, nor what their response was. But it was clear they did not want anything to happen for Biden while he was here for almost 24 hours in Ukraine -- Pamela.

BROWN: Yeah, it's notable that he describes it as deconfliction, not diplomatic reasons or anything. It was deconfliction. They didn't want anything to happen.

Alex Marquardt in Kyiv, thank you.

Now let's go to Fred Pleitgen in Moscow.

Fred, how is Russia reacting to Biden Biden's visit to Ukraine? And what should we expect to hear from Putin in his big speech tomorrow?


First of all, they're making a big deal out of the fact that the White House didn't notify the Russians. And essentially there are some here in Russia who are essentially claiming that it was the U.S. asking for permission for President Biden to come there into Ukraine. It was quite interesting because the former president of this country, Dmitry Medvedev, who also is the second in command of National Security Council, he essentially said that president Biden needed security guarantees from Vladimir Putin.

However, there are also some who view that very differently. There are some pretty prominent military bloggers here in Russia. And they've become a lot more important as this war in Ukraine keeps dragging on, who clearly sees that as a sign of weakness by Vladimir Putin who are essentially saying, look, Russia claims that it can strike Ukraine at any point in time. And yet there was nothing that the Russians could do to stop President Biden from going to the Ukrainian capital and speaking with Volodymyr Zelenskyy. So, certainly, there is some dissent on the part of some hard-line Russians here as well.

However, as far as the messaging itself is concerned, essentially what the Russians are saying is that they believe that this shows that the U.S. is essentially part of this conflict, a party to this conflict. That's what some analysts have said. And that's the sort of messaging that we've seen from the Kremlin, also from state-controlled TV here in Russia as well over the past couple of months as things have been difficult on the battlefield for the Russians. We just saw that in Alex's report.

They've essentially been saying, look, we're not only up against Ukraine in all this, but also against NATO and especially the United States with all those Western weapons coming in. And we do believe, Pamela, that's also a lot of what we're going to see tomorrow in Vladimir Putin's speech.

One thing, though, I think is important for our viewers to know that we, that we're on the ground here in Russia, we get the feeling about all this, there is no indication that Vladimir Putin is anywhere near backing down. In fact, it seems as though Russians are gearing up for a very, very long war, Pamela.

BROWN: That is the expectation. Fred Pleitgen in Moscow, thank you. OUTFRONT now, Inna Sovsun, a Ukrainian member of parliament who's in

Kyiv, and retires U.S. Army Major General James "Spider" Marks.

Thank you both for coming on.

Inna, I want to start with you. You're right there in Kyiv. It has been nearly a year, hard to believe, since Putin invaded your country. Almost a year.

Yet today, it wasn't Putin in Kyiv. It was President Biden with President Zelenskyy, which is notable because a year ago all expectations were that by a lot of the military experts were that Russia would've taken over at least Kyiv, that hasn't happened. You're sitting there right now.

Would you have believed this a year ago?

INNA SOVSUN, UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT MEMBER: Well, of course, this has been a very difficult year for all of us. And I wouldn't be lying to you. I have to admit that we are all tired and exhausted from this whole year, taking care of ourselves, worrying about my child going to school and hiding in the bomb shelter every time there is air raid alert, worrying about my partner who's been at the front line from day one of this big-scale invasion.


So, yeah, we are tired. But also -- and here I'm going to quote my 10- year-old son. I asked him today, do you know that Joe Biden came to Kyiv? And he said, yes, I do. And I asked him, why do you think he came here?

He looks at me and he says, I think he came here because we are unstoppable, and we continue to fight back against Russians.

And I think that is the feeling here. Yes, we are tired, but we're also unstoppable and we continue to fight this war.

BROWN: Often kids have the most wisdom and insight, right? Well, said by your 10-year-old. General Marks, Ukraine says it will be ready 24/7 on that note for any provocative actions Russia may take to mark the one-year anniversary of Putin's invasion. What do you think we are most likely to see from Russia if Ukraine is right?

MAJ. GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS (RET.), U.S. ARMY: If Russia chooses to celebrate this first-year anniversary of combat in Ukraine, I think we need to walk through what's not going to happen. There won't be a nuke blast. I don't think that's a zero probability, but it's incredibly low. It's essentially improbable.

I think what we might see is what we've seen in the past, which is an onslaught of probably missile and rocket attacks from distance, and an increase in the use of drones and maybe some air power as well. I think that's how it makes sense to me that's probably how Putin would probably choose to engage because he can do that, it would increase his narrative. And also, as the Ukrainians have demonstrated before, an incredible

ability to shoot all that down. But if you get a couple of those drones through, then the narrative for him becomes a real positive and a real plus. So I would think something like that would occur. There are certainly other scenarios.

BROWN: And, you know, you were just talking about what a rough year it has been, and what you've gone through. And it must make you think, okay, we're almost at the year mark, what is ahead for us?

The head of NATO just spoke to our Christiane Amanpour, and he said about Putin, quote, he's not planning for peace, he is planning for more war. And that, quote, nobody knows exactly how this will end.

How do you think it ends, if it ends at all?

SOVSUN: Well, I definitely want it to end because living in this nightmare is not something that any one of us wanted or any one of us chose to do. And, truly, there is this big feeling that the whole year of my life has been stolen from me, and for millions of Ukrainians, of course.

But I also know this, that we have shown results over here, we have shown that we are capable of defending ourselves. We have not once asked for any military intervention by other countries, by other armies. Ukraine and army is fighting and we have been pretty successful.

We have been much more successful than anybody else in the world, including, of course, Putin expected us to be. So I do think that there is a clear path to end of this war, and this clear path is unfortunately saying that with a very heavy heart, I go through the military lines.

That is why support for Ukraine is so critical right now. And I very much hope that this visit from President Biden to Kyiv today will also lead to some very practical results, that will lead to increased weaponry to Ukrainian Army, because we have proven that this has results. We do hope that next time President Biden will be taking decision on the long-range missiles, on the fighter jets to Ukraine, he will remember his visit to Kyiv.

And he also had to witness hearing the air raid sirens and remember that this is the military that millions of Ukrainians have been living under and this is the reality that needs to stop. And the only way to stop it is to win this war for us.

BROWN: The reality that you and your son go through daily.

General Marks, you heard what the head of Wagner Group said about his inability to get needed ammo. He also said he was told he needed to apologize to someone higher up to get part of what he wants.

Here's part of what he said he was told and his response.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) PRIGOZHIN (through translator): So you need to apologize and obey, and then your fighters will receive ammo. Who should I apologize to? Who should I bow down to? One hundred forty million Russians, please tell me who I should bow down to so that my guys die two times less than they are dying today.


BROWN: What do you make of that?

MARKS: Two things. Elementary school kind of a conversation, who can I bow down to, which is really kind of ridiculous that he would say that, but not unexpected.


The second thing is he's truly passing the buck. What he is saying is, my failure is in the Wagner Group, and the challenges that they are facing, which are legitimate in terms of their ability to conduct really sustained combat against what the Ukrainians are putting forward, is not his problem. That's what -- that's what he's saying.

So he's telling everybody else, look, the narrative is I've got a problem and this problem is not mine to solve, it belongs to everybody else, which is classic. This is Russia failing to take ownership, it's leadership at its worst. It's what we've been seeing for the past year.

BROWN: Spider Marks, Inna Sovsun, thank you so much. And best of luck to you, Inna, and your family.


MARKS: Best -- I love it.

BROWN: OUTFRONT next, the U.S. rips into North Korea suggesting they're a threat to the entire world. What is Kim Jong-un up to with a new series of missile tests?

Plus, Republican Congressman George Santos now saying his lies are old and well-rehearsed.


REP. GEORGE SANTOS (R-NY): I ran in 2020 for the same exact seat for Congress. And I got away with it then, and I guess --


BROWN: Tonight, the U.S. is condemning North Korea for a series of missile launches and threats of even more. The U.S. ambassador to the U.N. saying today, the entire world is now at risk after Kim Jong-un fired three missiles in recent days, including a long-range ICBM that could potentially reach the U.S. and the North Korean leader is not only using missiles to send a message to the world.

Will Ripley is OUTFRONT.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The massive missile is a menacing sight moving into place at Pyongyang's airport. North Korean leader Kim Jong un gave the order just hours ahead of Saturday's surprise launch, state media says. This intercontinental ballistic missile a Huasong-15, hitting hypersonic speeds hurdling high above the earth, barreling back down to Japan's territorial waters about 67 minutes later.

Saturday's missile one of many on display just last week, a record number of ICBMs, more than any military parade in North Korean history. Kim ordered mass production of ICBMs earlier this year. The parade featured new missiles and a new face, Kim Ju-ae, Kim's daughter, believed to be just 9 years old.

She began appearing on state media three months ago, fueling speculation she's being groomed as the next North Korean leader.

So, given the fact that Kim Jong-un chose to introduce his daughter on the day of his previous ICBM launch, what do you make of the timing and symbolism of that?

CHAD O'CARROLL, FOUNDER OF KOREA RISK GROUP: I think it demonstrates that she's being groomed as the next leader, and that, to me, suggests there could be something behind the scenes, maybe a health problem with Kim Jong-un that is accelerating and they need to do this now rather than years later when she's a bit older.

RIPLEY: Kim's daughter now a fixture on state media, sitting with her father at a weekend soccer match, posing together for a postage stamp dad/daughter and the family arsenal. Two smaller fires were fired Monday.

The bellicose broadcast came with a warning from Kim's younger sister Kim Yo-jong, saying the frequency of using the Pacific Ocean as our shooting range depends on the nature of the U.S. military's actions. She's referring to upcoming military drills on the Korean peninsula, the U.S., South Korea, and Japan responding to the ICBM launch with joint air exercises over the weekend, fueling fears of further escalation.

PARK JIN, SOUTH KOREAN FOREIGN MINISTER: If North Korea conducts the seventh nuclear test, which could happen at any time, it will be a game changer in the sense that North Korea could develop and deploy tactical nuclear missiles.

RIPLEY: A growing arsenal some say has one purpose, preserving the power of the ruling Kim family for generations to come.


RIPLEY (on camera): So far, North Korea has launched these ICBMs, what's called a highly lofted trajectory. That means it goes thousands of miles up and splashes down, but not traveling too far from the Korean peninsula. But, however, Kim Yo-jong, the sister of Kim Jong- un, says they are considering launching with a normal trajectory which could have that missile flying thousands of miles across the earth over countries, you know, including Japan and potentially many others, Pam.

But the U.N. Security Council can't do much about it because Russia and China have veto powers. So even though a lot of the members are condemning this, nothing gets done.

BROWN: Will Ripley in Taiwan, thank you.

So for perspective on all of this, Congressman Seth Moulton joins us now, a Democrat from Massachusetts, and a member of the armed services committee.

Hi, Congressman. I want to start with your reaction to this latest how serious is all of this?

REP. SETH MOULTON (D-MA): Well, look, it's serious because they're advancing the technology. And at the end of the day, the question is not what they're doing but why. And fundamentally you have a very weak country with an incredibly frightened, scared weak leader, and he's looking for relevance. He's looking to make himself matter. He's looking for his regime to matter.

We don't know exactly what domestic troubles he might be having, perhaps health problems. But he's trying to find relevancy on the international stage. And the problem is he might be weak, he might be cowardly, all these things are true. But with this kind of technology a rogue leader like that can be a real danger to the world.

BROWN: Yeah, that's the concern is you don't know what he's going to do with that kind of technology. Let's turn now to China, because Secretary State Antony Blinken talked about meeting with his Chinese counterpart this weekend, and warned that China is considering providing, quote, lethal support to Russia in the war in Ukraine. Ukrainian President Zelenskyy said today World War III could break out if that happens.

What would China stand to gain by upping its involvement?

MOULTON: You know, it's hard to say because Xi Jinping, another leader who's having a lot of domestic troubles at all, his economy is looking at a huge downturn.


He's just killed millions of people, hundreds of thousands at least with his approach to COVID. You know, he's trying to figure out how he can be a generational leader for the Chinese. He's trying to figure out how he can have a real legacy.

And under U.S. pressure, under pressure from the Western alliance, he's considering pairing up with Vladimir Putin in Russia.

But if China actually wants to be a world superpower, if they actually want to be a country that other countries around the world look up to, then he shouldn't be supporting Vladimir Putin and his reckless, illegal war.

So, obviously China's looking to have some power and influence here, but I'm not sure they're about to make the right decision if they actually decide to provide lethal aid to Russia.

BROWN: And, of course, all of this is coming as tensions between the U.S. and China remain heightened. Because of that Chinese spy balloon that flew over the U.S., which top officials say is part of a larger military fleet of balloons, I spoke to House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul. And this is part of what he had to say.


REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL (R-TX): This balloon, by the way, had a lot of American parts in it. We know that the hypersonic missile that went around the world with precision was built on the backbone of American technology. You know, they steal a lot of this from us, but we don't have to sell them the very technology they can put in their advanced weapons systems to then turn against either Taiwan in the Pacific or eventually possibly the United States of America.


BROWN: So, what more can you tell us about how China is using American technology against the U.S.?

MOULTON: Well, again, this is kind of old news because they've been stealing our technology for a long time. And they steal it to compete against us economically. You know, a business opens a factory in China and all of a sudden, there's a factory next door subsidized by the Chinese government making the same thing and selling it back to the United States. We see the same thing happening with military hardware.

What it means is we've got to be a lot more conscious about our export controls and other ways that we prevent China from doing this. It's a national security concern. It's an economic security concern.

And, look, the response the Chinese have had to this balloon is another example of how they're acting like a rogue nation, not a world superpower.

First they're defensive, then they're aggressive. What they need to do is pick up the phone and talk to the United States.

BROWN: Just very quickly, does it keep you up at night at all thinking about China and potentially the U.S. being in conflict with China and China invading Taiwan? It seems like there's been an increase in rhetoric around that lately.

MOULTON: I mean, look, I sit on the House Armed Services Committee and on the new select committee on China, my job is to keep Chinese leaders up at night worrying about the United States. We have some more work to do, and that's why these committees exist. But I think fundamentally China is in a weak position here. Xi Jinping

should not decide to invade Taiwan because the United States and our allies, we stand -- we stand ready with the Western world to prevent that kind of aggression.

BROWN: All right. Congressman Moulton, thank you for your time tonight.

MOULTON: Thank you.

BROWN: OUTFRONT next, George Santos not backing down, admitting in a new interview he's a, quote, terrible liar, but says that's what it took to get elected to the U.S. house.

And former President Jimmy Carter enters hospice care. Someone who worked for him in the early days and in the Carter White House is my next guest.



BROWN: Tonight, embattled Republican Congressman George Santos admitting he's a, quote, terrible liar, saying he made up details about his education and business career so that local Republicans would back his campaign.


REP. GEORGE SANTOS (R-NY): I've been a terrible liar on those subjects. It wasn't about tricking the people. This was about getting accepted by the party here local. My credibility is what I'm going to have a hard time and a long road to recover, and I stand clear, and I stand certain that I'll be able to do that.


BROWN: OUTFRONT now, Alice Stewart, Republican strategist and former communications director for Ted Cruz. And Ashley Allison, former national coalitions director for Biden/Harris 2020.

Hi, ladies.

So, Alice, he admits to being a terrible liar while also claiming he will regain his credibility.

What do you even say to that?

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, Pamela, he is not just a terrible liar, he is a pathological liar. And someone like him is going to lie even when the truth suffices. And here's the shame of all of this. He continues to do these interviews and talk about himself, if he spent half as much time talking about his legislative priorities as opposed to his litany of lies, he would probably get a little bit more grace. Instead, he is a disgrace to the Republican Party, and also to the

residents of Long Island who voted him into office. And, look, he should do the right thing and acknowledge that his record and resume is full of lies. And I expect it would be nice if the people of Long Island would do the right thing and ask for a recall and have him removed from office, because he is not serving the constituents of his district, and he's certainly not serving the Republican Party.

BROWN: And, yet, when it comes to what he regrets or has remorse about, he expressed remorse about lying about his education. But he was defiant at times too, Ashley. Let's take a listen to this.


SANTOS: I've become subject of desperate journalists trying to build a journalist career for them. As I always say, I was raised Catholic, but I come from a Jewish family so that makes me Jew-ish.


SANTOS: It's always been a party favorite. Everybody's always loud, and now that everybody's canceling me, everybody is pounding for a pound of a flesh.


BROWN: Now, we're just shining a spotlight on the truth about the lies. Does this sound like someone who has been humbled by what's happened to him, Ashley?

ASHLEY ALLISON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Not at all. I mean, this is like a pseudo-apology tour without actually apologizing. And then, you know, in order to have redemption, you say that you're not going to do it again, but it's almost like he's lying in this interview. And so it doesn't seem like he really wants -- he wants this to go away, but he doesn't really want to own up to it.

In addition to his education, there are other things that he's lied about, about 9/11 and the Pulse nightclub shooting. The list goes on and on and on. And, so, in order to really earn your credibility back, you have to stop lying, and he is incapable of doing it and needs to not be in office.


BROWN: Alice, there is this remarkable moment when Santos was asked why he thought he could get away with such brazen lying. Here's what he said.


MORGAN: I'm just struck not necessarily that a politician would lie, but that he would think no one would find out.

SANTOS: Well, I'll humor you this. I ran in 2020 for the same exact seat for Congress, and I got away with it then. And, I guess -- MORGAN: Why? Well, that's honest.

SANTOS: Stupid.

MORGAN: So you thought, they're not going to find out?

SANTOS: No, I didn't think so.


BROWN: He thought he could do it again because he'd gotten away with it before. I mean, this seems like a massive failure on so many levels. Obviously, he is the one ultimately to blame. Let's be clear, Alice.

STEWART: He certainly is, and shameful for him to blame the media on shining a light on his lies. He also at one point, when Piers did a really good job of pushing him further, he also blamed this on the expectations of society, which forced him to fabricate his record. That's laughable.

And, look, he should truly be ashamed of himself. He's certainly not someone that any people certainly in long island look up to as a public servant. And the reality is he has no one to blame but himself. I wish Nassau County GOP had done a better job of vetting him in the primary process. I've never heard of such fabricated resume getting through. But the end result is that it would be nice if they had a recall so the focus could be on the policy, and not him.

BROWN: Quick final word to you, Ashley.

ALLISON: He needs to go. He should not -- this is not what we want our children and our voters to really be looking up to as an elected official. He is a pathological liar, Alice, in the very beginning, and should not be in Congress. And somehow we have to get him out of this seat.

BROWN: All right, good to hear you two agree.

Republican, Democrat, bringing you together -- George Santos. Alice Stewart, Ashley Allison, thank you.

STEWART: Thanks, Pamela.

BROWN: OUTFRONT next, Jimmy Carter is in hospice care. He is being lauded tonight by those who know him and worked for him. A man who helped him rise through the political ranks to president is my next guest.

And an OUTFRONT investigation, Asian-Americans are buying guns in numbers not seen before.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Law enforcement can't and won't always be there to protect us from something bad. (END VIDEO CLIP)



BROWN: Tonight, former President Jimmy Carter is resting at his home in Georgia as he receives hospice care. Carter turned 98 just a few months ago and had a series of short hospital stays before deciding to stop medical intervention.

One of Carter's grandsons tweeting about his grandparents, quote, they are at peace, and, as always, their home is full of love.

OUTFRONT now, Stuart Eizenstat. He served as President Carter's chief White House domestic policy adviser and ambassador to the European Union. He is also author of "President Carter: The White House Years."

Ambassador Eizenstat, thank you for coming on. I understand you have kept in contact with former President Carter in recent years. You attended his 75th wedding anniversary party in 2021. What can you tell us about how he is doing and how you learned the news?

STUART EIZENSTAT, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE EU: Well, obviously this is a struggle for him, but he's lived a full life. And, to me, and I've worked for several presidents, he is the closest we've had to a renaissance man as president. He was a public servant who was a nuclear submariner. He was the head of his county board of education, state senator, governor, 39th president, a painter, a poet, an author of 30 books, an engineer, a fly-fisherman, a great woodworker, a humanitarian, built homes for Habitat for Humanity.

He is a preacher at a Sunday school. Created the Carter Center, which is a model for now former presidents as an active institution that monitors over a hundred elections, that has cured two African diseases. And he had a very successful and unrecognized success as president. So it's been a full life, a life well-lived.

BROWN: Yeah, you say unrecognized success as president because it was after he was president where he got a lot of the recognition. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002. You were actually with President Carter from the very beginning of his political rise starting with his 1970 campaign for Georgia governor.

Then, a few years later, I understand you went to lunch in Atlanta. You floated the idea of him running for president. Tell us about that.

EIZENSTAT: So, he had asked me in 1972 to do a series of issue papers in his position as chairman of the 1972 Democratic national campaign congressional committee. When we finished the project, I went to see him and said, I'd like to take you out to lunch. And I said, I think you're going to be propelled by this campaign because it's going to be a big Democratic sweep with Watergate. And you're going to get in credit for it.

You can't run under the Georgia Constitution for re-election. I think you should run for president. And if you win a few southern primaries like in North Carolina and Florida against George Wallace, you have a good chance of being vice president for regional balance.

He gave me that big toothy smile, and he said, I am running for president, but I'm not going to be vice president, I'm going to be president, would you like to join my campaign? And it started there in 1974, two years before the election.

BROWN: Quickly, you said we were just talking about his one-term administration. And you think it is the most consequential one-term administration, noting his accomplishments on the environment, energy, and ethics laws. You said that he made a point to make sure you all spend quality time with your families as you did all that work and you shared those beautiful photos of your kids lighting the first menorah at Lafayette Park with President Carter and also this photo of your sons at Camp David with the president. What do you remember about that?

EIZENSTAT: Well, the president was very good to his staff. He was very demanding. He would read memos so precisely that if there were misspellings, he would circle them. But he was very good to us, gave us time at Camp David where we could recuperate from the 24/7 work we did.


But the key thing is everybody says he was a great ex-president, which he was, but that sort of sub-rosa says, well, he wasn't a very good president. The fact is he was.

Let me take three quick buckets. First, all the ethics legislation, and he ran against Watergate as an outsider. All the ethics legislation we have today came from Jimmy Carter.

Number two, domestically, the energy security we enjoy today came from the three major energy bills he passed, deregulating natural gas and crude oil for more production, putting conservation at the forefront, solar energy for the first time, putting even a panel on the White House incentives.

He was an education president at the department of education. And here was a president from the deep south that appointed more women and more African Americans and Hispanics to judgeships and key positions than all 38 presidents before him put together.

Then in foreign policy, the Camp David accords, the greatest presidential diplomacy I think in American history bringing Israel and Egypt to peace, normalizing relations with China. The Panama Canal treaty, putting human rights at the center of his foreign policy, and being a champion for Soviet Jews and for the political prisoners in Latin America.

All these things together got obscured by what I call the three I's. Inflation, Iran, and interparty warfare with Ted Kennedy's challenge. But they shouldn't --

BROWN: Just an incredible record.

EIZENSTAT: But they shouldn't obscure what was a terrific record, and that record is only part, again, of a life lived so well, so honestly, so humbly.

He's still in the same house he was in, in 1961. And if you saw his original house with the well there that he had to get water from, a shower with a bucket. He grew up in very humble circumstances in a town of 900, and to make it to the Oval Office and do all he did is remarkable.

BROWN: And he's the son of a peanut farmer and just an inspiration. We are thinking of him and his family. We are thinking of him and his family tonight.

Ambassador Eizenstat, thank you.

EIZENSTAT: Thank you.

BROWN: OUTFRONT next, dealers say they're seeing a new group of gun buyers in this country. Who is now buying them and why?

And the head of the EPA is returning to East Palestine, Ohio, the site of that train derailment. Residents are still worried about their air and water.



BROWN: Tonight, new details about the man charged with shooting Jewish men as they walked out of synagogues in Los Angeles. CNN is learning the suspect, Jamie Tran, was also arrested last July for bringing a gun to a college campus. This is the latest in a string of high profile shootings committed by Asian men in California just over the last month, and it's also a time when Asian Americans are facing a rise in hate crimes, motivating many to become new gun owners,

Kyung Lah is OUTFRONT.


KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A gun shop in the Los Angeles suburbs, like so many others. Rifles, handguns, ammo. But there is something else here.

Customer Kris He and store owner David Liu are speaking mandarin.

When did you get your gun license?

KRIS HE, CUSTOMER: Three days ago.

LAH: Three days ago?

HE: Yeah. Because Monterey Park.

LAH: The mass shooting in Monterey Park?

HE: Yeah, I'm afraid in my house.

LAH: Monterey Park, Asian majority city is just a few minutes away from the store. Eleven people, nearly all of them Asian American died in a mass shooting last month by an Asian American shooter.

That same week, another Asian man is accused of shooting and killing seven people in Half Moon Bay.

That brought He here.

You have a gun, I have gun. I'm afraid of you, you are afraid of me. So, it's safe.

LAH: So if everyone has a gun, everyone's afraid of each other?

HE: Yeah.



LAH: Welcome to a rising gun owning demographic.



LAH: Chris Sargentini, 34, Bay Area biotech worker, bought her first gun as attacks targeting Asians were just in the pandemic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's go one more time.

TRISH SARGENTINI, GUN OWNER: I wasn't just American. Suddenly, I'm Asian American and starting to be more cautious and careful.

That was close.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're making this look easy.

SARGENTINI: Other women, women of color, minorities, the disenfranchised, this is an opportunity for them to learn protection of self, learn a new skill.

LAH: Conrad Bao (ph), chiropractor, Charlie Ha (ph), civil engineer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not just conservative Americans can do. Everyone has a right to do these things.

LAH: Asian Americans have long been the lowest gun-owning demographic.

Chris Chang, a tech executive, says that's changing and should change.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chris Cheng now engaging with the 1860 Henry. LAH: He won a gun contest reality TV show and launched a public

career in the firearms community, working closely with the NRA to promote the Second Amendment.

CHRIS CHENG, TECH EXECUTIVE: Everything is all about speed and efficiency.

LAH: Why do you feel so passionate about diversifying gun ownership and bringing in Asian American gun owners?

CHENG: I'm a gun advocate, no matter where I am, whether it's in the gun community, whether it's in my day job in Silicon Valley, it should cut across all facets of your life.


Some of the worse crimes and attacks against Asian-Americans happened right here, blocks from where we're eating lunch right now.

LAH: If you had to boil it down, what is it that changed during the pandemic for Asian Americans and guns?

CHENG: We kept on seeing time and time again that law enforcement can't and won't always be there to protect us from something bad. And sort of the question for a lot of us then became well, what can I do about this?

JOSH SUGARMANN, VIOLENCE POLICY CENTER: You can call Chris Cheng an ambassador at best and a salesman at worst.

LAH: Josh Sugarmann is with the Violence Policy Center that approaches guns as a public health issue.

SUGARMANN: The primary base of the gun industry's sales attention has been older white males. And what's happening is they're dying off, and to borrow a phrase in the tobacco industry, the gun industry is not finding replacement shooters to take their place.

LAH: So it's about money?

SUGARMANN: It's all about money.

LAH: It does help the gun industry if more than white men are buying weapons.

CHENG: Sure. If you want to look at the firearms industry from a business perspective, sure. But this accusation that gun companies put profits over people is just not what the industry is about. The industry is about providing people with a fire arm to protect themselves if they choose to do so.



LAH (on camera): The gun debate is happening in Asian American communities and this argument that you're seeing here isn't just happening on this wall. I want you to take a wider look at where we are.

We are live in Monterey Park. This is a memorial for the shooting victims. This is outside the Star Ballroom where 11 people were killed. And so while this community is grieving and talking about mental health, they are also talking about whether or not guns should be as accessible as they have been.

BROWN: Yeah, really interesting reporting, Kyung Lah, thank you.

OUTFRONT next, the head of the EPA about to visit the site of a toxic train derailment in Ohio.


BROWN: The head of the EPA is headed back to East Palestine, Ohio, tomorrow amid growing health concerns, this after a train carrying toxic chemicals derailed earlier this month. The EPA said today water sample results show, quote, no water quality concerns, 530 homes have been screened for air quality. None exceed the limit for residential standards. The agency said the health clinic operated by the state will open tomorrow.

But thanks for joining us.

"AC360" starts now.