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Erin Burnett Outfront
Putin's Forces Fighting With Pro-Russian Soldiers For Ammunition; CIA Director: China Has "Been Sobered" By Ukraine War; NYT: Prosecutors Signal Trump Is Likely To Be Criminally Charged; McConnell Hospitalized With Concussion After Falling At D.C. Hotel; Nikki Haley Calls To Change Retirement Age For U.S. Workers; Fox CEO Lachlan Murdoch Tries To Downplay "Noise" From Dominion Suit As Docs Show Network Put Profits Over Truth. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired March 09, 2023 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, Russians fighting Russians for ammunition as the head of the private military group Wagner says the Kremlin will no longer take his calls. We're live in Ukraine on high alert after Russia fired a barrage of hypersonic missiles across the country.
Plus, breaking news, "The New York Times" reporting that the Manhattan district attorney is signaling that criminal charges against Trump are likely.
And speaking out, the CEO of the Fox Corporation breaking his silence about the billion dollar lawsuit against Fox News, as we go inside the rollercoaster relationship between Rupert Murdoch, and Donald Trump.
Let's go OUTFRONT.
And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.
OUTFRONT tonight, Russian versus Russian. Putin refusing to help what has been his most prized fighters in the private army in the Wagner group. That's at least according to the chief of Wagner tonight, who is complaining that the Kremlin will not take his calls anymore.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
YEVGENY PRIGOZHIN, WAGNER PRIVATE MILITARY COMPANY (through translator): To get me to stop asking for ammunition, all the hotlines to offices, to departments, et cetera, have been cut off from me. But the real humdinger is that they have also blocked agencies from making decisions.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BURNETT: It's pretty incredible. And it could be significant, because the Wagner Group of course, is responsible for the small successes that Putin has launched in the eastern Ukraine in this war. The U.S. estimates that at the start of the year, there were about 50,000 Wagner troops fighting. But recently, Yevgeny Prigozhin, who you heard there, and his fighters have been pleading, pounding the table for more ammunition almost daily. In fact, here they are over just the past few days.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
PRIGOZHIN (through translator): I'm knocking on all doors, sounding the alarm with ammunition and reinforcements, as well as covering our flanks.
WAGNER FIGHTER (through translator): We are the artillery units of Wagner PMC, every day we carry out difficult combat tasks, covering assault groups. At the moment, we are completely cut off from the ammunition supply.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Completely cut off? This is all in the past few days. And then tonight, the big admission that no one seems to care. No one is listening. Because it does seem clear that if Putin wanted Wagner to remain in priority, things will be different. We wouldn't be cut off from all of the phones.
And Putin's regular military of course, has been complaining that too much has gone to Wagner fighters up until now. Here is a Russian soldier.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSSIAN SOLDIER (through translator): Now, all the ammunition is going to (INAUDIBLE), to Wagner PMC units, who can fire a week's worth of ammunition in a day, which we cannot afford.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So now, you hear it, Russian versus Russian, in a battle for ammunition. And it is a remarkable turn of events. Especially given right now, it is Wagner's flag flying in Eastern Bakhmut. Not Russians. But the ammunition shortage that we keep hearing so much about, may explain why Putin tried something, suddenly a little bit different today. Launching what has been described as one of his biggest air assaults in months.
This image captures the moment that three missiles were fired from Russia. It's almost like a firework there, going up into the sky. And in fact, according to Ukraine, 84 missiles were launched overnight. Ukraine intercepted only 34.
At least 11 people have been killed, and of course, that means it hits a lot of infrastructure. Power was knocked out in several areas. And tonight, Ukraine is bracing for another aerial attack.
And all of this coming as the economic costs continue to mount for Putin and his inner circle. Tonight, we're learning that the United States and his allies have now seized more than $58 billion from Russian oligarchs. That is a huge number, $58 billion. It's important to emphasize that. But it is not a lot, relative to how much they have. To really squeeze
the Putin insiders, there is still much more and money out there. According to "Forbes", they have 83 Russians on the list of the world's billionaires. And that's just the money that they, have not even Putin. And their collective worth, again, not counting all those accounting billons to Putin, according to "Forbes", is an astonishing $320 billion, which sure puts about 50 into perspective.
Alex Marquardt is OUTFRONT in Ukraine tonight.
And, Alex, with that missile assault across the country that you heard and saw yourself, what is your latest on the ground there?
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, here where we are in the Lviv region this is where we saw the highest death toll from that wave of missile strikes. Five people killed in the Lviv region, and, Erin, we are hearing tonight from President Zelenskyy, speaking about the power outages that resulted in the wake of this missile strike, and particularly around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which has been occupied by Russian forces and re-maintained by Ukrainian staffers.
It is the biggest nuclear power plant in Europe, and it went on to its emergency backup generators. President Zelenskyy accusing Russian forces of deliberately creating such critical situations at the nuclear facilities, as a result of what Russia themselves calls a massive retaliation strike.
MARQUARDT (voice-over): Firefighters frantically looking for survivors, as others clear the debris from an overnight missile strike in Ukraine's western Lviv region. This first missile was destroyed by air defenses, but falling fragment started a fire that destroyed at least three residential buildings, and left at least five people dead.
According to local authorities, the residents were at home, the victims of Russia's latest terrorizing, country-wide missile and drone attacks, far from the front lines.
This is horrible. I don't know what to say, this man said, calling Russians the devil.
All across Ukraine, 84 missiles were fired and eight drones launched at ten different regions, from Lviv in the West, to Kherson in the south, all the way to Donetsk in the east.
In the capital of Kyiv, at least three people were injured. These cars burned out from more burning fragments.
For the first time, Ukraine was bombarded with many different types of missiles, according to a spokesman for the air force.
It was a range of cruise missiles launch from the air and sea, including six hypersonic missiles, as well as guided missiles, and two types of Iranian-made kamikaze drones. All told, at least 11 Ukrainians were killed, and more than 20 wounded.
On Facebook, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called Russian strikes an attempt to intimidate Ukrainians again, returning to their miserable tactics. The occupiers can only terrorize. That's all they can do. But it won't help them.
Ukrainian officials describe the wave of attacks as yet another strike on the country's critical infrastructure. Power was affected in several areas, including at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which had to switch to diesel generators, before power was restored. The air force said that 34 missiles, and half of the drones, were shot down. But several of the types of Russian missiles fired can't be taken down with Ukraine's current air defenses, which the Biden administration says they're working to bolster.
JOHN KIRBY, NSC COORDINATOR OF STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS: Certainly, you see, that there is a real era defense need. And that is why we are trying to focus on the kinds of air defense capabilities, short and medium range. That Ukrainians really used to help knock down some of these missiles. And they were successful in knocking down quite a few of these from last night.
MARQUARDT: Russia quickly claimed responsibility, calling the strikes massive retaliation. Four and a legit cross border attack and Russia last week by a pro-Ukraine group. Russian officials said that the two Russians were killed. CNN has not independently confirmed the event, which President Vladimir Putin called a terrorist attack.
MARQUARDT (on camera): And, Erin, tonight, Ukraine's energy minister says they are working feverishly to restore power. He says they are making good progress, he says that he plays the energy workers.
Now, the power is restored in Kyiv, but one third of the homes there are without heat. Of course it is very cold, here in Ukraine in March. There are also, this was, according to the minister, the 15th major strike against Ukraine's energy infrastructure. And you know that the new tactics that we saw from Russia today, a combination of these different kinds of missiles, cruise missiles, hypersonic missiles, combined with drones to carry out these devastating and terrorizing strikes all across the country -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right, thank you very much, Alex Marquardt.
And, I want to go now to Fred Pleitgen. He's in Moscow. And, Fred, you know, look, this is, you had these big missile attacks before, but this one was among the biggest, and a lot of missiles that they haven't used in quite some time. What is Russia saying about it?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, a lot of missiles that they haven't used in quite some time, a lot of missiles that they really haven't used very much before in this war, Erin, and I think that it is very important to note that the Russians are not only calling it a retaliatory strike, but they called a retaliatory, massive precision strike, and they claimed that they struck all the targets that they wanted to hit.
One of the interesting that you hear from the Russians is they basically are saying that they only hit military areas. They're talking about the military industrial complex of the Ukraine, they also talk about military infrastructure, decision-making infrastructure, and the even call it the critical infrastructure like some of the stuff Alex was talking about, power plant, they call that militarily important as well, as far as things that they have struck so that is what the Russians are trying to convey and they are also confirming that this was retaliation for that cross border attack that Alex was talking about.
Of course, that was carried out by a group called the Russian volunteer corps which is Russians, fighting on the side of Ukraine.
But Ukrainians are saying that they do not control these people. The Russians clearly are not buying that at all. But I think that the main thing that the Russians, and we've been hearing this throughout the entire course of today. The main thing that they are pointing out is the use of those hypersonic missiles in this attack, they have been used in a quantity that we have not seen before, six of them in that attack, they can go to ten times the speed of sound.
And you know, it's not just Ukrainian air defenses that we have a tough time intercepting, it is any air defenses, and we have a tough time with that, and Ukrainians know that as well saying they need more and better air defenses, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Fred, thank you very much. Live from Moscow tonight.
I want to go now to top Democrat in the House Intelligence Committee, Congressman Jim Himes.
And I appreciate your time.
So let me ask you, Congressman, about what Fred was talking, about, a quantity we haven't seen before, types we haven't seen them use before of missiles. And in particular, these hypersonic missiles, the ones that Russia calls the Kinzhal missiles. Ukraine says six of them were fired and they go ten times a speed of sound. Ukraine doesn't have air defense systems that can take them out.
Are you -- do you know what is going on here? Do you think that Russia is increasing its capability or supply that would allow them to use so many of these in one night?
REP. JIM HIMES (D-CT): Well, Erin, there is no evidence that they are increasing their surprise, it's going to be the supply of the high-end equipment that goes away first, and certainly these advanced missiles are high-end equipment, we see this across the battlefield, right? Advanced tanks now are gone, so they are using T-72s, and T-60s, tanks that are 20, 30, 40 years old.
HIMES: So -- because it's going to be hard for them to get the technology that they need using these weapons is probably a one-off.
The big picture here, right? Number one, it's a war crime. They may want to call power plants militarily significant but this is a war crime.
Number two, it's counterproductive, right? Since the 1940s when Hitler tried to break the back of the British people by incinerating London and Coventry, what these sort of attacks have done is steel the fines of the defenders.
So war crime counterproductive and we need to give the Ukrainians the technology that they need to continue to stop these attacks.
BURNETT: So, on that front about the technology, obviously, I know that you have supported sending more supplies and defense, and weapons to Ukraine. Where do you stand on F-16s?
HIMES: Well, Erin, again, big picture here, right? The Ukrainians are going to win this war. They are going to push the Russians back to the original borders that Putin violated. That is going to happen. The West is going to hang there with the Ukrainians until it happened.
So the question is, how fast does that happen? And you know we dithered for a very long time on the tanks, and then we sent tanks.
My view would be, let's defer to the people who are fighting and dying in this conflict, and if they say that they really need F-16s, let's give them the F-16s. Now, it takes a long time to train a pilot or flying F-16, I get that staff, but let's not try to second guess the people who are fighting and dying because when we second guess, we slow this down.
BURNETT: They said they need it.
And just to be clear, obviously, they're saying that they can do it in just a few months. For training the pilot, I understand, but there are many in the U.S. military who agree that, so it may not be that long.
But I just want to say, you support pushing back. They're going to push back to the borders. Does that include Crimea?
HIMES: Yeah, that's always the question. Then I get, and there is no question in my mind that Putin thinks about Crimea differently than he thinks about the eastern provinces, Luhansk, and Donetsk. So that is a fiddle issue.
My hope would be that the Russian military is pushing back the original borders in the east. That causes Putin to realize he's at a very real risk of losing this war in a very big way, and then we have a negotiation that hopefully ends this war. BURNETT: So, you know, so we find out that China is building its
largest embassy in the Bahamas, and, you know, there is real concern about the possible invasion of Taiwan. The commander general of the U.S. Army Pacific says that you don't build up this kind of arsenal to defend and protect, that there's clearly another aim.
That we've heard today, from the CIA director, that President Xi has instructed its military to be ready to invade Taiwan, possibly the next few years.
So, in your hearing today, you questioned the director of the CIA, Burns, and here's what he said in response to your question about President Xi of China.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM BURNS, CIA DIRECTOR: Nobody has watched more intently for Putin's experience in Ukraine, than Xi Jinping has and I think he's been sober to some extent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Do you agree with that? Has he been sobered or should -- I mean, I understand that Director Burns is giving his view, but the actions we see, that embassy in the Bahamas and others would -- they don't look so sober.
HIMES: Well, I do think he has. Look, the Chinese are not stupid. And they understand that if Russian military, which has a lot of the same equipment that they have, and, by the way, combat experience, which the Chinese military does not have, if the Russian military can't even take a town, you know, 100 miles from across land from Russia, an amphibious invasion with non-veteran troops, of well-defended Taiwan could be a lot more daunting.
So, look, what we do know about Xi is he's dedicated 100 percent to reunification. I think that the director is right, he does not want a war right now, because of the devastation that would visit on his country.
But, you know, the question is, does he at some point decide the only way to reunify is to actually undertake an invasion? And then the question is, have we deterred that? Have we given the west, have we given them the material they need to deter that decision?
BURNETT: All right. I appreciate your time, Congressman Himes. As always, thank you.
HIMES: Thank you, Erin.
BURNETT: And next, the breaking news, "The New York Times" reporting the prosecutors are signaling criminal charges for the former President Trump are likely. He's already told he could appear before a Manhattan grand jury next week. Plus, we're learning that the Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell
will remain hospitalized after suffering a concussion during a fall. We have the very latest on his condition, as we understand it right now, and his long history of health problems ahead.
And Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley with a plan she says to save Social Security.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIKKI HALEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So, the first thing you do is you change the retirement age of the young people coming up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Will that fly with voters?
BURNETT: Breaking news, "The New York Times" tonight reporting that the Manhattan D.A.'s office has signaled Donald Trump is likely to face criminal charges for his role in hush money payments to Stormy Daniels for an alleged affair.
According to "The Times", prosecutors have offered Trump the chance to testify next week, before the grand jury hearing evidence in the potential case. That is an offer that almost always indicates an indictment is close.
Now, Evan Perez is OUTFRONT.
And, Evan, what more do we know about the signals from the Manhattan D.A. that a Trump indictment is likely?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know, Erin, that they met with the Trump team recently. The time says, the signals that was sent, was an indictment may be imminent. They -- we know that a number of witnesses, our Kara Scannell, has reported a number of witnesses have gone before this grand jury. And it appears they've run out of witnesses. Very few other people that could bring before the grand jury.
So, a decision appears to be in the offing. And all signals are, they're ready to bring a case against the former president. As you said, the centers around this hundred $130,000 hush money payment that was made to Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election.
And, you know, the key witness that they would be relying on for this case, under New York state law, is Michael Cohen. Michael Cohen is, of course, the former fixer of the former president, who in 2018 admitted to lying to Congress and was convicted.
So, the idea that you're going to bring a case with Michael Cohen as your star witness, really does raise some tough questions for the Manhattan D.A.
BURNETT: All right. Evan, please stay with me.
I want to bring in our senior legal analyst, Laura Coates, to the conversation.
So, Laura, a couple of just very basics here. Do you have any doubt about what this means? Does it mean an indictment is almost certain for Trump?
LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, the idea of calling a potential defendant into testify before the grand jury strikes me as odd because, normally, there would be no incentive for that potential defendant to actually come and speak, we know the adage, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.
The grand jury courtrooms, so to speak, as is close to as you can get to have something used against you in a court of law. So, if he's the ultimate target, the decision to actually invite him in to testify would raise all sorts of concerns, to be sure, about whether he would take the Fifth Amendment, et cetera, on various issues.
Having said, Evan is absolutely right. The idea of almost running out of witnesses, one would have to exhaust all potential other witnesses in order to be able to figure out, and determine, whether whatever he might testify to could be corroborated or easily negated and called out as a lie. And so, there are some looming question still about what the endgame would be here.
BURNETT: I know the base assumption in this conversation we're having, Laura, that Trump has been offered the chance, but that's a ridiculous nonstarter, it won't happen. Is that a ridiculous nonstarter? Just to be clear here.
COATES: I mean, it's like offering somebody enough rope to hang themselves, right? You are getting up to come on and, talking just know that every question is loaded. Every question is going to possibly have an eye towards your own conviction.
Remember, Michael Cohen is somebody who did serve time in reference to this. The big question here, Erin, and I'm sure of it would look at this as well, he mentioned, this was about hush money payments prior to 2016 that were known about. The idea of the why now, Alvin Bragg as the Manhattan D.A., has come under a lot of political fire for his decision to reorient the office to decide about the investigation that might be looming.
And the idea of the why now, what has been newly learned to have this be the primary case that is first priority now?
BURNETT: Which is fascinating, Evan. So, Michael Cohen, right, as you say, is the center of this in the world we're talking about, right, the Manhattan D.A.'s insisted that the hush money payment was done directly at Trump's behest, right, not sort of I assumed you wanted me to do it at Trump's behest which is very crucial. And Trump has actually denied this. Here he is. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, APRIL 5, 2018)
REPORTER: Mr. President, did you know about $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels?
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: No, no. What else?
REPORTER: Then why -- why did Michael Cohen make this, if there was no truth to her allegations?
TRUMP: You'll have to ask Michael Cohen. Michael is my attorney, and you'll have to ask Michael Cohen.
REPORTER: Do you know where he got the money to make that payment?
TRUMP: No, I don't know. No.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So, Evan, to get to the point where they would indict a former president over $130,000 hush money payment, what evidence do you think they really have at this point to actually say at this point, we're going to do it.
PEREZ: Well, that's one of the big questions I think that's a lot of us have. This is something that, you know, Erin, the federal prosecutors looked at, one of the issues that they had trouble with was the idea that, who are you going to use as your main witness here?
And, you know, it's going to be Michael Cohen's word versus Trump's word.
We do know, obviously, according to Cohen, that, you know, the hush money payments were reimbursed to him. And so, there is a trail of money. There is money that prosecutors will be able to show. And perhaps you can get witnesses who can say, well, Trump never pays anything unless he knows what it's for, right? He is known to be very tight fisted with his money.
So, again, these are things that you could I guess bring in a circumstantial case. And with Michael Cohen's testimony, perhaps you can persuade a jury of the crime here. But again, this is -- you know, again, it's a novel theory under New York state law, that looks at falsified business records, and uses the idea that it was used for a campaign finance violation.
BURNETT: So, you know, I guess, Laura, one of the questions here, you've got the Fulton County investigation, the decision imminent there, it appears, right, on his efforts to overturn the election in Georgia. You've got the special counsel, investigation into January 6th. Grand jury, you've got the handling of classified documents.
And now, you have this. There is the legal side of this and there's a political side of this. If you're the special counsel looking at this, are you saying, it's good this one might come first? Or are you saying, this weakens my hand if this comes first?
COATES: Well, politically speaking, the idea of having a special counsel and an independent in that realm is to try to avoid any hint of impropriety, that there's some political persecution at the hands of the person who would be his main opponent if he receives the RNC nomination. That, of course, the president of the United States.
So, having that separation does well to buttress the credibility and in of the independents. Also, though, remember, state level investigations, Fulton County, the Manhattan DA, they're not under the direction and rule of thumb over the attorney general of the United States of America. Therefore, whatever decision they make is going to be independent.
So, if you're pushing back, Erin, and saying, look, I want to make sure no one views this as political, tied to the person who's appointed me, of course you want to have the state investigation. But anything that happens there will be used as a talking point by the person who could be the defendant against all of them.
BURNETT: Absolutely, yeah.
PEREZ: Real quick, Erin. Often, when you have state in federal investigations, feds, the feds, often ask the states to hold off, because they want to go first, right? It often happens that they would prefer for a state prosecution to not get in the way. Obviously, because the special counsel system that we have right now, it's unclear and it's unlikely that they're going to try to tell the New York D.A. to hold off. They just wouldn't do that.
So, it's going to be a very odd situation for the next few months, certainly.
BURNETT: It certainly is and going to give plenty political fodder for all.
Thank you both very much.
And, next, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell being treated for a concussion at a hospital after tripping and falling last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: How concerned are you?
SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI (R-AK): Very. Very.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And Nikki Haley calling to change the retirement age for Social Security. So, how will that go over with Republican voters? Harry Enten is next with the numbers.
BURNETT: Tonight, Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell, remains in the hospital, doctors treating him for a concussion that he sustained, after tripping and falling, at a Washington D.C. hotel, last night.
The 81-year-old, who Speaker McCarthy described as quote, a "Little beat up," is expected to remain in the hospital for a few days.
Manu Raju is OUTFRONT, to give you the latest that we understand about McConnell's condition.
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Senate GOP Leader, Mitch McConnell, in the hospital, tonight, and being treated for a concussion.
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): He's a little beat up, but he's doing all right.
RAJU (voice-over): The 81-year-old tripped and fell, at a Washington hotel, and will remain hospitalized, for at least the next few days.
RAJU (on camera): How concerned are you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Very.
RAJU (on camera): Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Very.
RAJU (voice-over): Sources tell CNN that McConnell was speaking at an event, hosted by his Super PAC, at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel.
At 9:17 PM, on Wednesday, first responders dispatched, after he fell, and hit his head.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL): Knowing him, I'm sure he's watching C-SPAN.
RAJU (voice-over): It's not the first time McConnell's health has been an issue.
In 2020, he was seen with bruises and bandages on his hands. Though, he said there were no concerns.
In 2019, McConnell fell in his Kentucky Home, and fractured his shoulder.
And as a survivor of polio, from the age of two, doctors once thought he would not be able to walk. But even though he proved them wrong, he still walks with a slight limp.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): It affected my left quadricep, which is between your knee and your hip.
RAJU (voice-over): As a longest-serving Party leader, in Senate history, McConnell serves in a body, often filled with absences, given that many have had health issues, where the median age is 65. Nearly two-thirds of senators are in their 60s and 70s, and four of them, in their 80s.
89-year-old Dianne Feinstein now recovering at home, after being hospitalized for shingles. This, as fellow 89-year-old Chuck Grassley returned to work, after getting hip replacement, in January, from a fall, in his home.
SEN. JON TESTER (D-MT): There's some advantages to having a little gray hair, and some life experience. But the truth is, is once you start getting elderly, things start happening, and if you lose your balance, you get sick, more regularly. And growing old can be pretty rough.
RAJU (voice-over): But even some younger senators have their own health scares. 53-year-old John Fetterman, who suffered a stroke, during his campaign, last year, still hospitalized, after checking himself in, last month, for treatment, for clinical depression.
SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): We're postponing things because we have a 51- 49 Senate, a couple absences make all the difference.
But we've had members, who have been gone for weeks and months at a time. It's just the nature of this organization.
RAJU (voice-over): McConnell is not the first Party leader, to be hospitalized, in recent years.
In 2015, Senate Democratic Leader, Harry Reid, was badly injured, while exercising.
RAJU (on camera): Do you think you all will be able to see again out of your age (ph)?
HARRY REID, FORMER MAJORITY LEADER OF THE UNITED STATES SENATE: No, probably not.
But, you know, in life, you don't always get what you want
RAJU: Now, Senator McConnell's office has not yet said, when he will return, to the Senate.
But Mitt Romney, who was at a closed-door meeting, in which they discussed, Senator McConnell's health, came out, and told me afterwards that he expects him to return, next week.
The question for McConnell will be whether or not this incident impacts his plans, to stay in office, and for how long.
He had told me last fall, he does plan to serve out, throughout the end of this term, which ends at the end of 2026. Has that calculation changed?
RAJU: And will he try to stay as Republican leader again, in the next Congress? McConnell so far has not said whether he'll try to do just that.
BURNETT: Crucial questions here. All right, Manu, thank you very much.
And OUTFRONT now, Dr. Shae Datta, Neurologist and Co-Director of NYU Langone's Concussion Center.
And Doctor, I really appreciate your time.
So, I guess just to start here, so everyone can understand, possibly what we're looking at? Is it typical to keep someone in the hospital, for a few days of observation, after a concussion?
DR. SHAE DATTA, NEUROLOGIST & CO-DIRECTOR OF NYU LANGONE'S CONCUSSION CENTER: I don't feel that it's very typical, after a concussion.
Normally, they enter an emergency room, and get evaluated, and perhaps get some scans, for stability. As long as there's no bleed on the CT scan, then we assess them, for a few hours, and let them go.
But, in this case, when someone's older, we definitely have to keep a closer eye, especially if they're on blood thinners, anticoagulants or aspirin.
BURNETT: So, what would they be observing, if you're staying in for a few days? Are they running EEGs? Or what are they doing?
DATTA: Well, that's a great question.
I think what - mental status is a huge one. Things can change very rapidly, for someone, after a head injury, especially when they're a little bit older, and perhaps on multiple pharmaceutical medications.
And if they also have heart issues, at times, we want to make sure that it's not actually the heart that was problematic, and that's what caused them to lose their balance--
BURNETT: Ah, OK.
DATTA: --and then fall and now sustain a head injury.
BURNETT: And you just referenced something, though, when you were talking about things can change quickly. When you're older, is a concussion possibly more likely, depending on the situation, to impact your mental acuity, or your mental abilities?
DATTA: I would say, absolutely. You are already a little bit slower, sometimes, not always. I have very sharp patients that are geriatric, 65 and up.
But when you are at an increased risk, let's say, as an older patient, after a fall, for mental confusion, or aphasia, problems with speech? So, we want to always make sure that they're at their baseline, before we say that they're clear, to go back to work, or play, for athletes.
BURNETT: Right. So, what you're saying is, I mean, there's a lot of questions, right? But it would seem that when you have a history of health conditions, as someone, like Senator McConnell, of course, does, like the bruised hands that Manu just showed, the fractured shoulder, had polio, when he was 2-years-old, health history can matter when you have a concussion? Unclear, obviously, in this case. But it can matter?
DATTA: Oh, I would say absolutely. Your functional status, we always say the baseline status, how healthy you are, prior to having a head injury, determines how fast you're going to recover.
BURNETT: All right. Well, Dr. Datta, thank you very much. I appreciate it, and appreciate the perspective.
DATTA: No problem.
BURNETT: All right.
And next, Republican presidential candidate, Nikki Haley, calling for changing the retirement age, to save Social Security. So, is this a non-starter? Could this fly, in the primaries? Harry Enten is next with the numbers.
Plus, Dominion taking on Fox News redactions, in their court filings? So, what does the network not want all of us to see?
BURNETT: Tonight, Nikki Haley, who is running for President, is pushing to raise the retirement age, for Americans, in their 20s, as part of a bigger plan, to overhaul Social Security.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIKKI HALEY, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE, (R) FORMER GOVERNOR OF SOUTH CAROLINA: Social Security is going to go bankrupt, in 10 years. We need to fix it. How do we fix it?
You focus on the new generation. You focus on what's next. So, the first thing you do is you change the retirement age, of the young people coming up, so that we can try and have some sort of system for them.
The second thing is you go and you limit the benefits, for wealthy people.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: All right, Harry Enten is OUTFRONT.
So, Harry, look, it's a third-rail topic.
HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: Yes.
BURNETT: And yet, it is a topic, which really can't be avoided, for much longer, when you just look at the actuarial tables, and where we are.
BURNETT: So, this issue of raising the retirement age, it is not the first time, it has come up, because it's sort of putting all politics aside--
BURNETT: --the most obvious thing that could be done. How do Americans feel about it?
ENTEN: Yes, I mean, this is a song that we have danced to many of times, before in the last 20 years. We danced to it during the second term of the Bush administration. There was a Republican Senate plan, back in the early 2010s. Chris Christie brought it up, during his run for the presidency, back in 2016.
In all of those points, there were different pollsters that asked, "Should we in fact, reduce retirement benefits, Social Security benefits, for future retirees?" And in all those points, the opposition was tremendous. It was huge. It was two-thirds, or 74 percent, or 75 percent.
ENTEN: This is a third rail. I don't know, you know, I understand what she's doing. But also, the political part of me that is trying to sort of be a strategist, doesn't understand what she's doing.
BURNETT: Right, right, I mean, there's the math, and then there's politics.
BURNETT: And they often don't meet. That's why we have $31 trillion in debt. OK. So - that's actually not even related to this issue.
BURNETT: But, OK, on this issue of Social Security, though?
BURNETT: And this is where the politics come in. Which Party do voters trust more on this issue, right now? ENTEN: Democrats are rubbing their hands, together, when they hear Nikki Haley saying that she potentially wants to reduce benefits, for future retirees, because, at this particular point, Democrats are much more trusted, than Republicans, on the issue of Social Security.
This is the ground that Democrats want to be playing on. Look at that. They had a 16-point advantage, on "Who do you think does a better job on Social Security?" And that was just last month, in a Fox News poll.
ENTEN: So the fact is, Democrats are loving this.
BURNETT: They are. All right.
But, her views on Social Security? And, again, whether she's being realistic or not, is not the point. What she's putting out there, publicly--
BURNETT: --is very different than the views of her rival, right now, her rival, President Trump, for the GOP, right? No one else.
Here he is, just this weekend.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're not going back to people that want to destroy our great Social Security system. Even some, in our own Party, I wonder who that might be!
TRUMP: That want to raise the minimum age of Social Security, to 70, 75, or even 80, in some cases.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OK, when you drill down into the GOP, specifically, is he getting this one right or not?
ENTEN: I think he is. I think he knows exactly who has base is. His bases, are lower-income voters, who are the most likely to want Social Security to be there, when they get older.
But more than that, the Republican Party has changed. There's a great question that your General Social Survey has asked. "Do you believe that we're spending too little on Social Security?"
What happened back in 1984, when Ronald Reagan was running for a second term? Only 33 percent of Republicans believed we were spending too little on Social Security. Look where it was in 2021? 57 percent. He's much more in line with where Republicans are, right now. BURNETT: Right.
ENTEN: The Party has changed, Erin.
BURNETT: The Party has changed.
Of course, the reality is Social Security's here now, because they had made changes to Social Security, including raising the age.
ENTEN: Yes, back in the 80s.
BURNETT: The age that everyone's holding on to at that time was, well, a lot higher than it used to be.
BURNETT: All right. Thanks very much, Harry.
ENTEN: Thank you.
BURNETT: And next, Rupert Murdoch's son, Lachlan, who is the CEO of Fox Corporation, tonight, breaking his silence, about the $1.6 billion lawsuit, against Fox News.
And the Mexican cartel that's accused of kidnapping four Americans, and killing two, is now apologizing?
BURNETT: New, tonight, Rupert Murdoch's son, Lachlan, speaking out, about Dominion's defamation lawsuit, against Fox News.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LACHLAN MURDOCH, FOX CORPORATION CEO: A news organization has an obligation and it is an obligation, to report news, fulsomely, wholesomely, and without fear or favor, and that's what Fox News has always done, and that's what Fox News will always do.
And I think a lot of the noise that you hear about this case, is actually not about the law, and it's not about journalism, and it's really about the politics - politics, right?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Those comments, despite numerous court filings that revealed Fox repeatedly put ratings over truth, by pushing Team Trump's lies that Dominion changed votes, to steal the election, and how far Rupert Murdoch himself went to Trump - went to help Trump, win the election.
Tom Foreman is OUTFRONT.
RUPERT MURDOCH, FOX CORPORATION CHAIRMAN: Thank you.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Rupert Murdoch, Chairman of Fox Corporation, saying under oath, in the Dominion Voting Systems case, he never believed Dominion machines cheated President Trump, out of reelection, calling such claims, damaging, saying hosts, on his news network, maybe went too far, promoting election denialism.
The former President is hitting back. "How does Rupert Murdoch say there was no election fraud?"
And political analysts are asking how did it come to this?
JIM RUTENBERG, WRITER AT LARGE, THE NEW YORK TIMES: It's really astounding. And it is sort of an implosion of the highest order, between the most important figure in conservative media, if not all of media, and the man, who would be, once again, if he has it his way, President, again, in 2025.
R. MURDOCH: It's my distinct honor to introduce the Commander-in- Chief, and the President of the United States, my friend, Donald J. Trump.
(AUDIENCE CHEERS & APPLAUSE)
TRUMP: Make America great again.
FOREMAN (voice-over): The media mogul and the real estate tycoon were tight, even just a few years ago.
TRUMP: Thank you to my very good friend, Rupert Murdoch. There's only one Rupert.
FOREMAN (voice-over): Especially, as Trump's political star was rising, and while he held the White House.
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: Mr. President, thank you so much for taking the time.
TRUMP: Thank you. Thank you, Sean.
HANNITY: Real busy day.
FOREMAN (voice-over): Murdoch's outlets covered him extensively, and the President gave them access, beyond other news organizations.
MARTHA MACCALLUM, FOX NEWS HOST: Good to see you, sir.
TRUMP: Thank you both very much. We never had a more beautiful set than this, did we?
FOREMAN (voice-over): But then, Trump lost to Joe Biden. January 6th erupted. The midterms went less well than expected, for Republicans. And Murdoch's media empire, which once seemed to revolve, around Trump, hinted at a new center of gravity.
LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST: All right, he's the man everyone's talking about, Florida governor, Ron DeSantis.
FOREMAN (voice-over): In the Dominion case filings, Murdoch's star, Tucker Carlson, is quoted, from an internal message, "We are very, very close to being able to ignore Trump most nights. I truly can't wait."
Team Trump is pushing back.
STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: OK, Murdoch, here's the way it's going to be brother. You've disrespected Donald J. Trump long enough.
FOREMAN (voice-over): But all the revelations from the Dominion case appear to be hard on the friendship.
FOREMAN: Murdoch has been very pointed, against Trump, at times. Before he became a very serious candidate, at one point, he said, "Why you keep embarrassing yourself in the whole country?" He has not pulled punches at various times, Erin.
BURNETT: It's true.
FOREMAN: And he doesn't seem to be pulling them now.
BURNETT: No, it certainly doesn't.
And, I guess, the question is here, Tom, is, is this a relationship that is irreparable or not?
FOREMAN: That is a great question.
Jim Rutenberg, from "The New York Times," we talked to there, said look, they've been through these sort of sea changes several times, where they get at each other's throats, and then become pals, again.
He thinks they're actually friends. And he says there is no reason to believe that they might not be able to patch things up, especially if Donald Trump's star is ascending, once more.
BURNETT: Right. Well, it's pretty amazing. Thank you very much.
BURNETT: And next, a Mexican cartel, writing a so-called apology letter, after being accused of kidnapping four Americans, and killing two of them.
BURNETT: And finally tonight, the Mexican cartel, suspected of kidnapping four American tourists, and killing two, trying to escape blame.
The Group writing a letter, which was obtained by CNN, and it reads in part, "The Gulf Cartel, Scorpion Group, strongly condemns the events of last Friday... For this reason, we decided to hand over those directly involved and responsible for the acts, who at all times acted under their own determination and indiscipline and against the rules in which the [Gulf Cartel] always operates."
The Cartel then released a photo, which shows five men lying face-down restrained.
Now, an official, who confirmed the letter, tells CNN that Mexican and U.S. law enforcement officials strongly doubt the sincerity of the Group's explanation. Instead, the official says it was probably issued, because all this attention is now on the Cartel, right? They're worried about what could happen to them.
It all comes as the bodies of the two Americans, who were killed, in last week's horrible attack, were seen leaving a Mexican morgue, and heading towards the U.S. border, where of course the investigation is ongoing, and so many questions about what this will mean for that Cartel, whether there'll be extradition, or a crackdown, or what? I mean, it's an unprecedented moment, and there are a lot of questions about what will be done.
Well, thanks so very much, for joining us. We appreciate the time. See you back here, same time, same place, tomorrow.
In the meantime, "AC360" begins, right now.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, ANDERSON COOPER 360: Good evening. We begin tonight with Breaking News.