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Erin Burnett Outfront

CNN Gets Access To Frontline Town Devastated By Russian Strikes; New Data: China Sending Parts Labeled For Military Use To Russia; Alex Murdaugh Wraps First Day Of Testimony In His Murder Trial; NTSB On Ohio Train Derailment: "This Was 100 Percent Preventable"; Trump Super PAC Hosts First Major 2024 Fundraiser In Florida As DeSantis Gets Ready For Donor Retreat Just Miles Away. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired February 23, 2023 - 19:00   ET



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, CNN on the front lines with exclusive access. New video of the devastation in one town as tonight marks one year since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine.

Plus, Moscow getting a boost on the battlefield from China. It's an OUTFRONT investigation.

And a big gamble. Accused murderer Alex Murdaugh takes the stand. Did his tears and his admissions win over the jury?

Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan, in for Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, on the front lines, just hours from the one-year mark of the start of Russia's war in Ukraine, CNN has exclusively access to one town not far from where the head of Putin's private army, the Wagner Group made an appearance on the front lines as well.


YEVGENY PRIGOZHIN, WAGNER CHIEF (through translator): Behind me is the outside perimeter of Artimus (ph). Here and now we can greet all men who are fighting, who are in the hospital, who are fighting for our motherland. Volunteers who are making ammunition.

WAGNER FIGHTER (through translator): We have seized a five-story building. It's really close to downtown Bakhmut.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Hhow far from the enemy?

WAGNER FIGHTER (through translator): It's 400 meters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Okay, let's go. Otherwise, this will be our last address.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BOLDUAN: Now, the danger is certainly everywhere as the brutal fighting continues there without any end in sight. We're going to show you this new video into OUTFRONT showing the utter devastation in the region. Buildings reduced to rubble, thanks to some of the 5,000 missile strikes, 3,500 air strikes and 1,100 drone attacks that Ukraine says Russia has launched over this past year of war.

This is what some of those first strikes looked like. A year ago tonight in Kyiv, and while Putin's war appears to be grinding on at any cost in Ukraine, he is also facing new public opposition at home.

We want to show you this. This Russian lawmakers is making a bold mockery of Putin and posting the video on YouTube. Yes, you do see him with noodles hanging on his ears while listening to Putin's big speech this week, that act actually demonstrates an old Russian express which basically translates to stop lying to me.

This is a daring act by a politician still in Russia because we've seen many times what happens to those who publicly cross Putin.

I want to go now to Alex Marquardt on the ground in. He got an exclusive look at the front lines, a unit made of Americans and other foreign volunteers.

Alex, what did you see?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, quite simply total devastation, another town in eastern Ukraine lying in ruin. You're right. We got an up close look at Vuhledar today, a town that Russia hopes to use to push deeper into Donbas but they have been failing miserably raising major questions about their expected offensive.

We have been speaking mostly for the past few weeks and months about that battle for Bakhmut between Ukraine and Wagner. But that is largely a symbolic fight, while this fight in Vuhledar could prove to be much more pivotal.


MARQUARDT (voice-over): On the road as the sun comes up with American fighter, Jason Mann, at the wheel driving into the devastated front line town of Vuhledar.

Traveling in and out through a muddy field means being exposed, a direct line of sight from Russian artillery and tanks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is not an early morning war, really, I think.

MARQUARDT: First light means hopefully avoiding the endless Russian shelling raining down including terrifying thermobaric missiles. Everyone aware that a shell could land at any moment.

Even as Russian forces struggle to take ground, they're inflicting damage on this town which is made up of Soviet era apartment blocks blackened by the fighting. Over here, a massive crater from a Russian missile.

Ukrainian forces do have the higher ground here. They are able to use these buildings to defend this town, but it is getting absolutely pummeled.

Only a handful of hardy civilians left. Their home now eerie, apocalyptic ruins.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't like being on this side.

MARQUARDT: For months, Mann and his unit of foreign troops have fought alongside Ukraine's 72nd brigade keeping the Russians at bay.

JASON MANN, INTERNATIONAL LEGION: This is redefining the global order as we speak. This is democracy versus autocracy. Do we want let autocracy to control more people's lives in the future or prevent it from ever doing that again?

MARQUARDT: That's what is in your head?

MANN: Absolutely. It's the only reason I'm here.

MARQUARDT: Waves of Russian forces advanced in open fields, they've had enormous losses, but they keep coming and keep bombing.

This strategic corner of Ukraine is where the southern and eastern fronts meet, making it a major priority for Russia's push deeper into Donbas.

Mann arrived in Ukraine at the very beginning of the war. He's a former U.S. marine who served in Iraq and Afghanistan who went on to Columbia University and worked at Google as a software engineer.

In the village house where the unit lives, a few miles from the front, Mann tells us he's now here for as long as it takes.

MANN: Ukrainians are very committed to having their country back, and that includes Crimea to most of them. As long as morale is high, I'm happy.

MARQUARDT: And it is, he says. As the war enters its second year, new recruits have also just arrived from Canada and the UK. The fight so urgent, the team leader, Turtle, from New Zealand, only has a couple of days to get them ready.

TURTLE, INTERNATIONAL LEGION: And there is such a lot of emotion in these fights, mainly because from a lot of what I've seen, they don't want to be there either. I never thought I'd experience war in this sort of way because we just are finding war, and I don't know, like it's like fighting in a time warp.

MARQUARDT: Turtle has to head to a funeral for a Ukrainian teammate just killed by Russian mortar fire. There are so many losses and such little time to grieve. MANN: Harder for us from the foreign military, because ever since

like Iraq and Afghanistan, we were losing dudes so fast all the time, always good to remember your friends. It's just hard sometimes when the next day, you have to go and do something. Sometimes within the same day so --

MARQUARDT: Both Turtle and Mann are very matter of fact that they could lose their lives fighting for a country that isn't theirs. One year into this war, neither is second-guessing himself.

MANN: Not everyone gets that choice. For me it was more of a serendipitous like one of those moments in your life where you don't have a choice.

MARQUARDT: No regrets?

MANN: No regret, yeah.


MARQUARDT (on camera): Kate, Jason Mann who goes by doc in his unit says given the resilience and ingenuity he's seen from the Ukrainians, it's hard not to believe in the Ukrainians at this point.

Now, they are expecting some kind of offensive by the Russians around this anniversary. They don't know what is coming. They are bracing themselves because they know how important Vuhledar is for the Russians in their stated goal of pushing deeper into Donbas, Kate.

BOLDUAN: It's great to hear from them. Thank you so much, Alex, for bringing that to us.

And OUTFRONT now, the British foreign secretary, James Cleverly.

Foreign Secretary, thank you so much for taking the time for us.

As we hit the one-year mark in the fight, the big ask right now from Ukraine is for fighter jets. Your former prime minister, Boris Johnson actually said just yesterday the U.K. should break the ice in his words, essentially saying going first in sending jets.

Do you think that's a good idea?

JAMES CLEVERLY, FOREIGN SECRETARY OF THE UNITED KINGDOM: Well, I pay tribute to my friend and colleague and the former Prime Minister Boris Johnson. I think he was decisive in his decision-making when this full-scale invasion happened and, indeed before that in the supplying of defensive munitions to the Ukrainian armed forces and delivering training to Ukrainian troops before this most recent offensive started.

And I suppose he is right that we need to continue to support the Ukrainians in their self-defense. Rishi Sunak, the current British prime minister, has committed to training faster pilots and Ukrainian marines and, of course, we will discuss with our international friends and colleagues what other military equipment the Ukrainians need and how quickly we can get it to them.

But the whole world should understand that the UK's commitment with our allies to support Ukraine is absolutely unwavering.

BOLDUAN: You know, Russia is making a big show of it right now, of its relationship with China. Putin met with China's top diplomat in Moscow. You also met with that same diplomat in the past week, I believe. The Secretary of State Tony Blinken has said he's concerned China is considering providing lethal support to Russia and just today, the German chancellor said China sending any arms to Russia would be unacceptable.


How likely do you think it is that China will make that move?

CLEVERLY: Well, I'm very, very proud of the very close working relationship that the U.K. has with yourselves and the U.S. I met with Tony Blinken in Munich just a few days ago. I also met with my friends and German counterparts and a number of other foreign ministers from both Europe and further afield.

I completely understand why Russia would try and seek an enhanced relationship with China but the point I made to the charges authority to Wang Yi who I met with is I cannot see how it can be in China's interest to import the level of criticism and international condemnation that would inevitably come with any supplying of military equipment to Russia.

I can see what Russia needs from China. I cannot understand what China might realistically want or need from Russia.

So I hope that all countries uphold their obligation to the U.N. charter and continue in this condemnation of Russia's illegal attempted invasion of Ukraine and do the right thing to maintain peace and security across the whole globe, not just in Europe.

BOLDUAN: On the issue of peace, a top U.S. State Department official said today that they expect China to unveil a Ukraine peace proposal tomorrow.

Do you see China as being a peace broker in this conflict?

CLEVERLY: Well, obviously, what we want to see is this war come to a swift conclusion with a Ukrainian victory. One of the things that I would say is that Putin has demonstrated through his actions in Georgia, in Crimea, in the Donbas that he will keep pushing. He has kept nibbling away at the territorial integrity of his neighbors and he won't stop until he is stopped.

And this conflict, this war is not just about the sovereignty of Ukraine as important though that it is, this is about defending the U.N. charter, international law and that is what is at stake. So, it is incredibly important that the world sees and Putin understands that an aggressor cannot benefit from that aggression and as long as that is understood then, of course, we would want to see peace come quickly.

But it has to be a just peace for the Ukrainian people and just as importantly, it has to be a sustainable peace. There is no point in signing up to a deal that sees resumption of conflict in six, 12, 18 months' time.

BOLDUAN: And there are real questions of a giant -- a peace proposal from China, how it could be beneficial to both sides and what that would look like. A lot of skepticism around that at least this evening.

Foreign secretary, thank you for coming in.

CLEVERLY: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: And programming note for everyone, tonight, a special CNN town hall on one year since Russia's invasion of Ukraine. It's hosted by Fareed Zakaria at 9:00 p.m. tonight.

OUTTFRONT for us next, more on China and how they are already helping Russia and Ukraine. It's an OUTFRONT investigation.

Plus, sensational courtroom testimony as Alex Murdaugh takes the stand, admitting he lied and he stole, but insists he did not kill his wife and son.

And new details are coming out about the Ohio train derailment, the focus on what went wrong but didn't have to.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This was 100 percent preventable. We call things accidents, there is no accident.




BOLDUAN: Tonight, lethal support as U.S. officials warn Beijing may soon supply weapons to Russia to use in Ukraine, but already, there are signs that China is providing crucial help to prop up Putin's forces.

Will Ripley has more in this OUTFRONT investigation.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What will it take to stop the suffering, the senseless slaughter of Russia's unprovoked war on Ukraine? One year in, President Vladimir Putin has a problem, ammo is running low. The U.S. government says Russia will run out of serviceable ammunition this year.

Moscow denies they have a fading arsenal, forcing their military to conserve unless they get help. Help the U.S. and NATO say could come from China.

ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: To date we have seen Chinese companies and, of course, in China there's no distinction between private companies and the state, we have seen them provide nonlethal support to Russia for use in Ukraine.

The concern that we have now is based on information we have that they're considering providing lethal support.

RIPLEY: China denies it, calling the claims unfounded, a ploy, a smear. Beijing and Moscow declared a no limits partnership last year. CNN obtained a new report showing Moscow may already be getting a boost on the battlefield from Beijing. Troves of trade data, collected and supplied by the Center for Advanced Studies, a D.C. think tank that shows China sending Russian defense companies sophisticated parts.

NAOMI GARCIA, DATA ANALYST, C4ADS: We see the nature of these parts being labeled for use in military systems.

RIPLEY: CNN did not verify the data showing a steady supply of parts, dramatically increasing after the invasion. They could be helping Russia resupply.

Rotors for attack helicopter, other parts for communication and controls, radar antenna parts for anti-aircraft missile systems sent to a Russian defense company labeled for military use, the think tank says. Their data shows military assistance from several Chinese companies, even before the war, a dual use aircraft, radar and lab equipment. Flowing into Russia 268 times, shipped by Poly Group or its umbrella company Poly Technologies, a state-backed Chinese arms manufacturer.

CNN contacted Poly Group for comment along with several other Chinese companies shown in the data.


So far, no response.

GARCIA: Any trade between a sanctioned Chinese state owned defense company and a Russian sanctioned defense company during wartime, any trade really at all is indicative of a growing partnership that potentially be of concern.

RIPLEY: The data implies deepening cooperation, the U.S. suspects China of creeping closer and closer to fully supporting Russia's war. The consequences for Ukraine could be catastrophic.

MALCOLM DAVIS, SENIOR ANALYST AT AUSTRALIAN STRATEGIC POLICY INSTITUTE: Sudden inflow of Chinese weapons into the Russians could fundamentally shift the dynamics in Moscow's favor.

RIPLEY: When asked about allegations of backing Moscow, Beijing blames Washington. Saying, it's the U.S., not China providing a steady stream of weapons

on the battlefield. Off the battlefield, trade data reveals Russia may be bypassing Western sanctions buying blacklisted advanced technology from Beijing. The kind of tech Putin's army needs to power high-tech weapons and communication systems. Why would China risk so much for Russia?

DAVIS: It's in their interest to have a Russian victory and to have the United States and its allies humiliated.

RIPLEY: Russia's president and China's diplomat meeting in Moscow, Wednesday, just two days after President Biden's surprise trip to Kyiv, democracy and autocracy, a fight for the future of Ukraine and perhaps the free world.


RIPLEY (on camera): The Chinese foreign minister made that high- profile visit to Moscow just before the one-year anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine and that meeting is widely believed to be a precursor for a meeting in the coming months between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

What exactly they're going to discuss remains an open question whether it's China's widely publicized peace plan or something else. But what is clear is that this cooperation, this tie between Russia and China remains rock solid. The world's two largest authoritarian powers both nuclear armed -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Will, thank you so much.

And CNN has reached out to Russia for comment on this report but hasn't gotten a response. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov pushed back on ammunition shortages though, telling "The Wall Street Journal" this, that Russia has enough technological potential to ensure its security and conduct the special military operation, this potential is constantly being improved.

OUTFRONT next, accused killer Alex Murdaugh takes the stand in his own defense telling jurors that he did not kill his wife or his son but he does admit to deceiving investigators.




BOLDUAN: And Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg on the ground in East Palestine, Ohio, as investigators reveal new details about what led to the derailment and say it was entirely preventable.


[19:27:00] BOLDUAN: New tonight, Alex Murdaugh takes the stand. A stunning day in court, really, as the former attorney accused of killing his wife and son testified in his own defense, breaking down in tears as he insisted that he would never hurt them but also admitting on the stand that he lied repeatedly to investigators.

Dianne Gallagher is OUTFRONT.


DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Alex Murdaugh taking the stand.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nothing but the truth.

MURDAUGH: Yes, ma'am.

GALLAGHER: Defending himself against charges he murdered his wife, Maggie, and son, Paul, at their Lowcountry home.

JIM GRIFFIN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY FOR ALEX MURDAUGH: Mr. Murdaugh, on June 7th, 2021, did you take this gun or any gun like it. And shoot your son in the chest in the feed room of your property of Moselle Road?

MURDAUGH: I didn't shoot my wife or my son any time ever.

GALLAGHER: For weeks friends and relatives identified his voice on a video found on Paul's phone that he recorded at the kennels just before he was murdered there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey, he got a bird in his mouth.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a chicken.

GALLAGHER: The once prominent now disbarred attorney admitting under oath that a major part of his ally, he never visited the kennels after dinner, was a lie.

GRIFFIN: Were you, in fact, at the kennels at 8:44 p.m. on the night Maggie and Paul were murdered.


GRIFFIN: Did you lie to Agent Owen and Deputy Laura Rutland on the night of June 7th and told them you stayed at the house after dinner?

MURDAUGH: I did lie to them.

GALLAGHER: Murdaugh telling the jury the reason he lied was rooted in his opioid addiction.

MURDAUGH: As my addiction evolved over time, I would get in these situations or circumstances where I would get paranoid thinking -- I wasn't thinking clearly. I don't think I was capable of reason. And I lied about being down there. And I'm so sorry that I did. GALLAGHER: But during cross-examination, prosecutor Creighton Waters

emphasizing Murdaugh's 20-month lie.

CREIGHTON WATERS, LEAD PROSECUTOR: Would you also agree that the first time that law enforcement officers that you've talked to, the prosecution and here in open court ever heard you say that you lied about being in the kennels was today in this court?

MURDAUGH: Yes, I'm aware of that.

WATERS: You would agree with that?

MURDAUGH: Yes, sir.

GALLAGHER: Murdaugh became emotional talking about his wife and son who he called Pau-Pau.

MURDAUGH: Most of all, I'm sorry to Mags and Pau-Pau. I would never intentionally do anything to hurt either one of them. Ever.

GALLAGHER: The decision to testify a risky one for any defendant, but perhaps even more for Murdaugh who is opening himself up to questions about a host of financial crimes he still is awaiting trial for.


MURDAUGH: You asked questions.

WATERS: We'll talk about it now.

GALLAGHER: Waters ticked through allegations of years' worth of theft and fraud.

WATERS: Make this quick, correct? Isn't that what you said? Isn't that what you implied?

MURDAUGH: No, sir. Mr. Waters, you have charged me with murdering my wife and my son, and I have sat here for all these weeks listening to all this financial stuff. Again, I stole money that didn't belong to me. I misled Arthur Badger to take that money and I was wrong.

WATERS: How many times have you practiced that answer before your testimony today?


GALLAGHER (on camera): You can see it got a little tense at the end of the day after prosecutor Creighton Waters spent a couple of hours going through painstaking detail of those financial fraud and theft allegations against Alex Murdaugh.

Look, he is trying to paint the picture of someone who is not just a thief but also a liar, Waters even asked -- noted to Murdaugh he'd never heard him use that nickname for his son Paul before insinuating that the former attorney may be playing it up for the jury. Kate, the defense has said that they feel like they're having a

financial trial in the middle of a murder trial. The prosecution said it could be three to four hours of cross-examination tomorrow.

BOLDUAN: And we pick back up.

Dianne, thank you very much.

OUTFRONT with me now is criminal defense attorney Joey Jackson and Laura Coates, former federal prosecutor.

Okay, Joey, I watched all of it today. I know you did, as well. Do you think that Murdaugh helped or hurt himself up there today?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: You know, look, it's ultimately going to be in the hands of the jury but let me give you a sense of what they're thinking, they being the defense and putting him on, always a risky proposition. Why? Because when you put the defense on, the notion changes from whether you're made headway in the prosecution's case. Have you poked holes to establish there's reasonable doubt, is your client credible and relatable and could he carry the day is the shift.

Why did they do it, Kate? For the following reasons. Number one, motivation. What is the motivation as to why he would have done this, the defense has to continue with the mantra this is a loving husband and father who would never do it.

Second issue, with respect to the time line, prosecution has him boxed in. How? They have the cell tower data showing that where he was. They've got the data of the car. They have the video with his voice on it so he was there. Have to explain that away in a way that resonates with the jury.

Final point, what he then has to do, the defense has come up with a reasonable alternatives. Could it have been because he had this pill addiction and around unsavory people that meant his family harm? Could it have been Paul his son involved in that boating accident where people were not acting kind with him, could they have done harm to him? So, I think that was the calculus.

Calculus last point, Kate, call me a liar, call me a thief. I'm not a murderer. That's what the contention of the defense is putting him on to testify.

BOLDUAN: They tried to drill that quite a few times.

JACKSON: Oh, yeah.

BOLDUAN: So, Laura, the cross-examination late today, it did get testy at times. The prosecutor really seeming frustrated with Murdaugh and almost seemed like Murdaugh was kind of putting the brakes on the flow of the line of questioning.

What did you think of the cross-exam so far? LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, the whole point of

cross-examination is to just elicit a yes or no response. It is the statement of the prosecutor, the person who was actually asking the questions that they want the jury to listen to. You want to have the idea of, yes, almost the equivalent of a head nod every single time.

It is a strategic issue and a strategic defense to slow it down, be able to have more open-ended answers coming out in order to take control from the prosecutor in the cross. But, remember, when I was a prosecutor, I mean, you were almost salivating at the prospect of a defendant taking the stand. It opens the door to so many questions, to possibilities of impeachment, of calling them out as a liar and beyond.

And as Joey articulated so wonderfully, yes, they will hone in and try to drill down the defense, the idea of, I'm a liar but not a murderer. But the double-edged sword that occurred at least twice here today, one, it was the idea of him talking about the fact that he was an opioid addict which might garner sympathy in a world where we have a known opioid crisis in this country and in small towns in particular. But it also -- he says it made him irrational and paranoid. Well, would that cut the other way in terms of what he did with his wife and his son allegedly?

The other aspect of it saying, look, I'm a liar, yes, I did these financial crimes, yes, I created a web of lies with the officers and had to keep going with it, but now you can believe me. Well, the prosecutors will say, all you can trust a liar to do is to lie again.

But even though the prosecution does not have to prove motive, only meet their burden of proof. They've got a heck of an Achilles' heel here in the big 12,000-pound gorilla in the room.


They are suggesting that he committed a double homicide as a distraction to crimes that he is willing to admit to in open court under oath today. That might be quite a leap for many jurors to go and look at, but it's not fatally undermining. We'll see how the prosecution continues questioning and whether they will hone in on the really evident inadequacies and insufficiencies of the testimony.

BOLDUAN: So interesting, so he did become quite emotional multiple times on the stand. I want to play just a bit of this just to show everyone and this is when he's -- when Murdaugh is talking about when he says he saw his son dead for the first time. Listen to this.


MURDAUGH: I don't know why I tried to turn him over, I mean my boy is laying face down and he's done the way he's done, head was the way his head was. I could see his -- you could see his brains laying on the sidewalk. I didn't know what to do.


BOLDUAN: Joey, in your experience how does that level of emotion on the stand, how does that impact the jury.

JACKSON: It could be very significant. Why? Because we're emotional people. People respond to emotion.

At the same time, though, you have to wonder whether what the prosecution is saying will resonate with the jury also. What are they saying? They're saying that he's a skilled attorney. This is what he's done.

He's looked people in the eye and he hasn't been honest with them. He has taken advantage of quadriplegics. He's taken advantage of teenagers. He's taken advantage of all these people who are really have been disenfranchised who came to you for help.

Were you that connected to them when you spoke to them? Were you that convincing, believable? And so that's what I think they'll take to that jury that is the prosecution and saying he's guilty.

BOLDUAN: So, from what you've seen, Laura, what do the prosecutors need to get out of him tomorrow?

COATES: Well, they need to hammer in the point that he cannot explain the things that the jury wants to know. Why did you lie? Why were you at the scene of the crime and yet you say now when you're on the stand you did not have anything to do with it?

But, remember, it's one thing to think about, as Joey was talking about the jury, the defense did not move to change the venue. This is a very small town and this is a wealthy scion who has a recognizable name and did not opt for the death penalty in this particular case as of yet. The idea that they're aware that this person's name might be that consequential, we should keep looking at.

BOLDUAN: So interesting. Guys, thank you for coming on to talk about it. It continues tomorrow.

OUTFRONT for us next, the crew of the train that derailed in Ohio is not responsible for what happened. That's according to the NTSB. So who is?

And more questions than answers tonight about why a local TV reporter and two others were attacked shot dead allegedly by a man who is now behind bars.



BOLDUAN: Tonight, 100 percent preventable. That is from the head of the NTSB saying the toxic train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, never should have happened. As the safety board also reveals the preliminary results of their investigation into what went so wrong.

Pete Muntean is OUTFRONT.


PETE MUNTEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Federal investigators call it the most significant findings yet into the cause of the Ohio derailment disaster. In its just released preliminary report, the National Transportation Safety Board details rapid overheating in one of the train's wheel bearings, spiking in temperature by up to 253 degrees. Investigators say only then did the crew hear an alarm alerting them to slow and stop the train to inspect a hot axle.

HOMENDY: We know what derailed the train. We have a lot of questions.

MUNTEAN: Questions, says NTSB chair Jennifer Homendy, about what caused the wheel bearing to wheel. Investigators want to know if problems were not detected early enough, infrared temperature sensors along the rails were spaced miles apart.

HOMENDY: Had there been a detector earlier, it would not have -- that derailment may not have occurred.

MUNTEAN: The NTSB says as the crew began breaking from 47 miles per hour, 38 cars derailed. On board 11 of the cars, more than 115,000 gallons of hazardous vinyl chloride that fueled a fire that burned out of control.

The new details come as Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is making his first visit to the derailment site demanding that railroads enact new safety protocols on the length of trains and the strength of cars.

PETE BUTTIGIEG, TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: I think we need to raise the bar on what's expected and on what's required, but I think the railroad industry should do more out of the gate.

MUNTEAN: Train operator Norfolk Southern says it is cooperating with the investigation, insisting safety is a top priority, but experts say the industry has resisted new regulations that could prevent a repeat.

HOMENDY: This was 100 percent preventable. We call things accidents. There is no accident.


MUNTEAN (on camera): An avoidable disaster is a tough pill to swallow for those in and around East Palestine. They have some facts now with this preliminary report, but the final NTSB ruling will take months. That waiting comes with a lot of anger, Kate. Ohio's lieutenant governor says he hopes the report lays the groundwork for criminal charges, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Wow. All right, we'll stand by for that. Thanks, Pete. Really appreciate it.

OUTFRONT for us next, we're learning more about the shootings that left a local TV reporter and two others dead. Tonight, investigators, they still want to know why. And dueling Florida fund-raisers, Donald Trump asking for money

tonight. Ron DeSantis tomorrow. Who has the momentum?



BOLDUAN: New tonight, body camera video showing the moment deputies take down a murder suspect. The man is accused of murdering three people in Orlando including a TV reporter and a little 9-year-old girl.

This new video shows the suspect struggling and then deputies actually pull a gun out of his pocket, one of the deputies saying it's still hot. The suspect is Keith Moses, 19 years old.

OUTFRONT now is Orange County Sheriff John Mina.

Sheriff, a lot of questions from so many people will about all of this. There are three different crime scenes that you're having to deal with here.

Let's start with the news crew that was shot. Are you getting any sense that they were targeted?

SHERIFF JOHN MINA, ORANGE COUNTY, FLORIDA: No, and I went out to the scene and what I saw was an unmarked news vehicle, so it did not appear to be a news vehicle. Also there's also information that the camera that the videographer was locked in the trunk. Additionally, Keith Moses walked by, another news crew and that news crew vehicle was unmarked.

So, it's unclear why he shot at the news crew. That's one thing we're trying to figure out.

BOLDUAN: Yeah, and after he shot the news crew, Moses then goes into a nearby home. That is where he allegedly shot a woman and her 9-year- old daughter. As I mentioned, of course, the little girl died.

Do you know why he shot them, what the relationship is there?

MINA: So, and at this point we're still trying to figure out if he was at that house before or after he shot the journalist, and we're still trying to see what the connection was to that house. You know, like I said, I mean, there's absolutely no excuse for this violence. Certainly who would turn a gun on a 9-year-old child that obviously poses no type of threat.


BOLDUAN: Yeah. And kind of, overall, there is clearly a lot of investigation that must be done still.

But do you have any theory or any motive of why this all started with the first woman being killed and why it escalated the way that it did? MINA: Yeah, I know that when he killed the first woman, he was

actually picked up by his cousin who was driving the vehicle that the 38-year-old victim was in. During interviews, he did say that Keith Moses felt down about something. So, no idea what the motive is.

Like I said, he would not talk to us. He fought with hospital staff after he claimed he couldn't breathe. Then he also struggled with detectives in the interview room, but would not talk to us. So it's unclear exactly what his motive was.

BOLDUAN: I was going to ask you, after seeing the struggle on the body camera, if he's been cooperative at all. Obviously, you've got some work to do to get him to give you anything it sounds like.

MINA: Yeah, that's correct. In the body cam video, you know, he was uncooperative. He did not obey any commands to get down on the ground. He had to be taken to the ground. And we actually had to cut his pants off to retrieve the firearm that was concealed in his pants. And, of course, he was uncooperative and struggled at the hospital and uncooperative, did not speak at the sheriff's office here.

And so we're still not sure what his motive was, why he did this. But we want to find out. I know the community wants to know. I know our media partners at news 13 want to know, and certainly the family of that 9-year-old girl want to know.

BOLDUAN: It's so inexplicable. And also, it feels so brazen. As you said, he walked past a marked news crew car before then he happened upon this unmarked news car.

The photographer Jesse Walden who was shot and is recovering in the hospital, he put out a statement today, Sheriff, and said, I lost one of my best friends, Dylan yesterday. I was shot and have had surgery, and I'm okay. And thank you all for your well wishes.

Has he been helpful with investigators?

MINA: That's correct. So, he was talking to our detectives last night, kind of giving us information, telling us what's going on. So he has been very helpful. And we're thankful that he was able to survive and seems to be recovering well from what I can tell. But he has been very helpful during the investigation.

BOLDUAN: All right. Well, a lot more questions. A lot more work to do. Sheriff, thanks for the time tonight.

MINA: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT for us next, two fundraisers, one for Donald Trump tonight, the other for Ron DeSantis hours later. And it may tell us quite a bit about who's got the hearts, the minds and the money of the Republican Party right now.


[19:57:03] BOLDUAN: Tonight, top Trump donors are at Mar-a-Lago for his super PAC's first major fundraiser of the 2024 cycle. The fundraiser just one day before another potential 2024 hopeful, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, will be holding his own retreat for donors, notably just about four miles away from Trump's Florida home.

DeSantis has quickly shown he has real fundraising power, even before he has officially jumped in to challenge Trump.

Harry Enten is OUTFRONT and is taking a look at the numbers.

So, Harry, from the numbers you're seeing, how worried should Trump be about DeSantis?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: I mean, he should be worried. But sometimes you see a trend you think will continue, and actually it doesn't. If you look back at the beginning of 2022, you saw that Trump was well ahead of Ron DeSantis. And then it seemed like DeSantis was gaining and gaining and gaining.

You see on your screen right there, was ahead 52 to 15. And then right after the 2022 election, what you saw is Trump, his lead shrunk to just 10 points. What we've seen now is Trump in 2023 almost see a little bit of a rebound, and that sort of momentum that DeSantis had has seemed to have stalled in 2023.

BOLDUAN: What is one reason you see Trump being able to slow the DeSantis momentum, if you will?

ENTEN: Yeah. You know, obviously, Trump declared his candidacy. And I think one of the big things Republicans are going to look for in the 2024 cycle is the same thing Democrats look for in 2020. They want to beat the other side.


ENTEN: So, I think the big question is do you believe Donald Trump is your best chance to win the 2024 general election? And what we see is while it's still just a minority of Republicans who believe that's the case at 42 percent, that's up considerably from where we were in November of 2022 when it was just 35 percent.

So, I think Trump has started to get out and campaigned a little bit more, maybe he is convincing more Republicans that he is in fact the best choice to take on Joe Biden if he is in fact the Democratic nominee come November.

BOLDUAN: Come whenever it all gets going.

ENTEN: Right.

BOLDUAN: So, but you do see Trump gaining ground in at least one very key area when it comes to the Republican primary. Lay that out for us.

ENTEN: Right. So, you know, one of the key things that Donald Trump did back in 2016 was he dominated the media, right? Everywhere we looked, there was Trump, Trump, Trump.

And so one of the things that I've been looking at is whether Ron DeSantis could in fact cut into Trump's edge. And we can see this in Fox News mentions, right. On-air mentions on Fox News.

And, traditionally, what we saw is Ron DeSantis leading pretty much all the non-Trump potential ked competitors. And we saw him gaining over the course of 2022. Look at your graphic right there on the screen. What we see is right now in January and February of 2023, Trump is well ahead of where Ron DeSantis is, more than three times as high, and more than that, look at the change that we've seen from where we were at the end of 2022.

We see that Trump is actually picking up more mentions while DeSantis' mentions on Fox News are falling.

BOLDUAN: But this also speaks to, as you mentioned, the trend lines can shift really quickly. That was after -- that was after an election cycle.

ENTEN: Correct.

BOLDUAN: When you saw DeSantis drop off. Let's see when DeSantis officially gets in, if he does, how those dimensions change.

ENTEN: The campaign can change as the candidates get into the race and perhaps make a foible or two. That's why we're going to keep an eye on it. Who knows what might happen?

BOLDUAN: Yeah, I know. We'll see.

ENTEN: We'll see.

BOLDUAN: It's good to see you.

ENTEN: Good to see you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you. I really appreciate it.

And thank you all so much for being with us tonight. I'm Kate Bolduan.

"AC360" starts now.