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Erin Burnett Outfront
Ukraine: Russia Launched 60 Airstrikes in Past 24 Hours; New Exclusive Details on How Massive Fox Settlement Unfolded; White Homeowner Charged in Shooting of Black Teen Pleads Not Guilty; RFK Jr. Launches 2024 Presidential Bid Despite Family Opposition; Senator Fetterman Speaks Out About Battle with Depression. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired April 19, 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, firefight from the trenches. New video into OUTFRONT of Ukrainians fighting Russians just 30 feet apart. It's incredible moment caught on tape when a Russian soldier lobs a grenade, and we're going to show you exactly what happened next.
And CNN's exclusive reporting inside the epic settlement between Fox News and Dominion, the last-minute scramble to keep Rupert Murdoch and Tucker Carlson from taking the witness stand. This as Fox braces for the next and bigger trial.
Plus, a Kennedy running for president. Why Steve Bannon is cheering him on and his own family isn't.
Let's go OUTFRONT.
Good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.
OUTFRONT tonight, terror in the trenches. We have new video into OUTFRONT tonight of Ukrainian and Russian troops fighting in the trenches west of Bakhmut. That is where, of course, many thousands have already died in the battle continues to rage.
The two sides here are about 30 feet apart at one point, and just go ahead and watch this incredible battle, which is caught on camera. Here's how it began.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello, are you okay? Are you alive? What are you doing, Leca (ph)?
Standby. Orcs jumped into our trenches. Orcs jumped into our trenches. Do you copy?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: First trench, guys, into the trench closest to you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get up, brother, orcs.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where are they? Grenade.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: We'll put that tense moment at the end again because you can actually see the Russian soldier right there. We've highlighted it throw his grenade at the Ukrainians. This is actually they're here just feet apart, and the video continues for nearly 10 more terrifying moments.
Now I'm going to play a bit more of that fight. We're not going to voice over this part so that you can hear what actually was happening. The terrifying sounds of this battle and what it actually sounds like to the soldiers who were there in the ground.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Left flank, orc almost dead. Ten meters to the left. He is still shooting.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We killed him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's alive, he was moving. Throw a grenade.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Guys, orc on the left flank! Enemy trying to push on the right flank! Keep firing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look out for orcs on the right trench. Jump into the gap and look out for orcs! In the right trench, orcs! You cover right flank. Left, hold your position! Save your ammo, right flank! Hold the right trench!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Just hear the intensity there. The destruction everywhere around. It's almost like in another world, but it is this world and it is Europe where this is happening.
And what's happening at the hands of Russians isn't reserved just for Ukrainian soldiers, civilians continue to be brutalized. And today, a 57-year-old Ukrainian woman told us house lawmakers what happened to her after Russian troops occupied her village. They came to her home. They found the Ukrainian flag and other Ukrainian items.
And so, she told what happened. She kept her back to the camera, though, for her privacy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LYUBOV, 57-YEAR-OLD UKRAINIAN WOMAN FROM KHERSON (through translator): And then they took me to their torture chamber and kept me there for five days. This was terrible. I was beaten. Forced me to undress, cutting my body with a knife and threatening to rape and kill me.
I also was taken out into the field and they beated me again and they were putting handgun next to my head and shooting as if as if executing me. Also forced me to dig my own grave.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Ben Wedeman is OUTFRONT in eastern Ukraine, along the front lines.
Ben, you've spent a lot of time on those front lines in Bakhmut. You've seen the fighting up close and we see what's happening here in the trenches in this video tonight, things seem to be getting if it's even possible to say it even worse.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, in fact, Erin, it really is intensifying. We were in the area of Bakhmut yesterday where we saw a lot of outgoing and a lot of incoming fire. In fact, we spent some time with some anti-aircraft units there. They're dealing with basically weaponry that dates back to the 19 seventies. But what we saw was a real intensification of the fighting in that area. There are a lot of Ukrainian troops.
Clearly, the Ukrainians are trying as hard as possible to hold on to the little part of the city of Mahmoud that they still control. Now, there is much anticipation and talk about a Ukrainian offensive coming up and certainly in this part of Ukraine, in the eastern part of the country, what we see is a huge amount of troops and armor on the move.
Also on the move is Patriot anti-missile systems. The Ukrainians announced today that a German-provided Patriot missile system has arrived in country. There's more weaponry on the way. We know that the Spanish are loading up Leopard 2 tanks to be sent to Ukraine. They're expected to be on the front line at the end of this month.
Now, when this offensive is going to begin is not clear. The deputy defense minister today here said that they're not going to be publishing a timeline, that they're going to obviously keep that secret. But there's no question just what from what we've seen that this offensive is coming. The question simply is when is that going to happen? Erin?
BURNETT: Ben, thank you very much, along those front lines in eastern Ukraine.
And I want to go now to Democratic Congressman Adam Smith. He's the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee.
And I appreciate your being with me.
So, you were just briefed about a recent leak of classified documents, some of which had to do with Ukraine. The lead suspect, we understand, of course, is that 21-year-old Air Force reservist.
Did you get your questions answered today?
REP. ADAM SMITH (D-WA): Not really. I mean, we didn't get any new information at the brief. I mean, the rough summary is basically the officials there -- and we had officials from State, in the intelligence community, as well as DOD.
They said, look, we have procedures. Obviously, those procedures failed. We are investigating why, and trying to figure out if we need new procedures.
They didn't really give us a lot more information than that, and that's what we members of Congress are really interested in finding out. What happened here? Is there something we need to do differently? And how did it come to pass that this sensitive information was so easily spread so widely?
So, no, we didn't get answers to our questions just yet.
BURNETT: And so, as far as we know right now, from -- from what we do know, some of the leaked documents included intelligence, obviously, on the war and Ukraine. There were -- there were other topics as well. But the National Security Council spokesman John Kirby, told CNN, quote: We still don't know the full scope of what's out there from the leak.
So, I understand they're not telling you. But, I mean, do they even know? I mean, are you -- are you worried about what we don't yet know, or the fact that they don't yet seem to know the scale and scope in full?
SMITH: Yeah, absolutely. I'm worried about that. We don't know the details, but I think you are quite correct in the way you assess it. They don't know for sure what else might be out there.
And those are the questions that we want answered. You know, what -- what is the range of the documents that were sent out there and then get back to, you know, how was it so easy for a 21-year-old IT operator to get access to this information and spread it? So we definitely need better answers to those questions.
BURNETT: So, you know, we've been talking a lot, obviously in recent days. Vladimir Kara-Murza, right, sentenced to 25 years. Alexey Navalny imprisoned. More and more of those Putin deems his opposition, his enemies imprisoned, some poisoned, others meeting bad ends.
We have also been covering former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili. He is now in prison, in a hospital in Tbilisi. He says he was in prison because he's anti-Putin and he's said he was poisoned by Russian agents. His lawyer told us that the DNA was tested, arsenic, among other things, that ex -- very high levels were found.
I know you've seen this, Chairman, but when you look at Mikheil Saakashvili before prison, and after, it is -- it is hard to look at.
SMITH: Yes. BURNETT: Saakashvili's lawyer says his health has deteriorated to the point where he's near death. They filed an urgent appeal to the European Court on Human Rights to get proper medical care and President Zelensky of Ukraine says this is now the only way to save Saakashvili's life.
Do you think more needs to be done by the United States to help Saakashvili?
SMITH: I don't know what the options would be, but certainly, that the central problem here is the rogue state that is Russia and the way Putin is leading it, and, you know, the devastation that he's, you know, foisted upon Ukraine, but also all of the people who disagree with him who are dying mysteriously -- as you said, being poisoned, falling out of buildings.
I mean, look, the entire international community ought to unite against this and condemn Russia, and condemn Putin for the way they are acting on the international stage. Certainly, the U.S., we have 54 countries in our coalition helping in Ukraine. But there are a lot of other countries in the world that are sitting on the sidelines on this and empowering Putin to get away with this.
We need to, you know, shine a bright light on these atrocities and try to get the world community to unite against that, and, frankly, you get China to do well -- do less cozying up to Russia and be aware of what Russia is doing.
So, yes, I think there is much more than a lot of nations can do.
BURNETT: Congressman, thank you very much. I appreciate your time tonight.
SMITH: Thanks, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. And OUTFRONT now, Yulia Laputina. She has Ukraine's minister of veterans affairs.
And Ms. Laputina, I am grateful to speak to you tonight.
You know, we are seeing just bits of the reality of this war. That video from a trench battle where the soldiers are feet apart is a horror movie, but this is the reality that Ukrainian forces are facing every single day.
And one of those leaked documents that we just talked about there with the congressman estimates that Ukraine has suffered up to 131,000 casualties, as many as 17,500 young troops killed just as of February.
These numbers are truly impossible to imagine. Are they accurate?
YULIA LAPUTINA, UKRAINIAN MINISTER OF VETERAN AFFAIRS: I think, first of all, I want to express my gratitude for your -- for American nation, which is strongly supported our country, and they feel here in Washington when simple people comes to me and asked me if I'm from Ukraine, and they say everything -- good things about supporting our country.
And I think that there is no action which can influence on -- of our strong partnership and our strong relations. Everything depends on the investigation and the results of investigation will tell us the truth.
BURNETT: And you say the truth as in the number of casualties?
LAPUTINA: The truth about this situation and the number of casualties. It's not my occupation to tell about this because I don't have this information.
BURNETT: So Ukraine's death toll, whatever the exact number maybe, right, is obviously, terrible loss, and it's going to such a level that I know you've been meeting with officials at Arlington cemetery, right? Which was built out of necessity, necessity to bury a large number of dead soldiers in the American civil war. And I know that Ukraine -- you've been planning and considering to build an Arlington type cemetery in Ukraine.
What impact is this war, this ongoing war, with no end in sight right now, having on the Ukrainian people?
LAPUTINA: We are fighting for our independence. And today, we had a visit to the Arlington cemetery, and we had a communication with the chief staff of the administration of the cemetery, and we loan (ph) from American history and from American experience how important is to memorize (ph) the -- our heroes, your heroes.
And it is all also our opportunity and our responsibility of our ministry to create in Ukraine, the national memorial cemetery. It will be in Kyiv. And now, we have adopted roadmap, which is confirmed by our prime minister, and we will go through our steps to memorize (ph) our heroes.
And it will be also very important for our people because we should memorialize the heroes of the Russian-Ukrainian War and also have a memorial to memorize the -- all of the -- our defenders from different historical periods.
It also should be a place of interest for our foreign partners, which will come to Ukraine and see the price of our independence.
BURNETT: Oh, yeah. Terrible price that it is.
Minister Laputina, thank you very much. I appreciate your time tonight.
LAPUTINA: Thank you.
BURNETT: And next, Fox News, bracing for a second major defamation trial, this one much bigger than the last, $2.7 billion is the ask. The details are next.
And exclusive new reporting into CNN tonight on exactly what went on behind the scenes in that settlement to keep Rupert Murdoch and Tucker Carlson off the witness stand.
And the 84-year-old White man charged with shooting a Black teenager who rang his doorbell, pleading not guilty to felony charges. We'll go live to Kansas City.
And indifferent to living. That's -- those are the words that Senator John Fetterman used. That's how he said he felt when he sought treatment for depression in a revealing new interview.
BURNETT: Tonight, Fox News now ready for its next multibillion dollar defamation battle. This is from the Smartmatic voting company, which is suing Fox for $2.7 billion, and I just want to be clear that is a billion dollars more than Dominion was suing for.
This as CNN has exclusive new reporting about exactly how Fox and Dominion came to that historic $787.5 million settlement beyond the 11th hour, right? The day and a half into when the trial was supposed to have started, then they came to the settlement, the lengths that Fox was willing to go to in order to keep Tucker Carlson and Rupert Murdoch specifically off the witness stand.
Danny Freeman has been doing the reporting and he is OUTFRONT.
DANNY FREEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After a historic settlement for Dominion Voting Systems --
JUSTIN NELSON, CO-LEAD COUNSEL FOR DOMINION VOTING SYSTEMS: The truth matters. Lies have consequences.
FREEMAN: -- the potential consequences of another defamation case loom on the horizon for Fox News.
Even before Dominion filed its $1.6 billion lawsuit saying Fox knowingly lied about its voting machines, Smartmatic, a different voting technology company, filed a similar suit, this one seeking $2.7 billion in damages, accusing Fox News, several of its hosts and Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, falsely saying Smartmatic rigged the 2020 election.
In its complaint, Smartmatic alleges Fox knowingly aired more than 100 false and misleading statements, including this one.
MARIA BARTIROMO, FOX NEWS HOST: I have spoken with a few whistleblowers myself this weekend. And one source, who is an IT specialist, told me that he knows the software and specifically advised people in Texas -- officials in Texas not to use it, and yet he was overruled.
FREEMAN: The company also argued Fox falsely claimed Smartmatic was linked to former Venezuela President Hugo Chavez.
SIDNEY POWELL, MEMBER OF FORMER PRESIDENT TRUMP'S LEGAL TEAM: Smartmatic agreed to create such a system and produce the software and hardware that accomplished the result for President Chavez. After the Smartmatic electrical management -- electoral management system was put in place, he closely observed several elections where the results were manipulated using the Smartmatic software.
FREEMAN: Fox denies wrongdoing, saying they were just covering the news, an argument the Dominion judge threw out. Smartmatic cases currently still in the discovery phase at this time.
Meanwhile, CNN has learned exclusive new details about how yesterday's $787 million Dominion settlement came to be. Sources tell CNN's Oliver Darcy and Marshal Cohen, Fox and Dominion couldn't lock in a deal themselves over the weekend, so they called veteran mediator Jerry Roscoe. Roscoe, who's helped resolve wartime disputes in the Balkans, was on a cruise in Europe on Sunday when he was brought in a day before the trial was set to begin.
After several Zoom meetings and phone calls, the deal was finalized around 2:00 Tuesday afternoon and signed just minutes before the judge announced the resolution in open court.
BURNETT: So, Danny, you know, we're 24 hours past Fox, settling the Dominion case, right? It's historically large number. So now you've got Smartmatic looking at it going well, they got $787.5 million. What about us?
I mean, so, what is Fox doing here? Are they doing anything differently about fighting this?
FREEMAN: Well, Erin, I think the best way to answer that question is to actually reading the statement that Fox News sent to CNN today after the Dominion settlement, but in reaction to this Smartmatic lawsuit coming up. A Fox spokesperson said, in part, quote: We will be ready to defend this case surrounding extremely newsworthy events when it goes to trial, likely in 2025. Erin, remember that newsworthiness argument was one that the judge in the Dominion case threw out, but the quote goes on: As a report prepared by our financial expert shows, Smartmatic's damages claims are implausible, disconnected from reality and on its face intended to chill First Amendment freedoms.
So, Erin, I think that we should expect to hear a lot of the same arguments that Fox was using to defend in this particular case in Dominion, in Smartmatic, about the same issues for potentially two more years to come -- Erin.
BURNETT: Danny, thank you. It's incredible. I know it's not illegal precedent but still, $787.5 million have been put on the table. So, that's the precedent we're looking at. Thanks so much, Danny.
And next, the man charged with shooting a Black teenager who mistakenly showed up at his House appears in court today, calls are now growing for hate crime charges and a federal investigation.
Plus, a Kennedy taking on Joe Biden. Robert Kennedy Jr. is running for president, but a lot of his family is not voting for him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT F. KENNEDY (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There are other members of my family who are not here today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Tonight, the Missouri man charged with shooting a Black teenager who mistakenly showed up at his house is pleading not guilty. Eighty-four-year-old Andrew Lester appeared in court today facing two felony charges. This is almost a week after police say he shot 16- year-old Ralph Yarl in the head and arm at point blank range.
What happened was Yarl walked up to Lester's home by accident, he had mistook it for another home nearby, where his siblings were, so he was going to pick them up. He walks up to the wrong door. And shot.
This comes amid growing calls for an investigation into how police have handled this case.
Lucy Kafanov is OUTFRONT.
LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Andrew Lester, pleading not guilty and appearing for the first time in court today to face felony charges of assault in the first degree and armed criminal action, after allegedly shooting 16-year-old Ralph Yarl when the teenager rang the wrong doorbell.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He seemed to be aware of his actions.
KAFANOV: The victim's attorneys saying Lester seemed competent during the court proceedings.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was able to communicate with his attorney, and they didn't to meet up here and diminished mental capacity that would explain his actions.
KAFANOV: The 84-year-old, who has been released on bond, is charged with shooting Yarl twice through a glass storm door with a 32 caliber revolver. Prosecutors say there's no evidence Yarl ever crossed the threshold into Lester's home, and Lester told investigators the two never exchanged words.
The case is becoming a political lightning rod, the Missouri governor now criticizing President Biden for using the case to make political statements about gun violence. And there are protests in the community criticizing the handling of
the suspect, who was released within hours after the shooting and got bail despite the charges.
Lester's house where the shooting took place almost a week ago, now vandalized. It's been pelted with eggs and covered by graffiti, and it's unclear where Lester is currently staying. The mayor of Kansas City, saying he's worried that Lester is still a threat to the public.
MAYOR QUINTON LUCAS (D), KANSAS CITY, MO: I don't know what house he's in right now. I don't know if that's a house at the next Amazon driver or postal worker or campaign worker may knock on the door floor. And then what?
KAFANOV: No hate crime charges have been filed in the case, but Lester referred to Yarl's size and race in his statements to investigators.
According to the probable cause statement, Lester told investigators he saw a Black male, approximately six feet tall, and he believed someone was attempting to break into the house and shot twice within a few seconds of opening the main door.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're looking forward to a federal review of this case, in federal charges as well.
REPORTER: Civil rights violations?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's right.
KAFANOV: The attorney posting an update on Yarl and a photo of them together, calling Ralph a walking miracle, saying he's recovering at home after suffering a traumatic brain injury.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was blown away to be able to sit with Ralph on his porch and talk about music and talk about how this experience has been for him.
KAFANOV: His family is now providing CNN with a rare glimpse into Yarl's early family life, including a photo of him with a younger brother, one of the twin brothers he had set out to pick up the night he was shot.
KAFANOV (on camera): In court today, Lester tried to speak with a judge, but he was not argumentative. Part of his bond conditions include reporting to police within 24 hours, and then once a month afterwards, he cannot possess any weapons. He is supposed to surrender his passport and remain here in Missouri. He's also ordered not to have any contact with Ralph Yarl or his family.
He is out on bond. He's expected back in court for the next procedural hearing on June 1st -- Erin. ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Lucy, thank you very much.
And I want to bring in Joey Jackson now, our legal analyst, criminal defense attorney.
So, Joey, you know you look at this, and obviously, Lester may use the stand your ground law, which it does exist in Missouri, says someone can defend themselves from, quote, what he or she reasonably believes to be the use or imminent use of unlawful force and you hear him say, thought someone was going o -- he sees a Black man, and they're almost six feet tall and he thinks they're going to -- going to rob him.
Ralph Yarl was 16 years old, five-foot-eight, 140 pounds, shows up at his door. Does this defense hold up?
JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: We'll see from early indications, Erin, it would seem that it does not understand what stand your ground is stand. Your ground is not a license to shoot because you feel like it because you're protected by this law. Stand your ground just doesn't give you the ability to indiscriminately start shooting because I think I'm being threatened stand your ground has a couple of components that are very significant. One is that you're in immediate fear of death or serious physical injury.
So you have to articulate facts, which indicate the immediacy of the fear.
BURNETT: Showing up at your door is not?
JACKSON: That in and of itself is not enough. Someone ringing your doorbell is not enough. What activities were engaged in that would give you the mindset, right, if you're the defendant in this case?
BURNETT: The fact that ringing your doorbell would actually -- did not indicate someone was showing up to --
JACKSON: Generally, if someone's after you, they may not ring your doorbell right? And the other component, Erin, briefly is you have to act reasonably right. It's the immediacy of the fear. And then you have to act reasonably.
And I guess if it goes this far, a jury would have to make the assessment based on these facts that we know was the immediate fear and was their reasonableness on the fact that we know now, it doesn't.
BURNETT: Right, it was certainly not from the way you lay it out there. It doesn't meet those.
So, the 84-year-old suspect shows up today -- he's struggling to sort of walk up to the -- to the judge's arraignment. Do you think age is a factor in the defense?
JACKSON: So, age I'm sure the defense will play up that, right? But it's something is very important. You know, the fact that you're an older person does not give you the immediate ability to shoot someone because you think they're threatening you. It's predicated -- BURNETT: It doesn't change the stand your ground tenet you just laid
JACKSON: Correct, there's nothing in the stand your ground law that says if you're over certain age or you think that you're more susceptible to attack. You have to have articulate facts. What did Yarl do? What did the teenager do who is 140 pounds and five foot eight that would --
BURNETT: Ringing your doorbell.
JACKSON: Ringing your doorbell, that would be suggestive of an attack, and the absence of that, I don't care how old you are, just wouldn't hold up.
BURNETT: So, the mayor of Kansas City now calling for investigation, why the suspect was only held for two hours, joining the family. You've got others saying, have this to be a federal investigation, hate crime.
Given what you're laying I out here, do you think that that's where this should go?
JACKSON: I think it has to write because you have to have a community that has trust in what law enforcement is doing.
You had the prosecutor indicate why he did not charge hate. His rationale was that it represented enhancement into the extent that the assault in the first degree, either you attempt to kill someone or attempt to do serious bodily harm land you in jail for 30 years. He didn't need the enhancement. That was his indication.
The feds, of course, we have a federal government, has a hate crime law, actual or perceived. If you act based on actual or perceived, right, a threat or what have you, but it's predicated upon race, it's a hate crime, and that's a problem. They should investigate.
BURNETT: All right. Joey, thank you.
JACKSON: Always. Thank you.
BURNETT: And next, new details on another shooting, this one fatal of a young woman who pulled into the wrong driveway. Tonight, her father with an emotional message for the man accused of shooting her.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just hope to God that he dies in jail.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Plus, another Kennedy running for president. RFK Jr. in a nearly two-hour speech, says he's taking on Biden and he doubles down on vaccine skepticism.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [19:38:41]
BURNETT: New tonight, a Kennedy running for president. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. in a nearly two hour speech today, announcing he's running for president against Biden, railing against vaccines, too. Even members of his own family are refusing to support him.
Jeff Zeleny is OUTFRONT.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was a political rally steeped in Kennedy family history, with one critical missing piece, most of the storied Kennedy family.
Today in Boston as he announced a long shot presidential bid --
KENNEDY: I am going to take back this country with your help.
ZELENY: -- Robert F. Kennedy Jr. evoked images of his father and uncle, as he bluntly acknowledged, his siblings wish he wouldn't be launching a campaign to challenge President Biden.
KENNEDY: There are other members of my family who are not here today.
ZELENY: With a famous political name, he plunged into the fringe of today's politics, railing against the safety of vaccines and what he calls corrupt corporate power in America.
KENNEDY: Many of them also just plain disagree with me on issues like the censorship, on war, on public health and they aren't entitled to their beliefs and I respect their opinions on them. And I love them back.
ZELENY: He's the third oldest child of Bobby and Ethel Kennedy, who once led crusades to clean up the Hudson and other rivers. But in recent years, he's ventured deep into conspiracy theories, drawing strong rebukes from medical experts for linking childhood vaccines to autism and other illnesses.
KENNEDY: I'm not one of these people who have spent their life saying, I got to be really careful because one day I'm going to be in the White House. I actually did the opposite.
ZELENY: In a speech that went on for nearly two hours, Kennedy sought to tap into the lingering anger from COVID lockdowns, a pandemic where he to gained new prominence.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don't fall for the one subject anti-vax thing. Keep an open mind. Listen to him. Listen to his message.
ZELENY: A lot of members of his own family wish he wasn't doing this and they kind of denounced him. What do you think about that? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I come from a big Irish family, too. And
you know, I think that everybody's entitled to how they feel, agree to disagree. That's what you have to do.
ZELENY: Kennedy's younger sister, Rory, telling CNN: This is a difficult situation for me. I love my older brother, but due to a wide range of Bobby's positions, I'm supporting President Biden.
His campaign handed out sign saying, I'm a Kennedy Democrat.
But some of the loudest cheers for his candidacy are actually coming from the right, including longtime Trump adviser Steve Bannon.
STEVE BANNON, FORMER TRUMP ADVISER: The longer he stays in this, the more his message gets out, it's going to resonate.
ZELENY: Kennedy denounced any coordination with allies of the former president, saying, I have never discussed a presidential run with Mr. Bannon.
Kennedy lives in Los Angeles, but chose the family's one time citadel of power to make his announcement. Visitors to the Kennedy presidential library in Boston were not moved.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't stomach the anti vaccine thing. The Kennedy name isn't enough.
ZELENY: For his part, Kennedy wrapped himself in the legacy of his family tree, by doing so, taking great liberty with historical comparisons.
KENNEDY: We need to bring this already back to the party of FDR, of JFK, of RFK, Martin Luther King and those values. In many ways, I have spent my lifetime preparing for this office.
BURNETT: Jeff, has President Biden or the White House weighed in on Kennedy's campaign yet?
ZELENY: Erin, we talk to White House advisers today and they declined to issue an on the record statement about this. They were watching this announcement, but they are simply not going to add their comments to all of this, but it should be pointed out. Of course, many members of the Kennedy family work for the Biden administration.
But in terms of personal relationships, there is no doubt that the more interesting ones perhaps are indeed on the right. For all the talk of the Kennedy family, it is the right like Steve Bannon and other allies of former President Donald Trump who actually are cheering this on. They, of course, are leading members of the anti- vaccination movement. That's why this will be so interesting to see if his campaign actually takes off.
Will it be Democrats inspiring it? Or will it be a coalition of perhaps some on the right or others also urging Robert Kennedy Jr.? Erin?
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much. Jeff Zeleny live in Boston tonight.
And next, Senator John Fetterman speaking out, saying he knew that he needed help for his depression when he couldn't rule out self harm.
And a grieving father speaking out after his daughter was shot and killed, pulling into the wrong driveway.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My wife, Angel, is going to have to go through the rest of her life without her baby girl.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: New tonight: Fetterman opening up. The Democratic senator and his wife, Gisele, sitting down for their first interview since Fetterman left Walter Reed after six weeks of in- patient treatment for depression, opening up to people about his years-long battle with depression. Fetterman says he knew he needed help when he couldn't rule out harming himself.
Think about this. This is a person you know who had been elected to the U.S. Senate still having those feelings, saying in part, quote, I realized that that could be an option. I wasn't thinking about self harm, but I was firmly in different to living. I decided that I had one chance to address this.
OUTFRONT right now, Kyler Alvord, "People's" politics editor who interviewed the Fettermans.
And I really appreciate your time -- I mean, you know this is in this interview, senator veteran with you is incredibly open, and he said that it had actually been years. I thought this was fascinating that he pushed back on the idea that he was depressed and he told you that he thought, quote, I'm just a little melancholic, maybe a little blue. And then he added, I've never thought that it was significant enough to get help. And then something changed.
What else do you have to say to you about when he realized he needed to get help?
KYLER ALVORD, LEAD POLITICS EDITOR, PEOPLE: Yeah. No, you're exactly right. That this is something that you know, I think he's dealt with his whole life. And it was Gisele and their marriage who first brought that up and said, you know, I think this could be depression and it felt like something, you know, that he didn't see as urgent it was, you know, like you said, a little melancholic. This is just how I am.
But it was on that campaign trail I think after the stroke, and it's also good to mention that you know, there are stats that about one in three stroke recovery patients to develop depression. And so, the way that his doctor is worded, this kind of as a perfect storm of he had a stroke. He's recovering and then started getting some of these nasty comments.
There's you know, one that you can tell really sticks with him, which is talking about people were calling me a vegetable. And he was nervous to go into this debate, knowing that people are going to see that he is not speaking perfectly, and he will miss some words. And so after that debate really seemed like when he noticed, this is a bigger issue that I've been putting aside.
BURNETT: Now, you talk about Gisele, his wife, and she talked obviously about this with you as well. And she said she's read every single book she could find on depression. She tried to get Senator Fetterman to read them also, and then she said, something that's very poignant. I think may stick with many.
Our kids were used to dad just being sad. That was his personality. Mom is happy. Dad is not.
And then she goes on to say, after he won. You expect someone to be at their highest and really happy and celebratory, and after winning, he seemed to be at the lowest and that was for me the moment of concern.
It's pretty incredible. You know what? What she's saying. You know that this was just sort of the way that they were living, right? And this is what their children had come to expect.
What else did she say to you about when she really felt that there was something more wrong here that he needed help?
ALVORD: Yeah, well, it sounds like -- you know, and I can't speak to her feelings, but it sounds like she knew for a long time that this is something that, you know, should be treated and could be treated but like, like you said, like, she said, you get kind of used to this. This is just part of a personality and she talked about, you know, wishing that he was happier, but you know, loving him all the same. And knowing that that was a decision he had to make if you wanted to get help.
And it was really after election night. You know, this was such a tense campaign. This was something that everybody was thinking about watching and when he won it was huge. He flipped the Senate seat it was, you know, against the celebrity doctor, all of this build up, and he overcame some of that doubt. And I think that's when he wasn't getting out of bed as much and was really starting to retreat.
And so that's when she started to notice, this is -- this is something that we need to address now.
BURNETT: He told you about these post-it notes that his children have been leaving around for him. Stay strong. Happy you're getting happier. I'm so proud of you. And I know he told you he'd keep those for the rest of his life. But
you spend a lot of time with him, 2 to 3 hours with the senator when he came out. I mean, this is -- you know, that people around the country are, you know, trying to understand you know what happened and how he's doing.
What stood out to you the most after spending so much time with him?
ALVORD: I think you know, I haven't spent time with him before his treatment. But just from what I've seen when I've heard in previous interviews, he feels like a very different person. You can tell that something is switched inside of his brain since going to Walter Reed, where he just has, you know, he talked about depression is paying, and he's never known life without pain, and now there's a moment where he says, you know, it's this new feeling. It's joy and Gisele Johnson says. It's a first. It's something that he's never experienced. So he's feeling happy and emotional, but you can tell that he's, you know, looking back on it with pain that he let it get this far, but feeling really good about where he's at.
BURNETT: Well, Kyler, thank you very much, and it is such a fascinating thing, and it's important for people to realize that relationship between pain and depression. The real physical pain.
BURNETT: Thank you very much.
And you can read all of Kyler's interview with the Fettermans in the new issue of people that comes out on Friday.
And coming up on "AC360", Anderson's exclusive interview with former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson. Her reaction to the networks blockbuster settlement with Dominion.
And next, more charges could be filed against the man accused of fatally shooting a 20-year-old woman riding in a car that -- well, when the shooting happened, was pulling out of his driveway. Her father speaks out tonight.
BURNETT: Tonight, more charges possible for the man accused in the deadly driveway shooting in Upstate New York. This is now, according to the district attorney who says there will be justice for 20-year- old Kaylin Gillis. She was shot and killed after she and her friends turned into the wrong driveway. And then we're driving out. That's when the shooting actually happened, according to the sheriff.
Brynn Gingras is OUTFRONT.
ANDREW GILLIS, VICTIM'S FATHER: Kaylin's two younger sisters, Lily and Maddie, don't have to grow up without their older sisters. My wife, Angel, is going to have to go through the rest of her life without her baby girl.
BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A grieving father whose last words to his daughter were "I love you" now overcome with emotion after the man who allegedly killed 20-year-old Kaylin Gillis, ordered by a judge to remain behind bars.
JUDGE ADAM D. MICHELINI, WASHINGTON COUNTY COURT: She was killed. She's dead. I don't think there's any more serious harm than that.
GINGRAS: Sixty-five-year-old Kevin Monahan is facing a second degree murder charge. Authorities said Gillis was with her boyfriend Blake Walsh and two others, driving on this rural New York road looking for a friend's house last weekend when they lost cell service, with no GPS, they pulled into Monahan's driveway. Police say he fired two shots as the car was turning around. Kaylin was hit.
Walsh telling NBC: My friend said, they're shooting go, I tried to step on the gas as fast as I could, and that's when the fatal shot came through. I want to believe it was instant. I'm hoping it was. I'm praying it was.
GILLIS: For this man to sit on his porch and fire at a car with no threat. It's just -- just angers me so badly. And I just hope to God that he dies in jail.
GINGRAS: In court, prosecutors say Monahan, a longtime resident of Washington County, had a reputation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's one of being confrontational and hot- tempered.
GINGRAS: Monahan's attorney tells CNN he has no criminal history and fired the shots because he believed the cars were revving their engines and Monahan felt threatened, adding, quote: He's a normal human being who was involved in a tragic series of events and, of course, he feels horrible that a young girl's life was lost.
Gillis remembered most for her smile was set to move to Florida with her family at the end of the year. She loved animals, so she planned to study marine biology.
GILLIS: She was so smart. She was so smart, kind, loving. She had so many friends.
GINGRAS: And was excited to begin a life with her boyfriend.
GILLIS: He's amazing, young man. He wanted to marry my daughter. I would have loved that.
GINGRAS: Gillis died next to him that night, killed for simply making a wrong turn.
(END VIDEOTAPE) GINGRAS (on camera): And it was so emotional in that courtroom today, I watched as young men were crying being comforted by their mothers, Erin. And when Kaylin's father walked in, he turned to the group of friends, including her boyfriend and said, guys, you got to trust the justice system. The family says that they are overwhelmed by the amount of support that they have received, including a call from Vice President Kamala Harris.
They said, getting Kaylin's story out there and sharing her light with the world is comforting -- Erin.
BURNETT: Brynn, thank you very much.
And thanks so much to all of you for being with us.
"AC360" starts now.