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Erin Burnett Outfront

Judge Warns Trump "Inflammatory" Remarks Could Speed Up Trial; Special Counsel Appointed After Hunter Biden Plea Deal Talks Fail; Maui Death Toll Rises to 67 Amid Grim Search for the Missing; Trump, DeSantis About to Jockey for Voters at Iowa State Fair; Ukraine Claims Russian Missile Strikes Targeting Ukrainian Pilots set to Train on U.S.-Made F-16 Fighters. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired August 11, 2023 - 19:00   ET



ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, laying down the law. The judge in the January 6th case drawing red lines for former President Trump in court, warning him about witness intimidation, saying his First Amendment right to free speech is, quote, not absolute.

And a huge announcement from Attorney General Merrick Garland, special counsel is now investigating Hunter Biden, the president's son, after a potential plea deal collapsed.

Plus, 59 people are now confirmed dead in the Hawaii wildfires. It comes as residents start to return to Lahaina to see the rubble where they used to live. One of them is my guest tonight.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening, I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, major developments on multiple legal fronts for both Donald Trump and Joe Biden. Trump's attorneys coming face to face with Judge Tanya Chutkan for the first time today as the attorney general spoke publicly, something he rarely does. Merrick Garland announcing he is authorizing a special counsel to investigate Biden's son Hunter.

And all of this comes as witnesses subpoenaed in the Fulton County, Georgia, investigation, can be told any minute they need to testify on Monday in front of a grand jury. That's when the grand jury meets again and could indict if Trump is indicted for the fourth time for his attempts to overturn the election in that state.

We've got all of this covered tonight, and I want to begin with what happened in a courtroom today and show you this picture. This is a drawing of the interaction between Trump lawyer John Lauro and Judge Tanya Chutkan. You see Lauro's hands in the air, perhaps a reflection of his reaction to the stern warning that Judge Chutkan issued to the former president.

Judge Chutkan saying in court that the more Trump makes, quote, inflammatory statements that could taint a jury pool, quote, the greater the urgency will be that we proceed to trial quickly. Now, these are words of great significance because this judge will

soon set a trial date. Jack Smith has formally requested that it starts on January 2nd. Trump has made it clear he doesn't want any trials until after the election ten months later. So that happened.

Then Judge Chutkan issued a protective order, barring Trump from publicly disclosing sensitive information, three pages, including witness interviews that is turned over to his legal team. Now, the judge didn't give prosecutors everything that they wanted today in that warning -- in that ruling at all. She sided with Trump on a few things too, but she did make it clear that Trump has to be careful with what he says.

Of course, Jack Smith, in seeking this order, cited statements Trump has made in recent days like this social media post where he said, quote, if you go after me, I'm coming after you. And he put it in all caps.

And, of course, Trump has threatened the special counsel at campaign rallies and repeatedly slammed him and other prosecutors in posts like these that you see swarming by, all in just the past four days.

But tonight, Trump appears perhaps to realize how serious this all is, since the judge's hearing this morning, Trump has not made a single such attack on social media. Obviously, we'll see how long that lasts.

I want to get straight to Katelyn Polantz now. She is in Washington to begin our coverage.

And, Katelyn, the judge didn't go as far as prosecutors wanted in limiting Trump's ability to talk about the case. But she was pretty straightforward.

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: She was. And she set limitations today, both in her words and in her order. So in the order she did place an order on Donald Trump, saying, you can't share things that are sensitive in this case, evidence that you have never seen before that you will be getting as you and your team prepare for trial, things like what witnesses testified about in both the grand jury and then in recorded interviews that they did with investigators. So that's the crucial legal determination that she made.

And she did side with Trump's team a little bit on that. They wanted it to be only narrowed to what would be called sensitive materials. And she agreed with them on that.

But she also was so clear in how she wanted to set the tone of this case at this point, Erin, and how she is going to handle things from here the whole way to trial, reminding Donald Trump that he is a criminal defendant, that it's his day job right now by his choice to be a political candidate, and that there's the justice system and there's politics, and when it's in Judge Tanya Chutkan's courtroom, and she has a criminal defendant, even if his name is Donald Trump and he's the former president, it's the justice system that matters more, her direct quote was the fact that he is running a political campaign currently has to yield to the administration of justice.


And so, Erin, the things that she is considering right now that she as the judge overseeing this January 6th, 2020, election case against Donald Trump has to do is she has to make sure there's a fair trial for Trump, as a defendant. She has to make sure the jury pool isn't tainted. She's not going to infringe upon his free speech, but she is going to set some limitations. And she's also going to make sure she doesn't violate any orders to obstruct justice or to intimidate witnesses -- not intimidate witnesses.

BURNETT: Right, it's crucial because, you know, these things, sometimes you don't know if it's happening, witness intimidation, right, what actually causes that, and it's that subjectivity that is at the heart of this.

All right. Katelyn, please stay with me.

I want to bring Ryan Goodman into the conversation, former special counsel of the Department of Defense, of course now with just security blog. And Karen Friedman Agnifilo, the former chief assistant district attorney of the Manhattan D.A.'s office.

So thanks very much to all of you.

Ryan, let me start with you. So, the judge did express some criticism to the arguments made by prosecutors, right? Some criticism. She did side with Trump on at least a few things.

But obviously there's still a protective order in place. But it wasn't just, okay, we're just going to give Jack Smith what he wants. That is not what this was.

What stood out to you in the judge's words today?

RYAN GOODMAN, FORMER SPECIAL COUNSEL AT DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE: So I think the two things that stood out the most are that her order says that Trump cannot speak at all about a category of materials called sensitive materials. And very importantly, that it's not just the grand jury materials but it's all other witness interviews and the like. So if anybody ever hears Trump speaking about some of the witnesses, that would probably mean he's crossed a red line, if it comes from the material that he's being handed now by the Justice Department.

And then the other one that she did say to him and to his attorneys, at least, if Donald Trump were to continue to make inflammatory statements that could taint the jury pool, then she will take that into consideration about when she has the trial, because she wanted it to be earlier than later if the pool is going to be tainted.

BURNETT: And she could change that, she could set the date, and then he could do something and he could change the date, right?

GOODMAN: Potentially. Or there are going to be other opportunities when his attorneys might say can we just extend the date further and she'll be no. And next week, they have to tell her when they want to have the trial. Tomorrow, he's going to be in Iowa.

So, like, can he engage in the level of self-control to not say certain statements like that Jack Smith is a deranged maniac, quote/unquote? That is something that can taint the jury pool. It's not necessarily threatening Jack Smith --


GOODMAN: But it's broader than that, and I think that's key. And tonight, he might in fact be getting some of this material. He himself might be somewhat inflamed.

BURNETT: Right. And we'll see.

And as I pointed out, Karen, you know, he's been quiet since this morning on this. There's no expectation that that will hold. But, nonetheless, it has, thus far.

So when you -- you saw this today, Karen, some of the court draws and what happened in that courtroom of the face-to-face between Trump's lawyers, Mr. Lauro was there, and Judge Chutkan. What does this tell you about how she will make these decisions?

KAREN FRIEDMAN AGNIFILO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think Judge Chutkan today showed that she's fair judge who can keep control of her courtroom, who will keep control of the parties, and that she's the one in charge and she's going to set the rules.

She also, I think, really established today that she is not just going to do everything the government asks for or that Trump and his team ask for. She is looking at the law and at the evidence and at the rules. And she is making decisions that are, I think, really carefully surgically parsed out to both protect the rights of defendant Donald Trump and the government.

And, you know, as Ryan said, the most important thing for her is that she ensures that there's a fair and legitimate trial that happens, and nobody can taint the jury pool or get information out there that might not be admissible at trial. Don't forget this discovery is going to have information in it, some of it might not be admissible at trial.

And so, it's important that the jury only sees what is admissible at trial and really focuses on that and not things they learned from Donald Trump.

BURNETT: There is, of course -- I mean, as a part of all this, we have all been -- anyone in this country has seen coverage of this sort of nonstop for the past two years. So, any juror who isn't aware of any of this, that's interesting in and of itself.

But, Katelyn, as we await for the judge to rule on the start date of the trial, and, of course, Trump's team has to file their formal requested date. Trump indicated it shouldn't be till after the election. We'll see what they formally file. Do you have any indication -- did you get any indication from the judge on where she is on this crucial issue today?

POLANTZ: Yeah. So, she didn't reveal exactly when she wants the trial to be. That's going to be happening very much likely at the next time she sees both of these parties at the end of August, Erin. But she did say she wants to move this case along, and there are two things, Erin, that are essentially a glean in this case that sort of hint at the idea that Judge Chutkan does want this to happen soon, that it should, and that the Justice Department wants it to happen before the election.

One of the things is exactly what Ryan and the others have been saying today, which is quite clearly that she is saying that if this becomes very inflammatory, if there is the threat of chilling the jury or chilling the witnesses here, that means that perhaps we should have this faster than what was initially planned or what you might want if you want to drag it out.

And then the justice department in their filing, while Trump has been saying it should be after the election because I'm a political candidate, the justice department had said that they want this trial to take place in January because not only is it a matter of public importance that should be settled by a jury where Donald Trump can go before them, but it's not just any matter of public importance, it's about a threat to overturn the 2020 election result.

And, so, that substance of the case is part of the reason that the Justice Department is arguing it should happen soon, and clearly from their position should happen before the 2020 election.

BURNETT: That is amazing that we're going to put it in the hands of a jury of any individuals who actually would even want to be in that position. Just when you think about what's at stake here, at some level, it's kind of shocking that we're in a situation where you're going to have a jury do something that is of such importance, right? If he's not convicted, he's essentially going to say he's exonerated.

It does come in the context, of course, as any minute we could hear that this group of individuals who have been subpoenaed by Fani Willis to appear -- she said she would give them at least 48 hours' notice to appear before a grand jury. No one has gotten that yet as we know, as we understand it. Forty-eight hours from tomorrow would be tomorrow morning.

So, what do you think is going on here?

GOODMAN: Yeah. I mean, when I first look at it, I wondered if it counted weekends or not. So --

BURNETT: Yeah. You'd think they'd want to get it done on Friday before they went home.

GOODMAN: Yeah. It's still could be that weekend days count, and therefore everybody's going to be looking do any of those three individuals receive that letter or that notice that says come on in on Monday. Or is it business days? Or did she decide to elect not to bring them in?

But it looks like she will bring them in. So, do they get this notice Saturday or Sunday?

BURNETT: Right, right. Because, of course, Karen, she could have subpoenaed them to appear when she wants them to appear and then say, well, I don't need you. That doesn't mean she's not going to present and go on Monday.

AGNIFILO: Exactly. I mean, she could have a summary of the special grand jury report. And that could be the evidence that's presented to the grand jury. She could have an investigator testify that summarizes the evidence. Or she could call live witnesses.

So, it's just unclear what she's going to do. But it does appear that something is happening this week.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you all very much. I appreciate it.

And, next, the justice department drastically increasing its investigation into Hunter Biden. The special counsel now appointed with a very wide remit. But the question now is, what could it mean for the president.

And the toll climbing tonight in Maui where residents of Lahaina are now returning for the first time since the deadly wildfires decimated their town. I'll speak to a woman who barely escaped as the flames destroyed her home.

Plus, shocking new video out of Ukraine. A man with his family capturing the moment the Russian rocket slammed into a hotel.



BURNETT: Tonight, President Biden's son Hunter is now the subject of a special counsel investigation after talks with the Justice Department for a plea deal to resolve tax and gun charges, of course, fell colossally apart. That makes a trial likely there.

And the Attorney General Merrick Garland came out today and did something he very rarely does, he came out, spoke publicly, and made the announcement himself, announcing that the Trump-appointed U.S. attorney, David Weiss, who is already overseeing the Hunter Biden probe himself asked to be given special counsel status.


MERRICK GARLAND, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Upon considering his request, as well as the extraordinary circumstances relating to this matter, I have concluded that it is in the public interest to appoint him as special counsel.

Mr. Weiss has the authority he needs to conduct a thorough investigation and to continue to take the steps he deems appropriate independently, based only on the facts and the law.


BURNETT: Well, based on the facts and the law, but of course these are extraordinary circumstances. And the investigation is not just limited to Hunter Biden. As the special counsel order states, in part, something that is something to note. They say, quote, the special counsel is authorized to conduct the ongoing investigation as well as any matters that arose from that investigation or may arise from the special counsel's investigation. And that, of course, is what opens the door to the president and anywhere else any investigation leads.

Kara Scannell is OUTFRONT.

So, Kara, what does a special counsel here mean? Not just for Hunter Biden, who obviously has been under investigation for quite some time, but for President Biden as well.

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, last month it appeared that this five-year investigation was heading to an end. And now with the appointment of a special counsel, it certainly means that it's going to be continuing for quite some time, including into the presidential race.

I mean, Merrick Garland today, as you said, he said that this investigation had reached a -- as he put it, a stage where a special counsel status was appropriate. Now, this was after their talks to try to repair the plea deal that the judge was not going to approve, had reached an impasse. Now, DOJ is not commenting on what Garland meant when he said it reached a stage and what that means.

But, as special counsel, Weiss will have additional authorities, meaning he can -- you know, he's the U.S. attorney for Delaware, but as special counsel, he could bring a charging decision, seat a grand jury anywhere in the U.S. we know that some areas of interest here are California and D.C. because that's where Hunter Biden lives and that is where he would have paid his taxes, where his accountant was.


It also means he has a budget, he could hire people. He's not under the day to day oversight of the Justice Department so he has a little bit more freedom.

It also means more transparency. Because as special counsel, he's required to write a report about his charging decisions, what he chooses to prosecute and what he chooses not to prosecute.

And Merrick Garland today saying that he will make as much of that report public as possible, you know? But as you say, this will bleed into the presidential contest. You know, President Biden has called this a private matter, but his rivals and supporters of former President Trump are using this as political ammunition. There's already some ads that are anti-Biden that are focusing on Hunter Biden. And the House Republicans today, they say they are not happy with this

appointment, they're going to continue their investigation into President Biden and the Biden family finances. And they still want to hear from David Weiss -- Erin.

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

So, Ryan Goodman's back with me.

Also OUTFRONT, Democratic strategist Basil Smikle and Republican strategist Joe Pinion.

So thanks very much to all of you.

So let me just start with you, Ryan. It's not a private matter anymore. You know, it's obviously, this will be -- we'll see what comes out, but this is now very much in the public sphere.

How worried should Hunter Biden be? He went from thinking he had a deal that was going to prohibit any future prosecution for basically anything to a special counsel with basically unlimited remit.

GOODMAN: That's exactly right. I think his situation is much worse today than when he went into that courtroom thinking that they're about to solidify their deal, and thinking that that deal meant, as you just described it, that he would have immunity from any other kinds of crimes that might've been under investigation.

Now, we have a special counsel who has an unlimited remit. Special counsels, independent counsels in the past can take on a life of their own. He has remit across the entire country where he is looking to bring charges. And there's a special wording in the court filing by the new special counsel where he says, we're not just necessarily going to bring the tax misdemeanor charges, we might bring other charges.

So, now, Hunter Biden is probably or very possibly looking at down the barrel of felony tax crimes that will be charged in, let's say, California and D.C. that's the situation that he's in today.

BURNETT: All right, bad.

Now, Joe, some on the -- Kara mentioned the Republican Party. You would think they get a special counsel for Hunter Biden, go all right, giddy-up, we won. Okay, Mike Pence did say that. He's happy David Weiss is special counsel.

So here's what he said.


MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: I think it's about time that we saw the appointment of a special counsel to get to the bottom of not only what Hunter Biden was doing but what the Biden family was doing, the American people deserve answers and I welcome the appointment.


BURNETT: Okay. So that's kind of what you'd expect -- okay, hold on. Except for this Trump-appointed special counsel.

Tim Scott, who's running for president: This special counsel can't be trusted. House Oversight Chairman Comer: part of the Justice Department's efforts to attempt a Biden family cover-up. Jim Jordan: David Weiss can't be trusted, this is an attempt to white-wash the Biden family's corruption.

So, they don't care that this special counsel is a Trump appointee. They just think this is bad.

JOE PINION, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, so there's a few things here. The old saying is it's not what you do, it's when you do it. There's also the old saying that it takes a lifetime to build up a reputation, only a day to destroy it.

So, if you look at it from the broad context of saying, even going back to February when Jim Jordan had written to Merrick Garland asking for a special counsel and got no response -- yes, Republicans have long been waiting for this day when there would be a broader birth to try to figure out what was going on not just with Hunter but his associates.

The other issue is, again, what transpired in that courtroom, which I think cannot be underestimated, where you had Judge Noreika asking, is there any precedent for such a wide level of discretion to be given for, some type of diversion program, and the response from, again, Leo Wise, not to be confused with prosecutor Weiss, is, no, there wasn't.

I do think that there are going to be real questions as to whether there was a handshake deal or a wink, wink, nod, nod deal between prosecution and Hunter Biden. And certainly you can not expect that the former prosecutor, now special counselor, is going to be asking his own people that question. That's why Republicans are probably asking for somebody to be --

BURNETT: I understand the point, Basil, it is amazing, though, that even on something like this, the Republican Party is at its own throat. Never mind that this is a bad -- this is a bad development for Biden himself, for the president.

BASIL SMIKLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: So, in the non-Pence responses to this, I guess they're somewhat consistent.

BURNETT: They are?

SMIKLE: They didn't like the prosecutor before. They're not going to like him with a new title, right? So, in that way --

GOODMAN: Although, as Ryan was pointing out, if you fired the guy, then you're firing the Trump-appointed guy. There really was not a win on this.

SMIKLE: That's exactly right. It's a hard-to-win situation. [19:25:03]

But, look, at this point, I -- at this point, right, if you hear the term "special counsel," that just raises flags. It just does. And going back to old adages, if you're explaining, you're losing.

And the challenge for Democrats going forward is to find a way to explain that this is the president's son, it's not the president, the president himself can do it only to that point and no more for fear that he goes down a rabbit hole.

But, ultimately, and I think this is the silver lining in all of this. Joe Biden is more popular now than Barack Obama was at this time in his presidency. And, so, the people are with the president. The problem, again, is the more that he and the Democrats have to address this issue and explain away what the special counsel means, it becomes a --

BURNETT: By the way, I give you credit for finding that analogy to Obama. Because obviously the approval ratings for Biden are bad. So if you're saying Obama's were worse --

SMIKLE: Among Democrats.


PINION: I think even to that point, quickly, if you look at this kind of juxtaposition between Obama and Biden. Biden has had this kind of my word is stronger than oak thing. Now, when you look at the fact that you're going to be playing that debate stage tape where he says that my son made no money from China, I made no money from China, the only person who made money from China on this stage is Donald Trump. And, yet, Hunter Biden's gone into a courtroom and pierced that bubble.

There are real questions that I think are going to now force people to move beyond this, we're taking that --

BURNETT: OK. Now, to this point, I want to get to that line that I read, right? I want to read it again. The special counsel's authorized to conduct the ongoing investigation as well as any matters that arose from that investigation, or may arise from the special counsel's investigation.

So, on this, you are going to get to why was the former vice president on the phone calls at all with Hunter Biden, what did he know, who are the Bidens who got money from whom. I mean, all of this is now going to be truly, you know, run all the way down.

So, Basil says the president has nothing to do with it. Okay, maybe so, maybe not, but we are going to -- there's going to be a lot of coverage of that.

GOODMAN: I think there's going to be a lot of coverage. At some level, the investigation is so old and has been so baked that you would think that they would have a lot of that information -- BURNETT: You would think that they have it?

GOODMAN: That's right, and as a U.S. attorney with control over that investigation, they could follow any lead. And he should've followed any lead.

If there was some lead that he didn't follow then, that he would now follow, that would be a problem. But we don't know what's going on in terms of what does the attorney general mean when he means that the case or the investigation has reached a certain stage? What did Mr. Weiss mean when he said there were still ongoing investigations?


GOODMAN: And he goes right back to what you just describe. So, does it include other members of the Biden family, for example?

BURNETT: Right, and we just don't know, Basil.

SMIKLE: We just know, and that is where -- that's -- if you try to center the voter in this conversation, the voter, again, when they hear this term, they're like, what else is going on, what else is out there? Do they distinguish between special counsel and special prosecutor?


SMIKLE: They're not going to.

BURNETT: I'm just going to go ahead and say no.

SMIKLE: They're not going to. And that's why I go back to the point. The president can't go in and explain to the country the details of this investigation.

But someone -- someone might have to, because the way this lands to a voter, they're thinking this is bigger than it might well be.

PINION: And I think, again, to that point, if you're looking at what's happening here with this explaining, how do you explain the fact that the president said, time and time again, I have no idea what's going on with my son or his business with China. And now, again, from the letter to what's going on in the courtroom --

BURNETT: Well, we'll see.

PINION: -- it seems like that might be called into question.

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

And, next, more than 60 people now confirmed dead from the Hawaii wildfires. The horror is just maybe barely starting to settle in as residents are returning to the area to see the utter devastation for themselves.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody lost everything.


BURNETT: And a showdown at the state fair. Trump and DeSantis about to come face to face in Iowa, appearing along a butter cow and deep- fried twinkies.



BURNETT: Tonight, the death toll rising in the devastating Maui wildfires to 67 lives lost. That's a significant increase, 55 victims reported just this morning. And so, it's gone up through the day. The governor telling CNN he expects the final death toll will be much higher once FEMA starts searching homes and buildings.

This comes as OUTFRONT obtains harrowing new video of the actual blaze. This what you're looking at, this was taken during the daytime, during the day, right? But look at it, the dense smoke, it looks like it's completely the pitch of night, 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning.

And another clip showing the fire tearing through a local church that was founded in 1823. The church has Hawaiian royalty buried in its graveyard. People in Lahaina returning home for the first time, seeing for themselves the utter devastation left behind.

Veronica Miracle is there OUTFRONT.


CHIEF JOHN PELLETIER, MAUI POLICE DEPARTMENT: When the mayor said it's all gone, it's all gone. It's gone.

VERONICA MIRACLE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Unimaginable shock, an entire city burned completely to the ground.

JOHN SINGER, MAUI RESIDENT: Devastation, everything gone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody lost everything.

MIRACLE: We surveyed the damage from above, and the destruction is difficult to imagine.

The view from above is apocalyptic. You can see a row of cars clearly trying to make it out. Many of those stuck in accidents in a traffic jam on a one-lane road. All of those cars reduced to ash.

Lahaina residents are now being allowed back into the city today to see the destruction up close, but not without a warning from the governor who told the local TV station in Hawaii, I want to caution everyone, Lahaina is a devastated zone, they will see destruction like they've not seen in their lives. Everyone, please brace themselves as they go back.

As some may be able to return to their hometown today, as many as a thousand people are still missing and unaccounted for.

PELLETIER: Honestly, we don't know. And here's the challenge: there is no power. There is no internet. There is no radio coverage.

MIRACLE: And there's fear the climbing death toll will go even higher with more than a thousand buildings destroyed.

PELLETIER: I do not know what the final number is going to be, and it's going to be horrible and tragic when we get that number.

MIRACLE: Thousands are still displaced, and thousands of travelers are still waiting to get off the island.


GRANT GILFILLAN, AUSTRALIAN TOURIST: We're just visitors. We're leaving primarily because we're just using up food and resources that the locals need.

MIRACLE: Nearly 11,000 people remain without power, and many have no water.

GOV. JOSH GREEN (D), HAWAII: We're talking about more than just days. We're talking about weeks to months in some cases to get energy fully restored.

MIRACLE: And shelter space on the island is filling up quickly.

MAYOR RICHARD BISSEN, MAUI COUNTY, HAWAII: We're kind of at the limits, we're going to have to try to get more for folks out on the west side.

MIRACLE: As the reality of the situation sets in, so does the frustration with how it happened.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think tsunami warnings should've been utilized. I think this could have been handled so much better in so many ways.

MIRACLE: And questions are now starting to circulate among the people who inhabited this once paradise island, why weren't they warned sooner.

GREEN: I think that the tragedy would've been very difficult to anticipate, especially as it came in the night with high winds. But that does not mean that we won't do everything we can in the future to stop this.

MIRACLE: Veronica Miracle, CNN, Maui, Hawaii.


BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, Rachael Zimmerman. She lost her home in the wildfire.

And, Rachael, I'm so sorry for that, for everything that you are now going through. Your home is by front street where the fire just brought utter devastation. We've got satellite images here so viewers can understand what you are now living viscerally your neighborhood before the fire and then after. Everything is gone.

And I know you're preparing yourself to go back to actually see what is left. How are you holding up?

RACHAEL ZIMMERMAN, LOST HOME IN MAUI FIRE: It comes in waves. It's been a nightmare. I feel I really can't wake up from. And I know that there are a lot of people who have seen worse than I've seen, and it's just devastating.

BURNETT: You shared some video with us. This is inside your condo just before it was actually destroyed. In this, it's almost like you see sunlight and then you see these incredibly heavy winds. It's very jarring to see it with the blue sky in the background and then the palm trees are thrashing.

What were you even thinking was happening at this point?

ZIMMERMAN: You know, we kind of just thought it was a windy day from a hurricane passing below. And we didn't have any idea. I had canceled my shoots that day.

And it just seemed really windy. I was taking videos of a lawn chair that had fallen into the pool. And it was just, like, whoa, this is really windy today. And I had seen a fire started 5:00 a.m. on the mountainside and had called the police department, and it was from a power line.

And at 3:30, we smelled smoke and looked outside and could see a little bit of gray a few blocks away. And immediately I got my partner and said we need to leave, grab some things. So we got the dog and we're walking down the stairs and the wind is just howling. We're seeing roofs that are flying off and we're trying to just get the car. People are just kind of standing around in my condo complex, neighbors looking, what do we do.

We heard it was a complete gridlock and we weren't going to be able to get out, but we knew we had to try. And at that point, we started calling friends to see if they knew where the fire was because it was turning black so quickly, we didn't know which way the fire was. So, we actually ended up driving in a block circle not knowing the right way to go and then realizing we're driving directly into the fire, we need to change our route.

And we were -- I mean, I was hyperventilating. My partner is a mental health therapist and she was telling me it would be okay and we're calling our parents saying we're going to try to stay by the ocean in case the power lines fall on the car and catch fire. I mean, it was just I scene out of a movie that -- like we lived. It's horrible.

BURNETT: You took some video when you were in the car. I'm just going to play a little bit of that that you had shared with us, Rachael, for everyone.

(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS) BURNETT: Rachael, you talk about how terrified you were. And I know

that's what you were going through. I know you mentioned that gridlock. There were some people who may have died in their cars because the fire consumed them. And you actually experienced the visceral fear of the fact that that could have happened to you.

ZIMMERMAN: Yeah. I mean, we had heard 30 minutes later that there were people jumping into the ocean swimming to boats to try to escape the fire.


There were people on the ground crying unsure where to go or were not able to breathe because of the smoke. And we were minutes away from that potentially being us. And it's just unbelievable to know that so many people have lost and we don't know where they are.

BURNETT: Well, I know everyone is waiting and hoping that there are going to be people who show up who are okay. But I know obviously the tragedy of these death numbers continue to go higher. It's a terrifying thing that you've had to endure and are living through, Rachel.

Thank you very much for sharing it with us.

ZIMMERMAN: Thank you.

BURNETT: And, next, Republican presidential hopefuls arriving at that all-important Iowa state fair. Former President Trump tonight is out of sight but not out of mind.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Most people have got their minds already made up. In my area, it's Trump country.


BURNETT: And in Ukraine, incredible new video out of Zaporizhzhia. A Russian rocket blasting into a hotel as children look on. And it's all on tape.


BURNETT: Tonight, Trump and DeSantis about to come face to face. The two heading to Iowa tomorrow. They will both be at the state fair, of course, the famous state fair, as the rest of the 2024 Republican candidates were out in full force there today, all trying to win over any voters they can before Trump arrives and steals the show.


Kyung Lah is OUTFRONT.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The rides, the animals, the deep-fried everything. Then add in more than a million visitors to the Iowa state fair, and you have the reason why presidential candidates are flipping pork burgers in the first-in-the- nation caucus state going to Iowans where they are is how they've traditionally won the caucuses.


LAH: -- county by county, one voter at a time. As former Vice President Mike Pence draws some attention, many pass right on by.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump was here, they'd be packed here, I think. If Trump goes to jail, then I'll change my mind.

LAH: Cooking in the rear of the pork tent.

CHARLIE JOHNSON, FARMER: Love it and put out the word for pork.

LAH: Iowa farmer Charlie Johnson, he's seen cycle after cycle of Republican candidates flip pork in his fair tent. This year, Johnson doesn't want the usual Iowa persuasion.

As far as moving you at all, is that even possible?

JOHNSON: No. I'm pretty well stacked where I'm at. Most people have got their minds already made up. Like I say, I know in my area, it's Trump country.

DAVE PRICE, LONGTIME IOWA POLITICAL REPORTER: So different. We haven't experienced anything like this that I can think of because of Trump.

LAH: Dave Price has covered Iowa politics as a reporter for more than two decades, when Trump comes to the fair this weekend, he will skip the traditional soapbox and the interview with the state's popular Republican governor, writing his own rules and still leading in the polls.

What Price doesn't know is if that lead holds until January's caucuses.

PRICE: There is still concern from Republicans about, hey, we want to win in '24, we lost in '20, we want to win in '24. And is Trump really the guy to get the party there?

LAH: At the fair's famed butter cow, you hear the party's divide, and the role the indictments play, even among lifelong friends like these three Republican women.

Are the indictments changing how you feel?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, because I do think a lot of that is for effect.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A lot of those are trumped up. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't find the charges against him being

trumped up at all. That's my opinion. And I believe in our judicial system. So I hope our judicial system holds together.


LAH: Tomorrow, think of Iowa's state fair hitting its main event, at least politically when DeSantis and Trump are here, essentially, almost at the same time, though we do not expect that they will be face to face.

Trump will be accompanied by Florida state representatives who backed him. That's not so much, Erin, a decorum break. Think of it more as him trolling to jab at DeSantis -- Erin.

BURNETT: Right, right.

All right. Kyung, thank you very much.

And, next, the Russians pummeling a hotel in Zaporizhzhia twice, hitting it with a missile. The screams you hear are from children who watched it happen. We'll see.

And a new and incredible look inside the family home of the suspected Gilgo beach serial killer.



BURNETT: Targeting F-16 pilots. Ukraine says Russian strikes are now targeting pilots set to train on the F-16 as "The Washington Post" reports that that training has been delayed by months because the Ukrainians need more English language fluency before training on the jets.

That delay, of course, is going to have consequences, but it comes as one of Russia's advanced missiles, they're still hitting civilian targets. One strike literally caught on camera, and Nick Paton Walsh is on the ground OUTFRONT.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The first strike brought horror, a riverside hotel struck. This man with his family strolling in a Zaporizhzhia park at 7:20 Thursday evening.

Terror, then another roar. The son spots it first.


WALSH: As though the hotel they targeted where a kid's camp had ended just an hour earlier needed to be hit twice.

Imagine how the children in the hotel pool felt. Dozens of guests injured, one dead, who did not walk away. This is how it looked before the two Iskander missiles hit a pool and playground in the car park. A Russian official then declared all hotels in the city to be targets, saying they're full of Ukrainian soldiers.

In the hours after, sirens sounded in Kyiv, as Ukraine only managed to take down one of four hypersonic Kinzhal missiles. Officials saying another target was an F-16 training facility in the west.

These nightly strikes, Russia's response to the pressure on the southern front, where Friday importantly small gains were claimed. President Zelenskyy has urged patience and Friday moved to steady a slow-moving ship, firing the heads of regional military recruitment after a series of corruption scandals, replacing them with wounded veterans.

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Warriors who have lost their health, limbs, but maintain their dignity and don't have cynicism can be trusted to run the system.


WALSH (on camera): Erin, in the last hours, explosions reported in Kyiv. They're still clarifying exactly what the damage and the injured related to that may indeed have been. And that attack in Zaporizhzhia. I think a chilling moment of detail is exactly the horrors Ukraine is enduring every single night from the barbarity inflicted by Moscow's missile attacks, as Ukrainian forces try and make strategic gains in the south, Erin.


BURNETT: Nick, thank you very much.

And next, incredible new images of a house turned upside-down after the search for evidence in the Gilgo Beach serial killer case.


BURNETT: Tonight, new revelations from the family of suspected serial killer, Rex Heuermann. The family's lawyers today sharing new photos, including this one of the alleged serial killer's home at Christmas. A serial killer's home and look at that Christmas photo, the pictures in stark contrast with the home now. Debris piled floor to ceiling, no usable bathroom.

Heuermann's wife, Asa, has breast and skin cancer. That her insurance is about to run out because she's under her husband's policy and she'll likely have to stop her treatments.

Heuermann herself remains in jail tonight. Of course, he was arrested last month in connection with three murders. They're awaiting an order to get direct DNA from him. He is already the prime suspect in a fourth, as they continue on investigations in New York and several other states.

Thanks so much for joining us. "AC360" begins right now.