Return to Transcripts main page

Erin Burnett Outfront

Police: Shooter Resented Having To Attend Christian School; Ex- National Enquirer Publisher Testifies In Trump Probe, David Pecker Was A Key Player In Hush Money Scheme; As Ukraine Desperate For More Ammo, A Weapons Provider Reportedly Says It Can't Expand A Factory Because Of TikTok; GOP Senators Rebuke Trump For Sympathizing With January 6 Defendants; Newly-Found Evidence Presented At Gwyneth Paltrow Ski Trial. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired March 27, 2023 - 19:00   ET



ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, breaking news: police say the Nashville shooter Audrey Hale had resentment about having to go to the private Christian school. The 28-year old shooter killed six people, including three 9-year-olds.

This as one angry mother interrupts live television demanding answers. And that mother is OUTFRONT tonight.

Plus, another witness appears before the Trump grand jury, David Pecker. And publisher of the "National Enquirer" on the hush money payments to Stormy Daniels as Michael Cohen is on standby to return to the witness stand. Cohen's attorney is OUTFRONT.

And how TikTok is keeping much needed ammunition from Ukraine.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, we begin with breaking news, chilling details emerging tonight about a possible motive after a mass shooting at a private Christian elementary school, the Nashville police chief saying the killer who identified as transgender resented having gone to that school.


JOHN DRAKE, NASHVILLE POLICE CHIEF: There is some belief that there was some resentment for having to go to that school. Don't have all the details to that just yet, and that's why this incident occurred.


Now the shooter, according to police is 28 year old Audrey Hale. In all, six people were killed, including the head of school, Katherine Koonce, also to other teachers, Mike Hill and Cynthia Peak, died today and three 9-year-old children, Evelyn Dieckhaus, William Kinney and Hallie Scruggs. Names of nine-year-olds who woke up this morning and went to school for another day with their friends, recess, not fearing for their safety, and now their futures gone, cut by a heavily armed former student, and what police are now calling a targeted attack.

And, according to officials, the shooter actually had drawn maps, extensive maps of both the school and done surveillance.


DRAKE: We have a manifesto. We have some writings that were going over that pertain to this day, the actual incident. We have a map drawn out of how this was all going to take place. There's right now theory of that that we may be able to talk about later, but it's not confirmed and so we'll put that out as soon as we can.


BURNETT: All right. We're going to put that out as soon as they can. They do say that while it was targeted that Hale was randomly shooting people in the school and we'll see if we learn more about that, the individuals and whether they were specifically targeted or not.

And the anger and frustration in Nashville already boiling over. In fact, a survivor of the 2022 4th of July mass shooting in Highland Park, Illinois, was in Nashville for a family vacation. She heard gunshots and after a press conference outside the school jumped in interrupting live newscasts across the country who are taking that press conference live.

Here's part of what she said.


ASHBEY BEASLEY, SURVIVED THE JULY 4TH SHOOTING IN ILLINOIS: I'm from Highland Park, Illinois. My son and I survived a mass shooting over the summer. I am in Tennessee on a family vacation with my son visiting my sister in law. I have been lobbying in D.C. since we survived a mass shooting in July.

I have met with over 130 lawmakers. How is this still happening? How are our children still dying and why are we failing them?


BURNETT: In a moment, I'm going to speak to Ashbey about that anger, anger that so many Americans are feeling.

But, first, I want to go live to Dianne Gallagher.

And, Dianne, what else are you learning about the shooter? So, Erin, the shooter was a 28-year-old former student of the school. We are told who identified as transgender, and police say that they were very familiar with what they were doing.

We talked about maps, also surveillance of the school. They noted that the shooter was armed with two AR style rifles, two AR assault weapons, a rifle and a pistol, as well as the handgun, and several rounds of ammunition. They say that the shooter was ready for police confrontation.

Tragedy at another American school, three children and three adult staff members shot and killed at the Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee, in what police are calling a targeted attack by a heavily armed 28-year-old former student.

DON AARON, NASHVILLE POLICE DEPARTMENT MEDIA RELATIONS: The three nine-year-olds who were killed, Evelyn Dick house, William Kenny, Hallie Scruggs.


Three adults: Mike Hill, a custodian age 61. Cynthia Peak, to my understanding, a substitute teacher age 61. And Katherine Koonce, age 60.

GALLAGHER: Police say the suspect was Audrey Hale, who identifies as transgender in the Nashville area resident who they say is a former student of the private Christian school, located at Covenant Presbyterian Church, which serves preschool through sixth grade.

A car near the scene helped identify Hale, and police say they are currently going over writings left behind by the shooter.

DRAKE: We've also determine there were maps drawn other school in detail of surveillance entry points, etcetera. We know and believe that entry was gained through shooting through one of the doors is how they actually got into the school.

GALLAGHER: Calls started coming in at 10:13 a.m.

AARON: The officers had engaged the shooter by 10:27, and she was deceased.

GALLAGHER: Metro Nashville police say there is video from the school and the shooting happened on an upper level in the lobby area, not a classroom. A teacher texting her daughter from inside the school.

AVERY MYRICK, DAUGHTER OF PRE-K TEACHER: She said she was hiding in the closet and that they were shooting all over, and that they had potentially tried to get into her room.

GALLAGHER: President Joe Biden weighing in this afternoon on the 129th mass shooting of this year, according to data from the Gun Violence Archive.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have to do more to stop gun violence. It's ripping our communities apart, ripping a soul of this nation, ripping at a very soul of the nation. And we have to do more to protect our school so they aren't turned into prisons.


GALLAGHER (on camera): Now, police say that they are focusing on Hale's writings at this point, also noting, Erin, that it appears at one point the shooter wanted to target another location, but determined that there was perhaps too much security and did not.

We do know, according to police that there was no school resource officer at this school. Of course, it is a small private Christian school in a church. They say that they are going to be going over that video from the school and maybe releasing some of it as early as tonight, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Dianne Gallagher, reporting on the very latest as we know it, obviously, developing story. We know we're going to hear more from law enforcement. They say on a possible motive here in these coming hours.

OUTFRONT now, Bob Mendes. He is Nashville council member at large.

And, Councilman, I appreciate your time. And of course, I'm sorry to be speaking to you under such horrific circumstances.

The police chief has just said that the shooter had in his words, some resentment at having previously attended this small Christian school, the Covenant School. What more do you know? Are you able to share with us about this horrific incident?

BOB MENDES, NASHVILLE METRO COUNCIL MEMBER AT LARGE: Well, this has been moving so quickly today that I don't have anything more to share than what the police chief has said. You know, rumors started going around town pretty quickly after the shooting that it was a former student, and it looks like it's turned out that way. I'm sure we'll learn more in coming days about what the specific complaint was about the school.

BURNETT: Now, of course, Councilman, you do know people involved. I know it's a tight knit community, you know, one of the teachers at the school.

Can you tell us anything about what your friend experience today?

MENDES: Well, all the information is that it was just horrifying. You know, as unfortunately we hear in all these things that happened nationally, you know, parents aren't immediately reunited with their children. I think it took some three hours, 3.5 hours from one story I heard from parents to know that their child was okay, even after they knew that some of the child's classmates had been killed.

Just that waiting and that no one can imagine. No one can imagine that call, though it continues to happen across this country. We do know, Councilman, that the police say and we just we're hearing from the police chief a moment ago, but that the shooter had two AR style weapons and a handgun, and that two of those had been obtained legally.

We're also told at this point that there is no known history of mental illness. Again, we do know this is a former student, and that's pretty much all we know, other than the fact that the person identified as transgender.

Do you think that they're -- from what you understand in the chain of events today, anything that could have been done to prevent it?

MENDES: I mean, I we get better gun laws in Tennessee and in America in America. You know, Tennessee, unfortunately, has some of the loosest gun laws in America and we're not allowed in city government have more restrictive measures even though it would make more sense in our cities.


You know, absence actually having leadership at the state and federal level care enough to pass common sense gun laws, it's hard to see how this could have been stopped.

BURNETT: All right. Well, I appreciate your time, Councilman. Thank you very much.

MENDES: No problem. Thank you for having me on. Appreciate it.

BURNETT: All right. Well, as I said, I'm very sad about the circumstances that we even have to talk.

But as you just heard of survivor of the Highland Park shooting, speaking out in anger at one of the press conferences about just the anger, the horror that another mass shooting has, unfortunately, completely predictably in the United States taking place.

And here's a bit more of what Ashbey Beasley said.


BEASLEY: Aren't you guys tired of covering this? Aren't you guys tired of being here and having to cover all of these mass shootings?

I'm from Highland Park, Illinois. I have been lobbying in D.C. since we survived a mass shooting in July. I have met with over 130 lawmakers. How is this still happening? How are our children still dying? And why are we failing them?

Gun violence is the number one killer of children and teens.


BURNETT: And Ashbey Beasley is with me now.

I mean, Ashbey, you know, you came out today and just spoke with your passion, your frustration, your heart. What you did there was seen across the country in that moment, Barack Obama actually just tweeted out the video that we just saw of you, just in the past 20 moment minutes. He just tweeted that out as well.

And he wrote with that: We are failing our children, along with the video of you. We all saw and heard your anger and frustration. What made you decide that you needed to go there at that moment and speak out like that today?

You know, I was in town to visit my sister in law, and I had made a plan to have lunch with a girlfriend who I met through the GVP space, that's gun violence prevention space. She's introduced to me by a mother who lost her son and has a law called Ethan law that she's trying to pass.

And the friend's name is Shanda Brooks (ph). She lost her son in a mass shooting in the waffle house in Antioch, Tennessee, five years ago. He was with her other son and we were about to have lunch when she called me and she was very upset, telling me that her son -- her living son was on lockdown at his school because there was a mass shooting at another school right down the street.

And my heart broke and I -- this is where we're at. We have children living through multiple mass shooting incidences. What are we doing? No --

BURNETT: Ashbey, you were -- you're there today and I know you're -- you know, you have been in Highland Park right in the summer. So when you hear the gunshot -- I mean, at what point did you realize in your own life, right, that this is happening to me. I am hearing this happen again right now.

BEASLEY: I mean, to be honest, you know, after our shooting, I didn't know very much about gun laws or any of these things that happened, but what the other officer or with the councilman said earlier is absolutely true. Seventy-seven percent of mass shooters obtained their lead -- their weapons legally. They buy these guns, these AR-15s. They can walk into a store, sometimes there's no background check. You only have to be 18 years old to buy one of these weapons.

And it's the access to guns that is killing us. It's the access -- the easy access to firearms that is causing this and like, he said. We're not going to see any change until our lawmakers step up and pass gun safety legislation.

BURNETT: And, Ashbey, what do you even say? As you think about this, and you have been indefatigably fighting, right? You said you talked to hundreds of lawmakers. You've now dedicated yourself to this.

And yet now, there are six families, right? There are parents of 39 year olds whose children died today. You know, you and I speak as mothers.

What do you even say to those families who are going through this tragedy, which everybody, unfortunately, knew would happen somewhere at some point because it continually does in this country.

BEASLEY: Fifty percent of Americans have either experienced gun violence or know someone who has experienced violence. It's only a matter of time until everyone in this country is having this experience, and I would say two families going through this that they are not alone, that there are -- there are other families who have been through this who hold them close.

Sandy and Lonnie Phillips (ph) from survivors and powered help families who are going through these tragedies. And unfortunately, that's where we're at. We have to take care of each other. Survivors have to take care of each other.

BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you so very much. Ashbey, I appreciate your taking the time to come and talk to us and for everyone that you -- that you went out and did that today, and forced the whole country to see you.


It's important and thank you.

BEASLEY: Thank you for having me.

BURNETT: And next, David Pecker of "The National Enquirer", a publisher who actually helped broker the deal behind the hush money payments to Stormy Daniels in front of the Trump grand jury today.

Michael Cohen's attorney, Lanny Davis, is my guest next.

And it's one of Europe's biggest ammunition manufacturers and its supplies ammo to Ukraine. Well, tonight its work, its ability to produce ammo is being hindered by TikTok. And we're going to tell you why.

And the skier who is accusing actress Gwyneth Paltrow of slamming into them in a Park City, Utah, resort describes that moment on the stand.


TERRY SANDERSON, RETIRED OPTOMETRIST: It was like somebody was out of control and going to hit a tree and was going to die.



BURNETT: Tonight, one of the people at the center of the hush money payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels testifying before the New York grand jury hearing evidence about Donald Trump. David Pecker, the former chief of the "National Enquirer" and a longtime personal friend of Trump's, was seen leaving the grand jury building this afternoon after spending an hour and a half there.

Now, keep in mind. It was Pecker who helped broker the hush money deal between Daniels and Trump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen, back in 2016. According to court papers from Cohen's federal trial, Pecker messaged Cohen on an encrypted phone apps, saying, quote: We have to coordinate something on the matter attorney 1 is calling you about or it could look awfully bad for everyone.


Two days later, Cohen transferred the $130,000 to Stormy Daniels' attorney.

Now, Pecker, of course, had a history of cooperating with Trump to, quote, catch and kill stories that could damage Trump, something that Cohen even discussed with Trump in this recording from 2016.


MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: I need to open up a company for the transfer of all of that info regarding our friend David.

And I spoke to Allen about it when it comes time for the financing, which will be --


COHEN: We'll have to pay --

TRUMP: So pay with cash.

COHEN: No, no, no, no, no.


BURNETT: Our friend David refers to David Pecker.

Now, Pecker was granted immunity in the federal investigation in return for his grand jury testimony. It is unclear tonight why it was brought before the grand jury for a second time and what he told them but again, we can tell you is he was there for about 90 minutes.

Michael Cohen's attorney, Lanny Davis, is with me tonight.

And, Lanny, thanks very much for being with me.


BURNETT: I guess let's just start with what we know happened today, 90 minutes of David Pecker with that grand jury. Do you have any knowledge about why he was in front of that grand jury for a second time or what he told them?

DAVIS: No, I don't, just what's been publicly reported, which is Mr. Pecker corroborates what the federal prosecutors said about Donald Trump.

Remember, it was the federal prosecutors who worked for Donald Trump's administration, who said that he instructed Michael Cohen to pay the hush money which was illegal in which he went to jail for.

So, David Pecker is publicly been at least reported as corroborating what the federal prosecutors charge Mr. Trump with. They didn't prosecute him because he was president. But it was the same crime they sent Michael Cohen to prison for and they said it was a danger to democracy what Michael Cohen did. So it's not a petty little crime, and I think that's what would be corroborated by Mr. Pecker, according to public reports.

BURNETT: All right. Now, I want to ask you more about that specifically, in a moment. I also want to ask you about when you were in the grand jury room yourself. You were there with Michael Cohen, your client. And after he testified, as you well know, of course, his one time lawyer, Robert Costello, came in to testify at the request of Trump's lawyers, to apparently chip away at Cohen's credibility, right, to debunk things that he had claimed, and then when people there didn't appear to be a movement for a number of days, right, no indictment.

And then today, the grand jury hears from David Pecker, so we continue to hear from people and now they have adjourned and again, as far as we know, did not take a vote to indict Trump or not.

Lanny, why do you think we have not seen a vote on indictment yet?

DAVIS: Well, first of all, Mr. Costello can be dismissed with one sentence. If you read the emails that have been published, where he was trying to secure Michael Cohen as his client in order to keep them in the tent, and my client, Mr. Giuliani is a friend of mine and his client sends you his regards, this was all an effort publicly reported that Mr. Costello was part of. It had nothing to do with anything other than they requested the Trump lawyers they had the right to request that he testify but it had nothing. No impact on anything.

Regarding the string of events that have led to these delays. I have no idea. I was not in the grand jury room, by the way, not allowed to be, Erin, but I was in the room next door, and during the breaks, Michael and I would talk about it.

He thought it went very well. But these prosecutors, I have to tell you haven't been in all the interviews are very careful, very meticulous, and I'm sure they want to be very careful on this particular matter before. There's a vote for indictment.

BURNETT: Absolutely.

DAVIS: If there is a vote.

BURNETT: I'm sure, right, right. And as we know, before there is or if there is.

Now, as you keep saying, you know, this case seems to hang on the district attorney proving that Trump paid this hush money payments for the benefit of his campaign and didn't properly reported at the time, right? The crime is not that he paid hush money payments or paid off a porn star. The crime would be --

DAVIS: To influence an election.

BURNETT: Right, to influence an election.

So I want to ask you specifically and explicitly about John Edwards, who beat charges of breaking campaign finance laws. His was an elaborate scheme, right? Two of his donors paid a million dollars in secret payments and that was used to hide a mistress and a child. And Edwards says those payments were to shield his family from humiliation and that they were not campaign contributions. And he won, as you know, Lanny, and Trump's lawyer is now saying this.


JOE TACOPINA, TRUMP ATTORNEY: He made this with personal funds to prevent something coming out false but embarrassing to himself, his family, his young son.


BURNETT: Lanny, why is this case different than the John Edwards case?

DAVIS: Well, first of all, I am familiar with the John Edwards case. The top prosecutor in the Justice Department and I were old friends from my White House days with President Clinton. The defense lawyer, Abbe Lowell, who represented John Edwards.

So let me tell you what the law is, Erin. It's been misstated even by my old friend, Joe Tacopina, who I've worked with, not on this matter.


I wish him well, but I don't wish his client well.

The law says any political motivation, it can be 1 percent, not primary political motivation. So a jury is going to have to decide, do they believe Donald Trump waiting until the very end in October with two weeks left in the election suddenly deciding, okay, it's time, Michael. You pay the money, but I don't want to be connected with it, but I'll reimburse you -- and that's the word that the prosecutors in New York said, reimbursed.


DAVIS: I'll reimburse you afterwards for the $130,000. Will the jury believe Donald Trump that he had no idea that it would influence the election that it was only about Melania? We'll have to let a jury decide that. I respect the jury system.

In the Edwards case, the jury did not believe there was any political motivation. He had a dying wife who was dying of cancer, and when John Edwards testified, he said, had no thought about the election. He was only concerned about his dying wife and the jury believed that.

DAVIS: Let's see what the jury does here.

BURNETT: So I understand. Lanny, I understand the point you're making, but what I'm trying to understand what you say 1 percent would be enough, okay? It's how to unscramble the egg.

If someone is running for office, right, and therefore something they did becomes relevant to someone who wants to extort them for money. Maybe if they weren't running for office, it wouldn't be as relevant but it is. And so that person ends up paying hush money payment to prevent humiliation to their family, humiliation that only came about because they happen to be running for political office. It gets a lot more confusing than just this sort of 1 percent, 50 percent or breaking it down that way. DAVIS: Of course, I agree with you, Erin. That's what juries are


I'm predicting when the juries hear the evidence of a discussion about the female vote. Being at risk because of the Stormy Daniels matter coming right after "Access Hollywood", I'm convinced that jurors will not believe Donald Trump's explanation that he was worried about Melania. But if the juries are not convinced of that the political motivation was totally lacking, zero, then Donald Trump will be acquitted.

And let me remind everyone, Donald Trump is innocent after the indictment, until a jury right to be guilty.


DAVIS: So presumption of innocence still rewards anybody. Beyond a reasonable doubt, that jury is going to have to decide when Donald Trump says, I had no political motivation, is he to be believed?

BURNETT: One final point, Lanny. Stormy Daniels first told her account "In Touch" magazine in 2011. "Associated Press" reported that Michael Cohen sent an email to the general counsel, threatening them that Trump would pursue legal action if it was printed. "The Washington Post" reported that Cohen tried to stop the story by threatening Stormy Daniels agent.

Here's what we know -- that story was never printed in 2011. He wasn't a candidate then. He was willing to go to the ends of the Earth to not have it come out. Does that hurt your case?

DAVIS: It depends on whether a jury is going to believe Donald Trump, then the 2016 election. He waited until the last two weeks, even though he knew about the threat and whether the evidence shows that some of the reasons were political.

And let me just mention about Michael Cohen. Michael Cohen in front of the country and the world on television said, I'm ashamed of what I did. Now I'm going to tell truth to power from my family and for my country.

So whatever Donald Trump thinks about attacking Michael's credibility, Michael didn't take the Fifth Amendment, as Mr. Trump did. He went into a grand jury. He cooperated with congressional committees.

But most importantly, Erin, in my philosophy when somebody owns wrongdoing and says, I apologize, as Elijah Cummings, who ran that hearing said to me, I believe in redemption. Michael Cohen's credibility surrounded by documents, this case is about documents, not just Michael.


DAVIS: I think his testimony will be credible.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Lanny, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much. Lanny Davis with me.

DAVIS: Thank you, Erin. Thank you.

BURNETT: And, of course, now, Elie Honig joins me, our senior legal analyst, former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.

What do you make of the way he sees it?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Very interesting interview. So, first of all, Mr. Davis is correct when he says that the motives here can be mixed. It's enough for a prosecutor to show that he had multiple motives, as long as one of them was political. You can also have a family or a humiliation type motive.

But he is not correct when he says 1 percent is enough. The law says that the political motive has to be some substantial part of it. They don't put a number on it. One percent is not going to hack it.

The other problem for the prosecution here is that Mr. Davis' client, Michael Cohen, in 2018 said to the FEC, Federal Election Commission, so punishable by perjury. These payments were entirely unrelated to the election, entirely unrelated to the campaign and therefore totally legal.

Now the comeback will be, well, he was lying for Trump then, and as Mr. Davis just said, he's come clean now. That'll be up to a jury.

BURNETT: Well, it's certainly will. And, of course, as you point out, he wasn't prosecuted for that lie, bringing up the issue of yes, for some lies not for others, and there is discretion, prosecution.


BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Elie.

And next Russia, leveling a new and sobering warning at the United States while TikTok is now reportedly getting in the way of Ukraine getting much needed ammunition. And we're going to explain exactly why.

Plus, Republicans just speaking out to our Manu Raju tonight, slamming Trump for defending the January 6th insurrectionists, and we're going to tell you what they just told Manu. Pretty remarkable statements.


BURNETT: Tonight, desperate for weapons, Ukraine is pounding the table for more weapons and ammunition.

And tonight, we can tell you that one of Europe's largest ammunition manufacturers and weapons providers of Ukraine says it cannot expand its biggest factory in central Norway because of TikTok. The ammo manufacturer's CEO tells the "Financial Times" that the company was told that a data center where TikTok is reportedly the main customer is using all the surplus energy in the region so they don't have enough energy to make more ammo for Ukraine.

The CEO adding, quote, we're concerned because we see our future growth is challenged by the storage of cat videos. And the cost of those cat videos lives on the ground in Ukraine. In Ukraine, at the highest levels of government and on the front line, there has been a desperation for more ammunition.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unfortunately, we have recently experienced the lack of artillery shells, a lack of ammunition. We can feel it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We badly need the ammunition because we're running out of the ammunition of the -- of the Soviet types.


BURNETT: Ivan Watson is OUTFRONT with the report that you will see here first detailing the tremendous losses that Russia is facing tonight, specifically the mercenary armor, the Wagner Group, in Bakhmut.



IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Not a moment of peace in Bakhmut. Ukrainian forces say they remain entrenched in the center of the city, with Wagner mercenaries attacking from three directions -- high rise buildings defended by Ukrainian unit pummeled by Russian artillery and rockets.

From the air, new Ukrainian drone footage shows breathtaking destruction, smoke rises from the rubble, the ground littered with debris and the bodies of fallen soldiers.

The Wagner Group is thought to have lost thousands of fighters in the battle for Bakhmut, a city that's become a test of strength for both sides. But the Ukrainians claim to have stabilized the situation and say there's even been a slight fall in the number of Russian attacks. The commander of Ukrainian ground forces, Oleksandr Syrskyi, back in the city himself, saying the most intense phase of the battle for Mahmoud is underway. The enemy is suffering significant losses but continues to conduct offensive actions.

That's not how Wagner boss, Yevgeny Prigozhin, sees it. He was in Bakhmut on a dawn patrol with his fighters. CNN geolocated this video showing Wagner control in southern neighborhoods. One fighter says the Ukrainians are less than 200 meters away and that every building is a fortress. As they walked through the wreckage, Prigozhin says he wants to learn how Wagner can do things better and faster.

Hundreds of miles away in southern Russia, row upon row of what appeared to be freshly dug graves. This is a Wagner cemetery in Krasnodar. A sobbing woman says the graves are all from late last year and early this year of Wagner fighters of all ages. There's a constant stream of funerals here, but despite heavy losses

on the battlefield, the Russians still have immense firepower used daily against Ukrainian towns and cities. Ukrainian officials say a pair of missiles struck Slovyansk early Monday, killing at least two people and injuring dozens more.

But Ukraine also strikes deep behind the front lines. A mysterious explosion in the Russian occupied city of Melitopol, and in the Russian occupied city of Mariupol, what Russian state media describes as an assassination attempt Monday, blowing up the car of the Russian- appointed police chief.

From Ukrainian controlled territory, the city's mayor in exile called it a Ukrainian resistance attack, carried out barely a week after Russian President Vladimir Putin made a show of visiting Mariupol, a city Moscow captured and now claims for itself.


WATSON (on camera): Now, Erin, over the Ukrainian capital late at night, there were air raid sirens and explosions. A spokesperson for Ukraine's air force says that Russia fired Shahid Iranian made drones at the city and that the air defense succeeded in shooting down some of these, the spokesman said. During the air raid sirens, stay indoors because the pieces of those projectiles can still be very dangerous when they rained down.

And there was one residential neighborhood that took some kind of a blast. Emergency crews were on the scene, they put out fires. The mayor of Kiev says there were no casualties.

This is a reminder of the kind of weapons that Russia fires that Ukrainian cities and towns every day -- Erin.

BURNETT: Thank you very much, Ivan, reporting live from Ukraine tonight.

And I want to go now to retired Air Force Colonel Cedric Leighton.

And, Colonel Leighton, you know, amazing to watch the report there from Ivan. Prigozhin brandishing a weapon visiting Bakhmut, you know, again, claiming the city is going to fall and the mercenary group will be the victors. But you saw Ivan show this newly obtained video that he had all those freshly dug graves as far as the eye could see, at a cemetery for the Wagner fighters that even have been buried, right? Many of them, of course, have not ever left the battlefield even as corpses and it shows this steep cost here for Prigozhin.

COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Yeah, it sure does, Erin, and it's one of the key components here, too. I think Wagner's so far failed efforts to try to capture Bakhmut. It's pretty extraordinary when you think at least seven months worth of fighting, and they haven't been able to capture a burned out town that, you know, they basically surrounded on three sides.

So it showed the Ukrainian resistance effort has been extraordinary. But, of course, it is truly a meat grind. Both sides have described it.

BURNETT: Yes, it has, and there have been credible losses on both sides.

Now, this comes colonel as I was talking about that report from "The Financial Times", which I thought was pretty -- pretty extraordinary connection of stories, right?


They're saying that a major European ammunition manufacturer, which provides weapons to Ukraine, is unable to expand its biggest factory and provide what Ukraine needs the most right now, ammo, because of TikTok, right? That TikTok has a data center in the region, and Using up all the surplus energy, so there's not enough for the ammo plant to expand.

And, and I mean, this is incredible, right, the specificity of that story. And yet, we're seeing this across the board manufacturers have been unable to keep up with the demand in Ukraine, even the U.S. Army's acquisitions chief told CNN recently that they just have not been able to even right now the U.S. has been able to meet demand, but they want to go faster and they're just not able to do it.


BURNETT: How serious is the ammo shortage in Ukraine?

LEIGHTON: It's extremely serious. So just to put it in perspective, Erin, right now, the Ukrainian firing somewhere around 6,000 rounds per day of, you know, your regular ammo, 155 millimeter, 152 millimeters shells. The U.S. production per month right now is around 14,000 to 15,000 shells.

So in two days time, you can basically run out of the daily or monthly production that the U.S. puts out. So that's something without any major ramp up. That's going to cause major problem for the Ukrainians.

BURNETT: Yeah, you know the math, the math shows it.

Colonel, thank you very much. I always appreciate your time and perspective. Thanks.

LEIGHTON: You bet, Erin.

BURNETT: And next, we have some new reporting just in on Republicans breaking with Trump after he praised the January 6th of rioters. This is incredible. Manu Raju has it. It's next.

Plus, the man suing actress Gwyneth Paltrow takes to the stand to describe the moment, he says the two violently collided.


[19:45:29] BURNETT: Tonight, Republicans slamming Trump just speaking to our Manu Raju, and they're condemning this moment. During his first campaign rally over the weekend, he played a song that was performed by the J6 prison choir, a choir of men who are in prison for participating in the January 6th riot.


SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-TX): I just frankly don't understand this retrospective look, when it comes to running for president, or any other office. People don't want you to relitigate all your grievances in the past.

SEN. JOHN THUNE (R-SD): It's living in the past, and I think more people want to hear about the things you can do to make the future better and brighter for them.


BURNETT: Scott Jennings is OUTFRONT, former senior advisor to Mitch McConnell and former Democratic Congressman Mondaire Jones.

Okay, thanks to both.

So, Scott, I know that you would agree with Cornyn and Thune, but nonetheless, the fact that they came out right away and said, this is a little bit of a break with Republican tradition these days. How significant is it?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, most Republicans, I think who are an elected office know what Cornyn said is true, relitigating the past but especially relitigating January 6th and trying to turn it into something that it wasn't is not a winning formula. Nor is it actually right for the country.

It's one thing to analyze this through the lens of -- well, we can't win if we do this. But to try to rewrite history on this when we all saw with our own eyes is even worse. So I think -- I think most Republicans deep down know, if Trump's entire campaign is singing songs and turning January 6 into a Broadway musical, it's wrong and we're going to lose and neither is good outcome for the Republican Party.

BURNETT: All right. So and you're loud and clear about it. I do think it's a sort of extraordinary, Mondaire, what we -- that they were willing to say that to Manu. I know obviously soon, Thune, you know, he's been willing to say things in the past, but you know the sort of let's just avoid it, not talk about it. That's not what they did, right? And Cornyn coming out.

That is a change at least in this moment from what we see sometimes see.

MONDAIRE JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It is certainly a change from what we see from the majority of Republicans in Congress, but I don't want to give too much credit to people for doing something as modest as saying, hey, this is really wrong. We should not be celebrating what happened or rewriting the history of what happened on January 6th, which, you know, as someone who lived through that and who felt, you know, fear for his life in that moment, I mean, I can tell you that it's not anything like what the choir was singing about.

BURNETT: No and I -- and it's, you know, in a sense, it's kind of you think. Oh, my gosh, it's one of those things. How can anyone even laugh at it? Even as you think this is, this is really happening.

So, Scott, here's the thing, though, CNN went to that rally and Waco and spoke to some voters, and obviously, if you're going to go to that rally, you're pro-Trump. But, you know, they were there, and here's what they said.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They've been going after him since the beginning, they haven't stopped and they're not going to stop and this is where we have to stand up and fight.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Shoo in 100 percent. If they do that, he'll be a shoo in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It doesn't change a thing about his integrity and everything else.


BURNETT: And they're talking about, you know, potential indictments. So, you know, what do you take away from that, though? I mean, that is his base. That is a Republican primary voter.

JENNINGS: Yeah. What -- what has been true remains true. There is a chunk of the Republican Party that wants Donald Trump and they are not going to be moved off that position. The question is, how much is it?

I think it's less than 50. Maybe it's 40. Maybe it's 35, but they're not going to be moved by an indictment by Alvin Bragg, or frankly, any other indictment.

The only question is, can someone consolidate the rest of the party that doesn't want to go down that road, but that group right there that shows up and stands in line for hours and hours at a Trump rally, they're not going to be persuaded by some prosecutor in New York City.

BURNETT: And, Mondaire, here's one thing I want to ask you, though, in this context. You know, you've got Trump and facing DeSantis and other in the field, but DeSantis obviously the top polling one other than Trump.

President Biden's troubling headline today, a new poll shows a 25 percent of Democrats want him to run for a second term, 25 percent. Forty-four percent want him to step aside.

But then it was like, okay, who's next? And the only person other than Kamala Harris to getting double digits, she got 13 percent was other. Okay, that's not good.

JONES: It's not ideal, but when you see polling that pits Donald Trump against Ron DeSantis or Donald Trump, excuse me, okay, but Joe Biden against Ron DeSantis or Joe Biden against Donald Trump, you see, these people come home, right, or the sitting president.

He's got a tremendous record to run on. I think a better record than any president in modern history. This is someone who rescued our economy from the worst, who cuts poverty in half, who cuts the cost of prescription drugs for our seniors on Medicare.


And so, he's got a lot to run on, and I think these things are going to be popular when he reminds people of all that he's done, a lot of which will have kicked in by then in November 2024.

BURNETT: All right. Pause, and thank you both very much.

And next, the man suing Gwyneth Paltrow after the two collided at a ski resort finally testifies. This is such an odd trial details what he says happened when the two collided.

Plus, the death toll rising after violent storms and tornadoes tore through Mississippi, and the threat is not over.



BURNETT: Tonight, a blood-curdling scream and then a boom. That's what the man suing actress Gwyneth Paltrow says happened when she slammed into him in a ski slope. Paltrow describing a very different version of events, saying he plowed into her.

Veronica Miracle is OUTFRONT.


VERONICA MIRACLE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Actress and businesswoman Gwyneth Paltrow back in court today for a civil trial as the man suing her over 2016 skiing accident took the stand.

TERRY SANDERSON, SUING PALTROW FOR 2016 SKI ACCIDENT: Something I've never heard of the ski resort and that was a blood curdling scream. It was like somebody was out of control and going to hit a tree and was going to die.

MIRACLE: Terry Sanderson insists Paltrow skied into him on a beginner ski slope at a Utah ski resort, causing him severe brain damage and other injuries. But Paltrow vehemently denies this. She's countersuing Sanderson and claims he crashed into her.

GWYNETH PALTROW, ACTRESS AND BUSINESSWOMAN: I said, you skied directly into my effing back. I apologize for my bad language. SANDERSON: I'm like living another life now. I can't ski anymore. I was told that if I did, and had another crash, that I could wind up full time -- full time in a nursing home.

MIRACLE: Animations produced by Paltrow's legal team were shown to the court to illustrate where Paltrow family ski instructor Eric Christiansen alleged the parties were on the slope that day.

Christiansen who was with Paltrow's children at the time of the accident, testified about what he heard and saw.

ERIC CHRISTIANSEN, SKI INSTRUCTOR: The first, he was apologizing. Then he also just made a statement about, she just appeared in front of me.

MIRACLE: Christiansen also denied Sanderson's accusation that he and Paltrow skied away without offering any assistance to Sanderson.


CHRISTIANSEN: The whole time, I'm removing skis and getting ready to help them up, I'm asking, are you okay? He was affirmative. He said yes.

Last week, Paltrow described the crash in an entirely different way, even recalling she had first thought she was being sexually assaulted.

PALTROW: I was skiing and two skis came between my skis, forcing my legs apart. And then there was a body pressing against me. And there was a very strange grunting noise. I thought, am I -- is this a practical joke? Is someone like doing something perverted?


MIRACLE: Paltrow's husband and two kids were supposed to take the stand today, but this trial is running behind. In fact, the defense says they may not have time to get to Paltrow's family and get them on the stand -- Erin.

BURNETT: Well, all right, Veronica, thank you very much.

Surprising. We have to continue to follow that.

And coming up on "AC360", Senator Chris Murphy, he's been fighting for gun reform laws since the Sandy Hook shooting. He will join Anderson to talk about the Nashville shooting today. That's at 8:00.

And next, the death toll rising after a string of deadly tornadoes. It's Mississippi.


BURNETT: Tonight, a Mississippi father and his one-year-old daughter have died as another round of deadly storms roils the Southeast. Ethan Herndon and his daughter Riley, killed after a tornado struck their home. Twenty million people are now under severe storm threats as the

conditions have already led to 22 deaths throughout the region. The city of Rolling Fork, Mississippi, was virtually flattened after enduring wind gusts in tornadoes up to 170 miles an hour.

You can see these before and after satellite images to get a sense of how deep and widespread damage runs. The storms are expected to work their way east tonight.

Thanks so much for joining us. I'll be back again at 9:00 tonight.

And "AC360" begins now.