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Erin Burnett Outfront

12 More Hostages Released As Israel And Hamas Clash In Northern Gaza, Violating Truce That Expires Tomorrow; Cheney: GOP Rep Referred To Trump As "Orange Jesus"; Rosalynn Carter's Family, Friends Honor "A Remarkable Person"; Ukraine Spy Chief's Wife Hospitalized For Poisoning; Mother Of Palestinian Student Shot In Vermont: He May Never Walk Again. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired November 28, 2023 - 19:00   ET




Is the truce about to end? We are beginning to learn the true impact being held by Hamas tonight as the truce is in jeopardy. What it has been like for the most vulnerable victims, the children?

Plus, a top Republican blasting members of her party for enabling Trump, revealing that one calls him, quote, Orange Jesus.

And the wife of Ukraine's spy agency chief poisoned. Is Russia behind the brazen attack and where will there be more? There are more developments tonight, and the foreign minister of Ukraine is my guest tonight.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, Israel and Hamas clashing in northern Gaza today, both sides claiming a violation of the ongoing pause in fighting. This coming as the world watches and waits to see if the truce will be extended beyond tomorrow when it's set to expire.

Ten Israeli hostages were released today, two Thai nationals also released in addition. You're looking at the moment they were handed by Hamas over to the Red Cross. And tonight, two American women are still being held captive in Gaza in addition to Israel's estimate this morning of 171 other hostages. And, of course, if this truce is not extended, they will all remain in Gaza.

Six of them are children under 18. Children who may not be coming home for who knows how long. Children who have suffered great trauma.

Dr. Efrat Bron-Harlev has treated some 31 children released so far and one thing stands out to her tonight is that the children when they come out of this incredible trauma and finally get to the hospital speak in whispers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DR. EFRAT BRON-HARLEV, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, SCHNEIDER CHILDREN'S MEDICAL CENTER IN ISRAEL: They speak very, very quietly about the most terrible things that they have been undergoing.


BURNETT: One of the children that Dr. Bron-Harlev treated is American- Israeli Abigail Mor Edan, who was released from hospital today. You are going to hear more from the doctor and from Abigail's cousin in just a moment.

But, first, I want to start with Matthew Chance in Tel Aviv.

And, Matthew, 10 Israelis released today, two Thai nationals back in Israel, 53 days in captivity and, of course, there were clashes threatening this fragile truce.

What are you learning?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CHIEF GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, that's right. Clashes in the west bank, other allegations of violations as well by both sides. But you are right, tonight 12 former hostages now in Israeli hospitals, starting the very careful rehabilitation program, and all 81 people who've been released in this hostage prisoner swap deal have been undergoing.

And you can imagine what a sensitive time it is because it's not just the trauma of the October the 7th, or what they have endured since then, in the custody of Hamas or other groups. But also what they also have to confront once they get home.


CHANCE (voice-over): The tears are of joy and of sadness. This the moment Sharon Avigdori and her 12-year-old daughter Noem kidnapped on October 7th are reunited with their family.

But they know friends and neighbors were murdered, that others remain hostages. Relief here is bittersweet.

Israel is releasing this emotional footage of hostages freed by Hamas, traumatized women and children returning to shattered lives. Like eight year old Naveh, and her sister Yaheli just 3, now freed with their mother and grandma after weeks in Gaza, but their dad Tal remains a hostage.

Little Emily Hand who turned 9 in captivity is reunited with her family but seems shell-shocked by her trauma. In an interview with CNN, her father spoke of his joy and pain.

THOMAS HAND, FATHER OF RELEASED HAMAS HOSTAGE: Beautiful, just like I am imagined it, being together.


I squeezed, I probably squeezed too hard and certainly when she stepped back a little, I could see her face was chiseled like mine, but before she left it was chubby, girly, young kid face.

CHANCE: Freed U.S. Israeli toddler Abigail Edan who turned 4 as a hostage lost both her parents in that Hamas attack in Kfar Aza. But her surviving family say they are taking good care of her.

ELLA MOR, AUNT OF RELEASED HAMAS HOSTAGE: My name is Ella Mor. I am Abigail's auntie and she just landed in the hospital and she is being checked and being taken care of. I want to thank everybody for all your love and support. It's amazing, and thank you so much.

CHANCE: This crisis has shun light on the role of foreign domestic workers in Israel, like Jimmy Pacheco, a Filipino caregiver adducted by Hamas after the Israeli pensioner he was looking after was killed. Along with the applause, Israel says he and other foreigners get a lifelong stipend for their ordeal.

At times, news of a release has been overwhelming. This is Hadas Kalderon, getting the call in a shopping mall that her 16-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son were being set free. For a moment relief eclipsing the pain of terrible loss.


CHANCE: And, Erin, tonight, a big diplomatic push underway involving United States, Qatar and Egypt to try and prolong this hostage prisoner deal swap deal even longer. It's already been lengthened by two days to allow for the release of more hostages and for more sheltered families to be rebuilt.

BURNETT: All right. Matthew, thank you very much in Tel Aviv.

OUTFRONT now, Dr. Efrat Bron-Harlev, the CEO of Schneider children's medical center. She is treated several of the children who have been released from Hamas captivity this thus far as far as four year old Abigail Mor Edan. We are going to be speaking to Abigail's cousin Noa Naftali in just a moment.

So, Dr. Bron-Harlev, I very much appreciate your time. I mean, you have been seeing children immediately after they are coming after out of weeks of being held hostage underground, separated from their parents and so many cases.

What can you tell us about their physical condition?

BRON-HARLEV: Well, they came from different places in Gaza and it different times and, of course, different ages. But in general I can say that they all came very skinny, very pale, lost maybe 10 to 15 percent of the weight of sometimes not only them but their mothers as well, the ones that came with them.

BURNETT: My colleague, Clarissa Ward spoke with Emily Hand's father Thomas. You know, he initially thought as you know Emily was killed during a Hamas attack, found out she had been taken hostage here's what he said about how Emily is doing now that she's free.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HAND: Most shocking disturbing part of meeting her was she was just whispering. You couldn't hear her.


BURNETT: It's that the just gives you, I can't imagine why. I mean, that you also, Doctor, have heard children coming who are whispering and are speaking quietly. It is deeply disturbing to even think about that. Can you tell us more about what you are hearing and why?

BRON-HARLEV: When I saw those kids, when I -- when I met them at the helicopter when they arrived at the Schneider's Children in Israel, first of all, the look -- the look of them, the color, the impression on their face, I could almost say that I saw a shadow of a child and not a child. This is something very extreme for me as a physician, as a mother, and I think this is exactly what he was talking about. This is what we saw.

And then you start listening and you start just listening, not asking questions, just listening to what they have to say. And they do, they speak very, very quietly about the most terrible things that they have been undergoing. And it doesn't matter if they are eight, if they are five, if they are 13, you hear the same.


And it's just -- it's horrible. It's much better to hear a child crying or shouting that a child speaking very silently.

BURNETT: When you met with Abigail Mor Edan, she is four years old, just barely. She turned last week. Was it -- was it the same?

BRON-HARLEV: Definitely, it was the same. The amazing thing is that we have seen those children in a perspective of about let's say 48 to 72 hours. It's just amazing to see the progress of a child starting as I said looking like a shadow of themselves, and then 12 hours go by and then suddenly you start seeing some impression or smile or something funny that they would say or they would eat something that they would like. And suddenly you start seeing the real child. And they start playing, and then you understand that she's coming back.

BURNETT: Doctor, thank you very much. I appreciate your sharing some of this with us.

BRON-HARLEV: Thank you very much.

BURNETT: And Abigail's cousin Noa Naftali is OUTFRONT now.

And, Noa, since the last time we spoke obviously of had the incredible news that Abigail is back and can start this long journey of recovery with you and her family. Dr. Bron-Harlev, of course, saw Abigail and Abigail has been such an incomprehensible trauma, witnessing her parents killed, being held hostage. I mean, no one can comprehend what any human being has seen in this case and she's so young. But the doctor was saying that she and other children after a day or so start to come back. You start to see that smile, it's not a shadow, but becomes a child again.

What can you tell us about how Abigail is doing tonight?

NOA NAFTALI, COUSIN OF 4-YEAR-OLD FREED HOSTAGE ABIGAIL MOR EDAN: You know, she's as we said four years old and what we have heard and what we have learned is it will take a long time to understand exactly how she is doing and what the impact of all of this really horrible, horrible circumstances have been on her. We are hopeful that now that Abigail is surrounded by her friends and her family, that she will be able to and the great care of the doctor -- that she will be able to go on and live a beautiful life in spite of everything.

BURNETT: And these pictures that we are showing, of course, Abigail at the hospital and she does seem to be smiling. She turned four and you want to see that bright smile of a child. But, of course, it is just a child. I mean, as she'd been able to verbalize anything? How is your family even managing this to provide for her everything she needs and even as you say it is really impossible to know what she truly feels?

NAFTALI: I think the family and Abigail are very well supported right now. We will see as time comes, but right now the word relief is an understatement. That's -- that's how we feel to see that this girl is not being tortured anymore, not being held by the people who murdered her parents anymore and is back with her family.

BURNETT: And I know you and I spoke about her siblings, her older siblings, they did survive the attack they were not kidnap, but, of course, they witness the horrors. They had to hide that morning during a terror attack in a very young, six and ten. How are they doing, and what was their reunion with their sister?

NAFTALI: They were overjoyed. We understand that Abigail really lit up to see them and her siblings and her cousins were just so happy and relieved to see her. You know, they've just lost so much and we're glad they didn't lose Abigail.

BURNETT: I can only imagine. I know you must be yourself, just looking forward to holding her and having that moment.

But, Noa, thank you for -- for sharing with us.

NAFTALI: Thank you.

BURNETT: Noa Naftali, as I said, of course, Abigail's cousin.

And next after this break, Liz Cheney's savage takedown of Republicans who enabled Donald Trump above everything. Which congressman referred to Trump as "Orange Jesus".

Plus, the deeply moving farewell today to Rosalynn Carter. Her 99- year-old husband, along with Melania Trump and Michelle Obama were among the mourners there today.


And one of the three Palestinian students shot in Vermont may not walk again, according to his family. As we are learning more about the three college students who were shot in an attack that investigators say could have been motivated by hate.


BURNETT: Tonight, orange Jesus. That's what one Republican congressman called Trump, according to Liz Cheney, in her new book obtained exclusively by CNN.

Cheney says that on January 6th before the attack on the Capitol, GOP members were in the cloakroom encouraged to sign their names on electoral vote objection sheet. So Cheney writes that most members knew and I'm quoting here now, that it was a farce. Among them, Republican Congressman Mark Green of Tennessee.

As she moved down the line signing his name to the pieces of paper, Green said sheepishly to no one in particular, the things we do for the orange Jesus.

OUTFRONT now, Democratic strategist Basil Smikle, former Trump White House communications director, Alyssa Farah Griffin, and Ryan Goodman, our OUTFRONT legal analyst.

Okay. The thing here is, look, Liz Cheney does not hold back. We know what she thinks but when she comes here with quotes and receipts and all kinds of conversations, she calls out people by name, we laugh at the orange Jesus. And, yet, maybe the whole point is, if somebody's going to call someone an orange Jesus and still go ahead and do their bidding, maybe the joke is on them?


ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, exactly. And what's going to be so remarkable about this book is Liz Cheney knows all these players intimately well. She was one of Kevin McCarthy's chief deputies when she was the conference deputy chair, and he was majority leader. She knows that she has texts, she's had conversations.

And what she says here underscore something that I witnessed for the entire time that I was in the White House both with Vice President Pence and then with Donald Trump, is that many elected Republicans while they publicly praised Donald Trump say something very different privately. They openly -- they openly kind of acknowledge that he's unfit. He's unserious. He doesn't know what he's talking about.

BURNETT: Like mocking him.

GRIFFIN: They're even mocking.

BURNETT: Even as he signs the document.

GRIFFIN: And I think that it's really important she's pointing that out because there's a cravenness of what they privately say and what they publicly do. BURNETT: And, Basil, you know, as Alyssa is pointing out, right, she knew Kevin McCarthy incredibly well. And just two days before the election on November 5th, then Speaker McCarthy tells her, two days after the election I'm sorry, tells her Trump knows it's over, knows he lost. He needs to go through all the stages of grief.

But, of course, Mar-a-Lago, remember a few weeks later, Kevin McCarthy goes down there, he takes the picture, kiss the ring, the whole thing, right after he said he was responsible for January 6th and all this.

So, Cheney sees the picture. She writes, she's think this picture is a fake. A.I., who knows, right? She thinks it's a fake because, she asks McCarthy about it. Okay, Mar-a-Lago, what the hell, Kevin? Kevin replies: They're really worried. Trump is not eating, so they've asked me to come see him.

Cheney: What? You went to Mar-a-Lago because Trump's not eating? McCarthy, yeah, he's really depressed.

I'm doing this like I would read a children's book. I'm putting the emphasis the way I believe it was meant to be included. I mean, seriously?

BASIL SMIKLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Seriously. And I think to Liz's point, you know, there were a number of legislators that probably mocked him privately but publicly, they had to show this fealty, this loyalty.

And I think that is really what is shocking for so many of us. One can imagine, how in the world can elected leaders in this country actually bow down to this guy and service him in a way that clearly McCarthy has done in that moment? But what is also concerning that as some may mock him the orange Jesus there are probably a lot of folks who think about him that way -- meaning, that he in genders this cult as -- this cultish-ness around him. But --

BURNETT: Right, like the congressman's mocking but on something serious.


SMIKLE: There are people who feel that level of engagement with him which is really hard to sort of break apart. So even if there are members of Congress may say, you know what? We are going to support him and show our loyalty to him in this way just so he feels good and we don't get shamed for it or somehow penalized for it, the problem is they have led their country down this path and that's what's so disturbing.

BURNETT: And, Ryan, it comes as these details from Liz Cheney as ABC's reporting that, as Alyssa bring up Mike Pence, that Pence told the special counsel Jack Smith specifically that he thought Trump had surrounded himself with crank attorneys, that's a quote, and that he considered not presiding over the certification process, the electoral process.

What would that have meant if he actually didn't show up?

RYAN GOODMAN, FORMER SPECIAL COUNSEL AT DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE: It's really extraordinary. Doesn't mean that Pence may have actually bent at a certain point, thinking on -- as apparently, according to ABC News, it's in his is news on Christmas Eve, December 24th, that he's actually decided, I'm not going to show up, and he reversed his decision. It would've sent things into turmoil. It probably would have meant somebody like Chuck Grassley as pro tempore would've served in his role, which is really remarkable, because we do have evidence the two lawyers surrounding Trump, John Eastman and Kenneth Chesebro, contemplated and game-playing out Grassley serving in Pence's role.

So, it suggests that the special counsel has a deeper insight into those machinations.

BURNETT: That there was a plan?

GOODMAN: A plan, a plot and it brings Chesebro particularly into the plan to pressure Pence, which there's not that much evidence that he was involved but it does indicate there is something really there.

BURNETT: Now, Alyssa, here's the thing. Pence obviously was quiet about this for quite some time, then finally he came out and he, you know, has obviously, he served in this role and it mattered at that moment, right? And, you know, I do want to use the word hero lightly, but there are some who think he played a heroic role in just in doing his job that day. But this shows that he was almost about to not do his job. You know him.

GRIFFIN: I mean, we realized after January 6th just on the brink that our democracy came to. And it really was the one man of Mike Pence that kind of held it together. But to realize now and I didn't realize this at the time I was talking to people close to Pence, but I don't think I talked to him after the time I left in the December, left the White House, he was very close to himself not showing up for this.

And if we could just thank his son, Michael Pence, who is a U.S. marine, who according to Pence's notes said you swore the same oath that I did, which ultimately made him show up and preside. That shows that he was such a historic figure in that moment any was so close to not doing it.

And, by the way in, the second Trump term, there is no Mike Pences.


So, whether he's a hero or not, you don't even at the baseline kind of people who are going to show up and do their job.

BURNETT: No, no, and what is you make of it of what Alyssa is saying, right, that the continued reporting is that it's his son, a U.S. Marine, who was the one, with all these lawyers, and all this brouhaha going on, that was the person who seemed to get him to say I'm going to go back in there and do it.

GOODMAN: It's amazing. It's really -- it is a powerful story, and it's a powerful story of a parent and a child as well. And that that is the turning point for him. And this is not just like Mike Pence telling the special counsel this, there are corroborated notes, these are notes that the special counsel got that Pence himself wrote down at the time.

BURNETT: And, Basil, I have to ask you one more thing, it's about Hunter Biden, who's also in the news today, announcing it if you testify in front of Congress about all of his business dealings. That was supposed behind closed doors, now it's going to be public. And he's also going public in his fight overall.

So, it used to be I don't want to show up, I just want to disappear. Now, okay, I'm going to do it in public, and it is sue Rudy Giuliani for hacking into my laptop which I guess that means it is his laptop. Just saying.

SMIKLE: Yes, clearly.

BURNETT: Okay. Okay, you're in the middle of an election. You are coming into Iowa, New Hampshire and, of course, Biden is the incumbent.

SMIKLE: First thought is, can this not wait? But if you are going to do this, I understand it from his perspective why he would want to get his story out there, and tell it his way. On the other hand, every Republican is going to take everything he says, every single day and turn it into a commercial.

When the numbers are that soft, we really need this right now? I go back to watching Hillary Clinton and the Benghazi hearings, what was that 11, hours, 14 hours of her testimony. She did exactly what she needed to do and came out in many ways a hero from that -- from that experience because she answered the questions but made everybody realize that I didn't need to be here but I am here and I'm going to show up and do my duty.

I don't suspect that that this hearing is going to be that way. I don't think it's going to have the same outcome.

BURNETT: Right, right, and making it about himself and bringing it all in.

SMIKLE: And it's always going to be about Joe Biden.

BURNETT: That's right.

All right. Thank you very much.

And next, presidents and first ladies among those bidding goodbye to Rosalynn Carter today. Her husband of 77 years front and center at the service. And I'm going to speak with Jimmy Carter's former chief of staff who was there.

And the wife of Ukraine's by chief poisoned. Did Vladimir Putin give the order to target her? And was her husband the intended target? The Ukrainian foreign minister is OUTFRONT tonight. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


BURNETT: Tonight, you're looking at former First Lady Rosalynn Carter being honored today at a treaty service in Georgia. President Biden and all of the living former first ladies were in attendance today. You see them there in the first row.

President Jimmy Carter who is 99 years old was also there. He has been in hospice care for nine months. He was there in a wheelchair covered with a blanket with Rosalynn's face on it honoring, of course, his partner of 77 years.

Nick Valencia is OUTFRONT.


NICK VALENCIA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On a brisk Atlanta day under the beaming Georgia sun, family and friends of the former first lady, Rosalynn Carter, gathered to celebrate her life.

At 96 years old, her death was far from a life cut short. Her husband of more than 77 years, who was rarely seen without her, the former President Jimmy Carter, was there by her side, for one final time, despite his frail health.

The 39th president has been receiving hospice care since February. His appearance was visibly diminished but he reportedly was so determined to be there, he had a new suit tailor-made for the service.

Also on the front row, all of the living former first ladies, along with President Joe Biden, First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, and former President Bill Clinton. Melania Trump sitting at the end of the row in a rare public appearance. She's largely avoided the public eye since her husband left office. She was seated next to Michelle Obama. Their husbands did not attend.

Three generations of Carters were also there, all four of their children and 11 of their grandchildren who served as honorary pallbearers. Their marriage described by so many, especially their own children as one of the greatest love stories of all-time.

JAMES EARL "CHIP" CARTER III, SON OF FORMER PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER & ROSALYNN CARTER: They've given us such a great example of how a couple should relate.

AMY LYNN CARTER, DAUGHTER OF FORMER PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER & ROSALYNN CARTER: My mom spent most of her life in love with my dad.

VALENCIA: Their youngest child and only daughter Amy struggling through tears, reading a letter written 75 years ago by her father to her mother, when he was serving in the Navy.

AMY LYNN CARTER: When I see why fall in love with you all over again. Does that seem strange to you? It doesn't to me. Goodbye darling, until tomorrow. Jimmy.

VALENCIA: Jason Carter, the couple's grandson, recounting some of his fondest memories of his grandfather.

JASON CARTER, GRANDSON OF FORMER PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER & ROSALYNN CARTER: We were on a family trip, and we were in a flight on Delta from here to somewhere and we were all sitting in the back of the airplane together. It took off and we looked over, my grandmother took at this Tupperware and this loaf of bread of pimento cheese, and this loaf of bread, and she just started making sandwiches. And she gave it to all of us grandkids, and then started giving it to other people on the plane.

VALENCIA: A touching celebration for a woman who led such a full life and delivered hope to some very many people in this world.


VALENCIA (on camera): Today's service was poignant. It was somber and even at times even lighthearted. Today was very much so a public celebration of life of the Rosalynn Carter. It will continue for third and final day as a small funeral procession is expected to take place in your small hometown of Plains, Georgia. First lady, Erin, is headed home.

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

And I want to go to Jack Watson now. He was there today, President Carter's former White House chief of staff.

And, Jack, I appreciate your time.

Of course, what a day it was to honor and to remember and sadness, of course, moments to smile to remember a life long life well lived for President Jimmy Carter was there to honor his wife. Of course, he's now 99 years old. He was there in the front row. It's the first time we've seen him in several months.

How -- you were there, too, obviously and for all of this today, how important was it that Jimmy Carter was there today?

JACK WATSON, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO PRESIDENT CARTER: Erin, I think it was important President Carter most of all. He's a man as everyone knows a great determination.


And I'm sure that he decided that if it were humanly possible for him to be there today, he would be there. So I think it was mainly and mostly important to him.

BURNETT: That he wanted to do it no matter -- no matter, of course, you know, how he looks and all he's going through himself with hospice, that it just mattered, this moment, in a moment of human dignity.


BURNETT: It is inspirational despite the sadness.

As you are there, all, of course, you have the former presidents there, all the living first ladies were at this service. It was, of course, invitation only, Melania Trump, Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush.

Jack, what can you tell us about Rosalynn Carter's relationship with any of these women who of course followed her in and holding her title?

WATSON: I think it's fair to say that there is a kind of sister heard of first ladies. They know what it's like to be side by side with their husband through thick and thin. There are a lot of slings and arrows in politics and the first ladies are right there at the president's side, experiencing them all.

And Rosalynn was no exception to that. She took -- she took things personally sometimes but she would get over it. She had a good relationship -- a friendly relationship with several of the first ladies and I think that the first ladies in general support each other and everywhere they can, every time they can.

BURNETT: Now, Judy Woodruff, of course, the famed longtime journalist, paid tribute to Mrs. Carter today. She had that great honor. She said this.


JUDY WOODRUFF, JOURNALIST: I asked them how they thought President Biden was doing early in his term. President Carter was very specific on issue after issue, and quite complimentary of the new president. Mrs. Carter said simply, it's a great relief to have him in office.


BURNETT: Of course, former President Donald Trump was not in attendance. He was invitation only. Whether he was invited or not, we don't know. But he wasn't there.

President Carter, of course, has spoken out about Donald Trump very openly in the past. But this is the first time we are hearing the former first lady may have felt the same. But it's interesting how she express herself, sort of fits with what you are saying -- very clear, but yet very gracious.

WATSON: Yes. One of the very great things about Rosalynn and one of the reasons she had so many friends, so many people who loved her, was that she would speak her mind on the one hand but she would do it almost invariably in a gentle way.

She was a wonderful reader of people. She was politically savvy, in many ways or politically savvy than the president himself in my opinion. She was astute.

And I think that she did not hesitate to express herself clearly when she felt expressing herself clearly would be helpful.

BURNETT: Well, it's wonderful in these times to honor and remember somebody who could speak both clearly and graciously, and make their points clear. It is so rare in this world we live in. And so, it is nice to honor someone who could do that.

Thank you so very much, Jack, for taking the time to be with us.

WATSON: You're welcome. Thank you.

BURNETT: All right.

And next, the wife of Ukraine's top spy in the hospital tonight, apparently poisoned. The big question is whether Vladimir Putin ordered it. The Ukrainian foreign minister is my guest next.

And one of three Palestinian students shot in Vermont may never walk again. We're learning more tonight about the three victims who had just left a birthday party for eight year old twins when they were attacked.



BURNETT: Tonight, CNN is learning that the wife of Ukraine's spy chief is in the hospital after an apparent poisoning.

Mariana Budanova is the wife of GUR head Kyrylo Budanov, who has been deeply involved in Ukraine's efforts to oust Russia from its territory, and has long accused Russia of trying to kill him.

Ukraine says other intelligence staffers are also sick and sources tell CNN that Western officials are suspicious that Russian agents may have paid off a staff member to carry out the poisoning. So far, the U.S. has not been able to independently verify this incident.

OUTFRONT now is the Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba.

And, Minister, I very much appreciate your time. This is sobering and terrifying. I know it is a fear that you live with every day but Ukrainian sources telling CNN that Budanova has tested positive for both arsenic and mercury.

Minister, do you think that Russia is behind this apparent poisoning?

DMYTRO KULEBA, UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: Well, it would be premature for me just to make any conclusions but when you fight such a vicious anomie such as Russia, you have to be ready for anything. And Russia has proven itself many times before as a country that uses poison as a mean to kill its opponents and its enemies.

And definitely our intelligence chief is the enemy of Russia as all of us are, all those who are fighting against Russia. So it's highly likely that Russia is behind it, but I'm not making any official conclusions. I will leave it to the experts to make.

BURNETT: I mean, the Ukrainian military intelligence agencies said Budanov himself has survived at least ten Russian assassination attempts. I know as you pointed out that you and others who are on the forefront of this war are all targets? How do you even react to this news personally?

KULEBA: Well, you know, I left all my thoughts and reactions and reflections about the risk of dying on the 24th of February, 2022, when I crossed into Ukraine coming back from my business trip to the United States. When you are at war -- again, when you are at war with such enemies as Russia, you have to be ready for everything and have to make your choice.


And we all made our choices and we are ready for everything -- for anything to happen, but it doesn't stop us from defending our country.

BURNETT: In Ukraine right now, Minister, we understand Russia is suffering more than 931 losses a day, deaths on the frontline. That's 20 percent more than Putin's forces were losing during the previous high which was in March in Bakhmut.

Mr. Kuleba, what is Ukraine doing right now to inflict this level of loss?

KULEBA: We vigorously defend our land. We fight by all means because we know what will follow if we lose. And that will be mass destruction of Ukraine, of Ukrainian infrastructure, of Ukrainian villages and towns, mass atrocities as it was evident in Bucha and other places. And it's well known that President Putin does not recognize the right of this Ukrainian state to exist. He doesn't recognize our nation, our identity, so stakes are too high for us.

BURNETT: When you see lost numbers, north of 900 Russian soldiers a day, it would seem as if Ukraine is making significant progress, yet your top commander, General Valery Zaluzhnyi recently said the war is deadlocked right now. And, of course, Minister, I know you're at this very familiar with what he told "The Economist", but I'll read a quote of it for everyone.

He said: Just like in the First World War, we have reached the level of technology that puts us into a stalemate. There will most likely be no deep and beautiful breakthrough. Do you agree with him?

KULEBA: Well, I believe General Zaluzhnyi also made another point in that -- in that piece and that was about the importance to provide Ukraine with sufficient amount of weapons and ammunition that will help us to crush the enemy.

You know this peace should not be quoted only one element. We are working on our next victory and -- on the battlefield. We have achieved a lot in the Black Sea recently and on the left bank of the Dnipro River, where we secured a beachhead for our horses. Victories thick come as a result of very hard work unsustainable supplies. This is essential.

BURNETT: And, Minister, when you point out on Zaluzhnyi comments, you said that if you don't think it'll be right to take it as purely making a comment about a stalemate, you emphasize the word technology, that Ukraine needs more things.

The question on that right now, though, obviously, the world's been looking towards the Middle East, there is that reality. There's also issues in the United States, $64 billion aid package to Ukraine is now in question. Some Republicans, Minister, as you know, are now saying that there has to be changes to the U.S.-Mexican border policy. That has to happen in exchange for supporting the aid to Ukraine.

So, these two things have become tied together. Half of Americans as you know think the U.S. government is already spending too much to help Ukraine.

How confident are you that you're going to get this help? I guess another way of saying this is how worried are you that Ukraine will never get this aid?

KULEBA: I cannot allow myself to be worried. I have to do my job, to make countries and institutions adopt decisions which serve the best interests of my country but also the countries that they represent. I am absolutely confident that supporting Ukraine and Israel today is in the best interests of the people of the United States, because what is at stake in both of our countries is global security, not just the security of Middle East or Ukraine. It is without an exaggeration the stability of global order.

And, you know, the best way to keep war away from your shores and from your borders is to support countries who are ready to fight the war defending themselves. I would like to remind everyone that never since the beginning of the large scale invasion, Ukraine asked for U.S. boots on the ground. We never asked the U.S. Army to come and fight for us.

Our deal is still fair. You give us what we need and we will do the rest of the job, because we also are protecting NATO, not only ourselves. So, this is the line -- this is the narrative that I know is widespread on the Hill, in D.C. and we work to make it prevail in the internal discussions that Congress is currently having.

BURNETT: Minister Kuleba, thank you very much for your time. I appreciate it tonight.

KULEBA: Thank you.

BURNETT: And OUTFRONT next, three lifelong friends, virtual brothers, shot in an unprovoked attacked after leaving a birthday party. New details tonight about these Palestinian Americans, one of whom may be paralyzed.

And the man who is Warren Buffett's most important adviser, his dearest friend, has died.



BURNETT: Tonight, one of the Palestinian students shot in Vermont may never walk again. Hisham Awartani's family telling CNN that he has a bullet still lodged in his spine, he cannot move his legs. Awartani and two of his lifelong friends were shot over the holiday weekend in what's being investigated as a possible hate crime.

Polo Sandoval is OUTFRONT.


RICH PRICE, UNCLE OF VERMONT SHOOTING VICTIM HISHAM AWARTANI: In so many ways, it's very normal, very loving thanksgiving meal.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: When three lifelong friends gathered at Rich Price's table last week, nobody could have predicted the night that lay ahead.

PRICE: Each of them wished their parents were at the table with us.

SANDOVAL: Tahseen Ali Ahmed, Kinnan Abdalhamid, and Rich's nephew, Hisham Awartani, traveled to Vermont to celebrate the holiday. The three Palestinian students first met growing up in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah. With American roots, they went to college in the U.S., Brown, Trinity and Haverford College, all far from a conflict that's only intensified over decades.

But just two days after Thanksgiving, a casual walk through Rich's Burlington neighborhood ended in tragedy.

PRICE: My nephew called my mother and said, granny, I've been shot. That's how we found out.

SANDOVAL: The three 20-year-olds were shot in what Burlington police had described as an unprovoked attack, though investigators have yet to establish a motive, the families of the injured men fear that it was their Palestine pride worn proudly in the form of traditional scarves the night of the attack that made them targets.

PRICE: I think wearing the keffiyehs was a peaceful demonstration of Palestinian solidarity. That was important to them and important to so many people who believe in the value and the importance of humanizing Palestine.

SANDOVAL: The struggle for a free and peaceful Palestine has been near and dear in the hearts of these young men, until their futures and now their lives have been put on hold.


These guys are more than just friends. This is a brotherhood.

PRICE: They just really enjoyed being together and then, of course, to have this happen, I think it's been a real solace and comfort to them to be together. They have been processing this together. They have been keeping a sense of humor in the face of some really trying times, and I think it's that friendship that has been and will continue to be really important in their recovery.

SANDOVAL: It will be a long and painful road to recovery. Awartani still has a bullet lodged in his spine. His family says though now he has feeling in his legs, he's unable to move them at the moment. His uncle says he had been hoping to go on an archaeology dig this summer, but that is now in question.

Ahmed and Abdalhamid face physical and psychological struggles of their own. Their families are sure that they remain as resilient as they were before the shooting, looking at the last photo they took together for hope.

PRICE: You see a future doctor maybe, a future mathematician, a future archaeologist, three incredible young men.


SANDOVAL (on camera): And as he continues to recover at this medical facility in Burlington, Awartani sharing a message with his fellow students in Brown. He asked that he ran at a vigil a portion I can read for you. It reads: Had I been shot in the West Bank where I grew up, medical services would save my life would likely have been withheld by the Israeli army, a soldier who would've shot me would go home and never be convicted.

Meanwhile his wife -- his mother I should say left Ramallah, trying desperately to make her way here, eventually by her son side to continue to support him -- Erin.

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

And next, a man that Warren Buffett has relied on his whole life for investing personal devices, his long time partner, has died.


BURNETT: Warren Buffett's longtime investing partner, Charlie Munger, has died. The 99-year-old billionaire was Buffett's right-hand man, at Berkshire Hathaway. The two grew up in Omaha, both working at the grocery store that Buffett's family ran.

Buffett famously said that they had not had a fight in 60 years. In his last interview with Becky Quick from CNBC just a couple weeks ago, Munger said he never believed when he and Warren Buffett started out with a, quote, piddly amount of money. That they would ever get to $100 million, never mind hundreds of billions.

Of course, they have made many shareholders wealthy, too. Warren Buffett tonight, of course, has lost his confidant, and his close partner. He says Berkshire Hathaway would not be what it is without Munger's inspiration, and wisdom.

Thanks for joining us.

"AC360" starts now.