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Erin Burnett Outfront

Negotiations Underway As Israel-Hamas Truce Expires At Midnight; Biden: American Just Released By Hamas "Is Safe"; New Details About Man Charged In Shooting Of Palestinian Students; Russia Denies It's Behind Poisoning Of Ukraine Spy Chief's Wife; American Says He Was Assaulted By Fellow Prisoner In Russia; Elon Musk To Advertisers Leaving X: "Go F**k Yourself". Aired 7-8p ET

Aired November 29, 2023 - 19:00   ET




Breaking news, the fragile truce between Israel and Hamas could be coming to an end, expiring in just a few hours. So, is the fighting about to ramp up again?

Plus, a Palestinian student shot in Vermont just out of surgery as his family fears he may never walk again. This as we're learning new details about the suspect in that shooting.

And, go F yourself. That's Elon Musk's message tonight to the growing list of companies pulling their advertising out of X. And that's not all he has to say tonight.

Let's go OUTFRONT.


HILL: Good evening. I'm Erica Hill, in for Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, deadline looming. The truce between Israel and Hamas is set to expire midnight eastern time, unless it is extended once again. At this hour, though, there is no official word that will happen.

When the pause ends, Israel has promised to resume its military campaign inside Gaza, which the Israeli prime minister has said will continue until there is no longer a threat to Israel, and that, of course, raises new questions about when or if the remaining hostages about 150 or so people would be released. Today, a total of 16 hostages were freed, most of them just arriving back in Israel moments ago.

In fact, these are pictures you're looking at of their convoy. Among these released today, five children, and one American Israeli woman whose story we have followed closely on OUTFRONT.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Got some very good news to report. Liat Beinin is safe in Egypt. She's across the border. I talked with her mother and father. They're very appreciative. And things are moving well. She'll soon be home with her three children.


HILL: Liat's father Yehuda will join me here on OUTFRONT in just a moment. Many of you, many of our viewers know, Yehuda's been a frequent guest on this program since his daughter and son in law were kidnapped on October 7th.

In fact, here's what he told Erin just days after they were abducted.


YEHUDA BEININ, FATHER OF AMERICAN WOMAN MISSING IN ISRAEL: I will take it as it comes, and when my daughter is released and why son-in- law, and then I'll -- they arrive home safe, then I'll find time to breathe a sigh of relief.


HILL: Well, tonight, one month after he said those words, Yehuda will have the chance to hold his daughter tonight. His son-in-law is still being held in Gaza.

We begin this hour with Jeremy Diamond. He's in Ofakim where the newly released hostages just passed through.

So, Jeremy, you just saw that convoy. I know you also have some new information about the future of this truce. Where do things stand at this hour?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, that's exactly right, Erica.

Minutes ago, this area was filled with dozens of Israelis who offered a very warm welcome to those 14 newly freed hostages who just arrived back in Israel. But now, Erica, questions are beginning to turn to the future of this hostage agreement, and the ability of Israel to get more of its hostages out of Gaza as part of this agreement with Hamas.

We are less than five hours away now from when we expect that this truce between Israel and Hamas, a very fragile truce, could potentially expire. And, as of now, that truce has yet to be extended. We understand that over the last couple of days, there have been extensive negotiations in Doha, Qatar, in particular among Israeli, American, Egyptian, Qatari intelligence officials. Hamas, on the other side, of course, mediated by the Qatari government. The aim is to still focus on those women and children, to try and seek an extension of one or two days, and Israeli official don't believe that Hamas has the ability to make good on ten additional women and children per day, perhaps for another two days.

And then, of course, the questions will start to turn to the broader question of men as well as Israeli soldiers. But today, a senior Israeli official telling me that they will not turn to that question, not begin that next phase of a hostage agreement until all women and children are out, until Hamas has fulfilled that end of the bargain.

Now, what we also understand is that extension of the truce likely would not be announced until Hamas provides that list of ten additional Israeli civilians who it is prepared to release the next day.

But, again, we are less than five hours away from when that truce could potentially expire. And as of yet, we have yet to see that list, and Israeli officials have yet to receive that list from Hamas.

HILL: So, a lot of people waiting and watching very closely.


Jeremy, Appreciate it.

As we reported, Liat, an American citizen has been released by Hamas. And she is, at this hour, about to arrive at Sheba Medical Center in Israel. Liat is the second U.S. hostage to be released since this truce began. And we have followed her story very closely on this show.

OUTFRONT now is Liat's father Yehuda Beinin who's joining us.

You are anxiously awaiting, I know, the reunion with your daughter. As I understand it, Liat is expected to be at the hospital within the hour. Have you been able to speak with her yet?

BEININ: First of all, thank you for having me again. Actually, the phone call with her is supposed to be taking place as we speak here. But I need to explain why I would pass up on the opportunity to speak with my daughter by phone.

As you described, I believe very accurately in the reporting before you brought me on, there are remaining hostages, males, and so on that have yet to be included in any deal, while at the same time, the government in Israel is threatening to renew the hostilities. This, nationally, would create a great deal of fear that the hostages would again come under some kind of danger as a result of renewed Israeli bombing, and it's something that concerns me and the many other Israeli families with hostages in Gaza, it concerns us very greatly. So, there are some issues here that are troubling.

HILL: You talk about families like your own who still have loved ones being held hostage. We're talking, of course, about your son-in-law, about Aviv, Liat's husband. You told us that he was injured when he was taken. Have you had any word tonight as to his condition --

BEININ: No, we haven't.

HILL: -- as to his conditions or his whereabouts?

BEININ: Nope, we have not.

HILL: Do you have any indication that maybe he and Liat were held together?

BEININ: We know that they were not held together. They weren't together when they were abducted. It seems -- it seems that, first of all, it's clear that more than one terrorist group was involved. In fact, in addition to Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, apparently, there are other groups in addition who were involved.

So, it seems that there are some issues in tracking down exactly whose hostage where. But I don't have -- I certainly don't have any definite information about that.

HILL: Well, as you mentioned, you're waiting on this call from your daughter, who is free now after being held captive as a hostage for 54 days. You haven't spoken with her yet. Do you have any indication, though in, terms of how she's doing, how is her health, how is she in this moment now that she's been freed?

BEININ: We saw the images that were broadcast from the border crossing, and subsequent images when she was transferred from the Red Cross to IDF hands. And we saw her. She looked pretty good. She looked like she was in good shape, relatively good shape. We'll see, soon enough.

HILL: What do you expect to say to her?

BEININ: A lot of people ask me this question. What's up? What can I say?

We're all happy to see her here. We're also here in the hospital with her three children. And we'll let them be (ph) with their mother -- my wife and I will take a backseat at first for sure.

And later, we'll speak with her. We'll see what's going on. We'll see what she knows, fill her on details. Everything basically, in accordance with the guidelines that we've got in front of us --

HILL: Sure.

BEININ: -- social worker and other professionals, it's all been taken care of very -- well, guidelines on how to approach a situation like this. So, we'll see. We have to go with the flow. We'll see what happens.


HILL: I imagine it was quite a moment for you and your wife, for your grandchildren, her children, when you got word that she was, in fact, among the hostages to be released. What was that moment like for you?

BEININ: That -- you know -- you know, when it hit me actually, I'll be very frank. I have a tremendous knot in my stomach. The issue of Aviv is weighing on me very heavily.

It's not a simple situation by any means. The cases of women and children were clear-cut, more clear-cut. And now, we're facing some real challenges. And people are -- people who are affiliated with the Hostage Family Forum are weighing how to move forward.

And the forum has, up until now, been stridently apolitical in its approach. And it seems that, from this point forward, it's not going to be possible to maintain that apolitical approach, and some political decisions are going to have to be made.

The nature of trying to manage a war with two objectives that are diametrically opposed to each other is problematic, and that issue needs to be addressed. We need to understand how to approach the government to work towards releasing the hostages as its first priority and not necessarily winning the war.

HILL: Which we have heard repeatedly from so many families, that that should be priority number one.

Before I let you go, we heard briefly from President Biden there before we came to you where he said that he had spoken with you. What did President Biden say to you in that moment?

BEININ: First of all, I was looking at my phone, and I saw the Washington, D.C. phone number. And I thought it was the PR firm that the American hostages are working with. And then I -- I take the call and they say, hi, this is Joe Biden, like that.

It took me a few seconds to realize what was -- what was coming down, like, whoa. So immediately I called my wife over and some of the other people around who were all recording the conversation.

It was quite -- quite unusual because my first question is a guy. You see, I'm talking to the president of the United States. Where is Prime Minister Netanyahu in all this? And the answer is obvious, of course.

The conversation that my wife and I had with the president was very pleasant. We first and foremost thanked him for his efforts, the efforts of his administration in securing the release of our daughter. He invited us to visit him and his wife in the White House.

And, once again, the president has shown me or anybody else who's listening to this conversation that the president is sharp as a tack, sharp, sharp as a tack. And that any intimation to any other state of his mind is just patently ridiculous.

So, it's happy -- I'm glad that, happy -- I'm glad that President Biden is the president. I don't see any other person around who would be able to manage this current situation as well as he has.

HILL: Yehuda Beinin, we appreciate you, as always, taking the time to join us tonight, especially, as we know, you wanted the opportunity to talk about your son-in-law as well, and that delayed the conversation with your daughter, Liat. Please go take that call now.

BEININ: Thank you. This is -- this is the true -- this is indeed the next mission that we have in front of us, and it's a very serious mission.

HILL: Yehuda, thank you again. Joining us OUTFRONT now is retired Army Lieutenant General Mark

Hertling, former commanding general of Europe.

General Hertling, good to have you with us.

You know, we heard clearly what the concerns are for Yehuda Beinin in terms of his son-in-law, Aviv, so many other families about what could happen if, in fact, this pause ends tonight, if that happens. What do you imagine the fighting will look like when it resumes?


MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, I couldn't have said it any better than Mr. Beinin just did, right -- right then, Erica. He actually outlined the various factors of the strategic implications of what different governments are trying to do.

If I can just review that very quickly, Mr. Netanyahu has said his stated objective is to destroy Hamas. Hamas has said -- their stated objectives in their charter is to kill Jews and destroy the Israeli state. Then you have the American, President Biden, who is saying, hey, my objective is to get as many hostages out and prevent a humanitarian disaster in Gaza with the Palestinians.

So those three things somehow are clashing, and it's causing some great emotional trauma on the part of families of the hostages for sure, and many people that are watching the citizens of Gaza being caught in the middle as Hamas uses them, purposely uses them as shields against attacks by Israelis. I think what we're going to see tonight, Erica, if the -- if the pause does end, if this kinetic pause regains momentum, you're going to see a lot of kinetic activity by Israeli defense forces against Hamas. Hamas has used the period of time with the pause to maneuver, to move the hostages, to find new ways to draw Israel into a fight that's going to put Palestinians in the middle, and it's going to be more of what we saw in the first six weeks of the operation.

HILL: Barak Ravid has some reporting tonight that President Biden told Netanyahu if this military action resumes, that Israel cannot operate in southern Gaza the way it did in the north. We have heard these calls for Israel to be more precise moving forward when the fighting resumes.

How much sway, especially given what you just laid out there, does Biden have here?

HERTLING: Well, he's attempting to influence Netanyahu and his approach to this entire operation. But, truthfully, Erica, it's going to be very difficult. I've heard a lot of people compare this operation in Gaza to some of the operations the United States is conducting like Mosul and Fallujah. But it's a world of difference.

In all those other operations, you did not have an enemy force in a subterranean environment using defensive operations in prepared positions that they've been preparing for years, and on top of with the population on top of them. So it's very difficult to say, hey, let's do a more precise campaign, let's do more precision attacks against Hamas, because Hamas wants Israel to attack them through the population and use that against the international community to put Israel, again, in a bad position.

So it's going to be very difficult to have more precision operations. But I think the president is attempting to influence Israel to make sure that they do the very best they can in terms of destroying Hamas without affecting the Palestinian people. That's near impossible to do from a military perspective.

HILL: General Hertling, always appreciate your insight, thank you.

HERTLING: Thanks, Erica.

OUTFRONT next, the Palestinian students shot in the spine in Vermont, just out of surgery this hour. His mother who just flew the U.S. to be by his side joins me next.

Plus, injured and alone for days, surrounded by Russian troops. How a Ukrainian soldier escaped and survived. You'll see his harrowing story here, first.

And Elon Musk defiant tonight, offering some choice words for advertisers fleeing X in the wake of his antisemitic post.




Is that clear?




HILL: Tonight, new details about the man charged with shooting three Palestinian students in Vermont in what is being investigated as a possible hate crime. CNN learning in recent months, Jason Eaton, was experiencing financial trouble and struggled to hold down a job.

This information coming as two of the three students who were shot underwent surgery today. Tahseen Ali Ahmed suffered a bullet wound to the chest. Hisham Awartani had a bullet lodged in his spine. His family says right now, he's unable to move his legs. His mother and his uncle will join me in just a moment.

But first, Polo Sandoval is OUTFRONT with new reporting on the investigation.


POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): New details tonight about the man who Burlington police say stepped off the porch of his apartment building Saturday night and shot three Palestinian students walking by. Jason James Eaton pleaded not guilty to three counts of attempted second-degree murder, while Burlington investigators have revealed evidence they say links the 48-year-old Burlington man to the shooting.

The motive remains elusive, says the mayor of Burlington.

MAYOR MIRO WEINBERGER, BURLINGTON, VERMONT: Nothing that I have heard at this point is that kind of critical piece of information I think we're all looking for that would really explain how he could have done this.

SANDOVAL: Police say the three Palestinian students were walking down the streets speaking Arabic and English, two of them were wearing traditional scarves associated with Palestinian identity when Eaton approached and opened fire, according to authorities. Hisham Awartani's mother, Elizabeth Price, says her sons recalled one of his friends screaming with pain from a chest wound. Once the shooter fled, Awartani was able to dial 911. Eaton had recently a .380 caliber pistol which was recovered when authorities searched his residents, and police say they matched the gun to casings recovered at the scene of the shooting.

Investigators are turning to his online history in order to build a profile of the suspected gunman. Eaton's work experience spans from finances to farming. He most recently worked at CUSO financial services. In a statement to CNN, the company said Eaton worked there for less than a year and was terminated in early November and was even an assistant scoutmaster with the Boy Scouts.

That organization says, possible learning of his arrest, he was banned from registering in scouting in any capacity.

He also appeared to experience financial trouble, according to his former landlords.

EX-LANDLORD: Towards the end, he got -- he got a little bit weird because he really couldn't hold a job down.


SANDOVAL: Debbie Goldstein and her husband rented a room to Eaton over their Syracuse antique shop.

DEBBIE GOLDSTEIN, EX-LANDLORD: He went out and bought this thing for the back of the door so the mail would get caught in this bag. And then bought four little baskets for each of the tenants, put their names on them so all the mail could get divvied into the baskets. Like, does that sound like this chasten?

EX-LANDLORD: I don't think anybody should be supported or forgiven for what he did.

GOLDSTEIN: Yeah, I -- it -- to me, it was a hate crime.


SANDOVAL: And tonight, we're learning from sources close to the investigation that the FBI is still very much involved in assisting Burlington police go through all the evidence that was removed from the apartment in the building that you see behind me, and also, a positive of now we have learned the parents of Hisham Awartani and Kinnan Abdalhamid are finally here in Burlington after completing a journey that they've began, a grueling journey that they've began four days ago when their sons were gunned down on this very street that I'm standing on tonight, Erica.

So, as you can imagine, they are finally by the sides of their sons helping them through the healing.

HILL: Polo, thank you.

And OUTFRONT now is Elizabeth Price, Hisham Awartani's mother, as well as his uncle Rich Price.

It's good to have both of you with us tonight, Elizabeth. You know, as Polo noted, you just arrived not long ago there in Vermont from your home in the West Bank. I know you were able to see your son for the first time. That must've been --


HILL: -- to put it mildly, emotional for you. What was that moment like for you to finally be able to lay eyes on your son, to maybe touch your son finally?

E. PRICE: Well, I think you're right, touching my son. I think mothers, maybe parents as well. My husband did this as well. You see your grown child and you treat them like a baby. So I just stroked his hair for about five, ten minutes. My husband kissed his hands.

We just wanted to have our hands on him and just give him the care and nurture that we could provide through touch. It was -- it was painful, it was painful seeing our son who we had seen last in the summertime so incapacitated.

HILL: Was he -- was he alert? I know he was in surgery again today. So, understandable he perhaps --

E. PRICE: Yes, he was -- he was alert.


E. PRICE: Yeah, he had had a repair done to his clavicle, which is really important to be able to create torso strength, given the fact that he has lost functional mobility in his legs. He was alert. And he was happy to see us, obviously. And I think particularly happy to see his father so he could talk to his father about what he'd gone through.

HILL: What did he share with you about what he's been through? E. PRICE: Well, I mean, I think what my son experiences is that he

really sees it in the context of the oppression of his people. I mean, as he's described, you know, he's a -- he's just one casualty of a much wider conflict. And so I think he sees this in a much larger context of the dehumanization of the Palestinian people.

He talked about the fact that there were up to potentially 20,000 people killed in the Gaza Strip. There are -- the ones -- I mean, the Gaza ministry of health, the Palestinian ministry of health in Gaza has stopped counting because they could no longer keep track of those who died. And there are thousands of Palestinians who are trapped in rubble, mostly children, given the fact that most of Gaza, the population in Gaza, Palestinians are under the age of 15.

So I think he really sees this in the context of attacks on Palestinians as an individual. So I think he feels like this is something that is, obviously, he's feeling personally because it's affected his life. But he sees this as something that comes along with the identity of being a Palestinian, that people don't respect the validity of what is to be a Palestinian and respect the humanity of Palestinians.

HILL: The police in Burlington have described this as an unprovoked attack. There are questions about a motive or a lack of a motive as we just heard from that official in Polo's speech.

Rich, over the last few days, based on, you know, what you've seen and even what you've heard from your nephew and his friends before this happened, did they express any concerns to you about their safety?

RICH PRICE, UNCLE OF HISHAM AWARTANI, PALESTINIAN STUDENT SHOT: No. I mean, look, Burlington, Vermont, is a place that prides itself on being a place of openness, of inclusion, of diversity even. And so, this was totally unfathomable to us as their hosts. And, you know, I think they were feeling really grateful to be enveloped into our family.

We had a very loving Thanksgiving, and in many ways very normal. We played board games, ping pong.


You know, we sat around the Thanksgiving table, like so many families do in this country, and we talked about the things that we're grateful for.

And, you know, so I think they were -- they were truly shocked that this could happen.

HILL: Yeah.

E. PRICE: Hisham -- Hisham did -- Hisham did submit a complaint to Brown University about the fact that he felt unsafe as a Palestinian on campus. So I think all three boys, all three young men, had experienced a sense of insecurity even on their campuses the last seven weeks. So, this may be -- I mean, I completely agree with Richard, Burlington is an incredibly inclusive and tolerant community.

But I think, unfortunately, the fear is that Hisham felt on the Brown campus followed him, the reality of those fears followed him to Burlington.

HILL: Elizabeth and Rich, we really appreciate you both taking the time tonight. And, Elizabeth, I'm so glad that you're able to be there and, yes, as a mother to touch your son. I know exactly what you're saying. Thank you both.

R. PRICE: Thank you.

HILL: OUTFRONT next, devastating injuries leaving a trapped Ukrainian soldier with few options for escape.


SERHII, INJURED UKRAINIAN SOLDIER (through translator): I was wounded in both legs. I immediately touched them to check they were still there.


HILL: The harrowing story of his survival after being surrounded by Russian troops with no way of escaping for days.

Plus, an American wrongfully imprisoned in Russia says he was attacked in prison. What happened? Paul Whelan's brother is my guest.



HILL: Tonight, Russia denying it is behind the apparent poisoning of the wife of Ukraine spy chief. Marianna Budanova is in the hospital after becoming sick, along with other intel staffers in Ukraine. Her husband is deeply involved in Ukraine's efforts to oust Russia from its territory, has long accused Russia of trying to kill him.

The Kremlin spokesperson tonight, though, claims Russia has nothing to do with this saying, quote, Ukraine blames Russia for everything. Ukraine even blames Russia for its very existence. These are routine accusations.

The denial comes after Ukraine's foreign minister told OUTFRONT this.


DMYTRO KULEBA, UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: So, it's highly likely that Russia is behind it. But I'm not making any official conclusions, so I leave it to the -- to the experts to make.


HILL: Meantime tonight, CNN is now hearing the harrowing story of a Ukrainian soldier who hid for weeks while he was critically wounded and alone on the outskirts of Bakhmut. All of this as Russian forces surrounded his position.

Anna Coren has this story you'll see first on OUTFRONT.


ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the stairwell of a public hospital in Central Ukraine, Sergei draws back on a cigarette. The 36-year-old soldier picked up the habit during the war. But after what he's endured these past few weeks, it's the only thing that calms him down.

Last month, he and his unit were on the outskirts of Bakhmut. After a few days, their dugout was shelled by Russian mortars, and Serhii was hit.

SERHII, INJURED UKRAINIAN SOLDIER (through translator): I was wounded in both legs. I immediately touched them to check they were still there.

COREN: But there were far worse injuries amongst the other soldiers, broken legs and jaws. When the evacuation team arrived under heavy shelling, Serhii insisted they take the others first. He would wait for the next team.

Another unit arrived but were pinned down because of constant Russian bombardment, so supplies were sent in by drone.

SERHII: Our commander dropped snacks, painkillers, water from drones, even cigarettes and the lighter, we wanted to smoke.

COREN: As another soldier scrambled out to collect the supplies, water had become an issue as almost every bottle burst on impact. But their problems were about to get a lot worse when an enemy drone dropped a grenade into their small dugout, landing on the soldier next to Serhii.

SERHII: I was wounded again, but he was in really bad shape. Two people from his brigade took him away, and I realized I was alone.

COREN: For the next three days, Serhii hid in his dugout alone surrounded by the enemy, who he could hear just meters away. Whispering on the radio, he gave his commander their coordinates, basically calling in artillery on his very own position.

He says multiple evacuation teams had tried to reach him over those two weeks, but some of those soldiers were killed. In the end, his commander said the only way out was to pray and crawl, which he finally did.

With a radio in one hand and his unit's drone overhead, he crawled back to safety, dragging his legs that were now beginning to rot.

SERHII: Only one way to escape, and I even didn't hope that I'd survive.

COREN: As Serhii recovers in this hospital in central Ukraine, eager to go home, he maintains his story is nothing special, and that it's the soldiers now fighting on the battlefield that deserve the world's attention.

SERHII: What I have seen cannot be expressed in words. Every guy in this ward has gone through something like this. Our guys are paying a very high price.

COREN: A price Ukrainian soldiers are continuing to pay, as this war painful grinds towards its second year.


HILL: It is such a remarkable story, Anna. You also, as I understand it, you spoke with the adviser to Ukraine's commander in chief, Valeriy Zaluzhnyi who, today, recently made controversial remarks that this war was a, quote, stalemate. That is, something, of course, President Zelenskyy wouldn't agree with that.

What did he tell you?

COREN: Yeah, those comments certainly did create headlines. We spoke to General Zaluzhnyi's adviser today, General Nazarov today. And he said that those comments were designed to be an alarm well for Western leaders. The war here is not going well, Erica. Ukraine is not winning this. And they want the world to know that they need their support.


This is on the back of a failed counteroffensive. They're now moving into a harsh winter and a very uncertain 2024. The adviser told me that they desperately need weapons and advanced weapons, that they're simply not getting and there's a real lag time.

He talked about mobilization and how there's problems and also, Erica, which I think is really important, I asked him what would be the game changer on the battlefield. He said, we need all weapons, there's not one single one, but F-16s are absolutely critical. And we need them now to counter Russian air supremacy, not in the spring of next year, which is when they're scheduled to arrive.

HILL: Anna, really appreciate the reporting, thank you.

OUTFRONT next, an American imprisoned in Russia, assaulted in that prison, an attack Paul Whelan says he actually warned the secretary of state about. His brother is OUTFRONT next.

And Elon Musk gets aggressive, dropping the F-bomb when confronted with a question about advertisers leaving X after his antisemitic post.


HILL: Tonight, an American prisoner in Russia assaulted. Paul Whelan telling CNN he was working in the factory at his labor camp when he was punched in the face by a prisoner with, quote, anti-American leanings. We've been following Whelan's story very closely. He's been wrongfully detained in Russia for nearly five years.

OUTFRONT now, his brother David.

So, David, I understand that Paul actually told your family he was there sitting at a sewing table like the one we saw on Russian state TV not long ago when this assault occurred. This is some of that video from Russian state TV. What did he tell you about this attack and how it happened?

DAVID WHELAN, BROTHER OF PAUL WHELAN WHO IS WRONGFULLY DETAINED IN RUSSIA: Well, he was engaged in the normal work that they do in the workshop at the prison camp. And there was a new prisoner who was in the way of the process of what Paul had to complete next. And after asking this prisoner to move multiple times, the prisoner just lashed out and punched him.

HILL: And this -- you know, we can see in the video it's sort of a big open room. There aren't necessarily guards hovering around either.

WHELAN: No. In fact, it's a pretty dangerous situation if you think about it. The guards stay outside the workshop. So it's only the prisoners inside. And the prisoners are given all the tools they need in order to make textiles. So there are sharp sheers in there, there are essentially metal shieves that they use for cutting strings off of clothing.

So, it's a potentially dangerous little place to be in.

HILL: In terms of that danger, your brother actually told CNN just last month that he had warned Secretary of State Antony Blinken, he felt something like this was going to happen after he was not included in the prisoner swaps for Trevor Reed and Brittney Griner. Here's part of what he said.


PAUL WHELAN, AMERICAN WRONGFULLY DETAINED: I told him point-blank that leaving me here the first time painted a target on my back and leave me here the second time basically signed a death warrant.


HILL: Why does he believe he's more of a target now?

WHELAN: Well, I think it's clear that the Kremlin has been increasing anti-American invective, and that's what they pipe into the prison over the TV system there. I think it's natural for the prisoners there to become very anti-American, and the prison system is reporting that the reason that the person hit Paul was because of political differences, because Paul's an American.

And I think, unfortunately, this could be the thin edge of the wedge, which is he's likely to be exposed to more violence in the future than less.

HILL: This weekend will mark likely -- I don't have to tell you, because I'm sure you're keeping county, 1,800 days, nearly five full years that your brother has been wrongfully detained in Russia. President Biden was asked about Paul on Thanksgiving, and he said, quote, we ain't giving up. What is the latest that you've heard from the White House, from the administration about efforts to bring him home?

WHELAN: Well, I think we've heard the same thing we've heard for nearly 12 months now, which is that they're working on it. And, unfortunately, they're working on it doesn't actually bring Paul home. And certainly whatever they are working on has not led to Russia agreeing to any sort of concession.

So it's a frustrating time for all of us, I think. And we worry about Paul's mental health, obviously now being concerned about physical attack as well as just -- you know, the grueling mental situation of being in a prison like that.

But, unfortunately, I don't see that the government is any closer to bringing Paul home than they were a year ago.

HILL: David Whelan, we appreciate you, as always, taking the time to join us. Thank you.

WHELAN: Thanks, Erica.

HILL: OUTFRONT next, Elon Musk ripping into the advertisers tonight, who left X after his antisemitic post.

And an update just into OUTFRONT, the father of the American hostage who was just released. We spoke with him at the top of the show. He was just able to speak with his daughter for the first time. What she told him, that's next.



BURNETT: Just moments ago tonight, Elon Musk in an interview with Andrew Ross Sorkin at "The New York Times'" DealBook Summit saying this to advertisers who have left X over his endorsement of antisemitic content.


MUSK: If somebody is going to try to blackmail me with advertising, blackmail me with money, go (EXPLETIVE DELETED) yourself.


MUSK: Go (EXPLETIVE DELETED) yourself. Is that clear? I hope it is.


HILL: Seems pretty clear.

OUTFRONT now, Dana Hull, "Bloomberg" senior reporter who covers Elon Musk.

So, Dana, "The New York Times" reporting this antisemitic post could possibly cost X up to $75 million in lost ad revenue this year. Meantime, Musk is warning that the advertising boycott could kill the company. He's not happy about it.

It's fascinating for him to say that, based on why the boycott happened.

DANA HULL, BLOOMBERG'S ELON MUSK REPORTER: Yeah. I mean, I think what you saw tonight at the DealBook Summit was authentic Musk. He's angry about it, but he's not going to change his tune, and he's not going to change the way he operates just because advertisers are leaving the platform.

And, you know, dropping F-bombs at a big summit like DealBook is unusual for a CEO, but as we know by now, Elon Musk is not your typical CEO by any stretch of the imagination.

HILL: Nope, certainly not. That is true.

You know, he also talked about his recent trip to Israel, saying it was planned before the fallout, that it wasn't an apology tour. He did apologize, though, for the post, saying that all of the things he's written on X, it was the most foolish thing he'd ever said on the platform, likening it to handing a loaded gun to those who hate me and arguably to those who are antisemitic and saying he's quite sorry, it wasn't his intention.

Is this just trying to save face, or is that actually genuine?

HULL: Yeah, I think it's a mixture of both. I mean, we finally get this quasi-apology, what, two weeks after the initial post that is still up on the platform. It has not been deleted. And, you know, I think that Musk is not always the most emotionally intelligent person. He's not always the best reader of the room.

He tends to, sort of, shoot from the hip and say things without a filter. And that can backfire, which we've seen, kind of, throughout his career. But he -- this was the closest that we've seen him come to expressing regret and remorse for the way that his words were construed.

I mean, some advice would be maybe not tweet or not post. But he's obviously the owner of the platform, and that's his prerogative.

HILL: I don't know if that's going to get through, especially because of what we saw yesterday, right, supporting this pizzagate, long debunked conspiracy theory, but supporting that as well.

There are so many of these moments when you add them all up -- I mean, it does raise a question. What is the future of X at this point? Especially with advertisers fleeing in the numbers we're seeing?

HULL: I think Musk is really trying to pivot to a subscription model, where he wants creators and people who want to be on X to pay for different levels of access. And he does not want to be beholden to advertisers. And this is sort of a -- I mean, the wild irony here is that, you know, Musk created Tesla, this incredible force in the automotive industry, without relying on advertising at all. And then he bought this social media company that is heavily dependent on advertising. And I think that that's, sort of, a circle that he can't square.

HILL: Yeah. Listen, there is a lot there. And I'm glad that you're watching it so intently because you can translate a lot of it for me.

Dana Hall, thank you for being with us tonight.

OUTFRONT next, an update just coming on the show here, the father of the American hostage who was just released a short time ago by Hamas. We spoke with him at the top of the hour. He just spoke with his daughter. That conversation, next.


HILL: At the beginning of the show, I spoke with Yehuda Beinin, the father of the American hostage Liat Beinin, who was just freed. He was waiting to speak with her on the phone when we spoke.

Well, I'm happy to tell you he let us know they did connect. And he tells us his daughter is in good spirits and in his words seems hardly worse for the ware. That being said, he said Liat told him this was the most challenging thing she has ever faced. Yehuda is currently at the hospital, where he will be reunited with his daughter in person very shortly. His wife and her three children, his grandchildren are waiting as well.

Thanks so much for joining tonight.

"AC360" starts right now.