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Erin Burnett Outfront

Russian General Says He Was Fired For Criticizing War; Source: DOJ Interviewed Michigan Secretary Of State In January 6 Case Amid Uptick In Activity & Possible Trump Indictment; White House Touts Economy As U.S. Inflation Cools To 30 Percent; North Korea: Kim Jong Un Personally Guided Record-Breaking 74-Minute ICBM Missile Test. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired July 12, 2023 - 19:00   ET



ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, the breaking news. A senior Russian general in charge of troops in southern Ukraine fired after speaking out against Putin's war. Hear him in his own words. A truly remarkable audio recording that OUTFRONT has obtained showing Putin's military in disarray tonight.

Plus, more breaking news. CNN learning about another official interviewed in the special counsel's probe into Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Is Jack Smith closing in on a charging decision tonight?

And Kim Jong Un personally guiding North Korea's latest missile launch, its longest missile flight ever, as we learn more about the growing influence of Kim's sister. We have a special report on that coming up.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, the breaking news: a senior Russian general fired for speaking out against Putin's war.

OUTFRONT tonight obtaining remarkable audio of a Russian general in command of forces in southern Ukraine right along that crucial front line near Zaporizhzhia. The general says he was relieved of duty, fired, because he is now telling the truth about what's really happening on those front lines.

Here is General Ivan Popov in a tape meant for the Russian public.


IVAN POPOV, RUSSIAN GENERAL (through translator): I had no right to lie, therefore, I outlined all the problematic issues that exist today in the army in terms of combat work and support. I called a spade a spade. I drew attention to the most important tragedy of modern warfare. This is the lack of counter-battery combat, the absence of artillery reconnaissance stations, and the mass deaths and injuries of our brothers from enemy artillery. I also raised a number of other problems and expressed it all at the highest level, frankly, and extremely harshly.

In return, the senior commanders apparently felt some kind of threat in me and quickly in one light day concocted an order, the minister of defense signed the order and got rid of me.


BURNETT: Just to give some perspective here, this is a general. General Popov is no ordinary military commander, right? He is commanding all of those troops in the south. He is said to be popular with his troops.

He tells them it's an honor to stand with them, vows to do everything he can to make it easier for them to fight, and to come back alive. And then he continued in this audio to accuse Russian leaders all the way to the top, Russian leaders of betraying the military.


POPOV (through translator): As many commanders of divisional regiments said today, the servicemen of the armed forces of Ukraine could not break through our army from the front. Our senior commander hit us from the rear treacherously and vitally decapitating the army at the most difficult and tense moment.


BURNETT: Calling higher command his superiors traitors accusing them of decapitating their own troops. It is a stunning thing to see, because the reality is General Popov and others know what the price could be. He could be out of a job. Sure, he's out of a job, he's fired.

But it could be a lot worse. Things could be a lot worse for him speaking the truth. We don't know. It can be not ignored that at least one senior Russian military official, General Sergei Surovikin, who is an ally of Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Wagner boss, right, who led the armed rebellion against Putin -- well, General Surovikin hasn't been seen since the attempted coup, and a Russian lawmaker today said Surovikin is, quote, taken arrests.

Well, how many more generals, Russian generals are not buying into Putin's war? It's a crucial question that can affect the outcome of this fight, and it comes as the mystery is deepening over the assassination of a Russian submarine commander.

Right now, you're looking at the chilling new video that we have of Stanislav Rzhitsky jogging just moments before he was gunned down. He was shot and killed multiple times while he was running. You can see a man in what appears to be a white hat trailing him.

Now, it appears that Rzhitsky's killer could've tracked his movements using the popular running app called Strava.

Now, we have obtained here at OUTFRONT post of Rzhitsky's two prior runs to this one, where he was gunned down and murdered, from July 3rd and July 5th, five days before he was killed. And look at the map -- look at the map, identical. He takes the same route every time. And it was along that very same route that Rzhitsky was killed.


Nick Paton Walsh is following all of these developments and is OUTFRONT tonight.

And, Nick, let's begin with the breaking news, this tape that we've obtained of a Russian general fired for speaking out against Putin's war, senior Russian general on those crucial front lines in the south along Zaporizhzhia. It's hard to overstate how significant this development is.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, certainly. You've got to put it in the context of the last remarkable three weeks inside Putin's military. We've just had the Wagner armed rebellion, a mercenary group, yes, but essentially fueled by very similar complaints about essentially Russia losing the artillery war in key front lines as Ivan Popov was making. Except Popov, a general, is speaking from inside Russia's top brass again about their misconduct and poor execution of this war, and he spoken out and lost his job very fast.

Now, this I think is another sign of disarray, a disarray which we saw spilling out after the Wagner rebellion. And it comes in a really odd 48 hours for Russia's top brass where we've seen high-profile assassinations deep inside Russia, key commanders killed by missile strikes, and now this extraordinary dissent from Popov. Here's what we know.


WALSH (voice-over): For Russian generals, a home once so distant from the front is no longer safe. Here, former Russian submarine commander Stanislav Rzhitsky runs his usual route at the usual time, but with a new unnoticed companion on a bicycle. Moments later, he was gunned down.

Ukrainian defense intelligence said they had nothing to do with it, but they knew a lot about it, saying he had been shot seven times with a Makarov pistol and heavy rain meant no witnesses.

Rzhitsky commanded a Russian submarine accused of many attacks on civilians, Ukraine also said, although his family reportedly denied that. Ukraine added later, perhaps sarcastically that he had been killed by his own men who refused to kill Ukrainian civilians.

Russia was quick to respond with their own propaganda, claiming to have captured the gunman within hours. Video we can't verify. But it was a crude bit to show they are in control of the fate of their top brass after now weeks of chaos.

Russian media said the killing hinged on a clumsy detail that Rzhitsky had made his daily run public on the running app Strava which has a long history of accidentally exposing the location of people who don't want to be found, revealing U.S. military bases in Syria and Yemen five years ago. There are the dead and also the missing.

News Wednesday, too, about this key Putin lieutenant Sergey Surovikin who vanished since he appeared early in the armed Wagner rebellion to plead for it to stop. A top Russian lawmaker claimed he was, quote, resting, whatever that means.

REPORTER: Are you communicating with Surovikin?


REPORTER: With Surovikin. There are various rumors about where he is.

RUSSIAN LAWMAKER: No, he is resting for now. Not available.

WALSH: Yet, more mystery adding to the bigger one, where is Russia's most prominent military figure, Wagner rebellion leader Yevgeny Prigozhin? Not seen since the weekend revolt despite Kremlin claims he met with Putin days later and pledged a sudden reversal and continued allegiance. Dead jogging or still missing, a turbulent time in the top brass.


WALSH (on camera): Erin -- Erin, important to add that we've heard today from Russian state media confirmation that another key commander again in the south, Lieutenant General Oleg Tsokov was killed it seems by a long-range missile that's being blamed by Russian bloggers potentially on British supplied Storm Shadow missiles.

This again is another commander, for different reason, suddenly not in their post in the most vital part of the area which Russia is defending from Ukraine's continued counteroffensive, this picking up pace. These departures will have a tactical impact regardless of how fast these people are replaced. Yesterday, the Russian ministry of defense put a brave face on, saying that Wagner's handed over 2,000 pieces of equipment, tanks, artillery, et cetera.

But really what we're seeing here is increased dissent spilling out at the public, that's exceptionally rare. It will damage morale, but most likely, it'll damage Russia's performance in the very places they need to fight hardest -- Erin.

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

And OUTFRONT now, General Wesley Clark, the former NATO Supreme allied commander, along with Roman Badanin, a Russian journalist and the founder and editor-in-chief of the investigative journalism site Proekt, which has been targeted by the Russian government and is funded by Putin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky who is in prison for a decade.

Thanks very much to both of you.

General Clark, let me just start with this major development tonight, right? We've obtained these tapes of this high-profile Russian general in command of the forces in southern Ukraine, right, which is really the front of the front line in the counteroffensive right now, fired for speaking out against Putin's war. He's doing so aggressively now knowing that the cost could be death, right, possibly.


Who knows? What does this tell you?

GEN. WESLEY CLARK (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: It tells me the Russian military's under a lot of stress. And that's a good thing for the West. It's a good thing for Ukraine. And it's a good thing for the United States.

They don't have any sympathy for the Russian chain of command or the generals. They're in a war of aggression. There's a lot of innocent people that have been killed in Ukraine. It's a humanitarian disaster for the Ukrainians.

And this general is -- he's not complaining about that. He's simply complaining that he can't kill more people.

So, be gone, be gone. It's a good thing. Let's get rid of the rest of them.

BURNETT: And it's a good point, right? It's not as if he's standing up on moral grounds or anything like that. He is standing up because they're not supporting him in the goals of the war, not because he questions those goals themselves.

Roman, you know, on this front, you do have some new reporting on Yevgeny Prigozhin. As I mentioned, General Surovikin hasn't been seen since the coup. Prigozhin hasn't been seen since the failed coup two and a half weeks ago. What more can you tell us?

ROMAN BADANIN, INDEPENDENT RUSSIAN JOURANLIST: As for Prigozhin, we don't know for sure. His location is still unknown. But we have a lot of indications that he's still inside Russia most probably in St. Petersburg, his native city where he has a lot of real estate assets. So he definitely has some place to live.

But what we did, we produced kind of psychological portrait of Mr. Prigozhin. We tried to answer the question what kind of person he is and how his personality could influence the mutiny that he started on June 24th. And we also went into the details of his relationship with Putin.

And the picture looks very gloomy. Prigozhin is a real sadist, a man really and truly obsessed with cruelty, unimportant physical or verbal cruelty. For example, just a short example, you must understand that in Prigozhin's office in St. Petersburg in a very visible place, there was a photograph of the severed head of African rebels who were killed by Wagner group presumably in the Central African Republic.

Just imagine, just the photographs of the head. We also found a lot of evidence of how Prigozhin personally beat his employees or gave orders for cruel punishment of ordinary people including some Russian opposition leaders and their relatives.

So, it's also clear that Prigozhin has been personally associated with Putin for a very long time, at least since 1995, they know each other.


BADANIN: So, and the last but not the least -- yeah, sorry.

BURNETT: No, no -- I'm saying, you know, General, what do you make of this sort of as they're trying to piece together the portrait of the man still not knowing where he is but finding more and more things about him? For example, what Roman's reporting, the pictures that he had of people beheaded in Africa in Wagner's efforts there.

CLARK: We don't really know what happened with the alleged coup, 80 percent chance, maybe it was real. Putin's used it to get rid of some people who were perhaps dissenting or disloyal to him.

He still needs Prigozhin. Maybe Prigozhin's a chess piece that he puts in Belarus. Maybe Prigozhin takes command of Belarusian forces, blends them in with Wagner Group, opens a northern front. Maybe Prigozhin goes back to Africa.

I think all this is sort of being worked out. Maybe this is a way of getting at Lukashenko, giving Lukashenko a pat on the back for stopping the coup. Here, you take Prigozhin, and then Prigozhin works for Putin underneath.

We just don't know what this is. But, remember, Putin is a trained intelligence agent. He's not a Western political leader. He operates on schemes. He has -- he uses maskirovka. So, you can't assume it's straightforward.

We're all saying he's weaker now, but that's the consensus of Western opinion. But actually, he's used this to tighten up his grip. So, got to be careful in transposing our perceptions on what's happening really inside Russia.


CLARK: This war's still going on. Putin is determined to win it, doesn't care how he wins it, don't know what's going to happen with Prigozhin.

BADANIN: Completely agree.

CLARK: Certainly a crucial point.

And, Roman, in terms of Prigozhin's state of mind, you have some reporting that we haven't been able to verify here at CNN, but about what may be involved here in terms of his physical situation and his decision for the rebellion and beyond.


BADANIN: Yeah. And we also learned that -- well, according to two sources, at least the two sources close to Prigozhin, some time ago, Prigozhin was being treated for abdominal cancer.

And one of the sources told us that probably this situation or his condition influenced the fact that he started the mutiny. Yeah, he killed his wife, you know? He was out of control at some point, they said.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Roman, thank you very much for sharing your latest reporting with us.

And, General Clark, as always, thank you for your perspective. Much appreciated.

And we continue next with breaking news. We are learning the special counsel spent hours interviewing an official in a state that was crucial to Trump's efforts to overturn the election. So, is Jack Smith close to a charging decision or not?

Plus, the White House tonight taking a victory lap as inflation plunges down to 3 percent last month. It was 9 percent a year ago. So is the Republican case against Biden when it comes to the economy dead?

And new video tonight from some of the darkest days of the Ukraine war. The relentless attacks on civilians in Mariupol. That video now part of an award-winning film "20 Days in Mariupol." I'm going to speak tonight to the reporter and director of the film to see what he witnessed during those difficult days when we all saw nothing, but he was there.



BURNETT: Breaking news, CNN is learning exclusively that prosecutors for the special counsel investigation into former President Trump's attempts to overturn the 2020 election interviewed the Michigan secretary of state. That's Jocelyn Benson, and did so for several hours.

Well, several hours is obviously significant. That's a lot of questions. Benson is the latest in a growing list of state officials who have cooperated with the investigation. And we know have appeared in front of that grand jury.

It comes amidst an uptick of activity in the investigation, which is a sign that charging decisions may be near.

Zach Cohen is our national security reporter. He broke this news and he's OUTFRONT.

So, Zach, what more can you tell me?

ZACHARY COHEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY & JUSTICE REPORTER: Yeah, Erin, I've learned that we can now count Jocelyn Benson, Michigan secretary of state, among this group of state officials who have been interviewed by the special counsel's prosecutors in just the last few weeks. It's yet another indication that Jack Smith's team is honing in on what former President Donald Trump and his allies were doing at the state level after the 2020 election in a bid to overturn the results.

Now, Jocelyn Benson is an interesting witness to speak with prosecutors. She was one of the loudest voices in real time trying to knock down those baseless claims about voter fraud. Michigan, of course, was at the center of a lot of those unfounded claims that Trump and his attorneys were pushing at the time.

But Benson, like others that have gone into talk with prosecutors can add testimony to what they were seeing on the ground after the 2020 election and how that did not line up with what Trump and his lawyers were trying to convince the population that was actually happening.

So, look, another witness from a state official that's gone in, spoken to prosecutors in recent weeks. And this investigation does seem to continue to be progressing towards a charging decision. When? That remains unclear.

BURNETT: That's a big question, when, and then what will it be. Zach, thanks very much, breaking that news tonight.

And also this hour, the FBI Director Christopher Wray criticizing how former President Trump stored hundreds of classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate. Now, Wray did this before the House Judiciary Committee where he was under intense questioning.


CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: I will say that there are specific rules about where to store classified information, and that those need to be stored in a SCIF, a secured compartmentalized information facility. And in my experience, ballrooms, bathrooms and bedrooms are not SCIFs.

REP. MADELEINE DEAN (D-PA): And I yield back.

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): The gentlelady yields back. Bedroom, bathroom, ballroom, how about a box in --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Chairman, Mr. Chair --

JORDAN: -- in a garage, beach house in Delaware and the Biden Center, I don't think those are SCIFs --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Chairman, point of order.


BURNETT: Now, the Republican committee chairman Jim Jordan who you saw there quickly pointed to president Biden's own mishandling of classified documents, which, of course, the minute they found them, they turned them over as the Vice President Pence also did.

But Jordan did that to accuse Wray and the FBI he said of a political double standard.

OUTFRONT now, Democratic Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren of California, and she's on the Judiciary Committee.

Congresswoman, of course, these cases were handled completely differently by the subjects, right, by Pence, by Biden, by Trump. But Republicans spent a lot of the hearing today on conspiracy theories, which Wray did his best to knock down. I'm curious, though, Congresswoman, whether you are worried that any forum that airs conspiracy theories, even if the forum debunks them, just gives them more oxygen.

REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): Well, I think that's really the point of what the Republicans are trying to do. They started by saying that the FBI is no longer trusted by the American people to the extent that Americans don't trust the FBI. It's because Republicans have been lying about them and trying to discredit them.

So, this is really a campaign on the part of extremists to excuse the ex-president's behavior and to somehow blame the FBI for the insurrection on January 6th. It was a bizarre hearing.

BURNETT: I mean, in that theory in and of itself, right, both bizarre and discredited. And, yet it keeps rearing -- it's like Groundhog Day. And, you know, again and again we heard things like that, Congresswoman.

I'm sorry, go ahead. Make your point.

LOFGREN: Troy Nehls basically accused in his statement, accused the FBI of focusing on arresting grandmas that went into the Capitol, trying to pretend that this was not an event, ignoring the fact that we have had convictions of rioters who viciously assaulted Capitol police, some of them spending a very long period of time in prison. So, they're trying to distort reality, and I'm hoping that the Trump cultist following somehow replaces their lies with reality.


BURNETT: Well, let me ask you about something else that came up, another -- another moment, right? This is a thing that keeps coming up.

This particular exchange is between Director Wray and the Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz.


REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): Are you protecting the Bidens?

WRAY: Absolutely not. The FBI does not --


GAETZ: Well, you won't answer the question about whether or not that's a shakedown.


BURNETT: The thing about this is, Congresswoman, to your point is that airing of the grievance, true or not, gives it -- survives. A majority of Americans do see political bias at play. The most recent Quinnipiac poll, Congresswoman, you're well aware of, 62 percent of Americans think the DOJ's case against Trump in the classified documents case is motivated by politics. That includes 65 percent of Republicans and, frankly, nearly 30 percent of Democrats, which is more than some might expect.

How big of a problem is this, Congresswoman, for the DOJ and the FBI?

LOFGREN: Well, it's meant to undercut the rule of law and really our system of government. The Republicans are more interested in what they consider a win than protecting the Constitution and civil order. It's very distressing.

I mean, the witness that they called in, and we had the transcripts, testified four times that there was ample probable cause to issue the search warrant and the director confirmed that today. In fact, if the FBI is anything, they're too differential to the ex-president.

For example, we had a newspaper article I put into the record indicating the FBI wanted to just call the whole thing off when the president's lawyer asserted that a diligent search had been done and everything had been found. Obviously, that wasn't the case. The ex- president was busy showing classified documents to other people. So, they deferred to the president, they deferred to the ex-president when it came to investigating January 6th. Really, too much deferential to the contrary of what the Republicans were trying to say today.

BURNETT: Congresswoman Lofgren, I always appreciate your time, thanks.

LOFGREN: Thank you.

BURNETT: And, next, the Democratic Senator Joe Manchin now headlining an event for a Democrat for a group that's pushing for a third-party presidential candidate. How worried should the White House be?

Plus, North Korea vowing to retaliate against American spy planes off its coast, and the woman behind the threat is Kim Jong Un's younger sister, who is now the most powerful woman in North Korea.



BURNETT: Tonight, a major Biden win. Inflation in June down to 3 percent, which is the slowest pace in more than two years. I mean, just look at the numbers one year ago. At the time, inflation was at 9 percent. So you're down from 9 to 3 in one year.

Wages, and this is what's most important, they are now rising more quickly than inflation after two years of that not being the case. So they were on a real decline. So, now, outpacing inflation. It's very significant, and it's one month.

But if the timing continues, the timing could not be better for President Biden as he looks to take the air out of Republican talking points like these.


MIKE PENCE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: President Joe Biden and the Democrats passed a $2 trillion bill in the name of COVID that lit the pilot light of the worst inflation that we have seen in two generations.

NIKKI HALEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Inflation is doubled since Biden took office. He spent $5 trillion that has gotten us to a $30 trillion debt number.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: I will end and stop Biden's inflation nightmare.


BURNETT: Jonah Goldberg is OUTFRONT now, the editor in chief of "The Dispatch" and a CNN political commentator, along with Keisha Lance Bottoms, the former mayor of Atlanta and former senior Biden White House adviser.

All right. Thanks very much for both of you.

So, let me just ask you, Jonah, you just heard the candidates on the campaign trail pounding Biden on inflation, right? This has been a big talking point. But, obviously, today's numbers tell a completely different story. If you've got inflation down at 3 percent and wages are outpacing inflation.

I understand it's one month, but if this continues, this really takes a lot of the wind, a lot of the air out of the Republican balloon, doesn't it?

JONAH GOLDBERG, EDITOR IN CHIEF, THE DISPATCH: It could. Look, you're absolutely right. If the trend line continues in this direction, it's -- look, it's really good news for Biden. The news today is very good news for Biden. It'd be very good news for the country if this trend line continues on path like that.

But we've seen surveys, the University of Michigan had a survey out saying Americans are more down on the economy than any time in the last 70 years. There is lots of other polling that says that attitudes about the economy are getting worse. Even as the economy's getting better.

Inflation has a long lag time for changing people's actual attitudes on the ground. So, yeah, if this thing continues like this, it would be fantastic. But there's just a lot that can happen between now and then. And it would obviously take away the talking point for Republicans.

BURNETT: Right, and a big one. I mean, they'll stick with the debt part of the equation. But they lose the inflation, which would be -- which would be crucial if this continues.

Mayor Bottoms, obviously the president and his campaign are hoping that this is the case, right, that this continues. But even so, Biden has some serious problems from his own party. Joe Manchin, the Democratic senator headlining an event next week in New Hampshire, for the group No Labels, which has been pushing aggressively for a third- party presidential candidate.

And Manchin tells CNN today that, OK, this trip's not about a third- party run, although he hasn't ruled one out. And keep in mind obviously third parties matter. Jill Stein and Gary Johnson siphoned votes away from Hillary Clinton back in 2016 in crucial states. If they weren't there, the whole world would be a different place right now.

So, how worried should the White House be?

KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't believe that the White House is worried at all, Erin, as you were talking about inflation there. Policies in place, the American Rescue Plan Fund, the Infrastructure Act, and so many other policies that have been put in place by this White House that will make a difference to voters come election time.

I don't think anybody expects that Joe Manchin is going to always toe the party line. So it's not very surprising to hear that he is somewhere other than with the Democratic Party.


And what the president knows, he's been through multiple races. This is a marathon, not a sprint. And we know this from previous election cycles. Polls will go up and down, but when voters start to pay attention, people will pay attention to the policies that have been put forth by president Joe Biden and this White House that are continuing to make a difference. I know the American Rescue Plan Fund was a game changer for cities across America.

BURNETT: So, Jonah, are you a sanguine about Joe Manchin, No Labels, the situation there?

GOLDBERG: No. I mean, look, first of all, the connective tissue between the state of the economy and the way elections go, it's sometimes there and it's sometimes not. The economy was terrible in 2022. Democrats had a really good midterm.

The economy had been going pretty well for Donald Trump, and he lost badly. I think that -- look, I also think that Joe Biden has done all of these wonderful things that the White House likes to tout, and he's among the most unpopular presidents in modern memory.

We are shaping up to have an election in 2024 that is going to repeat the mistake of 2016, which is to conceivably nominate two of the most unpopular politicians in America, so unpopular that they might have a chance of losing against the other. And in that kind of environment, Joe Manchin, some third party, Robert F. Kennedy, who knows, you can throw an election -- in 2020 Biden won because of the swinging of 44,000 votes in three states.

The margins could be much thinner because Biden's much less popular than he was in 2020. And if I were the White House, I'd be worried about all of these things including just the possibility of a mishap, because there are a lot of people who are very concerned about his age.

BURNETT: Mayor Bottoms, you know, when you talk about the situation, obviously you've got Joe Manchin and Jonah mentions RFK Jr. who's running in the primaries. But you've got a Green Party candidate who's going to be on that final ballot, right? I mean, that's the way it goes. Green Party is a party.

Cornel West, David Axelrod was saying he's worried about Cornel West. He believes that that could cost Biden dearly, right? You just have to siphon off a few thousand votes in a few states.

Do you worry that a progressive African American candidate is going to appeal more to Black voters who have been cooling to Biden in recent polls? We see it in recent polls, support for Biden among African Americans dropped from 84 percent in 2021. It's down to 56 percent from earlier this year. I mean, that's a stunning plunge.

BOTTOMS: Yeah, I'm more concerned, Erin, about African American voters and voters in general staying at home than I am about a third- party candidate. It's not ideal. Obviously, every single vote will matter. But what we are seeing voters are becoming increasingly unhappy with elected officials. That's not particular to President Biden.

But, again, I believe that when the policies are focused on in the midst of a campaign when people are reminded of how the American Rescue Plan Fund sent money to cities in Atlanta, it stopped us from having to furlough city employees. It allowed us to do things that we otherwise wouldn't be able to do.

When these type policies I think are put in front of the voters at the height of a campaign, I'm less concerned about a third-party candidate. Do I wish that there were not a third-party candidate? Certainly.

Cornel West has a lot of respect not just in the African American community but across the country. So do I wish that he were not a candidate? I certainly do because we know that the margins will be thin. But I'm still very confident that President Biden will be re- elected.

BURNETT: All right. Mayor Bottoms, thank you. Jonah, thank you.

And next here, just in, we are learning that Kim Jong Un personally guided North Korea's longest-ever missile flight just days after the leader's sister threatened the United States over an alleged spy plane. So, we've got new developments there and an exclusive report.

Plus, he stayed in the besieged city of Mariupol as Putin's forces terrorized its people, its civilians. And we're going to show you now for the first time what he saw.



BURNETT: Tonight, North Korea firing an intercontinental ballistic missile that flew for more than 70 minutes. That is the longest missile flight ever for North Korea. Kim Jong un, they say, personally guided the test-firing of the missile, that is according to North Korean state media. The launch coming just days after Kim Jong Un's sister vowed retaliation over an alleged U.S. spy plane, which they say flew over North Korean territory.

Will Ripley is OUTFRONT.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A menacing milestone for North Korea's missile program. Pyongyang's latest ICBM launch breaking its own record for the longest-ever missile flight, a staggering 74 minutes, hurdling high above the earth at super sonic speed, hitting 6,000 kilometers before splashing down in the sea.

The massive missile's potential striking range, the entire U.S. mainland, and most of the world. Pyongyang's most provocative launch in months, coinciding with this NATO summit in Lithuania, quickly condemned by Japan as an unacceptable threat to regional stability. South Korea's military ready to overwhelmingly respond.

The ICBM, a crown jewel in leader Kim Jong Un's nuclear arsenal, protecting the power, fortune, and future of the ruling Kim family. His young daughter Kim Ju-ae often appearing alongside her dad, barely ten years old, the rising star of a state propaganda campaign, carefully crafted by Kim's younger sister, the mastermind of the Kim family brand, the leader's loyal confidant, trusted adviser, and perhaps the most powerful woman in North Korea.

CHUN SU-JIN, AUTHOR, "NORTH KOREAN WOMEN IN POWER": She is the number two, that is for sure. But actually she is very smart lady, and she actually knows that her position is secure only when her brother is secure.


RIPLEY: Just five years ago, very few people knew of Kim Yo-jong. She stepped onto South Korean soil, the first member of North Korea's ruling family to cross the DMZ. She carried a message of peace. North Korean athletes and cheer squads got a warm welcome to the 2018 Winter Olympics.

She rose to fame as a fixture to her brother's side, standing silently behind Kim as he met with former President Trump, that brief period of diplomacy feels like a distant memory. The silent sister now a loud voice of defiance, issuing fiery statements on state media, often laced with crude language.

This week, she threatened to shoot down U.S. spy planes, accusing them without evidence of entering North Korean territory. Warning, in case of repeated illegal intrusions, the U.S. forces will experience a very critical flight.

Past actions prove she's not all talk. In 2020, a dispute with South Korea ended with a bang. Kim ordered the demolition of a joint liaison office at the border, turning diplomatic dreams into a pile of rubble.


RIPLEY (on camera): She blew up that building because she was angry about activists sending balloons with leaflets that opposed the regime. That was her response, let's blow up the building. And she is the second most powerful person in this nation that has an ever- growing nuclear arsenal.

And yet she's the one that says the U.S. is hostile and aggressive. She called South Korea's president a fool recently. And now that the Washington declaration will strengthen the military alliance between the U.S. and South Korea, we can expect a lot more from her, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Will Ripley, live tonight from Taipei.

And, next, they witnessed Russia's brutal assault on the city of Mariupol. And their footage now part of the new gripping documentary, finally we can see what they lived and the director of that film is next.

Plus, did the Pennsylvania murder suspect who's on the run still after escaping prison have help? Police say was hovering near the prison just before the prisoner's daring escape.



BURNETT: Tonight, harrowing new footage from some of the darkest days of the Ukraine war. Team of journalists from the "A.P.", you may remember them, because they chose to remain in the besieged city of Mariupol, as Putin carried out horrifically brutal attacks, like the bombing of that theater that was sheltering women and children, civilians. These "A.P." reporters were the only international reporters in the city, and they were documenting Russian troops targeting civilians, killing children, killing the elderly.

In the documentary titled "20 Days in Mariupol", the reporters are sharing the images they were not able to get to the world at the time. It was completely cut off, you might remember.

And I want to warn you, what you are about to see is disturbing.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have a visual. Tanks have entered with the letter Z.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The city of Mariupol is surrounded from all sides.

NARRATOR: Russians have entered the city. The war has begun, and we have to tell its story. This is painful to watch. But it must be painful to watch.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was a bomb attack.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Which building?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The surging wing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's okay. I'm okay.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where is your mom?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's nowhere to run.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Guys, your reporting spread.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You did a big thing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everyone there has survived so much.

NARRATOR: If the world saw everything that happened in Mariupol, it would give at least some meaning to this horror. My brain will desperately want to forget all of this. But the camera will not let it happen.


BURNETT: Mstyslav Chernov is an "A.P." video journalist, the director of "20 Days in Mariupol". He and his team have been awarded two Pulitzer prizes for their incredible work, including the prestigious public service award for breaking news photography and the audience of world cinema documentary at Sundance.

Mstyslav Chernov is OUTFRONT now.

Mstyslav, I am so glad to see you.

I remember those days when we knew nothing happening was there but we know you were there. You were there sacrificing, risking your life. You were capturing exclusive footage from the very start of the invasion in Mariupol, footage we would never know, things we would never know happened if it were not for you.

The Russian tanks coming in, as you and your team are alone and reporters in that city. People are dying all around you. You chose to stay. You were the world's eyes and ears. You were historical record for this atrocity.

Why did you do it, Mstyslav? What did you see?

MSTYSLAV CHERNOV, AP REPORTER & DIRECTOR, "20 DAYS IN MARIUPOL": Well, I think decision -- the decision to go to Mariupol and to stay there came before even the siege began, as it was clear that the invasion is going to-- the new wave of the invasion is going to start. We knew Mariupol as a key city going to be a target, and just logistically, let's say it is going to be surrounded. The choice came naturally, and we made this choice, we felt responsible as Ukrainians, as part of the community to just to tell the story of our fellow Ukrainians as an international journalist as well, it is my job.

So, it's just -- considering all risks, we didn't -- we didn't know that we will be specifically targeted by Russian diplomats as information terrorists, and we didn't know that we will be alone there, but we were ready to keep working until we can, and we did.

BURNETT: Mstyslav, among the atrocities you witnessed, that you captured for all of us to know forever that they happened, was the Russian bombing of a maternity hospital. Let me play the clip you shared with us.



BURNETT: Now, Mstyslav, we know that the woman we just saw and her unborn baby-- did not survive and I am sorry just watching it is emotional for me. It is one of the most devastating images we've seen from this war and thanks to you, we can see it and we can feel how we feel watching it.

What does it mean to you, that even though she died, and that baby died, that that image will live forever?

CHERNOV: So, her name was Irina, she was 32 years old. What is harrowing for me is this is only a tiny fraction of what really happened in Mariupol and in Ukraine, what we see is probably a symbol. But it is one single event that, in fact, repeated over and over and over and keeps repeating. These attacks are happening all the time, deliberate attacks.

So being able to capture this moment, being able to make sure it will not be forgotten, is very important. But also, I just want everyone to know that this is-- this is so little of what is really happening, and as a filmmaker, I feel partly frustrated that I am able to capture only a tiny fraction of what is unfolding in Ukraine, but at least something.

BURNETT: Well, it is something that it at least moves the hearts and minds of anyone that sees it. A small of a fraction of the realty as it may, and we are grateful to you, Mstyslav, that you and your team risked your lives to witness this for all of us. Thank you so much.

And we'll be right back.


BURNETT: And, finally tonight, investigators believe they are closing in on the murder suspect who escaped from a Pennsylvania prison last week. According to police there have been a number of sightings and they believe that those sightings are accurate.

Now, police are raising the possibility, again, that Michael Burham, who is known to be a survivalist, may be getting help from the outside. Authorities say a drone was hovering near the jail, a drone just before Burham escaped by climbing down bed sheets that he had tied together.

Thanks so much for joining us tonight. We'll see you back here tomorrow.

"AC360" begins now.