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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
Seven Killed In Apparent "Workplace Violence" In Half Moon Bay As California Suffers Three Mass Shootings In 44 Hours; McCarthy Denies Reps. Adam Schiff & Eric Swalwell Seats On House Intelligence Committee; Double Murder Trial Of Alex Murdaugh Expected To Begin Tomorrow. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired January 24, 2023 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: We're looking at some live pictures, right now, of a vigil, outside City Hall, in Monterey Park, California.
People have been stopping by, throughout the evening, there, in remembrance, of 11 men and women, who were murdered, over the weekend, by a gunman, at a dance studio, as they were celebrating the Lunar New Year.
One of three mass shootings, in the State, since Saturday, leaving 19 dead, and California's Governor tonight, with harsh words, for Washington, and Republican lawmakers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): Federal government needs to do its job. But let's call it out: You have one party that are obstructionists.
I am damn sick and tired of this stuff. I'm sick of this. I don't want to ever see this again. I don't want to see you again, in this condition. I'm serious. I'm not making this up, about all these damn notes. How many of these governors have you seen doing the same damn dance we're doing here today?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Joining us now, is Senator Chris Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, who's been where Governor Newsom is, tonight, in the wake of the mass murder, at Sandy Hook Elementary School, 10 years ago.
Senator Murphy, appreciate you joining us.
You hear the anger there, from Governor Newsom, understandably. And, as you know, California has some of the strongest gun laws, in the country. What more, in your opinion, can be, should be, done?
SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): Well, the problem is guns don't pay much attention to state boundaries. California can have strong laws. Connecticut can have strong laws. But weapons cross state lines. And so, these assault-style weapons that are used in these mass
shootings, you can't buy them in California and Connecticut. But you can buy them in Texas, and Georgia, and easily transport them into our states.
Same things with the crime guns that get used in Hartford and Los Angeles, the illegal gun trade, those, guns move from states, with very loose background checks, where criminals and gun traffickers can easily buy guns, into states with more rigorous background checks.
So, until we have a federal law, banning these mass murder assault weapons, and requiring everybody, to go through a background check, before they buy a gun, the State laws are of limited efficacy. And I think that's the frustration, the deserved frustration, you're hearing, from Gavin, tonight.
COOPER: According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been 40 mass shootings, to date, just in 2023, so far.
President Biden is, again, urging Congress pass an assault weapons ban. As you know, that wasn't realistic, even in the last Congress, never mind now with the Republican House majority.
Is it clear to you whether the President has a plan B?
MURPHY: Well, listen, there's certain Executive actions that the President can continue to take. He's implementing the law that we passed, last year.
But I also don't accept that we can't get this done. I understand that right now, it's hard to figure out, how an assault weapons ban passes the Senate, and the House.
But only a month before Uvalde, people would have never guessed that we would have been able to close the boyfriend loophole, fund red flag laws, put more rigorous background checks on younger buyers.
All of that was made possible because the people of this country rose up, and told the Republicans that they were going to be voted out of office, if they didn't do something. And so, I still have hope that the voters of this country are going to command Republicans, to step up, and do the right thing.
Now, I'd love to ban assault weapons. I know that during the 10 years that we didn't allow them, to be sold, commercially, in this country, we had a dramatic decrease, in the number of mass shootings. As soon as that ban expired, the mass shootings started going upward again.
But if we can't ban assault weapons, then let's look at raising the age to 21, before you can buy a weapon. Let's require background checks, at the very least, for these military-style rifles. There are things that we can do short of a ban that I hope Congress will look at, if we can't get the ban done.
COOPER: San Mateo County Sheriff, Christina Corpus, spoke to CNN, earlier today, and said that the shooting, in Half Moon Bay, yesterday, opened their eyes, to people snapping. She said, quote, "It's not just the guns," and urged a multi-pronged approach, to also deal with mental health.
What would that look like to you? Does that make sense to you?
MURPHY: Well, I mean, listen, people snap, all over the world, right? America isn't the only place with people, whose brains are breaking. We're not the country with more mental illness than other countries.
It's just in this country, we have a fetishization of weaponry, lethal weaponry, and ease of access to the tools of mass murders, such that people have these moments of mental crisis, and then they have easy access to weapons. Other countries just don't allow that.
So, listen, I'm all for expending more on mental health. In fact, the gun bill, we passed, last year, put $15 billion additional dollars, into mental health. But I've never thought that we are going to solve our gun problem, our gun violence problem, without tightening up our gun laws, because America just doesn't have a bigger mental illness problem than other countries. We're just the only country that has all of these gun murders.
COOPER: When you look, I mean, at just a few of the shootings, from the past few days, a dance studio, in Monterey Park, a school, in Iowa, a workplace, in Half Moon Bay? I mean, the victims were going about their daily lives, collectively.
What do you think that does to us? I mean, what does that do to a nation's psyche? I mean, do people realize the toll, this takes, on a country?
MURPHY: No, I mean, listen, I think about my kids, right? I mean, we all think about our kids. I've got a middle-schooler, and an elementary school student, and they go through their active shooter drills. Our kids don't feel safe anywhere in this country. Obviously now, many workers are not going to feel safe.
I think we have to be smart about this. The way to approach this problem is to get these guns out of the hands of dangerous people.
I don't want our country turned into an armed encampment. I don't think the solution is for there to be armed police officers, outside of every single church, every single workplace, every single school. That's not the environment that is conducive to making us healthier individuals.
So, to me, yes, we got to invest in some level of new security, in public spaces. But we have to get these illegal guns, off the street. We have to get these dangerous weapons out of the hands of dangerous people. That's the solution to make our country safer.
COOPER: And just, finally, I want to ask you about CNN reporting, the former Vice President Pence lawyer found classified documents, at Mr. Pence's Indiana home. Clearly, it's a problem that affects both parties. Does there need to be some sort of overhaul, to how classified documents are handled?
MURPHY: I guess so. I mean, this is news, to a lot of us, in Congress. I didn't know that you could take classified documents, out of the United States Capitol. Perhaps, there were different rules, at the White House.
So obviously, we've got to have a better system to make sure that classified documents, at the White House, are handled, maybe in the same way that, they're handled in Congress, where you can't leave the building, with them, in your hand.
But it looks like Vice President Pence approached this, the same way that President Biden did, which was, once he found out that he had taken these documents, that they were in his house, he immediately alerted the authorities.
Very different than President Trump, who essentially was being pulled over for speeding, and led the cops, on a high-speed chase, for a couple weeks.
So, I'm glad that Vice (ph) President Pence is cooperating just like President Biden was. But yes, we got to take a broader look at why all these classified documents are getting out of safe spaces.
COOPER: Senator Chris Murphy, appreciate it. Thank you.
MURPHY: Thank you.
COOPER: CNN's Senior Law Enforcement Analyst, Andrew McCabe, is back.
Joining us, as well, the former FBI Special Agent and Profiler, Mary Ellen O'Toole, who's also an authority, sadly, on mass shootings.
Mary Ellen, when you heard more, about the details of the shooting, in Half Moon Bay, California, yesterday, did it strike you that there were certain similarities, to the shooting, that had just happened, days earlier, in Monterey Park, certainly the age or the race of the gunman?
MARY ELLEN O'TOOLE, RETIRED FBI SPECIAL AGENT - PROFILER, DIRECTOR, FORENSIC SCIENCE PROGRAM AT GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY: I thought it was very striking. And I'll tell you why. Because the age of both gunmen, 67 -- 68 and 72? Those are tremendous outliers, because the average age of the shooters -- of shooters, we see nowadays, is the early 30s.
So, you look at it this way. So for 67 years, 68 years, 72 years, in the Monterey Park case, these two men were able to navigate their way, through life, handle stressors, maybe not particularly well, handle being upset, maybe angry at the workplace, but they did have coping behaviors. And then, now, all of a sudden, those coping behaviors are not what they should be, or they're not relying on them.
So, I found it really very interesting, when both of these were back- to-back. And it also made me wonder about the copycat, or the contagion effect, in these shootings that we see in younger shooters. COOPER: Andrew, in your experience, from a law enforcement perspective, and looking at the data, do mass shootings often come in sort of waves of tragedy, like that, whether it is the copycat effect or not?
ANDREW MCCABE, FORMER FBI DEPUTY DIRECTOR, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, what we know, Anderson, is several mass shooters have drawn inspiration, from mass shooters, before them.
So, we know that with the Columbine shooters, of course, have kind of reached like mythical status, in that community.
We know that the shooters at -- the El Paso shooter, the El Paso Walmart shooter, and several others took inspiration from the Christchurch mosque shooter, in New Zealand.
So, this, the kind of reputational predecessor is a significant factor in that community. Whether or not that was an element, in these shootings is, remains to be seen.
We understand that the Half Moon Bay shooter has been cooperating with the Police, at least he was initially. He may have made statements to that effect. If that's not the case, investigators will look closely, at anything, he's written, and his electronic devices, his texts, his emails, his conversations with friends, all sorts of things, like that, to see if he has any of those sorts of references.
But it's a good question. It's not one that we're quite ready to answer, with respect to these two shooters.
COOPER: Mary Ellen, you worked on this groundbreaking report, in the wake of the Columbine shooting, more than two decades ago that focused on the ripple effect of violence. What was some of the key findings?
ELLEN O'TOOLE: Well, one of the key findings was that there was a copycat effect, when these cases occurred, which meant that after once shooting occurred, then the level of violence increased. There were more threats of violence, and then more additional shootings.
And then, as the shootings got more sensational, then prior shooters became, like Andy said, they're inspirational. They become folk heroes. And new shooters aspire to be like Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris. And so, there is that influence of people that are involved in this kind of behavior.
We first saw, we really first studied, copycat effect, following the suicide of Marilyn Monroe. But that wasn't the first time that blocks of human behavior influenced other humans to do the same thing. And so, it's not unusual that this copycat behavior is part of what we see, with these mass shootings. And it still continues.
It's just that when you have older men, 67, 68, and 72, peer influence is not nearly as important as if you're 20 or 21, where what other people think of you is really important. So that's, again, another reason why these two shooters were, really, outliers to me.
Mary Ellen O'Toole, Andrew McCabe, I appreciate it. Thank you very much.
Coming up next, is it political payback, House Speaker, Kevin McCarthy, announcing tonight, he is keeping two Democrats, off the House Intelligence Committee, including the former Chairman, Adam Schiff?
Congressman Schiff joins us with his reaction.
Also tonight, what could be a pivotal moment, for the former President, facing potential criminal charges, in Georgia? We'll take a look at where the District Attorney, is leading the investigation, now says that charges -- charging decisions are, in her words, imminent.
COOPER: Just in tonight, House Speaker, Kevin McCarthy, made it explicit and official. He's bouncing two Democrats, including the former Chairman from the House Intelligence Committee.
Quoting, from his tweet, tonight, "I have rejected the appointments of Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell for the House Intelligence Committee." He continues, quote, "I am committed to returning the House Intel Committee to one of genuine honesty and credibility that regains the trust of the American people."
Joining us now is Congressman, and former Committee chairman, Adam Schiff.
Congressman Schiff, I'm wondering what your response is, to Speaker McCarthy's decision, to block you, from serving on the committee?
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Well, sadly, it's going to do damage, to the Committee, to have him use it as this kind of political play thing.
This is Kevin McCarthy, responding to the demands, of the most extreme elements, of his Conference, the Marjorie Taylor Greenes, the Paul Gosars, and responding to the wishes, of his boss, down in Mar-a-Lago.
His upset is over the fact that we investigated, and impeached, Donald Trump, over his withholding of hundreds of millions of dollars, from Ukraine, in its war with Russia, in order to extort that country, into helping his campaign.
And sadly, I think, this is effort, to try to stop oversight, to stop those who will stand up to him. But I can tell you, Anderson, it's not going to work. I'm more determined than ever, to hold him accountable, and to do what I can, to protect our democracy.
COOPER: Speaker McCarthy addressed this, tonight. And I just want to play a little bit of what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): This is not anything political. This is not similar to what the Democrats did. But integrity matters. And they have failed, in that place, from Adam Schiff, using a position, of the Intel Chair, lying to the American public, again and again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: He says, you lied, and that, there are Republicans, who can argue that Republicans won the House, and this is their prerogative, they can do this.
SCHIFF: Well, they could do any number of destructive things. And it appears they're very much ready to do that.
This is merely the latest smear, from Kevin McCarthy. He's had kind of a shifting series of rationalizations, for removing me, or Eric Swalwell from the committee.
But, at the end of the day, I think what came out of crystal clear was his real motivation. He sent out an email blast, encouraging people, to click a button, to remove me from the Committee.
It was a fundraising gimmick, on the one hand. But more seriously, this is Kevin McCarthy's way of getting and keeping the votes he needs to be Speaker. This is what Marjorie Taylor Greene demanded. And he's ready to do it.
And my primary concern, Anderson, is in essentially playing, with the members of our committee, in destroying some of the independence, of the Intelligence Committee, in establishing a new Select Committee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, this Orwellian creation? It's going to breed distrust, in the Intelligence community.
They're not going to want to share information with Congress that we need, to make good decisions, because they're not going to trust McCarthy, or the people that he puts on these committees.
COOPER: The Republican congressman, Don Bacon, said tonight that it's, quote, "Corrosive," unquote, to be kicking people off committees, in hopes that it can end.
Also, just moments ago, Republican congresswoman, Victoria Spartz, weighed in against the move.
Given that would you support a deal, between Speaker McCarthy and Minority Leader Jeffries that would put an end to either party blocking lawmakers, from certain committees?
SCHIFF: The precedent that was set, in the last Congress, was if members of Congress incite violence, against other members of Congress, they shouldn't be serving on committees. I think that's the right precedent. If we would stick to that, then I don't think we would have this issue, except for when people are encouraging violence.
But I appreciate these Republican members, speaking out against what McCarthy is doing. Sadly, with the Intelligence committee, he doesn't need to bring it to a House vote, which he might lose. But I think it does show that there are Republicans, who understand this is very ill- considered, it's just going to damage the institution. It's not justified.
The votes, last year, were bipartisan. These efforts are not at all bipartisan. Indeed, the opposition to it is bipartisan.
COOPER: You're in the Minority, in the House. You're not going to be on the Intelligence Committee. Does this give you more incentive, to run for Senate, in California, in 2024? You're considered a likely candidate, as you know.
SCHIFF: Well, I'm speaking with Leader, Jeffries, about what is the best way I can be helpful, in the House, to continue to defend our institutions, to continue to do the work that people in California sent me to do.
In terms of other potential responsibilities, I don't want to make an announcement here, tonight. But I'll have more to say about that in the near future.
But I will say this, Anderson, if Kevin McCarthy thinks this is going to stop me from doing my job, protecting our democracy? He's going to soon learn that he's only going to make me fight harder.
COOPER: Congressman Schiff, appreciate your time, tonight. Thank you.
SCHIFF: Thank you.
COOPER: Now, to Georgia, where decisions are, quote, "Imminent," on whether Donald Trump, and allies, will be charged, for their efforts, to overturn the 2020 election, in the State. That's what the D.A. told the judge, in Fulton County, today, at a hearing, over whether to release a special grand jury's final report.
Their seventh-month probe began, after that call, by President Trump's, pressing the Secretary of State, to find the votes, necessary, for him, to win the State. He lost, in Georgia, to Biden, by nearly 12,000 votes.
CNN's Sara Murray joins us now, from Atlanta, with the latest.
So, what more is the District Attorney, signaling, about decisions, on possible charges, and when those could be announced?
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, we may not get a decision, overnight, but it seems like we're going to get one sooner rather than later.
Like you said, District Attorney, Fani Willis, told the judge, today, the decisions are imminent, on whether she is going to bring indictments, against Donald Trump, or any of his associates, in this investigation, into election interference.
So, she seemed to be signaling that the special grand jury had recommended some people for criminal charges. We don't know that for certain because, of course, we still haven't seen their final report.
But as she was talking, in court, about wanting to keep this report, under wraps, she kept referring to how important it is, to protect the rights of future defendants. She specifically said it was important to preserve the rights of future defendants, and to make sure that they were able to get a fair trial, in this jurisdiction.
And remember, she has previously named more than a dozen people, as potential targets, in this investigation. People like Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump's former attorney, as well as more than a dozen Republicans, who served as fake electors, for Donald Trump, here.
COOPER: Did the judge, overseeing the special grand jury, give any hints, in today's hearing, on whether he's inclined to release the grand jury's report?
MURRAY: He didn't really tip his hand, on where he's going to rule on this. And he said that he didn't want to make any rash decisions, on the matter.
But he really pressed the prosecutors, on whether there was any legal reason, whether there was any law, saying he could not release this special grand jury's report.
He pointed out that the grand jurors voted. They wanted to make this report public. They're eager to make this report public.
He also pointed to the January 6 committee saying, "Look, this isn't an investigative body that has done so much of its work, out in the public. That does not seem to have hindered ongoing criminal investigations."
But again, no final ruling. He said that he may put forward an order, saying what he's going to do. But he's not just going to drop the report, all of a sudden, overnight, on the American people.
COOPER: And did he give any indication, if it would be the full report or a redacted version?
MURRAY: He didn't. I think that the issue is that we just don't know what the shape of this special grand jury report is.
If they wrote this sort of lengthy narrative, maybe you could just redact people's names, redact the recommendations, they made, about people facing criminal charges.
But if they wrote something narrower, that essentially is saying, "We've been investigating for seven months. Here are the people we think should face charges, and here's the conduct that underlies these recommendations," it's going to be pretty hard, to redact something like that, and make it available to the public.
So, I think that since we know so little, right now, about how this report is structured, it's hard to kind of guess, how he's going to move forward, on this.
COOPER: All Right. Sara Murray, appreciate it. Thanks.
Up next, we are live in Texas, where a tornado hit the Houston area, today. The very latest, in the damage, coming up.
COOPER: Developments now, on some extreme weather that tore through Texas, just a few hours ago. A tornado hit the Houston area, leaving behind a trail of damage that officials are still trying to assess. As of 9 PM Eastern Time, tonight, there have already been 14 tornado reports, across Southeastern Texas, and Southwestern Louisiana.
Want to go live, to CNN's Rosa Flores, in Pasadena, Texas, with the latest.
What is it like, on the ground, there?
ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, there is a lot of destruction. But people, here, are counting their blessings, because there are no fatalities. There are no life-threatening injuries.
But this tornado, this stream of storms, left a very destructive path. You can see that these are some of the projectiles that were flying.
And I want to show you what's behind me, because this is what we've been seeing around here. This was a gym, a CrossFit gym. And you can see, if you look closely, you'll even see some of the workout equipment, under the mangled roof.
The owner of this gym spoke to our affiliate, KHOU, and he really described the intense moments, when this storm, this potential tornado, here? It's unclear, there's still assessments being made. But he described the chaos and the loud noises.
He says that four people were inside this CrossFit gym, at the time, of this tornado, and he says that they all ran, to the bathroom, of this gym. And that's how they survived. They credit that bathroom for their survival.
Now, it's dark. So, it's a little difficult, for us, to show you more around. But, in the distance, there's also Police activity. Again, the assessments are going on, here, to my right. You can't see it because it's dark. But there is ponding on the street. Again, this talks to a lot of the intensity.
Here, on my left, you can see that these are giant power lines that fell over this gym, again, speaking to the intense moments of when this happened. And the power lines here look like they split -- like toothpicks.
Now, at the height of the storm, CenterPoint Energy, which services the entire Houston Metropolitan area, did report more than 100,000 customers, without power. But since then, they have been working, through those power outages, Anderson. So, at last check, in the last 15 minutes, there were more than 50,000 customers, without power.
But again, there's this path of destruction. People hear describe just those intense, chaotic moments, where they were really hoping to survive. And, of course, now we know from authorities that there are no fatalities at this time.
COOPER: Yes. Earlier, you were in Deer Park, which about six miles, northeast from where you are now. I know there were cars, overturned, by a school. Is that right?
FLORES: I talked to a woman there, who described those intense moments, at the time that the tornado hit. She says that she was inside of the administration building.
But she showed me her car, and I know we have images of this, because, the car overturned. But here's the thing. That car was yards away. So, again, it speaks to the intensity of this tornado. She also showed me her sister's car, which was parked next to hers. And that car was even further away.
The good news there, Anderson, is that the tornado skirted a school, because all of this was happening during school hours. So thank goodness that all of those children were OK.
FLORES: Of course, the parents, then, as they were driving to the school, to pick up their children, were seeing the overturned cars.
FLORES: I'm sure that was difficult for them to see
COOPER: Rosa Flores, appreciate it. Thank you.
Ahead, the debate, over ballistics testimony, in the double murder trial, of Alex Murdaugh, a member of a famous South Carolina family, on trial, for the killings of his wife and youngest son. That trial is expected to begin, tomorrow.
Randi Kaye has been following the case, from the start, and joins us next.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: The double murder trial, of Alex Murdaugh, is expected to begin, tomorrow.
Murdaugh's a member one of South Carolina's most storied families. He was in court, today, as they continued jury selection, and debated whether or not, to include ballistics testimony. He's on trial, for the murders of his wife, and youngest son, among other accusations, leveled against him.
I'm joined now by our Randi Kaye, who has been following this case, from the beginning.
So Randi, late today, the two sides argued over some ballistics evidence. What was it about?
RANDI KAYE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this ballistics expert, Anderson, is someone that the State would like to have testify. So, they had a hearing, about him, and his testimony, in court, today.
This expert has said that shotgun shell casings, found at the murder scene, and also along the Murdaugh's hunting estate, on the property there, seemed to have come from the same gun. And that would be Alex Murdaugh's shotgun.
But the Defense says that's impossible to no because shotgun shell casings are not unique, say, like fingerprints. So, they say that there is no study to back up this expert's findings.
But, in the end, the judge did say that this expert can testify at trial.
But, Anderson, this is just the beginning. As you know, once Alex Murdaugh faces this murder trial, and is done with it, he is also, having to answer to a slew of alleged financial crimes, and mysterious deaths, in his orbit.
ERIC BLAND, LAWYER FOR FAMILY OF MURDAUGH'S HOUSEKEEPER: Remember, five people died, in his orbit. I don't know anybody, in my 60 years of life that had five people die in their orbit.
KAYE (voice-over): He's talking about Alex Murdaugh.
Lawyer Eric Bland represents the family, of Murdaugh's former housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield. She died in 2018, after allegedly falling down the steps, at his home.
Murdaugh's wife and son, Maggie and Paul Murdaugh, were both still alive, at the time, and called 911.
MARGARET MURDAUGH, ALEX MURDAUGH'S WIFE: My housekeeper has fallen and her head has bleeding. I cannot get her up.
KAYE (voice-over): SLED, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, now plans to exhume Satterfield's body, and take another look at how she died.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is he in the road or on the side of the road?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's in the roadway-- He's laying in the road--- Somebody going to hit him, it's dark.
KAYE (voice-over): Investigators are also taking another look, at the mysterious death, of 19-year-old Stephen Smith, who was found dead, on a rural South Carolina road, in 2015. Investigators reopened the case, after all these years, because of information, gathered during the investigation, of the murders, of Alex Murdaugh's wife and son.
KAYE (on camera): What do you believe happened to your son?
SANDY SMITH, STEPHEN SMITH'S MOTHER: I believe he was beaten to death
KAYE (voice-over): The Murdaughs haven't said anything publicly, about this case. But it's not just Stephen's family, who has doubts, about what really happened to him.
Audio, in the case file, from the lead investigator, at the time, shows he didn't believe this was just a hit-and-run. South Carolina State Trooper, Todd Proctor.
TODD PROCTOR, SOUTH CAROLINA STATE TROOPER, SOUTH CAROLINA HIGHWAY PATROL: Typically, you don't see the Highway Patrol working a murder. And that's what this is. There's no doubt, we're not classifying this as anything other than a murder.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're in a boat crash on Archer's Creek.
KAYE (voice-over): When 19-year-old Mallory Beach was killed, in a boat crash, in 2019, Paul Murdaugh, Alex's youngest son, was allegedly driving the boat, while drunk. Paul was awaiting trial, when he was shot and killed. Mallory Beach's family was suing Alex Murdaugh, in a civil suit, since he owned the boat his son had been driving.
In all, Murdaugh is accused of defrauding friends, colleagues, and clients, of nearly $9 million.
Remember his former housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield? Murdaugh admitted he stole millions, in settlement money, from her sons, in an elaborate scheme. Murdaugh apologized in court, and agreed to pay her sons, $4.3 million.
After that, more of his alleged financial schemes were exposed.
ALEX MURDAUGH, DISGRACED FORMER SOUTH CAROLINA ATTORNEY: I stopped, I got a flat tire, and I stopped and somebody stopped to help me. And when I turned my back, they tried to shoot me.
KAYE (voice-over): Less than three months, after the double homicide, of his wife and son, Alex Murdaugh was shot, in the head, on a roadside, by a man he'd arranged to kill him. In September 2021, Murdaugh admitted to authorities, he'd arranged for the man, to shoot him, as part of a fraud scheme, so his only surviving son, Buster, could collect an insurance payout, according to a court affidavit.
As a result of that, Murdaugh was charged with insurance fraud, conspiracy to commit insurance fraud, and filing a false police report.
COOPER: So, Randi, what do we expect, for tomorrow?
KAYE: Tomorrow, we do expect them, to seat, an actual jury. They will have 12 jurors and six alternates. That's what's expected. And then, they are going to start with opening arguments, from both sides. So, this is going to be a long trial. It's supposed to last about three weeks.
And it will be interesting, Anderson, to see Alex Murdaugh's demeanor, as this goes on, because, as you know, he was a longtime lawyer. He has been disbarred by the State of South Carolina, now.
But he is sitting, at the Defense table, with his defense lawyers. He's conferencing with them. He's sharing notes with them. He's chewing on his glasses. He's paying very close attention. So, it will be interesting to see just how he handles, what is expected to be quite a long trial, Anderson.
COOPER: Yes. Randi, appreciate it. Thank you.
Want to get perspective, from criminal defense attorney, Mark O'Mara; and criminal trial lawyer, Sara Azari, whose new series "Death by Fame," can be found on Investigation Discovery, which is part of our Warner Brothers/Discovery Company.
So Mark, you heard the report, from Randi, laying out the gross tonnage of accusations, against Murdaugh. I mean, it's extraordinary what he's being accused of, over a lengthy period of time.
Would that all be relevant, or admissible, in this trial? I mean, obviously, evidence pertaining directly to the murder of his wife and son would be. But a lot of the financial stuff goes way back. And would that be able to get into this trial?
MARK O'MARA, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, the prosecution may try and get into that, because they're going to suggest as part of his motive, which was he was going through all of this, he's going to try and defer blame, to somebody else, or just some sympathy.
I think the State needs to be extraordinarily careful, bringing in what we call that much bad act evidence, and which is going to, I think, sort of overwhelm the jury, if you start talking about all of that. And that's really grounds for appeal.
I think the State needs to be much more careful, do a very tight case, get him on circumstantial evidence, they have. Be very careful with any type of junk science evidence, and just get him as cleanly as they can.
COOPER: But Sara, I mean, don't they have to be able to bring in, the Prosecution, have to be able to bring in some of the financial, allegations of financial crimes because that is the motive, they're saying, for him to kill his wife and son?
SARA AZARI, CRIMINAL TRIAL ATTORNEY: Yes. Well, remember, Anderson, motive is elective, right? It's not an element of murder, or any crime for that matter.
So however, will they be able to prove motive? The judge is not going to preclude them from, trying to prove their case, in terms of motive. Every jury wants to know why, as the first thing when they go into deliberation.
But this is far more prejudicial than probative. And that's really the test here. So, I see this judge allowing some very limited number of things, maybe those things that were close in time, to the murders, but not all of this.
COOPER: What about the blood splatter? Because the Prosecution is saying that there was -- there were -- or court documents say there's blood splatter found on the shirt that Alex Murdaugh was wearing, when he found his son, or when the Police came in, and he was with his son.
AZARI: Right. So, that's really interesting, because the State made a huge mistake. They hired an outside -- I don't know. He was doing a science fair experiment, not a real expert, working out of his home. He destroyed the T-shirt.
So, it precluded the Defense from being able to conduct their, own independent examination of the T-shirt. And that led to this, what we call, Trombetta-Youngblood Motion, that the Defense filed, to exclude any blood spatter evidence, because the Defense has been deprived of the ability to do their own investigation.
COOPER: And Mark, we mentioned jury selection continues -- is going to continue. If you were the defense attorney, in this case, what you want in the jury?
Because, I know, yesterday, the judge asked everybody to stand up, who had -- knew about the case. And every -- all the potential jurors stood up, because everybody in this area knows about this case. I mean, people know about this case all around the country.
O'MARA: Yes. They're going to sit a jury, even though we think it's very difficult. Those of us who do this a lot know that you'll get a jury set. You have to have people, who are fair and impartial.
But what do you want? I think you can realize that this is a circumstantial evidence case, right? There's no direct evidence. You want engineers. You want people who are going to hold the State to task. You want analytical people. You want people, who are not going to get caught up in the emotions of what he is alleged to have done, of killed his very own son and wife.
So, you want people that are more analytical, maybe even more educated, because they're going to be the ones, who truly hold the State to task, and not get caught up in the emotions of the moment.
COOPER: It is, Sara, when you, I mean, when you hear some of the other evidence, about financial crimes, cheating of clients, of his, poor people, in his community, over the course of many years? It would be very easy, to have a jury, hear all that evidence, and feel like this guy's just a jerk, and an awful person.
AZARI: Completely nefarious. I mean, and that's why, Mark brought up bad acts.
These are bad acts that are irrelevant to murder. These are not assaults, these, are not violent acts, right? And I'm not diminishing the acts. But it's far more prejudicial than probative. And I think that's the danger of allowing all of those to come in before a jury.
So, look, everybody knows the Murdaughs. Everybody knows what he's done. It's going to be hard to get a jury that doesn't know what's going on, what this guy has done. The question is being able to get one leader, who will lean on your side, and then try to pick as many other followers as you can.
COOPER: On the jury?
AZARI: On the jury.
Sara Azari, appreciate it.
Mark O'Mara, thanks so much.
Up next, a tale of two defectors, from Russia's main security service, the FSB, both talking on-camera, to CNN, about the peril they faced, after daring to break, with Vladimir Putin, and what they say they're doing to try to stop him.
COOPER: The FSB, in Russia, is pretty much like what the KGB used to be. It's a feared Security Service that Vladimir Putin once led.
CNN's Melissa Bell just caught up, with two FSB defectors.
MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Her view was of Moscow, from the inside, a life of privilege and access, including an FSB vehicle, as a doctor, working for Russia's Federal Security Service, the powerful FSB.
MARIA DMITRIEVA, FORMER FSB DOCTOR (through translator): I'm Maria Dmitrieva. Today is October 12th. And I film this video in the plane from Moscow.
BELL (voice-over): A Cold War-style defection, booking a flight, to France, before anyone suspected she might go.
DMITRIEVA (through translator): I am now in the French territory.
BELL (voice-over): Complete with photographs, as well as work contracts, patient records, and references, to prove her identity, to French authorities. She also brought documents she thought the West might be interested in.
DMITRIEVA (through translator): I brought photos, audio and video recordings, which confirms, that the majority of the Russian army, is against some of the policies, of the current leaders. At my own peril and risk, I was able to smuggle my phone, into the FSB building, twice, and was able to make some records.
BELL (voice-over): She also brought recordings of conversations, with senior officials, she says, to hand to French Intelligence, currency, as she sought political asylum.
Dmitrieva is one of a flood of senior Russians, from soldiers, to Wagner mercenaries, and FSB employees, now arriving in Europe.
So many, that Putin promised, in December, to promptly identify traitors, spies and saboteurs, even as Europe has been expelling senior Russians, 600, in 2022, including 400 spies, according to the head of the British intelligence agency, MI5.
EMRAN NAVRUZBEKOV, FORMER FSB LIEUTENANT: (FOREIGN LANGUAGE).
BELL (voice-over): But in an exclusive interview, with CNN, former senior FSB lieutenant, Emran Navruzbekov, says there are plenty of active agents, left. Navruzbekov comes, from a family of security service agents, many of his relatives, now under arrest, in his native, Dagestan.
Before defecting, he worked for the FSB, in Poland. Now, he's seeking asylum there.
NAVRUZBEKOV (through translator): The role of the FSB, since the beginning of the war, well, they wanted to end the war quickly, but failed.
Now, in the FSB, it's every man for himself. Everyone wants to escape from Russia. Every second, FSB officer wants to run away. Now already, they understand that Russia will never win this war.
Of course, I am afraid. I know how they work. History says that in any case, I will be killed.
BELL (voice-over): Vladimir Osechkin says he's helped at least 20 senior Russian insiders, escape, since the war in Ukraine began.
The exiled Russian human rights activist is on Moscow's list of wanted criminals, and insists on meeting in a public place.
In September, French police opened an investigation, into a possible assassination attempt, at his home.
VLADIMIR OSECHKIN, RUSSIAN ACTIVIST IN EXILE: I saw my wife, and children, who spent more than 30 minutes, on the floor. And the children was very scared, and my wife, like "Come to (ph) mother," to protect them, because it's risk, of the shoots. In this moment, it was very difficult.
Here is one part.
BELL (voice-over): Osechkin says it's his help to those fleeing, and the documents they bring, that make him a target, like, the images he shows us on his computer, of what he says are Russian surveillance radar positions, aimed at Europe, dating back to 2017, given to him, Osechkin says, by a three-star general, now in exile.
OSECHKIN: Putin, why he wants to kill me? He's very scared. There is a lot of people, who now work in the Putin system. But they want to find their way, to work together, with West, with Ukraine, with Europe, with United States, and to stop the Putin.
BELL (voice-over): When Osechkin leaves us? It's with some of the policemen, who, since September, ensure his security day and night.
Maria, like many of the Russians arriving, has no such protection, and little money left. But she agreed to speak to us, hoping for a better future in the West.
COOPER: And Melissa Bell joins us now.
I mean, this is just extraordinary what they're doing!
How do Western security services make sure that some of these defectors are not Intelligence agents, sent by the Kremlin, with either false information, or to try to get in with other defectors, or anti-Russia groups?
BELL: Well the fact is, Anderson, they simply can't. And there have been so many examples, across Europe, but also in other countries, neighboring Russia, of people, who fled, claiming to be seeking genuine asylum, who have turned out to be still working for the FSB.
In fact, Vladimir Osechkin that you saw there, in that report, was tricked by one, only a few months ago, a man claiming to need his help, who turned out to have been sent, by Moscow, simply to try and get closer to him. And because of that, what you're seeing is more and more of those
neighboring countries, and European countries, simply deciding that they're not going to be giving visas, to those trying to flee. Now, that leaves many Russians, who are trying to get out, in a very difficult position.
Now, you might say, why have any sympathy for the people, who've been working inside the regime of Vladimir Putin? But that suspicion also affects so many other Russians, Russians, who come from much lower down the ladder. Journalists, for instance, who tried to get out since the war began, simply because their lives are going to get so much harder, as a result of it.
And what they find themselves is in positions where they manage -- if they managed to get to Europe? They have no more access, to their families, who've been left behind, and might well be in danger; no access to their bank accounts; facing that deep-seated suspicion, about who they are, and what they're doing, and why they may be in Europe, with very little prospect of getting asylum, and, of course, the fear that they'll simply be sent back, to a country, where they will not be treated tenderly.
COOPER: Yes, yes.
COOPER: Melissa Bell, appreciate it. Fascinating report! Thank you.
And the news continues. "CNN TONIGHT" with Laura Coates, is next, right after a short break.