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Erin Burnett Outfront

Report: New Details About Putin's Secret Life, Reputed Girlfriend; Murdoch In Email Says Hannity, Ingraham "Went Too Far"; GOP Lawmakers Slam Fox's Attempt To Downplay Capitol Attack. Aired 7- 8p ET

Aired March 07, 2023 - 19:00   ET



ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, a Russian retreat. New video into OUTFRONT of Putin's forces on the run as we're learning new details about the lavish, secret life that Putin and his purported girlfriend are leading now. A reporter with exclusive details and pictures is OUTFRONT.

Plus, breaking news, new court found in a defamation case against Fox News has just been released. You will see the message that Tucker Carlson sent to Trump lawyer, Sidney Powell, called her out for cruel and reckless conspiracy theories. Why didn't he do something different on TV?

And two Americans kidnapped in Mexico now back in the U.S. for treatment. The other two killed. As the search for the killer ramps up, let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, on the run. Here's the new video of Russian soldiers appearing to abandon their posts just south of Bakhmut, the shell of a city. We've seen the most vicious fighting of the past months. Ukraine's president in an exclusive interview to CNN, made it clear that when it comes to Bakhmut, Ukraine is not about to retreat.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): This is tactical for us. We understand that after Bakhmut, they could go further. They could go to Kramatorsk, to Sloviansk, it would be an open road for the Russians after Bakhmut, to other towns in Ukraine in the Donetsk direction, in the east of Ukraine.


BURNETT: Sticking by that. We have new video in OUTFRONT of the one road that could make all the difference when it comes to who ultimately controls Bakhmut, a town that Russian thought they would topple easily in two weeks but now has been in place of hand to hand combat for more than seven months.

So, this road is the only supply route for Ukraine's troops into the besieged city. It's a crucial route, right now covered in mud, cars and trucks have been blown to pieces. And they line that muddy pathway, which is essentially what it is. But this is what's keeping Ukraine going, and allowing it to push back against Russian soldiers who have been in continual disarray, and even tonight, new video, just listen to this one, lashing out at their superiors.


RUSSIAN SOLDIER (through translator): I am refusing to obey orders after we took on losses in just three days, one reason being that our troops are not trained properly, and yet sent to the front lines. It's completely (EXPLETIVE DELETED) up. We are dying left and right. Here is what's left of our company.


BURNETT: You can see only about ten or dozen men, but I am refusing to obey orders. Not just a complaint, an actual refusal to obey orders. It's not clear whether Putin is listening to this, for his party is rarely seen in public and really acknowledges the horrible struggle that his forces are facing on the front line.

In a moment, I'm going to speak to a reporter who has exclusive new reporting on Putin's whereabouts, and his lavish lifestyle with his reputed girlfriend, a former Russian Olympic gold medalist Elina Kabaeva. Russian independent journalist Roman Badanin reporting that this luxury mansion, where Putin often stays, it's a home he can often get to by armored train, reportedly now his preferred way of travel, as we told you.

And tonight, we have images, reportedly, of the interior. According to Badanin, the home is decked out in gold from Putin's office to his bedroom, which you can see here, to his so-called, night seller with gold dining chairs.

And as for Putin's reputed girlfriend, Alina Kabaeva, the mansion was constructed about half a mile from Putin's home, where she apparently resides.

Now, CNN cannot independently verify these images of Putin's home, because the Kremlin guards every detail of Putin's private life. But publicly, the Kremlin is struggling to silence growing criticism over the invasion and Putin's role in it.

Melissa Bell is OUTFRONT live in Kyiv tonight to begin our coverage.

And, Melissa, what is the latest on the ground tonight?

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Erin, Ukrainian forces continuing to hold on to Bakhmut despite the huge losses and infantry to both sides as Russian forces move ever closer to the city center. But Ukrainian attention tonight very much fixed on one soldier in particular, a Ukrainian man who went missing in early February.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BELL (voice-over): "Glory to Ukraine" were his last words. Tymofii Shadura was his name. His courage and his silhouette made iconic overnight by his brutal execution.

An officer from his brigade telling CNN that his death will not go unpunished.

ANATOLII YAVORSKI, PRESS OFFICER, 30TH BRIGADE, ARMED FORCES OF UKRAINE (translated): Ukrainian society is very pained by the barbaric attitude of our enemies. And revenge is inevitable. The armed forces of Ukraine will avenge the death of our comrade.


BELL: The fate of Bakhmut still in the balance.

With dozens more attacks to the north of the besieged city and heavy losses to the northern side, say Ukrainian authorities. But efforts to encircle Bakhmut praised by the Russian defense minister after an unusual trip to a soldiers in the occupied territories of Ukraine.

SERGEI SHOIGU, RUSSIAN DEFENSE MINISTER (through translator): The city is an important defense have been for Ukrainian troops in Donbas, taking it under control will allow further offensive action, deep into the defense of the armed forces of Ukraine.

BELL: The town also at the heart of a tussle between the Russian army and Wagner, the mercenary group, planting its flag closer to the center of Bakhmut. Much of the fighting now street to street, soldier to soldier. As civilians cower in their basements, fewer than 4,000 now say Ukrainian authorities, including 38 children.

The ferocity of the artillery and mortar fire that continue to pound the city, making it hard even for soldiers to get out.

And as Moscow closes in, more claims of so-called Ukrainian terrorist activity with staunch Moscow ally, Alexander Lukashenko, announcing the capture of Ukrainian Russian national accused of trying to sabotage a Russian surveillance plane at the Minsk airfield, without presenting for the evidence.

ALEXANDER LUKASHENKO, BELARUS PRESIDENT (through translator): We identified and detained him. To date, more than 20 accomplices who were on the territory of Belarus have been detained.

BELL: Only last week, Moscow accused Ukrainian saboteurs of opening fire on civilians inside Russia.

But even as the war of words widens, all eyes are very much on Bakhmut, and whether this symbol of Ukrainian resilience will finally full even as a new one is born.


BELL (on camera): However, long, Erin, Ukrainian forces managed to hold on to Bakhmut, whether it's a matter of hours or days, Kyiv says it has already achieved a strategic ambition. And they were twofold, first of all, degrading the Russian war machine, but also buying time as they prepare for a counteroffensive this spring.

BURNETT: All right. Melissa, thank you very much, live from Kyiv tonight.

And, now as promised, I want to go to Roman Badanin. He's a Russian journalist, and the founder and editor in chief of the investigative journalism site Proekt, that has been targeted by the Russian government. He left Russia after facing the threat of a prison sentence.

Roman, I really appreciate your time. And I mentioned your new investigation at the top of our program. Your look inside Putin's real estate, empire personally inside Russia and that of his reported girlfriend, Alina Kabaeva, with whom he apparently had multiple children.

To what extent does Putin go through to keep that relationship, and all of that property and lifestyle secret?

ROMAN BADANIN, INDEPENDENT RUSSIAN JOURNALIST: Yes, based on many facts that we discovered, I can say that Putin is absolutely 100 percent crazy about his secrecy around the personal life, about his relatives, and specifically about Kabaeva. Probably, I would say the Kabaeva is the biggest of (INAUDIBLE) in Russia.

BURNETT: And you have talked a 10 to 12 people in his inner circle. And they all know this is what's happening.

BADANIN: Yeah, they all are sure that Putin and Kabaeva is a family. But at the same time, none of them have ever seen Kabaeva and Putin together. That is surprising.

And that could give you three short, very brief examples about the secrecy around Putin's personal life. As you reported, and as you mentioned -- there is an armored secret train which is used by Kabaeva and Putin to get to the secret villas in region in Northern Russia.

Second, in 2008, it was a Russian tabloid (INAUDIBLE) called which reported about the secret affair between Putin and Kabaeva. And this newspaper was forced to stop operation just in one day of the story being released. You can imagine, in one day.

And the third example, we found a story about top professionals from Switzerland -- gynecologists, who assisted kumbaya to deliver her babies. And they were secretly transported, I would, say to Russia, in 2019, just to help Kabaeva to deliver her baby.


BURNETT: And we're showing their picture there. You were able to even get pictures of them.

And you share these never before seen photos of what you say are the interior of Putin's house in Valdai. You know, the night room, as you described it, the bedroom, all of this, the gold and opulence on display everywhere, right? An incredible amount of gold and gaudiness.

You say this actually tells you something about Putin and the war in Ukraine.

BADANIN: Yes. It's my main personal conclusion of the story being made. We have a 70-year-old man. He has a young girlfriend and small kids. And this man loves gold manically. And he loves his rich life very much.

And does anyone believe this man is ready to start a global atomic catastrophe, a global nuclear catastrophe -- I don't believe.

BURNETT: Hmm, it's very interesting because you think he's got too much at stake, personally.

All right. Well, thank you very much. I appreciate you taking the time and sharing all of this with us, Roman. I mean, it's incredible to see these images.

BADANIN: Thank you.

BURNETT: And let me go to Steve Hall, the former CIA chief of Russia operations.

Steve, you look at these, it's incredible to see this and imagine that's where he is living and spending his time. If he's able to go to hide that lifestyle and to hide the mother of multiple of his children so completely, it makes you wonder what else he is willing to hide.

STEVE HALL, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yeah, Erin, this is completely consistent with everything I've ever heard or seen written about Vladimir Putin. And indeed the oligarchy class in Russia. They do love their riches. They love their yachts. They love all of these things.

Putin goes through a really long extent to make sure the Russian people are not aware of this. And this is precisely the same thing he's doing with the war in Ukraine. He doesn't want the real story to be getting out to Russians.

Now, that was a lot easier 10 or 15 years ago than it is today what people are getting more access to the kind of reporting that Roman and his group, which is incredibly brave work, by the way, because it put themselves in direct risk in the security services. So, it's great, but it's harder and harder every day for Putin to try to hide the personal stuff about him, as well as trying to hide the really bad direction that Russia is going generally, especially vis-a-vis in Ukraine.

BURNETT: And, Steve, what do you make of what we hear from some of those soldiers tonight? You know, one saying they're literally defying orders? We heard the complaints but to come out and say, I am defying orders. To say that, at least what from what we've heard in this incredible volume of upset, angry soldiers, it was different.

HALL: Yeah, also a very brave move. I am not sure that it's good for one longevity inside of the Russian military, but certainly brave.

Yeah, it continues to be clear. I think the most recent -- is that for every Ukrainian -- they're paying five or six or seven Russian lives for that one Ukrainian life. The Russians do have a lot more people. So that works in their favor.

But that a thing that works in their favor is, there's a long history in Russia of these blocking brigade, which is basically professional soldiers often time with security and intelligence ready to shoot disorders shooting -- Russian shooting Russians, to ensure they will obey orders. And if there's someone who, doesn't he won't stay around for long.

Time it has to be a horrific situation for the Russians on the battlefield there in Bakhmut. And to take that risk, to put that on Telegram if that's the cost, what that means those two choices are.

All right. Steve, thank you.

HALL: Sure.

BURNETT: And next, the breaking news, we're just getting new court filing from Dominion lawsuit against Fox News, and we're learning a lot of new stuff tonight. First, Rupert Murdoch and, his own words, rejecting election conspiracy theories, and more incredible text messages between anchors and Trump lawyers about the lies.

Plus, Kevin McCarthy dodging questions about why he gave thousands of hours of footage, tens of thousands of hours of footage of January 6th to Fox's Tucker Carlson who ten downplayed the insurrection. Does not match with what McCarthy himself has said.


KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: They scaled walls. They brought ropes.


BURNETT: KFILE's Andrew Kaczynski uncovered that audio, and he has much more for you, next.

A man surrounded by security, quarantined overnight, see firsthand the extreme length China is making reporters go to, to attend the country's biggest meeting of communist leaders.


SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We just left a quarantine hotel. We're now headed to the venue. Everything is highly controlled.



[19:18:30] BURNETT: Breaking news, new court filings just released in the Dominion lawsuit against Fox News, including emails and text messages from top executives and talent, including Tucker Carlson, calling out Sidney Powell, the lawyer, for her baseless election fraud lies.

Powell tells Carlson, quote, believe I email you the affidavit earlier today, have evidence pouring in. Carlson's response: You keep telling our viewers that millions of votes were changed by the software. I hope you'll prove that very soon. You've convinced them that Trump will win. If you don't have conclusive evidence of fraud at that scale, it's a cruel and reckless thing to keep saying.

Yet, Tucker Carlson to this day continues to do just that, fueling the fire with election deniers by pushing Trump's election lies.

Paula Reid is OUTFRONT.

And, Paula, these new documents also showing that Rupert Murdoch himself admitted an email to the president of Fox News that hosted his network went too far in pushing Trump's lies.

What more can you tell us going through all of these filings?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly right, Erin. I have that email right here, this is an email directly from Rupert Murdoch to Suzanne Scott, the CEO of Fox News, and he's describing a meeting that he had with GOP lawmakers who says: Big morning with McConnell, meeting with Graham and other anti-impeachers, but still getting mud thrown at us -- referring that they're not happy with him.

Is it in arguable that high profile Fox voices fed the story that the election was stolen, and that January 6th an important chance to have the results overturned. Maybe Sean and Laura went too far. All very well for Sean to tell you he was in despair about Trump, but what did he tell his viewers?


And, today, Erin, Fox has been arguing that the reveal of more context here, additional documents, that would help their case. When you see things like this, emails like this. It's just really very clear, that this is not necessarily helpful to their case, the legal one proceeding in court and Delaware, and also in the court of public opinion.

BURNETT: Right, I mean, it just certainly, he himself seeing, all well for Sean to tell you he was in despair about Trump, what did he tell his viewers? That's the core of this whole thing, right, in black and white from Rupert Murdoch.

We're also seeing transcripts of Murdaugh's actual deposition, where he repeatedly denies any evidence exists that Dominion was behind an election fraud.

REID: Exactly. BURNETT: So, loud and clear, what can you tell us about that?

REID: Loud and clear, I have one of the excerpts right here, let me read to you.

He is asked, have you ever seen any credible evidence to suggest that Dominion was engaged in a massive and coordinated effort to steal the 2020 presidential election. He says simply, no.

He is asked, have you ever believed that Dominion was engaged in a massive and coordinated effort to steal the 2020 presidential election? Again he says, no.

He's asked, you never believe that Dominion was involved in an effort to delegitimized and destroy votes for Donald Trump, correct? He replies, Murdoch says, I'm open to persuasion, but no. I've never seen it. I mean, truly remarkable, Erin.

And, right now, both sides of this historic case are asking a judge to resolve it in their favor without a trial. If that doesn't happen, this will go to trial in Delaware, on April 17th. And it will be a historic case. I mean, there's really never been anything like this, it will absolutely be one to watch, and evidence like this, again, not helpful for Fox.

BURNETT: No, doesn't seem that way at all.

Paula, thank you very much.

So, let's go now to longtime Republican election lawyer, Ben Ginsberg.

And, Ben, when you hear this, Rupert Murdoch email, all very well for Sean to tell you he was in despair about Trump, but what did he tell his viewers?

I mean, it's almost as if he's kind of making the legal argument for the other side in that email. What did you take away from this?

BEN GINSBERG, REPUBLICAN ELECTION LAWYER: What I take away from it, it will probably increases the chances of a settlement in the next few days. I mean, the legal standard of a reckless disregard of the information you're putting out is met by many of the statements that have come out today. That, in and of itself, puts them in a really weak position.

The other thing to remember, if this case does go to trial, then the Fox people, including Rupert Murdoch and all of their anchors, we'll have to read their very words that you've been quoting tonight on other nights, in court, out loud.

And one of the questions will be, whether this case is actually televised or if there are live audio recordings of it. There's a huge, not only legal risk for what Fox has said about Dominion, but the continued reputation will risk of what they're doing as an alleged news organization. BURNETT: Right. Okay, on that front. You've heard Tucker Carlson say,

and he texted to Sidney Powell, right, come up with the goods or else, right? You're cruel and reckless to push these baseless election fraud claims, right? Again, that's in black and white, he said it, privately, right? I mean, it's very clear what he said privately, yet, even within the last few weeks, we're talking years after this, even last night. Carlson still fueled the file with election deniers, here's just a few cliffs.


TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: In retrospect, it is clear that 2020 election was a grave betrayal of American democracy. It is galling to be lectured about democracy by a man who took power in an election so sketchy that many Americans don't believe it was even real.

How, for example, did senile hermit Joe Biden get 15 million more votes than his former boss, rock star crowd surfer, Barack Obama. Results like that would seem to defy the laws of known physics and qualify instead as a miracle. Was the 2020 election a miracle? Honestly, we don't know.


BURNETT: Ben, I just want to be clear. The first things out of his mouth, in retrospect, it is clear the 2020 election was a great betrayal of American democracy. That was last night. That was 23 hours ago.

What do you make of that in the light of this lawsuit?

GINSBERG: Well, what I make of it is sort of a crass decision that fox was worried, if they told the truth, that would be financially damaging if not ruinous to them. And by spreading the falsehoods, they were appealing to their audience, and making money.

So, that also plays into the Dominion lawsuit, it also plays into the larger reputational issues, and what they've been saying about the elections. There's still no credible evidence that there was any fraud that could've possibly overturned the results of the election.


And this case just emphasizes that Fox knew it, that the country has gotten in a far worst place by the divisive nature of it, and what Fox is saying in these behind the scenes communications versus what they were saying on the air, it's like the epitome of really problematic polarized position we're in as a country right now.

BURNETT: All right. Ben, thank you very much.

GINSBERG: Thank you.

BURNETT: And next, Republicans outraged over Tucker Carlson's attempt to downplay the violence on January 6th, when he cherry-picked new video provided to him by Kevin McCarthy. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To somehow put that in the same category as a permitted, peaceful protest, is a lie.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's bullshit.


BURNETT: Those are Republicans. And former First Lady Michelle Obama, just how devastated she was on the day Trump was inaugurated.


MICHELLE OBAMA, FORMER FIRST LADY: I cried for 30 minutes straight. Uncontrollable sobbing.



BURNETT: Tonight, as Fox reels from the damning new filings of the Dominion lawsuit, Tucker Carlson is facing a barrage of criticism from Republicans for cherry-picking video from January 6th and downplaying the violence. Carlson last night saying he was, quote, neither an inflection nor deadly. People died. He even accused the Democrats and the media lying about the death of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who was assaulted by rioters and died the next day.


In an exclusive statement to OUTFRONT, Officer Sicknick's partner, Sandra Garza, told us, quote, I'm appalled at this new footage was shown on Tucker Carlson's show, and that he's downplaying the significance of Brian's death. He is not a doctor or a mental health professional and does not have the expertise to understand how one severe traumatic event can go significantly impact the body and the brain. For him, to act as an expert is laughable.

Sara Murray is Outfront.


SARA MURRAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: After Fox News attempts to whitewash the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol. Even some Republicans are setting the record straight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I think it was. It was an attack on the Capitol.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that breaking through glass windows and doors to get into the United States Capitol against the orders of police is a crime to somehow put that in the same category is permitted peaceful protest is just a lie.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's bullshit. MURRAY: Fox hosts Tucker Carlson using curated clips of the Capitol

attack to falsely claim, there was no violent insurrection.

TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: These were not insurrectionists. They were sightseers.

MURRAY: House Speaker Kevin McCarthy gave Carlson exclusive access to thousands of hours of video from January 6th.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Speaker McCarthy is every bit as culpable as Mr. Carlson.

MURRAY: As U.S. Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger tore into Carlson's program for its "offensive and misleading conclusion." The program conveniently cherry-picked from the calmer moments of our 41,000 hours of video. Manger wrote in an internal memo; the commentary fails to provide context about the chaos and violence that happened before or during these less tense moments.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): It was a mistake in my view for Fox News to depict this in a way that's completely at variance with what our Chief Law Enforcement official here at Capitol thinks.

MURRAY: The Chief also defending fallen Officer Brian Sicknick, who was attacked with chemical spray and physically fought members of the mob. After Carlson questioned links between his death and the insurrection.

CARLSON: Here's surveillance footage of Sicknick walking in the Capitol.

MURRAY: A day after the Capitol attack, Sicknick died from a series of strokes. The medical examiner said he died of natural causes, but all that transpired on January 6th, played a role in his condition. Sicknick's family slammed Fox in a statement saying every time the pain of that day seems to have ebbed a bit. Organizations like Fox rip our wounds wide open again and we are frankly sick of it.

Another Carlson claim that the QAnon shaman walked through the Capitol without pushback from police. But in court where Jacob Chansley pleaded guilty, prosecutors say officers repeatedly tried to get him and others to leave. But officers felt outnumbered on January 6th and weary of confronting them. This as the Justice Department still works to hold rioters to account for the attack that day.

MERRICK GARLAND, ATTORNEY GENERAL: We have charged more than a thousand people with their crimes on that day and more than 500 have already been convicted. I think it's very clear what happened on January 6th.

MURRAY: Former president and current presidential candidate Donald Trump proclaimed let the January 6th prisoners go and offered his thanks to Carlson and McCarthy.

(END VIDEOTAPE) MURRAY: Now there are plenty of Republicans who welcomed this effort

to rewrite history, House Republicans even tweeting a clip, calling it a must-watch. As for House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, he said tonight he has no regrets about releasing this footage to Tucker Carlson claiming it was in the interest of transparency. Erin.

BURNETT: Alright, Sara, thank you very much. So, the House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, as Sara said defending his decision to give all this footage to Tucker Carlson, but in comments unearthed by CNN's KFile from the days after January 6th, McCarthy was very clear about how he saw the violence. He described it this way.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): They scaled walls, they brought ropes. A couple of protesters died because they scaled, when you have the inaugural, there were scaffolding, they were scaling the scaffolding, they overtook the place.


BURNETT: Well, the senior editor of KFile, Andrew Kaczynski is Outfront along with Harry Enten with eye opening numbers on this issue. So, Andrew, let me start with you, because we just heard McCarthy there, but that's not all you found. I mean, just to be clear, he has been very clear about how he saw that day.

ANDREW KACZYNSKI, CNN KFILE SENIOR EDITOR: Yes, that's right. And this was not just one comment. This is a whole range of comments speaking in just such starkly different terms than that Tucker Carlson narrative that this was no big deal.

In that interview, McCarthy is talking about protesters breaking windows in his own office. He said, they stole things and he's talking about the mob, fighting with Capitol police officers, even saying and sounding actually quite desperate, saying that this mob could have kidnapped or even possibly hung members of Congress. Take a listen to this clip.


MCCARTHY: One officer got killed. (inaudible) they got broken arms. You don't understand what was transpiring at that moment and that time. People hanging. People brought ropes. When I got back into my building, I found the straps that they had. I don't know if they've come and try to kidnap somebody or whatever. But they -- they were well planned for it.


BURNETT: You hear that intensity in his voice as you say sounding almost desperate.

KACZYNSKI: He sounds almost -- exactly he sounds almost desperate the way he's talking about these people showing up like he said with ropes and he was asked on this -- I mean in this interview which was pretty contentious, and he says, anyone involved should go to jail.


He didn't say, anyone who committed violence, he said, anyone who broke into the Capitol should go to jail.

BURNETT: So, this whole narrative that Tucker Carlson is putting out, this footage to defend the mob and say that it was not an insurrection, and it was not violent. It doesn't square at all with anything McCarthy said. McCarthy said that everyone involved should--

KACZYNSKI: They should be imprisoned. That's what he said. It's his own words. We did reach out to his office, we asked, if he gave this footage to Tucker, look at what's being put out there?


KACZYNSKI: How does that track with his own words; we email them quite a few times. We never heard back.

BURNETT: I mean, it is amazing, Harry, when you think about that, right? Just again, the -- you've got this narrative being put out today.


BURNETT: And not just in black and white, in audio, as Andrew shown, the opposite. So, when you look at this doubt that Tucker Carlson is trying to sow now about January 6th, what do the numbers show?

ENTEN: Yes. So, you know, Monmouth University has this great question, would you believe -- do you believe that January 6th can accurately be described as a riot? And back in 2021, the majority of Republicans and majority of independents believe that, yes, in fact, the events could be accurately described as riot. But look at what happened in 2022. If you had all this press out there, right and specifically and conservative circles, arguing, hey, maybe it wasn't that big of a deal.

The Independent percentage that believes January 6th was in fact accurately described as riot stayed steady.

BURNETT: Identical, right.

ENTEN: Identical.

BURNETT: 67 percent.

ENTEN: But look at the Republican percentage, the Republican percentage dropped by nearly 20 points, by nearly 20 points. And now in fact, only a minority of Republicans believe that the events of January 6th can accurately be described as a riot.

BURNETT: And it comes back to election denialism, which has been fueled and was continually fueled through the midterm elections. Kari Lake, one of the most notorious election deniers now still right, right, won't concede, is still fighting in Arizona governor's race. So, she says Trump as president. Axios report, she's now in his shortlist, surprise, surprise, to be possible VP.

So, when you look at what the impact of that could be on the Republican primary voter, what do you say?

ENTEN: Well, I mean, look, it may work in a Republican primary electorate, they might believe anything given what they believe happened with the 2020 election, despite all the evidence suggesting otherwise. But I will tell you in a general election, it is a bad idea to put Kari Lake on the ticket. Why? Look at her performance in the 2022 gubernatorial election compared to the Republican baseline that state as measured by the cumulative vote of the State Senate candidates.

Look, she underperformed them by about four points. That means that the Republican state Senate candidates won that statewide vote, while she lost, while she lost. And I will put this in perspective. If Donald Trump wants to pick somebody who can help him out in ticking in the general election, there were four Republican gubernatorial candidate, Republican candidate who actually won governor's races and states Biden won ranging from Vermont, New Hampshire, Georgia, Nevada, there are far better picks, but maybe he'll go with her because she tells him what he likes to hear.

BURNETT: It's pretty incredible. Alright. Both of you, thanks so very much. I appreciate it. And next, new details in the investigation into the four Americans kidnapped in Mexico. One person now detained after two of the American citizens were found dead. Plus, first Outfront, from COVID test to a mandatory quarantine, our Selina Wang is going to show you exactly how China is now, even now, after all of this relying on special COVID strict protocols to limit how reporters cover one of the largest meetings of communist leaders in the world.



BURNETT: Tonight, two of the four Americans kidnapped at gunpoint in Mexico are back in the U.S. Mexican authorities say, Latavia Washington McGee and Eric Williams were rescued from a wooden house in Northeast Mexico today. The other two victims were found dead. And this man was detained while guarding the house in connection with kidnapping.

CNN learning the group of four friends have traveled to Mexico for a cosmetic surgery appointment. They got lost on their way to the medical clinic in Mexico's cartel country. Josh Campbell is Outfront.


NED PRICE, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: We extend our deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of the deceased.

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The search for four Americans kidnapped in Mexico ending in tragedy. All four have been located, but only two of them alive.

PRICE: The two survivors have since been repatriated back to the United States that occurred with the assistance of our Mexican partners, with the assistance of our officials in Mexico. We are in the process of working to repatriate the remains of the two Americans who were killed in this incident.

CAMPBELL: They have been identified as Latavia Tay Washington McGee, Eric Williams, Zindell Brown and Shaeed Woodard. Just days after this terrifying video appeared to show one of those Americans being shoved into the bed of a pickup truck at gunpoint in broad daylight and taken from the scene. Mexican officials say the four Americans were found in central Matamoros.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The victims were found in a wooden house three days after the crime. The four persons who were kidnapped were taken to different places, one of them to a clinic. In an effort to make this more confusing and avoid rescue.

CAMPBELL: Washington McGee and Williams have survived the incident, while Woodard and Brown did not. Washington McGee was found uninjured and Williams reportedly shot in the leg. The two survivors are now back in the U.S. receiving medical care.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We condemn what happened and feel sorry for the loss.

CAMPBELL: Mexican authorities will process the bodies of Brown and Woodard before returning them to the United States. As for the investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The investigation is ongoing to find who is responsible.

CAMPBELL: Family members tell CNN, the group of friends traveled by car from South Carolina, so Washington McGee, a mother of six could undergo a medical procedure. Investigators believe that after they crossed the border from Texas and entered the city of Matamoros, they came under gunfire and crashed their minivan. According to a U.S. official familiar with the investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One person has been detained. It seems to be that there was a confusion of mistaken identity, but the investigation is still ongoing.


BURNETT: Now, Josh, you talk about how the four were taken to four different places and then the Mexican authorities say in an effort to avoid being caught right for anyone to put all those dots together. Your sources that the two who are now returned to the U.S. alive will be key witnesses.

CAMPBELL: No, that's right. Erin, the recovery phase of this horrific ordeal is over, but of course the investigation continues and both U.S. and Mexican officials have signaled their desire to see these captors brought to justice.


And that will be a process. You know, I can tell you having worked at FBI kidnapping investigations overseas. When you recover a victim, no two victim is alike sometimes, they are obviously in shock, they've been through so much. But it is a race against time in the sense that investigators want to glean from those witnesses what they saw, what they experienced, again, to try to build a case against those who are responsible.

It's worth pointing out also, it's not just FBI agents who are with those victims. There are also members of the FBI's Victim Services Unit, which is a very important team that works to ensure that those victims are cared for. And then when the time is right, they'll try to conduct that interview because again, their goal is to find those who are responsible for this heinous act.

BURNETT: Josh, thank you very much. And next, China doing all it can to limit reporters covering one of its largest communist gatherings. It's incredible, and you're going to see exactly what happened when Selina Wang tried to question Chinese lawmakers. That incredible report is next. Plus, the former First Lady Michelle Obama opening up about Trump's Inauguration Day, and why she was sobbing uncontrollably.


BURNETT: Tonight, war of words. China's new foreign minister warning of conflict and confrontation with the United States unless the U.S. changes its ways.


This as China holds its biggest meeting of the year for lawmakers with extremely tight control over the press. Selina Wang is there Outfront from Beijing tonight.


SELINA WANG, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Thousands of government delegates across China are gathering for the biggest annual political meeting known as the two sessions. It's the first since China abandoned its zero COVID policy. But reporters covering the event are still stuck in a COVID bubble, required to stay overnight at a quarantine hotel and get an on-site PCR test.

We just left the quarantine hotel, we're now headed to the venue, everything is highly controlled. The foreign media bus gets dropped off at Tienanmen square. It is very rare for journalists to get access to this. As you can see, though there's heavy security. There are guards everywhere. Normally the two sessions is the rare chance for media to get up and close to China's top leadership. Right here on the steps of the Great Hall of the People, this is normally where you will see media trying to doorstop the top leadership. But as you can see, this year, we, the media were completely separate from the rest of the leaders.

The two sessions is a carefully choreographed event. The new government shakeups that the rubber stamp parliament will vote on have one unifying goal to strengthen Xi Jinping and the ruling communist party's power. And the COVID restrictions are the perfect tool for Beijing to control the message.

So, media has to apply to get access to specific events were not granted approval to all of them. And this is the media area inside the Great Hall of the People. As you can see, it's pretty empty. So, it's clearly not an issue of capacity.

Some of the events during the week-long meeting allow select reporter questions, including Qin Gang first press conference, as China's new foreign minister. He said that conflict with the U.S. is inevitable. If Washington does not change course. Qin Gang called Washington's approach, a reckless gamble, accused the U.S. of creating a crisis over Taiwan. Defended China's partnership with Russia as imperative and said, it has not supplied weapons to Russia or Ukraine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: See you after two sessions.

WANG: Meanwhile, Chinese state media is portraying the legislative meeting as an open event where journalists can freely operate.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm from Loop News. It's an amazing country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The assemblies also offer journalists the opportunity to put questions to the Chinese Premier, and ministers.

WANG: But under these controls spontaneous run-ins with top leaders like the Premier and ministers are out of reach. But after today's meeting ended, we had a few minutes to approach some delegates which are a curated group of local representatives. This delegate is part of the Zhuang ethnic minority from the southwestern Guangxi province. She says this is her first time attending the Congress and she feels happy to see her motherland becoming stronger, the rest of the delegates quickly rush out before we have a chance to approach them.

The question is how much of these COVID controls will remain in post- pandemic China. It limits access even more to China's already extremely opaque political machine. This much is clear. The communist leadership only wants the world to see one narrative from China. That is the image of unity, strength, and victory.


BURNETT: Selina, it's just amazing to watch that and then the one woman that you were able to even get to say anything to you. It's incredible footage, those images now, you know, the warning from China's Foreign Minister that we were talking about. What else did he have to say regarding Taiwan?

WANG: Yes, well, that was a very combative press conference, Erin. The foreign minister said that Taiwan is the first red line that must not be crossed. And at one point during the presser, he even made a show of reading from a copy of China's constitution to emphasize Beijing's claims that Taiwan is a part of its sacred territory. Now, that conference came amid reports of a potential meeting between Taiwan's President and U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in April that could be held in the U.S.

But look, regardless of location, this will anger Beijing, it shows that plus a fiery press conference that there isn't going to be an easy off-ramp to U.S.-China tensions anytime soon. And Erin, I just want to point out that the whole report, our conversation right now, that's all being censored on China's airwaves. All of this begs the question of, were the controls we faced really because of health and safety now that zero COVID has been dropped, or was it just an excuse to control the press, Erin.

BURNETT: Pretty incredible and so important what Selina says. So, what you're watching now is blacked out in China. And thanks so much to Selina. Next, the former First Lady Michelle Obama fact-checking Trump's repeated claims about his inauguration crowd.


MICHELLE OBAMA, FORMER FIRST LADY: There weren't that many people there. We saw it, by the way.




BURNETT: Tonight, uncontrollable sobbing. The former First Lady Michelle Obama revealing how she really felt after the inauguration of then President Trump in her new podcast.


M. OBAMA: There were tears. There was that emotion, but then to sit on that stage and watch the opposite of what we represented on display. There was no diversity. There was no color on that stage. There was no reflection of the broader sense of America. I cried for 30 minutes straight, uncontrollable sobbing.


BURNETT: The former first lady also weighed in on the crowd size of the event.


M. OBAMA: You get on marine one and you take your last flight off flying over the Capitol, where there weren't that many people there.