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Erin Burnett Outfront

Two Russian Commanders Killed In Separate Cases, Includes Most Senior General To Die In Ukraine; Zelenskyy: NATO Delay Allows Russian "Terror"; Trump Asks For Indefinite Delay Of Docs Trial; PGA Tour Execs Defend Merger With Saudi-Backed LIV; Police: Found Items Believed To Be Connected To Prison Escapee, "Likelihood He Is Still Here"; Once-In-A-Millennium Rainfall Hammers Northeast. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired July 11, 2023 - 19:00   ET



ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, two top Russian commanders dead. One of them shot multiple times while jogging in Russia. So who's behind it? It comes as Russia vows revenge for the cluster munitions the United States is now sending to Ukraine.

Plus, Trump running out the clock. Why getting elected could be his best legal defense strategy. Former Trump White House attorney Ty Cobb is OUFRONT.

And if you can't beat him, join him. Hear PGA golf tour executives explain why they sold out to the Saudis.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, the two Russian military giants dead tonight. One of them, the most senior general to die in Ukraine since the war began. Lieutenant General Oleg Tsokov killed on a strike on a Russian military base in Berdyansk. This is according to Telegram Channel, a Russian one.

Tsokov was a rising star inside Putin's military. Back in 2021, picked to speak at a cadet ceremony that was attended by Putin himself.

And tonight, it's not just him, the mystery is growing over why another top Russian military figure was murdered, and this in broad daylight. This is a submarine commander shot multiple times while jogging inside Russia. And the details about his murder, I mean, it's unbelievable.

According to Russian state media, the killer was able to monitor Stanislav Rzhitsky every -- his every move. They were tracking his run on the popular running app Strava, so they could see exactly where he was at every second. And according to reports, the gunman was waiting in a park where there were no cameras. And when Rzhitsky, the former submarine commander, passed by, he was taken out.

We've got some new video in tonight of the raid to capture the alleged gunman after the attack. According to state media, he was found with a pistol and a silencer. But adding to the mystery of this, right, being shot multiple times, gunshot while on a jog in Russia, the news of the former commander's death actually came from the Ukrainian Defense Intelligence Agency.

In an unusually detailed statement, the agency said, quote, the submariner was jogging in the 30th anniversary of Victory Park in Krasnodar. Around 6:00 a.m., he was shot seven times with a Makarov pistol. As a result of the gunshot wounds, Rzhitsky died on the spot.

Now, despite such detail, no claim of responsibility yet from anyone. And it all comes on the same day that Ukraine and the United States are at odds. In fact, the biggest rift between the two countries since the war began. Ukraine desperately wants an invitation now to join NATO after the war, as President Zelenskyy told us.

But President Biden, along with allies, has refused to do that. Zelenskyy tonight calling the decision, quote, unprecedented and absurd even as messages supporting Ukraine's bid to join NATO are on windows of people on shuttle buses being carried to and from the NATO summit. It's the core of the entire summit, the words are simple.

While you were waiting for the bus, Ukraine is waiting to become a NATO member. We have a lot to get to tonight.

A lot of these stories rapidly developing through the day. So let's begin in Kyiv with Alex Marquardt.

And, Alex, a tense day between Ukraine and NATO. What can you tell us about how today's summit went?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: It was, Erin. Zelenskyy made clear going into the summit that he wasn't going for fun, as he said. He wanted a concrete time line of how and when Ukraine would be invited to join NATO. Now it is clear that Ukraine is not going to be getting that invitation any time soon.

Instead, the NATO alliance telling Ukraine, telling Zelenskyy that they will be invited when allies agree and when conditions are met. Right now, Erin, the allies do not agree, and it's not clear what those conditions are.


MARQUARDT (voice-over): Ukraine's president taking the stage today at the NATO summit, thanking flag-waving Lithuanians for their support saying Ukraine's flag is still alive and free.

NATO will give Ukraine security, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.

Ukraine will make NATO stronger. But as Zelenskyy mingled tonight with NATO leaders, his country's future in NATO remains uncertain.

Simmering underneath his deep frustration over the lack of urgency and clarity to join the alliance, it's unprecedented and absurd when time frame is not set neither for the invitation, nor for Ukraine's membership, he tweeted today.


It seems there is no readiness neither to invite Ukraine to NATO, nor to make it a member of the alliance.

NATO's secretary general stated clearly that Ukraine will join NATO. But in the future, quote, when conditions are met.

JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: I mean, if you look at all the membership processes, there have not been timelines for those processes. They are conditions based, has always been.

MARQUARDT: The first condition for the U.S., the war with Russia needs to end before an invitation can be made as Zelenskyy made clear to OUTFRONT in a recent interview, that isn't soon enough.

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: Invitation, just technical think, just wording, invitation Ukraine to NATO.

BURNETT: Not down the line, now?

ZELENSKYY: Now. It's very important. It will push Russia.

MARQUARDT: As the NATO summit opened, Russia sent a wave of almost 30 attack drones towards Kyiv and the critical port city of Odesa. Air defenses managed to shoot down most of them, and no one was killed, but buildings were severely damaged.

Ukraine firing missiles deep behind the front lines, hitting the Ukrainian-held city of Berdyansk in the south. Plumes of Black smoke rising.

Nearby, yet another Russian General Oleg Tsokov was killed with a long-range rocket. According to Ukrainian officials and a Russian Telegram channel, General Tsokov would be the most senior Russian general to be killed in Ukraine so far and would deprive Russia of one of its most experienced generals.

And while the list of mysterious attacks inside Russia grows, a one- time submarine commander was murdered while out running in southern Russia. His regular jogs recorded on the Strava app, and his app according to a Russian media outlet, was tracked by the killer.


MARQUARDT (on camera): And, Erin, Rzhitsky was the deputy commander for mobilization for the Krasnodar City. That is according to the Russian investigative committee, which as you noted, says that a man is now in custody, he was found with a pistol, with a silencer, which is presumably the murder weapon.

Ukraine has not claimed responsibility in any way. Though, it is really interesting that statement from the Russian military intelligence agency had a really surprising amount of detail. And then when it comes to Lieutenant General Tsokov, he was killed

reportedly, according to both Ukrainian MP and that Russian Telegram channel, by the Storm Shadow cruise missile. That was offered to Ukraine by the Brits. It is the longest-range missile that Ukraine has in its arsenal. Berdyansk is well behind the front line on the Sea of Azov. This general becoming one of many killed in this Ukrainian campaign -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Alex, thank you very much. Obviously, hugely significant they're saying those Storm Shadows that the ATACMS are similar to that and they can use them in a similar way.

OUTFRONT now, Andrei Soldatov, a Russian investigative journalist whose site has been blocked in Russia, along with the retired Air Force Colonel Cedric Leighton.

And thanks so much to both of you.

So, Colonel, let me start where Alex finished, the death of these two top Russian commanders. One, in Ukraine, one while running in Russia.

So, one on the battlefield, one on a jog. Tell me the significance of this if you just take a step back, these both happening really essentially the same day.

CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Basically, Erin, the big thing here is --

BURNETT: Okay, sorry, it sounds like it was just -- okay. All right, sorry. We've lost the colonel. I apologize.

Andrei, let me ask you specifically about the Russian submarine commander. That is the commander shot while running, while he's jogging, and the Ukrainian Defense Intelligence Agency, right, puts that detailed statement out on Telegram saying, and let me just go to this again, the submariner was jogging in the 30 anniversary of Victory park in Krasnodar around 6:00 a.m. he was shot seven times with a Makarov pistol. As a result of the gunshot wounds, Rzhitsky died on the spot.

All right. So that detail coming from the Ukrainian Defense Intelligence Agency.

Andrei, are they admitting they did it?

ANDREI SOLDATOV, RUSSIAN INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: Yes, it looks like that. It looks like a direct message to the Russian military that if you are in any capacity involved in supporting or participating directly as Russian war in Ukraine, you can not feel safe even if you are jogging in Russia.

BURNETT: I mean, it is -- it is pretty incredible. And then the Russian media obviously is jumping on it saying they found that individual, but even going through the app that was used they say to track him running.


So, let me ask you, Andrei, in this context, two generals killed in one day. What is the significance of that, and specifically the most senior general right now, we understand to be killed thus far in the war who was killed well behind the front lines, right, only because the Ukrainians now have those longer-range missiles from the U.K., the Storm Shadows.

SOLDATOV: Well, the significance is quite big because it meant they cannot only reach out to this guy, but actually they have information about his exact location. And that suggests that intelligence that the Ukrainians have is really, really accurate. And it's a bad signal for Russian military commanders.

BURNETT: Yeah, it shows no matter where you are, you are not safe, well behind the front lines in Russia. And to have that intelligence, it is a huge statement.

The colonel is back with us now.

And, Colonel, let me ask you about the other part of Alex's report, right, what's happening over NATO. President Zelenskyy had very sharp criticism for the United States and allies today over the United States' refusal to give Ukraine that invitation now to join after the war. And he said, and I quote him, it's unprecedented and absurd when the time frame is not set neither for the invitation nor for Ukraine's membership. It seems there is no readiness to invite Ukraine to NATO, nor to make it a member of the alliance.

Was it wrong of Biden, Colonel Leighton, to deny Ukraine a NATO invitation now?

All right. Sounds like he's still not hearing me. I'm sorry, we're having some technical difficulties there.

Andrei, let me ask you just about that significance. How frustrating do you think this is for President Zelenskyy that -- I mean, he went out in that interview with us in English, he has been pounding the table, and to be given a definitive now.

SOLDATOV: I think in this war, a lot is about messaging. And for President Zelenskyy, it's extremely important to get this clear message from NATO of support. And I think he expected a lot, and the whole country, Ukraine expected a lot from this summit. So let's see how it goes. While he got some guarantees today. So, again, let's see.

BURNETT: So, Andrei, I want to ask you about some of your reporting because you have been reporting extensively on how Prigozhin's failed coup exposed the weaknesses in the Russian security services, specifically the FSB, where you have done so much in-depth reporting, that they failed to stop the mutiny, even though, as you report, the FSB did have spies within the Wagner Group. So they had awareness.

What more are you learning about how serious this failure was?

SOLDATOV: Well, it was an absolute failure for the FSB because they felt not only collect information but report this information directly to the president. And the most striking thing is that Putin decided not to punish them for this failure. I think that probably the very first time in Putin's career as president. He's KGB background might not serve him well.

Back in 1991, when he was a young KGB officer, he did absolutely nothing to protect the political regime he had sworn to protect. And now he is surrounded by former KGB officers these days, FSB generals who have done absolutely nothing to protect Putin's regime, and Putin decided to accept the excuses. So, it is a dangerous game for him.

BURNETT: Incredibly dangerous game.

All right. Thank you so much, Andrei. I appreciate your time.

And next, the Trump delay tactic. The former president doing everything he can to push the classified documents trial until after the election. Former Trump White House attorney Ty Cobb will be my guest.

Plus, the PGA tour on why they caved to the Saudis and joined forces as the said government's influence over other professional sports is now growing at a breakneck pace. Bob Costas is OUTFRONT.

And the manhunt intensifying for a murder suspect with survivalist skills. Police now say they have several new leads. We'll tell you about it.



BURNETT: Tonight, running out the clock. Trump resorting to his go-to legal defense strategy. The former president now asking the judge he appointed, Aileen Cannon, to postpone his criminal trial in the Mar-a- Lago classified documents case, and to do it indefinitely.

His lawyers say that there is no way to find an impartial jury while Trump is a presidential candidate. And for Trump, of course, delaying the trial until after the election could be what saves him from his legal troubles. Because if he wins the White House, he can order the attorney general to dismiss the charges or perhaps he could pardon himself.

All of these things are on the table. They come in the context of two top DOJ prosecutors who are investigating Trump's efforts to overturn the election appearing today at the federal courthouse where the grand jury meets. Now, those two individuals have not been spotted inside the federal courthouse for several weeks.

And this sighting coincides with the recent uptick in activity surrounding that investigation into overturning the election under the special counsel as well, and could suggest that Jack Smith is close to deciding whether or not to indict Trump in that case.

First, though, Paula Reid is OUTFRONT live in Washington. So, Paula now, all eyes on the special counsel's election interference

investigation, and now we have this sighting. What more are you learning tonight?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, that sighting kicking up a lot of intrigue and questions about whether an indictment is close. Of course, we know from our reporting that, yes, the investigators have been in the final stage of this investigation for quite some time. We know they have talked to most of the key players that we expected them to speak to like Vice President Mike Pence, recently Rudy Giuliani.

We know they have been asking about schemes including fake electors, right, the effort to put in these fake slates of electors. They've also been asking about that December 18th meeting in the Oval Office. We know they've really narrowed it down it a few key particular possible crimes that they could charge.


But we also know from our reporting that they continue to reach out to new witnesses, people they haven't spoken to in quite some time, reaching out for additional documents, reaching out to schedule interviews. And, Erin, they got outstanding question is whether they will try to charge everything all at once. This is a very sprawling investigation. Unlike Mar-a-Lago, there are well over a dozen potential targets, at least half a dozen potential crimes while they try to charge this all at once or are they going to go through this in phases.

And that's what is just not clear right now because we know it's in the final phase. But we know they continue to reach out to additional witnesses. They keep gathering evidence. So the big question is whether this will all happen at once or if they'll do this in pieces. We'll have to wait and see.

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

So let's go now on the heels of that reporting to the former Trump White House lawyer Ty Cobb.

So, Ty, I'll get to the Trump delay tactics here, which obviously you know well and could be very significant. But first Paula's reporting, the DOJ prosecutors together being sighted at the federal courthouse today. So you've got them appearing for the first time together in a few weeks.

You also, though, have what she's talking about, which is they're still interviewing people, people are still appearing before this grand jury, which, you know, you don't always have on the eve of a possible indictment. So, what do you read into all this? Is this about to happen or not?

TY COBB, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE LAWYER: I believe it's about to happen. I think what is called the January 6th case, you know, which really encompasses all the attempts to cling to power and prevent the peaceful transfer of government.

I think that has been a very important matter to the special prosecutor. I think he has gone about it very deliberately. I think they have moved heaven and earth to do it in a timely way. Keep in mind much of their delay was caused by the January 6th committee's refusal and failure to share transcripts, which set them back several months.

So, I think they're going to try to make up ground. I think they're ready to go. I don't think there are many I's to dot or T's to cross yet. But I do think there are some difficult decisions.

Trump could well end up being a defendant in this case along with several other codefendants. He could be listed as an unindicted co- conspirator. He could be omitted entirely and, you know, they could -- they could continue to investigate and later bring charges.

So, you really don't know. But I think they want to proceed. And one of the reasons I think they want to proceed quickly is the Georgia case. You know, we know that Fani Willis has said that she's going to have an indictment almost immediately. The grand jury's been impaneled as of today. And they plan to simply, I think, read into evidence or have agents summarize testimony from their prior grand jury, the legality of which remains under attack and under motions in Georgia.

But I think they will indict quickly, and it will be interesting to see how that proceeds. Because it does the federal government no favor for, you know, a D.A. in Georgia to be examining, direct-examining Mark Meadows and giving Trump's lawyers multiple shots at the various defendants who will be key against him in the federal case.

So, I think -- I think the feds will be moving quickly. I think they'll be moving decisively. And it will have been a well-thought-out case just like the Mar-a-Lago case turned out to be an almost flawless indictment. I think you'll see the same quality of work in the January 6th area.

BURNETT: All right. So, on this point about the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case that you describe as flawless, Jack Smith says he wants that trial to take place in December of this year, you know? And you have people -- many legal experts who say theoretically there should be no problem with that.

However, then enters the real world. And the real world is that clearly Trump's legal strategy is to delay the proceedings. He's saying delay it until after the 2024 election indefinitely, essentially. And that is a judge that he appointed himself. She has final say in this. So, do you think that Trump will be successful in having this delayed indefinitely, in running out the clock until after the election for the Mar-a-Lago case, Ty?


COBB: I don't believe he'll be successful in getting her to grant the delay that he has requested. You know, keep in mind that judge cannon has scheduled next week the

hearing the first of the so-called section 2 hearing where they start to sort out the classified issues. And that was over Trump's objection and consistent with what the government had asked for.

On the other hand, the CIPA process is a complex process. It was an act passed in the early '80s. I've litigated under it. There are many, many built-in opportunities for delay, some that you can predict, and some that are unpredictable.

So, there's room for mischief there which, of course, is frustrating, I think, to the government because Trump has no substantive defenses, but he does have the procedural ability to delay things. And you know that the keyword, the mantra in the Trump clubhouse of rotating lawyers is stall, stall, stall, stall.

BURNETT: Yeah. All right. Well, Ty, thank you very much. I appreciate it.

COBB: My pleasure, Erin. Nice to be with you.

BURNETT: And next, why PGA says it's backed into a corner and forced to strike a deal with the Saudi-backed LIV golf league. Backed into a corner. Bob Costas is OUTFRONT.

Plus, new video tonight of the bed sheet used by a murder suspect to escape from prison as the manhunt for the survivalist is ramping up dramatically at this hour tonight.



BURNETT: Tonight, if you can't beat them, join them. PGA Tour officials today on defense. They were grilled by senators about the surprise merger with the Saudi-backed LIV league, L-I-V. Their argument, the Saudis were about to own professional golf in the United States, and they're saying, if they didn't forces, well, that was it, they were going to lose.

It comes after the former AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson resigned from the PGA Tour's board, saying that he had, quote, serious concerns about the tour's partnership with the Saudis.

Andy Scholes is OUTFRONT.


ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Defensive PGA tour officials telling lawmakers today they had no choice but to join forces with the Saudi-backed LIV Golf tour.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We got to the table because of the existence of LIV. They own 100 percent of LIV. They have billions of dollars in LIV. They have no economic constraint. They have no time constraint. They

sued us. We did not decide to sue them. They took our players. Their entire existence is based on taking more of our players. That's just the reality.

SCHOLES: For more than a year, PGA tour officials and players slammed the LIV tour. But in the end, PGA Tour executive Ron Price says U.S. professional golf as we knew it would not survive without a merger.

RON PRICE, PGA TOUR CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER: We faced a real threat that LIV golf which is 100 percent financed by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, would become the leader of professional golf.

SCHOLES: But that was not enough for some angry lawmakers.

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): Today's hearing is about much more than a game of golf. It's about how a brutal repressive regime can buy influence, indeed, even take over a cherished American institution to cleanse its public image.

SCHOLES: Fifteen of the 19 hijackers of the 9/11 attack were Saudi Arabia citizens, leaving survivors' families to sue the regime over it. And more recently, the regime was condemned worldwide for brutally murdering journalist Jamal Khashoggi with a bone saw. U.S. intelligence report claimed Khashoggi was killed by agents of Saudi Arabia in 2018.

The Saudi Investment Fund is backed by more than $600 billion, and price says the Saudi's investment in the new merger will be north of $1 billion, adding that the exact details are still being worked out.

In front of families of 9/11 victims, Senator Ron Johnson defending the PGA Tour's decisions, saying it shouldn't be up to them to be sports moral compass.

SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): The PGA tour accurately viewed LIV as an existential threat. It would be grossly unfair to expect the PGA Tour to bear the full burden of holding Saudi Arabia accountable. After all, anyone who drives a car or uses oil-based products has helped fill the coffers of the Saudi public investment fund.

SCHOLES: The framework agreement between the Saudis and the PGA tour must still be approved by PGA Tour's ten-member policy which includes star Rory McIlroy and four other PGA Tour players, but when if and it does go through, it will be tough to heal the wounds of the last year.

RORY MCILROY, 4-TIME MAJOR WINNER: I still hate LIV, like I hate LIV. Like I hope it goes away and I fully expect that it does.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to have faith that this is the best thing for all of us. But it's clear that that's not the consensus.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think this is the best thing that could ever happen for the game of golf. And I am extremely proud to be a part of that. But I truly believe in the end the game of golf wins.


SCHOLES (on camera): Now, as part of today's hearing, the Senate subcommittee released documents detailing the secret negotiations between the two sides. And one of the proposals from the Saudi public investment fund was that Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy would own their own LIV teams and play ten LIV events a year.

Another proposal was that the governor of the Saudi investment fund, Yasir al-Rumayyan, would get to be a member of Augusta National and the Royal and Ancient Golf Club.

Now, Erin, the PGA officials say none of the terms are official yet. But I think it's safe to say that Tiger Woods is not going to be playing ten LIV golf events a year as a part of this deal.

BURNETT: Certainly, certainly not.

All right. Andy, thank you very much. And Tiger Woods, of course, has taken a very principled stand on this from day one.

OUTFRONT now, legendary sportscaster Bob Costas.

So, Bob, the PGA Tour's representative say that the unlimited resources of the Saudis backed them into a corner. You know, talking to people of the PGA over the past year, you know, they had had a very principled view on this.


Never, never, never in a million years, it's wrong, they chopped someone up with a bone saw. And now here we are, and it's actually happening. They are saying that the Saudis would've owned golf if they didn't do this. Do you buy that defense?

BOB COSTAS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Actually, I do. Very few people have been on the issue of sports washing for as long as I have, whether it's the IOC in Russia or China, or FIFA in Qatar -- Qatar, if you prefer. And Jake Tapper and I were on this going back a year and a half ago.

But I do believe that there was no alternative since there is no legal way, so far as I understand, for Congress or any other entity to stop this from going forward. If LIV had continued to exist as a separate entity, eventually they would have destroyed the PGA. The PGA tried to up the prize money. They say they dipped into their savings or whatever you want to call it, the reserve fund to do that.

But over time, the Saudis who aren't adhering to what we understand to be any kind of normal business model, they don't care how much money they lose. They've got a bottomless well. Take four or five players every year away from the PGA tour, and keeping in mind that the Masters are not controlled by -- the majors, rather, are not controlled by the PGA Tour.

So, Brooks Koepka just won the PGA, ironically, but that's the PGA championship, not controlled by the PGA Tour. Neither is the British Open, the U.S. Open, or the Masters.

So a lot of those big-name golfers can make their legacy at the Majors, which is really what counts the most, while still collecting all kinds of money from LIV. So, I think they struck the best possible deal under very adverse circumstances, and the key -- I watched the entire hearing today, the key point they kept emphasizing was --


COSTAS: -- that the PGA Tour would maintain control over how golf is run, that the Saudis would have only a minority representation on the board, and that all the decisions would be controlled by the PGA, and everything that you see would more or less line up with the traditions and sensibilities that golf fans associate with the PGA.

But the point that Senator Blumenthal made was, look, if they're pouring a billion dollars into it, at minimum, that's the start, then no matter what the numbers are on the board, they're going to have disproportionate influence, and who knows where that takes us.

BURNETT: Right. And that's the crucial question. He calls it sports washing, you know, allowing Saudi money to gloss over the human rights violations, right? You know, the CIA obviously concluded that the Saudi crown prince was behind chopping up Jamal Khashoggi with a bone saw. I mean, just to -- you know, to be blunt about it.

And they have invested in WWE. They've invested in Formula 1. I mean, basically, in a sense, the U.S. is saying there is nothing they can do about it.

COSTAS: Well, the leagues, for example, the NBA has allowed the Qatari sovereign investment fund to purchase 5 percent or buy in at 5 percent to the capitals of the NHL, the mystics of the WNBA, and the wizards of the NBA, who are all controlled by a single sports entity. But they cap it at 5 percent.

So they want the influx of the capital, but they don't want an investment so large that it imperils the control and the integrity of the American ownership. At least that's where they stand for now. And just as some American businesses cap it at whatever 25 percent, in this case it's a sports entity, 5 percent, whatever it might be, the hope would be that while the Saudis and others continue to try and be involved in sports for whatever their motivation might be, that at least the American entities can hold the line and not give them undue control over the leagues or in this case the entities like the PGA.

BURNETT: All right, obviously, in a sense we all know but we see money talks. Thank you very much, Bob. I appreciate your time.

COSTAS: Bye, Erin.

BURNETT: And, next, we are learning incredible new details tonight about the moments leading up to a murder suspect's brazen escape from prison, a murder suspect who is still on the run and considered extremely dangerous. That is next. Plus, a massive dam in the Northeast now at risk of failing after a

one-in-a-1,000-year rain event. And we'll give you the very latest on that sinister development, and these types of storms are happening more and more. How come? A special report coming up.



BURNETT: Tonight, the urgent manhunt for Pennsylvania fugitive survivalist Michael Burham intensifying.

Now, police say they have found items in the past hours that they believe are connected to the suspected murderer. It comes as we now have this photo showing a bed sheet, and this is the rope the 34-year- old Burham used to climb out of the prison. So you can actually see it dangling from the roof of the prison next to a stairwell.

Danny Freeman is OUTFRONT with more.


DANNY FREEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, more than 200 law enforcement officers have joined an intensifying manhunt for prison escapee Michael Charles Burham.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The pace and scope of this investigation has continued to dramatically increase as we investigate leads in this area and adjacent states.

FREEMAN: New court documents obtained by CNN detail how 34-year-old Burham and fellow inmates were going in and out of his prison cell in the hours leading up to the escape.

Then, at around 11:30 Thursday night, as three other inmates were seated on the ground in the recreation yard, security camera footage showed Burham standing on a pull-up machine. He slipped through this metal-gated roof and then rappelled down the side of the prison using these bed sheets tied together and fled.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would say that Burham saw red and blue lights within two minutes of leaving that jail. It's -- they were that close.


The corrections officers were literally within two minutes in the parking lot.

FREEMAN: But not close enough. More than 15 local state and federal agencies are now looking for Burham. Tips have come in from six states.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We continue to find items. Those lead me to believe that there is still a likelihood that he is here.

FREEMAN: In Pennsylvania, the search area spans more than 500,000 acres of forest in rural Warren County.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're covering a lot of ground out there. And there are many public and private cabins. There are structures associated with oil and gas wells.

FREEMAN: But this is at least the second time Burham has allegedly run from the police. Burham is the prime suspect in a recent homicide investigation in New York, according to authorities. Court documents say while New York law enforcement was seeking to question Burham about the homicide in May, he carjacked and kidnapped an elderly couple in Pennsylvania and fled to South Carolina.

Police believe that Burham was watching the property of his Pennsylvania victims for a week before kidnapping them at gunpoint, driving them to South Carolina, and leaving them at a cemetery.

A plastic tarp, camouflaged clothing and water bottles were all found near their home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do believe it's fair to say he's a dangerous individual, and people need to be alert to that.

FREEMAN: Burham was captured and brought back to Pennsylvania on the carjacking and kidnapping charges. He hasn't been charged with the New York homicide yet. As the search for Burham continues, residents of Warren and surrounding communities remain on edge.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hopefully nothing happens. Hopefully they catch him soon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I work at the hospital, Warren General. We're under, like, complete lockdown. Every night we got to make sure the windows are locked, make sure both front and back doors are locked.


BURNETT: Danny, obviously, it's just amazing to see that, that rope that he created and to think that he was able to escape two minutes and to get away. I mean, what are officials doing now when they hear about a potential sighting?

FREEMAN: Well, Erin, it's interesting. This operation is really not just reliant on manpower. When the Pennsylvania state police say that they have any alleged sightings, what they're doing right now is they're actually rapid-DNA testing the scene to see if it was actually Burham who was the person there.

But, Erin, at this point, there still have been no confirmed sightings of him -- Erin.

BURNETT: Wow. I mean, it's amazing just to have that two-minute window and to be able to go, obviously he had a plan, but the fact that he was just able to thread that needle.

Thank you very much, Danny, as we continue to monitor that situation. Next, thousands of homes and businesses in the Northeast are

underwater after a historic storm, a storm that has a 0.1 percent chance of happening in any year, 0.1 percent. And, yet, these types of events are becoming more and more common. You're hearing about a thousand-year flood every year. We'll tell you why.

Plus, a Manson family member who took part in the grisly murders that terrorized Los Angeles and the entire country tonight out of prison.



BURNETT: Tonight, millions of people in the Northeast under flash flood watches. All eyes are on the Wrightsville dam in Vermont. Now, this is just north of the capital city of Montpelier. The dam is at maximum capacity, threatening to spill over, as residents there are told it is too late now to evacuate.

It's an incredible situation to be facing. It comes as the intense storms are forcing evacuations constantly, now all over the Northeast. Extreme rainfall being called yet another one in one thousand year rain event. But these events are happening every year.

Chad Myers is OUTFRONT.


CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST (voice-over): Countless people displaced, thousands of businesses and homes under water, rescues under way. More than a month's worth of rain pounding down in just hours. These are the scenes in storm-battered New York, where officials say federal assistance has been offered.

New Hampshire, where flash flooding washed out roads, and Vermont, where torrential rain has poured since Sunday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's hard to keep up when it's coming down so hard.

MYERS: In the state capitol, the Winooski River flooded, and the Wrightsville dam threatened to spill. City officials advising nearby residents to move to higher ground. Ground.

In Chester, former New York firefighter Don Hancock watched his belongings float away.

DON HANCOCK, FORMER NY FIREFIGHTER: I've been there many times to help people out, but I've never lived this side of it.

MYERS: And he is not alone. Across the country, one in one thousand year rain events are happening more and more. This kind of weather event is called that because it has a one in one thousandth, or 0.1 percent chance of happening in any one year.

The national climate assessment says the climate crisis increased these downpours by more than 25 percent between 1958 and 2012 in the eastern half of the United States. With the northeast seeing the greatest increase in intense precipitation at more than 70 percent. But these extreme weather events a signature consequence of a warming climate had been observed in every U.S. region. Warmer air can hold more water vapor, making storms capable of dropping increased amounts of rainfall. The devastating situation is evidenced by other torrential rainfalls in the past year. In Dallas, eastern Kentucky, St. Louis, and Yellowstone.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh my God, I can't get home.

MYERS: In April, six months' worth of rain fell in Fort Lauderdale in just 24 hours.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's absolutely heartbreaking. I mean, you can see how shaken up I am.

MYERS: Until rising global temperatures are under control, experts expect more catastrophic events like this one rocking the Northeast now.


MYERS (on camera): Erin, I know some places have the water receding like Montpelier, like some of the pictures there.

But down hill from Montpelier, the water is still going up. So you have to be very careful not to say this is over, because for many, down river, it is not over at all. And this all happened because of so much water in so little time, four to eight inches of rainfall in just 48 hours, on places that already had saturated ground.


And the bad news is, Erin, more rainfall is on the way. Thursday and Friday look very wet again, and that water is not going to soak in. It's just going to run off again. This is just one storm after another.

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

And next tonight, a member of the infamous Manson family, who is a convicted murderer, has just been released from prison.


BURNETT: And tonight, a member of the infamous Manson family, who is a convicted murder, now out of prison and on parole. Leslie Van Houten, now 73 years old, was just 19 when she took part in one of the Manson family's grisly, mysterious horrible murders, a murder spree that terrorized Los Angeles and the whole country.

Van Houten had been up for patrol five times since 2016. Now, Governor Gavin Newsom and the former governor of California, Jerry Brown shot it down every single time. But an appellate court really ruled Newsom's decision, quote, amounts to unsupported intuition, fails to account for the decades of therapy, self-help programming and reflection Van Houten has undergone in the past 50 years.

Now, Van Houten was a teenager, right? She was 19 years old. She has said she was on drugs when she joined the Manson cult. Now she was not part of the group that killed five people, including actress Sharon Tate, but the next night she did participate in the killing of a supermarket executive and his wife, stabbing her 14 to 16 times.

Well, thanks very much for joining us tonight.

"AC360" begins right now.