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Erin Burnett Outfront

Kremlin: Putin Met Wagner Boss, Offers No Proof; GOP Senator Defends Blockade as Marine Corps Set to Be Without Confirmed Leader For First Time in 164 Years; DOJ Accuses Trump Aide of "Unnecessary" Delay; Trump Slams Iowa Governor for Being "Neutral" on 2024; Axelrod: Cornel West Could Tip Election to Trump; "Remain Vigilant": 9+ Million Under Flood Alerts. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired July 10, 2023 - 19:00   ET



ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, did Putin cave? The Kremlin tonight claiming the Russian president met with the man who threatened his grip on power, Yevgeny Prigozhin. But why? And did that meeting actually happen?

Plus, tonight, major movement in the Trump investigations. The DOJ going after Trump's longtime aide in the classified documents case, while another grand jury is about to be selected. Will it bring a third indictment against Trump?

And a massive manhunt tonight in Pennsylvania. A suspected murderer with survivalist skills escapes from prison using a bed sheet. Is someone tonight helping him stay alive and away and armed from police?

Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, Putin, the not-so-strong man. The Kremlin revealing tonight that Putin met with Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of that armed rebellion just five days after the attempted coup. The Kremlin is giving some details. They're saying it was a nearly three-hour meeting. They're saying it happened on June 29th.

So a lot of details there, including Putin's spokesperson Dmitry Peskov saying the meeting included 35 of Wagner's chief commanders. That's very significant.

They then go on to say, quote, the commanders themselves presented their version of what happened. They emphasized that they are staunch supporters and soldiers of the head of state and supreme commander in chief Vladimir Putin. They also said that they were ready to continue to fight for the motherland.

Now, this is all according to the Kremlin talking about fighting for the motherland, even though they're marching on Moscow with Prigozhin that they stand behind Putin. All of these details as there is no photo or video evidence of any such meeting, and no one from Wagner, even though they're saying 35 of them were there is speaking out in any way about this story to corroborate it or dispute it or anything.

Prigozhin, of course, is still nowhere to be found. In fact, the same Putin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, on the very day that this meeting supposedly took place, June 29th, right? They're saying the day. Well, on that day, he was speaking to the press, Peskov was. And he said, quote, I do not have this information, when he was asked by reporters about Prigozhin's whereabouts, although, ostensibly, Prigozhin was in a three-hour meeting with Putin.

So if this meeting truly happened, and, of course, at this point it's an "if", we don't know. It would be a remarkable event. For one, just three days before this face-to-face would have happened, this is how Putin described Prigozhin without mentioning him by name.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): It was precisely this outcome, fratricide, that Russia's enemies wanted, both neo Nazis in Kyiv, and their western patrons, and all sorts of national traitors. They wanted Russian soldiers to kill each other.


BURNETT: He called Prigozhin a national traitor, right, a traitor. So just to understand where we are here, Putin -- Prigozhin, I'm sorry, launches an armed insurrection against Putin, seizes the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, head straight from Moscow, and then sort of 100 or so miles and sort of, doesn't know what to do, decides to turn back, has the country on the cusp of a coup and complete chaos for 24 hours.

All of that, and Putin's response is a three-hour face-to-face meeting? Well, as the former U.S. ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, wrote, quote, Putin's reluctance to arrest Prigozhin means either he lied to all Russians when he labeled Prigozhin a traitor or he is afraid to arrest Prigozhin. Neither explanation is a good look for the Kremlin strongman.

Well, meantime on Russian state television, the propagandists are very busy pushing one of their favorite topics why nuclear war may be inevitable in the context of all of this. They say now, if Ukraine starts using those controversial cluster munitions, which Russia has used significantly during the war, and the U.S. is now providing to Ukraine, then it's time for nukes.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): This is a very serious weapon. And if Ukraine, for one, gets their hands on them, then we will have to take serious steps in protecting our armored vehicles from this weapon. It's a very serious weapon.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Just for our understanding, we are to hang in there for a bit longer, and then we'll win. Otherwise nuclear war.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: Otherwise, nuclear war.

A lot to get tonight. I want to begin, though, with Fred Pleitgen on this remarkable Putin/Prigozhin meeting that the Kremlin is saying happened, Fred.


And -- I mean, it's incredible, right, that they -- they're not giving any video evidence of it. It's certainly not something they wanted to talk about, right? But now they suddenly are, and it's a sign of something.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, it certainly seems to be a sign of something very significant. And it could be a sign that possibly Vladimir Putin feels that he still very much needs Yevgeny Prigozhin and very much needs the Wagner mercenaries as well, especially if you look at some of the things that have been going on the battlefield in Ukraine with the Russians who were advancing when those Wagner mercenaries were there in the area of Bakhmut.

Now, it seems as though in many of those areas, they are having to pull back. Not by much, but they certainly still are. But, you're absolutely, Erin, there's a lot of things here that many people, not just internationally but also in Russia, are scratching their heads about.

One of the things, of course, is that the Kremlin came out and said that Yevgeny Prigozhin would have to go to Belarus. Well, it turns out it seems he's not in Belarus. In fact, the Belarusian strongman Alexander Lukashenko said that he was still in Russia. And now in this meeting today, we heard from the Kremlin that Vladimir Putin then apparently even talked about possible new combat deployments for Wagner forces.

Here's what we're learning.


PLEITGEN (voice-over): Not seen in public since his mutiny threatened Russia's leadership and labeled a traitor by the Kremlin, Yevgeny Prigozhin seemed down and out, bound for exile or worse.

But now, Moscow acknowledging Vladimir Putin himself hosted Prigozhin and other Wagner commanders inside the Kremlin just five days after the uprising.

The president listened to the explanations given by the commanders and offered them options for further employment and further military service, the Kremlin spokesman said.

This after Kremlin-controlled media spent weeks trashing Prigozhin like in this segment on a popular show last night.

The reporter is saying Prigozhin is not the Robinhood he tried to pass himself off as, he was a businessman with a criminal past.

After the mutiny, the Kremlin had said Prigozhin would essentially be exiled to Belarus, now a different tone towards Prigozhin and his fighters.

They stress the fact that they are loyal supporters and soldiers of the head of state and the commander in chief, the spokesman says. They said they were ready to carry on fighting for their motherland.

It's not clear what prompted Putin to meet Prigozhin, but the Russians currently need all the man power they can get. The Ukrainians say they're making important but slow gains in the south and east.

Kyiv, though, hampered by a major lack of ammo, especially for their artillery guns. That prompted the Biden administration to give the Ukrainians controversial cluster munitions to make up for the shortages in conventional artillery ammo.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is a war relating to munitions. And they're running out of those -- that ammunition, and we're low on it.

PLEITGEN: I spoke to the CEO of Rheinmetall, one of Europe's largest arms manufacturers. Rheinmetall does not produce cluster munitions, but he told me his company is ready to vastly expand its conventional ammo production.

ARMIN PAPPERGER, CEO, RHEINMETALL: We produce hundreds of thousands of rounds and the capacity next year will be 600,000. So if you see that the need is 1 million, Rheinmetall could deliver -- if we deliver only to the Ukrainians 60 percent of the need.

PLEITGEN: And the company says it wants to go a step further, servicing and even producing vehicles inside Ukraine starting with these armored personnel carriers called Fox.

PAPPERGER: We always have to wait that Europeans or Americans help them over the next 10 or 20 years, I think that's not possible.


PLEITGEN (voice-over): And that CEO, Erin, also telling me he believes the Ukrainians are going to make that massive push that they want to make, especially in the south and the east of the country. They're going to need a lot more of that artillery ammunition. Of course, for the Russians on their side, they're apparently going to need a lot more man power. That's one of the reasons why many are asking why Putin made those advances toward Yevgeny Prigozhin, whether or not he is starved from man power and desperately needs those Wagner fighters back on the battlefield, Erin.

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

And, let's go now to the Democratic Congressman Seth Moulton of Massachusetts. He is on the armed services committee, also a marine veteran, served four tours in Iraq. So, Congressman, I very much appreciate your time and your perspective

tonight. Just to start with where we are and what's incredible here is what we really don't know, right, even after all this in this era where nothing seems to be secret. We don't know what's happening in the Kremlin.

Three days after Putin accuses Prigozhin of being a traitor, five day after an attempted coup, he now is saying he hosted Prigozhin at the Kremlin for nearly three hours.

Presuming this meeting happened, what does this tell you?


REP. SETH MOULTON (D-MA): I mean, first of all, it just shows how weak Vladimir Putin really is. I mean, he almost gets thrown out with a coup. He, of course, trashes Prigozhin. Now he's having tea with him in the Kremlin and offering him a job in the Russian military again.

And, of course, it's a strong message about how poorly the war in Ukraine is going, how well it's going for NATO and the West that Putin is so weak. Obviously, it's because of Ukraine that Prigozhin tried to take Putin out.

But, at the same time, it's a dangerous situation. We all know that having Putin lose power in this nuclear armed state could put someone even more ruthless in charge. And that's a dangerous situation that the United States has to be prepared to anticipate.

BURNETT: Well, and it's a significant point you make. So many think, well, if he were to go away, that the situation would improve, and there's absolutely no certainty about that in any way, shape or form, as you point out. We do have new information trickling out about Prigozhin, Congressman, I mean, such that it is, right, because it's impossible to verify any of it.

But the reality of one thing we do know is that he has not been seen in public since he marched on Moscow 16 days ago. Right, he was supposed to be exiled in Belarus. We're now told that he's in Russia, that he's pledged his loyalty to Putin, even as they raided his house and, you know, tried to humiliate him by putting up pictures of the wigs they found throughout his house and things like that. He's still not anywhere to be seen.

What does it say to you and how concerning is it that Prigozhin's whereabouts right now are unknown?

MOULTON: It once again shows that Putin does not have control. I mean, Putin supposedly worked out this deal where he was going to Belarus. All of a sudden, Prigozhin's not in Belarus. He's -- you know, support his media, the sort of Kremlin media empire is trashing him on TV, and then he hosts him there for coffee or whatever where he supposedly gets a job offer.

I mean, it just shows how weak Putin is, the fact that he does not have fundamental control over the situation, which means he does not have full control over his country. So, yeah, just like you said, Erin, I mean, this is a situation that could get a lot worse before it gets better.

BURNETT: So, in this context is the NATO summit, which is crucial for all parties involved. And it starts tomorrow.

So, I sat down with President Zelenskyy in Odesa last week and he gave an impassioned appeal, Congressman, in English, which is rare for him. But he wanted to do it in English. He wanted to tell NATO and specifically President Biden that Ukraine needed to be invited into NATO immediately, even though it wouldn't happen until after the war. But the invitation needed to come now.

Take a listen.



BURNETT: Not down the line, now?

ZELENSKYY: Now. It's very important. It will push Russia. It will push our soldiers to deoccupate quicker because of the mobilization of the people.


BURNETT: President Biden told Fareed Zakaria that Ukraine won't be considered for NATO membership until after the war is over, which Zelenskyy had acknowledged would be the case, right? But Biden did not do, it appears, what Zelenskyy wanted, which Ukraine should be in NATO, this is something that needs to happen, we want to invite Ukraine and come in after the war is over.

Do you support Ukraine joining NATO getting that explicit of an invitation now?

MOULTON: Look, I just don't think the timing is right. I think President Biden is correct in saying that, you know, all the signs are there. I mean, here we are supporting Ukraine in this vicious war with all of NATO behind us. But that doesn't mean that the right thing to do is to say at this moment before the war is over that you should be welcomed -- you know, we should start the application process, per se.

What we need to do is focus on making sure Ukraine wins the war. And, of course, the result of that war will have a lot to do with whether Ukraine gets into NATO.

BURNETT: And, of course, in your perspective you feel strongly about this next question, it's about the Marine Corps. Now without a Senate confirmed leader for the first time in 164 years, right, something that you personally know the significance of that. And it's not just this position, right? It's one of more than 200 stalled nominations all because of Republican Senator Tommy Tuberville who is blocking all military nominations for nearly five months and he defends his actions to my colleague Manu Raju. Take a listen to his argument.


SEN. TOMMY TUBERVILLE (R-AL): If I thought this was a risk, I wouldn't be doing this. This is not a risk.

I've studied this. I've looked at it. I've talked to generals and admirals. I've talked to colonels. I've sat down to lunch with them.

And it's been pretty unanimous. This is not going to hold up readiness for the military.



MOULTON: That's great --

BURNETT: Is he right? You're a marine veteran. Is there any risk to this?

MOULTON: That's great that the senator has sat down for lunch with a colonel. But let me tell you, as a combat veteran, this is almost borderline traitorous. I mean, remember the early days of the Ukraine war when Ukraine was so successful with a little bit of our help in taking out Russian generals.

We took out those Russian generals because it left Russian forces in disarray. But what's happening in America right now is our generals aren't being taken out by an adversary, they're being taken out by a United States senator.

What this means in practical terms is you have leaders who cannot do their job. They're being replaced by deputies. When the Russians had their generals replaced by deputies, it didn't go very well for them. When we have three-star generals being taken over by -- positions being taken over by one-stars, it's practically embarrassing for them to show up to allies.

That's exactly what's happening with the marine forces in the Pacific. A three-star position is currently being manned by a one-star deputy who's got to go negotiate things with our allies to prevent a war with China. So, the stakes are extremely high. This is incredibly dangerous, and it's literally exactly what we try to do to our enemies during war time.

BURNETT: Congressman Moulton, thank you very much.

MOULTON: Thank you.

BURNETT: And coming up tonight on CNN, Senator Tommy Tuberville will join Kaitlan Collins on the debut of her show "THE SOURCE". That is at 9:00 Eastern. You don't want to miss that.

In the meantime, next OUTFRONT, new details on just how far the special counsel is willing to go in order to stop a longtime Trump aide from slowing down his investigation into Trump's handling of classified documents.

Plus, Trump taking on the Republican governor of Iowa, accusing the woman he once supported of playing favorites. We're going to hear from a presidential candidate who is one of the biggest spenders there.

And new warnings tonight as the manhunt for a murder suspect with military training is expanding dramatically in the U.S. with concerns now that someone is helping him.



BURNETT: Tonight, new developments in multiple Trump investigations. First, the DOJ accusing Trump's long longtime aide Walt Nauta of asking for a, quote, unnecessary delay in the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case.

Nauta faces six counts related to the alleged mishandling of classified information. The special counsel's team quickly firing back at Nauta for trying to reschedule his hearing this week, saying that that would, quote, inject additional delay in this case and is contrary to the public interest. So that's one crucial silo here. The other is in Georgia in Fulton County, where the D.A. is getting ready to select the grand jury that could bring a third indictment against the former president. This one related to his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results in the state of Georgia.

Paula Reid is OUTFRONT.

So, Paula, all right. A lot happening here. Let's just start, if we could, with this rapid back and forth today between Walt Nauta and the special counsel Jack Smith over this proposed delay in the case. What's happening here?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, it's not every day that someone calls or requests to just delay a hearing, you know, contrary to the public interest. But the reason the special counsel is pushing back so hard on this is that they see what the former president and his associate, Walt Nauta, are trying to do. Little delays over time will add up to likely delaying a trial until after the 2024 election.

Jack Smith is on record saying he wants a, quote, speedy trial. He has suggested trying to take this trial in December. But the former president and Walt Nauta have every incentive it try to push it as long as they can. And you do that through these little incremental delays.

Remember, it took Walt Nauta a month to be arraigned. That's why we're seeing this pushback from the special counsel. They know even pushing this back a few days or a few weeks is going to add up over time. The person with the power to stop this or allow it to continue to happen is of course the Judge Aileen cannon. And, Erin, everyone will be watching what she does here because this

will really set the tone for her attitude towards trying to delay things here.

BURNETT: Right, absolutely.

All right. So, now, the other crucial development Fulton County, right, in Georgia. The D.A., Paula, finally getting ready to seat that grand jury that will be considering charges related to efforts to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia. So what do you know about that?

REID: So we expect tomorrow in Georgia a grand jury will be impaneled, and one of them is expected to likely have to vote on whether or not to hand up indictments in the ongoing investigation into the former president and his allies and their efforts to try to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

Now, the district attorney Fani Willis has said that she expects there to be some developments, some announcements on these indictments between late July and mid-August. So, this is not something that's necessarily going to happen this week. It is expected that they will likely have to vote on whether to indict former President Trump and several of his household name high-profile allies.

You know, this would be potentially the third time that former President Trump has been indicted on criminal charges this year. But we'll see what this grand jury decides to do. But clearly getting closer to some sort of resolution in this long-standing investigation in Georgia.

BURNETT: All right, Paula, thank you very much with all those developments.

Let's go to Ryan Goodman, our legal analyst and the co-editor in chief of just security.

So, Ryan, let's just start back on the special counsel developments here, this back and forth with Nauta and the attempts to reschedule the hearing this week, a day here, a day here, and this sort of a situation adds up to pushing a trial past the election. But in terms of Jack Smith and the special council's response to Nauta's attempts to delay, what does it tell you?

RYAN GOODMAN, JUST SECURITY CO-EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: Well, it tells us at least that they're going to go to the math, to stop any type of delays. So, as soon as there's already this signal from Nauta's side that they are trying to run out part of the clock, they'll push back immediately from the special counsel's office. And they point out flaws within the argument.

So, there are arguments for a layer wanting more time, but part of the argument that Nauta's lawyer has used here is that he doesn't have a security clearance. And then Smith immediately says you do not need a security clearance for this particular hearing, and you've had up to about a month to apply for a security clearance. You haven't even filled out the forms. [09:25:03]

BURNETT: Right. Clearly showing no effort has been made on any way, shape, or form.

So, that's on the Mar-a-Lago documents case under the special counsel. The special counsel has also been looking into efforts to overturn the 2020 election. That's been a big silo within that investigation. And there are some questions about whether the special counsel could decline to indict Trump in that case and instead do sort of like a Mueller report, you know, go indict as he did in the Mar-a-Lago documents case and put out a very long lengthy history-making report in the overturning the election January 6th aspect of it.

Do you think that's reasonable or no?

GOODMAN: No, in the sense that I do not think this is going to end with a report that recommends no indictments. In all likelihood, we're going to see something major come out of the special counsel's investigation into January 6th without anticipating an indictment of the former president, at a minimum.

And it's because we have -- basically it's a pretty strong case matched with an aggressive prosecutor. In some sense, I used to think that the one unknown variable was whether or not Merrick Garland would allow the prosecution or indictment of a former president, even if he thought it was a strong legal case, he'd be worried about the political repercussions for the justice department.

But we see that he did allow that in the Mar-a-Lago episode. So I think this is where it's headed. Another part of it is, by now, at this late stage, presumably, the special counsel knows whether or not he's heading towards indictments or would otherwise just wrap this up with a report. If it were the latter, he would not have a grand jury meeting. He has a grand jury meeting, and that's another kind of strong public indication of where this is going.

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

And, next, I'm going to speak to Republican presidential candidate, Governor Doug Burgum, who is now giving anyone who donates even a dollar to his campaign, a $20 gift card. So, will it help him get into the debate next month?

And devastating new video tonight of the historic and deadly flooding that is ravaging the Northeast, roads washed away, homes destroyed, and the threat is not over tonight.



BURNETT: Tonight, is the Iowa governor playing favorites in the GOP race? This is the crucial question, right? This is caucus that kick it's all off for the GOP. Well, Trump tonight is calling out Kim Reynolds for exactly that,

accusing her of being too close to Ron DeSantis, even as the governor vows to stay neutral in the GOP primary fight.

Trump saying today, quote, I opened up the governor position for Kim Reynolds, and when she fell behind, I endorsed her, did big rallies and she won. Now, she wants to remain neutral. I don't invite her to events. DeSantis down 45 points.

Well, this rant came after Reynolds appeared with DeSantis' wife Casey, and a source close to Trump tells CNN, quote, by attending all of DeSantis' events and only one of Trump's, she's not really doing a good job of being neutral. We do think she's shown a preference for DeSantis.

"The New York Times" also reporting, quote, through her words and deeds, Ms. Reynolds seems to be softening the ground in Iowa for Mr. DeSantis, appearing to try to create the conditions for an opening for him to take on Mr. Trump.

DeSantis hasn't been shy about showering Reynolds with praised. When asked if he would consider Reynolds for a cabinet post. He said, I mean, I think Kim could be considered for just about anything that a president would pick.

Well, OUTFRONT now, Republican governor and 2024 presidential candidate Doug Burgum of North Dakota. He is in his second term as governor after winning office in 2016.

And before that, the governor was a businessman. He bought a software company that later went public and sold for over a billion dollars to Microsoft.

So, Governor, I very much appreciate your time, and, you know, just your view on Iowa here. Obviously, you're running. You're investing a lot. You've spent more than $2 million on ads in the state in Iowa, more money than every other candidate except for Tim Scott at this point.

I mean, you've seen Republican Governor Kim Reynolds, as I just laid, saying she's neutral, but obviously attending several events in Iowa with Governor DeSantis.

Do you feel like she's tipping the scales in his favor?

GOV. DOUG BURGUM (R-ND), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I think Kim and all the Republican leaders in Iowa, it's is an important role that Iowans have being the first state to caucus. And she is doing a great job being neutral.

But, of course, Kim -- I've known Kim for a number of years. She's currently the chair of the Republican governors' association, works with governors across the country. And I think, again, Kim's doing a great job, Iowans are doing a great job, and the first lady Kathryn and I love going to Iowa. It's like home for us coming from North Dakota. BURNETT: I can see that. But just to be clear what you're saying is

because I'm just saying in the context of Nikki Haley is raising concerns. Others in your field are raising concerns about her neutrality. But you believe that Governor Reynolds is being neutral. You don't have any concerns about her being too close to DeSantis or to his wife?

BURGUM: No. I trust Kim Reynolds. I think she's doing a great job. And, of course, everybody loves to campaign with Kim. She's super popular in Iowa, and she's done a great job advancing Republican principles in that state.

But what we enjoy when we're in Iowa is we get an opportunity to talk to people on the ground about what we're running on, of course, which is the economy, energy, national security. And when you talk to -- you know, I talk to Iowa farmers, they're concerned about these things. They're concerned about the price of diesel they're putting in their tractors. They're concerned about Biden's policies that are really heading in the wrong direction to support agriculture and energy.

BURNETT: So, you were asked over the weekend whether you would ever do business with Donald Trump, Governor. And you said, quote, no, I wouldn't. And then you added, I just think that it's important that you're judged by the company you keep.

So making it clear in some senses where you stand. But you do say you'd vote for him for president if he is the nominee. Again, how do you circle that wagon that you trust someone to lead the country that would not trust as a business partner?

BURGUM: Well, these are both hypotheticals, the question about would I vote for Trump over Biden? That was -- that was an easy one, to say, of course, if you had a choice between the Biden policies which are taking us in the wrong direction on every front, or any Republican, and I would take any Republican over Biden.

And as far as the race, there are -- there is so much more that we should be talking about other than hypothetically who might do business with who because, you know, again, when we're in a situation we are in right now with the challenges our country is facing, it'd be great if we could actually have a race where we talk about the issues that matter to Americans.


BURNETT: I do understand what you're saying, but, you know, there are others in your field -- Governor Christie, for example, has said he wouldn't vote for Trump, but he would be unable to write someone in because of the character and the person. But obviously you just -- you don't think that that would be the way you would go?

BURGUM: Well, I think, unfortunately, in our country right now today in the last two races, we've had a lot of people who've voted against someone as opposed to voted for something. We're running a campaign where we can understand as president we would work for all people in America. This is what we've done as governor, what we've accomplished in North Dakota, everybody there understands that when we go to work, if you're in Congress -- great, you put on your jersey and fight for your home team.

But the executive branch at the state and the federal level needs to be working for every American, because, you know, Republicans, Democrats and independents, they all drive on the roads, they all have an issue after a flood or a storm. Presidents have to work for everybody, and that's what we're going to do. And so I just want to make sure everybody understands that we care deeply about this country, and we're completely committed to making sure that we keep moving America ahead, and the things that again, the economy touches every American, inflation's touching every American, energy prices are touching every American.

BURNETT: I want to ask you one thing before we go, as president, you would be overseeing foreign policy. In one story that I think needs mentioning tonight is the proposed merger between the PGA tour and the Saudi-backed LIV golf. The former AT&T CEO, Randall Stevenson, has resigned from his post on the policy board of the PGA Tour in protest. He directly mentions U.S. intelligence that found that the Saudi crown prince directed the brutal murder of the U.S. citizen Jamal Khashoggi, right, in that brutal murder by bone saw.

So, do you think the PGA Tour should be going ahead and joining forces with the Saudis?

BURGUM: I think, as president, the president has a defined set of things that they are supposed to do. National security is one of those. But who plays golf on which team, if it's not a national security threat, then I don't think this is business that the president should be worried about. Put it on the sports channel.

But if there is a national security concern, of course, address it. But this is a thing during this era of celebrity presidents, apparently presidents are supposed to weigh in on who shows up at a pre-game for a baseball game, and which golfers play in which league. We're in a global economy, and companies are -- if you're a farmer in North Dakota and you're selling soybeans, you're selling in a global market. If you're working in an oil field in North Dakota, you're selling into global markets.

And we need to make sure that the United States is competitive in global markets, we've got to sell energy and stop buying from enemies, we've got to focus on innovation, not regulation. And, again, these are the kinds of things that are distracting the president from doing the job that they're supposed to do.

BURNETT: All right, Governor, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

BURGUM: Thank you, Erin.

BURNETT: And on the Democratic side, a top party strategist is raising the alarm that Joe Biden's presidency may be at risk from a third- party candidate.

David Axelrod, former adviser to President Obama joins me now. And, David, you know, as we watch, you know, the chaos in the

Republican field, right, things tried to settle there, you tweeted: In 2016, the Green Party played an outsized role in tipping the election to Donald Trump, now with Cornel West as their likely nominee, they could likely do it again. Risky business.

David, your warning is getting a lot of attention. Do you think Biden recognizes how big of a problem Cornel West could be for him?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I have to assume that he does. But it isn't necessarily up to him. It's up to party leaders across the board. Progressive leaders in particular because the great threat from Cornel West on the Green Party line is that he'll attract some progressive voters on that line away from Biden.

And, look, Erin, you look at some of the states last time that tipped the election. You know, Arizona was won by 11,000 votes. Wisconsin by about 20,000 votes. It doesn't take much to tip an election.

And so, this should be a concern as should the No Labels party, which I think has the capacity to also hurt Biden. Biden's strategy relies on, you know, don't judge me against the almighty, judge me against my opponent. Well, if you have a third alternative, there are people who may have reservations about Trump and Biden but would vote for Biden who are going to leap over to third-party options. So, the third-party -- the third-parties could be really problematic for him.

BURNETT: So, in all of this, let me ask you about RFK Jr.


Anti-vaccine and other conspiracies are things that he obviously has put out there. He's challenging Biden in the Democratic primary. And as you and I know, at least at this point, he's been consistently polling around 20 percent, which obviously, you know, wouldn't be enough to make him the party nominee.

But I wonder, David, whether you think it's possible that he also might choose to move forward to challenge Biden as a third-party candidate, if he's not successful at being the Democratic one.

AXELROD: Well, I'll tell you this, Erin. He's getting more of a following as he speaks among some on the right than the left. He's been championed by Tucker Carlson and others for his conspiracy theories, for his attacks on Biden for supporting Ukraine and so on. So there are people out there who might want to help the Republican nominee, particularly if it's Donald Trump, who have an impetus to encourage him.

That said, that is easier said than done. There are a lot of barriers to getting on the ballot as an independent or a third-party candidate. So I think that's less of a concern than the Green Party fielding Cornel West.

You know, Biden's great vulnerability is among younger voters who tend to be more progressive. And you could see where a West candidacy on the Green Party line could be attractive to some of these younger voters who are disillusioned that everything on the progressive agenda hasn't been achieved in the first Biden term. So this is something to be monitored.

BURNETT: All right. David, thank you.

AXELROD: Good to see you.

BURNETT: And next, it's being called a once-in-a-thousand-years storm, and it's devastating the Northeast. And there is more to come.

Plus, a community on edge after a murder suspect escaped from prison now on the run tonight. Authorities warn he's very dangerous and could be armed.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Burham is a self-taught survivalist with military reserve experience.




BURNETT: Tonight, historic flooding in the Northeast, and the threat is not over, far from it. These devastating scenes of destruction cover more than 9 million people who remain under flood alerts.

In Vermont, rushing water completely washing out roads, and states of emergency are in effect across the entire state of Vermont, as well as parts of Massachusetts and New York. Officials in New York calling it a once-in-a-thousand-years storm.

New video into CNN showing state police in Orange County rescuing stranded drivers from their cars. At least one woman was killed there when she was swept away by the floodwaters.

Polo Sandoval is OUTFRONT tonight in Highland Falls, New York.

And, Polo, what are you seeing where you are.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we're seeing, Erin, all over New York's Hudson Valley are bridges that are impassable. You will see one here in highland falls that's still taped off. Structural engineers need to determine that this is actually safe before they allow traffic through here.

If you look closely, and it's really not hard to miss, the center of it is missing the asphalt. When you look at the video from the local resident Melissa Menendez, the water is peeling back the blacktop like it's the peel of an orange. It really speaks to the intensity of what we saw here.

And then you certainly see people trying to rebuild their lives not just here but other places that face a very long road to recovery.


SANDOVAL (voice-over): In the 55 years Richard Beyers has made his home in New York's Hudson Valley, he doesn't remember this much flooding.

RICHARD BEYERS, LIVED IN ROCKLAND COUNTY, NY FOR 55 YEARS: Never had to be rescued before. This is worse.

SANDOVAL: This is the 80-year-old's Rockland County home today, less than 24 hours after a stream overflowed forcing Beyers to evacuate.

When we see that picture of you in that boat, what's going through your mind in that moment?

BEYERS: I was just depressed. I just -- depressed and sad that this is happening. I knew I was going to lose a lot of stuff, you know?

SANDOVAL: Beyers was one of many water rescues that took place across the Northeast over the weekend, as over 9 million people are under flood alerts.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Look at the people's doors! Oh, my god.

SANDOVAL: The deadly storm claiming at least one life in Orange County, New York, where a young woman was swept away by floodwaters as she attempted to evacuate her home with her fiance and her dog.

STEVEN NEUHAUS, ORANGE COUNTY, NY EXECUTIVE: When we discovered her remains, she was in the bottom of a ravine.

SANDOVAL: Officials declared a state of emergency in Orange County as the severe flooding washed away roads and forced trapped drivers to swim out of their cars to safety. It also knocked out power to roughly 12,000 homes.

Back in Rockland County, video shows residents clinging to a rope as they escaped the floods from what officials are calling a once in a millennium rainfall.

GOV. KATHY HOCHUL (D), NEW YORK: This is the new formal.

SANDOVAL: And the threat is far over. Heavy rainfall continuing throughout the northeast Monday as the National Weather Service issued warnings up and down the coast. The worst of it expected to be in Vermont.

A state of emergency also declared there as the Vermont agency of transportation tweeting this morning, significant to potentially catastrophic flash flooding is likely.

And tonight, we heard from New York Governor Kathy Hochul, Erin, who says that she is confident that the state of New York will receive necessary funding from the federal government. She said on CNN tonight, Erin, that it is her hope that it will go not just for rebuilding efforts but also for some badly needed repairs in some of the state's infrastructure -- Erin.

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

And next, a murder suspect who escaped from prison by climbing up exercise equipment now on the run. Authorities warn he's a known survivalist with military training and that he could now be getting help and be armed.

And the disgraced Dr. Larry Nassar who's actually abuse young gymnasts for decades has been stabbed nearly dozens of times.



BURNETT: Tonight, a manhunt, the pace and scope of the search for an escaped Pennsylvania inmate, dramatically increasing. Now, more than 150 law enforcement officers are involved. Police are searching for Michael Burham, a 34-year-old known as a survivalist with military training. He is what they're calling the prime suspect in a murder investigation, considered armed and very dangerous.

Police right now are searching in northern Pennsylvania just outside the Allegheny national forest which is more than half a million acres.

Danny Freeman is OUTFRONT.


DANNY FREEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, a northwest Pennsylvania community on edge as the manhunt for prison escapee, Michael Charles Burham, intensifies.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Burham is to considered armed and dangerous and we ask the public, please do not approach him.

FREEMAN: The 34-year-old inmate escaped the Warren County prison last Thursday night. The jail is located in a small town of Warren, 60 miles east of the Erie, near the New York border. Authorities say Burham climbed up on exercise equipment in a wreck yard, and got out there a metal gated roof. He then rappelled down the side of the building using bed sheets that were tied together.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Burham is a self-taught survivalist, with military reserve experience. We believe he has previously prepared to conceal himself in the woods.

FREEMAN: More than 15 local, state and federal agencies have joined the search. Pennsylvania state police revealed they found small stock files or camp sites around Warren believed to be associated with Burham.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We do believe he is getting some assistance. From where or what that type of assistance is, I'm not prepared to comment on.

FREEMAN: Burham was being held on arson and burglary charges and is the prime suspect in a recent homicide investigation, authorities said. He was also connected to a kidnapping and a carjacking.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the past, he has sought and been successful when obtaining a firearm on the run. I suspect he will have tried the same thing.

FREEMAN: Residents of warren and the surrounding communities are being asked to stay vigilant.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My mom has been like texting me nonstop, saying like text me when you're walking, text me when you get home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Afraid for my family, and this is something you can't really fathom that we're really going through this.


FREEMAN (on camera): And, Erin, you mentioned at the top, Pennsylvania state police confirmed there are more than 150 law enforcement officers working around the clock on this case. That includes K-9s, air support, even drones. Currently, there's a $9,500 reward for any information leading to an arrest -- Erin.

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

And next, Larry Nassar, the doctor convicted of abusing young female gymnasts we're now learning has been stabbed in the chest, the back and the neck.


BURNETT: Tonight, the disgraced ex-USA gymnastics doctor convicted of sexually abusing young athletes in his care assaulted in prison. Larry Nassar was stabbed twice in the neck, twice in the back, six times in the chest. Officials say he's in stable condition.

Of course, he will spend the rest of his life in prison. He has been serving a 60-year sentence for federal child pornography sentences. A judge in Michigan handing down the sentence of up to 175 years after more than 150 women and girls testified in court under oath that he sexually abused them over decades.

The revelations about Nassar's abuse sparked outrage. Star gymnasts, including Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman, all blasting the FBI and the Justice Department for mishandling allegations against Nassar.

Thanks so much for joining us tonight.

"AC360" begins now.