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Erin Burnett Outfront

North Korea Media: Kim Jong Un Invites Putin To Visit Pyongyang; Escaped Murderer Back In Prison After Dramatic Manhunt; Hurricane Watch Issued For Parts Of Northeast As Storm Grows; Ex-Trump Campaign Attorney Powell Files Motion To Dismiss Georgia Charges. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired September 13, 2023 - 19:00   ET



ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, Kim Jong Un sticking close to Putin, still in Russia at this hour, about to witness military drills, after wining and dining with Putin -- even getting a tour of Putin's presidential limo. Well, Kim's mysterious sister barely left his side.

Plus, a killer in custody tonight, caught by a hero K9 named Yoda. We have new images tonight from Danelo Cavalcante's capture and new details about how he survived the run. A U.S. marshal who was part of the manhunt and interviewed Cavalcante is OUTFRONT.

And the monster storm is getting even bigger. Hurricane Lee, a major threat to the Northeast tonight, still tonight, and I will talk to the hurricane hunter live as he flies through that storm.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, Putin sparing no expense, rolling out a massive red carpet for Kim Jong Un and tonight, we can tell you, Kim Jong Un is staying in Russia, another whole full day of events, is scheduled, and highly unusual. And this includes witnessing Russian military drills.

Putin simply put is all in on Kim. The two leaders we now understand sat down together for more than five years. Russia -- five hours, I'm sorry. Russia state media saying they have, quote, substantive discussions and they have a lavish state dinner. In fact, they wanted everyone to know all about that.

So with all the duress in Russia right now, they put out the menu for this, so everyone could see, duck salad with figs and nectarines. Grass carp fish soup, lingonberries with fine nuts. All of that put out for everyone to see.

And after that, Kim then boarded a plane to travel across the vast region of Russia instead of his usual mode of transportation, a heavily armored train that goes 37 miles an hour. This is hugely significant, right? He's only traveled via plane on three prior trips aboard that we're aware of. His father had a fear of flying. North Korean dictators have really traveled by train. So to go to another country, you're spending the night, you're

sleeping there, you're eating there, you're taking their planes. This is something important. And it is not just a trip for Kim to see the sights and sounds of Russia. Putin making it very clear today what Kim's visit is about.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): He will visit factories engaged in the production of aviation equipment, both civilian and military.


BURNETT: Not shying away from the truth here. This is about weapons, and it's about the war in Ukraine. And Putin wants ammunition from Kim to fight that war in Ukraine.

And we'll just show you the newest video there from the front line. Ukraine destroying Russian equipment, that's what Putin's trying to replace. It is the reason he is now trying to court North Korea. And for his part, of course, Kim wants help from Russia for nuclear technology, to up the ante, to be a true nuclear power with the ability to strike the U.S. and Kim is not above any kind of flattery to get it.


KIM JONG UN, NORTH KOREAN LEADER (through translator): We are certain that the Russian people and its military will emerge victorious in the fight to punish the evil forces that ambitiously pursue hegemony and expansion.


BURNETT: Ironic for Kim and Putin to call others evil forces. But the context here is what it is with the war.

And it comes as the sister of an American unlawfully detained by Putin is tonight demanding a meeting with President Biden. Elizabeth Whelan's brother Paul is serving a 16-year sentence in Russia for espionage, a crime the U.S. says that he did not commit. I'm going to speak with Elizabeth in just a moment, because she last spoke with Biden a year ago, just months before another unlawfully detained American was released in a prisoner swap. That, of course, was Brittney Griner who was exchanged for notorious Russian arms dealer, Viktor Bout, who spoke recently for the first time to U.S. media since his release, making this loaded comment.


VIKTOR BOUT, RUSSIAN ARMS DEALER: Of course I feel, you know, bad or sorry for any person who's going to be used as a pawn, despite whether they committed something or not.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: Well, of course, Paul Whelan has not committed any sort of a crime, but, nonetheless, years in Russian prison in a penal colony. We're going to be speaking to his sister in a moment.

But first, I want to go straight to our Will Ripley who has covered Kim Jong Un extensively.

And, Will, I know you've got some breaking news.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. We've just learned via KCNA out of Pyongyang that Kim Jong Un invited Vladimir Putin to Pyongyang, the North Korean capital. Putin apparently accepted the invitation. They haven't set a date for when he's going to go there.

Also learning that Kim Jong Un has now said good-bye to President Putin and he's heading to another destination, unknown.


Now, if I were a betting man, it would make a lot of sense for him to go to Beijing and brief President Xi Jinping, his other major patron here, about what exactly happened, what the substance of those conversations with Putin was, because I can tell you, Erin, even though Putin and Kim have met many times before, they've never had a meeting like this.


RIPLEY (voice-over): At a remote space center in Russia's far east, the bizarre new world order got even weirder on Wednesday. North Korean leader Kim Jong un and Russian President Vladimir Putin becoming allies against the West.

KIM: We are certain that the Russian people and its military will emerge victorious in the fight to punish the evil forces that ambitiously pursue hegemony and expansion.

RIPLEY: Putin and Kim vowing stronger ties, a longstanding strategic relationship, joining forces to find a way around crippling U.N. sanctions, leaving the U.S. and the West with even less leverage.

The Putin/Kim summit packed with made-for-TV moments, just like Kim's first summit in Singapore with former President Trump, a lavish state dinner lasting more than five hours, twice as long as Trump's. Putin and Kim dining on delicacies like crab dumplings, fish soup and sorbet.

Kim's sister, Kim Yo-jong, often seen by his side, the second most powerful person in North Korea attending to every detail. An aide even wiping down Kim's chair before he sits. Putin even showed off his Russian presidential limousine. Kim himself has been seen driving around in a million-dollar Mercedes back home. Trump gave Kim a similar tour of his presidential limo, the Beast.

Something new in 2023, for the first time ever, North Korea launched two short-range ballistic missiles while the supreme leader was out of the country and unexpected plot twist, and one step closer to Kim's goal of becoming a full-fledged nuclear power.

KIM: In the front line of anti-imperialism and independence, I will always be standing with Russia. I'm using this opportunity to make it clear.

RIPLEY: Back in 2018, Kim and Trump were discussing a deal to denuclearize North Korea.

REPORTER: Will you invite Chairman Kim to the White House?


RIPLEY: Giving up nukes to build beachfront condos.

TRUMP: How bad is that, right? It's great.

RIPLEY: But it wasn't meant to be. Five years later, Kim and Putin are flipping the script. Denuclearization is dead, the U.S. cast aside for a new partnership with the Russian military.


RIPLEY: And what is so extraordinary is how Kim Jong Un, who really felt ignored at the beginning of the Ukraine war when he was launching ballistic missiles and nobody in the world even paid attention, now by proposing this partnership and traveling to see President Putin, he is front and center in the headlines and arguably on a path to more power, nuclear power and other power that he's ever had, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Will Ripley.

And everyone just heard the breaking news from Will, that Kim has invited Putin to Pyongyang, and Putin, according to North Korean television, has accepted that invitation.

I want to go now to Jean Lee, former Pyongyang bureau chief for the "Associated Press."

And, Jean, you look at that. That invitation being issued, and apparently accepted, as we understand it, that's the breaking news. What does that mean for how this trip has gone so far?

JEAN LEE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yeah, huge moment for Kim Jong Un. The North Koreans certainly know how to create drama. First, they started with that slow rolling armored train.

Kim Jong Un is coming out of four years of isolation and he wasn't going to re-emerge quietly. He is stepping out with a splash. And President Putin has given him this global stage to step out on.

So he got those images as Will mentioned, the images that he wanted for the propaganda. And I should mention that this is important for him because, despite all the pretty pictures that we see in North Korea state media, North Korea is still one of the poorest countries in the world. And we have to assume that the last four years have been one of extreme hardship for the North Korean people.

So, he is engineering this trip as a way to not only get what he needs from Russia but also to be able to take back these images and tell his people -- we'll be fine, we're still respected.

BURNETT: Right, and to -- which is obviously crucial for him and the nuclear ambitions he has are huge. Putin and Kim did meet at one of Russia's most modern space launch sites, as we understand it.

And Putin had an exchange with a Russian reporter today. Let me play it.


REPORTER (through translator): What about space? Will he help North Korea launch rockets?

PUTIN (through translator): That's exactly why he came here. The leader of North Korea shows a great interest in space, in rocketry. They are trying to develop space. We'll show them our new objects.


BURNETT: I mean, there is nothing subtle.


There is subtle about it. What about space, will you help North Korea launch rockets? That's exactly why we came here.

No -- no attempt to pretend that it's anything other than what it is.

LEE: And I think that that is the point. We're seeing the next phase in Kim Jong Un's strategy, which is to claim that all of this missile activity is for space exploration. I think that they are following in the footsteps of Russia, which has really positioned space as a matter of sovereignty, as a matter of their right to explore space.

And North Korea wants to do the same thing and say, hey, listen, we're doing this by the book, we are allowed to explore space. But what we need to know and what we need to remember is that the technology that it takes to get one of those satellites into space is the same technology it takes to fire off a long-range ballistic missile.


LEE: So it's seen by the U.N. Security Council as a cover-up for that missile technology.

BURNETT: Absolutely.

All right. Jean, thank you very much.

And I want to go now as promised to Elizabeth Whelan. She is Paul Whelan's sister. He is the American who's been wrongfully detained in Russia for nearly five years, serving time in a penal colony as we speak.

And, Elizabeth, you right now are in Washington and you're there I understand for meetings with White House and congressional officials about your brother. I know there is one meeting, though, that you want the most. That is to talk to President Biden again. Has that been scheduled?

ELIZABETH WHELAN, SISTER OF PAUL WHELAN: No, it has not. In fact, I found out this afternoon that I probably will not get that meeting. And I have to say I'm a little -- I'm a little frustrated and trying not to be depressed.

I don't have a lot of leverage to use to get meetings like that. I'm not a big media company. I don't have a lot of expensive lawyers. I don't have a sports team. And, so, it's easy to wave off someone like me, but I'm going to keep fighting for my brother regardless.

BURNETT: You know, you say this, and the reality is, of course, you did, you know, go to the Oval Office. You had a meeting. That was along with Brittney Griner, of course, her family was in the oval office meeting with Biden. And I know you've, of course, supported her release.

But, you know, she was a big basketball star. There was a lot of publicity around that. As you say, you're an ordinary citizen.

Do you think that that's unfortunately what this is, that you're just, I guess, for lack of a better word, you don't rise to the level that's going to get his attention?

WHELAN: Well, I think he's committed to getting Paul home for certain. I have no doubt about that. I do know that all the interactions I had with him were during the time that Brittney Griner was held. That's just a fact. The last time I spoke with him was the day after she was released.

And I do have a lot of engagement with his people, with the State Department. And they have been very good about that. But my concern is to try to find out, you know, where we are in this process, are we doing everything that's needed. And I believe that the president is going to have to intervene at some point.

I believe his help is going to be needed. And I want to make sure that we're looking at that now that we have this small amount of time before Evan Gershkovich goes to trial and perhaps negotiations start for him. I want to see Paul home. That is my focus.

BURNETT: Five years, five years he has suffered. And you as his family have suffered waiting for him. And I know we recently saw images for him, footage that Russian state television actually put out there. And that's Paul, your brother in prison uniform working at a sewing machine. They showed him eating at a prison cafeteria.

And I know for you it's the first time you actually saw him. You saw what he looked like in three years. This is your brother. What -- how do you even respond to that? What do you think when you see it?

WHELAN: Well, I was actually a little afraid to watch the video because I wasn't sure what I was going to see. And when I finally did, I was relieved because he's still himself. He still has his punch and his -- everything about him I could tell that the real Paul was still there.

And some people have commented about the fact he looked pretty good considering he'd been in a penal colony for almost five years. And he wanted our family to let the American people know that he was so grateful for the contributions towards his GoFundMe account, because that's the money that the U.S. embassy in Moscow has been able to use to make sure that he gets food, vegetables and all of that sort of thing. He just wanted to send his thanks and say how grateful he was.

BURNETT: Elizabeth, thank you very much. I appreciate your taking the time. I'm sorry that that meeting, of course, does not appear to be happening. But I hope that some of these other ones will be very fruitful. And thank you for being with me.

WHELAN: Thank you so much.

BURNETT: All right. And, next, bloodied back in handcuffs. New pictures tonight of the moment authorities with the help of a K-9 named Yoda captured the escaped convict who has been on the run for two weeks. The U.S. Marshal who has been involved with the search and spoke with the killer today is OUTFRONT next.

Plus, the CNN investigation that you will see first here OUTFRONT. A major university hospital system going to extreme lengths in order to get thousands of people including its own employees to pay their bills, even going so far as to sue patients.

And the scientist showing what he claims are alien corpses. Yes, you heard that right. We have a video tonight.



BURNETT: Tonight, captured. Escaped murderer Danelo Cavalcante is back in prison at this hour being held in a maximum security Pennsylvania state prison, which is where he will serve his mandatory life sentence. Excuse me.

You see him the minute he came out of his arraignment today in a hospital gown. That's how it is at this moment. His hands and his feet, his bare feet, you can also see flanked by more than a dozen law enforcement officials. Excuse me.

The brutal killer, as you can see, was caught this morning very early after an aircraft picked up a heat signal on the ground. He was crawling through thick underbrush, clutching a stolen rifle. A heroic dog named Yoda finally subduing him.

These are the images that we have just in of Yoda, who reportedly prevented Cavalcante from using the rifle he had with him, and we're going to get a whole lot more on this in a moment, because in the moment, I'm going to speak with the U.S. marshal who spoke to Cavalcante after his arrest.

But first, now to Danny Freeman who broke the story for CNN and he's OUTFRONT.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The subject is in custody. Repeating, subject is in custody.

DANNY FREEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After 14 days, multiple search perimeters, and hundreds of law enforcement officers combing woods, farms and creeks, escaped inmate Danelo Cavalcante is finally caught.

LT. COL. GEORGE BIVENS, PENNSYLVANIA STATE POLICE: It is a true pleasure to stand here this morning and talk to all of you about bringing this manhunt to a successful conclusion.

FREEMAN: The convicted murderer who crab-walked out of a Chester County prison seen this morning from above by CNN affiliate CBS News Philadelphia in cuffs, disheveled and bloody.

GOV. JOSH SHAPIRO (D), PENNSYLVANIA: He was apprehended this morning with no shots fired.

FREEMAN: The dramatic capture set in motion just after midnight. Police got a call about a burglary alarm toward the eastern edge of the law enforcement perimeter set up in northern Chester County. Tactical teams rushed to the area but couldn't find anything until support arrived from above.

BIVENS: There was an aircraft overhead utilizing flair technology and close to 1:00 a.m. picked up a heat signal that they began to track.

FREEMAN: But then came a storm.

BIVENS: We had a weather system that also came in. And we had lightning that was flashing all around, and it caused the aircraft to have to depart the area.

FREEMAN: But police said the tactical teams stayed on the ground and secured the area. Then, shortly after 8:00 a.m., the storm gone, the team moved in on this wooded area behind a local business.

BIVENS: They were able to move in very quietly. They had the element of surprise. Cavalcante did not realize he was surrounded until that had occurred. That did not stop him from trying to escape.

FREEMAN: Defiant to the end, Cavalcante made one last effort to crawl away, but a K-9 unit was released and the dog stopped him. BIVENS: He continued to resist but was forcibly taken into custody. No

one was injured as a result of that. He did sustain a minor bite wound.

FREEMAN: Doug Brewer works right up against the area where Cavalcante was found.

DOUG BREWER, RESIDENT: It was just kind of nice that, you know, to know that they got him and, you know, go back to life, you know? Go back to doing our thing normally.

FREEMAN: And relief felt by the family of Deborah Brandao, the woman Cavalcante brutally stabbed in front of her two young children.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One of the first calls we made upon learning about this capture was to the Brandao family who, as you can imagine, had been living in a complete nightmare. They can now finally sleep again.


FREEMAN: Erin, Cavalcante had his preliminary arraignment earlier this morning. He was booked on a felony escape charge. The convicted murderer now finally back behind bars. But, as you mentioned, now in a state prison -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Danny, thank you very much. Danny breaking that for CNN.

And joining me now is Robert Clark, a supervisory deputy of the U.S. Marshal Service. He has been involved in this manhunt since the very beginning. He was at the command post today helping to oversee the team that captured Cavalcante. And he also spoke to Cavalcante today.

So, I very much appreciate your time, deputy. Let me just start, welcome back. I mean, the dramatic capture, helicopter, the lightning storm, the police dog, 20 tactical officers.

Can you tell me about the moment that you knew you had him?

ROBERT CLARK, SUPERVISORY DEPUTY U.S. MARSHALL: Well, thank you for having me again, Erin.

When the call came in over the radio, everyone was just elated. It was a two-week coalition of law enforcement officers that have come together for the common cause of bringing a violent fugitive into custody. And everybody was relieved. It's been a rollercoaster ride the past couple weeks.

BURNETT: I can only imagine. And I know, you know, you had to be terrified yourself that something horrible could happen, or could end horribly. But now you have him in custody.

We are hearing that authorities conducted a four-hour interview today with Cavalcante. You also personally spoke with him. What did you learn? CLARK: So, an interview was conducted with Cavalcante. Deputy U.S.

Marshals, Pennsylvania state police, and county detectives interviewed him. I personally was not present for the interview. But I can tell you what was said, which was relayed to me from our deputy marshals.

So, essentially, everything we thought about Cavalcante in his flight was true. He was a desperate man. He was actively avoiding apprehension. And shortly after he escaped from the prison, he hunkered down in an area that was very, very secluded, very, very wooded, and he didn't move for the first couple days he said.

He survived on watermelon that he found at a farm. He drank stream water. He was hiding his fecal matter under leaves and foliage so that law enforcement couldn't track him.

He was -- he was a desperate man. He also described the backpack that he obtained was obtained early in his flight.


He had taken it from a residence, and that's where he obtained a razor.

I know a lot of people have talked about how did he get so clean shaven?


CLARK: Did somebody assist him?

Well, quite simply, that razor was in the backpack.

So, he answered a lot of questions for us. And he also described an increasing amount of law enforcement every day. That goes for both perimeters. And ultimately, that's why he decided to leave the Longwood Gardens area.

He said that on numerous occasions, three times he described that law enforcement officials almost stepped on him within seven or eight yards.

BURNETT: Three times.

CLARK: Three times. But that just proved to you how thick the vegetation and the foliage was. It was just an immense area to search. I don't think the public understands how hard it was in extreme heat, in extreme conditions to locate him.

BURNETT: So, you know, so much to follow up with you here, but this issue with the razor, people wondering how he shaved. So you're literally saying it was just luck that he finds a backpack and there's a razor in the backpack, that that was just luck?

CLARK: You can't make it up, Erin. We specifically asked him that question, how did he get clean shaven. He said there was a razor in the backpack that he took. We still don't know the exact place where he took that backpack, nor

the exact location that he took the Eagle sweatshirt as well.

BURNETT: Right. Okay. So, you're still not exactly sure. But obviously, it sounds like he's admitting he was going in people's homes whether they were unlocked, that he was stealing stuff when he could.

CLARK: Yes. He actually said that he was going to steal stuff where there was opportunity. He was a desperate man that was going day to day in order just to survive.

An interesting statement he said also was that his end game was to carjack somebody and to head north up to Canada. And he intended to do that in the next 24 hours. He said the law enforcement presence where he was, was immense and that he felt that he needed to leave.

He had seen the aerial assets we were using. He had seen the helicopters. So, that's why he held onto that rifle for so long.

BURNETT: And did he -- you said that he survived on stream water and watermelon. Did he talk about how he was able to obtain food?

CLARK: No, it was just the watermelon, the stream water. We didn't get too much into what else he was eating. But we were interested in the part about the carjacking and the rifle and his intentions and the end game.

BURNETT: Did he give you -- did you learn anything more about that rifle, whether his willingness to use it?

CLARK: No. But we did learn that before he went into that gentleman's house, that he had actually surveilled it. And he had said he had surveilled the perimeter, where he broke the perimeter at Longwood Gardens for a little while, and he had also surveilled the residence where he stole the truck at dairy farms. He said when he stole that truck, there were actually two vehicles that were unsecured there. He decided to take one of them, and then flee to an area that he knew.

BURNETT: So, one thing, as you described this, Deputy Clark, that's standing out to me is he answered the questions. It seems like he wanted to answer the questions.

What was his demeanor like in this interview? I mean, this is a person who was going to be in prison forever, and then he thinks he's going to maybe escape but now he's back to knowing that he's not going anywhere. And yet he seems to have answered all the questions.

CLARK: That's correct. He was under no duress when he answered the questions. There were professional deputy marshals there, state troopers. He was treated with the utmost professionalism and respect.

And he just answered everything that was given to him. He had no hesitation. We found him to be very truthful. And everything that we wanted to know, all the gaps in the investigation, the questions that we had and the public had, we were able to get most of the answers from.

BURNETT: And did he give you any more details about his actual escape? You know, those images he saw where he was crab-walking backwards up the wall when he gets out.

CLARK: Sure. We did not question him about the escape. We were more concerned about the flight and the fugitive part of the investigation.


CLARK: So, our deputy marshal did not question about the escape at all.

BURNETT: So, let me ask you -- you say the razor, that that was in the actual backpack. He's saying he didn't have help. I know today that Lieutenant Colonel Bivens confirmed that Cavalcante's sister, who they are now moving ahead with deportation procedures, did try to assist him about his escape.

And when you and I talked last time, you said she was important, but you couldn't disclose anything at the time, but afterwards you would be able to.

And now that, of course, he is captured, are you able to tell us more about how she was helping him or trying to help him?

CLARK: Well, what I can tell you was she was an illegal overstay. There were times where she was less than candid with law enforcement officers. And we believe that other times, she was giving us information that was not credible.

So, rather than pursue obstruction charges, we decided to take her out of the equation and she was detained by ICE.


It just was too much of our time and resources to look into pursuing her criminally. So we just decided to eliminate her from the situation.

BURNETT: So, in the final moments, and I'm honing in on something you said that he said in the interview today, that there were three times that law enforcement officers almost stepped on him. You said that they were 7 to 8 yards away.

I mean, that is pretty incredible to imagine. And he's lying there hiding. Eventually when this finally was resolved, when you got him, it was a dog, it was a K9 named Yoda that helped capture Cavalcante, was crucial, in fact, to all of this. Can you tell us more about the dog, about the dog named Yoda and what the dog did?

CLARK: So, I can tell you that dog was stationed out of Detroit, Michigan. He is part of the BORTAC tactical team stationed out of Michigan. I believe he's 3 years old. He's a Belgian Malinois. And he was just essential as far as the tracking and the searching. As for numerous other K9s that were here. We had other Malinois, we had German shepherds. We had a blood hound. So, all these K9 resources were utilized from different tactical teams from the area and they were just an incredible resource.

BURNETT: I mean, it's incredible. So, what did Yoda actually do? And to remind everybody at the time when he was apprehended and Yoda's instrumental in this, Cavalcante has a rifle, I understand, within his position, within arm's reach.

CLARK: That's correct.

So, upon the BORTAC officers and the Pennsylvania state police closing in on that heat signature that Lieutenant Colonel Bivens talked about --


CLARK: -- one of the BORTAC officers physically observed Cavalcante. At that time, verbal commands were given. Cavalcante attempted to flee by slowly pawing away. And the tactical decision made, I'm assuming by BORTAC and the state police, was to deploy that K9. We knew that he was armed and using a K9 we felt was a reasonable option for upgrading to deadly force.

As Yoda moved in on Cavalcante, I believe the only thing showing at the time was Mr. Cavalcante's head or the crown of his head. He ended up taking a bite on the top of his head, which I know a photo's been going out around with a lot of blood. And that's the reason why the blood was there because he took a bite towards the top of his head.

Now, a K9 is a bite and hold dog. So there was no holding when you bite someone on the crown of your head. Cavalcante was again bit in a lower extremity area. Yoda held. And then Mr. Cavalcante submitted to the commands, and he was taken into custody by an approaching CERT team from the Pennsylvania state police, as well as the BORTAC team.

BURNETT: Yeah. So all that -- so Yoda held him down during all that? Held him down.

CLARK: That's correct.

BURNETT: That's really incredible.

All right. Thank you very much, Deputy Clark, for sharing all of these details. I really appreciate it, and good to talk to you in these circumstances.

CLARK: Thank you for having me.

BURNETT: Yes, thanks.

CLARK: Thank you.

BURNETT: And, next, on alert, the Northeast bracing for Hurricane Lee as the monster storm is growing even more in size. Next, a hurricane hunter is OUTFRONT who's actually flying through Lee as we speak. He's going to call in live from that flight in the storm. Plus, the showdown over Trump's trial in Georgia. The former president

waiving his right to a speedy trial, but the D.A. doubling down on her push to start the case in just weeks. So, who has the upper hand?



BURNETT: Tonight, hurricane and tropical storm watches just issued for parts of the Northeast as Hurricane Lee grows in size in the Atlantic. Lee forecasted to pick up speed and get even bigger as it approaches the East Coast. Tropical storm force winds expected to extend about 600 miles across the storm, making it one of the biggest storms on record in the Atlantic, approaching, we'll see how big it gets, a Superstorm Sandy, which was nearly a thousand miles back in 2012.

The width of the hurricane has more than tripled in size since just Saturday. Chad Myers is OUTFRONT at the CNN weather center.

So, Chad, what more do you know about the hurricane's path? And obviously, you know, the path is not just a little line, obviously. It's hundreds of miles wide.

CHAD MYERS, CNN WEATHER ANCHOR: That's right. And at least for now in the 5:00 advisory, the Cape Cod area is out of that cone.

Now, storms do go left and right of the cone, and they do that all the time. And that's a planned miss. They only plan to get two-thirds of them in the cone. So we have to think about that.

Hundred and five miles per hour was the 5:00 advisory. Hurricane hunter just flew through it and couldn't find a wind gust over 90. So that's something to be happy about.

But this thing could still get in some warmer water and get a little bit stronger to 100 just to the east of Bermuda. To the north here, here is Nova Scotia, Halifax, there's Maine and that's where the hurricane watch is posted.

The models are in good agreement that this does not make contact in New England proper. But the hurricane forced winds, as you said, the storm is getting bigger.

It's not getting faster. It's not getting stronger. It's getting wider. It's getting 600 miles wide. Now, not hurricane-force winds, but 39-mile-per-hour winds are far, far from the center of the storm.

A hundred and fifteen miles from the center, all the way out to the hurricane strength. Back this up a couple days ago, this was a tiny little storm. That number was only 30 miles.

But watch what happens to the hurricane force in red. It begins to go away because the winds begin to die down because it's not going to be a big monster cat 3 or cat 4 when it starts to try to make landfall. And where will that landfall be? Likely somewhere between the border between Maine and Nova Scotia. We hope it doesn't go into the Bay of Fundy. That'd be disastrous for that area there.

We do know that there will be huge waves coming on shore here all across the east coast of Halifax, Nova Scotia. And another problem I'm seeing is the possibility of the wind blowing into the bay here. Here's Cape Cod right there. And you tart to fill that bay up with water. There could be a big storm surge down here like there has been in other big storms.

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

And, so, as we await the update the update here on these forecasts, they come out hourly, Lieutenant Commander Josh Rannenberg, a NOAA hurricane hunter is in the air right now, about to fly back into the eye of Hurricane Lee.

And, Lieutenant Commander, I very much appreciate your time. You're in that aircraft right now over the open Atlantic. I know you're gathering the information, key for the next forecast.

What are you seeing?



You caught me at a good time. We just flew through the eye of the storm right now, 800 miles east of Melbourne, Florida. And I'm repositioning the aircraft on the northern side to fly back into it.

And we're seeing much like you described. The storm is spreading out. We've been flying missions into this storm for almost a week now. And when we started, it was a major hurricane. And it set records for how rapidly it had intensified. But it was relatively localized.

Right now, you mentioned that wind field is expanding. We are about a hundred miles, over a hundred miles from the eye of the storm. We're still seeing flight level 8,000 feet I'm still seeing hurricane-force winds not far from the eye, which is impressive.

BURNETT: Hurricane force winds of 100 miles from the eye. You know, people have been talking about the colossal size of this -- you know, one of the biggest on record in the Atlantic. But, as you've flown through it over the past week and flown through so many storms, Commander, how would you describe the size? I mean, how does it feel to you when you see a storm this big?

RANNENBERG: Yeah. It's dramatic. And I think it's intimidating for anybody, any coastal areas that might be affected by this storm. Wave height estimated 20 to 30 feet over a hundred miles from the eye of the storm.

And normally when a major hurricane that I've seen makes landfall, a lot of the damage, severe damage can be relatively localized. But when a storm spreads out like this, it can be intimidating in the sense that the damage is going to be much more widespread. BURNETT: And, Commander, I'm going to show some video that you took as

you were flying through the hurricane just the other day. The plane's bouncing as you're going through the storm. I believe some of this is Sunday night. But it gives people a sense of what you see inside.

I don't know how you do it, every time it terrifies me to even look at these pictures just of the bouncing, the turbulence that you're experiencing as you're trying to get the data. How does this compare to other hurricanes that you've flown through?

RANNENBERG: It's been an interesting storm. It's had a longer lifespan than I'm normally used to. I'll get three to four missions into a storm before it makes landfall sometimes. But this storm has been out over the water for a while.

And, like I said, it was a major storm, relatively localized when we first flew into it. And it got hit by some sheer, which really took the legs of Lee out for a little bit. It kind of fell apart for my first couple missions. But towards the later past few nights, it's re- established itself and reestablished itself as a pretty strong and intimidating hurricane.

Right now, it is slowly weakening. But, as mentioned, the wind field is expanding and spreading out.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Commander, thank you very much for sharing all this. I know you're literally in the midst of just a few passes. You're going to be going back in. And thank you so much for taking the time to tell us what you're seeing.

RANNENBERG: Thank you.

BURNETT: And, next, Hunter Biden now suing a former Trump aide over his alleged roll in leaking explicit photos and personal information from a laptop. But was a crime actually committed?

And a CNN investigation into one hospital that has gone so far as to sue thousands of patients including its own employees over medical bills, even as some patients were sending in their payments.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have to say there were a lot of times that I just sat here and cried.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah, it was scary and sad.




BURNETT: Just in, former Trump campaign attorney Sidney Powell asking a judge to dismiss the charges against her in the Fulton County 2020 election interference case, which includes racketeering and other election fraud charges related to her alleged role in the breach of voting systems in Coffee County. Now, Powell claiming the state cannot prove the allegations against her. This is coming just a day before another televised hearing on the Fulton County case which will begin in just hours from now.

Ryan Goodman is with me tonight.

So, Ryan, let's just start with this latest filing we're getting from Sidney Powell asking a judge to dismiss the charges. Is there any chance she succeeds?

RYAN GOODMAN, FORMER SPECIAL COUNSEL AT DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE: No, she has a good argument, but she's not going to succeed at her motion to dismiss before there's any trial. It's a good argument that she can raise in her defense. Her argument is, yes, we maybe accessed the voting data machines but we thought we had authorization. Okay, raise that as your defense, but you're not going to really get that.

BURNETT: But you can't get rid of the actual trial before that, okay.

So, this comes in the context of this whole fight going on about when this is going to trial. And you've got, you know, obviously two people want to go fast and everybody else doesn't, it seems. President Trump and Mark Meadows have waived their right to a speedy trial. In other words, Trump wants to put this off as long as possible.

Fani Willis says she's ready to go for all 19 and she's ready to go in 40 days, if I have the math right. So, does she get what she wants, or does all this get put off, and in the case of Trump by quite a long time?

GOODMAN: I think a bunch of it gets put off. The first two will definitely go on October 23rd. It looks like --

BURNETT: He requested the speedy trial, right?

GOODMAN: They requested it.

BURNETT: Giuliani and Powell.

GOODMAN: Yeah, and it's Georgia's speedy trial law, which does say that you get it if you want it by a certain period of time. The question with Trump and Meadows, it's actually a smart move for them to say we waive a speedy trial because she actually said to the judge, hey, wait a minute, you can't not put them all together.

You have to put them all together because otherwise they're going to start invoking their speedy trial, and it will be a cascade of speedy trial requests where they all get it in different periods. I can't do that. You don't want that to happen.

So the fact that they waived it is a good move by them to say do not put us on October 23rd, wait, wait, wait, push it all the way back as far as they can. BURNETT: Right, and we just don't know as far as they can, what that



BURNETT: All right. Now, of course, we've got that televised hearing tomorrow. Judge could rule on the scheduling and the actual timing on this. There's another big issue, though, you're watching there?

GOODMAN: Yeah. Last time that the judge met with the lawyers, he raised a very complex legal question that they could not answer on their toes. And the question was, well, wait a minute, we proceed in Fulton County state court and then later in time the cases are removed to federal court, doesn't that destroy your case as prosecutors because double jeopardy, prosecutors can't prosecute twice.

BURNETT: You can't be charged with the same twice.

GOODMAN: Right, and they didn't really have an answer. It's a really interesting question. It's complex because this removal law is not used very often.

BURNETT: And they should have an answer tomorrow. They better.

GOODMAN: He should say I'll give you a week, you need it. I was going to ask you.

BURNETT: One other thing tonight, we've confirmed attorneys for Hunter Biden file -- filed, I'm sorry, a civil lawsuit against a former Trump White House aide.


They accused him of basically getting -- manipulating computer data, basically hacking into Hunter Biden's iPhone and, who knows, doing what to it, and securing copy of the hard drive of the laptop. I guess the implication is that he went in and created all sorts of things that were on that laptop.

That appears to be the implication of what they're saying. You've read the lawsuit. Is there anything there?

GOODMAN: In some ways, it's not a lawsuit. It's a PR move. There's a lot of rhetoric in there that would not convince a judge.


GOODMAN: But I also think they have a strong argument on the left. Hunter Biden is saying, it is his laptop, even in the lawsuit.


GOODMAN: And they could say, well, for years you said it wasn't even your laptop, so how can you say we stole your laptop?

But the one issue he might have the iPhone backup. The former White House aide, Mr. Ziegler (ph), apparently in an interview in December 2022 said, we were the first in, we were able to break into the encryption of his iPhone, which is a separate device. If that's true, there's an argument there. We'll have to see if the allegation will be backed up, or maybe he was engaging --

BURNETT: And if he did anything, right?


BURNETT: That's the implication, the inference there was stuff done. That doesn't necessarily come from hacking.

All right. Thank you very much, Ryan.

GOODMAN: Thank you.

BURNETT: And next, the CNN investigation into a hospital's ruthless tactics to get people to pay their bills. That's next.


BURNETT: Tonight, a major state university run hospital system is aggressively going after patients to collect medical bills. Thousands of people sued, including the hospital's own employees. Some patients so desperate, they say they're forced to work multiple jobs just to pay off the debt and legal bills. A former patient calling the hospital, quote, heartless.

Ed Lavandera has this investigation first OUTFRONT.


RENEE RUSSELL, PATIENT SUED BY UAMS: What do they gain from putting people through that?

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Last year, Renee Russell raced around her hometown in Arkansas trying to escape the financial disaster chasing her. After a brief hospital stay for diverticulitis, Russell got a bill for thousands of dollars from the UAMS, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Hospital.

The pandemic had drastically cut into her work as a dog groomer, so she called the hospital to work out a payment plan.

RUSSELL: I asked, do I need to fill something out?


She goes, no, no, you don't qualify. You are -- it's too late.

LAVANDERA: UAMS had already passed her case to a collection agency. The hospital sued Russell for about $3,200 plus an extra $880 in attorney and court fees. Her paychecks were garnished, Russell says, cutting hundreds of dollars from her monthly income. That's when Russell took to her car.

RUSSELL: I did house cleaning. I did mobile dog pedicures. I had a couple yard sales, a dog set.

LAVANDERA: Six different jobs in all.

RUSSELL: I have to say there were a lot of times that I just sat here and cried.

LAVANDERA: It was pretty scary.

RUSSELL: Yeah. It was -- it was scary and sad.

LAVANDERA: A CNN analysis of public court records shows that starting in 2019, UAMS, the state's public university hospital system, has sued more than 8,000 patients to collect unpaid medical bills. The hospital has filed more debt collection lawsuits in recent years than any other plaintiff in Arkansas except for the state's tax office.

DR. CAM PATTERSON, CHANCELLOR, UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS FOR MEDICAL SCIENCES: Frankly, I was not aware of what those numbers were before this issue was raised by CNN.

LAVANDERA: Dr. Cam Patterson is the chancellor of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. He agreed to sit down with CNN to answer questions about his hospital's lawsuits.

Why is the hospital doing that?

PATTERSON: I think it's important to understand that we don't take legal action against people who can't pay. But we can't provide services to people who are needed if we don't get paid for the work that we do for the people who can pay.

LAVANDERA: But CNN spoke with 20 patients sued by UAMS. Most of them describe the hospital's debt collection tactics as aggressive.

And UAMS hasn't just sued its patients. It's gone after more than 500 of its own employees in recent year who is received medical care there. A housekeeper told CNN she didn't know she'd been sued until the hospital garnished her wages. A former medical assistant was sued for $700. And a former hospital scheduler was sued for $1,400, which grew to about $2,100 after attorney and court fees.

There was one nurse who was sued who called the lawsuit a punch in the gut, a medical assistant who said, you know, this really shows that they don't care about their employees at all. When you hear that, what do you think?

PATTERSON: It breaks my heart to hear that from an employee. We want to work with everyone to make sure that this never happens. You know, we made a mistake. We need to rectify that.

TONYA DIXON, PATIENTS SUED BY UAMS: What's going on? What's going on?

LAVANDERA: Even some patients who were making payments were sued. In 2019, Tonya Dixon gave birth to her son Lucas at UAMS. He was born seven weeks early and spent 12 days in the NICU.

DIXON: I got the bill and it was a little bit over $3,000.

LAVANDERA: Dixon says she paid regularly, only missing two payments, when she got a knock on the door from a man delivering a lawsuit.

DIXON: I opened it and saw it was UAMS. I was like, how is this when I'm paying?

LAVANDERA: Chancellor Patterson says UAMS has now established a task force to recommend changes to its billing and collection policies.

Why file a lawsuit and not just pick up the phone?

PATTERSON: Oh, we do pick up the phone. Legal action is not taken until at least 360 days have passed after the bill has been sent out. If people are being sued without understanding that they have unpaid bills, of course that's too aggressive, that's not our process.

LAVANDERA: Renee Russell grew so desperate she wrote letters to the court and hospital begging for mercy and to schedule a new payment plan. It didn't work.

You were having panic attacks?


LAVANDERA: And what would you feel?

RUSSELL: Like I'm choking, shortness of breath, choking, hyperventilating.

LAVANDERA: At the end, Renee Russell was told the hospital would forgive the last $82 of her debt. But two months later, UAMS reversed the decision and garnished those final dollars from her paycheck.

What do you take away from all this?

RUSSELL: They're ruthless. They're heartless.


BURNETT: Ed, it's just incredible to watch this, $82 going to $100. Does the hospital plan to continue with these lawsuits?

LAVANDERA: Well, you know, this lawsuit trend at UAMS started back in 2019, when the hospital partnered with a new debt collection company. Now hospital officials tell us they are exploring partnering with a different company next year. But across the country, public hospitals -- some public hospitals -- have banned or stopped using lawsuits to collect medical debt.

And in some states like California, New York, New Mexico, and Maryland, legislation there has been passed that either bans or limits the use of wage garnishment to collect unpaid medical debt. But in the state of Arkansas, that kind of legislation, Erin, does not exist.

BURNETT: Ed, thank you very much. And thank you so much for making sure everyone's aware of that story.

Thanks to all of you for being with us.

"AC360" begins right now.